tip off

The mechanics of how a smear campaign was legitimised

What began as a smear campaign against the Prime Minister became a major media story only a few days ago, when it stopped being merely a News Ltd smear campaign.

Julia Gillard

In the last week the AWU story, such as it is, has leapt from being a confection pushed by the government’s opponents, to being a confection the Press Gallery has decided to take seriously.

This legitimization of the story has coincided with it becoming clearer just how little of substance there actually is to it. The best illustration of this was an intriguing interview on Friday by the ABC’s Jon Faine, who unlike his colleagues at Media Watch has kept his critical faculties intact about the story. Faine put the Prime Minister’s most ardent pursuer (after Larry Pickering, a former cartoonist at The Australian regularly criticised for being misogynist and an anti-semite), former shock jock Michael Smith, on the spot to outline a specific allegation of wrongdoing. The best Smith could do, the crime that he claimed “could cost the Prime Minister her liberty”, was falsely witnessing the date of a document, though he was unable to point to evidence to support this beyond the claims of Ralph Blewitt.

Until the story became legitimised, it was being driven primarily by one media company’s obsessive war with Labor, although Mark Baker’s enthusiasm at The Age, while not raising any new issues, gave some cover to News Limited. It wasn’t purely about Julia Gillard, although the smear campaign became ever more strident as she improved in the polls. But even if there’s no connection demonstrated with the Prime Minister, the incessant repetition of stories about union corruption serves a broader purpose of attacking the trade union movement. Union corruption is a convenient narrative, although by no means confined to News Ltd; most media outlets, and particularly The Australian Financial Review, find union corruption endlessly fascinating while remaining for the most part bored by business malfeasance (the splendid recent example is that of Hastie Group, where $20 million was stolen and sparked the collapse of the company, with barely a flicker of interest from the media beyond how many jobs would be lost).

At no stage was any rationale offered for how the story related to the public interest or merited the significant devotion of resources made to it by media outlets under severe financial pressure. Not even the sole contemporary relevance of the story, that disgruntled Kevin Rudd supporter and sacked Attorney-General Robert McClelland appears to have been involved in perpetuating it, was discussed.

What was intriguing about the campaign at this stage was that it was strongly gender-based. The campaign was being run entirely by older white conservative males. The Australian is staffed and run almost entirely by such people. The shock jocks giving constant airtime to it are the same. The bloggers and net trolls obsessing about it online, too, are the same demographic. That, of course, is the same demographic and the same media figures that drove the anti-carbon price and climate denialist protests, as well as the debacle of the “convoy of no consequence” campaign.

Indeed there are strong themes running through all of these campaigns: Gillard is an illegitimate Prime Minister, she has no morality, and her lack of morality and incompetence is somehow linked to her gender — it’s an easy segue from “Bob Brown’s b-tch” to Bruce Wilson’s dupe, although of course her enemies have been anxious to suggest that Gillard may well have been even worse than a simple dupe.

Last week, however, the story stopped being merely a News Ltd smear campaign. Television and radio coverage surged massively. Media Monitors data shows that weekly television and radio mentions of the story were limited to several hundred in total in recent weeks. There were 110 television mentions of the story in the week beginning 29 October, no mentions at all the following week (Melbourne Cup week) and 446 in the week of 12 November.

Last week, however, there were over 2,200 mentions. Radio coverage followed a similar pattern, but TV coverage is the key: few voters read newspapers and none but the politically engaged would have read more than a few pars of the dense, pointless minutiae paraded by the likes of Baker and Hedley Thomas. Coverage on nightly news bulletins is many, many multiples of newspaper coverage in terms of impact on voters.

And in particular, TV coverage went off last Wednesday, with 224 mentions of the story, up from low double figures in the two days before. After that, the story received massive television coverage. To put it in context, the issue was the fourth most-discussed subject on television, behind Gaza, the cricket and asylum seekers, but ahead of the child abuse royal commission.

