|The leaks in this story just keep coming – there is nowhere for Gillard to hide anymore. The latest mainstream media update since the last post on this story appeared in ‘The Australian’ over the weekend – see below:
Scandal refuses to die!
| Authors: Hedley Thomas| 3rd Aug 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
IT is a chilly afternoon and a 66-year-old one-time union bagman with a smoker’s cough and a guilty conscience is on a trip down memory lane through the inner suburbs of Melbourne.
Ralph Blewitt is revisiting old haunts and recalling his role and the conduct of others that fundamentally changed his life.
The Vietnam veteran’s actions destroyed his standing with the Australian Labor Party, abruptly ended his union career, and led him into self-imposed exile in Malaysia.
The 1995 discovery of his role as a bent union organiser who helped siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars would plunge the Australian Workers Union into national turmoil for several years, provoke a blizzard of Industrial Court cases, trigger two serious fraud investigations by police on opposite sides of the country, and send several of Labor’s future federal cabinet ministers into legal and factional battle against each other.
As Blewitt says during his visit to Melbourne between conferences with criminal lawyers: “I would like the whole thing to go away, quite frankly, but I don’t think it will. I think that the story needs to be told. I need to clear the air. I do not want to be hounded about it forever.
“I could face criminal charges. I will make myself available (to police) on that one condition that I have immunity from prosecution. In the course of that, if certain people are embarrassed or worse, it’s too bad.”
Blewitt’s crime was to participate in a financial scandal. He tells The Australian he was the sidekick, not the architect.
As the AWU and the police, in newly released Freedom of Information documents, have long claimed, the alleged architect was Bruce Wilson, one of the union’s up-and-coming stars, then the branch head in Victoria and a good friend of Blewitt.
Wilson allegedly set up the suspected scam, calling the shots, extracting hundreds of thousands of dollars from building companies on a false pretence, and enjoying the benefits.
But all these years later, the scandal dogs one person more than any other. It is Julia Gillard, the union’s former lawyer, who has herself denied accusations of wrongdoing made in parliament.
At the time, she was an ambitious partner in the industrial unit at the firm Slater & Gordon, which acted for the AWU, Wilson and Blewitt. She was Wilson’s girlfriend. And she was destined for politics.
It is important to understand that while the alleged fraud – in which Blewitt now, for the first time, acknowledges his own direct role – is a colourful chapter of AWU and Labor folklore, some of the facts have remained elusive.
For 17 years, it has been like a mirage that shimmers with untold promise, only to dissolve against a backdrop of legal threats, libel risk, and the determination of the two men at the centre of the allegations that can still be prosecuted, Wilson and Blewitt, to keep their mouths shut.
Disgraced and run out of the AWU, both men found the game became self-preservation.
Wilson and Blewitt were determined to stay out of prison by remaining quiet and a step ahead of police in Victoria and Western Australia.
Since 1995, the stubborn silence of these men contributed to a public vacuum. Into this vacuum went innuendo, half-truths, and serious allegations, made in politically charged attacks under the protection of parliamentary privilege.
It would have lost its currency in the media and the blogosphere if not for one element – the political rise of Gillard. She has been repeatedly attacked in parliament over her actions and knowledge at the time.
The Australian has previously reported that the Prime Minister has strenuously and emphatically rejected claims about her role as Wilson’s solicitor, including that she improperly received financial benefits from missing funds, and that she had set up the accounts that received the funds. She has always denied she did anything untoward and has accused her detractors of cowardice and lies.
A fortnight before Labor’s 2007 election win, she spoke of her relationship with Wilson when she was at Slater & Gordon and in her early-to-mid 30s. The 2007 story by senior political journalist Glenn Milne in The Sunday Telegraph was headlined “A conman broke my heart”.
“I was young and naive,” Gillard said at the time. “I was in a relationship, which I ended, and obviously it was all very distressing. I am by no means the first person to find out that someone close turns out to be different to what you had believed them to be. I was obviously hurt when I was later falsely accused publicly of wrongdoing.”
Milne and another journalist who investigated the matter again late last year, broadcaster Michael Smith of Fairfax Radio, lost their paid roles after a furious reaction by Gillard and her office to their renewed interest and handling of the story. Andrew Bolt, The Herald Sun’s conservative commentator, has persistently asked questions about Gillard’s role.
