Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

AWU ‘scandal’ says more about the media’s ethics than the PM’s

Every time Prime Minister Julia Gillard repeats statements that she’s “done nothing wrong” in the AWU slush fund scandal story, it seems another journalist joins the fray. No one covering the story has…

Julia Gillard has repeatedly answered questions about her role with the AWU, but it’s not enough for some journalists. AAP/Alan Porritt

Every time Prime Minister Julia Gillard repeats statements that she’s “done nothing wrong” in the AWU slush fund scandal story, it seems another journalist joins the fray.

No one covering the story has turned up a material fact to prove that Julia Gillard used AWU money to renovate her house, or that she knew about the misappropriation of union funds from within the AWU, or that she did anything other than what she again told Monday’s press conference. But the story’s viral now. And everyone wants a hit.

There’s an ethical problem, not because journalists are choosing not to call this story for what it is, but also because of the fundamental issue of fairness that it illustrates.

The ethical dimension of the media’s pursuit of the prime minister is more relevant to Australians wondering what’s going on with the media than with her. Whatever the public might learn out of The Australian’s chorus of campaigning journalists ready to hit us again with another version of nothing isn’t as important as the demonstrable unfairness.

The Australian media, now and in the past, punches above its weight with fair and accurate reporting on the international stage. But if it’s hard for readers here to figure out what’s driving this pack behaviour towards the prime minister, it must be pretty baffling to those bothering to watch all this from overseas.

There’s nothing fair about the choice by The Australian to run more content as breaking news when what’s already run on the issue has satisfied any duty to the public interest that was rightly claimed. When there’s no respect for factual evidence as it stands today, but merely a speculative stab at what might be a pre-Christmas dream story about a prime minister’s wrongdoing, we might as well be watching reality TV or checking out celebrities on Facebook.

Given that there’s also an assemblage of material showing Julia Gillard had nothing more she could offer the AWU story than what she had already said or supplied, for her to be compelled to keep talking is at best odd and at worst damaging to whatever trust the public still places in its news media. Australia’s public should instead be concerned about who is really running this story and what’s really motivating its players.

On ABC’s 7.30, Leigh Sales asked those questions of former AWU official Ralph Blewitt, pointing out at the time that his social media “Likes” of pages devoted to anti-Gillard smear campaigns of the “putrid” kind suggested that his sudden willingness to talk to Victoria Police arose from something other than civic duty.

There’s an ethical problem, too, with cashing in on a story just in case any of it turns out badly for Julia Gillard. She’s accountable now to a much bigger crowd than she was 20 years ago, when her boyfriend was an AWU official and she was a lawyer. But even as prime minister she doesn’t deserve harassment about her past as she goes about her job.

Granted, the prime minister is a much bigger media target than anyone else out there at the moment. It’s no great shakes news-wise, after all, to expose a dodgy union deal. “Big deal”, many would say – and in fact now are, given the comparative lack of attention to the men who had the money, and even to the direct statement by Bruce Wilson that Julia Gillard knew nothing about what was going on.

Mainstream campaign journalism being what it is, competing for its shrinking share of a public attention span focused largely on social media, journalists haven’t let a lack of evidence stop their pursuit of the prime minister. If mainstream media organisations are attempting to compete with the reach and timbre of social media at the expense of a sustained respect for evidence and fact-based reporting, then it’s journalists who practice such things who stand to lose most.

Journalism based on solid research and verified source material has uncovered serious wrongdoing not so long ago in Australia’s past, and for the benefit of a public’s right to know what matters. When there’s hardly anyone willing to question why an array of facts pointing away from the prime minister somehow keeps media organisations hot on her trail, it becomes solely a question of ethics answerable by journalists rather than Julia Gillard.

Sign in to Favourite

Join the conversation

108 Comments sorted by

  1. Spiro Vlachos

    AL

    Since when has journalism been an evidence based profession? The PM being "involved" is enough to make a story, and the fact that she will not answer questions about her involvement on the parliamentary record only creates more work for journalists. What the PM means when she says she has done "nothing wrong" is that she has done nothing illegal. Doing "nothing wrong" is a bar set much higher than merely doing nothing illegal for holders of the office of PM. A PM that does not meet the standards set by the democracy is most certainly news.

    report
    1. Cat Mack

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      This maybe a fair comment but when I talk to young people about politics - nothing interests them less than this stuff. What they want is a genuine debate about ideas. What really gets me about our current media is the way they accept (share?) the agenda of both political parties. I would like to see the mainstream media run a campaign questioning the ideology of growth (for example)? Let's hear what our politicians think about that. We just don't get serious debate about serious issues at all.

      report
    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Spiro, I look forward to your reference to the constitutional document that so precisely describes the way the bar is set higher...or is that just something you dreamed up to suit your argument?

      report
  2. Harvey Westbury

    Not being a dinosaur

    Journalism, an evidence based profession? Certainly not, particularly in the way it is practised by main stream news organsitions in Australia. Furthermore, is it a profession? Certainly not, except if you call story-telling a profession. Maybe a fourth estate is a better descriptor, but even then it behaves like a flock of sheep. And a sheep flock will follow a goat. There is a simple test anyone can apply to the media. Read, watch, or listen to a report of something that you have been involved in, or something that you completely understand. The lack of accuracy in reporting is immediately apparent, which prompts the question is this incompetence or deliberate? I have my opinion and that is that journalism has been hijacked by the unscrupulous who have no interest in reporting and analysing facts, but merely distorting and sensationalising. Why does the public put up with this approach. That's another story.

    report
  3. Andrew Sweeney

    logged in via LinkedIn

    I agree the AWU story is a sideshow and quite irrelevant to the PM's record as PM which she has managed to pollute all by herself. But since you raise the point, Janine...

