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Gillard's renovations partly funded by money apparently stolen from AWU members - here's how they did it



On 5 December, 1994 Stephen Conroy was announced as the replacement Senator for Gareth Evans after Evans moved to the lower house.

The seat was retained by the Labor Unity faction, of which Mr Conroy is Victorian secretary.

Mr Conroy works for the Transport Workers Union, but moved to Melbourne from Canberra in 1987 to work for Senator Ray.

At yesterday's meeting of the public office selection committee, which completed preselections for the next election, Mr Conroy scored 88 votes over the non-aligned Mr David McKenzie and Mr John Zigouras.

Senator Ray and Senator Barney Cooney will head the ALP's Senate ticket and, as expected, the union leader Ms Jennie George won the third spot.

By factional agreement the third place was delegated to the Socialist Left, whose other candidates, Ms Julia Gillard and Mr Ted Murphy, withdrew their nominations yesterday morning.

On 18 May, 1995 Jennie George withdrew her nomination and a "large number" of aspirants were expected to compete for the position.

A former teachers' union official and the first woman elected to the ACTU executive, Ms George was preselected for the Senate ticket late last year.

This came in the wake of the ALP's historic decision to set affirmative action quotas for its parliamentary preselections.

In her statement, Ms George cited the ``significant challenge" faced by the union movement to turn around its declining membership as a reason for staying at the ACTU.

She also made clear her expectation that she would be replaced on the Senate ticket by a woman.

``I feel confident that there are many capable women who can replace me on the Senate team and that, in light of the circumstances outlined, the most effective contribution I can make on behalf of working people is not to leave the ACTU at this stage," she said.

A large number of aspirants are expected to nominate to take Ms George's place, including Ms Julia Gillard, who is a lawyer with the firm, Slater and Gordon.

On 30 June, 1995 The Age noted that Julia Gillard had formally nominated for the Socialist Left's endorsement to take Ms George's No 3 Senate ticket position.

On 27 July, 1995 The Age reported on turmoil in the Victorian Labor Left after machinations to install Martin Ferguson as the pre-selected Labor Candidate for Batman.  

Lawyer John Zigouras had finished 4th (after Jennie George) for the Labor Senate ticket and he felt he should move up to take the No 3 position.   Julia Gillard argued that because Jennie George was from the Socialist Left, she should replace her.   The issue was unresolved.

Some faction figures in Victoria, supportive of Mr Ferguson, are wary of the possibilty of national intervention as a precedent in Victoria because of a likely appeal against a preselection decision by a defeated Victorian Senate nominee, Mr John Zigouras.

Mr Zigouras is likely to push for national executive intervention to overturn a decision to reopen preselection after the withdrawal of the ACTU assistant secretary, Ms Jennie George, from the third place on the ticket for the next poll.

A Melbourne lawyer, Ms Julia Gillard, was nominated by the Socialist Left faction to replace her, but Mr Zigouras, who finished fourth in the first vote, believes he should take her place because the vote was taken on the basis of proportional representation.

Mr Zigouras, an industrial lawyer who claims to be factionally non- aligned, has some backing in the union movement for his claim.

He said yesterday he hoped his case could be settled internally but he is believed to be willing to take it to the national executive, with Mr Ferguson's case as a possible precedent if there is intervention on his behalf.

The events of July, 1995 at Slater and Gordon are described here by 1995 managing partner Peter Gordon and 1995 partner Nick Styant Browne who jointly drafted this media statement, published in The Australian on 21 August, 2012.

What we've not known until recently is the extent of financial dealings between Mr Zigouras's interests, the AWU, Wilson and Gillard.

A good friend of this website told us overnight:

Yes I recall Zigouras and Debbie (Lawn) who worked in his law firm. In short Ziggy (as he is known) is a hard left winger out of the same labor left as Gillard. I knew him but never liked him.

Debbie had a relationship with Bill the Greek but he left her and took off back to Greece when the scandal became public.

When the Greek was in a relationship with Debbie she had 24/7 use of a union car. Wilson would have had to approve that! Debbie worked from Ziggies Mildura office and I have personally seen the car parked at her office many times as I travelled across the state electioneering back then for AWU elections and was in Mildura 2/3 days a fortnight.

I laughed where Ziggy is referred to as not aligned with ALP factions. Ziggy, the ETU and a handful of other lefties broke away from the mainstream left and formed their own faction, from memory they called themselves the 'pledge' faction (self serving hard left). They had considerable power back then because they negotiated with Conroy and Shorten independently from the traditional left led by Kim Carr. The most inflentual union in the group was the new ETU with its secretary Dean Mighel.

In April 1995 Wilson closed the AWU Workplace Reform Association bank accounts.

Money was becoming tight as new management moved into the AWU WA and Victorian branches - and Wilson et al progressively moved to the National Construction Branch roles.  In many ways, the gig was up.

On 15 May 1995 Wayne Hem banked a cheque from Debbie Lawn - for $10,000 - into Bill the Greek's CBA account.

Ms Lawn continued to work for Mr Zigouras's law firm.

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Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 10.33.29 am

That money found its way into Gillard's renovations.


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Here's Wilson's cheque made out to Gillard's builder - note the distinctive non-Wilson handwriting, the cheque was written out by Bill Telikostiglou.

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Here's the statement showing the cheque was presented on 5 June, 1995 and was met on presentation.

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Nine entries above cheque 181 for $2,180 in the statement is a 17 May 1995 deposit of $2,000.00.

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The deposit slip is also in Wayne Hem's handwriting - and where'd the money come from?

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Now here's

  1. Telikostiglou's cheque for $2,000
  2. screen grab from his CBA statement showing where the $2K came from -  a $10K deposit 3 days earlier
  3. details of the $10,000 cheque which came from the phantom AWU employee Ms Debbie Lawn.

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On 28 June Ms Lawn appeared on the list of AWU employees paid from the AWU's CBA account.

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Note that the pays above Ms Lawn's entry total around $5K.

Here's GILLARD in her 11 September 1995 exit interview with Peter GORDON and Geoff SHAW.

I can't categorically rule out that something at my house didn't get paid for by the association or something at my house didn't get paid for by the union or whatever, I just, I don't feel confident saying I can categorically rule it out

Bernard Murphy was emphatic in what he told the Royal Commission - the concern was that the AWU itself had been the source of funds for Gillard's renovations.

Q. The second matter to which you make reference in paragraph 3.4 is rumours circulating that some of Ms Gillard's home renovations had been paid for by the AWU.

Who told you about those rumours?

 A. Well, I recall being told of one incident by Andrew Watson who was a former barrister who had become an industrial officer of another union. He told me about a builder turning up at the AWU and asking for payment and I told Julia about that, but that wasn't the only occasion to which I'm referring. There were wider rumours. I can't recall their source at the time, but it wasn't - they were being discussed more widely than that. It wasn't that much longer before Phillip Gude raised them in State Parliament.


 Q. Were they being discussed among the partnership at Slater & Gordon?

 A. I don't know. I wasn't attending partners' meetings at the time because of the Harris Smith dispute, but I must say I presume they were because they were raised with Gillard in the interview that was transcribed.


 Q. Was it a matter that Nick Styant-Browne raised with you?

 A. No.


 Q. Just pausing at the top of page 3, the last part of 3.4, you say some of Julia Gillard's home renovations had been paid for by the AWU. Did you hear rumours to the effect that funds had come from the incorporated association to pay for those renovations?

 A. No.


 Q. It was always the AWU?

 A. Yes.

Every touch leaves its trace.