Therapeutic Albo says Victorian Ombudsman Labor rorts report "an enormous beatup"

Vic Labor rorts a 'beat-up': Albanese

23 Mar 2018, 3:36 a.m.

The state's Ombudsman found 21 past and present MPs breached parliamentary guidelines by wrongly approving $388,000 be spent on campaign staff, and Labor has repaid the cash.

But speaking on the Nine Network on Friday, federal opposition infrastructure minister Mr Albanese played down the findings.

"Let's get some reality in here, (is) ALP staffers worked for the election of ALP members that they worked for," Mr Albanese said.

"It seems to me from a distance this is an enormous beat-up."

He also said Premier Daniel Andrews "is doing a fantastic job".

"He is ahead as preferred Premier on both primary and two-party- preferred basis. He is a great premier," Mr Albanese said.

However, federal minister Christopher Pyne rebutted the claim of a beat up, saying what happened in Victoria was not just about staffers of Labor MPs working for the re-election of the Andrews Government.

"It was actually people being paid full-time to work as campaign organisers in other elections across Victoria," Mr Pyne said.

"The person who did the inquiry, said it is very, very serious. It is very serious. Daniel Andrews and his government have a lot of questions to answer. This issue is not going away."

Mr Andrews and his government are now facing the prospect of further inquiries over the scandal.

The Greens want the matter sent to the privileges committee, for still-serving MPs named in the report to be fined, for Premier Daniel Andrews to apologise to parliament, and for Labor to pay a $100,000 fine and cover the costs of the Ombudsman.

The coalition opposition wants to establish a select committee to look further into the rort.

Mr Andrews fanned away criticism of his government on Thursday, insisting his colleagues acted in good faith and no heads would roll.

The government has vowed to implement all six of the Ombudsman's recommendations.

The paper-thin veneer of Kevin-The-Expert Rudd

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This week John Garnaut, an Australian expert on China affairs, gave an address to the US House Armed Services Committee in Washington. He spoke on how China brazenly manipulated Australian society to ‘tilt the political and strategic landscape to its advantage’.

Compare this address to the US Committee with that of the self proclaimed expert on China affairs, Kevin Rudd on 5 March 2018.

"We will need a generation of leaders who understand this integrated Chinese reality, in order to make sense of and engage with the China of the future. With our eyes wide open. And with our minds wide open as well. Open to new challenges. Open to new threats. Open to new possibilities. Open to new areas of cooperation and collaboration."

Paper thin Rudd.  No substance.  No intellectual rigour.   Just a thirst for the front page.

Thanks to the researching giant Seeker of Truth.

Every touch leaves its trace.

The finest police commissioner money can buy cleared Dan Andrews/CFMEU/Labor of rorting allowances

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The ABC thought this was a story 2 years ago.  Now, not so much.

Labor Party cleared of misusing staff in 2014 Victorian election


The Victorian Labor Party has been cleared of any criminal offence following allegations by the Opposition it inappropriately used casual electorate officers to campaign during the 2014 state election.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy referred the matter to police after the party was accused of rorting hundreds of thousands of dollars in parliamentary allowances by using taxpayer-funded staff to work on the campaign.

Following an eight-month investigation, Victoria Police said no criminal offence had been committed.

In a statement, it said specialist investigators from the fraud and extortion had rigorously assessed the complaint.

"They have interviewed electorate officers, department of parliamentary services officials and other nominated parties," it said.

"They have also examined documentary materials including a review by Price Waterhouse Coopers, the relevant legislation, parliamentary guidance materials and policies."

Victoria Police said while parliamentary guidelines prohibit using electorate officers for party political purposes, it was not against the law.

The Andrews Government said it welcomed the Victoria Police findings "and had always maintained that the rules were followed".

At the time of the allegation, Premier Daniel Andrews, who was elected to power in the 2014 vote, said the practice was known as "pooling" and all parties had done it.

Under the rules of the Victorian Parliament, taxpayer-funded electorate office staff are not supposed to be involved in party political activities.

A report conducted after the allegations were levelled at the Labor Party called for clarity around the "ambiguous" guidelines.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass also asked the Supreme Court in February to determine if she had the powers to investigate the allegations.

We've asked Slater and Gordon to explain what happened to the AWU Workplace Reform Association file

I sent this email to Slater and Gordon's media manager earlier today.


