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Today has produced a veritable barrage of comments across the media as well as analyses by leading journalist Hedley Thomas on aspects of Gillard’s involvement with the union slush fund in the mid 1990s. Thomas’s analyses leave a clear impression that Gillard may have accessed funding derived from sources accumulated by boyfriend Wilson, who in turn obtained them from big companies in response to threats of union disruption.

Despite her earlier statement that she would make no further comments, Gillard herself has responded to yesterday’s report in The Australian that $5000 had been deposited in her bank account in 1995 – but by saying no more than this is part of a smear campaign. It appears that the point has now been reached where Gillard has locked herself in not only to denying any inappropriate action in the mid 1990s but at the same time also refusing to explain what and why she acted as she did. If (as seems likely) more questions arise and/or more whistle-blowing emerges, her smear campaign accusations will have greatly diminishing credibility.

Of particular interest in today’s batch is the report that Deputy Opposition leader Bishop has been given the all clear by fellow shadow ministers to pursue the questioning of Gillard.

Other particular points of interest include:

More generally, as the questioning/whistle-blowing continues, and is accompanied by policies designed by Shorten to increase union power, increasing public attention will likely be given to the extraordinary influence of unions under the Gillard government.

Des Moore

Julia Gillard banks on more media incuriosity

Editorial, The Australian, November 15, 2012

JULIA Gillard has sought to dismiss the controversy about her dealings with the Australian Workers Union, its official Bruce Wilson (her then lover) and her departure from the law firm Slater & Gordon as the claims of "misogynists and nut jobs on the internet". Yet the information that The Australian and award-winning reporter Hedley Thomas have relied on for a series of revelations has come from documentary evidence and reputable sources.

Crucially, Thomas obtained a transcript of an interview conducted, as part of an internal investigation, by senior Slater & Gordon partners with Ms Gillard just before her departure. Two of those partners have also gone on the record. Yesterday's exclusive report was based on contemporaneous diary entries by then AWU boss Ian Cambridge, now a Fair Work Australia commissioner. A critical diarised conversation was confirmed under statutory declaration this week by former union staffer Wayne Hem, who says Wilson gave him $5000 cash to deposit in Ms Gillard's account. Ms Gillard has not denied or explained this deposit. Rather she has accused this newspaper of running a "smear".

This controversy was not conjured up by nut jobs, conservative politicians or journalists. It has emanated - piece by piece - from senior ALP and union sources. It involves the nation's largest Labor law firm, oldest and largest blue-collar union, and the woman who went on to become Prime Minister. Despite constant attempts to shut down inquiries and repudiate those asking questions, the revelations have forced Ms Gillard to admit she helped to establish a secret "slush fund" for Wilson that was officially registered as a "reform association". She did not alert her firm through the normal accountability practice of opening a file. Ms Gillard also attended an auction with Wilson of a property later found to have been paid for with the proceeds of fraud. In the Slater & Gordon interview, she said she could not rule out that slush fund money had been spent on her home renovations. And she has not explained why when she became suspicious of Wilson - ending the relationship and leaving the firm - she did not alert the AWU or the police.

While we make no claim - nor is there any evidence - that Ms Gillard had knowledge of Wilson's fraud, her responses have been inadequate. Proper transparency demands the Prime Minister offer a detailed account and answer reasonable questions. This is particularly pertinent given legal proceedings involving the Health Services Union, and ICAC hearings into former NSW Labor ministers, have pushed labour-movement corruption to the top of the political agenda.

Ms Gillard has used the lawyer's trick of seizing on minor errors to pass this off as a "defamatory" campaign by The Australian, but now faces keen interest across the Fairfax press, with new stories broken by The Age. Her plea for incuriosity, however, has been heard at the ABC. It is deeply worrying that a taxpayer-funded media organisation - which did not hesitate to run allegations from three decades ago about Tony Abbott's alleged behaviour as a teenager at university - is censoring coverage and avoiding legitimate questions about Ms Gillard's professional behaviour as a 34-year-old partner in a law firm, and her stubborn reluctance to be open about it now.

Union fraudster offers evidence for immunity

The Age November 15, 2012, Mark Baker

A FORMER union official at the centre of the Australian Workers Union slush fund scandal could return to Australia as early as next week to assist a fresh police investigation.

The Victoria Police fraud squad is considering whether to grant immunity from prosecution to Ralph Blewitt in return for evidence he claims to have about the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from an AWU association.

Mr Blewitt, who lives in Malaysia, has publicly admitted his involvement in fraud and has offered to provide detailed evidence about the purchase in 1993 of a Fitzroy unit with more than $100,000 from stolen union funds.

He claims to have never seen the unit before it was bought at auction by union crony Bruce Wilson, who used a power of attorney prepared by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, his then girlfriend and a solicitor at Slater & Gordon.

