Julia Gillard was present at a meeting where a secret union “slush fund” was named, a royal commission into union corruption has heard.


The former prime minister has always maintained she knew nothing about alleged impropriety surrounding the Workplace Reform Association.

The secretive entity was set up by the Australian Workers’ Union WA branch in the early 1990s to help union officials win elections, and its money also allegedly paid for renovations at Ms Gillard’s Melbourne home.

Evidence at the second day of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption claimed Ms Gillard was present at a 1993 meeting, at the Melbourne office of her then employer Slater and Gordon Lawyers, where the fund was named.

Ms Gillard’s then boyfriend AWU secretary Bruce Wilson, Ms Gillard’s then boss Bernard Murphy and former secretary of the AWU WA branch Ralph Blewitt also attended.

“That final title, to the best of my knowledge, was determined at that meeting between Julia Gillard, Bernard Murphy and Bruce Wilson,” Mr Blewitt told the royal commission in Sydney on Tuesday.

Mr Blewitt said the entity was to be kept “secret and separate” from the broader AWU organisation.

There was no suggestion at the royal commission that Ms Gillard, who acted as an AWU lawyer, knew the fund’s real purpose, despite being party to its naming.

Cash is alleged to have been funnelled to the fund from construction firm Thiess, to whom Mr Blewitt submitted invoices for work that was never carried out.

Mr Blewitt said he went along with the alleged impropriety because he felt “intimidated” by Mr Wilson, who he claimed threatened to jeopardise his Vietnam War veteran’s pension if he didn’t co-operate.

Mr Wilson was involved in a scuffle with a photographer outside the royal commission on Monday.

“I’m longer frightened that he has some control or hold over me,” Mr Blewitt added.

“But I wouldn’t want to walk out the front of this court and confront him, especially seeing his reaction yesterday.”

Mr Blewitt told the commission on Monday that he took a series of flights to deliver cash from the Workplace Reform Association to Mr Wilson.

He described how $7000 from the fund was used to pay workers renovating Ms Gillard’s Melbourne home in 1994.

Ms Gillard was said to be at home but in another part of the property when the cash changed hands.

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