Gillard In Marathon Press Conference Over Slater And Gordon

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has held a marathon press conference answering allegations about her work as an industrial lawyer in the 1990s.

Julia Gillard

In a press conference lasting for 73 minutes, Gillard attacked “misogynists and nutjobs” on the internet over the “sexist” allegations in relation to her work at the law firm Slater and Gordon 17 years ago.

The Prime Minister’s remarks came hours after The Australian newspaper published an online apology for saying she had set up a trust fund for her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, in the 1990s.

Referring to “false and defamatory material attacking my character”, Gillard said she had decided to deal with the issues. Reporters then questioned her for 54 minutes.

Evening television coverage of the event also centred on a security breach where an intruder made it into the executive wing of Parliament House where the press conference was being held. The man handed Gillard some papers before leaving.

  • Listen to Gillard’s press conference (54m)

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  • Listen to the first section of the press conference on asylum seekers – Gillard & Chris Bowen (19m)

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  • Watch SBS’s Karen Middleton discuss Gillard’s response:
  • Watch Channel 7 report on the security breach:
  • Watch Channel 10 report on the press conference:
  • Watch ABC News report on the press conference:

Transcript of Julia Gillard’s press conference with Chris Bowen.

GILLARD: I’m here with Minister Bowen to make an announcement arising from Angus Houston’s report into asylum seeker and refugee issues. There are some other issues today which I will deal with but we will deal with this immigration issue fully first. Minister Bowen has a booked telephone call with Papua New Guinea.

We received the report from Angus Houston last week and the Parliament did endorse the legislation necessary to implement what Angus Houston and his team referred to as a circuit breaker – that is, the commencement of processing on Nauru and PNG. But at the time we received the report from Angus Houston and his review team, we said we accepted Mr Houston’s analysis that this was an integrated package, that you couldn’t cherry-pick between the recommendations that you needed to do them all.

Today Minister Bowen and I are announcing we are actioning Mr Houston’s recommendation that the number of humanitarian places be increased to 20,000. This is important because we want to send two messages to asylum seekers. Message No.1, if you get on a boat you are risking your life, you are paying a people smuggler your hard-earned money and you are at risk of being transferred to Nauru or PNG. But Message No.2, if you stay where you are and you have your claim processed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees then there are more resettlement places available in Australia. That is the purpose of announcing the 20,000 places – that is the purpose that Mr Houston identified. [Read more…]

Gillard Promises Funding Increase To Independent Schools

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised that every independent school in the nation will receive an increase in funding.

Julia Gillard

Addressing the Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Gillard defended private schools. She said: “I’ve never looked at a big independent school in an established suburb and thought ‘That’s not fair’. I look at a big independent school in an established suburb and thing ‘That’s a great example’.”

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Julian Assange Speaks From Ecuadorian Embassy In London

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spoken for the first time since seeking asylum two months ago in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Julian Assange

Assange appeared on the balcony of the embassy and read a prepared statement. The appearance lasted nine minutes. He called on the United States to “do the right thing” and end its “war on whistleblowers”.

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Text of Julian Assange’s statement.

I am here because I cannot be closer to you.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for your resolve, and your generosity of spirit.

On Wendsday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy, and the police descended on the building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the words’s eyes with you.

Inside the embassy,after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape.

But I knew that there would be witnesses. [Read more…]

Malcolm Turnbull Pays Tribute To Robert Hughes

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a moving tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives today.

Malcolm Turnbull

Hughes, writer and art critic, died on August 6, aged 74.

Turnbull’s wife, Lucy, was Hughes’s niece. Hughes’s brother, Tom, the Sydney barrister and a former Liberal member of the House (1963-72), was in the public gallery with his wife during the condolence motion.

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Tom Hughes and wife

Malcolm Turnbull

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (14:21): Can I thank, on behalf of Bob’s family, the very generous words of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the minister. Bob would have been very chuffed to hear them, if a little bemused. He was the youngest of four. His brother Tom who is with us today with his wife, Chrissie, Lucy’s father, the elder by 15 years, became in effect in loco parentis after Bob’s father, Geoffrey, died when he was only 12.

Bob’s father, Geoffrey, was a hero, and not just to his youngest son. He had been a fighter ace in the First World War and among his many victories had shot down no less than Lothar von Richthofen, the brother of the Red Baron himself.

The Hughes family were staunch and pious Catholics. Bob’s great-grandfather, John, had made a fortune, but as Bob often lamented, had given away most of it in building churches and schools. John had established the Order of the Sacred Heart in Australia, his daughters had become nuns and the Hughes family home, Kincoppal, had become a convent and a school. If John Hughes was not in heaven, Bob often said, God didn’t know the value of money. [Read more…]

Mitt Romney Chooses Paul Ryan As Vice-Presidential Running Mate

Mitt Romney and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan have appeared together in Norfolk, Virginia, just hours after Romney confirmed he had chosen Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate.

Paul Ryan

Ryan, 40, has been a Republican congressman from Wisconsin since 1999. He is chairman of the House Budget Committee where he has encouraged his colleagues to adopt an uncompromising position on fiscal policy.

Democrats have already begun describing Ryan as “the architect of the Republicans’ radical House budget”.

  • Listen to Mitt Romney introduce Paul Ryan (8m)

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Romney-Ryan

Romney inadvertently introduced Ryan as “the next president of the United States”:

[Read more…]

Gillard Tackles Electricity Prices

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has written to state premiers asking them to prepare for a new national agreement on energy prices by the end of the year.

Julia Gillard

Gillard said power prices have risen unsustainably because of over-investment that has driven up energy costs by 48% in the past four years. “And ordinary businesses and households have been entirely uncompensated for these significant cost increases.”

