Daniel Andrews says The Age tape scandal is a dirty mess. On this point, he is absolutely correct: a mess for his leadership, and a mess for Labor’s 2014 state election campaign.
First, he deserves some credit for finally retreating from his unsustainable position of complete denial, pretending there was no case to answer. His initial response was a poor judgement call, for clearly, there was substance to the allegations that Labor officials accessed a dictaphone recording by Fairfax’s Farrah Tomazin.
He spent the weekend getting to the bottom on the saga. This resulted in the chapter and verse admission explaining how ALP state assistant secretary Kosmos Samaras listened to the tape, as did the Labor leader’s chief of staff, John McLindon.
This should have been his immediate response when The Age published on Friday: investigate, then respond fully. It is a case of better late than never, for he needed to act to stop the damage to both Labor and his leadership.
But there are some glaring gaps in what we have heard from the Labor leader — primarily, if the tape and a copy were destroyed, how did it leak to enemies of former premier Ted Baillieu in the Liberal Party?
When confronted with this question on Monday, the best the Labor leader could offer was “believe me, I wish I did”.
It leads to the suspicion that not everyone is being frank and honest within the ranks of the Labor Party. Somebody knows — and Victorian voters deserve to know.
The leaking of the conversation in which Ted Baillieu was critical of Liberal colleagues was an immature dirty trick, the kind of politics that the community at large disdains.
What should Daniel Andrews do? He should continue demand an answer to this question, for it is fundamental. It’s time for those responsible to come clean, for the greater good of the party.
The Labor leader has gone some of the way to stemming the bleeding, and the damage to Labor’s prospects. But what we need now is a full and frank disclosure.