July 16, 2004


Further to this, The Australian reports:

Labor and the coalition are at odds over a mystery website which lists what it calls Howard Government lies.

The website, johnhowardlies.com, is falsely registered by a group or person going by the name "ABC DEF".

Well, it was. Hereís how the registration read yesterday:

ABC DEF (ID00124517)
123 Fourfive St
Surfers Paradise, TAS 7003
Phone: +61.123456789

And here it is today:

Tim Grau (ID00124517)
GPO Box 1600
Surfers Paradise, NSW 2001
Phone: +61.299766693

That address is bogus, obviously. The site -- now back online -- has been changed, too, and now claims to be "authorised by Springboard Australia Pty Ltd, 11-25 Wentworth Street, Manly NSW 2095." Tim Grau is the founding Director of Springboard Australia, a PR company. Letís learn a little more about Tim:

He played a key role as a strategy and policy adviser in the small team that saw Wayne Goss elected as Queensland Premier after more than 32 years of conservative government in 1989.

Becoming a senior adviser to Premier Goss after that election, Tim provided strategic advice in key public policy areas, including in economic development, health, education, welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and the environment. Tim also served as the Chief of Staff to the Education Minister during the second term of the Goss Government.

Joining the Federal Government in early 1994, he was a senior political and communications adviser to the Australian Attorney-General, Michael Lavarch, before moving to Washington DC to observe communications, issues management and policy strategies during the 1996 Presidential election campaign.

Upon his return to Australia, Tim was recruited to be Communications Director for a senior NSW Government Minister where he successfully used his skills to provide a strong positive focus for the government in the lead-up to the 1999 State election. Following that election he was appointed Chief of Staff.

Tim is a regular commentator on ABC Radio and frequently addresses forums and conferences on Australian politics, the media and issues management.

Mark Latham says the website "has got nothing to do with the Labor Party whatsoever". Maybe so. But the guy running it has.

(Via reader BB)

UPDATE. This SMH item on the mystery website quotes "website conveners" claiming that "no one involved in creating johnhowardlies.com was a member of a political party."

A phone call to the ALP confirms that a Timothy Grau was a member of the party in 1997 and 1998, and currently describes him as a "non-financial member".


A former Labor Party adviser is the creator of the johnhowardlies.com website, an investigation by The Age reveals.

A company search shows former Labor party adviser Tim Grau is the founding director of the public relations company, Springboard Australia Pty Ltd, that authorised the website.

They needed a company search to find that out?

UPDATE III. Tim Grau is not the siteís creator, he tells Sydney ABCís David Hardacre. He doesnít say much else, however. A lightly-edited transcript (no link available as yet) follows:

Grau: What I can tell you is that my consulting company which is a public affairs consulting company of Springboard Australia was approached by a group of people who wanted to, to do the site and one of the services that I do provide is communications strategy and website and internet strategy development so Iíve assisted them to do that.

Hardacre: OK, so letís clear this then, clear it up off the top. You, yourself have not designed and posted the content johnhowardlies.com - youíre saying that you were approached by a group of people who wanted to post johnhowardlies.com?

Grau: Yes, well I mean I, as, as part of the service that my company provides is obviously helping in design and, and layout and content and so forth, I mean we are a communication company and do do internet strategy. Weíve done websites for other, other clients as well so we have been involved in the, in the development of it but whatís become clear in actual fact is much to the surprise of the original handful of people who talked to us about it is that this has now become a massive movement. We have been receiving, in fact one of the reasons the site was down yesterday was nothing to do with, with the federal governmentís announcements but it was in actual fact, the site was not built to receive the number of hits and the volume of emails that itís getting.

Hardacre: Yeah fine but the point being though that if itís a political website Ö

Grau: Yep.

Hardacre: It may be deregistered if the group behind it isnít properly identified.

Grau: No, no, well, well the site does have an authorisation on it now and itís been authorised by Springboard Australia Pty Ltd.

Hardacre: So is Springboard Australia Pty Ltd simply fronting for a political group? I mean thatís the question isnít it?

