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Federal

Aug 20, 2012

This is what the Right is expert at: smearing

It's unclear exactly what Julia Gillard is being accused of having done when she worked for Slater and Gordon. But smears of the Prime Minister are part of a long tradition from the Right in Australia.

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Remember “Utegate”? The Prime Minister had been corrupted by the provision of a car. The Treasurer had provided special treatment for the PM’s mate. The media, and particularly News Limited, went into meltdown. The whole thing turned out to be the concoction of an embittered Liberal Party supporter inside Treasury.

Then there’s the Heiner Affair, a long-running claim that Kevin Rudd covered up child abuse in 1990. Angry right-wing bloggers continue to push this, with support from a News Ltd columnist.

And there was the Mark Latham “sex video” rumour in 2004, born on talkback radio and then given a solid boost by those noted pugilists Glenn Milne of News Ltd and Crikey’s own Stephen Mayne.

And there was Paul Keating’s corruption, supposedly over a piggery (Mayne was still running with that in 2008). Alan Ramsey gave some history about Keating and that “unrelenting and effective political grub” Tony Staley many years ago. And the incessant claims that either Keating was having an affair with a female journalist or a prominent businesswoman, or that he was gay (having been “spotted in Paris with an attractive young man” who inconveniently turned out to be his son, Patrick).

Not to mention Andrew Peacock calling Bob Hawke “a little crook” in Parliament.

Now, it’s unclear exactly what Julia Gillard is being accused of having done when she worked for Slater and Gordon (beyond having bad taste in men, which is something she admits). The firm has stated that she wasn’t sacked, and that there was no evidence that she’d benefited from Bruce Wilson’s actions. But they would say that, wouldn’t they, insisted a News Ltd journalist today, because Slater and Gordon “needs the continuing work that comes from a healthy caseload”.

What that even means isn’t clear — maybe Hedley Thomas thinks Julia Gillard will personally direct Commonwealth agencies to give the firm work. It’s the sort of tenuous, join-the-dots-and-hope logic that pervades these smears.

But if the actual allegation isn’t clear, yesterday provided some in the media with an altogether more serious charge than benefiting from dirty money or being sacked by a law firm: that of upsetting a journalist. And not just any journalist, but a senior journalist, a doyen of the gallery, Paul Kelly. “One of the nation’s most credible political commentators,” thundered The Australian Financial Review. Gillard had “sealed her own fate” thought Neil Mitchell, when she “personally attacked one of the most respected and experienced political journalists”.

An outrage, we can all agree — and, surely, another attack on News Ltd’s freedom of speech too?

Perhaps Gillard shouldn’t have pointed out with annoyance that Kelly was simply recycling old stories without putting any specific allegation to her. Perhaps the appropriate response was sympathy that Kelly, once a credible journalist and keen observer of Australian political history, had been reduced to yet another cog in News Ltd’s smear machine. “There’s no one asking me to ask questions,” Kelly insisted. No, he was merely rehashing the same vague claims that his newspaper, of which he is “editor-at-large”, whatever that is, recycled from right-wing hate blogs.

What are some of the sources for this stuff? Well there’s the website of ’70s Australian cartoonist Larry Pickering, whose misogynist drawings portray the Prime Minister as a dildo-wearing r-pist. Pickering was, many years ago, a Liberal Party candidate, but his main public profile in recent years has been in relation to a fraud probe. And there’s John Pasquarelli, best known for his role with Pauline Hanson (something The Oz has overlooked when it runs op-eds by him), but in the 1980s the Liberal candidate for Jagajaga, and who later worked for Nationals senator John Stone.

My point? Well, “I’m just asking questions”.

This is what the Right does. The Left has its own habits of misconduct, blind spots and hypocrisies, of course. But the Right specialises in smearing its opponents, particularly from opposition, and it finds a willing amplifier in News Ltd.

What’s changed, though, is that whereas muckraking and smearing used to be more difficult when there was only a limited number of media outlets, now anyone can do it. The mainstream media still likes to distinguish itself from bloggers and social media. News Ltd’s stout defender Mark Day once declared that blogging had the intellectual value of graffiti on a toilet door. The Oz used an editorial on the Queensland floods in early 2011 to attack social media for spreading incorrect information.

Apparently, however, new media has undergone a credibility rebirth in the eyes of Holt Street.

Perhaps that’s why, last time we looked at how much trust Australians had in their media outlets, The Australian had fallen nine points and News Ltd newspapers were the least trusted metro titles. News Ltd ought to be careful. Eventually its trustworthiness will be down with commercial radio. Or, even worse, with the blogs that it now apparently trawls for material with which to attack the Prime Minister.

And all for what? As if there aren’t enough valid grounds for critical analysis of Julia Gillard’s prime ministership on policy and political grounds alone.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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99 comments

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99 thoughts on “This is what the Right is expert at: smearing

  1. Warren Joffe

    @Mike Smith

    I am not much interested in what Tony Abbott is saying. It is not what I am saying. Indeed I am only moved to say anything by those who misrepresent or trivialise the facts and issues.

    I see you haven’t chosen to spell out your reasoning on relative importance to the country of sending a 90 year old to Hungary to face trial as against obtaining assurance about the character of the present PM. Incidentally my reference to trial in Australia derives largely from my firm belief that nearly all Australians charged with an extraditable offence should be tried in Australia to ensure a fair trial. For an individual to be incarcerated in another country facing the might of the state is a pretty good prima facie recipe for injustice.

