In contrast to our senior correspondent, Tess Lawrence says the reaction from Julia Gillard to the Glenn Milne story was hypocritical and that The Australian should never have retracted it in its entirety. What do you think?
ROMEOS & JULIA
MILNE'S AND BOON'S HOTTEST EVER NOVELLA
It is Milne's and Boon's hottest ever novella; the greatest story never told, breasts heaving with lust, intrigue, treachery, betrayal, forbidden and unwise love, hearts drunken on the aphrodisia of power, loins throbbing with the glut of unspent seed and over spent union funds, and headlines and deadlines thrashing with the clash of those two bloated Titans — Media and Politics. Ho hum. Just another day in the Opal Office.
Julia the Red Queen who seized power from surly workaholic King Kevin VII in a palace coup masterminded by boyz band The Faceless Men, runners up in ' Australia's Got No Talent. '
John Kenneth Hartigan, the Earl of SX and Chief Executive Officer of News Limited, charged by the flaccid lipped media scion Rupert Uriah Heap Murdoch to ensure the imperative acquisition for BSkyB of the Australia Network from the ABC and to ensure there are no visible incriminatory skidmarks or tell-tale soiling on the impeccable name, reputation and Downunderpants of the Murdoch Empire.
Craig Thomson, Labor Member for the electorate of Dobell whose Credit Card improperly helped itself to tens of thousands of dollars whilst enjoying the comfort of prostitutes, when he was the unwitting National Secretary of the Health Services Union. Craig enjoys the public support and affirmation of The Red Queen.
Glenn "Fiddick" Milne, columnist for Murdoch's The Australian, Poet Lorikeet and activist pugilist with a reputation as a relentless hardworking hardplaying hardnews snout.
Bruce Morton Wilson, fraudster, former lover of the Red Queen, one-time West Australian secretary of the Australian Workers Union, later elected secretary of the Victorian AWU.
The Australian People. Who?
On Monday, a histrionic eruption took place when John Hartigan intervened at the behest of a furious Prime Minister Julia Gillard and 'pulled' an article about Bruce Wilson and Julia Gillard, written by Glenn Milne.
It is Julia's birthday next month and Hartigan couldn't have given her a better present than acceding to her demands in a very public backdown.
After killing the story, The Australian published an apology and retraction.
Wasn't Glenn Milne basically resurrecting an article he wrote for The Sunday Telegraph (difference horse, same Murdoch stable) on Remembrance Day, November 11, 2007?
That article is still on The Sunday Telegraph's website and has been for four years.
Under the headline 'Gillard's Stunning Confession', the article featured supportive documents, and a photo of Gillard with the caption 'Lover...Julia's heart was broken by a conman'.
"...Gillard fell in love with a former union official and fraudster who broke her heart and threatened to destroy her political career.
"Ms Gillard, 46, who is poised to become Deputy Prime Minister if Labor wins office in two weeks' time, yesterday confirmed she was a union lawyer when she fell for the conman.
"As a solicitor acting on instructions, she set up an association later used by her lover to defraud the Australian Workers Union (AWU).
"But she has strenuously denied ever knowing what the association's bank accounts were used for."
Julia Gillard not only went on to become Deputy Prime Minister as well as Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, but of course, under continuing notorious and contentious circumstances, went on to become the 27th Prime Minister of Australia.
Milne's article backgrounded Gillard's then relationship with Wilson.
"Ms Gillard, who in her early thirties was a lawyer with Melbourne-based Labor firm Slater & Gordon at the time of the fraud, acted for the AWU.
"She met Bruce Morton Wilson, who was then the West Australian AWU secretary, while representing the union in the Industrial Relations Commission. Wilson later moved to Melbourne, where Ms Gillard lived, to become Victorian secretary of the union."
Moreover, in the article, The Sunday Telegraph quoted Ms Gillard's response to the revelations.
"These matters happened between 12 and 15 years ago,'' Ms Gillard told The Sunday Telegraph.” I was young and naive."
"I was in a relationship, which I ended, and obviously it was all very distressing. I am by no means the first person to find out that someone close turns out to be different to what you had believed them to be. It's an ordinary human error.
"I was obviously hurt when I was later falsely accused publicly of wrong-doing. I didn't do anything wrong and to have false allegations in the media was distressing.
"The whole thing has taught me some lessons about life, generally, and (about) the slings and arrows of public life, in particular.
"I think that I have emerged a stronger person as a result.''
Milne then provided further background in his (2007) article:
"The relationship, briefly mentioned in Victoria's Parliament in 1995, re-surfaced this year when rogue WA CFMEU union official Kevin Reynolds referred to the affair at a union meeting.
"Accusing Ms Gillard of hypocrisy, Mr Reynolds told members it was just one of many secrets he would reveal about Labor's inner circle.
"Hundreds of pages of new documents held by the AWU have now been leaked, detailing Wilson's fraud.
"Wilson's whereabouts are unknown, but he was thought to be hiding out in Western Australia. Photographs taken 16 years ago show him in Perth.
"Union sources claim Ms Gillard's involvement with Wilson posed a potential danger to her in the event Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister, even though she says she committed no wrongdoing.
"As well as being Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Gillard would be minister for workplace relations in a Labor government, responsible for developing a new industrial relations system.
"Fears have been raised within the union movement that she could have been subjected to improper pressure from some officials who knew the full extent of her former lover's fraud.
"Ms Gillard told The Sunday Telegraph she had never heard of such suggestions and would regard it as grossly improper.
"She said she would in no way be influenced by such a suggestion, other than contemplating notifying the police immediately it had been made.
"Ms Gillard now dates hair product salesman Tim Mathieson and previously dated Labor MP Craig Emerson."
Glenn Milne enjoys a reputation as a good journalist and commentator. The 2007 article was fair and balanced and of indisputable public interest, given that Ms Gillard was poised to become Deputy PM.
Given the intense and quite proper media scrutiny on Craig Thomson and his union activities, it is bleedingly obvious that Glenn Milne would want to, and should, revisit his own story about union fraud. The fact that a serving Prime Minister (or any politician) was once involved in a relationship with a fraudster is, of course, newsworthy and of public interest by any measure; media, motive and political vested interests notwithstanding.
Whatever happened to Mr Wilson and the missing money? Was there an inquiry? Was the money paid back? Was there an endemic culture of such behaviour in the union movement? Are there any parallels between the Wilson and Thomson cases? These are all legitimate questions.
In the article Ms Gillard is reported as stating she would contemplate notifying the police if union officials subjected her to improper pressure. This is an important documented response given the proclivities of the sordid Thomson affair. We should remember that both Thomson and Gillard are lawyers.
It should also be noted that Milne's 2007 article has been referred to and quoted extensively by others more recently.
Milne apparently added newer material to his Monday article. Rather than kill the entire story, why wasn't the 'offending' material simply removed.
Who knows what covenant was struck between Murdoch executives and Gillard at that private pressing of the flesh on August 2.
I am concerned that the Prime Minister is able to exercise such wholesale influence in this instance. How many other such calls has she made to media outlets – and on what subjects – and what other stories have been pulled?
The Prime Minister is hypocritical in demands she makes on her own behalf and her own political survival compared with her outrageous and legally imprudent assertions that the activities of Australian citizen Julian Assange and Wikileaks was "illegal."
I do not share the opinion of some of my colleagues that Milne's story is 'old' news.
Remember that the revelations about Craig Thomson stemmed from 'old’ news. Many journalistic investigations arise out of 'old' and 'cold case' news and in no way do I make any imputation whatsoever about the Prime Minister Julia Gillard in this instance, when I point out that so often such investigations are first met with denials.
It is farcical that Prime Minister Gillard would dare to complain about not being asked for a response to Milne's opinion piece, given that she and the PM's Department are notorious for not responding to requests.
Do our politicians lie to us? Yes, they do. We need look no further than the lies that were promulgated about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Our Government knowingly led us to that dark place and our nation must share responsibility for the carnage, destruction and unrest that afflicts that broken country, now discarded by us and the other remnants of the corrupt Coalition of the Killing.