August 31st, 2011

I’ve never been a big fan of scandals, but occasionally you can’t ignore them. That’s true of the scandals currently afflicting the Labor government. As regards the Thomson accusations, if he is guilty he should resign his seat and will in any case be forced to do so if convicted. That will probably end the government if it happens, but there’s not much I can add in the way of political analysis.

The accusations against Julia Gillard published, and quickly retracted, by The Australian under Glenn Milne’s byline are a different matter. Not only has the content of the retracted article become public knowledge, but News Limited appears to be walking back from what at first appeared to be an unreserved apology, notably in comments by Hartigan and in Andrew Bolt’s column on the topic.

In these circumstances, Gillard has no alternative but to disprove the allegation that she derived a financial benefit, even unknowingly, from the fraud committed by her former boyfriend. That seems like a pretty clear-cut question of fact, which should admit a resolution even nearly 20 years after the event.

On the other hand, if the falsehood of the allegation can be proved, the case that News Limited in Australia is playing the same dirty tricks as its UK and US operations becomes all that much stronger, as does the case for treating the entire organisation as a political propaganda/lobbying operation rather than a newspaper publisher in the traditional sense. And, of course, Gillard would have a very strong case for defamation.

All of this pretty much kills my suggestion for a graceful exit by Gillard after the passage of the carbon tax. Until she can put this one to rest, a resignation would look like an admission of guilt.

Categories: #NewsCorpFail, #Ozfail, Media, Oz Politics Tags:
  1. Link
    August 31st, 2011 at 09:17 | #1

    She has nothing to lose from screwing these arseholes. A snap audit of New Ltd in Australia is probably not unwarranted with the Milne piece as evidence of the lies they peddle. She’s the Prime Minister and for a few brief minutes she can come down hard. She should do it before . . . Thomson resigns as undoubtedly this is going to end her current term. For a while we’ll get Abbott, until the next election. He deserves to ascend to the top through such ignominious circumstances, it would set a ‘tone’ (heh) for a shortlived and ridiculous reign. And we can really be entertained for the next six months.

    That’s actually what she should do. Hand it all over to Abbott who will undoubtedly make such a confused mess of everything we’ll all be completely befuddled and soon want him gone. Meanwhile she regroups and trounces him at the next election.

  2. Link
    August 31st, 2011 at 09:21 | #2

    Er actually. That probably wouldn’t work so well. Or maybe in just a by-election, election.

  3. snuh
    August 31st, 2011 at 09:26 | #3

    one hopes that, at the very least, if this thing is proven to be false it will be the end for glenn milne. against that, i guess, is the fact that he survived that crikey incident, his career (if not his dignity) unscathed.

  4. Chris Warren
    August 31st, 2011 at 09:30 | #4

    What sort of political stunt is this?

    Why should anyone ever have to disprove allegations made against them – particularly if the allegations have a political context and are ramped up by the commercial media twenty years after the events?

    Anyway I understand the issue was already ventilated in past Hansard.

  5. Gaz
    August 31st, 2011 at 09:46 | #5

    Typical of Bolt to claim Gillard’s attempt to get the record corrected by contacting the newspaper involved was an act of intended censorship.
    The loony right has just about perfected this pathetic whiney, play-the-victim act, where simply pointing out that they’re making things up is an attempt to gag them.
    I just wish they’d grow up.

  6. snuh
    August 31st, 2011 at 10:17 | #6

    the nature of the allegations against gillard are similar to those against craig thompson, in the sense that the allegations against both are clearly products of factional brawling and personal vendettas, for which unions are, sadly, notorious. the political angle on both stories is to tie the labor government to union infighting and intrigue, long a tory propaganda staple in this country.

    while the nature of the stories are similar, their plausibility and probably ultimately their veracity are different. the australian, in publishing and then immediately retracting the gillard story, certainly gives it an air of implausibility, in that it gives the impression that the australian now thinks the story was false. but the gillard story does not live in isolation from the rest of the news; the narrative it fits into (and the reason it, a very old story, is being rehashed now) is the craig thompson affair.

    obviously gillard was struggling with the craig thompson situation, but now that this other story has come along, it’s if anything a bit of a gift to her. here’s a story so ridiculous that even her enemies at news corp have now backed away from it. if she’s savvy, it will be something for her to talk about, for her to pivot to when asked about craig thompson. she can just brush off the questions as if they’re all part and parcle of the discredited and retracted allegations from union figures with axes to grind, she doesn’t want to discuss that, she wants to talk about the challenges facing australians and so forth.

    so a news limited own goal, i feel.

