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Nov 28, 2012

Bishop and her fierce battle with the English language

For an experienced lawyer, Julie Bishop sure struggles with what should be the tools of her trade: words. She badly let down the Coalition yesterday.


For a lawyer of 20 years’ standing, as she claimed yesterday, Julie Bishop has a real problem with what should be the basic tool of the lawyer’s trade, words.

Never mind that one of the highlights of Bishop’s legal career was enthusiastic participation in what some have characterised as CSR’s “litigate until they die” asbestos strategy. That merely denotes the sort of cynicism and amorality that doesn’t exactly distinguish Bishop from many of her former colleagues in that profession. This is about her problem with how she uses words.

Recall why Bishop is in her current role as shadow foreign minister: she lost the shadow treasurer’s role after just a few months in the job following two separate plagiarism incidents and a number of blunders on economic basics.

Now, having been delegated the task of prosecuting the case against the Prime Minister by a leader too scared of accusations of negativity and s-xism to touch the issue, she’s shown once again that words are her enemy, on three separate matters.

First, and most egregiously, was the accusation about Gillard that “she and Wilson and Blewitt wanted to hide from the AWU the fact that an unauthorised entity was being set up to siphon funds through it for their benefit, and not for the benefit of the AWU,” an accusation so wild and unsubstantiated that not even The Australian has dared make it. This meant Bishop had to backtrack in her post-question time media conference — conveniently cut short when she was under sustained pressure from journalists by a division — insisting she had been misinterpreted, and that her words “their benefit” didn’t mean Gillard.

Well, arguably not. As a lawyer, you’d expect Bishop to be careful about the wording of the accusations she makes. So either she was peculiarly lax in her phrasing or it was deliberate. If it was deliberate, it was a bad idea, because it meant most of the evening news coverage was about her having to backtrack.

Second, Bishop and Abbott’s senior staff managed to botch several of their questions yesterday, with two ruled out of order entirely and another partly ruled out. Given the Prime Minister was hitherto under no pressure whatsoever from the “grilling” she was receiving, it didn’t matter a great deal, but it was the opposition that built this week up as some sort of key political moment, and they couldn’t even get their questions right.

And third was the saga of Bishop’s meetings with Ralph Blewitt, which is still developing today with revelations Bishop took a phone call from him last week but professed to not know who it was (Blewitt has been accused of many things in this matter, but this is the first time making prank phone calls has been one of them).

This follows Bishop yesterday describing her meeting last Friday with the Jolly Bagman as a “chance meeting”. A “chance meeting” would suggest she bumped into Blewitt while out for a morning stroll, or at a function, but in this instance “chance meeting” extends to Bishop agreeing to go and meet Blewitt at the request of Michael Smith, Dante to Blewitt’s Virgil in this dodgy amateur production of Inferno. Or perhaps another cultural touchstone, Princess Bride, is more appropriate here: I don’t think “chance meeting” means what Bishop thinks it means.

The net result of all of which is that, peculiarly, it’s now Bishop under pressure over the AWU “scandal”.

“You can say anything you like to the media and it has no consequences,” insisted Bronwyn Bishop yesterday in question time.

She should ask Bishop how that “no consequences” thing is going.


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52 thoughts on “Bishop and her fierce battle with the English language

  1. macphang

    What I find interesting about the phone call Julie Bishop took from Blewitt is her claim that she didn’t know who she was talking to.

    So there we have the person who wants to be Australia’s next Foreign Affairs Minister admitting she takes calls from unknown persons and starts a conversation with them.

    Unbelievable and scary for ASIO.

  2. beachcomber

    Malcolm Turnbull had his Gordon Gretch. Tony Abbott slipped his own Smoking Ute to Julie Bishop, and it is backfiring as badly. She will only survive this debacle because the only other woman he has to replace he with is Sophie Mirabella.

  3. The Pav

    I note Bishop now admits that she had a possible phone conversation with an unkown part that dropped out but the pcall was made by a discredited shock jock.

    How would such a person have her mobile number unless she gave it to him thereby clearly showing that thgis involvement

  4. SBH

    Maybe she bumped into him at the gym?

