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April 2015

The ABC can't help itself, offensive, ignorant and very selective in the side it supports over the Anzac Day SBS Tweets

You might forgive me an occasional wry smile over the left's protests in support of the sacked SBS reporter and his "right" to say whatever the left approves of.

When Julia Gillard swung her weight around with News Limited (and by extension Fairfax) to shut down enquiries and reporting into the AWU scandal, there wasn't a peep of support for Glen Milne, Bob Kernohan (whose legally approved interview was pulled after being heavily promoted, giving the impression Bob was saying something untrue or improper) or me.

The Gillard story was important, it was the truth it was being covered up -  and as we now know it's led (in part) to a very expensive Royal Commission.

The media should have been apoplectic at a sitting Prime Minister so abusing her office to achieve a personal gain - that is stopping the reports and enquiries about her personal past in the AWU WRA Inc scandal.   Her conduct went to the heart of our democracy.   But she was of the left.........



The Australian today reports charges over AWU slush fund to return focus to Julia Gillard

Ralph Blewitt was in Australia for Anzac Day - I've spoken with him a number of times and both he and Ruby are happy and well.   

Here's part of Hedley;s story today - you can read more at The Australian.

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Charges over AWU slush fund to return focus to Julia Gillard

Former prime minister Julia Gillard is facing further scrutiny of her role in helping to set up a fraudulent union slush fund as Victorian police prepare to charge a key player in the saga.

A senior Victoria Police detective has told self-confessed AWU bagman and fraudster Ralph ­Blewitt that he will very soon be criminally charged over his role in the union slush fund set up with Ms Gillard’s legal advice.

Mr Blewitt said yesterday he intended to plead not guilty and would instruct his lawyers to subpoena witnesses, including Ms Gillard, to give evidence under oath.

Detective Sergeant Ross Mitchell of the Fraud Squad, who has been leading the two-year investigation, which provided key evidence to the ongoing royal commission into union graft, has told Mr Blewitt that at least two charges will be levelled in Victoria.

Mr Blewitt, who has admitted his involvement in fraud with his friend and former union boss Bruce Wilson, and their slush fund, the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Ass­ociation, yesterday said he understood others would be charged.

“Victoria Police are now recommending that I be charged over the frauds that were committed in Victoria, and the matter is going to the public prosecutor’s office,’’ Mr Blewitt, who is visiting Perth, told The Australian.

“I welcome the charges ­because I have co-operated with the police for over two years and I want to see others who were involved also made accountable.”

Mr Blewitt, who lives in ­Malaysia, said he had been told to brace for additional charges in Western Australia where the slush fund was incorporated in the early 1990s. It received hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-existent work from companies including the building giant Thiess. He said Victoria Police had recently sent a dossier of evidence to WA detectives with the aim of launching a prosecution process in that state, too.

Paul Anthony Sinclair, Assistant Secretary of the ETU has been called and sworn

Mr Sinclair has been sworn, he has made and adopted a witness statement which has been tendered and received into evidence along with its Exhibits.

Various objections to elements of Mr Sinclair's witness statement are being heard.   Quite a few in fact.  Quite a bit of legal argument about various written statements we can't yet see.

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At 10.53 legal arguments/corrections and amendments to the witness statement continues.

The Commissioner has accepted a bundle of loan-related documents into evidence.

Mr Stoljar is examining Mr Sinclair about some hand written documents relating to the meeting of the Executive of the ETU in December 2010.

Mr Stoljar is referring to a bundle of documents the Commission was provided with "this morning" - apparently the ETU has just "tracked them down".

Mr Sinclair is describing the way ETU Executive management meetings were conducted, including the process for approval of financial expenses.

Mr Sinclair is confirming the authenticity of various hand written notes that came to form the Minutes of a meeting of the ETU Executive, typed up by the Personal Assistant to the management of the ETU.

Mr Sinclair has "no recollection" of a loan being discussed at the December meeting of the ETU Executive, notwithstanding that there were apparently hand written notes in his writing about all the financial transactions relevant to and discussed at the meeting.   He appears on all accounts to be giving truthful evidence in answer to Mr Stoljar's questioning - that is that there was no discussion about a loan to the Labor Party at the relevant meetings.

Mr Sinclair was asked about a witness statement made by Commissioner (courtesy Bill Shorten) Bernie Riordan in which Riordan states that Mr Sinclair has a grudge against him (Riordan).   Mr Sinclair states that he is not at the Commission to pursue any grudge and that his evidence is truthful and honest.   He states that he had a good relationship with Riordan until 2012 when "something happened".   Things that happened in 2012 include Bill Shorten making Riordan a Commissioner of Fair Work Australia with a huge salary and pension scheme.   Lucky Bernie.

Mr Sinclair states that there was absolutely no discussion of the loan to the Labor Party - he remembers the day because there was Christmas harbour cruise at about lunchtime that day.   There was no discussion or approval of the loan at the Executive or Council meetings, Mr Sinclair was not a member of the Executive, rather his role at the meetings was to act as minute taker.   He is emphatic that there was no discussion about a loan to the Labor Party and no formal approval of any loan.

