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allan907 25th Aug 2012 02:23

Matt could take the time to answer any one of them on her behalf here
ROFLMAO! Matt wrote the book "Evading Questions 101" (co-authored with RedTBar). Don't wait up MTOW

500N 25th Aug 2012 04:18

With the holding of the press conference, I think Julia might have put a stop to the media feeding frenzy apart from Pickering.

Some write ups about how well she did it.

We will see next week.


allan907 25th Aug 2012 04:29

I think that it hinges on the Australian. Whether their correspondent can pick up on the Pickering claims and whether there's sufficient basis for the allegations made.

If there are, and it is seen that Gillard has been "economical with the truth" then it will keep going.

At the very least the Australian can keep its head held high and immune from her "gutter press" and "misogynist nut job" jibes given the impeccable reporting that they have run with.

I have to admit that I did think that was the end of the matter but, having seen the latest Pickering effort, I think that he is touching on some very salient points which points to her having been shy of telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and she needs to address those points.

prospector 25th Aug 2012 04:33

I think Julia might have put a stop to the media feeding frenzy apart from Pickering.
Perhaps, but there are a number of other senior investigative journalists who are convinced there is more for Julia to disclose. Pickering was very much "in your face" that demanded an immediate response. But there are others digging deeper that will require more than a hurridly organised Press conference to refute

500N 25th Aug 2012 04:37

OK, I'll say "for now" the feeding frenzy has stopped, not saying articles and questions won't be written but the front page splashes seem to have diminished.

I will keep an eye on The Australian.


CoodaShooda 25th Aug 2012 04:54

Keep an eye on Fairfax too. Some of its journalists are now saying she has more questions to answer.

Just saw the ballot paper for the Leader of the Opposition's seat (not my electorate).

Will be an interesting test of the attitude of voters.

From top to bottom it is
  • First Australians Party
  • Anonymous Labor Party
  • Country Liberal Party

If there is a strong donkey vote, there will be a large swing to labor.

If there is strong voter interest, CLP will maintain its past healthy majority.

Roll on the 6.00pm coverage.

SOPS 25th Aug 2012 05:11

Please keep us informed, Cooda.

500N 25th Aug 2012 05:11

Yes, should be interesting.

NT elections always seem to be messy affairs
with Aboriginal and Federal issues involved in a
State Election.

I've been looking at that superb journalistic newspaper :O,
the NT News on a daily basis.

If anyone wants a look, it's Latest Darwin & Territory News | NT News | Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia | ntnews.com.au

You will need to wade through the daily Croc, Hoons, Fights in Darwin,
Drunks and Burglary's to get to anything worthwhile reading :O

CoodaShooda 25th Aug 2012 05:17

to get to anything worthwhile reading
You left out the interim step where you throw the NT news in the bin and pick up any other paper. :E

500N 25th Aug 2012 05:22


I see you have as high opinion of it as me !

When you are out Bush, about the only think to read is
the NT News and it is easy to say to everyone who comes
out to visit "make sure you bring an NT News" as it is
the only newspaper some places carry !

But I agree, heading into town, you just have to buy
the weekend Age and The Australian :O

CoodaShooda 25th Aug 2012 06:28

It was once the best paper in Australia.

Small staff, limited advertising and plenty of stories from interstate and overseas taken straight off the wire.

Visiting south and reading the majors, you appreciated how parochial and limited they were.

But over time, the number of local journo's and advertisers grew - and the focus shifted to fluff pieces and tabloid tales. :yuk:

Andu 25th Aug 2012 06:32

I'm surprised someone in the MSM hasn't cried 'foul!' at the way JG shamelessly manipulated and conned that very same MSM in the way she sprung the issue on them without warning, with none of the MSM main players in attendance and (really, when it all comes down to the final wash) made them look like fools. The whole episode, right down to the "trust/slush" red herring, stinks to high heaven of her Scots advisor, Mr McTernan. (How incredibly... 'quaint' that Julia Gillard should be able to make political capital and be able to so successfully obfuscate over the incorrect use of the word "trust'.)

