FOREIGN Minister Bob Carr has dismissed opposition demands that Prime Minister Julia Gillard make a full explanation to parliament about her role in the Australian Workers Union (AWU) scandal.
The coalition has vowed to use the final sitting week of parliament to pursue Ms Gillard, arguing she has misled the Australian people about her involvement in setting up a slush fund that union officials, including her then boyfriend Bruce Wilson, used to finance their re-election campaign in the 1990s.
Senator Carr says he has never understood what impropriety the prime minister is alleged to have committed.
Asked whether Ms Gillard should make a statement to parliament, he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday, “No, because I can’t understand what the allegation is against her.
“In the acreage of print, I have never got to that killer accusation.”
Ms Gillard has consistently denied any wrongdoing or personal benefit from her involvement in setting up the fund off the books when she was a lawyer for Slater & Gordon in the 1990s.
Former AWU official Ralph Blewitt has admitted he engaged in fraud with Mr Wilson by issuing bogus invoices and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He has returned to Australia, vowing to reveal everything he knows to police in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Mr Blewitt said on Wednesday that in the past he had been “having trouble with recollection of the events” but more recently had been shown numerous documents that had refreshed his memory.
Environment Minister Tony Burke said he had not been closely following the issue but he believed Ms Gillard had dealt with matters related to her time as a lawyer at Slater & Gordon in a lengthy press conference in August.
“I’m not in a position to be able to add anything,” he said in a question and answer session after addressing the National Press Club in Canberra.
Earlier, Workplace Minister Bill Shorten told reporters in Sydney Ms Gillard was being verballed.
“Periodically these matters are verballed up and recycled,” he said.
“She’s dealt with all matters and she’s never had any specific allegations of illegality.”
During Senate question time on Thursday, Senator George Brandis said Ms Gillard’s conduct appeared to fall short of her government’s standards and called for her to make a statement to parliament next week about setting up the slush fund.
Senator Chris Evans said the diversion of union funds for election purposes was “quite clearly not permissible”.
But going on to suggest that persons who were not officers of the union were somehow responsible for their actions was “clearly a nonsense”, he said.
The coalition also attempted to link Foreign Minister Bob Carr to corruption, asking if his role as the face of Australia was compromised because he used to head a state government with ministers now under investigation for corruption.
Senator Carr again dismissed the attempt. – AAP