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Julia Gillard baking the pudding

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It's Gillard who's slinging mud in this 'parliament  of filth'

Date December 24,  2012
Amanda Vanstone

Amanda  Vanstone

Former Howard government minister

On the issue of trashing rivals, the PM says one thing and does  another.

'The Howard government was endlessly portrayed as racist and uncaring.'

'The Howard government was endlessly portrayed as racist and uncaring.' Photo: Andrew Taylor

LAST week our national  leader decided to sum up the year by announcing that,  due to Tony Abbott's efforts, we were blessed with a parliament of filth. Julia  Gillard  decided, it seems, that to use her position  to make some positive and  uplifting remarks was a little too passe.

Daily the opposition must count its  lucky stars for having a PM who  steadfastly refuses to step into the shoes of gravitas that her office allows.  The rest of us, I suggest, are  bemused.

After all, it was Gillard  who helped set up a  union slush fund without the  knowledge of her legal firm partners. It was Gillard  who was unable to  categorically say whether all the work done on her house had been properly paid  for and it was Gillard  who had a relationship with one of the key players in  the sorry saga.

Oh, and it was Gillard  who, in effect, confirmed  there was a whole lot of  sleaze going on when she told us that as soon as she became aware she had been  deceived, she broke off the relationship. In other words, what she allegedly  discovered was ugly enough  for her to end a relationship.

Accordingly, this file was not run of the mill, it was unusual.

Anyway, she was the one in the relationship doing  work on  a fund about  which the union movement was concerned - but  apparently it is all Abbott's  fault everyone is talking about it.  Apparently, he is the sleaze.

An inference of guilt by association is not something the Prime Minister  endorses - in relation to herself. But the other side of her face says that  Abbott, because he knows Alan Jones,  was as guilty of besmirching her father's  memory as the radio presenter  had been.

Without wishing to be unkind, I think it fair to say the death of the PM's   father was no more deserving of parliamentary time than the death of any other  Australian. One hopes it was out of grief rather than a calculated call for  sympathy that the Prime Minister chose to raise the issue of his passing in  Parliament.  She had other options, yet  chose to do it right before question  time.

Abbott made no issue of this and in fact spoke  positively about the man who  fathered our first female PM. Indeed, in relation to her father's death, I  thought Abbott behaved in an exemplary fashion. Yet, when he   was talking on  another matter and understandably used the words he had used time and time again  over many months, which happened to be the ones Jones used in relation to the  PM's  father, quick as a whip she took the opportunity to portray the Liberal  leader  as referring to her father.

Our Prime Minister has a bit of history of saying one thing and doing  another.  She  would have us believe she is opposed to the trashing of  reputations for political advantage but her behaviour  towards Abbott  is  testament to the opposite.

Perhaps there is no clearer example of what Gillard is prepared to do for  political advantage than immigration policy. When I was  immigration minister  for some years and  responsible for that area for the Coalition in the Senate  for a few more, I experienced daily a  barrage of bile and invective  from the  then Labor opposition.

The Howard government was endlessly portrayed as mean and nasty, as racist  and uncaring. This was as relentless a campaign as I experienced in a long  period of government. Australians were told we were mean to refugees and lagged  behind the world in caring for their plight. We were told to feel bad about  ourselves. The world was told we were a bunch of  racists.

In fact, Australia was and remains  the second or third-largest taker of  refugees for permanent resettlement in the world. Yet our  nation's reputation  and our pride in ourselves were trashed for Labor's  advantage.

Now many of those policies have been adopted by Labor. Has there been any  apology, expression of regret or remorse?

Gillard  was as guilty as the rest of them. She is no doubt looking forward  to May next year, when we will all be able to lift a glass in celebration of her  foresight and clear-headedness. For it was Gillard  who, in May 2003, said: ''No  rational person - I would put it as highly as that - would suggest that in 10 or  20 years we would still be processing asylum seeker claims on Nauru.''

Age columnist Amanda Vanstone was a minister in the Howard  government.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/its-gillard-whos-slinging-mud-in-this-parliament-of-filth-20121223-2btpp.html#ixzz2FvRrxbht