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October 2015

ICAC Inspector's report on this website's reach and Megan Latham's pulling the wings off butterflies video

On 21 April this year The Australian published an artilcle entitled "ICAC can be a lot of fun: Latham'.

That story was based on the video we published after The Australian's story had run.  A source had provided me with what the source said was the only copy of the now notorious clip and asked that we publish it on this site.   And so we did.

I didn't make a big deal of it but I knew we had the only published copy of the video on our website then.   I've just checked today and that's still the case so far as I can find on youtube - the only copy published is the one published by me.   My source dealt with me on condition of confidentiality knowing I would respect that agreement come what may.

This morning I read the Annual Report from the Inspector of the ICAC the Hon David Levine AO RFD QC.   Our youtube video features extensively in it.   The Inspector has published some of the various pieces of correspondence he's received on the Wing-Pul performance.  We even get a glimpse at his Please Explain addressed to Ms Wing-Pul herself.

In her response Wing-Pul reveals that she must be the only person in Sydney's legal fraternity who's not viewed the actual Exhibit.   She wrote back to Inspector Gadget saying she wasn't referring to the ICAC when she exposed her leisure time pursuits.   All Wing had to do was come to this site and she could have heard herself for herself!   Everyone else has.

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Why read all that when you can watch this?  I challenge you to  find words that describe the correct hand positioning for the classic Bogong Moth wing work in quite the same way as Wing-Pul pulls off in this video masterclass.

Up until this morning, you can only find Wing-Pul's extraction-replay at one place and our associated youtube channel.

Read all about it if you like - or see the source material for yourself here.   Thanks for the plug Inspector.

PS - it's not worth hitting the grog about Geoffrey!   There are worse jobs than pulling the wings off butterflies at your boss's direction.   You could have been born Jeremy!

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Who did what and when in Gillard's "innocent and proper role" in the Blewitt Power of Attorney fraud


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That's a February 1993 photo of sophisticated property tycoon Ralph Blewitt with the mo, glasses and perm on the right of screen.  Bruce Wilson's next to him with Bill Ludwig and Ian Cambridge seated at the front at their annual  conference - just before Bruce bought Kerr Street with Ralph's POA created by the Wilson girlfriend Julia.

Gillard and Wilson agree on one thing in their story about the Power of Attorney - the timeframe during which it went from discussion to an executed and witnessed document.  Gillard had 1.5 hours.

There was a lot to do during those 1.5 billables at Slater and Gordon!

In her 11 Sept 1995 Exit Interview Gillard makes clear that she prepared the POA for Bruce, not Ralph. 

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On 10 Sept 2014 she told the Royal Commission;

22 22        Q.   Do you recall who asked you to prepare this power of attorney?

25 24        A.   As I have referred to in, I think, the 1995 interview, it arose out of discussions about Mr Blewitt wanting to buy  an investment property, the decision narrowing down to bidding on the Kerr Street property, and Mr Blewitt not nbeing personally able to be there to do that bidding.


"Narrowing it down to bidding on the Kerr Street property" means the POA issue couldn't have been discussed before the Gillard/Wilson/Blewitt Thai dinner on 3 February, 1993. 

Wilson had earlier give the Commission the following evidence, including this helpful observation about who Gillard was taking instructions from,  "she said she could do it in the morning for me".

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So with their evidence corroborating each other, we can reliably narrow down the timeframe during which they say things happened.

3 February 1993 Blewitt/Wilson decided to bid on the Kerr Street property at the 13 Feb auction.

But there was a problem -at dinner that night Blewitt stated he could not be present in Melbourne to bid on the 13th.

Rather than suggest a Nominee as provided for in the Contract, Gillard suggested a Power of Attorney for Bruce - he agreed and they say they left dinner with Gillard to "fix up the power of attorney for me (Wilson) in the morning".

Wilson gives us the end of the time-frame too.   After the POA had been completed  "I then drove Blewitt to the airport as he was leaving to go to Perth that morning".

Blewitt states that his practice was always to catch the "red-eye" or first flight out of Melbourne on his return to Perth (0600 at the latest).   However give Wilson/Gillard the benefit of any doubt by using Wilson's upper time limit, that Blewitt was leaving that morning - i.e. before midday.

In November 2014 we comprehensively researched the available flights Melbourne - Perth at the time.   Ansett and Qantas operated to similar timetables and each had an 11.50AM flight, arriving Perth time around 2PM.

Now we can summarise.

Time-frame from instructions (which came from Wilson, not Blewitt) to execution of POA

Earliest time instructions given - say 9PM 3 February, 1993

Latest time executed POA document completed - say 10.30AM the next morning (to allow for Blewitt to get back to Wilson's car and drive in the pre-Freeway Melbourne traffic to Tullamarine for the last morning flight to Perth).

What did Gillard have to do after Wilson gave her instructions about the PoA?