As always, she has been selective, even economical with the truth in her carefully-crafted answers in her instantly-called press conference. Given that there hasn't been an outcry from any of the main players who would have been there had they known ahead of time that she was to speak on this matter, one can only surmise that they don't WANT to ask her the hard questions.

At the very least, the likes of Laurie Oakes, Mark Riley - indeed, all the Canberra Press Gallery - should be insisting that she gives a full explanation of her actions during that period to Parliament. However, I'm not holding my breath waiting for Laurie, Mark or any of them to do so.

Pickering might be a bit of a dill (as many in the MSM say he is), but that in no way makes the questions he poses in his 24th August 'Pickering Post' any less compelling and any less worthy of answers.

Proper answers.

500N 25th Aug 2012 06:36


You know, I was going to put that I thought over the last 10 years it had gone down hill.

It wasn't a bad read but as you say, it has gone to the dogs.

Their is very little of substance in it now, that is for sure.

Worrals in the wilds 25th Aug 2012 07:05

The general feeling is one of apathy.
Interesting. Sounds like neither side have been very shiny. Keep us posted, anyway.

I did see a quote in the Courier Mail from someone in the NT Country Liberal Party assuring the electorate that they've gotten rid of the rednecks. They said that down here in Queensland, too; until a day after they won. Then the sound of banjos, shotguns and recordings of Joh's 'great' speeches were heard emanating from Parliament House and the policy decisions followed thick and fast (with an emphasis on 'thick')...:suspect::}

Squeaks 25th Aug 2012 07:25

Originally Posted by CoodaShooda (Post 7374068)
OK. She's said her piece and Fairfax has exonerated her.

I'd say that Fairfax has one of the most compelling articles today: PM and a fistful of questions. Apart from the careful crafting by Gillards female front bench leading the 'mysoginist' attack on Abbott and the presser where she claimed sexist attacks (where? why hasn't that been challenged?), the Libs really should come out on the front foot and put the blame for the past month squarely where it lies: on the shoulders of the Labor discontents, led by McClelland :D

One of the many intriguing aspects of the slush fund scandal that was revived against Julia Gillard this week is that the opposition had almost nothing to do with it.
In the annals of scandal-based attempts to embarrass or pressure prime ministers, this makes it as rare as a blue diamond, but nowhere near as attractive.
The opposition was not hawking to the press a dirt file on Gillard. It did not promote the story or brief reporters on the key questions to pursue. It did not use question time, not even once, to pressure her on the matter. These are the time-honoured hallmarks of an opposition-led assault; they were missing this week.
Tony Abbott did egg the media on by repeatedly telling reporters, when asked, that the Prime Minister had questions to answer. But he did not specify any, even when invited to. He was a bystander enjoying the spectacle and cheering it on, but not a participant.

