'Nearly beyond belief': Clover Moore demands Angus Taylor explain doctored document

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Sydney lord mayor says that six months after energy minister used altered document he has yet to provide an adequate explanation

Clover Moore has again demanded that Angus Taylor explain where he got the altered document which he used to call her a hypocrite on climate change after revelations that he was not interviewed personally by New South Wales police and answered all queries via his lawyer.

“A minister of the crown used fraudulent documents in an attempt to tarnish my reputation and that of the city,” said Moore, lord mayor of Sydney.

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Clover Moore has again demanded that Angus Taylor explain where he got the altered document which he used to call her a hypocrite on climate change after revelations that he was not interviewed personally by New South Wales police and answered all queries via his lawyer.

“A minister of the crown used fraudulent documents in an attempt to tarnish my reputation and that of the city,” said Moore, lord mayor of Sydney.

“Six months later it is nearly beyond belief that the minster is yet to provide an explanation for the origin of those documents,” she said.

The controversy over the “doctored document” erupted again this week, after the NSW parliament published answers to questions on notice by NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller on the police investigation.

Guardian Australia first revealed the existence of the falsified document in October which was used by the energy minister to lambast Moore about City of Sydney’s travel costs . It was then fed to the Daily Telegraph which published a story prominently.

The NSW police interviewed Moore and obtained documents from the council but did not have jurisdiction to obtain documents from the minister’s office in Canberra. A subsequent investigation by the Australian federal police was dropped.

Taylor has told parliament the document provided to the Telegraph was accessed directly from the council’s website on either 6 or 9 September and printed out.

On 25 October, Taylor said: “On 9 September, my office, in preparing a reply to a letter from the City of Sydney lord mayor, accessed a report on the City of Sydney website. The details in that report were the basis of my letter to the lord mayor,” he said.

“What is clear now, is that the numbers in that document were not correct. I reject absolutely the suggestion that I, or any members of my staff, altered the document in question: however, I will be writing to the lord mayor to offer my apologies.”

Fuller revealed they had reviewed IP addresses of visits to the 2017-18 annual report and there were no downloads from the minister’s office on the dates Taylor has specified.

Taylor has repeatedly insisted that the false document he used to wrongly attack Moore for her travel-related emissions was from the council’s own website.

However Fuller’s answers, published on 22 April by the NSW parliament, raise more questions about the origin of the document and raise the possibility that they were downloaded by a third party and sent to the minister’s office.

Taylor has refused to release internal emails and one external email sent from a third party, under freedom of information laws, despite requests from Guardian Australia and the Nine newspapers.

Fuller said his investigations had revealed there was no downloads from IP addresses at Taylor’s office on either 6 or 9 September 2019, the two dates Taylor has nominated in parliament as the date the report was accessed.

Fuller also revealed the first date the police found that the document was accessed by Taylor’s office was 29 September 2019 – the date of Taylor’s letter to Clover Moore.

This raises the question of where the document provided to the Telegraph came from.

A NSW government information request to the City of Sydney by Guardian Australia earlier this year revealed 14 computers accessed the 2017-18 annual report on the website on the 6 and 9 September.

“There are 14 IP addresses associated with 38 line entries in the logs requesting downloads of the 2017/18 annual report statutory returns, either PDF or Word, for the two dates. I understand that some of the entries indicate unsuccessful downloads,” the council said.

“I used an IP address look-up for each address. Two led to a major city council in another state (not Canberra). All the others, as I understood the information, led to an internet provider such as Telstra,” the council officer said.

The city was unable to provide further details due to privacy laws.

Police are able to request details of the owners of IP addresses from internet service providers such as Telstra. Major organisations such as the federal parliament usually run their own internet service provider.

Last year Taylor released a report compiled by his department which showed different computer operating systems produced slightly different formats of the report, but has not been able to again locate the version of the report he said was accessed on either the 6 or 9 September.

Fuller also revealed that NSW police were unable to speak directly to Taylor and that “all documentation was provided by Mr Stuart Hetherington of Colin Biggers and Paisley Lawyers on behalf of minister Taylor.”

He also revealed there was no evidence the altered document had existed on the City of Sydney’s website, as Taylor insists.

“It has been the community’s expectation that the truth would surface, and that the minister would be held accountable. Now we learn the minister did not even speak with police, despite telling us in no uncertain terms he would cooperate fully,” Moore said.

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, and right now that should be the focus of all levels of government. But I look forward to a day, where through further investigation or internally driven accountability, we learn the truth of the matter. If the government intends on restoring the community’s trust, it owes us that much,” she said.

A spokesman for Taylor on Tuesday told Guardian Australia the police report supported the minister’s positions.

“We have always maintained that the report (from the council website) wasn’t downloaded,” said the spokesman.

“As per minister Taylor’s statement on October 25 the report was accessed from the City of Sydney’s website and printed directly from the site which evidence provided by the department (of energy) in response to questions on notice supports.

“The NSW police are only confirming what we have said all along.”

Through a spokesman Taylor also has rejected news reports he refused to be interviewed by police investigating the matter.

It is understood Taylor provided police with a statement and answered questions in writing through his lawyers.


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