Before we get to the evidence she gave at the Royal Commission, it might be useful to know that she told Peter Gordon and Geoff Shaw this piece of confidence shattering news at her Exit Interview:

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On 10 September 2014 Ms Gillard told the Royal Commission  how she produced this Power of Attorney in her role at Slater and Gordon (where she knew nothing about the conveyance of property.

11 11        Q.   At the time you undertook the preparation of the power of attorney, had you had any expertise in the preparation  of a power of attorney?

17 14        A.   At Slater & Gordon at this time - obviously life would  be different now, but at Slater & Gordon at this time there were precedent folders and you would dictate the variables.  So there would be a power of attorney precedent.  Variable  one would be the name, you would dictate that, and the tape would be taken to word-processing and the document generated.

Anticipating you'd ask "what does the tape would be taken to word-processing mean?", 'Gillard said this during her marathon answering all the questions media appearance on 23 August 2012.

Let’s remember – and for the younger ones in the audience, they might now faint from shock – the usual way of dealing with instructions at Slater & Gordon back then was for lawyers to interview clients and then quickly dictate matters into a Dictaphone which was then sent to a centralised word processing pool we referred to as WANG because that was the word processing system that was operated by lawyers back then. Then it would come back, then you would correct the typos in it, then it would go back to WANG. And so life went on. So, you know, lawyers having tapes, Dictaphones handy was, you know, nothing unusual in Slater & Gordon or any law firm at the time; that’s how we did our work. Of course, life is now different and there are no centralised word processing pools to the best of my knowledge.

Slater and Gordon didn't want high-billing partners sitting in front of word processors.  Lawyers were for billing, Wang girls were for typing.

Wilson drove Gillard to work that morning.  She may have arrived early but it's unlikely the Wang word processing army did.   Let's say the start point was 9AM.   Let's say Gillard had no other appointments.   Let's say Wang wasn't really busy either.

This is the document:

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But before she could ethically whip her Dictaphone out for Ralph, Ms Gillard would have turned her mid to the obligations on a lawyer who always witnessed documents properly when involved in the donation of a Power of Attorney.   Fortunately we have many ethical lawyers and para-legals who contribute to our website to fill in the gaps for you.

In April 2013 Spin Baby Spin wrote with a synopsis of lawyers obligations when dealing with the creation of a power of attorney.


Lawyers and Powers of Attorney 

It is important to understand that when a lawyer receives instructions to prepare a Power of Attorney, the Donor (in this case Blewitt) is always the client, and the lawyer’s obligations are to the donor, NOT the Attorney (in this case Gillard’s boyfriend Wilson). 

The lawyer has an obligation to explain the nature and effect of the power of attorney to the donor personally (or in writing) – without the Attorney in attendance (or interfering with the mail if it’s done in writing).  The lawyer has to be satisfied that the donor understands the nature and effect of the document.  They normally make enquiries of the Donor about what the Power of Attorney is intended to accomplish and at that point they (at least the ones I worked for) discussed what other options there are other than a Power of Attorney (eg in this case discussing completing the transaction via inter-state correspondence).

It is important to note that Lawyers generally attend on the Donor in person or if that’s not possible write a letter enclosing the document and explaining the effect of the instrument before it is signed.  At this point they also confirm the instructions received – in effect parroting them back to the client.  I cannot make the point strongly enough that they deal directly with the Donor in all aspects of the creation of the document.  Lawyers do not like to have the Attorney involved at this stage, because they have an obligation to ensure the Power is created without any duress from the Attorney and to have the attorney involved blurs the lines and allows allegations of improper conduct to occur if something goes wrong.  It’s just easier to cut the Attorney out of these dealings altogether at this point.

When personally attending on the Donor, (usually in the lawyer’s office) the lawyer would record the visit via a Diary Note where they note the nature of their advice – it’s at this point the document is signed in their presence and the diary note would confirm that.  If they don’t prepare a Diary Note they open themselves up to the allegation that they failed to properly explain the effect of the document to the Donor and they can be sued for damages if it is improperly used by the Attorney.

Gillard has confirmed in one of her marathon interviews that in her legal office every phone call and personal meeting with a client was diarised.  In my personal observations of lawyers, this is particularly so when advice is given verbally.  It is quite often confirmed in writing (parroted back) but in the case of a Power of Attorney it would be normal for this NOT to occur – so for Gillard not to confirm in writing is perfectly normal conduct.  I have typed up many diary notes of these conversations between clients and their lawyers.  Gillard’s right on this point – so there should be a diary note of when she attended on Blewitt to provide advice on the Power of Attorney and that diary note would confirm she witnessed the document being signed.  The question for Gillard is why she didn’t create a diary note when the Power of Attorney was witnessed – that would be the time she provided verbal legal advice to Blewitt in relation to its effects?  What is her explanation for why she failed to document her advice via a diary note at that point in time?  If there was a diary note, it would disprove Blewitt’s allegation she wasn’t present at the time of signin

What I find particularly difficult to come to terms with is:

