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ASHBYGATE  

The plot to destroy Australia’s Speaker 

by Ross Jones 

 

Ashbygate

 

Tony Abbott took over the reins as Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal National Coalition Party on 1 December 2009 and it is my personal opinion that from that day on Australian politics descended into ‘gutter politics’ in which no perceived enemy or opponent of Abbott was spared!  Abbott went on to lead the Coalition to the 2010 general election which resulted in a hung parliament.  Labor  formed  government with the help of the Greens and Independent MPs.  Abbott appears to be a vindictive and spiteful man, who  with the assistance of a large willing and supportive in-house  ‘team’ set about to undermine the Gillard Government, and consequently  destroyed  the Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper.  Abbott was re-elected as Liberal Leader unchallenged  and eventually  led  the Coalition to victory in the 2013 election  and was sworn in as the 28th Prime Minister of Australia on 18 September 2013. (Tony Abbott’s tenure as Prime Minister lasted for a year, when he was deposed by current PM Malcolm Turnbull.)

There is no doubt that a group of LNP politicians and others,   deployed a series of tactics to  undermine PM Gillard during her term of office, but this is beyond the scope of  Jones’ book  ASHBYGATE which deals solely with the destruction of Australia’s Speaker, the vital aspect of the plan to bring down Gillard’s Labor government.

Ross Jones’ book ASHBYGATE  is an account of the results of his investigation into how the Speaker was hounded from the Chair. The Speakership is the most important office in the House of Representatives. The House cannot operate without a Speaker because he/she  is the principal office holder in the House of Representatives. He/she is the House’s representative or spokesperson, the Chair of its meetings and its ‘Minister’ in respect of its support services. By all accounts, Peter Slipper was an efficient Speaker who valued his role dearly, but he also had enemies within…he had the temerity to resign from LNP to take on the role as Speaker in a Labor government. Peter Slipper and Tony Abbott were very close friends until Slipper’s  ‘betrayal’ . There wasn’t much about each’s personal life that the other didn’t know about.

Jones allows primary documents, in chronological order,  such as, emails and other correspondence, text messages, and Ashby vs Slipper court evidence,  to inform readers of the machinations that drove  the Ashbygate  saga and this gives them  the opportunity to form their own opinions about the politicians who were  involved and implicated in this sordid saga. It also gives the book validity as a valuable record of Australia’s political history.

Readers will read in the pages of ASHBYGATE   that Peter Slipper is no  paragon of virtue, and has never claimed to be.  Yes, at  times he acted foolishly, but I don’t believe he deserved the total destruction of his career and his private life which was essentially brought about by former colleagues who have themselves  much in their political histories  and private lives  to hide from scrutiny. In the end, Ashby withdrew all charges of sexual harassment against Slipper .  Slipper was cleared of all dishonesty charges relating to the fraudulent use of Commonwealth  Cabcharge dockets in 2010. Jones writes: This means the highly damaging  cases Mr Slipper had piling up against him – including claims of sexual harassment from his former media adviser, James Ashby, have been either withdrawn or  shown to have had no substance.

After reading   ASHBYGATE ,  I‘d like to pose  a few questions:

