Julia Gillard and the 'Slush Fund' - Royal Commission or Bust
Lawyer claims discrepancy in PM's slush fund explanation
A lawyer who worked with Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the 1990s says there is a two-and-a-half-year discrepancy in her explanation of when she knew about a loan for a house she lived in.
The property in question, on Kerr Street in Fitzroy, was allegedly paid for in part by funds taken from a union slush fund Ms Gillard helped set up.
Nick Styant-Browne was a partner in the law firm Slater and Gordon and became involved in a bitter dispute within the firm, which then acted for the Australian Workers Union (AWU).
At the centre of it were two men - union official Ralph Blewitt and branch secretary Bruce Wilson - who were accused of being behind a fraud in which hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers were paid into a slush fund and then siphoned off.
Ms Gillard was a lawyer with Slater and Gordon at the time and was Mr Wilson's girlfriend.
She helped set up the fund but has categorically denied any wrongdoing.
The saga was revived yesterday by the self-confessed fraudster Blewitt, who has returned to Australia after eight years abroad and announced plans to tell all to the Victoria Police fraud squad.
There is absolutely no doubt that Ms Gillard knew of the Slater and Gordon mortgage in March of 1993.
Former Slater and Gordon partner Nick Styant-Browne
Prompted by the renewed coverage of the issue, Nick Styant-Browne decided to give his first television interview to reveal what he knows about the saga.
He has provided 7.30 with documents that he says shed new light on Ms Gillard's involvement in the purchase of the house in Fitzroy.
Mr Styant-Browne claims Ms Gillard said she did not know about a Slater and Gordon mortgage for the house until August 1995, even though a fax from the Commonwealth Bank regarding the property was sent to her in 1993.
"There is absolutely no doubt that Ms Gillard knew of the Slater and Gordon mortgage in March of 1993, but was specifically involved in taking steps to facilitate that mortgage," he said.
"And just to give you some examples, she personally arranged for the mortgage insurance for the Kerr Street property through the Commonwealth Bank and the letter was faxed to her on March 22, 1993 from the Commonwealth Bank marked for her attention noting that the insurance had been remued, and further advising that the Slater and Gordon mortgage interest was noted on the policy of insurance."
But in a statement, a spokesman for the Prime Minister says Ms Gillard has no recollection of seeing the document in question from the bank.
The statement from the PM's office said the conveyancing for the property was handled by a paralegal within the firm and Ms Gillard did not personally arrange for the mortgage insurance for the Kerr Street property.
"The conveyancing for the Kerr Street property was handled by Olive Brosnahan, a paralegal, under the oversight of Nick Styant-Browne, the relevant partner," the statement said.
"A note in Ms Brosnahan's handwriting appears on the publicly available file dated 22 March 1993. It states that Ralph (Blewitt) was chasing up the Commonwealth Bank in relation to the certificate of currency.
"It also records the making of a phone call to Ms Gillard which resulted in a message being left for Ms Gillard. The file contains no evidence of Ms Gillard returning this call.
Ms Gillard has no recollection of seeing the correspondence from the Commonwealth Bank dated 23 March 1993.
Spokesperson for the Prime Minister
"What this entry on the file shows is that Mr Blewitt was personally attending to dealing with the Commonwealth Bank about the certificate of currency.
"Ms Gillard has no recollection of seeing the correspondence from the Commonwealth Bank dated 23 March 1993."
Mr Styant-Browne says he was concerned by the fact Ms Gillard did not open a file when helping create the slush fund, and he says her personal relationship with Mr Wilson was not disclosed to him.
"Ms Gillard stated in the interview she didn't open a file. This was not passing advice to a rank-and-file union member. This matter involved the incorporation of a legal entity and it was most unusual that a file was not opened," he said.
"Fees were waived in relation to the work that was done on the file. Then there was the question of her involvement in the purchase of the Kerr Street property and the fact that she had understood that a tenant of the property was to be her then boyfriend Mr Wilson, and that was a relationship which had never been disclosed to me.
"I didn't find out about it until August 1995. And so they were the two principal matters that concerned me about her conduct."
