What Michael reckons:

Media Release

Her Majesty’s Shadow Attorney General
Monday, 23 January 2006

Premier’s Women’s Weekly article scrapped
Dealings must be investigated by Auditor General

Shadow Attorney General Hon Michael Hodgman QC said that the apparent scrapping of Premier Lennon’s puff-piece in the next edition of the Women’s Weekly gave further weight to questions over the probity of the Lennon Government’s secret dealings and it was now time for the Auditor General to investigate this scandal.

Mr Hodgman said that the scrapped puff-piece on Premier Lennon had all the scent of cronyism with the Premier blankly and arrogantly refusing to release any details about how the article came to being.

“It is now time for this murky and secretive dealing of Premier Lennon over the Women’s Weekly puff-piece to be investigated by the Auditor-General, an independent authority, who can determine whether the Premier acted inappropriately or not on this occasion as well,” Mr Hodgman said.

“The scrapping of the puff-piece on Premier Lennon begs the question, did the publishers want to extricate themselves from the secret, arrogant and dodgy dealings of the Tasmanian Labor Premier?

“Or was it that the Premier realised the massive political strife that he would get into, following the Crown Casino scandal, and asked for the article to be scrapped?

“Alternatively, Labor backbenchers who, behind the scenes, were describing his behaviour at Crown Casino and the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival as ‘foolish, unwise and inappropriate’ may have demanded that he ask for the article to be scrapped.

“Whatever the case may be, this murky dealing of the Premier’s has become even murkier.

“Other Labor Party leaders around Australia have used the Women’s Weekly as an electoral tool, but have used Labor Party funds to pay for it, as much as $90,000 for one article. Unlike these Labor identities, such as Bob Carr, neither Premier Lennon nor the Tasmanian Labor Party paid one cent for Premier Lennon’s puff-piece.

“The disgrace with Premier Lennon’s dealings is that the negotiations over the article, along with the Premier’s $20,000 of free, six star Crown Casino hospitality, occurred at the same time that the Premier agreed to legislate to license Betfair, a massive $700 million deal.

“With this arrogant Premier refusing to tell the whole truth on his dealings over the Women’s Weekly article, it is entirely appropriate that the Auditor General examine the issue.

“The Premier should, today, commit to allowing the Auditor General to fully examine the dealings of his office over this murky Women’s Weekly puff-piece affair, particularly any relationship it may have had with the licensing of online betting agency, part owned by PBL Ltd, the owner of the Women’s Weekly publication.

Mr Hodgman said that if the Premier wanted to be truly open with the Tasmanian public, he should immediately release all documents surrounding his or his office’s dealings with PBL, ACP Magazines or with Women’s Weekly.

“Premier Lennon should also indicate whether or not the Solicitor General has been asked to provide any advice over this serious matter. Did the Solicitor General tell the Premier that he acted inappropriately?

“If Premier Lennon really believes that he has nothing to fear over his Women’s Weekly puff-piece dealings, then he clearly would have nothing to hide and will release all relevant documentation,” Mr Hodgman said.