Joe Hockey was being quite truthful yesterday when he told Channel Seven "it's not something we have been involved with, I must say. This has been coming from a range of different sources."
It wasn't for lack of access to the material. The scandal itself is an old one. Seventeen years old. A number of tireless promoters have been supplying briefings and dirt files to Coalition frontbenchers on it for years. Among those supplied were Eric Abetz, Nick Minchin, Barnaby Joyce and George Brandis.
So why didn't the Coalition make use of it? It looks like a perfect opportunity. The Prime Minster's previous life was as a lawyer at Slater & Gordon, traditionally the law firm of choice for trade unions.
And one of her clients, the Australian Workers Union, was and is one of the biggest. She made the mistake of taking the Victorian secretary of the union, Bruce Wilson, as her lover. So he was both her client and her boyfriend.
Wilson and his bagman, Ralph Blewitt, were forced out of the union amid accusations that they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a fund-raising vehicle, the AWU Workplace Reform Association.
He told Gillard it was a slush fund for his own re-election in the union, on her account. Instead, he allegedly used the money to buy himself a house.
How was Gillard involved? As his lawyer, she gave him legal advice in setting up this vehicle, the Workplace Reform Association, as an incorporated entity. As his lover, she went along to the auction with him to buy the house. She happened to be making renovations to her own house around the same time. She left Slater & Gordon soon after Wilson was forced out of the AWU.
There are some obvious questions for Gillard here. Did she know about his alleged fraud? Did she knowingly abet theft in any way?
When Wilson was allegedly stealing the money and Gillard was renovating her house, did any of the money find its way into her renovations? That is, did she benefit personally from any of the allegedly stolen funds?
Gillard's firm and consistent answer across the years is ''no'' to all questions. She has often been accused through the years, but no evidence against her has been produced.
But these questions were reopened this week when The Australian ran a series of articles by Hedley Thomas revisiting the matter, and adding some new information.
It looked like a perfect opportunity for the opposition to embarrass Gillard because it reminds the public of the intimate relations between Labor and the union movement, because it reminds the public of union corruption, and because it allows the opposition a new way to accentuate the old theme of Gillard's trustworthiness.
Why pass up the chance? There are three reasons that the opposition chose to sit this one out.
First, it was wary of running hard against a prime minister in an effort to embarrass her over a matter of personal conduct. The Liberal Party remembers only too clearly what happened to Malcolm Turnbull when Utegate blew up in his face.
Second, no political party has a monopoly on the politics of personal destruction. If Abbott had decided to pursue Gillard over her past private life, it would have invited retaliation from Labor.
But third is the fact that, after examining all the material, the opposition decided that there was no damning new evidence against Gillard. It looked bad, it was murky, but there was no hard evidence of a crime or misconduct.
Indeed, it was not only the opposition that drew this conclusion. The Australian's Hedley Thomas, author of this week's series on Gillard and Wilson, wrote an article on September 17 last year saying: "The Weekend Australian has examined thousands of pages of documentation and conducted numerous interviews to test long-standing allegations … that Ms Gillard - as a junior partner at the Melbourne law firm Slater & Gordon - was involved in wrongdoing by her then boyfriend, Mr Wilson.

"None of the material examined is capable of supporting the claims that Ms Gillard was a beneficiary of ill-gotten funds or that she knew at the time that Mr Wilson was involved in alleged fraud."
So how did the Prime Minister arrive at the point on Thursday of icily declaring that "I have determined that I will deal with these issues'', ''given we have got to a stage where false and defamatory material is now being recycled in The Australian newspaper," and taking questions from the press gallery until the questions were exhausted.
Something had changed. And it wasn't the opposition. It was in what Hockey had called "a range of different sources". What was it?
It was not the people whom Gillard described as "the misogynists and the nut jobs on the internet" who run a fevered, full-time hate campaign against her. That is a constant.
The watershed moment was when a member of Gillard's own caucus, Robert McClelland, stood in the House on June 21. McClelland was a widely respected member of the Gillard cabinet and served as her attorney-general before she dumped him.
Now speaking in his capacity as a backbencher, he rose to address the subject of a bill to crack down on fraud by union officials. In full knowledge of what he was doing, he committed an act of political bastardry against his leader:
"I never want to see a dollar that a worker gives a union used for any purpose other than the proper purposes of representing that union member's best interests," he said. "Indeed, 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."
He had just revived the unmentionable matter of the Wilson scandal, the subject Gillard had spent 17 years trying to live down. Now McClelland talked it up:
"Indeed, my involvement in that matter has coloured much of my thinking in this area and resulted in me moving amendments on September 17, 2002, to actually strengthen the powers of the Federal Court of Australia."
The shadow attorney-general, George Brandis, called this "most significant," and he was right. Privately, McClelland told colleagues that he fully intended to give Gillard a punch in the nose.
It was a clear signal that he was joining the destabilisation of Gillard. It was a declaration that the Wilson affair was now fair game. And it was an invitation to others to reopen the matter, to use it against Gillard, and to receive the blessing and support of at least a part of the Labor Party.
One of the promoters of the Wilson story is a retired union official called Harry Nowicki. We'll be hearing more of Nowicki in the months to come.
A former industrial lawyer with the old Builders Labourers Federation, he had decided to write a history of the AWU. By the time of the McClelland declaration, he had already spent half a year researching the Wilson scandal and Gillard's relationship to Wilson as lawyer and lover. He was in close contact with Wilson's former bagman, Ralph Blewitt.
Nowicki says the McClelland speech was the moment that energised everybody interested in the affair: "It was when Robert McClelland made a speech - he's an ex-attorney-general, he's not some underground figure. I spoke to him, he vaguely remembered me as an industrial officer. Rob was disturbed - any lawyer looking at that union and what happened is uncomfortable."
Nowicki and Blewitt spoke to Thomas "and we convinced him there was more to it". So the reason the Wilson affair returned to haunt Gillard this week, according to Nowicki, is "the McClelland trigger, followed by Hedley".
Nowicki and Blewitt are hunting for documents. Nowicki takes this matter so seriously that he has retained a Melbourne criminal barrister, Peter Faris, to compile a brief of evidence on the Wilson scandal. Nowicki has asked him to "look at two things - professional misconduct of Julia Gillard and Slater & Gordon, and who might be liable to criminal charges" over the matter. He says he can afford this level of investigative legal diligence because he is "comfortably well off".
The opposition didn't need to bestir itself. With an entire ecosystem of anti-Gillard activists, dedicated promoters of the Wilson scandal like Nowicki and Blewitt, a split and bitter Labor caucus, and the anti-Gillard agenda of The Australian, this affair is not going to fade away.
Indeed, Gillard has now turbocharged this affair. She has elevated it to a legitimate subject of prime ministerial scrutiny. She said she would not lower herself to answer any future questions. But no matter how resolutely she tries to tough this out, new material and new questions will not stop coming.
Peter Hartcher is the political editor

