A lawyer mate of mine and I have put a few thoughts together on Bruce Wilson's appearance on the ABC's 7.30 program.
Bruce Wilson – Interview
: ABC 7.30 Report 27 November 2012
This is Bruce Wilson's first public interview of record since
17 August 1995, in it he answers a limited number of questions about The AWU
Mr Wilson’s account of the AWU Workplace Reform Association wholly
differs from the public accounts given by Ralph Blewitt and by Ms Gillard.
Mr Wilson states that the AWU- Workplace Reform Association
was a legitimate legal entity that intended to pursue bona fide Objects for the
benefit of AWU members.
He did not claim that it was incorporated as an
election/slush fund as stated by Ms Gillard.
Rather Wilson said it was incorporated to raise money from employers and
that to his knowledge it spent money to pursue the legitimate Objects of the
Association . Ms Gillard stated it was a vehicle to raise funds for the election of certain union officials.
Contrary to the version of events given by Ms Gillard in her
record of interview with her partners, Wilson did not come close to even
implying that the association would be funded by payroll deductions from union
officials and that the purpose of its incorporation was to avoid future
arguments about a fractured leadership team disputing ownership of the
Mr Blewitt has stated on the public record that the AWU-
Workplace Reform Association was a fraudulent enterprise from its inception
until it ceased operations in 1995 and that he was an accomplice of Bruce Wilson and that he was the bagman for the purpose of delivering money to locatins nominatec by Wildon.
Ms Gillard states that the AWU – Workplace Reform
Association was a legitimate entity when it was incorporated and that its sole purpose
was to raise funds to finance union elections. She has stated that she knew
nothing of its operations until 1995. The purchase of a property by the
association on her account would be outside the purpose of this election fund.
Mr Wilson contends that the purchase of the property was a
legitimate use of Association funds.
He did not contend that
the property was bought by Ralph Blewitt as a Melbourne investment property using
Ralph Blewitt’s private savings. Wilson states that Ralph Blewitt became the
registered owner of the property when he simply put his hand up in early 1993
only as trustee for the Association.
If this was Mr Wilson’s state of mind on the 13 February
1993 then presumably there was no need to conceal from Ms Gillard that the
Association funds were used to purchase the property .
On the public record we now have two union officials and
their legal advisor give three different versions as to the purpose of the fund
and how it operated.
Mr Blewit says that he was guilty of fraud from beginning to
Mr Wilson says that he never committed any fraud whatsoever.
Ms Gillard has repeatedly said that she has done nothing
wrong i.e. never aided and abetted any
fraud by Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt nor was she the beneficiary of a fraud and
only found out in 1995 that Mr Wilson was a dishonest union official
No doubt there is
more evidence to come out.
Mr Wilson says that
the Australian Workers Union – Workplace Reform Association was a legitimate
Association pursuing worthwhile objectives for the benefit of the members of
the AWU and the world at large.
The Association raised money legitimately and all the money
it spent was in pursuit of the objectives of the association.
The following tries to organise the interview into the
topics covered by Bruce Wilson in his interview with the ABC with paraphrasing
of Wilson’s position presented in the first person.
Origin of the Fund
I would have been the driving force behind it and Ralph
Blewitt and I discussed it.
The discussions about the intention to set up the fund were
undertaken between Ralph Blewitt and myself.
We had attempted to get it registered but because of some
legal technicalities that didn’t take place.
Workplace Reform Association
– Mark 1
The first attempt to get the association registered failed
because it did not comply with various aspects of the of the Associations
Incorporation Act 1987
I tried to do
something to get the association established but it did not work out because of
It was probably a lack of experience by Ralph and myself. We
may not have put in an advertisement in the paper to advertise the fact that
there was an association.
The incorporation of this association was something that
perhaps people who are not legally qualified should not have done.
Slater & Gordon – AWU WA
After the first attempt to incorporate the association I
spoke to Ms Gillard from Slater & Gordon and asked her advice about what I
needed to do to fix the problem.
I went to her and said look I have made a mistake can you
fix it? That is what you ask your lawyer to do.
I went to her and said can you fix it, whatever it is that needs to be fixed.
Ms Gillard did not open a file.
This was not a significant matter. This matter was not that complicated – people are making it more
complicated than it needs to be .
It was not a big issue.
