Junk Explained: Why Was Federal Minister Angus Taylor Under Police Investigation?
Wondering why our politicians are spending their final two sitting weeks obsessed with Angus Taylor MP? Here's why.
The Australian Federal Police will not investigate whether LNP Minister Angus Taylor and his office were responsible for faking an official document to try and embarrass Sydney’s Lord Mayor over climate change.
Taylor was accused of misleading parliament last year after he used a falsified document to claim Clover Moore was a hypocrite for declaring a climate emergency. A full explainer can be found below,
The AFP said there was no evidence to indicate Taylor was involved in falsifying the document.
“Following inquiries undertaken and information provided by NSW Police, the AFP has determined it is unlikely further investigation will result in obtaining sufficient evidence to substantiate a Commonwealth offence,” an AFP spokesperson said.
“The AFP assessment of this matter identified there is no evidence to indicate the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction was involved in falsifying information.
“The low level of harm and the apology made by the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction to the Lord Mayor of Sydney, along with the significant level of resources required to investigate were also factored into the decision not to pursue this matter.”
“Low level of harm” is not the point. Falsified documents coming out of a federal MPs office is not “low level” anything.
— DrGreenie (@Green_Girl100) February 6, 2020
— Daniel Myles (@deejayqf) February 6, 2020
Terrible decision, further erodes faith in our supposedly trusted institutions
— Ribena Cordial (@ribenacordial_) February 6, 2020
Ever listened to a politician and felt like they’re just making stuff up? Well, turns out even other politicians feel the same way. And if you’ve been hearing the name ‘Angus Taylor’ floating around recently, that’s basically why.
Our federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister is in the middle of a shitstorm involving a fake document, a climate change declaration, and a police investigation.
Strap yourself in, it’s a wild ride.
— Lachy (@thewilkshake) November 27, 2019
What’s All The Fuss About Angus Taylor?
Back in June, City of Sydney Mayor Clover Moore followed the United Kingdom’s lead and declared a climate emergency. It was a bit of a slap in the face for the federal government, who had been doing everything they could to pretend climate change isn’t a huge deal.
The intent was obviously to discredit Clover Moore for declaring a Climate Emergency.
Angus Taylor is a barefaced liar!
“Fantastic. Great move. Well done, Angus.”
— 💧GeometricAnalogAndDigitalTime (@mathisnatural) October 25, 2019
In response Angus Taylor, as the Emissions Reduction minister, wrote a letter to Moore, basically calling her a big ol’ hypocrite.
His letter said the council should be focused on reducing their own emissions, considering their annual report showed council had recently spent $1.7 million on international travel and $14.2 million on domestic travel.
He also sent a copy of the letter to The Daily Telegraph, which published the figures on September 30. The thing is, they were wildly incorrect.
#AngusTaylor misled parliament with a forged document.
— [the centrist] (@zippuli) November 28, 2019
When Clover saw the Telegraph’s story, she called Taylor and the Telegraph out for using false information and asked them to provide proof. They sent her an edited page from the council’s annual report, which they said Angus Taylor’s office gave them.
But when Moore checked the real council report, it showed only $4,206.32 on domestic travel and $1,721.77 on overseas visits.
So, the $15 million figure that Taylor’s office quoted was a bit of a stretch.
Where Did The Fake Document Come From?
At first Taylor dug his heels in, calling the whole saga a “conspiracy theory” from the Lord Mayor.
“I make no apology for suggesting that the lord mayor should take real and meaningful action to reduce the City of Sydney’s carbon emissions instead of hollow virtue-signalling through letters,” he said last month.
Morally, sacking Angus Taylor is the right thing to do; politically, retaining him in his ministry will yield considerable political benefit ..
— Ben Broccoli (@phaticism) November 28, 2019
He also claimed he got the false document from the council’s website. But, this couldn’t be true — the council released evidence to show the documents had not been changed since being uploaded (with the accurate figures).
It was also revealed this afternoon that City of Sydney has data logs of visits to its website, which could reveal more about who downloaded the document before it was altered.
