Short story – energy minister, Angus Taylor, relied on falsified documents to attack Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore. The documents were clearly fake, but the question is – who falsified them?
It all started in mid 2019 when Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore declared a Climate Emergency (https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/city-of-sydney-officially-declares-climate-emergency-20190625-p520zd.html)
In September Taylor writes to Moore suggesting councils take practical steps to reduce their own emissions and points out that the council spent $1.7m on international travel and $14.2m on domestic travel. For some strange reason the letter is also handed to the Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph then publishes a story quoting the letter claiming the council spent more than $15m on travel.
Of course the Mayor disputes the story and asks the reporter to provide evidence. The reporter provides a page from the council’s annual report, which she says was handed to her by Taylor’s office and which shows the $14m travel spend.
The page contains two figures purporting to show the council spent “$14.2” in expenses on interstate travel and “$1.7” on overseas visits. However, the annual report says they spent only $4,206.32 on interstate travel and $1,727.77 on overseas visits. Moore lodges a complaint with the Press Council.
The Guardian published a story revealing the falsified figures (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/23/doctored-documents-angus-taylor-news-corp-climate-clover-moore) but Taylor maintained he obtained the version of the annual report from the council’s website.
In October Labor referred the matter to the NSW police asking them to to investigate whether an offence had been committed “on the basis that Mr Taylor or one or more individuals from Mr Taylor’s office” knew or believed an offence had been committed but failed to bring it to the attention of police. Taylor apologises for relying on inaccurate figures to attack Clover Moore, but insists he downloaded them from the council’s website.
Scott Morrison stood by the minister telling parliament that after a conversation with the NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, there was no need to take action against Taylor at this time. The NSW police handed the investigation to the AFP. The AFP said “it is unlikely further investigation will result in obtaining sufficient evidence to substantiate a commonwealth offence” (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/feb/06/afps-failure-to-investigate-angus-taylor-has-corrosive-consequences-for-our-democracy).
As far as I know, neither the NSW Police or the AFP even spoke to Taylor as part of their investigations.
By the way….great work, again, by Guardian Australia on this story.
Great summary of the timeline: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/26/a-timeline-of-angus-taylors-mystery-document-controversy
PM says he “takes matters of ministerial standards very seriously” – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-26/angus-taylor-clover-moore-fraudulent-documentation-investigation/11734708
Update 30/4/2020 – Clover Moore demands Angus Taylor explain doctored document – https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/30/nearly-beyond-belief-clover-moore-demands-angus-taylor-explain-doctored-document
Update 12/5/2020 – AFP defends not launching investigation into Angus Taylor – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-12/no-evidence-document-angus-taylor-criticised-clover-moore-over/12239994Tweet