Alby Schultz refuses to retract false claims

The following letter was recently published in the Goulburn Post. FoE rang Mr Schultz’ office several times and made a number of requests to get a retraction and apology for his comments about us in a letter he sent to the paper.

Mr Schultz was not prepared to own up to the fact he had made false allegations about our organisation, so we have had to clarify the situation ourselves.

Alby Schultz refuses to retract false claims

As we have seen in recent months, the debate about wind energy can stir up strong emotions on all sides. This is not, however, an excuse to spread misinformation.

Sadly, the federal Member for Hume, Alby Schultz, has been negligent in checking the facts when making claims about our organisation (Goulburn Post, ‘Friends and Enemies’, 29/7/11).

In a letter published in this newspaper, Mr Schultz accused my organisation of being funded by, and hence ‘dancing to the tune’ of, the wind industry and ‘pro wind lobby’.

Our organisation has been in existence for around 40 years. To the best of my knowledge we have never taken a single dollar from a wind company or the so-called ‘pro wind lobby’. We report on all our business, philanthropic, and institutional supporters via our annual reports, which are available on our website. It is unfortunate that Mr Schultz has chosen to make an un founded allegation, without bothering to actually check his facts.

Following the publication of his letter, I rang Mr Shultz’s office several times to try and gain a retraction of his claims, and then followed up with two letters, the second from our lawyers, who advised us that there were grounds to believe we had been defamed by Mr Schultz.

All of us get things wrong from time to time. I assumed that a public figure like a Federal politician would have the courage to make an apology when it has been shown that their statements are incorrect. Having failed to get a simple retraction and apology from Mr Schultz, I am now compelled to send a letter to clarify the situation, given his claims were made in this paper.

I am disappointed that Mr Schultz does not have the basic decency to apologise when he has so clearly mis stated the facts of the matter. I am also surprised that in his written response to us he claimed Parliamentary Privilege in making his statements. If he believes his claims are correct, why does he feel the need to hide behind this Privilege, which is not available to other members of the community?

Yours sincerely
Cam Walker
Campaigns co-ordinator
Friends of the Earth
Castlemaine, VIC

2 thoughts on “Alby Schultz refuses to retract false claims

  1. Quality politicians are a scarce commodity Cam…

    I might be wrong, but isn’t Parliamentary Privilege only available to words spoken during Sitting time in the house? The idea being that members should not feel fettered by fear of legal response, they should be able to raise any matter without fear. That does not absolve them from being truthful but they can be “wrong” about something and not be sued.

    I don’t think pollies have free reign outside the house though, that is different. Perhaps someone could clarify that??.

  2. Geoffrey,
    as far as I understand Parliamentary Priviledge, you are quite correct – an MP can only hide behind it after making the claim first in parliament. Given that Mr Schultz’s comments were made initially in a regional newspaper, I will leave it to readers of this site to make up their own mind about how well this particular federal MP seems to understand this priveledge…

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