Monday, November 26, 2012

Mon 26th Nov Todays News

Happy birthday and many happy returns Greg Smith,Nathan Lam and Noel Southidet. Born on the same day, across the years. Remember, birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

Wilson’s defence of Gillard is worthless - unless he talks to police

Piers Akerman – Monday, November 26, 2012 (3:56am)

JULIA Gillard’s ex-lover Bruce Wilson has declared the Prime Minister knew nothing about the million dollar union fraud scandal he was involved in during the 1990s.
He has told the media that Gillard “knew absolutely nothing” about the affair.
Bully for him.
His former union colleagues say he is a crook.
What is his word worth?
Is he believable? No.
Yet he is the best the ALP can run out to counter the damning condemnation from Gillard’s former law partner at Labor law firm Slater & Gordon, Nick Styant-Browne, who last week produced a bank fax addressed to Gillard indicating that she was involved in organising the mortgage for a property bought by Wilson with funds from the slush fund Gillard established for her then boyfriend.
The slush fund, the AWU Reform Association, was not part of the AWU.
The AWU was Slater & Gordon’s client, the AWU Reform Association, which Gillard organised for Wilson, was never an official client of the law firm and Gillard has said she did not keep a file on her arrangement with Wilson.
For Wilson to say she knew nothing is an act of kind desperation.
It is highly improbable that the lovers did not discuss the work they were doing together in setting up the AWU Reform Association, or that the funds Wilson was delivering from the association’s account to a Slater & Gordon account were a mystery to Gillard.
She may have been as she has said “young na├»ve” but she was not a total dummy.
Wilson told The Sunday Telegraph that Gillard “knew absolutely, categorically nothing” about the affair and said the Opposition and media “can go on a witch-hunt for as long as they like and they will find nothing that will do her (Gillard) any harm.
“It’s just a waste of time, they will find nothing.”
The former union boss, now working as a cook on the NSW Central Coast, also attacked union bagman Ralph Blewitt who gave a statement to Victorian police last week.
Wilson said Blewitt was “a very risky” person for Gillard’s critics to rely upon.
“Relying on Ralph to be your star witness is a very, very risky strategy,” Wilson told The Sunday Telegraph.
“It’s not one I would be prepared to take.”
Yet Blewitt was Wilson’s bagman and until their falling out, Wilson relied on Blewitt as a signatory to the account set up for the dodgy AWU Reform Association.
He was prepared to trust him – why shouldn’t the public now that Blewitt (who admits he is “no angel") wants to tell his story?
Labor Ministers Wayne Swan, Tony Burke and Bob Carr have all tried to defend Gillard and bag Blewitt but if Wilson wants to clear his ex-girlfriend he can do so in a flash.
He can take himself to a police station and outline his role in the fraud and explain how Gillard was not part of the gang.
Let’s test his credibility in the only proper manner – before the courts.
Till then the Opposition has no choice but to continue chipping away.
Money has been stolen, union members have been lied to, and some old-fashioned Labor men are spitting chips.
A crime has been committed, those involved must be pursued.



Tim Blair – Monday, November 26, 2012 (6:58am)

A while ago I got into an argument with a member of Sydney’s rich white Labor community. He’d decided that something I’d written about Islam was racist.
Trouble was, he couldn’t precisely identity what particular race I’d offended. Islam isn’t a race. You can test this at home by converting to the faith, which is substantially simpler than converting to black or Asian or white. Even David Hicks, no genius, managed his Islamic conversion easily enough.
My opponent ended up proposing a definition of race based more on religion, culture and background than on skin colour or any other genetic factors.
By those terms, then, he was satisfied about my racism. But by the same terms, any critic of Catholicism or Buddhism would also be racist. To say nothing of certain Sydney protesters who earlier this year marched through the city holding signs that read: “Behead all those who insult the prophet.” They might be racist against everybody who isn’t Islamic.
Similarly violent intimidation emerged this week in YouTube video of Melbourne residents viciously abusing European women during a suburban bus ride. Profane fury was apparently prompted by the women singing in their native French. Memo to Plastic Bertrand: don’t book any Frankston gigs.