Grau: Well itís, I suppose the way I now see it really in fact and its clear this thing will evolve because itís become like the moveon.org organisation in the United States which as you know two million subscribers to it and weíre, weíre now receiving about three emails, three to five emails every minute of people wanting to subscribe to the site.

Hardacre: Right.

Grau: But itís, itís, itís like a lot of the sites that are now in the US and that are around, it has become a communications tool amongst a whole group of people there is no one, one person necessarily who, who owns and runs it.


Hardacre: The point here though is who is paying the bill? Whoís paying the bill? Who is paying for the site?†Whoís paid you to post it? To design it?

Grau: Thatís, thatís a relationship between me and the clients.

Hardacre: Right well the question today is whether or not its paid by the Labor Party or whether itís, or if itís not paid by themÖitís a very simple question to answer.

Grau: (inaudible) I can absolutely rule that out right from the start David. I have, the Labor Party has no involvement in the site, I have not had any discussions with anybody in any political party about the site at a stafferís level or an officialís level. We were as surprised as anybody that the ALP sent it out in their newsletter as we were that the Greens have linked it on their site and if you actually do a search, a google search itís been linked to a whole range of chat rooms and bloggs sites so there is definitely no involvement of the Labor Party at all. Iíve, I myself am not a member of Labor Party and have not been for many years so thereís, the suggestion that Mark Latham is behind this or the Labor Party is behind this is completely untrue. There has been no discussion with them or any political party in relation to this at all.


Hardacre: Now correct me if Iím wrong here but according to reports the administrator of the site was listed as ABCDEF address at 12345 Street, Surfers Paradise?

Grau: (inaudible) Ö

Hardacre: Now is that you?

Grau: No, no Iím not sure how that happened, I Ö

Hardacre: 'Cause that looks quite fishy doesnít it?

Grau: Yeah well I registered the site as I do for other clients, I have got a number of clients Iíve registered through global net saver as a, as a internet hosting company and Iíd indicated to them, in fact Iíve spoken to them again today because of this concern and I said look there is no, thereís no big secret here Iím happy to put Ö

Hardacre: Well that makes it look absolutely like youíve got something to hide.

Grau: But as I said, but we, I had nothing to do or I donít even know how that happened, how that works, that level of technical detail is not something that I deal with but Iíve spoken to global net saver this morning and said that, that, that if they need to or it should be changed to Springboard Australia Pty Ltd in the interim, you know, in the interim until in fact you know, whatís now happening as I said is this has become such a movement that it may be set up as a community group or something or other, I donít know where this is going to go because it certainly has taken off much faster than anyone expected.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 16, 2004 11:27 AM

Clearly... there are too many people in Australia named "Tim."

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2004 at 11:47 AM

Going by Mark Lathams way of reasoning this would be undeniable proof of a Labor Dirt Unit wouldn't it???

It could also be run by either Bob Carr or that dickhead Kevin Rudd.

I noticed for one of the very few times on ABC that Tony Jones actually held Rudd accountable and pointed out his and the Labor party's view on Iraq pre-war intelligence.

I clearly remember Rudd saying in October 2002 that Labor would view it's own intelligence, an oxymoron, on Iraq WMD's. He later said in November of 2002 that Saddam Hussein posed a credible threat to the west as he did indeed have WMD's. Irrefutable evidence he said.

Posted by: scott at July 16, 2004 at 11:48 AM

The ALP can spin this all they like, but surely there's a breach of the Electoral Act provisions on commentary if someone supplies a false address.

Even letters to the newspapers are checked for a valid address as per the Act, so surely this would also apply to a website.

Particularly a website that peddles commentary that influences people's voting choice.

Maybe someone who knows more about this can enlighten us.

Posted by: The Mongrel at July 16, 2004 at 11:59 AM

Nice get, Tim.

Posted by: slatts at July 16, 2004 at 12:03 PM

How about a website marklathamisaviolentlieingthug.com that would be a more accurate website methinks.

Posted by: Dog at July 16, 2004 at 12:06 PM

Go directly to jail. Do not collect $200.

Posted by: Stan at July 16, 2004 at 12:07 PM

The address is a strange combination:
Springbord's postal address is PO Box 1600, but in Manley as noted above.

