All smear but no evidence against Gillard, says Howes

THE national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, has told those accusing Julia Gillard of wrongdoing as a lawyer almost 20 years ago to put up or shut up.
Nanjing Night Net

With the Deputy Opposition Leader, Julie Bishop, claiming Ms Gillard  to be ”less than honest” in her answers about the matter and vowing to pursue the matter in Parliament next week, Mr Howes said that other than innuendo and accusation, no-one had produced a skerrick of evidence against the Prime Minister.

”This is all smear,” Mr Howes told Fairfax Media of accusations concerning Ms Gillard’s knowledge of the antics of her former boyfriend and AWU union official, Bruce Wilson.

As an industrial lawyer with Slater & Gordon, Ms Gillard represented Mr Wilson and the AWU from 1992 to 1995.

With Ms Gillard’s assistance, Mr Wilson and his colleague, Ralph Blewitt, established a fund, called the Workplace Reform Association. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were siphoned from construction company Theiss into the fund for the personal use of Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt.

Ms Gillard says she had no idea the fund was to be used for improper purposes and said she helped with the legal work to set it up, believing it would be used for legitimate union purposes such as workplace safety and re-election of officials.

”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,” she told reporters in August.

”I had no involvement in the working of the association. I provided advice in relation to its establishment and that was it.”

During this period, Mr Wilson organised the purchase of a $230,000 property in Fitzroy, Melbourne.

It was bought by Mr Blewitt as an investment property and Mr Wilson lived in it.

It was later discovered that more than $100,000 of the purchase money was taken from the union association by Mr Wilson.

Ms Gillard attended the auction with Mr Wilson and visited the house regularly as his boyfriend.

At all stages she has denied knowing at the time that money from the fund was used to buy it.

On Melbourne Cup day this year, she said: ”I was not in charge of the conveyancing file”.

There is pressure for police to reopen the investigation into the rorting and Mr Blewitt has returned to Australia from Malaysia, where he now lives.

He says he will talk to police if granted immunity from prosecution.

But there is no suggestion he has anything linking Ms Gillard to the wrongdoing of himself and Mr Wilson.Mr Howes said the matter was investigated exhaustively all those years ago.

”Ultimately, the union tried to pursue these people 17 years ago. We provided all the evidence we had on file to the DPP in Western Australia and Victoria. We provided it to the police,” he said.

”The authorities in WA and Victoria declined to prosecute. They said the union wasn’t the aggrieved party. The aggrieved party was Theiss.”

The opposition is striving to keep the matter in the public spotlight to damage Ms Gillard. Ms Bishop is promising more next week.

But Mr Howes said it was time to produce some evidence or go away.

”There’s been a lot of innuendo and accusation. I’ve yet to see a single scrap of evidence that shows anyone other than Ralph Blewitt and Bruce Wilson did anything wrong.”

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