Wednesday was, coincidentally or not, the day after 7.30 aired its interview with Ralph Blewitt — an interview that displayed a peculiar lack of curiosity about Blewitt’s activities in South East Asia in recent years, but did yield one of the great moments in Australian interviewing, when Blewitt declared the Prime Minister had questions to answer, but then answered “no comment” when asked what the questions were. The next night 7.30 followed up with an interview with Nick Styant-Brown that, while labeled “exclusive”, didn’t appear to add anything to what he had already told newspaper journalists.

Blewitt’s return to Australia and 7.30’s embrace of him as newsworthy (possibly at the prompting of Media Watch, which devoted an episode to how the ABC wasn’t following The Australian’s lead) thus appears to have been critical to elevating what was (and remains) a smear campaign into a legitimate political story.

Since then, Press Gallery groupthink has taken over. It’s now a story because it’s a story. Outlets dare not fail to cover it. “The story won’t go away,” was Peter Hartcher’s line on the weekend; a journalist complaining that a story won’t go away being equivalent to an offensive drunk in a bar complaining about the obnoxious clientele present. Only a handful, such as Ten’s Paul Bongiorno, have bluntly called the story what it is.

Unlike the initial smear campaign, how much gender plays a role in this isn’t clear, but is worth some thought. The Press Gallery is just over two-thirds male, and the more senior you go, the fewer women there are. That’s not to suggest female journalists are going to give a female Prime Minister any sort of pass on alleged impropriety — far from it. But much of the Gallery spectacularly missed the significance of the Prime Minister’s misogyny speech, partly because they were doing their day job of analysing the tactical battle on the floor of Parliament, but also, one suspects, because they failed to understand how much it would resonate with women who routinely put up with s-xism in their working lives. Tribal behaviour is at work here on this story as well and that can’t be understood without reference to gender.

That sort of tactical analysis, focused purely on calling who’s winning particular political square-ups, will dominate coverage this week. The first round of that will be the Prime Minister’s press conference today at 1pm, as Crikey is issued, followed by Question Time. So many tactics, so little reflection on the actual merits of the story.

  • 1
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Surely “union corruption” depends more on which “union” is involved - and is all the more legitimate a cause célèbre, as long as they have blue collars - going on “media reports/interest”?

  • 2
    susan winstanley
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Bernard, for calling it as it is.
    A complete disgrace.
    The Press Gallery disgusts me.

  • 3
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Personally I can’t wait for the same media - having taken such a strong stand on this particular event 20 years ago (“going to Gillard’s ethics”?) - to apply the same standards of acceptable behaviour, and their own devotion of resources to investigation, to the rest of our elected representatives (how many will that leave standing - anyone “running book” on that?).
    Otherwise this becomes their own “Burn the Witch” party?

  • 4
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Mark Baker at The Age has been running the same story every day - day after day the same information, some variation in presentation. And he doesn’t seem to understand how the incorporation process works, what the role of the lawyer is or how incorporated associations can work.

    It puzzles me why The Age is involved in what appears to be a vendetta against the Prime Minister, given that most of the questions Baker keeps asking have been answered either by the Prime Minister or by other people involved in the issue.

    Now of course with 2 newspapers running the same old, same old story every day, the rest of the media feels obliged to cover it. Now they can report, as Mark Baker did, that the story has received widespread coverage and attracted increasing interest! As you say it has become a story about a story.

  • 5
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Otherwise this is the cacophony of a (press) gallery of pink galahs.

    And how the ABC had to be goaded into playing “Rupert Says” - but it too did eventually join in. Though it’s not as if Sales (“Murdochtrinated” as she is), with her political sympathies, ever needed a cause to slur Labor?

  • 6
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Every time I hear journalists and media executives warning about the death of ‘quality’ journalism, I feel like saying “bring it on”. The sooner these pathetic ‘professionals’ are turfed out by the non-paying customer and made to do something of value, the better. I for one won’t miss them for a minute.

  • 7
    Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Yep, you called it. I’m waiting for the next scandal - “Prime Ministers Boyfriend does hair for s-xual favours in tax avoidance scheme”!!!

