November 29, 2012
The Coalition has ramped up its attack on the Prime Minister in the light of Julie Bishop failing to show that the Coalition's campaign was more than smear and innuendo in the form of guilt by association through the tactic of yet more unanswered questions. It has taken the form of slapstick entertainment with a touch of sleaze.
In the Senate Senator George Brandis, the shadow attorney-general, said that it was clear Ms Gillard knew the association's funds would not be used for their stated purpose, which was for the advancement of workers' rights. According to Brandis Gillard knew the funds would be used for the "private purposes" of Mr Wilson and fellow union official Ralph Blewitt.
There is no doubt - no doubt whatsoever - that at the time she was involved in setting up the slush fund, Ms Gillard knew what its purpose was. It is already clear, that from (the association's) inception, Ms Julia Gillard's involvement in this matter has been characterised by concealment, deception, professional misconduct, and it would appear several breaches of the criminal law.
The grounds for this claim? It appears to be that Gillard knowingly mislead the WA Corporate Affairs Commission when she addressed its queries to the incorporation of an association later used as a slush fund.
The West Australian Corporate Affairs Commission wanted to bar the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association because of its "trade union" status. It asked was it a union? If it were a trade union it would therefore be ineligible for incorporation'' under the WA Associations Incorporation Act. Gillard said no. It wasn't a trade union and argued the case for its incorporation.
In so doing, the Coalition claims, Gillard made fraudulent representations and she would appear to be in breach of the law says Tony Abbott. Gillard's position is untenable, says the manager of Opposition business, Christopher Pyne. Some in the media agree.
Why so? What is the argument? We sure need one because Gillard's letter says that the organisation to be registered was not a trade union and the association wasn't a trade union. How do we get to fraud and breaking the law from this?
The problem with the Coalition is their assumption that Gillard is guilty---personally benefiting from the slush (Julie Bishop) fund and knowingly deceiving the authorities about the nature of the association (George Brandis). They then hunt for evidence (documents) to back up their assumption. The problem they have is the documents produced so far do not support their assumption.
So it still looks, and smells, like a smear campaign. Fostering the smear campaign continues to preoccupy the media and the journalists show no interest in the context of the 1990s: ie., the AWU slush fund in relation to union activities (the BLF and later the CFMEU) and the construction industry. The AWU was seen as a tame cat union and had significant employer support in the construction industry. Shouldn't the media be digging into this context instead of engaging in distortions?
Meanwhile, Parliament has taken the first legislative step towards a National Disability Insurance scheme, and it is considering the Gillard Government's watered down pokies reform bill. Yesterday the government introduced the legislative framework for its Gonski-related education reforms, and its Murray-Darling Basin water reform bill is before the Senate.