Tim Blair – Monday, November 26, 2012 (6:27am)

Bruce Guthrie, attempting to replace Hugh Mackay as Australia’s dullest columnist, laments thesocial disruption caused by weekend trading: 
Until the late 1980s, Melbourne’s major retailers all closed at 1pm on Saturdays. The push by retailers to open Saturday afternoons and all day on Sundays only succeeded after they acknowledged the inevitable disruption to family and social life through the payment of penalties. A generation later they want to overturn them, even though the disruption is as great as ever.
This is a fact still acknowledged in other countries. The former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, failed in a bid to introduce Sunday trading in France as recently as 2010. It means most Paris shops still only open on five Sundays a year – to allow more, said opponents, would destroy family life, ‘’the soul of France’’. 
Bruce Guthrie is a former editor of the Sunday Age and a current columnist for the Sunday Age. Sold on Sundays.



Tim Blair – Monday, November 26, 2012 (6:23am)

Foreign minister Bob Carr explains the value of unions to his party: 
“They keep us in touch with the reality of the suburban street, the country town, with the aspirations of ordinary Australians.” 
You really need unions for that, Bob?
UPDATE. Prime Minister Julia Gillard clearly appreciates the views of former Australian Workers Union official Ralph Blewitt: 
So it’s going to come down to Mr Blewitt’s word against me. Who is he? He’s a man who has publicly said he was involved in fraud. He is a man who has sought immunity from prosecution. He has fled Indonesia to avoid a police interview in relation to land fraud, although he denies wrongdoing in the case. He says he owes money on another land deal. He admits to using the services of prostitutes in Asia. He has published lewd and degrading comments and accompanying photographs of young women on his Facebook page. According to people know him, he has been described as a complete imbecile, an idiot, a stooge, a sexist pig, a liar and his sister has said he’s a crook and rotten to his core. His word against mine – make your mind up. 



Tim Blair – Monday, November 26, 2012 (6:10am)

The NSW Crime Commission is pushing for a new law that will ban suspected criminals from driving high-powered cars. Under the proposed law, suspects might be specifically banned from driving Lamborghinis, Ferraris and the like.
This purpose of the anti-Lambo law is to both remove the opportunity for dodgy types to enjoy their scofflaw lifestyles and also to drain some glamour from the criminal classes. It’s a good start, but an obvious next step is called for. If crims can’t drive anything fast and fancy, what cars will they be allowed to drive?



Tim Blair – Monday, November 26, 2012 (2:29am)

In comments, leftist reader Kym identifies the problem: 
The Arab nations - collectively the true seat of civilisation - have been colinized and screwed over for nearly 200 years ... 


More investments at risk from carbon tax and other costs

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(7:17pm)

Didn’t the Government claim Tony Abbott was reckless, alarmist and mendacious in warning its new taxes would drive away investment?
THE local head of US energy giant Chevron, the biggest foreign investor in Australia, has warned $100 billion worth of projects are “hanging in the balance” due to soaring coats and declining confidence in the federal government’s policy settings…
Chevron Australia managing director Roy Kryzwosinski said resources projects in Australia were 40 per cent more expensive than in the US and its workforce was 60 per cent less productive than the US…
Mr Kryzwosinski today attacked the Gillard government’s move to introduce new transfer pricing measures on foreign investors which would be backdated to 2004…


So why was this ghastly sexist Blewitt her friend?

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(7:04pm)

‘’Let me remind you who Mr Blewitt is. Mr Blewitt is a man who has publicly said he was involved in fraud.
‘’Mr Blewitt is a man who has sought immunity from prosecution. ‘’Mr Blewitt is a man who has fled Indonesia to avoid a police interview in relation to land fraud, although he denies wrongdoing in the case.
‘’Mr Blewitt says he owes money on another Asian land deal.
‘’Mr Blewitt admits to using the services of prostitutes in Asia.
‘’Mr Blewitt has published lewd and degrading comments and accompanying photographs on his Facebook page.
‘’Mr Blewitt, according to people who know him, has been described as a complete imbecile, an idiot, a stooge, a sexist pig, a liar and his sister has said he’s a crook, and rotten to the core.
‘’His word against mine: make your mind up.’’
In the early 1990s Wilson, Blewitt’s Fitzroy tenant, was a union kingpin, even talked about as a possible future prime minister.
The dashing union firebrand had embarked on a romance with Julia Gillard, then a salaried partner with Slater & Gordon, that lasted nearly four years.
Blewitt recalls the good times as the three of them would walk the short distance across the road to The Fitz cafe, which still plies a healthy trade…
The 67-year-old says he is not bitter about the past and recalls fondly the long late breakfasts discussing union factionalism and politics over strong coffee…
Blewitt’s memory of those heady times is hazy at times. But he remembers fondly visiting the Fitzroy property and the three of them having robust yarns about the big issues of the day.
“Julia would have been here when I arrived, or would arrive and stay overnight with Bruce whilst I was here. I mean, they were in a relationship they were boyfriend/girlfriend,” he says.
Gillard was also the union’s lawyers and helped advise the two of them in early 1992 on the incorporation of the AWU Workplace Reform Association.


