Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Attorney-General Greg Smith stung by Ray Hadley

Andrew Clennell | The Daily Telegraph | 22 November 2011

War of words ... Attorney-General Greg Smith and Ray Hadley. Source: The Daily Telegraph

UPDATE 11.59am THE head of the prison officers' union has joined an attack by broadcaster Ray Hadley on Attorney-General Greg Smith, saying Mr Smith's comments about the culture in the prison system are "absolutely disgusting".

Mr Hadley said on air today that Mr Smith had lied on his show yesterday over claims a prisoner had been punched and kicked.

Mr Smith had been defending himself yesterday against claims he denied that he had called Mr Hadley's listeners "rednecks" and The Daily Telegraph's readers "bigoted fools" during comments at a Liberal Party function.

Mr Smith had said he had referred to rednecks but: "I don't want to see people treated like dogs, whatever their status in life. You see a man being marched across a room like a dog recently on television and kicked into a prison cell, that man died two days later, there's an inquest on at the moment .. that's what I was talking on the other night."

Mr Hadley said today film footage of the incident concerned had shown a prisoner being "gently" placed in a cell, not kicked.

On Mr Hadley's program, Matt Bindley, the chairman of the Prison Officers Vocational Branch, said he and his members resented comments by Mr Smith that prison officers treated prisoners under the current culture as "like dogs".

"To be told we treat people like dogs ... is absolutely disgusting and we won't tolerate it," Mr Bindley said.

Hadley countered:"`I think he wants [prisons] to be some sort of retirement resort ... where they're [prisoners] going to be namby pambied."

In a fiery on-air exchange yesterday, Mr Smith denied he made the disparaging comments at the Pennant Hills Liberal Christmas party on Saturday night - despite Hadley saying he had three sources backing up the claims.

Hadley had accused Mr Smith of trying to go soft on "murderers and rapists" and seeking to get rid of prisons boss Ron Woodham.

One version of Saturday's function, from solicitor Mark Turnbull, was that Mr Smith referred to "certain redneck radio commentators" who wanted him to go harder on justice policy.

Mr Smith admitted he wanted less prisoners in jail and said he wanted to change a culture where prisoners were being bashed but he claimed Hadley had been misled.

"Clearly I have some people in the Liberal Party who will do anything to poison you towards me," Mr Smith said. Hadley then asked Mr Smith if he had called his listeners rednecks.

"I did not Ray. I talked about rednecks who supported a culture of ... NSW prisons in the past and it was in the context of me saying how upset I was at the treatment of two men who recently died," he said.

Hadley said: "You better be careful because I've spoken to three people ... who say that you called my listeners rednecks and you referred to readers of The Daily Telegraph as bigoted fools."

Mr Smith said: "I might have used the word redneck but it wasn't in specific regard to 2GB."

Berowra MP Philip Ruddock, one of those at the party, would not comment yesterday other than to say he did not recall comments "of that sort".

Mr Smith said last night: "I did not disparage readers of The Daily Telegraph in any way."

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