Gillard and the AWU

By Legal Eagle

I started out as a tremendous fan of Gillard. I wanted her to win when Kevin Rudd attempted to overthrow her. (Sorry to my Queensland Labor friends, I have just never understood Rudd’s appeal. He’s the Pointy-Haired Boss from Dilbert to me.) But I have to say that the allegations surrounding Gillard in relation to the AWU do worry me.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve seen some of my more Labor-oriented friends decrying the allegations made against Gillard in The Australian($), with the suggestion that it’s a mud-flinging witch hunt and she’s being persecuted for her taste in men. I must say that if all women were held to account for Bad Boys we’ve dated in the past, I think many of us would be tainted. But to me, it’s not about who Gillard was in a relationship with. Yes, she was in a relationship with Bruce Wilson, against whom allegations of fraud have been made in relation to the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU). That’s immaterial. I don’t really care who she was living with or sleeping with in the past.

What I do care about is the legal work Gillard did for Wilson while working at Slater & Gordon as a salaried partner. So, I’ll start out with my position on the issue, which is this: on the evidence we have available, Gillard’s actions were not unethical in the legal sense, but her actions in failing to open a file on the firm’s system in relation to the work done on the formation of the AWU Workplace Reform Association showed poor judgement and poor office management.

The impetus for writing this post was a non-legal friend asking me, “So what does it matter if she didn’t open a file on the firm system?”

When you take on a matter at a law firm, you open a file. This means that you get a manila folder and typically you stick some colourful letter and number stickers on the side – maybe three identifying initials for your client and three identifying initials regarding the matter. What do I mean by initials? Let’s say your client is the AWU and you’re opening a file to form an association for them. You might put the initials AWU ASN on the spine and edge of the file (standing for AWU and association – I was going to say ASS for association, but that doesn’t look so good). It’s a quick way of identifying files easily.

Then you get a file number which is allocated to the file (these days most likely by a computer system, or perhaps in those days it was allocated manually by the finance department). Let’s pretend the file number is 046782. So then you stick the numbers 046782 on the spine and the other edge of the file so that no matter which way it’s filed on your shelf, people can see what it is. You then enter various details about the matter into the firm’s central database or records (who the client is, what the work is about broadly, who’s responsible for it, is it pro bono and so forth.) In the actual physical file (a.k.a. the labelled manila folder mentioned before) you put all the correspondence, bills, file notes and relevant documentation. If the file is on the system, it means that other people can see what you’re doing. Then, if you leave,  if you’re on holiday, if you’re hit by a bus, or if someone else needs to read it, they can easily find the file, read what’s happened so far, and get up to speed. I don’t know whether Slater & Gordon’s technology was up to it in the early 90s when Gillard’s particular matter arose, but certainly when I was in practice some ten years later, we had computer databases, such that if you had a file number you could also easily look at all work that had been done on the file via computer (eg, memos, pleadings, contracts etc) and look at the billings on the file.

According the timeline supplied by The Australian, what seems to have happened($) in this case is that Gillard was the lawyer for the AWU at Slater & Gordon from 1991 onwards. Around this time she also entered into a relationship with Bruce Wilson, an AWU official. In early to mid 1992, Gillard helped Bruce Wilson and another AWU union official, Ralph Blewitt to set up an entity known as the AWU Workplace Reform Association. The purpose of the association was stated to be the promotion of safety on construction sites. At that time, Gillard did not open a file on the firm system for this service, although evidently she did have some kind of physical file in her office. Wilson and Blewitt sought payments from various construction companies for the AWU Workplace Reform Association, purportedly to promote safety on site. Meanwhile the rest of the AWU was unaware that this Association existed or that it was raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. In her interview($) with then-Slater & Gordon partner Peter Gordon, Gillard said that she believed that the fund was in fact ‘a re-election fund, slush fund, whatever, which is the funds that the leadership team, into which the leadership team puts money so that they can finance their next election campaign’.

In 1993, Blewitt (through Wilson) purchased a house in Fitzroy with funds allegedly embezzled from the Association. Gillard was with Wilson when he bought the house at auction for Blewitt. In 1995, the AWU became aware of certain irregularities in its accounts and begin to pursue Wilson and Blewitt. It did not become aware of the existence of the AWU Workplace Reform Association until 1996. Wilson and Blewitt were made redundant by their branch in August 1995, against the wishes of some who felt that they had been fraudulent. Meanwhile, Slater & Gordon realised that the firm’s actions might be under scrutiny because of Gillard’s involvement with the creation of the AWU Workplace Reform Association, and started investigating. In September 1995, the firm questioned Gillard. A redacted version of the transcript($) of that questioning has since become available.

Imagine how the other partners at Slater & Gordon must have felt. One of its partners comes under question for certain legal services rendered to the AWU in relation to the AWU Workplace Reform Association, and allegations of fraud are made. Slater & Gordon go to find the relevant file…and the file is not on the firm system. Thus, they have no way of knowing what has happened on this file, where it is, or what its contents are. No wonder they called in Gillard for questioning. I imagine they must have been panicking.

From the redacted transcript of the questioning($), Peter Gordon, then a partner at Slater & Gordon, asks Gillard, ‘what are the circumstances in which we only got that [file regarding the incorporation of the Association] last week?’ Gillard readily admits that she did not open a file on the system saying, ‘…I must admit my recollection about the incorporation file was that I hadn’t opened a file on system and that I had had some papers and at some point I had given the papers to (name redacted).’ Gordon then asks Gillard why the file wasn’t opened on the system. Gillard responds as follows:

I don’t think there’s any great scientific explanation for that, I didn’t have an intention to charge on it, and from time to time I’ve done bits of work on files that I haven’t opened up where I’ve just done relatively small jobs for unions that I wasn’t intending to charge for. Ordinarily they would be kept on the union’s file.