Ms Gillard on Wednesday denounced a report in The Australian newspaper that an AWU employee had been given $5000 in cash to pay into her bank account in June 1995.

The employee, Wayne Hem, repeated information he had given in 1996 to AWU national secretary Ian Cambridge, now a Fair Work Australia commissioner, about a range of transactions involving money taken from the AWU Workplace Reform Association.

Ms Gillard said the allegations were part of a smear campaign and contained ''not one substantiated allegation against me''.

''This matter has been trawled over for the best part of 20 years and at the end of it … there is not one finding of wrongdoing by me. And there is a reason for that; I didn't do anything wrong,'' she said.

Lawyer Bob Galbally, representing Mr Blewitt, said his client was ready to come to Melbourne immediately if police granted him a ''non-self-incriminating clause'' that ensured he would not be prosecuted for his role in the scandal.

Mr Galbally has provided Detective Sergeant John Macdonald, of the fraud squad, with an outline of the evidence Mr Blewitt would be willing to give.

An earlier Victoria Police investigation into the AWU was closed in early 1996 before full details emerged of the corrupt dealings involving the Workplace Reform Association, which was registered in Perth with legal advice from Ms Gillard. She says she had nothing to do with its operation after it was incorporated in 1992 and did not know it had been rorted until after this was discovered by officials including Mr Cambridge.

Mr Blewitt claimed earlier this week that Bruce Wilson had used him as his proxy to purchase the Fitzroy unit in which Wilson had lived, never paid rent and claimed an allowance for from the union.

''I got no money when he sold the property in February 1996 and I received no rent from the property at all,'' he said in an interview with the website of former Sydney broadcaster Michael Smith.

Mr Blewitt also claimed he did not sign the power of attorney used by Wilson until Wilson had visited him in Perth after the purchase of the property.

Labor's $5000 election headache as AWU saga dogs Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Steve Lewis, The Daily Telegraph, November 15, 2012. (NOTE: Similar article in the Herald Sun)

NERVOUS Labor MPs are considering raising the Australian Workers Union scandal with Julia Gillard amid concerns the ongoing saga could damage the government's election prospects.

The Prime Minister yesterday hit out at reports former boyfriend, union fraudster Bruce Wilson, issued instructions for $5000 to be deposited into her bank account in 1995. As the Coalition called her defence "less than honest" Ms Gillard said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by her, when she was a partner with Slater & Gordon.

Victorian Police have now formally agreed to speak with former AWU official Ralph Blewitt - a key figure in the fraud that involved misappropriation of up to $1 million.

Lawyer Bob Galbally, said his client, who lives in Malaysia, was "willing to attend Melbourne to make a statement".

The prospect of Mr Blewitt in a tell-all session with fraud squad detectives will add to growing nervousness among Labor MPs.

Government figures yesterday said there was "talk" that ALP party elders may have to confront the Prime Minister to ensure the ongoing scandal does not undermine next year's election campaign.

"The Libs are clearly saving something up (for the campaign)," one senior Labor figure said.

Another caucus figure said there was "growing anxiety" among Labor MPs about the union fraud's impact on voters.

Labor MPs were "bewildered and scratching their heads" after they observed a steady stream of media articles emerging - some containing fresh allegations about the 17-year-old scandal.

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop is spearheading the Coalition's attack against the PM and is expected to use the final week of parliament in two weeks time to hammer Ms Gillard about her involvement.

Ms Bishop told Melbourne radio the "challenge for Julia Gillard is to fully explain some of her recent statements about this matter that show that she's been less than honest".

A defiant Prime Minister used a press conference to again claim she was innocent of any wrongdoing.

"This matter has been trawled over for the best part of 20 years. There is not one finding of wrongdoing by me. And there is a reason for that - I didn't do anything wrong," Ms Gillard said.

She described the latest revelations as "smear, pure and simple" and refused to specifically answer questions about the alleged $5000 deposit. While the issue is causing concern among Labor MPs, senior ALP officials denied it was "resonating" with ordinary voters ahead of what will be a tough election year.

"It's not top of our worry lists," one ALP figure said.

PM rattled by story that will not die

Niki Savva, The Australian, November 15, 2012

ANY reservations the opposition had about pursuing Julia Gillard over her abrupt departure from her old law firm Slater & Gordon following a secret internal probe evaporated on October 9.

That was the day Gillard made her infamous speech in parliament, branding Tony Abbott a sexist and misogynist when he sought the removal of her preferred Speaker, Peter Slipper, whose text messages to a former male staffer have given rise to claims that he actually is a sexist and misogynist.

After that speech the Coalition's leadership group, which had initially quashed Julie Bishop's push for the pursuit, decided all bets were off and gave the deputy leader an open season hunting licence. The decision to zero in on the issue and to use Bishop to muscle up to Gillard was a significant change in strategy for the opposition as it grapples with its responses to Labor's deeply personal attacks on Abbott.

