This story is important for 3 reasons. I had no intention of reporting on the story until I received the call I describe in Reason 1 below. Reason 1 is the threshold issue that made this story a legitimate public interest story for me.
Reason 1 - The interview with a Labor elder statesman
An impeccable source, a senior Caucus member has given me an account, confirmed in writing, that Minister Albanese was interviewed by a senior Caucus figure in relation to the Thai massage parlour matter and that immediately after the interview (or interrogation as it was described to me) Minister Albanese agreed not to run in any leadership spill. The account of that interview given to me is this:
FYI - [name redacted, a Labor elder statesman] interrogated Albanese on the Thai establishment and Albo quickly relinquished his Deputy PM aspirations.
I've been told that the interview took place on the Wednesday, the day before Crean made his move. This first hand report from a Labor figure provides a plausible explanation for Albanese's decision not to run in any leadership spill. This is not an invention after the event, this is a first hand account given to me by a key Labor figure and confirmed in writing. The report of the "interrogation" taking place is news. The fact of a key Labor figure being so concerned about Albanese's behaviour as to brief a journalist on it is news. This account from a senior Labor figure at least makes some sense of the leadership puzzle and the Albanese/Crean deputy puzzle - that's newsworthy to me. And finally, when this question was put to Minister Albanese in writing by me yesterday, his answer (from a staffer) is newsworthy
Did the Minister discuss his attendance at the True Thai Massage business or any other matter to do with the True Thai Massage business with a senior parliamentary Labor Party figure last week at the request of the senior Labor Party figure?
After several hours with no answers I texted the Minister's staffer and said, "I've waited - I presume you have no comment."
The answer came back, "Correct."
A "no comment" answer, on the record.
Reason 2 - The copy of the Development Application and questions about it came from a federal government figure not me
The thought of a development application being relevant to this matter would never have crossed my mind. The tip on the DA was sent to me by a government figure. The research into the DA and its background was conducted by federal government related people. I'm told that the senior Labor figure was aware of the DA at the time of the interview with Albanese.
Having now examined the DA and taken some expert advice on it I can see that it has major deficiencies and there are clearly questions to be asked as to how any development involving building 2 new rooms to expand a business could have been approved on that application. I think it's newsworthy that federal government people, not me were the source of the DA and queries associated with it.
Reason 3 - Minister Albanese's judgement has been found wanting
I think it's newsworthy that a Cabinet Minister who's a local and who knows the area and its folklore well could have decided to get a massage of any sort at an establishment that is notorious for providing illegal sex services. In the context of it being sufficiently worrying for a Labor elder statesman to interrogate the minister about it I think it's newsworthy that the Minister's judgement was so poor.
I write chronologically and in a form that's more like a young police constable's statement than the style of a reporter on a newspaper. If I was to construct a newspaper style article on the facts that I presented yesterday, it would be something like this.
Albanese "interrogated" on massage parlour visit - "it was therapeutic"
A senior federal Caucus member says that Anthony Albanese was interrogated by a Caucus elder statesmen over photographs that show the Minister leaving a Thai Massage Parlour in his electorate on the afternoon of Friday, 15 March. True Thai Massage is listed on several websites as a provider of "rub 'n' tug" "body slide" and other more graphic descriptions of sexual services. Minister Albanese is reported to have confirmed that he was at the True Thai Massage parlour at the time for the purpose of receiving a therapeutic massage. Mr Albanese said that he was not aware that sexual services were offered at the premises in return for payment. True Thai Massage is not a licenced brothel and it is illegal to provide sexual services for payment at True Thai's premises.
To date no clear reason has emerged that's provided a plausible narrative to explain Simon Crean's eleventh hour bid to stand as Kevin Rudd's deputy in a potential leadership spill. A senior Caucus member says, "an elder statesman of the Party interrogated Albanese on the Thai establishment (on Wednesday last week), and Albo quickly relinquished his deputy PM ambitions".
A private investigator visited True Thai Massage in New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill yesterday at the request of this publication. The investigator did not solicit sexual services, but was offered sexual services for payment when he enquired as to the range of services available.