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Prime Minister Julia Gillard may well have sealed her own fate

Posted by: Neil Mitchell | 20 August, 2012 - 8:42 AM
Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sky News yesterday <i>(Sky)</i>

Image: Julia Gillard on Sky News (Sky)

On an obscure, barely-watched pay TV program yesterday, Julia Gillard may well have sealed her own fate.

She may well have finally ended any hope she has of leading the government into the next election.

I have spoken today to some of her supporters and they are very concerned.

They believe what happened yesterday on television, combined with a new opinion poll tomorrow, could well provide the finals straws that leave the camel not just with a broken back, but out of the game.

Yesterday the Prime Minister was rattled and unimpressive.

She personally attacked one of the most respected and experienced political journalists.

Paul Kelly of the Australian Newspaper.

And she was completely wrong in what she accused him of doing.

She accused him of being a puppet of asking questions on behalf of somebody else

That is offensive and wrong. She didn’t look like a leader. She didn’t look in control.

She didn’t look capable of handling any sort of crisis

My sources tell me the Labor caucus is already very, very nervous.

And this performance, if it is backed up by another bad opinion poll due out tomorrow, could be the end.

Now nobody knows what is in that poll of course.

But this is what happened yesterday...

She was on Sky, being interviewed by Paul Kelly

He raised with her a report from the Australian newspaper on Saturday.

This all goes to a messy problem with corruption in a union, going back 17 years.

Julia Gillard’s then boyfriend, a man called Bruce Wilson, was accused of siphoning funds into an account he set up in the name of the union.

That is the accusation. Julia Gillard set up the account, she was union solicitor, he was a union official.

She also attended an auction where a house was bought from funds from that account.

And she has strongly and consistency denied any wrong doing.

She says she was naïve…. So guilty of professional incompetence, not illegal behaviour.

She strongly denies that.

On Saturday a former partner of the form Slater and Gordon claimed she had left Slater and Gordon because of an inquiry into the events.

PLAY AUDIO: Julia Gillard speaking with Paul Kelly on Sky News.

Now she didn’t answer, and there is no doubt she left Slater and Gordon soon after this all happened.

Slater and Gordon have released a statement now supporting her in careful language.

They say they found nothing that contradicted her denials and that she had left for other reasons.

Ok…fair enough. But Julia Gillard must answer that as well.

She can’t refuse to answer and she did yesterday

This is a nasty little campaign, it is building online, she needs to deal with it.

She needs to handle it like a leader and she has had many opportunities to do that but she has not.

Of course Kelly was right to ask the question

Her integrity is relevant even from something that happened 17-years ago.

The integrity of a Prime Minister is always relevant.

This is building online and several people in the finance and banking industry have now asked me about it within a few days.

The word is spreading, it is perhaps unfair but it must be dealt with.

I am not alleging that Julia Gillard was corrupt. There is no evidence of that.

I am saying she was incompetent as a solicitor but that is not a hanging offence

Yesterday she kept saying to Paul Kelly ‘If you have allegations put them to me’.

Well. This is what she needs to answer.

One - when did she become aware of the funds in this account were stolen and what did she do about it, then did she find out she had been conned and what did she do about it.

Did she tell the union? The Police? What did she do when she found her boyfriend had been conning her?

Two - when did she decide to leave Slater and Gordon and why?

Three - can she show that none of these suspect funds were used for her personal gain (including to renovate her house)?

Four - she has allegedly said to Slater and Gordon this was set up as a slush fund. When did she understand that?

And did she advise corporate authorities of that at any stage.

Five - when she attended the auction of the house was she aware the association she had established for her boyfriend was being sued to purchase it? Did she ask why?

Look, there are more questions; this is just the starting point. It goes to the detail but in the broad sense what she needs to address is this.

She said to Paul Kelly – ‘what is the allegation’? Well… this is it in a very general sense.

Prime Minister, the allegation is that you may have acted improperly.

You deny it. Nobody knows.

But you won’t answer the detail that keeps coming up.

There are now serious concerns around what happened in those days and it involves around $400,000.

Those doubts go to the heart of your integrity.

You keep asking why you should answer questions.

Well, you should answer questions because your integrity has, rightly or wrongly, come under a cloud.

Public confidence demands answers

Public perceptions demand answers

You can’t just have a blanket denial. You can’t just leave it to the law firm

You are Prime Minister, that demands an extra level of accountability.

You must answer the specific problems yourself.

By now…. I imagine the Prime Minister knows what I know. She handled yesterday’s questions very, very badly,

It could in the end be the final straw that costs her the leadership.

3AW Mornings with Neil Mitchell

Neil Mitchell Neil is one of Australia’s most experienced journalists with success in newspapers, radio and television. He was one of the youngest editors of a daily metropolitan newspaper, The Herald.

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Have to say after the sports minister was on tv last night I believe that this whole sports in drugs is largely a govt. beat up to distract people from the incomptence of this govt,

    Rob Stone Tuesday 12 February, 2013 - 9:15 AM
  • wow that so mean
    she is sexy

    cate Tuesday 20 November, 2012 - 3:30 PM
  • Where there is smoke there is fire!!!!
    I googled the information regarding Gillard/Slater & Gordon many years before Pickering and his Website discussed Gillards attachment to the left wing Slater & Gordon Lawyers!

    ggofoz Sunday 11 November, 2012 - 9:13 AM
  • I dont vote Labor, but what a charismatic man Barak Obama is. He presents as strong, believable, out to make changes for the better, doest have red hair, and does not live in a defacto relationship with a nobody.
    There is hope!!!

    wilson Thursday 8 November, 2012 - 11:53 AM
  • Ms Gillard sealed her fate the day she went back on her election promise and announced she was bringing in a carbon tax. As far as I'm concerned she not only sealed her fate, she died.

    Mal Bourne Wednesday 7 November, 2012 - 8:06 PM
  • On child sex abuse and the catholic church Julia there needs to be a royal commission!The problem is ongoing and victims and their family need justice. I was director of'towards healing' for 2 years. Please bring these perpetrators to account. Thanks Julia .

    Paula Buckland Saturday 27 October, 2012 - 3:51 PM

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