  7. August 31st, 2011 at 10:40 | #7

    Remember that old (apocyphal, doubtless) LBJ story.
    “Put out the rumour that my opponent fucks pigs.”
    “You can’t prove that!”
    “I don’t want to prove it. I just want to have him deny it.”
    The research (from memory) shows that when people are told a lie and then shown disproving evidence, more people then believe the lie, because it has higher saliency. Murdoch knows what he’s doing. He things if he pushes it’ll all move into the endgame, leading to a Liberal landslide, and with Abbott owing him all those Queensland seats he’ll be able to write his own ticket.

  8. August 31st, 2011 at 10:40 | #8


  9. NME
    August 31st, 2011 at 12:25 | #9

    Hartigan has described Gillard as pedantic and responded to her comments that no attempt was made by the poison dwarf to contact her office by saying that comment was rarely sourced in opinion pieces, and this is accepted practise. The number of times I’ve seen disclaimers at the bottom of articles and opinion pieces alike in (eg) The Age stating comment was sought from so and so, but was not received before going to press, suggests otherwise.

    Of course I’m sure what Hartigan really meant to say was “News Limited journalists rarely check their facts and this is accepted practice”.

  10. may
    August 31st, 2011 at 13:34 | #10

    the accusation was not an opinion.

    the accusation was an accusation.


    how about september the eleventh in this neck of the woods,is the eleventh of september.

    that is 119.

    nitpickery can get out of hand but is useful for calling an accusation in a highly politically charged atmosphere,an opinion.

  11. kevin1
    August 31st, 2011 at 13:54 | #11

    I remember Milne on the ABC showing mock outrage (while sniggering!) about what Rudd did at the NY nightclub, which said something about him. Now his role as Peter Costello’s poodle has disappeared, he’s been searching for relevance.

  12. Fred Argy
    August 31st, 2011 at 14:18 | #12

    John, I don’t think that Bolt is now arguing that Gillard “derived a financial benefit”. In his latest release he (Bolt) now contends that it is Gillard’s “judgment” that is at stake. You can’t argue against her judgment in a court case.

  13. canberra boy
    August 31st, 2011 at 14:34 | #13

    About two weeks ago I took the only practical action I could and cancelled my >25-year home delivery of the Weekend Australian. I should have done this several years back when I realised that every single article about Kevin Rudd’s government was slanted to the point of lies and vitriol. Not to mention the climate change denialism.

    Looking back, it reminds me of the way Murdoch pursued a campaign against Gough Whitlam, contributing to the hysteria that culminated on Remembrance Day 1975. There was a joke circulating in 1975 about the day that Whitlam decided to teach his detractors a lesson and walked across the surface of Lake Burley Griffin. The joke continued with details of all the adulatory headlines from the following morning’s newspapers, and ended with The Australian‘s headline ‘Whitlam fails in swim attempt’… That is exactly what we’ve seen in relation to Rudd and Gillard.

    For the last couple of years I have rarely opened the dreadful thing except to read wine reviews or other magazine stories. I can get what I want from James Halliday online.

  14. Bill
    August 31st, 2011 at 17:16 | #14

    Milne actually made no new accusation at all in his article, except that Gillard and Wilson lived together. That might be untrue, but it is trivial. He states more than once that anything she might have done to abet Wilson’s crimes was done unknowingly. All Milne did was draw attention to Kernohan’s stat dec, which he knew would soon be public anyway, (either through 2UE or Bolt). The final couple of columns are musings about factional power struggles and make no accusations about Gillard. Comments that she is “finished”, “a lame duck” etc are just opinions – which are entirely standard on opinion pages.

    Some of you seem to be too stupid and bigoted to even understand a 400 word newspaper article.

    JQ is right, Gillard does need to be able to specifically deny suggestions that she benefited improperly from Wilsons frauds. It is specifically suggested (though not in Milne’s article), that the AWU wound up paying for her home renovations, and that Wilson bought her $17k worth of clothing. If she actually did have any renovations done at the time, she should be able to support a denial with reference to her banking records, and possibly the bank records of the renovators. A reasonable account of these events would help, even if that is a little painful.

    If she continues to respond by making blanket, but completely non-specific denials, and by making rather threatening ‘phone calls to editors, I would start to have genuine concerns. So would anybody sensible.

  15. August 31st, 2011 at 17:36 | #15

    Apologies for a completely off topic comment.

    However, as Prof. Q has manifested some interest in Marx, he might find the following article mildly interesting:

    “Can Karl Marx save capitalism?”

    It appeared originally at Bloomberg’s:

    PS: Mr. Stutchbury, if you are reading this as well, I hope you’re not offended by my mentioning that nefarious name.

  16. fredn
    August 31st, 2011 at 18:29 | #16

    Does anybody take anything the Australian prints seriously?

  17. August 31st, 2011 at 19:07 | #17

    I’m with JQ & also Bill #14.

  18. Chris Warren
    August 31st, 2011 at 19:55 | #18


    One day you will finally realise that we live in a democracy based on standards which do not permit journalists to raise such accusations and then demand they be disproven or explained etc.

