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October 2012

The AWU Scandal - The Barnett Government in Western Australia is happy it financed a love-nest in Melbourne for Julia Gillard's lover

I have agonised over this post.   I simply can't believe that I am about to post to you justification provided by a minister of the crown for the fact that Bruce Wilson's brother in law Joe Trio got money for Thiess from the BCITF, and that money went to Wilson's private slush fund.

I hate to write these words, in fact I am disgusted that I am even obliquely associated with this turn of events.

On 18 September, 2012, I wrote to Premier Colin Barnett of the West Australian Government.

I wrote because  of his promise.   That if one cent of taxpayer money was taken improperly by Bruce Wilson in The AWU Scandal, Colin Barnett promised us that he'd not rest till he got it back.

I'll set out what I'm going to post here before I turn in for the night.  

First up I'll print my letter to the Premier.   Premier Barnett referred my letter to one of his ministers, a bloke who's an ex-copper, Murray Cowper.

I have spoken to Murray Cowper's staff regularly.   The receptionist is fantastic, always kept me posted.   Minister Cowper has an advisor who goes by the name of Margaret.   That's it.   She won't give me her surname after repeated requests for it on the phone.   But Margaret told me that she had prepared this advice for the Minister knowing it would be communicated to the people who employ him and her.   I have been promised the letter in writing over several missed dates - it arrived today and it's the second thing I'll put up on this post.  

I have not been asked a single question by Minister Cowper's staff.  I have offered my information and my informants, that is people in the West who have given me insight into what went on in the BCITF.  I have offered to detail my own investigations, my receipt of various documents, the location of various files.   None of those offers was taken up.  

I could have written Murray Cowper's letter, it is a treatise on precisely what is contained in the Annual Reports - the very reports that I say are false.  Murray Cowper has not investigated this matter, he has re-stated what's on the record.

Murray - I already know what the reports say, that's why I wrote to the Premier.

The 3rd thing I'll put up on the post is an MOU between the AWU itself and Thiess nominating workplace reform as one of the outcomes and naming workplace reform advisers onsite as one of the tangible deliverables.  Nothing happened even remotely resembling what was agreed in the MOU, unless you count the love-nest purchase in Melbourne as workplace reform.  

In a later post I'll put up links to my own research on the BCITF matter.  

There seem to be lots of people who are keen to make sure Bruce Wilson and his $500,000 are never parted from each other.

Here's my letter to Premier Barnett

The AWU Scandal - my letter to the Western Australia Premier

Dear Premier,

In 1991 Thiess Contractors was awarded a contract to build the Dawesville Cutting (sic).   At the time the AWU and many construction companies were represented on the board of the Western Australian Government's statutory authority the Building and Construction Industry Training Fund.

In 1996 the Western Australian Police fraud squad received a complaint from the AWU regarding the apparent embezzlement of some hundreds of thousands of dollars from the AWU by Bruce Wilson a former union official.

The Fraud Squad determined that in the matter reported to it, the proper complainant was Thiess.   Thiess then advised police that it did not believe it had been defrauded and thus it would not furnish a complaint or statement of loss to the police.   The matter was closed with police advising that no offence had been detected.

Premier I am concerned that in its Annual Reports of FY ending 1993 and 1994 to its shareholder or responsible minister, the BCITF reported a manifestly false position regarding the acquittal or disposition of the $516,000 it collected under the "BCITF and Levy Collection Act 1990" and which it then advanced to Thiess for "workplace reform" and training.

The truth is the money that was earmarked for "workplace reform" under an MOU between Thiess and the AWU actually went to the union slush fund set up by Julia Gillard.   It went out of the slush fund in cash and to buy a house in Melbourne.  

I have attached some documents that you might find useful.

Perhaps you might let me know if you are happy for the status quo to endure - or if you intend to investigate this matter further I'd be obliged if you'd allow me to tell my readers.

Michael Smith

After a couple of lawyers who read the blog and got in touch, (thanks in particular VM) I sent a further letter to the Premier with many more links to information on the blog, prior to him referring the matter to the Minister for Margaret.

Bruce Wilson himself was on the Board of the BCITF.   Nice work if you can get it.

Now get a stiff scotch.   Here is the Minister's response.