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW BY LEIGH SALES OF NICK STYANT-BROWNE
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Reporter: Leigh Sales
Former Slater and Gordon partner Nick Styant-Browne joins us to provide context to the scandal surrounding Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her time at the law firm.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Pressing new questions are being asked tonight by a highly-placed insider about the union slush fund the Prime Minister Julia Gillard helped establish in the 1990s.
A former colleague and partner in the Prime Minister's old law firm has come forward with new claims and evidence about the long-running saga.
In his first television interview, Nick Styant-Browne reveals his own concerns and the tensions within the law firm over Ms Gillard's role and provides 7.30 with documents that he claims shed fresh light on the affair.
Caro Meldrum-Hanna has our report.
CARO MELDRUM-HANNA, REPORTER: Back in the 1990s, Nick Styant-Browne was an equity partner with the Labor law firm Slater & Gordon in Melbourne. He made his name fighting high-profile cases like the campaign for compensation for Papua New Guinea villagers for the environmental devastation caused by BHP's Ok Tedi mine.
NICK STYANT-BROWNE, EQUITY PARTNER, SLATER & GORDON (1995): This decision upholds the political right of the Attorney-General to decide whether or not criminal contempt proceedings should be brought.
CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: But around the same time, Mr Styant-Browne became embroiled in tensions within the law firm, which then acted for the Australian Workers' Union. At the centre of it were these two men: union official Ralph Blewitt and branch secretary Bruce Wilson. They were accused of being behind a fraud in which hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers were paid into a slush fund and then siphoned off. Julia Gillard was a lawyer with Slater & Gordon at the time and Mr Wilson's girlfriend. She helped set up the fund, but has categorically denied any wrongdoing.
JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER (August 23): These are defamatory allegations and they are wrong.
CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: The saga was revived yesterday by the self-confessed fraudster Ralph Blewitt. He returned to Australia after eight years abroad announcing he plans to tell all to the Victoria police fraud squad tomorrow.
RALPH BLEWITT, FORMER AWU OFFICIAL: I would say to anybody that has any knowledge of this: please come forward and clear the decks.
CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Prompted by the renewed coverage of the issue, today Nick Styant-Browne, now a lawyer in Seattle, decided to give his first television interview to reveal what he knows about the slush fund saga. He's provided 7.30 with documents that he says shed new light on Julia Gillard's involvement in a key transaction associated with the fund: the purchase of this house in Kerr Street, Fitzroy. One document is a previously unseen excerpt from an interview between Ms Gillard and her superiors at Slater & Gordon in which she told them she had first learned about the mortgage on the property in 1995. Another document is a Commonwealth Bank fax addressed to Ms Gillard which refers to the mortgage details in 1993. Nick Styant-Browne says the documents raise important new questions.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Nick Styant-Browne is now a lawyer based in the United States and he joined me earlier.
Nick Styant-Browne, why did you decide that you wanted to speak out about what you knew regarding Julia Gillard, Slater & Gordon and the AWU slush fund?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE, LAWYER: In August of this year it became clear to me that after all these years this story was finally going to come out and Slater & Gordon made a public statement that Ms Gillard had been cleared of any wrongdoing, had taken a very long sabbatical, had resigned from the firm and a meeting room had been named after her. And that was on any view a stunningly incomplete account of the circumstances of her departure. And it was following that that I resolved it was in the public interest to release both non-privileged parts of the transcript of the interview of September 1995 together with Pete Gordon's statement concerning the circumstances of her departure.
LEIGH SALES: When did you first become aware of the existence of the slush fund?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: It was around August of 1995 when it was first brought to my attention.
LEIGH SALES: And how was that brought to your attention?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: I can't remember precisely. One or other of the partners came to me and told me what they knew at that time about the involvement of Ms Gillard in the incorporation of the Workplace Reform Association.
LEIGH SALES: What action did Slater & Gordon take to investigate the circumstances?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Well, again, I was not the principal or one of the principal partners involved, but in so far as I was involved there was an interview of Ms Gillard conducted on 11th September of 1995 where various matters were put to her concerning both her involvement in the incorporation of the association and her involvement in the acquisition of the Kerr Street property by Ralph Blewitt. And it was following upon that interview that Ms Gillard took her long sabbatical and resigned several months later in May of 1996.