We have a file for each union where we put little bits of free work or telephone attendances of advice we give, or they’re kept on my personal file JEG general. This, this was a more substantial job than that and really ought to have been opened on system, but I think, well, I don’t have a specific recollection of thinking to myself should I open it on system or shouldn’t I open it on system, but apparently I didn’t.

[my emphasis added]

Now, I should note that at this point there is no suggestion that Julia Gillard was involved in Wilson and Blewitt’s alleged fraud, or that she knew that the Fitzroy property was purchased from allegedly embezzled funds. Indeed, Slater & Gordon seems to have accepted that the failure to open a file was a genuine error on her part, and that she was not involved with and had no knowledge of the alleged fraud of Wilson and Blewitt. Nonetheless, in October 1995, Gillard left the firm and some months later she became an adviser to John Brumby, then Labor opposition leader in Victoria. There are conflicting accounts amongst Slater & Gordon’s partners and former partners on what their view of Gillard was when she left. One former firm partner, Nick Styant-Browne, now living in the United States, has alleged that the firm took a “very serious view” of Ms Gillard’s conduct, while the present managing director of Slater & Gordon has denied this, and has criticised Styant-Browne. Meanwhile, Peter Gordon (who now works with another firm) has released a statement in which he says, ‘I believed at the time that there was no explicit or indirect evidence that she [Gillard] was involved in any wrongdoing and that remains my view today.’ Nonetheless, he concedes that the relationship between the firm and the two industrial relations partners (Gillard and Bernard Murphy) was no longer a happy one, saying:

It is relevant to understand that these events occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Harris/Smith case, which had placed relations between the industrial department and the rest of the partners under great strain and damaged relationships. Ms Gillard’s previous public statement that after these events “working there wasn’t as much fun, to be honest” can hardly be doubted in the circumstances. Likewise, it is true that the balance of the partnership were less than thrilled with how our relations with Bernard Murphy and Julia Gillard had deteriorated. It was a partnership falling out and like many of them, individuals will have their own take on what happened, especially seventeen years later.

I have to say that if I had been a partner of the firm, it is likely that I would have been deeply disappointed with Gillard’s conduct because it shows very poor office management which may adversely affect the reputation of the firm. It is essential to the proper running of a firm that files are kept in a manner which allows other people at the firm to access them easily if needed, particularly if problems arise with a file. That’s not to say that mistakes don’t occur from time to time. I know I made some when I was in practice. That being said, I never failed to open a proper file – including when a partner asked me to do work on his wife’s personal matters. Maybe I’m just neurotic, but I like to cover my back by keeping proper records of things.

No, there’s nothing in the information we have which suggests that Julia Gillard has been in any way been unethical or fraudulent or anything of the like, and there’s nothing to suggest that she should stand down as Prime Minister (contrary to the calls from some of my friends on the Right). But to me, this whole thing underscores a certain lack of judgement on Gillard’s part which is deeply disappointing.

34 Comments

  1. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    kvd said @ 97:

    The embolding is mine

    Meant to say earlier. Funniest thing I’ve read for yonks.

    No doubt. I have marveled at your wit and humour.

  2. kvd
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    So Sean, jokes aside, your detailed and thoughtful response is …….zzzz

    And one other thing, @79 you complained about a “link to a blind search” . How’s that different to what you did @94?

  3. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    kvd said @ 100:

    So Sean, jokes aside, your detailed and thoughtful response is …….zzzz

    My response was and still is:

    The circling of the wagons, the Sergeant Schultz media, Gillard’s teflon coating.

    In other words, Gillard has an enviable defense system. She has a very loyal media in commercial TV and even more so in the ABC. Already there you have the source of most people’s ‘news’. In the newspaper’s Gillard has the devoted Fairfax press.

    There are some not-so-loyal jouranalists but early in the piece they could get the sack for airing the story.

    Two journalists — Glen Milne and Mike Smith — were sacked by their employers last year when they attempted to air some of the allegations surrounding the affair.

    Most had no desire to touch it, preferring to keep the heat on Abbott for whatever he was doing or for whatever could be made up. For many of the public this AWU-Wilson-Gillard mess is breaking news.

    Then there’s this:


    A Federal Court judge appointed by the Gillard government has been identified as the lawyer who supervised Julia Gillard when the future prime minister dated and did legal work for a union official who has been accused of financial impropriety.

    Legal files, that could shed light, have mysteriously vanished:


    Former Slater & Gordon senior partner Peter Gordon has also defended the management of the law firm after it confirmed on Tuesday that an unofficial file compiled by Ms Gillard and detailing the work she had done had disappeared.

    Now another file is mysteriously missing its documents, too:

    Then there is the fact that Wilson and Blewitt were never charged despite the damning evidence against them. This tells us that Gillard will probably get through this and won’t even have to sit in the naughty corner with Slipper and Thompson.

    kvd said:

    And one other thing, @79 you complained about a “link to a blind search” . How’s that different to what you did @94?

    Quite different. Mine was a typo while attempting to be very specific. I would have corrected it except that correction might have been messy and there were already sufficient clues. I had previously used the same quote and correct link twice, immediately above.

  4. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I said @ 101

    Should be:

    In the newspaper’s newspapers Gillard has the devoted Fairfax press.

