Friday, November 27, 2009

The new Coalition leadership will need policies. Godwin Grech has been drafting

On the Treasury computer.


Policies for the Coalition.

Treasury found them after a search of its hard drives and presented them to the Senate Privileges Committee.

I've photocopied them and put them up here so we can take a look.

After all there is a policy vacuum in the Coalition...

National Forecasting Commission Grech

Savings Measures Grech

Bank of Australia Economic Action Plan Grech

Dangerous double life of Grech

Michelle Grattan
November 27, 2009

If you were writing a novel he'd be a difficult character to construct. A senior Treasury official, slightly odd but competent, credible and respected, who has a separate secret persona as a political player, trying to bring down the Government for which he works.

The strange affair of Godwin Grech hogged the headlines for weeks, wounding Malcolm Turnbull terribly. The story struck again at Turnbull this week, with documents in a tabled parliamentary committee report about Grech's explosive appearance before the OzCar Senate inquiry.

This documentary evidence of the dangerous double life Grech led is spine-tingling. How did he manage to live such a lie? Was he often fearful, or high on the excitement of being part of the political game, a confidant of powerful Liberals?

The electronic trail shows that Grech was deeply involved not just with Turnbull, but also with John Howard's former right-hand man Arthur Sinodinos, now in the banking sector, and others with political connections. For Turnbull, the material is double-edged. It helps explain how Turnbull was taken in by the fake email - why would he suspect Grech? Yet someone more cautious might have wondered about such blatantly improper behaviour by a public servant.

It wasn't just that Grech leaked to the Opposition. He saw himself as a Liberal secret agent embedded with the enemy, spiriting out intelligence and advice, reassuring, exhorting, analysing.

He'd been groomed for the task during the years of Coalition government, developing special relationships with key figures. But now his friends were in exile and as they fought their political war, he wanted to serve.

''My immediate motivation is to place myself where I think I could be of most value to MT and the Party,'' he wrote to an anonymous recipient in a November 7, 2008, email about Turnbull's office staffing. ''At this stage I am probably more value here in Treasury (albeit the personal risks I am taking). I am also doing some fund-raising for MT - he tells me that the cupboard is bare!''

Grech's correspondent had suggested: ''I think MT would welcome you with open arms if you wanted to work with him.''

The emails, found on the Treasury computer, show Turnbull brief and to the point in his exchanges with this man who was feeding him political gold. But Grech let it all hang out, gushing to Turnbull, filled with bile about Kevin Rudd. He saw his Treasury colleagues in cahoots with Labor - but did he ever stop to think about the irony of that claim?

''Malcolm,'' he wrote on Sunday, June 14, 2009. ''Thanks for giving me some time on Friday. You looked really good. As I was trying to say on Friday - and this is not a negative reflection on you - I really don't believe our polling will improve until the punters start to feel a bit of pain.'' He went on to spell out a ''Punter Pain Profile'' (involving higher interest rates, a weakening labour market and the like). ''Many of these things will come together roughly at once . . . As for you - you have nothing to prove to anyone. Be true to yourself as much as you can.

''If we can contain a loss to roughly the margin we have now - you will be very well placed in 2012-13. You will still be a prime age for the highest office and can serve at least two terms.''

A couple of days later, Grech was advising Turnbull on strategy for dealing with the emissions trading scheme legislation: ''[S]poke with Sinodinos tonight. He very much agrees with my view that we should neutralise the ETS issue ASAP by supporting Rudd's bill - but by pointing to those areas that we would fix in government.'' He added boldly, ''With Costello out of the way, I think you should press this issue home sooner rather than later.''

Earlier, Grech - suspicious about Costello's intentions - wrote on March 13, 2009, to John O'Sullivan, head of Credit Suisse and a donor to Turnbull, ''We need to do something about the leadership farce urgently. MT may need to contemplate some dramatic moves because Costello will bleed this out with only Rudd winning.''

Grech eagerly offered policy work to the Liberals, sending Sinodinos on May 18 a proposal for a ''National Economic Forecasting Commission'' (the paper was headed ''Turnbull Government'') in an email that also welcomed ''not a bad'' Age/Nielsen poll of that morning.

''Thanks mate,'' replied Sinodinos cheerily, but pointed out that creating a ''new mini-Treasury'' would bring resistance from Treasury. Within the hour, an undeterred Grech replied that Treasury's opposition would be seen as ''turf protection''. He went on, ''This is in part what I want - to establish a clear tangible motive that we can point to so as to help us prove that Treasury is pro-ALP. This I believe is critical to removing Rudd's Treasury fig leaf, thereby getting to his economic credibility.''

Grech was determined the ''fig leaf'' must be ''stripped away'', and leave Treasury's alleged Labor bias exposed. Writing to O'Sullivan on May 13, he said ''the Treasury Executive Board has very close links with the ALP. It is an arm of the ALP. KH [Treasury secretary Ken Henry] was on the personal staff of [Paul] Keating . . . He still takes counsel from Keating, who calls him regularly and did so during the Howard years.''

Grech adds he is ''happy to speak with JA [Janet Albrechtsen, O'Sullivan's columnist wife] for background if she wants''.

He ended the email saying, ''I am deleting this as soon as I send it through to you.'' Unfortunately for Turnbull, in the age of modern technology, tracks are never completely covered. On the day his leadership was falling apart, the Grech emails were back haunting the unwise Turnbull. But he was probably beyond caring.

Related Posts

. A real Godwin Grech email

. The Godwin Grech finding, from the Audit Office

. Why I faked email: Godwin Grech speaks, from hospital

. Godwin Grech has a different take on the panic that erupted one year ago this month