    You trivialise what seems probable, or at least quite possible, from what is known despite S & G’s interest in minimising the affair. Not opening a file and keeping from her partners the opening of a cover organisation for running a slush fund which was prima facie an embezzling operation given the objects of the company, added to the fact that she did facilitate a money laundering operation (if not embezzlement) would have to go pretty close to getting her struck off as a practitioner. Not a crime perhaps but if she is not honourable enough to be a lawyer she certainly shouldn’t be PM. I hope she is innocent but the longer the obfuscation goes on the worse it will look, at least in some eyes.

    a

  2. Mike Smith

    Zentai got off on a technicality, if Hungary had sought extradition on the grounds of murder rather than war crimes, he would have been extradited. Why would Australia try him here? The offence was committed in Hungary, not Australia.

    As for Julia, what case is pending against her that would suggest she should stand down, other than in Tony Abbott’s fevered imagination? Because she did something a past employer disapproved of? Oh, come on. You’re stirring opinion (Tanner’s) with hearsay and analogy, and trying to confect a rather over-egged pudding.

  3. Warren Joffe

    True Mike Smith but would you care to spell out your reasoning for what I logically infer to be your conclusion, namely, that attempting to send a 90 year old to Hungary to be tried for an offence (actually not an offence which existed at the time) supposed to have been committed in 1943/44 is a worthier endeavour than seeking to assess the character, truthfulness and judgement of our current PM based on her own past actions which plausibly show her honesty and judgement at age 35 to have been below acceptable professional standards.

    The governmental forces which surround and protect a PM with obfuscation, threats of counter-attack and so on were obviously not deployed in the case of Zentai [?spelling] or one would have expected half-decent level of intellect and crompetence to be applied. After all he was to be sent to Hungary to be tried in circumstances which would not have qualified as a fair trial in Australia for an offence which didn’t exist at the time as the High Court has affirmed. If the government that the PM leads was truly interested in justice it would have tried or facilitated the trial of Zentai in Australia for murder.

    Clearly the government (led by PM Gillard) didn’t regard it as important to Australia’s interests to do an even half competent job on the Zentai case. I would agree about the relative importance to Australia wouldn’t you? That is it does really matter if we have a dedicated opportunist politician as PM (I refer again to Lindsay Tanner’s opinion, one of the few from the Rudd cabinet to be valued) who seems to have behaved with at best gross negligence towards her partners and, again at best, aided the setting up of a “slush fund” [her own words] under cover of setting up a company with misleading objectives.

    Remember when the transparently honest Jim Short had to resign as a minister under John Howard because he had overlooked recording some trivial holding of bank shares which some third rate journalist who had never saved or invested a cent might have construed as involving a conflict of interest. Remember when Ian Sinclair, a very senior minister, had to stand down as a minister to defend a case, successfully, that he had done something wrong as an executor? And Gillard is our PM remember. Do you want one who is subject to pressure, maybe blackmail, from former Slate & Gordon people (and others)? Oh but that’s not the case at all!?! Well, wouldn’t it be nice if it was proven so all people of goodwill would acknowledge it? As I said above I am inclined to be forgiving in this imperfect world but let’s not use humbug for argument.

  4. Mike Smith

    @Warren: There’s a world of difference between being tried for crimes against humanity, and less than civil offences, which is the analogy you’re attempting to draw here.

  5. Michael

    Excellent analysis Warren and utterly wasted on the Crikey Socialist Army

  6. Warren Joffe

    Why would Lindsay Tanner never have a bar of Gillard? It went back to well before her performance in the Gang of Four and subsequent taking of Rudd’s job. It was so strong that he got out of Parliament and Cabinet.

  7. Warren Joffe

    I can’t see why the essence of the matter is NOT…. correcting my first par. above

  8. Warren Joffe

    I have come to this article and the discussion very late and I can’t see why the essence of the matter is that the PM is plausibly suspected (though certainly less than a prima facie case to be sent to trial on what we know at this stage) of having committed some seriously improper acts as a lawyer at Slater and Gordon.

    She has been referred to as a “young lawyer” but that is a misrepresentation of the facts and the point at issue. Perhaps a 23 year old in her first year of practice handling totally unfamiliar matters without adequate supervision might be excused unless she was deliberately dishonest and obtaining pecuniary advantage by fraud. But a late 20s or early 30s practitioner of several years experience in a substantial practice would have undoubtedly been struck off the roll of practitioners if she had been found to be in any way dishonestly involved in her boyfriend’s misdeeds, either to gain advantage for herself (other than trivially and more or less accidentally, at worst carelessly, as may well have been the case) or to facilitate or cover up misappropriation and embezzlement. Faced with her denial it obviously suited Slater and Gordon not to attempt to destroy her by proving what they obviously suspected might be true, not to advertise that such unsavoury happenings had occurred under their roof and, possibly, to earn credit for the future with an up and coming ALP politician (which, according to Gillard they have achieved). But they still sacked her (in substance, though she was allowed to resign).

    Richard Denis Meagher was struck off the roll of practitioners (Bar or Solicitors I don’t remember) about 1904 and, when a Labor MP refused readmission as a lawyer by the Supreme Court of NSW several times because (like Gillard) he refused to acknowledge that he had done wrong. The specially appalling Labor NSW governments of the years round 1920 (cf insider Vere Gordon Childe’s “How Labor Governs”) elected Meagher Speaker nonetheless and about 1921 in a late night sitting restored him to the roll of practitioners by legislation. The Courts are hard judges of character (ask Wendy Bacon if I haven’t got the name wrong) and a struck off Gillard would still be a struck off lawyer now if the events of the early 90s had been pursued vengefully by someone out to get her and her defence wasn’t adequate to prevent her being struck off. So…..

    Anyone who suspects that it suited both Gillard and Slater and Gordon to fudge the serious issues of criminality or lesser dishonesty – or carelessness amounting to professional misconduct – only has to be a sombre realist rather than a partisan political enemy. The suspicion that her foolishness or impropriety was a result of emotional attachment to an unworthy boyfriend could have benefitted too from the “There but for the Grace of God go I” thought.

