The slushpuppy …

Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along.

“There will be nothing wrong under a government I lead”.

The whole AWU slush fund affair is nothing more than a vile smear from such blackguards as Michael Smith, Larry Pickering and that utterly despicable Kangaroo Court of Australia … the last so scurrilous I dare not post a link.

Although, it does seem that Victoria Police are investigating the matter. Seems Miss Gillard told one Mr Fordham, on 2GB, in March, that she was in the same room as Mr Blewitt when that infamous power of attorney was signed.

The Australian

With questioning so far of witnesses in Queensland, Victoria, NSW and Western Australia, up to a dozen detectives are particularly interested in the creation and operation of a union election slush fund, misleadingly called the AWU Workplace Reform Association.

The entity was set up and formally registered in Perth with the help of Gillard’s legal advice (as a solicitor at Slater & Gordon) to her then boyfriend and client, AWU official Bruce Wilson, and his union sidekick, Ralph Blewitt. The two men allegedly used it as a slush fund to siphon hundreds of thousands of dollars from Thiess during the construction company’s development of a major project that required both labour and industrial peace from AWU members.

Some of the money, which was kept secret from everyone else in the union, would go into a $230,000 terrace house at 85 Kerr Street, Fitzroy, bought by Wilson (in Blewitt’s name) at an auction he attended with Gillard, whose firm would manage the conveyancing. The terrace house was Wilson’s home in Melbourne during his relationship with Gillard and his time as secretary of the Victorian branch of the AWU. The money from the property’s sale a few years later went directly to Blewitt and Wilson, not the union, whose national leadership discovered too late that the union had been used in a scam.

So the question is “Do the police have evidence that Mr Blewitt and Miss Gillard were on opposite sides of Australia during the relevant period?”

I guess their ABC will keep us informed …


Slush puppies …

The HSU scandal moves at a glacial pace towards the courts …

While Mr Thomson may have been in technical breach of some of the union rules, it is expected he will argue he was acting within the normal ethical flexibility given to officials, and that the same practices occurred in every other union.

Spending union funds on prostitutes would require considerable ethical flexibility and surely there can’t be other unions displaying such flexibility. Well, setting aside the AWU, of course in the famous case where a female lawyer provided (free) legal assistance to her boyfriend of the time, in order to set up a slush fund. The lady in question is on the record as saying it was for re-election purposes of said boyfriend, she did not benefit from it, she didn’t know funds were being diverted to such ends as buying houses etc. She is not on the record regarding the answers to some questions put to her about these events.

The ALP is in no rush to set up an enquiry regarding the flexibility to be found in every other union. This is no great surprise when you consider that the Union movement provides almost all the funds for the government’s electioneering and virtually all the members of the parliamentary party. This sorry affair is still not over, but even as the Prime Minister ducks and weaves hissing slime and sleaze, more evidence of flexibility floats to the surface …

AWU Victorian secretary Cesar Melhem has reportedly confirmed that a non-profit company he runs, called Industry 2020, has raised some $500,000 since 2008 to help fund the political activities of the Right faction sub-group within the ALP.

Among the organisation’s spending was a “significant’ outlay of funds during the bitter Health Services Union (HSU) election in 2009, according to Fairfax.

As workplace relations minister at the time, Ms Gillard reportedly served as a guest speaker at Industry 2020’s inaugural fund-raising lunch, which raised about $250,000, nearly half of which was profit.

Goodness, AWU Mark ll. Senator Abetz suggests that …

“What this shows is that the Labor party are fully immersed in this culture of slush funds. That is why they are so paralysed in dealing with the HSU (Health Services Union) scandal and the (1990s) AWU scandal – because they basically know that everybody’s into it and they’re all into it together.”

Senator Abetz said it was “unbelievable” that some of the current AWU slush fund was used to finance an HSU election campaign in 2009.

While such behaviour might be technically legal it was morally wrong, he said.

“For the deputy prime minister of the time to be so associated with such an inappropriate fund is completely unacceptable”.


It says a lot about …

Ms Bishop has confirmed she met Mr Blewitt for about 10 minutes in Melbourne last Friday.

She said she was seeking documents relating to Ms Gillard’s involvement in setting up the association.

“The documents would be documents of Slater & Gordon. He didn’t produce any documents, so I didn’t use documents from Mr Blewitt,” Ms Bishop said.

Asked if he seemed like a trustworthy character, Ms Bishop replied: “No, he’s a self-confessed fraudster”.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese told Sky News …

“She’s meeting, as the deputy leader of the Opposition, with this bloke at a private, secret meeting to discuss strategy… to try and bring down a Prime Minister,”

“This says a lot about Julie Bishop’s values, it says a lot about the Liberal party.”

A presenter for the 730 Report met Mr Blewitt for 7 minutes and 58 seconds … what does that say about the ABC? You can watch it for yourself. Is he an imbecile as Julia suggests? Compare his responses to Julia’s in regard to this matter. Who sounds more truthful?

Ten minutes here, 7 minutes 58 there, back in the good old days Ralph recalls when Bruce Wilson and Julia would yarn the night away …

… as the three of them would walk the short distance across the road to The Fitz cafe, which still plies a healthy trade…

The 67-year-old says he is not bitter about the past and recalls fondly the long late breakfasts discussing union factionalism and politics over strong coffee…

Blewitt’s memory of those heady times is hazy at times. But he remembers fondly visiting the Fitzroy property and the three of them having robust yarns about the big issues of the day.

Now what does that say about Julia and the Labor Party?