A check of the White Pages shows a T Grau at 11 Wentworth St Manley 2095, with a phone No of
02 9976 6693, also same as above. Does Mr. Grau have a bed in Springboard's office? Or does Springboard operate out of Mr. Grau's house?

Mr. Grau also seems a little camera-shy. None of the companies with which he's connected seems to publish his photo, although those of numerous other persons are. A Google image search also fails to turn up his face, who for someone with his claimed track record, seems a little surprising.

Posted by: James Riley at July 16, 2004 at 12:15 PM

Hey, You can report lies on the website. I just did, like this one.

ABC DEF (ID00124517)
123 Fourfive St
Surfers Paradise, TAS 7003
Phone: +61.123456789


Posted by: Jon at July 16, 2004 at 12:26 PM

This bloke was an active member of the ALP club at the University of Queensland and if memory serves me correct a contemporary of Mike Kaiser the now assistant national secretary of the ALP. Kaiser was forced to resign as a member of the Queensland Parliament when he was adversly named in the report of the Shepherdson Inquiry into electoral rorting.

Posted by: Just Another Bloody Lawyer at July 16, 2004 at 12:29 PM

Further to my earlier comment about false names and the Electoral Act, here's what John Howard Lies has to say about the matter:

"Initial legal advice regarding ďauthorisationĒ of the site was that application of Section 328 of the Electoral Act to electronic publication of electoral advertising on the internet is unclear or been untested in the courts. The Australian Electoral Commission website confirms that this is the case. Further our advice was that ďauthorisationĒ was not required until the writs had been issued for the Federal election".

In other words, the site hides behind a narrow legal interpretation in order to justify a dubious action (it's "untested in the courts", so it's OK!).

Mmmmm. Isn't that what they say they dislike about John Howard?

Also love the comparison with moveon.org. Looks like we'll be seeing comparisons between Howard and Hitler really soon.

Posted by: The Mongrel at July 16, 2004 at 12:38 PM

The web site makes the following statement in the "About us" section:
The site has been built for us by the public affairs consulting company, Springboard Australia Pty Ltd.

Springboard Australia Pty Ltd provides public affairs, web development, Internet strategy, and media and government relations services to a range corporate and community clients.

Initial legal advice regarding “authorisation” of the site was that application of Section 328 of the Electoral Act to electronic publication of electoral advertising on the internet is unclear or been untested in the courts. The Australian Electoral Commission website confirms that this is the case. Further our advice was that “authorisation” was not required until the writs had been issued for the Federal election.

To avoid any uncertainty on this matter, Springboard Australia Pty Ltd has agreed to “authorise” the site on behalf of its clients.

I'm sure Springboard's clients will be delighted to know that Springboard as Authorised a Liberal-bashing political web site on THEIR behalf!

Posted by: James Riley at July 16, 2004 at 12:39 PM

So f********ing what? Got any "allegiances", bloghead?

Just like Michael Moore, all this publicity from the right wing attack squad will do wonders to draw traffic to JohnHowardlies.com, thus spreading the cheery news that, gulp, John Howard does indeed lie!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Miranda Divide at July 16, 2004 at 12:45 PM

Yet for the past two days,the SMH has run a fairly large banner link to the story on its website. Having a good chuckle to itself no doubt

Posted by: nic at July 16, 2004 at 12:47 PM

Is www.timgraulies.com registered yet? What about www.marklathamliesaboutjohnhowardlies.com?

Posted by: EvilPundit at July 16, 2004 at 12:50 PM

Miranda! We've missed you!

Posted by: tim at July 16, 2004 at 12:50 PM

Being a "non-financial member" means you're not a member, because you haven't paid your fees. This bloke seems not to have been a member for over five years.

Posted by: Robert at July 16, 2004 at 01:04 PM

The ALP has lied, spied and denied.

Posted by: S. Crean at July 16, 2004 at 01:26 PM

Latham's dirt unit. Aye Slatts, a beautiful get.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at July 16, 2004 at 01:26 PM

Let's see, there's TimB, TimG, TimL, TimD, and Tim - er - me.
Not nearly enough Tims, I say!