  • 8
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    @JMNO I think you have identified the issue here - reporters are not very bright when it comes to an everyday understanding and comprehension of the spoken and written english language. Note an earlier press conference Julia Gillard held had many journalist struggled with comprehending the spoken word. Is it any wonder that newspaper sales are forever in decline.

  • 9
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Neo “quality journalism” died years ago - a victim of Murdochsamytosis - it just hasn’t found that out yet.

  • 10
    David Hand
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    There’s a touch of desperation in your commentary here. Playing the gender card, that many people who think Julia Gillard acted unprofessionally in 1995 are “older white conservative males” is a bit desperate, mate. Calling it “a smear campaign” won’t make it go away.

  • 11
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Bernard for the complete story. The trouble with the media in Australia is there are very few with their criticalfaculties intact over any story!
    Just one question I would like answered. Nick Styant-Browne comes out with a letter from a ‘file” addressed to the M/s Gillard when at Slater & Gordon. There’s no indication of when it was received, no file note of action taken nor any indication of file folio. Pretty sloppy basic file process actions by a leading law firm I would have thought.
    The other question is where Mr S-B obtained a copy of the letter which, presumably, would be confidential correspondence between client and Lawyer held on the file. This sounds like a stitch up in my mind, in the vein of the Godwin Grech matter. By the way, what relationship does Mr S-B have to the LNP?

  • 12
    Peter Shute
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Good analysis Mr Keane. Crikey at it’s best.

    The Canberra press gallery completely missed how the PM’s sexist speech would resonate with the public. It was a good example of how out of touch they are or how they try to set the agenda.

    This has been a non-story. I’ve done my own mini voz pops amongst customers- those who hate Gillard love it as it re-inforces their dislike but even they can’t really get a grip on the claims.

    For the rest-it’s gone over their heads. I’m very disappointed in Media watch picking up on this and continually the maddening claims :”there are questions to be answered”.

    And when didn’t the Coalition hate unions ?. They are still there.

  • 13
    Peter Shute
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I also believe the MSM insults it’s readers when the imply somehow this ‘slush’ fund was illegal.

    We all use lawyers. We all know a layer draws up an entity for you be it a ‘fund’, incorporation and so on. What we do with that entity is of no consequence to our lawyer 9unless they are a female PM).

    We may as well call the IPA or HR Nicholls Society ‘slush’ funds for that is what they are: entities to promote a certain politics.

  • 14
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    The PM has been handling this witch hunt with finesse today. Her press conference and responses in Question Time to the relentless attacks by J Bishop (on behalf of her mute leader) should end this matter.

    The PM has asked for an allegation but, amongst the entire Oz media and the Coalition, none of the spineless attackers can come up with one. Just because the Press Gallery says it’s a story doesn’t mean it’s a story. Yawn…time to let it drop.

  • 15
    John Bennetts
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    David, it can’t go away. “It” hasn’t arrived yet. I define “it” as the factual basis of a complaint that the PM has actually actud eother unprofessionally or fraudulently in regard to the incorporated association or its funds.

    The PM has repeatedly asked for questioners to put up or shut up… they have done neither.

    Regarding not calling it a smear campaign… that is exactly what a beat-up based on innuendo but supported by zero facts is called.

  • 16
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Bernard, I think you’re wrong when you say “elevating what was (and remains) a smear campaign into a legitimate political story.”

    There IS a story here, and you’ve been doing a good job on covering it so far.

    I think if you view this current “storm” in the context of the Leveson inquiry, Australia’s own Media Inquiry/Convergence Review and the ALP’s earlier complaints about certain area’s of Australian media, it’s actually an ongoing story, and this is just another chapter…

    That’s the real story.

  • 17
    John Bennetts
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Typo: “actually actud eother unprofessionally…”

    Read: “actually acted either unprofessionally…

  • 18
    michael r james
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    David Hand, who’s an “older white conservative male” now! It would be funny if it wasn’t so bloody annoying and destructive of our democracy. Please, with the greatest disrespect unless you have something actually material to relate, could you STFU.