Those attacks, coupled with Abbott's recent off-key performances, have paid dividends. Gillard is growing in confidence and is confident she has Abbott's measure - that he can't or won't change, and those around him won't encourage or convince him to change.

Using Bishop is tactically smart, but there is no substitute for a leader showing leadership. Abbott has to respond to Gillard's assaults himself in a systematic and considered way, with clever policies and smarter presentations.

Bishop, a former lawyer well versed in the written and unwritten rules governing professional behaviour, had been hot to trot as long ago as August 18 when The Australian's Hedley Thomas broke the story about the probe.

The story is a case study of the dangers posed by professional and personal conflict. It is complicated but essentially it revolves around Gillard's work from mid-1992 for her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, then branch secretary of the Australian Workers Union, in setting up a slush fund that he subsequently used to defraud the union of hundreds of thousands of dollars. She says she had no knowledge of the fund's operations.

Gillard was a partner at Slater & Gordon and, contrary to normal practice, she failed to open a file on her work for Wilson, leaving her colleagues in the dark about what she had done. When they found out, they conducted a formal internal review culminating in a taped interview with Gillard on September 11, 1995. She left the firm soon after.

Gillard has consistently denied any wrongdoing and, notwithstanding the revelations in August by Thomas, the opposition approached the issue with trepidation, as if it were an improvised explosive device set to detonate against them. The leadership group, including Abbott, rejected Bishop's urgings and decided it was safer to leave the running to the media and to Gillard's enemies in the Labor Party and the unions.

They judged, probably rightly at that stage, that if they sought to exploit it, and especially if Abbott himself did it, it would soon be turned against them by Labor and sections of the media. They worried the story would become Abbott's slimy desperation in pursuing it, not Gillard's questionable actions as a salaried partner in a law firm.

Gillard has twice been able to use relatively minor mistakes to force retractions. She did it last year with Glenn Milne's column in The Australian, then again on August 23 when she called a press conference and declared it would be the one and only occasion she would answer questions on the matter.

That press conference was prompted by one wrong word in a news story in The Australian written by another journalist. It wrongly reported she had set up a trust fund instead of, as she had admitted in her interview with her law partners, a slush fund.

She used that minor error to vehemently deny any wrongdoing and launch a vigorous defence. The denial formed the basis of the stories that night on the television news and in rival print organisations the next day. The substance of all the other allegations was lost.

Still, it has become the story that will not die, no matter how hard the Prime Minister tries to kill it off, and no matter how much she paints herself as a victim, first of love, then of naivety, then of gender.

The questions are simple even if the issues are complicated: what did she know, when did she know it and what did she do about it?

One area is why she did not report the fraud to either the AWU or the police. Bishop asked Gillard this question directly on November 1 and the Prime Minister replied: "By the time the matters she refers to came to my attention they were already the subject of inquiry and investigation."

The AWU found out only in April 1996, when it was alerted by the Commonwealth Bank, that the slush fund she helped set up existed - seven months after her September 11 interview with Peter Gordon. Police fraud squad investigations in Western Australia and Victoria did not begin until mid to late 1996.

A 1996 affidavit by then AWU official Ian Cambridge suggests if they had known sooner, they might have been able to prevent other fraudulent activity, including the February 1996 sale of a house in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy and subsequent misappropriation of the proceeds of that sale.

The purchase of that property by Wilson for his union ally Ralph Blewitt, using money from the slush fund, and its later sale is one of the central issues in the saga.

Bishop referred to Gillard in parliament as the solicitor in charge of the conveyance. In Laos last week Gillard told journalists she was "not in charge of the conveyancing file".

Documents from the file show that Gillard waived the fee for the conveyancing, witnessed the power of attorney that authorised Wilson to purchase property on Blewitt's behalf, and asked for a memo about when higher interest rates were charged. The conveyancing was largely done by one of the firm's staff, Olive Brosnahan.

One rationale offered by the opposition for zeroing in on the slush fund, apart from the signal it sends to Labor about the risks of pursuing the personal, is that it goes to the Prime Minister's truthfulness: what she said in her 1995 interview, what she said at her press conference and what she is saying now.

Is her story consistent? Is it complete?

The other justification, which Eric Abetz, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, has used, is the corruption in the Health Services Union, and the Prime Minister's determination to hang on to Labor MP and former HSU national secretary Craig Thomson longer and tighter than she should have.

Parliament rises on November 29 and Bishop has only four sitting days left to directly quiz the Prime Minister. Thanks to the continuing revelations, particularly by Thomas, she has a wealth of material to draw on.

This story simmers and boils, and Bishop has shown so far she is more than capable of framing the questions and getting under the Prime Minister's skin.