    Personally I am disposed to be forgiving even if she overstepped the mark but in a world which tries to send 90 year olds to Hungary for trial (why not try him here?! ) over events said to have occurred 69 years ago of which there are no living witnesses it seems strange that we should be so ready to absolve the character of the PM, whose character is truly important, for a possibly disqualifying offence 17 years ago which she persists in denying (Catch 22 there I admit but try telling a judge you want him to recognise your remorse when you have persisted in pleading Not Guilty and denying the crime).

  9. Owen Gary

    With all their wealthy contributors, who could compete with the “facist right wing mud squad”

  10. David Hand

    I wouldn’t put it past Gillard’s enemies in the ALP sharpening the knives for a December execution and this Slater & Gordon story might be driven by them. The story has got oxygen because Nick Styant-Browne broke his silence and the driver of this story is the driver that got him to go public. Anyone got any insights?

    An improvement in Labor’s polling will save her and that is what is now happening. She will of course be thanking the policy change on asylum seekers for it.

  11. Edward James

    Bernard Keane You are full of it! Right wing Left wing. uck me I have no idea about all this political guff you bang on about ! I pay to express myself in my local papers which are not Limited News and Fairfax! and here on Crikey.com.au and have done for many years. Our local Gosford Local Government Area papers, I point out I sign my birth name to anything I promulgate for readers on the WWW! Gillard and the other one with a back injury Rudd are connected to shonky political activity which plays out here in the peoples court of public opinion. Both or either of them are entitled to take their political concerns into another place. The Australian law courts perhaps? But they must understand we the peoples can not afford the cost of purging Australia of politically unfit politicians. Because it has always been a job for the Australian peoples at our ballot boxes to get the job done ! Edward James. Umina CBD 0243419140

  12. Peter Hannigan

    You have to love these campaigns.

    I am waiting for the allegation that 9 year old Julia Gillard spoke unkindly to her mother. And she may once have kicked (or at least sworn at) a cat.

  13. Mike Smith

    Who’s made a new sock-puppet? (called Rehn) Has some of the overtones of SB, with an aftertaste of GW.

  14. Liamj

    RightThink lives on hating and smears, they subsidise propaganda (ergo News Corp) and discipline public figures who are getting too in touch with their ethics.

    If only the Left had several tax-dodging billionaires and their pet journo’s to support them like Tony does… then they’d be total puppets too!

  15. Andrew ( )

    Newspoll has Labor up another 2 points. The tide is turning. Just imagine what this governments support would be like if we didn’t have the interference of the media. So important that this battle is not lost.

  16. Clarke Steve

    Bernard,
    The last time I remember you criticizing Hedley Thomas it was on his suggestion of a conspiracy by the Wivenhoe Dam operators in hiding evidence. He ended up being right and the flood inquiry had to be extended, and the dam operators were heavily criticized.

    He is well respected and has been very effective at uncovering wrongdoing. If you think there is no story and it is all just smear, just remember the past.

  17. truth trooper

    And all for what? As if there aren’t enough valid grounds for critical analysis of Julia Gillard’s prime ministership on policy and political grounds alone.” For what, you ask? Isn’t that obvious? THE RIGHT HAVE NO POLICY. Repeat. THE RIGHT HAVE NO POLICY. So, they need to make up cr@p to make the government look bad. What is really frightening though, is how the media is complicit in the smear campaign. Will you publish this version of my comment, moderator? Now that I have left out references to “you know who”?

  18. QUIGLEY JOSEPH

    I have just read 78 comments on this article.
    I saw the interview.
    I heard the question.
    I wondered what relevance it had to the current political situation.
    I was surprised by the PM’s response.
    I could see why she was never a barrister.
    I think an astute barrister might have said something along the lines.
    “That is a very interesting question. It has been asked quite frequently over the past 17 years.
    And no matter how often I clarify all the circumstances surrounding my resignation from Slater and Gordon to take up a political party appointment, people keep asking it. I cannot say any more than I have said in the past. I am surprised that one of Australia’s most experienced and respected political journalists should be raising it yet again. Yet out of respect for your old age and capacity to survive in the cut-throat world of political journalism I shall give you the answer. No it is not correct.”
    I am disappointed the PM did not answer Mr Kelly in such a manner but it only goes to show
    that habits born of years of struggle for power within the Labour Party do not always prepare one for the subtlety of the bar but rather the bludgeoning of the questioner.
    A bad move on national TV.

  19. Bill Hilliger

    All that came before you should understand Rhen John is a troll with one hand on the keyboard the other under the table beating the meat. Ha, ha.ha. He’s taking the p*ss!

  20. David Hand

    There are of course, the proven cases of graft and wrongdoing that have ended the careers of politicians and sent some to jail. Both sides of politics are replete with such examples but the ALP seems to lead the hit parade at the moment. Apart from Thonpson and Orkopoulos, we now have three senior ALP NSW cabinet ministers, Roozendaal, Macdonald and Obeid, facing ICAC.

    Keane is talking about smears about ALP politicians as though they are an unfairly maligned set of people. Malcolm Turnbull got plenty of mud thrown at him over suggested sins at Goldman Sachs but Keane unsurprisingly forgets to mention him while getting all teary-eyed over Labor victims.

    What is this story? Beecher’s answer to News Ltd?

  21. Bill Hilliger

    The doyen of the press gallery Paul Kelly what! The man is a self satisfying and smug t*rd with the smell of a has been or never was with limited talent.