Sexists, misogynists, everywhere Gillard looks

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(6:52pm)

I am already sick of politicians apologising for everyone’s sins but their own:
Mr Smith made the apology to the House of Representatives today.
‘’To those men and women in the Australian Defence Force or the Department of Defence who have suffered sexual or other forms of abuse, on behalf of the government I say sorry,’’ he told parliament.
Apologising for what others have done is the cheapest and most morally weightless way of seeming good.
Not only that, I’m sick of the Government creating a monster victim narrative to chime in with the Prime Minister’s cynical attempt to portray herself as just another victim of rampant sexism. Today’s rushed announcement of an apology for sexual abuse by ADF cadets segued neatly into Gillard’s attempt to portray herself as the victim of yet another misogynist:
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has hit back at union “bagman” Ralph Blewitt over his claims she has questions to answer over the AWU affair, saying that people could work out whether they believed her or a self-confessed fraudster described by associates as a ‘’sexist pig’’, ‘’imbecile’’ and ‘’crook’’…
‘Mr Blewitt admits to using the services of prostitutes in Asia.
‘’Mr Blewitt has published lewd and degrading comments and accompanying photographs on his Facebook page.
‘’Mr Blewitt, according to people who know him, has been described as a complete imbecile, an idiot, a stooge, a sexist pig, a liar and his sister has said he’s a crook, and rotten to the core.


Labor was real tough on boat people for a few days

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(6:49pm)

 Boat people policy
Labor’s new hard line on boat people didn’t last even a week:
Mr Bowen has defended the government’s controversial decision to place thousands of people who have arrived by boat since August 13 into the community on bridging visas, with limited financial assistance and no works rights, ahead of what is expected to be a lively caucus debate tomorrow.
Speaking on ABC News 24, Mr Bowen said the government needed to send “a very crisp and clear message” to people who might look to come to Australia as economic migrants, particularly from Sri Lanka…
But he left open the prospect of allowing asylum-seekers found to be legitimate refugees to work, while they wait about five years for a permanent visa under the “no advantage” test.


AWU scandal - Gillard won’t repeat in Parliament what she said outside it

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(5:15pm)

Julia Gillard’s tactic in calling the press conference before Question Time becomes obvious in her response to the very first question - from Julie Bishop:
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement today and to this letter she wrote as a partner of Slater&Gordon to Bruce Wilson in August 1991 in which she provided him with detailed advice on AWU rules on branch offices, union officials an elections. 
Will the Prime Minister now admit she was fully aware of AWU rules about the authorisation to set up entities and bank accounts bearing the name of the union and that the AWU workplace reform association breached those union rules? 
Gillard simply refers Bishop to the answer she just gave in the press conference, pretending this was exactly one asked by a reporter from The Australian.
One benefit of such an answer, of course, is that Gillard avoids any risk of later being found to have misled Parliament. Misleading journalists carries little danger.
Gillard does not say anything about the letter.
Julie Bishop has in her hand a four-page letter she says was written by Gillard to Bruce Wilson in 1991 which she says makes clear Gillard knew creating a legal entity using the AWU’s name in its title was against union rules. [Correction: that document establishes that Gillard then was familiar with AWU rules, but does not establish her knowledge of the rule on the naming of associations.] Did she know this was the case?
Gillard refuses again to directly answer the question, saying she stood by her answers in the press conference. Then attacks the Opposition at length.
Again, why does Gillard not dare to repeat in Parliament what she dared say outside it?
The Government refuses to allow Bishop to table the letter, which is new evidence, and could - if Bishop’s claims are true - be damning.
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement today that she provided legal advice for the incorporation of the AWU workplace reform association. When the Prime Minister as a partner of Slater&Gordon advised on the incorporation of the AWU workplace reform association, what steps did she take to ensure that using the name of the union would not breach section eight of the associations incorporation Act regarding the misleading use of names for associations?
Gillard: it’s a matter she should take up with the WA Corporate Affairs Commission.
Much of the pro-Gillard media has insisted there is no “smoking gun” or “allegation” against Gillard, seeming to think the issue is whether Gillard had her hand in the cookie jar (of which there is no evidence.) What they’ve overlooked is the elephant in the room and something even Bill Shorten has criticised:  the creation of a slush fund under a deceptive title, kept secret from the AWU, whose name appears in its title. Bishop is honing on this, using new documentation.
Bishop to Gillard: Asks another form of the question - why she did not get the AWU’s permission in helping to create an entity using its name.
Gillard: “That is matter she needs to pursue with the AWU”, whose rules they are.
Bishop to Gillard: as a solicitor for the AWU, was she aware that permission should be sought from the AWU to set up an association with its name in the title?
Gillard: a matter for the AWU and the “relevant company authorities”.  (Gillard does not repeat her farcical excuse from the press conference that because her boyfriend and his sidekick Blewitt were AWU officials, the AWU was aware of what was being done.)
Bishop to Gillard: The associations incorporations act requires five members for the registration of an association. Who, besides Wilson and Blewitt, were the others?
Gillard: Matter for the WA Corporate Affairs Commission. This is once again a smear. Says Bishop falsely claimed in Parliament Gillard had advised Blewitt on defamation action, when this had been done by someone else in Slater & Gordon.  (Gillard does not answer the substance of the question.) Incorporation had been accepted by the authorities.

