By Darryl Mason
He helped get the Rudd government elected, he screwed up his wife's career, it cost him $3300 in fines and court costs, a blanket of shame, people shouting at him "you're a fucking dickhead!' in the street, an acre of humiliation :
This event sucked the life out of the Liberal Party, on the eve of the 2007 election.
Gary Clark was convicted last month of breaching the electoral act by handing out the bogus leaflets in his wife's seat of Lindsay, just before the last election.
The pamphlets claimed to have been published by a non-existent radical islamic group, and praised the Australian Labor Party for supporting the Bali bombers.
He has been fined the maximum penalty of $1,100 and ordered to pay more than $2,000 in court costs.
The day the Lindsay Leaflet Scandal erupted, John Howard delivered his last big speech, and it was a pretty good one, but the entire Q & A at the National Press Club was devoted to going hard on Howard over the Lindsay Leaflet Scandal. It was ugly, and across Sydney, you could feel rusted on Liberal voters peeling away by the thousands, throughout the day, in disgust at the filthy sabotage politics that had been attached to their brand.
Clark's wife, retiring Liberal Party member for Lindsay, claimed she knew nothing about it, and when she did, she thought it was, you know, just a bit of a laugh and infamously, a "Chaser style prank".
ABC journalist Chris Uhlmann delivered a dawn phone call interrogation on Jackie Kelly, less than seven hours after her husband was busted hand-delivering the leaflets linking the Labor Party to support of terrorism :
CHRIS UHLMANN: Well, Jackie Kelly, good morning.Cheers. Jackie Kelly and her husband, Gary Clark, destroyed the last chances of the Liberal Party at the 2007 election by what he did, and then what she said.
JACKIE KELLY: Hello. How are you?
CHRIS UHLMANN: Was your husband involved in the distribution of this pamphlet?
JACKIE KELLY: Well, I've read the alleged pamphlet and when I first read it I had to laugh because I think everyone who reads it has their first instinct is to laugh, pretty much everyone who's read chuckles in terms of the parody it does make of various things that have happened during the campaign.
So my view is that it's a bit of Chaser-style prank that an ALP goon squad, which I understand was is led by some unionists, have chased down and hunted down and tried to intimidate and I understand there was even a fight, so yes, I think it was all a very…
CHRIS UHLMANN: But just to establish it, your husband and two colleagues were handing out this pamphlet?
JACKIE KELLY: Well, my understanding is they were letterboxing…
CHRIS UHLMANN: This pamphlet?
JACKIE KELLY: Well, I don't know. Well, I don't know, allegedly. Allegedly.
CHRIS UHLMANN: And this pamphlet says it comes from an Islamic organisation that doesn't exist? It says the ALP wants the Bali bombers forgiven and supports the construction of a mosque in western Sydney. What's funny about that?
JACKIE KELLY: Oh, look, it makes a parody of Robert McClelland's gaffe and those sorts of things. I think its sort of, I think its intent is to be a send-up but it obviously hasn't worked.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Isn't it its intent to drive people away from the Labor Party? Isn't that the intent of this?
JACKIE KELLY: No, well, I think if you read it you'd be laughing. I think it's quite… most people who've read it have sort of said, "Oh, well, that's a Chaser-style of prank."
CHRIS UHLMANN: Alright, who printed it?
JACKIE KELLY: Oh, look, I don't, I don't - I'm not, I don't know enough about it.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Was it from your office?
JACKIE KELLY: No. Absolutely not.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Who funded it?
JACKIE KELLY: I don't know. I don't know.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Who authorised it?
JACKIE KELLY: Well, look, there isn't any authorisation on the alleged document, but certainly our anti-union material has all of our stuff all over it.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Can you guarantee that no funds came from your office, or from the Liberal Party for this?
JACKIE KELLY: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.
CHRIS UHLMANN: So where did the money come from? Someone must have printed it.
JACKIE KELLY: Look, everyone's got home printers and whatnot. I mean, you can do up dodgy flyers how you like. Anyone could have… even the goon squad following.
CHRIS UHLMANN: So you're saying that the goon squad following then printed it, then put it in their hands so they could letterbox it?
JACKIE KELLY: Look, I could send you a number of material that has been put out by "dear residents et cetera" on exactly these same issues or similar issues related to the campaign. I mean…
CHRIS UHLMANN: Was the Liberal state office involved in this joke?
JACKIE KELLY: No, not at all.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Was the Federal office involved in this joke?
JACKIE KELLY: Not at all.
CHRIS UHLMANN: So now you're saying that he - you knew that they were going to be expelled?
JACKIE KELLY: Where is this conversation going?
CHRIS UHLMANN: I rang and I've identified myself as a reporter and I want to know how much you know about this particular document?
JACKIE KELLY: I don't know anything about it, right? I know basically what my husband has told me, his version of events, and obviously what the papers are alleging, and obviously what the ALP is putting about. Now I think there's a certain modus operandi in the ALP that is showing its face here in terms of unionism, using its standover tactics and thuggery. They're on the way back. I mean, they're coming back.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Jackie Kelly, thank you.
JACKIE KELLY: Cheers.
The audio of Uhlmann's interrogation of Kelly is here. A remarkable piece of historic political journalism, and a classic example of why so many Australian conservatives so often hate the ABC.
This is how The Chaser reacted to Kelly trying to associate their comedy stylings to the monumental dickheadry of her husband, and mostly unnamed fellow conspirators.
And here's why Conservatives Don't Do Comedy.
John Howard knew when he stepped up to the podium in the National Press Club in the early afternoon the day the horrible story hit all the headlines that disgust was spreading fast through his Bennelong electorate. It was a nasty story, and it was everywhere. It was the biggest Liberal Party story of the entire election campaign, and the hardest to dampen down, or dismiss.
But Howard knew an even bigger story was breaking as he began his final speech. He'd already lost the election. Bennelong was gone, and with it the prime ministership. His political career was dead.
The text of the Lindsay Leaflet that Tony Abbott knew absolutely nothing about, at all :
"The role of the Islamic Australia Federation is to support Islamic Australians by providing a strong network within Islamic Australia.
"Muslims supporting Muslims within the community and assisting and showing christian Australians the glorious path to Islam.
"In the upcoming federal election we strongly support the ALP as our preferred party to govern this country and urge all other Muslims to do the same.
"The leading role of the ALP in supporting our faith at both state and local government levels has been exceptional and we look further to further support when Kevin Rudd leads this country.
"We gratefully acknowledge Labor's support to forgive our Muslim brothers who have been unjustly sentenced to death for the Bali bombings.
"Labor supports our new Mosque construction and we hope, with the support or funding of local and state governments, to open our new Mosque in St Marys soon.
"Labor was the only political party to support the entry to this country of our Grand Mufti reverend Sheik al-Hilaly (sic) and we thank Hon Paul Keating for over-turning the objections of ASIO to allow our Grand Mufti to enter this country."
A scan of the leaflet :