    While you're contemplating fairness, perhaps you could answer this: If the PM did nothing wrong, then Ralph Blewitt can have nothing on her; so how fair would it be, then, for an innocent PM to attempt to thoroughly discredit Blewitt to the press? Why indeed would an innocent person attempt to discredit someone who could have nothing on them?

    On the question of ethics, why did the PM choose to make her statement in a press conference rather than in Parliament? It should be noted that if a politician were to lie to the press, the penalty would be rather less severe than if a politician were to mislead Parliament.

    report
    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Andrew Sweeney

      Andrew there's a handy little concept used by lots of people, from lawyers to moral philosophers, that involves distinguishing 'attack' from 'defence'.

      you might also like to check Hansard sometime to see what's actually gone on in Parliament.

      report
    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Andrew Sweeney

      Andrew, I'll have to reply to your reply above here.

      My first point directly addresses what you said: Blewitt criticised Gillard's integrity and she returned fire - rather more factualy and effectively at this stage. That was my point: he attacked and she defended - she did not initiate any of it.

      If you are attacked, you have a reasonable right to defend yourself.
      'Innocence' has never been a gaurantee that you won't be attacked or suffer negative consequences from that attack. Therefore defence is often a necessity as much as a right.

      How simply can I put it and how relevant does it need to get?

      report
    3. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Andrew Sweeney

      Actually it was Blewitt's family who said he was a crook and a fraud and others who said he hunted down young girls in Bali.

      This is just another dirty smear like the Slipper and Thomson shows that went nowhere.

      report
  4. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    "No one covering the story has turned up a material fact to prove that Julia Gillard used AWU money to renovate her house, or that she knew about the misappropriation of union funds from within the AWU, or that she did anything other than what she again told Monday’s press conference. "

    Dr Little insistence on material facts suggests that she, like every other sentient Australian, believes that Julia Gillard probably DID use AWU money to renovate her house, probably DID know about the misappropriation…

    Read more
    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Characteristically inept amateur mind-reading there Sean.

      I think you'd have to be able to understand concepts like evidence, data, etc. in order to earn even your silly little monicker of 'science denier'.

      You really should change it to 'science illiterate'.

      report
    2. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      She was not in the union, the union did not deposit any money in the lawyers accounts, the money was paid by Theiss holdings.

      For heaven's sake, the builder even said years ago that Gillard paid for the renovations with her own cheque.

      What is wrong with you people.

      report
    3. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Marilyn, she paid one builder for work in 1995 for the only reason her boyfriend had been just been kicked out of the AWU and the invoice had just been discovered at AWU offices.
      However, the builder gave very specific details of the payments he received from Julia Gillard recently to the media, it was only for the 1995 work. If he had done any work in 1994, the first round of her renovations, and was paid for it, then he was paid by embezzled money. If it was another builder, then we need to hear what he or she has to say.
      Further, during her exit interview, Julia Gillard claimed that this builder had done the fencing work at her house, which the builder clearly and explicitly denied. Which makes it probable that this fencing work was also paid with embezzled money.

      report
    4. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Sean, you sound like you've suffered a Murdoch overdose.

      report
    5. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      Marilyn Shepherd…

      Those are straw men you throw up---designed to draw attention away from the facts.

      Your defence of Julia Gillard relies on her being accepted as stupid, dangerously incompetent, unthinking, unscrupulous, dishonest, disloyal, disreputable, shifty, without compassion, a lawyer with no respect for the law---someone who dodges and weaves, and relies on inconvenient documents to mysteriously and fortuitously ‘disappear’ from archives and other institutions simultaneously across…

      Read more
    6. shaun wilby

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Magistrate Peter Lauritsen ruled on that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that legal documents - many prepared or overseen by Gillard as a solicitor - were "in furtherance of the commission of a fraud or an offence" by her then boyfriend and unnamed "others".
      Lauritsen went on to say the more than 360 documents seized by police from Slater & Gordon this year could not attract legal professional privilege because "in each instance, the communication was made or the document prepared in furtherance of the commission of a fraud or an offence".

      report
    1. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      I am sure Chris that reporting of a punch against a wall that may have happened 35 years ago would constitute evidence based reporting. Calling people names is just childish. Grow up.

      report
    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Chris, I have to reply to your comment to address Spiro's below.

      Spiro, check the relative coverage of both stories and balance that against the actual evidence in both cases.

      If you are not innumerate, you will see the distinction pretty starkly.

      The article is not complaining about competing political parties attacking each other (unappealing as that may be) but about the nature and extent of reporting.

      report
    3. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      I am not sure what a troll is - someone holds different opinions from the wise and enlightened Dr McGrath, presumably.

      I have changed my thinking on this whole affair, at the beginning although I had no doubt that Julia Gillard had benefited from the embezzlement, I had assumed she was peripheral to it. I am more and more coming to the view it is more likely she was the main instigator, using her sexuality to push Bruce Wilson down a path that he might otherwise have not gone down. If that $5000 payment was simply one of the long series of $5000 cash withdrawals from the various slush fund accounts, she was very much an equal beneficiary.