  5. Lurker
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    In my opinion what Gillard did (or didn’t do) in the past directly relates to the present, to the here and now

    If we work on the supposition that she IS guilty of what is being alleged – then a whole host of other smelly issues come to the fore. There are other MPs, other Ministers of the Crown, a Judge, other movers and shakers who have backgrounds in the Unions and legal firms named in this AWU-WRA business. As an ordinary citizen I can only wonder just who is involved and if decisions these people are making in the here and now, are directly relating to saving their hides from the consequences of what happened in the 90’s. In other words, as an ordinary citizen (and not a member of any political party) I wonder if our Parliament might well be as corrupt as some of the less-democratic countries out there, and our smug ‘we’re-better-than-the-rest of you’, is simply self-delusion.

    For the health of the nation any corruption needs to be identified and excised. I don’t care whose scalps might be threatened, whether they are judges, ministers of state, PMs, or heads of business. Australia needs a clean bill of health, and currently I feel that many people (including those in the media) are frantically trying to band-aid over a stinking, foetid, gangrenous wound.

    p.s. I would be equally as disgusted if the Libs/Nats had a similar cloud hanging over them. This all comes down to the Australian people having trust in their Parliament and Law-makers/Law-Courts/Law-firms and Unions – until the stench of corruption is gone, I will look askance at all involved.

  6. Henry2
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    There’s plenty to be disturbed about in the here and now.
    The ALP took government of the country with a hard won surplus and the promise of some relief from the pain of winning the surplus. On the excuse of a world wide recession they have blown the surplus and indebted the country far more heavily than ever before, this with our export income continuing to be greater than ever before.
    Whilst doing this they have encouraged politics of division and hate.

  7. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    L.E. said @ 192

    I think Sean has a point about certain sectors of the press not wanting to look into Gillard’s past. The political polarisation of the media these days bothers me. There’s sharply delineated lines as to who supports whom – you know certain papers are not going to go for Gillard’s jugular, just as you know certain papers are not going to go for Abbott’s jugular.

    Thank you. But I believe it is worse than that. I think that wit Fairfax press, one is liable to not even be made aware of happenings that are uncomfortable for Labor. It has essentially been a propaganda organ for Labor, hence its diving readership. Murdoch is arguably presently favouring the right, but I would argue that that is due to Labor’s form rather the due to intrinsic bias.

    In the 2007 election the Australian supported Rudd. In 2010, the Sunday Telegraph said that Labor deserves a second chance. In 2007, David Penberthy of the Daily qrote an article titled “Why we are Supporting Kevin Rudd“.

    Murdoch papers still have writers who haven’t changed their views. Until recently, Peter van Onselen, in the Australian, could be relied on to turn the latest Labor/Greens disaster into a story about the evils of Abbott.

    There is the false belief being promoted, that the evil Murdoch controls 70% of the papers in Australia. That is not so, Murdoch controls about 30% but sells 70%, due to greater popularity, due to what I mention above. There have been Labor/Greens attempts to stifle Murdoch’s voice with new censorship laws.

    Actually, the Labor doesn’t need to worry about that as much as they think. Very few people get their news from the newspapers. They get it from the TV media, very much a leftist domain.

    Names that immediately come to mind are Laurie Oakes on 9, The Project on 10, Mark Riley on 7 and all of the ABC. These are people who won’t change their position no matter how diabolical Labor becomes, and diabolical they have already long been.

    I am often depressed to find how oblivious are the people I know, as to what has been going on politically. This doesn’t seem to suppress confident pronouncements from their political wisdom, always based on what person they don’t like. I am sure that next time I ask someone what he hates about Abbott, he will look at me startled and splutter, “Well ….. er …. he’s a misogynist!”.

    L.E. said:

    That’s what bothered me about the Kevin Rudd fall from grace, too – at the start he had the support of the press – and then suddenly (it was quite distinct) they turned and we heard all these stories about how they all knew what a crazy Rudd was. Why weren’t we hearing those stories earlier? Why the pack mentality?

    In a following paragraph, you talk about a fickle press. I am not sure that the press was being fickle with Rudd per se, rather they were being consistent with their Labor propaganda. While Rudd was leader, demonising him was not politically correct. When he was booted and Gillard installed, the media needed to justify the assassination – which they did.

    After the Gillard Government started dying in the polls, the media needed to work even harder at making things right left.

    The trouble is that undergraduate journalists, the universities are leftist training camps. Look at these two idiots who heckled and and disrupted speeches by Tony Abbott and Martin Ferguson on two separate occasions. They actually stopped Ferguson’s speech for over two minutes. These ratbags are – wait for it – journalism tutors at Melbourne and Swinburne universities. Heaven help Australia because Labor won’t.

  8. Posted November 11, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Australia is not remotely near (pdf) its record levels of public debt.

  9. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Henry2 said @ 105:

    On the excuse of a world wide recession they have blown the surplus and indebted the country far more heavily than ever before, this with our export income continuing to be greater than ever before. [embolding mine]

    Lorenzo @ 107 wrote:

    [email protected] Australia is not remotely near (pdf) its record levels of public debt.

    A Clear Picture of Australia’s Debt

    Plot 1.

    Plot 2.

  10. Posted November 12, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    [email protected] I am not denying the Rudd-Gillard Government increased the level of public debt, that is not in dispute, just that it is nowhere near record levels. And graphing the total monetary value of securities is a bit misleading, since the economy is considerably larger than it was when, for example, the Howard Government came to office.