Slags …

This morning Slater & Gordon released a statement saying: “Slater & Gordon has consistently maintained, and still maintains, that at all times it has acted in accordance with its legal and ethical obligations in relation to all aspects of the AWU matter.”

It said it had obtained independent advice confirming that it: “was (and is) not permitted to divulge confidential and privileged information of one client to another client or any other party.”

The firm said it “acted for both a union and a union official (personally)” in the “AWU matter.”

“In acting for the official, Slater & Gordon obtained information: i). that was confidential to the official; and ii) the disclosure of which to the union would have represented a conflict between the interests of the union and the interests of the official,” the statement said.

“Slater & Gordon ceased acting for both clients after it became aware of this conflict situation.”

On the face of it this is a plea of not guilty, your honour, made by the entity Slater & Gordon, (commonly known as Slags, and it’s less typing). Implicit within it is that Slags as a whole at no stage did anything wrong. It might feel a little peeved that one of the Slags did some of the work in question without raising a file … it makes it hard for an entity to know what it was actually up to.

Within the not guilty plea is an admission. Whatever it was that the entity was up to led to a conflict of interest between two of its clients Bruce Wilson, Ms Gillard’s then boyfriend, and the AWU. A conflict so severe that dealings with both clients had to stop. Not guilty your honour but boy did we screw up.

Being in a relationship can interfere with the normal lawyer-client relationship. It can lead to the lawyer losing his or her objectivity, resulting in inaccurate advice and even a breach of duty to the court.”

Lay down misère …

Ms Gillard said people would have to choose whether they believed Mr Blewitt – a self-confessed fraudster who she said had been described by associates as “a complete imbecile, an idiot, a stooge, a sexist pig, a liar” – or the Prime Minister.

“It’s going to come down to Mr Blewitt’s word against mine … his word against mine, make your mind up.”

Dismission …

Your dismission, should you choose to accept it …

Over the past 11 years, I have been called upon to investigate many people for workplace misconduct. The hardest people to investigate are high-achieving, high-profile women executives. Their starting position is always a haughty refusal to answer questions or participate in investigations they consider beneath them. Next they attempt to retain control by trying to impose their conditions and time frames on the investigation. They attempt to distract from their own conduct by focusing on the poor conduct of others. Some flail about, claiming the status of bullying or sexism victim.

A must read from Grace Collier, chief executive of Australian Dismissal Services, in the Fin Review … good to see a Fairfax paper covering this issue.

Nicci Rox …

THE nation’s chief law maker Nicola Roxon is totally satisfied the prime minister did not act improperly over the setting up of a union slush fund.

Julia Gillard has consistently denied she did anything wrong or personally benefited from setting up the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association for her then partner Bruce Wilson while working as a lawyer in the 1990s.

Ms Gillard has conceded the association was a slush fund that Wilson and other union officials used to fund their re-election campaign.

She told West Australian authorities the purpose of the association was for training and workplace safety.

Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says allegations against Ms Gillard are unwarranted.

“I’m totally satisfied that Julia had not done anything improper or anything unlawful and in fact no actual allegation of impropriety is being made against her,” Ms Roxon told ABC radio.

I wonder how much comfort that gives our Julia given the company it puts her in …

Ms Roxon was asked whether Mr Thomson should be suspended from the ALP until the matter is resolved.

“It’s an option in theory, and maybe as things develop,” she said.

“But we haven’t had actually any content. There’s been all this swirling allegation [but] no one actually is aware of what is being alleged in detail.”

And she was vigorously defending Mr Slipper after having every opportunity to read the emails that ensured he had no prospect of a defense …

On Tuesday night, it emerged during a Senate estimates hearing that the Attorney-General was briefed on June 9 about the hundreds of dubious or distasteful text messages sent by Slipper to his staffer James Ashby.

Four days later, on June 13, Roxon instructed the Solicitor-General to seek to have Ashby’s case struck out. She also gave instructions to seek a waiver for the government to be allowed to use the texts to have Ashby sacked.

Also on June 13, in a further attempt to shut down the case, the government offered to pay damages to Ashby to settle his sexual harassment claim.

Two days later, despite her knowledge of the scale and nature of the texts sent by Slipper, the Attorney-General held a press conference and said this: ”The Commonwealth strongly believes that this process has been one which is really for an ulterior purpose … the Commonwealth has obtained a vast amount of material … It will be clearly shown … that there were in fact clear intentions to harm Mr Slipper and to bring his reputation into disrepute and to assist his political opponents and that was the purpose for the bringing of this claim.”

The political mischief in this case has never been in doubt. What was misleading about the Attorney-General’s statement was that the ”vast amount of material” was not merely vexatious. It buttressed a sexual harassment claim. It was also political dynamite.

Roxon also said something that was untrue: ”We aren’t bringing a strike-out application; Mr Slipper is.”

The shadow attorney-general, Senator George Brandis, told me yesterday: ”These texts, on any view, contain dozens of instances of predatory sexual conduct. So the Attorney-General’s claim that this was merely a vexatious case was extraordinary. Any person who read the texts would know instantly that Ashby had a case.

So, Ms Roxon, do you really believe it was entirely kosher to set up a slush fund? Do you believe Ms Gillard was present when Mr Blewitt signed the power of attorney that she witnessed? Did Mr Hem drop five grand in her bank account? Was her house renovated with proceeds of the slush fund? Do you think she may have withheld details of a swindle from her client the AWU? Do the missing documents cause you no concern?

Or is it the case that Julia is exactly as innocent as the other people you have recently defended?