Former WA minister linked to AWU fraud case
The detective who ran the police investigation into the AWU slush fund scandal claims the entity at the centre of the fraud was incorporated in Western Australia at the direction of a senior minister in the Labor government of Carmen Lawrence.
David McAlpine, a former West Australian major fraud squad officer, this week called for the case to be reopened, claiming his two-year investigation into the scam in the 1990s was “subverted” because of “political interference”.
Mr McAlpine, who retired from WA Police in 2016, alleges a conspiracy between former union officials and executives from construction giant Thiess that extended to Julia Gillard’s former law firm Slater & Gordon.
He said the WA Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had “abruptly” ordered him to remain in Perth as he was preparing to fly to Melbourne to execute search warrants on key players, including Ms Gillard’s then employer, Slater & Gordon.
Mr McAlpine said he had retained key documents including letters, memos and phone notes from his investigation and he was willing to swear an affidavit and give evidence in any court about his knowledge of the $400,000-plus fraud.
He says he was unaware at the time of his investigation that the then minister responsible for corporate affairs, Yvonne Henderson, had directed the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs to incorporate the entity used in the fraud.
The entity, known as the AWU Workplace Reform Association, was set up by Australian Workers Union officials Bruce Wilson and Ralph Blewitt with legal help from Ms Gillard, who was Mr Wilson’s girlfriend at the time.
Mr McAlpine said: “The Corporate Affairs Commissioner was directed to incorporate an association which he was not lawfully entitled to incorporate.
“The AWU Workplace Reform Association was a trade union entity and thus ineligible for incorporation.”
Ms Henderson, who retired from politics in 1996, could not be reached for comment yesterday. WA Police did not respond to several requests for comment.
Mr McAlpine claims former Thiess senior executives might have misled the trade union royal commission in 2014 about alleged secret commissions paid to Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt.
Mr Wilson has admitted to extracting large sums of money from Thiess for the slush fund.
Money from the AWU Workplace Reform Association was used to partly fund the purchase of a house in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy in 1993.
Royal commissioner Dyson Heydon recommended in 2015 that Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt face prosecution for fraud-related offences connected to the fund.
Ms Gillard has repeatedly denied knowing the fund was to be used in a fraud.
The royal commission found she had been “casual and haphazard” in her work at Slater & Gordon but had not committed offences, and was not aware of Mr Wilson’s conduct. Mr Blewitt faces 31 fraud charges and is due in court in Perth next week.