A Tough Spot

Fair Game

This business of Julia Gillard in her time as Slater and Gordon lawyer and union apparatchik just keeps going on. The most interesting bit of information was brought to light on the 7:30 Report wherein an old colleague of hers at S&G Melbourne pointed out that she did after all, leave under a cloud.

LEIGH SALES: Today you’re releasing an extra section of the transcript of the Gillard interview at Slater & Gordon. What does it show?

NICK STYANT-BROWNE: What it shows is that Ms Gillard claimed at the interview in 1995 that the first she heard about the Slater & Gordon loan for the acquisition of the Kerr Street property was around August of that year. So, her claim is that the first she heard about the fact that the loan for the Kerr Street property was a Slater & Gordon mortgage was not until August of 1995, the transaction of course having taken place in March of 1993.

LEIGH SALES: OK. You’ve also released other documents. One is a fax from the Commonwealth Bank to Julia Gillard. What, in your opinion, does that show?

NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Yeah, I haven’t released those documents, Leigh. Those documents form part of a conveyancing file which are now matters of public record. So they are from the conveyancing file which Mr Blewitt consented be released and made publicly available. Now what those documents show is that there is no doubt Ms Gillard knew of the mortgage from Slater & Gordon in March of 1993. And just to give you some examples, she personally arranged for the mortgage insurance for the Kerr Street property through the Commonwealth Bank and a letter was faxed to her on March 22 of 1993 from the Commonwealth Bank marked for her attention noting that the insurance had been renewed and further advising that the Slater & Gordon mortgage interest was noted on the policy of insurance.

That’s actually a bit of a problem. If Ms Gillard was living in the house with her live in boyfriend who got a mortgage and she didn’t know from whence it came, it strikes one as being entirely out of character. By Julia Gillard’s denials, we’re being asked to believe that she didn’t know, didn’t ask, didn’t care to ask, like somebody with fairly impaired critical thinking faculties. Maybe that’s true, but then I would find it very frightening that such a person was the Prime Minister of the land.

It is far more believable to say she knew these things. If she didn’t know for sure, she intuited them – and then lied at the meeting with the partners. The rest of that transcript makes for some interesting reading. In a nutshell, she knew and lied to the partners, and there’s really no other explanation for it. So this thing isn’t going to go away, now that there’s solid evidence that contradicts her account.

It seems odd that we’re raking through this grubby business in union land almost two decades ago, but let’s consider for the moment the retroactive scrutiny Tony Abbott has received for his boorish behaviour at St John’s College at the University of Sydney dating back to 1978, and you’d have to say this was fair game. My own intuition says this business really won’t go away and that the Prime Minister is on a hiding to nothing trying to stonewall it with denials. You get the feeling that the young Julia Gillard was somebody who thought nothing of circumventing rules and regulations. If I’m getting that impression, I think the electorate is going to look to really dump her at the next polls.


Peter Hartcher has this article this morning in the Sydney Morning Herald.

So while he did not challenge the Prime Minister’s version of events, neither did he mount a rousing defence of her. The political significance of this was not lost on Gillard’s caucus, which is increasingly uneasy about the matter.

There is much detail but three central questions that Gillard will need to answer next week. Gillard has said she had no knowledge that Wilson stole the money and used some of it to buy a house in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy.

So the opposition’s first central theme will be to demand to know what did Gillard know about the conveyancing and how much was she involved in the house-buying transaction? Did she know the source of all the funds?

Its second central theme will be to demand to know whether she received any personal benefit?

And third, the opposition will take up Gillard’s account of events in which she discovered in 1995 that she had been deceived by her conman boyfriend.
Why didn’t she report her discovery to the AWU, or the police, or help recover the money, the opposition will want to know?

The questions next week will overshadow any good news of the government’s achievements. And its very existence could depend on the quality of her answers.

That seems like it’s going to be not much fun for the government. Combined with the fiasco unfolding in NSW over Eddie Obeid, I won’t wonder what on earth brought the ALP to this point, but you realise it’s history and vested interests. It’s not absolute power that corrupts absolutely; it seems anybody who is corruptible, will necessarily become corrupt on their way to power. One shouldn’t be surprised to find that Julia Gillard had her moment in the corrupt soil of a corrupt union.


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