Mr Sinclair is describing a safe in the accountant's office at the ETU, it was opened with a key.

On 23 July 2012 Mr Dastyari and Mr Jamie Clements attended an Executive meeting of the ETU.



At 11.49 Mr Stoljar concluded his examination.

Mr Sinclair is now being cross examined by Counsel for the ETU and its officers.

He was asked which witness statements made by others he has read.   He was non-committal about the details of which statements he has read, having "seen some". 

Mr Sinclair agreed that he kept hand written notes of the minutes "made in pencil" and that he sometimes "rubbed bits out and changed them".  He agreed with the proposition but added that he only made changes "at the meeting".

Mr Sinclair agreed that he put parts of the minutes of meetings together before a meeting - i.e. the headings and agenda items, then filled in the details of discussion held during the meetings as they took place.

Very detailed examination by Counsel for the ETU on the way Mr Sinclair takes minutes.   Very excruciatingly detailed.

The transcript should be fascinating.

Notwithstanding the past 45 minutes of cross-examination, Mr Sinclair is firm and emphatic in stating that he did not omit from the minutes any discussion of the ALP Loan.   He simply states that the loan was not discussed at the meeting.

Mr Sinclair has not deviated an iota from his witness statement or evidence to the Commission, despite the best endeavours of Counsel for Steve Butler and the ETU - at no point was the loan to the Labor Party discussed or approved at the ETU's Executive or Council meetings prior to the loan being made.   It was not authorised.

Counsel for the ETU, Steve Butler and the ETU's officers put to Mr Sinclair that more than a dozen current ETU officials do recall the meeting and do recall the ETU approving the loan to the ALP.   Well stuff me, what a surprise.   Mr Stoljar objected to the generalised summary of the evidence of so many witnesses, prior to any evidence being heard from those witnesses.  Counsel for the ETU said the foundation of his question was the proposition that Mr Sinclair had already read those statements - the Commissioner intervened on Mr Sinclair's part that he hadn't in fact read all those statements.   Counsel of the ETU is very persistent.

Mr Sinclair is being subjected to a barrage of differently constructed questions which appear to arise from the same foundational idea - that the other ETU officials collectively state that they did approve the loan to the ALP, that it was properly approved, that it was somehow not minuted and no one noticed. 

Mr Sinclair is unshakable. Just after 1PM the Commission adjourned for lunch.

At 2PM the Commission reconvened - Mr Sinclair cross examination continues.

Mr Sinclair is being quizzed about his ambitions to be ETU Secretary and whether or not that unsatisfied ambition led to bitterness against Mr Riordan.   He disagrees with the proposition that it has.

Click here to watch the TURC hearings into the Labor Party Loans Affair


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10.03AM and Counsel Assisting and his team are yet to appear in the Chamber

10.04AM - Mr Stoljar SC arrives

Mr Taylor appears for the ETU NSW Branch, instructed by Mr Pasfield of Slater and Gordon, the same team appears for Mr Butler and more than 20 of his ETU officials.   The barrister was at pains to point out that the ETU is a union for the purposes of the NSW Industrial Relations legislation, he did not mention any federal incorporation.

Mr Borenstein appears for the Victorian Branch of the ETU

Another barrister appears for Bernard Riordan

Another barrister appears for the CEPU

At 10.08AM Mr Stoljar SC, Counsel Assisting the Commission commenced his opening address.

He said today's hearing is about the ETU NSW Branch was the focus of the hearing, in particular the conduct of senior union officials involving themselves in political events to the detriment of their union members.

Secondly unions are subject to considerable regulation - among those regulations and legislation are rules prohibiting union officials from involving themselves in conflicts of interest.

Thirdly the commission will look at some union officials taking actions to entrench their positions - including in particular taking legal proceedings against competitors.

Fourthly the Commission will hear about financial transactions, particularly in cash.


Late 2010 - Bernaard Riordan was NSW Secretary of the NSW Labor Party and Secretary of the ETU.

MR Riordan and others were directors on several boards and they kept the remuneration for those directorships personally.

In 2011 NSW State elections were due.   The NSW Labor Party canvassed various unions for "donations" and other fundings.

Mr Stoljar states that several ETU officials from the NSW and Victorian Branches met to canvass whether the various branches would support Dean Mighells in running for the national leadership position.   It was a torrid meeting - Mr Riordan and others stated that they would not support Mr Mighell, Mr Mighell is said to have responded with a threat of "open warfare" against the other branches leadership.

The ETU is said to have loaned $3M to the Labor Party.  Sam Dastyari is said to have negotiated the loan with Mr Riordan.

On 11 July 2011, Dean Mighell commenced proceedings against Mr Riordan and 2 others seeking recovery of $3,395,097 from those 3 officials for directors fees.   

These should be very painful hearings for Mr Commissioner Riordan. 

ON 31 December 2011 the first instalment from the ALP was due, the ALP did not make the payment, the ETU did not seek repayment.

