TENSIONS boiled between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott in a bitter final day of Parliament for the year.
Ms Gillard said Mr Abbott had failed to provide evidence for his claim that she'd committed a crime, as the Opposition Leader called for a judicial inquiry into her past as a lawyer.
In a bitter final day of Parliament for the year, tensions boiled over as the Prime Minister accused Liberals of being on a "witch hunt".
And she said Mr Abbott was "drowning in a sea of sleaze and smear".
Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard had been a "dodgy and unethical lawyer".
The criticism was not about gender; she had "failed the character test".
The row escalated after the release of documents from 17 years ago, which Mr Abbott said on morning TV showed the PM "gave false information" to authorities in Western Australia, and her actions "would certainly be in breach of the law".
Opposition frontbencher Christopher Pyne said Ms Gillard's position "is entirely untenable" and she should resign.
Ms Gillard blasted Mr Abbott as a "rash man who never worried about facts", saying his claims against her were based on a false report.
"He went out and accused me of a crime. Back it up or shut up," she said.
Ms Gillard called for a showdown on the floor of Parliament, demanding that Mr Abbott speak for 15 minutes to prove his case against her or apologise.
Mr Abbott did not repeat the same words he had used on morning TV.
But he said Ms Gillard's advice had allowed the creation of the controversial AWU Workplace Reform Association.
It became a sham to facilitate fraud by her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, and his bagman, Ralph Blewitt.
Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard's actions 17 years ago were relevant today, because it meant she could not stamp out corruption in the Health Services Union.
He attacked her "character and judgment and integrity".
Calling for a judicial inquiry "to finally get to the bottom of this whole squalid affair", he released terms of reference in eight parts.
He challenged Labor MPs to replace Ms Gillard as leader, asking them to consider over the Christmas break whether she was a fit and proper person to be PM.
Ms Gillard said Mr Abbott had overreached with false claims against her, comparing them to former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull's ill-fated claims against former PM Kevin Rudd in the "Utegate" affair in 2009.
Ms Gillard said that in his 15-minute speech Mr Abbott had been unable to produce evidence against her, and the documents released yesterday did not support his claims.
His comments on morning TV had been "false and defamatory", she said.
"The Leader of the Opposition is now handcuffed to an allegation against me that I committed a crime, and he is handcuffed to the fact that he does not have any evidence of that," she said.
"A decent man would apologise ... but the Leader of the Opposition is not a decent man."
Julia Gillard on Tony Abbott
The Leader of the Opposition is now handcuffed to an allegation against me that I committed a crime and he is handcuffed to the fact that he does not have any evidence. A decent man would apologise … he would have used his 15 minutes to say this morning he was wrong.
Tony Abbott on Julia Gillard
The charge is … she has been at the very least a dodgy and unethical lawyer. She’s been an incompetent and an untrustworthy Prime Minister, as has been demonstrated abundantly by the evasions and obfuscations that we have so consistently seen by the Prime Minister in the Parliament this week.
Read more on the Herald Sun