In 2008, Julia Gillard let rip at Julie Bishop over Ms Bishop's genuine and hard-won executive education acquired from the Harvard University Advanced Management Program in 1996 - a program that's recognised as among the top tier of executive leadership courses in the world.
Bishop brickbat, Costello bouquet
December 2, 2008
THE Government has accused the embattled shadow treasurer Julie Bishop of misrepresenting her studies at Harvard, as it continues its assault on her credibility.
Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard claimed Ms Bishop had tried to create the impression she was at Harvard for an extended period in the mid-1990s.
Ms Gillard said that in April 2006 when Ms Bishop had talked about her studies she had said she was privileged to be an international student at Harvard.
"The truth is she was there for a summer program, for a course that now costs $60,000," Ms Gillard said.
Well Julie Bishop is the real deal,a member of the Harvard Alumni and recognised by her peers.
Julia Gillard's best friend Robyn McLeod was appointed Water Commissioner for South Australia by the Mike Rann Labor Government in 2008. Ms McLeod's CV set out a number of claims that went to her suitability for the job - and South Australian taxpayers are said to have paid her about $300,000 per annum income for that expertise and skill.
Robyn McLeod states she has 20 years work experience in a field called "public policy in water management". That's apparently what got her the $300,000 a year job.
ABC981 Adelaide host Matt Abrahams spoke with Ms Mcleod on 16 December, 2008 just after she started as the SA Water Commissioner. Here she sets out the 20 years of "public policy in water management" claim.
The year then 2008, go back 20 years and it's 1988 - her alleged start date in "public policy in water management".
I'll try to work backwards now - setting out what we know Ms McLeod did for each of those years.
2008 - January to September
Ms McLeod was a Director with KPMG in its water division. In consulting firms, partners are responsible for business units, with directors reporting to the partner.
KPMG's Water practice was headed by Jennifer Westacott, here's her CV.
And here's Ms McLeod's.
There's that 20 years claim again. In this CV, Ms McLeod states she has experience with a major water authority (not named) as well as the government. No mention of the AWU union rep job.
The CV is inaccurate in that Ms McLeod was moved out of the Water Division of the Department of Sustainability at the end of 2006.
In January, 2007 she commenced in a new role in the Metropolitan Planning division. Media reports at the time pointed to rumblings about dissatisfaction with the amount of water-related work being farmed out to KPMG in the year previous. Ms McLeod was mentioned in the Victorian Parliament a few weeks before leaving the Victorian Government.
It is significant that her Department was about to let a tender for the desalination plant, a multi-billion contract. I'll look more closely at the desal plant in another post, particularly from the AWU/CFMEU/Thiess relationships. For now I note Ms McLeod's move away from a water-related job at what should have been a time of her crowning glory. As you've seen, Ms Mcleod had a close prior relationship with Thiess, a logical tenderer for the work and with KPMG (Thiess's auditors).
Steve Bracks the Premier was pretty close to Robyn too. He signed off on the Victorian Government's 2004 blueprint that led to the desal plant "Our Water Our Future". Here he is in early 2007, just before he left the Premiership. He explicitly commits the government to the desalination plant.
He resigned from the job as Premier in April 2007 to spend more time with family. By October he'd had enough gardening and joined Ms McLeod at KPMG.
Here's the ABC's PM program with the news about Steve and the new job, 4 October, 2007.
FORMER Labor premier John Cain has
criticised Steve Bracks' plum new job with KPMG as a government adviser,
but Premier John Brumby says it's a "non-issue".
The Opposition and the Community and Public Sector Union said
yesterday it was a conflict of interest for Mr Bracks, and for
accounting and audit giant KPMG to be employing the ex-premier when it
held so many government contracts.
Mr Bracks declined to comment.
His office issued a short statement saying he was out of town with his
family and enjoying both his pro bono work and his new part-time
He is likely to earn up to $100,000 a year for the one-day-a-week job on top of his $120,000 yearly parliamentary pension.