Abbott should leave her to it and concentrate on the economy. That is where he needs to focus his efforts to build credibility for himself and his party.

Union official who first raised Julia Gillard renovation claims now doubts his own story

Hedley Thomas and Pia Akerman, The Australian, November 15, 2012

THE AWU official who first brought allegations that union money had been spent on renovations to Julia Gillard's house to the attention of corruption fighter Ian Cambridge has now cast doubt on his recollections.

Mr Cambridge, the former national secretary of the AWU who is now a Fair Work commissioner, kept a detailed diary while investigating serious fraud in the union in the mid-1990s. More than 150 pages of his diary covering the period have been obtained by The Australian and verified as authentic by Mr Cambridge.

The diary reveals that on September 25, 1995, Mr Cambridge received a telephone call from AWU official Helmut Gries, who told him of allegations that union funds, controlled by Ms Gillard's then boyfriend, union official Bruce Wilson, had been used for Ms Gillard's renovations - and The Age newspaper was on to the story.

The diary states that Mr Gries, a dedicated Victorian AWU official who railed against dishonesty, was making the call to disclose "terrible things involving the misuse of union money".

However, Mr Gries, 72 and retired, has told The Australian that while he is not infallible he is sure that he did not make such disclosures at the time.

He said Mr Cambridge was an honest union leader who was genuinely trying to identify the union's corruption. But he said he could not explain the diary's entry quoting him because while he did not believe he said it, he could not believe that Mr Cambridge would have made it up.

While he recalled telling Mr Cambridge about dishonesty involving Mr Wilson and fellow union official Bill "the Greek" Telikostoglou - and confirmed that parts of the diary shown to him by The Australian were accurate - he said he would not have known anything about the renovations at Ms Gillard's house.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly and emphatically denied wrongdoing in relation to a union "slush fund" she helped set up for Mr Wilson when she was a salaried partner at law firm Slater & Gordon. The fund was later used to defraud hundreds of thousands of dollars from the AWU. Ms Gillard says she had no knowledge of the operations of the fund.

There is no evidence that she received union money, or that anyone other than Ms Gillard paid for the renovations to her Abbotsford home in Melbourne's inner-east in the mid-1990s.

Ms Gillard has declined to respond to detailed questions from The Australian this week on the revelations in the Cambridge diary. "I refer you to the account of these events provided by the Prime Minister at her press conference (attended by The Australian) on 23 August 2012," her spokesman, Sean Kelly, said.

At a Canberra media conference on August 23 this year, after a series of stories in The Australian, a reporter asked Ms Gillard: "Can you say categorically, Prime Minister, that none of the funds in this entity were used to pay for renovations on your house?"

Ms Gillard replied: "I've dealt with this allegation a lot in the past and let's be very clear about it. I paid for the renovations on my home in St Phillip Street in Abbotsford. Like millions of other Australians, I had the unhappy experience that I had a few blues with contractors along the way."

During the confidential internal review by Slater & Gordon, Ms Gillard told senior partner Peter Gordon in a recorded interview on September 11, 1995, she could not be certain she had not benefited from union funds. She said then: "I can't categorically rule out that something at my house didn't get paid for by the association or something at my house didn't get paid for by the union or whatever, I just, I don't feel confident saying I can categorically rule it out, but I can't see how it's happened because that really is the only bit of work that I would identify that I hadn't paid for."

The Cambridge diary states that in September 1995 Mr Gries revealed to Mr Cambridge that a journalist at The Age newspaper was going to publish a "fairly correct" story about union-funded renovations at Ms Gillard's house. "I was a little stunned by this and asked Helmut to explain further," Mr Cambridge writes. The diary states that Mr Gries knew the proposed article was the work of Age journalist Joanne Painter. Painter reported on unions and industrial matters at the time. According to the diary, Mr Gries said he had "specifically requested" Painter drop the article and she had agreed to do so. Painter declined to comment yesterday.

The diary entry states that Mr Gries said, "the (spiked) article essentially involved the exposure of Wilson and the Greek (Mr Telikostoglou) using union money to pay for renovations that took place at the house of Julia Gillard".

Mr Cambridge recorded: "I clarified that the Julia Gillard we were talking about was the person who was a solicitor with Slater & Gordon, and Helmut said yes and that she had been recently trying to enter parliament and seeking preselection for a seat in parliament. I asked Helmut if he was certain that this really had occurred and he said yes, and that it was probably only a matter of time before it was all exposed and that he thought that the Greek was the prime motivate (sic) and the main problem with the shonky things that were going on.

"Gries concluded the conversation by saying that he just simply wanted to pass that information on to me and that he did not want to get drawn into a lot of the heat surrounding the internal disputation in the union."

