Julia Gillard on the benefits of scrutiny
The Royal Commission is minutes away from hearing more about The AWU Scandal

A few media culprits who tried to help Julia Gillard conceal the AWU Fraud - in particular Ray Hadley

Ray Hadley had this view about Gillard early last year while she was still Prime Minister.   Ray's determination to help her came just weeks before Victoria's Magistrates' Court issued police a Warrant to break into her former office and search it for evidence against her.

From: "Ray Hadley" <rhadley@2gb.com>
Date: 23 January 2013 3:47:02 AM ACST
To: "
Subject: RE: RayHadley.com Feedback

 

Axx,

It's an old story and very boring...it's going no-where....There are
accusations, the PM denies them and basically there's no proof of an
illegal act.

She was immoral and acted poorly as a lawyer but didn't break the law.

Thanks

Ray 

While Hadley was the worst of the poor reporters he was by no means the only one.   Here's some of a report I made a couple of days before Victoria Police raided Gillard's former office at Slater and Gordon and took away boxes of files and documents about her role in the furtherance of fraud.

ENDS - My original report from 3 May 2013 follows:

First up a statement of unequivocal fact.  The Prime Minister is a suspect in the current Victoria Police investigation into The AWU Scandal. The Major Fraud and Extortion Squad only investigates the most serious of frauds and it is investigating her.  It is Ms Gillard's personal conduct that has brought her to the attention of police.

It is a grave proposition that we must ponder - that our Prime Minister has for 20 years concealed her involvement in a major, protracted fraud where one aggrieved party is the Australian Workers' Union.   Amongst other current day concerns is the role of the AWU in appointing Ms Gillard as Prime Minister while The AWU Scandal has remained unresolved and the diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars to improper purposes has not been righted.

Ms Gillard is paid handsomely to be an exemplar, a role model, our leader.   It is not a role forced on her, she sought the job out and enjoys its privileges.  It carries responsibilities too and impeccable character and conduct are prominent among them.    It's perhaps this issue on which Ms Gillard has been allowed far too much leeway by our incurious media.   While Ms Gillard acknowledges that police who represent the community are investigating the frauds, she has made no effort to help the police in that investigation, while at the same time telling us she is an entirely innocent witness who did no wrong.  And yet I can't recall a single word about that in the mainstream media coverage.

It is the role of the media to be skeptical, to ask questions, to be suspicious of hollow, incomplete or misleading responses from people in power.  It's incumbent on the media to check, to follow up, to highlight inconsistencies.  But this matter highlights laziness, the disproportionate value placed on access and the flagrant pursuit of self-interest over the truth by some publishers and journalists.

It also shows how vulnerable and reactive our pusillanimous media is to threats from someone prepared to abuse a position of power and trust.  Someone whose conduct brings them to the attention of police.  Someone just like Julia Gillard.

Here are a few examples of reports on The AWU Scandal.   I'm sure you can help by scouting out for others.  I'd really like to compile as complete a set as possible so that in the wash-up we might learn what went wrong.

 

It is amazing to think that a reputed journalist with academic credentials of the highest order, a Professorship at a university and a job title that includes the word Editor at a national daily newspaper would plead to be spared from the burden of receiving leads and information on a matter of grave import. Please don't send me reports, I don't want to hear them.  Prime Minister, I believe you.

Peter fitzsimons boring and hard

Ben eltham the awu scandal

The AWU scandal is exerting an increasingly feverish grip on many parts of the nation's media, but so far no smoking gun has been uncovered. No evidence that Julia Gillard did anything illegal has been found. No evidence suggests Gillard gained from, or even knew about the activities of the AWU reform association. Nor can I see that the Prime Minister has any "questions to answer."

 ....the AWU scandal is a storm in a teacup. But even if Gillard was somehow implicated, so what? As we know, no-one has ever been charged in relation to this affair. Nor, despite claims of missing files, does there appear to have been a cover up. Although the Prime Minister's involvement will continue to drive media interest, the scandal has no constitutional or legal relevance for her fitness for office.

Matthew knott crikey awu scandal

But, in the tens of thousands of words devoted to the story, no evidence that Gillard knew the fund was going to be used for Wilson and Blewitt’s personal gain has emerged. Or that Gillard was aware of the scam until before it became public. Or that she personally benefited from it. Or that she has lied about her actions.