KPMG moved to hose down the criticism. Its national marketing
partner, John O'Shea, said Mr Bracks would not be involved in any
existing government work.
He said Mr Bracks would provide "insights" into government tendering.
"But he will not be directly involved in any Victorian State Government tendering for 12 months," Mr O'Shea said.
Mr Cain said he had a "quaint, late-19th century, early-20th century view" about such appointments and didn't like them.
don't believe what you acquire in public life in terms of knowledge and
considerable influence is a tradeable commodity," he said.
He said he did not want to judge Mr Bracks, but such private sector appointments were "not to my taste".
But Mr Brumby said all politicians had the right to work once they left public office.
He said it was common, and rejected any claims of a conflict of interest, saying Mr Bracks would not be a lobbyist.
"The former premier is a relatively young man. He's entitled to work again," he said.
As the Department of Sustainability in the Victorian Government was gearing up to release the tender for the multi-billion dollar desal plant, Ms McLeod was moved from the job as head of Major Projects in the Water Division. She left the government completely 5 months later.
2006 - last year as Executive Director, Major Projects - Water Sector
Here's where Ms McLeod fitted in to the Department of Sustainability that year.
2006 Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) Conference ‘Increasing Freshwater Supplies’
The UN influence was pervasive in that conference. Dams were a no-go. Here is the descriptive blurb from the UNESCO website setting the agenda for the event;
This conference will focus on increasing freshwater availability for human uses through all practicable means, from emerging desalination technologies to artificial recharge to conservation programs based on changing human behaviour. The conference will serve to exchange experiences and inform participants of cutting-edge innovations relevant to this essential regional and global challenge.
All practicable means. Except dams. Robyn and the State of Victoria hopped right in line.
And that last sentence describes the thinking in the Victorian Government that completely wrote off the idea of building dams - instead opting for the new-age desal plant. Dams are not a solution because they just take water and store it. Like a cup is not a solution in the flow of water from a pipe to my mouth because it just takes water from an existing source.
That year the Bracks Government "de-commissioned" Lake Mokoan near Benalla. The member for Benalla, Dr Sykes spoke about the greenie inspired lunacy, in particular that flood mitigation would not be possible if the government went ahead. He specifically named Ms McLeod in the parliament after she wrote a letter placing dubious intepretation on a formal report about flood mitigation and irrigation in the area.
(edited for space)
No dams, no flood control, just desal. And the unions loved it. And I must say that it is ominously impressive that so many people from so many different backgrounds in so many different circumstances say much the same thing about Robyn McLeod. She tells lies.
2005 - Major Projects Water
Various records show Ms McLeod as the Executive Director Major Water Projects during this year. Aside from more work on the 2004 plan, the major project for the year was the Wimmera Mallee pipeline project, a vast undertaking of pipes to replace open irrigation channels, costing hundreds of millions and a budgetted 10 years to completion.
While Ms McLeod had the title, a cast of thousands seemed to be involved in the work.
2004 - the year of the White Paper on how to store and manage water without dams
This is the first year Ms McLeod worked wholly in water, just 4 or 5 years before the SA Commissioner job. Sometime in 2004 she appears to have acquired the title Executive Director Major Projects, Water Sector in the Department of Sustainability.
The major achievement for the year was the Department's production of the 2004 white paper on water. Over the next 3 years the department refined the plan - but the general direction is clear here.
The plan even provides for The Environment to get a lawyer.
And in all the hundreds of words, over 28 pages, the word "dam" appears once, and then it's almost by accident, referring to farmers' dams.
It's telling that the people behind the plan did not even consider the role of dams. And Robyn McLeod was one of them. The driving force cannot have been the things they spoke about - the need for us to have water. There was something else more important.
