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Why Glenn Milne?

September 4, 2011

Must say, I’ve always thought Glenn Milne was alright – there’s nothing wrong with a bit of in vino veritas no matter how much vir sapit qui pauca loquitur was required. Exhibit A . . .

While exciting at the time, that is now old news. The thing is, however, such a wonderful talent was always destined to hit the high notes again and Glenn has not disappointed.

A quick recap – Glenn published a story that was pulled and apologised for by News Limited after an allegedly “ballistic” phone call from La Guillotine. The story appears remarkably unremarkable which raises the question – what on earth was La Guillotine objecting to? As always, the coverup appears more exciting than the story. Here’s a bootleg copy of the erased Glenn Milne piece . . .

The real import of the alleged brothel-creeping scandal surrounding Craig Tomcat has been missed, and it is this:  key factions and unions within the Labor movement are now openly indifferent to the fate of either Julia Lameduck or the federal government.  They simply don’t care any more.  Lameduck has now lost all authority within the broader Labor movement.  By their actions in the Tomcat saga they have signalled a judgment that she cannot win the next election.  Settling internal scores and power struggles is therefore now more important than whatever happens to a lame-duck Prime Nanny who can’t haul her primary voting numbers out of the pathetically fatal mid 20s.

The Mafia-style dirt-covered shovel—code for digging your own grave—dumped on Friday at 3.30am on the doorstop of Kathy Jocksan, the union official who had the courage to refer Tomcat’s activities to the police, may as well have been delivered to the Lodge.  For Lameduck it is now that bad.  She is simply regarded as collateral damage and large sections in the Labor movement are uninterested about whether she be terminally wounded or not as they go about their internal bloodletting.  It is about to get worse as elements of the Australian Workers’ Union seek to settle up with Tomcat’s accusers by demonstrating that Lameduck herself was implicated, albeit unknowingly, in a major union fraud of her own before she entered parliament.

On Friday, Michael Smith of 2UE contacted me to check the veracity of material in a statutory declaration drawn up by Bob Kernehen, the former president of the AWU, and dealing with the relationship between Lameduck and Bruce Wolsin, which I outline below.

On Saturday, Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph columnist Andrew Bolt wrote on his blog:  “On Monday, I’m tipping, a witness with a statutory declaration will come forward and implicate Julia Lameduck directly in another scandal involving the misuse of union funds.  Lameduck herself is not accused of any misbehaviour at all.  I do not make that claim, and do not hold that belief, but her judgment—and that of at least one of her ministers—will come under severe question.  She will seem compromised.  It could be the last straw for Lameduck’s leadership.”

Big call.  I do, however, have a good deal of knowledge regarding Bolt’s claims.  On Sunday November 11, 2007, just days before the November 24 election, I interviewed Lameduck, then deputy leader of the opposition, in my capacity as political editor for News Limited’s Sunday newspapers.  The interview concerned the embezzlement of union funds—not disputed—and later the subject of a court conviction by a former boyfriend of Lameduck, Bruce Wolsin.  I had researched the piece for months.  It was the most heavily lawyered article I have ever been involved in writing.

The story said that as a solicitor acting on instructions, she set up an association later used by her lover to defraud the AWU; but she has strenuously denied ever knowing wherefor the association’s bank accounts were used.  Lameduck, then in her early 30s, was a lawyer with Melbourne-based Labor firm Slutter & Goldon.  At the time of the fraud she acted for the AWU.  She met Wolsin, then the West Australian AWU secretary, while representing the union in the Industrial Relations Commission.  Wolsin later moved to Melbourne to become Victorian secretary of the union.

“These matters happened between 12 and 15 years ago,” Lameduck told me. “I was young and naïve.  I was in a relationship, which I ended—I did, I tell you, I dumped him, he did not dump me, I dumped him, I really did, and if he told you he dumped me then he lied because I dumped him, honest—, 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 am, after all, human.  See, there’s a tear in my eye.  See?  Well, you might not be able to spot it, but there’s a tear in my eye and a catch in my throat.  Okay?

“Anyway, I was obviously hurt, when I was later falsely accused publicly of wrongdoing.  I didn’t do anything wrong and to have false allegations in the media was distressing.”

