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Gillard ‘committed no crime’

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A trade union royal commission document released on Friday is critical of former prime minister Julia Gillard but said she committed no crime in relation to an alleged slush fund operated by her former boyfroend.

The document does, however, recommend the prosecution of former Australian Workers Union officials Bruce Wilson – Ms Gillard’s former partner – and Ralph Blewitt.  

The summary of submissions says Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt ran a slush fund whose sole purpose was to receive money fraudulently from the Perth construction company Thiess Contractors.

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The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption’s document notes that Ms Gillard, who provided legal advice to the AWU, did not commit any crime and was not aware of any criminality on the part of other union officials.

However, it described her professional conduct as “questionable”.

It noted that Ms Gillard was the beneficiary or recipient of certain funds from Mr Wilson, but did not link that benefit to the slush fund.

“Some aspects of [Ms Gillard’s] professional conduct as a solicitor appear questionable, and had she adopted a more rigorous approach to the task, it might have been more difficult for Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt to have behaved as they did,” counsel assisting the royal commission said.

Ms Gillard gave evidence at the royal commission in September, where she denied using money from the union slush fund to renovate the home she shared with Mr Wilson.

The commission heard an incorporated entity known as the AWU Workplace Reform Association was used to run the slush fund.

Ms Gillard told a hearing in September that she was working as a lawyer for the firm Slater and Gordon in 1992 when she was asked to set up an incorporated association to fund AWU officials’ election campaigns in Western Australia.

“I had no knowledge at that time, or knowledge at any time about the banking arrangements of the Workplace Reform Association,” she said.

“I provided legal advice.

“I then had no further contact with the work of the association or its banking arrangements.

“Obviously, given the extensive publicity and inquiry into these matters since, I’ve become aware in the years since that the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association had an account.”

With ABC

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