Yes, we’re talking about the AWU/Slater&Gordon scandal whereby PM Julia Gillard, then a Partner at Melboune Law Firm Slater&Gordon, set up bank accounts under the name “AWU Workplace Reform Association” for then AWU National Secretary and her then boyfriend (even though he was married) Bruce Wilson. These bank accounts were nothing more than Wilson’s personal slush funds containing money he had extorted and embezzled from various building firms in return for an uninterrupted supply of union labour.
It is also clear, and hasn’t been denied by Gillard, that she personally benefited from these stolen monies, including receiving extensive renovations to her house as well as other expensive personal items such as high-end clothing.
What Gillard denies is that she didn’t know a) that these were secret, fraudulent accounts for her then boyfriend’s stolen money and b) that her personal gains were obtained using some of the stolen money.
“I did nothing wrong,” she has repeatedly claimed.
Personally, I think she certainly did do a number of things that most honest and diligent people would consider “wrong”, including her failure to open up a file on this matter, as is common practice at any reputable law firm.
However, whether she technically did anything illegal is I think what she’s getting at, and that should certainly be a matter for the courts (which it currently is not).
Either way, it’s certainly a grey area, and politicians have had to resign for a lot less, because when it comes to politicians, and especially the Prime Minister, it comes down to integrity and whether that person can be trusted.
To say there’s a cloud hanging over Gillard’s head is a gross understatement.
It also comes down to judgement. On this matter the PM says she was “young and naive”. I’m sorry, but that’s not going to cut it.
I’m about the same age Gillard was then, and as much as I’d like to hope so, sorry, I’m not exactly young any more. People in their early thirties have been around the traps for at least 15 years, or about half their lives.
And this was someone, a go-getter, who was not just a lawyer, but a Partner at a law firm, and not just any law firm, but one of Australia’s big boys.
And what’s this I hear yesterday about Gillard giving permission to Slater&Gordon to release their own files (albeit not the one’s we really want to see dated 1995)?
I know PM’s wield considerable power, but a PM giving permission??? That smacks of something a dictator would do.
And a PM worth their salt wouldn’t be treating their constituents for mugs with nonsense responses to serious questions like this pathetic response seen here.
This “repeat the mantra” snubbing of the people of Australia is an utter disgrace.
The woman has clearly acted wrongly. Even her old law firm once described it as “unprofessional and unethical”.
Gillard’s response? Accuse the editor-at-large of the Australian, Paul Kelly, of being manipulated by someone? Who? Who knows? But how desperate of a PM to imply some sort of vague conspiracy and try and smear one of Australia’s most respected journalists.
There’s not much out there that could be more unbecoming of the holder of this land’s highest office.
Gillard said, “I resigned voluntarily”. That is a lie.
Gillard said, “I did not know what the accounts were for.” That is also a lie.
Gillard said, “I had receipts for work done on my property.” That is a deception. She had receipts for maybe a new lamp-shade and a fancy soap-holder.
Mr Styant-Browne, now a Seattle-based lawyer, said the partnership “took a very serious view” of these and other matters, “and accepted her resignation”.
More background including Bob Kernohan’s stat. dec. and Glenn Milne’s since-pulled column.
PS Why hasn’t the AWU, currently headed by Paul Howes, been more active in recovering the stolen money, especially since a court has ordered that be done? And why is “zero tolerance” for corruption Paul Howes continuing to withhold files that could be important for any police investigation?
An absolute treasure trove of links can be found here – anything you might want to know, plus some updates on the latest, first linked to in comments here.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott:
You say Julia Gillard has questions to answer over her time at Slater and Gordon. What are those questions?
This is a matter that was put on the public record not by me, but by Robert McClelland, a member of her Cabinet.
What are those questions, Mr Abbott?
As I said, this is a matter that was raised by Robert McClelland, a member of her Cabinet. It’s obviously, having been raised by Robert McClelland, a legitimate subject of media interest.
Subtle yet… ouch!