The ALP continued to have troubles meeting its repayments to the ALP.  Bernie Riordan was made a Commissioner of Fair Work Australia during this time as the ALP was seeking a variation of its repayment schedule of the loan to the ETU.

Lucky Bernie.

As we reported earlier, there was a second round of proceedings brought in the Federal Court.

The hearings will look at the Labor Party Loan - as well as the question of whether or not Bernie Riordan and others actually owe the ETU money as a result of receiving their directors fees.

The CEPU/ETU members paid for the legal proceedings to recover the money - why were ETU members put to that expense if Riordan and others did not owe the money?

The Commission will also look at a considerable sum of cash money kept at the ETU's office.

AT 10.28 Mr Stoljar completed his opening address.

The first witness is Mr Sinclair.

ETU of NSW media statement regarding today's TURC hearing

No need for a hearing now, here's the union's statement clearing everything up.


ETU NSW response to Trade Union Royal Commission

Posted on 27-4-2015


The Electrical Trades Union has pledged to respond to all matters scheduled to be heard at the Trade Union Royal Commission over the coming fortnight in a transparent and professional manner.

ETU secretary Steve Butler said the matters being reviewed by the Royal Commission largely preceded his election as State Secretary in 2012, and that he had commissioned transparent reviews of the matters on taking office.

“The Trade Union Royal Commission intends to investigate an investment made by the NSW branch of the Electrical Trades Union almost five years ago, which involved a commercial loan to the NSW Labor Party,” Mr Butler said.

“The loan was repaid in full during 2013, including more than $100,000 in interest.

“On assuming the position of secretary in July 2012 I immediately ordered a review of this matter to ensure proper internal processes had been followed and that the rules of the union had been complied with.

“The review reported that the loan was an investment decision, the rules of the union were complied with and the loan was properly made.

“It is not unusual for unions to invest members’ money in order to generate returns that are then used to benefit members by supporting union activities.

“The ETU was one of three unions to extend loans to NSW Labor in 2010/11, all of which were agreed to on commercial terms with interest payable and fully disclosed in financial accounts.

“One must remember that trade unions founded the Labor Party more than one hundred years ago as the political voice of working people, and we continue to enjoy a close working relationship with the Labor Party to achieve our goal of improving the lives of working people.

“Under my leadership I have always acted in the best interest of ETU members. It is disappointing that these matters are being investigated, but despite this the ETU has committed to assisting the commission during its inquiry.

“Any questions raised about the actions of formers office holders of the union will be best addressed by those individuals and the ETU will not be providing an ongoing commentary.

ETU investment loan facts:

  • An Investment loan to NSW Labor was extended by the ETU in December 2010.
  • The investment loan was for an amount of $500,000.
  • The investment loan was reported in the financial accounts of both the ETU NSW Branch and the NSW Labor Party.
  • The investment loan was granted on the basis of a commercial arrangement with interest payable at an annual rate of 8.5 per cent.
  • The ETU was one of three unions to extend commercial loans to NSW Labor in 2010/11.
  • The loan repayment schedule was renegotiated with NSW Labor at different times on terms agreed to by both parties, and approved in accordance with the rules of the union.
  • Bernie Riordan resigned as secretary of the ETU NSW Branch in March 2012.
  • Steve Butler assumed the secretary’s position following a fresh election in July 2012.
  • Mr Butler ordered a review of the ALP investment loan in August 2012, after receiving one internal complaint.
  • The review was conducted between August and October 2012 by NEW Law and found the investment had been omitted from the minutes of an executive meeting by error, but the investment was made in accordance with the rules of the union.
  • Following a further complaint from the same source, a further review — by KPMG — was conducted. This review was handed down in July 2013 and found that the original review had adequately investigated the matter.
  • The investment loan was repaid in full in July 2013, including interest of $103,047.

British Labour to make fear of Islam a crime. "We are going to make it an aggravated crime to root out Islamophobia", Ed Miliband.

Seriously.   Islamophobia - fear of the religion of Islam.

"We are going to make it an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime,” Miliband told the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi.

Here is the interview.

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Labour would outlaw Islamophobia, says Miliband in an exclusive interview

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Continue reading "British Labour to make fear of Islam a crime. "We are going to make it an aggravated crime to root out Islamophobia", Ed Miliband." »

The most graphic account of our men fighting at Gallipoli you may ever read - from one of our family

Thank you to readers A&H who have been generous supporters of this website from its earliest days.

A has just sent this letter out to his family and he's shared it with us too:

Hi folks,
Yesterday I was browsing through a book mum and dad gave me years ago, “ From Randwick To Hargicourt.” It’s a history of the 3rd Battalion 1st AIF.
There was a letter from Pop Cole’s brother, Reginald Norman Cole,  to his father, James, which was published in a Sydney newspaper.
It’s a pretty graphic account of the war.
I had to scan it in two parts, someone clever might be able to put it together as one.  I’ve also included a copy of the dedication inside the front cover,written by Pop Cole to his son, Aubrey, in 1935.
Didn’t they leave us a wonderful legacy?
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What an account, in the young soldier's own words.   We will remember them.  Lest we forget.