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EYE-BALL Opinion – Hedley Thomas – Australian Hero – Journalist story calls media to account –


Latest ‘EYE-BALL Opinion’ Posts:

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– 23rd Aug: – The Prime Minister Does not get it – Her Leadership has never been legitimised –

– 24th Aug: – Misogynist Nutjob’s – Protesters by another name –

– 23rd Aug: – Prime Minister Shines – stares down her detractors –

– 23rd Aug: – New CYBER DATA Laws passed – this is not the last word –

– 22nd Aug: – The Last Word on Copyright Piracy – News Ltd Chief shows ignorance –

– 21st Aug: – Julian Assange – The sage continues –

– 20th Aug: – Gillard’s PM tenure, All but over – She needs to learn a lesson from Nixon –

– 18th Aug: – Telstra-Bigpond – A protected Corporate species … WHY? – Part 1 – Telstra-Bigpond Billing Problems –

– 17th Aug: – The Julian Assange saga – the World should be concerned –

– 16th Aug: – The Asylum Seeker Solution – MP’s should hang their heads in shame

– 15th Aug: – Gillard – beyond redemption III – Pickering’s Offerings –

– 14th Aug: – Gillard – beyond redemption II – More from Alan Jones and Mike Smith –

– 13th Aug: –  Gillard – beyond redemption I – the walls are about to come dawn –

– 9th Aug: –  Why did Mark Arbib jump Ship? – Was he the smartest of them all –

– 9th Aug:  –  Two Examples of Injustice – Corrupt political Appointee & Politician –

– 2nd Aug:  –  Enough is Enough – At What Point do you call American’s DUMB –

– 30th July:  –  Mal Brough – is it replacing one crook with another –

– 20th July:  – Australia’s Watergate – Gillard to go to Jail … if JUSTICE be served!!!

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– Hedley Thomas – Australian Hero –
–  Journalist story calls media to account –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 25th Aug 2012 |

f ever there was a time that Australia needed a trustworthy and sound media – it will be in the coming weeks and months.

The largest scandal to ever impact on Politics in this Nation is about to happen.

‘The Australia’ journalist Hedley Thomas, six times Walkley winner wrote a masterful article today that will forever change Australian Media reporting, Australian Politics, and the way the public view Canberra, and the people who sit in our Parliament House and transact Government business.

Hedley Thomas’ article is copied below and it is the bravest newspaper story I’ve ever read given what is at stake.

Media’s shameful silence

| Author: Hedley Thomas | Date: Aug 25th 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |

ONE week ago, the grand sum of information on which most Australians could reasonably rely to make informed judgments about the conduct of Julia Gillard – before she embarked on a career in the political arena – was divided into four vastly different blocs.

The first of these is Australia’s mainstream news and documentary media, the journalists responsible for the first draft of history. In particular, Fairfax Media ‘s The Age (because of Gillard’s residency in Melbourne), News Limited’s Herald Sun, the ABC, and The Australian.

It is important to include in this bloc the Canberra parliamentary press gallery because of the understandable public interest in exploring the past deeds, and misdeeds, of political leaders.

This mainstream-media bloc is the most influential. Its market penetration and capacity to inform millions of people, from the tip of Cape York in Queensland to the southernmost town of Tasmania, means it needs to be the most accurate and diligent.
The most influential people in Sport

The next bloc produced the important narratives that sit on bookshelves and in libraries as a ready reference. It includes the official biographies and curriculum vitae, and author Jacqueline Kent’s book The Making of Julia Gillard. Its penetration is limited to the number of people who have bought or borrowed the book, perhaps measured in the tens of thousands. It is supposed to stand the test of time as a reliable document of truth.

The third bloc is the blogosphere with its a mish-mash of websites. Some can be fair and informative, others are vile and malicious in their recycling of unattributed innuendo without regard for defamation, public interest and balance. It is difficult to know how many read them, or how widely the email links are distributed, but when viral, the hits will be enormous.

The fourth bloc with a stake in the sum of knowledge about the conduct of Gillard when she was a salaried partner in a prominent Melbourne law firm is made up of those directly in the know. These are the true insiders who were there at Slater & Gordon at the time, in 1995, and involved in significant events that have long been concealed. They would number little more than a handful, not including those whom they have told in confidence.

One of those insiders, Nick Styant-Browne, lanced a boil last week. He made a decision to impart long-concealed information about the conduct of the Prime Minister. He determined that it was in the public interest for Australians who have a direct stake in the country’s leadership to know truths that have been tightly held by a handful of people since 1995. He asked The Weekend Australian and this journalist to help him impart this information. He did it in the midst of a raging, nasty internet campaign against Ms Gillard.

In his own careful, reserved statement, Styant-Browne, a former equity partner of Slater & Gordon who has been practising law in Seattle for the past decade, revealed astonishing facts from primary-source documents about Gillard. They were facts about which my mainstream media colleagues – the hundreds of journalists informing 20 million Australians – should have been inquisitive, and intensely interested in developing.

Styant-Browne’s disclosures in this newspaper last Saturday, were these. After an internal probe at the firm in 1995, Gillard left her job as a direct result of the controversial work she had done for her then boyfriend, a union boss accused of corruption. A tape-recorded interview was conducted; a transcript existed.

In it, Gillard could not categorically rule out that she had personally benefited from union funds in the renovation of her Melbourne home. Her partners “took a very serious view” of her conduct, particularly her failure to open a file on her legal work in establishing an incorporated association, which she admitted in the 1995 interview was a “slush fund” to raise money for union officials to contest elections. The association had a misleading name, the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association, which meant nobody could have understood it was a “slush fund”. Because of her failure to open a file, the Slater & Gordon partnership did not know of its existence for three years, despite Gillard having set it up for her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, and his mate, bagman Ralph Blewitt, both of whom were AWU branch secretaries.

