This morning the Courier Mail let the cat out of the bag in an article, “Taxpayers fork out for Julia Gillard's flying visit to Queensland,” which revealed that Julia Gillard had flown to Queensland to pay tribute to a party boss and raise money for Labor at taxpayers expense. The cost to the public purse was $13,500.
She flew to Brisbane on a Government jet for the ALP fundraiser on Tuesday, and was intending to repeat the performance tonight for an exclusive $5500-a-head dinner with the states business elite.
This afternoon we find that Julia does indeed read the Courier as the story had been changed. It now reads (with a new heading):
JULIA Gillard has pulled the pin on her $5500-a-head fundraising dinner with business leaders in Brisbane tonight.
It is understood the Prime Minister will be caught up in Canberra and will travel instead to Queensland tomorrow for the funeral of 27-year-old Private Benjamin Chuck, killed in Afghanistan last week.
Obviously what has happened here is that Gillard realized she had been sprung and backed out. There’s nothing quite like the light coming on to send politicians scuttling for cover like thieves in the night.
So just what was going down here? It appears that a number of mining industry figures were paying up to attend the function with her while she is attempting to negotiate a deal over the Federal Government's resources super profits tax.
Interestingly the state government has banned cash-for-access functions last year after Bligh and Rudd were caught doing the same thing and copped criticism from the Integrity Commissioner Gary Crooke. This was caused when The Courier-Mail revealed that a prominent developer had paid $5500 to dine with them a fortnight before receiving a favorable planning decision.
The Americans have a great expression; “A thousand dollars worth of gravy to a politician gets you a million dollars worth of pork in return.”
This whole sorry mess is reminiscent of back in the 80s era of WA Inc. At that time the Western Australian state government was handing favors and public assets to business in return for ‘donations’ to Labor. The press was told that it was a great cooperative partnership between the state and the business community with the result that it was praised as the way of the future. The premier was subsequently jailed.
The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott has been doing the same as Gillard, but a bit cheaper. He staged a $1,000 dollar a head lunch for the candidate for Wright, Hajnal Ban, just before she was dropped when it was discovered that she was facing a rather messy lawsuit.
Is Brian Burke consulting to both sides?