  22. Andrew ( )

    May I suggest that Limited News has done private polling showing Labor is again gaining ground.
    So before they take the official Newspoll they need to dampen enthuisism among the public.
    That is the reason for trotting out this smear.

  23. Bill Hilliger

    PAUL KELLY I have a breaking scandal for you to salivate over, and splash al over news limited printed and on-line crap. About forty-three years ago when she was seven years old, JULIA GILLARD took a small box of smarties from the family cupboard without authorisation from her mother.

    Given you claim that you are not under instruction what to ask or write by your boss take the opportunity to fully expose the activities in England and Australia of your mendacious boss Rupert Murdoch and his dolt of a son James. Now that would be a good salacious story.

  24. Almuhit

    Oh this is all so repetitive. I wish Julia Gillard was a better politician as much as I dislike her because her lack of ability is going to saddle us with the most disgusting set of fools to make our lives a misery for years to come. Smelly Kelly news ltd and the rest of them just make want to vomitt.
    Dont vote for the fools of the three top parties let some other idiots screw up for a while so at least the names will be different. Al.

  25. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John,

    Hummmmmmm….. Curious.

    You seem to somewhat more guilty of the sin that you are only too happy to accuse our PM of.

    Not answering questions.

    You wouldn’t be a hypcriy would you?

    Oops…another question

  26. The Pav

    Dar Rehn John

    Wiuth regard to my last post and because I’m a nice guy I’ll give you a way out with honour.

    Was it a feeble attempt at humour? Yes or no

  27. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John

    Your last post demonstrates either your total ignorance or deceit.

    Are you dishonest? Yes or know

    Are you ignorant? Yes or knwo

    Simple questions.

    Lets see you answer

  28. Rehn John

    Dazza: When did Penny Wong win an award? I recall Swan being awarded world’s best treasurer by a panel of representatives from bankrupt countries, but didn’t realise they had also awarded one to our Finance Minister!
    Don’t worry about facts, no-one else on Crikey does, not even Bernard.

  29. Michael

    Not easy to get a balanced comment posted on Crikey.
    The moderator delay button is very effective and panders to the client base.
    But surely it doesn’t help you feel good about your lost causes.
    Gillard will go! Labor will go! Greens will go!
    And what then?

  30. Julian Assangenot

    I think that the AWU fraud with which Julia was involved is:
    A. The reason why Conroy started Finkelstein
    B. the tip of the iceberg about trade union slush funds, trading off their privileged position and their tax exempt status
    C. A key erwason why the public need reassurance about the fundamental character of the PM

  31. Rehn John

    Dazza: “coffee sipping left wing pinko cardigan wearing commies”, classy stuff, but I dont get much of a chance to watch Insiders. I do note that Barry Cassidy’s crabbiness index is positively correlated to Gillards’ popularity in the Polls, though.
    Now back to the topic at hand, I believe Kelly clearly responded to Gillard’s masking question with the response “I ask my own questions”. Indeed, he actually stated this twice in the interview.

  32. dazza

    The grub Abbott was thrown out of parliament today. If I recall right, last time he ran out himself. Class act?

  33. The Pav

    Dazza,

    Not only in the USA

    Remember Alan Jone’s “Chaff bag ” comments

  34. dazza

    The Pav. Australia has the best economy in the world, and we also have the best Finance minister in the world. Both the result of coffee sipping, left wing, pinko, cardigan wearing commies. Not bad ‘ay Rehn John?
    Anyway, will Paul Kelly answer the question put to him. “I understand you’ve been asked to ask the question?”

  35. Michael

    @John Rhen

    Defense of the indefensible is a trademark of the Left today.
    Where have their collective minds gone?
    There was a time when good men & women of the Left were proud adversaries in a beneficial debate that argued for great causes in the interests of Australians by giving as good as they got.
    But this is something altogether different.
    This is a capitulation by elite ideologs to corruption in the interests of ideology.
    A tragedy for balanced political argument.
    Gillard will go! Sadly she will take a proud and previously distinguished Labor Party with her to its death.

  36. Rehn John

    Arty:
    How about – “No, that is not correct”.

    Pretty simple, isn’t it. Yet very effective. The truth shall set you free….

  37. dazza

    RehnJohn – Better still, let’s take an example of journalistic efforts of Fox News. Now there’s an example even Putin would be jealous of ? I don’t recall Russian polliticians calling for assassination of Australian citizens like your friends in US?

  38. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John,

    The action referred to was as a consquence of illegal activity in the UK . The prosocution is being done whilst a Tory govt is in pwer ( a minority govt yet I don’t hear Abbot doubting its legitimacy or saying the UK should go to the polls)

    Are you advocating the Ruke of Law should be abolished?

    Are you advocating anarchy?

    Are you saying that employees of Murdoch making him money with illegal acts about which it would seem he remained intentionally ignorant then abandoned to face the consquences is a good act by Murdoch.

    Does your support for free speech go so far as to support Wikkleaks?

    I have no problem with our PM being asked the hard questions. I just object to muck raking although you seem to relish rolling in it

    And finally yet again your comment is a wilful misinterpreation of the comment. The act of a troll.

    Also I note that you don’t deny my contention that this is just a tactic to distract attention from the superior economic management of the ALP govt.

  39. Rehn John

    John2066: Bring on the legal action, I say. Lock these journalists up for asking a tough question of our beloved Gillard. Take a leaf out of old Putin’s book and just make them all disappear. Then you, Pav and Paddy Forsayeth and GeoMac can sit around sipping latte and debating your ideals in peace and quiet knowing full well that your and my tax dollars are being spent diligently and honestly.
    Hilarious, the lot of you.