  11. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo said @ 110

    [email protected] I am not denying the Rudd-Gillard Government increased the level of public debt, that is not in dispute, just that it is nowhere near record levels.

    You inadvertently admit that Labor has managed to squander a surplus and max out the credit card during a boom period, a boom period that has now ended – along with the means of us repaying the debt instead of our children.

    And graphing the total monetary value of securities is a bit misleading, since the economy is considerably larger than it was when, for example, the Howard Government came to office.

    Oh, how much larger is it? And if you get a raise at work, does that mean you start spending like a drunken sailor, buying stupid junk?

    Labor to scrape the debt ceiling

    by: Annabel Hepworth
    From: The Australian
    September 03, 2012 12:00AM

    GOVERNMENT borrowings subject to Australia’s debt ceiling will soar to $249.7 billion within four years, it has been revealed, putting new pressure on Julia Gillard to avoid a further blowout in debt as the resource boom peaks.

  12. Posted November 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I am not defending the Rudd-Gillard Government’s budgetary policies, I am merely pointing out we are nowhere near record levels of indebtedness.

    As to how much bigger the economy is, in 1996 GDP was $544bn. In 2011, GDP was $1,441bn. So, well over twice as big in money terms. Since the graphs you linked to were total monetary value of bonds outstanding, that is the appropriate comparison.

  13. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo said @ 112

    I am not defending the Rudd-Gillard Government’s budgetary policies,

    That wasn’t obvious.

    I am merely pointing out we are nowhere near record levels of indebtedness.

    It is not only the size of the debt, it’s how quickly they achieved after being left with a good surplus from Howard. The point is, they need to be stopped.

    As to how much bigger the economy is, in 1996 GDP was $544bn. In 2011, GDP was $1,441bn. So, well over twice as big in money terms

    Why not start with 2008, close to the start of Labor’s time (late Nov 2007). The GDP then was $1.06 trillion. In 2011, it was 1.37 trillion. That’s about a third more. Compare that to the sky-rocketing debt for that period. In any case, just because the GDP rises, it doesn’t mean that the debt should.

    We don’t need to see the pretty paddock next to the Labor train wreck.

  14. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    /blockquote>
    “In fairness”, the slowness might be due to the fact that two reporters were sacked for trying to air this story and The Australian had Julia herself screeching threats down the phone at them. However, I have been following this story since June. You linked the article in The Age. Even that article recognised the worrying significance of the current evidence and the problems with Gillard’s testimony.

    For now, I’ve nothing to add to the main post, and I consider speculation on the matter based on circumstantial evidence to be fruitless.

    Fruitless in what way? You are essentially saying that all the evidence so far counts for nothing. Labor would just love that. Just because there mightn’t be enough for conviction it doesn’t mean there isn’t enough for warranted suspicion. As an analogy, one sees numerous examples of shysters getting away with ripping off people, where the law seems unable to touch them. We regularly see them on TV and we are warned about them. Would you knowingly employ any of these people with your money?

    In Gillard’s case, we the public are the employer and the ones who must decide whether we want to employ the person again, not the courts and not the lawyers. We absolutely can speculate. There is a damn side more evidence against Gillard on this AWU matter than there is on Abbott with the ‘misogynist’ smear and Labor is getting great mileage out of that trash. Bear in mind that our scurrilous PM has hired an overseas smear expert to deliberately create a war between the sexes just to get Abbott. So please, let’s not get too precious about her right to the presumption of innocence. That isn’t guaranteed even in our legal system, let alone politics.

    The evidence isn’t only circumstantial, however there is a growing amount of circumstantial evidence, enough to shift the probabilities well out of her favour:

    1. There is the fact that she has been dodging questions and saying she has answered questions that she hasn’t. In other words, fibbing even there.

    2. There is the fact that her signature of witness is on a POA when Blewitt says he wasn’t even in Melbourne that day, but in WA. That significant bonus of detail in his account increases the probability that he is telling the truth.

    3. There is the fact that she never reported the matter to police or to the AWU when she discovered that there was fraud happening.

    4. There is the fact that her story is changing. First she said she didn’t report it because that fraud was already being investigated by the authorities. That was false. Then she said that she didn’t report it because she didn’t know.

    5. Aside from the falsehoods and contradictions, if she didn’t know, why did she break it off with her lover and why did she think she was having to leave Slater and Gordon?

    6. Then there is the fact that there was no file raised in the system. She had kept the matter a secret from her firm, S&G and from her client, the AWU. Here I will repeat a point that I twice previously raised, without receiving an answer. I said, “Wilson could not just hope that invisibility might be the case. He would’ve needed to be confident that Gillard wouldn’t divulge the existence of this fund to the AWU (her client and their supposed fund) or even to her S&G partners, lest they unwittingly spilled the beans to the AWU. On this basis alone, the secrecy seems unlikely to have been accidental.”

    7. Then there are the two other previously extant (presumably) files that mysteriously went missing, one at S&G and the other in the WA archives.

    8. Then there was the fact that she actually attended the auction with her boyfriend, where a house was purchased with the defrauded money.

    9. Then there was Julia saying that she couldn’t rule out that union money was used for the renovation of her own house.

    10. Then there is the fact that, though the fund was disguised as being for workplace reform, she knew that it was nothing of the sort. She hasn’t even denied that.

    11. There is her compounding of the above deception. When the WA Corporate Affairs Commission suspected and queried the registration, Gillard wrote back assuring them of its validity.

    12. Point 11 by itself exposes the falsehood of Gillard’s claim, “I provided advice in relation to its establishment [of the association] and that was it.”