 Bishop to Gillard: 
Didn’t the Western Australian commissioner for corporate affairs in fact raise concerns about this proposed association prior to its incorporation, and will the Prime Minister confirm that as a partner of Slater&Gordon she wrote to the commissioner in 1992, vouching that the association complied with the legal requirements of associations incorporation act even though she knew it did not?
Gillard: No evidence has ever been produced of this letter she wrote in response, as alleged by Mark Baker of The Age. It was up to the registrar of WA as to whether the entity was properly registered.  (Gillard does not specifically deny writing such a letter. She will be in some trouble should details of that letter turn up in the so-far redacted parts of her exit interview with Slater & Gordon. I suspect it’s there, all right. Gillard still has not answered the substance of a single question.)
Bishop to Gillard: The incorporation document makes no mention of being for re-election funds. Did it conform?
Gillard: Claims again she dealt with this in the press conference and the Opposition has no positive plan for the future.
Bishop: Asks to be able to table a 1997 letter from the WA state crime squad stating Thiess donated to the slush fund believing it was an authorised union entity and would not have done so had it known otherwise.
Permission denied. Here is the letter:
Bishop to Gillard: Is the reason she didn’t open a file at Slater & Gordon on the fund was that it would have alerted her partners to an unauthorised association?
Gillard: No, didn’t wan’t to charge for a small matter. She didn’t fake the moon landing, either, or shove Harold Holt on a Chinese submarine.
Bishop: who alerted her in 1995 to the allegations re Wilson, and what were they?
Albanese objects that this has nothing to do with the PM’s responsibilities. Overruled.
Gillard: dealt with this in a press conference. (In fact, Gillard has never said who first alerted her to the allegations and what they were.)
And that’s it from Question Time today. 


AWU scandal - Gillard tries again to answer the charges

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(1:00pm)