Squeaks 25th Aug 2012 07:55

And Shaune Carney's bit in The Age, Her last word perhaps, but it isn't all history yet is further indication that if Fairfax are seeing more to come, then the fat lady hasn't finished singing yet!

ON THE night of June 23, 2010, as factional players blitzed the federal caucus with phone calls, urging Labor MPs to throw out Kevin Rudd in favour of Julia Gillard, one leading figure of the labour movement was anxious to prosecute the case in public. When all other leading figures were running for cover, Paul Howes, the national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, appeared on ABC television to argue for Gillard as the nation's new prime minister.

In strictly political terms, the AWU is the most powerful single entity within the Labor Party. It has been the bulwark of Gillard's support base within the ALP and the union movement during her time as leader. When she faced a challenge from Rudd early this year, the AWU stuck fast, ensuring her a big victory.

Gillard's political and professional relationship with the AWU goes back a long way, through various ideological twists and turns. Twenty years ago, before she became a political adviser and then a member of parliament, Gillard was a solicitor with the industrial practice of Melbourne firm Slater & Gordon. The AWU was a client of the firm. Gillard handled the AWU's legal work and developed a romantic connection with the union's then Victorian secretary, Bruce Wilson.

In 1995, two big events took place in Gillard's life: her relationship with Wilson ended and she left Slater & Gordon, where she had been a salaried partner. The events were not unrelated. Wilson had allegedly misused funds from a legal entity that Gillard had helped establish, the AWU Workplace Reform Association.

Soon after this became known within Slater & Gordon, Gillard resigned her position, but not before she was interviewed by the senior partner, Peter Gordon, and general manager, Geoff Shaw.

The transcript of that interview, conducted on September 11, 1995 - 18 days before Gillard's 34th birthday - appeared in The Australian this week. The paper has been devoting a lot of energy and space to the matter of Gillard's time as a lawyer.

There is a legitimate question about how much it is in the public interest to dredge up what Gillard did or did not do and what she did or did not know in relation to Wilson and his stewardship of the AWU and its finances. It pre-dates her time as an MP and no charges were ever laid following a police investigation. The Prime Minister herself said last Sunday that it had no relevance to her in her current role.

