UPDATE 2.00pm Prime Minister Julia Gillard must address parliament about the circumstances surrounding her resignation from a prominent law firm in the face of fresh claims that she’d left under a cloud of controversy, the opposition says.
But Ms Gillard refuses to discuss accusations regarding her resignation from a partnership at Slater & Gordon in 1995, saying it won’t stop the “malicious and motivated” commentary.
News Limited has reported that Ms Gillard quit the firm as a direct result of a secret internal investigation into controversial work she had done for her then boyfriend, a union boss accused of corruption.
The new claims have been made by a former partner at the firm, Nick Styant-Browne.
Slater & Gordon says the internal legal review was a standard response to the allegations made and nothing was found to contradict Ms Gillard’s statements.
“Ms Gillard cooperated fully with the internal review and denied any wrongdoing,” Slater & Gordon said in a statement released today.
“The review found nothing which contradicted the information provided by Ms Gillard at the time.”
But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the prime minister should make a full statement to parliament about the circumstances under which she left the law firm.
“I think there are real issues that the prime minister needs to address and if she would like to make a statement to the parliament this week the coalition will gladly facilitate it,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.
“Let’s not forget, these issues were most recently raised in the parliament not by the coalition but by a member of her own (party), Robert McClelland.”
The prime minister says she refuses to dignify the “scurrilous“ attack with a response.
“We are talking about matters 17 year ago which have been dealt on the public record,” Ms Gillard told Sky News, adding that she maintains a good relationship with the law firm.
“I am not going to get into a circumstance when we’ve got people blogging malicious nonsense and we’re having some of this penetrate into the media.
“This is just nonsense and a distraction from the important work I’ve got to do as prime minister.
“I did nothing wrong. If you’ve got an allegation that I did something wrong then put it.”
Defence Minister Stephen Smith played down the issue.
“What does something that occurred 17 years ago with respect to a law firm she was working with that she now has an ongoing good relationship (with) have to do with the big issues of running the economy and running our national security interests?” Mr Smith said on Network Ten.
But the manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne said the issue raised very serious questions about the prime minister’s integrity.
Files held by Slater & Gordon should be released detailing the circumstances surrounding Ms Gillard’s resignation “in the interests of clearing the prime minister’s name“, Mr Pyne said.
Ms Gillard said she wouldn’t make any comment because it would only feed the fire.
“The people who are dealing with this online in their malicious and motivated way would not stop no matter what explanation I gave,” she said.
“That is why there is no point in flogging through all the details of this, because the people who are pursuing this malicious campaign will continue to do it. They are not at all interested in the truth.”