palace letters David Ficker
National Archives of Australia Director-General David Ficker (Image: AAP/LUKAS COCH)

What the Frick After wasting $2 million of the National Archives of Australia's dwindling resources trying to stop historian Jenny Hocking from accessing the Palace Letters, the archives' director-general David Fricker spent even more yesterday making himself the star of the show.

At the release of the letters, Fricker insisted on leading a presentation about them while Hocking, who had only been given access to the results of her years-long campaign just an hour earlier, was trapped in Melbourne. Meanwhile, the archives' website crashed.

Fricker, of course, is an ex-spook -- a former ASIO deputy director-general and chief information officer. The National Archives' website fail seems to be what happens when someone from an organisation trenchantly resistant to any kind of transparency is placed in charge of one that is supposedly committed to exactly those principles.