But it is also legitimate to look at a prime minister's entire professional life. Character and conduct count. And if things have gone wrong in the past, if mistakes were made, there is always a real prospect of redemption. Bob Hawke is living proof of that. In this case, it's worth noting that while these events were taking place, Gillard was not young, freshly arrived in the workforce. She was in her 30s.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister spoke at length about the AWU-Wilson matter at a press conference originally convened to announce an increase in the number of refugees Australia will accept. She said it would be the last time she would speak about the controversy. It has been hailed as a tactically clever, powerful performance.

The potential problem in responding so voluminously is that it creates a whole new stock of contemporary statements and invites comparisons with what was said previously. The allegation against Gillard, made first in 1995, is that she was a beneficiary of funds held by the AWU Workplace Reform Association. Specifically, it was alleged that some work on her Abbotsford house was paid for through the AWU.

In the 1995 interview with Gordon and Shaw, Gillard was asked about this. As part of a long response relating to a particular piece of work, she said: ''Now I believe that that must be the source of the rumour about, about the association or Bruce or the union or whoever paying for work on my house and I don't obviously, given I've been fairly surprised by events to date in relation to this matter, I can't categorically rule out that something at my house didn't get paid for by the association or something at my house didn't get paid for by the union or whatever, I just, I don't feel confident saying I can categorically rule it out, but I can't see how it's happened because that really is the only bit of work that I would identify that I hadn't paid for.''

In 1995, Gillard said it was possible she received a benefit but unlikely. On Thursday, she was asked: ''Can you say categorically, Prime Minister, that none of the funds in this entity were used to pay for renovations on your house?'' She answered categorically: ''I've dealt with this allegation a lot in the past and let's be very clear about it. I paid for the renovations on my home in St Phillip Street in Abbotsford. Like millions of other Australians, I had the unhappy experience that I had a few blues with contractors along the way.''

This week's reporting came to rest on two words: slush fund. That was a term Gillard used in her 1995 interview when describing the purpose of the incorporated association she established for the AWU leadership: ''… it's common practice, indeed every union has what it refers to as a re-election fund, slush fund, whatever …'' Clearly, the reference to a ''slush fund'' was, in the context, offhand.

But it can't be unsaid, although when questioned on Thursday, the Prime Minister had a crack. Asked about the association's purpose as a slush fund, she said: ''First and foremost, the terminology that you used in your question, which was terminology I used in the discussion with Peter Gordon and Geoff Shaw some 17 years ago, is terminology with a particular overtone to it which I don't think helps with understanding these events. I'm not going to use it again. I will be far more precise than that.''

Gillard said this week that when she discovered back in 1995 how the association's funds were being used, she ended her relationship with Wilson. She portrayed her involvement with the association as non-existent. ''My role in relation to this was I provided advice as a solicitor. I am not the signatory to the documents that incorporated this association. I was not an office-bearer of the association. I had no involvement in the working of the association. I provided advice in relation to its establishment and that was it,'' she told Thursday's press conference.

This appears to be true. But it is also true that her legal advice allowed the association to become a legal entity. And that she was offering legal advice to the AWU in 1991-95, while she was in a relationship with Wilson. And revelations about the association in 1995 set in train a series of events that changed Gillard's life. Soon after, following a long, and tough, interview with her senior colleagues at Slater & Gordon focusing on the AWU Workplace Reform Association, she left the firm and the law.

This was all a long time ago. But the connections between the Labor Party and unions are an important, live political issue. This is due to the role unions have played in deciding the Labor leadership and the massive, sickening shambles that is the Health Services Union. It is too soon to declare this matter over.

Shaun Carney is an associate editor.

SOPS 25th Aug 2012 07:57

Perhaps that press conference wasn't such a good idea after all?

allan907 25th Aug 2012 08:42

It wouldn't surprise me to find that Pickering's source of information is, in fact, Robert McLelland.

CoodaShooda 25th Aug 2012 09:24


Thanks for detailing the Fairfax articles I was alluding to this morning.