      Less Ophelia, more Lady Macbeth.

      report
    4. Tony Grijmans

      Engineer

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Chris. Think about what you are saying. We do not live in Ecuador. People with a contary view have a right to express thier opinion.

      Its healthy

      report
    5. William Bruce

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Re M.O. "THE TROLL DIVERSION".

      Chris McGrath Senior Lecturer (Senior Lecturer at University of Queensland) Says:-

      "Well said Janine. It is a shame that the comments thread has been attacked by trolls."

      Was the above meaningless, apolitical, unproductive, unhelpful, smart arse crap comment REALLY posted by an Australian "Academic"? ...and a "Senior Lecturer"? ......What hope is there for the Nation.....!

      report
    6. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      William Bruce: "... meaningless, apolitical, unproductive, unhelpful, smart arse crap ...". Way to troll, Bill.

      report
  5. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    Janine, your article suggest that you actually considered 'The Australian' to be a newspaper.

    report
    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Again,I'll have to reply to myself.

      Spiro, I no more consider Green Left Weekly to be a reliable source of facual journalism than I do 'White Right Daily' (aka The Australian).

      And before you start insulting people as you do below, you might try learning a little basic reasoning.

      report
    2. Andrew Sweeney

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, I'll reply to you here, since I don't seem to be able to elsewhere.

      Your first point doesn't address what I said.

      Your second is too vague to constitute an argument.

      Taking those two problems together, you might want to consider the concept of relevance.

      report
  6. Chris Harper

    Engineer

    Janine,

    Well, you are no fan of investigative journalism.

    For the last decades it has been the dream of many journalists to emulate the achievements of Woodward and Bernstein, but it is clear that you are not one of them.

    So, regardless of the stench, unless we have a smoking gun from day one it is no part of the role of the journalist to investigate, right?

    If it were up to you Nixon would have retired at the end of his terms, and would have rested on his laurels.

    I agree that this affair reflects on journalists, the incurious and complacent type of journalist who infest so much of our modern media. As well, apparently, as our academies.

    report
    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Well no, she is saying there are no investigative journalists and she is right.

      Mark Baker is mates with Nick Styant Brown who is Gillard's only accuser yet he has never declared that.

      OUr media are generally so lazy and complacent they don't bother with trifles like investigations, they just parrot any lazy old line they can.

      report
  7. John Bryan

    Retired

    Well written Janine. The media makes sense to me when I consider the phrase 'if it bleeds it leads'; then there is business. Commercial TV stations lead with drive- by shootings while the ABC confronts political leaders. They target different markets...or should that be different demographics?

    report
  8. Ken Swanson

    Geologist

    Gillard has changed her story throughout the press coverage of this fraud. When she cannot remember something or she corrects her story when she is caught out, she says that because it was so long ago she cannot be expected to remember everything. She continually evades and concedes every piece of information grudgingly. If she has nothing to hide, she should answer every question put to her verbally and in writing, and continue to do so until there are no more questions. She will not do this.
    The…

    Read more
    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      There is no evidence of fraud by anyone though, the money was paid back by the union and GIllard was not in the union.

      The problem with the right wing liberal morons is they have zero sense of proportion.

      report
    2. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      The problem with left wing morons is they try to defend the indefensible

      report
    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Ken Swanson

      "The problem with left wing morons is they try to defend the indefensible"

      I really don't think that the use of the word 'moron' is either appropriate or necessary.

      The sentence is valid without it.

      report
  9. Jeff Haddrick

    field manager

    Media outlests such as the Australian are just highlighting their growing irrelevance to political discourse.
    They'll suffer the same fate as Abbott, intnese banality may be entertaining for a while but people will move on.
    There was some conjecture that Fox news fanatacism ended up hurting Romney's standing, play it again Rupert.

    report
  10. Lynne Newington

    Researcher

    It's been deplorable, and a two way street with politicians playing the field to the full, with the opposition leader, now sitting back giving his deputy full rein, just in case it appears there's no other ulterior motive.
    The prime minister will pay for having her name and position recored into posterity, as bringing the Catholic church in particular, to account through the nationwide Royal Commission into crimes committed against their innocent and most vulnerable children.

    report
    1. Jeff Haddrick

      field manager

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      On the topic of ulterior motive, I wonder whether Tony is devious enough to have Julie do a kamkazi pursuit of Julia, to make way for Turnbull as deputy leader? :)

      report
  11. Ian Clarke

    Director, Pacific Strategy Partners

    Here's another view:

    Journalists are simply storytellers, and attacking "the media" is what those in power do when the unfolding narrative is inconvenient. Too many journalists have died doing their jobs for us to understate the importance of a free media with a spectrum of views.

    The reason this story keeps running is simple - its fascinating to the audience. Depending on your view its either:

    "Australia's first female PM is subject to a death of a thousand cuts by an unholy alliance of misogynists and capitalists .... only to succeed against the odds / suffer a glorious martyrdom"

    or "A dodgy student politician becomes a dodgy lawyer becomes a dodgy pm ... only to be found out & dismissed / win a new mandate and achieve historic reforms"

    ... like it or not these are the competing narratives in the media's first draft of history, and we all want to know what happens next.

    report
    1. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Clarke

      Ian Clarke: "The reason this story keeps running is simple - its fascinating to the audience." No Ian, it's fascinating to the Murdoch media. Beyond the Opposition, there really isn't an audience.

      report
    2. Ian Clarke

      Director, Pacific Strategy Partners

      In reply to Ian Clarke

      Hmm, so what about the coverage by ABC, 7, 9 & 10, Fairfax, not to mention The Conversation ? The 'Murdoch media' simply cover stories that boost their ratings/circulation - and this is a great story.

