Slater and Gordon has handled some of the biggest and most complicated cases in Australia's legal history. Courage and commitment to justice have made it one our most successful plaintiff firms. Here Location 999 explains how partner Julia Gillard acted directly for sophisticated property investor Ralph Blewitt.
Julia Gillard ran a few errands between paralegal secretaries and an imbecile property tycoon. She told her interogating partner Peter Gordon she had no idea of a mortgage for Kerr Street Fitzroy arranged just 2 years prior. Now 17 years later she recalls relaying messages between Olivia and Ralph.
As Location 999 says, why isn't this case study bigger news?
These numbers are the actual numbers logged by audioboo showing how many complete downloads or plays this interview with Grace Collier has had. It was recorded the day before yesterday (date stamp is UK time).
"Ms Gillard acted directly for Mr Blewitt in a conveyance matter".
Mr Blewitt says that he was involved in a fraud in that matter in which Ms Gillard's boyfriend, Bruce Wilson was the lead player.
Well Ms Gillard? Your name's on the documents, you got the certificate of currency on behalf of your sham client Mr Blewitt. You were at the auction. You watched your boyfriend move into the house. Did you set up a rental agreement for your boyfriend to protect your "client" Mr Blewitt's interests? Did you see any conflict in acting for the purchaser, who donated his power of attorney to the tenant? How about when the tenant signed the purchaser up for a mortgage through your firm, who also acted for the mortgage provider?
Hillbilly 33 is gifted with the wisdom that years of experience endow
''The only documentary evidence Slater & Gordon was in possession of was that Ms Gillard acted directly for Mr Blewitt in relation to a conveyancing matter, a union dispute and a defamation matter,'' he said.
Mr Grech confirmed to Fairfax on October 16 that the file was missing. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/lawyers-contradict-pms-claim-20121112-298es.html
"In terms of my engagement with the file, having had the opportunity now it's in the public domain to look at the documents on it, what I believe has happened here is I ran a few messages back and forth between Olive Brosnahan and Mr Blewitt in terms of the certificate relating to the insurance. I'd refer you to a hand-written file note that is in Olive Brosnahan's handwriting which refers to Ralph chasing that matter up with the Commonwealth Bank, that is him personally attending to H/B, Long-distance from Perth while his solicitor just runs errands?
This an excerpt from Ms Gillard's press conference in Canberra on 26 November, 2012.
JOURNALIST: One of the allegations made by Ralph Blewitt is
that the power of attorney here, which you witnessed, you weren't actually
present when it was witnessed. I think he told Michael Smith as recently as
October that he can remember signing it or thereabouts on 4 February and yet it
was dated 23 February. So were you there to witness this power of attorney?
PM: I've said publicly on more than one occasion I did
nothing wrong, and I did nothing wrong in the witnessing of this power of
attorney. I witnessed thousands and thousands and thousands of documents for
clients during an eight-year – I'll answer your question –I witnessed thousands
and thousands of documents over an eight-year legal career for clients and I
did that witnessing properly.
So it's going to come down to Mr Blewitt's word against me.
Let me remind you who Mr Blewitt is. Mr Blewitt is a man who has publicly said
he was involved in fraud. Mr Blewitt is a man who has sought immunity from
Mr Blewitt is a man who has fled Indonesia to avoid a police
interview in relation to land fraud, although he denies wrongdoing in the case.
Mr Blewitt says he owes money on another Asian land deal.
Mr Blewitt admits to using the services of prostitutes in
Asia. Mr Blewitt has published lewd and degrading comments and accompanying
photographs of young women on his Facebook page.
Mr Blewitt, according to people who know him, has been
described as a complete imbecile, an idiot, a stooge, a sexist pig, a liar, and
his sister has said he's a crook and rotten to the core. His word against mine,
make your mind up.
JOURNALIST: Just going back to the specific power of
attorney which was mentioned a little bit earlier. It says on this, signed,
sealed and delivered by Ralph Blewitt with his signature underneath. It says
then witnessed by you. Did you see him sign this document?
