- The following article has been republished on a number of sites in various formats, originally from various versions on The Stringer and in The National Indigenous Times. - Gerry Georgatos' investigations reveal the beginning of the end for Julia Gillard as Australia’s Prime Minister started with the revelations of the involvement of the Office of the Prime Minister to use the 40th anniversary Aboriginal Tent Embassy celebrations to wedge Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott. Gerry broke the story nationally that parliamentary staffer, Tony Hodges did not act alone. He implicated the Office of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister and called for an apology from the Prime Minister to the Aboriginal people who supported the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Gerry says it only got worse for her from there, including the decision to extend the Northern Territory Intervention. Gerry Georgatos’ insiders let him know before the leadership ballot last week Kevin Rudd had the numbers, including Bill Shorten’s support. Before the leadership ballot Georgatos was told, and then published, Rudd would win the ballot over Gillard 56-46. The actual result was 57-45. Close enough.
By Gerry Georgatos - The downfall of Prime Minister Julia Gillard did not begin with her own toppling of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. It began with last year’s January 26 Lobby restaurant incident during the 40th anniversary Tent Embassy celebrations in Canberra.
Ms Gillard’s credibility among Aboriginal peoples took a severe hit when the Office of the
Prime Minister would not apologise for their obvious role in creating the ugly incident - a never before seen debacle - and instead they allowed most of the blame to be unjustly dumped on Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
But the consciousness of the rest of Australia was smacked around by the internationally
televised incident, of a Prime Minister scrambling for cover from benign protesters.
Until this incident, Prime Minister Gillard perceptually had been doing well enough in the
public domain but from the Lobby restaurant incident onwards publicly for Prime Minister
Gillard everything went downhill. She could not take a trick.
Had she owned up on the day by admitting the Office of the Prime Minister was extensively
involved and not subtly limited the fall out to fall guy Tony Hodges, one of her then senior
parliamentary staffers the news would have been about the small contingent of noteworthy
Tent Embassy stalwarts confronting Tony Abbott over his earlier remarks that day when he said “we needed to move on” from Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the Embassy had had its day.
Certainly the Australian consciousness would have respected the honesty had Ms Gillard owned up. They would have understood.
The suite of public blunders that have dogged Ms Gillard since were also not the straw that broke the camel’s back for he tenure as Prime Minister. Every government has its share of blunders but what was the problem was lying about them. The deceit disenfranchised the Australian people from listening to the Prime Minister and the disenchantment was hardened by the appalling keystone monotony of rehearsed lines by all those around her.
This cardinal mistake made them impersonal and untrustworthy with the damage that any good work by them was shuffled aside. It was their death knell. So tainted are some political careers an unprecedented number of parliamentarians in one hit are leaving parliament.
With the phenomenon of deciding lying was the way to go that was all the Australian people saw, knew and understood from the Gillard government. The government became untrustworthy even when coming from within the well-meaning. At least around the Carbon Tax there was in fact some honesty, explanations for the backflip on the 2010 electoral campaign promise “there will be no
As time passed the naysayers of climate change generated by human activity would become fewer. Indeed, more people now than in 2010 are aware that by the end of the century the earth will be between two to six degrees warmer. More people are beginning to understand the need for effective climate change policies. But what do they understand of the lies that surrounded the Lobby restaurant incident and the subsequent bent from that incident to lie to the Australian people around the clock?
The ability to discover the truth is outstripped by the capacity to manifest deceit. This is what undid Prime Minister Gillard’s government.
This is how her government was perceived by a predominant majority and because she was at the helm she had to own the responsibility.
Her government’s messages were just not believed, it was as simple as that.
Prime Minister Gillard’s predecessor, Kevin Rudd was not seen by the Australian people as dishonest - he was in fact personable and fast to the facts on any issue. He forever argued an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)was an imperative but he was honest with the Australian people on why he was shelving it and that was because he did not have the support of The Australian Greens to get it through the Senate.
Prime Minister Rudd’s only dishonesty revolved around his three year campaign to regain the Office of the Prime Minister but really even then he wore this heart on his sleeve, so in a weird way he was also being honest about that particular dishonesty!
But he had no chance of reclaiming the Office of the Prime Minister had it not be presented to him on a plate. And it was.
Had Prime Minister Gillard told the Australian nation the truth about how and why the Lobby Restaurant incident came about that would have kept on track honest and personable communication with the Australian people and consequently she would have put in place a capacity to get her truth and the Government’s messages to the Australian people and be believed.
Nor would there have been the rancorous divisions within the government that there have been during the last two years and in particular during the last year had Prime Minister Gillard
gone strong on truth at all times, in the public interest, always adding to the public record
instead of pushing the line that nothing more needed to be said.