It was a simple matter that needed to be done - it was like a
mechanic fixing a car for five or ten minutes when the mechanic does not start
a work sheet nor record the numberplate of the car or the work they did on the
Slater & Gordon Advice
Firstly there were some forms that needed to be filled out
in a different manner
Ms Gillard made the necessary changes.
I told her that Ralph Blewitt was going to re-lodge the
She said if that is the case then I had better fill out the
Ms Gillard filled out on the front page of a Form the words
: “Australian Workers Union – Workplace Reform Association”.
I think that was the extent of any writing by her on the
Ms Gillard may very well have written a letter to the
Commissioner for Corporate Affairs – perhaps there was some correspondence but
I do not know.
I am not aware that Ms Gillard had any concerns about why
the application to incorporate was rejected the first time around.
Objects of the Association
There were 7 or 8 points about what the association was
trying to achieve.
There were a list of objectives that went to a whole series
of things - training , developing unionism, that went to work conditions , that
went to health and safety.
Purpose of the Fund / Slush
Ms Gillard and I had a discussion about the purpose of the
fund. The association had a series of objectives and Ms Gillard and I talked
about having the right elected officials capable of pursuing the objectives of
The association raised money but only part of the money
would have been used for AWU officials or AWU members to be elected to carry
out the objectives of the association.
The association could be characterised as a slush fund
insofar as the money raised could have been partly used to finance campaigns for AWU officials or
members so maybe it was a slush fund.
Did I use the word slush fund? Maybe, I don’t know.
The money raised by the Association was not union money – it
did not belong to the AWU. Accordingly
no one can accuse me of stealing money from the AWU (implied but not stated “money
which I would not have stolen anyway because I didn’t steal money from anyone
let along the AWU and if any money was stolen, from anyone, which I’m not
saying it was, but if it was, then Ralph Blewitt stole it, not me, and Julia
Gillard knew nothing about anything”).
The objects of the association were meant to be implemented
– we were not going to sit around and talk about these things.
The association had to raise money because you could not
pursue the objects of the association without money.
The AWU has three ways of raising money – either from
membership fees, from rental for property it owns or from grants or donations
The association did not raise money from union membership
fees but from employers. Not one cent of AW members’ money went into the
I was involved in meetings with other union officials and we
attended meetings with employers and I arranged for employers to make
contributions to the fund.
The money raised by the Association was outside the
authorised accounts of the union.
The funds raised by the Association were in parallel to the
funds raised by the union.
Did the AWU Know About The
Existence of The Slush Fund
The AWU had an idea that we had accounts that were running.
It was common knowledge that I was active in raising money
They may not have known about this particular account.
The money I used that came out of the association account
was used strictly in accordance with the objectives of the association on each
On occasions that I used money that came out of that Association
account, that money was used strictly in
accordance with the objects the Association for which it was incorporated.
There was absolutely no fraud on my part, absolutely not
I did not benefit financially from the fund at all.
In answer to the allegation that I financially benefitted
from the association to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars it is
absolutely not true.
What evidence do you have? I have not seen anyone come and
point to me and say that you have got that financial benefit. I would like to
see them try.
Where Did the AWU- Workplace
Reform Association Money Go
I think that there was some money that went back to the
On a day in August 1995 there was a meeting at the
Commonwealth bank and a series of cheques were sent back to the employers.
In the papers there is some allegation that I took some of
My signature is not on the association cheques and my guess
is that the cheques have Ralph Blewitt’s signature and my signature stamp.
I discovered that Ralph Blewitt had attempted to use my
signature stamp on a letter to the Department of Veteran affairs in support of
an application for total and permanent incapacity.
I told Ralph that he was not allowed to do that.
After I found out about his use of the stamp I checked the
association bank statements and found out about a series of transactions that I
knew nothing about.
I queried Ralph about it and he initially told me that he
put the money into a fixed term deposit.
I found out that Ralph had been accumulating money and
burying it in his backyard after he confessed.
He showed me a package of money that had been destroyed in
his backyard and I told him to put it back into the bank.
I threatened go to the police. He subsequently took the
package to the mint and he refunded the money a few months before my position
in the National Construction branch finished.
If any money from the association fund was misappropriated
then Ralph Blewitt was the only
other person who had access to the association bank account .
Certainly Ralph Blewit was involved in running the fund and
involved in some of the decisions of the fund but he was certainly did not act
as a bagman delivering cash to me from the fund.
