PUSH TO RELAUNCH FRAUD PROBE
By Gary Adshead, Sean Cowan - The West Australian - August 18
An unremarkable Maylands storage unit could provide new clues to $1 million fraud allegations written off by police but which have frustrated union officials and dogged Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her political career.
Tim Daly, a former State secretary of the Australian Workers Union, can still recall his decision to box up and lock away hundreds of documents in the late 1990s knowing that the stench of the financial dealings would one day return.
Two AWU executives, Ralph Blewitt and Bruce Wilson, were investigated in 1995 and 1996 over allegations made to police and the NSW Industrial Relations Commission that they had channelled up to $1 million into secret WA bank accounts and a bogus union association in Northbridge.
There was also a separate police probe into claims that money from an AWU members' fatal accident and death fund was used to buy two holiday units in Kalbarri.
No charges were ever laid in relation to either case.
At the time of the alleged frauds, Ms Gillard was in a relationship with Mr Wilson and acting as Slater and Gordon's lawyer for the AWU, but she has repeatedly denied any involvement or knowledge of Mr Wilson's conduct which police investigated.
Earlier this month, the old allegations surfaced again when Mr Blewitt, a former State secretary of the AWU in Perth, said he would reveal everything he knew in return for immunity from prosecution.
Mr Wilson, who was also the union's WA secretary before moving to Melbourne, has never spoken publicly about the investigations.
But in the mid-1990s, Mr Daly became the union's boss in WA and pushed hard for Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt to be prosecuted over claims fake entities were used to receive huge sums of cash from construction companies in the name of workplace training and reform.
"I'm still very frustrated by the outcome of the whole thing," Mr Daly said.
He said nothing he saw in the documents in storage had Ms Gillard's name on it. Ms Gillard was advising Mr Wilson and the AWU when the alleged fraud was taking place.
Newspaper archives show Ms Gillard travelled with Mr Wilson to Boulder in 1992 to allay members' concerns about a decision to transfer the management of a Goldfields death fund to the union's head office in Perth.
Ms Gillard addressed members in Boulder Town Hall to explain why it should happen.
Three years later, police were asked to investigate the use of $145,000 from the fund by Mr Blewitt to buy two Kalbarri units in the AWU's name.
Mr Daly said authorities should take up Mr Blewitt on his offer.
"I don't want to see the current government damaged in any way," Mr Daly said.
The Prime Minister's office referred _The Weekend West _ to previous statements she has made.
She has described herself as "young and naïve" at the time of her relationship with Mr Wilson, which she ended, and could not be held responsible for anything illegal he may have done.
Mr Wilson is believed to be living in NSW and could not be contacted.
NO COMMENT BY JULIA GILLARD AFTER A PARTNER AT SLATER AND GORDON SAID SHE HAD TO RESIGN AFTER INTERNAL PROBE
No comment from law firm resignation: PM - AAP - August 19
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is refusing to discuss accusations regarding her resignation from a prominent law firm in 1995, saying it wouldn't stop the "malicious and motivated" commentary.
News Limited is reporting Ms Gillard left her job as a partner at Slater & Gordon as a direct result of a secret internal probe into controversial work she had done for her then boyfriend, a union boss accused of corruption.
The new claims have been made by a former partner at the firm, Nick Styant-Browne.
The prime minister says she refuses to dignify the "scurrilous" attack with a response.
"We are talking about matters 17 year ago which have been dealt on the public record," Ms Gillard told Sky News on Sunday.
"I am not going to get into a circumstance when we've got people blogging malicious nonsense and we're having some of this penetrate into the media.
"This is just nonsense and a distraction from the important work I've got to do as prime minister.
"I did nothing wrong. If you've got an allegation that I did something wrong then put it."
Ms Gillard said she had continuing good relationships with Slater & Gordon, and nothing about the allegations was relevant to her conduct as prime minister.
Manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne said there were very serious questions about the prime minister's integrity and she should make a personal explanation to parliament.
Files held by Slater & Gordon should also be released detailing the circumstances surrounding Ms Gillard's resignation.
"In the interest of clearing the prime minister's name, those files should be released," he told Sky News.
But Ms Gillard said she wouldn't make any comment because it would only feed the fire.
"The people who are dealing with this online in their malicious and motivated way would not stop no matter what explanation I gave," she said.
"That is why there is no point in flogging through all the details of this, because the people who are pursuing this malicious campaign will continue to do it. They are not at all interested in the truth."
Defence Minister Stephen Smith played down the issue.
"If people are asking questions about that they should make an allegation about her conduct," he told Network Ten.
"What does something that occurred 17 years ago, with respect to a law firm she was working with that she now has an ongoing good relationship (with), have to do with the big issues of running the economy and running our national security interests?"
THE FULL STORY OF WHAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE HAPPENED IS ON INDYMEDIA - WHAT IS FACT IS MEMBERS HAVE HAD THEIR FUNDS STOLEN AND NO POLICE INVESTIGATION HAS BEEN ABLE TO GET OFF THE GROUND, IT'S NOT TOO LATE:
Royal Commission into the AWU allegations and Gillard's involvement long overdue
Prime Minister cannot continue to leave an example of 'trust me' and 'I was young and naive' while other Australians would have come before the justice system
Julia Gillard claimed that she was young and naive while her then partner, Bruce Wilson, siphoned members' funds from the AWU but instead she was a 36 year old lawyer, and a partner in the burgeoning law firm, Slater and Gordon.