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January 2015

Queensland goes back to a dark future. The Liberal National Party cannot form government in its own right.

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 8.57.50 pm

Turn out the lights Queensland.

The debt-addicted, Greens-appeasing, soft on crime Labor Party is back after just 3 years.

The scale of this collective Queensland lunacy is hard to comprehend.

Campbell Newman was out of touch with his electors and he's paid the price.   But even with his shortcomings, the election of a Labor/Greens collective so soon after their disastrous last performance is beyond my  comprehension.   How could 1.4 million people be so stupid?

Here is some analysis of the spectacular result for Campbell Newman's LNP in 2012.

The 2012 Queensland state election was held on 24 March 2012 to elect all 89 members of the Legislative Assembly, a unicameral parliament.[2]

The Labor Party (ALP), led by Premier Anna Bligh, was defeated by the opposition Liberal National Party (LNP), led by Campbell Newman. It is only the sixth time that Queenslanders have ousted a sitting government since 1915. The ALP was attempting to win a ninth consecutive election victory, having won every general election since 1989 although it was out of office between 1996 and 1998. Katter's Australian Party contested its first election. Before the election, it held two seats whose members had been elected as LNP candidates.

Labor suffered one of the worst defeats of a state government since Federation, and the worst defeat of a sitting government in Queensland history. From 51 seats in 2009, it was reduced to only seven seats, suffering a swing of 15.6 percentage points. The LNP won a majority for the first time in its history, jumping from 34 seats to 78 seats to win the largest majority government in Queensland history. It was the first outright non-Labor majority since the Queensland Nationals won their last victory in 1986.


Now after just 3 years Campbell Newman is gone, lost his seat and the LNP cannot form government in its own right.   Queensland is in better shape for the Newman Government's 3 year term.   Its wins on crime, gangs and a pro-business mindset had the state moving in the right direction.   Now Queenslanders have said no to that and yes to the Labor patronage machine.

Queensland has turfed the boring competent managers and elected the people who brought you the carbon tax, busted borders, pink batts electrocutions, shut down of the cattle industry (particularly in Queensland) and hundreds of billions in debt.   This election proves that the people at Labor and Planet Palaszczuk are good at winning elections - and not much else.


Queensland election 2015: Truss says blame unions, not knighthood

DEPUTY Prime Minister Warren Truss insists federal issues such as the knighting of Prince Philip did not poison the Liberal National Party’s election campaign, but admits “all governments” must learn the lessons of the rout.

Mr Truss, leader of the Nationals, spoke to reporters at the LNP function in Brisbane, and criticised the union movement for running a “negative” campaign against asset leases. He said this was the dominant issue of the campaign, not federal concerns.

“It’s obviously much easier to run a negative campaign, than it is to outline a positive agenda for the future,” Mr Truss said.

“And certainly the Newman government has an exciting agenda for infrastructure, for services, and people chose not to embrace the new roads, the new railway lines, the new hospitals, the new schools, but instead vote against the fact that assets were to be leased,” he added.

Asked whether the LNP suffered from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s knighting of Prince Philip, Mr Truss said: “I think you can only ask the voters that question”.

“It was very clearly a campaign that was run on state matters, but obviously every government in Australia needs to look at an election like this one and seek to learn from the experience, and to make sure any errors that were made are not repeated.”

He said he’d leave the question of who would now lead the LNP to the state party, but said there was a great depth of young talent.


And AnaPal agrees - she thanked the unions for her result too.


Kimberley Kitching and Diana Asmar lose in their Federal Court bid to delay proceedings against them

The HSU's members fund these delaying tactics, lousy investment too, Asmar and Kitching lost.

Asmar v Fair Work Commission [2015] FCA 16 (29 January 2015)

Last Updated: 29 January 2015



Asmar v Fair Work Commission [2015] FCA 16


Citation: Asmar v Fair Work Commission [2015] FCA 16
File number: VID 634 of 2014
Judge: BEACH J
Date of judgment: 29 January 2015
Catchwords: INDUSTRIAL LAW – Inquiry by Fair Work Commission – revocation of rights of entry permits under Pt 3-4 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) – challenge to jurisdiction of Commission – application dismissed 
Legislation: Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) ss 2(2)33(3)
Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 480505507508510512513562563598601603625
Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) s 39B
Cases cited: Anthony Hordern & Sons Ltd v Amalgamated Clothing and Allied Trades Union of Australia [1932] HCA 9;  (1932) 47 CLR 1 
Asmar v Fair Work Commission [2014] FCA 1156
Austwide Institute of Training Pty Ltd v Australian Skills Quality Authority (2014) 223 FCR 572
Clough v Leahy [1904] HCA 38;  (1904) 2 CLR 139
Leon Fink Holdings Pty Ltd v Australian Film Commission(1979) 141 CLR 672 
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs v Gunner (1998) 84 FCR 400
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs v Nystrom [2006] HCA 50;  (2006) 228 CLR 566 
R v Wallis; Ex parte Employers Association of Wool Selling Brokers [1949] HCA 30;  (1949) 78 CLR 529
Re Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Ex parte Miah (2001) 206 CLR 57
Date of hearing: 5 December 2014
Place: Melbourne
Category: Catchwords 
Number of paragraphs: 104 
Counsel for the Applicants: Mr P Morrissey SC with Ms R Shann
Solicitors for the Applicants: Holding Redlich
Counsel for the Respondent:

