RMIT City Journal
Secret meetings between Government and Opposition members were confirmed today, after Independent Representative Fergus Williams admitted to their occurrence in the Goolding inquiry.
The inquiry aims to determine the Government’s involvement in the death of health worker Douglas Tickell.
Asked if the secret meetings had taken place between himself and Opposition Leader Dan Miller, Mr Williams replied: “They did.”
The meetings are said to have centred on a potential Coalition, which would bring an end to Prime Minister John Brown’s minority government.
The death of Mr Tickell follows the illegal leaking of his medical records, the leak allegedly linked to a political member.
Director of Communication for Cabinet, Stuart Pearson, said government should be “inclusive rather than intrusive”, and identified Opposition Media Advisor Malcolm Tucker as a key suspect in the source of the leaks.
Tucker said the allegations made him “queasy”, but admitted “Politics is a war”.
“Leaking is part and parcel of politics,” he said.
Mr Miller is expected to issue a response in the coming hours.
Main consideration in covering the story?
The fact a suicide is involved makes it relatively difficult to cover, and the political side of the story was incredibly appealing, particularly the possibility of a minority government dissolving as a result of secret meetings. Juicy stuff. Additionally, the role as a member of the fourth estate must be considered, as we are expected to hold the executive, legislative, and judicial branches accountable. In this case, both the executive and judicial branches must be closely observed and scrutinised.
Main legal implication in covering this story?
Defamation is a considerable issue in a story like this, particularly given the fact Dan Miller has yet to issue a response, so condemning him as a culprit in these meetings would be ill informed and subject to legal action.
Main ethical consideration in covering this story?
Dealing with suicide is, as previously discussed, a troublesome endeavour, such is the sensitivity with which it must be expressed. Additionally, as previously stated, Mr. Miller deserves a right of reply, thus making any accusations against him in print ill advised. Basically, it all comes back to fairness, balance, accuracy.
How to take this story further?
Obviously, chasing up Dan Miller for a reply to these allegations is a must. Furthermore, the Tickell family may have several things to say in relation to the state of their son and their opinion on parliament’s involvement in it.