Murray Cowper WA response

Murray Cowper WA response 2

Here is the MOU between Thiess and The AWU.  It refers in its un-numbered 3rd paragraph under the heading COMPANY AND UNION COMMITMENT to the "Workplace Advisers" assisting in the establishment of the restructuring program.

The Workplace Advisers were invoiced for by the AWU-WRA.  They just never fronted, never did any workplace reform, never did any work, never even bought another bloke a packet of durries.  That's 'cause they never existed.   The whole of the "workplace reform" ostensibly conducted by the AWU-WRA was a fiction.

Except in as much as it was paid for.   That money was real.

Note that when the AWU WRA was discovered and Wilson's and Gillard's frauds were being pieced together, the union sought a copy of the MOU between itself and Thiess - from the Building and Construction Industry Training Council.


Image1 Image1


From Dr John Lourens, FCPA - update on the $$$ value of the fraud in today's terms

I received this note today from Dr John Lourens today as a blog comment - and I thought I'd put it up as a stand-alone piece.

JohnL said:                           
                                Margaret Gallin - using the dollar amounts in my recent "Synopsis" document, and depending on what assumptions you make, I estimate that in 2012 dollar terms, the value of the AWU fraud is somewhere between $1.38 million and $1.56 million.

The AWU Scandal - Question Time Today

Today I watched two women in the parliament.   Julie Bishop and Julia Gillard.

I saw Julie Bishop, a proud and well informed lady rise to her feet.   I saw on her face the sort of expression reserved for someone confident in their purpose and resolute in achieving it.

Julie Bishop is a lawyer.   She was the Managing Partner of the Western Australia office of Clayton Utz, a large and highly regarded commercial law firm.

In 1996 she attended the Harvard Business School in Boston and has qualifications from Harvard in management.

Julie Bishop has been was Chair of the Town Planning Appeal Tribunal of Western Australia, a Senate Member of Murdoch University, an independent director of the Special Broadcasting Service and like me she is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

Julie Bishop struck me today as a lawyer who holds the institution of the practice of the law in very high regard.   I am told that she has made extensive enquiries into The AWU Scandal so as fully to acquaint herself with the documents, the publicly available statements of all concerned and the extent of judicial and police enquiries into the matter.

I watched Julie Bishop while she tried to hold the gaze of the erstwhile lawyer Julia Gillard.   It struck me that Bishop looked like a person who holds the law and the special privileges and responsibilities accorded to its officers of the court in very high regard and that she has a particular disdain for lawyers who bring its institutions into disrepute.

It's cheap and transparent to confect moral outrage in the parliament.   Calling a father of 3 girls and loving husband a misogynist is probably the best recent example.   But there was nothing confected, nothing apparently rehearsed or spun about Julie Bishop's heart-felt communication with Julia Gillard and with you and me in the people's house today.

Julie Bishop showed how she felt about a lawyer who abuses her position.   That lapsed lawyer is also the Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Julie Bishop asked a question that was pointed, reasonable and well supported by documents.    A question that if answered fully by the ex-lawyer Julia Gillard would help the Australian Workers' Union to clear up a terrible fraud perpetrated on it and construction companies.

As the Prime Minister rose to her feet I saw a person with something to hide.   She expressed no inkling of even a slight motivation to help the community clear up the mystery of the $500,000 her boyfriend took from accounts that passed themselves off as being part of the Australian Workers' Union.   I saw someone who was guarded, and disingenuous.

The Prime Minister did not answer Julie Bishop's question.   Incredibly, almost beyond belief the Prime Minister said words to the effect that "Just admit it, Tony Abbott has put you up to this as part of his misogynist attack on women."   I didn't note the quote precisely, but that's the gist of what I took away.

Julie Bishop was masterful in response.   Strong, independent, she wholly owned the preparation and delivery for the question she asked and she really put the other person Julia Gillard in her place.

"I ask my own questions, thank you."   As a former Managing Partner of a large law firm in Western Australia, as a professional manager who has no doubt had to deal with improper actions of employees, as an accomplished lady who has built an outstanding career, I think Julie Bishop was entitled to take some satisfaction from that moment.