    Meanwhile, at this morning’s long press conference the PM responded about another particularly repellent WCM:

    ‘‘Let me remind you who Mr Blewitt is. Mr Blewitt is a man who has publicly said he was involved in fraud. ‘‘Mr Blewitt is a man who has sought immunity from prosecution. ‘‘Mr Blewitt is a man who has fled Indonesia to avoid a police interview in relation to land fraud, although he denies wrongdoing in the case. ‘‘Mr Blewitt says he owes money on another Asian land deal. ‘‘Mr Blewitt admits to using the services of prostitutes in Asia.
    ‘‘Mr Blewitt has published lewd and degrading comments and accompanying photographs on his Facebook page. ‘‘Mr Blewitt, according to people who know him, has been described as a complete imbec ile, an id iot, a stooge, a se_ist pig, a l iar and his sister has said he’s a crook, and rotten to the core.
    ‘‘His word against mine: make your mind up.’’

    Sounds about right.

    And QT is in the middle of total blather and nonsense by Julie Bishop (with Chrissie Pyne in his role as fluffer to help poor Julie keep it up). So far there is nothing but bluster and zero evidence, indeed no clear questions or claims of malfeance.

    At 3.12 pm it appears all over. But Chrissie & Julie, no money shot. And Mr Abbott, present for Question Time, didn’t ask a single question.
    The PM had the last line (and IMO the last laugh): “Nope. I didn’t fake the moon landing, I wasn’t responsible for the assassination of JFK, and I didn’t shove Harold Holt on a Chinese submarine before she gets to those questions.”

  • 19
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Michael RJ, it was a great line, only bettered by the PM’s final effort as she drew Question Time to a conclusion:

    For the benefit of those following Question Time on radio today I wish to point out that the Leader of the Opposition was present.”

  • 20
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    and, further MJPC, why did Blewett come back to Australia right now and who paid his air fare? (and who is paying for his legal representation?) Having watched most of the PM’s presser today, I’m still trying to understand exactly what the issue is. Judging by the ‘holier than thou’ questioning from the media, apparently we are all meant to be able to remember exactly what it is we were doing, what documents we signed and how much we had in our bank accounts 20 years ago - even an elephant would be struggling to remember all that (well, you get my point).

  • 21
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    In effect, the PM accorded him the status of a eunuch.

  • 22
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    As a lawyer put it to me: “she got sacked in her mid 30s by her partners who had lost confidence in her. It concerned her duty to them and to their clients and the breach of the essential glue of trust that a lawyer’s life entails. She would have a great deal of trouble getting a job with a half-decent law firm, other than as lobbyist to and ALP government, so how come she is fit to be PM?”

    Of course rising to the top in the ALP today is not so much climbing Disraeli’s slippery pole but showing yourself tough, devious gand even unscrupulous enough to play with the self-interested oligarchs who control the party and get to do that by using the money and union membership (or claimed membership) of people far less well educated and well paid than themselves. So it is not surprising that Gillard doesn’t find people’s presumptions in her favour.

    It’s not just the average bloke in an Aussie pub, Bernard, whom you might ask for a gut feeling but, not less, his sensible wife. She says “Are you asking me to believe that she lived, talked, slept, ate and drank with Wilson for years, helped him buy his house but didn’t have an inkling of how he was going to finance it, not even a small interest?” “And she wants us to go on letting her spend our money”

  • 23
    Hunt Ian
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    David Hand’s smug “calling it a smear campaign won’t make it go away” says it all. Bernard has given a good account of a story that has nothing to it, despite the persistence almost obsession of Julie Bishop. Hopefully what will make it go away is the boredom of innocdent citizens who have to put up with this and a continuing non-impact (reverse impact) in the polls would help. All the media fervour in the week of Newspoll has made no difference.

    Bernard is right about the bias of senior media figures in terms of gender but the campaigning is primarily to oblige private investors, who by now are appalled that Australia has not faced the austerity policies that will, according to the weekend AFR, more than double the number of billionaires in Europe by 2016.

