Extract from tape recorded interview help at the offices of Slater and Gordon, 11/9/95, Melbourne, Victoria
PG - Peter Gordon, JG- Julia Gillard, GS - Geoff Shaw
PG: Yeah, I see. Sorry. Julia, you own property in Victoria?
JG: Yes, I do.
PG: And whereabouts is that?
JG: 36 St Phillip Street, Abbotsford.
PG: And when did you acquire that?
JG: In May 1991 and it settled in July 1991.
PG: 1991, yeah. How did you fund that?
JG: I funded that; Slater & Gordon extended to me a loan of $40,000, which I used for the deposit, and the rest of it I borrowed through the same branch of the Commonwealth Bank as Slater & Gordon banks at the William Street branch.
PG: By way of mortgage.
JG: Yes, by way of mortgage.
PG: And you still have that mortgage?
JG: I still have that mortgage.
PG: And it's being paid off.
JG: And it's being paid off.
PG: Have any renovations taken place to that property?
JG: Yep. I've, I moved there in July 1991. When I first moved there I shared it with two other people. It's a two-bedroom place, I shared it with a couple. And when I first purchased it, interest rates were quite high and my salary was lower than it is now, and I didn't really do anything of substance to the property for 12, 18 months, something like that. I then started to get various bits of work done, go relatively slowly and as I could afford to get them done bit by bit. I remember commenting to Geoff at one point that I renovated so slowly other people would call it maintenance because not much was happening.
Then substantial renovations got done on the property last year, which included the kitchen being entirely redone and the bathroom and laundry being entirely redone and internal plastering and painting being done, and yes, so I got all that work done in September, October, Novemberish last year.
PG: OK. Did you contract all of those works to the one subcontractor or builder or did you manage them yourself?
JG: No, I, I, I suppose I should do it piece by piece. I originally got glasswork and paving work done; that was because the way in which the glasswork and the paving were done at that time was causing water to go into the foundations. I contracted with a glassworker/ woodworker person called Athol James, who I found in the local newspaper, and contracted with a paving place that I got from the local newspaper after getting, I got three quotes and then picked the lowest one of them, so that got done first.
I then, I then got the floors done and I got Athol back to do that, so the front of the house, the old part was the original baltic pine floorboards. The back part was chipboard and I wanted to get the floorboards matched with old baltic pine so I could get it all sanded down and polished. I'm sure this detail is really exciting you. And Athol came and did that, got old pine and matched it all up and you know all of that sort of stuff, which was a substantial job. And then I got some bloke in I think that he recommended to do the sanding, so that was what happened next.
Then what happened after that was I got the kitchen done, I purchased Ikea cupboards and stuff, purchased the actual appliances from a Radio Rentals place in Clifton Hill, and purchased a granite bench top from a local place near me called the Marble Centre, that's also in Abbotsford, and then I had installers who were recommended by Ikea put it all in. His name was Taugney the Swedish Builder, and he took a substantial amount of time to do all of that though I was the envy of Leonie, I recall at that stage, for having a Swedish builder.
That left me with the kitchen functional but the, the kitchen had like cork in it, all of that had basically been ripped to shreds when they had taken the old cupboards out and put the new cupboards in so it needed tiling, it needed tiling on the splashbacks, you know around the sink and around the stove, it needed plastering work, kitchen ceiling, that sort of thing, and I had had a long-held plan to fix the bathroom and laundry. Both were a sort of 70s renovation which amongst other things was red and yellow in colour and I therefore wanted to get it replaced.
I went away to, for a holiday, in late August early September last year and I had been talking for a long time about getting this bathroom and laundry work done.
And, Bruce whilst I was away decided that I should just get it done so he commenced with a group of friends demolishing the bathroom.
By the time I came back the bathroom had been demolished so I had no option but to get the rest of the renovations done and a series of tradespeople who Jim Collins predominantly organised, Jim Collins being an organiser at the AWU, who he recommended through his local football club, a series of tradespeople came in and did the renovation which predominantly consisted of the bathroom, completing the kitchen, tiling on the kitchen floor, plastering work, replacement of ceilings and the like.
PG: To the extent that in respect of the bathroom it was required to purchase product tiles or grout or whatever, how was that paid?
JG: I went and picked tiles both for the bathroom and the kitchen from various tile shops and paid for them.
JG: When they were delivered.
PG: Yep. In terms of the tradesmen who did the work in those areas, who were they?