Julia Gillard is giving us an insight into the real Julia.   I saw it in the parliament today.   The Julia Gillard who so disregarded her duties to her partners, the law, her client and the obligations to the court as a lawyer as to be capable of the deceit and actions that are disclosed in the documents, the records of interview, the statements of people who were there, the bank accounts, the staged "final" press conference, the sackings of journalists who've pursued the story and her abject failure to directly answer questions on the issue other than to say "I did nothing wrong".

I am pleased that a lady of the calibre and ability of Julie Bishop has chosen to help us better to understand the real Julia.


The AWU Scandal - an introduction - Revised, evening 31/10/2012

I've been asked to put a few words together as a somewhat detailed introduction to a speech - I thought I'd share it with you here for any improvements!


In 1987 Julia Gillard joined the law firm Slater and Gordon.

In 1990, at the age of 29 Julia Gillard was admitted as a partner in the firm.

At the time, other than sole practitioners, law firms operated as partnerships - it is a new and globally unique experiment for a law firm to list as a public company on a stock exchange.   The experiment is in its relatively early days - with Slater and Gordon being the listed company "in the test tube".   Only time will tell which of Slater and Gordon's over-riding duties will take precedence - the duty to continuous disclosure to the stock exchange, the duty to act as directed by its owners, the duty to its clients, the duty it has to the court.   Lawyers are accorded special privileges with a presumption in their favour of ethical behaviour at all times.  Listed company executives seem not to attract similar public sentiment.

A partnership has been the tradition structure for the organised practice of law.   It imposes very high obligations on each individual person within it.

In a partnership, each member is jointly and severally liable for the actions of each other - whether those actions are negligent 0r not.

In other words, an action by one partner in a law firm binds all of the other partners.

That is why partnership law and legal standards have developed to impose the highest ethical standards of behaviour on members of a human partnership.

The standard is known as an obligation of “utmost good faith”.

It is a non-negotiable duty on each partner to act in “utmost good faith” towards each other.

That is to tell each other the truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  

To keep meticulous notes about instructions from clients and actions taken upon those instructions.

Not to do anything that could expose other partners to big payouts – especially if the action could fall outside the terms of the partnership's Professional Indemnity insurance coverage - because it won’t just be the partner at fault, it will be all of the partners who will get lumbered.

Every lawyer understands that obligation to act “in utmost good faith” to each other.

That is why lawyers open files on every client with whom they deal .   That is why lawyers are trained instinctively to record in writing instructions given to them by clients, and to confirm by letter to the client those instructions.  

That is why partnerships have meetings regularly, to fully inform each other about their work (where conflicts and the law permit), and so that the wiser heads can see problems developing and try to nip them in the bud.

And lawyers have obligations to the Supreme Court once they are admitted to practice.

They are officers of the court, and they must tell be truthful.   Advocating for a person in whose guilt or innocence the lawyer has doubt is an entirely different matter from knowingly making a false statement.   A lawyer cannot knowingly tell lies and remain an unblemished member of his profession.

And of course lawyers have duties to their client.   If a law firm is retained by Telstra or BHP to do Telstra’s or BHP’s legal work – and one of their ethical lawyers (and the profession has an obligation to ensure the public presumption is that lawyers act ethically always) is approached  by a Telstra or BHP executive with a dodgy proposal to set up a sham corporate structure, using the words “Telstra” or “BHP” in the title – any reasonable person would expect that lawyer to blow the whistle loud and long.

But Julia Gillard did not do that with her boyfriend Bruce Wilson who was married with children and whose day job was a state secretary with her client the AWU.

She did not report his questionable activities to her firm's significant client the AWU - of which she was one of the engagement partners.

She did not inform her other partners about the dodgy work she was doing, although there is some evidence that she did speak about it with the man her government recently appointed as a Federal Court Judge, Bernard Murphy.

She did not open a file about the Australian Workers’ Union Workplace Reform Association.

She wrote the words “Australian Workers’ Union Workplace Reform Association” in her own handwriting on the application form sent to the Western Australian Corporate Affairs Commissioner.

The WA Corporate Affairs Commissioner refused initially to incorporate the sham entity.  He made
reasonable enquiries about its bona fides.  

Julia Gillard did not report to her boyfriend the reasonablness and lawful grounding of the Commissioner's objections.   She did not suggest an alternative vehicle to achieve her client's expressed aims.   She did not refer to the rules of the AWU which expressly prohibited the actions Ms Gillard was taking (rules which existed so as to avoid precisely the situation that occured with the AWU-WRA - embezzlement of money).