Counsel for the Intervener (Minister for Employment):

Solicitors for the Intervener (Minister for Employment):
The Respondent filed a submitting appearance

Mr R Niall QC with Mr J Tracey

Herbert Smith Freehills


VID 634 of 2014

First Applicant

Second Applicant




  1. The applicants’ originating application is dismissed.
Note: Entry of orders is dealt with in Rule 39.32 of the Federal Court Rules 2011.
VID 634 of 2014


First Applicant

Second Applicant




  1. The first applicant (Ms Asmar) is an office holder and secretary of the Victoria No 1 Branch of the Health Services Union (the Branch). The second applicant (Ms Kitching) is an employee and has been the general manager of the Branch. They are the subject of an inquiry being undertaken by the respondent (the Commission). 
  2. The applicants have invoked s 39B of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) (presumably ss 39B(1) and (1A)(c)) and ss 562 and 563 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) seeking relief against the Commission including:
(a) A declaration that Div 5 of Pt 34 of the Act provides an exhaustive codification of the circumstances under which revocation of a right of entry permit granted under the Act can be proceeded with. 
(b) A declaration that the inquiry as defined in directions made by the Commission on 4 June 2014 was commenced and conducted ultra vires.
(c) An injunction restraining the Commission from taking any further step in the inquiry.
(d) An order in the nature of prohibition prohibiting the Commission from taking any further step in the inquiry. 
  1. Essentially, the applicants challenge the jurisdiction of the Commission to proceed with the inquiry concerning the potential revocation of right of entry permits issued to Ms Asmar and others. The Commission has filed a submitting appearance and taken no active role in this proceeding. The Minister for Employment has intervened on behalf of the Commonwealth pursuant to s 569. He has made submissions in support of the Commission’s jurisdiction to proceed. 
  2. In my opinion, the applicants’ jurisdictional challenge fails. Their originating application will be dismissed. 


