The embarrassingly named “Utegate” saga rolls on, and the mainstream media has been getting itself into a right lather about it all. On Sunday the papers were suggesting that one of Wayne Swan, Kevin Rudd or Malcolm Turnbull were destined to have their position fatally undermined by the saga, depending on precisely how events unfolded over the coming days. The News Limited stable has been particularly vehement about the matter, making best efforts to turn what is realistically a molehill for the government into a mountain. I honestly can’t see it happening. If a head does roll out of this, it will be the head of a subordinate, and for the time being at least this is the most extreme consequence that seems justified.
Thanks to the introduction of the AFP, the matter with the email has become the real deal as far as political backlash from ‘Utegate’ is concerned; any accusations levelled at Wayne Swan regarding favoritism or cronyism are neither here nor there and were quite frankly drawing a long bow to begin with. Politicians of all stripes make representations on behalf of their constituents every day, some of whom, perish the thought, they may actually know. I don’t think there is anything untoward about this. There is no allegation that John Grant has benefited from the Treasurer’s or indeed the Prime Minister’s attention, at least not to a greater extent than any other constituent has. Big, fat, hairy deal.
In any case, now that it has emerged that the email at the centre of the scandal is a “fraud”, it only remains to be seen just who composed the email, if this indeed can be determined by the AFP. It seems to me that there are only really three plausible motives for the hoax:
1) The “email” was produced by someone with ties to (or sympathy for) the Government who hoped to trick the Opposition into taking the bait and overextending its reach.
2) The “email” was produced by someone with ties to (or sympathy for) the Opposition who hoped to generate a scandal from the affair.
3) The “email” was produced as a joke or by someone in a somewhat lighthearted vain and the Opposition and the media have caught wind of it and run with it.
I find it difficult to believe that either Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan or indeed Malcolm Turnbull would have implicated themselves in such an implausible and easily detectable hoax. Therefore one must suspect that a minor functionary with links to the Labor or Liberal Party within the Treasury is responsible for the email, and has acted generally independently on it. Idle speculation perhaps, but I suspect we will know a lot more about just which party will have egg on its face within the next 24 to 48 hours.
As time ticks by, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the position of any of the three political figures implicated in the scandal is at serious risk. The mainstream media might even have to start considering policy issues again sometime in the near future. Crikey.