"This country's pretty screwed up if decent, working people can't turn to a free and open media to have their say," Michael Smith, Sydney, 8 September, 2011
It's now almost 2 years since my interview with former HSU boss Craig Thomson MP extracted the admission that he approved the payment of Escort Agency bills using his Health Services Union money.
The follow up to that story on union corruption led me to Bob Kernohan. Bob Kernohan produced reams of sworn evidence about The AWU Scandal. I pre-recorded an interview with him for broadcast on 2UE. It was legalled and approved by 2UE's external lawyers, but withdrawn from broadcast at the last minute by Fairfax managers.
This article in The Australian 9 September, 2011 accurately sets out what happened.
Talkback host Michael Smith told to sign gag order
BROADCASTER Michael Smith must make an undertaking not to broadcast material from an interview with Bob Kernohan, former president of the Australian Workers Union, before he returns to air on Sydney's 2UE.
Smith was suspended on Tuesday as Fairfax Media and 2UE management investigated material to be aired in Smith's interview with Mr Kernohan, including allegations of misappropriated union funds.
Yesterday, 2UE management issued Smith with a document requiring his undertaking not to broadcast material from the interview unless the station has evidence to support any claims that will be made.
"If he signs the document, he'll be back on air tomorrow (Friday)," said Fairfax's head of radio, Graham Mott. "If he doesn't we'll have to reconsider our positions."
Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood had no qualms over the suspension. "That was Graham Mott's decision, which I fully support."
The afternoon host remains indignant about the neutering of his questioning of alleged misallocation of union funds by Bruce Wilson, with whom Julia Gillard had a personal relationship before she entered politics.
"This country's pretty screwed up if decent, working people can't turn to a free and open media to have their say," Smith said last night.
Mr Mott said the station was still investigating the claims.
Bob Kernohan showed me the documents that were sent to the WA Corporate Affairs Commissioner with one line of handwriting that stood out. I had samples of Gillard's handwriting sent to me, I sent them with the AWU Workplace Reform Association documents to Paul Westwood OAM, Australia's pre-eminent authority on forensic handwriting analysis. Bingo. New information that put Gillard where she had denied being, at the heart of the AWU Scandal.
I knew Bob was telling the truth then. You know it now. And this is a genuine case where "they wouldn't let the story be told."
Even with the pain my family has been through and the damage to my reputation, that one line that The Australian printed is amongst the achievements in my life that I am most proud of.
This country's pretty screwed up if decent, working people can't turn to a free and open media to have their say.
Michael Bodey from The Australian was the reporter. He phoned me late on Thursday, 8 September, 2011. I'd been suspended on Tuesday, 6 September. Bodey had been told about the Undertaking Fairfax wanted me to sign and he asked me about it. I would not comment on the Undertaking and I told him so. We hung up from each other, but something was eating away at me and I rang him back.
I said, "If you want a quote from me mate, use this. 'This country's pretty screwed up if decent, working people can't turn to a free and open media to have their say'".
I am glad I did not sign the gag order in the form Fairfax presented it to me. I am glad I said what I said at the time about our media.
Sometimes life throws challenges at you and you must decide where you stand on principle.
I stand for the Bob Kernohans, the workers, the honest people who do their bit.
I am disgusted by Julia Gillard, Bruce Wilson, Bill Shorten and the media toadies who help their power networks at the expense of normal honest people and the truth.
I need your help.
You know that Gillard said dreadful things about me in the Federal Parliament in an attempt to shut me down. She is protected under Parliamentary Privilege and I can't sue her.
But her greatest media supporter Mark Latham is not. He said dreadful things about me on Sky TV on a show with Michael Kroger on 28 November last year. He tried to shut me down. He tried to discredit my contribution to the national debate. His comments were published to the Sky TV audience, since then they have also been published to youtube.
He is not protected by privilege. I can sue him. And I will. I have engaged legal counsel, we have the evidence and we are proceeding against Mr Latham.
If you want to donate to fund that, I have reserved an account for that purpose
National Australia Bank
Thank you. Mr Latham, every touch leaves its trace.