LEIGH SALES: Broadly, what did Ms Gillard say about her role in that interview?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Well, it covered a number of areas, Leigh, so it's difficult to give you one statement that summarises what she said. So far as the association was concerned, Ms Gillard claimed that she thought it was a slush fund for the re-election of a union ticket headed by Bruce Wilson that she had no involvement in the setting up of any bank accounts associated with the association and she had no involvement with the association otherwise following upon the work she did in relation to its incorporation. In respect of the property transaction involving Kerr Street, she stated that she understood Mr Blewitt was buying the property as an investment, that Mr Wilson would be a tenant and she believed that Mr Blewitt had the financial resources to fund the purchase together with a loan.
LEIGH SALES: What were your concerns about the fund and about Julia Gillard's involvement in its establishment?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Ms Gillard stated in the interview that she did not open a file. This was not passing advice to a rank-and-file union member; this matter involved the incorporation of a legal entity and it was most unusual that a file was not opened. Fees were waived in relation to the work that was done on the file. Then there was the question of her involvement in the purchase of the Kerr Street property and the fact that she had understood that a tenant of the property was to be her then boyfriend Mr Wilson and that was a relationship which had never been disclosed to me. I did not find out about it until August of 1995. And so they were two of the principal matters that concerned me about her conduct.
LEIGH SALES: Did all of the partners in the firm share that view? Did Slater & Gordon have an official view about it?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: There was a spectrum of views across the partnership and Peter Gordon has said that he was willing to give Julia Gillard the benefit of the doubt, so that was one end of the spectrum. I was towards the other end of the spectrum in that I was not readily prepared to give Ms Gillard the benefit of the doubt and I made that clear. There was never any real resolution of that debate in the partnership because as events transpired, Ms Gillard agreed to resign, and so it was never necessary for the partnership to resolve itself what actions should be taken.
LEIGH SALES: In the draft statement that you and Peter Gordon worked on together regarding the matter, Peter Gordon said that trust and confidence had evaporated. Is that accurate?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Yes. As you can imagine from the circumstances that I've just explained regarding her work in the incorporation of the association and the acquisition of the Kerr Street property, those things taken together removed the trust as between the partners and Ms Gillard.
LEIGH SALES: Was Ms Gillard asked to resign?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: You know, I don't want to sound evasive; I don't have a precise recollection of each and every discussion between the firm and Ms Gillard and I was not privy to all of the discussions. The best way I can put it is this: there was deep disquiet amongst the partnership about Ms Gillard's conduct and it was never necessary for the partnership to resolve that issue because Ms Gillard herself elected to resign.
LEIGH SALES: Today you're releasing an extra section of the transcript of the Gillard interview at Slater & Gordon. What does it show?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: What it shows is that Ms Gillard claimed at the interview in 1995 that the first she heard about the Slater & Gordon loan for the acquisition of the Kerr Street property was around August of that year. So, her claim is that the first she heard about the fact that the loan for the Kerr Street property was a Slater & Gordon mortgage was not until August of 1995, the transaction of course having taken place in March of 1993.
LEIGH SALES: OK. You've also released other documents. One is a fax from the Commonwealth Bank to Julia Gillard. What, in your opinion, does that show?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Yeah, I haven't released those documents, Leigh. Those documents form part of a conveyancing file which are now matters of public record. So they are from the conveyancing file which Mr Blewitt consented be released and made publicly available. Now what those documents show is that there is no doubt Ms Gillard knew of the mortgage from Slater & Gordon in March of 1993. And just to give you some examples, she personally arranged for the mortgage insurance for the Kerr Street property through the Commonwealth Bank and a letter was faxed to her on March 22 of 1993 from the Commonwealth Bank marked for her attention noting that the insurance had been renewed and further advising that the Slater & Gordon mortgage interest was noted on the policy of insurance.
LEIGH SALES: What do you believe is the significance of the facts compared to the statements that Julia Gillard made in the interview?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Well, it's a matter for others to make judgments about the credibility of Ms Gillard's statements. What I can say is this: that there is absolutely no doubt that Ms Gillard not only knew of the Slater & Gordon mortgage in March of 1993, but was specifically involved in taking steps to facilitate that mortgage. Now, that's a matter of documents; it's not a matter of assertion or hearsay. Now, you then have a situation where two and a half years later in September of 1995 Ms Gillard is asserting that the first she heard it was a Slater & Gordon mortgage was in August of 1995. Now, it's up to others to make the judgment about her credibility.
