Today, in one of the biggest understatements in Australian political history, Andrew Leigh finally came out of witness protection and admitted that he had “made a mistake” after publishing a completely wrong oped earlier in the week.
Showing all of the brazenness and front of the Labor hack that he has now become, Leigh then proceeded to double down on stupid, in the very same breath declaring that
Firms that have big investment stakes in two competitors have an incentive to dampen competition.
In other words, Leigh’s defence seems to be is that his oped was fake but accurate.
This isn’t the first time a politician has made a complete goose of themselves, and it certainly won’t be the last. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
But when it comes to this sort of thing, academics are held to higher standards than politicians. It turns out that publishing fake research is no laughing matter. Leigh is a former ANU Professor, and the work he referred to in his oped was apparently conducted jointly with an ANU researcher.
And Leigh is actually a serial offender. For example, his own data shows that Labor’s oft-repeated claim that
inequality is at a 75 year high
Having today admitted that his oped was full of alternative facts, fake claims and spurious results, Leigh now has some very serious questions to answer – as does the ANU, which should launch a full investigation.
For a start, there is prima facie evidence that Leigh and his ANU colleague could have breached the ANU Code of Research Conduct, which states that:
ANU researchers must disseminate all research findings as accurately, broadly and effectively as possible, subject to restrictions relating to intellectual property, confidentiality, or commercially or culturally sensitive data.
The code also states that researchers need to:
Explain to any sponsor or media outlet who receives research results prior to peer review that the results are not final.
Correct the record as soon as possible, where the researcher becomes aware of misleading or inaccurate statements about their work.
Leigh has done none of these things.
There’s also a good chance that Leigh might have breached the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, compliance with which is a prerequisite for institutions to be eligible to receive NHMRC and ARC funding.
Having so recklessly put the ANU’s funding eligibility and academic reputation at risk, Leigh now has no choice but to fully explain himself and apologise.
If he fails to do so, Bill Shorten needs to demonstrate some leadership, take action, and launch his own investigation.
It’s just not good enough for federal politicians to negligently mislead the public about something so serious, casually admit six days later that they were wrong – and then expect the rest of us to just look away and move on.
Why did Leigh publish fake results? How did something like this happen – didn’t he check his work? Was the article cleared by Shorten or Bowen’s office? Can he reassure the public that he hasn’t done this sort of thing before? Will he retract the article and issue an unreserved apology to the companies he slandered in the article? And why hasn’t he done so yet? What steps is he taking to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again? After this, how can the public believe anything he ever says? Will he give the parliament a full explanation? And is there any good reason he shouldn’t resign from his Shadow Ministry position?
The public is waiting, Dr Leigh: over to you. Perhaps this is all innocent, but it doesn’t look good and you had better explain.