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?
And this in follow up after being told there'd be no further action.
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.
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.
So where did Slater and Gordon send boxes of material, including some personal to Blewitt?