With great respect to the man, Matthew is wrong on all of those counts and it's useful to address them briefly in order.  Election to a paid position is a personal benefit and an improper use of AWU resources yet that's the most savoury of Gillard's explanations about the true purpose of her slush fund.   Gillard acknowledged the AWU Workplace Reform Assn malfeasance and was given her marching orders in September, 1995 - the AWU didn't find out about the AWU Workplace Reform Association until April 1996 and neither Gillard nor her partners at Slater and Gordon reported the matter to authorities. Gillard herself said that she couldn't rule out the union or the Association paying for her renovations and police have other prima facie evidence in this regard.   And to list Gillard's lies, "I did nothing wrong" prominent among them would take pages.

Some of the vacuous sloganeering on Twitter could be immediately dismissed - if Twitter wasn't the medium de jour and if people like Charlie Pickering weren't so influential.  Pickering's messages go out to each of his 85,000 followers and his position as one of the anchors of Channel Ten's The Project lends a gravitas to his opinions.   Here he succumbs to the temptation of relativism - the AWU story is diminished by the appearance of the Ashby/Brough findings in the Rares judgement in the Peter Slipper matter (which is before the courts on appeal and is being reported, including on this site).  As is the wont on Twitter, repeating the names of prominent fellow travellers like Waleed Aly (acts of terror are just an irritant) makes everyone feel more comfortable.  It's not the evidence, it's the zeitgeist - how will I come across.

Charlie pickering tweet

When the ABC found that Jon Faine had not met ABC standards in his interview with me about the AWU Scandal, Bernard Keane Crikey's accredited Canberra Press Gallery correspondent tweeted this:

Bernard keane tweet
I persisted daily for over a week trying to have Bernard return my phone calls, emails, tweets and texts.   There was no response.  He couldn't or wouldn't explain what constituted the disgusting smear, but he was happy to use the phrase and to let the damaging and defamatory connotations linger.

Even 2GB's Ray Hadley has been a surprising and very vocal campaigner against enquiry into The AWU Scandal.   Earlier this year Ray received an unusually high volume of email from his listeners asking him to pursue the AWU story, particularly after Alan Jones and Ben Fordham's scholarship on the matter.  A number of our readers forwarded emails like this one from Ray which mirrored his radio broadcasts

 

From: "Ray Hadley" <rhadley@2gb.com>
Date: 23 January 2013 3:47:02 AM ACST
To: "
Subject: RE: RayHadley.com Feedback
Axx,It's an old story and very boring...it's going no-where....There areaccusations, the PM denies them and basically there's no proof of anillegal act.She was immoral and acted poorly as a lawyer but didn't break the law.ThanksRay  
Ray and I corresponded and I reported on what our readers were concerned about in these links
Ray then went on to use his column in The Daily Telegraph to implore people affected by the scandal, people like bashing victim Bob Kernohan to forget it and concentrate on something else. You wouldn't say that to a victim of sexual abuse and you shouldn't say it to whistleblowers motivated by a sense of justice.   Bob Kernohan and all of those honest people who've tried to disclose the serious criminality in this scandal have suffered very real and often long-lasting damage. 

 

This could be a good year, if we get it right

WELCOME to 2013. Here's this week's top 10:

1. The 2013 federal election will be one of the most important since Federation. A small but vocal group of people believe an investigation will find grounds to charge a number of people involved in the AWU rorts almost 20 years ago.

They think the PM has a case to answer. I'm appealing to those people to direct their energy towards more recent events. 

It's this next piece that I still find terribly disturbing.   It's written by Janine Little who is a university lecturer who teaches journalism.  Despite her disclosure statement advising that she has no conflicts of interest to report, Ms Little is the Tertiary Education Union's rep at Deakin Uni.   

There are none so blind as those who will not see.  A mind closed to the possibility that other points of view might be valid has no place in developing young journalists.   Detectives are taught at the Victoria Police Detective Training School to "always keep an open mind.   A mind closed to alternatives and unduly focussed on a single solution as the only solution will miss important details.   Until the jury has returned and the prisoner is taken down, always keep an open mind."

