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September 2012

August 2012

Go Back to Where You Came From

This willie willie stormed in as we were waiting with Bernie and her kids to walk about 2 kilometres to where her tent was.   Imagine having to cook outside, wash the clothes and live in canvas tents in these conditions.  It was about 45 degrees - unbelievable condition.


The AWU Scandal - Bill Gets the Money Back - But What About Bruce?

I'm going to need some help with this.

This application was brought before the Industrial Relations Court of Australia in a matter listed in 1995.   I'll put up the Affidavit material read into evidence soon.

Right now, let's just look at the Order of the Court that Bill Ludwig, advised by his law firm Con Sciacca and Associates was able to achieve.

In August 1995 Bruce Wilson took off, never to be heard of by the union again.   The union never "found" him to get his redundancy money or any other money back from him.

So, at the bank in 1995 the union returned money to some companies that Wilson had been dealing with.

Later that year, Bill Ludwig goes to court.   His action results in this order.



There was a disputed repayment in the amount of around $19,500 to one of the companies, when that's added in the amount returned is exactly $166K - the amount that went out of the AWU Members' Welfare Association No1 Account in August, 1995.

So, by Bill's application and the order of the court, that money was properly obtained by the union.   It was the union's money.   It was in the account AWU Member's Welfare Association No1.

The same account which Bruce used for Cash.   Cash.   Cash.   Town Mode. Etc

Bill, why didn't you get that money back from Bruce?   What else was going on?

Much, much more to come.

The AWU Scandal - Bruce Goes with the Money

We know that Bruce was being advised by Slater and Gordon.   He fronted up at the Commonwealth Bank on 17 August, 1995.   Wilson's position in Victoria had been abolished and he'd lost his authority as a signatory on bank accounts.

We know that Maurice Blackburn was advising the other union boss who was taking responsibility for the union in Victoria, Bob Smith.  

As a result of whatever negotiations took place, Wilson departed the union on 17 August, 1995 with a "redundancy" payment.

The union returned money to the bosses, the companies that Wilson had been "dealing" with.

Ian Cambridge found out about the deal and the "redundancy".   He hit the roof.

His sensible first step was to find out what had happened at the bank.


After taking legal advice, The Commonwealth Bank wrote back to say that money had been returned from the dodgy account, the AWU Members' Welfare Association No 1 to the following companies.


There is more correspondence on the matter, but for the sake of brevity I'll leave it at that.

The questions raised by the advice from Slater and Gordon and Maurice Blackburn to return money to the companies are significant.   What was Bruce up to?

Remember how the money from AWU Members' Welfare Assocaition No1 was spent.   Cash, Cash, Town Mode Fashion, Diners Club etc.

So, Wilson gets sprung.   Gets advice from the lawyers.   Money gets returned to the companies Bruce was "dealing" with.   Bruce gets to leave with a redundancy.

What's next?

A lot of media people pillory Scott Morrison for expressing caution about releasing asylum seekers - I wouldn't want any of this group living near me.

I think Scott Morrison is right to say we should be cautious and keep a close eye on people who are new to our culture and whose antecedents are unknown to us.

The people who arrive on SEIV 36 took part in abominable behaviour.   5 people were killed.    Many more defence force people were wounded and traumatised.   Everyone on the boat lied to the coroner.   But they all got visas and they are all of good character.   I must have missed something in the details.

The only bloke convicted of any crime over the 5 deaths on the illegal asylum seeker boat SIEV 36 got 21 days gaol, plus a $500 bond to be of good behaviour for two years.  

It’s hard to imagine any group of people acting like the people on that boat.   Many of them took part in a plot that killed 5 people in Australian waters on 16 April,2009.   It’s even harder to accept their collusion and orchestrated lying under oath to an Australian coroner about the killings.   We’ve traditionally had better character and higher expectations of ourselves than to allow people to get away with this sort of behaviour without punishment.   But get away with it they did–all bar one of them received no punishment at all, and each of them was rewarded with a permanent visa to stay here in Australia.

Continue reading "A lot of media people pillory Scott Morrison for expressing caution about releasing asylum seekers - I wouldn't want any of this group living near me." »

Go Back to Where You Came From

I wrote this piece for the SBS people earlier this week, they passed it on to The Punch and The Daily Telegraph where edited versions of it appeared.

Here it is in full.




A little bloke called Mohammed broke my heart.

He’s 14 and his face is lit up by huge white teeth and an unfailing impish grin.   It was his grin that struck me and it’s that smiling, welcoming face that’s dead-set haunting me right now.   I’m looking at photos I took of him and other kids when I was in his camp in Ethiopia and it is shocking to know that he’s still there.   See I know that he’s alone in a desert tent city of about 200,000 people.

He’s got no mum or dad.  One of the UN agencies is his nominal guardian.   In the bit of Ethiopia near the border with Somalia where he lives, the UN people arrive at 9 or so in the morning and they take off to get back inside their fortified camps at 3 in the afternoon.   There are no police.   There’s no government in the camp.   Jihadis roam around in the area near the camp – I saw enough expended AK47 cartridges to get a sense of the dangers there.   And the little bloke has to fend for himself once the half dozen or so UN types leave.   It doesn’t take too much imagination to picture what he endures in a lawless tent city with no electricity, no lights,no services and no one who loves him.   