The Cambridge diary was known to only a handful of people prior to it being obtained by The Australian. Yesterday, The Australian revealed Mr Cambridge's diary entry about a conversation he had with AWU staffer Wayne Hem in 1996, in which Mr Hem told the union boss of $5000 cash he had been given by Mr Wilson to deposit in Ms Gillard's account the previous year. Mr Hem has confirmed the conversation to The Australian and sworn a statutory declaration regarding the $5000 deposit. He also confirmed separate deposits he made for Mr Wilson, putting cheques from building companies into a secret AWU account.

Ms Gillard yesterday declined to comment on the revelations, declaring them a smear. There is no evidence, nor is it suggested that Ms Gillard asked for the cash or knew of its origins.

The Australian has also obtained the brief handwritten note that Mr Cambridge made during the conversation with Mr Gries, just prior to a more detailed Dictaphone entry. Mr Gries, now retired in Melbourne, has denied telling Mr Cambridge union funds were used to pay for renovations at Ms Gillard's house. "If that conversation had occurred, I would have remembered," he said at his home in Altona North. "Ian was a reasonably honest person, he would have had no ulterior motives. I can't see the point in Ian thinking that or saying that if it wasn't factual. I can't believe I've forgotten, if I knew, that there were renovations going on at Gillard's place. If I did know (about union money being used for Ms Gillard's renovations), I would have told Wilson and I probably would have taken steps at the highest level because I disliked the Greek intensely because he did a lot of damage to the union.

"It's inconceivable that I could forget that. Maybe I'm wrong - I mean, no one is infallible."

Mr Gries asked if part of the diary could be left with him to review. He sent an email two days later stating he did not want to be quoted on anything, adding that the diary note related to him informing Mr Cambridge was "old inaccurate history".

Mr Telikostoglou, who was described by Ms Gillard in her tape-recorded 1995 interview as a "big Greek bullshit artist" and a union official who had "obvious difficulties with the truth", told The Australian from Athens he was involved in the renovations but insisted there was no wrongdoing.

Seventeen days after the Gries entry in Mr Cambridge's diary, Phil Gude, then a Victorian government Liberal minister, told state parliament Mr Wilson was involved in fraud and had spent union funds renovating Ms Gillard's house.

Union 'saint' paid price for whistleblowing

Hedley Thomas and Pia Akerman, The Australian, November 15, 2012

TO union colleagues on the picket lines, he was "St Helmut", a man who spoke out to the media about concerns over carcinogenic chemicals to trigger a three-month shutdown across Melbourne's industrial western suburbs in 1990.

The whistleblowing by Helmut Gries, who had risen from a grim childhood in post-war Germany, came five years before his disclosures to the then joint national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Ian Cambridge.

According to the detailed and contemporaneous diary entry by Mr Cambridge on September 25, 1995, Mr Gries had telephoned him to express his concerns that union money may have been misused to pay for renovations on Julia Gillard's house.

Ms Gillard has denied the claim, insisting in August this year: "I paid for my renovations."

There is no evidence that Ms Gillard received union money, or that anyone other than Ms Gillard paid for the renovations to her Abbotsford home, in Melbourne's inner east, in the mid-1990s.

Ms Gillard said in 1995 in a tape-recorded interview that she could not rule out that the union funds or money from the slush fund that she had helped set up went into the renovations of her house, "but I can't see how it's happened".

Mr Gries now denies telling Mr Cambridge union funds were used to pay for the renovations, saying he would not have known anything about it.

The 1995 diary entry shows that, at the time, Mr Gries believed the union's money was going into the house owned by Ms Gillard, the girlfriend of AWU branch head Bruce Wilson.

Mr Gries is a man with a Trojan-like work ethic and integrity, willing to put himself on the line for what he believes.

He is now 72, a retired union organiser living in the western suburb of Altona. It is a stone's throw from Ms Gillard's current abode (when she is not in official residences) and not far from the former Hoechst petrochemical plant, where he worked for 19 years and served as shop steward for the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. He has a modest home in the former East Germany, where he goes for holidays each year.

Hoechst sacked Mr Gries from his job as a mechanical maintenance worker in August 1990, for helping a 60 Minutes journalist enter the factory for a story on the company's use of an allegedly carcinogenic chemical and the risk it posed to employees.

His sacking prompted 74 other maintenance workers to walk off the job, triggering a dispute that embroiled seven Altona petrochemical companies and led to more than 1000 workers striking, costing the Victorian economy millions of dollars over 13 weeks.

Hoechst refused to let Mr Gries return and he struggled to find work. Still unemployed after several months, he told the Herald Sun at the time: "I would rather be unemployed for the rest of my life, rather than be in a position where I didn't act on what I knew."

Born in Germany during World War II, Mr Gries was five years old when his parents and four siblings were killed. He grew up in a convent orphanage, telling the AWU magazine in 2006 the experience had shaped him.

He migrated to Melbourne in 1959 and trained as a fitter. In 1991, Mr Gries started full-time work with the AWU.