  1. Was Tony Abbott, along with his close advisers, and political colleagues,  the ‘brains’ behind  Ashbygate?  Is it conceivable that he would not have been involved given how and when the documented events took place?
  1. Was James Ashby so stressed during the short time he worked as press secretary for Peter  Slipper, not because of two or three  salacious texts and other real or imagined ‘overtures’ by Slipper, but because Ashby was unsuitable and unqualified for the position? Is there some evidence that his gay lifestyle  may have been a factor in his precarious  emotional state?
  1. Why did Peter Slipper employ Ashby, an ex DJ and strawberry farm advertising agent, for such an important role as press secretary in the first place, given Ashby’s lack of qualifications?
  1. If Peter Slipper had any case to answer, why did the Commonwealth cover the ‘shortfall between Slipper’s legal fees and the costs ultimately recovered as a result of the Rares judgement’?
  1. Why did James Ashby and Mal Brough approach Clive Palmer for funds for legal fees, which would amount to millions of dollars, in the pursuit of Slipper?  In any  event  Palmer refused, so someone  else must have assured Ashby of  financial backing; was it Christopher Pyne, as Ashby claims?
  1. Did Justice Rares make a judgment that Ashby’s sexual harassment claims were vexatious in order to protect the judge’s friends in high political places?  Would  his  finding  in favour of Ashby have led to the exposure of  Tony Abbott and other high profile politicians to a long drawn out trial, involving sworn testimony? [Vexatious litigation is legal action which is brought, regardless of its merits, solely to harass or subdue an adversary]
  1. What was the real reason Karen  Doane  sought to destroy her employer, Peter Slipper? According to her texts and emails, she was hardly ever in Slipper’s office, and spent much of the time leading up to Ashby’s public allegations,  on ‘sick’ leave?  Was Doane simply one of the most dishonest, disloyal, and laziest employees ever, or was there something more sinister in her behaviour? Whatever the reasons, she was on paid sick leave of over $1000.00 per week for years  until she finally received a huge payout of taxpayer funds in settlement for what?

In places,  ASHBYGATE  was an intense  read because of the many phone texts and emails  to work through, even allowing for the different fonts used to differentiate between the various senders and writers.  However, it is very much worth the effort. The comings and goings, the minutiae  of political office, and the effect on family life,  are intriguing . I fully realise  now,  how true is the time worn  cliché  that  ‘a week in politics is a long  time’.

There were a few minor spelling errors in the emails and texts, which may or may not have been senders’  errors, but there were also quite a number of  spelling errors in the author’s prose. Let me assure readers, that while typos  jumped out at me, they in no way detracted from what I consider to be a valuable book and a great read. Jones has obviously spent months accessing relevant documents and records, as well as  undertaking  several  interviews, in his research for this book. I congratulate him for bringing to light the story behind  Ashbygate.

I urge voters to read ASHBYGATE so they may gain insight into the actions of those politicians involved in the destruction of the Speaker of the House.

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I am not an affiliate of any political party; I bought ASHBYGATE  from one of my favourite bookstores, Readings in Carlton.  I detest any form of injustice, and I believe  that  Peter Slipper has been served a great injustice.

-Anne Frandi-Coory   20 May 2016

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my story

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Whatever your political leanings or agenda, you would have to concede that Julia Gillard was an accomplished Prime Minister of Australia. During the three years as Australia’s first female PM, in which she led a minority government, a record amount of legislation was passed.

Not only did she have to constantly negotiate with minor parties, she had to endure some of the worst public sexism ever directed at a female PM in any country, most of it instigated by the then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and the rest of his Liberal and National Coalition Party. As if that wasn’t enough to deal with,  Ms Gillard was vilified daily in the News Ltd Press, owned by ex-Australian, Rupert Murdoch, which was determined to see her government thrown out of office. Tony Abbott was Rupert Murdoch’s choice for Prime Minister, supported by the four Big Banks, and the huge Mining Corporations!  Once Tony Abbott moved into The Lodge, it was goodbye mining tax and carbon price! Don’t get me started on why his government can’t pass its ill-fated Budget, after more than one year in government!

So much has been written about Ms Gillard’s ‘deposing’ of her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, so I don’t want to go into the details here. However, it has now become clear that this man was a failed Prime Minister, who then made it his sole purpose in life for the three years Ms Gillard was in office, to undermine her every move.  If you are interested in how he went about the destruction of his own party, read The Stalking Of Julia Gillard: How The Media And Team Rudd brought down the Prime Minister. It was written by Kerry-Anne Walsh, an astute parliamentary journalist. A very interesting look at behind the scenes revelations.