  1. As I have said, Ms Asmar is an office holder and the secretary of the Branch. Ms Kitching is a current employee of the Branch and has acted as general manager. 
  2. Ms Asmar holds a right of entry permit issued under the Act. Ms Asmar applied for this permit under s 512 and such a permit was issued on 31 January 2013. 
  3. In August 2013, Ms Leonie Flynn, the assistant secretary of the Branch, made allegations to the Commission about the manner in which the Branch was being managed by Ms Asmar. She claimed that Ms Asmar and others had not undertaken their own tests to qualify for right of entry permits. It was asserted that Ms Kitching had completed tests on their behalf. 
  4. In September 2013, the Director, Regulatory Compliance Branch of the Commission, Mr Chris Enright, commenced an inquiry into whether members of the Branch had engaged in such activities (the Enright inquiry). Mr Enright had various powers under the Act which were delegated to him under s 625 by an instrument dated 15 October 2012 issued by the President of the Commission including to: “Issue entry permits under section 512 of the Act, including all functions ancillary to the issuing of entry permits contained in Subdivision A of Division 6 of Part 3-4 of the Act”.
  5. Between September 2013 and March 2014 Mr Enright conducted various interviews, obtained documents and the like. However, Mr Enright did not interview Ms Asmar or Ms Kitching. No objection was taken by any person to the conduct of the Enright inquiry. Moreover, Mr Enright did not exercise any coercive statutory power as part of the Enright inquiry. Putting to one side for the moment the ambit of the delegation given to him, no express statutory power seeking the voluntary production of information or documents was required (Clough v Leahy [1904] HCA 38;  (1904) 2 CLR 139 at 155157 and Austwide Institute of Training Pty Ltd v Australian Skills Quality Authority (2014) 223 FCR 572 at [47]).
  6. On 24 March 2014, Mr Enright issued various notices of potentially adverse findings to employees and office holders of the Branch, including Ms Asmar and Ms Kitching (the notices). Mr Enright foreshadowed in the notices that he proposed to make various final “determinations”. The content of the notices needs no elaboration for present purposes.
  7. On 30 April 2014, Holding Redlich, on behalf of the Health Services Union (Union), wrote to the President of the Commission requesting that a member of the Commission other than Mr Enright deal with the matters. 
  8. At this time, no objection to the jurisdiction of Mr Enright to conduct the Enright inquiry was made. Moreover, no argument as to any absence of statutory power was made. Further, no challenge was made as to the ambit of his delegation. Rather, the Union only asserted that Mr Enright’s role should be limited to an investigative role, and that the responsibility for making determinations as to whether adverse findings should be made should be allocated to a member of the Commission. The Union asserted that: 
...[T]he process we propose would separate the ‘investigation’ and ‘prosecution’ stages from the ‘adjudication’ stage in the interests of ensuring that the person who determines the matters in question would approach the issues with an open mind.
  1. The applicants’ originating application before me now raises the question of an asserted absence of jurisdiction and statutory power in relation to the Enright inquiry. But its principal focus concerns the metamorphosis of the Enright inquiry.
  2. On 9 May 2014, the President made a direction pursuant to ss 582(4)(d) and 625(4) to the effect that Vice President Watson take over and deal with the matters raised by the notices. 
  3. On 22 May 2014 a directions hearing was held before Vice President Watson to address the further conduct of such matters.
  4. On 4 June 2014, directions were made for their future management. At this time, the matters were identified in terms referable to the subject matter of the Enright inquiry. 
  5. On 18 July 2014, the Commission issued Terms of Inquiry into the matters that had been referred to Vice President Watson. These Terms identified ss 512582(4)(d) and 625(2) as sources of statutory authority or power and identified the following issues to be considered:
As to Ms. Diana Asmar (RE 2013/426)
  1. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Ms. Asmar made an inaccurate declaration for a ROE permit dated 29 January 2013 that she had received appropriate training about the rights and responsibilities of a permit holder, namely the ACTU Federal Right of Entry online training course completed on 25 January 2013.
  2. Whether the right of entry permit issued to Ms. Asmar should be revoked.
As to Mr. David Eden (RE 2013/747)
  1. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Mr. Eden made an inaccurate declaration for a ROE permit dated 26 March 2013 that he had received appropriate training about the rights and responsibilities of a permit holder, namely the ACTU Federal Right of Entry online training course completed on 26 March 2013.
  2. Whether the right of entry permit issued to Mr. Eden should be revoked.
As to Mr. Darryn Rowe (RE 2013/730)
  1. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Mr. Rowe made an inaccurate declaration for a ROE permit dated 21 March 2013 that he had received appropriate training about the rights and responsibilities of a permit holder, namely the ACTU Federal Right of Entry online training course completed on 20 March 2013.
  2. Whether the right of entry permit issued to Mr Rowe should be revoked.
As to Mr. Dean Sherriff (RE 2013/580)
  1. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Mr. Sherriff made an inaccurate declaration for a ROE permit dated 20 February 2013 that he had received appropriate training about the rights and responsibilities of permit holder.
  2. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Mr. Sherriff made an inaccurate declaration for a ROE permit dated 12 March 2013 that he had received appropriate training about the rights and responsibilities of a permit holder, namely the ACTU Federal Right of Entry online training course completed on 15 February 2013.