  1. Gillard’s belief that it was OK to receive instructions from her boyfriend as the proposed Attorney instead of asking another lawyer in her firm to handle the matter for her. 
  2. She failed to open a file “Ralph Blewitt Power of Attorney to Bruce Wilson”. 
  3. She took instructions from Bruce Wilson (someone she was in a personal relationship with) instead of dealing directly with the Donor. 
  4. She failed to tell the other partners at her firm she was personally preparing a power of attorney with her boyfriend as Attorney on her boyfriend’s instructions rather than getting instructions directly from the Donor. 
  5. She failed to confirm in writing or via diary note confirmation from Blewitt  that the instructions she got from Bruce were correct.
  6. She failed to discuss directly with Blewitt the purpose of the Power of Attorney – was it just for the conveyance or a mortgage as well, and if a mortgage how Blewitt was to approve the terms of the mortgage and what parameters Wilson was to work within.  She failed to document these discussions if they did in fact take place.  Her failure in this respect also opened Wilson up to the possibility of being sued by Blewitt for taking out a mortgage in his name on terms unsatisfactory to Blewitt.
  7. She failed to liaise directly with Blewitt on the effects of the Power of Attorney and that they were in accordance with his needs and wishes. 
  8. She failed to make a file note of her interview with Blewitt when she purportedly witnessed the Power of Attorney. 
  9. She didn’t ensure she had on file written instructions or confirmation of instructions from Blewitt to prepare the Power of Attorney. 

The point I make here is that if Gillard had made proper notes in relation to the creation of the Power of Attorney – even if it was just filed on her JEG General File, it would be incredibly easy for her to prove to the Police that Blewitt’s allegation and Michael Smith’s complaint has no basis.  There should be diarised evidence of her receiving instructions, providing advice and the personal attendance she made on Blewitt when she witnessed the document (which is normally when the verbal advice would be given and diarised in a diary note).  Does Gillard have any recollection of documenting any of the instructions she received and meetings she had in relation to the creation of the Power of Attorney?  If there is no recollection, does she expect that in the normal course of her practicing as a lawyer she would have documented these things?  Why are these documents not in existence?  I haven’t seen an explanation from Gillard on these points and that’s a shame because she could have shut this whole thing down if she had properly diarised the creation of the Power of Attorney according to her version of events.  Why aren’t journalists doing their jobs properly and questioning her on these points?  I don’t expect her to remember the witnessing, but she should be able to confirm she would in the normal course of things have prepared a diary note evidencing her attendance on Blewitt when she witnessed this document.

The fact that a lawyer failed to create the normal sort of documents one would expect to see when a Power of Attorney like this is created opens up the possibility of fraud on the lawyer’s part.  That of course is the whole basis of Michael Smith’s complaint that the Police are currently investigating.  I’d just like an explanation of why the documents weren’t created when in the normal course of things they would be (and mainly to protect said lawyer’s back as she was doing it on the instructions of the Attorney instead of the Donor).

Police need only subpoena Slater and Gordon for the documents relating to the creation of the Power of Attorney.  Julia Gillard herself should be demanding Slater and Gordon release these documents as Blewitt has already waived privilege.  She should be moving to clear her name publically.  It wouldn’t be difficult for her to say she’s asked Slater and Gordon to release to her the file notes she made at the time so she can clear her name of fraud. 

Every touch leaves its trace.  Where are the documents Slater and Gordon?  You have it within your power to prove via documentary evidence that the fraud allegation against Australia’s Prime Minister is without basis.


Ms Gillard always did everything by the book.   She was deceived by Wilson and Blewitt and was innocent of their fraud.   It follows that she would have been careful to research and comply with the law and her professional obligations in witnessing Ralph Blewitt donate his Power of Attorney to her boyfriend Bruce, doesn't it Commissioner?

She had a lot to do between 9 and 10.30 that morning.  And all of that fuss, getting a tape delivered to the Wang girls, lecturing Ralph about his rights and Bruce's responsibilities, looking for conflicts of interest etc, well all of that fuss compressed into 1.5 hours with 10 days before the auction.   All the while even a cursory glance at the Contract for Sale would have revealed that Wilson could have been Blewit's nominee on the day without a Power of Attorney document - so why the great rush?????

It makes no sense if you look at it unfolding before you as the day proceeds.

But created as a cover story after the event?  We should ask the Donor about that.   He donated the Power of Attorney, so he should know.  Every touch leaves its trace.

Maybe it's in everyone's interests if we leave this one for a Jury to decide. 

In OCT 2008 Puneet Puneet killed Gold Coast student Dean Hofstee - why is he still free and unrepentant in India?

Early today I received this text from my former producer at 4BC Brisbane Aaron O'Brien.

I will never forget Puneet Puneet.   Fugitive, bail-jumper, fraudster and unrepentant killer.

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In October 2008 driving on a Learner's Permit with a BAC of .165 at an estimated 150KPH in a 60 zone he did this.

