Summary of Evidence given to the

Committee of Privileges relating to

Ms Harriet Swift


1.       A media release entitled 'New vision for the timber industry' dated 1 April 2005 apparently sent by Mr Gary Nairn, the Member for Eden‑Monaro, was faxed to three media outlets ‑ Eden Magnet; ABC South East NSW; and Radio 2EC. Telephone checks conducted revealed that the faxes were sent from a telephone number 02 6492 6325. This number was the telephone service for (telephone details deleted for privacy reasons) Bega Valley Shire Councillor Mr Keith Hughes. Checks indicated that Ms Harriet Swift was also an occupant of these premises.


  1. On 1 April 2006, a facsimile was sent from telephone (telephone details deleted for privacy reasons)  to Mr David Elder, Secretary to the Standing Committee of Privileges. That fax had been produced using Hon. Gary Nairn's parliamentary letterhead and signature block. The fax was addressed to Mr David Elder, Secretary, House of Representatives Standing Committee of Privileges. The facsimile expressed a dissatisfaction with the progress of the Committee of Privileges' investigation of the 2005 incident. It was confirmed that that fax was false. An investigation was conducted and the subscriber of that particular telephone line was identified as Ms Harriet Swift.


3.       Two days later, on 3 April 2006, Mr Philip Mathie received a letter, again purportedly from the Hon. Gary Nairn, dated 1 April 2006 advising him that he had been nominated for an Australian honour and instructing him on how to receive it. Mr Mathie contacted Mr Nairn's office and confirmed that the letter was false.


  1. A letter apparently from Mr Nairn addressed to Mr John Sparkes, the general manager of South East Fibre Exports and dated 1 April 2006 outlined how Mr Sparkes had been awarded an Australian honour, the Order of Australia, in recognition of his patience towards the lawlessness and provocative behaviour by conservationists.


  1. Subsequently a search warrant was executed by the AFP on the (address details deleted for privacy reasons) premises. Ms Swift and Mr Hughes were present during the execution of the warrant. Ms Swift and Mr Hughes assisted and provided cooperation to the AFP members on site and helped them locate a number of items of interest, including documents, computer disks and computer equipment, all of which were seized.



6.       Ms Swift in particular identified a four‑drawer filing cabinet at that residence containing a lever arch folder titled 'letterheads'. inside the folder were numerous documents containing various letterheads of persons and companies. These documents ranged from partially to fully completed letterheads and minute paper. That letterhead file also contained a press release that included the Hon. Gary Nairn's parliamentary letterhead and signature block. The press release was titled 'New vision for the timber industry' ‑ that is, the same title as was on the documents sent the previous year. That document was dated 1 April 2005.


7.       Some handwritten notations were also located on the document and Ms Swift indicated to federal agents that those numbers related to contact numbers for media outlets. Inquiries confirmed that those media outlets linked to those numbers are separate from the three media outlets that had received documents the previous year, and those additional media outlets were. Power FM, the Queanbeyan Age and the Bombala Times. This letter was identified as having previously been sent to the three media outlets the Eden Magnet, ABC South East and Radio 2EC in April 2005.


8.       The letterhead file also contained a copy of the letter sent to Mr Mathie on 1 April 2005 which stated that his forestry industry package had been rescinded. The seized computer equipment underwent forensic examination at AFP computer forensics, and files and images relating to the Hon Gary Nairn's parliamentary letterhead and signature block were located on that equipment. Electronic copies of letters received by Mr Mathie in 2005 and 2006 were also located in a folder, an electronic folder entitled 'Harriet'. An electronic copy of the letter sent to Mr Sparkes of Fibre Exports was also located on the computer hard drive. Also among the documents located on the hard drive were originals of the false reproductions of Mr Nairn's official parliamentary letterhead and signature block.


9.       As a result of this evidence, there is a clear and manifest connection of Ms Swift to the activities of sending the letters purportedly from Mr Nairn. On the balance of probabilities a determination could be made in relation to the responsibility for the activities.


10.   Ms Swift was visited by the AFP and advised that it would not be prudent to continue the activities that she appears to have been engaged in and that there should not be a repetition of further documents being sent on 1 April 2007.