1999 - 2003 - Chief of Staff to Minister Candy Broad, Minister for Energy, Resources and Ports
In 2000, Minister Broad was responsible for the last pieces of an agreement with the NSW Government to reverse some of the flow of the Snowy River from the Snowy scheme (and on into the Murrumbidgee/Murray) and back into the Snowy River and out to the Pacific Ocean. That was substantially done in the first year of the government taking office in 1999/2000.
Robyn McLeod was Candy Broad's chief of staff until sometime around 2003.
I wouldn't characterise the role of a Chief of Staff to a Minister responsible for Energy, Resources and Ports as a job that's substantially involved in "public policy in water management".
It seemed to be more concerned with things like this, mentioned in the Parliament in 2002.
And there seems to have been a bit of this too - here's a record of Candy and Robyn's trip to the United States kindly recorded by the Philadelphia Port Authority.
Before 1999 - should be half way to 20 years
That brings us back to 1999 - and any details about Ms McLeod's life with Bruce and Julia and the AWU and the AWU-WRA and Thiess and the board directorship are very hard to come by.
You get some sense of the intensity of the bond between Ms Gillard and Ms McLeod in this interview Ms McLeod gave to the ABC's Matthew Abraham and David Bevan on 30 June, 2010, just after Ms Gillard had been made PM. Loyalty is admirable, but where it's misplaced and combined with dishonesty and coverup it becomes something very different.
The jobs we do know that Mc McLeod held during the 1990s were a long way from "public policy in water management".
Here's Robyn as an AWU union rep at work in June, 1994 already 5.5 years into her 20 year career in "public policy in water management".
Robyn McLeod appearing at the Industrial Relations Commission in 1994 to advance the cause of the wool scouring and carbonising industry.
No doubt there'll be some tiresome argument to try to convince the world that yes, those 20 years were all about public policy in water management, but the facts are the facts. That CV with the 20 year claim was used to procure a $300,000 per annum taxpayer job and it is substantially a false CV with misleading and deceptive claims.
Here is her official Water Commissioner Curriculum Vitae dated 2009.
Robyn - goodness me, you've underdone the CV! Look at all the stuff you've left out!!!!!!
Where's the bit about being a union rep with the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association rising to Assistant Secretary. How about all those years working alongside Bruce Wilson as an Industrial Officer with the AWU? What about all that work you put in as an ALP politician when you stood twice for the seat of Mordialloc?
Now, according to your electoral material from the 1999 election, you were then currently working as "a senior manager in human resources and training".
What? How does that become working in "public policy in water management"? And that was 1999, you were supposed to already have half of the experience you say you acquired in a 20 year career in "public policy in water management".
Now - under Boards and Committees, you've forgotten one!! What about your previous directorship of the Thiess Superannuation (number 2) trustee company? In fact, there's no mention of the AWU work with Bruce on your CV at all, it's as if it never happened!
I went to the Harvard Alumnus website, it must just be me, I couldn't find a record of you there.
If you make a claim that you bring with you 20 years experience working in so specific and finely defined an area as "public policy in water management" then it should be true. If the qualities found only in a 20 year veteran are worth $300,000 a year - and if the problem to be solved is of sufficient importance that the state would happily pay it - happy days for buyer and seller. If ever I am diagnosed wtih a pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma and the very small group of medical specialists who have trained for the 20 years necessary to cure my tumour charge $300,000 - I would be inclined to pay. If after the failure of their procedures I discovered the 20 year veteranship never was, I might be inclined to seek retribution.
In the United States, CVs that guild the lily like Ms McLeod's often see the lily-guilder in court.
Ms McLeod and whoever guided her into the $300,000 per year taxpayer funded job may yet get that call.
In the early 1970s my mates and I watched in awe as Brother Paul spooled up the black and white movietone films about the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
In 5th class we had a 3 day trip to the Snowy - and I can remember pretty much every detail of the massive pipes, the tunnels cut through the mountains and the vast lakes behind perfectly engineered dams.
Mates of mine have owned old timber houses at Talbingo - where the hardy and proud family men who built the Snowy Scheme lived. People came from all over the world to make something great - and that's precisely the legacy they left us.
