Gillard-Abbott conversation doing little for Australia’s future

THE ongoing questioning of Prime Minister Julia Gillard over her actions as a lawyer in the 1990s threatens to derail the parliament.

After leading an intense grilling in question time on Monday, deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop yesterday stepped up the attack, suggesting Ms Gillard had not acted properly in her dealings with AWU officials because she was attempting to conceal a controversial legal entity set up by two union officials, including her then partner Bruce Wilson.

The Opposition, it seems, won’t let the matter rest, despite constant refutations over the past 20 years by Ms Gillard.

The trend of what Ms Gillard refers to as a sleaze and smear campaign started well before this latest invasion of non-policy debate in parliament.

One might remind the Prime Minister that during the past two months her own party alleged Opposition Leader Tony Abbott threatened a woman during his university days.

This “incident” led to a concerted campaign labelling Mr Abbott as a misogynist, to the extend that his wife had to talk publicly about the matter.

The substance, on both sides, is lacking.

It was revealed yesterday, that Ms Bishop had met with self-confessed union bagman Ralph Blewitt in Melbourne on Friday to discuss the prime minister’s time as a lawyer. Yesterday, she acknowledged Mr Blewett was a “self-confessed fraudster”.

The Greens, for their part, are also claiming the attacks on Ms Gillard are gender specific.

Labor’s is clearly playing the man, rather the ball in its attacks on Mr Abbott. Ms Milne yesterday suggested there was a  “group of older, white men in Australia” who did not like the idea that at last women were coming into their own. “They’ve never accepted the legitimacy of a woman as a prime minister and they are kicking back in every which way they can.”

Maybe there is a degree of naivety in our dismay at the conversation which is taking place at federal level but it’s doing little to progress policy discussion about important issues for the nation’s future.  

Undoubtedly, the media, has a role to play. Yet we can’t help but think that leadership in changing the conversation needs to come from the top.

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