Andrew Bolt June 22 2012 (12:22pm)
Robert McClelland has lifted the lid on a story that many in the media have been too scared to touch – a scandal involving a then boyfriend of the Prime Minister.
The Financial Review reports on a story I broke yesterday:
Dumped attorney-general Robert McClelland says the Labor Party has not gone far enough in cracking down on corruption in the union movement, citing examples going back to the 1990s connected to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Mr McClelland, a Kevin Rudd supporter who was demoted from cabinet by Ms Gillard late last year, made a thinly veiled reference to a case involving Ms Gillard and her former partner, Bruce Wilson, a former official of the Australian Workers Union. The former attorney-general spoke in Parliament yesterday (and) called for the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Bill to be strengthened to increase penalties and give union members the ability to trigger investigations if they suspected corruption.
Mr McClelland repeatedly referred to allegations made against Mr Wilson that have been made several times in the Victorian Parliament, most recently in 2001 when he was accused of misappropriating about $500,000 of union funds, including $102,000 spent on a house in Kerr Street, Fitzroy.
The Prime Minister had no comment yesterday and has repeatedly denied allegations she was linked to union corruption. Mr McClelland made pointed references to the Prime Minister’s involvement.
“Indeed, I know the Prime Minister is quite familiar with this area of the law, as lawyers in the mid-1990s, [we] were involved in a matter representing opposing clients,” Mr McClelland said in Parliament.
“Indeed, my involvement in that matter has coloured much of my thinking in this area and resulted in me moving amendments on 17 September 2002 to actually strengthen the powers of the Federal Court of Australia.”
Ms Gillard, who was then a lawyer at Slater & Gordon, is alleged to have given Mr Wilson legal advice.
Mr McClelland … gave legal advice to another former union official, Ian Cambridge, who pursued Mr Wilson…
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten deflected grilling in question time yesterday by deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop over the alleged corruption at the AWU, which he went on to lead in 2001.
The Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce and the Liberals’ George Brandis both raised this matter in the Senate today. More later.
George Brandis in the Senate:
. One can but wonder why it is that Mr McClelland, as a backbench member of the government, chose to draw attention to those matters from the 1990s—matters concerning which, as a solicitor, he had direct and thorough knowledge. One can but wonder why, in particular, Mr McClelland chose, in a very pointed way, to throw a spotlight on the Prime Minister’s knowledge of those matters.
What we do know is that three courageous journalists, Mr Glen Milne, Mr Michael Smith and Mr Andrew Bolt, had sought to bring to public attention the matters Mr McClelland referred to—those proceedings which he chose to remind the House of Representatives about yesterday. We know as well that, of the three journalists whose names I have mentioned, two suffered a grievous professional price for trying to reveal to the Australian people what Mr McClelland was hinting at yesterday…
We must ask why it is that Mr McClelland chose to throw the spotlight on those matters yesterday. Why is it that he pointedly sought to refer to the Prime Minister’s knowledge of those matters? What are the facts which Mr Milne and Mr Smith sought to communicate to the public before they were interfered with that plainly Mr McClelland knows about and invited public attention to in his remarks yesterday?…
Let me conclude my remarks simply by saying this: there are matters being concealed. There is an area of public discussion being stifled here of the utmost seriousness. The public is entitled to know of those matters
Barnaby Joyce in the Senate was devastating – and very well briefed by someone:
If we look at what is happening currently in the Health Services Union, what resonates in the community is the misappropriation of other people’s money and the fact that people are receiving a pecuniary benefit that is in no way associated with benefit to the union members. This is the thing that so many union members are absolutely up in arms about. Allegations that go to the highest office in the land in regard to that have to be answered and answered clearly. Mr McClelland, a former Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, a member of the Australian Labor Party, has now raised this issue again…
So I look at this article by Mr Murray Hogarth in the Sydney Morning Herald from 30 July 1996, which says:
Between 1992 and 1995, about $370,000 flowed through two Perth-based accounts – operated in the name of the “AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc” – which, until last month, had never been heard of in the AWU’s national offices in Sydney.
We have to find out who set these accounts up.
We have to find out whether the person who set these accounts up had told the Australian Workers Union that they were setting up these accounts. We have to find minutes to prove that the accounts that were being set up were under the instruction and the auspices of the Australian Workers Union and not set up outside. Any competent solicitor would start asking those questions. So who is setting these up? What is the purpose of these accounts? What is the source of these funds? What is the application of these funds? That is what a person who was competent would ask. Most certainly it is what a partner of a law firm would ask. They would definitely be the questions that a partner of a law firm would ask, especially if they were the ones drawing up the accounts. It also says:
All the money came from the big construction group Thiess Contractors, which says the payments were legitimate, arising from a tripartite agreement between it, the AWU and the West Australian Government…. But once in union hands, it seems, the funds went walkabout… It is now known that nearly $220,000 was withdrawn using about 40 cash cheques … ranging from $4,000 to $50,000.
Exactly where all the money ended up is far from clear. The man who should know, a former top official, Mr Bruce Wilson, says it is all “old hat stuff” and he has “nothing to say”. ..
Several other cheques totalling about $35,000 were made out in 1993 to a now ex-AWU official, Mr Ralph Blewitt, and, once, about $67,000 went to the trust account of the high-profile Melbourne law firm Slater and Gordon. The timing of this payment has caught the eye of AWU bosses. It coincides with the purchase of a house in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy in Mr Blewitt’s name…
In a major new development, the Herald has learned that on July 14 last year, a cheque bearing what appears to be Mr Wilson’s signature was written in an apparent bid to transfer about $160,000 from the “Members Welfare” account in Victoria, into the still-unexplained “Construction Industry Fund” in Western Australia. But the cheque was caught at the last minute by a “freeze” on the account placed by lawyers acting for the present AWU State secretary in Victoria, Mr Bob Smith, who was a bitter enemy of Mr Wilson, and remains a close ally of Mr Steve Harrison, one of the two rival joint … secretaries.
A month later, in strange circumstances, the $160,000 was “unfrozen” in a peace deal done by Mr Smith and his lawyers …
Now these are articles from the papers. This is public knowledge. The question that we have to ask is: is it that with these issues being raised once more by a former Attorney-General, the Hon. Bob McClelland, it is believable that a person in a relationship with Mr Bruce Wilson over a number of years and who had the competency to be a partner of Slater and Gordon would be unaware of the actions taken by her partner at that time even though the benefit of those actions was evident in the house she was living in—that is, they were paying for them? Is this believable? Is this believable that a person could be completely unaware? As I said, the defence given by the Prime Minister is that she was young and naive. Is that believable?
I understand that Gillard actually denies having lived in the house purchased by Wilson. She denies knowing what Wilson was up to with any accounts she set up. She has said she was not aware of any illegal activities and did not profit from them. She was young and naive.
Joyce’s explosive speech in full:
Continue reading ‘Gillard confronted with the scandal she almost buried’
Whoopsy…from a comment on Bolta’s blog, AFTER I had posted to Facebook: Larry Pickering censored…
Fri 22 Jun 12 (01:42pm)
I hope you’re right Rodney! Already, the “Thought Police” at Facebook have been so heavily influenced by Gillard and her acolytes as to remove Larry Pickering from FB for three days for writing and publishing a blog concerning the same matter.
1984 – just came 30 years later than expected.
We are in very, very troubling waters.