    The reluctance of these same billionaires to pay tax is, of course, from a sense of public duty inspired by convenient economic modelling that shows they will be deterred if they are taxed as they were after World War II, or even at half the rate, despite their real incomes being so high today. The economic modelling is especially convenient since private investors failed to show their aversion to Keynesian policy when they rather surprisingly delivered a post-war boom, with a touch of Koran War inflation, that allowed countries to pay off their War debts of over 120% of GDP. Now, of course, the generations that were so let down by massive World War II debt and high levels of taxation, seem doubly averse to paying reasonable levels of tax and no doubt will embrace Coalition policies of dismantling the welfare state, which is not to be confused with reducing middle class welfare, as the Treasury does so wilfully, when it does not see this as “incentives” for the well to do to pay for their own, hopefully better, medical cover. They will embrace Coalition policies sight unseen because they cannot stand the sight of 10% of GDP nett national debt, even though Australia somehow managed 127% of GDP national debt after World War II.

    No doubt also the media pack last week hoped that Blewitt could become another Kemlani, who so conveniently flew back into Australia to give Malcolm Fraser the excuse he needed to pull the plug on the Labor government in the upper house. Mr Blewitt’s mission is more tricky, it is to convince the independents that they should pull the plug on Labor if Tony thinks move a vote of no confidence in Gillard due to her crime of failing to recollect absolutely everything in accordance with documents that the Coalition dribbles out. It is unlikely, though, that Blewitt will stand up as a Kemlani, Although Kemlani might have flown back with the prompting of the CIA, his credibility was not tarnished by sisters and former colleagues, who said he was not be trusted, and his own reports designed to minimise any involvement he might have had.

    The hope of us all is that Blewitt will fail in his Kemlani mission and Tony will draw back from moving a vote of no confidence. Then the smear campaign might go away.

  • 24
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    They sit there on the top floor of the house twiddling their thumbs with group think and nonsense and ignore anything real happening that Gillard should be kicked for.

    Your assertion that this was started by Rudd though is dead wrong, he has not said or done anything to deserve that nonsense.

    Gillard is torturing innocent human beings, it has had almost no critical coverage until the last week.

    She is abusing the rights of aborigines in ways worse than Howard dreamed up, not a word.

    The question really is what is the point? It was the union that was corrupt they say, she was not in the union.

    And the HSU seems to have died off now doesn’t it so they need something else.

    The press gallery are a bunch of lazy spivs picking each others nits and Bernard you often join them.

  • 25
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The interesting thing if is is that even with the most despicable
    and vicious campaign led by News Ltd against the ALP and Julia in particular over the past two years that the polls have the parties very close even Newspoll!.

    Imagine if Abbott and his talentless front bench had been subjected to the same smear campaign what their poll numbers would be.

  • 26
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Where are the clients of CSR who Bishop worked against to prevent compensation for the Wittenoom mine?

    All dead I believe but she got her pound of flesh from their suffering.

  • 27
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    After this issue is dealt with I suppose we can expect some thorough investigation of the AWB scandal. After all, it involved selling hundreds of millions of dollars of Australian wheat to a regime that we were shortly to go to war with.

  • 28
    Edward James
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Juliars spray all over Bruce Wilsons old friend and AWU buddy Blewitt. Was all about exercising Labor political spin. With a view to avoid answering an insistent stream of very prickly questions. Was she present with Wilson and Blewitt to witness that power of attorney for the purchase of the house? I believe there is a formal complaint about the creation of a false instrument. Which has attracted the interest of police. I pray this political issue may with evidence progress into another place, the law courts. Edward James

  • 29
    Edward James
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    NSW Carr Labor Government sat on their hands while James Hardie worked to put their fiscal asserts beyond the reach of potential claimants. I will point out the Liberal national parties were sitting on the opposition were sitting in the same 52 Parliament. The law could have been regulated to prevent that process, which resulted in a pittance being left for potential claimants, what were all our elected representatives thinking about? Edward James

  • 30
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    When the television media chimes in it can make anyone look guilty before the facts are produced. When staying in the US I was astounded how Fox News would give promos of coming interviews and stories for the following week. They would insinuate many propositions and mention that the facts would be disclosed in interviews or by exclusive footage only to be either cancelled or restructured at the last minute to give no such story at all.

