all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

25 July, 2013

An Immoral Moraliser

On his own website, Mr. Julian Burnside QC—a famed “human rights activist”—sledges Mr. Scott Morrison, the Shadow Minister for Immigration:
Morrison knows that it is not an offence against any law to come to Australia and seek protection.
Morrison knows that calling boat people “illegals” conveys the implication that they are a danger to the community.
Morrison knows that it is easy to win popularity by protecting the public from danger.
Mr. Burnside knows (or ought to know) that it is in fact an offence—it is illegal—for a non-citizen to enter Australia without proper authorisation; and he knows (or ought to know) the pertinent legislation from the Migration Act 1958, § 228B.*
Mr. Burnside knows that calling non-citizens who are seeking unlawful entry into Australia “asylum-seekers” or “boat people” conveys the implication that they deserve our sympathy and support and that none of them, even one who might have been a member of a jihadist militia, constitutes a danger to the community.
Mr. Burnside knows that it is easy to win popularity by telling people who want to appear noble and morally superior, without actually doing anything righteous, that their inutile, complacent moralising, though based on emotive and incoherent, flawed reasoning, is commendable.

Mr. Burnside knows (or ought to know) that lying in order to make a moral case is immoral.

Mourning Preventable Drownings

When lamenting deaths
at sea, the pious Burnside
is happy to bask

in the warming glow
of public compassion; he wears
a hypocrite’s mask.

 Protecting the public

describes the irrational
fear of a stranger

but it’s by no means
irrational to warn of
a likely danger

from people who shriek
that they wish to destroy us.
Perhaps we could ask:

isn’t protecting
its people a government’s
most important task?

