News National Gillard cash claim

Gillard cash claim

Former union official Robert Kernohan.
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Julia Gillard was given large amounts of cash by her then boyfriend Bruce Wilson to pay for work on her Melbourne home, a royal commission has heard.

Julia Gillard
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo: Getty

Julia Gillard turned large amounts of cash from controversial ex-union official Bruce Wilson into cheques to pay for renovations on her Melbourne home, a royal commission has heard.

Builder Athol James made the revelations at the inquiry into union corruption on Wednesday, with Mr Wilson at the centre of an alleged Australian Workers’ Union slush fund in the 1990s.

“During the work I would deal with Ms Gillard in relation to any payment for the completed work,” Mr James said.

But the cash for the 1994 work came from her then boyfriend and AWU heavyweight Mr Wilson, the commission heard.

“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,” the 84-year-old said in his witness statement.

“Ms Gillard said to me that as Bruce brought her the cash, she would pay me by cheque.

“When Bruce handed Ms Gillard the cash, she would write me a cheque.”

Official alleges Shorten told him to ‘keep quiet’

Union man ‘given cash’ for Gillard account

Mr Wilson is due to give evidence on Thursday.

The former prime minister was not the only Labor figure under the spotlight on Wednesday with opposition leader Bill Shorten savaged by a senior former AWU official over an alleged cover-up of dodgy union practices.

Former union official Robert Kernohan. Photo: AAP

In 1996, Robert Kernohan was preparing to tell authorities that at a brief meeting he had accepted $6500 from Mr Wilson for AWU election costs.

Mr Kernohan said he rang Ian Cambridge, then an AWU official investigating irregularities in the union’s accounts, “and told him the genesis of the $6500.”

When he raised concerns about the Sydney court proceedings with Mr Shorten, he said the now opposition leader told him: “Bob, think of your future.”

“If you pursue this, a lot of good people will get hurt and you will be on your own,” Mr Kernohan said he was told by Mr Shorten.

Mr Kernohan said he had been “lined up” for the safe Victorian Labor seat of Melton.

“Any chance I had of entering parliament … I knew that had evaporated the minute I walked away from Bill Shorten,” Mr Kernohan told the commission.

Not long after he made his mind up to go to the police about union corruption, he was bashed by three men and had three bullets sent to him in the mail.

“Keep your f****** mouth shut. Stop talking to the press you grub,” he said an attacker told him during his bashing.

The commission is examining allegations that members of the AWU West Australian branch established a secret “slush fund” in the early 1990s and used some of the cash to help officials win elections.

It’s alleged thousands of dollars from the Workplace Reform Association fund, which was legally established by the former prime minister when she was working as a lawyer, was used to pay for renovations at Ms Gillard’s Melbourne home in 1994.

She has denied the allegations.

Earlier on Wednesday, former Australian Workers’ Union clerk Wayne Hem told the commission that AWU money was used to renovate Ms Gillard’s Abbotsford home and Mr Wilson’s Fitzroy residence.

He told the commission he once banked $5000 in cash from Mr Wilson into Ms Gillard’s bank account.