  40. dazza

    John 2066 – No..No..The same thing couldn’t happen here as it happened in London..or could it, where the workers at the sun seem to be in jail and/or slapped with fines. Surely the Murdocks look after Aussie journos better than that?
    Seems to me there’s a bit of, yes sir, no sir, brown nosing happening right now. Now who was it that asked Paul Kelly to ask the question??

  41. Arty

    REHN JOHN says that the question was:-

    “Is it correct that in 1995 you had to resign as a partner from Slater & Gordon as a result of their investigation into misappropriation of funds around the legal entity that you had established?”

    If the lady answers “No”, what does it mean?

    Option 1 “No” means she didn’t have to resign but the S&G investigation revealed misappropriation or something similar.

    Option 2 “No” means she had to resign but it was because of a different investigation.

    Option 3 “No” means she had had to resign but it wasn’t about the inferred legal entity.

    No wonder she wanted to know who wanted him to ask his nasty little question which contains the preferred in-built and unavoidable slander

    Paul who?.

  42. Lord Barry Bonkton

    STOP FEEDING THE TROLL !

  43. Paddy Forsayeth

    This rehn john is a toad. Perhaps he is taking the baton for a while from SB and Whiz. BK writes well on the subject of smearing. I have followed politics for 50 years and I have never seen the state of so called news reporting so disgusting, so vile and sleazy. I’m no great fan of Julia Gillard (she needs a big set of boots!) but I think generally she bears herself well…so much better than that vomitous organ grinders monkey abbott. SB and her ilk are little different from the religious idealogues of all persuasions…believe first, ignore the facts. One day we might get back to debating ideas and policies, in and out of Parliament. More of a wish than expectation.

  44. john2066

    All stirred up by the murdoch monkeys.

    These apes must be getting nervous, there’s increasing talk of personal legal action against murdoch journalists. Their tails must be curling in fear as they contemplate their personal assets on the line as their proprietor leaves them high and dry.

  45. The Pav

    Dazza

    As I have posted previously this mud slinging about something that was done and dusted years ago is only because they want to distract attention away from the fact that in extreme adverse circumstances this ALP govt has proved to be a vastly superior economic manager than Howard.

    It’s just a desperate tactic.

    Filth over policy

  46. dazza

    J. Rehn. You keep asking why the Prime Minister of Australia doesn’t answer the gutter journalists questions. How many times do you want her to answer them? All the answers are on public record – Look them up, or better still, contact Slater and Gordon and report back if you dare, BUT, be truthful young fella, and don’t fall in the gutter…

  47. Rehn John

    Correction: Despite P. Howes “zero tolerance for corruption”, the AWU is NOT actively trying to recoup those members funds.

  48. Rehn John

    James K – Come on now. The question of Gillard and the AWU goes to direct involvement as the lawyer who established what turned out to be a fraudulent entity. She did not open a file for the work (her own admission), somehow the entity was established in name without the requisite number of authorised signatures (fact based on standard union by-laws) and the result was that she “could not categorically deny that her house renovations were not partially paid for with AWU funds”. Can you really defend this by deflecting to Howard and the AWB? Oh and dont forget, the AWU is now actively out there endeavoring to recoup all those funds for their members……

  49. The Pav

    Dear Geomac62

    Not yet but Rehn John is up there.

    Did you see that Abbott got chucked out of the House.Terrible behaviour for the Leader of the Opposition.

    Remember his comment about a fairer gentler parliament? Crocodile tears only and just another lie

    At least it is a change on running away and not making it to the door

  50. geomac62

    No SB/whiz ? very strange . Still I imagine they are here in spirit .

  51. James K

    Rehn John – Mr Howard was called before the inquiry re the wheat board scandal because they wanted to know how much he knew… are you unaware of that?
    I think you need to show some consistency here and insist that he be requestioned about how much he knew and how much he was covering up!
    come on… the fact that you immediately refused to consider something ‘from the other side” only proves you are some kind of liberal stooge blogging away for your mates.

  52. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John,

    Dunno

    Don’t care

    Not relevant

  53. Rehn John

    How many AWB board members past or present make up the current opposition front benches, Pav?
    How many ex-union leaders/heavies make up the current government front benches, Pav?

  54. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John

    You realy are enoying your little fantasy.

    I respond to a spurious claimn on topic and then you wilfully misconstrue and misrepresnt.

    This is conclusive evidence of your sides dishonesty and why you object to being called to account.

  55. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John,

    The AWB was subject to govt control & Howard appointed the Board.

    Reiths involovement was clear as a cabinet minister and all that saved him a was an inquiry with terms of reference that prohibited it reaching the truth

    That’s why he’s responsible. A far more direct connection than that of attacheing blame to the current ALP giovt and the shemozzle that is the HSU. A far more remote entity and genuinely independant of the govt.

    If you want to connct the unions to the ALP govt then AWB is a much closer connct and clearly so to any reasonable and unbiased observer

  56. Rehn John

    Pav, please. My sides are splitting I am laughing so hard.
    When confronted with criticism of Gillard for not answering a simple question, your response is “the right caused the GFC”. Mate, this stuff is ‘gold’.

  57. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John

    When did I write that Abbott was responsible for the GFC.? Nver even crossed my mind

    Why are you making stuff up?

    That’s just a Liberal/News Ltd tactic

  58. Kevin Herbert

    Nice work Bernard Keane.

    While I have no time for Gillard & co, your overview of this matter is spot on.

  59. Rehn John

    So the GFC was Tony Abbott’s fault as well, Pav? My goodness me. This just gets better and better.

  60. The Pav

    Dear James K

    I think the reason the right want to do all this muck raking is because they don’t want to talk about the economy.