A good Prime Minister needs to account for themselves at all times, for their words and their deeds, they need to be explained to the people. Most Prime Ministers have been able to do this but Prime Minister Gillard, despite what good she has achieved at times, is one of the few Prime Ministers to have failed on this count.
The downfall of Prime Minister Gillard is not a national tragedy but a personal tragedy; it
was a type of self-immolation.
The Northern Territory’s Intervention, be it by whatever name, the Emergency Response and Stronger Futures, is another case in point. The Intervention has left Aboriginal peoples cast with slurs and aspersions and has proven the single most damaging event upon them in the last 60 years. I expect in a couple of generations there will be another Prime Minister’s Apology to the children of the victims of the Northern Territory Intervention.
The Intervention has failed everyone, including the Australian consciousness. Just like people are becoming aware of climate change so too are they becoming aware of the negative impacts of the Intervention. They are becoming aware of the fact the natural and human rights of the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal peoples were disregarded when in that unbelievable bad joke the Racial Discrimination Act was suspended so the Federal Government could launch the Intervention. In other words they were allowed to racially discriminate.
Six years on from the launch of the Intervention, a Prime Minister has been toppled, as if some bitter irony but more importantly abject poverty continues among the majority of the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal peoples, incarceration rates are the world’s worst, youth suicides are on the rise.
Last year a Northern Territory parliamentary report on Aboriginal children aged 10 to 17 shocked the Australian consciousness with the average age younger each year. The sense of hopelessness for Aboriginal people living under the Intervention, a form of Apartheid, is from the beginning of life and it is a manifest of Federal Government policy.
Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin boasts one achievement after another for Aboriginal peoples under the Intervention but the statistics and the majority of the people affected say otherwise. The lies do not wash with the Australian people. The majority of the Australian people have heard from the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay and from Amnesty International Secretary General, Shalil Shetty that the Intervention is an act of racism and that far too many lives are being destroyed under the Intervention while they also have to live in “third word conditions.”
Prime Minister Gillard stood by the Intervention despite the evident truth. Prime Minister Gillard stood by Minister Jenny Macklin despite her outrageous stances that the positives outweigh the negatives for Aboriginal peoples. But Ms Macklin’s standing among Aboriginal communities is as low as it gets, just as low as the Intervention’s architect, Mal Brough.
At the national NAIDOC Ball last year in Hobart Minister Macklin was booed by the majority Aboriginal guests - she was brought to tears. But it was business as usual the very next day by Minister Macklin. Sadly, the personal tragedy of many parliamentarians is they are driven by ego rather than by moral conviction and in recent years this has been on show for all Australians to see.
National Congress of the First Nations Peoples director, the eminent Brian Butler said: “Jenny Macklin is insignificant in Aboriginal Affairs.” It is I think a very accurate view among Indigenous Australia about this Minister.
Minister Macklin and Prime Minister Gillard made errors of judgment, for Prime Minister Gillard a fatal one. They do not acknowledge they lost the confidence of the Australian people and in Prime Minister Gillard’s predicament she did not acknowledge she lost the confidence of her colleagues as had Prime Minister Rudd in 2010.
Julia Gillard had been a good deputy leader, earthy and strong but she lost her way as a
Prime Minister. She spoke well on industrial relations and education and was not fettered.
Indeed she was trusted. Gillard and Rudd had made a great team and had inspired the nation.
The Stolen Generations Apology touched the hearts of many Aboriginal peoples, gave pride to the nation and united the nation. For two years they delivered much and promised much more but when they increasingly moved away from the moral authority they promised the Australian nation during their 2007 election campaign they began to unravel.
They demonised asylum seekers instead of welcoming them and instead of doing more for them, they supported the Intervention no less than what Prime Minister John Howard did.
They messed up by their dividing and blowing away the opportunity to add to the sovereign wealth of the nation - they should have stuck together in chasing down the moderate super profits resources tax.
The Australian nation which had trusted them until that time began to realise it could not trust them.
Prime Minister Gillard spent the first stretch of her tenure as Prime Minister trying to stick
to the truth in terms of the public interest but the uphill battle to be believed floundered on
January 26, 2012 when she deceived every single Australian about who orchestrated the Lobby restaurant incident.
Mr Hodges, a member of the Prime Minister’s team, did not go rogue. The Office of the Prime Minister orchestrated the incident, and consequently diminished her before the Australian people. Much has spiralled out of control since that fateful day.
Prime Minister Gillard’s legacy will indeed include that she broke new ground as the first
female Prime Minister and she culturally shifted many outdated attitudes, chased down the sexism which indeed like racism does languish but has taken a good beating thanks to Prime Minister Gillard.