The Government must explain why $1 million of Defence Force expenditure and taxpayers money was wasted on an unfounded attack on journalist Jon Stephenson, says Labour Defence spokesperson Phil Goff.
“The attack on Jon Stephenson’s credibility by both the Defence Force and the Prime Minister creates the impression of a dirty tricks campaign to undermine the questions and the criticism he raised.
“In a democracy it is the role of journalists to raise questions and hold the Government to account. The proper response from Government should have been to answer his questions.
Instead the Chief of Defence Force and Prime Minister wrongly challenged his credibility by alleging he made it up.
“They were wrong and proven wrong in Court and it cost the Defence Force a million dollars of taxpayers money. And when they knew they were wrong, they didn’t immediately halt proceedings.
“The literally million dollar question the Government must now answer is why it got its facts wrong. Was it simply a case of getting bad advice or was it a more sinister attempt to close down a journalist who was asking questions they didn’t want to answer?
“The public is waiting for an explanation from the Government about why their money was wasted in this way, and why it launched an unfounded attack on a journalist who was doing his job,” Phil Goff says.