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Sky News on The Hour -

View in ParlView

Tue, 4th August 2009

Leader of the Opposition Press Conference - Counter-terrorism arrests, OzCar

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Leader of the Opposition

Now, I want to deal firstly with the arrests this morning and I want to praise the work of the
Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission, the Victorian Police, the New South
Wales Police and ASIO over a long period of time that has led to the arrests and execution of
search warrants today in what we understand is the second largest counter-terrorism operation ever
conducted.

I was briefed about this operation last night by the security agencies. It is a testament to the
calibre of our law enforcement and national security agencies that this operation was executed so
professionally today. However, the existence of such a significant security threat in our own
backyard is a very great concern. The fact that the alleged target was our own military personnel
who defend our nation, under our flag, wearing our uniform, is also very disturbing indeed. It's a
sober reminder that the global struggle against terrorism is far from won and that terrorism
remains a threat to the lives of Australians not only overseas, but, sadly, also here at home.

Now I appeal for calm and tolerance amongst the whole Australian community. It's important,
however, to remain vigilant to this ongoing threat to our nation's security. And as this is an
ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment other than to
repeat my praise for the work of our security agencies. Now are there any questions on the
terrorism issue? Okay, thank you.

I will now turn to the matter of OzCar. Now reports today make it clear that an email, of which Mr
Grech spoke of in his testimony to the Senate, was faked and forged by Mr Grech himself. It is very
regrettable that in doing so Mr Grech misled the Opposition, the Parliament and of course, as a
consequence, the Australian people. At all times the Opposition has acted in good faith. We have
remained silent on many of these issues because of the ongoing AFP investigation into the faked
email. But Mr Grech's public admissions and his accusations against the Opposition require a
response. We are sympathetic about Mr Grech's current situation and we share the concerns of many
for his welfare but we must, however, respond to the allegations that have made by him in The
Australian today.

Now the Prime Minister and others have attacked us relentlessly over this issue, to the extent that
they have even suggested the Opposition was involved in forging the email. Those allegations are
now shown - as we always said they were - to be totally false.

The Government is claiming that the Auditor-General's report released today completely clears them
of any wrongdoing. However the report does raise matters of legitimate concern. The report finds it
was "inadvisable" and "not prudent" for Treasury officials to raise Mr Grant's case with Ford
Credit in the way that they did and mention at that meeting, when Ford Credit was seeking
substantial funding from the Commonwealth Government, that Mr Grant was a friend of the Prime
Minister. Now that arrangement, those conversations, that conflict went to the heart of our
concerns and the heart of our criticism of the Government. And the detail of the report makes it
clear that Mr Swan needs to take responsibility for the failings identified by the Australian
National Audit Office (ANAO).

Now we've set out some detailed responses here so I'll just deal with the key points. You all have
a copy of it.

The Australian quotes Mr Grech as saying that he cooperated with the Opposition to save the jobs of
2,000 people by seeking their support - that's to say the Opposition's support - to pass the OzCar
finance bill in the Senate. That statement has no basis in fact.

The Shadow Cabinet had already resolved to support the OzCar legislation without amendment on the
25th of May. On the 27th of May, speaking in the House, the Shadow Minister, the Hon. Chris Pearce,
had stated the Opposition supported the bill and on the following day it was passed without the
need for a division. In short, there was never any suggestion that the OzCar legislation would be
opposed by the Opposition.

The first the Opposition knew of Mr Grant and the alleged representations to OzCar on his behalf by
the Prime Minister and Treasurer's office was when Mr Grech contacted the office of the Deputy
Senate Leader, Senator Eric Abetz, prior to the 4th of June Estimates Committee hearings. Mr Grech
proposed a detailed list of questions should be put to him at that hearing and a copy of those
questions is attached.

In short, were it not for Mr Grech's actions, the name of Mr Grant would never have been raised by
the Opposition. Following the Estimates Committee on the 5th of June - that's to say the day after
the Estimates Committee Hearing on the 5th of June - Mr Grech emailed me proposing that the OzCar
legislation be referred to a Senate Committee inquiry as - and I quote - "one way of getting me
before a Committee to give evidence". Mr Grech proposed a meeting be held with me and Senator Abetz
to discuss the matter and - and I'm quoting Mr Grech - he said, "to show you the various emails I
have". And that email from Mr Grech to me, dated the 5th of June, is also attached.

