One of the things you can do on a blog that you can’t necessarily do in the mainstream media is run stories that can’t be fully corroborated. This is one of them. Readers will recall that I ran a post the other day about NT Administrator Ted Egan’s breach of the conventions governing vice-regal behaviour. The Administrator made controversial statements in relation to Aboriginal “promised marriages” on last Friday’s ABC Stateline program, and also “confessed” to having made similar representations to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
As I observed, both actions are totally improper in terms of the conventions governing vice-regal behaviour. Chief Minister Clare Martin apparently warned Mr Egan about becoming involved in controversial issues, but understandably soft-pedalled the issue publicly by denying that he had done anything wrong.
As it turned out, the Chief Minister probably should have been rather more blunt with Ted, because it seems he’s a slow learner. I am reliably informed (from 2 separate sources) that Ted Egan was listed to give evidence yesterday before the Senate Select Committee of Inquiry into the Administration of Indigenous Affairs (which is inquiring into the abolition of ATSIC). It was taking evidence yesterday in Nhullunbuy. Apparently Ted was going to give evidence as a “private citizen”. I guess he must have thought that was enough to get around his constitutional obligations as Administrator. He was wrong (yet again).
Journalists got wind of the fact that Ted was listed to give evidence, and contacted the Chief Minister’s office for comment. Suddenly everything went quiet. Ted Egan never appeared, and Senate Committee staff are declining to say anything on the record. As a result, the mainstream media can’t publish the story, because it would probably be denied. The cover story now being put around is that Ted was just going to attend the Committee hearings as an “observer”. Everyone knows it’s a lie, but no-one can prove it.
It’s time Ted Egan made up his mind. If he wants to remain as Administrator, he must keep his mouth shut on controversial issues, whether he labels himself Ted Egan private citizen or Ted the Administrator. If he wants the luxury of unrestricted freedom of speech, he’ll need to resign.