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the-stalking-of-julia-gillard

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Julia Gillard is a 21st Century woman who made personal sacrifices in order to get to the top in politics. For her, a fairer system of funding for education in Australian public schools was a number one priority, with a more comprehensive disability insurance scheme a close second.  Time will tell how much of PM Gillard’s hard work on educational and disability reforms will be unraveled by this current government. The Carbon Price and Mining Taxes her government legislated for, were earmarked to pay for many of those reforms.

The Glass Ceiling  [dedicated to Julia Gillard]

By 2011, I was already a devoted fan of Julia Gillard’s. Not because she was a woman, but because she was by then, showing signs of becoming a great stateswoman. I presented Prime Minister Gillard with a copy of my book, ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ which had just been published. The reason I wanted her to have a copy, was to show that I agreed with her wholeheartedly that every child deserves to be given the chance of a good education, but even more especially, disadvantaged children.  My book is about the many generations of women in my family tree who never had the opportunity of a good education.  Marriage or the nunnery were their only choices.  I had a deprived and abusive childhood, but I did receive a good education which gave me so many more choices.

A few weeks after she received my book, the following letter arrived in my mail box:

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Julia Gillard Letter

 

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I was overjoyed, as I had never expected our Prime Minister to take time out of her enormous workload, to acknowledge my humble book. That was just one more of the many admirable attributes exhibited by this remarkable woman. In the last week or so I attended one of Ms Gillard’s book promotional talks which was attended by over 400 people. Afterwards, she autographed many, many copies of her book, ‘My Story’, including mine below:

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J GILLARD CROPPED

 

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This is a truly inspirational book by a woman who has reached the very top in Australian politics. It’s much more than a Prime Minister’s memoir of her time in office, though. It is also about her thoughts and feelings, and how she managed to keep her sense of self intact throughout those times of ruthless sexism and derogatory personal statements against her. As she herself stated during the talk she gave at the launching of My Story,  ‘politics can be bitter sweet, but my time as Prime Minister, was more sweet than bitter’. I thought she gave an impressive, spirited speech on the night I was present, and afterward answered many questions from the mixed gender audience. The whole enjoyable evening was interspersed with much clapping and laughter.

One thing I can assure readers of, is that Ms Gillard’s Story is much more riveting and enjoyable than any other political memoir I have ever read, and it is certainly never boring!

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– Anne Frandi-Coory 13 October 2014

julia-gillard-poem

Julia Gillard

 

The Glass Ceiling

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-Poem  The Glass Ceiling Copyright to Anne Frandi-Coory

– All Rights Reserved 26 June 2013

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Read my poem  *The Glass Ceiling * 

Dedicated to former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard

here in DRAGONS DESERTS and DREAMS

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Please read THE STALKING OF JULIA GILLARD   by Kerry-Anne Walsh……..

How the LNP political party, Team Rudd, and Rupert Murdoch Press, brought down Australia’s first female Prime Minister which threatened democracy in Australia.

… and……..

MY STORY   by Julia Gillard….. compelling reading

 Updated 17 September 2013

So, Tony Abbott, Australia’s greatest misogynist, is now Prime Minister of Australia, and he has only one woman on his Front Bench. Two less than Afghanistan’s!

While The Lodge is being refurbished, PM Tony Abbott is living in the ADF Barracks. With the sex scandals and misogyny alive and well in Australian Defence Force, is this a good move?

Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was vilified in Murdoch’s Press and by the Opposition led by Tony Abbott. His leadership of LNP focused on the fact that PM Julia Gillard was an atheist, unmarried and childless. And yet she proved to be an exceptional leader and Prime Minister.

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“To be roused by a man means acknowledging  oneself as conquered”. – Wilhelm Stekel,  from ‘The Sexual Dynamics of History’.

Mr Stekel, in the early 20th Century, made it clear that he saw heterosexual sex, and specifically sexual intercourse, as a necessary and appropriate regulatory mechanism in the maintenance of male dominance and female submission.

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Perhaps the above statement  is the secret mantra of the Australian Defence Force?  I wonder how these young men, and indeed, all the men that graduate from the ADF Academy treat the women they come into contact with on overseas missions.

