Former union official Bruce Wilson handed former prime minister Julia Gillard “a large amount of cash” several times to pay for renovations on her Melbourne home, a builder has told a royal commission.
Athol James started work on Ms Gillard’s Abbotsford house in 1993 and when he went to quote the job, met “her male companion,” the royal commission into trade union corruption heard today.
“When I later did the job I came to know this man was Bruce Wilson,” Mr James’ witness statement reads.
Ms Gillard wanted to replace some doors and windows between March and June 1993 at a cost of $6040 according to invoices tendered in the commission.
In August the same year she was invoiced for $2986 by Mr James’ company for fencing and flooring repairs.
“During the work I would deal with Ms Gillard in relation to any payment for the completed work,” Mr James said.
“I would give her the invoice. I am pretty certain she said she would get money from Bruce and pay me in the next few days. I’m certain she said Bruce was paying for it.”
Earlier the commission heard that Mr Wilson, gave an employee a “wad of notes” to bank in the former prime minister’s account, a royal commission has heard.
In late 1995, $5000 was given to Wayne Hem by Mr Wilson in the Victorian branch office of the Australian Workers’ Union.
Mr Hem, a librarian, records officer and sometimes babysitter for Mr Wilson, today told the royal commission into union corruption that after a night out, a “scruffy” looking Mr Wilson called him into his office.
“He took a wad of notes out of his pocket and he wrote on a piece of paper a bank account number,” Mr Hem said in his witness statement.
“He handed me the cash and the piece of paper and asked me to deposit the cash.
“I looked at the paper, asked him to tell whose account it was, and handed him the piece of paper back so that he could write the details on the paper for me.
“He then wrote Julia Gillard on the piece of paper and handed it back to me.” Mr Hem said he then counted the money, went to the Commonwealth Bank in Carlton, deposited the money and returned to the office.
According to the ABC, Mr Hem said: “No-one else was to see the bank account number or anything; I was to give him the details back when I came back.”
Counsel assisting Jeremy Stoljar SC told the royal commission into union corruption yesterday that Mr Wilson, along with his then Australian Workers’ Union sidekick, the confessed bagman Ralph Blewitt, committed fraud and conspiracy offences that could bring up to 10 years in jail.
In mid-1995, the commission heard, Mr Hem also saw Mr Wilson “hand a painter an envelope” he assumed contained cash at an Abbotsford house in inner Melbourne.
The house was being renovated.
“About four weeks later I was talking to Bruce (Wilson) and he mentioned where Julia (Gillard) lived,” Mr Hem said.
It was after this discussion that Mr Hem realised the Abbotsford home where Mr Wilson dropped into to pay tradesmen “was in fact Julia’s”.
Mr Hem began work at the AWU as a librarian and researcher in 1994.
Late that year he was invited by Mr Wilson to join the “breakaway” national construction branch.
The 59-year-old described his relationship with Mr Wilson as friendly and said he often minded the disgraced former union official’s 10-year-old son and would stay at his Fitzroy home. Ralph Blewitt, a self confessed union bagman, also slept at the Kerr St property when he was in Melbourne.