In September 1995, according to Mr Cambridge's diary, he telephoned the AWU official and told him a journalist was preparing to publish a story alleging Mr Wilson and Bill Telikostoglou used union money on renovations at Ms Gillard's house.

He did not provide Mr Cambridge with any evidence to support the allegation.

"I asked Helmut if he was certain that this really had occurred and he said yes, and that it was probably only a matter of time before it was all exposed," Mr Cambridge wrote in his diary.

Age article alleging funds abuse 'pulled'

Hedley Thomas and Pia Akerman, The Australian, November 15, 2012

AS an IR journalist during the turbulent reign of Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, union power struggles were bread and butter to Joanne Painter.

In August 1995, The Age's chief industrial reporter began to pursue a story when a group of senior officials at the AWU's construction branch in Melbourne, including national branch secretary Bruce Wilson, left under a cloud.

There had been longstanding tensions at the union but Painter, and other media outlets, began to realise there was more going on and it involved fraud.

A month later, the National Crime Authority and Victoria Police were asked by the AWU's then-national joint secretary Ian Cambridge to investigate fraud.

Painter had a front-page story in The Age about payments of more than $150,000 by major construction firms to a secret union bank account known as the AWU Members Welfare Association No 1 Account.

As she pursued the story, Painter came into greater contact with Mr Cambridge.

Mr Cambridge's diary discloses that, on September 25, she rang him about a tip-off that she had received from her sources in Victoria, which would result in another front-page story the next day.

The diary said Painter had asked for comment on allegations construction company Thiess had also paid the AWU Victorian branch $25,000 to permit the use of contaminated soil in a roadworks project.

Mr Cambridge told her he had never heard of the allegations but would be happy to have it investigated by the police fraud squad.

Just hours after their conversation, Mr Cambridge noted in his diary that union organiser Helmut Gries had also called him soon afterwards to say that Painter had proposed to publish a story alleging Mr Wilson and Bill Telikostoglou, or "Bill the Greek", misused union money to pay for renovations on Julia Gillard's house. "I was a little stunned by this and asked Helmut to explain further," Mr Cambridge wrote in his diary.

"He said that Painter had the article fairly correct and that he had specifically requested that she withdraw the article and she agreed to do so but that the article essentially involved the exposure of Wilson and the Greek using union money to pay for renovations that took place at the house of Julia Gillard."

Mr Gries provided no evidence to support the allegations at the time and this month denied telling Mr Cambridge that union money had been spent on the Prime Minister's renovations.

Ms Gillard has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and in August this year insisted: "I paid for my renovations." There is no evidence that union funds were spent on the renovations.

Archive searches show that no story by Painter mentioning Ms Gillard, who had abruptly left law firm Slater & Gordon just days earlier and was running for a Labor Senate seat, ever appeared in The Age. The Australian contacted Painter yesterday and explained the claims in the Cambridge diary. She declined to comment.

Big Bill Telikostoglou 'not happy' with ex-best friend

Hedley Thomas, The Australian, November 15, 2012

IN 1995 when law firm Slater & Gordon was struggling to get to the bottom of a union corruption scandal on its doorstep, one unionist was singled out and roundly condemned.

"He is known as either Bill Telikostoglou or simply Bill the Greek," Julia Gillard, then a salaried partner at the firm, told senior partner Peter Gordon in a tape-recorded interview.

Bill the Greek, now living in Athens where The Australian interviewed him, is still a figure of notoriety for his AWU escapades in Western Australia and Victoria.

He was a union organiser and loyal enforcer for Ms Gillard's boyfriend, branch secretary Bruce Wilson, whom he met on Woodside gas rigs off Western Australia.

After their scams in Victoria were exposed in August 1995, Mr Telikostoglou hurriedly quit the union and Australia, leaving a trail of bounced cheques.

But it was his work on the renovation of Ms Gillard's house in Abbotsford in Melbourne that led to her describing, in her Slater & Gordon interview, his "obvious difficulties with the truth".

Mr Gordon asked Ms Gillard in the September 11, 1995, interview: "What are Bill's obvious difficulties with the truth?"

Ms Gillard replied: "He's just a big Greek bullshit artist."

Mr Telikostoglou, who says he is now semi-retired in Greece as a life insurance salesman with a bad back, following work as a security official for local politicians, expressed surprise and anger at his depiction as a habitual liar.

"I lived with Bruce, and Julia was my best friend then," he said.

"I'm not very happy with her. She did not say nice things about me . . . I would cook for her -- and she cooked for me.

"In what way was I a big Greek bullshit artist to her? She should not speak of her friends like that.

"I changed my bloody political party to support her. I said: 'I like you because you are a very good friend.' I'm a capitalist and I changed, I joined the Labor Party. She never replies to my emails. I don't think she is a nice person now. I was amazed when I saw what she said."