    One of the most consistent lies the Liberals have perpetuated is that they are :-
    a) Responsible convervative managers
    b) The ALP is spendthrift
    c) They are better with the economy than the ALP

    The current status of nearly all the indicators being better than Howard’s best despite the GFC ( the worst financail crisis ever due to no small part right wing deregulation of the finance sector)

    Today’s First Dog sums it up nicely.

    Them’s the facts and natually theu don’t like it. They lacl policies so all is left is the lies and mud slinging

  61. Rehn John

    James K:
    I wasn’t aware that John Howard was on the board of the AWB at that time…. Gosh, you learn something everyday over here on Crikey. The home of fact and unbiased journalistic integrity.

  62. The Pav

    James K

    And we mustn’t forget the AG report on Howards advertising that should have resulted in criminal charges. I have never understood why not?

    Yes there are some dodgy Union leaders & I’m all for cleaning them out but dear Rehn John please advise how many dodgy union leaders caused the GFC?

    How many rorted the LIBOR? All goos upportes of the conservatives there

    Cleaning those up will do alot more good than the pitiful rorts of Union leaders

  63. James K

    Rehn John – promise us that you will be this insistent and diligent in wanting any dirt againt the coalition examined over and over and over again, too… wont you?

    something about the wheat board and iraq comes to mind ….. I wonder if you will be so insistent that Mr Howard should be re-examined over that one again – maybe he did not really tell us all he should have back then…..

    come on, lets see some consistency here.

  64. Figaro

    This issue had been laid to rest by the Prime Minister on earlier occasions. There was nothing left to answer. But I am curious why an ex partner of S&G has provide this rehashed information to News Ltd 17 years on. What motivated him?

    Is he perhaps a regular contributor to New Ltd – refer to this article in The Sunday Telegraph, March18, 2012 “The Billionaire Without Trust”

    We should be curious who his contact at New might be.

  65. Rehn John

    BK writes: “As if there aren’t enough valid grounds for critical analysis of Julia Gillard’s prime ministership on policy and political grounds alone.”

    Yes, but you will be hard pressed to read any of them under the Crikey/ABC led white-wash…..eh, Bernard?

  66. Rehn John

    Yep, you guys are right. Nothing to see here, move along!
    Never mind the recent findings of misappropriation of HSU funds by the former National president of the ALP! Anyway, Bill Shorten said that was just an isolated instance (although how he would know that, considering the secrecy of union finance non-reporting is best not considered); Oh and the ALP dominated line up waiting out the front of ICAC shows no indication that corruption in the ALP is inherently widespread. Oh and let’s just conveniently forget that the biggest “smear” as BK puts it, actually came from Robert McClelland, one of Gillards’ own. And don’t forget that unions do so much for their members that it should be entirely acceptable for union leaders to swipe a few lazy hundred G’s off the top from time to time (note the deafening silence from one P. Howes since Blewett’s recent admissions….”zero tolerance for corruption” ….Hmm).
    Something smells really putrid in the union movement hierarchy in this country at the moment, and yet according to BK, it is just right-wing smear? What an odd conclusion to arrive at when surrounded by so many instances of wrong doing. Or perhaps BK is actually saying that is it is not wrong to misappropriate union members funds? Perhaps that is it.

  67. James K

    There is no doubt that the fragile nature of the minority govt has contributed to the last couple of years being so horrible politically – whether Slipper, Thomson, or 17 year old muddigging…. and all the rest.

    The conservatives believe in power through any means. If it includes throwing as much mud as possible, (because some mud always sticks, even when unwarranted) – then so be it.

    Their day will come. I believe in the old saying “do to others what you want done to you”. It will be their turn to be the target soon. Unfortunately.

    But I just dont think Labor will be as cruel and as vicious. Not because there are not plenty of skeletons for them to uncover, but just because they are not as unethical. (They might come close at times,…. but not quite as bad!)

  68. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John

    Why can’t you answer a simple question?

    I’ll tell you why.

    It was an improper question and not meriting a response. It wasn’t based on any realistic fact or reasearch. It was impudent and rude. I apologise for asking it just to make my point and would hasten to add that I have no reason to suspect that you indulge in domestic violence. .

    It was rumour mongering and muck slinging. Improper questions do not warrant a reply and a refusal to reply is a right.

    Any answer will be misinterpreted and twisted.

    There are some events in Tony Abbott’s past that reflect poorly on him yet he is not asked about them nor should he. They are ancient history and no longer relevant and it would be improper to do so unless a clear connection to his current role is establshed.

    If he was asked I would be making the same statements as I am regarding our PM’s recent encounter with Kelly

    If Kelly is a reporter of such renown and standing he knows this.

    It was a straight out put up job of an event 17 years ago that has been more than adequately explained.

    The only ones not satisfied are those who want to throw mud for political purposes

  69. Grindrod rozza

    You sure the smear isn’t coming from sections of the labour movement or the Labor party itself? It might be a convenient way of getting rid of a leader who is going to lead them into extinction at the next election.

  70. Rehn John

    You can resort to semantics, Pav, but the question remains, why can our elected PM not answer such a straight forward question truthfully.
    For many people, understandably, the value of anything Gillard says in future will be measured in terms of their perception of her ability to be truthful. And on balance, her utterances about education revolutions are worthless when the majority of her audience has tuned out.

  71. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John

    When did you stop beating your wife?

  72. Rehn John

    “Is it correct that in 1995 you had to resign as a partner from Slater & Gordon as a result of their investigation into misappropriation of funds around the legal entity that you had established?”

    Mobius Ecko – for your benefit, above is the actual question put to Gillard by Paul Kelly. A simple answer of ‘no’ would have given her another half an hour to sprout on about her great new education revolution, but instead she dodged the question. Why? And why is it not reasonable for people to be interested in understanding why their elected leader is unable to answer such a straight forward question?