The meeting was held on the 12th of June. Present were Mr Grech, myself, Senator Abetz and Senator
Abetz's Chief of Staff. Mr Grech spoke freely and naturally, and neither Senator Abetz nor myself
had any reason to doubt the truth of what this senior and well respected public servant had to say.
He began his account of events by stating that on the 19th of February he had received an email
from Andrew Charlton in the Prime Minister's Office seeking assistance from OzCar for John Grant
Motors. He showed Senator Abetz and myself a copy of the email. It appeared to have been received
by Mr Grech at his Treasury account at 2.01 pm on the 19th of February and there was no reason to
suspect that it was anything other than genuine. Mr Abetz and I took an abbreviated note of its
contents but we did not take a copy of it.

Now, at the meeting Mr Grech told us about his conversations with Mr Swan's office, Mr Grant and
Ford Credit, the substance of which is all now on the public record. At that meeting Mr Grech
provided us with a further list of possible questions to the Prime Minister and Treasurer
concerning OzCar - and that's attached; attached to this statement - and one of those questions was
directed at the Prime Minister, to the Prime Minister, asking him to stand by his statement of the
4th of June that he had not made any representations on behalf of Grant, and Mr Grech notes in
italics here, "if he stand by the original answer - he will have misled the Parliament again".

Now we had no reason to doubt the truth of anything that he said to us. I note that no accusation
against the Prime Minister was made either by Senator Abetz or myself until after Mr Grech had
given his sworn testimony in the Senate, which of course was consistent with what he had said to us
on the 12th of June.

I also should note that The Australian quotes Mr Grech as saying that it was agreed between himself
and myself that he should speak to a journalist off the record about this matter. The facts are
that Mr Grech phoned me and proposed that he, Mr Grech, should speak to the journalist in question.
At his request I gave him the journalist's telephone number. Specifically I did not encourage Mr
Grech to disclose the contents of the 19th of February email to the journalist and I was
subsequently very surprised to learn that he had done so.

So, in summary, we had never heard the alleged connection between Mr Grant and OzCar before Mr
Grech made contact with us. We relied in good faith on statements made to us by Mr Grech, a senior
and well regarded public servant. Mr Grech volunteered the information about OzCar and sought a
meeting with Senator Abetz and myself - not the other way around. The suggestion that Mr Grech was
pressured to make statements concerning Mr Grant is false. On the contrary, Mr Grech voluntarily
provided the Opposition with two lists of questions to be asked.

The suggestion that the Opposition was considering blocking the OzCar legislation is also false -
the legislation had the full support of the Opposition and this was publicly known long before Mr
Grech drew Mr Grant to the attention of the Opposition. Mr Grech urged the Opposition to convene a
Senate Committee hearing so that he could provide information about OzCar and John Grant to the
public, and that was in the email of the 5th of June.

And I just note again that in making the public criticism of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer,
I expressly relied solely on the sworn evidence given by Mr Grech before the Senate.

Now, do you have any questions?

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull, can you clear up, on this question of the meeting on the 12th of June, Mr Grech says
that he made it very clear that any email, that this particular email that he'd showed you, was a
draft, was a note of his recollection, rather than the original item.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

That's not true.

QUESTION:

So according to him, I mean he told you that it was...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

He showed it to us and he said, this is the email.

QUESTION:

So there were no caveats on its use?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, no. He said he did not want it to be published and we did not publish it. So, and I can
understand why he was sensitive to that given it was an email between two people, but there was no
suggestion made by Mr Grech that it was anything other than the genuine article.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull, was it a case of you accepted this email because Mr Grech had provided you with
information before?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I don't want to go into other discussions we've had with Mr Grech. Suffice it to say this - Mr
Grech is a very senior public servant. He's very well regarded by everybody that's dealt with him.
We had no reason to doubt his word. Quite frankly, whether he'd shown us a copy of an email or not,
if he said he'd received an email from somebody I would have accepted that at face value. He was a
person whose word I had every reason to trust and did trust.

QUESTION:

But why were you so willing to trust him when he was virtually willing to commit career suicide? I
mean that's essentially what he was offering to do.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well there are many, as the journalists here know, there are many whistleblowers and they play a
very important part. Mr Grech indicated he was concerned about the political influence that was
being brought to bear, concerned about the cronyism. Cronyism has a long tradition in the Labor
Party, as we've seen recently in other contexts. He was concerned about that and so were we, and we
were doing our duty as the Opposition in following this up.