PM: As I said in answer to the earlier question, I witnessed
thousands of documents across an eight-year legal career for clients. I can't
point you to the moment in time and the decor of where I was sitting when I
signed this one, but I witnessed documents in my legal career for clients
properly and you are talking about a contest here between me and Mr Blewitt,
and you can work out who you believe: the person who is standing here, Prime
Minister of Australia who has done nothing wrong, or the man who says he's
guilty of fraud and is looking for an immunity. Work it out.
Was this a genuine donation of a Power of Attorney by a genuine donor, whose donation was witnessed by a genuine lawyer who acted as the law demands of a lawyer in those circumstances?
Or was this part of a sham transaction to place property in the name of Blewitt, to procure borrowings in the name of Blewitt and to conceal the true nature of the conversion of illicitly obtained money into a real asset? DID THIS DOCUMENT TELL A LIE ABOUT ITSELF.
What evidence can Ms Gillard bring to show that her role was genuine, that the POA is a genuine and real thing and that it was donated in circumstances where she as a lawyer "did nothing wrong"?
Where on earth is there a scintilla of evidence that supports her contention that she took instructions from Blewitt, that Blewitt was a property investor with money to spare, that he instructed her that he wished to donate a power of attorney to her boyfriend, his tenant to be?
Mr Blewitt says he was party to a criminal enterprise, and the power of attorney document was a part of achieving an unlawful end. Was Ms Gillard deceived by this man she calls an imbecile, a liar, a crook? Or was she party to his unlawful acts?
Mr Blewitt says that he did not present himself as a property investor with money to spare. There is no evidence that he had money to spare. The facts are that he did not have money to spare. The only excess money in evidence is in the account AWU Workplace Reform Association, the actual source of the money used in the transaction.
A couple of points about S83A of the Victorian Crimes Act.
1.Both Gillard and Blewitt "made" the document for the purposes of the section.
2.The concept of what constitutes an act or omission to the predjudice of a person is defined in exclusive terms in ss8. It is difficult to argue that the Registrar of Titles is not such a person(even if no others can be found). There is copious evidence that the POA was not made on the date specified or witnessed on the date and in the terms described. Gillard must be viewed as aiding any falsity that can be attributed to Blewitts actions. In Queensland(and I would imagine in other States)she would be regarded as a principle offender if she did or omitted to do any act for the purpose of enabling or aiding another person to commit the offence or indeed if she counsels or procures any other person to comit the offence.
Examining the elements of S83A.
a)Was the POA false? It was made by Blewitt on a date and in circumstances in which it was not in fact made. It was backdated and Gillard was not present. It was also made by Gillard when she signed it (ie altered it).SS(7).
b)Intention There can be no argument that the document was made to induce any number of other persons to accept it as genuine or alternatively used with this intention ss(1)&(2).
c)As a result was an act done or omitted to be done to someones prejudice? Presumably the POA was accepted by the Motgagee as genuine and this resulted in the advancement of funds and the temporary loss of that property.ss 8(a)(i) The action of Wilson in arranging the mortgage (aided by Gillard) has had the result that Blewitts borrowing capacity has been reduced. Blewitt has been deprived of the opportunity to borrow as much as he may otherwise been able to and has therefore been deprived of the opportunity to obtain a financial advantage. It is important to recognise that the maker of the document for these purposes is Gillard (ss(1)) and the user of the document is
Further the acceptance by the Registrar of Titles of the transactions based on the POA will be to the prejudice of that person ss(8)(c). In the performance of his duties he has accepted a false document as genuine. The same may possibly be said of Olive Brosnahan.
Gillard has some serious issues to deal with in relation to this document. It is difficult to see how a breach of Section 83A has not occurred.
The matter is now in the hands of the Police. As others have pointed out our opinions are not going to influence their actions.