    The very idea that she should provide her banking records because John Quiggin, the Australian, and a few drunks in a pub may want, is an obscenity.

    The only explanation appropriate (if any) is through the normal law enforcement actions. That’s it and that’s all.

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 31st, 2011 at 21:49 | #19

    As one observer remarked during Four Corners this week, News Corpse has had a corporate modus operandi of blackmail and intimidation to browbeat politicians into following its wishes. And as we saw when Packer fronted the Parliament some years ago, our politicians are either cravens, or arse-lickers (Costello gave a peerless performance as a sheet of Sorbent). Gillard ought to sue these creatures, but she won’t, and the end-game for removing her is on, make no mistake. The Fundament knows no other than to vilify, slander, defame and traduce any who get in its way. Some ‘democracy’!

  20. Ian Milliss
    August 31st, 2011 at 21:57 | #20

    Well I’m with Chris Warren and I’m also slightly shocked at JQ’s uncharacteristic naivety in suggesting anyone should be resigning. No-one should resign and I think it is a matter of principle that they should stay there until removed by law just to give the finger to this whole media beatup. Such pearl clutching is unbecoming of you JQ, you should understand the realpolitik involved.

    More interesting I think is to speculate on exactly why News Ltd is going so ballistic right now. I assume it’s because they fear an inquiry and since they claim they have done nothing wrong exactly why are they getting so out of control hysterical. There must be some really really big scandals about Murdoch Australian operations waiting to be exposed I suspect.

    Just offering my opinion, of course but any reasonable person would have genuine concerns. I think that they should prove they have done nothing wrong, that shouldn’t be difficult for them, they could start by providing all their company banking details and the banking details of all their senior employees and major shareholders, we could start our investigations there.

  21. John Quiggin
    August 31st, 2011 at 22:12 | #21

    @Ian Milliss
    As regards Thomson, he knows whether he is guilty or not, and should act accordingly. But I agree that in practice what matters here is whether he is charged and convicted.

    As regards Gillard, I think the realpolitik goes the other way. The allegation has been made she’s demanded and received a retraction, and the retraction has itself been (effectively) retracted. At this point, one side or the other (News Corp or government) has to lose.

    This doesn’t contradict any existing general principle about journalism. The general principle at present is that newspapers can publish (almost) anything they want (that is, there is no prior restraint) but if they publish something false they can be sued for defamation, and there are some very limited protections for privacy. Of course, there is no obligation to respond to a false claim published in a paper, and sometimes this is the best course of action. I just don’t think that’s true this time.

    I’d prefer more privacy protection for people who aren’t public figures, and a right of apology and retraction rather than monetary damages, but the first is irrelevant here.

  22. TerjeP
    August 31st, 2011 at 22:51 | #22

    Link :
    She has nothing to lose from screwing these arseholes. A snap audit of New Ltd in Australia is probably not unwarranted with the Milne piece as evidence of the lies they peddle. She’s the Prime Minister and for a few brief minutes she can come down hard.

    This is crazy talk. If the News Ltd article was in bad taste then have a grumble. If News Ltd has done anything wrong then the correct action is to engage a lawyer and take them to court. However this notion that the office of PM should be used to intimidate publishers into silence by using vexatious audits or inquiries is exactly what should not happen in a free and open democracy.

  23. TerjeP
    August 31st, 2011 at 22:57 | #23

    Regarding Craig Thompson I’m more than happy for a jury to presume him innocent but given the revelations to date I’m somewhat astonished that so many others feel obligated to make that assumption. From what I have read I assume he is guilty. That the PM can retain confidence in him seems quite extraordinary and in a normal parliament it would be unimaginable.

  24. Ian Milliss
    September 1st, 2011 at 00:15 | #24

    @John Quiggin
    If you mean she should sue, yes I’m inclined to agree.

    And Terje, she also should get on with an inquiry. What should not happen in a democracy is that media proprietors should not be able to gain a large enough market share to be able to bully politicians. Since News Ltd seems determined to destroy her she should at least have the guts to take them down with her. There really is nothing left to lose any more since they upped the ante in the last day or so. Re Thomson, what on earth do you think he will eventually be charged with? Having sex?

  25. September 1st, 2011 at 00:29 | #25

    Ian Milliss: Gillard has taken herself down, the most incompetent PM of the most incompetent government we’v ever had. But that isn’t the issue, not one bit. She could be Winston Churchill & Abraham Lincoln rolled into one & still be in the same position re the allegations.

    Re: Thomson: What do you think would happen to him if the HSU membership had a say? Staking out over a Meat Ant nest? Breaking on a wheel? Stretching on the rack? Gelding? A good stint in the stocks?
    It will take more than “no charges laid” for the members to believe he is lily white.