He’s got no footy, let alone a park to kick it in.   He looked on enviously at another little bloke who was wheeling around a jam tin lid on a nail at the end of a stick.   The only other thing I can remember that even looked like a toy was half a TV aerial a young bloke was using as a play machine gun.

I walked for a couple of hours with a 24 year old Somali mum and her 4 remaining children.   She’d lost a little one on the way.    She and the little kids had been hoofing it and hitching rides on donkey carts for 5 days.   Through an interpreter she told me her husband decided to take a second wife and turf her and the kids to the outhouse where she was vulnerable to attacks, particularly on her “honour”.   She decided she’d be better off in the refugee camp at Dolo.   It is a shit-hole beyond my facility with words to describe, so God knows what hell she had left behind in the war in Somalia.

(By the way, if anyone who reads this has any influence in the Muslim world, would you pass on my opinion that Jihad is not without its flaws.    It is very hard to look at the human effects of the theory that things go better with a bit of internecine shooting.   It would be good to give the guns a break for a while boys.   Same with the IEDs please.)  

When that young mum and the kids were finally shown to their new home, a canvas tent on a lunar, rock-strewn desert floor, she looked like Paris Hilton being handed the keys to her mum’s Manhattan penthouse.   These huge tears rolled down her cheeks and she gave off a sense of embarrassment, relief, joy and child-like excitement at her tent. 

 I wouldn’t have lasted the afternoon inside.   Huge willie-willies swirled around endlessly; it was about 45 degrees in the shade ,no clouds, and no trees.   The nearest water about 1 K away and anything she was to use at “home” had to be carted back there on foot.

I asked one of the UN blokes how the locals contend with the sharp, flinty rocks on the ground in their tents.    They’re the sorts of rocks that you see in exhibitions about the cradle of civilization.   Sharp edged rock that cut your boots.   The rocks that cave men turned into knives.  The UN bloke said they go through dozens of sets of tyres each year for their 4 wheel drives because of them.  So how do you reckon a 24 year old mum and her kids are helped to make the floor of their home a bit less lumpy and serrated?   She was given a hammer.   Fair dinkum.   Get to work on the floor please kids, there are lots of rocks to smash up before you can lie down.


So perhaps you might forgive me when I got a bit cranky at Christmas Island.   Two Iranian blokes fronted the camera crew and me.   They were pretty fit looking, the gym there is very well equipped and Serco, the mob that runs the joint for Julia employs a very good personal trainer that these blokes go to every day.   That’s when they’re not on Facebook.   Or at ar tclass.   Or reading one of the dozens o fposters entitled “Ways you can complain about your treatment” (there are 10 agencies listed that the clients can complain to – all of them get money from the guvmint and very important people from those agencies travel to Christmas Island on TA a fair bit).

Anyway, there was something about their demeanour and goldchains that reminded me of the types of blokes coppers often….doesn’t matter, I was day-dreaming.   Back to the yarn.   These blokes saw our camera and came over to make sure that Australia heard their story.  They wanted to bitch about the choice of food.   Chicken and beef.   Apparently their culinary sensitivities weren’t sufficiently excited by the fare we fly in to remote Christmas Island.   The locals are a bit more used to it; they know the place is miles from anywhere.   Everything costs heaps, lettuces are $12 in the shops.  

I don’t know what it was.  Maybe the memory of the kids in the shithole camps, or the mum and her 4 kids with the tent on Mars.   Maybe i twas the night I spent squished between Imogen Bailey and Peter Reith on an Indonesian fishing boat from Java (one of them snores).   But I have to admit to harbouring feelings of narkiness about the former Iranian soldiers who were detained at Christmas Island for a period of time that displeased them.   They just seemed a bit ungrateful, particularly when one of them explained that his detention related to thecharges he and his mate were facing as a result of the riots on the Island.

I haven’t seen the show (as I write) so I don’t know how the SBS people have edited it.   I hope they concentrate on the people and conditions in the camps in Africa.   Don’t get sucked in to the SBS reality-show drama about the 6 Aussies who went along and could come home.   If you like I can give that part of the plot away – it goes like this, “Peter/Imogen/Michael/Catherine/Angry/Allan – you’vejust spent a night in a shit hole, how was it?” “Awful.”  

“Ah-hah!  Doesn’t that prove that all boat people are wonderful?”  No it doesn’t.   But the show will open your eyes to how bloody lucky you are to live in Australia, and it might prompt you into thinking how important it is to keep it that way.

PS   I feel a tremendous obligation to do more to help other people who aren’t as lucky as me.   And it’s private.   It doesn’t include haranguing the government to “do more” to assuage my conscience.    It’s up to me and my family what we do.   I don’t want to see taxes or debt raised in Australia because of a Twitter campaign.   If you feel that strongly about it then get cracking on raiding your bank account or get mobile and go and help out.   I didn’t see a single good intention or Tweet on the menu in Mogadishu.