I wrote the post (above) because there was a lot of what I believed was misplaced discussion about what constituted an act to the prejudice of another. What in the vernacular may be described as prejudicial is irrelevant. What matters is how the legislation defines it. I wanted to direct attention to this.
Solely for the record then:
The action proscribed by the section is making or using a false document.
SS (6) specifies when a document is false. In particular para (g ) refers to it being false if made or altered on a date on which, or at a place at which, or otherwise in circumstances in which, it was not in fact made or altered. A document is obviously "genuine" in terms of the section when it is not false.
Now a Power of Attorney gives the Donee the power to do certain acts on behalf of and for the benefit of the Donor. The document signed by Blewitt at the request of Wilson was put in place to enable Wilson to purchase a property for Wilsons benefit whilst giving the appearance that he had acted for the benefit of Blewitt. A document which, as between the parties to it, is a mere facade, cannot create the rights it purports to as between them, however it can still be relied upon by innocent 3rd parties.
In this case the truth is that Blewitt was nothing but a front for the purchase of a property by Wilson. Now in the vernacular I would think that most people would say that the document was created expressly to make people falsely think Wilson was Blewitts attorney but whether this is enough to constitute a false document depends not on the vernacular but on the terms of S83A. Following on from that; what amounts to an act or omission to a persons prejudice is exclusively defined in ss(8). It includes an act that is the result of a person having accepted a false document as genuine in connection with the persons performance of a duty. The POA on all the evidence has been dated on a date it was not in fact made by Blewitt and witnessed (altered)at a time and place when it was not in fact witnessed(and therefore also made under ss(7)). It is a false document in terms of the legislation.
Now who are some obvious examples of persons who may have accepted this document as genuine(in the terms of the legislation) in the performance of their duties? Olive Brosnahan is one that I mentioned and having given the matter more thought Nick Styant Brown is another. This may explain in part the fact that both persons have apparently made statements to Police.
As a final point this is not a trivial matter although it is connected to other matters of wider import. It is not hard to imagine the mess that could be created if people got the idea that they could get away with making“bodgy” Powers of Attorney. In the 1980’s a Victorian Friendly society got into major trouble because of a loan to purchase Dreamworld made to a “Strawman” and Wilson could have used this document to make any purchase in Victoria provided he had the right lender and valuation.
THIS FOLLOWING IS MY ORIGINAL POST ON THE MATTER, MADE BEFORE I HAD SPOKEN WITH BLEWITT
The Power of Attorney is a curious document. I believe the evidence points to it being created after the date on which it purports to have been created. It certainly does not appear to comply with legislation about the creation of Powers of Attorney. I would be interested to know from the PM whether or not she personally witnessed Ralph Blewitt sign the document as the document itself claims.
Keep in mind that we are not talking about a normal property transaction. We are talking about the purchase of real estate with tainted funds. The purchase had the effect of laundering those tainted funds into a legitimate asset. Every aspect of the purchase ought be subject to intense scrutiny.
The Contract of Sale was signed by Wilson (with Gillard in attendance) on 13 February, 1993.
There are at least two places where Wilson signed the contract documents on that day. You will notice that in handwriting near his signature are the words Ralph Blewitt as per Power of Attorney. Note that it's not as per "Specific Power of Attorney dated 4 February" - that may be significant. The Power of Attorney document itself is not attached to the Contract for Sale and I'm told the agent did not receive a copy of it on the day.
So where was the "Specific Power of Attorney dated 4 February, 1993" hiding? It was not in the offices of Slater and Gordon. There wasn't even a certified copy of the original document (which Miss Gillard witnessed on 4 February) present.
On the next business day, 15 February, 1993, the Real Estate Agent GA Thomson wrote this letter to Slater and Gordon. It makes no mention of the Specific Power of Attorney.