    Re: Gillard, it is all politics now. Claims have been made, with what appears to be some substance to them. If she doesn’t refute those claims with some evidence, it will not be a good look for her.
    The only way for her to make News Ltd look stupid is to prove their claims wrong. This will be simple if the claims are wrong.
    Otherwise the electorate will make up their minds all on their own.
    Shutting down newspapers will not assist the electorate to believe a version of events that dissents from what may have been printed in those newspapers.

  26. Chris Warren
    September 1st, 2011 at 00:42 | #26

    @John Quiggin

    If you say “he should act accordingly” you are implying that he hasn’t.

    He may well already be acting “accordingly”. I note that only the ‘trial by media’ squad (and Abbott) say otherwise, plus a few who “assume he is guilty” from what they read in the newspapers(!!!!).

    Thompson has said he can prove that the usage of his card was not by him. It is rather hard to hide $100,000 of missing money, so I am quite confident that the police will uncover the facts rather better than journalists. It is rather easy to get copies of union secretary’s signatures, so the actual circumstances and events need to be clarified professionally. An obvious question would be – if the misuse of the card was not by Thompson, then why was there apparently no action in response to various monthly statements that would have been received?

    If Thompson is convicted of an offence, he does not necessarily loose his qualification to sit in Parliament – this depends on the sentence.

    Digging up 18year old matters, that themselves give no occasion for modern attention, is an act of bad faith by Milne and Bolt. It is political trickery and should be dealt with as such. If Bolt wants to cry about free speech – then Gillard has the same right of free speech to Hartigan and also has the right to operate in whatever climate has been created by the original politically motivated bad faith.

  27. Ian Milliss
    September 1st, 2011 at 00:43 | #27

    @Steve at the Pub
    The naivety, it hurts. She could just ignore it all and whether it was true or not nobody could do a thing until the next election. And I don’t see any of the independents rushing to bring that on early. Honestly Steve, go and learn a bit about politics. She may get voted out then but on the other hand she may not, it could be a very different world by then. Your personal feelings about it all are irrelevant.

  28. September 1st, 2011 at 01:26 | #28

    Iam Milliss: Oh yes, brazen it out is what she’ll do. Unless one of the cross benchers flips sides she’s right. Not a hope in hell for her at the next election (barring earth shattering game-changer between now & then). But not much she can do about that now, she’s already on the nose with the electorate.

    But what she has to fear right now is the ALP caucaus replacing her. The Kernohan statutory declaration and how it is perceived by the electorate (remember, the story is not a creation of New Ltd, they are merely reporting it) may by the straw that induces some of the govt backbench to rebel.

  29. John Quiggin
    September 1st, 2011 at 03:59 | #29

    To repeat myself Chris, Thomson has stated his innocence and is acting accordingly. He presumably knows whether or not he is lying. So, to restate my claim in what ought to be a less controversial form. “People, including Thomson, should tell the truth or (in appropriate circumstances) remain silent. “

  30. rog
    September 1st, 2011 at 08:37 | #30

    I remember JH brazening many issues out; children overboard, National Textiles, Reiths phone bill…all forgotten now.

  31. Chris Warren
    September 1st, 2011 at 09:23 | #31

    @John Quiggin

    John, I appear to have missed the post where you first said Thomson “is acting accordingly”.

    Where is it.

    Terje, I appear to have missed all the posts where people have been assuming Thomson is innocent.

    Where are they. Not going along with the ‘hanging-jury’ does not mean people are saying Thomson is innocent.

    Noone can say Thompson is guilty or innocent, and trying to infer either through some demand that he act this way or not, is peculiar. Politicians, journalists, and capitalist economists usually do not tell the truth until it is too late.

    If there is some argument that Thompson is innocent (seperate to Terje’s imagination), I’d like to see it.

  32. Fran Barlow
    September 1st, 2011 at 09:27 | #32

    There’s a fairly typical News Limited story on the Thomson matter this morning. The headline runs:

    Craig Thomson’s credit card alibi collapses which, but for the fact that this is a News Limited story, imagine reading something in the body of the piece showing some contrary information to some claim made by Thomson.

    Predictably, given that this is a News Limited story, there’s nothing of the sort and indeed, the story somewhat buttresses Thomson’s account.

    Laughable really.

  33. Chris Warren
    September 1st, 2011 at 09:34 | #33

    @Steve at the Pub

    So do you have some access to all the evidence that normal folk do not?

    Is justice dealt by trial by media?

    If Thompson is guilty then he is unlikely to renominate for preselection at the next election. If he is penalised by a court sufficiently, after appeals, all completed within the current term, then the current government will loose a vote until a bye-election result is obtained.

    If Thompson is innocent you will need to send him a personal apology for your politically motivated defamation.