On 7 September 2012 Mr Ralph Blewitt's lawyers wrote to your firm asking for a copy of "all documents" held by Slater and Gordon regarding the AWU Workplace Reform Association.
On 24 September 2012 your firm's external lawyers Arnold Bloch Leibler wrote to Mr Blewitt's lawyers to say that Mr Blewitt's position as an office holder in the AWU Workplace Reform Association was insufficient grounds for him to make a claim for copies of documents held by your firm.
Mr Blewitt was then variously advised that 
1 He had no claim on the AWU Workplace Reform Association file because he was not the firm's client in that matter
2. While the firm had suggested that it retained an AWU Workplace Reform Association file in its early (August/September 2012) correspondence with Blewitt, by 12 October 2012 it claimed not to hold any documentation on the matter.
On 17 October 2012 your former managing partner Andrew Grech released a statement regarding the matter.
Mr Grech said,
Since August we have dealt with numerous requests from former clients involved in these matters. 
Slater & Gordon has not withheld or delayed the release of any files in our possession to any former clients. 
.....when clients make a request to have their files returned direct to them or their nominee, we are obliged to release those files in accordance with the client direction. 
.....since these matters have come under intense media scrutiny, Slater & Gordon has undertaken extensive archival searches to identify whether the firm still holds any relevant files or documents. Where such files or documents have been identified, they have been made available to any clients who have made a request for them. 
Was Blewitt the firm's client in the AWU WRA matter?
On 10 September 2014 the firm's former partner responsible for the Workplace Reform Association matter, Julia Gillard, gave evidence to the Trade Union Royal Commission.
In a sworn statement Ms Gillard said she provided advice to both Blewitt and Bruce Wilson in the incorporation of the association.
IN her oral evidence Ms Gillard confirmed that Blewitt was her joint client along with Wilson.

Q.   Instructions --

A.   Incorporating the Association, to be more precise.


Q.   Instructions emanating from Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt?

A.   Correct.


Q.   They were your client, were they, for the purposes of this matter?

A.   Yes, that's true.


Q.   They were giving you instructions in their own personal capacities?

A.   Yes, that's true.





Why hasn't Slater and Gordon provided a copy of the AWU Workplace Reform Association file to Mr Blewitt?


The firm's records show that it retained a copy of the file in paper form, and the firm's correspondence to mid-October 2012 implies that the file remained in Slater and Gordon's custody until about that date.  


Did Slater and Gordon release the file to the other client in the matter Mr Wilson?  


If so:




Did the firm retain a copy?  


Why wasn't Mr Blewitt advised?


I propose to treat this enquiry and any answer I receive as a public communication which I'll publish to my website


Kind regards,


Michael Smith


Victorian Ombudsman finds 21 ALP MPs used taxpayer funds to pay for "well organised ALP political campaign"

“Trust in our politicians is declining and risks diminishing further with allegations of misuse of public funds,” Ms Glass said.
“The public debate in this case confirms the importance of having an independent body, able to investigate allegations without fear or favour – and to give short shrift to the spurious – when the integrity of MPs is called into question.”

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Misuse of Parliamentary staff budget entitlements in 2014

Wednesday 21 March 2018
Ombudsman Deborah Glass has found 21 ALP Members of Victorian Parliament - including 11 serving and 10 former MPs - breached Parliament’s Members’ Guide by certifying payments to electorate officers used for party political campaigning.
Ms Glass has this morning tabled her report into a matter referred to her by the Legislative Council in November 2015. The Legislative Council asked the Ombudsman to investigate allegations of ALP MPs’ misuse of staff budget entitlements before the 2014 state election. 
Ms Glass said there had been “a well-organised campaign by the ALP to recruit and deploy full-time field organisers in the run-up to the 2014 Victorian state election, of which 21 were employed part-time as electorate officers and paid some $388,000 out of parliamentary funds.”
“I make no criticism of the campaign or the field organisers. But while some electorate officer work was done for some Members of Parliament, the arrangement to employ field organisers as electorate officers was an artifice to secure partial payment for the campaign out of parliamentary funds, and was wrong.”
Ms Glass said: “The evidence is that MPs who participated in the arrangement and signed time-sheets believed it was legitimate and that they were contributing to an approved pooling arrangement.
“But while they received little or no personal benefit from the use of parliamentary funds for campaigning purposes, which almost invariably benefited the election prospects of others, 21 Members of the 57thParliament breached the Members’ Guide.
“The principal architect of the arrangement was the former Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, John Lenders. While he too derived no personal benefit from the campaign as he was, in any event, retiring, he carries the greatest share of responsibility for breaches of the Guide.
“There is undoubtedly a blurred line between permissible and impermissible uses of parliamentary funds, and what is or is not political activity prohibited by the Guide. But in seeking to maximise the use of resources available to the Party, Mr Lenders crossed the line.”
Ms Glass said the Legislative Assembly’s assertion of exclusive cognisance - that the upper house did not have the powers to launch an investigation into members of the lower house – was a limiting factor in the investigation.
“I did not regard the scope of my investigation to be limited to the Legislative Council, but I decided not to test my view in the courts; enough time and public money had been spent on legal proceedings, and I could still investigate the matter by focusing on Council members.
“While I can draw cogent conclusions from the evidence available, there are gaps in the evidence of which Parliament should be aware.”
Ms Glass said she considered “public confidence would be well served” by the ALP paying back the public funds that had been misused. She said today: “I am pleased that following a review of the conclusions of the draft report, they have now done so.”
She commended the legislative reforms that had been made or proposed since these events in 2014, but said more needs to be done to provide clear rules and directions regarding the use of parliamentary resources.
“Trust in our politicians is declining and risks diminishing further with allegations of misuse of public funds,” Ms Glass said.
“The reputation of Parliament would be greatly enhanced if an independent agency was clearly empowered to deal with such matters,” she said.
“The public debate in this case confirms the importance of having an independent body, able to investigate allegations without fear or favour – and to give short shrift to the spurious – when the integrity of MPs is called into question.”