On 16 February Olive Brosnahan the para-legal executive resonsible for the conveyancing transaction makes a hand-written file note. She acknowledges receipt of the contract for sale from G.A. Thomson, the Real Estate Agent but notes that it is not accompanied by a copy of the Power of Attorney. She makes a further internal note to Elisha/Julia G - "we need P/A (Power of Attorney) or certified copy". She writes the word "Heidi" adjacent to that note, by the angle of the writing it looks like the word Heidi was written after writing the original note, perhaps after enquiring as to who at GA Thomson was handling the matter. The following day, 17 February, 1993 Olive makes this further note regarding Heidi, a sales person with the Real Estate firm GA Thomson. Note that Heidi returns the call and says that she will let Olive have the original Power of Attorney (when she gets it?) and will need a certified copy in return. On 22 February, Slater and Gordon acknowledges that it has received the Contract of Sale, Section 32 Statement and the Power of Attorney from GA Thomson.
On 23 February, Olive Brosnahan signs her first "certified copy" acknowledgement on a copy of the Specific Power of Attorney, dated 4 February.
Ralph Blewitt is appointed WA Branch Secretary in the week 15 February to 19 February, 1993. (The letter to the Industrial Registrar dated 25 February which advises of the appointment says Blewitt was appointed "last week".) Bruce Wilson flew back to Perth during the week 15-19 February to attend branch meetings, to resign his own appointment and to arrange for certain executive appointments, including that of his old friend Ralph Blewitt as new WA Secretary. They are both in Perth that week.
The first time the Specific Power of Attorney dated 4 February and witnessed by Julia Gillard makes an appearance at Slater and Gordon on is on 22 February. It's delivered by the Real Estate Agent. One would have thought that the lawyer who witnessed the signature of the donor Ralph Blewitt on 4 February would have prepared certified copies for the anticipated real estate transaction. It does seem unusual that Slater and Gordon would ask the Real Estate Agent for the Power of Attorney that the law firm had produced itself.
After 23 February, whereever the Specific Power of Attorney is referred to, it's referred to as a "Specific Power of Attorney dated 4 February, 1993".
Ralph Blewitt has made certain statements to his current lawyers about who asked him to sign it, who was present and where he was when he signed it. He will no doubt make a public statement in due course.
Ford is transforming its Australian business by accelerating the introduction of new products for Australian customers, enhancing the sales and service experience, and improving its business efficiency and profitability
To better position the company to compete in a highly fragmented and competitive market, Ford will cease local manufacturing in October 2016. All entitlements are protected for the 1200 employees whose jobs are affected, and the company will work through the next three years to provide support
Ford will proceed with plans to launch updated versions of the Falcon, Falcon Ute and Territory in 2014, as well as offering other world-class products, such as the Ford Kuga, Ranger and Focus. The company will also strengthen its product lineup even further with a 30 per cent increase in the number of new vehicles offered to Australian customers by 2016
Ford’s presence in Australia will remain significant – with 1500 team members, more than 200 dealers nationwide and a continued strong commitment to supporting the communities in which the company operates
Ford Motor Company is transforming its business operations in Australia to provide customers with even more new products, and improved sales and service, while creating a more efficient and profitable business structure.
Ford announced the plan today, including its intention to cease its local manufacturing operations in October 2016. The decision on local manufacturing was driven by increasingly challenging market conditions – including market fragmentation and the high cost of manufacturing. Ford losses in Australia in the last five years have totaled approximately $600 million (AUD).
“All of us at Ford remain committed to our long history of serving Australian customers with the very best vehicles that deliver cutting edge technology at an affordable cost,” said Bob Graziano, president and CEO of Ford Australia. “Unfortunately, due to challenging market conditions we are unable to do that longer-term while continuing to manufacture locally.”
Support for Employees
Approximately 1200 jobs in Ford’s Broadmeadows and Geelong manufacturing plants will become redundant when manufacturing at those sites ceases in 2016.
All manufacturing employees’ benefits will be provided in line with current agreements. During the next three years, Ford will work with affected employees and their representatives on support arrangements and provide clarity about the closure process.
“We know this announcement is very difficult, especially for our employees,” said Graziano. “Providing support to those in our team whose roles will be affected is a key priority for us during this three-year transition period.”