    Anyway, None of that matters to the media. A master class in how to inflate minor issues (or complete non-issues) again delivered by Fran Kelly this morning. Lucky Mark Latham was there to point out just how silly the ‘caucus revolt’ and the AWU ‘scandal stories are. Not once did Kelly mention what a cock-up the Libs are making of this.

    I don’t want my eight cents back but gee, I wish it bought a bit more talent.

  5. CML

    And this lot want to run the country???!!!

  6. Sean Cornell

    In my opinion, a quality journalist is one that happily asks the tough questions of both sides, showing no favoritism. Fran Kelly is one such journalist who springs to mind.

    Andrew Bolt is one that does not qualify as a quality journalist, as there is no doubt about his bias. Bernard Keane is all Andrew Bolt and no Fran Kelly. He is getting more and more pathetic.

  7. Pedantic, Balwyn

    Woo is the country. If the polls are right we will end up with a gutless leader, incompetent deputy and sundry no hopers like Andrews, Dutton, Joyce,Mirabella et al running the joint.
    Sadly the dismal spectacle in Canberra doesn’t resonate with the average swinging voter in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, Qld or WA; so we don’t have a lot to look forward to!

  8. geomac62

    Is the Bishop chance meeting similar to Ashby meeting Mal Brough that Mal claimed didn,t happen then admitted to more than one meeting ? Pyne had a similar memory problem regarding emails with Ashby that happened a few months earlier . How would he and Mal go remembering something from ten years ago ?
    I curious how come Bishop is available to phone calls from bagmen and ex DJs yet I would have buckleys chance of getting her number . I might get a contact detail from the lib site but not her personal mobile number . Imagine the crank calls .
    Pyne , Ashby , Brough , Abetz , Greche , Blewitt , Bishop and a sacked DJ . 10 mb of memory between them and 2 GB of smear and innuendo .

  9. Mike Smith

    Was Bishop seated in the Eighth Circle in the production of Inferno? That would be apt.

  10. Niall Clugston

    How is it like the “Inferno”? And the “Princess Bride”…???

  11. Mike Smith

    moderation? Is the moderator clever enough to work out what I insinuated?

  12. Dean W

    Oh god! why did i sign up to this moronic website.
    The comments of stupidity and unending support for the most destructive govt ever are one thing.
    But for a so called journalist such as Bernard Keane to even post such a ridiculous blog defies belief.
    I don’t lean left or right, but this is gutter journalism at it worst. Is this a Get Up page????
    I guess even morons need a page to vent their hatred at all things progressively outside of their mental capacity.

  13. Mk8adelic

    I bet Bishop was clear in her wording about delaying asbestos victims’ compensation.

    Re Cornell above. I’d prefer Bernard Keane continues to provide some balance to the extraordinary bias presented by most of the media. It seems outrageous to compare him to bolt.

  14. michael r james

    The Pav at 1:34 pm
    “How would such a person have her mobile number unless she gave it to him thereby clearly showing that thgis involvement”

    Senior Libs are quite cosy with the shocking former shock-jock as I posted on BKs article yesterday (below). I posted this because I found it .. shocking.

    [“Last year, (Michael) Smith’s Central Coast wedding was attended by leading Coalition figures George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce .”]
    Incidentally, it is curious that Friday afternoon was also when Crikey’s Matthew Knot had his meeting with Smith in his Rydges hotel room (during which Harry Nowicki showed up; Rydges is a veritable conspiracy Central!) The Nowicki/Smith repartee is worth reprinting yet again (from MK’s article yesterday):

    [The two are in full flight, feeding off each other’s outrage, delighting in the left-wing perception they are “right-wing misogynist nut-job conspiracy theorists swirling on the internet in their web of intrigue”.]

  15. michael r james

    The Pav at 1:34 pm
    “How would such a person have her mobile number unless she gave it to him thereby clearly showing that thgis involvement”

    Senior Libs are quite cosy with the shocking former shock-jock as I posted on BKs article yesterday (below). I posted this because I found it .. shocking.

    [“Last year, (Michael) Smith’s Central Coast wedding was attended by leading Coalition figures George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce .”]