  34. Ian Milliss
    September 1st, 2011 at 10:16 | #34

    The easiest way to demonstrate that the Murdoch media is less powerful that it like to claim is simply to let it continue to rant and rave while not doing nothing but just repeating the mantra ‘if you have evidence then show it to us, otherwise just get over the fact that you lost the last election’

  35. NME
    September 1st, 2011 at 10:24 | #35

    TerjeP @ 22

    “… this notion that the office of PM should be used to intimidate publishers into silence by using vexatious audits or inquiries is exactly what should not happen in a free and open democracy.”

    I 100% agree, but without the free and open flow of information The People can not make the necessary informed decisions for an effective democracy to operate. When 70% of the media disseminates a fog of lies and deceit the information flow, and therefore that very democracy you value so highly, is itself polluted.

    And so much the worse when the propaganda factory that pours out these lies represent the sectional interests of a small powerful elite within society, to the detriment of the majority. Now this is what I call anti-democratic.

  36. Bill
    September 1st, 2011 at 13:36 | #36

    Amongst other things, someone took about $100,000 out of that credit card in numerous cash withdrawals of $300, $400 etc over a five year period. If someone had stolen the card, how come neither Thomson, or anyone else at HSU, noticed in about 5 years??

    He may be formally entitled to a presumption of innocence, but anyone who is not basically convinced of his guilt has a very, very dim bulb.

    But stupid people will allways defend the indefensible, wont they?

  37. Chris Warren
    September 1st, 2011 at 13:51 | #37


    That is an obvious question which you have, stupidly and dimly, plagiarised from the above [#26].

    I suggest you take a Bex and lay down for a while.

    Stupid people will always jump to conclusions, won’t they?

  38. may
    September 1st, 2011 at 13:55 | #38

    my word!

    stupid,bigoted and not sensible?

    seems a bit of a mix up in the story between the Prime Minister and the Thommo.

    is confusion an information strategy?

    re the Prime Minister:

    from accusation (retracted then re-retracted) to opinion to suggestion.

    could it be that opportunism taking the form of rumour and innuendo crowding the news space is being perpetrated by tired and emotional and desperate for power,main chancers?

    just a suggestion.

  39. Bill
    September 1st, 2011 at 14:39 | #39

    What I wrote has been widely reported in the media. Why would I plagiarise from someone like you? But thanks for proving my point.

  40. Tim Macknay
    September 1st, 2011 at 15:03 | #40

    Bill, you’ve used the term “stupid” in two comments on this thread so far. That’s not an argument.

    Personally, I don’t think anyone with an iota of experience with either the media or the law would expect to be able to determine the guilt or innocence of someone from media reports. In circumstances where there has not even been a criminal charge, making such a call is ridiculous.

    Maybe Thomson has committed a crime and maybe he hasn’t. Even if he did make all those credit card payments himself, that does not actually mean he has committed a crime (although it would certainly make him a grub). Whether he has committed a crime or not depends on a whole lot of factors like the nature of the union’s terms and conditions (if any) for issuing its officers with credit cards. That information is not (yet) publicly available. At this point in time, the police have not even decided whether a criminal investigation is warranted.
    Try commenting without gratuitous insults- you might find it refreshing.

  41. Bill
    September 1st, 2011 at 15:24 | #41

    No entity has ever had a policy that entitles employees to supplement their salary with $100K of cash withdrawls from their credit card. Corporate hospitality has never legitimately extended to providing professional sexual services either. “Stupid” is justified.

  42. KB Keynes
    September 1st, 2011 at 15:35 | #42


    I’m glad you are sooo sure of the facts.

    for one thing why would Thomson leave a job where he had allegedly the life of Riley. After all untaxed income of over $100k is hard to give up. He would have been taking a severe income cut.

  43. Bill
    September 1st, 2011 at 16:15 | #43

    The facts have been widely reported in the media. They wouldnt print them if they didnt have evidence. If any of those facts were wrong Thomson would be threatening to sue them (again). The silence from Thomson and the government is deafening. Yes this is gratuitous – but you really have to be dim to believe Thomson at all.

    Why would he leave? Because he is probably paid just as much as a backbencher, with easily Australia’s most generous pension scheme and plenty of legal perks. As a Trade Union official he risks losing the next election, then being straight out on his arse.

  44. Marisan
    September 1st, 2011 at 16:44 | #44

    Heard of Milne by any slight chance Bill

  45. Marisan
    September 1st, 2011 at 16:45 | #45

    Heard of Milne by any slight chance Bill

    The facts have been widely reported in the media. They wouldnt print them if they didnt have evidence.

  46. Tim Macknay
    September 1st, 2011 at 17:00 | #46

    Bill, some years ago I worked on a matter where the defendant was a consultant who had claimed over $100,000 in expenses during a capital-raising trip. Not surprisingly, the company that had contracted him disputed the legitimacy of the expenses. However, it ended up dropping the case. The main problem was that the contract wasn’t clear on what counted as legitimate expenses. These things just aren’t as straightforward as you think.

