I was looking up some predictions that were made a year or so ago about what would happen in 2012.
With the benefit of hindsight, most of these predictions have proved to be a mixture of random tripe and mere banality. No, the world did not end in December at the supposed final date of the Mayan calendar, and yes there was some continued terrorist activity. Prediction is a tricky business if you want to be both specific and accurate.
For this year, it is an easy pick that Julia Gillard will cease to be Prime Minister of Australia. She has already named the date later this year for a general election that all the opinion polls says she will lose. But there it at least some ground for suggesting that her demise will come much sooner than that. And more particularly that she is quite likely to be arrested and charged quite soon for a range of offences committed when she was a partner in the law firm of Slater & Gordon some 20 years ago.
There is range of likely offences, mostly in the nature of conspiracy with her then lover Bruce Wilson to extort money from building contractors in the name of her client trade union, the AWU, defrauding the AWU of funds and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Hard to prove, you might think; whilst it is pretty well established that the lover is guilty, how can it be shown that Julia was not merely, as she herself says, “young and naive”, and did not know what was going on? It is not very likely, you might think, that a hard-nosed law firm would appoint someone who really was “young and naive” as a partner, but that would not be enough; the police will not arrest her unless they think they have a case that they can prove beyond reasonable doubt.
It seems that there may well be a small but somewhat smokey gun in the form of a Power of Attorney of February 1993; this document was used in the purchase of a property bought with funds stolen by Wilson from the AWU. It is dated 4th February 1993, signed by Ralph Blewitt (a bagman for Julia Gillard’s lover) and witnessed by Julia Gillard. The problem for Julia Gillard appears to be that on 4th February 1993, Ralph Blewitt and Julia Gillard were not even in the same state, let alone in the same room, and so the alleged witnessing of the signature would appear to be demonstrably false. A solicitor who perpetrates a forgery for the benefit of her criminal lover is not merely “young and naive”, but up to her neck in it. It is often the little things that trip these people up.
The mainstream press are generally taking a pretty cautious line, as has the opposition, but a few journalists such as Larry Pickering and Michael Smith have been going to town on this issue, and they suggest with some credibility that an arrest may well be not too far off (although it might be appropriate to treat what Larry Pickering says with considerable caution). Obviously, the AWU is not anxious to shine much light on any corrupt practices in its ranks, Slater & Gordon are not anxious for a former partner to be charged with fraud, the ex-lover is not too anxious to incriminate himself, and no friend of the Labor Party wants to see its leader ignominiously drummed out of office. But if the Victorian Police do decide to push the button, that will probably be “Goodnight, Vienna” for the Julia Eileen Gillard’s political career.
Sometimes shonky politicians get away with things, and sometimes they do not. Richard Nixon did not get away with trying to cover up the Watergate break-in, and earlier than that John Profumo did not get away with lying to Parliament about having had sex with a prostitute. But Bill Clinton more or less got away with perjury (he is still a respected figure despite have been disbarred as a lawyer both in his home state of Arkansas and by the Federal Supreme Court) and Tony Blair has more or less got away with war crimes in relation to the invasion of Iraq (although he was convicted in absentia by Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal). Barrack Obama seems to have got away with posting a forged birth certificate on the White House website (he might not have done this himself, but he must have known it was being done, and did not stop it).
So this a ball which might bounce either way for Julia Gillard.
Interestingly, a friend of mine who is an astute and careful lawyer points to the coffee test. Apparently, when Julia Gillard was summoned to a partners’ meeting at Slater & Gordon and invited to resign on the spot before being escorted from the building, she was not offered a cup of coffee. There is only one explanation for the partners not offering this simple courtesy, and it is not a good look.