JG: I don't, I don't recall their names. I have some of their receipts at home. There was a tiler, an electrician, a plasterer who had with him a general roustabout person and a plumber and they all knew each other and had worked together before, but it wasn't like one of them was the builder who was organising everybody else. So they came in and did it and I paid each of them. I've had occasion over the course of the weekend to look through my personal records in relation to this matter and I do have a series of receipts from various of them about bits of the work that was done.
PG: Right, and I take it the inquiry over the weekend may have extended to this work as well, the Athol James work, the glasswork, the paving, the floors and the sanding.
JG: Yes, I've got, I recall, I recall particularly dealing with Athol because he came back more than once and sort of lived at my place for a substantial period of time whilst he did the floors, I don't specifically recall whether I've got a receipt from him, I think I do. I've certainly got his number and stuff in my address book from having used him.
PG: OK. Julia, it would be helpful to us if we could have copies of those.
PG: Do you have a problem with supplying them to us?
JG: No, no problem at all.
PG: Good. So that, is it fair to say as a general summary of that work that all of the work was paid for by you?
JG: I believe all of the work was paid for by me. I was getting receipts, I was paying it. I at that stage borrowed an additional $20,000 from the bank to pay for the renovations. I had occasion to ask Geoff if I could be pre-paid, which he did. I don't recall the amount. But that was recouped out of my pay for the first six months of this year. And, between that pre-payment and the borrowing of the $20,000 from the bank, I paid for that work.
JG: I should say that, when I say the 20,000 from the bank: that was the bathroom, the work that was organised subsequent to the demolition of the bathroom. Athol James, the tiler, sorry Athol James, the paver, Taugney the Swedish builder I had paid over time as work was done.
CONVERSATION MOVES ON TO OTHER SUBJECTS - NOTE THAT MS GILLARD HAS NOT MENTIONED KON SPYRIDIS - AND THE $20,000 LOAN FROM THE BANK COMES AFTER BORROWING 100% OF THE PROPERTY VALUE.
IT STRIKES ME THAT PETER GORDON AND GEOFF SHAW LEFT THESE QUESTIONS UNTIL THE END FOR A REASON
PG: We're concluding the interview . . . going to ask you, Julia, it's been put to a partner of Slater & Gordon in the last week that there exists a receipt with respect to renovation work conducted at your home which is in some way connected with funds from the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association account.
JG: Yes. I have, I have heard a rumour to the effect that someone attended at the offices of the AWU since the time that Bruce has left presenting an account which when the union enquired into it was an account for work on my property and that they refused to pay it. I heard that rumour firstly from Bernard Murphy who said to me that he had heard it from Andrew Watson. I subsequently spoke to Andrew Watson about it and said that David Feeney, who is an official of the Transport Workers' Union, or an industrial officer of the Transport Workers' Union, had raised it with Andrew with the specific intent of Andrew raising it with me and David was happy for me to talk to him about it.
I have spoken to David Feeney. I spoke to him on Friday afternoon. What I believe to have happened is this. This year I had additional work done on my place to try and do something about the outside, the outside is still not painted the right colour, and needed, needed further work done on it. Bill the Greek recommended to me a friend of his called Con, the last name I believe to (be) Spiri, Spiridis or Spiritis or a word to that effect. Con organised for me, or Con came and did the following things.
There are, there were two of the original Victorian windows on either side of the house that were not functional and the wood was rotting. I wanted them replaced by new windows. Contrary to the directions I gave him about that he replaced them with aluminium sliding windows which I was particularly unhappy about. The veranda was slate and it was coming up and the posts which held up the veranda in part were rotting so I contracted with him to replace the posts and to tile the veranda. He did tile the verandah after a fashion, but the job is uncompleted. He did put in posts but he put in, ah, what's the word, decorative posts chiselled out with patterns, rather than plain posts. Given it's a Victorian weatherboard house I was pretty unhappy about that as well. And he mortared the fence and put pickets in it which was required to complete the fence.
When I came home and saw the posts and the windows which got done in, done in one day I raised it immediately with Bill the Greek in fairly vociferous tones and said this has just totally buggered up this job. This is just hideous, you know, you need to talk to Con about it. Bill had been the link to Con. Bill said he would speak to Con about it. Con came back subsequently and did the fence and I raised it with Con. Con said he would get, he knew he had made an error with the windows. He would get the windows replaced with wood windows. He didn't think the posts were his fault because that was the sort of posts that were described to him so there was an ongoing debate about whose fault it was that the posts were the wrong posts. He basically half finished, did most of the fence though bits of it are uncompleted and then he didn't return. I periodically raised with Bill what on earth is happening with Con and these windows and these posts and the tiling's uncompleted and the fence is uncompleted. Bill would say I'll fix it, I'll fix it but it never got fixed.