QUESTION:

Is it not more the case that you trusted him because previous information he'd given to you had
actually been good?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I think I've already answered that question.

Hang on... Sorry. Peter Hartcher was about to ask a question.

QUESTION:

How do you reconcile the fact that, as you have in your statement today, on that June 12 meeting
you read the email, yet I think later you said that you hadn't read the email until you saw it
published in the Telegraph?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

No, that's not right. Well, what you've put to me is not correct.

I said I've never had a copy of the email. We did not take a copy of the email.

QUESTION:

So how was it that Senator Abetz was able to quote it verbatim at the Estimates Committee before it
had been published in the Telegraph?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, sorry, as it said in the statement here, later, the journalist told Senator Abetz that Mr
Grech had read to him the text of the 19 February email, and relayed to Senator Abetz... and the
journalist relayed to Senator Abetz the contents of that email. And I think Senator Abetz said that
in the Senate Committee hearing.

QUESTION:

Did you pay for Mr Grech or the Coalition pay for Mr Grech to come to Sydney for that fateful
meeting?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Certainly not. Certainly not.

QUESTION:

So he paid his own [inaudible]?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I assume so. I don't know. I assume he did; I imagine he did.

QUESTION:

In the history of your career so far, how big of a mistake is this?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Oh look, let's deal with the facts, okay. Are there any other questions about the events in
question?

QUESTION:

The facts are you've been hugely embarrassed by an amazingly bad gaff. How bad is it in your
career?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

The reality is this - we have been misled. Let's be quite clear about this. It's very disappointing
that this occurred.

The events that have occurred are almost beyond belief. The idea that a senior public servant would
forge a communication like this and then show it to the Opposition is extraordinary. It is almost
beyond belief. Now it is certainly within belief that public servants provide information to the
Opposition, and I think we can all remember when the Labor Party was in opposition they would boast
of the leaks they had from the public service, including advance dumps of Cabinet papers and Budget
leaks. So whistleblowers and leaks are part of the Canberra culture, and many would say they're a
very important part and without whistleblowers being prepared to reveal what they perceive as
wrongdoings on the part of governments, then a lot of wrongdoing would go unrevealed. But these
actions by Mr Grech are both hard to believe and of course very, very regrettable and there's no
question we and everyone was very gravely misled. Now I note that Mr Grech insists that he did, he
still believes he received an email on that date and of course, but that does not excuse creating a
fake.

QUESTION:

Regardless of how valued you thought Mr Grech was, you had an obligation to check the source of
this information...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well he was the source.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

You see this is not a case - I mean let's be quite clear about this - this is not a case where a
politician or a journalist is given a bundle of emails or documents and said, look these are
genuine and accepts them at face value. This was a situation where a person that we knew very well,
that had a very senior position, asserted that he had received a communication from the Prime
Minister's office on a particular day and then showed us a document which appeared to be the
communication in question. And really it's difficult to know how else one could have checked it. He
vouched for it himself. He vouched for the accuracy of his own statement and of course for the
genuineness of the email that he showed to us.

QUESTION:

Will you now apologise to the Prime Minister?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I have withdrawn the criticism of the Prime Minister some time ago, long before Mr Grech made
this admission today. I withdrew the criticism of him because plainly the suggestion that there had
been a fake email involved, and it was pretty clear, the inference was fairly clear at the outset
that Mr Grech had been responsible for it, although that hadn't been established, that put a
question mark over his evidence, and we had relied on his evidence in making the criticism of the
Prime Minister.

QUESTION:

You've maintained your case pretty solidly against the Treasurer though, haven't you? In fact you
pursued it very vigorously over the week even after Mr Grech's activities began to be involved. Now
this report that's come out today seems to absolve the Treasurer, explain why he was receiving home
faxes and, in fact, if it appears that this whole program has been diddled in favour of one party
or another, it seems to have been diddled in favour of a Liberal Party supporter and donor.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well we're not in favour of any practices of that kind regardless of who the beneficiary would be.
I just note...