      As a general rule, when a government starts blaming "the right/left wing media" its a signal that it is losing the argument. We should be thankful that we live in a country where criticising the Government doesn't risk a knock on the door in the middle of the night ....

      report
    3. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Clarke

      Ian Clarke: "... so what about the coverage by ABC, ...". You find it surprising that other media followed?

      Ian Clarke: "The 'Murdoch media' simply cover stories that boost their ratings ...". Or manufacture issues to further their interests.

      Ian Clarke: "We should be thankful that we live in a country where criticising the Government doesn't risk a knock on the door in the middle of the night ...." Is that a good reason to celebrate abuse of privilege by the Murdoch media?

      report
  12. Spiro Vlachos

    AL

    Even though the Senior Lecturer Chris McGrath believes that unless you make a positive statement about an openly biased article, you are a troll. Janine, the matter that you mention is being investigated by the police:

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/witnesses-quizzed-over-awu-scandal/story-fncynkc6-1226526127202

    If you believe that journalists have been calumnious in their journalism, then if you were not biased, I would expect a similar article from you about what was written about what was said to have occurred 35 years regarding Tony Abbott and a wall. the main difference here is that there were no allegations of criminal conduct in that matter. Any allegation of criminal conduct is worthy of being reported, especially if the Prime Minister may be involved.

    PS I hope you are caned by Cut-and-Paste.

    report
    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      The issue of just how rotten this leader and this government is is one thing, but the issue that is behind this article is just how incurious and complacent so much of the press is.

      The Prime Minister, in her younger days, associated with crooks, spivs and fraudsters, acted to enable their activities, and vast swaths of the media don'r see it as their role to even report this reality, let alone research the extent to which she may or may not have been culpable.

      This simply raises the question…

      Read more
  13. Peter Heffernan

    Chartered Accountant and Employer

    Well Janine, you're article has certainly provoked a spectrum of opinions providing insight into the thinking of many and, in my view, the 'intellectual dishonesty' of some.

    As a journalism academic, I am surprised you don't identify and applaud the forensic and objective investigative journalism of Hedley Thomas who has pursued and bought to the surface this sordid affair. As a number of the respondents to your article note, where would US politics be without the similar journalistic doggedness…

    Read more
    1. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Peter Heffernan

      Nicely put. I believe you mean Bruce Wilson not Williams.

      report
    2. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Peter Heffernan

      So where are the fleas attached to the Howard mob over the illegal invasion of Iraq, the AWB scandal, the Securency scandal and many corporate scandals under Howard government rules.

      Fair dinkum, you sure do make a mountain out of nothing.

      And Thomas is not investigating, he and Mark Baker are both being fed documents that mean nothing.

      And with the statute of limitations thing on small claims what is the point of thugs like Brandis claiming criminal behaviour.

      After all it was Brandis who insisted loudly that the government should stop David Hicks keeping his money and was roundly defeated.

      Do grow up.

      Gillard should be tossed out with Tony Abbott for taking our country down the appalling road to sheer open racism that they have.

      report
    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Heffernan

      Marilyn Shepherd

      "So where are the fleas attached to the Howard mob over the illegal invasion of Iraq, the AWB scandal, the Securency scandal and many corporate scandals under Howard government rules”

      And when it comes to any questions of fraud involving members of this government this is relevant how? Are you suggesting that because you have questions about Howard government behaviour, Ms Gillard shouldn’t be required to answer questions about her actions?

      I’m sorry, but I don’t see the…

      Read more
    4. William Bruce

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Heffernan

      Marilyn Shepherd says:
      So where are the fleas attached to the Howard mob over the illegal invasion of Iraq....".

      I reckon Howard did what he thought best re us standing with our "UK/USA family" BUT... I also reckon he lost his previously VERY HIGH credibility due to Iraq and that was the TRUE reason he was ousted...not Work Choices or Boat people "overboard"..& in fact they were jumping overboard, as they do.

      Im my view Gillard's credit is as low as a Snakes bum....and her almost predictable…

      Read more
    5. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Heffernan

      William Bruce: "I believe Abbot is by far the best, and best qualified & experienced, to take the Nation forward....I think he & Rudd both have high integrity ..." In Abbott, you're talking about the most consistent and prolific liar in Australian politics today. As just one obvious example, he persists in characterising Gillard's broken promise on the "Carbon Tax" as a lie.

      A lie is something said that the one saying it knows at the time isn't true. John Howard's "non-core" promises were lies, because he made them with no intention of keeping them. There's no evidence that Gillard didn't intend to keep the "no carbon tax" promise. A carbon tax wasn't Labor policy at the time.

      In negotiating government, Gillard had to abandon her promise. Calling that a lie is Abbott's lie. He quite cynically repeats his lie, believing the electorate stupid enough to believe him. The likes of William Bruce bear him out.

      report
    6. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Peter Heffernan

      Marilyn Shepherd…

      The Securency and Note Printing Australia scams only came to light during the 2007 election campaign.

      They were under the oversight of the RBA, not the Howard government---and the cover-up all occurred during the Rudd and Gillard governments, in any case.

