UPDATED - Steve Lewis with a report that Bob Smith, former Victorian AWU Secretary, has made a statement to police
Bob Kernohan has described seeing Kon Spyridis at the Victorian AWU headquarters seeking payment, from the union, for renovations done to Ms Gillard's home. The video interview with Bob is at the bottom of this post, and he describes what Bob Smith and Bill Shorten told him about the renovations to Ms Gillard's home in this audio interview.
Witness says he was approached by a builder over payment for reno
- Steve Lewis
- News Limited Network
- February 11, 201312:00AM
- Comes from evidence given by ex-AWU official Bob Smith
- Julia Gillard has repeatedly and vehemently denied any wrongdoing
- Victoria Police compiled a 'wish list' of dozens of witnesses
A KEY witness in the Australian Workers Union scandal has told police of being approached by a builder seeking payment for renovations on a home then owned by Julia Gillard.
The evidence from ex-AWU official Bob Smith comes as Victorian detectives have stepped up investigations into the scandal that has dogged the Prime Minister for 17 years.
With the Coalition vowing to keep the heat on Ms Gillard in parliament, police have compiled a 'wish list' of dozens of witnesses into the fraud that saw up to $1 million of funds allegedly misappropriated.
The PM has repeatedly and vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and said she knew nothing about the operations of the AWU Workplace Reform Association.
Some people have already given statements, or been approached to help the fraud squad with inquiries. These include former AWU national secretary, Ian Cambridge, now a commissioner with Fair Work Australia, and Wayne Hem, the former union official who claims he was told to deposit $5,000 into Ms Gillard's bank account by her former boyfriend, Bruce Wilson.
Mr Wilson and his one-time deputy Ralph Blewitt are under investigation over allegations they established a Perth-based "slush fund", used to siphon $400,000 from building firm Thiess Contractors. Mr Wilson is also under investigation over allegations he was the architect behind a series of other unauthorised funds.
Former AWU Victorian Secretary Mr Smith, who told Mr Wilson in 1995 he would "go to the slammer", confirmed that he had been interviewed by police and provided a statement.
This detailed how Mr Smith was approached by Mr Spyridis in 1995 who was demanding payment for work the builder had done on Ms Gillard's then home, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Abbottsford.
Mr Smith said he told police that "Kon Spyridis approached me, came to my office, and requested payment for work he had done on Ms Gillard's home at Abbotsford.
"I explained to him that it was nothing to do with us (the AWU) and that he would be better served by speaking to Gillard or Bruce Wilson," he said.
The former Mr Smith said that was "not aware of any authorisation for work done by the AWU" on Ms Gillard's property.
A former Victorian Labor MP, Mr Smith said he also told police that he contacted Ms Gillard - then a partner at legal firm Slater & Gordon - over the request for payment.
Mr Spyridis has previously told News Limited that Ms Gillard paid for renovations on her home, which she sold in 2007.
But the retired builder is now refusing to give a sworn statement. "I had advice from my solicitors, why sign a statement?" Mr Spyridis said.
"The story is that I got my money."
In an exit interview from Slater & Gordon in 1995, Ms Gillard said she had heard a rumour that someone had visited the AWU offices and presented an account for work done on her property. In that interview, Ms Gillard told her bosses that while she believed she paid for the entire renovation she could not "categorically" rule out that some renovations had been paid for with money from the slush fund. Last August the PM told reporters that she had in fact paid for the renovations.
Meanwhile, Opposition deputy leader Julie Bishop has also revealed that Tony Abbott gave her the green light to pursue the AWU scandal - only after the PM's now famous "misogyny" speech last October against the Opposition leader.
"Julia Gillard chose to make character the issue when she made that speech. Therefore it was incumbent upon us to show her character, her values and her judgement as revealed by her role in the AWU slush fund affair," Ms Bishop said.
A spokesman for the PM said she had not heard from police in relation to the investigation.