QUESTION:

Sure but is the Treasurer...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I just note this - the ANAO say in finding 1.9, some of the Treasury testimony given by Mr Grech
during these proceedings was inconsistent with statements made by the Treasurer and the Prime
Minister in the House of Representatives. And that of course, it was those statements upon which we
relied. Now the ANAO, I have not had the opportunity to read this ANAO report in the course of
today as closely as I would like, but the ANAO report does say it was "inadvisable" and "not
prudent" for Treasury to be raising Mr Grant's desire to seek refinance with Ford Credit in the
same meeting where Ford Credit was seeking funding from the Commonwealth. And that actually was the
guts, the essence of our criticism. Now Mr Swan and his office, according to the emails that were
tendered in the Senate, were aware that that was happening so. Mr Swan can claim as much
vindication as he likes, and as far as apologies are concerned, as I've said on an earlier
occasion, I'm more than happy to offer an apology to the Prime Minister if he'll apologise for
having accused me, without any basis in fact, of having forged this email.

QUESTION:

So it's a matter of who apologises first?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I'm all in favour of mutual apologies but you've got to remember Kevin Rudd when he was
Opposition Leader - and let's not forget this - accused John Howard, Alexander Downer and a
substantial percentage of our frontbench of having financed terrorism through the AWB saga and when
all those allegations were proved to be false, I don't recall there being any apologies. He also
called on them and many others to resign.

QUESTION:

This document, this report also documents Mr Grech calling up some Liberal at Credit Suisse and
asking him to do a favour for this Liberal donor car dealer...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Annabel, I haven't, honestly I have been focused on responding to the allegations made by Mr Grech
in The Australian, which we've done, as you can see, so I'll certainly study the report. But I mean
Mr Grech's conduct may well be very deserving... Look I won't comment on it. His conduct has been....

QUESTION:

[inaudible] what?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I'll leave it there. When I've studied the report more carefully I'll make a more considered
comment. But I'm really focussed on the issue of the fake email, which of course was not the
subject, was not referred to in the ANAO report at all.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull [inaudible] Mr Grech's allegation that you provided the text of the email to journalist
Steve Lewis....

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I don't think Mr Grech has alleged that all.

QUESTION:

He's indicated that today to The Australian.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well that is completely untrue. I did not provide the text of that email to anybody.

QUESTION:

Will you treat leaked information more carefully from now on?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I think we all will.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull, given Mr Grech's admission, will the Liberals in the Senate now vote for this to go to
the Privileges Committee?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Oh well look, well that's up to the Liberals in the Senate obviously, and the Senators will
consider that. But I just say this: the suggestion that was made, or the allegation that was made
was that somehow or other Mr Grech had been influenced in giving testimony and it is perfectly
clear I think you can see that Mr Grech was a very, very enthusiastic witness and did not need any
encouraging or influencing at all.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull you don't like talking about polls, and that's absolutely fair enough, but I think we
would be remiss not to comment on the fact that your own popularity after this episode took a quite
historic kind of dive, what is it, what conclusions do you think the Australian voters drew from
this episode and how are you going...what would you say to them to correct those.....

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I think what Australians can see...You see we have been constrained in what we can say because
there was an AFP investigation going on and, you know, Mr Grech has I suppose has outed himself as
the forger and, in doing so, has made some statements which simply are not right, and we've
corrected them, and I think demonstrated how wrong they are.

But I think what the Labor Party did when this matter of the fake email emerged was essentially run
a massive smear against me and create the impression that I and the Opposition had somehow or other
been involved in creating a fake email. Now that's a very, very serious allegation. I mean you can
accuse politicians of making errors of judgement - they, I guess, every politician regularly makes
errors of judgement, but to accuse somebody of forging a document is a very, very serious
allegation. That is what the Prime Minister and his colleagues accused me of - and I imagine some
people thought there maybe some truth in that.

Now until now it hasn't been really possible for us to set out the facts, but as you can see now
it's perfectly clear - and I think the Government always knew, by the way, they knew from the very
earliest that this email had been faked by Mr Grech on his Treasury computer, he's given some
explanations for that, they're hard to credit, but anyway he faked the email himself and then sadly
and regrettably used that to mislead others.

QUESTION:

What other contact did you have with Godwin Grech after that meeting that you had with Senator
Abetz? How many telephone calls and text messages and further....

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well I spoke, I had some communication with him, but the real issue Annabel, the real issue is the
question of who is responsible for faking the email? That's clear. It was Godwin Grech.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull....

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Hang on, just one second Peter. He faked the email or forged the email and then sought a meeting
with us to show it to us - among other things - and that is a remarkable thing. As I say, it is
scarcely believable. It is deeply regrettable.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull Mr Grech has said that he regrets now faking the email. Is there anything about your
handling of this matter that you regret? Anything that you... lessons learned that you're.....