  3. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Mr. Sherriff made an inaccurate declaration tor a ROE permit dated 20 February 2013 that he had "never been convicted of an offence against a law of Commonwealth, State, Territory or a foreign country, involving: ... intentional use of violence against another person or intentional damage or destruction of property".
  4. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Mr. Sherriff made an inaccurate declaration for a ROE permit dated 12 March 2013 that he had "never been convicted of an offence against a law of Commonwealth, State, Territory or a foreign country, involving: ... intentional use of violence against another person or intentional damage or destruction of property".
  5. Whether the right of entry permit issued to Mr. Sherriff should be revoked.
As to Mr. Nick Katsis (RE 2013/583)
  1. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Mr. Katsis made an inaccurate declaration for a ROE permit dated 19 February 2013 that he had received appropriate training about the rights and responsibilities of permit holder.
  2. Whether in order to obtain a ROE permit, Mr. Katsis made an inaccurate declaration for a ROE permit dated 12 March 2013 that he had received appropriate training about the rights and responsibilities of permit holder, namely the ACTU Federal Right of Entry online training course completed on 15 February 2013.
  3. Whether the right of entry permit issued to Mr. Katsis should be revoked.
Mr. Steven Mitchell (RE 2013/585)
  1. Whether Ms. Kimberley Kitching accessed Mr. Mitchell's ACTU ROE course on 15 February 2013.
  2. Whether the right of entry permit issued to Mr. Mitchell should be revoked.
As to Ms. Jeanine Ghantous (RE 2013/1291)
  1. Whether having regard to the duration of the training and testing Ms. Ghantous received, the FWC is satisfied that Ms. Ghantous received appropriate training in accordance with the requirements of the FW Act.
  2. Whether the application for a right of entry permit should be refused for Ms. Ghantous.
As to Ms. Rose Charbel (RE 2013/1438)
  1. Whether having regard to the duration of the training and testing Ms. Charbel received, the FWC is satisfied that Ms. Charbel received appropriate training in accordance with the requirements of the FW Act.
  2. Whether the application for a right of entry permit should be refused for Ms. Charbel.
  3. On 22 September 2014, Slater and Gordon, the then solicitors for Ms Kitching, applied to the Commission pursuant to s 586(a) to amend the Terms of Inquiry. Ms Kitching sought to delete paragraphs 1-16 of the Terms. It was asserted that the Commission did not have jurisdiction to investigate and rule upon such matters.
  4. The application to amend was heard by the Commission on 14 October 2014, but it was not finalised. It was ultimately put over until 27 October 2014. 
  5. On 22 October 2014, Slater and Gordon requested the instruments of delegation given to Mr Enright empowering him to exercise certain functions and powers under the Act relevant to the Enright inquiry.
  6. On 24 October 2014, the requested delegation documents were provided.
  7. Further, on that day, counsel for Ms Kitching filed additional submissions elaborating on the jurisdictional challenge. Holding Redlich also adopted those submissions on behalf of the Union and various officers and employees. 
  8. On 27 October 2014, at the commencement of the hearing on the Terms of Inquiry, counsel for Ms Kitching requested that Vice President Watson provide a decision in relation to the application to amend before proceeding further. A decision on the amendment application necessarily involved Vice President Watson ruling on the jurisdictional challenge that had been made. Vice President Watson said:
I am mindful of the potential implications and the sensitivity of these matters. However, I am not sure when I will be able to give full consideration to the jurisdictional arguments that have been lodged and issue a decision in this matter. I consider that the more appropriate procedure is to commence to hear the evidence in this matter, and I will endeavour to give proper consideration to the arguments at the earliest opportunity.
  1. In substance, Vice President Watson indicated that he was not then in a position to make a decision on the jurisdictional challenge, and that he was unable to say when he would be in a position to do so. Nevertheless, he was not prepared to adjourn the matter and indicated that the adducing of evidence on the Terms of Inquiry should proceed. 
  2. Counsel told Vice President Watson that an application would be made to this Court challenging his decision to proceed in the absence of first determining whether he had jurisdiction. In those circumstances Vice President Watson adjourned the matter for a short time.
  3. On 28 October 2014, the applicants filed an originating application in this Court challenging the Commission’s jurisdiction to proceed with the inquiry, including seeking interlocutory and permanent injunctions against the Commission from proceeding further.
  4. On the same day, I granted an interlocutory injunction against the Commission restraining it from proceeding further, but only until it had first ruled on its jurisdiction to proceed ([2014] FCA 1156). Later that day, the Commission ruled that it had jurisdiction to proceed. 
  5. On 29 October 2014, the Commission indicated that it would immediately commence to take evidence. On the same day, the applicants filed a further interlocutory application seeking an interlocutory injunction against the Commission that until the hearing and determination of this proceeding, the Commission be restrained from proceeding with the inquiry. In the applicants’ interlocutory application, the inquiry was identified by reference to the Terms of Inquiry issued by the Commission on 18 July 2014 (Inquiry). The latest version of the applicants’ originating application defines the Inquiry by reference to the 4 June 2014 directions, but it is more appropriate to define it by the Terms of Inquiry issued on 18 July 2014.
  6. On 30 October 2014, I granted an interlocutory injunction in the terms sought.


