The head of the Rann Government’s original Atkinson/Ashbourne inquiry, Warren McCann, today confirmed he met with Premier Rann to discuss the findings of his inquiry prior to signing his final report, Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today.
In evidence to the Legislative Council Select Committee on the Atkinson/Ashbourne affair Mr McCann said Mr Rann had been ‘anxious’ about the inquiry and he had therefore briefed Mr Rann prior to signing the final report.
“In my view it was completely unacceptable that this occurred,” Mr Lucas said today.
“Mr McCann should have completed his inquiry and final report and only then discussed his findings with Mr Rann.
“The process adopted by the Rann Government raises serious questions about the perception of independence of the inquiry.”
The Select Committee was also told by Mr McCann:
• he only interviewed Mr Atkinson and Mr Ashbourne, and when conflicts in evidence between the two were identified he did not interview other witnesses such as Mr George Karzis, who also attended the briefings with Mr Atkinson and Mr Ashbourne that are at the centre of the conflicting evidence;
• he did not even know who else had attended the meetings between Mr Atkinson and Mr Ashbourne that are at the centre of conflicting evidence;
• a possible explanation for the conflicting evidence was that Mr Atkinson might not have been listening, or might even have been reading a newspaper at the time;
• he did not interview all other key witnesses such as Ministers, government staffers and Ralph Clarke;
• original notes of the interviews with Mr Atkinson and Mr Ashbourne were destroyed and only a summary of the answers was recorded and maintained; and
• Mr Rann had the option of revealing publicly details of the affair when it first happened but instead chose to keep it secret until the Liberal Party blew the whistle seven months later.
“In my view the evidence given today makes it clear the Rann Government’s original Atkinson/Ashbourne inquiry was a ‘pathetic joke’.”