UPDATE II:  Julian Burnside, of course, is not the only public figure who likes to indulge in moral exhibitionism; see “Pope Francis Should Seek Clarity on Moral Responsibility”, by Theodore Dalrymple:
In [a recent] homily, the Pope decried what he called ‘the globalization of indifference’ to the suffering of which the tragedy of the drowned [in the Mediterranean] was a manifestation and a consequence.  Our culture of comfort, he said, has made us indifferent to the sufferings of others; we have forgotten how to cry on their behalf.  […]
With all due respect, I think this is very loose thinking indeed of a kind that the last Pope would not have permitted himself.  […]
By elevating feeling over thought, by making compassion the measure of all things, the Pope was able to evade the complexities of the situation, in effect indulging in one of the characteristic vices of our time, moral exhibitionism, which is the espousal of generous sentiment without the pain of having to think of the costs to other people of the implied (but unstated) morally-appropriate policy.
UPDATE III (30 July):  another conspicuously pious moraliser is Phillip Adams—who supposes that all Iranians, for example, are “brown” and that all non-citizens seeking illegal entry into Australia are seeking asylum; see his “Brutal bigotry sinking boats” wherein, as usual, the sanctimonious collumnist seems to believe that fallacious, barely coherent, alliterative assertions have more force than logical reasoning:
Not all refugees cross borders.  In the US, victims of the dust bowl and Hurricane Katrina – like the millions dispossessed by our interventions in Iraq and the slaughters in Syria – were detritus in their own countries.  Think of the Palestinians.
And the GFC has countless “economic refugees” (a new expression of contempt to add to “illegals” or “queue jumpers”) on the move, seeking somewhere, anywhere, to get a job.  Soon their numbers will be drowned by the tidal movements of climate change refugees, as rising waters submerge Bangladesh and the Pacific islands, and by the dispossession caused by drought.  […]
For decades we’d kept people of the wrong colour out of this country with a pre-emptive form of ethnic cleansing [!] known as White Australia.  In the late 1960s and early 70s we decided we were tolerant – proclaimed that as our national virtue – and scrapped the poisonous policy.  Only to bring it back in our incremental responses to “boatpeople”.  A term that can be applied to every non-indigenous Australian in this democracy of diasporas.  John Howard won his “dark victory” election after Tampa by throwing compassion overboard – helped by Peter Reith slandering asylum-seekers as terrorists and baby-drowners.  Now Tony Abbott wants to repeat electoral history – with shameful rants about a few desperate families being the greatest threat to Australian security since World War II – one requiring a military response with its own “three-star general” heading some gimcrack joint chiefs.  Turn back the boats?  What next?  Sink them?  Only to find Kevin Rudd outbidding him in the auction.  Two leaders who make much of their Christianity are advocating policies that would have Jesus, that brown-skinned Middle Eastern, behind the razor wire.
Since Kim Beazley tossed in the towel over Tampa, Labor’s history on refugees has been disgraceful.  People forget Mark Latham wanted to out-Ruddock Philip Ruddock, as did Julia Gillard.  And now Rudd.  Exaggerating the phoniest crisis in our political history – handing over the governing of this country to shock jocks.  Reds under the bed?  Now it’s a few browns in boats.  Every religious teaching, every ethical precept, every iota of common sense, tells us we’re behaving badly.  Yet where are the protests from church and synagogue?  Where are the leaders willing to risk unpopularity by proclaiming this simple truth?  That our approach to the boatpeople is brutal, bigoted and absolute bullshit
UPDATE IV (30 July):  see also “Phillip Adams on how to be a moral bullsh…er”, by Andrew Bolt:
Adams’ moralising is vain, dishonest, evasive and blind to consequences. He is all posture, no responsibility.  He is the perfect 21st Century bullshitter.
UPDATE V (30 July):  see too Miranda Devine’s “Tragedies at sea are the fault of Kevin Rudd and the bleeding hearts”:
If there’s one group of people in this country who should hang their heads in shame, it is the bleeding hearts who recklessly sabotaged our border security.
I include Kevin Rudd – he is the chief sucker, whose moral vanity caused him to dismantle hard-won Howard-era policies in order to curry favour with compassionistas, whose votes are meaningless but who throw nice dinner parties.
Human rights barrister Julian Burnside is a ringleader.  With his basset hound eyes and matinee idol hair, he was the doctors’ wives’ pinup boy railing against a “xenophobic” electorate.
He was mute as his push for open borders bore fruit under Labor: in unchecked boat arrivals and people drowned at sea.  […]
Burnside applied a barrister’s sophistry to the topic in an interview with Chris Kenny on Sky, Sunday night.  […]
The real problem, he claimed, is not that the government has lost control of our borders and lured people to their deaths.  No, it’s the fault of the Coalition which “made a point of demonising boat people, calling them illegals, which is a lie, calling them queue jumpers, which is a lie...”
“Of course people’s xenophobia will be scratched if they are told to fear these people… Scott Morrison is the prime offender here.”
Well, Burnside got his wish, and the result so far is 1200 people drowned, and more than 45,000 unauthorised boat arrivals since Labor came to office, with a recent exponential increase from 200 to 1200 a week.
UPDATE VI (30 July):  at Catallaxy Files, in response to a question, “What would Jesus do [to assist refugees and alleged asylum-seekers]?”, I posted this comment:
What would Jesus do?  He told a story about Samaritan who saw a naked, half-dead cove on the side of the road and, feeling sorry for the poor bloke, gave him first aid, took him to the nearest motel, and looked after him for the night.  Next day, before the Samaritan continued his journey, he paid his bill, and handed over a few extra notes to the receptionist, saying, “Take care of this geezer, on me; I promise that I’ll pop back later to make sure everything’s ace.  I’ll see you right if you have to spend extra.”
Note that the neighbourly Samaritan did not dump the wounded bloke on a stranger, or on the State, and he didn’t force anyone else to be charitable.  So, I suspect that Jesus would advocate that people be charitable; but he would not—as do those sanctimonious hypocrites Julian Burnside and Phillip Adams, who vociferously pretend to be piously humanitarian while expecting others to do the hard yards—merely insist that others be charitable.
UPDATE VII (31 July):  see “Leftist jargon is village idiocy” by Janet Albrechtsen:
This is what the Left does best.  Find some sweet-sounding words, repackage them as a beguiling catch-cry for a campaign, and you’re on your way.  Soon enough careers and industries are built around a few words – words like “social inclusion” – even though no one knows what the words mean.  But when your currency is emotion, logic takes a back seat. That’s why words matter more for those on the Left.  By contrast, those on the other side of politics focus more on tedious matters such as outcomes and empirical evidence.  […]
As for the Left’s lingua franca about asylum-seekers, the trick is to claim sole moral ownership of the word “compassion.”  If you reject their policies of open borders, onshore processing and no detention centres, then, ergo, you lack compassion.  You are not entitled to use that word.  Worse, you are nasty, fearful, intolerant and, of course, xenophobic.  The Greens and many within the Labor Party are members of this compassion con.  And so are many within our national broadcaster.  Just a few recent examples: earlier this month, after yet more asylum-seekers – including a baby – died at sea, ABC News Radio ran an online survey asking listeners whether they supported (a) a tougher line (b) a more compassionate approach; or (c) the existing policy.  More akin to push polling, note the sly use of “compassion” as if only an easing of border policy can deliver compassionate outcomes.  The results surely disappointed the ABC compassionistas: 70 per cent of respondents wanted tougher measures.
The compassion con has been one of the greatest frauds perpetuated on this nation.  When Barrie Cassidy – host of ABC1’s Insiders – recently interviewed Immigration Minister Tony Burke about the so-called “PNG Solution,” he said “Where is the compassion in the new policy?”
It’s all very well for Burke and his Labor comrades to now tell us there is nothing compassionate about a policy that encourages deaths at sea.  It was not always thus.  Dripping with sincerity in 2007, Burke wrote to the “Buddies Refugee Support Group”: “The Howard government’s use of Nauru as an immigration detention centre is not only a waste of money, it is inhumane.”
In November 2007, Kevin Rudd said of the Manus Island and Nauru detention facilities: “On the humanity of the situation, we will exit those arrangements as quickly as possible.”  In 2001, then AWU secretary, Bill Shorten said the Howard government’s Pacific Solution was “dirty and nasty.”
What’s not compassionate is the straight line that runs from the more than 1100 deaths of asylum-seekers at sea and Rudd’s decision to join the ranks of the posturing moralists when he dismantled the Pacific Solution.
Acting against advice, a trickle of boats soon became a flow.  Six years and eight policy switches later, people-smugglers still dictate our immigration policy and people are dying at sea.
Once again, so-called progressives have been forced to face the facts, but for too long they relied on the “compassion” word to win arguments.  If the Left’s use of sweet sounding words was harmless, we might forgive them as irrelevant Utopian dreamers.  Sadly, the Left’s emotional catch-phrases have led to disastrous consequences – and that’s why exposing their hypocrisy is critical.

