all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

01 November, 2012

The Prime Minister Misled the House

Today, in the House of Representatives, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister several question relating to a Power of Attorney—see here, here and here—which the PM allegedly witnessed in February, 1993 (according to Hansard):
Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:41):  My question is to the Prime Minister.  I refer to her claim on 23 August that she had no involvement with the AWU workplace reform fund after she helped set it up in early 1992.  I refer the Prime Minister to the power of attorney, which I have a copy of, that carries the Prime Minister’s signature as a witness on 4 February 1993 from Mr Ralph Blewitt to Mr Bruce Wilson.  Mr Blewitt has stated publicly that he did not sign the power of attorney on that date and nor did he sign it in your presence.  Did the Prime Minister witness this document in the presence of Mr Blewitt and on the date nominated?
[Interjections and points of order.] 
Ms GILLARD:  I stand by my comments on the public record in relation to this matter.  […]
Ms JULIE BISHOP:  I refer the Prime Minister to the internal Slater & Gordon memo that confirms the power of attorney was used to secure a mortgage of $150,000, borrowed from Slater & Gordon, in addition to money from the AWU fund to purchase a Fitzroy property.  Why won’t the Prime Minister inform the House why she said on 23 August she had no involvement, when this proves that 12 months later she did?
Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (14:48):  I have in fact dealt with these questions on the public record.  I stand by those truthful statements, and the construction that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is trying to put on them is not a fair construction.  I refer her to my extensive press conference, where I dealt with all of these issues in a great deal of detail.  No amount of muckraking by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in contrast to the promise of the Leader of the Opposition—who is out there telling the Australian people he is going to be responsible, and then we have this—
[Interjections and points of order.] 
Ms GILLARD:  I had intended to conclude my answer before the shadow minister commenced making his vile and ridiculous statements. […]
Here are all the references—from the PM’s own transcriptmade in her press conference of 23 August to Mr. Ralph Blewitt, either by the PM or by the fawning spaniels of the Canberra Press Gallery:
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, one of the issues that’s been raised in recent days is the disparity between the creation of this association and what you said in 1995.  The former being that it was the creation of a workplace safety association and then three and a half years later, you said it was a slush fund.
Now, going back to the documents that have been released under FOI, with relation to the Officer of the Commissioner of Corporate Affairs, listed the 23 April 1992, is it your contention that in when Ralph Blewitt signed this document with nine pages attached which you, I believe, prepared and it says the objects of the association are, and there is like (a) to (h), and include things like promoting within unions the adoption of the association’s policies, supporting union officials. 
Is your contention that those objectives of the association are consistent with being a slush fund?
PM: Well, let me answer your question and answer it in some detail because I agree that you’ve gone to a number of matters that have been raised in recent days.
First and foremost, the terminology that you used in your question, which was terminology I used in the discussion with Peter Gordon and Jeff Shaw some 17 years ago, is terminology with a particular overtone to it which I don’t think helps with understanding these events. I’m not going to use it again.  I will be far more precise than that.
I was a solicitor at Slater & Gordon.  I assisted with the provision of advice regarding the setting up of an association, the workplace reform association that you refer to.
My understanding is that the purpose of the association was to support the re-election of a team of union officials and their pursuit of the policies that they would stand for re-election on.
It was my understanding that the association would engage in fundraising activities, including, for example, there being regular payroll deductions from union officials who would be putting their money together to support their re-election campaign and that they may well have other fundraising activities like hosting dinners where it would be transparent to people that the money was going to support their re-election campaign.
My role in relation to this was I provided advice as a solicitor.  I am not the signatory to the documents that incorporated this association.  I was not an office bearer of the association.  I had no involvement in the working of the association.  I provided advice in relation to its establishment and that was it.
JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard, the Melbourne house that was later bought with funds from this association.  Can you tell us about how much you knew about that house, your involvement in that house and whether you knew it was paid for by the association and how that relates to workplace safety?
PM: Well, I dealt with this matter in the interview with Peter Gordon and Jeff Shaw of which you now have the transcript.
My understanding about that house was that it was being purchased by Mr Blewitt.  It was being purchased as an investment property.  It was purchased on the understanding that Mr Wilson would be the tenant of the property and that Mr Blewitt was in a position with a mortgage like an ordinary person to purchase the property.
I did not, at the time, understand that any funds from any other source would be used to support the purchase, that is funds from the association or any other accounts related to the union.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can I just clarify because I think the most serious of these imputations is the one with regards to what your knowledge was then and later, and so I want to go back to this – you don’t dispute that you created this 9-page document which was attached to Blewitt’s—
PM: I don’t have that document in front of me, but, let’s just be clear, so it’s clear for everyone. I assisted with the provision of legal advice to incorporate this association.  I’m happy to answer questions about the document you have in front of you.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, as I understand it, when these issues were first questioned within the AWU, the matter was looked at, at Slater & Gordon by Bernard Murphy.  Now, I presume he then informed you of these issues.  What was your reaction at that time?  This is specifically the activities of Mr Blewitt and Mr Wilson?
PM: Well, I’m not in a position, for all the obvious reasons about legal professional privilege, to canvas the contents of files operated by solicitors at Slater & Gordon.
What I can say to you, Dennis, and what I think your question is trying to drive at is once I became aware that I had been deceived about a series of matters, I ended my relationship with Mr Wilson.
JOURNALIST: Are you worried about any of the people giving releasing client-privilege – the AWU, Ralph Blewitt?
PM: That’s a matter for the clients involved, not for me[.]
JOURNALIST: It doesn’t worry you?
PM: Look, I’m not going to give advice to people about what they should do about their legal professional privilege.  It’s a matter for them.  I’m answering your questions now.  If you’ve got questions, put them.
JOURNALIST: The story today about Ralph Blewitt leaving Indonesia in 2009 with the police after him and left owing a lot of money.  When you dealt with him, did you find him a shonky character then?
PM: Phil, that’s a question really that no-one could answer.  Did I have any reason to believe that Mr Blewitt was involved in the kind of conduct that has subsequently come to light?  No, I did not.
JOURNALIST: Mr Blewitt is claiming that if he’s given indemnity, that is the police promise not to arrest him and throw him [in gaol], that he’ll tell the whole story.  Is there more to this story?
PM: I can’t, Paul, work out for you what is in the mind of Mr Blewitt, but the only way of diagnosing that statement is that Mr Blewitt appears to believe he has done some criminal act for which he is seeking indemnity.
During the interview of 23 August, the PM made no mention of a power of attorney, and no journalist asked any question thereto; similarly, the PM made no mention of the mortgage secured by Slater & Gordon, and no journalist asked any question thereto.  Furthermore, at no other time, recently, has the PM made any public reference to Ralph Blewitt’s power of attorney.  (It is worth noting, perhaps, that though the PM was not on oath when she answered questions at that press conference, in her explanation today in question time she affirmed that the answers she provided then were truthful and that she still stood by their accuracy.)
So, in answer to a specific question relating to the power of attorney which Mr. Blewitt insists Julia Gillard did not personally witness, the PM stated that she stood by her statements, had “dealt with these questions on the public record” and she referred Julie Bishop to her aforesaid “extensive press conference, where[in she] dealt with all of these issues in a great deal of detail”.
By saying she “dealt with these questions”—which must surely relate to the power of attorney that she allegedly witnessed as well as to the mortgage wherewith it was secured—“on the public record”, though she has not dealt with those specific questions whereby answers are not on the public record, and by stating that she had covered “all of these issues”—not some, or quite a few, or many, or most, but all—in the press conference, I submit that the Hon. Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, did willfully and knowingly mislead the House of Representatives. 
When a minister is found to have misled Parliament deliberately, in the Westminster tradition, the minister usually resigns or is dismissed; accordingly, I say, the Prime Minister should resign, or the Governor-General should dismiss her.