Gillard’s spokesman Sean Kelly replied to a detailed email and specific questions from me yesterday with a brief comment: “Again, I’d refer you to previous comments on the matter. Genuinely appreciate you coming to us.”
For Blewitt, however, it is now time to talk. He has been persuaded to come clean by Harry Nowicki, a former industrial lawyer for the Builders Labourers Federation and now a retired personal injury lawyer.
Nowicki says he finds the case professionally fascinating, and fodder for a book he is researching on the AWU. His investigations led him to Blewitt’s door.
But Blewitt has a cast-iron caveat. He wants indemnity from prosecution. As he tells The Australian in a series of interviews: “My lawyers have told me that if I seek to tell the whole story, they will seek immunity from prosecution for me.
“I have not spoken publicly about these issues before. I am not a member of any political party now and I have no intention of rejoining one. I left Australia (to live in Asia) in 1997 and I have not voted since. I have got no illusions about this.”
As we drive through Melbourne, Blewitt points out a modest house in Abbotsford that he occasionally used to visit to see its then owner, Gillard.
He harks back to her days at Slater & Gordon when she was Wilson’s girlfriend and the union lawyer on AWU-related and industrial matters.
Old hotels, bars and cafes where he says the three would meet for a drink or a meal flash by as the car heads towards a terrace house in Kerr St, Fitzroy.
Blewitt admires the Fitzroy property with pride and tries to calculate its present value (more than $750,000). He says that he was a frequent visitor.
“It was a fantastic location and a good piece of real estate. I would get a carton of wine or beer delivered to the front door from the shop on the corner,” he recalls.
The devil is in the detail. Official purchase documents and parts of the Slater & Gordon file show that it was bought in Blewitt’s name in 1993 for $230,000.
It was a significant sum then for Blewitt, a modestly paid union organiser already burdened with a house in Perth, a mortgage and financial commitments to his wife and children. The Fitzroy house was also the most valuable property Blewitt ever “owned”.
For practical purposes, however, it was Wilson’s home for the scandal-hit three years in which he ran the AWU in Victoria, and little more than a comfortable pad for Blewitt on regular visits from Western Australia. He and others regarded it as Wilson’s joint.
But there was always a problem, a dirty little secret; while his name was on the title documents, Blewitt could not have legitimately owned the property. He never had the personal assets or income to afford it in the first place.
The truth, as the AWU’s clean-skin national head Ian Cambridge and his then solicitor, Robert McClelland, discovered during a bitter investigation and multi-faceted legal fight in the 1990s, was that the Fitzroy property was part-purchased with the financial spoils from the alleged fraud perpetrated by Wilson and Blewitt, using the AWU and its bogus AWU Workplace Reform Association.
Cambridge, now a commissioner for Fair Work Australia, was furious about the purchase of the Fitzroy house he claimed pointed to the suspected siphoning of funds. In a letter written to Laurie Brereton, who was the then labour minister, Cambridge warned that the matters relating to the union’s missing funds “can only, in my opinion, be resolved by a judicial inquiry or royal commission”.
“Quite frankly, I am now certain the Victorian affair goes a lot deeper than I first suspected and I am afraid that underlying the whole mess may be issues of serious corruption,” he said.
Documents obtained by The Australian show that in his relentless pursuit of the alleged fraud and the missing funds, Cambridge sought Slater & Gordon’s documents relating to Blewitt and the transactions surrounding the house at Kerr St, Fitzroy.
The record shows that the firm’s then senior partner, Peter Gordon, wrote to the Industrial Relations Court on August 26, 1996 to acknowledge “a copy of a subpoena for production of records directed to this firm with respect to a file held by this office with respect to a former client, Mr Ralph Blewitt”. By then, Gillard had departed Slater & Gordon, which had abruptly ceased acting for Wilson and Blewitt.
Gordon told the court registrar that “we have no option but to maintain a claim of privilege on behalf of our former client (Blewitt)” in relation to the Blewitt file.
In a subsequent handwritten letter that Gordon forwarded to the court, Blewitt wrote: “Please be advised that I wish to maintain privilege over the conveyancing file for the property, 1/85 Kerr St, Fitzroy. Would you please advise (the court) and further request that the file and all related documentation to myself at the following address.”
