The AWU Scandal - Ian Cambridge speech to Queensland Delegates - Jan 1996
The AWU Scandal - Construction Industry Fund - started Feb 1995

The AWU Scandal - Fun With Other People's Money

In January, 1996,  Ian Walter CAMBRIDGE gave a speech to Queensland delegates (the previous post) about the discovery of Bruce Wilson' s Melbourne activities.  He must have been scratching his head a bit trying to understand just what had gone on in the AWU's Victoria branch.   What were the bagman and the boyfriend up to?

Bruce and Ralph were pretty snappy negotiators.   When the AWU Members' Welfare Association scam brought them unstuck Bruce received legal advice from the Bruce-friendly firm Slater and Gordon.   Money went back to various companies and Bruce and Ralph took off with redundancies.   But no one in the AWU except Bruce, Ralph and the partners in the law firm Slater and Gordon (including Julia Gillard) knew about AWU Workplace Reform Association.   Bruce got turfed over the AWU Members' Welfare Association scam (see previous posts).

Neither Slater and Gordon nor Ms Gillard properly informed the union about AWU Workplace Reform Association.    That was despite:-

  • Julia Gillard doing the legal leg work to set it up - for free with no file.   That work was of no value to her client the union.   She sought no record of the union approving the establishment of the Association, nor of the use of its name AWU in the title.   The work was hidden from the union and was of no conceivable value to the union.   But it was of immense value to her boyfriend.
  • Julia Gillard admitting it was not what it purported to be, rather in her own words it was a "union slush fund" established outside normal union conventions.   It was established for her boyfriend and on his instructions, not authenticated or verified by anyone else more senior in the union.   Ms Gillard's boyfriend immediately put the entity to work, sending out invoices before its final incorporation certificate was issued.   Bruce Wilson and Ralph Blewitt used this entity to enrich themselves and who knows else with hundreds of thousands of dollars.   And neither Slater and Gordon nor Ms Gillard thought to tell the union about what they knew to be a "slush fund".
  • Slater and Gordon acting for Ralph and Bruce in the conveyancing of the house at Kerr Street Fitzroy.   It was bought in Ralph's private name via Bruce Wilson's signature (using a Power of Attorney witnessed by an interesting witness - conflict of interest anyone?).   The transaction used money that Ian Cambridge would later call "funds which were obviously taken from the union" (my emphasis, taken from his September, 1996 affidavit, by which time he'd found out about AWU Workplace Reform Association through his own enquiries).   And despite Slater and Gordon advancing further of its own funds by way of a mortgage to enable the completion of the sale.   Slater and Gordon must have acquainted itself with the purchasers financial circumstances to have lent the money, including their union jobs.   That first mortgage made Slater and Gordon a preferential creditor in any proceedings that may have eventuated from the real estate transaction - a position which put its own priority in any recovery of funds above its client the AWU.
  • Julia Gillard's admissions to the investigating partners of the firm in her departure interview about her role in establishing the "union slush fund".   The law firm thus had clear knowledge of the existence and nature of the "union slush fund" sham association.
  • Julia Gillard telling reporters, biographers and others that when she found out "what Bruce was up to, I ended the relationship".   It was sufficiently distressing to end the relationship, but not to tell her client the union, the full story.
  • Bob Smith recording in writing his intention to charge Ms Gillard's boyfriend Bruce Wilson, and to refer Mr Wilson's conduct to police; and
  • Slater and Gordon's continued provision of legal advice to Mr Wilson, notwithstanding the terrible conflict of interest it had in Ms Gillard's personal relationship with him, conflicting with the law firm's duty to its client the union itself.

So.   What did Bruce and Ralph do with the time they'd bought?   Ralph sold the house.

Sale of Kerr Street
The mortgage was repaid.   Ralph got the cash.   The AWU knew nothing.  

Bruce and Ralph were long gone.   Julia Gillard was shown the door from Slater and Gordon on 11 September the previous year - had she made admissions to the union then it could have asserted its interest in the property.   But she did not.

By the time the sale was completed and the union eventually found out about the Workplace Reform Association Ms Gillard was the Labor Opposition Leader John Brumby's Chief of Staff and scouting out Labor pre-selection for a Federal seat for herself.

The members of the union, the workers, had no chance to get a caveat or to have a court decide on where the proceeds of the sale should go.   The place was sold, the money changed hands, and Bruce and Ralph were not seen or heard of again by the union.   But they weren't done with their little slushy.

More to come.

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