Australia

NSW police are investigating an altered document used by Angus Taylor's office to criticise Clover Moore

Energy Minister Angus Taylor. Source: AAP

NSW Police are investigating an allegedly fraudulent document shared by federal energy minister Angus Taylor's office, which purported to reveal the City of Sydney council's travel expenditure.

NSW Police has opened an investigation into an apparently fraudulent document used by federal energy minister Angus Taylor to attack Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore over her council's travel expenditure.

A spokesperson for the Lord Mayor confirmed that "the Office of the Lord Mayor has been contacted by NSW Police regarding its investigation into falsified City documents used to inform Minister Taylor's correspondence with the Lord Mayor. The City will fully cooperate with the police investigation."

NSW Police confirmed that an investigation is underway, telling SBS that "the NSW Police Force is in the early stages of investigating information into the reported creation of fraudulent documentation."

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore speaks at a ceremony>
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
AAP

"Detectives from the State Crime Command's Financial Crimes Squad have launched Strike Force Garrad to investigate the matters and determine if any criminal offences have been committed. As investigations are ongoing, no further information is available."

Controversy over the document in question began in September when the Daily Telegraph reported that the City of Sydney Council spent more on domestic and international flights than Australia's foreign ministers.

The story quoted from a letter sent by Mr Taylor to Clover Moore, which claimed that the City of Sydney's 2017-18 annual report "shows your council spent $1.7m on international travel and $14.2m on domestic travel".

These figures differed significantly from the council's publicly available annual report, which reported spending of $4,206.32 on domestic travel and $1,727.77 on international travel.

In emails to Ms Moore's office obtained by The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph said the figures in its story were drawn from a copy of the City of Sydney's annual report provided to the newspaper by Mr Taylor's office.

In Parliament, Mr Taylor has repeatedly claimed that the document in question was "drawn directly from the City of Sydney's website" and was "publicly available".

The City of Sydney says that the documents on its website have not been altered since they were uploaded in 2018.

Mr Taylor has since refused to answer questions about the document.

On Monday, Labor asked Mr Taylor whether he accepted that he misled the parliament when he claimed the document was drawn directly from the City of Sydney website.

Mr Taylor responded that he had "already dealt with this", adding that "Labor and their mates have an insatiable appetite for gossip and smear."

This week the department of the environment also refused access to FOI requests seeking emails and documents about the incident, in part due to an "ongoing process". 

In Question Time today, Taylor said that he would cooperate with any police investigation, but maintained that "this is an outrageous accusation against me by the Labor Party." 

"I reject absolutely the suggestion that I, or any members of my staff, altered the documents in question." 

His office confirmed to The Feed that they had not yet been contacted by the police.