CHANNEL TEN reporter and Walkley award winner Hugh Riminton has published a follow-up piece in the Age today that should be read, especially by anyone who saw this little blog’s thoughts a day or two ago. Riminton points out that the copy of Kirkham QC’s draft report he has seen suggests subterfuge and double dealing at Defence, and one of the points he makes is quite alarming. As he puts it:
To take one example: ''[Her] room was not plastered with shaving foam,'' as I had reported last year. Kirkham discovered that it was not shaving foam but ''Jif cleaning liquid''. It was smeared on her door - or in his phrasing ''applied'' - in sufficient volume to stain the carpet. By publicly denying it was shaving foam but not revealing it was another similar agent, Defence exposes itself to questions over whether it is distorting or withholding information and misleading the public.
Riminton has a physical copy of the report, one assumes, and it would be a great favour if he were to post it somewhere – or promise to do so when he has mined whatever journalistic advantage remains in keeping the contents to himself. There is more than idle curiosity to this hope because the mess in Stephen Smith’s portfolio gets more ludicrous as it grows murkier. If Defence erased mention of the Jif and did so to mislead, as Riminton says it did, then it is playing very fast and loose with the truth and someone must be held to account.
But at the same time, other citations in Riminton’s defence of last year’s Scoop Of The Year don’t really help his defence all that much. That’s why an open copy of the leaked report would be so handy.
RIMINTON 2011: Kate maintains that during that conversation, Commodore Kafer said "he'd like me to address my division (of cadets) because they'll be angry". Specifically, she says Commodore Kafer said "it might help if she apologised (to her classmates) for bringing the division into disrepute by going to the media".
SMITH, March 7, 2012: The Commandant did not order or advise the female officer cadet to apologise to cadets in her Division for having gone to the media;
RIMINTON 2012: well, actually, Riminton has nothing to say that would resolve the discrepancy between Kirkham’s report and his words of last year.
See, it really would be nice to see that leaked report. And then there is this:
RIMINTON 2011: As Kate left Commodore Kafer's office she walked past a sergeant. In a growling sneer, he said, "You've gotta be kidding, don't you?"
SMITH, March 7, 2012: No Sergeant had spoken offensively to the female officer cadet on leaving the Commandant’s office
RIMINTON 2012: Kate's account that she was advised to apologise to her cadet peers for going to the media, that she was sneered at by a sergeant, and that she was abused by cadets at a morning assembly on April 6, 2011, is also dismissed. But if Kate was not subject to vilification or abuse, if her consistent and detailed accounts are unreliable, Kirkham offers no explanation as to why, on the day after the story broke, deputy commandant Paul Petersen felt it prudent to move Kate ''away from her peers'' to accommodation in the officers' mess.
But the biggest mystery of all is this: Kirkham says Kate was not abused at that morning assembly, for that is how Defence summarises his findings, when Riminton’s said she was called a slut. Riminton now wonders how thorough Kirkham’s investigation must have been for this information not to have found its way into the report.
So, what to believe?
Kirkham is incompetent or crooked.
Defence is incompetent and crooked
Riminton is incompetent, crooked and being played by Stephen Smith
Kate is a liar
Stephen Smith is incompetent, rash and not feeding Riminton the full truth
and, most baffling,
Every single soul who attended that morning assembly is so crooked and such an accomplished liar that a QC could not winkle the truth out of one of them.
A copy of the draft report would be handy for all to see. Perhaps, instead of leaking it to a sympathetic reporter (as he almost certainly did), Minister Smith might like to table Kirkham's handiwork in the House. Then we can all have a look.