“Australia needed a carbon price,” Gillard said. “Australia did not need price increases of fifty per cent or more for households over the last four years.” She said the market for supplying energy services in Australia needs to be more efficient.”

The Prime Minister said her preference is to work co-operatively through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). “We won’t lightly use the big stick of regulation, of stronger powers for the Energy Regulator and the ACCC. But it’s a stick we hold and which we’ll use if required. One way or another, we’re going to get this done.”

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  • Listen to Julia Gillard & Martin Ferguson answer questions (33m)

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Text of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech to the Energy Policy Institute of Australia.

ELECTRICITY PRICES: THE FACTS

Too often the cost of electricity is talked about in two completely separate public conversations.

One conversation is about power bills. There’s a very concrete discussion going on at the kitchen table, in the school carpark and in the front bar, about this.

Power bills have become the new petrol prices: not just an essential of life that always seems to be going up, but a vital commodity, where what we consume each day, or pay every quarter, seems beyond our control.

The other conversation is about energy markets. [Read more…]

Paul Keating Speech At Launch Of ‘The China Choice’

Former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating has delivered a speech in which he criticises United States policy towards China.

Paul Keating

The China ChoiceKeating said the United States could not expect to win a war against China on the Asian mainland. “I have long held the view that the future of Asian stability cannot be cast by a non-Asian power – especially by the application of US military force.”

“The failure of US wars in Korea, Vietnam and – outside Asia – in Iraq and Afghanistan, should lead the US to believe that war on the Asian mainland is unwinnable.”

Keating said the United States had missed its chance to shape a new world order around China and the other major developing countries.

Keating was speaking at The Lowy Institute at the launch of The China Choice, a new book by Hugh White, who argues that the US should aim to share power with China and give up its leadership role in Asia.

Keating also criticised President Barack Obama’s Australian announcement last November in which he launched a “pivot” to Asia accompanied by the rotation of US marine forces through Darwin.

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Paul Keating’s Lowy Institute speech launching Hugh White’s The China Choice:

Hugh White does me an honour in asking me to launch his book The China Choice.

I believe the reason he asked me was not that he wanted a former Prime Minister to launch his book, but at least one who regarded his subject as central to Australia’s security and prosperity, indeed, central to one of the major, perhaps the major issue in international affairs.

As you would expect, Hugh has written The China Choice with great clarity and command of the issues and with his usual nuanced treatment of important threads of argument.

He has always been able to get to the nub of an issue with a great economy of words. The style is discursive, even conversational, but the poignancy and economy of words serve to hammer home the points. To rivet them. [Read more…]

Tony Abbott Speech On Free Speech

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has addressed the Institute of Public Affairs on freedom of speech.

Tony Abbott

Abbott committed a future Coalition government to repeal Section 18(c) of the Racial Discrimination Act, the section that Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaching in a case brought by nine indigenous people.

Abbott also rejected the recommendations of the Finkelstein report.

The Liberal leader’s speech otherwise tied the question of media freedom to the actions and policies of the Gillard government. He said of the Coalition: “We stand for freedom and will be freedom’s bulwark against the encroachments of an unworthy and dishonourable government.”

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  • Transcript of Tony Abbott’s speech to the Institute of Public Affairs.

    FREEDOM WARS

    Right now, Australians are understandably and necessarily impressed by China, a country which has liberalised its economy without liberalising its polity. Lifting several hundred million people from poverty into the middle class in a single generation certainly is one of the great economic transformations in human history.

    China’s success, though, need not mean that liberal democratic freedoms are merely an optional extra for countries that take nation building seriously. The communications revolution is affecting China no less than everywhere else, despite official misgivings. The blogosphere and tweeting could soon give even China the “question everything” mindset that has been so important to other countries’ creativity and weight in the world.

    Then there’s India which has achieved a scarcely less remarkable economic transformation while largely preserving democracy, the rule of law and comparative freedom of speech. Two decades after Francis Fukuyama jumped the gun to proclaim the end of history and the triumph of liberal democracy, it would be equally presumptuous to conclude that western civilisation’s moment has largely passed. History’s lesson is still that countries are stronger, as well as better, with democratic freedoms than without them. [Read more…]

Leaders Launch Northern Territory Election Campaign

The campaign for the Northern Territory election on August 25 was officially launched today.

The three week campaign sees the 11-year-old Labor government struggling to survive. First elected in August 2001 under Clare Martin’s leadership, the government has been led by Chief Minister Paul Henderson since November 2007.

At the 2008 election, Labor won 13 of the 25 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Since then, resignations and defections have reduced it to minority status, relying now on the support of the independent Gerry Wood.

Chief Minister Paul Henderson spoke to the media today:

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Paul Henderson

Country-Liberal Opposition Leader Terry Mills also spoke to the media:

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Terry Mills

Macklin Announces NDIS Trial For NSW Hunter Region

The Commonwealth and NSW governments have reached agreement for a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the Hunter region next year.

Jenny Macklin

The decision was announced today by the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and her counterpart, the NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance.

The Hunter trial arises out of the backdown by the NSW and Victorian governments last week.

The announcement today was overshadowed by the media’s coverage of Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan’s speech on Bruce Springsteen and Labor values.

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Joint media release from the federal Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, and the NSW Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance.

Launching a National Disability Insurance Scheme in the Hunter

People with significant and profound disabilities in the Hunter region of NSW are set to benefit from a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) next year, after the Australian and NSW Governments today reached an agreement on arrangements for the Hunter launch site.

From next year about 10,000 people with significant and profound disabilities, their families and carers in the Hunter will have their needs assessed and will start to receive individual care and support packages. [Read more…]