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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

give it a break « Previous | |Next »
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.

SpoonerGillard.jpg John Spooner

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.

Update
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.

Update #2
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.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:30 AM | | Comments (27)
Comments

Comments

Mud sticks.
It was the same a few weeks back when Labor kept going on about Tony having a problem with women. There was no substance to that but on and on they went. And it did effect the poles.So it was ok.
There is a little more substance to this Gillard issue in that she was actually there involved.
In this case it is not a question so much about what she did 17 years ago but how she is explaining it now. It is a question of whether she has selective memory or is telling porky pies again.

put em all in boats and send them to china.

Smear and propaganda of the most transparent kind.

We need a new media, this one is broke.

Les,
what does Gillard have to explain?

She gave an open media interview to the Canberra Gallery some weeks ago; and it went on until there were no more questions from the journalists.

What allegation of illegal conduct does she have to explain?

It's a beatup based on a conspiracy.

Nan,
She has to explain to the people that dont like her that she can be trusted. That is if she wants the numbers to go her way.
She doesnt have to explain anything to you because you already have her picture on your bedroom wall.

Les,
This has been going off and on for 20 years. We have yet to have a substantiated allegation of wrong doing by Gillard, as opposed to the fraud committed by the AMU officials.

So why does Gillard have to prove she can be trusted?

Isn't that assuming she is guilty of wrongdoing? Isn't that reversing the legal principle of innocent before being proven guilty?

"We have yet to have a substantiated allegation of wrong doing by Gillard, as opposed to the fraud committed by the AMU officials."

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop says that she will use Question Time to ask why the Prime Minister "did nothing" to help recover money stolen in the AWU fraud.

Bishop is clutching at straws.

The bad guys are Bruce Wilson and his bagman Ralph Blewitt. The "slush fund" for the re-election of union officials, was used by them to defraud the AWU of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The media are there to ask questions, not answer them. Applying the standard advocated in this post to any number of scandals from the Catiline Conspiracy to Watergate would have meant the scandal went undetected.

I was initially convinced by the August press conference, but as Media Watch noted later, some of Julia Gillard's answers in the conference do not add up, the prime minister's office has been placing extraordinary pressure on the media to kill this story, and the media's job is to report stuff. There were also questions she was not asked, like why she did not talk with Slater Gordon, the police or the union when the scales fell from her eyes in 1995.

Nick Styant-Brown seems to think there are some questions to answer. That is important because in the August press conference Gillard quoted him to make out her case. Styant-Brown can't be a reliable character witness in August and an unreliable source in November.

marianne,

Grow up and stop making stupid comments. This is about politics and the media. Its not about truth and justice.

She has to prove that she can be trusted because this is what the media needs to keep twats interested and because if she doesnt the opposition gains some ground back.
Whether she is guilty or innocent isnt really a factor unless it becomes a court case and then that will be the story.

"...when Labor kept going on about Tony having a problem with women. There was no substance to that but on and on they went. And it did effect the poles..."

First of all, I checked with my good friend Wladyslaw who lives just outside Gdansk... he's never heard of Tony Abbott.

Now you claim there's no substance to the claims against Abbott, despite the PM and others providing a bunch of examples. But Gillard has a persistent yet vague and faint cloud hanging over her, which ... apparently... she MUST explain away.

I think I see where you're coming from...

If you like her and Labor shes telling the truth about all things and if you dont like her and Labor she cant be trusted. And the media just wants it to sell.
Boils down to that i think mars

"The media are there to ask questions, not answer them....the media's job is to report stuff."

Alan, what are the questions? About what allegations?

All that is offered is: "why Gillard did not talk with Slater Gordon, the police or the union when the scales fell from her eyes in 1995."

That is the current Liberal talking point. So what is the allegation re what Gillard has done wrong?

it's a soap opera with lots of atmospherics designed to stoke the hatred of Julia Gillard amongst the conservative base. The Liberals are also hopeful that they can deliver a knock out blow.

There is no smoking gun.

Nothing has been unearthed that can link Gillard to illegality, or link Gillard to knowingly having done something illegal. It's all smoke.

It's a smear campaign to reinforce the meme "union slush fund, bad boyfriend, corrupt lawyer, Gillard" that reinforces the negative perceptions of Gillard on the conservative side of politics. Gillard, for them, should not be Prime Minister.

Its the sort of smear campaign that could be mounted against almost anyone in politics/public life.
I can easily think of at least 4 COALition politicians whose backgrounds would generate both more heat and smoke than this confected crap.
Actual wrong doing is irrelevant its just the repitition of words that drives a perception, no need for the words to be related to reality, just repeat them.
Its disgraceful and the cartoon above is part of that.
Philip Coorey more or less sums it up when he wrote:
"But neither proof nor a thorough understanding among the public of events two decades ago matter so much

would end up with ''union, slush fund, boyfriend, lawyer, corrupt, Gillard'' and that's all that needs to filter out."

Classic smear.

Funny thing is Les... I DO NOT particularly like her or Labor and DO NOT think she is telling the truth about all things.

But I also think it's very unlikely she has anything major to hide in this case. It's a beat-up. It's a circus.

yes and she has a big arse too Fred.

Les,
Fred made a good point with his statement that neither proof nor a thorough understanding among the public of events two decades ago matter so much---what is crucial is the following assocagion:''union, slush fund, boyfriend, lawyer, corrupt, Gillard''

It is pretty close to the point you made earlier--"This is about politics and the media. Its not about truth and justice."

Yes nan and another observation could be that for someone who is innocent of all knowledge of wrong doing that she certainly appeared quite nervous for someone accustomed to public speaking in difficult situations.
I think the eggsperts who read body language may have gone " liar liar pants on fire"

Yes and I noticed Fred agreed with me. I think he deserves a certificate for that.

Les,
very interesting , but specific allegations of wrong doing by Gillard are what is required.

The 'questions to be answered'', line in the conservative media always stop just short of actual allegations against the Prime Minister.

The Coalition's specific accusation is that as a young lawyer in 1992 Julia Gillard was complicit, when she gave advice on the incorporation of an association to her then boyfriend Australian Workers Union official Bruce Wilson and his sidekick Ralph Blewitt, who then used the association to perpetrate an alleged fraud.

They have found no evidence to support the allegation.

"Julie Bishop is saying 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."

The allegation is that Gillard broke the law by helping to establish an AWU slush fund that she knew was set up for dodgy purposes.

Bishop has produced no evidence to back up this claim.

In her press conference yesterday Gillard asked "What is the allegation here?" For a number of awkward seconds, no one in the room had an answer.

It's become a farce.

"She [Bishop] 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."Bishop said that she was not even suggesting the Prime Minister had been a ''knowing party'' to the fraud.

All Bishop's questions during Question Time--and she asked every one---were designed to show that Gillard had benefited from the slush fund.

"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."

Bonnie and Clyde.