Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter



Aug 23, 2012

Gillard secures apology from The Oz over AWU story

The PM approached senior News Ltd executives today to complain about a story in The Australian that claimed she had set up a "trust fund" for a former boyfriend -- and she won.


The Prime Minister approached senior News Limited executives today to complain about a story in The Australian that claimed she had set up a “trust fund” for her former boyfriend 17 years ago. And she won — at least this round.

The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell told Crikey this morning that Gillard had “dealt at group level rather than anyone on The Oz” in relation to the story, which ran in the paper and on its website, and has now been spiked. The PM’s approach resulted in a grovelling online apology, with the imperious headline “Apology to the Prime Minister” that has run on News Limited sites around the country. Mitchell said reporter Ean Higgins had got one wrong word in the yarn, which richly recounted former AWU official Bruce Wilson’s current life as a chef on the NSW north coast.

The original story, headlined “An old flame faded into black”, was removed from the web but has been preserved for posterity below. It appeared to have incorrectly substituted the word “trust” for “slush” in reference to the fund overseen by Wilson and set-up by the PM.

It is the second time Gillard has intervened directly to complain about a story relating to the saga. Last year, she called then-News CEO John Hartigan at 8am to arc up about a Glenn Milne opinion piece that alleged that the PM had “shared a home” with Wilson in Fitzroy. In fact, Gillard had her own house in Abbotsford at the time. The paper pulled an opinion piece and acknowledged that the “assertions are untrue” and that no one from The Australian had attempted to contact the PM to clarify the basis of the story.

News Ltd spokesman Stephen Browning said the “apology speaks for itself”, when asked to comment, but declined to reveal internal communications between the PM and current News CEO Kim Williams.

Today’s move suggests sensitivities remain high inside the PMO over the issue, which the PM has not chosen to address in Parliament.

Gillard communications director John McTernan did not respond to queries over the News approach. But as Crikey hit the button today, the PM was fronting a press conference to explain her role. She accused “misogynist nut jobs on the internet” of spreading lies and said she was the victim of a “sexist smear campaign”.

By 10am today, after the PM’s intervention, the story was gone and the apology was running as a related story on the front page of The Australian‘s website. Crikey understands that the story will soon be resurrected with the word “trust” replaced with “slush” — as suggested by Crikey to Mitchell this morning.

The Australian‘s national chief correspondent Hedley Thomas has produced an unprecedented series of front page splashes over the past week aided by some leaks from Seattle-based former Slater & Gordon partner Nick Styant-Browne. Styant-Browne told Crikey earlier this week that Thomas had been sicced on to him by retired personal injury lawyer Harry Nowicki, who has spent years researching a book on the era.

Today, Thomas quoted Styant-Browne saying the serious news coverage should be counterposed with the “florid allegations” made in the online campaign against Gillard. Some of those are becoming more florid by the day. Crikey can reveal that former cartoonist with The Oz Larry Pickering, the convicted con man blamed by the government for re-igniting the Gillard saga, has removed an anti-Semitic rant from his website posted under his name.

The post, scrubbed from the web but available on Google’s cache here, refers to “the bleating Jews who actually believe they are God’s people are still combing the world looking for war-crime culprits”.

“Of course the “holocaust” happened but it was one of the many episodes of war and far from the worst in terms of human life. But Jews believe they are God’s people … so they are more important,” the blog post ran.

“The vanity-driven, thieving Jews did not have a country so they stole someone else’s with the West’s (and the East’s) blessing … and we wonder why we are hated  … Sure, the Jews are more industrious and inventive than the lazy Arabs. The Arabs have used receipts from the West’s addiction to oil to build crass monuments to themselves.

“An oil drunk Arab’s benchmark of success is to have a hundred more Rolls Royces than his cousin. The Jews have built a highly sophisticated nation from worthless rocky ground … without the aid of oil reserves, but so what? It’s not their land to succeed with.”

So-called “Asians” also come in for a spray on the blog. “Asians actually believe that because they don’t have hairy bodies and we do, we are closer to the apes. They don’t say that to us but they say that among themselves.”


We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola


Leave a comment

33 thoughts on “Gillard secures apology from The Oz over AWU story

  1. klewso

    Imagine this sort of whispering campaign from them, against Howard or Abbott?

  2. klewso

    And “league tables for war crimes”? Grate idea.
    As for “hairy Caucasians” does he mean like those epithets about “monkeys”?

  3. sheryl gwyther

    And that would be the same reporter, Ean Higgins who was so disgusting in New Zealand during the Pike River Coal Mine a couple of years ago….. time to pull his head in, OZ?

    “Senior Cabinet Ministers have rounded on Australian journalists covering the Pike River coal mine crisis, labelling their questions “disgraceful” and branding one a “tosspot”.

    Police Minister Judith Collins this afternoon added to the scorn already heaped upon Ean Higgins, from The Australian, for some questions he asked at a media conference this morning.

    “Frankly, those journalists need to sit down and think about what they’re actually doing. What they are doing is they are cheapening the work of other journalists working in Greymouth and they are absolutely not respecting the terrible time the people of Greymouth are going through,” Collins said.

    Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee earlier blasted Higgins as “boorish” for asking why a “local country cop” was leading the rescue operation. Collins said the question was “disgraceful”.”


  4. ian dale

    Julia Gillard, Slater & Gordon are bound by client confidentiality from speaking about work as lawyers and some sections of the media must know this yet they continue to demand, against the concept of natural justice that someone (including the PM) must answer allegations once made.

    If they had proof of anything they should just deliver it rather than their ridiculous insinuations.

    The Australian has reduced itself to the levels of The Truth and Kim Williams on one hand demands propriety and honesty from the general public re- illegal downloads but fosters an atmosphere of behaviour where the rules are malleable when it suits.

    The highly dubious sources should have rung alarm bells for News Ltd. I hope Nick Styant-Browne potential clients in the US, if he still operates as a lawyer, are aware confidentiality is not guaranteed.

  5. zut alors

    I’m underwhelmed that Crikey chose to re-publish the dreck on Pickering’s website. The fact of the piece’s removal from the website could have been reported in general terms without quotes, thereby giving it additional oxygen.

  6. geomac62

    What is Glen Milne doing these days ? After both he and Bolt promised the big story it ended up being much ado about nothing . Milne has gone into oblivion and Bolt retains his status as the high water mark of low journalism . One mistake by the Oz could be said to misjudgement but two makes it seem premeditated smear .
    What was Abbotts 700,000 dollar loan for and why didn,t he disclose it on the parliamentary register for two years ? That cropped up a few years ago but I don,t recall newscorp saying much about it . It seems odd to me . A man on good salary with a spouse earning a good salary borrows big bucks but neglects his obligation to report it on the register because he forgot ? As far as I know the reason to borrow has not been divulged . Not a new house or renovations , holidays , business interests yet a very substantial sum . Not 17 years ago but a few years ago and no statement from S&G as with the PM to say all above board and looked into .

  7. Grindrod rozza

    So what was all the indignation at the news conference about today – that the word ‘trust’ had been used instead of ‘slush’?

  8. Gocomsys

    > I’m underwhelmed that Crikey chose to re-publish dreck ………….
    I am not surprised, that is what tabloids do. Publish and/or re-publish dreck. That’s where the money is.

  9. Recalcitrant.Rick

    I used to laugh at Larry Pickerings’ work, now I just laugh at Larry Pickering!
    What a pathetic little Rascist!

  10. Dawn Baker

    Publishing the racist rant in full, allowed us a glimpse of the man behind the webpage and accusations. It’s sad that this is how he gets his kicks, and interesting that The Oz are interested in his obsessions.

  11. Edward James

    See how easy it was for the Prime Minister to point out she had not set up a “trust fund” for her former boyfriend 17 years ago. How long will it be before we read in a Hedley Thomas exclusive the word “conspiracy” connected to these political allegations. Edward James

  12. Liz45

    I agree with Julia Gillard that the attitude to her is misogynist and sexist! I’m sick of the Libs who show consistent dis-respect by referring to her as “she” and Abbott leads by example. I find their behaviour when a female Minister is speaking in Parliament the same – they sound like a bunch of adolescent boys in the school yard – and I apologise to those boys who don’t behave in this manner.

    The behaviour towards Julia Gillard has a different dimension – and it goes beyond the ‘normal’ sarcasms etc used against other PM’s – I refer to John Howard, Billy McMahon and others. As a woman I find it offensive. The Murdoch rags are task masters at this also.

    I’ve disagreed with several policies, decisions etc, but there’s a right way to go about it. Being infantile, petulant and sexist is demeaning!

    I’m glad she came out ‘fighting’ today! Good for her! Enough is enough!

    There are people who contribute to Crikey who are guilty of this also. They should cease! Disagree with her if you will, but she is the PM and entitled to respect!

  13. klewso

    Liz, respect has to be earned. Howard was one too.

  14. Bill Hilliger

    People say News Limited is run by questionable people, and that the man in charge in of the Australian is a tosspot.

  15. izatso?

    “….. malicious and in no way associated with the facts ….. ” Woooo Hoooo !! Go get ’em, Julia ! …..thats what Wormtongue cannot handle, the serious questions, he just goes to water, the nutjob………….

  16. Liz45

    There’s a huge difference between disagreeing with someone, even passionately and angrily, without the sort of absolute misogynist behaviour of some in the media. Allan Jone’s suggestion that the PM should be put in a bag and dumped at sea; the placards during the anti carbon tax rallies where she was referred to as ‘Bob Brown’s bitch’ that’s a step too far, that demeans the country and the role of PM. Some men have a very difficult time dealing with, conversing with a woman in a position of power – some immature males just can’t cope! It’s time they caught up with 2012.

    The ‘little boys’ in the Federal Parlt are only showing themselves in a poor light by their demeaning and offensive behaviour. Abbott has a patronising/abusive attitude to women – even his own daughter has chastised him. Goodness knows what he’s like to live with, as his language to Nicola Roxon at the National Press Club that time, plus his consistent and persistent behaviour which I find offensive – he’s certainly not a role model to the young men in the country. He rarely even refers to Julia Gillard as PM – it’s usually she or her! Even in his opening remarks he does. You just keep an eye on him! Watch Parlt a couple of times.