  73. Edward James

    What Julia Gillard was doing seventeen years ago as a naive young lawyer is as relevant to her standing in the political community now as what Kevin Rudd was doing twenty years ago. When he was Chief of Staff to Queensland Labor Premier Wayne Goss, when the Heiner Report was shredded. I understand matters related to the revisiting of Heiner Affair are being dragged back through the legal process in some magistrates court in Queensland. Meanwhile this repeating of unanswered questions comes down to the publics scrutiny of their personal integrity as politicians.
    Our perception of that valuable personal commodity, travels with politicians like baggage everywhere! The conversations are certainly interesting to people like me who have been left to fight systemic corruption because Labor are only too willing to accommodate it year in year out.
    I expect these two matters will continue to bubble along in MSM and on blogs, certainly increasing the turmoil among other Labor politicians at all three levels of politics. Surely party members can see the damage being done to the Labor Party. Our politicians generally must be aware of the damage this public political circus dose to our Parliamentary process.
    My guess public political judgement of these two and others won’t stop until such time as the targets Rudd and Gillard leave politics or seek relief in a law court! Edward James

  74. Rehn John

    Yep, you guys are right. Nothing to see here, move along!
    Never mind the recent findings of misappropriation of HSU funds by the former National president of the ALP! Anyway, Bill Shorten said that was just an isolated instance (although how he would know that, considering the secrecy of union finance non-reporting is best not considered); Oh and the ALP dominated line up waiting out the front of ICAC shows no indication that corruption in the ALP is inherently widespread. Oh and let’s just conveniently forget that the biggest “smear” as BK puts it, actually came from Robert McClelland, one of Gillards’ own. And don’t forget that unions do so much for their members that it should be entirely acceptable for union leaders to swipe a few lazy hundred G’s off the top from time to time (note the deafening silence from one P. Howes since Blewett’s recent admissions….”zero tolerance for corruption” ….Hmm).
    Something smells really putrid in the union movement hierarchy in this country at the moment, and yet according to BK, it is just right-wing smear? What an odd conclusion to arrive at when surrounded by so many instances of wrong doing. Or perhaps BK is actually saying that is it is not wrong to misappropriate union members funds? Perhaps that is it.

  75. zut alors

    I saw that part of the interview (repeated on ABC’s Insiders) and thought the PM answered Kelly’s not-so-veiled smear effectively.

    Agree 100% with Cairns50 regarding the fulsome description of Paul Kelly – more accurately a ‘senior political journalist’ than anything else.

  76. drovers cat

    The only time I have come across an “editor at large” was to make sure an admittedly very good news editor with questionable people skills was able to be removed from the newsroom to work from home or wherever else he wanted – thus reducing staff turnover substantially.

  77. The Pav

    What I think is ridiculous is that time is being wasted on this rubbish when there is the release about Education.’

    I found it interesting to note that the fall in Australia’s rankings in the Education tables matched the rise of private school funding by Howard.

    Yet another failed Liberal policy that the ALP will have to fix

  78. Mobius Ecko

    Rehn John
    If as you claimed you did watch the interview you must have done so through Right Wing smear laden eyes. This is how it went.

    Why won’t you answer the allegation?
    Are you making an allegation, if so what is the allegation?
    I’m not making an allegation so why won’t you answer it?

    Smear. Gillard refuses to answer allegation (not made to her).

    That partner you cite is also not making any allegations nor specific claims but some vague assertion with no evidence to back it up nor any corroboration from anyone else. So your partisanship is very much the problem.

    On the other hand Slater and Gordon have put out a clear statement on the matter that is being overlook by the Right in their desperation to keep the smear alive. Also overlooked is the fact that Slater and Gordon have stated that they keep their employee’s records in the strictest confidentiality but have released them at the behest of Gillard. Doesn’t look like hiding anything here.

  79. The Pav

    Dear Rehn Jon

    James K expresses it a little better than I.

    It was not a proper question and merely an excuse to rake stuff up.

    Our PM put the question into context with her response and Kelly was unable to provide a justification for his enquiry.

    S & G have answered the issue and as to the “former” partner I am minded to the saying ( Shakespeare?) The truth told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.

    This is his statement that our PM could not categorically rule out getting a benefit from the improvements. Quite a proper response in the circumstances since anybody who has done reno’s knows that there are bits and pieces everywhere and if here ex boyfriend had helped her than is is quite possible he could have used a dodgy screw or nail with out her knowing. There was copius documents and invoices produced to show that if our PM had received any benifit it would have been trifling and inadvertent.

    That our PM gave the response she did proves her integrity.

    Our PM left S&G a year after the investigation had cleared her to take up a political appoitment.

    On what basis is there anything to answer?

    This is as ridiculous as the Obama place of birth beat up by the Tea Party

  80. geomac62

    Rehn John
    There was no straight forward question . When the PM asked if he had a specific accusation to make he had none . Has Kelly asked Abbott what knowledge he had of the Ashby sham considering his mate Brough is knee deep in it and Pyne as well ? After all its relevant to now and not a rehash from 17 years ago . Has he asked Abbott ?

  81. dazza

    @RJ – She’s already answered what needs to be answered, even a blind Freddy can see that. However, the weasel got upset when someone asked HIM to be truthful. Gutter journalism at it’s best that not even Fox News could match.

  82. Rehn John

    Dear Pav
    Yes, thank you, I watched the interview. The question related to whether or not her resignation was influenced by the internal review findings of S&G into the AWU heads Wilson and Blewett. Gillard did NOT answer the question. And BK above conveniently omits the fact that the source for this information was actually a former partner of S&G who attended the very meeting with Gillard which discussed her involvement in the AWU affair, immediately preceding her “resignation”. If you think there is nothing here that warrants at least a grain of interest, then I am afraid it is not my partisanship that is the problem.