President Trump hires Joe diGenova - who's been intimately involved with the Clinton Foundation investigations

Joe has been working closely with Charles Ortel and like-minded people for at least a year.

This is a great hire from President Trump.

Trump hiring former federal prosecutor who's argued FBI framed president

President Trump is hiring longtime Washington lawyer Joseph diGenova, who has suggested that the FBI is seeking to frame Trump, to his legal team.

"Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Joe diGenova will be joining our legal team later this week," Jay Sekulow, a counsel to the president, said in a statement. "I have worked with Joe for many years and have full confidence that he will be a great asset in our representation of the President."

The hiring was first reported by The New York Times, which wrote that diGenova is unlikely to take a lead role on the team, but that he would add an aggressive presence.

The president is increasingly signaling he intends to go in a different direction with his legal strategy, and this weekend began attacking by name special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump's lawyers had previously advised him not to attack Mueller.

Adding diGenova suggests Trump wants to go more on the offensive, given diGenova's past statements arguing that investigations of Trump are meritless.

“There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January.

“Make no mistake about it: A group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime,” he said.

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that the Mueller probe should "never have been started."

"There was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary [Clinton] and the [Democratic National Committee], and improperly used in [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!" Trump tweeted.

On Monday, Trump again called the investigation a "witch hunt" and claimed it had "massive conflicts of interest."

Trump's lawyer John Dowd over the weekend also called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shut down Mueller's Russia probe.

On Monday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said there are "no conversations or discussions about removing" Mueller. He also reiterated that there has been no collusion.

This story was updated at 2:39 p.m.

Slater and Gordon misled us and its former client on the Workplace Reform Association file

On 4 September 2012 Slater and Gordon acknowledged the request from Ralph Blewitt's lawyers for Ralph to have access to the AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc file then held at Slater and Gordon.

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On 24 September 2012 Slater and Gordon's external legal firm, Arnold Bloch Liebler directly acknowledged that Slater and Gordon held documents regarding the AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc.

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On 11 October 2012 I published an interview with Blewitt in which he alleged Gillard wasn't present when he signed the Power of Attorney document she'd purported to have witnessed.  That was a serious criminal allegation against GILLARD.

On Friday 12 October I wrote to GILLARD to ask if she had anything to say in answer to the serious allegations Ralph had raised against her.  

On that same day something changed at Slater and Gordon.  With serious criminal allegations swirling, suddenly there was no AWU WRA file and according to the firm, there never had been.

This is then MD Andrew Grech's on the record note to journalist Hedley Thomas on 12 October 2012.



Grech was then the MD of a public company as well as the principal of a law firm.  Slater and Gordon Limited released this public statement on the matter.

Amazing what police with a warrant can turn up.

No record of a file hey Andrew?




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These hand written notes are from Peter Gordon and Geoff Shaw.
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There's a range of files that were held and retained by Slater and Gordon - including the AWU Workplace Reform Association and 3 conveyance/finance related files concerning the Kerr Street purchase.  We'll have more on those other files shortly.

Grech's statement that Slater and Gordon were unable to find any record of a file being created re the AWU Workplace Reform Association is misleading and deceptive at best.  Ralph should have had an automatic entitlement to see those documents concerning him.  Gillard went out of her way to implicate Ralph at the Trade Union Royal Commission, painting him as her client in the AWU WRA matter.  He should have been and remains entitled to any documents Slater and Gordon held.  