Peter Trebilco remembers Julia Gillard's performance on the Drive for Dignity Carmen Lawrence bus tour

Some chronology first.

2 May, 1991 - Bruce Wilson becomes AWU WA Branch Secretary

November 1991 - Carmen Lawrence cabinet awards no tender $60M Dawesville contract to Thiess

April 1992 - Thiess writes to Bruce Wilson's AWU WRA to advise it will pay $300K to the Association created by Gillard to Wilson's specs - note the Thiess letter is specific, it's not paying the AWU it's paying the separate legal entity

Mar-Jun 1992 - WA Corp Affairs finally approves AWU WRA after further payment of $22 fee, consistent with ministerial review.

Carmen Lawrence faced a difficult election on 6 February, 1993.   During the weeks of the election campaign, the AWU under Wilson's leadership contributed a $100,000 contribution, the Drive for Dignity.   It took the form of a bus tour of the state campaigning for the return of the Lawrence government.

Courtesy of Peter Trebilco we now have an eye-witness account that Julia Gillard participated in the Drive for Dignity with Wilson as one of the speakers.


A $100,000 donation to an election campaign in 1993 was a huge amount of money, in this case it was not slush fund money, but AWU members money.

See our report on the Drive for Dignity here - reproduced in part below.

The following extract is from "A Financial Analysis of the AWU West Australian Branch 1991-1997" by Dr John Lourens published here.

Drive for 1Drive for 2

So the Drive for Dignity was funded by AWU general operating money and at a time when the accounts were in deficit.   So how was the decision to spend $100,000+ made?

The Royal Commission published the minutes of Wilson's AWU WA Branch meetings here.  The following extract sheds some new light on the origins of the "Drive for Dignity".



Wilson started speaking about Victoria's political environment that morning.   It wasn't immediately clear what relevance that topic had for the AWU's WA Branch.


This topic was titled  "Industrial Relations Report - Victoria" which sounds innocuous.   But hidden in the detail is the "Drive for Dignity" approval - the nett effect was an apparent $100,000+ payment from AWU coffers in direct support of Carmen Lawrence's election campaign.

Drive for dignity


In 1993 the WA branch was in financial strife before the Drive for Dignity; it couldn't make a $308,000 payment to head office and overall it posted a $780K deficit.   Someone must have really wanted to spend $100K on the Drive for Dignity, particularly when the business case set out in the minutes above was so short on detail.

This extract from Dr Lourens's financial analysis gives you some sense of the branch's income statements for 1993 and surrounding years.

1993 deficit

By October 1993 some members of the union were sufficiently concerned to print flyers criticising the branch's management.  This extract is from defamation proceedings Slater and Gordon brought against the authors of one flyer who'd taken Wilson's successor Ralph Blewitt to task:

October 1993

Junket trip

So even at the time the spending was viewed with concern.   Fast forward to 12 May 2014 and Ralph Blewitt gave the following evidence to the Royal Commission.

MR STOLJAR: Q. Mr Blewitt, you were describing at the
 13 outset of this examination a role that you said Mr Wilson
 14 played in Thiess obtaining the tender to carry out work at
 15 the Dawesville Channel project. Do you remember giving
 16 that evidence a couple of hours ago now?
 17 A. Yes.
 19 Q. You said he had had various meetings with a Mr Taylor,
 20 I think the name was, and some others. Was that something
 21 Mr Wilson did from time to time - have negotiations of that
 22 kind - to your knowledge?
 23 A. Sorry, negotiate?
 25 Q. With the --
 26 A. He was a branch secretary of the union. He negotiated
 27 with all sorts of people.
 29 Q. Did he involve himself in political affairs at all?
 30 A. Oh, yes.
 32 Q. Can you tell me a bit about that?
 33 A. The Western Australian branch - I'm very sketchy on
 34 the memory of this, but we were a major supporter of, from
 35 memory, Carmen Lawrence's campaign in Western Australia.
 36 We ran a "drive for dignity" campaign to support that
 37 election campaign, and I think our office, WA, donated
 38 $100,000 to the ALP for that campaign. 

Like I said, the Drive for Dignity $100,000 is well worth a closer look.

Peter Trebilco on Julia Gillard's conduct and doubts about her evidence to the TURC

Peter Trebilco took over from Bruce Wilson/Ralph Blewitt as WA state secretary of the AWU in March 1995.

Slater and Gordon remained as the WA Branch lawyers until around August 1995.   Ms Gillard personally continued to act for the WA Branch, she's on record at the AIRC on 25 May, 1995 as the branch's solicitor. 

Ms Gillard didn't tell the incoming branch secretary Peter Trebilco anything about Wilson's dubious activities, including his use of the AWU name in the AWU WRA.  Gillard tells us that she used the AWU name in the association's title with the authority vested in the position of AWU WA Branch secretary and his deputy: 

Unions aren’t big blamange things that wander around talking for themselves in the some way that companies don’t. Companies speak through company office bearers, unions speak through elected officials. The people I was dealing with, Mr Blewitt and Mr Wilson, were both office holders of the AWU. 
My client in creating the Workplace Reform Association was Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt acting as representatives as a team of officials who were going to run together for election in the trade union. But did I need to separately advise the AWU this was occurring? Of course I didn’t. The people I was dealing with were elected officials of the AWU.

It would have been nice to let Peter Trebilco know about the AWU-WRA as part of the handover in March, 1995.   But by July, 1995 when Wilson's criminality became clear to her, Ms Gillard had a duty to inform her client Trebilco.

