Today it is successful Melbourne businesswoman Joanne Painter who must be beside herself with anxiety. Painter is mentioned in The Australian's latest report as having been The Age reporter who was working in 1996 on a story concerning renovations to 36 St Phillip St, Abbotsford, where Gillard sometimes rested when not sleeping over with Brown Bag Bruce at 1/85 Kerr Street, North Fitzroy. Here is the paragraph that must be causing Ms Painter quite some agitation:
The Cambridge diary states that in September 1995 Mr Gries revealed to Mr Cambridge that a journalist at The Age newspaper was going to publish a “fairly correct” story about union-funded renovations at Ms Gillard’s house… The diary states that Mr Gries knew the proposed article was the work of Age journalist Joanne Painter.... According to the diary, Mr Gries said he had “specifically requested” Painter drop the article and she had agreed to do so. Painter declined to comment yesterday.You can understand why the cat has Ms Painter's tongue. She is the founder and proprietor of Icon PR which boasts a slather of blue-chip clients. The last thing the poor woman needs is questions about why, while still a reporter, she (reportedly) agreed not to publish a story that would have been of considerable interest at the time and is even more compelling today.
Joanne Painter, PR lady with a problem
Ms Painter must be hoping the whole damn thing will just go away, leaving her free to polish the good name of the Australian Taxation Office and other customers. Adding a certain poignancy to Ms Painter's ordeal are her own words, tweeted last year by way of commentary on a rival PR firm's then-woes.
As for The Age, with Mark Baker poking about in other organisations' records, surely he can have a hunt through his own employer's files and memories. It would seem his readers are owed an explanation as to why Painter's original expose was scuttled. Australia might have been spared the ordeal of a liar in the Lodge if only The Age had done its duty all those years ago.
Why did the Age spike the story? Why did Painter agree to see it spiked? What must her current clients think of a contractor whose most adept response to date is silence?