16 July, 2013

A Penultimate Post on the Previous Premier

Good Riddance to a Bad PM

She ruled three years, at such great cost,
but sycophants regret she lost
to Rudd (who took his destined place
by putting on his umble face).
Apologetic lackeys yell,
“She’s liked by those who know
her well,”* 
forgetting her hypocrisy,
inferring much misogyny,
they shriek that she was warm and wise—
ignoring all her wicked lies.
So, Gillard told her henchmen, “Right,
we must continue Labor’s fight!”
To caucus colleagues she said, “Stay!”
as then she swiftly ran away.
We’ll say no more until that time
when she’s indicted for some crime.

*  whereas, for Rudd, most folk adore
    him rather less when he’s known more.

UPDATE I (27 August):  from reading “Police ordered to return sealed documents seized during AWU probe”, by Shannon Deery, we might conclude that the firm of Slater & Gordon—which less charitable critics might denominate Australia’s top outfit of immoral, lucripetous ambulance-chasers—is as mired in corruption as its former clients:
Police have been banned from inspecting a series of documents seized during an investigation into the AWU slush fund scandal involving former [corrupt] Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
A judge today ordered eight documents seized by Victoria Police during the fraud investigation to be returned to law firm Slater & Gordon.
The documents were seized in May and have remained in a sealed envelope and held by the Supreme Court.  They must be returned within seven days.
Lawyers for Slater & Gordon successfully claimed legal privilege over the documents seized from its office.
Phil Corbett, SC, for the firm, said the documents related to legal advice acquired by the firm.  The application, before Justice John Digby, was not opposed by police.
But lawyers for Detective Sergeant Ross Mitchell asked the court to examine the documents to ensure they fell under legal privilege laws.
The police probe into the alleged fraud examines Ms Gillard's relationship with former AWU secretary Bruce Wilson.
The investigation plagued Ms Gillard’s final months as prime minister due to attacks on her integrity over her involvement in providing legal advice to Mr Wilson to help set up a “slush fund”.
Then a lawyer at Slater & Gordon, Ms Gillard set up the fund in 1992 for her then boyfriend.  […]
Mr Wilson and his one-time deputy, Ralph Blewitt, are alleged to have misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars in unauthorised accounts.
They have been accused of setting up the slush fund, which was used to siphon $400,000 from a building firm [among other malfeasances].
Ms Gillard lost her job with the firm after her role in helping establish the fund was discovered.
Mr Wilson is under investigation over allegations he was behind a series of other unauthorised funds.
Both Ms Gillard and Mr Wilson have consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to the scandal.
Mr Wilson was represented at yesterday’s hearing.
The wicked sharks of Slater & Gordon have consistently refused to help the police because, we may reasonably infer, Julia Gillard was not the only shady, incompetent lawyer within that firm and, perhaps, because she was not the only lawyer who was party to the fraud which she assisted her former leman to commit.

UPDATE II (17 September):  see “Tim Mathieson’s car use cost Julia Gillard $4000”, by Hedley Thomas:
Julia Gillard wrote a personal cheque for $4243 to the Department of Finance because her partner, Tim Mathieson, had misused her taxpayer-funded car to drive around Victoria selling shampoo and other haircare products in breach of parliamentary rules.
Documents released to The Australian under Freedom of Information laws yesterday show that Ms Gillard made the payment on March 9, 2007, as deputy leader of the opposition because of concern over a breach of rules forbidding the use of the car for commercial purposes.  The documents were provided yesterday after a 10-month battle by the former prime minister and her office to prevent the Department of Finance from following through on its decision to release the material.
The $4,243 repayment by Ms Gillard indicates her office estimated that Mr Mathieson had driven several thousand kilometres while pursuing his commercial interests in the private-plated car, which was wholly funded by the commonwealth.  […]
The misuse of Ms Gillard’s parliamentary entitlement was not known until a whistleblower alerted The Australian late last year to Mr Mathieson’s heavy use of the car when he was a PPS Hairwear salesman of hair products shortly after their relationship began.
One of four documents released yesterday is the March 2007 letter written by Ms Gillard’s then chief of staff to the entitlements manager of the Department of Finance, and a copy of Ms Gillard’s personal cheque.
The letter states: “Following the election of Julia Gillard as deputy leader of the opposition and my subsequent appointment as chief of staff, Ms Gillard asked me to undertake a comprehensive check of her entitlements.
“I am writing to address an issue.  In relation to the use of Ms Gillard’s private-plated vehicle, I believe there may have been some use of the car outside of the guidelines, particularly in relation to guideline 4.4.7.
“To ensure absolute compliance with the guidelines, please find enclosed a payment of $4243.58 to reimburse the department for the use of the vehicle.”  […]
Ms Gillard’s chief of staff calculated the amount based on the kilometres believed to have been travelled by Mr Mathieson, indicating he accrued more than 6,000km before it was brought to the department’s attention. Mr Mathieson, a hair dresser, and Ms Gillard began seeing each other in early 2006.  Soon after he worked for PPS Hairwear and travelled through regional Victoria.  Under the rules he was permitted to use the car—but he could not use it for his own business.
Parliamentary Library records of payments for travel entitlements show the cost to taxpayers of running Ms Gillard’s car more than doubled to $9,200 in the second half of 2006 compared with $4,162 in the same period in 2005.  This was the highest increase of Victoria-based parliamentarians.
The Australian asked Bruce Wolpe, a spokesman for Ms Gillard, for a response from the former prime minister and Mr Mathieson to the disclosures.  Mr Wolpe replied that there would be “no further comment”.
Other documents released previously show the car was in minor accidents, leading to insurance claims for repairs.
A month ago, Information Commissioner John McMillan ruled against Ms Gillard’s attempts to block the release of the material under FOI with a decision in which he stated: “The central facts disclosed in the documents are that there may have been an incident of non-compliance with government guidelines on parliamentary entitlements.”
So, a leman of Ms. Gillard breaks the rules, and—though she often claimed to believe in transparency for governments and ministers—she tries to prevent people learning the truth.  That seems to be a pattern with this woman.