LEIGH SALES: Do you accept that there's no evidence of any wrongdoing on Julia Gillard's part?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: You know, I have tried to avoid making those sorts of judgments. My role is a limited one and I've been assiduous in so limiting it to simply give what access I am able to to an accurate account of the circumstances of Ms Gillard's departure in 1995 from Slater & Gordon. And I leave it up to others to make judgments about wrongdoing and relevance and so on.
LEIGH SALES: In August, Julia Gillard held a press conference and answered every question put to her. Do you believe that she's answered all relevant questions?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Well, again, I'm not really sure that that's a judgment for me to make. I think that's best made by the public and by political commentators.
LEIGH SALES: Do you have any sort of personal grievance against Julia Gillard?
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: No, not remotely. I have never spoken to her to my recollection since she left the firm and officially resigned from the firm in 1996 and prior to that I never had the remotest personal issue with her.
LEIGH SALES: Nick Styant-Browne, thank you very much for talking to us.
NICK STYANT-BROWNE: Thank you.
LEIGH SALES: This afternoon, 7.30 invited the Prime Minister to join the program tonight, but she had prior commitments. Her office sent a response to questions in writing. Prime Minister Gillard's spokesperson says, "The file shows that Ralph Blewitt was personally dealing with the Commonwealth Bank. Ms Gillard has no recollection of seeing the correspondence from the bank."
Ms Gillard stands by her statements in the Slater & Gordon interview as her best recollection of events.
Her spokesman says there's no contradiction in anything that we put to her office.
She didn't personally arrange for the mortgage insurance for the Kerr Street property and Julia Gillard's relationship with Bruce Wilson was not unknown within the firm.
AWU leader Ian Cambridge's surprise as slush fund revealed
by: HEDLEY THOMAS
From: The Australian
November 17, 2012 12:00AM
THE diary of the Australian Workers Union's national leader tells how a secret slush fund bearing his union's name was revealed to him by a bank officer eight months after Julia Gillard left her job amid her law firm's concern at her undisclosed role in helping establish the fund.
The diary of Ian Cambridge, a Fair Work commissioner who was national joint secretary of the AWU in the mid 1990s, reveals his surprise when the Commonwealth Bank advises him that a national search has identified bank records showing the existence of an AWU "association".
"It is now 11.35 and a short time ago I concluded a telephone conversation with a Mr Andrew Chalker from the Commonwealth Bank," Mr Cambridge states in the entry for April 3, 1996.
"Mr Chalker rang me, indicating that he was undertaking certain activities in respect to our request for the names of accounts held by the Commonwealth Bank which may relate to the AWU.
"Mr Chalker then indicated to me, and in fact asked me, if I had knowledge of a Workplace Reform Association, to which I responded that I had never heard of such an organisation before, and I asked him if that was one of the names that had been thrown up by his computer search.
"He said that was something which had been uncovered in the search to date and I indicated to him I thought that may well be something that we would have some interest in further investigation of."
The Prime Minister's role in helping set up the AWU Workplace Reform Association for her boyfriend, AWU official Bruce Wilson, was not known outside law firm Slater & Gordon until three months ago - when a former equity partner of the firm released a statement and secret transcript of a September 1995 interview with Ms Gillard.
The September 1995 interview was part of an internal review by the firm into Ms Gillard, then a salaried partner. She told the firm at the time that the association was a "slush fund for union elections".
After becoming aware in August-September 1995 of fraud concerns relating to Mr Wilson over a different AWU slush fund in Victoria, neither the law firm nor Ms Gillard alerted anyone in the AWU to the existence of the association that she had helped to set up.
Ms Gillard said on August 23 this year that she was not involved in any wrongdoing and insisted that while she provided legal advice for the establishment of the association, she was unaware of its workings. Ms Gillard has this week refused to respond to detailed questions about $5000 allegedly paid into her bank account on the instruction of Mr Wilson in mid 1995. She accused The Australian of a smear campaign and of "being unable to substantiate any allegations of wrongdoing".
Two months after the April 1996 disclosure by the bank to Mr Cambridge, he received further bank records showing large deposits and asked the AWU's officials in Perth about the association, but none had ever heard of it.
