For two years the Abbott and Turnbull Governments have done everything within their power to cover-up the facts behind Barnaby Joyce’s Hansard changes and the subsequent sacking of the highly respected Departmental Secretary, Dr Paul Grimes.
Late last Friday afternoon, the day after the Parliament rose for a two-week break, I was advised the Government was giving up on its expensive legal battle to prevent me from securing a document under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.
The document the Government released yesterday is a letter Dr Grimes wrote to Barnaby Joyce on March 2, 2015. It leaves no doubt that Dr Grimes was sacked for challenging the Agriculture Minister’s 2014 Hansard changes and cover-up.
It’s no wonder Barnaby Joyce fought tooth and nail to keep this letter secret - it's dynamite.
It lays bare for all to see Barnaby Joyce's complete and total lack of integrity.
The Hansard changes were made to correct misleading statements Barnaby Joyce provided in the answer to my question about drought relief for farmers.
It is clear Dr Grimes had been acutely uncomfortable with Barnaby Joyce’s Parliamentary statements, his Hansard changes and the Minister’s attempts to drag Departmental officers into the scandal to protect himself.
Dr Grimes said:- “I am writing to advise you that I no longer have confidence in my capacity to resolve matters relating to integrity with you. This follows the sequence of events before and following the alterations to Hansard that were made in October 2014.”
Importantly, Dr Grimes also said:- “As I have conducted myself appropriately at all times, I have no intention of resigning or stepping aside.”
It is also clear that Dr Grimes was first bullied and then sacked for standing up to Barnaby Joyce over his Hansard cover-up.
The dismissal of Dr Grimes cost taxpayers more than $650,000. The subsequent review of FOI procedures in the Department of Agriculture cost $90,000. The legal battle to prevent me from securing the Grimes letter cost taxpayers at least another $35,000.
Almost $1 million dollars of tax payers’ money has been wasted trying to protect Barnaby Joyce.
Barnaby Joyce told the House of Representatives a member of his staff made the changes without his knowledge - pigs might fly too.
It is past time the Prime Minister explained what he knew about this sordid affair and explained how he thinks his Deputy Prime Minister can possibly continue in his job.