UPDATE III (11 June, 2014):  see “Evidence of this corruption is everywhere”, by Hedley Thomas: 
Bruce Wilson has stopped throwing punches outside the hearing room of the royal commission into union graft.  But four weeks after the allegedly corrupt AWU official stepped away from a Sydney cafe meeting with his lawyer, Kristine Hanscombe QC, and went the biff on a couple of photographers, Wilson’s presence still looms large.
He remains the focus of attention because the inquiry’s senior counsel, Jeremy Stoljar SC, ­started this week’s new round of investigative hearings into the AWU slush fund scandal with a series of powerful and definitive statements.
Stoljar wasted little time in his opening before calling out the slush fund for what it was—a corrupt device that drove a significant fraud.  He described it as “a mere contrivance”.
This corrupt device, misleadingly called the AWU Workplace Reform Association, sprang to life when Julia Gillard, a Slater & Gordon lawyer, gave legal advice to her then-boyfriend Wilson to have it set up. She vouched for it to West Australian authorities, who had doubts.
She strenuously ­denies that she had knowledge of any misuse of, or intent to misuse, the fund.
Stoljar can clearly see the criminality the slush fund spawned.  It is so obvious that he took an unusual step at this early stage of the royal commission—he lined up Wilson and his former ally, Ralph Blewitt, for fraud-­related offences.
But there are some, such as ABC radio’s Melbourne-based broadcaster Jon Faine, who seem to think the former PM, and other key players in the saga, should not have to answer any questions at all.  Using the slush fund’s AWU-linked name, Stoljar explained, the two men issued false invoices to building company, Thiess, “thereby committing an offence under section 558 of the Criminal Code of WA”.  And as “they claimed payment for work that had never been done … to procure a benefit”, they committed another offence under section 409.
What about the “right-wing nut-jobs”, as the then prime minister described some who have tried to raise these matters over several years?  Twitter will be disappointed to learn the commission is an evidence-based zone.
While the ABC and many in the Canberra press gallery chose to run a protection racket of the former PM when these matters were in plain view, Stoljar takes evidence from credible witnesses—former union officials like Ian Cambridge, a serving Fair Work Commissioner; Bob Kernohan, a former AWU president in Victoria; and the tradesmen who received cash while renovating Gillard’s house in the 1990s.
These are serious matters, particularly in light of evidence, flagged by Stoljar for examination today, that Gillard herself obtained a benefit with slush fund cash paying for the costly makeover at her house in Abbotsford, Melbourne.
Stoljar’s position on this was crisp.  “The evidence further establishes that moneys acquired … by the (slush fund) was used … to pay for renovations at the Abbotsford property.  There is a factual controversy about this.”
We can see how high the stakes are in this 17-year-old fraud.  Because if Blewitt and Wilson committed crimes in procuring financial benefits from the fraudulent slush fund, where does that leave the former PM, who has strenuously denied any wrong­doing, and insisted that she paid for her renovations?
The commission should test Gillard without fear or favour to determine whether there has been any wrongdoing.  She was involved in setting up the slush fund.  She was the girlfriend and lawyer for its mastermind, Wilson.  She was an alleged beneficiary herself of thousands of dollars in slush fund cash that paid for the makeover at her house.
Faine thinks it is professional journalism to ignore reams of corroborated evidence since 2012, then latch on to one self-serving witness statement—Wilson’s—and expend taxpayers’ resources in an on-air bid to imbue it with credibility.
Faine’s previous bias on the AWU scandal, which he calls a “house of cards”, was such that even the ABC found him guilty, following a separate and earlier admonishment from the ABC’s Media Watch.  He now seems to believe Wilson’s statement to the royal commission, leaked to him and read on his radio show yesterday, is the real story.
Faine told listeners that in this statement, Wilson claims he was offered $200,000 to tell his story in 2012 to Harry Nowicki, a former union lawyer, and to make stuff up to the detriment of the serving PM. A vast right-wing conspiracy, anyone?
Nowicki, who was introduced to me in 2012 by a senior Labor figure, has been a seeker of truth.  The idea that he would corruptly pay a corrupt union official to lie about corruption is ludicrous.
The key documents and the witnesses—from Slater & Gordon lawyers to the AWU’s national leader, Cambridge, and a plethora of other officials—have been touchstones for the truth since the 1990s, long before Nowicki began looking at this political cover-up.  Nobody would need to lie that there was a fraud; the evidence of the fraud is everywhere.
But Nowicki turned over rocks, talked to witnesses, tracked down documents, lodged Freedom of Information applications and told the likes of Wilson they would be better off coming clean and telling the truth.  In other words, a retired lawyer who once worked for the BLF has done what Jon Faine and the ABC have conspicuously failed to do.
UPDATE IV (9 August, 2014):  see “Office of PM always warrants scrutiny”, by Hedley Thomas:
A former top criminal defence lawyer has reviewed reams of evidence about the AWU slush fund scandal at the ongoing Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, resulting in his legal opinion that Julia Gillard has problems best resolved by a jury.
Russell Hanson QC, who helped run several royal commission-style probes before his retirement, based his detailed review on sworn witness statements and oral testimony at the commission, as well as key documents including Gillard’s exit interview from the law firm Slater & Gordon in 1995.
His findings are in stark contrast to those by former Labor leader Mark Latham, who has no legal training but who has used his column in The Australian Financial Review to criticise the anti-corruption commission, ridicule Victoria Police and lampoon the evidence of key witnesses.  […]
Hanson’s review dismisses Latham as an “apologist”. Hanson says:  “I am of the view that there has been sufficient evidence given, in a form admissible in a criminal trial, to entitle a jury to find criminal conduct on the part of (former Australian Workers Union boss Bruce) Wilson and (former AWU official Ralph) Blewitt.
“In Gillard’s case, I come to the same conclusion based on the evidence given, supplemented by evidence in the public arena, namely her own public statements.
“The evidence is overwhelming that the Workplace Reform Association (slush fund) was a sham from start to finish.
“There seems to me to be clear and apparently reliable evidence that Wilson was giving Gillard substantial sums of money for her (home) renovations.  Where did it come from?  From the (slush fund)?  Did Gillard know this? What’s a married man with a family in Perth doing paying thousands of dollars for her renovations?  Could she possibly think it was coming out of his own pocket?  Tell it to the jury.”
