I have two close confidants who were a part of the AWU during the early 1990s.
Each of those people has told me about Bill Ludwig's regular comment about his former running mate on the AWU leadership ticket, "Bruce Wilson will be a future prime minister of Australia."
I don't doubt that Bill Ludwig said it, that he believed it or that he and Wilson were close. Bill Ludwig has an exquisitely sensitive perception of the attributes desirable in the AWU's representative in The Lodge. It just turned out that Bill would appoint Wilson's girlfriend to the role, not Wilson himself. Funny old world!
As Wilson prepared to clean out the desk in the Victorian office of the AWU he got active on a few fronts.
He had been very successful in getting industrial companies to send money in those last few days of his reign.
By early July the job was done and the money was in the AWU Members Welfare Association No 1 Account. But with a new boss coming in Bruce must have been struck down with angst - how best to use this slushie for the benefits of AWU members? Could Bruce rely on his successor to spend the money as wisely as he could, particularly with a $150,000 mortgage owing?
The answer was no. He'd have to get the money out of that account and into a more secret account.
First I'll recap a few points.
- Bruce knew he was going to head up the National Construction Branch of the AWU.
- In February he'd set up a new slush fund with him and Ralph Blewitt as signatories, the Construction Industry Fund.
- He (Wilson) was losing control of his Victorian AWU connections, including staff.
On 14 July a cheque on the Australian Workers' Union Members Welfare Association No 1 Account was drawn. I am told the handwriting on the cheque is Wilson's. It's for $160,772.oo. It's made out to the Construction Industry Fund - a secret account with only Wilson and Blewitt as signatories.
Jim Collins's signature is apparently on the cheque. Had the money gone through, it would have cleaned all of that cash out of the Melbourne based account and put it into a secret account controlled by Wilson and Blewitt - which is code for Wilson.
But as is the way in the best dramas, the new boss of the Victorian Branch of the AWU Bob Smith had got wind of "stuff". As a result, Bob rang his lawyers (Maurice Blackburn), the bank got a phone call, the Melbourne air was polluted with a range of expletives and a very large cheque was stopped.
So to put the sequence of events in their correct order,
Over a few weeks in June, 1995 - about $150,000 wings its way into an account then controlled by Bruce, with the name AWU in the account. Ralph Blewitt is not a signatory to this account (members welfare association no 1). Wilson controlled the account with Jim Collins.
Wilson knew that he was moving into a new job and would lose his living away from home allowance (which is contemporary Australian usage for mortgage-provided-by-girlfriends-law-firm-repayment-allowance).
Wilson had a $150,000 mortgage owing on "his" house in Fitzroy.
On 14 July Wilson wrote out a cheque from AWU Members Welfare Association No 1 for $160,772 and that cheque was deposited into the secret Wilson/Blewitt slushie called the Construction Industry Fund.
The cheque was stopped by the new Victorian Secretary Bob Smith.
Here is the bank's statement for activity on the Construction Industry slushie during those months.
You'll see that the cheque for $160LARGE was presented - but it was not met on presentation. Bruce must have been aghast! Some one had bounced a cheque! What a rip-off, it'd be enough to make you go and have an all nighter at the Casino.
So all of the AWU's accounts in Melbourne were frozen in mid-July, 1995. No slushie payments could be made from any of the accounts because the jig was up.
And while Bruce was busy advancing the cause of the worker, he found time to grab $5,000 and send Wayne Hem to do the Lord's work in donating the money in to Julia Gillard's account, because while the joy of looking at a beautiful house is priceless, Greek builders do not live on aesthetic joy alone.
NB - this one is for the pedants only. Regular users of the blog should ignore this message. Compare and contrast the address details for the construction industry fund on its 1st statement and this statement!