    Very clever how these snippets of information or headlines through the week had people convinced without them seeing the actual stories in question.

  • 31
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Bernard Keane, come back to me when you have read all the documents, which obviously you haven’t.

  • 32
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    20 years of investigation for what? And the WMD fiasco got about 20 minutes from the press gallery.
    They want to get out more.

  • 33
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    BERNARD K: Thank you for your insightful article.

    Having watched Question Time today, I’ve lost count of the many cringe-worthy moments I endured when watching little Tony Abbott’s tiny ankle-biter, Julie Bishop, rushing back, again and again, to plague Julia Gillard with Abbott’s brain-dead questions about something that happened seventeen to twenty years ago. {Whilst working for Slater and Gordon.}

    It is almost the end of the Parliamentary year, but, not one question was asked by her about anything on the national agenda. Any questions about the abuse of army personel; the upcoming RC into child abuse; the Murray Darling Basin law about to take place this afternoon; not even the usual nagging about so called ‘illegal refugees’-of which there is no such thing?

    Congratulations Tony Abbott, you continue to do such sterling work to prove you are no fit candidate to aspire to be running the country.

  • 34
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    One small point, Bernard….What is your definition of anti-Semite? All the Arab nations are peopled by Semitic races. Do I understand you to refer to them?

  • 35
    Edward James
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I just don’t trust our Prime Minister. She called this on. When we the people know the RC will not on its own help and protect us The Royal Commission is looking more and more like a knee jerk reaction the closer we get to the 26 of November. Called by Prime Minister Gillard without any planning. It certainly served to diffuse the way the grass roots community of victims and their supporters were rising up, against irresponsible government. After the suicide of Mr John Pirona, yet another in a long line of child abuse victims who could not bear the pain any longer. The cause of which is still being hidden away by a dysfunctional system. Those of us with little or no understanding of the way our constitution and laws are meant to work and protect us. Are beginning to understand nowhere near enough of our politicians Federal, State and Local want to overtly support their constituents by voting for effective action on this issue. Our politicians are not yet willing to do whatever it takes to provide justice for all the victims. In fact some states are flat refusing to support the national call to correct a problem almost 200 years old. In time we expect closure by the regulation of legislation. So that the entities responsible for harboring such abuse will never be able to cover up and protect their particular monsters from the rule of law again. I am becoming angry after listening to the attached pod cast link in which a Mr Paul Kelly points out that the Royal Commission alone without the full support from all the States and Territories, which are the governments with the laws and the power to prosecute identified offenders get on board. Because it is looking like people at the grass roots in our community will once again be short changed by so many politicians are too scared to insist on national action supported by the states and territories.

    This podcast link http://2gb.com.au/audioplayer/5989

    helps the listener understand why the Royal commission without 100% support from every politician and their constituents will come up short. The long suffering vctims of child abuse will continue to carry their burdens. Edward James

  • 36
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Just another reason why Autralia needs an urgent media inquiry. Sooner the better.

  • 37
    David Hand
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Let me define “it” for you.
    Julia Gillard is alleged to have organised the setting up of a slush fund in the name of the AWU, and she did not actually tell the client who was paying the bill that she had done it. Though she might argue that Williams was an officer of the AWU and so it was his job, her failure to open a file on it at Slater and Gordon enabled her boyfriend to pillage it for his own enrichment. Allegedly.

    There’s a cacophony of noise from the left that the questions are not known or defined. Julia, the lawyer of course gets round this by saying that it is the regulator who actually created the entity - a sophistry only a lawyer would be capable of.

    This story is not going away.

  • 38
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    David Hand, either you were watching a different press conference or you simply make stuff up. Julia Gillard clearly stated that the two AWU officials were ‘the client’. She received instructions from them. She acted for them. The rest of your comment is irrelevant.

  • 39
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    And here we are “caught between cacophonies”?