  16. michael r james

    From Andrew Crook’s article in yesterday’s Crikey:

    [“Last year, (Michael) Smith’s Central Coast wedding was attended by leading Coalition figures George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce.”]

  17. The Pav

    Dear Dean W @ 12

    Your true bias is showing

    If you comment liek the article argue against it. Don’t just sledge.

    That’s straight out of the Abbot playbook

  18. geomac62

    Dean W
    Was your post an attempt at satire ? Your claim to be neither left or right seems unlikely considering your assessment of gutter journalism , have you ever read Murdoch stuff ? The clincher for me is most destructive ever comment which usually goes with worst in history type rhetoric from neocon acolytes . The bigger the exaggeration the further out from the mainstream centre a person is , left or right .

  19. Holden Back

    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  20. geomac62

    Mike Smith
    Seems everything I post has to await moderation . At least the waiting time has improved .

  21. tonyfunnywalker

    This inability to arriculate a question continued today following Abbott’s cameo question of the Palistinian UN vote abstention and had Gillard lost control of the party.
    The question again were repetitive and so much so she got Abbott and Pyne in trouble with the Speaker by consulting on their feet before telling Julie Bishop to just to articulate ” is it yes or is it no”.

    Politicians do not answer categorical questions nor should they.

    The Speaker is pissed off and so was Katter as his suspension of standing orders would have been more constructive for the electorate that more of Bishop’s circumlocutory questions.

    This week as been a disaster for the Liberals and their sponsors in the press especially News Ltd.

    For Example Paul Murray’s 6PR interview with Blewett (source ABC —Cassidy) was timely as he sang the praises of Blewett on his program on Sky News Last night.

    labor has had a free ride to promote themselves to the swinging seats with Minister after Minister having a free commmercial of Labor achievements a bit like a replay on the footy.

    The Liberals are in dissaray. Who ever devised this strategy — it was a bummer from the outset and was not in character with more effective negative campaigns for example the carbon tax, until that too fizzed post introduction and it is obvious no one thought that the electorate might even grow to like it (Kean).

    Brand Liberal is in trouble and its percieved value to the electorate damaged even as an effective opposition.

    The support for a Rudd/ Turnbull coalition demonstrated the frustration of Liberal leaning voters.

    If the Liberals are to win then over the break they need to consider:-

    Replacing Abbott, Bishop and Pyne and no end of makeovers Christopher will make us love you more.

    Have the New Leader (who ever he or she may be ) with a clean out of the Opposition Leader’s advisors that can effectively market a broken party- and not Lynton Crosby as the Conservatives in the UK have already tarnished his effectiveness.

    Any hope of an abandonment of a independent regulatory body to Monitor the Press body is lost as what has occurred this week has tarnished the professionalism of the press so badly in the eyes of electorate.

    It has been a litany of misrepresentation of the facts where facts did exist, to construct evidence out of nothin where substantive information was not availiable.

    It will be interesting what Leveson comes up with, the continued tarnishing of the BBC and ITV over the reporting of heresay from an inreliable source and the distortion of perceptions due to time lapse and the state of mind of the complainant over a significant period of time.

    The Press Corps have fought hard against independent regulation of the media but you will get the regulation you deserve- you failed miserably to demonstrate otherwise.

  22. Mike Smith

    @DeanW: It is, however, the lesser of two evils. Both the Government (Labor vs Coalition), and the media (Crikey vs MSM).

  23. Venise Alstergren

    I’ve a feeling that the “chance meeting” happened in a Melbourne coffee shop-for ten minutes. Oh, absolutely yes. In a congested, Christmas shopping meleé of four and a half million people, little Julie Bishop just happened on a chance meeting.

    She should try pulling the other one the little freak that she is. WORSE, The Coalition is squandering acres of the taxpayers’ money in order that little Tony Rabbott can pursue his personal vendetta against an elected Prime Minister.

  24. Hunt Ian

    You let Bishop off the hook too easily Bernard. She clearly said that Gillard, along with Wilson and Blewitt, tried to hide the existence of an “unauthorised entity” from the AWU “to siphon funds through it for their benefit, and not for the benefit of the AWU”. Whether “the benefit” referred only to Wilson and Blewitt does not alter the fact that Bishop is accusing Gillard of being an accessory before the fact to fraud. I would have thought this was pretty defamatory in itself and Gillard is surely entitled to an apology, which could hardly be sincere if Bishop continues to pursue her in parliament.

