PM Denies Jones’ Influence over Flint Re-appointment

Prime Minister John Howard has rejected any suggestion he took ‘instructions’ from broadcaster, Alan Jones about reappointing David Flint as ABA Chairman.

Professor Flint is facing growing pressure over a letter of support he wrote to Alan Jones, leading up to the ABA’s cash for comment inquiry.

2UE’s John Laws has claimed on air that the relationship between Professor Flint and Mr Jones goes further than the letter.

Laws says at a dinner party in November 2000, Jones told him he should be careful about what he said about Professor Flint:

“Alan Jones then went on to say: `In fact, I was so determined to have David Flint re-elected that I personally went to Kirribilli House and instructed John Howard to reappoint David Flint or he would not have the support of Alan Jones in the forthcoming election.” (Hear FULL AUDIO in radioinfo’s earlier item: “Laws exposes Jones/Flint relationship”)

The Prime Minister’s Office says it has no knowledge of any such conversation between the broadcasters and Mr Howard does not take instruction from the media when carrying out his duties.

A spokesman says: “The Prime Minister does not take instructions from anybody in the media about appointments, or indeed, anyone else in the discharge of his responsibilities as Prime Minister.

“He has no knowledge of any conversation that may have taken place between Mr Laws and Mr Jones at a dinner party.”

In this morning’s broadcast, Laws went on to question whether he had received a fair hearing from the ABA’s cash for comment inquiry, given the close personal association between Professor Flint and Jones:

“Considering, by his own admission, Mr Flint talks of a stream of letters between himself and Alan Jones, you’d think that would constitute personal association, would you not?

“If the Professor has admitted to the letters, how many telephone calls and perhaps how many other clandestine meetings took place?”

Laws also questioned the Chairman’s decision to chair the inquiry, after being asked whether he had any personal association with any people appearing before it.

He said he shuddered to think about the conversations Flint and Jones might have had about him:

“It’s not unreasonable to suggest that the good professor had a preconceived idea of John Laws before the inquiry began. Did I get a fair hearing?”

Laws has described Professor Flint’s appearance on ‘The 7.30 Report’ as a ‘clumsy attempt at self preservation’.

Shadow Communications’ Minister, Lindsay Tanner, says John Howard must directly address the claims of intervening on the Flint reappointment.

He says the statement is not enough: “This is an allegation of corrupt behaviour by our Prime Minister and he hasn’t directly denied the claim that John Laws has made.

“This is a claim that goes to the very heart of the integrity of our system of government. It’s like a football team getting to choose the umpires for the grand final.

“Mr Howard should immediately come clean on all his dealings with Alan Jones and initiate an independent public inquiry to examine these very serious allegations, being made by one of the most prominent broadcasters in Australia, John Laws.

“They go to the very centre of the integrity of administering our broadcasting system, which is at the heart of democratic debate in our political system.

“The claim is, in effect, that John Howard has corruptly traded appointments to the statutory regulator, in return for political support.”

Mr Tanner says Professor Flint’s position has become untenable and he must resign: “He should have already resigned, but this now just underlines the need for him to get out, to remove himself from the ABA.

“He’s a partisan political player. He’s not a genuine umpire, and it’s crucial we have a genuine umpire.”