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well look Peter with the benefit of hindsight of course, you know, one regrets of ever having ever
met Mr Grech. You know politicians and journalists, for that matter, are often provided with
information that they rely on to make criticisms of the government or whoever they happen to be
taking on at the time.

This was a case of somebody who was very highly regarded, who we knew very well, who told us
himself quietly and calmly and speaking easily that, you know, in good spirits if you like, in a
very relaxed way, told us a story which began with an email from the Prime Minister's Office on the
19th of February. It all hung together. It was eminently believable. He gave evidence in the
Senate, consistent with that, and there was no reason to disbelieve it.

The proposition that he had forged an email himself for the purpose of showing to us, as I say, is
scarcely credible. I know many people who know Godwin Grech much, much better than I do and not one
of them finds these events at all believable. But they clearly did occur; he's admitted to it.

QUESTION:

....you're handling of it [inaudible]

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well look Peter I'm not here to sort of go through a whole analysis of... you know, go through
step-by-step, but I would say this, that one of the things that - if I dare make a criticism of the
media coverage of this - one of the things that has been consistently said is that in my criticism
of Mr Rudd I relied on a fake email. And I did not. I relied expressly on the evidence that Mr
Grech gave in the Senate on the 19th of June. I was very careful to rely only on what had been said
in the Senate under oath. But all of you will go out and say that I relied on a fake email even
though I didn't. But, anyway, there it is. I just state that again just in the hope that it might
be reported.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] a lot of players in this issue but what we were asking was is there anything that you
could have handled better? We've discussed the media, Mr Rudd, Mr Swan....

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well look I'll reflect on it. I have to say this - it's really up to you to make the criticisms -
but I'd say this: that I think there are very, very few oppositions that presented with the sort of
case by someone who appeared to be a well intentioned whistleblower about alleged cronyism in the
government, very few oppositions that would not follow that up in the way we did.

The reality is that from the moment Mr Grech forged that email and showed it to us, there was the
potential for a serious problem to emerge. But if you'd said to me... all of the unlikely things that
happened, I cannot think of anything less likely than that a public servant, or any public servant
frankly, but a public servant of Godwin Grech's seniority and stature would actually sit down and
forge an email on a Treasury computer and then show it to the Opposition.

QUESTION:

Would you accept that your credibility in the eyes of the public has been mortally wounded by this?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well look it's not a question of my credibility. I relied on the information that was provided to
me. I mean the fact of the matter is if any of you as journalists were provided with this
information, if a senior public servant sat down with you and said right, here is an email I
received and, you know, I'm telling you this is what happened, you would rely on it. And again this
is part of the problem. This was not a case - and there have been cases like this where
politicians, and journalists for that matter, get taken in by fake documents, whether somebody
literally slips some fake documents under the door and they go with it. This was a case where the
recipient of an email, somebody of high repute and integrity says I received a communication from
the Prime Minister's office on such and such a day and, by the way, here is a copy of it.

Now, can I say to you, if he had never shown us a copy of the email, if he had never faked that
email, I would still have accepted him at his word. We would still have asked a question of the
Prime Minister. He was a highly believable person. It may have just ended up being one of those
unresolved things, but, you know, he was somebody who was inherently believable. And, as I say, the
only action we took following the meeting on the 12th of June was to ask another question of the
Prime Minister, whether he stood by his statement of the 4th of June that he hadn't made a
communication, and then the only criticism I made of the Prime Minister was based on Mr Grech's
sworn testimony. I did not stand up and say, you know, here is the email, here is the smoking gun.
We said no such thing. We relied solely on what he'd said under oath. He was an inherently credible
person. And I'd say to everybody, all of us who watched him give his testimony before the Senate I
think would agree it was very compelling and very credible.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] the Mid Winter Ball when you approached Andrew Charlton and told him that you had
documentary evidence [inaudible]. Why didn't alarm bells ring then?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, can I just say this to you: that is not true. I did not say that I had documentary evidence
to Mr Charlton. Mr Charlton has given an account of a private conversation which is not entirely
accurate. It's certainly not complete. It was a private conversation and I don't want to go into
that any further but I did not say to Mr Charlton I have documentary evidence.