Future vision for Ford Australia
While the way Ford is structured is changing, Ford’s commitment to Australia remains strong.
“Ford will remain a significant employer in Australia, with more than 1500 team members, as will our network of more than 200 dealers around the country,” said Graziano. “The Australian team’s role as a global centre of excellence for vehicle development also will continue to be an important focus for us.”
Australia is currently one of four product development hubs for Ford globally. Recently, the Australian team has been responsible for designing, engineering and testing global vehicles, including the Ford Ranger and Ford Figo, and will continue this expertise.
Today, Ford has more than 1000 team members in product development in Australia, giving the company more designers and engineers than any other auto company in Australia.
“Our customers will buy and service Ford vehicles through the same great dealers we have throughout the country today, and we will continue to support the communities in which we operate,” said Graziano.
Decision follows comprehensive review process
Given the changing dynamics of the auto industry, a number of business scenarios were reviewed during the past year to determine next steps for Ford’s Australian business.
All viable alternatives were evaluated as part of the process including manufacturing various types and combinations of vehicles for local sale as well as the viability of a significant export program. The scenarios investigated also included varying levels of government support, manufacturing cost reductions and productivity improvements.
Australia has annual sales of approximately 1.1 million new vehicles, and customers have access to more than 65 brands and 365 models available for sale. This makes Australia one of the most competitive and crowded automotive markets in the world.
“Given the fragmented marketplace and the low model volumes that result, we decided that manufacturing locally is no longer viable,” said Graziano.
More New Products
As part of the transformation, Ford has aggressive plans to introduce even more new products for Australian customers – including a 30 per cent increase in the number of new vehicles offered to Australian customers by 2016. That is in addition to already announced new versions of the Ford Falcon, Falcon Ute and Territory, as well the new Ford Kuga, Ranger and Focus.
“We will be introducing a number of exciting new vehicles and technologies during the next few years that will excite our Australian customers,” said Graziano. “The breadth of our line-up will increase by more than 30 per cent, ensuring we continue to offer our customers an outstanding range of cars, SUVs and light trucks long into the future.”
Upgraded Sales and Service Experience
Ford also is significantly enhancing its approach to the sales and service experience. The company has appointed a dedicated Consumer Experience team to introduce a series of initiatives to provide customers with even better after-sales care.
“We have a range of projects under way to significantly enhance our customer’s experience with Ford,” said Graziano. “This includes one of the only programs in Australia that provides a capped price on all servicing costs for seven years.”
Ford continues to be part of Australian communities
“Ford vehicles have been part of the automotive landscape in Australia for almost 110 years and we have manufactured here since 1925. We are proud of that history. We are proud of our role in Australia and we haven’t made this decision lightly.
“Overall, we are changing, but our commitment to Australia remains strong. We’ll move through this transition and continue to be a vibrant and strong part of the Australian driving experience,” said Graziano.
Many of you will have walked these streets in Woolwich, near the Royal Artillery Barracks. Old soldiers may have seen what I saw there.
So many thousands of young men, all with the glow of physical fitness, discipline, steady bearing and unbridled optimism about the future who pass and have passed through the barrack gates. Each ready to fight for their nation in her battles overseas. Few thought the enemy was already within.
I can't express how deeply I feel for this young soldier and his family who have to confront the pictures of his last moments of panicked, terrified consciousness. I know young soldiers, my youth was the youth of a young soldier and my friends were young soldiers. We were for each other and would give all for each other. The army had its time with us and when our weapons were secured, breech blocks removed, every rack filled and checked and the armoury door bolted and locked our time was ours and we wanted the most from it. We'd stream out of the barracks within minutes of stand-down to paint the town......
I'm so sorry for this young man. There but for the grace of God could go any. And all in the name of the teachings of Mahommed.
The time for an Enlightenment, the end of the Islamist Dark Ages is here. We need to stand and to say this far, but no more. Reform yourselves. How else do we confront this enemy within?