      It’s the Labor governments who are on the defensive over that scam.

      The Iraq war was not illegal---and it’s quite possible that if the Obama administration can’t manage to make sure they’re not found before the terrorists…

      Read more
    7. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Heffernan

      @helen stream

      "What Racism"

      You know what racism. Progressives have a tendency to be obsessed by identity politics, an attitude which I have real difficulty understanding.

      The fundamental is, if you don't agree with there their position on race politics then you are, by definition, a racist. They really and truly find the idea that there those of us who don't give a stuff about someones race as baffling.

      If you are not, as they are, obsessed with race then you are, by their definition, racist.

      Yes, I know. It makes no sense, but there you are.....

      report
  14. Paul Munro

    Retired

    What a grubby professionally demeaning dogfight the AWU WRA matter has become.
    Mark Baker(Letter Contradicts PM: Gillard said fund had no union links SMH 29 November) might not know the distinction between an incorporated association and a "trade union organisation” but Tony Abbott should. His related assertion that Gillard’s mid-1992 letter to the WA Corporate Affairs Commission constituted a false representation is a blatant distortion. State legislation then and now distinguishes clearly between…

    Read more
    1. Danderson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Paul Munro

      She's previously said that the "slush fund" (her words) was for workplace safety because the officials if re-elected would campaign for workplace safety.

      That was pulling a long bow and insults the intelligence of her audience.

      Her tactics have been appalling in this affair:

      - Claiming that reference to a "trust fund" rather than a "slush fund" by The Australian was a serious error. (same error made by Cassidy on Insiders ignored).
      - Accusing Julie Bishop of misleading conduct by calling…

      Read more
    2. Danderson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Paul Munro

      And I should add:
      - she attended the mortgage to buy the house (the house for which she assisted the conveyancing).
      - she went on to sleep in the house with her lover.

      But Julia can't remember the house, it was so long ago!

      report
    3. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Paul Munro

      Paul Munro…

      You’re trying hard to present the AWU as just a bunch of pussycats that Thiess et al latched on to because they thought they would counter the Union crims and thugs of the other unions, but what you’re really admitting is that the other unions were so bad that Thiess et al succumbed to the attentions of Wilson’s association because they had to or else---that they were the lesser of the evils possibly---but evil nevertheless.

      The history of the union movement is full of sweetheart…

      Read more
  15. Markie Linhart

    Rouleur

    "…The Prime Minister, in her younger days, associated with crooks, spivs and fraudsters, acted to enable their activities, and vast swaths of the media don'r see it as their role to even report this reality, let alone research the extent to which she may or may not have been culpable…"

    Chris Harper, your opening remarks re the state of the government tell us where your politics might reside, which is fine. However, I am offended by your remarks as quoted above. In fact I would say in part that they are close to defamatory.

    I thought these were about having objective discussions. Let's keep it that way…

    report
    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Markie Linhart

      Markie Linhart,

      “The Prime Minister, in her younger days, associated with crooks, spivs and fraudsters, acted to enable their activities, and vast swaths of the media don't see it as their role to even report this reality, let alone research the extent to which she may or may not have been culpable”

      I refer you to Ms Gillards recent blast against her then friend Ralph Blewitt – with whom she associated, her actions in setting up and vouching for the bona fides of the AWU Workplace Reform Association…

      Read more
    2. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Markie Linhart

      Markie Linhart….

      The statement by Chris Harper is true.

      We don’t yet know for absolutely certain that she knew what her fraudster lover and his bagman were up to exactly, but she’s doing everything possible to convince us that she did, because she acts like a guilty thug.

      If that appalling performance in parliament is supposed to show her as just an innocent woman being open and honest with the people she leads---then she just highlights the lack of judgment she’s exhibited over recent years…

      Read more
  16. John Nicol

    logged in via Facebook

    The criticisms which the PM has generated for herself, is that she will provide no specific detail in "answering" questions about what she did in the early nineties. She may well be completely innocent but seems unable to give answers to questions which would demonstrate her total innocence..

    However, if she were to explain clearly, and there must be a clear and innocent explanation, as to

    1. Why she did not set up a file at S&G when the AWU were their clients.

    2. Why she has no file…

    Read more
    1. Lucy Mae Mirren

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      Agree. For months, the PM has had the ability to kill this story simply by admitting: "Yes, I placed myself in a position of conflict of interest - but I learnt a lot from that episode".
      She can't say it, because she clearly hasn't learnt from it.
      This piece is an excellent example of why judgement (regulation) of the media should remain where it belongs, in the hands of the people, and not given over to "experts" such as Janine Little.

      report
  17. Tony Grijmans

    Engineer

    I think that any objective person would sense that there is a story here. The PM's backdoor method of dealing with Milne and Smith last year and her obvious inability to provide a straight answer to questions must raise alarm bells. Do you really expect serious investigative journalists to ignore the story? In your academic capacity is that the message you are sending to your students?

    report
  18. Nev Norton

    Farmer

    Where thers smoke theres possibly a bushfire in the making, I think she should be pursued, the ALP in general hardly has a squeaky clean image at the moment, Eddie Obeid, and associates, Craig Thompson, Peter Slipper, now this one, skeletons tumbling out of closets everywhere. It would only be the rusted on ALP supporter who didn't think that there might be more to this story. The PM hardly has a reputation for honesty.

    report
  19. William Bruce

    logged in via Facebook

    ...."haven’t let a lack of evidence stop their pursuit of the prime minister."

