Monday, March 19

Getting the facts straight on John Brogden

Image shows Daily Telegraph front page headline, Brodgen's Sordid Past, just before Brogden's suicide attemptFirst edition of The Daily Telegraph, August 31, 2005
Following editions reported Brogden's suicide bid

Yesterday's Sunday Telegraph appears to have been a little light on with its history in a report that former NSW Opposition Leader John Brogden had gone overseas because he couldn't bear to watch the drubbing of the Liberal-Nationals coalition at next Saturday's New South Wales elections.

The last par of the story said: "Mr Brogden quit politics in August, 2005, ending a nine-year career. A day later, he attempted suicide after admitting he had made a racist comment about former premier Bob Carr's wife."

The Sunday Telegraph, Australia's biggest selling newspaper, failed to mention that its sister publication, The Daily Telegraph, had a role in driving Brogden into suicidal despair.

As the front page above shows, the Tele made devastating claims about Brogden in its first edition sent to the bush and to the Central Coast on the night of the suicide bid. It's reasonable to believe Brogden quickly learned of this front page.

To my mind -- and I was a Tele journalist for many years -- the story alleging he harassed young women on his staff was reckless with its claims and light on substantiation. It was the sort of stuff you expect in a "celebrity' magazine, full of "it is understood" attributions and direct quotes from unnamed sources, such as those "friends" so often quoted in irresponsible reporting.

Only one former staffer put her name to a quote, and she denied emphatically that she'd had an affair with Brogden.

It does seem Brogden imbibed too freely at boozy functions, and became recklessly indiscreet with banter, often of a sexual nature. His harassment of three women journalists at an Australian Hotels Association, along with his racist remarks about Bob Carr's wife shows that.

It's worth noting that the women journalists did not think the "harassment" warranted further action, and they did not report it in the media. Was that a dereliction of duty?

It was some time later before someone hawked the story to a newspaper, setting in train what looks like a planned political assassination of Brogden.

It would be interesting to learn who handed the "secret shame file" to The Daily Telegraph to complete the assassination. My belief is that it was someone representing shadowy, hard-right forces within the Liberal Party.

Some of Brogden's moderate views were anathema to these people. He supported the drug injecting room in Kings Cross, while it is a fundamental tenet of hard-right conservatives that heroin addicts should be left to kill themselves. Harm minimisation sends the wrong message.

There are several reasons I would not vote for Peter Debnam to become Premier.

First, if I voted for the Libs it would disturb my father's eternal rest.

Second, I do not trust those dark, backroom forces who regard Debnam as their man. I do not know their policies -- although I do know many are rigidly anti-abortion -- and nor do I know whether Debnam would stand up to them.

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