No Royal Commission then No trust in Office of the Prime Minister - release the files

(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.

Tussle over mystery file on AWU slush fund

by: Hedley Thomas
From:The Australian
October 13, 201212:00AM

A SENSITIVE file at the heart of a union fraud scandal that caused top partners in the legal firm of Slater & Gordon to lose trust and confidence in their colleague, Julia Gillard, is the subject of a new tug-of-war over whether its contents can ever be disclosed -- if they can even be found.

The file's documents would relate to the legal advice, notes and correspondence produced by Ms Gillard in her role, as a solicitor at the firm, in the 1992 establishment of the controversial Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association.

This "slush fund", as Ms Gillard has since termed it, was used by her then boyfriend, AWU official Bruce Wilson, and his friend, union bagman Ralph Blewitt, to allegedly defraud companies of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

About $100,000 from the slush fund went towards the purchase in Mr Blewitt's name of a fashionable Melbourne terrace house in Fitzroy in which Mr Wilson lived. Slater & Gordon handled the conveyancing and helped to manage a loan to Mr Blewitt to complete the purchase. The firm has denied it knew at the time that union funds were improperly used. Ms Gillard, who has repeatedly and strenuously denied any wrongdoing, said in an impromptu media conference in August that she "provided advice, as the association was established. I then knew absolutely nothing about its workings until allegations about its workings became the subject of discussion within the AWU and then more broadly."

The Weekend Australian can reveal that Mr Blewitt, who was Ms Gillard's client at the time and the person authorised to apply to incorporate the association in Western Australia, has been unable to inspect or obtain the file from Slater & Gordon. The firm has released to Mr Blewitt a separate file for the conveyancing in the Fitzroy property purchase.

Mr Blewitt's lawyers have made several requests to the firm seeking the controversial file. Slater & Gordon has asked one of Australia's most prestigious law firms, Arnold Bloch Leibler, to manage the matter.

That firm's senior partner, Leon Zwier, said last month: "Our client can only provide documents which are the property of Mr Blewett (sic). It is not sufficient to claim that any documents we hold concerning (the association) belong to your client simply because he was at some point an office holder of the association."

But last night Slater & Gordon head Andrew Grech told The Weekend Australian: "We have undertaken a thorough search through our archives and failed to locate a 'file' in relation to the AWU Workplace Reform Association. In the event that Mr Blewitt or his lawyers are able to provide us with information which enables us to establish that there are in fact such a file or documentary records to which he is entitled, we will of course, use our best endeavours to assist him in obtaining those documents from third parties, if they exist . . . Any suggestion that we are withholding information from former clients to protect the Office of the Prime Minister is both highly defamatory and demonstrably wrong." He said the firm had provided what information and documents it could "directly to the former clients who have requested it and we will continue to do so".

Mr Blewitt has told The Australian he was involved in fraud and now wants immunity from prosecution before he talks to the authorities. However, Mr Wilson has declined to discuss the matters and is understood to be concerned about being prosecuted.

A retired Melbourne lawyer and union historian who is helping Mr Blewitt piece together the history, Harry Nowicki, said yesterday that as the slush fund was used to perpetrate allegedly criminal conduct, "the legal file underpinning it is important evidence and must be produced".

"This file is very important to establish the purpose and bona fides of the association and whether it was legitimate about workplace reform," he said.

The file's existence was a particularly sensitive matter for Slater & Gordon in 1995 as Ms Gillard neither disclosed to her partners the work that she had done to establish the "slush fund", nor opened a file on the firm's system.

After the partners became aware of the file and the circumstances surrounding it, Ms Gillard's relationship with the partners "fractured, and trust and confidence evaporated", according to a statement by senior partner Peter Gordon.

Ms Gillard abruptly left the firm amid an internal probe and after a September, 1995 interview in which Mr Gordon had questioned her closely about her role, the purchase of the house for Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt, renovations to her own house, and the establishment of the slush fund.

The association, which was formally registered by the WA government, purported to be dedicated to promoting workplace safety. However, Ms Gillard confirmed to Mr Gordon in the interview that it was a slush fund for the election of union officials. A spokesman for the Prime Minister again declined to answer questions from The Weekend Australian yesterday.

For more coverage: