The Australian and the Prime Minister

by John Passant

The News Ltd paper The Australian has been on a vendetta against Labor and Julia Gillard for some time now. There is nothing surprising in this.

Rupert Murdoch uses his newspapers to try and influence the outcome of government decisions and election results and, he hopes, to suit his business interests. He has done so since time immemorial.

He also is an astute capitalist who knows his major market-  the US – is built on the bones of conquered and subjugated peoples around the globe.

Hence Murdoch is an avid supporter of American imperialism even when it may not appear his direct material interests are involved. So it was that 174 of his 175 media outlets supported the invasion of Iraq.

But sometimes the hubris of unelected power overreaches the mark

In an article on Monday in The Australian called ‘PM a lost cause for warring unions’ Glenn Milne wrote that unions had abandoned the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and any idea that the Labor Party might win the next election. Instead he claimed they were warring among themselves.

This on its own seems highly doubtful. But it gets worse. Milne goes on to say that the Prime Minister was ‘implicated, albeit unknowingly, in a major union fraud of her own before she entered Parliament.’ Evidently material from the Australian Workers Union was going to prove the point.

Milne also cites Andrew Bolt in support. Bolt wrote on Saturday that something big would go down on Monday and implicate Gillard in another union funds scandal.

He was quick to add that Gillard herself was not accused of any misbehaviour.

So why raise it? Because it makes her look incompetent? Or to associate her with misbehaviour?

This is material that is 16 years old. This looks like it is part of Abbott’s smear campaign. But then again, there is nothing surprising in this since The Australian has become a Liberal Party organ.

The story Milne developed is about a former boyfriend of Gillard’s,  Bruce Wilson. Milne alleges that as a solicitor Gillard set up an association which was later used by Wilson as a union leader to defraud members. Milne then says that Gillard denied having any knowledge of the use the association would be put to.

Milne seems to be inviting us to draw our own conclusions.

Milne asserted that Gillard lived in a house that Wilson had purchased with defrauded funds. Again he tells us there is or was no suggestion she knew this. So why raise it?  Could it be because it hints at something; it implies something; it taints the PM by association?

Could it be, heaven forbid, that The Australian is doing Tony Abbott’s dirty work?Again.

Where’s the big story Milne, relying on Bolt, predicted would break on Monday? No sign yet.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Tuesday that a former Australian Workers Union official, Bob Kernohan, was to be interviewed by 2 UE (a Fairfax group radio) but that didn’t go ahead. (Mark Skulley ‘PM objects to union funds story’ The AFR 30 August 2011 page 12).   The station ‘was conducting a legal review of the material and seeking further information.’

The Milne story or parts of it are untrue.

I checked The Australian’s website for updates. Here is what it says about Glenn Milne’s article.

THE AUSTRALIAN published today an opinion piece by Glenn Milne which includes assertions about the conduct of the Prime Minister.

The Australian acknowledges these assertions are untrue. The Australian also acknowledges no attempt was made by anyone employed by, or associated with, The Australian to contact the Prime Minister in relation to this matter.

The Australian unreservedly apologises to the Prime Minister and to its readers for the publication of these claims.

This slipped through because it is part of The Australian’s agenda – to destroy the Labor Government. Truth is irrelevant when you are on a mission from the Sun King.

Interestingly Andrew Bolt, who writes for another News Ltd paper called the Herald Sun, still had details of Milne’s untrue assertions on his newspaper blog site.

The news organisation that bought you phone hacking in the UK brings you untruths in Australia.

The Australian – by its untrue stories shall you know it. The Murdoch press – where untruths abound.



About John Passant - I have been a socialist since I was 16, radicalised by the Vietnam War. I am a liberationist – I believe in Marx’s idea of the self-emancipation of the working class. So I reject stalinism and recognise it as the opposite of socialism – namely state capitalism. I have been a union and political activist for many years. I am a member of Socialist Alternative although the views expressed by me here are mine and mine alone.

John blogs at