People of vision and drive and pride in what they did. As I sit here this morning reading a research paper on the Snowy Scheme it's hard not to be emotional about the sheer, utter waste and greed that's driving our governments now.
But what overwhelming sadness for me in looking at what an NPV of $7BN (2002 value) used to buy - when money and labour were respected and well managed without the help of Mick Gatto and friends.
Compare and contrast - and wonder why we don't build great things, why they seem to cost so much, and wonder to yourself, where does the money go? All those billions walking off the site in the stuffed pockets of a chosen few. The desal plant takes up a few paddocks - compare it to the wonder of the Snowy Scheme!
And within the 190 pages of the special Enterprise Bargain negotiated just to take advantage of a supplicant and compromised Labor government and bureaucracy - for whom do you think the highest levels of pay have been reserved? The builders, the engineers, the tradesmen and craftsmen.....no, no, no. You don't understand where value is created today.
If you were involved in the AWU/Thiess/Melbourne Water or associated industries in the 1990s, did you know that Bruce Wilson or Robyn McLeod were directors of the board of the Thiess superannuation company from around 5 October 1993 to around 25 October 1995?
I have spoken with an AWU President at the time who did not know, a National Secretary of the AWU who did not know, industrial lawyers from the time who did not know - in fact I've not spoken to anyone who knew.
Superannuation laws were starting to change in the financial year 94/95 to require employee/employer equal representation on Superannuation Trustee company boards.
Here's an expert view from one of our correspondents:
The Superannuation Industry Supervision Act 1993 contains in Part 9 provisions concerning equal representation on boards of a company acting as Trustee. These rules apply from the 94/95 year of income. For most funds this will be from July 1, 1994.
Section 93 requires that after June 30, 1995 Funds with 50 or more members require equal representation.
Section 10 defines a member representative to be a member of the board nominated by
a)Members of the fund or
b)A trade Union representing the interests of those members
Prior to June 30,1994 the situation was covered by the Occupational Superannuation Standards Act 1987, now called the Superannuation (self managed superannuation funds) Taxation Act.
In 93/94 that Act provided in Section 7 for operating standards to be prescribed by regulation. Among other things those regulations provided for equal representation in large funds. The original regulations were the Occupational superannuation Standards Regulations No 322 of 1987.
I've enquired with people I'd expect would know and my advice is there was no state or national resolution nominating Wilson or McLeod to the positions as required under the "nominated by the union" provisions of the Act. I'm further told that it would be unimaginable for the AWU to nominate as its Director a young and inexperienced new employee like Robyn McLeod.
I know how union bosses treat goodies like a directorship on a super fund with regular travel and allowances to interstate board meetings. The new girl wouldn't stand a chance in an open resolution. Must have been something else she had to offer that got her the gig.
When South Australia's Premier Mike Rann created a new job for Robyn McLeod as Water Commissioner on $300K PA, everyone said Robyn got the job because of her 20 years of experience in the Water Industry, going back to 1988.
Robyn probably was a part-time water expert in 1988 after school finished for the day. Then when she joined Bruce Wilson as an AWU union rep in 1992, she must have had a second job in the water industry too, because her day job seemed to be in the industrial relations commission representing the interests of all sorts of workers - even those in the hop industry.
Maybe I'm too harsh. She probably got expert status telling the Industrial Relations Commission that she knew a lawyer who said Show Day really does exist and Melbourne Water workers should get it as a public holiday.
That must be it, Policy Advice on Public Holidays For Water Workers.
ROBYN MCLEOD, FRIEND: What you see with Julia is what you get. A very open, honest woman who is not hiding anything.
We know that Julia Gillard and potential Prime Minister Bruce Wilson were an item until she got terribly distressed and ended the relationship without ever finding out why he needed an incorporated association with the name AWU in it.
We know that Bruce drove a maroon Ford with number plates (WA) 8EE 222.