  47. Chris Warren
    September 1st, 2011 at 17:26 | #47

    Silly Billy,

    “The facts have been reported in the media – they wouldn’t print them if they didn’t have evidence’

    This is so childish as to defeat real discussion. But not as childish as;

    (backbenchers have ) … easily Australia’s most generous pension scheme

    Executive capitalist superannuation schemes are far, far more generous than parliamentary superannuation schemes. But this just shows how little you understand.

    If Thomson owes $100,000 (or the issue has to be clarified), he may be indemnified by the fact that he has a balance of some $119,000 due to him from the union as final monies. The net outcome, even assuming he is liable for the $100,000 of non-union usage of his credit card, could be a payment of $19,000 from the union to Thomson.

    Presumably the fact that the union has with-held this sum, which Thomson has not contested, suggests the whole issue was in the process of resolution along other administrative lines.

    Whether there is any criminality depends entirely on his employment contract, and any authorised guidelines over the credit card usage. The issue is unlikely to result in a significant gaol term. Misuse of your own credit card is not as criminal as stealing and misusing someone else’s card.

    Thomson is probably stone-walling because this is the only way he can protect the government.

  48. Bill
    September 1st, 2011 at 18:09 | #48

    #46. In that instance the consultant presumably had receipts for his expenses, (hotels, restaurants etc). Thomson has no receipts, he just tickled $100K out of the hole in the wall for personal pocketmoney. I’ve never heard of an employment contract that allowed that. Call girls ditto.

    Apart from being an habitual criminal, Thomson was as dumb as a bag of spanners. Thats probably why you some of you support him.

  49. Tim Macknay
    September 1st, 2011 at 19:06 | #49

    Insults aside, if the evidence is as damning as the media reports suggest, the police will commence a formal criminal investigation.

  50. Ron E Joggles
    September 1st, 2011 at 19:34 | #50

    @Tim Macknay
    And in the very unlikely event that charges are laid, the matter won’t come to court before the next election anyway. As usual, the chatterati are desperate for something exciting to talk about, but it isn’t going to happen – Craig Thomson won’t resign and the caucus won’t dump Julia Gillard. And the parliament will continue to pass important progressive legislation. The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on.

  51. TerjeP
    September 1st, 2011 at 21:01 | #51

    and the caucus won’t dump Julia Gillard

    I wouldn’t be too cocky about that claim. A week is a long time in politics.

  52. Ian Milliss
    September 1st, 2011 at 22:32 | #52

    @Ron E Joggles
    Exactly. You would think some of these commenters have never seen a media beatup before. Or are they just excited about joining in? So many examples of wishful thinking like “the police will commence a formal criminal investigation”? Maybe and maybe not, they had already previously decided not to bother. And you never know, they may only uncover wrongdoing by others instead. In my day it was always a basic working class principle to never call in the rozzers if only because the result can be so uncertain.

  53. Ian Milliss
    September 1st, 2011 at 22:59 | #53

    Incidentally, anyone who thinks Thomson’s exit would be an automatic win for the Libs should read Andrew Elder on Dobell it might sober them up a bit (apart from demonstrating how much better blog commentary is than MSM propaganda).

  54. Tim Macknay
    September 2nd, 2011 at 00:47 | #54

    @Ian Milliss

    So many examples of wishful thinking like “the police will commence a formal criminal investigation”?

    Excuse me? How do you read that as wishful thinking? Why would I wish for a formal investigation? Try reading the thread before weighing in, next time.

  55. Tim Macknay
    September 2nd, 2011 at 00:56 | #55

    @Ron E Joggles

    And in the very unlikely event that charges are laid, the matter won’t come to court before the next election anyway.

    Funny you should say that. I said more or less exactly the same thing on another thread the other day. I didn’t reply to your comment immediately because I thought you were agreeing with me, but after Ian Milliss’ confused remark, I now realise your comment was intended as a retort. Try reading for meaning next time.

  56. Ron E Joggles
    September 2nd, 2011 at 05:27 | #56

    @Tim Macknay
    Settle down Tim, neither retort nor agreement, just my opinion on what is likely to happen, and a comment on the eagerness for controversy.
    If the govt is forced to an early election, it may be because the PM loses her nerve and pulls the pin, but that is unlikely too.
    The govt’s problem at the moment is the perception of illegitimacy, rather than a failure to manage the country’s affairs well – so that the polls are overwhelmingly bad despite continuing growth, low unemployment, low interest rates, improving business investment, etc….
    I’m sure of one thing – if Tony Abbott had won the support of the cross benches after the 2010 election and formed a minority govt, his govt would have been bedevilled by controversy and bad polls even more.

  57. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 2nd, 2011 at 07:11 | #57

    Magpie, why would Marx wish to save capitalism, the evil, neoplastic and anti-human religion of the greedy and vicious? The aim must be, if we wish humanity to survive the next fifty years, to be rid of the capitalists and their evil cult.