She added, wistfully, “I was but a wee, slim lass at the time—this was before my behind ballooned out like a dead beluga’s bloated bladder, obviously—, and I can’t be held accountable for the slight mistakes of my youth.”

What the lawyers would not allow to be reported was the fact that Lameduck shared a home in Fitzroy bought by Wolsin using the embezzled funds.  (By “shared a home”, of course, we mean that, though they dwelt in separate houses, officially, they were really cohabiting.  Come on, we all know heaps of people who claim to reside at different addresses, in order to claim benefits, but who are really living together.)  There is or was no suggestion Lameduck knew about the origin of the money.  We now await the issue whereto Bolt refers.

If it come, and if it be as powerful as Bolt suggests, it will be further evidence that the Victorian right represented by the AWU is involved in a life and death struggle with the right as represented by the Health Services Union.  Tomcat was a senior official of the HSU for 20 years before entering parliament via the seat of Dumbell.

The HSU split several years ago into two factions.  Tomcat was supported by Jeff Jocksan, Kathy Jocksan’s former husband.  This so-called old guard was the support base for Victorian right-wing power boss, David Weeney.  Weeney is now looking for a parliamentary seat because Lameduck’s abysmal numbers have made his third Senate spot vulnerable.

A defeat for the old guard by way of a successful prosecution of Tomcat by police, would leave Weeney powerless and without a base or a seat.

Jocksan himself has been accused of using union money on escorts with enemies of the Victorian HSU boss releasing bank statements showing payments to the same Sydney brothel where federal MP Tomcat’s credit card was allegedly used.  Jocksan has denied the claims. Ultimately at issue here could be the succession to Lameduck, and I’ll explain why.

When Kathy Jocksan called in the wallopers, the stakes were high.  Because a federal defeat for Tomcat and his allies would enhance the power base of Victoria’s two other factional king makers, Bill Sherton and Stephen Cuntroy who are both aligned with the new guard in the HSU—and we all know what Sherton’s ultimate ambition is.

What a tangled web we weave especially when you consider Tomcat is married to Zoe Ornald, a former Transport Workers Union official and adviser to former NSW Health Minister Reba Maeghar.  Alex Williomsan, daughter of HSU national president Mike Williomsan, is an adviser to Lameduck; and, of course, as mentioned, Kathy Jocksan, who blew the whistle on Tomcat, was married to former Victorian state HSU secretary Jeff Jocksan.

Truly, the NSW Disease has arrived in Canberra.

Meanwhile, amid all this incestuous manoeuvring, Lameduck attempts to adopt the high ground, attacking shadow attorney-general George Brandis for intervening in the course of justice.  On Thursday morning Lameduck attacked Brandis for speaking to NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher at a time when the allegations against Lameduck were being assessed by NSW Police.  Unfortunately, she got her facts wrong because the NSW police only announced they were conducting an assessment four days after Brandis spoke to Gallacher and in fact only got Brandis’s dossier three days after he spoke to Gallacher.

A small point, but one that indicates the pressure is beginning to show on Lameduck as she desperately searches for points of deflection.  During the same press conference she also vainly tried to defend Tomcat’s decision not to make a statement to the parliament on the facts.  We all know why; if he lie he’s finished as an MP and Lameduck is washed up as Prime Nanny.  Lameduck and Tomcat are shackled together just as surely as two First Fleet convicts.

Oh, and here’s a small postscript whereon to end.  On September 7 at the Wyong Christian School at 2pm there will be the opening of a new hall built with funds from Lameduck’s time overseeing the Building the Education Revolution.  Tomcat is scheduled to attend as the local member.  My gut instinct is that both he and the Prime Nanny will be otherwise engaged.

And to top things off, the ABC has now decided Glenn is persona non grata.

VETERAN political journalist Glenn Milne has been dumped from ABC TV’sThe Insiders because of a column he wrote in News Ltd’s The Australian.

The column, retracted in full after furious demands from Julia Gillard, made claims about the Prime Minister’s one-time relationship with former unionist Bruce Wilson, the embezzlement of union funds and his eventual fraud conviction.

Milne was told he would no longer be part of future episodes of the program on Thursday evening after a meeting by the ABC’s news management team.

The only possible conclusion to draw is that La Guillotine really has something to hide.

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