Blewitt makes no allegations against Gordon nor does The Australian suggest Gordon was involved in or aware of any wrongdoing. In breaking his silence, Blewitt now acknowledges that Cambridge, Bill Ludwig and their then solicitor, Robert McClelland, Australia’s future attorney-general, were right about the allegations.
Blewitt is adamant that he should not take the fall. He tells The Australian: “I knew there were sham transactions. I knew at the time it was wrong. “My greatest fear is that I incriminate myself but this has to come out now.”
…read more here …
This story regains some creditability for Murdoch’s flagship publication. The stories about how Murdoch’s Auustralian boss John Hartigan, and the Fairfax Media empire rolled over under Gillards threats last year, placed severe implications on the integrity of the Australian media.
Since this story ran over the weekend other mainstream publications have not followed – in fact it’s a ‘lone wolf’ effort from all of the collective moral integrity that our most respected journalists are prepared to put on display.
The Sunday edition of the ABC’s ‘Insiders’ – [IView Link – valid for a month or so] – did not go there – nor The ‘Bolt Report’ who went everywhere else – [See YouTube video here – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 …] – and all Australia continues to wait to see this history making drama play itself out in the public arena.
Monday came and ‘Blog-Land’ exploded with new material. Leading the charge was ‘The Pickering Post’ with the following story:
The Princess and The Pea
| Authors: Paul Zanetti | 7th Aug 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
I can’t help thinking about the Princess and the pea. You remember that old Hans Christian Andersen fable? It’s been on my mind a bit lately.
There’s our dear leader lying on a dozen soft mattresses, yet she can’t sleep at night. There’s a pea under the lowest mattress that keeps irritating her. No matter how hard she tries to ignore it, that pea will not go away.
Cartoonists think in images and metaphors. This one will probably become a cartoon.
The pea is Gillard’s past. Her murky affair with a crook in the mid-1990s keeps coming back to haunt her. Why? Because she refuses to answer questions about it. There are so many questions and no answers. Her only official responses have been general brush-offs such as, “I was young and naive” and “please refer to my previous answer” (ie. “I was young and naive”).
If you’re not up on the enveloping scandal, 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.
In 2007, Sunday Telegraph reporter, Glenn Milne interviewed then deputy opposition leader Julia Gillard about this unresolved affair. Rather than clarify, she went on to say she was ‘young and naive’ at the time she was involved. Her birth date shows she was around 34 – 35 years old at the time (1993 – 1995) and a partner in an industrial law firm working for the biggest and most powerful union in the country. Young and naive? How many law firms appoint young and naive people as partners?
Unsatisfied (like an itch that needs constant scratching), Milne revisited the story a year ago for The Australian in print and online.
Gillard went ballistic. She called News Ltd Chairman, John Hartigan at 8:00 am on the morning of publication, August 29, 2011, making threats and demands. She threatened a UK style phone hacking enquiry and media regulation unless he (a) pulled the story from the online edition (b) issued an apology and (c) assured her the story would never see the light of day again. Hartigan complied with the first two of her three demands. The last thing he wanted was Rupert put through the wringer in Australia, too. Radio 2UE broadcaster, Michael Smith was about to interview former AWU official, Bob Kernohan, who had signed an affidavit exposing much of the scandal. Kernohan has been bashed and had bullets mailed to him as he has sought to recover the missing monies and hold Wilson, Blewitt and Gillard to account. Smith’s interview was pulled at the last minute before it was due to go to air, believed to be by intervention from senior management. Smith was sacked from 2UE. It had been previously cleared by lawyers. Some other force had intervened senior management.
Irritated, then angered by Gillard’s threats and muzzling of the free press, legendary Aussie cartoonist Larry Pickering has been digging deep and spoken to many of those involved. Some weeks ago, he established a new investigative website, The Pickering Post (www.pickeringpost.com). Here, he would run stories others feared to run. Larry asked me to get involved as a contributor and co-founder and editor. I’ve seen first hand the documents and material that support the story(s). I’ve witnessed dozens of correspondence emails. I’ve come to the conclusion the Prime Minister was not as ‘young and naive’ as she would like us all to believe.
The Pickering Post launched with the headline, Gillard: The Story She Tried To Kill.