  58. Chris Warren
    September 2nd, 2011 at 09:08 | #58

    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    Society needs to find an alternative to capitalism. This is not the same as getting rid of capitalists.

    Even if all wealth was publicly owned, and all incomes were equal, if this common fund then tried to extract a profit (after all costs), at a fixed rate, year after year, it too would collapse, (after spending several decades boosting the population and debt, to artificially construct profits and stave off crisis).

    Capitalism is no more evil than the prior forms of evil from Roman times, feudal times, colonial times, and in Dicken’s and Hogarth’s streets of London. In fact, welfare state capitalism, where the exploitation is shifted into the Third world, is the best of all possible worlds for OECD nations (for as long as it lasts).

    Naturally capitalists want to save capitalism, so they have to understand Marx, who after all was the direct continuation of Smith and Ricardo, pointing out the real structural essence of their theories.

    The article linked by Magpie (also printed in Canberra Times) was a Tocsin for tomorrow.

    Its 5 points are nothing but attempts to find new countervailling tendencies to fix the contradictions already destroying the previous set of countervailling tendencies (ie per capita debt and population expansion).

    Marx is probably chuckling to himself quietly in his grave.

  59. KB Keynes
    September 2nd, 2011 at 09:27 | #59

    Bill it appears is at odds with the ‘facts’. how you you know he had no receipts?

    Current MPs such as Thomson are not on the old generous Super scheme. Even if he was getting an untaxed $100k a year is much better.

  60. shocked (just like Kylie)
    September 2nd, 2011 at 11:47 | #60

    I’m really surprised by the tone of Professor Quiggin’s post. Ms Gillard is holding a minority government together, getting legislation through, and all in the face of a feral News Ltd/shock jock media.

    That said, I personally think she lacks moral authority, for not abandoning mandatory detention for refugees. Rather than attacking the High Court, she could welcome the decision as a basis for letting refugees out in the community like every other advanced democracy.

    But to suggest she resign after getting the carbon tax through? I’m new here, and will have to read up on older posts, I guess.

  61. Freelander
    September 2nd, 2011 at 13:33 | #61

    The attack on the High Court was quite right. They were in the game of rewriting the law and for a variety of political reasons. Some seemingly as support for young Tony (even if that introduced inconsistency) and others as support for their idea of what the law ought to be if they were legislators (which they are not). The minority was the only one that bothered to give the ruling according to law as legislated.

    Very American like, where the Supremes (and the courts below them) interpret law as they see fit, and are even inconsistent with their past rulings, if, as needs be, inconsistency is required to put their party’s candidate into the oval office. (In the US, the right constantly accuses those they consider left judges of rewriting the law, but the truth, sadly, is that left and right, they are both at it whenever it suits them.)

    None of this is to say that the Gillard position and the Malaysian solution are anything other than morally bankrupt. I imagine I am not the only one sick of hearing about the ‘evil’ people smugglers ‘business model’. The business model which is to use expendable boats to transport those wanting transport because the Australian government will confiscate the boat. Of course, if they didn’t want asylum seekers transported in unsafe boats the Australian government could give the ‘people smugglers’ boats back after they delivered their cargo. If they did that they wouldn’t be using throw-away boats. But then, there would be a higher volume of transport of asylum seekers, and the asylum seekers would not have to pay as high a price for transport (both in monetary cost and lives lost). This, of course, is not what successive governments want.

    Instead of all the hypocrisy the Australian government should simply unsign the international refugee agreement it signed. Clearly Australia, or at least the Australian government, doesn’t want to live up to it obligations under the agreement. So unsign it and be done with it.

    As for The Australian’s attack on Gillard, as Robert Manne wrote in a piece in The Age, something has to be done about the Murdoch relentless attack on democracy. Only the Greens seem to be pushing for something to be done. Of course, the coalition are happy with the way things are (at the moment) and Labor is too scared that they might lose votes if they take a stand. Why they should be scared, given how few they have left to lose, is difficult to fathom.

    The latest is the lengthy beat up of the Labor backbencher, and his alleged misuse of a credit card, when a Lib backbencher has been at least as deserving a target, and much further along in a judicial process, but ignored for a beat up. In both cases, rather than the media and unscrupulous politicians doing a beat up, the legal system should simply be left to run its course (without political interference to either ensure prosecution or to withdraw prosecution). But that is too much to expect.

    But generally, the behaviour of politicians and others, who have done well out of our society is rather poor. And not only here but in plenty of other countries as well. No wonder the English had their English Summer. Although, no doubt, not the only component motivating the rioters, it is difficult to believe that the mini-insurrection didn’t have at least something to do with the loss of legitimacy of the so-called establishment and their instruments of control, the police and judicial system. The reaction of those three, establishment, police, and judiciary, would have done nothing to have restored that legitimacy. Indeed, the heavy handedness of the sentencing, and the protestations of moral outrage from politicians (who have proven themselves to be somewhat flawed) is more likely to have simply sown the seeds for further strife. Lets hope similar problems do not reach our shores. And lets hope our politicians, and others, do something quickly to restore their legitimacy.