Posted by: TimT at July 16, 2004 at 01:47 PM

The US-Australia Free Trade Agreement has been passed in the US Senate, with no thanks to Kedwards. As you can check here, both Kerry and Edwards are listed as "Not Voting". Maybe they were too busy attending Whoopi Goldberg speeches.

Posted by: Alex Robson at July 16, 2004 at 02:30 PM

"Clearly... there are too many people in Australia named "Tim."

Andrea - I resent that. They're aren't nearly enough.

By contrast, there is massive worldwide surfeit of Johns.

Posted by: tim g at July 16, 2004 at 02:51 PM

"I was in favour of it before I ignored it" - John Kerry on US-Aus FTA

Posted by: John Kerry at July 16, 2004 at 02:52 PM

Anyone got a list of Springboard's clients?

I'll bet we Spleenville posters can get them to drop Grau, faster than Slimfast dropped Whoopi.

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at July 16, 2004 at 03:04 PM

OT/ Hope the bogus mail from 'me' stopped Byron??

I know - who really cares?

Posted by: CurrencyLad at July 16, 2004 at 03:06 PM

BTW Byron: Springboard's principal clients are thought to be Mark Latham and Bob McMullan. The company has some expertise at facilitating backflips.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at July 16, 2004 at 03:21 PM

It's interesting that the site accuses John Howard of increasing taxes. I thought ALP and other pinkos want tax increases. You just can't please some people.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at July 16, 2004 at 03:41 PM

I am sorry, but all this enthusiasm that the ALP is behind this so called 'dirt unit' does not wash.

1) As far as I know an ALP newsletter linked this site. So what? ALP members get online newsletters all the time (you require to put your membership number and a password to access them) the link could have been placed by the editor of the magazine. He/she probably thought it was a funny site. I wonder if the link was provided on the old fashioned paper version whether the fuss was going to happen.

2) I am an ALP member (fully paid). It does not mean that whatever I place on my blog or site is endorsed by the ALP. Any member of any party is free to set up a website and say whatever they like (within the law).

3) If Abetz thinks that that site is the equivalent of a 'dirt unit' he obviously does not know the meaning of the word. It just lists what the Liberals said and what they did. It does not go into gossip and induendo such as Howard's relationship with Barbara Williams or whether the reason why he spends time in Sydney rather than the Lodge is because Janette does not trust him.

All this silly posturing by Abetz has made more hits for a site that would have been ignored otherwise.

Posted by: Guido at July 16, 2004 at 03:48 PM

A fully paid ALP member, it figures. I imagine if the link was to an anti Latham site, by the libs, showing his billions of lies from labor, you'd be OK with that then. Yeah right. Latham has been caught out yet again for being a gutless lying scumbag.

There's one thing about facts, they really oncover the scaremongering by labor.

And as for labor not being behind a Dirt Unit, what do you call what they did to Trish Draper or Latham questioning Christopher Pines sexuality?

Labor have no policies so they make up lies about the opposition to gain support.

Posted by: scott at July 16, 2004 at 03:56 PM

But Guido, why does this Tim Grau go to such lengths to hide his identity?

It's not the content which is the issue (yet?), it's the secrecy. He was obviously planning to get down and dirty, on the levels you suggested. So you have just thrown up a red herring.

Also, (to repeat) all this is in the context of Mark Latham's unsubstantiated claim, which even Laurie Oakes said was bizarre, that the Govt had a 'secret dirt unit'.

Meanwhile here we have real evidence of ALP members engaging in cloak and dagger stuff.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Posted by: eh? at July 16, 2004 at 04:10 PM

I imagine if the link was to an anti Latham site, by the libs, showing his billions of lies from labor, you'd be OK with that then. Yeah right. Latham has been caught out yet again for being a gutless lying scumbag..

If there was an anti-Latham site created by a member of the Liberal Party I certainly would have no problems with that. I'd be happy to contribute some comments. There is no proof that Latham lied about this site. Why would he? The content of that site is nothing but a distilled version of the ALP main one!

