“All the public evidence to date is that no such document ever existed on the website, the altered document has only ever been provided by your office and the doctored figures have only ever been used by you in your letter.”
Mr Burke said in the letter that the minister’s explanations to date “have been far-fetched”.
“As you should be aware, deliberately misleading the House of Representatives is a serious matter and can constitute a contempt of the House,” he wrote.
Mr Taylor wrote to Ms Moore on October 31 apologising “unreservedly” for using incorrect figures in a letter he had previously sent her, which was leaked to the Telegraph as the basis of its story.
But he has stood by his explanation that a staffer had downloaded a PDF of the annual report provided to the journalist from the City of Sydney website – which the council has dismissed, using the metadata from its website to insist its statutory report had been unchanged online.
Mr Taylor told the House of Representatives on the final day of the last sitting period: “The document was drawn directly from the City of Sydney’s website. It was publicly available.”
Mr Burke said this “simply doesn’t add up” and Mr Taylor had “plainly failed to substantiate” his claim made in Parliament. He pointed to the National Library of Australia’s Trove archive, which showed both the PDF and Word versions of the annual report on the council website contained the correct figures on April 20.
Officials quizzed about the matter during a Senate estimates hearing last week said the environment department provided a draft letter to Mr Taylor’s office on September 4 which contained no travel figures, which were later added without the department’s involvement.
While the minister’s office told theTelegraph it had accessed the report on the website on September 6, Mr Taylor told reporters this had taken place on September 9.
A spokesman for Mr Taylor said the minister had already made a “full statement” addressing the matter and had written to Ms Moore to apologise.
The minister said in the letter: “It is now clear to me that the correspondence I sent you … included numbers that were not correct.
Given this, I regret not clarifying those figures with you before writing, and relying on those figures in media commentary, I apologise unreservedly.”
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.