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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13142

Prime Minister

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:19): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement today, and to this letter she wrote as a partner of Slater and Gordon to Bruce Wilson in August 1991, in which she provided him with detailed advice on AWU rules on branch offices, union officials and elections. Will the Prime Minister now admit that she was fully aware of AWU rules about the authorisation to set up entities and bank accounts bearing the name of the union and that the AWU Workplace Reform Association breached those union rules?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:20): In answer to the deputy opposition leader's question: I dealt in detail with the circumstances in which I provided legal advice for the incorporation of this association at my marathon press conference in August, and those matters have been gone into again in the press conference that I have just conducted, and I stand by those statements. My role in relation to this matter was as a lawyer providing advice to clients based on their instructions to me. I did not incorporate an association; that is for the Registrar of Incorporated Associations to do. I did not operate the association. I was not an office-bearer of it. I did not deal with any transactions associated with any bank accounts the association may or may not have had. I had no knowledge of those bank accounts.

So, to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition: I gave legal advice based on client instructions about the incorporation of an association. I say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—and, really, it goes to much of the sleaze and muckraking that the opposition has been engaged in—if she has a real allegation of wrongdoing by me, then put it. I did note last week that, when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was interviewed on radio—I believe it was Radio National—on three occasions she was unable to articulate what it was that I needed to answer. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has never brought forward a substantiated allegation of wrongdoing by me; neither has the Leader of the Opposition. Once again, this morning he was unable to articulate what questions I should answer. The opposition are doing this today, and I anticipate we will do it for nine or 10 questions, however many are in question time, and there will probably be a motion to add to it.

This is all happening today—and I think the Australian people should clearly understand this—because the Leader of the Opposition is determined to continue to pursue a negative strategy. He had hoped to tear this government down. He had hoped to tear me down. He had hoped to ride into office on the basis of a dishonest fear campaign about carbon pricing. That dishonest fear campaign is running out of political puff and, in those circumstances, into a vacuum, because the opposition has no ideas for the nation's future. All they have left is filth and smear and sleaze, because of their inability to come to the dispatch box and put one idea for the nation's future. As I said at my press conference a little earlier today, these are not John Howard's Liberals; this is an entirely—

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will return to the question.

Ms GILLARD: different creature with no ideas about the nation's future.

The SPEAKER: Is the deputy leader of the opposition seeking to table a document?

Ms Julie Bishop: Yes. I seek leave to table a four-page letter from Slater and Gordon signed by Julia Gillard, to Bruce Wilson, dated 20 August 1991.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House?

Mr Albanese: No. I table, from the West Australian, an article from 1 December 2007: 'Bishop accused of causing extra suffering over asbestos'.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar is warned!