And as for labor not being behind a Dirt Unit, what do you call what they did to Trish Draper or Latham questioning Christopher Pines sexuality?

My comments only referred to the site. Not anything else that was or not was said. All rumors and scuttlebut should be condemned wherever it comes from.

Posted by: Guido at July 16, 2004 at 04:11 PM

Also I just love the usual lefty diversion of accusing us of pettiness or obsession when we raise a legitimate issue.

In the same vein we could indeed start an anonymous website with explicit details of Mark Latham's vices, then respond to complaints with 'Hey its just a tiny website, guys, don't have a cow! No one would have even noticed if you didn't draw attention to it'.

Posted by: eh? at July 16, 2004 at 04:18 PM


Are you really a member of the ALP? How sad. I always wonder why people join organuisations such as the Labor Party which seems to be full of political hacks and thugs who talk about helping "the workers" but who are really out for their own gain.

Posted by: Toryhere at July 16, 2004 at 04:23 PM

Yes I have been a member of the ALP since 1982. I never aspired to be anything more than a branch member (I was a member of a couple of policy committees some time ago). It may be hard to believe but there are plenty of party members like me. I've seen hacks in the Party. But then again there are hacks in any organisation where there is the lure of power. I've been lucky not to encounter any thugs. But then again I always been in the 'Chardonnay drinking/Cafelatte sipping' inner branches of Melbourne.

Posted by: Guido at July 16, 2004 at 04:36 PM

Stinks of dirty, stinking putrid Labor.

Posted by: Kate at July 16, 2004 at 05:18 PM

ALP policy committee? What utter hell.

- Any other general business for the night before we close the meeting and all go home, chairman says, suggestively, glancing at the clock which reads ten o'clock.

- I'd just to raise yadda yadda yadda, a familiar voice says, ominously.

- Oh fuck no, not that blowhard, think the rest.

Five hours later, the meeting closes.

Posted by: ilibcc at July 16, 2004 at 05:30 PM

your thoughts on this matter may of course be directed to Mr Grau via email. mail@springboard.net.au

Posted by: roscoe.p.coltrane at July 16, 2004 at 05:47 PM

Guido you poor bugger. No ALP policy has ever been conceived in the branches. You're just the poor fools who bankroll the operation. Heck, even some frontbenchers don't know Latham's next manifestations of policy, if even he does. Certainly the voters don't and apparently we have to wait until after the next election (assuming he wins) to hear his medicare and health policies. Oh I'm sorry, I mean after the health conference when all views will be considered (heh).

As a professor Helen somebody stated recently in her study, at least the Liberal party's policies reflect the views of their membership. In the Labor Party there is significant divergence between the policies of the party and the viewpoints of the membership. (I could find the link but I can't be stuffed - sorry).

Posted by: Stan at July 16, 2004 at 05:55 PM

I appreciate people who can take a negative and spin it into a positive. For example, on the howardlies site they proclaim in bold letters:

We may have started Australia's first and fastest growing grassroots INTERNET movement.
Australians are flooding to JOHNHOWARDLIES.COM in their thousands.
We've had 18,000 visitors to the site between 6am and 1pm today (Friday 16 July) alone!"

I imagine many of the visitors were like me, looking at the site because of the controversy about it. I am one of the 18K visitors, and do not consider myself part of their "grassroots INTERNET movement".

Internet Legends and pioneers in their own minds.
Perfect examples of delusion, lunacy, and political spin at its finest.

Who in the heck do they think believes this crap?

The MORE LIES FORM (at the bottom) could be used to advantage by exposing whatever lies people feel need to be exposed. Of course, it's only supposed to be for Howard's lies. Could be these wonderful folks may appreciate knowing about *anyone's* lies. Can never tell.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at July 16, 2004 at 06:42 PM

As we're digging up dirt, here's something I'd like to see investigated, though it's a bit old. Like Adele Horin I have my own cringing to a foreigner story: my wife, who was born overseas, met a man from the West Indies who told her he was going back there, 'Because this country is too corrupt. I used to work with Simon Crean when he was boss of the ACTU. Millions of dollars went missing, without any accountability. I've had enough.'