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19 year old Gold Coast nursing student Dean Hofstee and a group of mates were walking back to the hotel.   Coming at them at racing speed was blind-drunk L-Plater Puneet Puneet's white Commodore; it beat them to the lobby. The car hurtled straight through Dean and his mate Clancy Coker.   Dean didn't stand a chance.

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IN the early hours of the next morning a surgical team was fighting hard just to keep Clancy alive - his horrific injuries would have to wait while they focussed on keeping his heart going.  A Gold Coast police crew who'd drawn the short straw were tentatively knocking on Pete and Fran Hofstee's door, secretly hoping that no one was home.   At the Melbourne Morgue the night shift staff were doing their best to minimise the shock to Dean's family when the curtain was drawn back in the formal process of identifying Dean's body for the Coroner.    And a Herald Sun reporter was waiting outside the Watch House when a freshly processed and unrepentant 19 year old Puneet Puneet was bailed.

Puneet seemed unaware of, or unconcerned by, the consequences of his actions that ended the life of a young visitor from the Gold Coast and severely affected the life of the other.

Puneet blamed sore eyes and a cat for the crash, rather than being drunk and driving at three times the speed limit.

"My eyes were sore and they were closed and when they opened a cat came on to the road and I lost control,'' Puneet said.

Dean was a gentle giant from a great family.   He was in Melbourne to compete in the Australian University Games with his water polo team from Queensland.  He'd been partying with friends that night and was returning to his hotel when Puneet killed him.

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After his funeral at the Gold Coast's Trinity Anglican Mission, 100 board riders paddled out from Dean's local Burleigh Heads beach to lay floral wreaths in his memory while family and friends looked on.

Meanwhile Puneet was working every angle and taking every opportunity to avail himself of the legal and other  support afforded him after the crash.   He was charged and bailed, spending no time in jail.   In January 2009 he appeared again, stringing the system along to delay entering a plea.

In February 2009 while on bail Puneet took on a job.   He met and befriended fellow Indian student visa holder Sukhcharanjit Singh while selling mobile phone plans door-to-door.

In May 2009 Puneet formally entered a plea of guilty on the charge of culpable driving causing Dean's death. He was again bailed awaiting sentence on the condition that he surrender his passport, not approach a place of international departure and report to police five times a week.   The plea of guilty appears to have been a tactical move, it's now clear Puneet had no intention of facing justice.

Mobile phone records showed Singh and Puneet communicating heavily after the guilty plea with 50+ daily phone/text messages leading up to 1 June 2009 when all communications ceased.

On 1 June 2009 Puneet used Singh's details to purchase a return ticket to Delhi over the phone.  Three days later he had the cheek to get a refund on the return leg, converting the ticket to one way.

A 3rd Indian student visa holder made a statement to police that "everyone knew Puneet was about to leave Australia".   The student said that Puneet had purchased Singh's passport for $3,000.  

A couple of days before Friday, 12 June 2009 Puneet's friends in the know held a "going away party" to farewell Puneet.   The mood was jubilant.

On Friday 12 June 2009 Puneet reported to police.   A short time later he was recorded filling in a Passenger Departure Card using Singh's details.   He presented Singh's passport to immigration officials at Tullamarine International Terminal and was cleared to leave Australia.   Three hours after walking out of  the police station he was wheels up on a flight bound for New Delhi.  

Nothing happened when Puneet failed to report on bail the next week.   Nor the next.   Police only made tentative enquiries of Puneet's friends as to his location in those critical early days.

Meanwhile Dean Hofstee's dad Pete and family were well advanced in plans to travel to Melbourne for Puneet's sentencing hearing.    It was only days before the hearing that they were told that Puneet had absconded.

On 20 August 2009, the day Puneet was due to be sentenced, Sukhcharanjit Singh was arrested and charged with providing a false passport to Puneet.  

On Friday 21 August 2009 I went to work to present radio 4BC's drive program in Brisbane.   I couldn't believe what I was hearing that day out of Melbourne.  Dean was a much loved local and that's the beauty of local radio, everyone who listens or presents feels they are a part of that local family.

I prepared an editorial listing some of the questions I wanted answered for our listeners.   My producer, Aaron O'Brien and I both felt very personally involved with this story for reasons that will become clear.   I posted that written editorial to my 4BC blog here:

Getting away with manslaughter

Posted by: Michael Smith | 21 August, 2009 - 12:42 PM

19 year old Queenslander Dean Hofstee was killed in October last year.

He was hit on City Road Southbank when a 19 year old Indian cookery student here on a student visa Puneet Puneet lost control of the car he was driving.

That’s putting it kindly.   Puneet ploughed into Dean and another bloke.   Police say he was driving at 150 km/h in a 60 zone.   He blew .165% BAC.   He had no drivers licence, just a learner’s permit.

He was charged with culpable driving causing death.   He pleaded guilty.   Here on a student visa, with no ties to this country, he was given bail in February.