QUESTION:

But if you deny the gist of you what you were alleging or saying, then why didn't you have some
[inaudible]?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, again, the version of the events that's been put out there is not an accurate one, but I
really think it's an irrelevance. It was, at its highest, a private conversation and, you know,
when people choose to give versions, what are inevitably self-serving versions of private
conversations, they can often not get it right. The only reliable version of a conversation is one
that's actually been noted down at the time.

QUESTION:

If you're not worried about the next time that you raise a major issue such as this that the
public's not going to see you as chicken little?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Sorry?

QUESTION:

You've been a businessman, a lawyer, a banker. What has this taught you about due diligence?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well again, due diligence is very important, but I just remind you that we had a very senior public
servant stating that he had received a communication from the Prime Minister's office. He showed us
a copy of that communication. He then gave evidence under oath that he had received a communication
from the Prime Minister's office. And that is very, you know, solid evidence. Now what I said -
you've got to remember this - on the 19th of June was that if Mr Rudd could not explain this, if he
could not explain this then he should resign. Now, the fact of the matter is Mr Rudd did explain it
- he said there was no such communication and the email is a forgery, and that turned out to the be
case, so Mr Rudd gave a full explanation.

QUESTION:

What Godwin Grech actually said before that Senate Committee was that he was fairly sure that he'd
received an email, that he couldn't find it and that he could be wrong about it. So, in other
words, in his testimony he was much less dogmatic than he'd obviously been in his meeting with you.
Now when you heard that...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, Annabel, Mr Grech was clearly under a lot of pressure from his colleagues and he's talked
about that in the statement he gave to the Australian National Audit Office about the evidence he
gave. I interpreted much of what he said on that day as a result of that pressure. Frankly, it
never occurred to me that Godwin Grech could have made this up. I frankly find the notion that a
senior public servant would fake a document like this, I mean it strains credulity. You know, I
could understand if a political opponent, you know, somebody that's a political activist and hates
the Liberal Party produces documents or tries to mislead people, but this is someone who... I mean,
Godwin Grech's reputation was one of diligence, fastidiousness, precision. It was inconceivable.
But of course as Mark Twain once ruefully observed, only fiction has to be credible.

QUESTION:

I see your point Mr Turnbull but what you've conceded therefore is effectively that you weren't
just relying on his testimony, were you, because his testimony was incomplete. You were relying on
it in conjunction with your private knowledge of that email.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, no, I was relying on it in the context of having heard him tell his story in a very relaxed,
easy way. You know, he just sat down and told us a story. He wanted to meet with us, he sought the
meeting, he wanted us to have another Senate inquiry so he could tell his story. This was an
enthusiastic witness, an enthusiastic whistleblower, and we had the meeting with him and we sat
down and he told his story and it was very credible and compelling. And, as far as I'm aware, every
element of it was absolutely true. It seems that the only misstatement, or error, or untruth - if
that's the right word - in what he said, related to this email. Now of course Mr Grech insists that
he did. If you read the ANAO report - or Mr Grech's appendix to it - he insists that he believes he
did receive an email and he's got an explanation about why it can't be found because he says the
Treasury server was down for two days. I don't know whether that's right or wrong, but certainly
none of that excuses or justifies somebody in actually fabricating a document in the way that he's
admitted that he did.

QUESTION:

Is it possible that the email is still out there somewhere?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look, I've got to say, this issue of the fake email has been a very difficult one for me to respond
to because of the fact of the AFP investigation. Mr Grech, having made the admission today and, you
know, made some statements that are not right and can be demonstrated not to be right, we've got to
respond to them. But I regret that. I think Mr Grech is obviously, he's obviously not well. He's
obviously been under enormous pressure and, you know, we wish him well.

I would have rather not read the story in The Australian this morning but, you know, Mr Grech made
those remarks to The Australian in the public interest. The public have got to know the facts and
the facts are that the Opposition had no hand in faking an email at all - that's clearly correct.
We relied in good faith on the word of a person that we trusted and, indeed, on his sworn testimony
subsequently, and we certainly didn't pressure him or influence him in any way. I mean he was an
enthusiast. He instigated the whole Opposition attention to John Grant and OzCar. We'd never heard
of, or I'd certainly never heard of John Grant, but certainly no one as far as I'm aware had ever
heard of John Grant and any involvement with OzCar.

