Eine Schwalbe* ...I don't usually buy The Oz but I made an exception today after hearing that Mike Scrafton, a former Defence Department adviser to Peter Reith, had written them a letter casting serious doubt on the Stainless Steel Weasel's claim that he did not mislead the Australian people, Mr Speaker, he did not. In his letter to The Oz Scrafton says:
What would I have told the Senate committee? On the evening of November 7, 2001, after having viewed the tape from the HMAS Adelaide at Maritime HQ in Sydney, I spoke to the Prime Minister by mobile phone on three occasions.
In the course of those calls I recounted to him that:
a) the tape was at best inconclusive as to whether there were any children in the water but certainly didn't support the proposition that the event had occurred;
b) that the photographs that had been released in early October were definitely of the sinking of the refugee boat on October 8 and not of any children being thrown
into the water; and
c) that no one in Defence that I had dealt with on the matter still believed that any children were thrown overboard.
During the last conversation, the Prime Minister asked me how it was that he had a report from the Office of National Assessments confirming the children overboard incident.
I replied that I had gained the impression that the report had as its source the public statements of the then minister for immigration, Phillip Ruddock.
According to Scrafton, he was prompted to make these damning revelation (or scurrilous allegations, depending on your personal bias) by the gang of 43 daiquiri diplomats' recent statement on "truth in government". I doubt that it will be long before we hear from various informed sources that:
a) If Scrafton thinks he can win a pissing contest about personal credibility with the Prime Minister, maybe he should take a look at what happened to Andrew Wilkie and think again;
b) It's obvious from the timing of Scrafton's letter that he's part of some shadowy, elite cabal of ex-bureaucrats who are working hand in glove with the commentariat to bring down the Howard government so they can get cheaper chardonnay and cafe lattes under a Latham ALP government;
c) The whole children overboard affair was so turn of the century and even if Scrafton turns out to be telling the truth, anyone who thinks it matters whether the Prime Minister was telling the truth is completely out of touch with mainstream opinion.
* Sorry about the pretentious German title. I just wanted to avoid any suggestion of the sort of innuendo that would result if I'd the English "One Swallow ...".