    13. There is her claim that she wasn’t in charge of the conveyancing. How could she make the call to make it a freebie if she wasn’t in charge of it?

    14. There is her defense that she was young and naive. A lawyer at thirty-five, who is a partner in a leading law firm, is young and naive?

    However, I will continue to watch with interest and see what else (if anything) surfaces.

    It already has:

    15. Slater and Gordon deny her denials that she was in charge of the conveyancing. “But Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech has confirmed Ms Gillard ‘’acted directly’’ in the conveyancing work on the property purchase.”

    Perhaps the mutual protection is becoming unsustainable and it’s now every man person for himself themselves.

  15. Lurker
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    Excellent post Sean, and I think you have covered every troubling detail. Like you I have been following this issue for a very long time – since I think Sept/Oct last year.

    Do you recollect that the media were happily hanging, drawing and quartering Abbott over that teenage punching the wall episode – an episode that one person (an ideological foe) allegedly witnessed – yet noone else recollected it happening, there was no documentary evidence of the time stating that it happened – yet the media ran with it as if it were established fact.

    Then there is the AWU-WRA issue and a heap of documentary evidence that something really bad happened, Gillard’s name is associated with a couple of very dodgy documents (the Association and the SPoA), and now you have police wanting to speak to a key witness (Blewitt) who says that he will sing as long as he is granted indemnity.

    The media’s reaction? Only a couple of papers are willing to run articles, the ABC is mute, SBS is mute, the commercial news is mute. In other words – Abbott is made out to be the devil incarnate for something he may or may not have done as a teen, yet Gillard and the AWU-WRA barely rates a mention, and the general public are left almost completely in the dark.

    The other thing that angers me is that it is evident that we have a class of people that consider themselves above the Law here in Australia. Ask yourself Legal Eagle, is that a good thing for our country? Is that a good thing for our democracy? If the big fish are untouchable, how does it make the small fish feel – especially those who might have made an error on their tax form and then have been hounded from pillar to post by the ATO, or made a mistake in their driving and been fined hundreds of dollars (not myself btw, I am speaking in a general way). How does the average law-abiding person feel doing the right thing, abiding by the law, when they know there are criminals or criminally inclined people who are getting away scot free. It burns me up that justice and the law allows this. I used to have faith in the courts, in the law, have even sat on a jury bench in the past – but after this, never again. I will wonder – who is answerable to who, who has been bought off, or promoted off, or threatened.

  16. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Lurker said @ 116

    Excellent post Sean, and I think you have covered every troubling detail.

    Thanks. As you would know, another piece to the jigsaw puzzle has come out of the box. It fits perfectly well into the emerging picture:

    16. AWU scandal – $5000 put in Gillard’s account, claims whistleblower

    A UNION employee who was concerned about wrongdoing told the national head of the Australian Workers Union in June 1996 that he deposited about $5000 cash into Julia Gillard’s bank account at the request of her then boyfriend Bruce Wilson.

    (points 1-15 here)

    Like you I have been following this issue for a very long time – since I think Sept/Oct last year.

    Actually, I am not sure how long I have been following this matter. I can just note that I have been archived material that is dated back to June.

    Do you recollect that the media were happily hanging, drawing and quartering Abbott . . teenage . . wall episode . . no one else recollected it happening . . he media ran with it as if it were established fact.

    The hypocrisy and unashamed media bias (propaganda and censorship) gets very badly up my nose. It’s what impels me to become involved.

    Then there is the AWU-WRA issue and a heap of documentary evidence that something really bad happened, . . . . The media’s reaction? Only a couple of papers are willing to run articles, the ABC is mute, SBS is mute, the commercial news is mute. In other words – Abbott is made out to be the devil incarnate . . .

    And that is the only message the majority of the public are receiving.

    . . . and the general public are left almost completely in the dark.

    But the success of the media working their manipulations requires a contentedly ignorant and compliant public. Unfortunately, it appears that that is what we have.

    The other thing that angers me is that it is evident that we have a class of people that consider themselves above the Law here in Australia. Ask yourself Legal Eagle, is that a good thing for our country? Is that a good thing for our democracy?

    Labor is concerned with the future of Labor, not the future of Australia. Gillard is worse; she is concerned with the future of Gillard.

    Not to disagree with your post at all Lurker, but I will have to credit Legal Eagle points for exercising democracy in her running of this blog. Not all places give the opposing views a fair hearing – the ABC for example. I would like to thank her for that.

  17. Posted November 14, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]:

    You inadvertently admit that Labor has managed to squander a surplus and max out the credit card during a boom period

    As Lorenzo has already pointed out, the government ‘credit card’ is no where near maxed out. All three major credit ratings agencies currently give the government the best possible rating. There is no debt problem. What I really like though, is how you creatively demonstrate your ignorance of economics by describing the global financial crisis as a ‘boom period’.

    [email protected]:

    Just because there mightn’t be enough for conviction it doesn’t mean there isn’t enough for warranted suspicion.

    What is there warranted suspicion of? What laws do you think the evidence indicates Gillard might have broken? The only allegation that I can see is the witnessing of a POA that she didn’t actually witness being signed. While this is a serious allegation, it isn’t on particularly solid ground. The allegation has been made by someone who claims to need immunity from prosecution, has only been raised 2 decades after the event and years of media coverage, and (as yet) lacks any corroborating evidence.

