Saturday, 14 June 2014

The hunt for Red Julia – this morning’s views on the guilt or innocence of Julia Gillard

You pays your money (and you takes your choice).

Sydney Daily Telegraph:

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Matthew Benns and Pia Akerman:
FORMER Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s legal advice to her former boyfriend in the creation of a union slush fund is part of a highly sensitive police investigation, according to documents released by a court yesterday.
2014-06-14_implicatedMatthew Benns:
THE ONGOING INQUIRY INTO UNIONS HAS THROWN THE SPOTLIGHT ON A SLUSH FUND, JULIA GILLARD AND BILL SHORTEN AMONG OTHERS

The Australian

Hedley Thomas:
THERE are two theatres now busily engaged in starkly different productions about the Australian Workers Union slush fund scandal. They are on course for a spectacular clash.
The big theatre is the national royal commission into union corruption. It has hard evidence, forensic examinations, legal rules, witnesses and documents in its lead-up to eventual findings on a fraud that has followed Julia Gillard for 22 years. The noisier, smaller theatre revolves around former union boss Bruce Wilson.
It is rich with vaudeville and make-believe, heavily reliant on helpful reviews from friendly sections of the media, junk on Twitter, Mark Latham and other politically partisan silliness. It is setting up a conspiracy theory devoid of substance and evidence.
The little theatre’s purpose is to diminish the public perception of damning evidence about the allegedly corrupt Wilson.
The even more important outcome from this purpose of the little theatre is the hosing-down of troubling allegations at the royal commission from credible witnesses — such as retired builder Athol James and former AWU archivist Wayne Hem — about wads of cash handed over by Wilson for his then girlfriend, Gillard.
The slush fund she had helped establish by giving legal advice for Wilson generated a lot of cash that went in many directions. It was his only source of extra dough.
The sideshow relies on one slice of Wilson’s witness statement — his evidence-free claims that a retired lawyer, Harry Nowicki, had offered him large sums of money to confess all about the AWU slush fund, and even to make up evidence detrimental to Gillard. The problem with Wilson’s claims, even if true (Nowicki, a former Builders Labourers Federation lawyer who has been researching the AWU slush fund for two years, says they are the “lies of a con man’’ facing criminal charges), is they have zero connection to the actual slush fund fraud.
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(Click to enlarge)
An editorial:
A crucial development this week was the admission by Julia Gillard’s former boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, that he extracted large sums from Thiess construction for the secret slush fund he set up with legal assistance from Ms Gillard in 1992. On Tuesday, the counsel assisting the commission, Jeremy Stoljar SC, said Mr Wilson, a former AWU official, should face charges over sham invoices for hundreds of thousands of dollars paid into the fund. Mr Stoljar said Mr Wilson and his then AWU sidekick Ralph Blewitt committed offences that could carry up to 10 years in jail.
Ms Gillard has asserted she did nothing wrong. But whether Mr Wilson used money from the fund to pay for renovations to her home in Abbotsford and what, if anything, she knew about it are also central to the investigation.
Brad Norington:
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The most damaging allegation for the former Labor PM at the royal commission this week was evidence from a Melbourne builder, Athol James, that Gillard told him in 1993 while he was doing renovations on her house in Melbourne’s Abbotsford that Wilson was paying for the work. What’s more, James said that on two occasions he saw Wilson hand Gillard “a large amount of cash” to cover the cheques she subsequently wrote as payment for his work. James, hired by Gillard after she spotted his business in a local newspaper ad, could not know whether the alleged Wilson payments came from the “slush fund”. …
At this point, Gillard is relying on firm denials. Her position has been firmly backed by Wilson in the witness box. He went so far as to declare that James, Hem, Ivory, Blewitt and others were all liars. That’s a lot of alleged liars.
What the royal commission does in terms of following the money trail through Gillard’s old bank accounts, if that is possible, could provide some answers to lingering questions about the former PM and her old boyfriend.
In the meantime, Gillard is depending on her credibility as a former PM who, as she has stated, has “done nothing wrong”, compared with the reputation of Blewitt, a man she said in 2012 had admitted his guilt and wanted immunity.
She said Blewitt had been described by others as a complete imbecile, an idiot, a stooge, a sexist pig and a liar. Even Blewitt’s sister regarded him as “a crook and rotten to the core”.

The Age

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The Saturday Paper

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