Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen have in effect admitted on television that Labor Party staff have committed the federal crime of impersonating Commonwealth public officials which carries a jail term of up to 5 years. The Australian Federal Police are investigating as the Liberal Party made a formal complaint on election day (2-7-16) so the matter will likely heat up in the near future and when parliament returns in August.
During the federal election the Labor Party ran a scare campaign advertising that the Liberal Party would privatise Medicare which provides access to medical and hospital services for all Australian residents. This was a lie although it must be pointed out that the Liberal Party has also been known to tell lies during election campaigns which is not a crime in Australia.
The campaign was “devised by Erinn Swan, head of digital at ALP campaign headquarters in Melbourne and the daughter of former treasurer Wayne Swan” (Click here to read more)
But the Labor Party went too far and impersonated government officials from Medicare in their promotion of the Medicare scare campaign as they knew it would be more convincing with the voters. But impersonating government officials is a criminal offence and that is why the federal police are investigating. Various fraud and/or conspiracy to commit fraud laws are also likely to have been breached as well.
Breach of the Law
Division 148—Impersonation of Commonwealth public officials
(1) A person other than a Commonwealth public official is guilty of an offence if:
(a) on a particular occasion, the person impersonates another person in that other person’s capacity as a Commonwealth public official; and
(b) the first‑mentioned person does so knowing it to be in circumstances when the official is likely to be on duty; and
(c) the first‑mentioned person does so with intent to deceive.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years.
(2A) For the purposes of subsection (2), it is immaterial whether that capacity as a Commonwealth public official exists or is fictitious.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.
The Labor Party will argue that they did impersonate anyone and even if they did they impersonated Medicare which is not a person. Well if you ask the people who were deceived by the Labor Party’s text I am sure they will tell you that a person from Medicare sent them the text as the below text example shows. And as the law above says it doesn’t matter whether that person’s job “exists or is fictitious” then a crime has still been committed.
The evidence of the crime
On election day the Labor Party sent text messages to mobile phones pretending to be Medicare as the sender section said “Medicare” and the text said:
“Mr Turnbull’s plans to privatise Medicare will take us down the road of no return. Time is running out to Save Medicare”
Below is an actual text that was sent to the ABC Reporter Monique Ross and she put it on Twitter asking others: “Anyone else get a text from Medicare today?”
The crime was simple, obvious and so incredibly stupid it is impossible to deny a crime took place and evidence is all over the place. It is right up there with former federal MP Mal Brough’s confession of a crime on 60 Minutes regarding the James Ashby/Peter Slipper scandal.
Bill Shorten has failed to apologize to the Australian voters which shows how much contempt he has for the Australian public.
This crime is most unusual in the fact that one of the issues the police will have investigating this crime will not be a lack of evidence. It will be the fact that there are millions of witnesses. For example, everyone who received the text message and everyone who watched Bill Shorten on TV confirm that the Queensland Labor Party did send the text message.
Admission of the crime by Labor Party leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen on TV (See below video)
Bill Shorten in the above video tried to blame the Queensland Labor Party. He said the sending of the text was not part of the national campaign so he was not aware of it. After further questioning he says that Queensland Labor said they did send a text but he did not know what the text said. The interview above was on Monday the 4th July which is 2 days after the election and 2 days after Malcolm Turnbull said it had been referred to the federal police yet Bill Shorten claims he still doesn’t know what the text said. It is just not believable.
Bill Shorten’s chief of staff Cameron Milner quits
On Thursday the 7th of July it was announced that Bill Shorten’s Chief of Staff Cameron Milner had resigned for “family reasons“. This was very odd as Mr Milner had only been in the job since September last year. Mr Milner is also a former Queensland Labor state secretary which is relevant because it is the Queensland Labor Party that sent the text message.
Mr Milner also had oversight of the federal campaign which included advertising. It was reported regarding Mr Milner:
“He also ruffled feathers, insisting on TV advertisements in the dying days of the campaign targeting Malcolm Turnbull’s honesty using an edited quote — even after Mr Shorten came under fire for it.” (Click here to read more)
It is impossible to believe that Cameron Milner, as the person who had control over the advertising campaign and also as the former head of the Queensland Labor Party, did not know that the text message was being sent out.
It looks like an act of desperation by Bill Shorten on election day
The text message above was sent at “11:03 am” on election day. That is about 3 hours after the polling booths opened. So why would they send it then given it clearly took some planning and effort? One hypothesis is that the text message was only to be used if desperate as they knew it was illegal to send it. On election day the Labor Party had probably already done some exit polling by 10.30am and things were likely not looking good for Labor. So the call would have went through to Bill Shorten who gave the text message the green light.
Hopefully the police will find out what the full truth is but someone high up within the Labor Party had to of given the green light to sending the text and it looks like Cameron Milner is the one being lined up to take the fall for Bill Shorten.
Labor Party have form on the board for impersonating government officials
This is not the first time the Labor Party have run a scam like this in breach of federal criminal laws. I wrote in 2012:
On Australia Day, 26th of January 2012, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s office started a chain of events in an attempt to discredit and/or embarrass the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.”
One of Julia Gillard’s media advisors Tony Hodges had Unions ACT secretary Kim Sattler lie to people at the Aboriginal tent embassy in relation to what Tony Abbott had said. Mrs Sattler also lied and said she was from the Prime Minister’s office which was also a breach of Division 148 of the Criminal Code Act 1995. This caused a protest by Aborigines at the Lobby Restaurant when Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott were inside which received international news coverage. Tony Hodges was forced to resign after the media found out what had really happened. (Click here to read more)
And Bill Shorten thinks he should be Prime Minister of Australia.
Bill Shorten doesn’t need to wait until the end of a Federal Police investigation to know what happened was wrong, a disgrace and to apologize yet Mr Shorten is silent on the matter except when forced to answer questions on TV. I think it will be one crime too many in Bill Shorten’s closet for many voters. As head of the Labor Party Bill Shorten should also be charged as he has to take ultimate responsibility and I have no doubt he was involved in some way.
If politicians want to lie during campaigns that is up to them but it does come back and bite them when people vote and that is a big reason why both major parties struggled at the election. But committing crimes to get elected is another whole story and the Federal police could and should charge people for the above crimes. If they don’t then Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin can and will be held to account.
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