  62. Tim Macknay
    September 2nd, 2011 at 14:19 | #62

    Would you care to justify those claims about the High Court, Freelander?

  63. Freelander
    September 2nd, 2011 at 15:01 | #63

    Just do a bit of background.

  64. Tim Macknay
    September 2nd, 2011 at 16:40 | #64

    I don’t really have time to research the past careers of each of the High Court justices, which I assume is what you’re getting at. Why not just put up a quick precis of the basis for your claim?

  65. Freelander
    September 2nd, 2011 at 17:05 | #65

    Gillard is only getting support on this point from someone in the Oz like Kelly because she is entirely correct.

    If the decision was simply consistent with prior decisions and nothing more than a standard interpretation it wouldn’t have come as a great surprise to everyone. Of course, courts making ‘surprising’ decisions is unfortunately not unknown. The idea that a valid criticism of a judgement or of the inconsistency of the decision with prior decisions smacks of lèse majesté. If she made a completely unjustified spray at the court that would be different. But she didn’t. She simply and calmly pointed out the inconsistency.

  66. Freelander
    September 2nd, 2011 at 17:28 | #66

    The really painful criticism is when someone points out that you have gotten it wrong.

    There was no ‘attack’ on ‘separation of powers’ in relation to the ruling of the high court. However wrongly thought out and inconsistent with prior rulings, it stands. But judges shouldn’t be some protected species that cannot be criticised when they make mistakes or simply start making it up.

  67. Tim Macknay
    September 2nd, 2011 at 17:36 | #67

    I’m not really concerned about Julia Gillard’s criticism of the Court. It’s hardly surprising for a politician to be critical when a court makes a decision that is both unexpected and very damaging to the politican’s agenda. That’s par for the course. Also, her claim of inconsistency was directed at Justice French in particular, not the whole bench.

    What I am interested in is your contention that the Court’s decision was based on political bias and other illegimate considerations. That’s what I’m asking you to provide a precis for, not a defence of Julia Gillard’s outburst. I am assuming you have something more than a Paul Kelly column to support this view. Surely, you have something more substantial than a Paul Kelly column .

  68. Freelander
    September 2nd, 2011 at 21:12 | #68

    I don’t have to convince you or prove anything to you. If you are too lazy to do your own research, or even read what Gillard said with care (which your precis indicates you have not) any attempt would be a wasted effort. I find it much better, and of more educative value, if people work things out for themselves.

    The odious Phillip Ruddock was more direct (during a previous episode of judicial whimsy) in articulating the obvious; what Gillard did was simply lay out the facts. When judges do a piece of legislative interpretation and do the equivalent of finding that 1 plus 1 does not equal 2, but instead equals some other number that happens to be convenient to their current purpose, they know what they are up to, especially when they have managed to get the number ‘2’ more than once in the past.

  69. Tim Macknay
    September 2nd, 2011 at 22:54 | #69

    If you are too lazy to do your own research, or even read what Gillard said with care…

    I admit I haven’t read all of Gillard’s comments – only the bits reported in various news articles. As I said before, I am not particularly concerned with her comments. The bits I have read indicate a general view that the High Court has changed its view on how the relevant parts of the Migration Act 1958 operate, and a specific comment that the Chief Justice, in particular, has departed from his previous interpretations of section 198A. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Your accusation of laziness is a transparent evasion, from which I surmise that you have no basis for your assertion that the Court’s decision was politically biased. This puts you on roughly the same level as Brian Heffernan when he falsely accused Michael Kirby of trolling for prostitutes in Kings Cross – although at least Heffernan had some evidence which turned out to be false, rather than nothing at all.

    I’m a bit disheartened. I used to enjoy your comments. My opinion of you has plummeted.

  70. Tim Macknay
    September 2nd, 2011 at 23:04 | #70

    I meant Bill Heffernan, obviously. No idea why I wrote Brian. Come to think of it, my last comment is a little bit hostile. But then again, you did accuse me of laziness, so I suppose that explains it.

  71. Freelander
    September 3rd, 2011 at 06:44 | #71

    Tim Macknay :

    If you are too lazy to do your own research, or even read what Gillard said with care…

    … My opinion of you has plummeted.


  72. John Quiggin
    September 3rd, 2011 at 09:29 | #72

    I’m calling a halt on this one. I haven’t got time to go over the thread and sort out rights and wrongs, but Tim and Freelander, please stop commenting on this post, and don’t engage with each other in other threads unless you can do so in a civil fashion.

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