Leaked emails, published in The Australian last week, and disclosures by former staff have shown how Latham started to become a mouthpiece for Gillard’s former communications head, John McTernan, in 2012, shortly after the AWU scandal burst back into the limelight.   […]
The royal commission is expected to call Gillard, who has always strenuously denied that she did anything wrong in relation to legal advice she gave to her then boyfriend and client, Wilson, that resulted in the establishment of the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association. Wilson has supported Gillard.
In a once-confidential taped 1995 interview with Slater & Gordon’s then boss, Peter Gordon, Gillard described the association as a “slush fund” for union elections.  However, its registration documents that went to the West Australian government claimed its role was work safety and training.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid by building company Thiess into the slush fund, and several witnesses at the royal commission—former AWU staff member Hem, former AWU official Blew­itt and retired builder James—testified that Wilson was behind the payment of thousands of dollars to Gillard, including for the costs of renovations at her home in inner Melbourne.
These matters are also the subject of an ongoing Victoria Police Fraud Squad investigation. Gillard has insisted since 2012 that she paid for her renovations and that she did nothing wrong.  […]
Hanson says he considered three key questions.  Was the slush fund set up with the intention of operating it as a sham?  If so, who was a party to that arrangement?  Who knowingly participated in receiving the proceeds obtained by illegal means?  “There is no basis in the evidence that I have seen for inferring that there was, at the outset, an intention to operate a legitimate organisation,” he says.
“This must be so in the case of Wilson and his willing henchman, Blewitt.  Money paid into the fund was not going to be used for the purposes stated in the incorporation documents.
“As for Gillard’s involvement, this is proved by her own admissions … her own statements show that she well understood the real purpose of the association was to fund election campaigns—a far cry from the idealistic objects set out in the incorporation documents.
“As to the second question, clearly Wilson and Blewitt were the principal parties.  What of Gillard’s involvement?  Blewitt, for what it is worth, has her actively involved in the incorporation exercise.  But in any event, by her own admission, she is the one who put together the documents necessary for incorporation.
“As to the third question, receiving proceeds of money obtained by dishonest means, Blewitt, by his own admission, is guilty.  Wilson is implicated by Blewitt.  In Gillard’s case, a builder, Athol James, says he did work on her Abbotsford house.  He has the quotes, invoices and bank deposit records to prove it.  He says that, although she paid him with cheques, she told him Bruce was paying for this, and he saw Wilson hand her a ‘very substantial’ amount of money.
“Gillard’s counsel challenged (James) on these two statements, but he did not budge.  Without having seen him give evidence, but going on the transcript of his evidence and his documents, I don’t see any reason why a jury could not accept his evidence.
“Apparently some apologists for Gillard seek to brush his evidence aside on the basis that he is 84 years old.  This is ridiculous. Gillard herself admits he did work on her house for her.  His critics need to come up with a more sensible reason for disbelieving him than sniggeringly pointing to his age.  Try that one with a jury.”
Hanson says that weight has been lent to James’s evidence by Hem, who testified that Wilson gave him $5000 cash to deposit to Gillard’s account, which he did.  Hem said Wilson told him “no one else is to see it”.
Hanson says the suggestion that Gillard did not pay for all of the renovation work done on her house has been lent weight by her Slater & Gordon 1995 interview, in which she said, “I can’t categorically rule out that something at my house didn’t (sic) get paid for by the association … or by the union or whatever”.  […]
Hanson says: “I understand that her apologists see this evidence as exculpating her. How this could be so escapes me.
“Far from exculpating Gillard, I see his evidence as consistent with the picture painted by James of payments by cheque which were funded by cash from Wilson.  If Hem’s deposit into her account corresponds in time and amount with payments by cheque to Spyridis, then the evidence from Spyridis consolidates the case against her of receiving cash payments from Wilson for her renovations.
“There is no exculpation here.
“In addition to the above witnesses, Blewitt also gives evidence that in September or October 1994 he went to Gillard’s house, where she directed him to go through the house to where Wilson was out the back.
“At Wilson’s direction he then gave $7000 cash, which had come from the WRA account, to a tradesman working there on renovations. Gillard was not present.  This evidence is consistent with the evidence of James as to Wilson paying for Gillard’s renovations.  On that occasion, Blewitt gave further cash to Wilson.”
Hanson says that if building company Thiess was unaware that its donations were not to be used for the association’s stated pur­poses of improving worker safety and skills, then Thiess was deceived into parting with its money, and each time there was a payment, an offence of obtaining money by false pretences was committed by those perpetrating the pretence.  He says that if the deception of Thiess were planned, then all those who were a party to that plan were parties to a conspiracy to defraud.
Alternatively, if Thiess were aware that there were no “training” services provided by the associati­on but paid up for the sake of industrial peace, then the offenc­e committed was obtaining money by menaces—blackmail.
“Blewitt and Wilson are shown to be involved in these offences, as set out above,’’ Hanson says.  “In Gillard’s case, once it is seen that she drafted the objects of the asso­ci­ation, while knowing that its true purpose was otherwise, she is shown to be a party to a plan to defraud donors to the fund (conspiracy to defraud), or a party to a plan to extract money from ‘donors’ by blackmail.  Proof that the association’s purpose was other than as stated is in her own words, where she describes it as a ‘slush fund’ for finan­cing election campaigns.
“In Gillard’s case, the evidence from James that Wilson was paying is both confessional and direct. She told him Bruce was paying (confessional evidence) and he saw cash handed to her by Wilson (direct evidence.)
“There is also her acknowledgment that she could not rule out that money from the association paid for her renovations.
“Whether or not the money Wilson gave her and her builders came from the association, and whether or not she knew that to be so, are matters of inference.  In my opinion, they are inferences a jury would be entitled to draw.”
The Australian adds an editorial “Why we are publishing this”:
Today The Australian is publishing an important story about Julia Gillard’s involvement in the AWU slush fund scandal.  The story contains the considered opinion of a respected Queen’s Counsel—Russell Hanson QC—who has reviewed sworn testimony given at the union royal commission.
