The LNP and their Billy Gordon dirt file

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Billy Gordon refuses to buckle under the cynical campaign waged against him (Image via The Western Cape Bulletin)

Brave Indigenous MP Billy Gordon refuses to bow down to the cynical smear campaign of the Courier-Mail and the LNP. Managing editor David Donovan comments on conservatives and their dirt files.

TODAY, Billy Gordon said he would continue as an MP for the Cook electorate and support the minority Palaszczuk Government.

Good, because Gordon has every right to represent his Far North Queensland constituency. Every right, despite the pantomime gasps and exclamations of horror and outrage from Rupert Murdoch's Courier-Mail and LNP Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg, as Billy Gordon is an innocent man. One who has been disgracefully set upon and besmirched by the Murdoch media and the usual conservative forces. They have not done this to be great paragons of virtue, or defenders of the public good, though they might cynically claim these motivations. They have done it simply to try to unseat the new Government and gain power.

We know this, because we have seen this charade too many times before. These are the boys who never stop crying wolf.

They come forward with controversial claims based on truths, half-truths, smear and innuendo. They air them through a kangaroo court, convened and presided over by a crooked media judge. At the end of the show trial, the defendant’s record is, if the smear is done well enough, indelibly set by the court of public opinion, irrespective of the true state of affairs. That only ever emerges much later, if at all.

The same thing happened with Slipper. It happened with Thomson. They tried it on with Gillard. They have done it many other times besides. It is a recurring, obscene feature of Australian politics. We now see the same routine happening with Billy Gordon.

It all comes about from a Liberal Party/LNP dirt file. They have these files on enemies and friends alike. I am told the dirt is all kept in an extensive database. All you need to do is cross the LNP – or, more typically, be seen as a weak link to be exploited − and they will pass the dirt they have assiduously dug to selected media. "No fingerprints, no DNA" is the conservative motto.

In the case of former Speaker Peter Slipper, it was News Corp’s Steve 'Scoop' Lewis who was given the file. For Craig Thomson, it was Kate 'Walkley' McClymont and then, when she had finally lost interest in her prey, sacked 2UE host Michael Smith. (The Libs also needed Kathy Jackson to play her part in that complex stage production.) And Smith, of course, was also handy for those now totally discredited Gillard AWU smears.

Peta Credlin and the Gillard dirt file (Image via theage.com.au)

Quite often, the dirt unit will shop their smears around until they finally gain traction. It's a grubby job, but someone needs to do it.

And who is in the dirt unit? That, my friends, is one of the tasks of the party political staffer. You know the ones? The coffee collectors, the back scratchers, the hair combers, the flag wavers, the nodders, the fluffers, the sycophants and, yes, the paid assassins.

Their job could be harder, but with News Ltd dominating Australia’s media landscape, well…

And so we come back to Billy Gordon. An Indigenous man who has battled all his life through the quicksand of institutional racism in Australia’s Deep South – Far North Queensland – to become a member of Parliament. Apparently, soon after becoming an MP, evidence emerged that showed he had committed two break and enter offences — when he was 13 and 16. Those offences, of course, were wiped from his record in adulthood. He had no obligation to disclose them to anyone. However, his confidential file from the Department of Families was leaked to people who would do him harm.

Other information suggested he had done other wrongs, but none of this information, it seems, has been proven — its current status is as tantalising, prurient innuendo.

So, let’s stick with the facts for now; we’ll get to the smear shortly.

I am about the same age as Billy Gordon and I come from west of Rockhampton — nowhere near as far into the Far North as Billy Gordon, but I know what it would have been like for him. The Freedom Rides never made their way into Central and Northern Queensland and segregation was a fact of life up until the 1990s at least, as I personally observed in Rockhampton. Australia’s First Nations' People were, in this part of the world, uniformly criminalised from childhood. I imagine it was seen by the authorities as a way of keeping them tractable. For Billy Gordon to have escaped this oppressive paradigm would have made him an exception and a freak. Now, who would want a freak as their local MP?

Indeed, Billy Gordon shows all the elements of redemption and achievement we should be applauding in our resilient First Citizens. There is a strong strain of racism in the latest chapter in the story of Billy Gordon, to be sure.

Now for the smears. The other “information” that has apparently emerged about Billy Gordon. Apparently he hasn’t put in some tax returns. Well, who hasn’t been late putting in their tax returns at some time? Indeed, even former Prime Minister Paul Keating was shown to be late on his tax returns. This came from a vicious smear campaignover his “piggeries” in 1999 as payback for humiliating the Liberal Party year after year. Nothing came of it, of course. Unsubstantiated. Uncorroborated. Unproven. Flimsy. Probably nonsense.

Billy Gordon is said to have had an AVO against him. This appears to be related to a family court matter. The airing of these sort of tenuous grievances by the Murdoch Press – notably by the low brow, biased beyond belief Courier-Mail, which advertised its obvious affiliations prior to and during the Queensland election, as well as afterwards – is simply beneath contempt.

If there are domestic violence issues, let them be heard in a court of law, otherwise let them rest — for the benefit of all parties concerned, including ‒ and especially ‒ the children. Suffice to say, Gordon has repeatedly denied the physical abuse claims and says he wants “natural justice”.

As for the motivations of the smearers, two of the three main progenitors of these vile and unsubstantiated accusations are ousted North Queensland MPs from the Party most definitely to benefit from the downfall of the Palaszczuk Government — one the very MP Gordon defeated in the seat of Cook at the January election, David Kempton.

The other is former Cairns LNP MP Gavin King, who also lost his seat at the last election and so started up a smear website of his own — like other disgraced Coalition cronies before him, such as the disgraced Michael Smith and Reclaim Australia’s main attraction, the obscene and repugnant Gold Coast cartoonist Larry Pickering.

And, in an utterly perverse and ironic twist, this same Gavin King gained "fame" as, wait for it, a rape apologist before being elected in 2011.

Here’s what King wrote about women “asking for it”:

If a woman is flirting or wearing a short skirt or drinking too much she never deserves or "asks" to be raped.

But women need to ask themselves if their binge drinking behaviour puts them at risk.

The answer is yes, it does.

Yes, this is the very same individual casting aspersions on Billy Gordon over domestic violence issues.

Also involved is Federal MP Warren Entsch, someone closely identified with the Ashbygate affair. Entsch also battled Gordon for his seat of Leichardt in the 2013 election. He reportedly passed a “package of material” to the Courier-Mail last month. I wonder if he had even read the smears before passing them along the chain?

So much for the noble motives of Gordon's accusers.

Of course, this could all bring down callow Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s new Government. And that, of course, is its main intent. Like Gillard did with Thomson, Palazczuk dropped Gordon like a hot potato as soon as the allegations were aired. Her Government sits on a margin of one. Any by-election could trigger a change of Government. And that is exactly why everyone should treat anything they hear in the media about this matter with immense scepticism, bordering on disdain.

Billy Gordon did something wrong a long time ago, when he was just a kid. As far as we know for sure, he has done nothing wrong since then.

The truth will come out — but it certainly won’t be what the Sun King’s sulphur-breathed minions extract from a grubby, dog-eared, LNP dirt file given to them by a fresh-faced fluffer.

(Image via theage.com.au)

You can follow David Donovan on Twitter @davrosz.

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