Five thousand …

Interesting news in The Australian this morning and, in case you can’t reach beyond the pay wall, here it is …

A UNION employee who was concerned about wrongdoing told the national head of the Australian Workers Union in June 1996 that he deposited about $5000 cash into Julia Gillard’s bank account at the request of her then boyfriend Bruce Wilson.

The disclosure by Wayne Hem forms part of a contemporaneous and confidential 150-plus-page diary that was kept by the then AWU joint national secretary, Ian Cambridge, now a Fair Work Australia commissioner…

In a statutory declaration signed in Melbourne on Sunday and in lengthy interviews with The Australian over the past fortnight, Mr Hem declared he had deposited the money after being given the account details of Ms Gillard along with a wad of $100 and $50 notes by Mr Wilson, an official in the AWU’s Victorian branch.

Ms Gillard, then a salaried partner at law firm Slater & Gordon, was Mr Wilson’s girlfriend and solicitor at the time.

Ms Gillard had provided legal advice in 1992 that helped Mr Wilson and his union ally, Ralph Blewitt, set up a slush fund – the AWU Workplace Reform Association – which the two men used in the ensuing years to issue bogus invoices and fraudulently receive hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Prime Minister issued a short statement through spokesman Sean Kelly.

“As The Australian is well aware, the Prime Minister has made clear on numerous occasions that she was not involved in any wrongdoing,” Mr Kelly said.

“I also note that despite repeatedly being asked to do so, The Australian has been unable to substantiate any allegations of wrongdoing.”

But remember …

But it is vital to highlight what the Hem entry does not say – and what Hem does not say now.

He does not say Gillard ever wanted her union boss boyfriend to ask Hem to put about $5000 into her account in mid 1995.

Nor does Hem say that she knew she was receiving a financial benefit. There is no evidence of that and there could be several innocent explanations for the payment. We do know, however, that Hem was concerned about dishonesty by Wilson and this prompted him to blow the whistle.

On Diaries

The disclosure by Hem to Cambridge [in 1996 about the deposit] came eight months after concerns were first raised publicly by a Liberal minister, Phil Gude, in Victoria’s parliament, about Gillard allegedly getting a benefit in relation to the renovation of her house. Gude wanted a probe into what he was told at the time. He has insisted union officials had been to see him with evidence that Gillard was a beneficiary of union money.

Gude told the Victorian parliament in October 1995 that Gillard had been forced to leave her law firm; that she was directly linked to the misappropriation of union funds; that she had benefited from renovations to her own house; and that she had to pay money back to the AWU so that she and Wilson could “cover their tracks”.

Gude made his claims a short time after Gillard’s confidential tape-recorded interview on September 11, 1995, with Peter Gordon – and her abrupt departure from the firm. Its partners had lost trust and confidence in her.

Gillard told The Australian immediately after she was accused in the Victorian parliament in 1995: “Every allegation raised about me is absolutely untrue; there is not a shred of truth in any of it.”

On Hem …

BANK documents show the man who claims he was told to pay about $5000 into Julia Gillard’s bank account was entrusted to deposit more than $100,000 in cheques into an Australian Workers Union secret slush fund.

Wayne Hem, 58, told The Australian in interviews and in a statutory declaration that he was given the cheques in mid-1995 and told to put them into “a bank account for something I recall as the AWU Welfare Fund”.

He said that Ms Gillard’s then boyfriend Bruce Wilson, the corrupt branch head of the AWU, handed him the cheques on several occasions and told him to go to the Commonwealth Bank to make the deposits…

In a September 1996 affidavit filed in the Industrial Relations Court, the AWU’s national head Mr Cambridge named the Victorian Welfare slush fund account as one “used to hold and/or launder union funds, as a step in the conversion of those funds to unauthorised, invalid, irregular and possibly illegal uses”.

Mr Cambridge stated in his affidavit that the account was unknown to other union officials, and involved payments totalling $234,000.

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