Recap on Part One
Gillard's private work for boyfriend Bruce and kingmaker Bill Ludwig
Part One described Gillard’s part in advancing Bill Ludwig and Bruce Wilson’s private ambitions to control the AWU - with Gillard giving legal advice and doing legal work for the Ludwig/Wilson private partnership since late 89 / early 90.
Gillard's propensity to perform under the table
Former HSU general secretary Rob Elliot described Gillard’s propensity to “assist” union “reform groups” with fund-raising and legal advice along with political counsel. He recalls Gillard offered a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" service, Labor mates helping mates.
Wilson's threats to Premier Carmen Lawrence
Former Western Mining Corporation chief executive Hugh Morgan described Carmen Lawrence’s propensity to bow to the will of Bruce Wilson because of his control of a voting bloc within the Labor Party. Lawrence reversed government policy regarding 24 hour mining operations after Bruce Wilson’s threat to remove her from office (as running mate Bill Ludwig did with Hawke and Rudd).
“Bruce had done everything he could to avoid signing an (industrial) agreement,” he said. “But finally, we got him to sign. I went to Carmen Lawrence and she said to me very directly, ‘Hugh, I cannot fulfil that because Bruce has informed me that if I go ahead with that agreement he will ensure that I do not get my preselection for the next election’.
Lessons learnt from Norm Gallagher's holiday home
The long-running saga of former BLF supremo Norm Gallagher’s arrest, trial(s), conviction, appeals and jailing for receipt of secret commission payments from construction companies provided a stark delineation of the “traps” through which corrupt payments to union officials were detected and prosecuted. The sham AWU Workplace Reform Association’s establishment and use by Ludwig/Wilson and Thiess are part of a deceptive and complex plan to conceal corrupt payments while protecting corrupted players from Norm Gallagher’s fate.
Gillard and Melbourne's legitimate Workplace Reform Association
Gillard was intimately involved with AMWU official Max Ogden’s Melbourne-based Workplace Reform Association Inc. In February 1991 that association held a workplace reform conference in Melbourne attended by Prime Minister Hawke, ACTU officials and the who’s who of union and employer groups. It demonstrated a legitimate purpose and was successful in receiving and spending money on "the promotion of workplace reform" etc. Gillard's WA based AWU Workplace Reform Association’s objectives were modelled along similar lines to the AMWU and Max Ogden’s Melbourne entity - it was however a sham from start to finish. Her admissions as to its true nature were revealed in 5 simple words recorded in her exit interview from Slater and Gordon and from the practice of the law.
"It was a slush fund".
Dawesville Channel Project
In May 1991 Bruce Wilson became AWU WA Secretary. One of his first acts was to renege on AWU agreements with Western Mining Corporation and the state government over industry reform - leading to bitter 10 week strikes, cancellation of multi-million dollar investments and significant damage to WA’s mining-reliant economy.
WMC did not make payments to Wilson slush funds.
By contrast those companies that paid money to Wilson like Thiess, Woodside and others were rewarded with industrial peace.
On 29 July 1991 Premier Carmen Lawrence took her Cabinet to Mandurah (adjacent to the Peel Harvey estuary and site of the Dawesville Channel to announce the project. Her media release stated:
“Dr Lawrence said tenders for the work would be called in mid-September. The Dawesville Channel is one of the biggest maritime engineering projects to be undertaken in Western Australia”.
In August 1991 Dr Lawrence delivered her government’s 1991-92 budget including line items for the project. In September that year the government called for tenders for the work and WA archive files show an active and engaged cross section of industry players preparing competitive bids.
On 17 October 1991 a WA Government official gave evidence to a parliamentary committee confirming the tender process and timeline for delivery of the project.
Meanwhile Wilson continued to hold Western Mining Corporation to ransom. Hugh Morgan’s comments about Premier Lawrence’s fears over Wilson’s threats to remove her if she failed to do his bidding relate to this period. The WMC dispute was affecting the whole WA economy.
During this time Wilson aggressively lobbied the WA Government for Thiess to get the Dawesville contract.
On 25 November 1991 the Lawrence Labor Cabinet met and cancelled the the Dawesville tender process awarding a circa $60M contract directly to Thiess without competitive assessment.
Wilson and Thiess executive Nick Jukes hammered out an agreement during December 1991 through which a fixed monthly amount would be funnelled to Wilson’s control during the project 36 month life of the project. These negotiations were conducted in secret and were concealed from the AWU and from workers on the project. The arrangements were endorsed by Bill Ludwig and Thiess managing director Martin Albrecht at a dinner in Sydney in January 1992.
Wilson gave evidence to the TURC that he sought advice from his accountant and from Julia Gillard on the means by which he could receive the payments without alerting the AWU to the scheme.
Helpfully, Julia Gillard describes her role in the matter, “I gave Bruce advice about the incorporation of an association”. While she drafted the objects of the association (describing the purpose as workplace reform etc) she admitted to her superiors at Slater and Gordon that the entity was in truth a slush fund not under the control of the AWU but under the personal control of Wilson.
Ralph Blewitt recalls that the entity to receive the corrupt payments must have the AWU name in its title - he states this was at Thiess's insistence.
Norm Gallagher’s then-recent prosecution highlighted the pitfalls for corrupt secret commission givers and receivers. Corrupt and secret commissions are paid to individual(s) (in the law they’re called “agents”) who typically work for an entity like a trade union, local council or business (that entity is called the “principal” in the law).
Gallagher’s case showed that the “principal” was the members of the union - not the Branch Committee of Management or Executive - rather his duty as “agent” negotiating deals was a duty directly to the members.
Gallagher’s scams were not sophisticated. He’d go easy on construction companies who brought building supplies to his holiday home project on a block of land by the beach. His crimes and the crimes of the corrupt payers were easily detected.
Thiess employed sophisticated managers, lawyers and IR professionals. Thiess executives say “we thought we were dealing with the AWU directly” - however the creation of a paper trail does not of itself prove anything. It's Thiess's conduct that should be reviewed and compared with the sham on-paper-only arrangements that should be put to a jury.
Next in Part Three Gillard's movements in Western Australia and Thiess's corporate manoeuvres over Bruce and Julia's slush fund.