QUESTION:

Do you think it would help to clear things up more if the AFP investigation was now made public?
Would that help you at all just to clarify...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Well, look, you've got to remember the AFP are investigating whether Mr Grech has committed an
offence, okay. So, you know, he has admitted that he's forged the email. Whether doing that in the
circumstances constitutes an offence is obviously a matter for the AFP or the DPP. I provided,
quite a long time ago now, as soon as I was asked, full cooperation to the AFP and I am, well, as I
say, I would have preferred that that investigation had completed, taken its course in the normal
way, but Mr Grech made these public statements that were in the paper this morning and we had to
respond to them.

QUESTION:

Should Grech be punished?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I think I've dealt with that just in the previous answer.

QUESTION:

Will you be carrying out thorough background [inaudible]

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look, I think these events will make everybody, journalists and politicians I might add, very
careful, more careful than ever. You have to be prepared to expect the unexpected. You know, having
said that, you know, this was not a case, as a lot of people thought, of me having been, you know,
had an email sort of slipped under the door in a brown paper envelope and, you know, credulously
accepting that as being accurate. We heard this story from Mr Grech from his own lips and then he
showed us a document. Now, as I said, the document itself didn't add an enormous amount because it
never would have occurred to me that Mr Grech would have made that up anyway. The question that is
on everybody's lips is why on earth did he do it, and I'm afraid I can't give you a satisfactory
explanation for why Mr Grech did it. You know, he faked this email, then contacted the Leader of
the Opposition to arrange a meeting to show me a fake email.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull, it seems that Mr Grech had quite a strategy. I mean, he provided you with his
questions - he had an idea about how to get himself before a Senate Committee inquiry, but it
appears that you actually followed that plan. I mean, how wise is that follow the plan of attack...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look, we took what he proposed into account. I'd have to say - and again the folks from Canberra
today will know this very well - I mean a lot of people make suggestions to oppositions about
questions to be asked in Parliament. You know, you receive a lot of information, particularly as an
opposition, just as journalists do, and it is important to be very careful to ensure that it's
accurate. Now, as I say, you've asked me several times what are the lessons, well I think one of
the lesions is to be more careful than ever. Having said that, we were not careless. You know, we
had heard this story from the horse's mouth, from Mr Grech himself. He was somebody of repute and
credibility and furthermore he substantially repeated that in sworn evidence by the Senate. So
there it is.

QUESTION:

Mr Turnbull, how did you pre-empt the Government's policy on the bank deposit guarantee and RMBS,
and was Mr Grech your source?

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

I will not comment on any other questions about other sources, no matter who they are. You can name
any public servant you like from Terry Moran and Ken Henry down to the most junior clerk, and I'm
not going to discuss sources at all. I mean, we've made some material public here today because Mr
Grech has chosen to disclose the fact that he dealt with us on this matter and he said some things
that are not, frankly, correct. But I'm not going to get - any more than you would; if I ask you
about your sources, you wouldn't disclose them either - so you can ask away but we're not going to
disclose our sources on any other matter.

QUESTION:

But you wouldn't deny he was your source and it did come from the markets group in Treasury.

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Your persistence is admirable but you'll get the same answer every time, so your colleagues will
get sick of me giving the same answer.

Yes, Annabel. Oh, you're fine, you've got nothing else to do today.

QUESTION:

But you've been sending us a few coded messages through this press conference. You've said at least
three times, "we knew him well" so...

MALCOLM TURNBULL:

Look, Godwin Grech had worked in senior roles in the public service when we were in government. He
was well known to many of us and I certainly, I wouldn't say I knew him very well but I certainly
knew him. There are others that, as ministers, have worked with him very closely. At one level this
is a terrible personal tragedy. And I just say this about Godwin Grech. I have reason to be very
disappointed with Godwin Grech's performance here, his conduct. but I just say this, Godwin Grech
is clearly a man who is very ill, very, very ill. These events have obviously put enormous pressure
on him and I just hope that the Treasury in particular, his employer, recognises the enormous
pressure he's been under. He's speaks very poignantly, movingly, in his appendix in the ANAO report
about his state of mind and his state of health, and he is clearly under enormous pressure at the
moment. You know, The Australian interviewed him and he made some statements to them and we have to
respond to them. If there was some way I could have said nothing in response, that might have been...
It's impossible obviously, we had to respond to it. I'm worried about Godwin Grech's state of
health but, equally, it's important that people know what happened and, in particular, know that
the Opposition has acted honestly at all times. And we have acted honestly throughout this.

No more questions? Good. Okay. Thank you