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7The Independent Weekly
November 27 - December 3, 2009
Had a false story been published
in this or any other newspaper alleg-
ing improprieties on the Premier s
part, then it s axiomatic that any
subsequent allegation made against
him, even if true, would be less
The private lives of public figures
are discussed in newsrooms as well
as Adelaide cafes and pubs, but the
media generally takes the view that
there is a moat with crocodiles snap-
ping between private and public,
and with good reason. The media is
known more for its rivalry than its
monogamy and its readers are more
or less familiar with the concept of
adultery. Separating private from
public makes sense to all.
Then came the broadcast. There
was Michelle Chantelois, on
national prime-time television,
making sensational claims.
"THERE WAS SEX involved. There
was sexual contact and intimacy
involved," she said levelly. "He had
me on his desk, his Parliament
House desk, in his office. At the
very end when it was finished it was
almost like OK, I have a meeting
now, I have to go . There was more in
the same artery.
Monday morning. The early radio
shows were going bunta. Rann
issued an arguably ambiguous
statement saying he was "saddened"
that the program included a "series
of allegations that were totally
false", but he didn t outright deny
the sex. Had Rann said on Friday
that he would never, ever comment
on the story, he could almost have
buried it alive, but Rann s team lost
Through an hour of snarling
traffic south of Adelaide is the
City of Onkaparinga, and it was
here that Rann and his Cabinet
met on Monday, four days after the
allegations were first aired.
On a dusty mound -- the ABC s
Matt Abraham called it "not the
grassy knoll, but the rocky knoll"
-- Rann gave the media conference
on which his political life would
"As soon as you walk into one of
these," Matt said later, "the envelope
closes around you. It all gets
quite cosy in a way and there are
people sticking their microphones
everywhere. So it s not a controlled
environment, and many would
say that suits (politicians) because
you can pick and choose your
questions and journalists know they
don t have a lot of time, so they re
shouting questions over each other,
often chopping each other off."
"I reject allegations that were
made on that program," Rann
began, and then went on to reject
allegations which had never been
"There were suggestions that I
had sex on the floor of Parliament
House, in my office, between meet-
ings while parliament was sitting,"
The Independent Weekly has not
heard it suggested that there was
love-making in the parliamentary
office on a sitting day, yet Mr
Rann told the media conference
that the accusation involved a
Parliamentary sitting day. Rann
quickly went on to say that on
a sitting day his office is "like a
train station, revolving door on
grand central station which is
constantly surrounded by advisers
and members of parliament
coming out, ministers coming out,
staffers coming out, members of the
Opposition coming out".
The Independent went to Mr
Rann s Parliament House office this
week. We saw no-one in the empty
corridor. His office lights were off.
ministerial offices are empty on
non-sitting days when Rann and his
ministers work in separated offices
scattered around the city. Rann
and his advisers work a moderate
stroll from Parliament, in Victoria
With every sentence, there
seemed more obfuscation. "The
suggestion that I would have sex on
a golf course in Adelaide as a fairly
visible citizen of this state is totally,
absolutely ridiculous," he said.
No one has accused him of having
an ace on the golf course. The
statement from Michelle Chantelois
was they went parking, at night, in
a darkened car on a lonely road next
to the golf course, where even the
indivisible is invisible.
Finally, it got too much for one
reporter. He put it bluntly. "Have you
had any sexual relations with her?"
"I have not had sex with her
and the idea that I would have sex
between meetings in my office, in
parliament house, while parliament
is sitting is so patently ridiculous
that I would have thought all of you
would have known that," he replied,
once again implying that if it didn t
happen on a sitting day it couldn t
have happened at all.
"Lies, damn lies and political
spin," wrote The Advertiser s
Tory Shepherd afterwards,
"and not because that television
interview made you picture the
Premier tabling Ms Chantelois
in Parliament. Get mad because
your Government treats you with
"Because your Premier has such
a profound and obvious aversion to
What should be ringing the bell
of doom is the way he immediately
went into classic Rann mode, the
way he swung into premeditated
and carefully crafted sentences.
"Statements can be literally true,
and simultaneously deceptive."
Rann s media machine is now in
overdrive. Selected reporters were
guests at Mr Rann s wedding in 2005.
One normally invites best friends to
a wedding. Over the weekend some
reporters reported unconfirmed
and unsubstantiated fabrications
that Seven paid Ms Chantelois not
$50,000 but $200,000. On Monday Mr
Rann quoted those reports. "I am
told," he said, "that she was paid an
He doesn t say who told him, but
perhaps he read it in the papers. If
there s an implication that the more
the pay the more discredited the
speaker, consider that MPs get paid
more than most people.
You might have a thousand
reasons to get rid of Mike Rann:
Labor laws which can convict people
and send them to jail on evidence
more flimsy than we saw on Seven
on Sunday night; Labor Ministers
standing in Parliament, accusing
people of criminal behaviour
without a shred of evidence.
Broken promises on the parklands,
Cheltenham, social justice,
WorkCover, political advertising,
misuse of public money -- a
But for his peccadilloes? We pay
him to be Premier, not pastor, but to
keep our trust we must know that
he s telling the truth. Now Mr Rann
is refusing to take a test which will
help establish whether or not he s
It won t test whether he had an
affair with a married mother of
two -- it will test whether he s telling
the truth. This is a lie detector test,
not a test of libido.
Mike Rann s problem is this: the
Premier has made it a question not
of whether he had an affair, but
of whether he s telling the truth.
Either he is, or she is.
She wants him to take a lie
Rann himself made the same
challenge of another Premier,
John Olsen in 1997, over claims
of dishonesty. Rann, then in
Opposition, wanted the Premier s
job. Rann said Olsen had to take a lie
Now Rann is Premier, and will
not take a test he demanded of
somebody else. What s good for the
goose is apparently not good for the
A lie can travel halfway around
the world while the truth is still
putting on its shoes, said Mark
Twain. Or, he could have said, while
it s pulling on its bedroom slippers.
A question of
trust, not sex
From Page 4
Mike Rann drives away after cutting short his press conference. Right: Michelle Chantelois' husband, Rick Phillips, on Monday.
Photos: Hendrik Gout, Danielle Forsyth
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