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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

What Slater and Gordon says is a matter for Slater and Gordon (and Julia Gillard's former flatmate Julie Ligeti)

Exhibit One - Sky News Australian Agenda, Sunday, 19 August, 2012

Julia Gillard (coached Peter van Onselen) is interviewed by Paul Kelly.  Kelly puts The AWU Scandal to Gillard, in particular the assertion reported in The Australian that her employers considered sacking her over her conduct - the exchange starts at 12.50 into the interview.

Kelly, "is it correct that in 1995 you had to resign as a partner from Slater and Gordon as a result of their investigation into misappropriation of funds around the legal entity that you had established?"

Gillard, "I am not going to dignify all of this scurrilous campaigning etc etc etc:"

The core question - did you resign as a partner in the law firm Slater and Gordon as a result of the AWU Scandal?

Exhibit Two - Slater and Gordon media statement, 20 August, 2012

Out of the blue, the publicly listed company Slater and Gordon releases this media statement the following morning.  The statement is dated in the Slater and Gordon website as 20 August, 2012, however the contents of the statement were available to media on Sunday, 19 August, 2012 in time for Monday morning editions of newspapers - as the Financial Review put it, "Slater and Gordon promptly issued a statement...." after the Paul Kelly Australian Agenda interview.

The Slater and Gordon statement said this:

Upon the Slater & Gordon partnership learning of what has been described as the AWU/Bruce Wilson allegations in August 1995, it conducted an internal legal review as it would do, and has done, whenever any such allegations might be made.

Ms Gillard co-operated fully with the internal review and denied any wrong doing.

The review found nothing which contradicted the information provided by Ms Gillard at the time in relation to the AWU/Bruce Wilson allegations and which she has stated consistently since the allegations were first raised.

In September 1995 Ms Gillard took a leave of absence from Slater & Gordon in order to campaign for the Senate.

Exhibit three - former partner Nick Styant Browne says Slater & Gordon statement "stunningly incomplete"

Former Slater and Gordon partner Nick Styant-Browne appeared on the ABC's 7.30 program on 22 November, 2012.

In August of this year it became clear to me that after all these years this story was finally going to come out and Slater & Gordon made a public statement that Ms Gillard had been cleared of any wrongdoing, had taken a very long sabbatical, had resigned from the firm and a meeting room had been named after her. And that was on any view a stunningly incomplete account of the circumstances of her departure. And it was following that that I resolved it was in the public interest to release both non-privileged parts of the transcript of the interview of September 1995 together with Pete Gordon's statement concerning the circumstances of her departure.

(there are further questions and Styant Browne describes the "spectrum" of views about Gillard's acts and omissions.  He says Peter Gordon was prepared to give her the benefit of any doubt...)

I was towards the other end of the spectrum in that I was not readily prepared to give Ms Gillard the benefit of the doubt and I made that clear. There was never any real resolution of that debate in the partnership because as events transpired, Ms Gillard agreed to resign, and so it was never necessary for the partnership to resolve itself what actions should be taken.

Exhibit Four - what Slater and Gordon says is a matter for Slater and Gordon - and possibly Julia Gillard's flatmate Julie Ligeti

Slater and Gordon has duties to many stakeholders to be honest and complete in its disclosures.  In particular, the directors of Slater and Gordon have a duty to ensure the company makes continuous disclosure to the Australian Stock Exchange of matters that are material to its operations.   The public media statement issued on Monday, 20 August was a statement of the company.   In order for the company to satisfy its obligations that statement has to be a true and correct statement.   Because it was issued by Slater and Gordon using Slater and Gordon shareholder assets the statement should be a statement that is necessary to meet an obligation of - or to advance the interests of - Slater and Gordon.

The person who is responsible for Slater and Gordon's relations with Governments is Julie Ligeti.

Here is her page on LinkedIn

Julie ligetti
Ligeti's responsibilities include the firm's relationship and interactions with the Federal Government.

Her personal relationship with Gillard goes back to university days.

The following quotes are from The Age in a story dated May 18, 2007 and titled  "Our Julia". 

When she was elected education vice-president of the Australian Union of Students (AUS) in 1982 she deferred her studies and moved to Melbourne, into a share house in Brunswick. Old friend Julie Ligeti was struck even then by how serious Gillard was about politics. "We were all trying to work out how we were going to buy our first car or which share house we were going to live in. Julia had this other level happening.

She was beginning her career in politics." Personal ambition and agitation for change appeared to dovetail. "She had a clear view at a very young age that she wanted to make a mark in Labor politics. But it wasn't just about identifying her own opportunities, she was also trying to push society along," says Ligeti.

Ligetti and another female Gillard housemate Robyn McLeod appear in this grab elsewhere in the story, talking about Tim Mathieson.

Friends say that Gillard is content. "He seems to have given her a bit of a stronger grounding," says Julie Ligeti, a mate from student politics days who is now chief of staff to Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls (2007). Robyn McLeod, who has been close to Gillard for 15 years, says, "They're a very grounded, sensible couple, dealing with an extraordinary time in her career." She compares the situation to a couple of years ago: "Julia wasn't in a relationship and my marriage was ending and we'd sit around talking about blokes.

She said, 'Men, they're just net energy takers.' And we'd talk about whether we had time for them or not." She's glad Gillard has made time for Tim Mathieson. "I love seeing her so happy."

At the time that Gillard was planning to knife Kevin Rudd in 2010, she'd go home to Julie Ligetti at night in the flat they shared in Canberra.   This article by Michelle Grattan describes Gillard's pre-Lodge domestic circumstances with a notably absent Tim Mathieson, it's dated July 2010, just weeks before she rolled Rudd.

While Gillard's work life is a hotbed of change, at least at a personal level she's keeping some continuity until the election, staying in her Canberra flat which she shares with her friend Julie Ligeti, chief of staff to a minister, Brendan O'Connor. 

Questions for the PM and Slater & Gordon

What discussions took place between the ASX listed company Slater and Gordon, its Government relations advisor Julie Ligeti and her former flatmate and now Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday, 19 August 2012?

Did Slater and Gordon have a notifiable conflict of interest which it should have disclosed upon the issuance of its public statement of 20 August, 2012?

Did Julia Gillard have an obligation to declare her relationship with her "old friend" Julie Ligeti when Slater and Gordon issued its statement, particularly given Gillard's public position that "what Slater and Gordon says is a matter for Slater and Gordon."

And finally, is the Slater and Gordon statement that Julia Gillard "took a leave of absence in order to campaign for the Senate" in 1995 a true statement?




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Where it Started

Gillard & the AWU scandal

Interview with Bob Kernohan