 The AWU scandal
[Transcript of the press conference below]
Julia Gillard in her August press conference - sprung on unsuspecting and unprepared journalists:
In these circumstances, where I am seeing, recycled again, false and defamatory material attacking my character, I have determined that I will deal with these issues. I’m therefore happy to take questions on these matters. I am going to do that today… This will be the only occasion on which I deal with this matter. I am not going to dignify it by ongoing answering of questions.
Julia Gillard today cracks:
WITH pressure mounting over the AWU affair, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is preparing a pre-emptive strike before she faces a grilling in Question Time. Ms Gillard has scheduled a press conference for 1pm (AEDT), an hour before she will face parliament and a likely barrage from the Opposition over a union slush fund. 
The press conference starts with Gillard promising bills on education and the (unfunded) National Disability Insurance Scheme to try to give the impression the government is moving ahead while the Opposition is debating the past and talking about “sleaze and smear”. Gillard, who has relentless attacked Tony Abbott’s character and falsely accused him of hating women, accuses Abbott of “relentless negativity”, “lies” and “deceit”, as well as being an “economic illiterate”. I’m astonished Gillard isn’t laughed out of town for her hypocrisy.
She praises “John Howard style Liberals” for the first time in her life and says no such nice people are in the Liberal Party today.
Her voice shaky, she says she will take questions from the media on the scandal to spare Parliament from wasting time on this.
Says did not have any evidence before her of “criminality or wrongdoing” by Wilson when she broke off with him in 1995, so she could “not report things” to police she “did not know”.
Question: was she a “party to deception” by helping to register the AWU Workplace Reform Association when it was actually a slush fund and not an AWU association either.
Answer: Refers to August press conference, and said she explained the words “slush fund” she once used was not helpful to understanding the association. She does not answer the appropriateness of using the AWU’s name in the title.
Question: Blewitt says she did not witness his power of attorney personally and it was backdated. True?
Answer: “I did nothing wrong in the witnessing of this power of attorney.” “It is going to come down to Mr Blewitt’s word against mine.” And then slimes him as a man of bad character. She does not specifically deny the allegation.
So it’s going to come down to Mr Blewitt’s word against me. Who is he? He’s a man who has publicly said he was involved in fraud. He is a man who has sought immunity from prosecution. He has fled Indonesia to avoid a police interview in relation to land fraud, although he denies wrong doing in the case. He says he owes money on another land deal. He admits to using the services of prostitutes in Asia. He has published lewd and degrading comments and accompanying photographs of young women on his Facebook page. According to people know him, he has been described as a complete imbecile, an idiot a stooge, a sexist big, a liar and his sister has said he’s a crook and rotten to his core. His word against mine - make your mind up.
Question: Should she not have alerted the AWU to the creation of an association using its name?
Answer: “Hindsight’s a wonderful thing.” It’s common to set up associations for re-election funds for unionists on a certain platform. This was pretty low-level and routine. Gillard twice fails to directly respond to the question on whether she should have alerted the AWU about it.
Question: But Bill Shorten said its creation was inappropriate and out of bounds.
Answer: But Shorten says no wrong doing by me. And it’s 20 years later. Again, Gillard dodges this key issue of deceptively using the AWU’s name.
Question: about that $5000 allegedly dropped into Gillard’s account by someone acting for Wilson.
Answer: Gillard claims, wrongly, that this seemed to be casino winnings. Says she doesn’t recall that money popping in. Has taken steps to try to check with the Commonwealth Bank but says she’s been told it’s not possible to retrieve records from that far back.
Question: What about Woodside and Thiess about giving Wilson money? Was that right?
Answer: Can’t speak for them. (Why not? This seems to be possibly extortion or even bribery.)
Question: why is she now certain she paid for all her renovations when she told Slater & Gordon she wasn’t sure?
Answer: Had made further checks.
Question: Did you actually see Blewitt sign the power of attorney in favor of her boyfriend?
Answer: Has no memory of that specific document. Gillard does not specifically deny it. Asks who do we believe: “the Prime Minister of Australia” or someone who has admitted to fraud.
Question: Did she have specific authority from the AWU to use its name on the slush fund?
Answer: Her clients were Wilson and Blewitt. Didn’t need to ask the AWU for permission since both were officials of the AWU.
Question: But shouldn’t the AWU have been told in 1995 about this slush fund?
Answer: Didn’t know of any wrongdoing, and had no knowledge of its bank accounts.
Question: Why the six to eight month delay between Slater & Gordon discussing the slush fund with her and the AWU being made aware of it?
Answer: Somehow Gillard winds up talking about the conveyancing file instead, saying there was no direct reference in them to the slush fund as the source of funds. I assume Gillard intended to argue she didn’t know what use had been made of the slush fund.
Question: ....
Answer: In August 1995 there were rumours “going around” about misuse of funds within the AWU in Victoria.  Then “untrue” allegations raised in Victorian Parliament about her renovations. Were people suggesting she should go to police about false allegations about her?  (Red herring: she should have alerted at least the AWU that her boyfriend had created another slush fund more secret than the one it was investigating in Victoria.)
Question: Robert McClelland’s speech started this, mentioning a “third party” might have benefited from the scams..
Answer: Liberals have been peddling this before then.  Claims McClelland wasn’t referring to her..
Question: Why didn’t tell at least the AWU about the slush fund when Wilson’s reputation in Victoria was on the nose re another slush fund?
Answer: But Wilson and Blewitt were my clients re creation of the slush fund. They were office bearers of the AWU. So it knew. (This is pure sophistry. By then Wilson had already been exposed in Victoria of acting on his own, rorting funds. To think then that Wilson was a legitimate representative of the AWU regarding a slush fund is worse than naive.)
Sid Maher from The Australian insists the establishment of this entity required a resolution. Gillard doesn’t think it did and tells him not to hector.
Question: How confident that she didn’t benefit ever from Wilson’s rorts?
Answer: There weren’t lots of benefits or money around that seemed something that couldn’t be explained. Were “garden variety” things like restaurant bills he may have paid for.
Question: ...
Answer: Conveyancing file was Nick Styant-Brownes. Now concedes at least she “ran a few messages” between Blewitt and the paralegal doing the conveyancing.
Question: Given that, does she now concede she may have been aware there was a Slater & Gordon mortgage offered on the property (despite her denial of such knowledge to partners in 1995)?
Answer: It was my best memory of that time. “What is the big deal?” (It is A: that she may have lied. B: that knowing of the mortgage she might have wondered about the source of the funds for repayment.)
Question: ...
Answer: Where’s the evidence that she knew anything illegal at the time to report to police in 1995? (Red herring: Her client, the AWU, would at the very minimum have liked to know that another slush fund existed.)
Question: Would she authorise the release of the full transcript of her exit interview from Slater & Gordon?
Answer: Does not answer directly. Says she does not have the full transcript.
Breaks press conference short to go to Question Time, protesting this is just a smear campaign and no one has evidence she did anything wrong.