- Union Corruption
- Fraudulent Accounts
- Young and Naive’ Law Partner
- Media Threats
- Serious Questions To Answer
Five days later, radio broadcaster, Alan Jones devoted a half hour to the story, on Sydney’s highest rating morning program, reading word-for-word from The Pickering Post. Andrew Bolt is now running regular updates on the scandal on his blog page and has revisited it on Channel 10’s Bolt Report. This past weekend The Weekend Australian splashed as its lead story that bagman Ralph Blewitt has returned from Malaysia to tell all (first revealed in The Pickering Post nearly three weeks ago).
It was Blewitt’s files that Slater and Gordon refused to release to the police for investigation into the house and Gillard’s involvement. Now Blewitt is ready to sing like a canary for police in exchange for indemnity. This is about to explode. Gillard replied by trying to discredit Blewitt. Wayne Swan says there is nothing in it (but how would he know unless he has seen the Blewitt files, which he hasn’t?) and Bill Shorten was quoted as saying, “I know at the time my predecessors certainly did take all the material to West Australian and Victorian police and what I understand is those authorities chose not to take the matter any further, not to prosecute”.
Former AWU National Secretary Bill Shorten knows why the police could not go further. Slater & Gordon claimed ‘client privilege’ on the Blewitt files and would not release them, which will now soon come to light along with other material. Shorten also well knows it was not before his time. According to Kernohan, Shorten who was an AWU organiser at the time of the fraud was one of those who argued to keep a lid on the whole affair. In short, Shorten knows and is involved much more than he is letting on. There’s good reason why Shorten’s temper is inexplicably exploding in an innocuous pie shop as this scandal threatens to engulf this Prime Minister, the ALP, the unions and his own Prime Ministerial ambitions.
There’s more, much more to come on this story.
This will be a gripping TV series some day.
It’s got power, it’s got corruption, it’s got sex, it’s got politics, it involves an Australian Prime Minister – Australia’s first female Prime Minister – it involves media threats, intimidation, journalists losing their job, unionists being bashed and bullets sent in the mail, it’s got fear, intrigue, reprisals, high drama, it has it all.
Better than anything on Underbelly.
.. Read more here …
Well this sent a buzz to all the followers of this story. ‘The Australia’ staff has to have all this same data and much more information from Blewitt.
At the moment Lawyers all over Australia are researching Constitutional Laws to find out how a sitting PM can be removed, and what the repercussions will or might be.
Gillard already knows her fate – the face she now trolls the street with, and in front of the camera as she completes her Prime Ministerial obligations and speaking engagements – is a face that will ‘sink a thousand ships’.
Late last night a third story hit the wires – ‘The Pickering Post‘ was again the source – and it was an expose of yet more evidence and a insultive ‘finger’ being shown to the PM … that story is republished below:
IS THE PRIME MINISTER A CROOK?
| Author: Larry Pickering| 7th Aug 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
Julia Gillard’s latest makeover appears insufficient to cover her past.
An embattled Ralph Blewitt’s testimony will be challenged by the might of the PM’s Office but it is all too late. Basic truths are rapidly mushrooming to the surface and Pickering Post’s impeccable sources now appear to know more than even Ralph Blewitt knows.
The Pickering Post will not again ask the Prime Minister for answers. We don’t need to ask now.
We already know the answers and they are not pretty.
WA Premier, Brian Burke, Alan Bond and Laurie Connell all served time. The infamous Wilson/Gillard alliance emerged from the ashes of the WA Inc. scandal.
That Royal Commission did nothing to eradicate the next wave of corrupt union gangsters.
AWU boss, Bruce Morten Wilson was part of that new wave. Julia Eileen Gillard was later to become his pregnant girlfriend and partner in further crime.
Stories abound of a Perth-based Wilson capitalising on the growing WA boom regarding companies other than Thiess Contractors.
Pickering Post has been told, by various sources, of instances of a brash Wilson barging into developers’ boardrooms. The same old union threats to interrupt concrete pours caused ashen-faced board members to reach deep in their pockets.
It appeared extortion monies paid were going to the AWU. They weren’t. Eventually there were, in total, 12 illegal accounts. There was about to become a 13th illegal account and an extortion avalanche.
The story starts in 1992: Thiess Contractors’ WA Manager, Joe Trio was tendering for a lucrative wetlands job south of Perth. Wilson approached his friends in the then Labor Government and promised industrial peace if Thiess won the tender. Joe Trio’s Thiess Contractors won the tender.
There was no industrial unrest for the duration. Wilson now realised his immense political and fiscal power.
Ominously, Joe Trio was married to Bruce Wilson’s sister.
