Monday, June 9, 2014

Julia Gillard’s buried story unearthed

Former prime minister Julia Gillard.
Former prime minister Julia Gillard. Source: News Corp Australia
THE witness list for this week’s hearings of the royal commission into union corruption should shame the journalists who for so long protected Julia Gillard. 

It should especially shame the ABC, so quiet on the former prime minister’s links to the Australian Workers’ Union slush fund scandal.

The ABC used to sniff at claims that Gillard had a case to answer, even though she’d given legal advice as a solicitor to her then boyfriend, AWU official Bruce Wilson, in creating the slush fund then used to rip off bosses.

No, no, it insisted: nor was there any need to inquire into other claims — such as money from Wilson’s fund, deceptively named the Australian Workers’ Union Workplace Reform Association, not just going to buy him a house but to pay for renovations to Gillard’s.

“Every allegation ... has been aired, and dealt with publicly by Julia Gillard, multiple times,” the ABC’s Media Watch falsely claimed in 2011.

“It’s a house of cards,” agreed the ABC’s Jon Faine in 2012.

To viewers who asked why the ABC wouldn’t even say Victorian police were investigating, the ABC sent this letter in 2013: “Reporting that the prime minister of the nation is under police investigation is an enormously significant call to make. It cannot be made on supposition, on rumour, or on hearsay.”

To other viewers protesting at the blackout, it wrote: “To the extent that it may touch tangentially on a former role of the Prime Minister ... the ABC is unaware of any allegation in the public domain which goes to the Prime Minister’s integrity.”

True, Gillard has denied doing anything improper, and says she did not know what Wilson did with his fund after she’d advised on its creation.

She also denies benefiting from his alleged frauds and says she paid for her renovations herself.

But does that excuse the ABC — and other media outlets — from not asking further questions? For treating this scandal as “all dredged up and nowhere to go”, as the ABC asserted?

Victoria Police certainly doesn’t think the matter is dead. Victoria’s Chief Magistrate didn’t think so, either, and last December gave police access to documents seized from Slater & Gordon, ruling they were “prepared in furtherance of the commission of a fraud or an offence”.

Nor does the royal commission think there’s nothing left to learn, and its witness list this week suggests Gillard is a particular focus of its inquiries.

It includes the Fair Work Commissioner Ian Cambridge who, ever since he was an AWU national secretary in the 1990s, has demanded such an inquiry into the scandal he tried to uncover.

There’s also Olive Palmer, a paralegal working with Gillard at Slater & Gordon when Gillard advised on the slush fund, attended an auction of the house her boyfriend bought with the fund’s cash, and witnessed a power of attorney relating to the sale.

Then there’s Konstantinos Spyridis, the builder who worked on Gillard’s renovations.

There’s another tradesman, Athol James, who also worked on Gillard’s house and from whom, Gillard later told worried partners at Slater & Gordon, she couldn’t recall getting an invoice.

There’s Wayne Hem, the AWU official who told The Australian he’d paid $5000 from Wilson into Gillard’s bank account.

Of course, just because the royal commission is calling these witnesses does not mean allegations against Gillard have any substance. The witnesses may all clear her.

But it does suggest there is much still to find out — on oath — that so many journalists were strangely disinclined to learn.

It wasn’t just the ABC. Channel Nine’s Laurie Oakes declared Gillard had “answered every question” about the scandal. Michelle Grattan, the Fairfax veteran, claimed “her answers were credible”.

Sky News presenter Peter van Onselen told Gillard: “I believe you that you did nothing wrong.”

And this has been going on since 2007, when The Australian’s Glenn Milne became one of the rare journalists to mention the scandal.

Gillard told her biographer Jacqueline Kent: “Over the next two or three days, I received phone calls from many of the biggest names in the Canberra press gallery expressing absolute disbelief that such things were said (by Milne).

“Nobody followed up the story. It just died.”

And almost no journalists protested, either, when Milne was later dumped as an ABC commentator — and Michael Smith sacked as a Fairfax radio host — for trying to cover Gillard’s role again.

Well, now there are two scandals which need answers.

One centres on the slush fund. The other is that many senior journalists of the Left didn’t just ignore this story, but helped to nearly bury it. 9 Jun 2014

The ex prime minister's crimes are of major significance to such an extent that they are hushed by all involved including the policy enforcers (police).

Julia Gillard has committed enough offences to be charged with TREASON, but the authorities are doing NOTHING about it.

These actions show that the corruption is deep within the system, including Victoria Police.

Another win for the corrupt government at large, and fraudulently in power.

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