In a July 5 diary entry, Mr Cambridge spoke to branch official Russell Frearson and said to him "I thought it would be easy to remember because approximately $400,000 had gone through it, to which he responded by saying words to the effect that 'shit, I certainly could have done with that sort of money'.
"He said he could not remember and would have remembered any account that handled amounts of money like that."
Mr Cambridge's diary states that he told Mr Frearson: "This effectively seems to have been a slush fund account which acted as the receptacle for money which was properly intended to go to the union. I thought that the whole matter would never be properly resolved until such time as a royal commission was established to investigate all the accounts and the money trails."
He said Slater & Gordon would co-operate in any investigation by the police or industrial court, but the firm's reputation was "well and truly intact".
Ms Gillard, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, said in late August she provided legal advice for the slush fund's establishment but knew "absolutely nothing about its workings" until serious allegations were raised in 1995.
She then left the firm, where she had been working as a salaried partner.
After the meeting, Mr Nowicki said the board had an obligation to make an independent statement about the allegations, separate from Mr Grech who joined the firm in 1994.
"I can't fathom how the board itself, without investigating, can be satisfied that the statements by Andrew are or are not accurate," he said.
"Grech was an associate - if there ever was an inquiry, he would be a witness to the inquiry."
Liberal senator Eric Abetz had earlier urged Slater & Gordon shareholders to press the board for answers concerning Ms Gillard's role with the AWU Workplace Reform Association slush fund.
"They should ask why in August the firm, which is listed on the ASX, issued a statement glossing over this issue, when others insist Ms Gillard left the firm under a cloud," Senator Abetz said.
"Shareholders should demand that the firm identify and locate all missing files and documents on this scandal and co-operate fully with any Victorian police inquiries into these matters."
AWU stalwart calls for slush fund inquiry
A LONG-TIME staunch Labor supporter and former union boss is calling for a public inquiry into a secret slush fund at the heart of a fraud scandal that has dogged Julia Gillard since 1995.
Tim Daly, a Labor member for 35 years and head of the Australian Workers Union in Western Australia for a decade until 2008, said the slush fund was unprecedented in its operation, secrecy and the very large amounts of cash it raised.
He said it should offend every unionist that nobody had been held accountable over the slush fund, known as the AWU Workplace Reform Association. Mr Daly helped discover its existence in April 1996, after hundreds of thousands of dollars had already been paid by building company Thiess, and siphoned off.
"I want to see some sort of public inquiry into this -- I will support an inquiry and I will tell it what I know," Mr Daly told The Australian in Perth yesterday.
"It will be messy and it will be harmful for some people, but an inquiry is necessary to prevent these things from ever happening again. I am loyal to the AWU and the Labor Party, I just don't like crooks. I think that one of the crooks is now prepared to tell the truth.
"The fact is that when you have companies paying off unions in secrecy, the workers have no chance. There has been a great reluctance to get to the bottom of this very serious matter for 17 years. The slush fund (in the way it worked) was corrupt, there is no question about it, but I have a nagging concern that people still do not want to see this all come out."
Mr Daly said while most unions have slush funds to pay for elections, the AWU Workplace Reform Association was "highly unusual"-- it was bankrolled by a major employer, Thiess; it was kept secret from the rest of the union and its membership; and it received sums of money that were remarkable for the period.
A senior forensic accountant, John Lourens, who is analysing account records and legal documents related to the slush fund, states in a newly released report that "at a minimum, the AWU financial swindle involves a misappropriation of $880,663".
Former AWU official Ralph Blewitt has told The Australian that the AWU Workplace Reform Association was fraudulent.
In an interview in early August, Mr Blewitt said: "I knew there were sham transactions. I could face criminal charges. I will make myself available (to police) on that one condition that I have immunity from prosecution. My greatest fear is that I incriminate myself, but this has to come out now. "
Ms Gillard was a salaried partner at Slater & Gordon law firm in Melbourne when she helped to establish the slush fund for her then boyfriend, AWU official Bruce Wilson, and his friend AWU bagman Mr Blewitt.
The Prime Minister, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, said in late August she provided legal advice for the slush fund's establishment but knew "absolutely nothing about its workings" until serious allegations were raised in 1995.
The existence of the slush fund, which was designed to raise money for union elections, was withheld from other union members and the leadership for four years from April 1992.
