threats using knives and guns … just another chapter in Union corruption

The Union Corruption Commission will be in session again in Melbourne this week, with some serious matters about corruption, intimidation and assaults, bikie gangs, blackmail and more coming under notice. It’s the CFMEU’s turn.

Recent comments on a post about former corrupt activities concerning the TWU and it’s former president Rob Cowles need airing to remind about how serious the matters can still be a couple or more decades later. Nothing seems to have changed.

John Relf’s Story.


  • John David Relf says:

    I was a union official along with Bob Cowles George Bull and Ben Collins and subsequently George Brown who until he was framed was the secretary.Adrian Bennett did little to control Cowles .Funds disappeared from the moment he became an unelected full time union official, monies went straight from members hands to Cowles pocket with the help of persons such as Paddy Hartnett (Bells employee ) and Len Shilling (employee ) from Seatainer Containers at Fremantle . Such a pity Terry Farrow our Chairman of the time ( an employee of Quantas ) is not still with us ,so much to tell. Stan Lapham the former state M P has so much to answer too. The present inquiry into AWU / TWU is just a rerun of the sixties / seventies with a few different names.

  • john relf says:

    Further to my previous writings, If anyone is interested in further and more comprehensive detail contact me via this site. If the first class reporter is still with us,( who at the time was a reporter @ thewest ), Alan Thornhill , later moved to The Australian , this is a person of the highest integrity and may be able to help. During our battles against Cowles and his accolites in the Federal Industrial Court , Melbourne before Chief Justice Sir John Spicer, Judge Nimmo and Judge Joski all confidences with this person were kept . There are also members of the legal fraternity in Perth who could help.

  • john relf says:

    Having read further items re Cowles it should be noted that many former good union committee members of T W U were corrupted and became complicit in the evils he perpetrated, both former BP drivers at Fremantle on tankers supplying Perth airport . Jack Higham and Roger Sleight last known address 87 Golding Street Dianella W A .For anyone living in Australia it might be worth a call the silence from these persons has to be observed to be believed.

    • Tom Harley says:

      Thanks, John, have passed your first comment to Michael Smith and Bob Kernohan. Michael, a former detective is a terrier in this field.

      • John Relf says:

        Thank you .What a pity that when my wife Yvonne was 7 months pregnant and still working In the old David Jones store ( St Georges Terrace / Hay Street / William Street / King Street ) during working hours she was approached by Cowles , Hartnett and 1 other . Cowles produced a large knife and told her to apply pressure to me or he would make sure the baby would be dead. Her colleague , Mrs Bouquot managed to cause enough commotion for them to leave and alerted the personnel office which was on the top floor. They called the police and when they arrived decided this was an ‘ industrial matter ‘ and could not help. I did speak to a good pal Athol Monk ,who at the time was in charge of the traffic branch at Plain Street. I will add our daughter , Deanne was born on 07 11 1971 she died 11 11 1971 in Princess Margaret Hospital , cremated Karrakata 15 11 1971. and to read that Higham and Sleight helped to prolong the terror Cowles caused is sickening. For a time I operated the state twu from premises that use to be a van sales site Bennett / Adelaide / Bennett in East Perth donated by 3 brothers who were D L P supporters. The building i was located in was still there about 4 years ago and the bullet mark on the door frame was still there, Cowles fired the gun. One of the brothers arrived and assisted me. Tuesday 13 07 1971 page 5 either The West or Daily News but it spreads before and after this date . I am now 75 yrs old but if I can assist anymore I will J R

  • John Relf says:

    Will post a further comment .Pete Archibald police motor cyclist Vic Park perhaps he has kept his pay slips

    UPDATE, more from John Relf: Note that Cowles bought a nightclub, the same associates were involved in the protection racket against Parrys of Victoria Park, Albany Highway ,Victoria Park W. A . Why did Bob Hawke desert the t v interview at Tuart Hill ( not sure 7 or 9 ) when this matter was mentioned by Terry Farrow and John Relf about 1970
    So little written or recorded information is out there about Cowles, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Wilson’s early years of Union intimidation. I have been personally advised of a number of WA Labor politicians that were also helpful to the corrupt Union Officials. These were the days prior to and during WA Inc.

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley) Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Incorporated Kimberley Environmental Horticulture (KEH) is a small group of committed individuals who promote the use of indigenous plants for the landscaping of parks and gardens. Rehabilitation of Kimberley coast, bushland and pastoral regions are also high on our agenda. This includes planting seedlings, weed control, damage from erosion or any other environmental matter that comes to our attention. We come from all walks of life, from Professionals and Trades oriented occupations, Pensioners and Students, Public Servants and the Unemployed. We have a community plant nursery where we trial many old and new species, with a view to incorporating these into our landscaping trials. Our labour force are mainly volunteers, but with considerable help from the 'work for the dole' program, Indigenous Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) groups and the Ministry of Justice, with their community work orders; in this way we manage to train many people in the horticultural skills needed for indigenous plant growing. We constantly undertake field trips that cover seed and plant collection in the Kimberley. Networking around the Kimberley region and the east Pilbara is a necessary part of promoting our activities. We consult on a range of Environmental and Landscaping matters that deal with our region. Our activities involve improving Broome's residential streetscapes by including 'waterwise' priciples in planting out nature strips. Sustainable environmental horticulture is practised by members of our group. We use existing vegetation as the backbone of any plantings, using these species to advantage when planning to develop tree forms or orchards. The Broome region is sensitive to development. Subsequently many weed species have become dominant in and around developed areas. The use and movement of heavy machinery is the biggest single cause of environmental degradation. We dont live in a 'Tropical Paradise' but on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The plants that survive best here, grow in well-drained pindan sand, and are found from the Dampier Peninsular southward to where average rainfall is below 600mm. When we use rainforest species, detail is important when planting, water catchment, sunlight and understorey species are all considered. The use of recycled 'grey' water is an advantage here as well as treated waste-water, although many local species do not fare well with nutrients from this source. We use waterwise planting methods which include harvesting asmuch rainwater as possible, with swales designed to hold up to 200 litres, to help recharge the local groundwater aquifer. There has been a serious decline in this aquifer over the last few years. With the fast expansion of the Broome peninsular, more and more land is being covered by concrete, iron and bitumen so that much less water is available to replenish the aquifer, allowing the salt content to become significantly higher. The small Broome Peninsular is on the south-western corner of the Dampier Peninsular (bound by Broome, Derby and Cape Leveque at the northern tip). Compaction by vehicles also inhibits water retention due to the content of our local pindan sand, hard as concrete in the dry, going to soft and sloppy mud after rain. None of us are botanists, inevitably we have got some names wrong, names changed, or have not gone to sub-species level. If you note a photo or description may be wrong, please e-mail to
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One Response to threats using knives and guns … just another chapter in Union corruption

  1. Pingback: threats using knives and guns … just another chapter in Union corruption | pindanpost | Cranky Old Crow

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