The latest scandal to come out of the ADF is a reflection of, not only the culture within the Force, but also society as a whole.  One just has to read the latest news regarding the sexual misconduct of  AFL players and those of other male sporting codes.   A young woman is fair game sexually, and once ‘acquired’ is discarded and branded a ‘slut’, a ‘bitch’, or much worse.

The young ADF student, named ‘Kate’ in the media, was filmed having sex with a young man, also an ADF Academy student, without her knowledge or consent.  She believed it to be a private act, while he, on the other hand, had set up a web camera in the bedroom where the incident took place,  and arranged for six of his mates to view the scene from another room.  The film was then passed around the internet.  Mobile phone still shots were also taken by the men and passed around.

The whole incident came to light when ADF commanders were informed of it by another student.     One of the  Academy rules  states that students are not permitted to fraternise with each other at the Institution.  During a meeting with the investigators, Kate, by now feeling ill and embarrassed,  told them that she knew nothing about the filming.  All the males, from students to top commanders,  had all the power and none of the victimisation.  What an unequal forum; you would expect at least that the young woman would be allowed the presence of a female officer. However, the commanders considered that she was at fault for engaging in sexual activity with another student.   When Kate discovered that nothing was going to be done about the matter,  she contacted the media.  Since then she has been told to apologise to the young men and has been vilified and harassed by other students.  She has not been offered any counselling for the trauma we can only imagine she has gone through.  She has told the media that  when she read the statements by the seven young men involved, she had to run from the room, and was physically sick.

Kate is an 18-year-old student and was not doing anything that any other student wouldn’t do, as part of growing up, in any university or academy in the western world. She was away from home, in a new and challenging environment, and therefore was a vulnerable target.  The same cannot be said of male students at the academy; it is after all a male dominated one. The whole incident amounts to one of planned abuse.  The young man in whom Kate placed her trust, violated that trust, and systematically planned, along with his classmates, to sexually humiliate her. (The young men involved have since been convicted).

During research for my book,Whatever Happened to Ishtar? I came across many stories of deliberate sexual humiliation and sexual abuse of women and girls.  My family tree has many such stories, not least that of my mother, a vulnerable and lost woman who was preyed upon by three male members of one family.   The result was that she, the victim, was demonised, while the men lived on within the family without any recrimination whatsoever.   These stories didn’t come from inside institutions; they came from inside families, inside homes.  In other words, from inside our own society.  Recently, Tony Abbott, leader of the Australian Federal Opposition, stood in front of clearly misogynist signs at a political rally to vilify the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard,  about some of her policies.  However, instead of attacking the PM’s policies, he made derogatory remarks about her, and the placards behind him,  in full view of television cameras, gave him full support.   Standing beside Tony Abbott are two female members of his Opposition one of whom, Bronwyn Bishop, (front left in the photo below), he has made Speaker in his newly elected  government.

Oh, there was plenty of debate after the event, about Mr Abbott’s behaviour. But at the time not one person in the crowd protested the wording on the placards or Mr Abbott’s treatment of Australia’s first woman prime minister. How can we expect young men to respect women if this is the way politicians behave? I have yet to see these types of sexist statements used against male PMs. The use and abuse of females has been going on for centuries, and appears to be ingrained in our culture.  Kate is very brave to speak out, and by doing this, changes can be effected, albeit slowly and painfully.

Sexist Signs referring to PM Gillard supporting Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott

It is estimated that reported sexual abuse  is just the tip of the iceberg.  The embarrassment and shame women and girls feel about letting anyone else know what has happened to them, prevents them from going to the police.  I think that most of us can understand that stance.  However, nothing will change in our society unless this abuse and societal malaise  is dealt with openly.  Nothing will change if we continue to ignore the voice of women and elect  men such as Tony Abbott and his all-male-but-one Front Bench to govern our country.

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See   The Problem Being Female

Female Sex Workers

Catholic Dichotomy of Females

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