    Along with Gillard’s other conduct and her relationship with Bruce Wilson, it does not help Gillard’s image. However the allegation by itself it seems a long way short of actually showing that she’s of such poor character that she should resign from office (or be voted out). This is particularly so given this issue has been published and rehashed well before the most recent federal election and so as leader of the Labor party, Gillard demonstrably has sufficient democratic support (however politically flimsy) from the people to be Prime Minister in spite of the questions this issue raises.

    As for claims about media bias, I’ll make the point that it’s The Australian that has owned up to publishing untrue facts on this issue. Given The Australian’s track record on this issue I’m not surprised some media organisations are wary about republishing the latest unverifiable facts asserted (however indirectly) by The Australian.

  18. Lurker
    Posted November 15, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Sean and Lurker, I don’t want anybody to consider themselves above the law. But I also want to be scrupulously fair in the way I assess matters such as this because the ramifications of accusing someone to be fraudulent are so very serious.

    Ok, leaving Gillard’s predicament aside – why is it that Wilson has never been charged? You state that you don’t want anyone to be above the law, yet here is an individual, who, going by all available evidence, was allegedly involved in corrupt activities; yet as far as I am aware, no charges were ever laid and he spent no time in court explaining his actions to a judge and jury. The knowledge about this man’s alleged actions have been known by many for almost twenty years – yet he still has his freedom. Would you not say that he seems to be above the law? And why should he be above the law, when for example, that ‘fake prince’ guy who swindled Queensland Health for millions of dollars has had the law rightly and properly descend upon his head.

    You see, both cases deal with the improper use of taxpayer money (the AWU-WRA money originally came from a WA Government training fund, via building companies, which ended up in the AWU-WRA) yet only one of these two cases came to Court. Can you explain to me why this is so?

    And here’s an illustration of why it’s appropriate to be cautious: union official withdraws allegation about Gillard’s renovations being paid for by Wilson et al (paywall).

    It gets very interesting if you go behind the paywall and read all the articles associated with the AWU scandal.

    Here is another question for you Legal Eagle – what is considered heavier proof in a courtroom – a diary written and transcribed at the time of events and a recorded and transcribed dialogue of an interview at the time of events – or current statements dismissing what was said or written seventeen years ago?

  19. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Desi said @ 118:

    What I really like though, is how you creatively demonstrate your ignorance of economics by describing the global financial crisis as a ‘boom period’.

    So you must like it when Julia also refers to the boom, in argument with Abbott. Neither is saying that there is no boom; it’s just that Abbott is saying that it is coming to an end and she says it isn’t.

    “That is clearly a nonsense remark and it is wrong and inappropriate for anybody to be talking the Australian economy down,” Ms Gillard said.

    “We’ve got a resources boom where we are yet to see the investment peak and the production peak.

    Now, despite Julia herself equating the mining health and the economy’s health, you might still wish to diminish its importance as a measure – IOW, ‘Just a mining boom, nothing more.’:

    AUSTRALIAN economic growth has halved in the June quarter as the slowing of the mining boom weighs on activity.

    Following a bumper start to the year, Australia’s economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the three months to June, well below the upwardly revised 1.4 per cent growth registered in the first three months of 2012.

    The data supports the Reserve Bank’s decision yesterday to leave interest rates on hold at 3.5 per cent.

    But the slowdown in growth will cause deep concerns as the economy wrestles with the impact of falling commodity prices as the Chinese economy slows.

    Gillard and Rudd took us from surplus to massive debt, at blistering speed, during a resources boom. That takes a special talent that only Labor can provide. On second thought, I suspect that the Greens could outdo them.

    BTW, I really do believe you when you say you like ignorance. Sergeant Shultz has a lot to answer for.

    Regarding the AWU Scandal and Gillard:

    What is there warranted suspicion of?

    Sergeant Shultz again? I provided several items in an earlier post, here.

    The following raises my suspicions:

    – There is Gillard’s characteristic refusal to answer questions on this matter. Here is one example of many. It occurs at 35 seconds into this video. If she has nothing to hide, why is she continually evasive?

    – Why did Gillard originally say that she couldn’t rule out that union money was used on her house renovations? I can say categorically from the outset, that no union funds ever paid for my house renovations.

    – There is the $5,000 dollars, mentioned in the previous video, that Hem said he was asked to put into Gillard’s account by Wilson. If that occurred an explanation is needed. Gillard hasn’t even denied it; she just evades the question. Under the circumstances, a gift would not be a comfortable explanation. Perhaps Gillard sold Wilson a car or something. That would be nice.

    – There is something I have submitted three times previously without a reply. If you think that there is nothing suspicious, Desi, you should be able to happily reconcile it. I submit that Wilson could not just hope that invisibility might be the case. He would’ve needed to be confident that Gillard wouldn’t divulge the existence of this fund to the AWU (her client and their supposed fund) or even to her S&G partners, lest they unwittingly spilled the beans to the AWU. For this reason, the invisibility of the fund seems unlikely to have been accidental or incidental. Please answer that point.

    – There is Gillard reassuring the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs, in WA, of the validity of the fund after he questioned it. This makes one suspect that Gillard played a more pivotal role than she would have us believe. She said, “I provided advice in relation to its establishment [of the fund/association] and that was it.”

    – Why didn’t Gillard report the theft to the police or her client, the AWU, once she was undeniably aware?

    – Why did her excuse for the above, change? She said the fraud was already under investigation by the authorities. It wasn’t. She later said she could not report what she did not know. At the time of the S&G internal investigation, she definitely did know. That is why she was compelled to part company with her boyfriend and her employer, never to work in law again.