The AWU did not know about it either, despite the AWU being Slater & Gordon’s client. The AWU’s national leadership was in the dark for a further seven months after Gillard’s abrupt departure in September 1995, amid police investigations trying to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars that went through the slush fund that Gillard had created. She believed she had been treated shabbily by the firm, and strenuously and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Importantly, at no time in the past 17 years has the Australian public been informed of these remarkable circumstances surrounding Gillard’s conduct. Not by the mainstream media nor the authors nor the political insiders in Canberra and Melbourne.

The country knew next to nothing of how she parted ways with Slater & Gordon; of how, in documents, there existed a detailed account of a scandal that caused two journalists to lose their jobs last year for their attempts to investigate.

It is not possible to look back on how Styant-Browne, his revelations, and the messenger, The Australian, were managed over this past week without reflecting on the work of journalists who claim to represent their readership, their listeners, or their viewers. On the ABC and in Fairfax newspapers, senior and influential commentators spent days trying to reposition the revelations by conflating them with the ugly campaign in the blogosphere or pretending there was little or nothing new.

Influential media leaders such as Michelle Grattan from The Age, and Fran Kelly of the ABC, appeared reluctant to engage on a story about the most powerful politician in the country, even though they had missed the story, or just not reported it, despite privileged positions in Canberra.

Less experienced journalists took their cue, and instead of leaping on obvious news angles that could be developed to add to the sum total of knowledge, stalled. Widely read website Crikey.com’s reporter Andrew Crook wrote a story suggesting a grand Liberal Party conspiracy because Styant-Browne’s nephew’s de facto sister-in-law (whose name he could not immediately recall) works in social policy in a Liberal Party office.

A number of journalists betrayed their political colours and connections with enthusiasm to ignore or deflect Styant-Browne’s disclosures, so as to give the Prime Minister a glowing endorsement. In this way, they distorted what was an already carefully worded media release from Slater & Gordon, and prepared a counter-narrative: the evil Murdoch empire was at it again.

Readers, viewers and listeners were told falsely that these were old allegations about the Prime Minister, and that she had dealt with them so many times in the past, or that they were old stories being reheated from blogs, or they were not worthy of the national daily, or they were not legitimate, anyway.

There were exceptions outside the News Limited stable, of course. Clear thinkers such as Tony Jones, of the ABC’s Lateline, his 7.30 colleague Chris Uhlmann, and Fairfax’s political reporter, Lenore Taylor. But by then the ground was shifting, Slater & Gordon was spinning, and the Prime Minister’s Office was in crisis.

The material released by Styant-Browne grew exponentially on Tuesday because of his concern that his old firm, Slater & Gordon, was trying to protect the position of the Prime Minister. So a tightly held draft statement that he had been preparing with Peter Gordon suddenly became public. More detail, more truths. Gordon, although furious it had been leaked, conceded it contained only “minor inaccuracies”.

In this new, unvarnished draft of the earlier history of Australia’s Prime Minister, Gordon wrote that the firm had considered termination because her relationship with the firm’s partners had “fractured, and trust and confidence evaporated”.

He added that he gave her the benefit of the doubt, but “the partnership was extremely unhappy with Gillard considering that proper vigilance had not been observed and that (her) duties of utmost good faith to (her) partners especially as to timely disclosure had not been met. Ms Gillard elected to resign and we accepted her resignation without discussion.”

Affronted by an attempt to gag him, Styant-Browne released a legal letter he had received that morning from Arnold Bloch Leibler, acting for both Slater & Gordon and Peter Gordon, stating: “These issues are serious and my clients and I genuinely hope that they can be resolved amicably, discreetly and quickly.”

On Wednesday, the 25-page transcript popped out. It was a mine of information. It was Gillard, in her own words, explaining her conduct as a partner shortly before she had to go. But something else was growing in momentum. Significant sections of Australia’s media, in my view, showed they lacked the will and the wit to deal with the truth.

They did not pursue it doggedly without fear or favour; they increasingly questioned whether it was even legitimate and worked overtime to downplay it.

They saved their worst for Thursday when the Prime Minister seized on a trivial error by my colleague at The Australian who had incorrectly reported in an inconsequential page 6 colour story that Gillard had established a “trust fund”, not a “slush fund”.

Gillard beat this nothing typo into something that a child would see as inflated nonsense.

She then reached out to journalists too naive or intellectually dishonest to call it for what it was – a desperate, craven deflection.

The Prime Minister used journalists to shoot the messenger, and at a time of threatened media regulation, they obliged and pulled the trigger.

read more online

Mr Thomas has risked much – he has challenged the whole Australian media and called them out – he has challenged every Politician who has had first hand information about this AWU scandal and keep it a secret for all these years, and he has given the Australian electorate a reason to believe that there are brave people out there who still believe in a just world, where corruption and past mistakes matter when it comes to electing someone to the highest office in the land.

As a result and from this story, if an avalanche of introspection does not flow forth from the rest of the Australian media – then this Nation is surely lost and beyond redemption.

I called this scandal Australia’s ‘Watergate’ several weeks ago – and sadly it appears that it will be so.

Well done Hedley Thomas – you are an Australian hero.

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Have your say where it counts: – contact your Local Federal Representative via the links below and let them know how you feel about this, or any other topic that you feel strongly about – or you can just post a comment below and let off some steam.

Links to Australian Parliamentary Website – MP’s

The EYE-BALL Opinion …

  1. david the pragmatist
    August 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Ok, keep fighting. Just keep to the facts and not the rhetoric and sexist crap.
    You are doing a good job.
    Congratulations on your reporting what needs to be said and understood.

    Make sure your not one of the mindless bloggers Mr Thomas refers to.

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