Gillard, Wilson and Slater & Gordon's dealings with money set aside for widows and orphans
Thursday, 19 April 2018
Around August 1995, when Bruce Wilson and Julia Gillard came unstuck Slater and Gordon gradually ceased acting for the AWU.
Over the next year or so the firm progressively sent its AWU client files to the AWU's Sydney offices.
Here's an original record showing each file, colour coded to show which dispatch box the file was transported in.
Slater and Gordon 1996 return of AWU files by Michael Smith on Scribd
That report records the fate of 89 files - almost all of them were sent to the AWU.
The firm even sent clearly personal work to the union, like the file on the Ralph Blewitt defamation action presumably because the union was paying.
In a handful of cases, Slater and Gordon staff separated the file contents into material Slater and Gordon itself wanted to retain, and material that was sent on to the AWU.
But one file stands out. It wasn't going anywhere.
Six matters up from the bottom of the first page - matter No 126939, the AWU Fatality and Death Benefits Fund.
Julia Gillard was responsible for the file, billing around $10,000 from February 1992 to November 1993.
The AWU, via Bruce Wilson's new Melbourne office at 54 Victoria St Carlton (Trades Hall) was listed as the client.
But no one at Slater and Gordon was proud of that work.
And there was no way the AWU or anyone else outside the firm was going to get their hands on that file.
On 14 August, 1995, Gillard's last effective day of work at Slater and Gordon, the file found its way first into Bernard Murphy's hands, then on to Jonathan Rothfield.
Then as almost all the other AWU files were sent on to the union, the Fatality Fund file was kept under lock and key.
The file was kept at Slater and Gordon for at least 3 years after Gillard was sent packing.
Only the most senior people in the firm handled it. The AWU was not notified of its existence.
I will publish some new material here that will fill in the gaps.
The material hasn't been made public until now.
In my opinion, it shows Gillard and Wilson acting in concert to achieve an unlawful purpose.
The fund was owned not by the AWU, but by the members who'd been paying in their 10 bob per pay since the 1930s.
By the time Wilson and Gillard arrived the contribution was $1 per fortnight and the fund held about $300,000.
But it wasn't AWU money.
It was private money - and many members of the Death Benefit and Fatality Fund weren't members of the AWU.
Both Gillard and Wilson appear to have gone way over the line in the way they treated that money.
They either forget, or didn't care about who owned it.
In 2012, long before the new material I'll publish here became available, Dr John Lourens, lawyer Val Majkus and I wrote and published a paper titled "The AWU Fatal Accident and Death Fund - A Journey Through Time". We started with this observation:
One persistent and widespread suspicion has been that the architects and masterminds behind (The AWU Scandal) might have also been involved in further misappropriation of funds from the families of deceased miners. In the minds of ordinary Australians, embezzling one and a half million or more dollars (in 2013 dollar equivalents) from hard working trade unionists is bad enough. But going that extra step and stealing money from widows and orphans plumbs the lowest depths of deception and criminal behaviour. Understandably, despicable conduct of this nature simply invites widespread public outrage and condemnation.
It does indeed.
Every touch leaves its trace.