    Lets face it Gillard set up a "Dodgy front Company/Vehicle" knowing these guys/CROOKS could access the cash.....and as I understand it, without official Union Committee oversight or approval.

    It would seem obvious these guys (one her boyfriend) could Grab/STEAL the money INTENDED FOR UNIONISTS benefit or BRIBES without the Union knowing or being accountable.

    If it looks like a dog and it smells like a dog......it's almost certainly a dog!

    How Unionists money can be STOLEN and it not be IMMEDIATELY independently investigated & prosecuted by a WILLING GOVT. is beyond me and OUT...VERY...RAGIOUS!!

    How about the 10yr "investigation" of AHU whilst Thompson sits in "Our" Parliament?

    report
  20. Dianna Arthur

    Environmentalist

    OK. There is a simple straightforward to this vexing issue. (Of course, being simple and straightforward will never happen).

    All lawyers who ever set up a slush fund for anyone (whether they suspected their client was 'dodgy' or not) and is now an Australian politician (on any side of politics), resign now.

    Be interesting to see who is left standing.

    report
    1. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna Art: "All lawyers ... resign now." Australian politics would probably be immeasurably enhanced if we banned all lawyers, or anyone who has ever been a lawyer, from holding office. Probably unconstitutional (the lawyers got in early on the Constitution), but worth a thought.

      report
    2. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      But wait there's more:

      "It’s ancient history now, Abbott’s slush fund ― but less ancient than the slush fund now in the news. And there’s many unanswered questions about it, and him.

      In 1998, Abbott privately agreed to bankroll Terry Sharples, a disaffected One Nation member, to take legal action against Pauline Hanson."

      http://www.independentaustralia.net/2012/politics/tony-abbott-and-his-slushy-question-of-character/

      Oh, what a tangled web we weave......

      What would we do without the media?

      report
    3. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      From the article: "... for me, she made the mistake of assuming her audience knew the detail." I guess that's been a failing, of both Gillard and the government (not to mention Rudd) all along. The mining super-profits tax is a glaring example. Good policy, poorly sold.

      I have to agree with: "Too much lawyer talk, not enough human talk, ..." We tend to forget that being used by a lover must have been a very personal humiliation for Gillard. From that perspective, she's shown remarkable self-restraint by not putting a knife through Abbott.

      I particularly like: "She could sue ― or, she could write to Abbott along the following lines.

      I will call an inquiry into my involvement in and public statements about in the AWU slush fund ― if you will consent to the same inquiry examining your involvement in and public statements about the Australians for Honest Politics slush fund."

      As I've said before, Abbott is the most prolific liar in Australian politics.

      report
    4. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      @ David Boxall

      I agree that Gillard and her government have not delivered the message on their achievements (not that I've agreed with all) but she has managed to achieve a lot for a harassed and limited government.

      I'm not sure what she could say to placate the Abbott led smear campaign. I think Gillard decided rightly on not giving her enemies (Abbott, Bishop & co are NOT colleagues) too much to work with. Damned if you do damned if you don't, in dealing with defamation, which, like excrement always leaves a mark.

      I have made my share of mistakes regarding boyfriends, only the self-righteous never err.

      If the Opposition have more sense than they have shown in recent years they will convene next year with policies instead of hyperbole.

      report
  21. Guido Manlio

    Director

    Gillard has to concede to one of two realities. Either she established a slush fund and facilitated the acquisition of a house from the proceeds of that fund in complete ignorance of its purpose and the foreseeable outcomes; that is she was completely incompetent, acted recklessly and without due diligence or, she is lying. The defence, which astonishingly lecturer Little accepts, is that Gillard has done nothing illegal. This is of course is the same defence for Thompson. It is perfectly legal to…

    Read more
    1. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Guido Manlio

      Guido Manlio: "Gillard has to concede ...". No Guido, Gillard has answered, time and time again, over many years. Ratbag Murdoch media don't like the answers, so they keep asking the same questions. It's calculated and dishonest.

      report
    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Guido Manlio

      @David Boxall

      I am sorry, but the claim that Ms Gillard has answered the questions has no basis in reality. She equivocates, obfuscates, smears, vilifies and abuses her questioners, but the claim that she answers is a myth propagated by both her and her supporters.

      A typical answer by Ms Gillard: http://youtu.be/Wl2JIDJNcxA

      However, her recent bald refusal to answer Parliamentary questions was a new low, dragged even lower because she sought to pick and choose which member of the opposition she would accept questions from. Apparently questions from women are beneath her notice. Why am I not surprised?

      report
  22. Christina Williams

    Teacher

    Reporter Iain Overton sparked the frenzy by tweeting a senior Tory would be exposed as a paedophile that night.

    The programme did not name Lord McAlpine. It later emerged that he was the victim of mistaken identity and innocent of the claims. He said the episode left him “shattered”.

    Whether it's a tweet (by a journalist), or the opposition mud slinging( have they no agenda?) evidence is evidence. If there is no evidence, then journalists are reporting what? Innuendo? Gossip? That seems to…

    Read more
    1. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Christina Williams: "... if this was the man/woman in the street, what chance would he/she have ..."? Confronted about events almost two decades in the past, I'd have no chance. If I'd participated in comprehensive examination of those events at the time, when harassed again I might well reach for a gun.