  83. The Pav

    Typo alert
    Did you what the inetrview should be Did yyou watch the interveiw?

    James K.

    Perhaps the reason papers are dying is not the internet but because they have forgotten their ‘raison d’etre” and hence have lost relevance and appeal. TV News is going the same way

    When this done even now the public laps it up

    If they got back to good unbalanced genuine reporting maybe they would grow.

  84. James K

    Rehn John – if the PM answered every “laced” question ever put to her she would be wasting time, fueling gossip and playing into the hands of the slimmy people who go by the name of … this is nearly choking in my throat as I type it… “journalist”.

    It is not fair that 98% of journalists give the rest of them a bad name.

  85. The Pav

    Dear Rehn John

    Did you what the interview.

    A specific question wasn’t asked.

    The PM stated there had been no wrong doing and asked if Kelly had a specific allegation to put.

    He didn’t it was just a vague smear and mud throwing that passes too ofetn for journalism.

    Put your partisanship aside and start working for democracy and decency

  86. James K

    “news” papers should be made to legally change their name. “Entertainment rags”; “gossip pages”; “anything goes”…
    but NEWS? You have got to be kidding. They killed the meaning of that word years ago.
    They could protect the word by law. Like they do with things like “bachelors degrees” …. only use it if they pass a set of criteria…..

  87. tinman_au

    Old school journalism is dead, welcome to the rise of public relations and marketers taking over the role.

    No wonder no one trusts them any more…

  88. Rehn John

    Or, Gillard could just have answered the question put to her! What an outrage, that the sitting Prime Minister should actually be asked to answer what on balance, was a straight forward question? She didn’t answer it though, did she? Shades of her inability to answer other straight forward questions such as “whether she knew that her own office had prepared a victory speech two weeks before she knifed KRudd”.
    Why not simply say ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Not that hard, is it?
    One can only imagine how this story would be playing out her on Crikey if the inference of misconduct involved John Howard.

  89. The Pav

    Dear James K

    Are you sure you’re not FDOTM? Your acronym is of that quality.

    Dear Suzanne Blake,

    Maybe you don’t work for Abbott

    Given that smear, slander, innuendo and out right lies are your stock in trade it must be that you work for Limited News.

    Certainbly no ethical organisation would employ you

  90. dazza

    This is an outrage. How dare the Prime Minister of Australia Not just sit there and answer questions, but then put a question to a journalist… and..and.. Make him cry.. maybe we do need that media inquiry right now!,
    Anyway, who influenced him to start digging, that’s what we really need to know??

  91. Mark from Melbourne

    Unfortunately they are all playing the same game. AFR was calling it “the whole tawdry affair” and effectively ignoring the G&S press release. And tactics like “Gillard attended an auction….” apparently this is meant to be relevant but is really just a pretty scummy verbal.

    By all means, call a spade a spade and hold people accountable but these people need to a long hard look at the scummy tactics they use. It’s as if every one is trying to out do A Current Affair or This Day Tonight in the LCD journalism stakes..

  92. James K

    N – nothing
    E – ever
    W – worthwhile
    S – said.
    L – lets
    T – trash
    D – democracy
    instead

  93. klewso

    When you say “Limited News” – you said it all.

  94. klewso

    Mind over matter – don’t mind facts, they don’t matter.
    Even one of their own (up here in Q) has pointed out this pile of crap – then again after the bollocking, for pure mud-slinging politics, they got last time, what else could some of them do – trying to reclaim some sort of their credibility – but if your’re going to mix with pigs, expect flies?
    What more can you say? “Limited News” says it all.

  95. The Pav

    And remeber the outcry when itwas revealed the ALP was buiding up “dirt files” for the coming elecetion.

    The double standards are breat taking.

    I saw Gillard slap down Kelly and he desrved it and I wish she would do it more often.

    He bridled at the suggestion somebody was telling to ask questions & considered it a baseless cahrge yet was quite as ready to make allegations about “something” on the same lack of evidence.

    Disgusting. Perhaps he has been corrupted by the News Ltd machine

  96. cairns50

    who says paul kelly is a respected canberra journalist ?

    no hes not, hes nothing but another news ltd grub impersonating being a hack

    every one you mentioned in your article are not worth the price of a bottled water

  97. geomac62

    I thought the PM response to Kelly was appropriate and straightforward . Put up or shut of have been my less polite response to some vague , rehashed gossip that has been done and dusted . Kelly like Henderson has long since lost any cred or semblance of being a working journo .
    So lets get this in perspective . Kelly can question the PM about unspecified wrongdoing yet not state what she is alleged to have done ? The PM asks who put you up to it and thats an insult ? This isn,t some new scoop but something that even a mug punter like me is aware of and knows it has properly dealt with long ago yet a seasoned journo ” respected ” and so on brings it up .
    Where was Kelly asking questions when the rodent got his brother off the hook with taxpayers money is the question .

  98. Michael

    @BERNARD KEANE

    Oh but you miss the point young man.
    Gillard will be cooked slowly in her own juices not by the Liberals who simply need to eat popcorn and watch the floor show, but by Labor renegades from the ranks within.
    No one slices raw flesh like Labor and slice they will, especially when they finally realise what this hideous creature in the guise of a Prime Minister has done to their proud & ancient Party.
    The final capitulation & extinction of Labor cannot be far now.

  99. NeoTheFatCat

    What is really wrong, is that after loudly bellowing about alleged conspiracies and alleged wrong-doing which is subsequently found to be false, the media uncritically reports the next alleged conspiracy or alleged wrong-doing. Has no-one in the media heard about the story of the boy who cried wolf?

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