The large image below was the image released for the media, ostensibly showing the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd during his briefing on the worsening situation in Syria. The ACTUAL meeting took place in a secure room in Parliament House, and included the Prime Minister, members of his Cabinet, people from the Department of Defence, people from the Office of National Assessments, and also those from the Intelligence Bureaus. As is customary, and for matters of security, none of those people would actually appear in any image. Instead, this image was then set up in the office of the Prime Minister, showing P.M. Mr Rudd behind his desk. Also shown are the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, the Foreign Minister (Senator Bob Carr), the (Junior) Minister for Defence Materiel (Mike Kelly) and his Chief of Staff…..TonyfromOz.
KEVIN Rudd suspended his campaign to attend a national security briefing in Canberra on the unfolding chemical weapons crisis in Syria.
The Prime Minister has come under fire for flying home to Brisbane yesterday to record an appearance on the ABC’s Kitchen Cabinet cooking program, after earlier announcing he was leaving the campaign trail to be briefed about events in Syria.
Mr Rudd today denied announcing he had suspended his campaign, although a transcript shows he did not dismiss a journalist’s suggestion that he had… After recording Kitchen Cabinet in Brisbane, Mr Rudd flew to Canberra yesterday for a briefing on Syria.
On Saturday night, the Prime Minister released a statement claiming The Sunday Telegraph was intending to report that the Prime Minister had delayed a national security briefing on Syria in Canberra because of a previously arranged media commitment in Brisbane.
The statement was released prior to publication and the article published did not state he had delayed the briefing because of his ABC commitments…
The Prime Minister told the ABC’S Insiders program yesterday that, “Mr Murdoch’s newspapers in many parts of the country, stated on the front page that a national security briefing to ministers and myself was abandoned because of other commitments I had in Brisbane. That is 100 per cent false.’’
“Had the newspaper bothered to contact my office, they would have known it was 100 per cent false.”
But News Limited did contact Mr Rudd’s office before publication and included a response from the Prime Minister in all published articles. It did not state on front page he had abandoned the briefing. An online version of the story posted on the website for six minutes on Saturday night used the term “abandon” in a headline and it was immediately taken down as it did not reflect the story.
In a pre-emptive strike, the Prime Minister released a statement on Saturday night, before the article was published online or in the newspaper claiming it would argue he had delayed the Syria briefing. The article made no such claims.
This was the picture opportunity designed to show the Prime Minister getting briefed on the crisis in Syria but none of the national security officials were in the room and the Defence Minister was a ring-in.
Defence Material Minister Mike Kelly has confirmed that he attended Mr Rudd’s Saturday night security briefing under a “succession plan’’ that involves him taking over Defence Minister Stephen Smith’s job if the Prime Minister wins the election…
Mr Kelly told News Corp Australia that the photos were taken in the Prime Minister’s office because the real briefing happened in a highly secure national security briefing in Parliament and none of the intelligence officials who later attended would appear in the photo…
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said the picture opportunity was organised at the request of travelling media and said it was made clear to photographers it was not of the actual meeting. The images instead showed Mr Rudd, his chief of staff Jim Murphy, Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Mr Kelly and his own chief of staff.
The actual briefing included officials from Prime Minister and Cabinet, Defence, the Office of National Assessments and was held in a secure room in Parliament House.
The suggestion was that the Prime Minister had put off the Syria briefing so that he could record the TV show.
With all this flitting between cooking shows and briefings on Syria it’s understandable that Rudd merges the agendas:
Furthermore, when you look at statements made by the White House during the course of yesterday, it was very plain when you have the president of the United States receiving briefings on appropriate responses from the international community and by the United States, a menu of responses to respond to the use of chemical weapons, I have a responsibility to make sure the Australian people are aware of that.
Meanwhile, Kitchen Cabinet host Annabel Crabb recently declined an invitation to appear at a “political-comedy event” in Sydney:
I’m sorry, I am completely tied up before the election I’m afraid. But good luck with it …
So the host of a light entertainment TV show is too busy with the election to attend a comedy event, while the Prime Minister takes time out of the election campaign – and tears himself away from 24-hour monitoring of Syria – to appear on a cooking program. At least one person on the show had her priorities straight.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.