By Michelle Grattan
December 2, 2012
MANY readers will recall Margo Kingston, a deft hand at investigative reporting and a pioneer of interactive journalism through her Webdiary. Margo left the trade a while ago and is studying nursing, interested in specialising in palliative care.
But last week, watching from afar the AWU affair unfolding, she leapt back into the fray with an online article. She remembered what many of us, in the heat of this slush fund battle, had forgotten. Tony Abbott has had his own slush fund experience, not all of it happy.
Not that Abbott was keen on the term ”slush fund”. In 1998, he was collecting financial backing for his crusade to encourage legal action against Pauline Hanson. She was later jailed over a technical breach of the electoral law, something even many of her political enemies deplored.
Kingston – author of a book on Hanson, with whom she had a love-hate relationship – pursued Abbott like a terrier about the fund; she details the saga in Still Not Happy, John! (Penguin 2007). It’s worth a read, as the debate drags on about Julia Gillard’s role in helping set up the AWU Workplace Reform Association, which two corrupt union officials, one of them her then boyfriend, used to steal large amounts of money.
In 1998 Abbott gave a signed personal guarantee to Terry Sharples, who’d fallen out with One Nation, that he would not be out of pocket for legal action to stop One Nation receiving $500,000 in public funding.
Soon after, Abbott denied to the ABC that funds had been offered to Sharples.
Read more: Fairfax