No, Julia Gillard wrote to the Corporate Affairs Commissioner, using her position and credibility as an officer of the court and as a partner with Slater and Gordon, to place on the record a false statement vouching for the proper nature of the sham association.

She wrote that it was a genuine vehicle for workplace reform and a proper, authorised and necessary subsidiary of the AWU.   She knew it was in fact set up with the intention of operating as a slush fund to raise and hold money for her boyfriend’s personal benefit.

That benefit at the start was funding for his election to a paid role in the union.

Once the scam was up and running, money from the slush fund was used to buy a house and to whatever other purpose several hundreds of dollars in Australian cash can be put.  

Hundreds of thousands of dollars came out in cash, much of the cash withdrawals coinciding with trips to Sydney for meetings of the national leadership group of the AWU, chaired by Bill Ludwig.

Money came in from the construction company Thiess.   Money went in to Thiess from the Western Australian Government Building and Construction Industry Training Fund.

Gillard knew the association “passed itself off” as being a related entity of the Australian Workers’ Union”.   She knew or should have known that the union’s rules prohibited the establishment of an entity like that.

When her partners found out about her deception, they hit the roof.   Ms Gillard had failed in
her duty to them of “utmost good faith” and had exposed the partnership to damages payments it could do without given its then perilously illiquid state.

Ms Gillard was given her marching orders.   I might add, the Law Institute should have been informed about all of this – I assume no report to it was made and I would be interested to know how it would have dealt with her, taking into account a series of prima face indications of grossly improper behaviour.

Months after setting up what she called a union slush fund, Ms Gillard went to the house auction where her boyfriend, married with 2 sons, bought a house.

He signed the contract for sale on 13 February, 1993.

Next to his signature, undated, is handwriting that says “Ralph Blewitt, as per Power of Attorney”

No written Power of Attorney was present at the time of signing.

On he 15th of Febraury, Wilson flew to Perth to install Blewitt as the AWU branch secretary.

We are told by Blewitt that Wilson produced a one page document, placed it on Blewitt's desk, and told Blewitt to sign it.   Wilson said it was a legal document to put the house Wilson wanted to purchase into Blewitt's name.   Blewitt, signed it.   Blewitt has explained that he felt under pressure to please his boss.

Julia Gillard was not present at the time or place of signing.

However the actual document states that Julia Gillard witnessed Blewitt signing it – on 4 February, nearly 2 weeks earlier.   Signed, Sealed and Delivered to use the legal parlance on what purports then to be a Deed.

Julia Gillard’s firm Slater and Gordon relied on that document, which purportedly gave Wilson the power to buy property and to do that only – to approve a $150,000 loan given to Blewitt.

Blewitt ended up lumbered with a $150,000 loan he knew nothing about and which he manifestly could not afford to service.   His only asset was his matrimonial home in which he was a joint proprietor, it was worth $77,000 and was encumbered with a $74,000 mortgage.   His only official income was his union organiser salary of $40K odd.

Well Wilson was caught fiddling the books nearly 3 years later in Melbourne in relation to accounts established and operated in Melbourne.

But the Workplace Reform Association was not then known about by the union.

Wilson was forced out of his job with the union.

Gillard was forced out her job as a lawyer and has never practised law since.

Slater and Gordon acted for Wilson up until the moment of his separation from the union.

Almost $200,000 was returned to companies from a secret (ie unknown to the national leadership of the union) slush fund operated by Wilson and into which he or persons close to him had placed the money extracted from those companies.   The account was called the AWU Members Welfare Association No 1 Account.

The Victoria Police said in its report writing off a report of fraud in Victoria in relation to Wilson and that account, that it was to his credit that when challenged he returned money to the companies.

Wilson and Blewitt continued to invoice Thiess even after his dismissal from the AWU at a time when he could in no way claim to be a representative of the AWU.   His dismissal was well known and publicly reported.   When taken with the manifest absence of any purported "Workplace Reform Advisers" at the Dawesville Cut project, the continued payment by Thiess of invoices raised by the slush fund created by Ms Gillard lends credence to a push by WA Police contemplating the laying of fraud charges against 4 known persons, including persons employed at Thiess.