      Gillard's in a no-win situation. It doesn't matter how she answers, the questions will always be repeated. Increasingly curt responses have the advantage of providing less ammunition for her tormentors.

      report
  23. Christina Williams

    Teacher

    Hey David Boxall, yep.. perhaps you are right. Curt responses, long responses, a map and a shovel, perhaps she wore pasties and delivered a pole dance or two when she was a teenager- maybe she stole milk money when she was ten and renovated her cubby house...really... who would be satisfied?

    Give me a "Watergate" and I'll shake the hand of the journo who brings it. Till then we are the one's who have to wear the hairshirts... just give me fifty lashes for watching the last few installments of…

    Read more
  24. helen stream

    teacher

    For heavens sake, that statement of yours re proving it, and similar ones from Julia Gillard are not the behaviour of a people who really want the truth to come out, but rather people who want it suppressed.

    It’s the behaviour of someone with something to hide---- sneering, taunting, knowing the evidence is hidden or destroyed---challenging the questioners to find it if they can.

    If she were genuine, and had nothing to hide , she would freely reveal all she knows ---release Slater and Gordon…

    Read more
  25. helen stream

    teacher

    David Boxall…

    The only rat bags are the people who were sucked in by Gillard’s press conferences that were specifically designed to deceive the Australian people, by pretending to answer important questions while deliberately dodging them with a whole lot of gossipy padding and diversionary tactics---as she also did in her S&G exit interview.

    If you claim she has given the answers, then what was her answer re the Power of attorney and the allegation that she didn’t witness it as she claimed…

    Read more
    1. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Markie Linhart

      Just the Liberals, doing what they do these days. Abbott's certainly brought the party low. Bob Menzies must be spinning in his grave.

      report
    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Markie Linhart

      David,

      Seriously?

      Whenever the Prime Minister is asked a question on policy her answer is invariably Abbott, Abbott, Abbott, Abbott.

      Instead of ignoring him, the Leader of the Opposition having no relevance to government policy, she instead comes across as positively obsessed. As do you.

      I really don't understand the fascination.

      report
  26. wilma western

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    The article would have been improved by citing concrete examples of unfairness. Mark Baker's articles in The Age would have provided several. Even several apologies by Fairfax for Baker's inaccuracies did not deter him.
    As Paul Munro states ,the total lack of context, the lack of any mention that many incorporated associations have been set up within various unions and still exist , is pertiment to the issue of fairness.
    Not all journalists were unfiair. Lee Sayles asked the necessary questions…

    Read more
    1. Tony Grijmans

      Engineer

      In reply to wilma western

      I have heard this statement about the 'voting intention' results of the poll a number of times now. Please bear in mind that it includes the people who had already decided not to vote for the Gillard government so their voting intention has not changed. I know many pundits are hanging their hats on this part of the poll but If you do the maths the 'voting intention' results are not good for the PM. You would need a result closer to the current sum of the primary voting intention of both parties to even achieve a status quo result.

      report
  27. Chris Harper

    Engineer

    It is true that Bruce Wilson has 'confirmed' that Ms Gillard did nothing wrong herself - "She didn't do nuffin guv, honest" - but consider the context. For him to claim otherwise would be straight self incrimination.

    report
  28. Christina Williams

    Teacher

    Dear Tony Grigmans,

    "I think that any objective person would sense that there is a story here. The PM's backdoor method of dealing with Milne and Smith last year and her obvious inability to provide a straight answer to questions must raise alarm bells. Do you really expect serious investigative journalists to ignore the story? In your academic capacity is that the message you are sending to your students?"

    That's a very fair question Mr. Grigmans, really. I do thank you for it, because it…

    Read more
    1. Tony Grijmans

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Thank you for responding to my thoughts on the matter, I have had to reread it many times to try and understand what your point is.

      You do mention "examining evidence". Well, there is evidence available that shows some concerning possible involvement of the PM and I have taken time to sift through all the documents and weigh the evidence in coming to my conclusion that there are questions for the PM to answer to allow us all to come to a better understanding of her state of mind when she made…

      Read more
    2. Tony Grijmans

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Oh, and by the way, you asked me what reading matter you would have me direct your students to.

      Well, any of Bertrand Russell's work would be a pretty good primer for journalism 101 .

      report
    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      What happens if, for the moment, suspicion is there but evidence is lacking? I imagine this would be a common occurrence. Is the journalist not to follow those suspicions in an attempt to locate evidence?

      Just the evidence ma'am, just the evidence. That sounds more like the mantra of a prosecutor than an investigator.

      Sure, you draw conclusions on the basis of evidence, but that is no impediment to seeking evidence to bolster, or disprove, suspicions.

      Scientists hypothesise and then seek evidence, one way or the other. Why shouldn't journalists?

      report
    4. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Christina Williams...

      Pity about Australia if your students are our next bunch of democracy-hating, truth-suppressing journalists to replace the like-minded present lot .

      ‘The truth is out there’, you say---and it is---- but Australia is never going to find out the truth about Julia Gillard’s lover’s fraud and money-laundering scam, if she has her way, and it appears that’s just fine with you.

      You’re much too dismissive of those you see as your inferiors, Christina.

      Depending on when…

      Read more
  29. Christina Williams

    Teacher

    Thank you Ms Stream,

    Publish your findings.

