So what was she doing?

This morning we woke up to a new leak. Julia Gillard has been sending her former bodyguard, now junior level advisor, to represent her at National Security commitee meetings. To be perfectly blunt, there is only one response to a story like this; it isn’t true – it is a lie. A junior advisor, and former bodyguard, cannot possibly deputise for the deputy prime minister at National Security meetings. It turns out that this wasn’t Gillard’s cover story – the leak, apparently, is only half true.

In a strident defence, the Prime Minister said Andrew Stark, a former Australian Federal Police and now member of her staff had kept notes at National Security Meetings she was unable to attend but he had not represented her.

“I attended National Security Committee meetings as I was best able to,” the Prime Minister said. “On those occasions I wasn’t able to attend, Mr Andrew Stark attended to keep notes and to advise me of the proceedings of the National Security Committee.

“Mr Andrew Stark was a member of the Australian Federal Police for 21 years. And I think it is offensive to him, offensive to me and I believe it would offensive to hard working policy right around this country to somehow conclude that a man who spent 21 years in the AFP as a police officer doesn’t know anything about security.”

I have no doubt that Mr Stark is good at his job. I have no doubt that Mr Stark is a patriot. I have no doubt that Mr Stark was able to keep notes.

I do have two questions. First, why was Julia Gillard unable to attend National Security Committee meetings? What else could she possibly be doing that prevented her from attending these meetings? Second, why are the minutes of the meetings unsuitable? Most meetings have minutes (or are recorded) as a record of what was discussed and decided. Why are NSC meeting minutes so inadequate for the task that a junior staffer is sent along to record events?

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10 Responses to So what was she doing?

  1. Rob

    She had a hair appointment, but ditching the most important part of the job for a haircut is not something only a female politician would have done. John Edwards would have done it too.

  2. Ev630

    It depends on the definition of security. If you’re talking close personal protection – physical security – I have no doubt that Stark and his colleagues have solid experience.

  3. C.L.

    It’s not half true. It’s entirely true. Gillard admits he attended to note what occurred and advise her about what the nation’s defence and security chiefs were deliberating about.

    That is, he represented her at National Security commitee meetings.

  4. Michael Fisk

    The ALP, as predicted, will unleash a campaign of personal vilification against Abbott.

    I wouldn’t be too concerned myself, so long as the Liberals prepare. For all the “past extremism” that can be dug up about Abbott, there is no shortage of even worse material for Gillard – she was a member of an openly pro-Communist faction of the Labor Party and the head of the pro-terrorist AUS. The Libs have all weekend to get their counter ads ready.

  5. C.L.

    And the man selling the campaign is the man who had a affair with Julia Gillard (reportedly costing him his marriage):

    ”Let’s just see how Tony Abbott deals with pressure,” Dr [Craig] Emerson said.

    ”He didn’t respond very well to pressure in the first week. We are halfway through the second quarter in this match and there will be plenty of pressure coming on to Tony Abbott and let’s just see how he responds to it.”

    Never before have I seen a political party so blatantly telegraph an imminent slime campaign.

  6. JC

    That’s all they have left now. But it seems all their bullets have been spent.

    The trouble is that Abbott has been around now for 7 odd months and was pretty well known before he took on the leadership so the public is more than aware of his strengths and weaknesses.

    Despite a few mistakes at the beginning, Abbott has played this like a long distance racer. He’s been pacing himself really well. In fact I’m more than a little surprised at how he’s able to get back on his feet, dust himself off and keep going.

    Emerson’s just pissed because he seems to be sensing that the vote is moving away from them and doesn’t want to spend his time back in opposition.

    The only thing I’d be worried about if I were the libs is that they’ll try to cheat the election. They need to be really careful they don’t try to steal it.

  7. JC

    Labor should be really careful about this approach because it may have the opposite effect with the electorate.

    It may turn people away because they’re seen as shallow empty coats who are simply trying to hold onto power.

  8. There’s plenty of anti-Abbott stuff going around (including pages, on Facebook, that mostly seem to have been set up by the Greens). There’s even old anti-Howard jokes metamorphosing into anti-Abbott jokes.

    But… if anything it may have a positive effect on Abbott’s chances: come out too strongly against the Liberals/Abbott and you may just polarise otherwise apolitical/centrist voters who happen to see some of the merits in the Liberal/National coalition – or who happen simply to be disturbed by the Gillard putsch and the ALP infighting.

  9. Skuter

    More importantly, I didn’t think anyone but the cabinet secretary was allowed to take notes? It would be interesting to check out the protective security manual on this issue. I would have thought that no-one would be allowed to take their own notes out of the room.

  10. C.L.

    Moving forward backward… bring it on:

    SCRAPPING the ANZUS treaty, twinning Melbourne with Leningrad and introducing a super-tax on the rich were among radical policies devised or backed by Julia Gillard as a student activist… Founded in 1984 as a pressure group within the ALP, the Socialist Forum also wanted to sever Australia’s alliance with the US, remove the spy base at Pine Gap, introduce death duties and redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor…

    In a pamphlet from the mid-1980s, Ms Gillard describes herself as a “socialist and a feminist” and someone who joined the ALP at 16.

    “Contrary to what may have been suggested, Socialist Forum is not a secret organisation nor is it a sub-caucus with the Socialist Left,” Ms Gillard says in the pamphlet.

    “The members of the forum are drawn from varied backgrounds. Around 45 of the forum’s members left the Communist Party of Australia in the division of a year ago and about 80 are members of the ALP. The largest group are not members of any political party.”

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