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Dec 3, 2012

Kroger defo case revives stories of Abbott's uni past

Back when Barbara Ramjan told the media that Tony Abbott punched the wall next to her head in 1977, key Liberal figure Michael Kroger accused her of lying. Ramjan's now suing Kroger for defamation.


When former Liberal Party powerbroker Michael Kroger went on the record four months ago, branding Barbara Ramjan a serial liar, he could not have picked a worse target. If the first rule of defamation is “don’t slag off a lawyer”, then the second rule should be “don’t criticise a judge’s wife”.

Ramjan, of course, is the woman who leapt into the headlines in September after telling writer David Marr that after she defeated Tony Abbott to become president of the Students Representative Council at Sydney Uni in 1977, Abbott stood in front of her, raised his fist and punched the wall either side of her head. Abbott has denied this claim.

Arguments about this raged for weeks, with everyone who was at Sydney Uni at the time weighing in, either for or against. Kroger then made statements to The Australian newspaper implying she was lying, and to Alan Jones on his 2GB breakfast program. Jones was contacted by mutual friends after the broadcast, pointing out Ramjan has a PhD, works tirelessly for the underprivileged in her capacity as a social worker and is married to one of the country’s most distinguished lawyers, Greg James QC. James has recently retired from the NSW Supreme Court and has returned to the Sydney bar.

Jones’ apology the next day, unprompted by legal threats, was comprehensive:

“Barbara Ramjan is a person of high distinction having been awarded a D. Phil from Sydney Uni and she is married to a Supreme Court judge. Ramjan has spent years avoiding the limelight and glare of politics, choosing not to get involved after her student activity ceased. I was not aware of this and I accept now that the claim she was a serial liar is not factual.”

Ramjan has assembled a stellar legal team to run the case, instructing Patrick George from Kennedys solicitors, who has briefed Matthew Richardson and the leading defamation silk in the country, Bruce McClintock.

There are two separate actions against Kroger and The Oz, although it was indicated in court this morning the matters will be run concurrently.

After reading Marr’s report in the Quarterly Essay, I asked my husband to stand in front of me and punch the wall, because I wanted to know what if felt like. I am much taller and stronger than Ramjan, who is extremely petite, and I found it a terrifying experience, even though I knew my husband wasn’t actually going to hit me.

The case, of course, does not involve deciding whether or not the alleged incident took place, but whether Kroger has defamed Ramjan by describing her as a serial liar. The case could run into next year, prompting another round of headlines in an election year about what Abbott did or didn’t do to a woman in 1977.

The political and legal implications of this matter are being felt far beyond the walls of the NSW Supreme Court.


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22 thoughts on “Kroger defo case revives stories of Abbott’s uni past

  1. drmick

    About time the gutless loud mouthed unchecked Oz & its sycophants get to justify the outrageous rubbish they come out with. Hope it costs them both a fortune.

  2. Deipnosoph

    Go Barbara! There are a lot of people wishing you well on this one.

  3. klewso

    Oh dear …. now we’re going to be treated to the spectacle of “The Lizards of Oz” using it’s auspices to “take on” Ramjan in the name of truthiness and honestry?
    Did she live in “that house” too?

  4. tonyfunnywalker

    Go Barbara and a hope a few more join with you.

  5. zut alors

    Hallelujah! I was already on a high following First Dog’s Walkley Award but now can barely wipe the smile off my face.

    How unusual for Jones not to do his normal extensive background research and fact checking before letting fly.

  6. Mike Smith

    Tear Kroger and the Australian new ones, Barbara! It’ll look good on them!

  7. Daniella Barbar

    go get him Barbara on behalf of every female who has felt the physical threat by a man then not believed by ‘other men’.

  8. CML

    I had a similar experience in my early thirties, when a male doctor threatened to punch me. We were the only two people in a hospital elevator at the time. I was a nursing supervisor, and he had just made a rather large mistake, which I said I would have to report because the patient involved was demanding something be done about it.
    The whole incident was very frightening, but did not stop me from reporting the (patient) mistake. This man bullied me for the next couple of years until he left the hospital. That was 40 years ago – nothing was done about it by the powers that be, but it has stayed with me ever since.
    So Barbara, go as hard as you can, and win a victory for all of us who have put up with male standover tactics at sometime in our lives.