Janine little the conversation

Every time Prime Minister Julia Gillard repeats statements that she’s “done nothing wrong” in the AWU slush fund scandal story, it seems another journalist joins the fray.

No one covering the story has turned up a material fact to prove that Julia Gillard used AWU money to renovate her house, or that she knew about the misappropriation of union funds from within the AWU, or that she did anything other than what she again told Monday’s press conference. But the story’s viral now. And everyone wants a hit.

There’s an ethical problem, not because journalists are choosing not to call this story for what it is, but also because of the fundamental issue of fairness that it illustrates.

The ethical dimension of the media’s pursuit of the prime minister is more relevant to Australians wondering what’s going on with the media than with her. Whatever the public might learn out of The Australian’s chorus of campaigning journalists ready to hit us again with another version of nothing isn’t as important as the demonstrable unfairness.

Whatever we might learn - nothing is as important as what Ms Little perceives as unfairness to Ms Gillard?   We are learning that Ms Gillard abused her position of trust as a lawyer, that her conduct was so serious and of such a prima facie unlawful nature as to warrant an exhaustive and expensive investigation by the major fraud squad, but learning of those things is not important. What is important, according to journalism lecturer Ms Little, is that it's all unfair to Ms Gillard.

Ms Little then ponders Ralph Blewitt's then available evidence in several recorded interviews with me, several newspaper articles, and in particular his statements about the Power of Attorney - but all of that is of no relevance, it's all discredited by his "likes" on social media.

On ABC’s 7.30, Leigh Sales asked those questions of former AWU official Ralph Blewitt, pointing out at the time that his social media “Likes” of pages devoted to anti-Gillard smear campaigns of the “putrid” kind suggested that his sudden willingness to talk to Victoria Police arose from something other than civic duty.

And this observation about Wilson's public statements is breathtaking.   Ms Little emphasises as of probative value Wilson's assertion that his co-offender Gillard did nothing wrong, that according to the principal offender Ms Gillard didn't know what was going on.   But then Wilson says he did nothing wrong either so there was nothing to know.   And he goes on to give an explanation of what really went on that bears no resemblance at all to what Gillard said in her record of interview about the purchase of the townhouse at Fitzroy (by Ralph the sophisticated investor) and much of the rest of the course-of-conduct offences.  Wilson's public statements contradicting Gillard's statements in her record of interview have been manna from heaven for prosecutors.

It’s no great shakes news-wise, after all, to expose a dodgy union deal. “Big deal”, many would say – and in fact now are, given the comparative lack of attention to the men who had the money, and even to the direct statement by Bruce Wilson that Julia Gillard knew nothing about what was going on.

"It's no big shakes to expose a dodgy union deal.   'Big deal'".   Janine Little, undisclosed union rep and journalism lecturer.

http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2013/01/janine-little-nurturing-the-next-generation-of-journalists.html

I wrote to Andrew Jaspan the chief of the taxpayer funded website The Conversation several times pointing out Ms Little's position as a union official, the fact her disclosure statement positively asserts she has no relevant affiliations, the observation that her story uses the word union 18 times and AWU 21 - Andrew Jaspan hasn't replied.   Big Deal apparently.

We have some very big problems with cheer squad journalism - with people prepared to uncritically accept and repeat dubious assertions like "I did nothing wrong" and to mock those who check and express doubt.  Earlier and more assertive investigations and reporting of the available evidence in The AWU Scandal should have told us more about Julia Gillard than we knew when she was elevated to her current role.

Knowing what they know now, it is hard to believe that her party or the Australian people would have tolerated her ascension.   We should have and could have known a lot more about her.  

That so many of the discoverable facts reported on this website remained concealed for so long reflects poorly on an incurious media.   But the incuriousity pales into insignificance compared to the active barracking by so many with positions of ostensible impartiality and opinion leadership. Their repetition of the refrain that Ms Gillard says she's done nothing wrong so that's the end of it has facilitated the protracted cover-up and denial to us of the truth.   For a long time enquiry into the matter was inherently unworthy, prejudicial to Ms Gillard and unfair, people lost their jobs, publishers received threatening phone calls - so it was dropped.

I hope that you care about this issue and that you'd like to understand the media's role in it.   Please let me know how you feel and if there are any reports you'd like us all to know of.

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