May 4

Lindsay Tanner and the Governor-General

Further to the comment here about the former federal minister the Hon. Lindsay Tanner’s new book, my attention was drawn to a reference to Mr Tanner and a court case in Sir David Smith’s book, Head of State, 2005, MacLeay Press at pages 75 to 80.

On 9 May 2003 it was revealed that a woman had launched a civil action against Dr. Peter Hollingworth, then Governor-General. 

She alleged that he had raped her as a youth camp in Bendigo 40 years before.  She was seeking damages.

She had sought a suppression order. Dr Hollingworth then also sought a suppression order until the matter could come before the court and he could give his side of the story.

The suppression orders were granted.

Then a member of the opposition front bench “with leadership ambitions of his own”, Lindsay Tanner, put a question on notice in the House of Representatives about the suppression orders.

… disregard to the feelings of the woman's family…. 

(Continued below)

He did this without telling his leader and with total disregard to the feelings of the woman's family,” wrote Sir David. 

“The woman had a history of mental disturbance, and had committed suicide two weeks earlier.

“Her family had wanted the suppression order to remain in force.  But the ambitious opposition frontbencher was more concerned to inflict further damage on the Gov Gen, and the Prime Minister, and had no time for the feelings of the distraught family.

“With the suicide of the plaintiff and with the possibility that the case might not proceed, thus denying Dr Hollingworth the opportunity to clear his name of a baseless accusation, he asked the court to lift the suppression order so that he might issue a statement."

The search of church records failed to reveal any record of Dr Hollingworth working in Bendigo in the 1960s.

But as Sir David says, the campaign against Dr Hollingworth continued.  


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