Joe Trio was married to Bruce Wilson's sister.   Joe Trio was  Bruce Wilson's brother-in-law.   Joe Trio was the General Manager for Thiess in Western Australia.

Bruce Wilson had been on the board of the Building and Construction Industry Training Fund in the lead up to the Dawesville Cut project, awarded to Thiess.   Apparently Christmas at the Wilson/Trio households in 1991 brought much good cheer and anticipation of a great year ahead.

Why you should have faith in the legal profession

Good lawyers know this.   They don't break these rules.   Thank you to a good lawyer who put this memorandum together for you on the blog


This memorandum sets out a few brief examples (there are
many others) of the attitude of the Courts and various disciplinary bodies to
solicitors found guilty of wrongfully certifying or dating documents or
otherwise making false or misleading statements to others.


  1. In the New South Wales case of Demetrios v Gikas Dry Cleaning Industries
    Pty Ltd (1991) 22 NSWLR 561
    , the NSW Court of Appeal considered the
    position of a solicitor who had signed a mortgage as witness to the signatures
    of both husband and wife, although the wife was not present when the document
    was purportedly witnessed by the solicitor. Two of the judges (at 565) stated
    that the solicitor’s conduct conveyed “a material misrepresentation to the
    solicitor for the vendor”. The Legal Profession Disciplinary Tribunal then held
    in Re Demetrios [1993] 3 LPDR 3 at 6
    that “The conduct of the solicitor in signing his name as witness of a
    signatory on documents that were not signed by that signatory in his presence
    is clearly conduct which would be regarded as disgraceful and dishonourable by
    solicitors of good repute and competency.”

  2. In another New South Wales case with similar
    facts, Law Society of New South Wales v
    [2008] NSWADT 82 at [38], the tribunal agreed with the submission
    of the Law Society of New South Wales that … “any solicitor who purports to
    witness a signature of a person in circumstances where the solicitor does not
    see the person whom the signature purports to represent sign a document…must be
    prima facie guilty of conduct which, on any definition, can only be described
    as professional misconduct.”

  3. In a Queensland case, Attorney-General v Bax [1999] 2 Qd R 9, where a solicitor, among
    other things, ante-dated a deed of loan and deceived a creditor’s meeting, one
    of the judges of the Queensland Court of Appeal remarked, “The spectacle of a
    solicitor, who was chairman of the meeting, falsely asserting a date for the
    execution of an instrument is one that is not likely to be readily forgotten by
    the large number of business people who were present on that occasion. It
    conveys a very poor image of the honesty and integrity of solicitors and so
    tends to bring the whole profession and its standards into disrepute.”

  4. Legal
    Services Commissioner v Ramsden
    [2006] LPT 010 (Queensland Legal Practice
    Tribunal) was a case where a solicitor was reprimanded and fined for
    post-dating a mortgage to avoid stamp duty penalties.

  5. Prothonotary
    of the Supreme Court of New South Wales v Chapman
    (CA (NSW) 14 December
    1992, unreported, BC9201419) was a case where the solicitor made false
    declarations in registering a business name, and allowed clients to use false
    names in accounts. Apparently the solicitor did this to protect his prostitute
    clients from harassment. However the Court said (at 20) that this conduct “was
    not the conduct expected of a solicitor”.


General conclusions cannot be drawn without looking at the
individual circumstances of each case. 
However it is reasonable to say as a general proposition that lawyers
are expected to act with candour and honesty in their dealings with others, and
this outweighs their responsibilities to their clients.  As remarked in one of the leading Australian
textbooks on lawyers’ professional conduct, which cites the cases referred to
above, and numerous others: “Although making false or misleading statements to
the court clearly strikes at the heart of the administration of justice, for a
lawyer to knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements to
persons other than the court – whether to a client, an opponent, a professional
body or other tribunal, or otherwise a person who relies on those statements –
is likewise indicative of dishonesty. It therefore amounts to professional
misconduct, or at least unsatisfactory professional conduct.” Riley Solicitor’s Manual  [35,035].

A few words about the blog

I thought you might be interested in a few statistics about this blog.

We're nearing 1.5 million page impressions, or downloads from the site.

But here are some stats that surprised me.

10,500 comments have been published.

33,323 comments have been rejected as SPAM, defamatory or otherwise illegal.

