Ray Neal, former WA Corporate Affairs chief speaks out about Gillard and the AWU WRA
The Guardian's treatment of Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten, same facts - two vastly different angles

The Trade Union Royal Commission's failures are unforgivable

I was one of the staunchest advocates for the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.   I'm deeply disappointed by its conduct to date.

The Commission's operating budget (to November 2014) was $33.8M - however it only spent $17M.   That 50% underspend would normally be cause for celebration - but in this case it reflects a lack of investigative enthusiasm and diligence.

Everv day-one,  week-one policeman knows it's prudent to take a statement from someone who's had their car stolen.   If someone is deceived in a fraud, you'll need a statement from them too.   If there are contested court proceedings you'll need that person as a witness.

Ray Neal was the acting corporate affairs commissioner who was deceived into incorporating the  Australian Workers' Union - Workplace Reform Association.   He was deceived, yet he was not called as a witness to the Royal Commission.   His recall is sharp and his evidence is important.   I was able to get him on tape and on the record after knocking on his door - the Royal Commission's failure to call him is inexplicable.

The Royal Commission (courtesy of the Victoria Police) had Ray Neal's letter in May of this year.   It sat in Perth in June - yet it didn't call Neal.   It didn't call Russell Frearson, the former accountant and official of the AWU who could give evidence that Wilson had already established his own election fund.  Frearson says there was a payroll deduction election fund established in 1991, a fact that goes to the motivation and knowledge of both Wilson and Gillard as they contemplated establishing the sham AWU WRA.

Julia Gillard wrote the rules or objects of the Australian Workers' Union - Workplace Reform Association, but the Royal Commission's interim report doesn't  exhibit her document.   The report examines the application form and the certificate accompanying it - but is silent in what should have been a comprehensive examination of Gillard's objects/rules.  

Why should that document have been more comprehensively examined?   Because Gillard's work is prima facie a forgery, a false document uttered to deceive the corporate affairs commissioner into incorporating her sham entity.   There was no Association.   It could not have met and formed.   It could not have approved its own rules because it did not exist.   Any document which purports to be a document of that Association is forgery - as much a forgery as if I signed a document as Julia Gillard.

In his interim report the Commissioner helps us to understand the role of an accessory to certain offences.   He says,

  1. It has been held, in respect of those similar provisions, that a person is not liable as an accessory unless he or she has actual knowledge of the essential matters that make up the contravention (although the person need not know that his or her participation was a breach of the Act).24 It may be possible to infer knowledge from a combination of suspicious circumstances and a failure to make enquiry.25 

It is indeed possible to infer that Ms Gillard had knowledge of the essential matters that make up Wilson and Blewitt's crimes - from a combination of suspicious circumstances and from her abject failure to make obvious enquiries.   The improper use of the AWU's name and the deception of the WA Corporate Affairs Commissioner are cases in point.   After May, 1992 Ms Gillard and her co-offenders were formally on notice from the Corporate Affairs Commission that there was a problem with their AWU Workplace Reform Association.   She had the opportunity to correct the record, to make clear this was simply an election fund.   She did not do that.   As the Commissioner helpfully points out, her "failure to make an enquiry" of the alleged members of the sham association to seek guidance is highly suspicious - yet the Royal Commission has delivered her an undeservedly clean slate.

The Trade Union Royal Commission has 10 effective months remaining in which to do its work.   Its zealous pursuit of the relatively low level crimes of low level apparatchiks like Ms Butera and Ms Zanatta have been sideshows.   The Commission needs to aim higher.   It appears to be fearful of upsetting political players, yet that is precisely where its focus ought to be.

There are now changed circumstances involving Ms Gillard.  Mr Neal has a story to tell.   The Commission should hear from him and Ms Gillard.   And so should a jury.