The Australian does not publish this story lightly. However, the conduct and background of a person who would, just a few years after these events with the AWU, become an elected federal parliamentarian and, ultimately, be elevated to the highest office goes to the very heart of government and political matters in Australia.  […]
[A]s Hanson notes, there is enough evidence to suggest that the matter should now be properly considered by a court and a jury.
UPDATE V (10 September):  see “You Be the Judge: It’s the AWU Slush-Fund Finaleby Hedley Thomas:
There are precedents, but royal commissions run by judges are generally reluctant to call other judges to give evidence that might verge on the tawdry or unbecoming.  […]
“Please have a seat, Justice Murphy,’’ said Dyson Heydon QC, the retired High Court judge heading the royal commission into union corruption, to the Federal Court’s Bernard Murphy about 10am.
For yesterday’s hearing—and for the probable finale today when Julia Gillard goes into the witness box—the controversial matters canvassed include the real concerns by some of the senior partners of law firm Slater & Gordon in 1995 that their colleague, who 15 years later would become prime minister, might have been embroiled in corruption with a bent union boss boyfriend, Bruce Wilson.
As Murphy bluntly told yesterday’s hearing: “The concern that was conveyed was that Julia Gillard had created an association (union slush fund) which might have been set up corruptly and might have involved corrupt moneys and it involved the firm in the conveyance of these moneys.
“She was being accused of wrongdoing by others in the firm. She assured me there was nothing in it.”
Like many of Gillard’s supporters, he did not believe it then.  Nor, he added, does he believe it now.  He told the inquiry that he did no investigations and asked few questions.  Gillard assured him she had done nothing wrong.
Nineteen years after these concerns were first confidentially raised and caused great alarm in the firm, Heydon’s royal commission is now at the pointy end of a remarkable chapter in politics, law and the media.
Just as it is unusual for a serving senior judge to be called to a royal commission into corruption, so it is rare for a former prime minister to be compelled to account for her own conduct as a lawyer for an ­allegedly corrupt boyfriend and client.  Her entrance at 55 Market Street in Sydney’s CBD to give evidence today will ignite powerful responses.
Former Labor leader Mark Latham leads those who condemn the commission’s work as a deplorable witch hunt, fuelled, he claims, by Labor enemies, dodgy witnesses, innuendo, and The Australian.  This is despite an ongoing police investigation and the evidence collated, including sworn statements suggesting the probable proceeds of fraud—thousands of dollars—were funnelled into Gillard’s bank account and into home renovations.
The other camp includes Gillard’s former rivals such as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, a former lawyer herself who was deeply troubled by the evidence. She doggedly pursued the then prime minister in question time in November 2012 until Tony Abbott as opposition leader promised a judicial inquiry.
There are, too, the key witnesses such as Ralph Blewitt, who recalled paying off tradesmen at the future prime minister’s house with ill-gotten cash; the builder, Athol James, who has told of seeing Wilson hand Gillard “wads of notes”, while she told James that he would be paid for his work by her as Wilson gave her cash; and AWU staffer Wayne Hem, who said he put $5000 in her bank ­account.
Murphy did not know about these details in 1995, but he spoke with authority yesterday as one of the firm’s equity partners, and Gillard’s then manager.  Their offices were side by side on the ground floor of a building off Melbourne’s Little Bourke Street, and they worked together with union ­clients including the AWU and its now-infamous Wilson
As Murphy plainly stated in his testimony, the concerns at Slater & Gordon back in 1995 were neither trivial nor the product of the feverish imaginations of misogynists or nut-jobs on the internet.  They were the concerns of senior partners, such as Peter Gordon and Nick Styant-Browne, who could scarcely believe the predicament the firm had been placed in because of the work, which was not disclosed by Gillard, for her boyfriend.
The misleadingly named AWU Workplace Reform Association (the slush fund) that was set up with her legal advice and her letter-writing to West Australian authorities was for her then boyfriend.  It is alleged it would be used fraudulently by Wilson and his sidekick, Blewitt, to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from building company, Thiess.
Gillard has always denied any wrongdoing and has strenuously insisted she knew nothing about the operation of the slush fund.
Murphy would not have meant to make her position more difficult on the eve of her giving evidence, but he didn’t help by volunteering yesterday that he “would have opened a file in those circumstances”, in relation to the work on establishing the association (she didn’t open a file and this meant her partners were in the dark about the slush fund’s existence for three years of its operation).
Murphy also agreed, as he read the rules and objects of the formal legal entity, that he could see nothing relating to it being an election slush fund.
He reinforced the seriousness of the case.  He told how partners were also “very concerned” about Gillard’s role in the conveyancing of a property that would be purchased with money from the slush fund.  He said he had also heard the rumours about AWU funds going towards payment for renovations at Gillard’s property.  But in the end, her word sealed it.
They stayed friends while both were estranged from the firm, which they regarded as having dealt with them very unfairly.  She went into the political arena and became Australia’s first female prime minister.  And in her first 12 months as the nation’s leader, Murphy became the first solicitor from Victoria to be appointed to the Federal Court.
UPDATE VI (20 July, 2015)the former PM continues to try to rewrite history, and her lackeys in the media continue to aid her attempts:
Julia Gillard has revealed in a new interview she should have addressed the blatant sexism and misogyny she endured as Australia’s first female prime minister early on in her tenure.
“I should have recognised that if I didn’t deal with it up front, it would build,” she told The Times in an interview in London.
Yeah, sure, that was her one big mistake.  See how “network writers” of News Corp Australia provide historical background, complete with a censored but historically inaccurate “b***h” and a casual “of course”:
(During her run, Gillard was subjected to blatantly sexist attacks; from Tony Abbott pointedly making speeches in front of placards stating ‘Ditch the b***h’, to Alan Jones saying Gillard should be put in a bag and thrown out to sea, among many, many others.)
Gillard, of course, made global headlines in 2012 when she stood up in parliament and gave her PM-defining speech on sexism and misogyny.
Mr. Abbott inadvertently spoke in front of two signs whereon were written, in capitals, “ditch the witch” and “Juliar…. Bob Browns [sic] bitch”.