Keep an eye on Fairfax too. Some of its journalists are now saying she has more questions to answer.
25 minutes after polls close and its still too close to call. The electoral commission is having trouble counting up to 4000 (voters per electorate). :E

But First Nations is ahead in two remote seats.

hellsbrink 25th Aug 2012 09:38

The electoral commission is having trouble counting up to 4000 (voters per electorate).
Especially with 6000 votes recorded per electorate.... :E

CoodaShooda 25th Aug 2012 10:06

Naughty boy HB. :E

Mid way through the count and it looks like a general 4.5% swing against labor and 3% against the greens..

Particular swings against labor in the remote communities, their "traditional" stronghold.

The public servants in the northern suburbs of Darwin (widely noted for their general incompetence) have reacted as expected to labor's claim that the CLP will sack them and maintained the labor vote in their electorates.

But it looks as though, for the first time, it will be the bush and not the northern suburbs that decide the government.

SOPS 25th Aug 2012 10:31

ABC website is showing a predicted win for CLP, with a win of 16 seats.

Buster Hyman 25th Aug 2012 11:12

After all the rhetoric & gasbagging going on here about "opinion" polls...at the end of the day, only ONE poll matters!

RJM 25th Aug 2012 11:13

...and that despite Gillard refusing to visit the NT during the campaign.

"Territorians know who (sic) they're voting for," she told reporters.

Of course.

SOPS 25th Aug 2012 11:16

Did she refuse to visit, or was she asked to stay away?:E

allan907 25th Aug 2012 11:18

And in other news.....

Apparently the latest graduation class of Christmas Island are refusing to eat their food in case they are "sent to Nauru".

Cue government statement saying, "The very next boat....and we mean it this time"

Cue human rights lawyers saying. "Kerching"

RJM 25th Aug 2012 11:37

This government couldn't organise a f*ck in a brothel.

SOPS 25th Aug 2012 11:44

Were they not advised when they bought their "tickets", that there was a good chance they might get a side trip to Naru?

CoodaShooda 25th Aug 2012 12:29

Another labor government falls.

Outgoing Chief Minister doing an Oakeshott for his concession speech and trying to re-write history to present his failed government as a success story.

Waiting for the Chief Minister-in waiting to give his victory speech but Hendo is still rabbiting on.

Poor start for the newbie. Can't get his microphone to work.

Standard platitudes.........................karate chops for emphasis............praise for all............poor jokes

Oh dear.

Andu 25th Aug 2012 12:44

Can't wait to see the NT election result turned into a "positive-for-Labor" spin by Mr McTernan's team.

...and to see the vast majority of the MSM swallow it hook, line and sinker.

parabellum 25th Aug 2012 12:46


500N 25th Aug 2012 12:48

Interesting result in the NT.

Ever since the main party that was in for a long time up there lost,
it's like a yo yo state with elections, lack of long term decisions
from what I hear - like infrastructure out bush - Bridges !!! and when
they do build them, they are designed badly and built ON THE CHEAP
as per the Bridge that was washed away in the Cyclone aftermath.
No wonder everyone is pee'd off with the Pollies up there.

Gillard visit the NT ? Only if Barack is with her !

MattGray 25th Aug 2012 13:17

Another labor government falls.

Glad to see it!! :D

As I remarked when Can-Do got up in Qld the more that the various States get a lick of Liberal governance to remind them what life was really like under Howard the better.

And after only two short months of Newman's white shoe brigade that prediction has today become stark reality.

SUPPORT for federal Labor has jumped in Queensland, putting it in striking distance of retaining all its seats at the next election.

The latest Galaxy poll conducted exclusively for The Courier-Mail found Labor enjoyed a seven-point resurgence in its primary vote

And another one for the true blue doomsayers - also just as predicted :}

The poll also suggested voters were not as concerned as they once were about the Government's climate change laws. More than half of those polled said the carbon tax had little or no impact on their household budget.

