There seems to be some speculation in Australia as to whether Julia Gillard is a liar or incompetent or perhaps both. No wonder Kevin Rudd thinks he can have another crack at the leadership.
THE federal cabinet is divided over the integrity of the Prime Minister, with senior ministers disputing her claim she did not know until the last minute about a deal to allow Gina Rinehart to import 1700 workers to help build a massive iron ore project in Western Australia.
With the issue placing fresh pressure on Julia Gillard’s leadership, the ministers Martin Ferguson and Chris Bowen have told colleagues they had been hung out to dry by the Prime Minister as she distanced herself from the policy to placate a backlash from the unions who support her.
The ministers’ backers were saying yesterday that Mr Bowen had informed Ms Gillard’s office the week before last that Ms Rinehart would be the first to be granted an enterprise migration agreement. This would enable her company, Hancock Prospecting, to import 1715 workers to help build the $9.5 billion Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara.
‘It was inconceivable her office wasn’t up to their neck in this,” said one minister. ”Of course she knew,” said another.
Ms Gillard, who told union bosses she had first heard of the agreement last Wednesday after arriving back from overseas, refused to elaborate yesterday. But she was backed by other ministers. ”She did not know – no question,” said one familiar with events.
”You really think Julia Gillard pursued an alliance with Gina Rinehart and said, ‘Please, Chris, announce it at the National Press Club’?”