At some point a jury may be invited to consider whether Ms Gillard's been telling the truth about her involvement in setting up Bruce's slush fund. She's on the record explaining the reasons she did what she did - but the question is whether or not she's telling the truth.
This paper by Darren Fittler from Gilbert and Tobin lawyers gives a very clear description of the role and limitations of incorporated associations in Australia. He makes this fundamental point about this type of structure, once an association is incorporated, that's it, the members of the entity have no claim, ever to the association's assets:
Members do not have a proprietary interest in the association
If you want a corporate structure in which you or your friends actually owned shares/units and underlying assets and could retrieve their investment at some point you'd choose a company or trust.
Julia Gillard told Peter Gordon this was the reason she was setting up an incorporated association for Bruce and the mythical team:
The thinking behind the forming of incorporated associations is that it had been our experience that if you did it in a less formal way, you just had someone say, Fred Bloggs say oh look I'll just open a bank account and everybody can put the money into there the problem developed that when the leadership team fractured, as relatively commonly happens, you got into a very difficult dispute about who was the owner of the monies in the bank account so it was better to have an incorporated association, a legal entity into which people could participate as members, that was the holder of the account.
If the association of people fractured - the reason nominated by Ms Gillard for choosing this structure - here's what the rules say must happen to the money she says they'd have been storing in that structure:
Distribution of surplus property on winding up of Association
28. If, on the winding up of the Association, any property of the
Association remains after satisfaction of the debts and liabilities
of the Association and the costs, charges and expenses of that
winding up, that property must be distributed:
(a) to another incorporated association having objects similar to
those of the Association; or
(b) for charitable or benevolent purposes;
which incorporated association or purposes, as the case requires must
be determined by resolution of the members when authorising and
directing the Committee under Section 33(3) of the Act to prepare a
distribution plan for the distribution of the surplus property of the
Ms Gillard told Mr Gordon this about the proposed source of the money for the Association - largely from the members own pay:
So the usual mechanism people use to amass that amount of money is that they
require the officials who ran on their ticket to enter payroll deduction
schemes where money each week or fortnight goes from their pay into a
bank account which is used for re-election purposes from time to time.
They also have different fundraisers, dinners and raffles and so on to amass
the necessary amount of money to mount their re-election ·campaign. Bruce
wanted to have such an account.
So if the whole show was wound up, all the money would go to another charitable endeavour. But what if just one member wanted their money back? The incorporated association's own rules, mandatory under the Act would ensure that money would never be returned to the member, here's Rule 2:
The property and income of the Association must be applied
solely in accordance with the objects of the Association and no
part of that property or income may be paid or otherwise
distributed, directly or indirectly, to members, except in good
faith in the promotion of those objects.
Money that went into the Association was gone forever.
Securing election to a paid role in a trade union is a personal benefit - it entitles the person to a salary and perks. The (reasonable) expenses paid out the person's pocket for the purpose of getting elected are generally tax deductible. Money paid into the association would arguably have a different character, particularly given that it was not a deductible gift recipient.
In those circumstances I can't imagine a trade union official choosing to bank some of their own pay into an incorporated association with all its restrictions.
Which is probably the reason that not one of them did put their own money in. Not one cent.
Gillard's stated reasons for acting as she did sound unlikely to me. I can't imagine where she got those instructions.
Bruce tells us quite openly he was trying to set up an entity for the purpose of billing Thiess and receiving and holding money from the Dawesville Channel project. Which of the two versions about the AWU WRA Inc sounds the more plausible, Wilson's or Gillard's?