Except, of course, she helped to create a deceptively named Australian Workers Union Workers Reform Association knowing it was actually a private slush fund for her boyfriend, not the union itself, and was also not a non-profit for promoting workplace safety. And she kept that secret from her partners and the rest of the AWU, even when her boyfriend was already exposed as having rorted another slush fund. I consider that behaviour improper.
Not asked or answered:
What she told the WA Corporate Affairs Commission to reassure them the slush fund was a genuine non-profit association.
Whether she ever repaid any money to the AWU.
Not given: 
A specific denial to Ralph Blewitt’s claim that she did not see him sign over his power of attorney to her boyfriend when her signature appears as the witness.
A credible excuse for not asking for formal approval from the AWU to use its name in the title of Wilson’s slush fund, the AWU Workers Reform Assocation.
A credible excuse for not informing the AWU or authorities for alerting them to the existence of the slush fund when Wilson was already being investigated over another slush fund in Victoria and was being booted out of the union. (Privilege does not apply given Gillard claims her clients in creating the slush fund were “officials of the AWU” - Wilson and Blewitt - acting as representatives of the union in instructing her, thus negating the need for her to seek any other authority for creating the slush fund.)
A specific denial that Wilson had $5000 put in her account.
A criticism of the companies which donated to Wilson’s slush fund, and did not complain to police when the fund was exposed as a rort. 
The transcript of the press conference:


Racism exists, as do opportunists using “racism” as a shut-up

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(8:27am)

My News Ltd colleague Tory Shepherd ... continued: “I call bullshit on these apologists. What they want to do is declare racism non-existent so they can say whatever vile crap they like about people who are different from them.”
Really, Tory? Way to read minds. Perhaps some of us are simply weary of racism being invoked so frequently and so inaccurately that the accusation has been utterly devalued.
Prefer asylum seeker policies that don’t lure people to deaths at sea? Racist. Opposed to Barack Obama’s economics policies? Racist. Think welcome to country ceremonies are tokenistic and insincere? Racist. Alarmed by demonstrations calling for the destruction of Israel? Racist. Can’t locate a specific racial component in some drunken white guy’s obscene and savage abuse of a white French woman? Racist again.


Column - My mind was washed. Why should Aitkin’s be spared?

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(7:51am)

 Culture warsThe politics of race
POOR Don Aitkin.The former University of Canberra vice-chancellor never dreamed they’d come for him, too.
He never imagined a fair-skinned man in a possum cloak would front him and say hoy, I’m an Aborigine offended by your racist “slur” about my complexion.
Hand over $6 million.

That’s probably why I heard not a word of support from Aitkin last year when two of my own articles were declared unlawful by the Federal Court.

Why should he care if Aboriginal activists, backed by a famous human rights lawyer, use the Racial Discrimination Act to punish a conservative columnist.

Heavens, no, especially given this journalist rudely mocked the fashionable New Racism, which demands we treat each other differently depending on ethnicity.