He denied involvement in scamming building companies and union fraud, and denied he had funnelled any union money into her renovation.

He said it was likely that Ms Gillard "didn't even know what Bruce was doing" when it came to AWU fraud. "I said to him: 'How could you do that?' I was very disappointed with Bruce. I don't understand why it happened. I didn't even know about the (slush fund)."

The Prime Minister has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying she had no knowledge of the operations of the "slush fund", which she helped set up for Mr Wilson and his union ally Ralph Blewitt.

Other union officials including Helmut Gries claim that Mr Telikostoglou was a prolific liar who was knowingly and deeply involved in the union fraud.

Former employee Wayne Hem told The Australian that soon after Mr Telikostoglou left the country, criminals came to the union offices looking for him and asked Mr Hem to pass on a message: "Death is long."

Asked about the renovations at Ms Gillard's house, Mr Telikostoglou said he would not have been told if Mr Wilson had arranged anything untoward.

He described Mr Gries as an honest, hard-working official: "If he says something, I would believe him 100 per cent. He was an honest person."


Prime Minister, aside from the Cambridge diary entry and subsequent statutory declaration from the employee involved, another entry in the Cambridge diary relates to the renovations at your Abbotsford house.

This diary entry is based on a September 25, 1995 evening conversation between Mr Cambridge and a union official with a reputation for honesty.

The diary entry asserts that the union official confided to Mr Cambridge that union funds went into the renovation of your house – and that Bill The Greek and (Bruce) Wilson were part of this. The September 25 diary entry occurs 17 days before similar claims were made by Phil Gude in Victoria’s parliament.

The reported conversation between Mr Cambridge and the official does not suggest one way or the other whether you were in fact aware of union funds being spent on the renovation of your house.

Can you please respond to the following questions – Part B of this note – that arise from that diary entry, as well as the questions about the issue of disclosure of the existence of the AWU Workplace Reform Association?

1. On September 11, 1995, you told Peter Gordon that you could not categorically rule out that funds from the union or the association went into the renovation of your own house. Is that still the position?

2. On August 23, 2012, you told a media conference in Canberra that you paid for your renovations. By this, do you now categorically rule out the proposition that some funds from the union or association went into the renovation of your house?

3. Since the interview by Peter Gordon in 1995, when you expressed uncertainty about whether funds from the union or association went into your house, your recollection appears to have changed, so that you are now certain about it not having occurred. Can you please clarify this?

4. Prior to claims in Victoria’s parliament by the Liberal Party’s Phil Gude in October 1995, were you aware of a proposed newspaper article about the renovations, which was to have been published in The Age in September 1995, but which was pulledafter an AWU request? Do you recall being involved in discussions that led to this article being pulled?

5. Did you at any time pay or repay any money as a result of money that had originally been paid by Mr Wilson or the AWU for renovations to your house in Abbotsford?

6. In your interview with Peter Gordon you said that you could not rule out that funds from ‘the association’ went into the renovation.
Can you explain why you believed it possible that funds from ‘the association’ could have gone into the renovation, given your August 2012 answers that you were not aware of the workings of the association?

7. It is a matter of public record that the existence of the association was not known to the AWU national leadership or the branch in Western Australia (where the association was incorporated after legal advice from you) until April 1996. Why did neither you, nor the firm of Slater & Gordon – upon becoming aware in August-September 1995 of fraud concerns relating to Mr Wilson, unauthorised bank accounts and a different AWU slush fund in Victoria – not alert anyone in the AWU to the existence of the association that you had helped to establish, and which bore the name of the AWU (the firm’s client)?

8. What do you say to the suggestion that if you or the firm had disclosed the West Australian slush fund to the union, the improper use of the slush fund and its related accounts would have been readily identified, and further improper use/alleged money-laundering – including the sale of 85 Kerr St in February 2006 – could not have occurred?

Prime Minister, as your staff would know, The Australian has repeatedly sought responses about matters relating to the AWU Workplace Reform Association.

We will continue to seek your responses. We would also welcome an opportunity to ask these questions in a face-to-face meeting.


As The Australian is well aware, the Prime Minister has made clear on numerous occasions that she was not involved in any wrongdoing. I also note that, despite repeatedly being asked to do so, The Australian has been unable to substantiate any allegations of wrongdoing.

MPs nervous as PM lashes out

David Crowe and Sean Parnell, The Australian, November 15, 2012

JULIA Gillard has launched a furious attack on claims she received $5000 from ex-boyfriend Bruce Wilson when he was involved in an alleged fraud at the Australian Workers Union, declaring it a "smear" she would not dignify with a response.

The Prime Minister rebuffed questions over the deposit into her bank account in 1995 by declaring there was no "substantiated allegation" against her after years of examination of the union scandal.

