Michael Bachelard cuts a sad figure these days after being forced out of his gig at The Age Investigative Unit. He left the daily in very difficult circumstances after being exposed by the investigation of the Victorian Ombudsman as essentially inventing a story attacking cabinet minister Theo Theophanous.
Since then, the wannabe militant MEAA journalist union official has moved his attentions away from attacking people opposed to the Socialist Left faction within the ALP and focused on persecuting quirky Christian groups, demonising them as cults for offences no greater than wearing short-sleeved white shirts.
FALSE CLAIMS A SPECIALTY
Back then, in his life in the fast lane, Bachelard accused the Minister of lobbying a ministerial colleague for a cleaning company to help them win a contract. A pretty serious claim. Naturally Bachelard made it up. Under pressure from the Ombudsman he admitted as much:
But I suspect what happened was I was told it in general terms then I went and found out that there had been a tender process just recently and – and probably somewhere in the murky depths of my mind put two and two together over the actual timing of the lobbying and probably didn’t clarify that down to the point of exactly when the lobbying had taken place.
The timing was crucial because it’s a bit hard to lobby a colleague over a tender that had already been granted by the relevant authority.
The Minister himself has ensured this matter was drawn to Age readers’ attention this morning in a letter to the editor. It’s particularly telling they chose to publish it. Often they don’t print letters that are critical of the personal performance of their staff. In this case an exception was made.
A NEW FARRAGO OF LIES AND ERROR
So with that form, Bachelard attempted a database driven story on the Minister’s life and times in light of recent false claims published about him in the Age.
He trotted out every allegation – no matter how small – ever levelled against Theophanous as he seemed to have nothing new at all. But did he mention the above embarrassment where he was so thoroughly shamed by an official investigation into the allegations he made? Of course not.
He gets it wrong about Greg Sword recruiting the Minister in the days when the sideburns and flamboyant suits of the Victorian ALP – if not its once dominant Left – ought to have been enough to discourage all new members.
VEXNEWS understands Theo joined many years after Swords’ recruitment effort which reputedly included Greg at his most charming: ‘What the f— do you know?’
The errors in Bachelard’s potted biography continue endlessly, he claims the Minister arrived in Australia when eight years old, he was actually six. He claims his father accumulated money over four years to bring his family out to Australia, in fact he obtained a loan from the World Council of Churches. There are many other errors reflecting Bachelard’s already officially exposed level of professionalism.
ABSURDITY COMPOUNDING ERROR
Beyond factual error are spectacular if not completely absurd claims:
“The Theophani singlehandedly destroyed the concept of multiculturalism,” said one former MP.
This former MP obviously doesn’t get out to Richmond or Footscray much. Multi-culturalism seems alive and well.
“It’s like he packaged up all these ethnic votes and securitised them and sold them off,” one observer said.
Nice touch from the anono-observer, with a reference to the credit crunch and all. Problem is the Minister’s supposed allies in this multi-culturalised securitised sale included people who probably weren’t really allies at all, like Sang Nguyen, a former MP who ran his own race, championing anti-communist values within the ALP. If anything, Nguyen was an ally of the right’s Senator Steve Conroy and for a time was considered close with the NUW’s Greg Sword, his former employer.
Bachelard – whose lefty ideology is usually clearly on display for all to see – thinks the pro-investment, pro-development, pro-jobs minister who recently bravely made the case against an abortion law codifying a legal right for six month pregnant mums-to-be having an abortion is somehow devoid of ideology or politics. A little silly in the circumstances. It’s not the Minister having no views that’s the issue, it’s him having the wrong views that upsets Bachelard and provokes outrageous hatchet jobs of the kind he serves up on targets who don’t suit his radical secular, preachy left-wing, wannabe militant unionist agenda.
Compare his vendetta journalism with today’s editorial in the Geelong Advertiser. Someone there is clearly driven by sound values, a journalist’s commitment to truth and a belief in our system of justice. They pull no punches:
You could be forgiven for thinking Victorian MP Theo Theophanous should be in jail, locked away for ever.
Since he held a press conference last week saying he would stand down from his portfolio of Minister for Industry and State Development because he could face questioning by police for an incident he says he knows nothing about from 10 years ago, he has been in a relentless spotlight.
The media has pounced and articles have been printed in the name of investigative journalism which have consistently defied the assumption of innocence until guilt is proved.
It brings to the surface again the right of privacy and the public’s right to know. It’s a philosophical high ground eagerly claimed by both protagonists.
There are questions which should be asked, of course, but surely these are the province of the investigating police officers. It is interesting that a week after Mr Theophanous stood down, he was still to be questioned. What is difficult to believe is his assertion that police, who have told him they will be interviewing him, have not told him what the matter is about. If anything is guaranteed to whet the appetite of the media it is something as patently illogical as that.
If police thought it necessary to send an officer to Greece to interview the complainant, why then was Mr Theophanous not made aware of the nature of the complaint and the extent of any allegations?
The media has kept the public informed and it would seem the extent of the reporting would make it difficult for Mr Theophanous to receive a fair (trial) truly should any matter go before a jury.
Intra-party politics is never far from the surface when it comes to the Labor Party. Mr Theophanous is a political veteran and no stranger to the hurly-burly of factional infighting. He has changed factions more than once and has become a marked man because of it. There has been the suggestion that politics may be involved in the events of the past week.
The public airing of the affair continues to be fuelled by `sources’. The allegations are damaging to due process and are obviously hurtful to the Theophanous family…