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John Passant

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August 2011
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Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

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The Australian and the Prime Minister

The News Ltd paper The Australian has been on a vendetta against Labor and Julia Gillard for some time now. There is nothing surprising in this.

Rupert Murdoch uses his newspapers to try and influence the outcome of government decisions and election results and, he hopes, to suit his business interests. He has done so since time immemorial.

He also is an astute capitalist who knows his major market-  the US – is built on the bones of conquered and subjugated peoples around the globe.

Hence Murdoch is an avid supporter of American imperialism even when it may not appear his direct material interests are involved. So it was that 174 of his 175 media outlets supported the invasion of Iraq.

But sometimes the hubris of unelected power overreaches the mark.

In an article on Monday in The Australian called ‘PM a lost cause for warring unions’ Glenn Milne wrote that unions had abandoned the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and any idea that the Labor Party might win the next election. Instead he claimed they were warring among themselves.  

This on its own seems highly doubtful. But it gets worse. Milne goes on to say that the Prime Minister was ‘implicated, albeit unknowingly, in a major union fraud of her own before she entered Parliament.’ Evidently material from the Australian Workers Union was going to prove the point.

Milne also cites Andrew Bolt in support. Bolt wrote on Saturday that something big would go down on Monday and implicate Gillard in another union funds scandal.

He was quick to add that Gillard herself was not accused of any misbehaviour.

So why raise it? Because it makes her look incompetent? Or to associate her with misbehaviour? 

This is material that is 16 years old. This looks like it is part of Abbott’s smear campaign. But then again, there is nothing surprising in this since The Australian has become a Liberal Party organ.

The story Milne developed is about a former boyfriend of Gillard’s,  Bruce Wilson. Milne alleges that as a solicitor Gillard set up an association which was later used by Wilson as a union leader to defraud members. Milne then says that Gillard denied having any knowledge of the use the association would be put to.

Milne seems to be inviting us to draw our own conclusions.

Milne asserted that Gillard lived in a house that Wilson had purchased with defrauded funds. Again he tells us there is or was no suggestion she knew this. So why raise it?  Could it be because it hints at something; it implies something; it taints the PM by association?

Could it be, heaven forbid, that The Australian is doing Tony Abbott’s dirty work?Again.

Where’s the big story Milne, relying on Bolt, predicted would break on Monday? No sign yet.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Tuesday that a former Australian Workers Union official, Bob Kernohan, was to be interviewed by 2 UE (a Fairfax group radio) but that didn’t go ahead. (Mark Skulley ‘PM objects to union funds story’ The AFR 30 August 2011 page 12).   The station ‘was conducting a legal review of the material and seeking further information.’

The Milne story or parts of it are untrue.

I checked The Australian’s website for updates. Here is what it says about Glenn Milne’s article.

THE AUSTRALIAN published today an opinion piece by Glenn Milne which includes assertions about the conduct of the Prime Minister.

The Australian acknowledges these assertions are untrue. The Australian also acknowledges no attempt was made by anyone employed by, or associated with, The Australian to contact the Prime Minister in relation to this matter.

The Australian unreservedly apologises to the Prime Minister and to its readers for the publication of these claims.

This slipped through because it is part of The Australian’s agenda – to destroy the Labor Government. Truth is irrelevant when you are on a mission from the Sun King.

Interestingly Andrew Bolt, who writes for another News Ltd paper called the Herald Sun, still had details of Milne’s untrue assertions on his newspaper blog site.

The news organisation that bought you phone hacking in the UK brings you untruths in Australia.

The Australian – by its untrue stories shall you know it. The Murdoch press – where untruths abound.



Comment from Ross
Time August 29, 2011 at 7:24 pm

It’s she who should be apologizing for her incompetence and that of her government, . This is the worst PM heading the worst government since federation!!

Comment from John
Time August 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Worse than Scullin, McMahon, etc etc? With an economy the envy of most of the developed world. I think much of this worst Government tag is manufactured by the Murdoch press. It resonates with some sections of the petit bourgeois whose businesses are stagnating or declining because of our savings binge. And it resonates with workers because they sense that neoliberalism has delivered most of the benefits to the rich and powerful. We are working harder and harder and the super rich get the benefits.

Let me make a prediction. An Abbott government will be a disaster and Malcolm Turnbull will be PM within 2 years of the Coalition winning power.

Comment from Terrance
Time August 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Comne off it Ross, Gillard is hardly leading the worst government. Have you forgotten Howard, or are you pro WorkChoices, the turning back of the Tampa, the bailout of Howard’s brother, children overboard, one billion ripped out of health, the ABC’s funding cut and Janet Allbitchson appointed to the board, yelling at Aboriginal Australia and so on?

Comment from paul walter
Time August 29, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Ross beleives the Gillard government is bad, based on what scum like Bolt and Milne write??
Do you not see for a start, that democratic government as people once knew it, has suffered a definitive rupture under conditions of ideological neoliberalism which is an alibi for plundering offered by the ruling classes; a fait accompli for its instigation and the offences that go with it.
Government is only a shopfront and parliament an arm of a civil service dominated by self referential academic economic rationalism and something bullied into subservience by media slander campaigns.
Yes, of course Gillard looks pathetic, as do most centrist governments, just as your attempts to swim with your hands tide would look pitiful. Further, the only reason why a poli like Abbott would look decisive in comparison, is because the only course now permitted government is that offered as manager of decline, administering the looting and putting down resistance with cries of reform (regression) and law and order when “finessin” fails and resistance occurs, requiring of “action”couched in shrill terms as a moral imperative by media on behalf of profiteers antagonised at delays caused by contrary worker resistance. An example of this was obliquely offered up today by SNH columnist Riss Gittins, as to Qantas and offshoring..
In short, Ross, do you really beleive that if broadsheet journals like the Guardian or even the Melbourne Age of ten years ago, rather than the Murdochites (eg, Blot, Milne)were reporting politics here that there wouldn’t be a radical difference in the conclusons you now draw, based on tabloidism as virtually the sole source for information for a person in the street?

Comment from alfred venison
Time August 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm

dear Ross
“worst PM heading the worst government since federation”.

good grief, man, get a grip on yourself! much as i, too, miss the heady reformist agenda of prime minister comrade rudd & deplore gillard’s role in his downfall, what about bloody billy hughes, for crissake!?

get some perspective.
yours sincerely
alfred venison

Comment from Ray Bee
Time August 30, 2011 at 11:04 pm

What about the ABC and the SMH? They have been on a vendetta against the climate realists. There is no compelling scientific evidence that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are the driver of dangerous global warming. Despite the protestations of the climate realists, the ABC and SMH persist in pushing the assertions of politicised scientists, politicised science organisations and politicised science bureaucrats.

Comment from John
Time August 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm

They don’t give much space to creationists either. Funny that.