The Australian's today published a matter-of-fact report about WA authorities withdrawing the charges against Ralph Blewitt.
Maybe I'm too close to this saga but I have to ask - WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?
We had a royal commission, a Victoria Police task force, a national AFP/state police task force, a double-dissolution federal election, several pieces of new legislation, new federal bodies to keep unions on the straight and narrow - and yet the withdrawal of the only charges laid in the grand-daddy of contemporary union-related bribery/extortion/secret commission schemes hardly raises an eyebrow??????????
Where's a fully-informed Turnbull, Cash, Laundy, Porter or other political leader to express the community's outrage - and to promise something will be done about it?
The idea that Ralph Blewitt tricked construction giant Thiess into paying for thin-air (disguised as training) was always laughable.
The truth is that Thiess executives along with Wilson, Gillard, Ludwig, Blewitt and others were involved in secret commission payments.
Turnbull's Liberal Party dedicates a whole section of its platform to the issue of union corruption - https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan/union-accountability
According to the Turnbull government, corruption and other union thuggery "adds 30% to the costs of schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure".
He's strong on videos, lots of high-falootin' statements - but when the grand-daddy of union corruption schemes has been staring our leaders in the face for years, they run and hide like frightened children.
Here's Brad Norrington's story today:
AWU slush fund case against Ralph Blewitt dropped
Fraud charges against confessed union “bagman” Ralph Blewitt have been dropped, signalling the possible end of an Australian Workers Union slush fund saga that has dogged Julia Gillard and former boyfriend Bruce Wilson for more than two decades.
Prosecutors said 31 fraud charges against Mr Blewitt that were due to be heard in Perth Magistrates Court would be discontinued because there was little prospect of conviction.
Mr Blewitt was Mr Wilson’s union sidekick in the mid-1990s when he led AWU branches in Western Australia and Victoria, and was involved in an alleged AWU slush fund that received hundreds of thousands of dollars paid by construction companies.
A scandal over how the money was spent led to Mr Wilson’s abrupt exit from the union. He was recommended in the 2015 royal commission into union corruption to face criminal prosecution.
The scandal also simmered in the background throughout Ms Gillard’s political career, including when she was Labor prime minister, because as a young solicitor with Melbourne-based law firm Slater & Gordon she had used her legal expertise to help set up the AWU Workplace Association for Mr Wilson in the 1990s when they were a couple.
While Ms Gillard was later found to have committed no wrongdoing legally, and was not recommended for prosecution by royal commissioner Dyson Heydon, she was criticised for her conduct as a solicitor.
It was also accepted by the royal commission that some slush fund money was used by Mr Wilson to help pay for renovations on her house. Ms Gillard’s involvement in helping to set up the fund, and other issues, contributed to her exit from Slater & Gordon before she entered parliament.
Mr Blewitt was angry yesterday about the outcome of the prosecution, saying he believed the case had collapsed because “political strings were pulled behind the scenes”.
Mr Blewitt said he was most disappointed because he had wanted the prosecution to proceed so he could call Mr Wilson, Ms Gillard and a former Slater & Gordon solicitor Brendan Murphy, now a Federal Court judge, to give evidence. He wanted all details of the case aired in court.
He was also disappointed the original prosecution was to have gone ahead in a Victorian court before being shifted to Perth where the slush fund was set up.
Although Mr Blewitt has repeatedly admitted his involvement, he had pleaded not guilty to all 31 fraud charges because he said he was “purely and simply a bagman”.
He said yesterday he should have been more appropriately charged with “receiving secret commissions, which would have got up”.
But he said he would have pleaded not guilty to any such charges as well because he was a “stooge” in the scandal.
Mr Blewitt has been on bail since he was charged with fraud in March last year. He said he had spent $13,000 of his own funds travelling from his home in Malaysia to court hearings in Perth that he could not afford as a pensioner.
With the Blewitt prosecution case shut down, legal observers have doubts that a prosecution against Mr Wilson will proceed as recommended by the royal commission.
The only likely court action that could proceed at this stage is a private civil case that blogger and former radio broadcaster Michael Smith is seeking to bring against Ms Gillard in a Melbourne court. The future of that proposed case is unclear.