I read every single comment  that goes up.   This blog platform shows me your email address and more importantly the IP address for each comment.

Where the comment is trying to flog knock-off watches or Burberry coats, I just give it the flick wtih no further action.

But where I can see that it's a real person who may just have their facts wrong, I always try to send an email to the address they've given to explain why I knocked the comment back.

And in some special cases, I've written to the commenter and let them know how much I appreciate their enthusiasm - but that I've decided to limit that particular commenter to say one or two comments a day.   But I still read the 20 or 30 other ones as R We There Yet knows!

I really appreciate the spirit in which most people send in their comments and I have never deleted or decided not to publish a comment simply because I disagree with its content.

I hope that you'll bear with me and realise that if I have to have a meeting or have some other thing on that takes a couple of hours, the backlog in reading each comment and approving it can be huge!

Thanks for your many contributions, all 10,500 that we've published, plus the countless emails.


PS I know Australia and Australians - I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that enough of us know the truth to make sure that the whole account comes out publicly and that those who have done "something wrong" are held to that account and its consequences.

Slater and Gordon

As you know the Slater and Gordon Annual General Meeting was held last week in Melbourne.

There were very few people there.   Only Harry Nowicki asked questions (other than journalists).

The answer from the MD/Board can be summarised thus - "what's that got to do with the current business and shareholders of Slater and Gordon?'

One of our readers has received this letter from the Managing Director of Slater and Gordon.   Note that it refers to "any current employees of Slater and Gordon".

Slater and gordon from SA Cop

The AWU Scandal - Fairfax Reports Question Time

Gillard again refuses to answer explicit slush fund  questions

Date October 31,  2012
Done: Julia Gillard says she has dealt with the matter already.

Done: Julia Gillard says she has dealt with the matter already. Photo:  Andrew Meares

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has refused for a second day to answer explicit  questions about her role in helping set up a union slush fund her former  boyfriend used to steal hundreds of thousands of  dollars.

Ms Gillard again responded angrily to a question from Deputy Opposition  Leader Julie Bishop about her work as a lawyer in 1992 establishing the  Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association.

Ms Bishop had asked in question time why Ms Gillard - then a partner at law  firm Slater & Gordon - had drafted terms for the incorporation of the  association that claimed it was for training and workplace safety when she knew  and had since publicly admitted it was a slush fund.

''I have asked why the PM made a false statement in this document, which I do  wish to table, and she should answer that,'' she said.

Ms Gillard responded by quoting a report in Tuesday's  Age in which  some Liberal backbenchers advocated a change in opposition tactics to focus more  on policy and less on muck-raking.

''I've dealt with these matters extensively on the public record and no  amount of muck and filth from her, to the dismay of her Liberal colleagues, will  change that simple fact,'' she said.

In rejecting leave for the incorporation document to be tabled, Labor Leader  of the House, Anthony Albanese, said: ''No, the Deputy Leader can file it in  their mud bucket.''

The Age revealed two weeks ago that the association was   incorporated only after Ms Gillard wrote to the West Australian Corporate  Affairs Commission vouching for its bona fides. Under WA law, such an  association was not permitted to deliver financial benefits to its members or  officials.

Read more: 


Ms Gillard has already made two important admissions about her misbehaviour in this matter.  

Firstly, that the "slush fund" was not what it purported to be - and that she knew at the time that it was not what it was purported to be.   In other words, she created paperwork that was false, the instrument (or paperwork) that she created was a false instrument.

Secondly, that that the purpose of the deception was for the personal gain of her boyfriend.  That is, it was to raise money for his election.   As Fair Work Australia deposed to the Federal Court in the Craig Thomson prosecution, election to a paid job is a "personal benefit" and any money spent in that exercise is money spent to gain a "personal benefit".   Dress it up all you like about what you'll do once you get that job - but getting the job, getting paid, that's a personal benefit. 

Gillard has made the admissions:-

She set out to deceive anyone who read that slush fund/workplace reform documents

She did it to obtain a financial benefit for her boyfriend.

The opposition has now given her the opportunity to explain to the House.

The PM has refused to explain.

She should have the allegations against her spelled out.

She should be given the opportunity to make a statement to the House.

The floor of the house should then take a vote about its confidence in her.