    – There is Cambridge’s note in his diary, written in 1995, regarding the payment for renovations to Gillard’s house. Cambridge was very highly regarded for his integrity and was a staunch union and Labor supporter. The ‘whistle blower’ has denied giving that information to Cambridge. I don’t believe that the latter just made it up. I am reminded of all the disappearing files (see below), there one day, gone the next.

    – There is the fact that her signature of witness is on a POA when Blewitt says he wasn’t even in Melbourne that day, but in WA.

    – Slater and Gordon deny Gillard’s denials that she was in charge of the conveyancing. “But Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech has confirmed Ms Gillard ‘’acted directly’’ in the conveyancing work on the property purchase.” If Gillard wasn’t in charge, who was?

    – Wilson didn’t mind taking Gillard to the auction, where he purchased for Blewitt (Wilson’s sidekick) a house with the money from the bogus fund that Gillard helped set up.

    – Then there are the documents that have mysteriously gone missing. Three lots of documents from different locations. People who aren’t Labor apologists (luvvies), once informed, would tend to find that suspicious. The three sets that I know about are:

    i) The Gordon and Slater documents relating to the purchase of the contentious house with stolen AWU money.

    ii) The corporate affairs file. It has gone missing from the state archives. This was from an official file-keeping institution. The folder is there but the documents are missing. It includes the letter of reassurance, from Gillard, to the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs, in WA. That was after he expressed concern about the nature of fund. Gillard assured him that it was bona fide, even though she knew full well the fund was not being set up for its nominated purpose.

    iii) Documents (copies) were sent to the Federal Court in Queensland. Those files are now also missing. The boxes that contained them were still there but are empty. Court files are held very securely. One needs permission to access them.

    I play with probability and the odds against this succession happening by innocent chance, are prohibitive. If this doesn’t sound like a coverup, what would? This alone should be enough to prompt a proper inquiry. If this just gets swept under the carpet, it means that there is a growing rot in Australia’s structure, that is eroding its very foundations.

    UPDATE: A fourth set of documents has gone missing:


    AWU scandal – fourth file goes missing from court archives
    Andrew Bolt November 19 2012 (6:53am)
    The AWU scandal

    A fourth set of crucial documents on the AWU slush fund scandals has also gone missing – and also from court archives:

    … former industrial lawyer Harry Nowicki has told The Age a box of records is also missing from the New South Wales Federal Court registry, including a crucial affidavit and supporting documents assembled by AWU whistleblower and now Fair Work Australia commissioner Ian Cambridge.

    Note that this includes stuff gathered by investigator Ian Cambridge whom I spoke of above. This is becoming very sinister. But of course, Labor types would see nothing suspicious (let alone, ominous) happening here. Damn you and all of your kind, because it is you and the love media that have made it possible for this sort of thing to happen in Australia.

    What laws do you think the evidence indicates Gillard might have broken?

    – Did she profit from the fraud?

    – Was $5,000 put into her account by Wilson? If so, for what?

    – Why didn’t she report the fraud when she found out? Wasn’t she obliged by law to do so?

    – Did she really witness the POA signing or did she backdate it? Wouldn’t the latter be against the law? Blewitt says he wasn’t even in Victoria on the specified signing date.

    – Why did she set up a fund supposedly for workplace safety training, knowing that is not what is was for? Is that legal?

    – Why did she go on to assure the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs, in WA, of the bona fide nature of the fund, after he expressed reservations? Was that legal?

    The only allegation that I can see is the witnessing of a POA that she didn’t actually witness being signed. While this is a serious allegation, it isn’t on particularly solid ground. The allegation has been made by someone who claims to need immunity from prosecution,

    The ground is solid if Blewitt was standing on WA ground at the time his presence and signature was being ‘witnessed’.

    As for claims about media bias, I’ll make the point that it’s The Australian that has owned up to publishing untrue facts on this issue.

    Yes, I heard where they called it ‘trust fund’. An ostensibly outraged and defamed Gillard told them it was a ‘slush fund’. Amazing.

    Given The Australian’s track record on this issue I’m not surprised some media organisations are wary about republishing the latest unverifiable facts asserted (however indirectly) by The Australian.

    Yeah. Now Julie Bishop hired by CSR, that’s the real story with the AWU scandal.

    Fran Kelly and Michelle Grattan this morning discussed the AWU scandal on ABC Radio Breakfast. Yes!

    But the topic? What Julie Bishop did as a lawyer for CSR in the asbestos case.

    Grattan also writes a piece on Bishop – and not on Gillard – in The Age:

    THE government has gone on the front foot against what it describes as the ‘’smearing’’ of Julia Gillard, with a counter-smear against Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop.

    It questions the behaviour of Ms Bishop – who has recently carried the opposition attack over Ms Gillard’s involvement in the AWU affair – from when she was a solicitor acting for CSR in asbestos cases.

    And:

    Asked today on Insiders about Julia Gillard’s involvement in the AWU slush fund scandal, Small Business Minister Brendan O’Connor agrees it’s time some questions were answered about the legal work. To be precise:

    Julie Bishop indeed has some questions to answer.

    Such is the integrity of Labor and their ABC.

  20. Posted November 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    [email protected],

    There was a resources boom and a global financial crisis. The former (along with other significant factors) allows for significant differentiation from the troubled economies of Europe. This is the context of Gillard’s criticism of Abbot:

    Attempts by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to compare Australia’s economy to struggling European economies are ”absurd” and ”grossly irresponsible”, according to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

    The later impacted the economy more widely and more significantly, justifying government stimulus to stabilise the economy and also consequently reducing the government’s revenue:

    The global recession has impacted on Australian growth, employment and the Budget, withdrawing $75b in revenue since November and causing us to follow other advanced economies into a temporary deficit.

