This morning we woke up to a new leak. Julia Gillard has been sending her former bodyguard, now junior level advisor, to represent her at National Security commitee meetings. To be perfectly blunt, there is only one response to a story like this; it isn’t true – it is a lie. A junior advisor, and former bodyguard, cannot possibly deputise for the deputy prime minister at National Security meetings. It turns out that this wasn’t Gillard’s cover story – the leak, apparently, is only half true.
In a strident defence, the Prime Minister said Andrew Stark, a former Australian Federal Police and now member of her staff had kept notes at National Security Meetings she was unable to attend but he had not represented her.
“I attended National Security Committee meetings as I was best able to,” the Prime Minister said. “On those occasions I wasn’t able to attend, Mr Andrew Stark attended to keep notes and to advise me of the proceedings of the National Security Committee.
“Mr Andrew Stark was a member of the Australian Federal Police for 21 years. And I think it is offensive to him, offensive to me and I believe it would offensive to hard working policy right around this country to somehow conclude that a man who spent 21 years in the AFP as a police officer doesn’t know anything about security.”
I have no doubt that Mr Stark is good at his job. I have no doubt that Mr Stark is a patriot. I have no doubt that Mr Stark was able to keep notes.
I do have two questions. First, why was Julia Gillard unable to attend National Security Committee meetings? What else could she possibly be doing that prevented her from attending these meetings? Second, why are the minutes of the meetings unsuitable? Most meetings have minutes (or are recorded) as a record of what was discussed and decided. Why are NSC meeting minutes so inadequate for the task that a junior staffer is sent along to record events?