Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Today Show -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) Welcome back to the show. Good to have your company on this Friday morning. Well, the Prime Minister is facing fresh questions over what she knew about a union slush fund that was used to steal money from the Australian Workers Union 20 years ago. A former lawyer for Slater and Gordon told the ABC last night that new documents show that Julia Gillard was involved in the mortgage for a property bought by Ralph Blewitt to years before she claims she found out about the mortgage. Those documents form part of the conveyancing file which are now matters of public record, so they are from the conveyancing file which Mr Blewitt consented be release made publicly available. Now, what those documents show is that there is no doubt Ms Gillard knew of the mortgage from Slater and Gordon in March of 1993. And just to give you some examples - she personally arranged for the mortgage insurance for the Ke rerksrerks Street property through the Commonwealth Bank and a letter -- Kerr Street property through the Commonwealth Bank and a letter was faxed to her on March 22 of 1993 from the Commonwealth Bank marked for her attention noting that the insurance had been renewed and further vesing that the Slater and Gordon -- further advising that the Slater and Gordon mortgage interest was noted on the policy of insurance. There was deep disquiet amongst the partnership about Ms Gillard's conduct and it was never necessary for the partnership to resolve that issue because Ms Gillard herself elected to resign. That was former Slater and Gordon partner Nick Styant-Browne on the ABC's '7:30' last night. Joining me now is Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Good morning to you, Mr Abbott.Good morning, Lisa.Now, the Prime Minister has categorically denied any wrongdoing over this issue. A statement given to '7:30' last night reads, "The conveyancing for the Kerr Street property was handled by olive Brosnahan, a paralegal, under the oversight of Nick Styant-Browne, the relevant partner. A note in Ms Brosnahan's handwriting appears on the publicly available file dated 22 March 1993. It states that Ralph Blewitt was chasing up the Commonwealth Bank in relation to the serf currency. It also records the making of a phone call to Ms Gillard which resulted in a message being left for Ms Gillard. The file contains no evidence of Ms Gillard returning this call." What this entry on the file shows is that Mr Blewitt was personally attending to dealing with the Commonwealth Bank about the serf currency. "Ms Gillard has no recollection of seeing the correspondence from the Commonwealth Bank dated 23 March 1993. Ms Gillard stands by her statements in the Slater and Gordon interview of 11 September 1995 as her best recollection of events 2.5 years earlier." Mr Abbott, your response to all of that?Look, I think all of us would be happy to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt, but in order to do that, Lisa, she has to give us a full explanation and what we've had from the Prime Minister over the last several weeks is just a lot of stone-walling. So what I'll be suggesting to the Prime Minister is, "Give us a full, complete, open and transparent account of these dealings and of your professional integrity as a solicitor."Do you believe that the Prime Minister is guilty of any wrongdoing?Look, um, I think there are legitimate questions which have been raised, first of all by Robert McClelland in the Parliament some months ago. Just this week we had Minister Shorten say that this fund was inappropriate and yet the Prime Minister has certainly admitted setting up the slush fund. So I think what we should get from the Prime Minister is a full and frank and candid explanation. We have Cabinet ministers demanding that Julie Bishop explain what she'd been doing as a solicitor in the 1990s. What's good for Julie Bishop is certainly good for Julia Gillard and in the end, Lisa, this goes to the Prime Minister's professionalism, her integrity and her truthfulness now. Because it's her answers now that I think people need to consider. Well, players in all of this seem to be coming out of the woodwork at the moment. We've have former AWU state secretary Ralph Blewitt turning up from Malaysia. How much credibility do you give Ralph Blewitt? He is a self-confessed fraudster whose own sister rang a Perth radio announcer, Paul Murray, in August during an interview with Julie Bishop and described her brother as "crooked as they come, rotten to the core and not to be trusted".Mmm. Look, he's not the only person involved. There's Ian Cambridge, who the current Government appointed to Fair Work Australia, whose statutory declaration from those times has been prominent in the media. He called then - and I believe is still calling - for a royal commission into all this. So it's not just Mr Blewitt. It's not just Mr Wilson. Julia Gillard's close associates from those days - it's people like Ian Cambridge and Robert McClelland who are very much involved in this, as I understand it.Still plenty to come on that story, no doubt. Let's get to other news now. This morning you've announced that you will be cutting the Government's extension of the humanitarian refugee intake of 20,000 a year by 6,000. Now, that's despite your promise to the crossbenches to do the same if you become prime minister next year. Why the backflip?Well, there hasn't been a backflip. We put that on the table as a way of trying to break a parliamentary deadlock. But we said when we failed to do that that it wasn't something that would stay on the table and the last message that we should be sending to the people smugglers and their customers is that Australia is easier to get into. And that's the problem. Not only is it going to cost us $1.3 billion over the forward estimates period at a time when we can't afford it, Lisa, but we are sending precisely the wrong message to beam smugglers and their clients at a time when -- people smugglers and their clients at a time when our borders are simply out of control because of the policies of this Government.Well, speaking of sending messages, yesterday you described people arriving seeking asylum in Australia as a peaceful invasion. Did you think -- use-of- does using terms like 'invasion' -- does using terms like 'invasion' help find a solution to the problem? Or does it inflation the situation?Lisa, we have to stop the boats. It's as simple as that. At the moment a significant element of our problem has been subcontracted out to people smugglers. The people smugglers are trespassing on the goodwill and the Deansy of the Australian people. They're play -- decency of the Australian people. They're playing the Government for mugs and this Government has no answers because their heart just isn't in it. They said they were going to send illegal arrivals to Nauru. So far, I think six out of 100 illegally arriving people have been sent to Nauru.Let's look at that term there - "illegal arrivals", "illegal immigrants" - you use it a lot but international law says it's not illegal to arrive by boat and seek asylum. Why use such an inflammatory term as "illegal immigrants".Lisa, it's not illegal to seek asylum, but it is illegal to arrive in this country without authorisation, without papers, in breach of Australian law. The United Nations article 31 of the UN Convention specifically refers to people arriving illegally.But you do tend to use that term for everyone who arrives, whether they're legitimate refugees or not. Well, it is illegal to turn up in this country without papers, without permission -But not everybody turns up that way, Mr Abbott.Well, 99% of the people who turn up in Christmas Island do, Lisa.But they're not all on Christmas Island, Mr Abbott.Lisa, why don't you jump on a plane and go to the United States without a passport, without a visa? You'll be treated as an illegal entrant. So I'm using exactly the same terminology which has been consistently used by the Australian government under this Government, under the former government. I'm using the perfectly legitimate, accepted terminology here.Alright. Well the Human Rights Convention would probably disagree with you. Sadly, we have to leave it there. Mr Abbott, I'm also sad to inform you that this will be our last meeting this year. We're having a break during December and January. We thought we'd give everyone a break, including yourself. Thank you very much -Lisa, Lisa - I'm so disappointed. I'm so disappointed that we won't be spending Christmas together.I can hear that in your voice, Mr Abbott. I hope I'm at least going to get a Christmas card. I think I wrote one out yesterday, Lisa. So it's turning up soon. Alright. Don't forget to put a stamp on it! Thanks, Mr Abbott. Have a great Christmas.Thank you. And you too, Lisa. Over to you,