Life got a little bit more crazy than it had been and I ceased to sort of pay much regard to it or think about it but there was this uncompleted work at the property or to the extent it was completed large bits of it were done wrong. I don't know what transactions Con and Bill have had about the account for that work, but I believe what has happened is Con has gone to the AWU looking for Bill or looking for payment for the account.
Obviously, it accords with what David Feeney has told me that he was sent away by the AWU and without explanation an account from Con was put in my letter box last week, so that's the first account that I've had from him. It is an account dated June directed towards me, yeah, I think that's right, directed towards me, dated June and it's got a letter on it, some of which is not decipherable but talks about finishing off the tiles. The account is for $3780. I've paid $2000 of it already and I'm making arrangements to get the $1780 together to pay the rest of it. I have suggested to David Feeney that I think the way forward in relation to this is for me to simply meet with Bob Smith at FIME and say someone came here looking for payment of an account. That's nothing that I have caused, nothing to do with me, if it is this account then I've paid it, even though it hurt me to do so given the quality of the job. If there is anything else then I will pay it.
The information from David Feeney is that Bob Smith doesn't believe that I am at fault in relation to this. He has got no agenda about damaging me in relation to this or using it against me, that he will be quite happy to see the issue go away, and that he thinks that Bob will respond well to a direct discussion like that. I've left that matter on the basis that David Feeney will sound Bob out and, provided there isn't any unforeseen problem, I will meet with Bob as soon as possible for the purpose of clarifying that matter. Now I believe that that must be the source of the rumour about, that must be the factual construct behind what has become the rumour about, about the association or Bruce or the union or whoever paying for work on my house and I don't obviously given I've been fairly surprised by events to date in relation to this matter, I can't categorically rule out that something at my house didn't get paid for by the association or something at my house didn't get paid for by the union or whatever, I just, I don't feel confident saying I can categorically rule it out, but I can't see how it's happened because that really is the only bit of work that I would identify that I hadn't paid for. And it seems, just looking at the receipts and how much I borrowed and all the rest of it that I basically paid full value for everything else, so it doesn't seem to me looking at the house and working through it mentally that there is sort of thousands of dollars of free unexplained work lying around in the house.
It seems to me that I've paid, you know, relatively ordinary funds for work to get done and you know I don't see where there could be big money coming from any other source into the renovations. So I think that that's the site of the problem, it's this recent invoice with Con. I will know if there is anything else having spoken to Bob Smith.
PG: OK. Is there anything else that you think we need to know about?
JG: No, I think that's it, I can't think of anything else.
PG: OK. Thanks. The interview was continued because we needed to talk about . . .
JG: Sorry, I'm getting confused, the, Geoff when we were not on tape asked me a series of questions about things that I have had done to the house that I don't recall getting invoiced for. It occurred to me that one of those things is, and Geoff has actually seen this with his own eyes. Bill the Greek, whilst I was at work one day, built for me a low level brick fence. I didn't ask him to do that. The result was truly hideous and I think Geoff saw it when he dropped me off one night and everybody else who's passed my house has commented on it. In order to try and make it look less hideous, part of the work that Con was to do was to mortar it and put pickets on it that goes like that to try and stop it looking quite as Greek, dare one say.
I didn't, I've never, I didn't pay for the bricks, I didn't pay for the bricks. I've never had an account in relation to the fence. Now, I don't, I don't know what that means about where Bill got the bricks from, and I don't know whether that means anybody worked with him on the fence, that I haven't paid. He, you know, he pleased as punch sort of said he had built it for me. That he had built it for me. Whether that means he himself did it, given Bill's obvious difficulties with the truth I no longer know.
PG: What are Bill's obvious difficulties with the truth?
JG: He's just a big Greek bullshit artist.
PG: Julia, you told us you commenced a personal relationship with Bruce Wilson in late 1991. Can you tell us the current status of that personal relationship?
JG: Bruce is currently in Western Australia and we aren't in contact and I don't expect to be in contact with him again unless I needed to for some particular purpose related to the issues that we've discussed, and that means in, well, that obviously means that any relationship between us is at an end.
PG: OK, thanks.
GS: End of tape.