As for some of the other latest "wisdom" from the Party Faithful studiously avoiding any mention whatsoever of this week's slo-mo Liberal train wreck while trotting out a hit parade of spivs, con-men and crooks as their true-blue heroes one can only repeat - if this site ever goes behind a paywall I'd gladly ante up just for the laughs. :}:ok:

MattGray 25th Aug 2012 14:58

Day 56 of the great big scary toxic Carbon Tax

Sky hasn't fallen!

Whyalla still standing!

No wrecking ball thru the economy!

$100 Lamb Roasts selling for $19.99!

Tony Abbott backflips on wild fear-mongering Carbon Tax claims!!!

MattGray 25th Aug 2012 15:43

Laurie Oakes? Did someone here call for Laurie Oakes?

Oh yes, here is is from Andu

At the very least, the likes of Laurie Oakes, Mark Riley - indeed, all the Canberra Press Gallery - should be insisting that she gives a full explanation of her actions during that period to Parliament. However, I'm not holding my breath waiting for Laurie, Mark or any of them to do so.

Funny Andu, but Oakes, like most of Australia is focused on the Liberal train wreck this week. The train wreck that those with their head in the sand wish would pass unnnoticed. Too bad - it's headlines in the Sunday papers.

Tony Abbott has made a string of false claims about the impact of the carbon tax


"LET'S not beat about the bush. To my mind, Tony Abbott tells lies.

So what? Is there anything surprising about that? After all, he's a politician.

But it needs to be pointed out because the central message from Abbott supporters is that the Prime Minister is the liar - Ju-liar, in fact, according to the likes of Alan Jones.

The Opposition Leader is portrayed - and portrays himself - as the epitomy of honesty. A man whose word can always be trusted.

Mr Abbott's lieutenants were even pleased when he was tossed out of Parliament on Monday because it got his offending comment - accusing Julia Gillard of lying - into the headlines.

Mr Abbott's own truthfulness came under the microscope, however, after a blundering performance in an interview on ABC TV's 7.30 program on Wednesday evening.

Earlier that day he had claimed BHP's decision to put the Olympic Dam mining project in South Australia on hold was partly due to the Federal Government's carbon and mining taxes.

That was porkie No. 1. BHP CEO Marius Kloppers had blamed such factors as the Eurozone financial crisis, the slowdown of growth in China and weakness in commodity markets.

He had not mentioned the mining tax or carbon price in his statement explaining the decision to the Stock Exchange.

In fact, Mr Kloppers told journalists: "The tax environment for this particular project has not changed at all since we started working on it six or seven years ago".

The mining tax, he explained, only covered coal and iron ore - not copper, gold and uranium, which Olympic Dam would produce.

When Mr Abbott stuck to his claim despite what Mr Kloppers had said, interviewer Leigh Sales asked: "Have you actually read BHP's statements?"

Mr Abbott replied: "No".

That extraordinary admission led to widespread criticism of the Opposition Leader, so next day he claimed he had read the BHP announcement after all - soon after it was made.

He attributed the damaging answer in the 7.30 interview to a misunderstanding of what Sales had asked him.

But Sales's meaning could hardly have been clearer. Just in case there was any doubt, she had gone on to say in her next question: "You haven't read their statements today but you're commenting about what they've announced."

To me the conclusion is inescapable: that, in trying to explain away a dreadful gaffe, Mr Abbott resorted to another falsehood.

Ms Gillard will never live down her broken "no carbon tax" election promise, and nor should she. And there are plenty of other examples of her being economical with the truth.

Is Mr Abbott, though, any better? He has made a string of false claims about the impact of the carbon tax, in particular - the bodgie Olympic Dam allegation being just the latest.

As I see it the Opposition Leader has largely got away with being shamelessly loose with the truth, if only because attention has been focused on his opponent, but perhaps now it is starting to catch up with him.

Ms Gillard had her problems this week, too - most notably in her handling of allegations about the circumstances surrounding her departure from the law firm Slater and Gordon 17 years ago before she went into politics.

But, in a marathon news conference on Thursday, she answered every question on the matter that members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery could throw at her.

It was a strong and competent performance, in stark contrast to Mr Abbott's embarrassing television appearance the night before.

