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FARRAH FORCED IT: Journalist burned confidential ministerial source, leaving Andrew McIntosh a smouldering ruin

FarrahtomazinandrewmcintoshThe fateful decision by the Sunday Age’s state political reporter Farrah Tomazin to unnecessarily specify the party affiliation and committee membership characteristics of a confidential source and her use of actual quotes where it’s understood the source had provided the information on an “on background” basis is central to the shock resignation of the former Minister for Corrections and for the Independent Broad-based Commission Against Corruption, Andrew McIntosh, yesterday.

As you can see, the damning quotes were not a big part of Tomazin’s story and were buried a long way into an article about Shaw’s support among his local Liberal branches.

For reasons that can only be explained by inter-publication politeness, Tomazin’s role in McIntosh’s downfall has not yet received widespread attention even though it is currently the talk of Spring Street.

The truth is that while a ministerial resignation isn’t a great look for the Napthine government, it is really just a blip on the radar for the new Premier who has already set a more self-assured, confident, aggressive and activist tone for what was a listless and hopeless first-term government under his predecessor, Ted Baillieu.

Farrah Tomazin’s position is seen as untenable, Spring Street sources say, after a clumsy breach of her ethical obligations to protect a confidential source…

It’s also seen as a sad situation, as the Herald Sun’s well-connected James Campbell noted in his column today, for the reasonably popular minister McIntosh, who enjoys quite a bit of Liberal party room support, even such that some saw him as a prospective leader. His critics on the formerly united Kroger Costello side never had much time for him, but everyone else kinda liked him as an intelligent albeit laid-back politician.

His popularity is a significant factor in the strong internal government reaction to Ms Tomazin’s unprofessional and arguably unethical disclosure of characteristics of a confidential source. Government sources are making it known they won’t be dealing with Tomazin again and some expect she will need to be shifted from state rounds, given the shocking nature of what she did.

“She burned a senior minister by narrowing down the prospective number of confidential sources to five people. It’s highly unprofessional. Who will ever trust her with off-the-record or on-background comments again? This is a bridge too far,” one furious MP, not favourably disposed to McIntosh, told VEXNEWS this morning.

Other sources familiar with the situation expressed surprise Ms Tomazin actually had such a senior source with the government, and was able to obtain such candid declarations from someone who was not only on the Privileges committee but served as its Chairman, given what are seen as her strong pro-Greensparty/Labor sympathies.

Generally, the view of those serving on the Privileges Committee is that they play a kind of quasi-judicial role, it attracts many lawyers and enthusiastic bush lawyers, and there is great emphasis on the need to maintain confidences and to act in a manner they think is consistent with how a judicial officer might act. Many politicos think that’s all a bit of a joke but mostly those on the committee don’t. As a former barrister, aspiring judge, and generally decent fellow, McIntosh took it all very seriously, with this lapse with Tomazin being the exceptional case, in his case.

One Labor MP dealing with the Privileges Committee some time ago told VEXNEWS they were having such difficulty in having informal chats with its members about an issue they had before it that they were forced to reach out to one of the National Party MPs to get an assessment about its deliberations.

It is, after all, a committee of politicians, and our view is that it is rather absurd to suggest they can or should or ever do really act as judicial officers would.

VEXNEWS understands that the Member for Frankston, Geoff Shaw, the subject of the Privileges Committee process evaluating whether he had rorted his parliamentary entitlements for private benefit, had a confrontation with Ms Tomazin, questioning the likelihood that a government MP on the committee would say what she claimed.

Tomazin told Shaw that she certainly did have such a conversation and that, indeed, she had made a recording of the conversation, most probably without the source’s consent.

Shaw passed this onto his legal advisers and they immediately realised they had hit pay-dirt in terms of challenging the integrity of the Privileges Committee process evaluating Shaw’s position.

It quite possibly means the Committee will not be able to report on Shaw’s conduct at all, potentially shutting down any possibility that he might be held to account for his conduct relating to the misuse of his parliamentary vehicle and related entitlements.

The now independent MP wrote to the Speaker, Ken Smith, who then in turn wrote to the Chair of the Privileges Committee, Andrew McIntosh. Given the way his quotes and description were presented by Tomazin, McIntosh felt cornered and morally obliged to go.

Most journalists think a great deal about how to avoid giving away the identity of the sources in anything they write. VEXNEWS is conscious that many of our sources could lose their job if their identity was established by any means. We go to great lengths to protect and disguise them, even if it sometimes means we can’t tell all that we’d like.

Tomazin appears to have had a casual disregard for the welfare of her confidential source, leaving many of her colleagues and past sources astonished and worried.

Leaving aside the ethical considerations for Ms Tomazin, it is clear she has a very serious practical professional problem, according to Spring Street sources.

