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Extract from "Unrequited Justice - The Royal Commission & Julia Gillard" by Julian Lucas

We'll start our serialisation of Julian Lucas's book with his chapter on Dave McAlpine, the policeman responsible for investigating the original crime report regarding The AWU Scandal back in 1996/97.

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David McAlpine retired in 2016 after being a policeman for forty-two years. He has held many positions of responsibility having been officer in charge of five different police stations over many of those years.  

He commenced his police training as a cadet at just about the earliest date one could do so and   remained a policeman for all those years apart from a three-year stint in the Australian Regular Army in the early seventies.

As well as having completed a number of work related courses he has   a number of certificates for advanced training. He also holds three diplomas and, not such a common thing for policemen, he is a university graduate having majored in Justice Studies at Edith Cowan University. 

David McAlpine was also a director of the Western Australian Police Union of Workers during which period he participated in the formation of the Police Union Welfare Fund including the writing of its constitution.

It is obviously the case that David McAlpine is a person of the highest integrity and one held in considerable regard among his fellow former officers.

Over the many years since the period about which this book has been written David McAlpine has pondered about the fact that his official inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the AWU and the Dawseville Channel Project were cut short by his superiors without any serious explanation. What   provoked him to come forward and make a public statement about his experiences was that he was quite taken back to hear of the evidence of various employees of Thiess to the RC into Trade Union Corruption and Governance which appeared to conflict sharply with the evidence provided by those same people to him during the course of his investigations at the time.

McAlpine was not invited to give evidence to the RC and had no conversations with its investigators.

He found it extraordinary that Thiess emerged from the RC as some sort of victim when that understanding was totally at odds with the information provided by the employees in numerous conversations about the matter at the time of the police investigation.

The original investigation started as a result of an approach to the police by the then Western Australian secretary of the AWU some   time after Bruce Wilson had left his position with the union.

What David McAlpine had established by the time of the termination of the investigation was that the Australian Workers Union-Workplace Reform Association was set up with no input from the AWU in any official capacity itself.  It operated from what amounts to a Post Office Box address quite unknown to the elected officials of the AWU except for Wilson and Blewitt. There had obviously been a lot of difficulty effecting incorporation in particular as it was not lawful for unions to incorporate in this way. The application took three goes to be successful apparently.

The Association then received this very large sum of money amounting to $380,000 which appeared to have no relationship to any work actually carried out with the immediate suspicion in David’s mind that it may have amounted to a secret commission.

During the police investigation it was learned that a house in Fitzroy in Melbourne was acquired with funds of the Association and this was one of the matters about which the police had obtained search warrants to examine at offices in Melbourne.

The evidence to the RC by Ralph Blewitt that there had never been any intention for the Association to provide work on the Dawesville site was supported by witnesses to whom David spoke as early as in 1996.

David McAlpine is quite satisfied that offences have been committed in this matter including the following:


  • Perjury
  • Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice
  • Attempting to pervert the course of justice
  • Forgery/Uttering
  • Procuring secret commissions
  • Aiding that procurement
  • Conspiracy to commit indictable offence
  • Accessories after the fact