Why was he given bail at all?   He pleaded guilty to having caused the death of a man.   Culpable driving.

So mistake one, he got bail.

Puneet’s bail required that he report to police five days a week.  He stopped reporting in June.   Nothing was done.   He was up to appear for a final hearing yesterday.   And he didn’t front.

What was done about chasing him up in June when he took off?   Apparently nothing.

There’s been a big development yesterday in Melbourne.

Another man has been charged with giving a passport to Puneet.

The Melbourne man has been arrested and appeared in court today charged with the Commonwealth offence under the foreign passports and law enforcements act with giving a travel document to another reckless in the knowledge of how it will be used.

He’s in front of the court today.

The Aussie bloke who was killed, Dean Hofstee won’t be coming back.  His dad peter went to Melbourne for today’s hearing.

How did a foreign student with no ties to this country get bail in the first place after pleading guilty to killing some one?

How was he able to leave the country?

Why didn’t police take action the minute he failed to report on bail?

Do we take this seriously?

Dean’s mum has told this radio network that prosecutors say the costs to find and extradite Puneet would be “astronomical”.   What value then do we put on her son Dean’s life?

Puneet must be found and brought back to face justice.

As I was delivering that editorial live on air, I could see Aaron through the glass in the producer's desk outside my studio.  He was waving and had the "I've got something important you need to know right now" look all radio presenters and producers recognise instantly.

Aaron pointed to the computer screen, I looked down and saw what he'd written - "Dean's mum is on the phone and wants to talk to you".

This is a recording of Fran and me talking that day, including the faltering tail end of the editorial as I took in Aaron's message and thought about what to say to a mum who's lost her boy and been told that the man who did it went to the airport and flew home scott-free.  I think we were both in shock.

Aaron and I vowed we'd do all we could for Dean's family to help them get justice.  I think of them  often and say a little prayer for them whenever I do.  God bless you Fran and all the Hofstees.

Melbourne's Herald Sun hasn't forgotten either.   Today the paper's Lucie Morris-Marr brings us this stomach-churning news.

As Aaron said, HE can't put HIS family through the pain of coming back to face justice.   No remorse on the night, no remorse when he bought his mate's passport, no remorse on the plane, nor while evading authorities in India for years, nor now when his lawyers find a helpful Indian magistrate to let him out on bail again.

Julie Bishop should do what Rudd, Carr and governments of all hues have been unable to do since June 2009.   Get this killer back before an Australian court to pay his debt to Australia.

It's the least we owe Fran Hofstee and Dean's family.

Rest in Peace Dean - and know that many of us won't rest until your killer pays for what he did.

Parramatta Mosque leader says we're too slow in meeting Muslim demands for more money after shooting

The Australian today with the Parramatta Mosque leader's demand that we meet Muslim deadlines to handover more money after the latest Islamist terror killing in Sydney.

Note the cloying apologetic response from NSW Multiculturalism Minister John Ajaka.

Farhad Jabar: show us the money, says Parramatta mosque leader


The head of the Sydney mosque where teenage gunman Farhad Jabar spent time preparing for his deadly attack on a police worker has criticised a lack of government and police action in his community since the shooting. 

If the government was “serious” about dealing with “deradicalisation” it would quickly fund outreach programs for Arthur Phillip — where Jabar was a student — Parramatta and Merrylands high schools.

“It’s been three weeks and promises have been made, and (we are hearing) nothing. How are they going to help the community of Parramatta? Where are they now?” Parramatta mosque chairman Neil Elkadomi said.

Responding to the claims, NSW Multiculturalism Minister John Ajaka said his office had been consulting with the community about a $4 million Countering Violent Extremism Early Intervention Program “over ­several months” — not just in the weeks since Jabar shot police ­accountant Curtis Cheng, 58, outside police headquarters in central Parramatta in Sydney’s west.

“The NSW government will release a comprehensive res­ponse to counter violent extremism and enhance community harmony shortly,” Mr Ajaka said.

Mr Elkadomi accused the Baird government of “playing politics” and hanging Parramatta out to dry since the attack.

 Multiculturalism Minister John Ajaka said his office had been consulting with the community about a $4 million Countering Violent Extremism Early Intervention Program “over ­several months” — not just in the weeks since Jabar shot police ­accountant Curtis Cheng, 58, outside police headquarters in central Parramatta in Sydney’s west.

“The NSW government will release a comprehensive res­ponse to counter violent extremism and enhance community harmony shortly,” Mr Ajaka said.

Mr Elkadomi accused the Baird government of “playing politics” and hanging Parramatta out to dry since the attack.

Honorary Doctorate for "Asian Century" creator Julia Gillard

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FORMER Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she had “mixed feelings” about coming back to Canberra, returning to the nation’s capital to accept an honorary university degree.

Ms Gillard was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Canberra on Friday.

The country’s first female Prime Minister said she was delighted to accepted the award, but returning to Canberra “invoked a series of mixed feelings”.