Ms Gillard turned on The Australian for reporting former AWU employee Wayne Hem deposited the cash in 1995.

"There is not one substantiated allegation in today's Australian. It does not contain one allegation of wrongdoing by me," she said in Brisbane yesterday. "This matter has been trawled over for the best part of 20 years, and at the end of it being trawled over for the best part of 20 years there is not one finding of wrongdoing by me.

"And there's a reason for that -- I didn't do anything wrong."

Ms Gillard then turned her guns on the Coalition, accusing Tony Abbott of "endless personal smears" against her.

"This is smear, pure and simple, and I'm not going to dignify it by becoming involved in it," she said.

Asked if she remembered getting the $5000 from Mr Wilson, she said: "I've just dealt with the nature of these smears."

Asked whether "unsubstantiated" meant "untrue" and there was no cash deposit, Ms Gillard said again that there was no allegation of wrongdoing against her.

Mr Hem told The Australian that Mr Wilson handed him $5000 and asked him to deposit it in Ms Gillard's bank account.

It is not known where Mr Wilson got the funds and there is no evidence, nor is it suggested, that Ms Gillard asked for the payment or knew of its origins.

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop said Ms Gillard must explain the nature of the payment.

"If Julia Gillard has an explanation for this payment she should provide it," Ms Bishop said.

Caucus members publicly backed Ms Gillard, but privately some said a fuller explanation was in her interest and the party's.

"The caucus is getting nervous. They just don't understand why she's not answering the questions -- they know they are new questions," one MP said.

"The time has come for someone to go forward and just make sure the party's being protected."

While Mr Hem said he had gone to the AWU's Sydney office in 1996 to make a sworn statement, the union said yesterday it had no records of the affair.

"Everything the union had in its possession we provided to the police in Western Australia and Victoria," said AWU national secretary Paul Howes, adding that this was done in 1996 and 1997. "So we don't have any other documents in our possession at all."

Mr Howes was not an AWU official at the time.

Others questioned how the union could allow the files out of its possession.

"Even the secretary of a P&C would keep a copy," said Brian Courtice, a former AWU official and federal Labor MP who was not involved in the 1990s affair.

Story is everywhere, but Aunty keeps mum

Nick Leys, The Australian, November 15, 2012

IT remains for the national broadcaster the story that dare not speak its name.

Despite extensive coverage on commercial radio and television, and after several days of coverage across the News Limited and Fairfax press, the ABC chose to ignore yesterday's fresh allegations reported by The Australian concerning Julia Gillard and claims she received $5000 cash from then boyfriend and union official Bruce Wilson.

With the exception of one question from Radio National Breakfast host Fran Kelly to The Age's political editor Michelle Grattan about whether the revelations were "a problem" for Ms Gillard, the story was one the ABC did not think its listeners were entitled to hear until late in the day when the Prime Minister, who denies wrongdoing, dismissed it as "a smear". "The ABC continues to cover this story, as with all others, on its merits," a spokeswoman said. It is understood the ABC will be looking at the story in some form in coming days.

Melbourne 3AW broadcaster Neil Mitchell discussed the issue at length and devoted his online editorial to the issue, calling on Ms Gillard to explain the $5000.

"Julia Gillard must deal with this," Mitchell wrote.

The ABC refused to comment on why Maurice Blackburn principal and director Liberty Sanger ignored The Australian's front page story while discussing the daily newspapers on its News Breakfast program. Sanger is the wife of Labor senator and faction leader David Feeney and her law firm represents the union involved in the allegations, the AWU.

Cash claim simply a smear, says PM

The Age November 15, 2012

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has launched a scathing attack on the opposition and The Australian newspaper over an allegation that as a lawyer she received $5000 cash from her former boyfriend and Australian Workers Union official Bruce Wilson.

She described Wednesday's newspaper article, which said former union employee Wayne Hem had put the cash into her bank account at the request of Mr Wilson in July 1995, as part of an ongoing ''smear campaign''.

She has consistently denied any wrongdoing or personal benefit from her involvement in setting up a union fund for free and off the books when she was a lawyer for Slater & Gordon in the 1990s.

Ms Gillard said there was not one single ''substantiated allegation'' in The Australian's article.

She said in the past three days she had announced a royal commission into child abuse, met the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to discuss national security in the region and was now in Queensland looking at a major infrastructure project ahead of a community cabinet.

''During these three days, what's the opposition being doing? Every day they have been out further pursuing these smears,'' Ms Gillard said. ''Every day they have been engaged in smears.''

The editor-in-chief of The Australian, Chris Mitchell, defended the story, saying the newspaper had obtained diary notes from a former national secretary of the AWU, Ian Cambridge, who had investigated the union ''slush-fund scandal'' in the mid-1990s. "The PM has not dealt with these facts," Mr Mitchell said.

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