  9. The Pav

    Just how is Jone’s statement an apology?

    From my read of the article whilst he did not make the allegation/statement his guest did.

    Whilsta DJ cannot necessarily control what people say he can control what goes out. He also selected the guest and one would assume he would have been aware of what his guest would say. Particularly as his guest would have been protecting Jone’s protege.

    If Jones & his ratbag station don’t get pinned in this as well then it would be a travesty.

    In a contest between Kroger , Abbott and Jones aagianst Ramjan I will back Ramjan any day!

  10. The Pav

    Whilst the case will not necessarily be about wheteher did or did not punch the wall it well may establish Ramja’s credibility and honesty.

    This will then mean her account can be accepted and thus it can be implied that Abbott either was untruthful about his ability to recall the indident or if it is true that he cannot recall then perhaps it is beacuse he did something like it so often he couldn’t remember a particular incident.Oops no that wouldn’t work either because he said it wasn’t the sort of behaviour he indulged.

    Although Joe Hockey might have a different opinion and we would have to believe boxers don’t throw punches

  11. paddy

    Hopefully, one glorious schadenfreudegasm coming up.

  12. Tim Rust

    The Pav, the thing is, Jones backed out of this one quick when he realised what he was up against. Kroger is a blowhard and a bullyboy (no surprise he and Costello used to be chums)- as shown in his exchange with Peter Van Onselen after the “died of shame thing – and this shows he’s not even as bright as Jones

  13. AR

    Kroger & Jones being done for defamation is like Al Capone being done for tax evasion.

  14. Cuppa

    Is this the same Kroger who was a director of the ABC for five years??

  15. Roberto Tedesco

    The same Kroger who was so, so, so so so upset by coverage of the Iraq war by the ABC. He is, you see, a facts man through and through. Oh yes he is.

  16. Liz45

    Good for you Barbara! Go get ’em! I’m only a small person too, and the alleged behaviour via Abbott would’ve been very threatening!

    Once again, the ‘born to rule’ clique think that they can do and say what they please! Misogyny is alive and well!

  17. Peter Fumberger

    I find it sad that commenters on here don’t care about the veracity of Ramjan’s statement, all they care about is tearing Kroger a new one, because of his political leanings, and because it also had Abbott again defending the smear tactics of labor.
    Personally, I think Ramjan is lying about this incident, because if there was any validity in it, it would have been brought up ages ago, but McTurdan decided that, with his anything goes in politics smear and slime tactics, this lie was perfect to increase the Abbott is a misogynist smear, and so Ramjan was brought out to make this scurrilous claim.
    Something akin to women out there who were empowered by gillard’s banshee screeching in parliament. Talk about deluded people.
    That harridan has taken back women’s rights in this country a couple of decades, but because of the politics, these women don’t care.
    I find that very sad.

  18. zut alors

    Peter Fumberger,

    Contrary to your initial point the posters here are convinced of the veracity of Ramj@n’s account, hence our enthusiasm that trvth will out.

  19. Evan James

    @ Peter Fumberger – I think one of the points being made in the legal proceedings is that this incident has been brought up a number of times, in fact didn’t David Patch (the Returning Officer for the Student Election in question) make a public state that Ms Ramjan made an immediate complaint to him about it, minutes after it happened?

  20. Andybob

    @Peter Fumburger
    One of the things that persuaded me that Ramj@n was telling the truth was the corroboration by David Patch of contemporaneous complaint by her. She also has told the story many times in public before without Abbott taking against her for defamation himself. So don’t be lachrymose, the evidence will show that Ramj@n is an honest, well regarded person and, since it’s Sydney, when the jury are told that damages are ‘at large’ all they will hear is ‘large’. It’s a happy day !

  21. klewso

    It is funny though, Kroger – “The anatomy of a cock-up”?
    With his one-eyed, myopic and chronic tendency for supercilious infallibilty, to be caught shooting from the lip, and then be caught tripping over that bottom lip while running off at the mouth, playing his sort of politics.

  22. klewso

    … it appears “Smears R’ Us” hate any hint of what they can label “competition”?


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