Postcards from Perth
The Trade Union Royal Commission's failures are unforgivable

Ray Neal, former WA Corporate Affairs chief speaks out about Gillard and the AWU WRA


(Ray Neal at home with a photo of the empty Australian Workers' Union - Workplace Reform Association file)


Ray Neal is in now in his seventies but he still has the gravitas of a head honcho about him.   He's the sort of bloke Banjo Patterson might have called "hard and tough and wiry, just the sort who won't say die".   I wouldn't want to mess with him, his piercing blue eyes give you the same message as his carefully chosen words, this bloke is a straight-shooter who won't react well to being stuffed around. 

We met in his beautiful home opposite a lake on the outskirts of Perth.   His recall of his days at the helm of Western Australia's Corporate Affairs Commission was instant and crystal clear.

Ray Neal was deceived into registering the Australian Workers' Union - Workplace Reform Association.   It beggars belief that he was not called as a witness by the Royal Commission - more on that issue later.  

Yesterday Mr Neal told me that in 1992  Corporate Affairs had an internal check list that had to be completed prior to incorporating an association and the  appearance of the name "Australian Workers' Union" on an application form would have triggered a range of enquiries, including the fact that it appeared to be a trade union and therefore ineligible for incorporation.

Beyond the trade union concerns, the name Australian Workers' Union was already taken, it belonged to the AWU.   That would have triggered a query from his staff to ensure that the new association was authorised to use the AWU's name.   Mr Neal said, "the officer in charge (of the file) would have ensured that it was being registered to the right party".   That is part of the reason for his outwards letter seeking confirmation of the Association's bona fides.

On 15 May 1992 Mr Neal wrote to Julia Gillard at her Slater and Gordon address.   He quoted her reference "IU:JG" and said, "Thank you for your letter of 13 May concerning the application by Mr R.E. Blewitt to incorporate the above association.   The explanation you have provided....... is accepted...."

In her departure interview, Peter Gordon said to Ms Gillard, "..there'd been a letter back from the authority suggesting that it might be...........ineligible for incorporation under that legislation, and that we had prepared a response.......arguing the case for its incorporation....."

Gillard said, "Yes..."

We do not (yet) have a copy of Ms Gillard's letter of 13 May which vouched for the bona fides of what was a sham entity - but we do know that the AWU had not authorised the use of its name.   

Ms Gillard's story is that she believed she was simply setting up a payroll deduction election fund to pay for Wilson's election expenses as a union official.   But she could not have told that to the Corporate Affairs Commissioner - if she had said that it would have been game over.

Ray Neal told me he would not have incorporated an election slush fund.

Mr Neal said that if he was told it was an election slush fund, "It wouldn't have been allowed to be registered.   It would have been inappropriate to have registered it.   It's gotta be all non-profit organisations, that's charitable and non-profit organisations, anything other than that would not have been registrable under the act."

When Ray Neal queried the use of the AWU name it was Ms Gillard at Slater and Gordon, a lawyer acting for the AWU, who wrote back to convince him all was OK.   She agreed with Peter Gordon that she "argued the case for its incorporation".   It wasn't Ralph Blewitt or Bruce Wilson who convinced Mr Neal that it was OK to use the AWU name.   It was Julia Gillard.   Mr Neal was deceived.   Mr Neal was a public official.   And the deception has Julia Gillard's fingerprints all over it.

Every touch leaves its trace.




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Following is an extract from Julia Gillard's departure interview from Slater and Gordon, 11 September, 1995.


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