But ho, ho, ho, the unkind must laugh now that they’ve come for an Aitkin, too.
What, what, what, splutters Aitkin…
(Subscription required for full, well-legalled article, with a couple of good jokes removed.) 


Column - Conman’s say-so leaves questions unanswered

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(7:49am)

HOW kind of conman Bruce Wilson to finally give a character reference for his former girlfriend and lawyer, Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
“(She) knew absolutely, categorically nothing,” the former Australian Workers Union boss said of Gillard’s knowledge of his alleged frauds.


What could Gillard do with more power over journalists?

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(7:28am)

And haven’t we seen already what this Government will stoop to to kill investigations it considers politically damaging:
The industry campaign would replicate a British advertising blitz that urges voters to reject state intervention in the press because it would stifle news reporting of government wrongdoing.
Cabinet meets today to decide on plans from Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to force publishers to submit for the first time to federal government oversight of the councils that adjudicate on print media complaints and corrections. 
APPROACHING 8am last Monday, John Hartigan was walking into his office ...when his mobile phone rang. It was Julia Gillard.
“I presume you know why I’m calling,” the Prime Minister said.
Hartigan, chairman and chief executive of News Limited, had no idea. He soon did, as the Prime Minister voiced her displeasure at the publication that morning in The Australian of a column by Glenn Milne, which revived 16-year-old allegations about Gillard’s one-time relationship with former unionist Bruce Wilson.
According to Hartigan, Gillard put a series of demands that she wanted addressed in 15 minutes. The deadline was later pushed back to 9am.
As well as a public apology and the Milne article being taken offline, she wanted a commitment that the allegations never be repeated again in The Australian. This demand was later extended to all News Limited newspapers and their websites…
Chris Mitchell, The Australian’s editor-in chief ... was at his Manly property ... when Hartigan called and asked him to ring Gillard.
When Mitchell rang and spoke to the Prime Minister, he said, she was “apoplectic”. He had been on the end of verbal sprays from Paul Keating, he said, but “they were nothing compared to this"…
Hartigan said he had six conversations with Gillard during this period, as well as exchanges of text messages and emails.
Gillard had telephoned Hartigan two days earlier after being alerted to a blog post by Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt headlined, “A tip on something that may force Gillard to resign”.
Milne lost his job as a commentator on the ABC over this. Broadcaster Michael Smith was dumped by Fairfax’s 2UE after being accused of asking the Prime Minister “unauthorised questions”.
Anyone who know that Government’s attempts - at times successful - to curb coverage of this scandal must be desperately worried by any proposal to put more power over the media in such vengeful hands. 


Newspoll: Coalition still ahead by only 51 to 49

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(7:22am)

Newspoll still has the gap closer than do the other major polls - and closer than the Opposition would think it deserves:

Labor’s primary vote appears to have levelled off at 36 per cent, after growing steadily, and the Coalition’s support remains the same as it was at the last election - 43 per cent.
With the Greens’ primary vote of 11 per cent virtually unchanged for three months, the Coalition still holds an election-winning lead of 51 per cent to 49 per cent, based on the flow of preferences at the last election.


AWU scandal - Wilson gained from Gillard’s silence

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER262012(6:56am)