UPDATE I (2 November):  see “AWU scandal: Gillard refuses to explain why her story doesn’t gell”, by Andrew Bolt; see “The tough questions PM refuses to answer”, by Piers Akerman; and see “Today in Parliament: Bishop v Gillard”, at Catallaxy Files.

UPDATE II (2 November):  in “Julia Gillard grilled on Australia Workers Union file dates”, Sid Maher of The Australian summarises the PM’s defence, but neglects to mention that the PM did not discuss the power of attorney in her famous press conference: 
Ms Gillard said she had dealt with these questions at the August 23 press conference.
She accused the opposition of being focused on “sleaze and smear”.
“I stand by those truthful statements,” Ms Gillard said.  “I refer her to my extensive press conference, where I dealt with all of these issues in a great deal of detail.”
Ms Bishop also questioned why Ms Gillard and then fellow Slater & Gordon lawyer Bernard Murphy were advising Mr Blewitt in a defamation action against AWU officials in late 1993.  Mr Blewitt told The Australian the defamation action was vital to silence dissenters because if they had succeeded in ousting him the secret slush fund would have been exposed.
Ms Gillard again said she stood by her August 23 press conference.
Gemma Jones, of The Daily Telegraph (also a News Ltd. paper), is a superior, sterner journalist; in “Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s past just won’t die”, she provides this correct assessment: 
The power of attorney was not addressed by Ms Gillard at the press conference in August.  […]
Hopes the issue was “put to bed” after Ms Gillard's August press conference appear to be dashed.
UPDATE III (2 November):  I added the sentence in red.

UPDATE IV (2 November):  Michael Smith’s public address on the whole scandal:

UPDATE V (3 November):  Michael Smith, in “How the member for Lalor, Julia Gillard, misled the House of Representatives”, refers to another misleading answer by the PM:
At no time prior to the AWU’s discovery of the existence of the AWU-WRA bank accounts at the Commonwealth Bank was the existence of the Australian Worker’s Union Workplace Reform Association being inquired into or investigated outside the partnership Slater and Gordon.  To say otherwise is a lie.  Yet that is what Gillard told the House last week.
From last Thursday’s Hansard:
Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:04):  My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to a statement on 20 September by former High Court Judge Michael Kirby which said:
… if a person is aware of a serious crime and doesn’t report it to the police, that is what we call misprision of a felony; if there is a felony, you have to report it, it is a citizen’s duty.
Why did not the Prime Minister herself report the fraud involving the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association that she helped establish?
Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (15:05):  This question has been asked in the past.  I refer the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to when I dealt with all of these issues extensively on the public record.  By the time the matters she refers to came to my attention they were already the subject of inquiry and investigation.
UPDATE VI (3 November)see Gillard failed to disclose slush fund’s existence”, by Hedley Thomas:
Two disgraced union officials were able to sell a Melbourne terrace house and keep fraudulently obtained money after Julia Gillard failed to disclose to the union’s national leadership, or to authorities, the existence of a secret slush fund she had helped set up for them.
Documents examined by The Weekend Australian show that at the time of the sale in February 1996 the leadership of the AWU, Bill Ludwig and Ian Cambridge, still had no inkling that a slush fund bearing the union’s name had ever been established.
The AWU heavyweights could not take legal action to stop the sale because they lacked any knowledge of either the slush fund or of the terrace house that had been purchased by the slush fund.
The AWU was the client of Ms Gillard and of her employer, Slater & Gordon. However, the slush fund that bore the name of the union was never disclosed to the union heads by either the solicitor or her firm.
This is despite Ms Gillard having been closely questioned six months earlier—in September 1995—by Slater & Gordon head Peter Gordon about the slush fund, the related fraud claims involving her then boyfriend, AWU official Bruce Wilson, and the terrace house in Fitzroy
The firm’s serious concerns after its own internal probe led to the AWU, Mr Wilson and fellow official Ralph Blewitt being abruptly dropped as clients of Slater & Gordon, and Ms Gillard leaving her job in September 1995.
Julie Bishop asked the Prime Minister in federal parliament on Thursday:  “Why did not the Prime Minister herself report the fraud involving the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association that she helped establish?”
Ms Gillard replied:  “By the time the matters she refers to came to my attention, they were already the subject of inquiry and investigation.”
Documents show that from August 1995 the AWUs national leaders, Mr Ludwig and Mr Cambridge, were openly and actively using legal and other measures to try to find out everything they could about possible fraudulent conduct, but were stymied by a lack of disclosure.
They did not discover until later in 1996 that the terrace house had been purchased in early 1993 with money from the slush fund.
Ms Gillard attended the 1993 auction and was involved in the conveyancing, and has always insisted she knew nothing of the slush fund’s workings.
The house, which had been bought by Mr Blewitt with almost $100,000 in cash stolen from the slush fund—the AWU Workplace Reform Association—was sold for $230,000 in February 1996.
The beneficiaries from the sale of the house, Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt, shared about $80,000 after the repayment of a loan from Slater & Gordon’s mortgage lending scheme.
From August 1995, the AWU was doing an intense and public investigation of alleged fraud and seeking a freeze on unauthorised bank accounts, while Slater & Gordon was doing a separate, secret internal probe.
The AWU leadership was alerted to the slush fund for the first time on April 3, 1996, by a Commonwealth Bank officer, Andrew Chalker, who had been asked to identify and report back on every account related to the AWU.
It took several more weeks before the AWU heads received copies of cheques proving slush fund money had helped purchase the house.
UPDATE VII (4 November):  in “AWU scandal: it seems Gillard misled Parliament”, Andrew Bolt concludes:
Gillard should have gone to police.  She didn’t.  She should have told Parliament there was no investigation into the AWU Workplace Reform Association when she learned it had been put to improper use.  She didn’t.
To me it seems Gillard on Thursday misled Parliament. 
For me, there is no doubt:  the duplicitous Prime Minister of Australia, I submit, did willfully, mischievously and wrongfully mislead Parliament; she must therefore resign or be dismissed.