If the AWU WRA file was destroyed in circumstances where there was a reasonable prospect that it would become evidence in a police investigation, then it's possible that serious criminal offences may have been committed.

Slater and Gordon has some explaining to do - to Ralph, to the public, to the Legal Services Board and arguably to the police.  

As these events were unfolding in 2012, lawyer and reader JM wrote us this note about Slater and Gordon and the AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc file.

There is no doubt Gillard performed legal work for the AWU Workplace Reform Association.

There is also no doubt that this work was done on the premises of S&G.

As soon as S&G's management learnt of these matters, they should have immediately opened a file in the manner in which it should have been opened at the time the client gave instructions. In other words, S&G should have opened a client file, not an internal crisis management file.

The fact that some or all of the papers in Gillard's manila folder were not to hand is irrelevant. The file should have been opened and, as far as possible, reconstructed.

In my opinion, as a solicitor, this obligation is ongoing. In other words, the file should now be formally opened, allocated a file number and – to the extent possible – reconstructed. Depending on the terms of the partnership agreement at the relevant time, Gillard might be obliged to assist in this process.

Quite apart from the matter of proper procedure (I expect, but have not yet verified, that Victorian solicitors have and at that time had, a regulatory obligation to maintain files in respect of client matters), S&G might find it useful to have the file so that when the manila folder of papers next turns up they will have a proper place to return them.

JM led me to make some further enquiries - here is the Law Institute of Victoria's helpful commentary about the obligation to keep client files:

Q. How long must I store client files?

  1. How long must I store client files?
  2. There is a common misconception that files may be destroyed after seven years. Client files are trust property, held on behalf of the client.
  • As a general rule, you should not destroy or dispose of files without the client's specific instructions.
  • After seven years, if you want to dispose of files, you must first make reasonable efforts to contact the client for instructions.
  • Only then, if you are unable to obtain instructions, you may think about destroying files without instructions. See section 7.2.16 of the Legal Profession Act 2004 (pdf).

More soon.

The Clinton Foundation implodes - several foreign governments moving towards prosecutions on pay-to-play


Leid Stories—Clinton Foundation Implodes Amid A Global Sharpening of Prosecutorial Axes—03.19.18

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has imploded under the sheer volume of evidence, gathered by domestic and foreign investigating agencies, that the purported “charity” and its principals for years have been running a global criminal enterprise and engaging in massive fraud.

Early U.S. oversight of the foundation was largely procedural. But the foundation over the years far exceeded its original, strictly defined and permitted purpose—to raise funds to build a Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, Ark. Instead, the foundation spun off several other “charities” that were raising hundreds of millions of dollars from donors for “good works.” Federal investigators, however, believe the foundation and its linked “charities” provided cover for the Clintons to receive pay-to-play money from “donors” looking to buy political favors and influence.

Several foreign governments also have ratcheted up their probes of the Clintons and their foundation, having gotten little or no accounting for hundreds of millions of dollars donated to various foundation causes. They have been sharpening their prosecutorial axes.

Charles Ortel, a retired Wall Street banker and sworn enemy of charity fraud, has been reporting on Leid Stories the findings of his self-initiated forensic investigation of the Clinton Foundation for more than two years. Today he discusses the details of and likely fallout from the implosion of the Clinton Foundation.

Yassmin Abdel-Mageid wins Liberty Victoria's Young Voltaire free speech award



Previous winners of the Voltaire Award include former human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs, commentator Waleed Aly, journalists including David Marr activists and critics.  Apparently of us.

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The Young Voltaire Award has been awarded to mechanical engineer, award-winning social advocate, author and broadcaster, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, whose February 2017 appearance on the ABC’s Q&A was a sensation, gathering over 12 million views in less than a week. Yassmin's courageous activism on topics of race, equality and unconscious bias have brought her to the forefront of public debate in Australia and abroad. Her acclaimed TED talk, ‘What does my headscarf mean to you’ and other public appearances have made her a globally renowned speaker.  Yassmin has published an autobiography entitled 'Yassmin's Story', which tells the story of growing up as a Sudanese Muslim woman in Australia. 

After a social media post on Anzac Day saying 'LEST. WE. FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)', Yassmin was attacked by internet trolls, tabloid newspapers and even numerous Members of Parliament. Yassmin refused to give in to fear mongering. Despite being personally targeted by high profile political figures through inaccurate and racist media reporting, she would not be silenced. She continued to speak out against racism, discrimination and harmful stereotypes. Yassmin continues to give voice to the experience of young Muslim women in Australia and beyond.

Later, she said, “The reality is the visceral nature of the fury — almost every time I share a perspective or make a statement in any forum — is more about who I am than about what is said."