||Issue No. 298||10 March 2006|
Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Industrial: How Low Is Low
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Unions: Bad Medicine
History: Right Turn, Clyde
Economics: Long Division
International: Union Proud
Politics: Howardís Sick Joke
Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Culture: News Front
The Locker Room
Scoop-idity: How The Truth Was Nicked
The journalist who broke the story, David Vincent, told Workers Online the forum was even advertised on the Workplace Express website that he edits.
Vincent said he had been attending the HR Nichols Society since 2001 and was well know to the organisers, who were aware he was attending the conference and that he was present for Minchin's Friday evening after-dinner speech.
"There was nothing clandestine about my being there -my digital recorder was sitting on the table in front of me and was not concealed in any way," Vincent says.
While senior government ministers are no strangers to HR Nichols Society events, Minchin candour was out of the ordinary.
"Usually minister turn up with the message 'you guys are a bit out there, but we are glad you are out there pushing the envelope'," Vincent says.
What was different about Minchin's speech was that he had admitted what few Ministers would do in an open forum - sign up to the need for more extreme change.
Vincent immediately knew the speech was dynamite and had no qualms about publishing the story. "He's a big boy - he knows the rules - there was nothing said about it being off the record."
While the speech was a revelation, nearly as surprising was what happened after the story was posted. Nothing. Despite an extensive subscriber base of union, political and media, no one picked the story up for three days.
"I think this says a bit about the mainstream industrial relations round - as well as the fact that the ALP is not on its game," Vincent says
If it wasn't for a conversation with ABC's Stephen Long, a long-term colleague of Vincent's, the story could still be sitting there. But once he had the tape, Long ran the story on Wednesday's AM show and the bushfire gathered momentum - gaining national coverage and a mealy-mouthed, qualified over-ride from the PM, at the time in India.
While not all in the HR Nichols have welcomed the media attention, Vincent says credit should be given to them for making their sessions open to the media - although he conceded this may change following the Minchin Tapes.
"For a mob that are on about all sorts of freedoms, you'd hope they continue to respect the freedom of the press," he says.
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