In the past two years, the NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs and Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Charlie Lynn, has plagiarised material for at least twelve of his speeches to the Parliament.
In July, Lynn threatened to leave the Government and the Liberal Party to sit on the Upper House crossbench if his wishes regarding local government preselections were not acceded to. After newspaper reports that a “dirt file” would be “unleashed” and following a meeting with Premier Barry O’Farrell, Lynn failed to carry out his threat.
By virtue of his role as Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs and his military experience, notably as a veteran of the Vietnam War, Lynn usually leads for the Government in Upper House debates on matters of a military nature.
This was the case last week when he led debate to mark the deaths of the Australian servicemen killed in Afghanistan within 24 hours over 29 and 30 August.
In a nine paragraph speech that took six minutes to deliver, Lynn:
- cut and paste large sections of Department of Defence media statements issued to announce the servicemen’s deaths,
- recycled material from a tribute offered to another fallen serviceman by Premier Barry O’Farrell in a tribute in the Parliament in 2011; and
- repeated his own material in the course of the speech.
A speech on 16 August to mark an arts award, sponsored by the NSW RSL, saw virtually all but two paragraphs directly lifted either from a media release from the NSW Department of Education and Communities or from the Australian War Memorial’s website entry on the tradition of the red poppy.
The laziness or carelessness extended to incorporating a photo caption from the War Memorial’s piece into his speech:
At this point, Lynn’s speech reads:
The Roll of Honour is dotted with red poppies. The poppy has also become very popular in wreaths used on Anzac Day. An early instance took place in Palestine, where poppies grow abundantly in the spring.
At the Dawn Service in 1940 each soldier dropped a poppy as he filed past the Stone of Remembrance. A senior Australian officer also laid a wreath of poppies picked from the slopes of Mt Scopus. Poppies adorn the panels of the memorial’s Roll of Honour, placed beside names as a small personal tribute to the memory of a particular person, or to any of the thousands of individuals commemorated there.
In a speech in June of this year to mark the passing of Wally Thompson AO, the Australian Army’s first Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), Lynn made unattributed use of large sections of a media statement issued by Australian Army and a eulogy given by Warrant Officer Dave Ashley, the current RSM.
Lynn’s speech relied on Warrant Officer Ashley’s eulogy to such an extent that it had the effect of the Hansard reading as if Lynn claimed to be a Regimental Sergeant Major himself.
Another Parliamentary speech, perhaps less egregious than the other instances in its unattributed recycling, saw Lynn extract material used in a 2009 article he had written in tribute to a friend of his, “Jethro” Thompson.
Lynn’s speech to lead a debate on ANZAC Day earlier this year, where less than 1000 words of a near 2800 word speech was original, was reported here.
Another seven speeches involving the unattributed use of material from sources available on the internet are documented here.