    It was so bad a few days ago that the Labor women complained. I’ve also heard men say similar things as I have, so it’s not just a female ‘thing’? The last time was Sunday morning after Background Briefing – his name escapes me, but he’s often on the program with others discussing the week’s political happenings!

    @BILL HILLEGER – I find it quite remarkable that the Australian had in their employ a man who, on live national TV, in a drunken condition lunged at another person, I think that person was Stephen Mayne, the alleged culprit was Glen Milne. His behavour was appalling, and yet as far as I know, no action was taken! That’s the sort of person they have in their employ. A company where the man in charge hits the media for revolting reasons – they’re the last mob to dare take the high moral ground on anything! And certainly not from repeating skuttle butt and bs in an offensive and demeaning manner!

  17. ian dale

    if you read the websites promoting this guff, the comments are absolutely disgusting and extremely personal with crude s*xual claims.

    Mia Freedman was correct on ABC radio when she said no male politician is on the receiving end of such tawdry comments.

  18. Bill Hilliger

    The Australian will never do any good whilst the likes of that ‘has been/never was’ Paul Kelly continues to work for them.

  19. Pedantic, Balwyn

    Time to read Dial M for Murdoch everyone, for the dismal facts about the Murdochs and their sycophants.

    Rupert Murdoch has regularly stated that he controls editorial comment, and by any reasonable extension of that statement of his columnists and others in his sphere of influence. So as Ms. Gillard and the Government are not his chosen Party, anything goes to remove them from power.

    Paul Kelly, Greg Sheridan, Andrew Bolt (and several more) in print and the even more ghastly Alan Jones and Ray Hadley on the radio, disseminate the propaganda of hatred and greed to the many who will not study the facts, but sadly take on board the distortions that discredit a reasonably able, though occasionally inept Government.

    So the polls, assuming that they are not owned or distorted by the Murdochs, lead us to believe that Australia will vote in an even more flawed Government pandering to Big Business and the power of those who own the power of the dollar.
    What will save us? Only those in the media who believe in presenting only the facts. So that the people can make their own decision at the polling booths based on accurate information, sound policies; not spin, not distortion, not lies just the truth.

  20. Mike Flanagan

    One has to wonder how secure the Murdocracy libel and defamation
    insurers are feeling at the moment.
    Having withdrawn the story once before, must cause them to shake
    the heads in dismay and reconsider their continuing coverage of such
    rags and yellow press.
    I think Ms Gillard PM was have access to a considerably more
    salubrious housing than baltic pine workers cottage under the
    flashing lights of the Skipping Girl surounded by factories.
    And good luck to her I say!

  21. Bill Hilliger

    Ah! the ‘Australian’ a sh*tty newspaper run by sh*tty people.

  22. sherman herman

    all of a sudden i have a lot more respect for julia gillard. good job.

  23. sherman herman

    and a lot less respect for so called “journalists” in australia. a pack of mangy dogs, all of them.

  24. Meyer Gus

    I’ll not vote for her. I remember that she stabbed MY prime minister in the back. Give me any other option or I’ll vote for Abbott.

  25. Murray Brendan

    That was a magnificent performance Julia – I have new respect for you. People should be beating down doors at The Australian’s and demanding an apology not just the editor but from the conga line of suck hole who make up their Opinion team they should hang their heads in collective shame.

  26. Edward James

    Yes it was certainly a performance all right! Labor from the top on down they are just no dam good! Edward James

  27. Mike Flanagan

    The shrillness, mendacious muck raking and dishonesty of the
    Murdoch press gallery will be directly proportionate to Ms Gillards
    PM ability to carry the forth coming election.
    It maybe a more accurate pointer than News Poll.

  28. Karen

    @Edward Jones – No, its the ‘policy free zone’ Liberals who have engaged in smear and innuendo who are no damn good. Caught out, AGAIN. How many of these examples is it going to take for you to take the patch off your blinkered eye?

  29. izatso?

    …….caught out again ! Julia will get more runs on the board today, E.J., so strap in for the ride !

  30. Edward James

    I have been busy working getting some photos to use on paid announcements for the Local government elections Gosford. They are much more important to me than Federal political stuff right now. Edward James

  31. Edward James

    News Limited and Fairfax are not the only ones with fodder for the political mil.l Some of us can gather and publish our own. Edward James

  32. Zeke

    @Meyer Gus – “I’ll not vote for her. I remember that she stabbed MY prime minister in the back. Give me any other option or I’ll vote for Abbott.”

    Well, unless you live in the electorate of Lalor, you won’t be voting for Julia Gillard. We don’t vote for our Prime Minister. The PM is chosen by the Party in Power, not by the people.

    Oh, If you want someone else to “vote” for then may I suggest Christine Milne?

Leave a comment


https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/08/23/gillard-secures-apology-from-the-oz-over-awu-story/ == https://www.crikey.com.au/free-trial/==https://www.crikey.com.au/subscribe/

Show popup

Telling you what the others don't. FREE for 21 days.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.