Later, in 1993, sums of money were appearing in a fraudulent account of Wilson’s, the account was disguised as an “AWU Workplace Reform Association” account.
We cannot confirm this, but ex-union sources are emphatic that it was Thiess Manager, Joe Trio, Wilson’s brother-in-law, who told Wilson illicit payments could not be paid directly to him. It was Trio who insisted Wilson set up accounts that would not attract attention.
Enter Julia Gillard, a young and naive, hard Left, lawyer, who naturally gravitated to the notorious Left wing law firm, Slater & Gordon. Peter Gordon of Slater & Gordon appointed Gillard as union envoy to Perth.
He instructed Gillard to hop on a plane and look after the “big boss”, Mr Bruce Wilson. Gillard certainly did that.
That night, at a dinner for union heavies at an exclusive Perth restaurant, Gillard and Wilson were finally left alone. At breakfast the next morning both were celebrating the consummation of what was to become a serious chapter in Australian political history.
Wilson accepted the position of Branch Secretary of the AWU in Melbourne. He resigned from the WA AWU but continued his remuneration from both branches.
Gillard then teamed up with Wilson and agreed to act for him, as Slater & Gordon already acted for the Vic. AWU.
Gillard, needing expert help, requested the assistance of another in-house lawyer, Bernard Murphy, to draw up the Association of Objects for the illegal account. They both worked on drafting the document. Gillard authored and signed the document.
Later, as PM, Gillard appointed Bernard Murphy as a Judge of the Federal Court.
Solicitors hold a copy of following chapters of this story:
Following instalments are ongoing and damaging. They include Shorten and Conroy’s role in the scandal. They include the immense and dastardly power of Gillard’s sacred hero, Bill Ludwig… how Gillard honoured his advice to her: “When you have the numbers, you can do what you like.” Why police investigations into Wilson were shelved. I sit at Bob Kernohan’s bedside in an unnamed Melbourne hospital. How the Left downed daggers with the Unity Right long enough to assassinate Rudd and install Gillard. How Blewitt was shafted by Gillard and Wilson. Why he never received one cent of stolen funds.
The payoffs, the bribes the sackings. Who is behind the repatriation of Blewitt and what he will say. Those in the ALP now plotting Gillard’s demise. It is a gripping saga and we have the full story… a story that will cause a Government to fall.
The ‘insultive finger’ gesture is warranted and appropriate.
For more than two years now and in the aftermath from when she ousted Kevin Rudd – she had to have known that her past would catch up with her.
Australia now awaits for the ‘bomb’ to explode and explode it will. It has been a long wait for many attached to this scandal – those who are guilty, those who kept quite about the story despite their knowledge of events, those who all this time have been trying to get the story out there, the media who have cowered, the journalist’s made to fall on their swords, the MP’s that knew and said nothing, The Unions, they are all awaiting their fate …
Australian’s deserve a better form of Government that what we have now, and what we are likely to be served up in the future when this is done and dusted. This scandal will put this Nation on its heels for 10-15 years … International creditability will trash all pipeline investment. Vetting of pre-selection candidates will take on a life of its own.
How did Gillard get to be PM with so many ALP MP’s and party members knowing what she was involved with – and that includes McClelland. He was happy whilst he had the AG role – but now ??? He and others who had knowledge should have been in front of this a long time ago.
There are other rumors and questions being asked –
- Was Gillard disbarred – or under threat of disbarment if she practised Law again?
- Did she abort her child or did natural causes intervene – this again goes to the moral integrity of the woman … particularly when she has very little in common with Australian beliefs – i.e. family, religion, marriage etc.
- The integrity of the AFP – and their role in lending their resources to the PM in what was clearly intimidating ‘blackmail’.
- Who within the ALP Members, and the Party organisation knew, aided and abetted the cover up?
These are but a few of the searching questions Australia have a right to know. As an outcome and from what has already been published then the response has to be decisive. At a minimum the ALP should be deregistered as a Political Party … can anyone see that happening any time soon?
We truly have a fucked political system and again … Australians deserve far better.
Have your say where it counts: – contact your Local Federal Representative via the links below and let them know how you feel about this, or any other topic that you feel strongly about – or you can just post a comment below and let off some steam.
Links to Australian Parliamentary Website – MP’s:
EYE-BALL’s – Harry’s Growl