News

Julia Gillard 'stonewalling' on matter: Tony Abbott

THE stage has been set for a fiery finish to the federal parliamentary year, with the opposition vowing to use question time to grill Prime Minister Julia Gillard about her time at law firm Slater & Gordon.

Ms Gillard was again forced to answer questions on Friday after Nick Styant-Browne, a former senior partner at Slater & Gordon, produced documentary evidence showing Ms Gillard had been involved in the mortgage arrangements for a property partly bought using union funds stolen by her then boyfriend Bruce Wilson.

The 1993 bank letter confirms Ms Gillard received an insurance certificate of currency, which was required for approval of a $150,000 mortgage provided by the firm's loan department.

But two years later she told the firm's partners she had "no recollection" of seeing the document.

A 1996 police investigation found Mr Wilson, an Australian Workers' Union official, siphoned the remaining funds needed to purchase the Fitzroy property from a union association.

There is no suggestion Ms Gillard had any knowledge of Mr Wilson's activity.

But Liberal Party Deputy Leader Julie Bishop told Sky News Ms Gillard's version of events had now been contradicted by two people with "intimate knowledge" of the events.

Ms Bishop, who has already used question time to quiz Ms Gillard about the matter, said the opposition would continue to seek a "full and frank explanation" from the Prime Minister on a range of issues.

"There are very detailed questions that I wish to put to the Prime Minister in Question Time next week and I will do that without going into all of the information now because it's obviously very complex," she said.

"I have put a number of questions to her and she has not answered most of them. In a couple of instances she has given answers which I believe need further following up and that's what I intend to do next week in question time."

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said Ms Gillard was "stonewalling" on the matter.

"I think all of us are more than ready to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt but in order to give her the benefit of the doubt we have got to hear her side of the story; we've got to hear from her the kind of candour and openness about how she conducted herself professionally as a lawyer and how she has conducted herself in answering these questions as a Prime Minister," Mr Abbott said.

Ms Gillard told reporters in Melbourne the revelations were the latest chapter in a long-running smear campaign.

She urged people to apply common-sense in assessing the matter.

"What this boils down to is that 17 years ago I couldn't recall events that happened two-and-a-half years earlier," Ms Gillard said.

"And let's be very clear ... the matter I couldn't recall related to Slater & Gordon issuing a mortgage, not a matter associated with any union fund or account.

"So what this all means is that this whole campaign of smear actually boils down to absolutely nothing.

"There has not been one substantiated allegation of wrongdoing put against me across the full 20 years and the whole campaign of smear."

Asked directly if she had seen the 1993 document, Ms Gillard said she had given the firm's partners her "best recollection" when quizzed about the matter in 1995.

She also made the point she was not the solicitor in charge of the matter.

Topics:  julia gillard slater and gordon tony abbott



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