A few more weeks like this would certainly worry the Coalition.

Mr Abbott's most serious error came at an education forum, after he'd accused Ms Gillard - despite her denials - of having a hit list of private schools that would lose funding under a proposed Government blueprint.

He pointed out that more state and federal funding goes to public school pupils than to those in the private education sector and said: "There is no question of injustice to public schools here. If anything, the injustice is the other way."

In case anyone missed it, the Opposition Leader repeated the line about private schools possibly suffering an injustice. He had left himself wide open.

But he squealed with outrage when Ms Gillard used the comment to accuse him of believing public schools got too much money and should have their funding trimmed.

Significantly the Education Minister in the NSW Liberal Government, Adrian Piccoli, immediately responded that "most of the proposed funding increases should be directed to public sector schools because most disadvantaged students are concentrated in this sector".

That was quite a whack at the federal Liberal leader from his own side.

Mr Abbott's bad week continued with his response to the PM's press conference on the Slater and Gordon issue and her role in setting up a slush fund for her then boyfriend, an AWU official.

Mr Abbott had claimed for days that this was an important matter and Ms Gillard had questions to answer.

Then he had to admit yesterday morning he had not bothered to watch the news conference right through nor even to read the transcript.

Being less than obsessive in his approach to the truth is not Mr Abbott's only shortcoming.

His strength is the sweeping statement and going for the political jugular - not getting into the detail of issues and doing the hard yards."

Laurie Oakes is political editor for the Nine Network. His column appears every Saturday in The Advertiser.

Buster Hyman 25th Aug 2012 15:51

Awww...the polls were wrong were they?


Poor diddums...

500N 25th Aug 2012 17:37

Laurie Oakes


Someone who work Canberra once told me that he was worse than the Politicians
yet calls them out for things all the time.

PukinDog 25th Aug 2012 19:38

So is that election a sign that Oz is getting tired of Gillard and that Roxon woman telling y'all how to live your lives or be taxed? Or is it a fluke.

500N 25th Aug 2012 20:29

IMHO and I don't live there but visit regularly, the NT is a strange one because it is a territory and although it had it's own Parliament, it has weird links to the Federal Gov't which other states do not have and the associated problems with that.

In addition, you have the Intervention, pushed by the Federal Gov't
which always seems to have blow back onto the NT Gov't of the day IMHO.

Cooda could probably expand more.

EffohX 25th Aug 2012 21:51

You couldn't make this up.

PASSENGERS on an asylum seeker boat just 23 nautical miles off Indonesia telephoned in an SOS to Australia to organise a Navy transfer to Christmas Island.
Amid opposition claims asylum seekers are using the Navy as a “water taxi” service, officials confirmed yesterday that HMAS Melville was en route to Christmas Island with 80 suspected asylum seekers after they phoned Australian officials fearing they were lost off Indonesia and needed assistance....
Australian Maritime Safety Authority has told The Sunday Telegraph the vessel was first pinpointed just 23 nautical miles or around 40 kilometres off Indonesia on Thursday morning.
Indonesia told Australian officials it had a search and rescue vessel available but it could not be despatched due to bad weather. They asked Australia to send in air surveillance.
At 10pm on Thursday, a DASH-8 aircraft located the asylum seeker boat and HMAS Melville was despatched to assist.
Asylum seekers stage Christmas Island hunger strike

Asylum seekers, potentially numbering in the hundreds, have gone on a hunger strike on Christmas Island to protest against being sent to Nauru for their claims to be assessed.
Afghan asylum seeker Imayat Ali told Fairfax by phone late on Friday that 238 people, including about 40 women and children - from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Sri Lanka - had been told they would be sent to Nauru, "and if we refuse ... we would be deported to our home countries. So we've been doing hunger strike," Mr Ali, 55, said.
He said he had arrived via boat from Indonesia on August 14 and had been on hunger strike since the 16th. It was unclear how many of the asylum seekers are refusing food.
My first reaction to this "news" is... "...so?"

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