Ms Gillard did not disclose her legal work on the slush fund to the other partners at the firm until serious claims of fraud were raised against Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt, both of whom refused to co-operate with subsequent police investigations.
As a result of the lack of disclosure, Ms Gillard's relationship with the firm's partners "fractured, and trust and confidence evaporated", according to a statement two months ago by the firm's former senior partner, Peter Gordon.
Money in the slush fund's accounts was siphoned off, with large cheques made out to cash, while about $100,000 went into a $230,000 Melbourne property bought in 1993 in the name of Mr Blewitt, for the use of Mr Wilson.
Slater & Gordon said it intended to make no further comments, adding that "the people (Ms Gillard and Bernard Murphy, now a Federal Court judge) who were acting for the former clients involved at that time left (the firm) in 1995 and 1996".
The AWU scandal involving Julia Gillard’s then boyfriend and client - and a slush fund she helped to create - may have ripped off twice the money widely reported:
A LONG-TIME staunch Labor supporter and former union boss is calling for a public inquiry into a secret slush fund at the heart of a fraud scandal that has dogged Julia Gillard since 1995.
Tim Daly, a Labor member for 35 years and head of the Australian Workers Union in Western Australia for a decade until 2008, said the slush fund was unprecedented in its operation, secrecy and the very large amounts of cash it raised......
Mr Daly said while most unions have slush funds to pay for elections, the AWU Workplace Reform Association was “highly unusual"-- it was bankrolled by a major employer, Thiess; it was kept secret from the rest of the union and its membership; and it received sums of money that were remarkable for the period.
A senior forensic accountant, John Lourens, who is analysing account records and legal documents related to the slush fund, states in a newly released report that ”at a minimum, the AWU financial swindle involves a misappropriation of $880,663”.
Friday, 26 October 2012
The AWU Scandal - Proof positive that a file does indeed exist.
One of our number wants you to know that a file does exist in the archives of the Western Australian people.
That's a very important old fashioned notion, isn't it. It belongs to the people.
Some-one has knocked off your stuff.
FOR MORE IN DEPTH COVERAGE:
ROYAL COMMISSION or bust into AWU scandal and Prime Minister Julia Gillard, it goes to the highest office in the country with too many involved - from Gillard, Shorten, Ludwig, Roxon and others and of course McClelland too. The questions out there are so many, the allegations everywhere that not having a Royal Commission is bull dust and a different set of rules for the privileged and the elite.
(The Royal Commission has to happen, the whole Office of the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Cabinet, the AWU and the ALP remain tainted otherwise and we deserve better than this - the files with Slater and Gordon should be released to a Royal Commission, Ralph Blewitt and Bruce Wilson must provide testimony, and no files or documents held back, and what no-one has said so far that should be a must, is that the meeting that took place at Boulder Town Hall (WA) in 1992 allegedy with Julia Gillard and Bruce Wilson speaking to AWU members about their funds - members benefits - into what is now described as a 'slush fund' this is key and a transcript of that meeting and the speeches may need to be provided)
This mess needs a Royal Commission for everyones sake and till it happens the Office of the Prime Minister is included in the tainting and aspersions.
It is not "the internet nutjobs" who are the problem, the questions and the sea of aspersions are the problems and they have a right to be asked and the example from the highest office in the nation is now the poorest and actually it is reprehensible.
Prime Minister cannot continue to leave an example of 'trust me' and 'I was young and naive' while other Australians would have come before the justice system.
Julia Gillard claimed that she was young and naive while her then partner, Bruce Wilson, siphoned members' funds from the AWU but instead she was a 36 year old lawyer, and a partner in the burgeoning law firm, Slater and Gordon.
A Royal Commission is long overdue into the AWU scandal and especially with the now 66 year old Ralph Blewitt coming out of nowhere, for whatever reasons, and publicly admitting wrong-doing and calling for his immunity from prosecution in order to provide testimony.
Australia cannot point the finger at other countries and lampoon them as tinpot regimes with keystone like processes, accusatory in terms of corruption, nepotism, cultures of favour dispensation, clandestine social but powerful networks to the point of being aversive to white collar criminality while grave questions remain like a dark pall over the Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, however indeed over the whole of parliament and therefore its parliamentary processes.