  25. Hunt Ian

    Dean W please sign off, the intelligence of your torrent of abuse is too much for me.

  26. klewso

    How hard is it to get a “lore degree” in WA – buy a pack of Willy Wonka’s chocolate and win a chance to join “The Wonka Bar”?

  27. burninglog

    Where’s the ‘Patriot’? He was banging on about this whole Slush Fund Saga being an Australian version of Watergate.

    Julie Bishop needs him

  28. Achmed

    Colin Barnett’s Liberal Western Australian government – On October 31 its Minister for Training and Workforce Development, Murray Cowper, answered a complaint on this issue by writing:
    “Whilst there is documentary evidence that the Building and Construction Industry Training Board committed $516,000 to a training project involving Thiess Contractors at the Dawesville Cut in 1993 and 1994, there is no evidence to substantiate that any embezzlement of those funds occurred … Given that 18 years has elapsed since the project and what records are available indicate that training outcomes were actually achieved from the funding, I can see no justification in taking any further action.”
    That’s a Liberal Minister dismissing the nonsense peddled by the Liberals. in Federal Parliament A worrying pattern of fabrication on all things Gillard.
    Now thats called a fact something the Opposition still have to produce.

  29. Andrew Andrews

    Dear Bernard,
    This is the worst-written piece of commentary, or “journalism”, that I have ever read.
    I have no special regard for whatever political flavour you favour, but boy, it’s just woeful.
    Funny thing, Bernard K, you’re running a critique on someone else’s “battle with the English language” when your own writing is just so bloody atrocious.
    Were you ever a school-teacher, perhaps?
    The piece was so badly constructed that I could not finish.
    Were I to bother you with all the details (and I won’t) we might start with the dangling “words” hanging out of the of the arse of the lead par.
    Are you really a journalist, Mr Keane, or is this just satire? Is this a way to get back at Brother Patrick Keane, from the AFL?
    Should you and your editor ever read the work back, you might ask yourselves how you would feel if you were a reading customer.
    Please remove me from your list immediately.
    I feel completely conned by Crikey.
    I will obviously forgo the remainder of my annual subscription fees, that were renewed just a week ago. I feel duped, but am more upset (as a person out of work) that I have spent much-needed money in what I thought might have been a gesture of some support to quality Australian writing.
    I do not care what your ideological position is. All that I expected was that Crikey would be well written. Nope.
    I would recommend anyone who has to actually pay for this stuff think carefully. The main market is Government, ABC, and Public Service, which speaks volumes. They don’t pay out of their own pockets.
    In my opinion, you should have cyber-copy-kids who could write better than this.
    Goodbye, Crikey. Goodbye, Bernard.
    Enjoy my money.
    Conned again. My fault.

  30. michael r james

    Oh groan, I’m not sure I can watch Lateline tonight, featuring George Brandis.

    “Liberal Senator George Brandis, meanwhile, used privilege to again accuse the Prime Minister of foul deeds on the AWU slush fund.”

    Rolled gold hypocrisy from the buddy of Michael Smith and ipso facto, Ralph Blewitt and Harry Nowicki.

    A reporter should ask Brandis if he was at Rydges or on the phone to any of this cabal. Who gave Julie Bishop’s mobile number to Michael Smith?

  31. Patriot

    Nick Styant-Browne has thrown Gillard under the bus. He’s released more of the departure interview showing she wrote a letter denying that the AWU Workplace Reform Association was a trade union organisation and imploring the Commissioner of Corporate affairs in WA to incorporate it

    Not only did Gillard write the rules for the association, she cut and pasted them from the rules of the Socialist Forum. Got that? The rules for the Socialist Forum became a template for an entity used by union officials to steal from workers. You seriously could not make this stuff up.

  32. Mike Flanagan

    Klewso Re 26; They were available at the Vic Market in Melbourne during the Bolte era. I am not sure, but they maybe available through the Murdoch Uni cafe in WA.