“Some of the greatest highs and some of the hardest lows of my life have been here in this city,” Ms Gillard said in her acceptance speech.

Ms Gillard said early childhood reform was one of her proudest achievements as Prime Minister, along with other educational reforms.

“For all of these reforms, the foundation stones of which were always excellence and equity we moved with a clarity of purpose and understanding about the age in which we live in,” she said.

“An age that is being transformed by what I’ve dubbed the Asian Century; an age in which this nation can prosper as Asia grows and rises and has Asia becomes home to more middle class people than any other region on earth, Europe and North America included.”


Editor's note

The phrase Asian Century arose in the mid to late 1980s, and is attributed to a 1988 meeting with People's Republic of China (PRC) leader Deng Xiaoping and IndianPrime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in which Deng said that ‘[i]n recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view. Prior to this, it made an appearance in a 1985 US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing.It has been subsequently reaffirmed by Asian political leaders, and is now a popularly used term in the media.


Jeremy Stoljar SC misrepresented Kerr Street contract to clear Ms Gillard over Power of Attorney


The details of the contract are here:


SteveJ writes:

So the position with Kerr St was

1.The Agent had the deposit.

2. The deposit was made by cheque in Blewitts name. So it looks like he has knowledge of what is happening. I’m leaving aside any issues of estoppel re Blewitt ( in any case he was part of the fraud).

3.Blewitts solicitors were S&G and what do you know; the Partner who actually prepared the POA was present.

4.If it turns out that there is no POA or he exceeded his authority in some other way the vendors can have a go at Wilson on either of the above bases;

5.The situation is no different, effectively, to what would apply if Wilson had signed as purchaser in his own right.

6.The Agents are entitled to accept Wilson at his word and anyway its not hard to imagine Gillard may have provided some reassurance.

7 The auction is over, the crowd is gone, Wilson is waving a cheque in front of their noses, why wouldn’t they sign?

The end result is that far from being reluctant to sign the contract without sighting the POA the Agent would have been an idiot if he didn’t.

To reiterate; they have the deposit, the bloke standing in front of them is liable if he has exceeded his authority, Blewitt is liable if he hasn’t.

How are they any worse off than if Wilson had simply signed in his own name, paid the deposit and then defaulted on settlement.

They aren’t!!



Trade Union Royal Commission hearing into the house Mirvac and others built for Dave Hanna - live

Should be an uncomfortable afternoon for a certain Mirvac executive.


Unusually well attended for what me the last hearing into the CFMEU.

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The hearing opened promptly at 2PM - appearance applications for several parties, all those Counsel were accepted at the Bar table.

The first witness is Jason Vieusseux, Construction Manager at Mirvac.

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This bloke has been prepped for this appearance.   He paused after the affirmation, then took his time to pour a drink of water, place it on the table and leave the Commissioner waiting until he was settled.

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The nerves were not thereby settled.   He spoke falteringly at first with something of the deer in the headlights about him.

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After the last hearing into this matter we posted this:



Mirvac issued this continuous disclosure statement to the ASX today.

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Jason Viesseux was mentioned more than 50 times in evidence from former Mirvac Queensland senior executive Adam Moore to the TURC today.

Moore alleges Viesseux gave directions that Mirvac payments to the CFMEU should continue but be concealed by  encouraging sub-contractors to make the payments and to issue false invoices to Mirvac for reimbursement.   The Commission  heard evidence those false invoices were approved by Mirvac executives and Mirvac made the payments.

Here are a few extracts of evidence alleging VIESSEUX's directions regarding the alleged fraud.

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There are many more references to Mr Viesseux in the transcript - the ASX may well have a query to Mirvac in relation to its continuous disclosure today which tells the ASX  it was Mr Viesseux who raised the concerns resulting in the termination/departure of two employees.

Mr Moore may have some troubles ahead too if this sworn evidence turns out to be untruthful.

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Back to today's hearing.

Mr Vieusseux states that the Mirvac policy is that Mirvac does pay to attend union events.

He was referred to evidence the Commission has heard that the Chairman of Mirvac instructed that no union contributions were to be made from Mirvac accounts.   He has given a very rehearsed and lengthy answer, "In the course of preparing for my appearance at the Commission today I have reviewed the available documents within the Mirvac group including emails etc etc etc".

Mr Vieusseux states that Mirvac encourages the attendance of Mirvac staff at union events and is overt and open about paying unions for events and other functions.

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The Commission's bar table is packed with corporate types today and the product of their work is on display in the answers delivered from the witness box today.

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Mr Vieusseux was shown an organisational chart showing that Mr Moore reported to him.

Q "When did you first find out about Mirvac assisting with the construction of Dave Hanna's house?"

A "In July this year."

He stated that he met regularly with Mr Moore.

Q "Did you take notes of your meetings with Mr Moore?"

A "I may or may not have taken a note or notes."