    Real lovers of democracy might wait for the police investigation and their findings.

    report
    1. Spiro Vlachos

      AL

      In reply to Christina Williams

      I am sure a good teacher would find it OK to teach kids "whatever it takes" to get there. Or, "I have not done anything wrong" because it cant be proven. Poor kids.

      report
  30. Christina Williams

    Teacher

    Thank you Mr. Vlahos,

    Note well YOUR words sir to one Mr. Chris McGrath in the comments below and I am quoting you verbatim. " I am sure Chris that reporting of a punch against a wall that may have happened 35 years ago would constitute evidence based reporting. Calling people names is just childish. Grow up."

    Calling people names is just childish. Grow up. Bravo! I would suggest you take your own excellent advice. I wish you all the best in your "whatever it takes" journey and suggest that…

    Read more
    1. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Well said, Christina. I reckon the majority of the electorate is heartily sick of scandal-mongering irrelevancies.

      Long ago, in a discussion of Westminster democracy, a phrase came up that's stayed with me all these years: "Her Majesty's _loyal_ opposition". There was a time, it seems, when oppositions opposed in the interests of something greater than themselves. In England, that something is personified in the Monarch; in Australia, it would probably be the people or the nation. For the Opposition in Australia today, there's evidently nothing greater than itself.

      report
    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      @David Boxall,

      Turning the discussion around to the opposition again?

      Seriously, you seem to be as obsessed with them as is the Prime Minister.

      As to opposition per se, I would have thought that any opposition, by anyone, to this vicious, vindictive, venomous, venal and vituperative government would simply be a rational reaction to the world as it is.

      report
    3. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Chris Harper: "... this vicious, vindictive, venomous, venal and vituperative government ...". Puerile intemperance does what to your credibility?

      report
    4. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      David, simply matching your comments about the opposition. Difference is, the government has power and is demonstrating its vindictiveness. After all, how many families has Mr Abbott thrown onto the breadline when someone tried to ask him uncomfortable questions?

      You want evidence of vicious and vindictive? Ask Michael Smith. Evidence for the others are equally readily available.

      A rotten leader of a rotten government.

      report
    5. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Chris Harper: "A rotten leader of a rotten government." Still haven't got the hang of adult temperance, have you Chris?

      report
    6. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      David,

      Nah, just being honest in my dealings. Who knows, maybe Julia will try that one day. Be a bit of a shock to the system tho.

      report
    7. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Chris Harper: "... just being honest ...". Speaking of honesty, the case against Peter Slipper has been thrown out, with James Ashby ordered to pay Slipper's costs. Looks like Abbott's done to Ashby, what Turnbull did to Godwin Grech.

      report
    8. Tony Grijmans

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      David
      What evidence do you have that Tony Abbott was involved in the Peter Slipper court case. Your statement seems to me to be based on an impression. Perhaps you should get off the couch, put on your dark glasses and go out and do some investigating.

      report
    9. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Yeah, I heard that. I guess Slipper isn’t a complete sleazeball after all. Nicola can get back the fifty thousand dollars oftaxpayers money she gave to Ashby, Julia can get the speaker she prefers, and we can all go back to eating mussels without him crossing our minds.

      Great, isn’t it?

      You have the added benefit of being able to smear Tony Abbott and make assertions for which you have not a shred of evidence. So no change there tho.

      report
    10. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Chris, the court has ruled the Slipper affair a complete set-up. Whatever I might think of Slipper, the judge thinks the case against him is an abuse. The attempt to precipitate a virtual coup détat via the courts is not only anti-democratic, it's a violation of the separation of powers.

      Anyone who believes Abbott isn't up to his armpits in this muck is a fool. The fact that he behaves so proves that he's unfit for office.

      report
    11. Charles Brown

      Retired

      In reply to Christina Williams

      "Up to his armpits in muck". Interesting turn of phrase.

      The Slipper affair, Craig Thomson and the subject of this article - all muckraking. I'm not fool enough to believe that Abbott isn't involved.

      Is Abbott's behaviour anti-democratic? Depends what sort of democracy we want, I guess.

      report
    12. Tony Grijmans

      Engineer

      In reply to Christina Williams

      David
      "Anyone who believes Abott isn't up to his armpits in muck is a fool" is an acceptable statement in your view but "rotten leader of a rotten government" constitutes "adult intemperance" in your view.
      Doesn't sound consistent to me.

      report
    13. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christina Williams

      Tony Grijmans: "Doesn't sound consistent to me."

      OK, let's look at the facts. The judge has not ruled Slipper innocent, he's judged the case irredeemably tainted. Tainted for political ends. Tainted for the political ends of the Coalition. Tainted for the political ends of the Coalition of which Tony Abbott is leader.

      You are evidently fool enough to believe Abbott innocent of involvement in the party of which he is leader. I'm not.

      report
    14. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christina Williams

      We've just been discussing this over dinner. Any attempt to subvert legal process is serious. Political careers could end over this.

      report
  31. Christina Williams

    Teacher

    Tony Grijmans..

    Thank you Tony, and Merry Christmas to you and yours. Let's hope for a more positive outcome on the political front too. Well...we can only hope.

    report
  32. Christina Williams

    Teacher

    It strikes me Janine, that you have not only raised some very vital questions about journalists ethics, but in perusing the comments; now that the "noise" has abated, the implications for the way we think about certain issues, or non-issues, is far more important to grapple with, than only the journalists as you say who practise these things, "stand to the lose the most."

    We ALL stand to lose the most because it collapses our thinking to the point were we have no common ground. Public discourse…

    Read more