And we know the two directors got to attend board meetings together in Brisbane.
Bruce and Robyn and Julia from Slater and Gordon were on the side of the workers protecting them from threats. Like asbestos.
The Thiesss workers who actually knew something about water sadly weren't influential, like say the two union officials who were not only unionists, but Thiess company directors as well. Those ungrateful workers at Thiess went to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to put it on the record - they were not happy with the AWU and they wanted another union.
The company performs water and sewerage maintenance work for South Eastern Water (Victoria), a body which provides water and sewerage services to an area to the south-east of Melbourne. It has been doing this work for about two and a half years. The work was previously carried out by a public authority. The AWU has represented employees performing the work carried out by the company and previously carried out by the public authority. The terms and conditions of employment of the employees of the company are presently regulated by an agreement under Division 2 of Part VIB of the Actcertified on 28 August 1995 by Whelan C called the AWU/Thiess Services Pty Limited Victorian Maintenance and Construction Services Enterprise Agreement 1995-1997 (Print M4756).
I need say little about recent events. In August or September 1995 a number of the employees of the company approached the CFMEU and enquired whether it could represent the industrial interests of the company's employees. This approach apparently resulted from (1) dissatisfaction by some employees with the service provided by the AWU, in particular by two of its organisers, (2) concern by some employees arising from media reports about internal problems within the AWU and, possibly, (3) a long term dissatisfaction by some employees with the AWU.
Following this approach officials of the CFMEU visited company workplaces and conducted meetings of employees in September and October 1995. During this period a number of employees completed CFMEU application for membership forms and signed forms authorising the company to deduct union dues in favor of the CFMEU and cancelling authorities in favour of the AWU. There was an issue as to whether any employees had resigned from the AWU. The CFMEU sought to tender a bundle of documents purporting to be copies of resignations from the AWU. Over objection from the AWU, I allowed the tender. Mr Langmead (for the AWU) said the AWU had not received these purported resignations. (There was evidence from Mr Booth that the AWU had not received any resignations or purported resignations from employees of the company.) Mr Bukarica (for the CFMEU) said that he believed the documents were prepared by Mr Ross, an employee of the company. Mr Ross had earlier given evidence for the CFMEU but made no reference to these purported resignation forms. Mr Bukarica had not put these purported resignations to the AWU's witnesses.
But the Commission couldn't help. Unions work out who they will represent and the circumstances in which they will represent them. The commission's hands were tied (loosely, with velvet rope to the bedhead, for the role of the Commissioner can be a good career path for a former unionist).
If the same laws that apply to unions applied to the rest of the country, Coles and Wollies would have an enforcement body that would regulate where you can buy your bananas.
So the AWU got to keep the lucrative relationship with Thiess. Thiess got to keep the lucrative relationship with the Victorian Government. Bruce got to keep his redundancy. Julia got to keep her relationship with Robyn and vice versa.
And the workers got to keep the warm feeling that everyone meant it when they put on the serious face, gazed off as if analysing the purpose of thier life and said, just like Julia Gillard did for the ABC in 2006:
One of the things that has been a
constant driver for me, one of the real reasons I got involved in politics, I
got interested at, you know, got interested in politics at all is the sense of
unfairness and lost opportunity….that inequality, you know, that it is, that
sense of inequality even in a country as rich as this, that makes me say there
is so much more for politics, and for those of us on the left of politics to
No public funding was spent on the attendance of my Chief of Staff at a private ALP function in December 1999.
All Company payments for this function were paid directly to the ALP. All costs associated with this function were met directly by the ALP. Therefore, no Company directly paid for the attendance of my Chief of Staff at said function.
I think that means that because Thiess paid the $1,000 bill to Labor, then Labor paid the catering invoice for the whole function, then Labor paid the cost of the dinner, not Thiess. Or something. A bit like if I take a girl out to dinner and the bill comes and I pay it, when we talk later our night the young lady says, "yes I forgot to thank the restaurant for paying for my meal."