UPDATE VIII (4 November):  see some earlier posts on this devious and mendacious PM:
‘Τετέλεσται’”  (23 August, 2012);
Yet More on Gillard”  (22 August, 2012);
‘Young and Naïve’ and ‘the Benefit of the Doubt’” (21 August, 2012);
Duplicitous Gillard and the Sham Entity”—Michael Smith video (20 August, 2012);
More on Gillard” (20 August, 2012);
Using the PM’s Defence” (20 August, 2012);
Gillard and ‘False Assertions’”  (4 August, 2012);
Gillard and the AWU Scandal”—nine video clips (30 July, 2012);
‘Depart, I Say, and Let Us Have Done with You’” (21 July, 2012);

A Song from Julia” (23 June, 2012);
The PM’s Distress” (22 June, 2012);
A Song for Julia” (5 June, 2012);
The PM Lied” (1 March, 2012);
Unfit to Lead” (28 February, 2012);
The PM’s Gag” (10 February, 2012);
Incredibly Challenging” (10 November, 2011);
The Loathing of Julia Gillard” (22 September, 2011);
The National Interest” (20 September, 2011);
The Elocution of Julia Gillard” (18 September, 2011);
Principium Exitus” (sadly inaccurate, 31 August, 2011);
Another Story You May Not Read” (29 August, 2011);
A Story You May Not Read” (29 August, 2011);
A Clean Energy Future” (at The Friends of CO2, 18 July, 2011)
The PM and the People Agree” (4 July, 2011);
The Wisdom of Julia Gillard (at The Friends of CO2, 26 June, 2011);
Let Them Eat More Dirt” (30 May, 2011); and
Gillard the Liar: ‘No Carbon Tax’” (26, February, 2011).
UPDATE IX (5 November)in “The AWU Scandal – something to pass around”, Michael Smith and John Lourens provide a synopsis of the scandalous AWU fraud which was abetted—and, mayhap, planned—by the PM.

UPDATE X (6 November):  Hedley Thomas (with Joe Kelly) reveals, in “Gillard call would have ‘led to fund inquiry’”, that Julia Gillard could easily have alerted the AWU that it was being defrauded, thanks to her legal advice, but chose not to do so:
One telephone call from Julia Gillard or law firm Slater & Gordon would have led to confirmation that a union slush fund she had helped set up was a mystery to its own branch and almost certainly fraudulent, says a former Australian Workers Union boss.
Peter Trebilco, who was joint secretary of the West Australian branch of the AWU in 1995, said yesterday if he had received such a call, he would have done an immediate audit and proved that the AWU Workplace Reform Association fund and its accounts were secret, unauthorised and unlawful.  “If Slater & Gordon had contacted us with the name of it, we would have said, ‘We will try to get to the bottom of what it is and who the beneficiaries are’,” Mr Trebilco told The Australian.
“If we had been told by Slater & Gordon that it was set up by Bruce Wilson and Ralph Blewitt, we would have been immediately more suspicious.  We knew about the relationship between Julia Gillard and Bruce, but (not) of the slush fund until after the money in its accounts had disappeared.”

