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Friday, August 8

Tony Abbott's Daughter $60,000 Scholarship Exposed

THE editor of online magazine New Matilda has praised “brave sources” who provided confidential student records to him about a $60,000 scholarship granted to Tony Abbott’s daughter — despite indications the information was obtained illegally.
Chris Graham said yesterday real journalism was about weighing up privacy against public interests. His left-leaning magazine published an article in May ¬saying “testimony and documents obtained by New Matilda” contradicted assurances the Prime Minister’s daughter Frances had received a scholarship based on merit at the Whitehouse Institute of Design.
The Weekend Australian revealed NSW police were close to completing a criminal investigation, the leaked information allegedly involving computer hacking of Ms Abbott’s confidential student files. NSW police have CCTV footage and email evidence that identifies a night librarian ¬accessing Whitehouse Institute files of Ms Abbott, and more than 500 other students on May 20.
The librarian did not return to her job the next day when New Matilda published leaked material related to Ms Abbott. A part-time institute teacher who had email exchanges with the librarian about Ms Abbott’s information that she allegedly obtained from “Edupoint” software resigned a fortnight later when management quizzed him.
Graham has vigorously defended the Abbott scholarship article, arguing it was in the public -interest. Graham — who has ¬declined to confirm whether he is the “Chris” named in one email in the possession of police — went further yesterday by defending unnamed “brave sources”.
In a New Matilda comment piece, he launched a sustained criticism of The Australian and its parent company, News Corp Australia. He concluded with a quip: “Now if only I could convince the NSW police to raid my home.”
Another advocate of the story being in the public interest is Wendy Bacon, the journalism teacher and New Matilda contributing editor whose name ¬appears on the original article with Graham’s. On the day of publication, Bacon declared it was justified in the public interest when a prime minister’s daughter received a $60,000 scholarship, and made no declaration on his register of interests.
Bacon did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. Graham criticised the newspaper in his opinion piece for “false ¬assumptions, misleading statements and big, dirty, factual ¬inaccuracies”.
The Australian stands by its weekend report.


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