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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Julia Gillard in crisis over slush fund

The elusive document the PM was supposed to have sent to the WA Corporate Affairs Commission has finally turned up.  It allegedly proves that the PM had much more than a "limited role" in the enabling of a slush fund for her lover Bruce Wilson, head of the AWU.  

When she was a salaried partner of Slater & Gordon in 1992, the Commission wrote to Julia Gillard stating that her request for the Australian Workplace Reform Association to be incorporated was denied - they were ineligible because of its union links.

If this latest document can be believed, the PM wrote back to the Commission informing them that her client was not a trade union organisation.

The PM has always maintained in news conferences and also in Parliament, that she played a minor role in setting up the fund from which her boyfriend Bruce Wilson and Ralph Blewitt siphoned off more than $400,000.

When Julie Bishop asked the PM on Monday if she had written vouching for the bona fides of the association, she said "The claim has been made, but no correspondence has ever been produced."

Nick Styant-Brown, a former Slater & Gordon partner, has released the transcript of an interview held between Ms Gillard and the firm's senior partners about her involvement in setting up the association.  When questioned by senior partner Peter Gordon, she confirmed that after she drafted and submitted model rules for the new association, the WA authority had written back saying they were ineligible because of its links to a union.

She said "We had prepared a response submitted on Wilson's instructions to that authority suggesting that in fact it wasn't a trade union and arguing the case for its incorporation."  While admitting she did not keep an official file on the matter, she produced informal records found in her office.

From the transcript:  "I had just in my own personal precedent file, a set of rules for the Socialist Forum which is an incorporated association in which I am personally involved" she said. "I just kept them hanging around as something I cut and paste from for drafting purposes and I obtained, I don't quite recall how now, but I obtained the model rules under the WA Act and I must have done the drafting relying on those two sources."

She also acknowledged that she did not consult anyone else in the firm, including Tony Lang, another partner, well versed and experienced in forming non-profit associations and didn't ask anyone else about what might be "acceptable or appropriate."

Slater & Gordon said last month that the file relating to the case had disappeared and the file held in the WA Archives was empty.