The AWU Scandal - The Barnett Government in Western Australia is happy it financed a love-nest in Melbourne for Julia Gillard's lover
Hard to believe no one was ripped off - not the BCITF, not Thiess, not the AWU

Dear Premier Barnett

I was shocked, I still am, at what I read in Minister Cowper's letter to me yesterday about the BCITF and its money.

The reports he quotes as providing proof that no money was knocked off are the whole point of my letter to you.   Those reports are false.   They must be.   There was no workplace reform as a result of the money Thiess paid to Bruce Wilson's slush fund but the BCITF's annual reports say that there was.

Here is an extract from the BCITF's Annual Report provided to its responsible minister for the year 1993/94.


There was no activity provided by the sham entity, the Australian Workers' Union Workplace Reform Association.  It spent no money on any workplace activities at Dawesville and the WA Police took statements from many people present at the project to attest to that fact.

I might add that the West Australia Police considered charges of conspiracy to defraud against 4 named persons, two of them in the AWU and two apparently in Thiess.

The fact of reports and accounts being falsified is a feature of many frauds.   But the thought that a minister's staff, directed to enquire into a matter involving allegations of falsified accounts could quote those very falsified accounts as proof of no malfeasance beggars belief.

I don't know why your minister is so keen to write this matter off without further investigation.

Your minister quotes an "independent review" as having appropriately enquired into the matter.

I presume that he means the Hitchens review into the operation of the fund and the collection levy act.

For your convenience I have attached a copy of the review here.

Download Review of Building and Construction Industry Training Fund and Levy Collection ACT 1990

I have made the PDF copy of that document searchable.   I am unable to find any trace of the words "Thiess", "Workplace Reform", "Workplace Reform Association", "Australian Workers Union".

The review does briefly mention training provided to plant operators at the Dawesville Cut, but given that it was an earthmoving project it seems hardly remarkable that plant operators would have received training on the job - certainly not to justify the "innovative workplace reform" achievements being trumpeted.

The flow of cash seems to me to be clear.   The Annual Report of 93/94 speaks of a joint exercise, or management team involving Thiess, the AWU and the BCITF.   The AWU knew nothing of any workplace reform activity, and any and all money paid out by Thiess in respect of this activity ostensibly to the AWU went to a slush fund controlled by Bruce Wilson and his offsider Ralph Blewitt.

Your local newspaper, the West Australian is apparently unhappy with the status quo as well.   Here's a copy of their report on the matter from August this year.

WA cash given to union 'slush fund'

Andrew Probyn and Gary Adshead, The West AustralianUpdated August 23, 2012, 2:50 am


WA taxpayers were victims of  the alleged $1 million union fraud that is continuing to haunt Julia Gillard.


As the Prime Minister again denied any wrongdoing over the 17-year-old financial scandal,  The West Australian can reveal that more than $380,000 of State Government money was given to a union "association" that Ms Gillard helped establish on behalf of her then boyfriend Bruce Wilson.


When she was questioned by her employers at law firm Slater & Gordon in 1995 over her role in setting up the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association, Ms Gillard said she understood its purpose was to hold a union re-election "slush fund".


In documents lodged with the WA Commissioner for Corporate Affairs three years earlier, the association's stated purpose was the "development of changes to work to achieve safe workplaces".


Before resigning from Slater & Gordon soon after the law firm's  internal inquiry, Ms Gillard said she worked on the association for Mr Wilson - her boyfriend and  secretary of the AWU.


He was later accused of siphoning large sums of money from the association's Perth bank accounts.


According to a 1996 affidavit filed in the NSW Industrial Relations Court when the scandal became public, $385,000 was WA government money that had been provided to construction company Thiess Contractors "for the financing  of training schemes and were  intended to be spent by the union for that purpose".


Thiess was the biggest contributor to the association between 1992 and 1994 but refused to lay a complaint when WA fraud squad detectives began an investigation into what Mr Wilson and his WA union colleague Ralph Blewitt did with the money.


More than $92,000 of the Thiess money went towards buying a house in Melbourne, which Mr  Wilson lived in when he moved  to Victoria.


On top of that, at least $220,000  in cash was withdrawn from  association accounts in Perth  between September 1993 and  December 1994.


Throughout that period, AWU members were employed at the Dawesville Cut project being  managed by Thiess.


Without Thiess' complaint against Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt, police wrote off the investigation in 1997.


The pair were also investigated over claims that $145,000 from a  separate union fund was used  inappropriately to buy holiday units in Kalbarri. No charges  were laid.


The AWU's then secretary, Tim Daly, showed his frustration in  a letter complaining about the  alleged frauds to the WA Director of Public Prosecutions.


"I have pursued the allegations vigorously but I am at present left with nowhere to go," he said.


Ms Gillard has strenuously  denied any first-hand knowledge of alleged fraud involving the union association and her office.


She has refused to answer  specific questions from  _The West Australian _.


"The Prime Minister has repeatedly made clear that she was not  involved in any wrongdoing," a spokesman for Ms Gillard said.


"Any questions about this document should be addressed to the person who lodged and signed it, namely Ralph Blewitt."

Mr Blewitt broke a 17-year  silence this month when he said he was prepared to reveal everything he knew about the financial dealings if he was granted immunity from prosecution.