Allan Hird sent a letter to Mr Greg Hunt, Minister for Sport on 5 December 2017
DEC 7, 2017 — It reads:
In the attached brief Essendon Football Club MS17-000325 of 23 February 2017 to you, the Deputy Secretary, National Program Delivery of the Department of Health in paragraphs 2 and 5 stated:
“Consistent with Australia’s anti-doping legislation, the Department was not party to the original ASADA investigation.” (2)
“…the Department has had no direct role in the Essendon investigation …” (5)
Those statements are untrue. Let me explain.
When the original ASADA investigation occurred in 2013, Sport was the responsibility of the then Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. On 23 February 2017, and as it is now, Sport was the responsibility of the Department of Health. Thus, when the Deputy Secretary, National Program Delivery stated ‘the Department was not party to the original ASADA investigation’, the ‘Department’ to which he or she was referring must have been the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport (RALGAS).
At the time of the original ASADA investigation the senior public servant responsible for Sport in RALGAS was its Deputy Secretary, Richard Eccles. Richard Eccles, along with his then Minister Kate Lundy were indeed not just a party to the original ASADA investigation but they drove it.
One just has to google Richard Eccles and ASADA or Richard Eccles and Essendon to find numerous articles which support the claim that the Commonwealth Department with responsibility for Sport was a party and a significant one to the original ASADA investigation.
If further evidence is required I invite you to go the testimony of the then CEO of ASADA Aurora Andruska in the the Federal Court case between the Essendon Football Club, James Hird and ASADA (VID 327 of 2014 & VID 328 of 2014):
The following quote from the transcript, and contrary to your department’s advice, illustrates perfectly the direct involvement of Kate Lundy and Richard Eccles in the original ASADA investigation:
•Mr Young: Ms Andruska, you’ve made a note that the Minister Lundy needs something, and your note says;
Deal with AFL. Support staff sacked. Points off. Players-
•Ms Andruska, in your affidavit you refer to attending a meeting in Canberra on 11 January 2013?—Yes.
•MR YOUNG: Yes. Now, that was a meeting with the Australian Crime Commission, was it not?—Yes.
•And also in attendance was a Mr Richard Eccles from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government for the Arts and Sport?—Yes.
•Yes. Now, Mr Eccles is someone who had a persisting involvement in relation to the investigation that unfolded, was he not?—Yes.
And if that is not convincing enough for you fast forward to August 2013 when Richard Eccles deliberately intervened in the ASADA investigation as this article in the Australian demonstrates:
Let me quote a piece from it:
“Eccles rang, said he had just received a call from Gillon,’’ Ms Andruska said. “What do you think you are doing? I have just had a call from the AFL and it is going to cost them $20,000 in legal fees to respond to your letter you have just sent. It is taking time away from James Hird.’’
So here we have at the bookends of the original ASADA investigation, January and August 2013, the senior Sport bureaucrat’s finger prints all over it.
Minister, you would have to admit that in brief MS17-000325 your department has not been accurate to put it mildly. How then can you rely on its advice, more generally, in the Essendon matter? Whether it is a perception, or the reality, the stench of a departmental cover up now surrounds the Department of Health.
I urged you earlier in the year to seek advice independent of the Department in the Essendon matter. Now that we now have evidence the Department’s advice is faulty I again urge you to institute an independent investigation.
Essendon Football Club MS17-000325 of 23 February 2017:
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