On or around 14 July 1995 Gillard took instructions from Bruce Wilson who told her that he was under investigation both within the AWU and by police after he had banked AWU funds into a private account (the AWU Members' Welfare Association in Melbourne). Ms Gillard told her managing partner Peter Gordon that it was a very serious matter.  

She must have quizzed Wilson about the similar facts in his role as WA State Secretary setting up the WA State Secretary and team election fund.   She must have recalled the AWU WRA.  Slater and Gordon acted in its incorporation.

Peter Trebilco has a clear opinion about the performance of his lawyer, Julia Gillard.

 As Trebilco says, it was all secretive, Wilson and Gillard were a very tight unit.   Wilson first, union second.

Trebilco also runs another Gillard furphy to ground - this time it's the claim that she set up the AWU WRA as a payroll deduction election fund. 

Trebilco tells us that the Wilson team set up a payroll deduction election fund around the time he became state secretary - at least 12 months before the AWU WRA was thought up.   A simple bank account appeared to work very well for the purpose, payroll deductions were made directly from the AWU payroll system and the records were perfectly clear about who had put in what amount.   Further, when Wilson left the AWU in August, 1995, Trebilco and Tim Daly took responsibility for the genuine payroll deduction election fund, eventually returning the contributions of each member to that person according to their contributions.

(By comparison, had the genuine payroll deduction election fund been held in an incorporated association, no member could have received a cent of their payroll deductions, they'd remain by law as non-refundable assets of the association.)



The Royal Commission didn't take any evidence about the AWU WA Branch's payroll system - and whether the "team" was using its payroll deduction facility to pay into an existing payroll deduction election fund.  It took no evidence about the efficacy of the arrangement where the payroll system records the name of the person making a contribution and sends it to the bank where it's also recorded alongside the deposit.   The Royal Commission accepted without question Gillard's evidence that "our experience had been that there were very difficult disputes about who was the owner of what money in a payroll deduction election fund bank account".  It didn't mark Gillard's credibility down on account of her false claim that Slater and Gordon "had incorporated associations" in the past for the purpose of payroll deduction election funds.

And it didn't call her client Peter Trebilco.   

What would an honest lawyer, acting for Trebilco and his AWU WA Branch have done after discovering Wilson's frauds in July 1995?


"Bruce wanted to have such an account".   Really?   Why when he already had one.

Below is an extract from Julia Gillard's 11 September, 1995 departure interview from Slater and Gordon.  She describes a payroll deduction election fund - something that the payroll system at the AWU WA Branch was already administering on behalf of Team Wilson from May, 1991.   The real Wilson payroll deduction fund operated until 1996 without any problems and without the detriments (like perpetual succession, prohibition on use for profit and distribution of assets to a charity on windup) of an incorporated association.

Note that after describing a payroll deduction election fund, Ms Gillard states that "Bruce wanted to have such an account".   Well Bruce and his team already had such an account.   It used the one and only official AWU payroll system, it was administered by the Branch Accountant Russell Frearson and every member of the Wilson team (except Peter Trebilco) was already contributing to it one year before the AWU WRA was incorporated.

Gillard was lying when she said the AWU WRA was set up in answer to Bruce's desire to have a payroll deduction election fund.   That was an excuse to conceal what she'd really set it up for - to receive the Thiess money in respect of Dawesille.   Her lies here disclose  consciousness of guilt.   Yet the Royal Commission didn't run the issue to ground and made no finding about the errant nonsense Gillard gave as her evidence.

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 9.27.39 pm


Peter Trebilco, former AWU WA Branch Secretary on Gillard, Wilson, Thiess and the AWU. Why wasn't this man called at TURC?


(Peter Trebilco in Perth, Saturday January 2015)

Peter Trebilco is an old school Aussie worker, he doesn't hold back if he thinks he's right and he rates the truth much more highly than pleasing people, especially people in positions of power.

Trebilco had a relatively brief period as an AWU elected official - he was a convenor with Bruce Wilson at Mt Newman in the 1980s and he followed Wilson to the WA head office in 1992.   Wilson/Blewitt left the WA Branch to run the AWU National Construction Branch in early 1995 - they were replaced by  Peter Trebilco and Tim Daly who took over as Joint WA Branch Secretaries.    Trebilco resigned from the AWU in 1997.

The Royal Commission should have heard evidence from Peter Trebilco.

The Royal Commission accepted the evidence of Thiess executives Nick Jukes and Joe Trio that they believed they were dealing with Bruce Wilson in his official capacity as the boss of the AWU in WA.   Jukes and Trio further stated that Thiess believed it was paying the AWU itself for the alleged training work at Dawesville.   That makes the evidence of the man who followed Wilson/Blewitt as WA Branch Secretary so important.   If it was all above board, you'd expect he'd simply carry on the deal with Thiess once Bruce left the AWU altogether in August 1995.