  33. Hunt Ian

    Seriously, Patriot, you have indeed made this up. It is only your assertion that Gillard knew beforehand that the association for which she drafted rules would turn out to be a way of siphoning money to Blewitt or Wilson. The evidence is against you. Gillard terminated her relationship with Wilson when others in the trade union movement expressed worries about his activities.

    As for the letter, there is nothing wrong with writing to the WA commission to assure them that the use of “AWU” in the name of the association did not indicate it was a trade union, and therefore is not ruled out as an association. Again, the objects of the association were to make changes in the workplace in favour of workers, with the main strategy for that being election of some members of the association as officials of the AWU. There is no evidence that Gillard knew that in fact money would be siphoned off for other purposes.

    Your position is truly pathetic. You invite the Australian public to share your prejudice, for which there is no evidence whatever, that Julia Gillard knew in advance everything done by the association for which she supplied advice on how to set it up under WA law as an association. It is like suggesting that Blewitt should be charged with defacing money of the commonwealth because, according to Wilson, he buried cash from the association in his garden, which was ruined when it got damp! Clearly, if this occurred as Wilson says it did, then Blewitt would have been as surprised as Wilson clearly was,although given your principle of guilt by association, we should charge Wilson with defacing money of the commonwealth as well because he was also a member of the association.

    Especially pathetic is the flounce of outrage at the idea that Julia Gillard should cut and paste from the rules of an association of which she was then a member. Presumably we should be so appalled at this outrageous action and showing just how despicable socialist organisation are, when their rules can “become a template for an entity used by union officials to steal from workers. There are some corrections of fact here, although Patriot may not be interested in facts that might get in the way of political posturing.

    Gillard also used a copy of WA rules of association to make sure the new association complied with WA law. The money in the association bank account did not come from members of the AWU but from businesses, primarily Thiess, which declined to complain about its use when questioned by WA police.

    Will your media friends really help you get over the fact that you have absolutely no proof whatever that Gillard knew before about 1995 that the association did anything other than help people get elected to AWU positions? I doubt it. All of your allegations are defamatory and I am afraid you have neither truth nor public interest as a defence for them. Some might think that the allegations are in the public interest, but all of us who are bored into the ground by this US Republication Party style attempt at character assassination know better.

  34. geomac62

    What is the relevance in all this ? Besides the smear campaign what is it that the opposition are trying to achieve . Unlike Howard RE Honan the PM hasn,t misled parliament , been convicted of a crime that could remove the requirement to be a MP . The PM hasn,t done a Reith who didn,t get kicked out of parliament despite a clear breach of his legal requirements .
    What is the relevance ?
    Brandis SC , is the SC like a colonel in the Sanders sense ? Brandis gets a gong but has never fronted court as a SC for legal work . Cowards castle exponent who has made errors in framing legal opinions on many people but none on conservatives . Forensic investigor of the calibre of SB but more articulate , hardly surprising , not hard to do .

  35. Mike Smith

    @Andrew Andrews: On the basis of one article out of more than a year? (you said you renewed) Oh cry me a river. ANd then you do a feeble ‘remove me from this list’, which is barely better than “unsubscibe me(SIC)”

    You would not know the main market of Crikey.

    Goodbye Andrew, Don’t let the door bang you on the ar$e on your way out.

  36. Edward James

    Here is a question which may not be answered, if asked in Federal Parliament question time. If striking shearers conceived the Labor Party in Queensland somewhere. When and where were the Liberal and National Parties the other half of the two parties not much preferred conceived? We employ way too many grubs in our parliaments on both side of government. Edward James

  37. Mike Flanagan

    Well said Mike, albeit they can be infuriating.

  38. Edward James

    Instruction to mislead on behalf of my politician client. Br ha ha ha Edward James

  39. Edward James

    Hey Bernard I have been publishing allegations supported with my instructive photos which expose interested readers to photos of sites which when considered will support the thinking reader. i am and continue to identify criminal abuse of due process. what next?