14 July, 2013

The PM’s Airy Revision

A Change Is in the Air

We ever heard a litany
of silly claims: “morality”*
insisted fools impose a fee
upon our very air!

No skill in arcane augury
was then required to foresee
how ruinous that it would be
for us to tax our air.

The new PM has, finally,
observed what some could always see:
how screwed is our economy
from Labor’s tax on air.

Reacting to declivity
in polls with sly duplicity,
the PM hastens to agree:
“It hurts to tax the air.”

The tax had worked so thoroughly,
retarding all our industry,
that pollies noticed—even he!—
the harm from taxing air.

The PM ever shouts, “Trust me!”
but will his blether mean that we
will have less tax? Too easily
would Labor tax our air.

Electors, grant no clemency,

and don’t reward chicanery!
Give Rudd this message, and for free:
“You must not tax our air!”

*  Hon. Kevin Rudd opined, before he became PM in 2007 that addressing the supposed problems of “climate change”—meaning anthropogenic global warming—was “the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenge of our generation” but, after the election, when he was PM (for the first time), he claimed that “climate change” was a “fundamental challenge”; now, reinstalled as PM, he has claimed that he will scrap the unpopular “carbon” tax which his government increased only a fortnight ago.  However, he will replace the tax with an Emissions Trading Scheme which is predicated on the same, silly, pseudo-scientific conjecture that carbon dioxide, though essential for life on Earth, is somehow a pollutant.

See “A Land of Severer Severities”.

UPDATE I:  see “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd continues push to dump carbon tax at cost of $6 billion”, by Simon Benson:
Kevin Rudd has punched a $6 billion hole in the budget by confirming he will fast track the introduction of an emissions trading scheme to replace the carbon tax and save families up to $400 next year.
Oddly enough, when the new PM and the new treasurer stated that terminating the “carbon” tax will lower electricity prices, our lordotic media lickspittles nodded their heads sagely and murmured their agreement; yet, not so long ago, the same media were openly deriding the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, when he suggested that abolishing the “carbon” tax would lower electricity prices.  Like an amusing anecdote, it’s how they say it, evidently.