Rather than help him, Thiess kept Trebilco in the dark.  Today, Peter Trebilco spoke to me about his 1996 efforts to get to the bottom of the AWU WRA scandal.  

"Tim Daly and myself with Russell Frearson (branch accountant) organised a meeting with Thiess at their head office to ask them if they were contributing to that fund and if so could they help us investigate the bank account where the money had gone to.   We ended up getting the run-around from Thiess......they weren't interested......"  

When I pointed out that Thiess executives gave sworn evidence that they thought they were dealing with the AWU directly, Trebilco said, "maybe they have that opinion, but at the time they had no interest in assisting us".

"Us" is the AWU itself.    Peter Trebilco tried to discharge his duties as WA branch secretary to find out where the AWU's money had gone.  Jukes and Trio say  Thiess paid $400,000 worth of legitimate AWU bills.   The new AWU boss Trebilco told Thiess the AWU didn't get the money.   Thiess should have been falling all over Trebilco et al to prove it had paid up and didn't owe money to the AWU for these legitimate AWU services.  That is, unless Thiess knew the deal with the AWU WRA was separate from the AWU, was to be confidential from the AWU and was designed to pay money to an entity controlled by Bruce Wilson, rather than the union.

If Jukes and Trio  believed they did a legitimate deal with the boss of the AWU, Thiess should have had no problem in dealing with that boss's successor to keep the good times rolling.

But besides using the AWU's name, there's nothing in the conduct of Jukes, Trio, Wilson, Blewitt or Gillard in the AWU WRA transactions that looks anything like a normal AWU deal with Thiess.  They all appear to be acting in concert to achieve the same end - that is a secret deal, concealed from the AWU through which Wilson got $400,000 from the Dawesville cut after Thiess got the $60M Dawesville contract without a tender. 

Trebilco's evidence is important.   It colours the evidence of Jukes and Trio.   It should be heard by the Royal Commission.



Here's Nick Jukes in his 2013 statement to Victoria Police.   Peter Trebilco took over from Wilson/Blewitt as state secretary in March 1995.   The AWU WRA was still a secret, it had been kept secret by Thiess and by Wilson.   How could the Commission find that Jukes gave truthful evidence in statements like this one below when Thiess stymied legitimate enquiries about its secret deal with its mate Wilson?

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Master WA FOI Bates - Copy_075


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And this in follow up after being told there'd be no further action.

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Here's a bit more analysis.

Check out the date of the Trebilco/Daly complaint to WA Police and the advice about the cat-burglar at the National Construction Branch - and compare with the Slater and Gordon dates on which the Wilson/Blewitt etc files were sent to the NCB below.

Bruce Wilson's last job at the AWU was as Secretary of the National Construction Branch.  After he left someone who knew their way around the place lifted quite a bit of stuff from the NCB.

Here's a grab from Peter Trebilco and Tim Daly's letter (joint AWU WA Secretaries) to the WA authorities about the missing NCB files and other matters.

Things that make youj go hmmmm

In 1997 the new boss of the NCB had to write to authorities to say the branch couldn't complete and file its accounts - all the stuff was knocked off.

Things that make you three

So where did Slater and Gordon send boxes of material, including some personal to Blewitt?

Things 2




I'll be in Western Australia until at least COB Monday next week

More people and leads are emerging here in the West - some from very senior and erstwhile unlikely Labor Party sources.   Seems there are lots of people with long memories and many with bulging manila folders who just have to be asked to help.   I'll be here until at the earliest close of business Monday next week.

You can help to contribute to our understanding of this important scandal here:

Account name    Michael Smith

Bank                    National Australia Bank

BSB                       084855

Account No        537650476

Bruce Wilson's AWU and the secret Thiess industrial dispute that was "solved" when the slush fund money started

UPDATED - SATURDAY 31 January 2014.

Here is an extract from June 2013 statement made by Nicholas Jukes, former Thiess general manager, to Victoria Police about his involvement in The AWU Scandal.

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Thiess and the AWU WA Branch were involved in at least one industrial dispute in the WA Industrial Relations Commission in the months leading up to the first AWU WRA cheque being paid to Wilson.

I have spent some hours with the state archives office and the archivists and registrar of the WA Industrial Relations Commission to get to the bottom of the dispute.

The bottom line at present is that the parties to the dispute - Thiess and the AWU WA Branch sought and received an order that the court files be sealed for 25 years and that the contents of the file be kept secret.

Note that the company name Thiess is misspelt in the state records office files making it more difficult to search.

Here is the SRO extract.

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And here is the finalisation of the matter, note the dates.