Purchase of 85 Kerr St
Finding the property
I went to Victoria on a temporary basis as acting branch
After having been there it appeared that I should take up
the position on a temporary basis as the Victorian branch was in a bit of
turmoil with factions in the branch.
My recollection of how the property was purchased was once
the decision was made to purchase a Melbourne property, Ralph Blewitt was in Melbourne and I got Ralph to take my
car and have a look around .
He was happy to do that and subsequently recommended 85 Kerr
st Fitzroy .
He subsequently arranged for he and I to go around and do an
inspection of the place.
I did not know much about Melbourne and really did not know
my way around.
Ralph Blewitt – Registered Owner
We discussed various options and Ralph put his hand up and said just put
it into my name if that is going to be the easiest thing to do.
I did not want it in my name.
The property was not purchased in the name of the association because it
was an easier proposition to put it into Ralph’s name.
Ralph put his hand up for a start and said just put it in my name.
He was happy to put his hand up and I was happy for him to do it.
He put his hand up, fine do it.
Power of Attorney
Ms Gillard signed a Power of Attorney and that was before the auction and
was not after the auction.
Blewitt also signed the Power of Attorney.
( iii) Auction
I did not recall that Ms Gillard
attended the auction until I read about it but she did attend the auction with
together to the auction as people in a relationship do things together.
At the auction
I had some forms to sign and I signed them.
The association funds paid approximately $ 100,000 for the purchase of
I believe that this was the money of the association and not AWU money.
Accordingly I believe that it was not an illegal purchase using union money.
As I understand it Nick Styant- Browne was the person who was ultimately
responsible for the conveyancing.
He delegated his authority to Ollie and I had some dealings with her.
Ms Gillard attended the auction with me and arranged the power of
attorney and then I have no recollection of her being involved with anything to
do with the property.
believe that Ralph Blewit and Ollie arranged the insurance for the mortgage.
( vii) Kerr St Fitzroy 1993 – 1995
I lived in the property when I was in
Melbourne although I spent a fair bit of time in WA.
Ms Gillard stayed in the property from
time to time but only rarely.
had a lot of union related activity going on – pretty much every day there
would be something happening:
Shop stewards were in and out of the place
Members were in and out of the place
We had trade union officials staying at the
It was used to run meetings
It was used to run training seminars
It was used to have meetings with other unions
It was used to have meetings with employers
of Kerr St Fitzroy
I moved out in about September
1995.That was it, I walked and that was the last I had to do with the place.
I did not know that the place had
been sold. I heard subsequently that it had been sold. I do not know the
details and I do not know the details of the sale.
I saw Ralph blewit in Perth and
he said that the property had been sold and that he took the money.
Harry Nowicki told me that Ralph
Blewitt received the money from the sale of the property and his actual words
were that we know that Ralph got the money. He told me that on a couple
occasions in Nelson Bay
With Julia Gillard
In 1992 I was in a relationship
with Ms Gillard.
I do not believe it is an ethical
problem for a lawyer to sleep with a client. I do not think it is an issue.
If you go to any office or work
establishment then I am sure that you would find people involved in a personal
With regard to the partners at
Slater & Gordon, I do not think many people knew about our relationship.
I now feel sorry for Ms Gillard
and all she has to go through because it is just not warranted. There is no reason
why she should be hassled by a group of people.
Our relationship then became the
worst kept secret in Melbourne so that a fair number of people knew about it
and then there was no point of hiding it or keeping it secret.
Gillard - Benefits
No funds from the association
paid for the renovations of Ms Gillards property .
I did not give Ms Gillard any
money to pay for her renovations.
I did not deposit any money into
Ms Gillard’s bank account - but if Wayne Hem says that I deposited $ 5000 into
Ms Gillard’s bank account the then perhaps I did.
Blewitt : Character
Ralph Blewitt is not someone who
should be trusted.
I do not believe that he is of
At some point in relation to
sexual matters I arranged for some counselling on at least three occasions but
I do not know whether he went.
I underestimated Ralph Blewitt’s cunning
and although he is not the sharpest tool in the shed he does not lack cunning
and at the time I underestimated his level of cunning.
I spoke to a reporter last Sunday
and he quoted me as saying that Ms Gillard had done nothing wrong. If I had not
been quoted I would not be here today.