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Ms McNaughton referred Mr Vieusseux to an internal email which apparently referred to the funding of what appeared to be several unionists salaries charged against Mirvac accounts, the email said, "Mate I'm carrying these costs, what should I do...."

Ms McNaughton asked about the practice, Mr Agius jumped to his feet to strenuously object to the question "or questions like it at this late stage of the Commission, we have no chance of responding, the whole question of the union forcing employers to pay for....."

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He got up on it, the Commissioner told Ms McNaughton to confine her questions somewhat.

Mr Vieusseux was shown an invoice and correspondence which shows that payment for tickets to a BLF fight night event was disguised in false invoices which showed the work as being for rock excavation.   Mr Vieusseux denied knowing about it.

Mr Vieusseux was shown a series of correspondence showing that Mr Moore had resigned to take up a position with Lend Lease.   He states that he accepted the resignation.  He states that Mr Moore left the company in circumstances where he Vieusseux had some "procedural type concerns" which after questions turned out to be concerns about "compliance with policy" which after further questions turned out to be concerns about "external contractors and the way they invoiced us and the way we paid"

Now it turns out that there are probably false invoices about ghost payments to people who don't exist.   It also "seems like there were extraordinarily high invoice values".


Mr Vieusseux is now being cross examined by Counsel for Mr McAllum, who starts with reference to Mr Moore's evidence that he Moore brief Vieusseux on the Mirvac contribution to the Hanna house.   Mr Vieusseus states that it never happened.   Moore's fall will be lonely.

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Mr Vieusseux concedes that he had seen reference to CFMEU fight nights in Mirvac correspondence but he didn't know what it meant.

Vieusseux was shown internal Mirvac correspondence apparently including monthly reports from each of the states.

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 The monthly reports refer extensively to the industrial relations environment including the conduct of the CFMEU and its attempts to get money.

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Mr Vieusseux now describes the process of Mr Moore's departure - he sounds terrible in the way he talks about it, just awful.   "I had concerns about this matter back to June 2013, the concerns were sufficiently serious to warrant me speaking to the HR team about my concerns and I got the HR team to involve the IT team in looking at the external invoices."

That didn't stop him and Moore going together on a trip to China.

Counsel, "When he left you issued a statement about him stating that he was a strong leader in the industry didn't you?"

Vieusseux, "I penned an email that......"

Counsel, "Can I show you a document please"  turns out it was the last performance review that Mr Vieusseux (as boss) reviewed Mr Moore's performance for the past year.

Under the heading "Customer and Shareholder Satifaction" Mr Vieusseux gave Mr Moore a glowing report, referring particularly to his management of the relationship with unions.

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Counsel put to Mr Vieusseux that in a phone call on 17 April 2013 Mr Moore informed Mr Vieusseux of the plan involving Mirvac's contribution to Hanna's house.  Counsel referred Mr Moore to the phone records exhibited by the Commission in previous hearings.   Vieusseux agrees that the phone records show two calls from Moore to Vieusseux on that morning. 

This is probably going to take a while as we move from Counsel to Counsel.

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Seconds later it was over!

Mr Vieusseux has been excused and the Commission is now hearing its last words on the CFMEU.

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The Commissioner directed that a timetable for submissions put together by Ms McNaughton be adhered to and that was that.

The Commission is adjourned until Wednesday next at 10AM.

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TURC witness list for National Union of Workers (as opposed to rest of us?) next week

National Union of Workers, New South Wales (NUW)

A hearing of the Royal Commission is scheduled to take place on Level 19, 55 Market Street, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000, between 4 and 6 November 2015.

The witness list (in alphabetical order) is:

Commencing 4 November 2015 (Sydney)

  • Darack (Derrick) Belan
  • Nicklouse Belan
  • Ian Dalziel
  • Paul Gibson
  • Michelle Holweg
  • Michael Hudson
  • Lincoln Hudson
  • Marilyn Issanchon
  • Greg Jenkins
  • Wayne Meaney
  • Bruno Mendonca
  • Terry McQuillan
  • Charlie Morgan
  • Danielle O’Brien
  • Anthony O’Donnell
  • Mark Ptolemy
  • Paul Rixon
  • Ross Shrimpton

Please note, this list may be subject to change. 

Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission's serious error about the Law regarding Auctions and the Sale of Land Act, Victoria

Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission Jeremy Stoljar SC made a serious error in his Submission to the Commission regarding the AWU WRA Inc and in particular the Power of Attorney used in the Kerr Street purchase.

Relevantly, his submission to the Commission Chapter 3.2 page 84:
  1. The signing of the Power of Attorney

  2. It is now possible to consider further the circumstances in which Mr Blewitt came to sign the Power of Attorney.

  3. The starting point is that it would appear objectively likely that Mr Wilson and Ms Gillard had the original power of attorney at the auction on 13 February 1993. It would seem unlikely that the vendors under the contract of sale would have exchanged contracts with a person (Wilson) who was not, himself, the purchaser of the property (i.e. Blewitt), and who did not have a Power of Attorney from that purchaser. In the unlikely event that the vendors would have exchanged on the basis of a contract signed by Wilson without some proof of his authority to do so one would have expected detailed correspondence on this issue immediately following the auction. There is no such correspondence.