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The Thiess managers, Joe Trio and Nick Jukes deny that the agreement with Wilson was about buying industrial peace - here they are in The Australian dated 22 December 2012.

We put $300,000 in AWU slush fund, says Bruce Wilson's brother-in-law Joe Trio

Joe Trio

Ex-Thiess executive Joe Trio maintains he knew nothing of the fraud committed under his nose by brother-in-law Bruce Wilson. Picture: Colin Murty Source: The Australian

The Weekend Australian can reveal that Thiess never checked that the  AWU Workplace Reform Association - to which the company forwarded  monthly cheques for more than two years - was a legitimate body.

When the fraud came to light in 1995, Mr Trio and his boss at Thiess,  Nick Jukes, refused direct requests from the West Australian Fraud  Squad and the AWU to press charges against Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt.

Mr Trio and Mr Jukes, who is now the chief executive of ASX-listed  mining services company Sedgman in Brisbane, told police that they did  not wish to press charges because the union had, in fact, provided all  the training services that Thiess had paid for.

But questions remain over why Thiess needed to pay $100,000 a year to  the AWU to encourage its workers on the Dawesville Cut project, 80km  south of Perth, to undergo skills training.

Former AWU state secretary Tim Daly, who blew the whistle on the  fraud, claims the Thiess payments were designed to "buy industrial  peace" on a project at a time that construction companies in WA were  experiencing difficulties in dealings with unions.

He says the AWU provided nothing at the Dawesville Cut that the union would not have provided on a major construction project.

Mr Trio denies the deal was done to buy industrial peace. "This was  money paid to the AWU to have their co-operation in training," he says.  "In those days, unless you had the union behind everything that you did,  it was very, very difficult - strikes, intimidation, all of the  nonsense that went on in those days.

"I guess the guys over east thought 'Maybe if we get these (union) guys on side, our training program will run a lot smoother'."

Mr Daly, of the AWU, recalls that in the mid-1990s he phoned Mr  Jukes, who was based in Brisbane with Thiess, and told him that the WA  Director of Public Prosecutions needed Thiess to press charges if the  matter was to be prosecuted. "I said to him I wanted to send those two  crooks (Wilson and Blewitt) to jail," Mr Daly says.

"But he said to me: 'I'm not complaining, I got what I paid for.' "

In an interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr Jukes says Thiess had  believed its payments were going directly to the AWU and the company  co-operated with the WA fraud squad investigation, handing over all  paperwork related to the 1992 agreement. "They said to us, 'You guys  need to press charges'," he says.

"We said that we hadn't been defrauded; we were given the service by  the AWU, and if this money has gone off to an account that isn't a  legitimate AWU account, this is an issue between the AWU and its  management, not an issue with Thiess.

"They intimated that if Thiess didn't press charges, it would be very hard for them to prosecute.

"We said we didn't understand the logic of pressing charges if we got the service we paid for."

Mr Jukes concedes it is very unlikely anyone at Thiess checked the  legitimacy of the AWU Workplace Reform Association before writing  cheques to it.

It is believed the association had not even been incorporated by the  WA Commissioner for Corporate Affairs at the time the first Thiess  payments were made in early 1992.

Mr Jukes says he had no reason to suspect Mr Wilson may have been  deceptive and he believed all along that the AWU Workplace Reform  Association was a legitimate AWU body. He also rejects claims that the  payments were aimed at buying industrial peace on the project, which was  completed ahead of time and on budget without any industrial action.

He says he feels sorry for Mr Trio, who has been subject to  allegations he was complicit in Wilson's fraud. "Joe's fingerprints  aren't on this at all," he says.

"If anybody's are on it, I did the deal and the HR people in Thiess did the deal, not Joe."

Mr Trio says he married Mr Wilson's sister while Mr Wilson was still  in high school. When Mr Trio returned to Perth from the US to work for  Thiess in the early 90s, he says he "discovered" that Mr Wilson had  become an official with the AWU.

He had "very little involvement" with Mr Wilson during the Dawesville  Cut project because the union boss was transferred to Melbourne with  the AWU.

But Mr Trio did have plenty of dealings with Mr Blewitt, Mr Wilson's key ally, who has since admitted his part in the fraud.

He believes Mr Blewitt and other "union thugs" are behind many of the allegations that have circulated against him.

The WA fraud squad declined to comment on its investigation.

Joe Isherwod, former WA President of the AWU talks of murder threats, gelignite plots and Bruce Wilson's mayhem

Yesterday I had lunch with Joe Isherwood who was President of the AWU in WA until deposed by Wilson in 1991.   He has plenty of memories, including gelignite, murder threats and industrial mayhem.

First up to Joe's treatment at the hands of British authorities as a 6 year old boy after World War Two.