The slush fund, which the Prime Minister had helped set up for Mr Wilson, her boyfriend, and his deputy, Mr Blewitt, amassed large sums and was kept secret for four years from 1992.
Ms Gillard is being pressed by the opposition to explain why she did not alert the authorities or the AWU to the slush fund.  […]
The AWU was the client of Ms Gillard and Slater & Gordon, but the slush fund that bore the name of the union was never disclosed to the union’s national leadership by either the solicitor or her firm.  […]
The failure in 1995 of Ms Gillard and the firm to alert the union’s national leadership or the branch officials in WA, where the slush fund was formally registered and subject to state laws, meant that police and the union remained unaware of it until 1996.  In the intervening months before the CBA told the union about it, the fund accounts were emptied and a Melbourne terrace house bought with ill-gotten cash was sold.
Mr Trebilco, who has not been involved in union matters since 1997, said yesterday he and former joint secretary Tim Daly still wanted to see a proper inquiry into the fraud scandal.  Ms Gillard has insisted she acted ethically at all times, and while she helped set it up she was not aware of the workings of the slush fund.  In August 1996, Mr Trebilco and Mr Daly said in a joint media statement:  “Present officers of the union had no knowledge of the existence of the (slush) account until recently.”  They said about $385,000 had passed through the account.
Sworn affidavits, Freedom of Information material and other contemporaneous documents show how Mr Cambridge and fellow AWU national leader Bill Ludwig sought to identify all unauthorised accounts but were stymied by a lack of disclosure.  The union launched a major inquiry in August 1995 and asked the National Crime Authority and Victoria’s major fraud squad to probe Mr Wilson’s role in dodgy bank accounts and another slush fund in Victoria.  Police in Victoria were never aware of the much larger slush fund in WA.
In an internal review of Ms Gillard’s conduct, her partners at Slater & Gordon in August-September 1995 discovered she had given legal advice to help Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt set up the slush fund in 1992, leading to its incorporation.  However, she had told neither the AWU nor the firm about this work until fraud concerns were raised in 1995.  She left the firm soon afterwards.
UPDATE XI (6 November)Michael Smith, as always, has worthy material, and his Gillard to Parliament, "it was already the subject of enquiry and investigation is particularly pertinent:
That the lawyers Gillard, Murphy and the partners at Slater and Gordon could see Mr Cambridge’s heart-felt efforts and say nothing is absolutely beyond my comprehension.  
That Gillard is so used to her own lies that she could stupidly mislead the parliament is entirely predictable.
UPDATE XII (13 November)in “Lawyers contradict PM’s claim”, Mark Baker, of the SMH, reveals that Slater & Gordon’s managing director asserts that Julia Gillard was the person in charge of the conveyancing for the house her leman bought in 1993:
Law firm Slater & Gordon has contradicted Julia Gillard’s claim that she was not in charge of legal work for the purchase in 1993 of a Fitzroy property later found to have been bought with stolen union money.
Ms Gillard—a former salaried partner with the firm—last week denied responsibility for conveyancing work on the purchase of the Kerr Street unit by a crony of her disgraced former boyfriend Bruce Wilson.
I was not in charge of the conveyancing file,” she told journalists during a visit to Laos.
But Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech has confirmed Ms Gillard “acted directly” in the conveyancing work on the property purchase.  The confirmation came in documents lodged with the Australian Press Council in support of a complaint against Fairfax newspapers and this journalist over reporting of the firm’s role in the Australian Workers Union “slush fund” scandal.  […]
In a “summary of issues” submitted to the Press Council, Mr Grech objected to accusations by lawyers representing Mr Blewitt that Slater & Gordon was stalling the release of an unofficial file created by Ms Gillard detailing work on the incorporation.
“The only documentary evidence Slater & Gordon was in possession of was that Ms Gillard acted directly for Mr Blewitt in relation to a conveyancing matter, a union dispute and a defamation matter,” he said.
UPDATE XIII (5 March, 2013):   Michael Smith, in “Defamation, Gillard and the Truth”, is justly angered by the Prime Ministers deliberate defamation of him, last November, when she mischievously lied in Parliament by yelling that he was sacked by the management of 2UE; of course, Smith was not sacked, he resigned.

1 comment:

Truth_Will_Out said...

I just found this site. So kudos to you... Eventually the truth is coming out.