  40. Edward James

    Well the overview view i an others have. Is a waste of most readers time. We are watching at great expense on a federal political stage what most of us can perceive as activity which brings our parliament and the Prime Minister into disrepute. Edward James

  41. Edward James

    Well the overview view I an others have. Is a waste of most readers time. We are watching at great expense on a federal political stage what most of us can perceive as activity which brings our parliament and the Prime Minister into disrepute. How many other politicians and activist are actively involved in bringing down systemically corrupt entities like local and State councils ??? Edward James 0243419140

  42. wilful

    $5 says that Andrew Andrews will be commenting on lots more articles in the next twelve months, and hasn’t cancelled his subs at all. Any takers?

  43. Mark Smith

    Funny how Keane smears Bishop with her legitimate work as a lawyer, yet is completely comfortable with the PM’s legal work involving corrupt union officials. Nice work Mr Keane.

  44. Hunt Ian

    You don’t get it, do you Mark Smith? Not only do you not get it, you don’t get that you don’t get it. Bishop’s “legitimate” work as a lawyer was to make a legally and morally worthless claim that the company responsible for a workers injury was not responsible because the worker was employed by one of its subsidiaries. This enabled the victim of the workplace injury to die before a decision could be made and then the company successfully applied to deduct worker’s compensation payment from the payment to a family. Very respectable, very legitimate. But then working for union officials, who she did not know to be corrupt at the time. Outrageous. Working for a business is fine but union officials? Very mucky.

  45. geomac62

    Mark Smith
    I would have thought any lawyer representing a company determined to avoid its responsibilities would have the stigma that goes with that action . Same with tobacco lawyers but smear ?
    Your assertion of legal work involving corrupt union officials neglects the detail of dropping said officials when rumours started to circulate . Nice work Mark .

  46. Patriot

    Ian Hunt,

    Thiess paid money to the Workplace Reform Association for the provision of workplace safety reform consultancy which was not provided. The money was understood and intended by Thiess to be for the benefit of workers and was then taken from them by Wilson and possibly by Gillard if witnesses are to be believed.

  47. Mike Flanagan

    So, what has that got to do with Ms Gillard, Patriot. Are you responsible for Coke’s behaviour in India if you are a misguided client.

  48. Mike Smith

    @Patriot, the witnesses are only to be believed by the followers of Andrew Bolt and his odious ilk.

  49. Holden Back

    I understand the legal firm Rumour & Hearsay have been engaged to pursue the case.

  50. Patriot

    Mike Smith, you surprise me with such a one-eyed view of the matter. People such as Wayne Hem, Bob Kernohan and Bob Smith are respected as men of integrity by those within the union movement and critics alike. I’m not sure any of them have ever spoken to Bоlt.

  51. Hunt Ian

    Patriot, Patriot. What you say does not add any substance to an empty case. So, we are now to condemn Gillard because she “possibly” took money from Thiess, “if witnesses are to be believed”? Well, we cannot do that. First, we cannot say that taking money from Thiess is taking money from workers, regardless of whether Thiess donated it with the intention of benefiting workers. Thiess was interviewed by police and did not complain. Secondly, who are the “witnesses” to a “possible” appropriation of money by Gillard? Do we have any reason to believe them? Like Brandis, you continue to assume that your prejudices should be shared by all. There is no incompatibility between stating that an association aims to improve workplace safety and aiming to elect officals committed to workplace safety. Please give this a rest, Please.

  52. tonyfunnywalker

    Having read a lot of discussion and accusations by Gee Wizz et al I was wondering why Abbott did not lead the charge last week in question time and why Julie Bishop was hung out to dry.

    The Age has the answers http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/abbott-has-his-own-slushy-history-20121201-2anjy.html.

    Abbott has his own skeletons story of dodgy slush funds, I am sure that Michael Smith and Andrew Bolt will be racing to find Pauline Hanson to get to the bottom of this.

    I expect the same zeal as in the AWU beatup and Andrew will before Xmas have a total program on 10 ensuring that there be a judicial enquiry and as Abbott is a potential PM …. this requires the upmost scrutiny- Labor is about to have a field day.

    Hedley is already on the case demanding am interview with Abbott.

    Abbott was not a lawyer just doing their job 20- years ago he was already in the Parliament and about to become a Minister????

    I wonder if George Brandis will ……..

    Malcolm better polish off your Leadership badge…..you could be leader after Xmas.

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