If only Julia Gillard had spoken up:
SEVERAL months after being kicked out of the Australian Workers Union for his central role in a major fraud scandal, Bruce Wilson was still removing tens of thousands of dollars of union money from a different slush fund that had been kept hidden.
Mr Wilson’s withdrawal of the last of more than $60,000 from the Construction Industry Fund was still possible in late January 1996, as neither Julia Gillard nor her firm, Slater & Gordon, had alerted the AWU to the existence of his major slush fund months earlier.
The Prime Minister denies wrongdoing in relation to the AWU Workplace Reform Association, which she gave advice to help Mr Wilson set up and later described as a “slush fund” for the re-election of union officials, saying she had no knowledge of its operations.
But she and the firm have declined to answer questions from The Australian about why they did not alert their client, the AWU, or police to its existence when they learned Mr Wilson was being investigated for fraud involving a separate fund…
The Australian has examined Commonwealth Bank documents showing the Construction Industry Fund received $46,550 from the AWU Workplace Reform Association’s account in April 1995.
There are several new developments that are causing ­disquiet within the parliamentary Labor Party. One of those, which Workplace Relations and and Superannuation Minister Bill Shorten highlighted last week, was Ms Gillard’s role as a junior lawyer at Slater & Gordon in the early 1990s in establishing the AWU Workplace Reform Association ... what she described as an AWU slush fund for officials’ re-election, using the AWU name. Mr Shorten made the point last week that the account was “unauthorised by the union” and was “inappropriate” and “out of bounds”. Former ACTU national secretary Bill Kelty also described the fund in question as “inappropriate”.
Slush funds or re-election funds are common in the union movement but they typically do not carry the name of the union to avoid the possibility of a fund being passed off as a union-authorised fund. The problem with setting up a fund that is not authorised by the union, yet which still includes the union name, was that it would mean that cheques written to the AWU could have been diverted and deposited into the fund…
Many, including the Prime Minister, say this matter, which is now almost 20 years old, has been thoroughly traversed and that there are far more significant issues for public debate. However, it has wider ramifications for union governance. It goes to the heart of the lawless nature of the union side of the industrial relations club.
What Tony Abbott is calling for is something like what former Labor Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the AWU scandal taught him was necessary, too:
TONY Abbott will today expand the Coalition attack on Julia Gillard, seeking to exploit the slush fund scandal by pressing for immediate industrial relations reform to impose criminal penalties on union leaders who misuse members’ cash.
The Opposition Leader will use the resumption of federal parliament to turn the fight over the alleged fraud at the Australian Workers Union into a wider challenge to the Prime Minister and her Labor colleagues over ethics and standards.
Three weeks ago, Mr McClelland revisited the case when he told parliament about new legislation with the power to crack down on dishonest union officials.
“I know the Prime Minister is quite familiar with this area of the law, as lawyers in the mid-1990s we were involved in a matter representing opposing clients,” the Labor MP said. “Indeed, my involvement in that matter has coloured much of my thinking."…
Asked by The Weekend Australian yesterday about his role 17 years ago and his fresh foray in federal parliament, he said: “As a solicitor in 1995 I received instructions from the then general-secretary of the AWU, Ian Cambridge, who firmly believed that union funds had been mismanaged or misappropriated by certain union officials.
“Certainly, my major motive in raising the matters that I recently did . . . was to try to simplify and streamline the process to make it easier for union members to seek recovery of misappropriated or misapplied funds from an office holder, former office holder or, for that matter, a third party who may have benefited from the alleged wrongdoing.
“I think that any fair-minded person would have to regard the outcome from the 1990s as being totally unsatisfactory because, despite protracted litigation, union funds that were misapplied were never returned to benefit members.”
Why did Ms Gillard not open a file for her work in helping to establish the fund?; Was the AWU made aware of the potential conflict of interest given the relationship with Mr Wilson?; Was the AWU made aware that an entity using its name was being established?; Was the WA Corporate Affairs Commission misled about the true nature of the association?; And, crucially, why were neither the police nor the AWU made aware of the association given investigations into alleged fraud involving Mr Wilson and another “slush fund”? As we have argued for months, the reporting of these matters goes directly to Ms Gillard’s integrity and credibility. It deserves a full and frank response.
But the best course would seem to be comprehensive and frank disclosure. Gillard needs to get the message across to the public that she is not only telling the truth but the whole truth, and the best way to do that is to cover all the issues - and early in the week. So, as she might say, that she can move on.
What Phil Coorey should have gone on to add is: with such incuriosity, is it any wonder some corrupt Labor figures thrived under the myopic gaze of then NSW Premier Bob Carr?
[Julie] Bishop will ask why Gillard did not report the fraud to the police when it was uncovered and why, when setting up the fund, she thought it was legitimate when Bill Shorten, a former Australian Workers Union national secretary, said last week it was unauthorised, inappropriate and out of bounds.

And what about the $5000 that Wilson allegedly asked another official to put in Gillard’s bank account?

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, spoke for much of the nation when he said he found the stories on this saga so impenetrable he struggled to make it to the fifth paragraph.
Tony Windsor apparently thinks it’s perfectly fine to help set up a union slush fund under a deceptive name, calling it a “workplace reform association” and borrowing the title of your main union client to make it seem legit, and then not alerting police when - surprise! - it is used for major fraud:
I haven’t seen anything that remotely resembles some sort of wrongdoing,” Mr Windsor told ABC Radio on Monday, ahead of parliament’s final sitting week of the year.
Monkey hear no evil, see no evil… 

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