    There’s a vast difference between a government with a budget deficit or debt on the books, and an economy in crisis. Government debt and deficit is something to expect over the normal course of the business cycle. An economic crisis is something our government has managed avoided despite the circumstances and thus distinguished itself from other governments around the world.

  21. Posted November 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    LE, rereading my last comment I can see how you might infer I considered the current government as some sort paragon of economic management. I don’t think that. I think a lot of things contributed to our current economic position and that government (both past and present) has played only a part. The main point I was trying to make was that our current economic or fiscal position, when viewed in context, is no indication that the current government is somehow economically incompetent.

  22. Henry2
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    LE @ 125 I was appalled when I read of the attack on Bishop because of who she chose to represent, as much as I would be appalled if someone attacked Gillard because she chose to represent unions in workplace law.
    Is this lowering of journalistic standard a response to those journalists who chose to investigate Gillards activity in relation to the AWU slush fund rort?
    If so, it misses teh point that Gillards principle client was the AWU and the AWU was harmed by the rort.

  23. b parker
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    So here’s a version of the story freely available on the web.

    There must be some holes in it?

    Julia Gillard was a union lawyer and partner working at Slater & Gordon in Victoria in the early to mid 1990s. She handled the affairs of the Australian Workers Union (AWU), the most powerful union in the country; the same union that recently arranged for the knifing of popularly elected sitting PM, Kevin Rudd, to replace him with the union-aligned Gillard.

    While working for the AWU at Slater & Gordon, Gillard fell for then AWU official, Bruce Wilson. Wilson had Gillard set up an incorporated association in WA. She has confirmed this (but says she did not know what it was used for). Her handwriting is on the documents.

    This was a dummy association, a fraud. It was set up without any authorisation from the AWU. Then lawyer Gillard did not consult the AWU about it. She applied for it to be named the AWU Workplace Reform Association knowing it was not within the rules of the AWU and that a union cannot be an association. That dummy incorporated association was then used to set up a bank account for the purpose of siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from a West Australian Government training scheme, the Building Construction Industry Training Fund (BCTIF) into which developers and contractors paid a levy meant to fund training in the construction industry.

    Wilson funnelled funds meant to train construction workers into the bank account of the Gillard-established dummy association for his own benefit. He arranged for developers such as Thiess to pay into this account which became Wilson’s personal cash cow for expenditures such as a home purchase at 85 Kerr Street, Fitzroy, (in the name of Wilson’s partner in the bank account, fellow unionist, Ralph Blewitt, with Wilson’s signature on the cheque), renovations and thousands of dollars spent at a women’s fashion house.

    Gillard arranged for a large loan on the Kerr Street house from her law firm, Slater and Gordon and for the conveyancing.

    The bank account operated between April 1992 and April 1995 at which time the fraud began to unravel when tradesmen and contractors pursued the AWU for unpaid renovation works at the Kerr Street house (where Wilson and Gillard were reported to be living, according to union witnesses at the time), and on Gillard’s Abbottsford home. The AWU had no idea what these unpaid invoices were for. They had not contracted the works.

    AWU officials Bill Ludwig and Ian Cambridge went straight to the lawyers and had a 38 page itemised forensic affidavit drawn up by then partner at Sydney firm Turner Freeman, Robert McClelland, who later got dumped by Gillard as Attorney General when he backed Rudd, not her, at the last leadership ballot. The police needed more evidence on the house. Slater and Gordon closed ranks, refused to release the files based on ‘client privilege’, with the client being Ralph Blewitt, Wilson’s partner. Those files remain hidden – possibly until now.

    The accounts operated by Wilson and Blewitt, established by Gillard’s dummy association, have been described by Ludwig and Cambridge as ‘unauthorised’, ‘invalid’, ‘irregular’ and used for ‘possibly illegal purposes’.

    Ian Cambridge (now a Fair Work Australia Commissioner), swore in the McClelland-prepared affidavit, “I am unable to understand how Slater & Gordon, who were then acting for the Victoria Branch of the Union, could have permitted the use of funds which were obviously taken from the union, in the purchase of private property of this nature, without seeking and obtaining proper authority from the union”.

    Gillard was sacked from Slater and Gordon. The firm tried to distance itself from the affair. She never practised law again and was unemployed for six months, later getting a Joan Kirner arranged job in the Victorian Opposition Leader, John Brumby’s office to try to resurrect her fortunes. The Kerr Street house was soon sold and the money from the sale never recovered by the AWU (believed to have benefited Wilson). Wilson and Blewitt were removed from the AWU. Blewitt ended up in self imposed exile in Asia. Wilson is believed to have changed his identity and hiding out as a cook in a club in Newcastle in NSW.

  24. Sean McHugh
    Posted November 23, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Julia Gillard is finished. There a too many holes in her story to plug. I would like for her to be leading the Government at the next election, but I don’t think that will happen.

    Her denying, to Slater and Gordon, that she knew of the house mortgage, is denied by bank correspondence and by other correspondence involving her.

    When an offer was made on the mortgage, it was made to Wilson, Julia Gillard’s boyfriend, even though the house was in Blewitt’s name.

    There are also handwritten notes to Julia Gillard about the house and mortgage. One of the notes was even subsequently copied by typing it out.

    The details of the above can be found here on Michael Smith’s page. He was sacked from Fairfax’s 2UE for trying to present news on the scandal.

    This new information adds to the other problematic items I posted here.

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