UPDATE II (15 July):  “apparently,” OMGTheMess suggests, “winning the next election is the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenge of our generation”.

UPDATE III (15 July):  

The Media’s Darling
The PM, with his golden touch,
announces to an awestruck press:
the “carbon” tax raised costs too much
so he’ll impose an ETS.
Lordotic journos arch their backs
or genuflect on calloused knees;
abolishing that stupid tax
has shewn his love for families! 

Our proctoleichous press must praise
the umblest leader of our days. 

The umblest PM going.

An Historical Leader 

Each word or act of Kevin’s meet
to be recorded in a Tweet;
posterity, no doubt, will prize
the deeds and sayings of the wise,

and history will surely call
our leader umblest of them all.

UPDATE IV (15 July):  our benevolent Government has released the details of its largesse:  though the PM finally realised that the “carbon” tax increased costs for families and businesses, the tax will be reconstituted as an allegedly less costly ETS in July, 2014:

“No-one,” says Rudd, cares more than I!
We’ll fix the problem—next July!”

 Yet Another Future Promise

The NDIS and other schemes,
we know, are merely based on dreams,
yet voters seem prepared to trust
assurances of pixie dust;
our Government makes many vows—
as many as the press allows—
but always over future times
in hope that we’ll forget their crimes.

 Labor’s Latest Campaign Slogan

“Elect great Kevin, and we may
see Kevin’s stuff-ups solved—someday.

UPDATE V (16 July):  the Liberals call it misrepresentation; others might call it a lie:
This morning Mr Rudd and his Treasurer, Mr Bowen, contradicted each other at the same press conference.
Mr Rudd said that families would save $380 “per year” and repeated this misrepresentation five times.  Mr Bowen corrected him and said it was just a saving of $380 in the 2014-15 financial year, but Mr Rudd continued to repeat his $380 “per year” claim.
UPDATE VI (16 July):  see “The Stupid ‘Carbon’ Tax” at The Friends of Carbon Dioxide.

UPDATE VII (17 July):

Certainty Up in the Air

An ETS means

business will have certainty

of how things will be!

The Minister for

Childcare has heard sound advice

that the “carbon” price

must soar. Firms know that

using electricity

may spell bankruptcy.

Kate Ellis has learned

that when you’re dumber than mice,

fair looks will suffice.

Ellis pleased that she can read books without pictures.

UPDATE VIII (22 July):  see “Kevin Rudd unmasked in Devil’s Island plan” by Paul Sheehan of The Age:
The mask has dropped.  We now see the real character of the man who leads Australia, a man so overbearing, so dysfunctional, so self-obsessed that his own government sacked him in his first term, unprecedented in Australian politics, and a third of the cabinet departed rather than serve with him when he returned.
There is no new Rudd.  There is only the Dear Leader who, on Monday, expects the federal Labor caucus to approve measures he has proposed that would make it almost impossible to remove him from the leadership if he wins the election.
On Friday, Rudd revealed that he will do anything, say anything, trash any principle, if he thinks it will keep him in power.
His Devil’s Island tactic, putting asylum seekers in tents on a malarial island off the coast of an impoverished, violence-ridden state, is malevolent politics.  He has made a massive bet that he can get away with this ploy before it can be tested by the courts, where it would almost certainly be rejected.
This does not concern Rudd.  Legal challenges take months. He is thinking in weeks.  He just wants to get across the line, win the election, and clean up the mess afterwards.  The mess he made.
UPDATE IX (12 August):  first posted as a comment at Catallaxy, following the PM’s use of forbidden notes during the first election debate between him and the Opposition Leader:

Rules Are for Other People

Rudd’s an even worse
liar than Gillard; he’s an
unprincipled cheat

and, on election
night, we’ll find he’s worse at

accepting defeat.

his concession speech (with notes,
of course) will be sweet

because, I warrant,
it will take just slight needling
to prick his conceit.

UPDATE X (18 August):  let’s see whether the ALP’s grand idea of identifying itself solely as the party of Kevin Rudd survive past 7 September:

UPDATE XI (20 August):

A Pentelope*

He so clearly thinks he is ‘rad’
as he shrieks until he goes red.
In a few weeks we’ll be well rid
of the man who’s been such a rod
to our backs. Goodbye, Kevin Rudd!

* a verse form invented by the classicist and cryptographer (and breaker of Enigma), Dillwyn Knox.

UPDATE XII (20 August):  like Macbeth, it seems our dear PM may be a somnicide, as his knitted kangaroo unravels all over himself:

Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more!

K. Rudd doth murder sleep”, the innocent sleep,

sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,

the death of each day’s life, sore Labor’s bath,

born of dud minds, great nature’s woollen course,

chief nourisher in life’s fleece—


              What the flock?

You murdered sheep?  What did they ever do—


Still it cried “Sleep no more!” to all the House:

“Thou too hast knitted kangaroos, and thou

shalt forthwith leap them over sharks somehow!”


Do give it a rest, egocentric fool,

you do unbend your feeble strength, to think

so brainsickly of things.  I trow it’s clear

that you need professional help.  Go find,

some aid to wash such nonsense from your mind.