That's all I know. But my wife brings it up whenever she wants to complain. She's not very reliable, but on the other hand she didn't even know who Simon Crean or the ACTU was, so she didn't make it up.

I did a google search and there's no mention of this. In fact the only hits on 'actu embezzling' are a whinge by Latham about the other side of politics.

Seeing as people are putting up inuendo about the PM, I figure the gloves are off.

Posted by: revel at July 16, 2004 at 07:24 PM

Mind you, Crean is potentially our next Treasurer. It's very important that Australia knows that there was no financial hanky panky when he previously had a position of such responsibility.

The Public's Right to Know!

Posted by: revel at July 16, 2004 at 07:38 PM

Well spotted Bruce! er I mean Tim. Mind if I call you Bruce, to save confusion?

Posted by: Bruce at July 16, 2004 at 07:42 PM

Strewth, in Tim's ABC Radio update Grau reads like a man with Luca fucking Brazzi monitoring his every nervous utterance.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at July 16, 2004 at 08:04 PM

..hope the bogus mail from 'me' stopped Byron??...

Yes mate, all quiet on the Yahoo front. I'm getting some sensational offers from rich widows in the Cote D'Ivoire, though. Cheers, By

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at July 16, 2004 at 08:14 PM

..BTW Byron: Springboard's principal clients are thought to be Mark Latham and Bob McMullan...

Right. It figures.

It's going to be an exciting ride if Latham does get in, CL. The bloke is amazingly accident prone.

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at July 16, 2004 at 08:17 PM

when i was a was a young man (teenage) in Green Valley i was fiddle with b y Mark Latham but cant be sure if was him or not Bcos now he has stopp payment . bastard!

Posted by: Bilal at July 16, 2004 at 08:48 PM

Can you remember any distinguishing features, like a birthmark on his plonker, or a half-empty nutsack? Remember- personal injury suits are cactus, but there's a quid in kiddy-fiddlers.

Posted by: Habib at July 16, 2004 at 09:27 PM

Want to thank you for drawing my attention to this website. It's performing an essential public service, and were it not for you, I would never have noticed it.

It has a nice look to it too.

You're a gent.

Posted by: Nemesis at July 17, 2004 at 11:27 AM

Habib, maybe we should start a new site http://www.thenackerlacker.com .

I bet Miranda would be spitting labor chips over a Liberal Dirt Unit.

PS I paid the Labor dirt unit a visit yesterday, johnhowardlies.com, the response should be interesting hahahaha

Posted by: scott at July 17, 2004 at 11:31 AM


What's the story about Latham questioning Christopher Pines sexuality? I missed it and googol don't seem to have anything?

Posted by: Sue at July 18, 2004 at 05:01 AM

Any Liberal party members here? Did you realise that you are interested in furthering rape, slaughter, possibly baby killing, and the long term reign of evil over Australia? Oh good, just checking.

Posted by: TimT at July 19, 2004 at 12:56 AM

BTW, Nemesis raises an interesting point. Tim does a lot of 'unpaid promotional work' for those on the far left - not just Mikey Moore and Tim Grau here. Do people realise that the top referrer to Margo Kingston's web-diary was actually this site? (Oh sure, she lists it as 'spleenville.com', thereby avoiding mentioning Tim by name, but we all know who it is. Unless... say, Andrea, you haven't been linking to Margo on the sly, have you?)

Posted by: TimT at July 19, 2004 at 12:59 AM

Good lord, that's the sort of site design Nemmie likes? I can still see an afterimage when I close my eyes!

PS: TimT -- anything to expose the Wonder That is Margo to the world. Why should Australia be allowed to keep such a treasure to itself?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 19, 2004 at 01:51 AM

Ha ha! That makes it even more deliciously ironic when Margotistas come over here to scold us for not realizing their greatness. Apparently we're the only ones who have!

Posted by: Sortelli at July 19, 2004 at 10:14 AM

Hmmm, link I posted above was: http://lord.dark.tripod.com. Much more entertaining than Johnhowardlies.com

Posted by: TimT at July 19, 2004 at 12:56 PM