Former Midnight Oil frontman and one-time Labor Minister Peter Garrett has once again stirred up controversy after retracting comments initially made regarding Clubs NSW. The Rudd-era MP appeared in an ABC documentary uncovering the secret and invasive influence of the clubs industry on the nation’s many lawmakers. In the documentary (and his soon to be released autobiography), Mr. Garrett claimed he had been offered an illegal bribe worth “hundreds, if not thousands of dollars”. But this week, Mr. Garrett reversed his position.
“A representative came to me and said, ‘look, great to see you coming into politics, and we’re happy to provide some support’,” Mr Garrett told the filmmakers behind the upcoming ABC documentary Kaching! Pokie Nation. At that point, Mr. Garrett said an envelope was handed to him; according to his original story, the newly elected MP returned the envelope once he noticed there was cash inside.
“I didn’t count it,” Mr. Garrett added. “But it was hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. I wasn’t going to accept money from them or from anyone in that way. But it was a very early taste of the way in which this sector could actually operate.”
Once the footage was seen by the ABC’s News Department, journalists attempted to contact Mr. Garrett for further commentary. But now, the ex rock ‘n’ roller’s story had changed. The former Environment and Schools Minister instead claimed that a former staffer had recently informed him that the envelope actually contained a cheque, not cash. And the incident had now taken place well before his election to public office, a coincidence considering that it would have been an offence had the alleged incident taken place.
Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie has been critical of the former Labor figure, explaining that the story doesn’t add up. “For him to turn around now with a completely different story is unfathomable, completely out of character for the man,” Mr. Wilkie told the ABC. “Why he would now abandon that story and talk about there just being a cheque in an envelope, it beggars belief.”
The International Bar Association’s Robert Wyld added that the culture of corruption and “unreceipted cash” was indeed as nefarious as Mr. Garrett originally claimed. “I’ve been told by politicians, former politicians and their staffers of a number of such payments being made across the board from all corners of the political spectrum,” he told the ABC.
Clubs NSW deny that any payment was ever made to Mr. Garrett.
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