Peter Trebilco on Julia Gillard's conduct and doubts about her evidence to the TURC
Saturday, 31 January 2015
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.