The AWU Scandal - the Slater and Gordon Trust Account General Ledger
Good morning!

The AWU Scandal - Column - Slush me

Does anyone believe that two union officials were meant to get an extra, untaxed $540,000 after their time in the Australian Workers’ Union?

It’s been a bit lost in the wash, but Bruce and Ralph took off after $540,000 went into the union slush fund that Julia Gillard helped them set up.

At least $540,000 disappeared.  Last seen in cash cheques and Bruce’s trendy Fitzroy pad.    It’s not down the back of the lounge in Paul Howes’office.   

Maybe Paul thinks that Bruce and Ralph are the rightful owners of the money.   It would be nice if he’d say so.   Stranger things have happened than for a union to decide that its members should support the enrichment of an official to the tune of a few hundred large. 

We know the money went into a thing Julia Gillard called a“union slush fund”.   She wrote out the words “Australian Workers’ Union – Workplace Reform Association” on the form used by lawyers in-the-know for slush fund creation.   The document might have got an A+ in creative writing but it missed the mark in describing electoral activities.   Put it down to youth and naïveté. 

 It is possible that Bruce’s girlfriend was holding back on details in what was put forward to the WA Corporate Affairs Commissioner.   And the commish probably allowed a bit of leeway because it was Ralph and Bruce’s second stab at incorporating their safe-election-entity.   That’s why Bruce and Ralph turned to the girlfriend with the degree.   Bruce’s new application sure stood out against the ping-pong, lacrosse and kids footy clubs who make more routine use of the Associations laws.

Some one with an LLB drafted about 9 pages of rules for the association and Ms Gillard said in her departure interview that no other lawyer worked on this job.   Bruce said his first try at rego was knocked back for want of lawyerliness.   I speak with Bruce a lot.   He talks Aussie English like me.   He is a funny bugger but not given to judicial turns of phrase.  On the balance of probabilities Julia, his ex-missus wrote the legalese in that relationship.

The drafting skills in “objects of the association”went beyond the written word.  Subliminal messaging techniques were employed to convey the impression the application was for a union slush fund, because words like “union election” or similar are not visible to the naked eye.  

The document is notable for its adroit use of euphemistic language like “safe work practices”, a known literary-device meaning “slush fund”.

Many would find difficulty maintaining straightness of face, while saying they didn’t know the sham association was the source of the $67,722.30 cheque that the boyfriend and the bagman signed to buy their house.    Clues to the truth can be found in a place many have neglected to check, i.e. the cheque.   Ralph’s script is on union slush fund cheque number 2230, with the words “Slater and Gordon Trust Acc” written after the word Pay.   Ralph knows people are tempted to defraud, to misrepresent or to steal, so he crossed out “or Bearer”.   This cheque was meant for one lawyers trust account only.   A particularly helpful one, given to the advancement of safety and no-doc mortgages. 

Another clue to the source of the funds comes from the Commonwealth Bank cheque book printers.  There, in cheque-style printing on the bottom of the cheque, are the words “AWU Workplace Reform Association”.

Slater and Gordon's Trust Account General Ledger gives a deeper understanding of the financing of Ralph and Bruce’s pad.    A certified true copy of the ledger is designated exhibit ICW26 appended to the affidavit of Ian Walter Cambridge sworn on 19 September 1996.   Hints to Bruce's status as a highly valued client/boyfriend/high-finance-type include the handwritten notes about the conveyancing fee, with clues like "write off $747.80 against union" in a helper's handwriting.  And don’t get me started on the $150,000 mortgage Julia’s partnership gave Ralph after Bruce signed him up for it.   It’s a long story involving pesky details like credit laws.

The PM reckons it’s case closed because she fronted a roomful of Canberra-based press gallery journalists whose currency is access.   “Access Denied” is a bit like a death sentence to a Canberra gallery slave, like exile to Milnelba where there’s no ABC reception.  

The gallery were huddled in the message-delivery room to be told how they felt about refugee numbers.   But events overtook them and the agenda for the day was postponed sine die.

Invalidity had occurred in the management of the nation and only PM-Action could fix it.  The Australian newspaper had misused the word “trust”.   Imagine that.   Abusing a poor old-fashioned notion like trust.   In describing the prime-minister’s involvement in the AWU matter, The Australian reverted to olden days ways and connected trust with – never mind.   What they meant to say was slush, a much more contemporary and fashionable notion.

The PM had concluded that using the word “trust” when they meant to say “slush” was a defamation of the highest order.   Normal broadcasting was suspended.   The trust/slush mixup had potential for national catastrophe so boat-people had to wait.  For the next hour or so the national interest demanded immediate, impromptu and absolutely last-chance attention to the AWU issue.    Thus we got 60 odd minutes of prime-ministerial answers to the wrong questions about missing money.    

And so it went, wrong question, vague answer, wrong question, vague answer then a zinger, “how does it feel to be so terribly treated as a woman” or something.

If Bruce’s ex had been defamed, she could have sued.   You’d reckon the PM would know someone who still had a valid practising certificate and wasn’t rendered unavailable by reason of appointment to the bench.   And if not, Craig Thomson would be happy to lend her the Sussex Street do-it-yourself Guide to Home Renovations Funded by Defamation Payouts (Dastyari revision-updated).

Watching the bravura bulltish from Canberra I drifted off and started dreaming about Chris Skase.  I saw a beautifully crafted newspaper headline - Skase Declares Case Closed.   Yesterday Christopher Skase walked into Chatswood Police Station and said to the duty probationary constable, “I understand police have some questions to ask me about a couple of transactions.   Go your hardest for the next hour old son.   At the expiration of 60 minutes I will announce the case closed and my obligation to answer your questions concluded.   Don’t let your lack of preparation or the absence of your files hinder your investigation Constable, I am here to help.   Lock the doors, do not admit further of your specialist squad colleagues, let’s get this cleared up for once and for all.”

Anyone know a young and naïve helper good at sums? Slush me, I'm here to help.