Her inadvertent but highly damaging and unnecessarily specific identification of a confidential source is very clearly responsible for McIntosh’s demise.

It’s not all good news for the human disaster zone, Geoff Shaw, the Pentacostal church attending, entitlement-rorting, aggro ex-bouncer and accused stalker, he is not considered likely to return to the Liberal party even though he appears to have reached something of an understanding with new Premier Napthine who is taking a more collegial approach not just with the rogue Shaw but with all Coalition colleagues than his aloof predecessor managed.

Even the Liberal party’s own submission to the Victorian Electoral Commission on the looming state redistribution would make Shaw’s marginal seat of Frankston into a Labor seat.

We think they might be trying to tell him something.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Wait till you all hear about teenage me and Shaw’s problems will grow even more.

    Posted by Local young hairdresser | April 17, 2013, 11:41
  2. If I was the journalist’s paper I’d use this as grounds for dismissal.
    The whole reason journalists get privileges that I as a citizen don’t is to help the democratic system function. By outing a source the journalist has effectively bought the proffession in to disrepute.
    *snicker* as if the crap Failfax serves up doesn’t do that already but the forms must be followed.

    Posted by Scott | April 17, 2013, 12:08
  3. Sympathy for Macca, but why was he talking to an Age reporter in the first place? Why does any government member talk to the Age, apart from telling their hacks to fuck off.

    Any shared confidence with get whispered straight through to the Greens. Ain’t that right, Melissa “Jogging Against Climate Change” Fyfe?

    Posted by bluey | April 17, 2013, 13:16
  4. Ha ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. This Govment is the worst bunch of clowns ever. Into the valley of stupidity I rode. Clowns to the left of me and clowns to the right….. Ha Ha Ha Ha

    H the B

    PS All political parties should take note. Never preselect religious nutjobs.

    Posted by H the B | April 17, 2013, 15:45
  5. How dodgy

    Posted by Rich Torbay | April 17, 2013, 16:31
  6. Hear that beeping sound Farah? That’s the sound of many pollies deleting your number from there phones.

    Posted by Brian | April 17, 2013, 20:15
  7. I’m not the smartish chap, my Doctor said it my be related to my years of self-abuse of my privates.

    Posted by McIntosh | April 17, 2013, 21:04
  8. Pass the hat for AMBER JAMIESON

    Posted by Wild joker | April 17, 2013, 22:02
  9. good night for onions and stakes T-ony S-heldon

    Posted by long gone | April 17, 2013, 22:09
  10. Sorry to see Andrew resign…. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. Sorry who am I kidding. I’m elated. Kew will be mine and Michael Krogers.

    Posted by Tim Clearway | April 17, 2013, 22:44
  11. You can’t catch me i’m the gingerbread man!!

    Posted by Fruit Loop Shaw | April 17, 2013, 23:09
  12. The Age won’t admit their inappropriate handling of source material cost McIntosh his Cabinet post.

    Their denials are as honest as the rest of the crap clap trap they publish as a nasty little tabloid

    Posted by Denile Senile | April 18, 2013, 10:33
  13. Is that a real picture of Farrah Tomazin?

    Doubtful she’d let VexNews into her kitchen or Facebook…

    I smell Photoshop manipulation. Why hasn’t it been ethically disclosed as Vex would demand of others?

    Posted by Faker | April 18, 2013, 11:45
  14. Andrew McIntosh was a competent and committed Minister dealing with areas where there is a lot of public antipathy. The general view is that we spend too much on prisons because prisoners get too many privileges that ordinary citizens don’t. With the Attorney-General and Premier running a tough on crime agenda, the Corrections budget was straining at the seams. The second area of IBAC was one where the public generally feels the most corrupt of all public officials are the politicians themselves.

    Andrew McInstosh did the right and honourable thing in resigning from the Ministry.

    As he is my local member, I hope he can be rehabilitated sooner rather than later.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | April 18, 2013, 15:00
  15. Haven’t we just seen Baillieu and now McIntosh unceremoniously scalped? Shaw thing! Anticipating further Liberal knifings Geoff? God have mercy on them all.

    Posted by RupertsHackers | April 18, 2013, 15:12
  16. At least somebody is getting some of these arseholes off our back. But, Landy, you are right. Nappy is just a useless blip on the radar.

    Posted by wothers | April 18, 2013, 22:54
  17. The Victorian Libs seem to follow the rules of the Westminister system.

    Not so in Canberra by the other mob.

    Posted by Anonymous | April 19, 2013, 17:40
  18. More police tapes. I want Ryan gone

    Posted by Walshy | April 19, 2013, 21:09
  19. Can someone please clarify: is Tomazin male or female? Ta

    Posted by Tiger | April 28, 2013, 13:10
  20. McIntosh was never a winner. Better off without him.

    Posted by Anon | April 28, 2013, 19:26