November 25, 2012
I'm utterly sick of the media going on and on and on about an the AWU slush fund and allegations of what Gillard might have known or done when she was a Slater & Gordon lawyer 20 or so years ago. It's primarily been the Murdoch media (News Ltd) but, in the last week, it has spread to the ABC and Fairfax (eg., Mark Baker at The Age).
From what I can make out Julia Gillard provided the initial legal advice on the AWU Workplace Reform Association fund, and it was Bruce Wilson and Ralph Blewitt who used the money for union election campaigning. It is they who acted in a corrupt manner and committed fraud, not Gillard.
Nothing I have read shows anything different, nor even gives an explicit account of the allegations against Gillard. It's still all innuendo. The media have now convinced themselves that there is more substance to this story than the agreement on the Murray-Darling Basin plan, or an end to the 30-year battle over the protection of Tasmania's forests, even though its mostly taken the form of slurs, smears and beatups from News Ltd.
Gillard, the media keep saying (eg., Hedley Thomas at The Australian), has an avalanche of questions to answer. But they keep on forgetting to say what these questions are; or how these questions relate to what allegations. They just assume that Gillard has done something wrong, and they are tacitly suggesting that the ALP is responsible for the defrauding of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the AWU. The media demands a comprehensive response from Gillard etc etc.
The media should take a long hard look at itself, as some of the journalists increasingly appear to be acting like the right wing nut jobs who have constructed Julia Gillard as a gender card playing victim who was a corrupt lawyer. They--mostly old white men of the anti-carbon price campaign--- are using the issue to justify their view that Gillard is empty of ability and a proven failure at everything she has tried to achieve. She is an illegitimate Prime Minister with no morality.
The Prime Minister has answered all the questions the media has put, at considerable length at press conferences. So what questions are there to answer? Shouldn't the onus be on the media to provide evidence for their claims of alleged wrongdoing. They need to back up their claims, rather than just reduce journalism to a smear campaign full of innuendo.
The other aspect to The Australian's smear campaign against Gillard is that it is also a corrupt union narrative. This killing two birds with one campaign enables the News Ltd smear campaign to become a legitimate political story for the Canberra media gallery. It has become their group think, or feeding frenzy, a national obsession judging from the media frenzy. The longer this event continues the more the poverty of political journalism in this country is exposed.
As Dennis Atkins points out in The Courier Mail:
Something that began as a charge Gillard benefited from slush fund money for renovations to a house transformed into an incorrect claim the Prime Minister set up the fund and myriad allegations about the purchase of a house in Fitzroy. It now turns on the application of AWU rules and the fine print of the incorporation of the association Gillard advised on.
The allegations keep shifting. The rhetoric from Julie Bishop, the deputy Opposition leader, is now that Gillard has been involved in a breach of the law, since she created the stolen vehicle that the bank robbers drove to the bank, to rob the bank. Cue Hollywood.
Ms Bishop, who has been running the Coalition's pursuit of the issue, dramatically escalated her attack on the Prime Minister this morning by suggesting, for the first time, that Ms Gillard benefited from siphoned-off funds. Bishop said:
I’m the deputy leader of the party and I have very detailed knowledge of the workings of law firms. That is why I am able to say that Julia Gillard set up an unauthorised incorporated association that was in breach of the laws of Western Australia and the reason she didn’t open a file within Slater & Gordon, a file that would have shown a new legal entity was set up was because she, Wilson and Blewitt wanted to hide from the AWU the fact that an unauthorised entity was being set up to siphon funds through it for their benefit, not for the benefit of the AWU.
Bishop is implying that Gillard benefited from the slush fund. No evidence was provided by Bishop in Question Time in Parliament today to support this allegation. She now denies she made the allegation saying that she said, "Wilson and Blewitt are the beneficiaries from the slush fund. I'm not saying she benefited."
It's about time the Canberra media gallery started doing their job and asking Bishop some questions about the Coalition's political strategy. It's pretty clear that it is not about getting answers--it's just to keep on asking questions ad nauseum to crack Gillard and damage the Gillard Government.