So handy the govt passed all those security laws for retaining and accessing metadata. 😂😂🤣🤣 #auspol
— suemazzy (@suemazzy1) November 28, 2019
Taylor has since apologised for relying on incorrect figures, but is refusing to answer questions on whether he misled parliament by claiming he found the fake figures on council’s website.
So the question is, did someone from Taylor’s office — or Taylor himself — make a fraudulent document that would support a politically motivated attack against a council who had embarrassed them on climate change?
On Tuesday NSW Police announced they are investigating that very claim, through Strike Force Garrad.
— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) November 26, 2019
In NSW, the maximum penalty for fraud is ten years in jail. Intention to defraud “by false or misleading statement” carries a maximum penalty of five years.
Why Are People Now Mad At Scott Morrison?
— Mikearoo (@mpbowers) November 28, 2019
News of a police investigation has led to calls for Taylor to step aside as a minister.
Despite this, Scott Morrison is backing Taylor — and went so far as to make a personal call to the NSW police commissioner to discuss the matter.
The PM’s “Statement of Ministerial Standards” Clause 7:1
“…a Minister should stand aside if that Minister becomes the subject of an official investigation of alleged illegal or improper conduct.”#auspol
— Hugh Riminton (@hughriminton) November 26, 2019
Morrison has now officially tied himself to the stinking carcass of Angus Taylor. May they both go down together.#qt
— Marq James (@marqoftheshire) November 26, 2019
For that, he’s copped criticism from all sides, including from former PM Malcolm Turnbull, Labor leader Anthony Albanese, and David Ipp, the former anti-corruption commissioner. They all say it’s inappropriate for the PM to contact the police commissioner who is investigating one of ScoMo’s own ministers.
“If it relates to matters of party interest then he’s using his influence as prime minister to try to obtain the information so that he can make the politically correct decision — that is, whether to keep Taylor or to fire him,” Ipp said.
“I don’t think that’s appropriate. It’s not appropriate.”
Let me get this Straight Morriscum has a Personal relationships with the #NSWPolice Commissioner and after hearing that Police had started Investigating #AngusTaylor he calls the Commissioner and tells Labor to expect Nothing to come out of it !!!What the Hell ?! #auspol
— Lauraine knight (@rainey_knight) November 26, 2019
I bet Mick Fuller is thrilled that #Morrison told parliament that he rang him up and Fuller took his call and discussed a live NSW police operational matter Is this Queensland in the '80s? #qt #AngusTaylor
— Chris Barrett 🐯 🇱🇻 (@selga55) November 26, 2019
It’s also emerged that Morrison and the police commissioner, Mick Fuller, used to be neighbours — and maybe even friends.
Despite this, Fuller said the PM did not ask him any inappropriate questions, and ScoMo is adamant he did nothing wrong. Labor is calling for him to release a transcript of the call to prove it.
Angus Taylor won’t answer what communication he’s had with the PM or the office since Morrison’s phone call with the police commissioner #qt
— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) November 28, 2019
But in trying to defend his decision not to stand Taylor down, he ran into even more trouble.
He tried to make the Opposition look like hypocrites by saying that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard had been under police investigation and didn’t stand down.
He used a quote to back up his claim and said it was from a detective in Victoria’s fraud squad. Only, it wasn’t — it was from 2gb radio announcer Ben Fordham, who had been reporting on the AWU slush fund scandal.
So in trying to defend his minister who is being accused of misleading parliament, Scott Morrison inadvertently misled parliament.
For the record, a 2014 royal commission into trade union governance and corruption found there were no grounds to prosecute Gillard.
We’re almost into the final sitting week of Parliament for 2019, and despite several key pieces of legislation (including one, ironically, called the Ensuring Integrity Bill) still floating around, talk has been dominated by the Angus Taylor drama.
This is a new low in shutting down democratic debate.
For the third day in a row, the Liberals have gagged Parliament rather than defend Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor.
This Government is treating the Australian people with contempt.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 27, 2019
You can expect it will continue to be, at least until the police investigation gives us some answers. Taylor is also due to visit Madrid next week for the UN’s climate change conference.