Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo: Andrew Meares
THE opposition has stepped up its claims that the Prime Minister broke the law 20 years ago and says that if the government does not launch a judicial inquiry, it will do so if it is elected.
Despite the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, being unable to substantiate his claims of criminal behaviour when challenged in Parliament on Thursday, the shadow attorney-general, George Brandis, insisted on Friday Julia Gillard had misled authorities in 1992 when she provided legal advice to incorporate a union slush fund.
Senator Brandis alleged Ms Gillard had ''materially misled'' the government authority - the Western Australian Commissioner for Corporate Affairs - when legal documents she prepared and lodged cited the purpose of the fund as ''development of change to work to achieve safe workplaces''. Also attached were several pages further outlining the objects of the association, one of which said the association would ''support and assist union officials and union members who are contributing to the adoption of the aims of the association and its policies''.
In 1995, when Ms Gillard was interviewed by her partners at the law firm Slater & Gordon about her role in establishing the association, she said it was ''a re-election fund, slush fund, whatever'' to finance the re-election of the union leadership team.
Senator Brandis argued that because Ms Gillard knew all along the association was to help finance the re-election of union officials Bruce Wilson, who was then Ms Gillard's boyfriend, and his sidekick, Ralph Blewitt, on a platform of workplace safety, she had deliberately misled. He claimed authorities would not have incorporated the association had this been mentioned.
''The document she represented to be true was false,'' he said.
But only two days before, in a speech to the Senate, Senator Brandis said it could be argued that the objects of the association could be interpreted as supporting the election of union officials.
''There might be room for argument about the vagueness of the objects,'' he said.
With Parliament having risen for the year, there is less scope for the opposition to pursue the matter.
Ms Gillard has maintained all along she has done nothing wrong. She has said repeatedly she had no knowledge of, or role with, the association following its incorporation when it was subsequently defrauded by Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt.
Mr Abbott said on Friday: ''We need a full judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of this; if the Prime Minister has nothing to hide, she won't be scared of an inquiry.''
He stopped short of saying Ms Gillard had broken the law.
''The point I make is that the Prime Minister has provided false information to the West Australian Corporate Affairs Commission, and it is unlawful to provide false information to the West Australian CAC.''