  • 40
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    What’s the real story though Hand? Given this little creation of yours is nothing but a fantasy, another self-designed tale of titillation created by the born to rule in another - last ditch? - attempt to stop the bleeding from their loss. Is 2010-2013 the longest funeral moan in history?

    I mean the ‘real’ story is that you cannot give it up, the idea of being ruled over by a woman, oh god, it’s finally happening. The real story is that the media continues to be overpopulated and controlled by Men who cannot accept the idea of being ruled over by a Woman. Men who apply standards to a Woman in power that they would never apply to a Man, let alone their sorry decrepit selves.

  • 41
    Bill Hilliger
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Some people are asking, for services rendered whether successful or not - is Mr Blewitt being offered Bronwyn Bishop’s seat for the next parliament? He would make a great addition to the next coalition front bench team, he has the right pedigree. Furthermore he would be an inspirational team mate and player.

  • 42
    Jim Moore
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Now this is why I subscribed to Crikey! Very well written.

  • 43
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    David Hand has prosecuted his case sufficiently to convince me there must be a Commission of Inquiry - exactly like, say, the Cole Inquiry.

    Our PM could impersonate Lord Downer with a barrage of ‘I don’t know’, ‘I don’t recall’, ‘I can’t be sure’. In fact the PM would be more convincing in attempting to recall details harking back 20 years ago.

    In the AWB scandal involving $300M of bribes to a leader hostile to the West, the Oz press gallery was perfectly satisfied with Downer’s testament.

  • 44
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    His name should be two ducks, He could not be that silly playing with just one.
    They have bought their prostitutes in again to say what they wanted them to say, and they have failed again.
    End of story. No story No facts no evidence no interest and further evidence of the biggest dummy spit in history by Abbot and his old white hoodlum friends.
    You are right BK about the old misogynists. They are standing on the sidelines in the USA still believing they were robbed when they were not even in the race. Abbots mob are as relevant and unelectable as they ever where and this rubbish reflects on the press gallery very poorly.
    Get the facts and if all else fails; get a life. You clowns are not even funny.

  • 45
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    What I want to hear more about is the police investigation into Mark Baker’s actions in regards to computer hacking from 12 months ago.

  • 46
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Prime Minister’s misogyny speech, partly because they were doing their day job of analysing the tactical battle on the floor of Parliament, but also, one suspects, because they failed to understand how much it would resonate with women who routinely put up with s-xism in their working lives. Tribal behaviour is at work here on this story as well and that can’t be understood without reference to gender… Clip

    Garbage. Most female journalists missed it too. The trouble with the australian press gallery is that, crikey aside, it is the biggest bunch of unintelligent mediocrities working for the worst free press in the western word. Watching an a-grade buffoon like Peter hartcher twist logic to say how ms gillard’s speech was meaningless was entertaining as the international press got it exactly right. I know they’re your friends Bernard. But they are still idiots.

  • 47
    The Pav
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    This issue is clearly a diversionary campaign by the PM to avoid the Opposition asking questions about Child abuse and the role of the Church.

    I note that the PM has denied responsobility for the Moon Landing Consiracy, JFK etc well I think she still has questions to answer if only I could think of some.Come back to me in another 20 years.

    BTW The PM definitely has questions as to why Austrialis didn’t win in Adelaide or is there going to be yet another cover up? I mean the govt allowd Faf DuPlessis entry so it must be the PM’s fault

  • 48
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
    Just another reason why Autralia needs an urgent media inquiry. Sooner the better.

    I repeated that cos I thought it deserved repeating.

    BTW Good article, Bernard.

  • 49
    Alasdair Wardle
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Mr Keane, for a well analysed article. I agree with all comments about the demise of intelligent journalism, and the rise of ‘group think’ in the press gallery. There is no issue involving Julia Gillard and the AWU. An out of touch press gallery is simply aiding the opposition. Why wasn’t Mr Styant-Browne asked on the ABC interview where he obtained copies of documments from 20 years ago?

  • 50
    Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    As has been referred before, “If the federal Limited News Party was further ahead in the polls and Toady Abbott not lagging personally behind Gillard - would this be such an issue?”