Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Shadow Treasurer's bumpy debut

**Updates below

Julie Bishop has been labelled “the Helen Demidenko of Australian politics” after she at first denied - and then conceded - that part of her maiden speech as Shadow Treasurer was lifted from theWall Street Journal.

The speech, delivered in Parliament Monday just moments before a radio interview in which she stumbled when asked to identify Australia’s official interest rate, included two sentences found in their entirety in a Journal article about the US financial crisis dated 20 October.

In Question Time yesterday the Treasurer Wayne Swan congratulated his opposite number on what he said was “an insightful piece of analysis”. But he said it sounded familiar and then read out the two sentences from the Journal article along with identical sentences from Ms Bishop’s speech...

“I have taken advice from many quarters, but I have never stolen something directly from the Wall Street Journal and passed it off as my own wisdom,” the Treasurer told Parliament.

“I think following this that the member for Curtin will be forever known as the shadow minister for plagiarism — the Helen Demidenko of Australian politics! Two gaffes in 24 hours is quite a start from people who are lecturing others about competence and standing in the community.”

In a personal explanation to the House Ms Bishop denied that she had plagiarised the article.

“In my speech I was referring to the United States plans. In fact the words I used were the technical explanation from the US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, which have been published widely,” she said.

“It is a shame that the Treasurer seeks to smear rather than manage the economy.”

However later, in an interview with The Age, Ms Bishop conceded that many of the words in question had been taken only from the Wall Street Journal article and not from the Treasury Secretary.

But she said she wasn’t wrong in her explanation to the House.

“No I was not. I was very careful,” she said.

“My whole point was they called me the Helen Demidenko of politics. I made the point that the entire speech was not a lift of opinions and ideas of the Wall Street Journal. The words I used were a technical explanation of the plan that has been published widely.”

When told that they had been published widely in that form only in the Wall Street Journal article, she replied “of course, that’s what I said.”

Asked how those words got into her speech she said she was not going to start pointing the finger at her staff. “That’s not my style. I won’t do it. I have said publicly I did not read the Wall Street Journal.”

“If quoting out of the media without attributing it on every occasion is going to be the subject of this sort of coverage, then people are going to be very busy going through every person’s speech. If we are really going to do these Google searches to make sure that every word is original, I think our priorities are a little skewed in the face of this crisis.”

The sentences found in both:

Among the things the government is asking for is the authority to hire asset managers to oversee the buying of assets.

The proposal would give the Treasury secretary significant leeway in buying, selling and holding residential or commercial mortgages, as well as "any securities, obligations or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages."


Samantha Maiden - Australian Online

"JULIE Bishop has now been accused of altering the parliamentary record over her defence against allegations she gave a speech that plagiarised the Wall Street Journal.

MPs and senators are sent the parliamentary record - known as Hansard - each evening before it is printed, allowing MPs to change their words if they don't like it.

Labor's leader of the house, Anthony Albanese, said today the Hansard did not record her actual words on the plagiarism gaffe.

“It records the deputy leader of the opposition saying: `In my speech I was referring to the United States' plans, and in fact, the words I used were the technical explanation of US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan which have been published widely'.”

Labor says in response, Ms Bishop told parliament: “In my speech I was referring to the United States' plans. In fact, the words I used were the technical explanation from the US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson which have been published widely”.

The difference is whether Ms Bishop says she used Mr Paulson's words or “a technical explanation of” his words."

Samantha Maiden - Australian Online

"MALCOLM Turnbull has been dragged into the plagiarism row engulfing his deputy Julie Bishop, with revelations it was his office that cut and pasted words from a Wall Street Journal article.

Today Coalition sources confirmed the offending paragraphs of background were provided for her speech from the leader's office. That information was then passed on to Ms Bishop's office.

Ms Bishop was understood to be "ropeable" about the error but willing to take the public flak rather than blame others."