A year or so later, we know that:
a. her ex boyfriend Wilson still seems to support her, and has attacked the sleazy internet campaign;
b. the Greek builder says Gillard paid for her renovations and has got nothing against her;
c. she did some legal work that appeared quite minor without opening a file; it turned out subsequently to have a high embarrassment factor for her firm and the partners weren't happy. There appear to have been tensions within the firm over other matters anyway, with several lawyers leaving around the time.
d. as predicted, there is no evidence being produced that she had knowledge of the fraudulent way the association was run by her then boyfriend, or that she benefitted in any substantial way. (I am betting that maybe the Greek or one of the tradies working on her renovation might have been expecting to be paid by Wilson, but if he told Gillard that they owed him a favour, so what?)
As for the media treatment of this, Hedley Thomas is having a tantrum today that the rest of the media weren't showing enough interest in the office politics and embarrassment that Gillard caused Slater & Gordon nearly 20 years ago.
Hedley: it was 20 years ago.
Quite frankly, Mr Thomas as a serial pest with no sense of proportion. He gets lucky at times, noticing (for example) some inconsistencies in the Brisbane flood inquiry evidence, the embarrassment factor of which then seemed to lead to the lawyers for the inquiry going in too hard on the hapless dam engineers who had been exhausted working out what to do during a huge flood event.
And look at the final outcome: the engineers referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, only to be found last week to have no case to answer.
This was reported in brief detail by some other reporter in the Australian. As far as I can see, Thomas has made no comment. He was too busy on a beat up of another story beyond its importance.
I mean, just imagine what a misery these engineers' lives have been with this hanging over their heads. To get greater detail of the CMC's finding, you have to go to a Fairfax outlet, or the ABC report, but basically it is all put down to problems with the manual:
Mr Jerrard has found the dam was operated in breach of the operating manual but said this was due to shortcomings in the manual design.As I have argued in detail before, Hedley Thomas and the Australian's campaign to encourage flood victims to believe there was someone to blame for an unavoidable natural disaster, all based on the opinion of one of two engineers of dubious ability and knowledge of the true situation at Wivenhoe, remains a disgraceful example of journalism doing harm to public understanding.
"There is no evidence that I have seen which suggests the conduct of Mr Tibaldi, Mr Ayre and Mr Malone relating to the preparation of documents surrounding the January 2011 flood event, and oral testimony given to the flood inquiry, evidences offences against the Criminal Code or official misconduct under the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001," he said in advice released today.
Mr Jerrard said any inconsistencies in the engineers' explanations of how they managed the flood could be explained by the contradictions in the operation manual.
Going back to Gillard, I think her being aggressive on the matter this week, even with the boring and pompous Paul Kelly, will help her public image. And as for The Australian's coverage of the matter, I think Barrie Cassidy got it right:
Speers was also right to say, "These may not be serious matters."There are a couple of things still confusing about this. As I noted before, the Gillard sympathising Brisbane journalist Dennis Atkins referred to her living with Wilson, but I thought this was the particular claim that I thought cost Glenn Milne his job. Gillard seemed to be claiming that Milne's 2007 article falsely claimed she set up an account and this was the subject of a retraction, but I'm not sure if that is quite right either.
And that goes to the heart of the coverage in The Australian. Of course the newspaper did well to gain fresh information. But the newspaper grossly exaggerated the value of that information and the worth of the story.
Nobody is suggesting the newspaper should not have pursued the issue. It's a question of prominence.
According to The Age, The Australian has published more than 40 articles and opinion pieces about the allegations since 1995, three quarters of them in the last month.
Some of that coverage included front page banner headlines and full page transcripts. This was not the Loans Affair or Tampa. This was a story about the Prime Minister showing a lack of judgment 17 years ago. As the Australian and others repeatedly said, nobody was accusing Julia Gillard of wrongdoing, nobody apart from those Gillard has dismissed as misogynists and nut jobs.
In any event, it is, more than ever, "time to move on". I don't blame Gillard for being furious about the way the right wing shock jocks in particular have dealt with this - particularly Michael Smith, the sympatico support Andrew Bolt offered him, and then the increasingly execrable Alan Jones. And of course Larry Pickering - I mean the utter hide of a bankrupt (widely suspected of fraud) making obviously defamatory statements and then claiming that the lack of legal action against him somehow vindicated him.
There is no doubt at all that this campaign was a "dog whistle" one, where there were lists of "serious questions to be answered" (ignoring the fact that the material had been out there for years and repeatedly denied already) followed by pathetic attempts at arse covering by the occasional (very occasional) statement "not that we're saying Gillard knew what Wilson was doing." Well, boys, that's exactly what you wanted people to believe, and don't pretend otherwise.
My opinion of Andrew Bolt in all of this has sunk further than ever before. He was clearly gleeful that the obscene, bankrupt and utterly careless-of-facts Pickering was getting attention for his claims, and while not specifically referring people to his blog, eventually decided to comment that Pickering was "brave" to be doing this, and only belatedly making some reference to the scumbag nature of the campaign:
It was terrific how she made out the controversy started with the utterly scurrilous blog of Larry Pickering..As far as I am concerned, anyone associated with Labor should freeze him out completely by never appearing on his smug faced Sunday show. He deserves their contempt.