  4. If Mr Wilson and Ms Gillard had the executed Power of Attorney with them at the auction on 13 February 1993 then it would appear reasonable to infer that it was executed at some point leading up to that date – presumably on the evening of 3 February or the morning of 4 February 1993 when Mr Blewitt was last in Melbourne. This version is also consistent with Ms Gillard’s evidence as to her practice as a solicitor, namely that she would not have witnessed Mr Blewitt’s signature without having seen him sign the Power of Attorney. Ms Gillard had no reason to take a professional risk by departing from her usual practice, since Mr Blewitt had been in Melbourne on the evening of 3 February and the morning of 4 February 1993. 


Mr Stoljar produces no evidence to support his opinion that it "would seem unlikely that the vendors would exchange contracts" with Wilson without a copy of the Power of Attorney. Mr Stoljar's opinion is at odds with Victoria's  Sale of Land Act 1962 and the express written provisions of the contract for the sale prepared on behalf of the vendors and distributed well in advance of the auction date (as required under the Act). 

The vendors used a standard form of contract prepared by the Law Institute of Victoria and the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

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One of the General Conditions of the Contract of Sale is the provision for the Purchaser to to use a "Nominee" to attend the auction and enter into the contract;

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However such were the express wishes of the vendors and their Solicitor that they further provided in the Contract for the Sale of Land the following Special Condition, prepared and distributed in advance of the Auction and prominently displayed (as required by the Act) prior to the Auction:

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The Clause continues in the copy of the Contract first tendered to the Commission by Senior Counsel Assisting Mr Stoljar himself on 12 May 2014 in Blewitt and again by Mr Stoljar for the witnesses Wilson, Palmer and Gillard.

Stoljar's misplaced confidence in his opinion over Victoria's Sale of Land Act and the express Special Condition of the Vendor's Contract of Sale resulted in him making this extraordinary Submission to the Commissioner as to the "starting point" for the Commissioner's findings as to the preparation and witnessing of Blewitt's Power of Attorney:

The starting point is that it would appear objectively likely that Mr Wilson and Ms Gillard had the original power of attorney at the auction on 13 February 1993.


He bases that "starting point" on his opinion as to the vendors state of mind at the Auction on 13 February.   We know that Stoljar's opinion as to what they may have thought is at odds with their written intentions and the express provisions of the Sale of Land Act which provided for the use of any person to exchange contracts as Nominee.  Further, the law at the time required those express provisions to be read to the Auction attendees by the Auctioneer, a standard practice that Mr Hedditch the auctioneer will confirm to the Commission was adhered to by him on the day of the Auction.

Mr Stoljar's failure to exercise due diligence in commenting on the vendor's intentions and the provisions of the Act and the written contract was reflected in the Interim Report of the Royal Commission in relation to the AWU WRA Inc, Power of Attorney - Pages 293-295.   The Commissioner dismisses the evidence of the Donor of the Power of Attorney as to the circumstances in which he made the donation in favour of his boss Bruce Wilson, such donation ostensibly witnessed by Wilson's de-facto partner Julia Gillard:

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"Hence Wilson and Gillard had the executed Power of Attorney with them".

They certainly had a cheque for the deposit with them - a fact that would have satisfied the auctioneer and the Agents for the vendor poised with the backing already removed from the adhesive banner emblazoned with the word "SOLD".

The Commission's preference for Mr Stoljar's opinion as to the state of mind of the vendors, the auctioneer and the vendors' agents is not supported by any evidence from them.   I know that the auctioneer and the young agent Heidi were available to give evidence if Counsel Assisting thought it might be helpful to his cause.   He didn't call them.

The Sale of Land Act would have bound them to accept a Nominee purchaser with Blewitt's details substituted at leisure prior to settlement.   The express provisions of Clause 8 of the Special Conditions make their intentions clear beyond doubt.

The law deals very harshly with persons who mis-represent the wishes of those who donate their Power of Attorney.   When in doubt, the benefit of that doubt ought vest in the Donor, particularly where the Donee is the Donor's boss and the solicitor who purportedly witnesses the Donation is the Donee's de-facto, who later attends an auction for real property where the Power is exercised and further used (and substantially read up in terms of its authority) to burden the Donor with a $100K loan.  Blewitt states he signed the document in the week commencing Monday 15 February 1993. As the Donor he should know what he donated and when.

I would imagine the Commission might expect further legal action on this matter.

The basis for the Commission's exoneration of Ms Gillard's conduct in the Power of Attorney is one man's erroneous "opinion" about what the owners of a property for sale might have been thinking.   The law makes clear that Stoljar is wrong, thus the finding about when the Power of Attorney was executed is unsafe.   Every touch leaves its trace.