Monday, November 26, 2012
Blewitt defends credibility after PM's attack
The man at the centre of union slush fund allegations against Julia Gillard has defended his credibility following a blistering attack from the Prime Minister.
Former Australia Workers Union (AWU) official Ralph Blewitt says it is "a bit hypocritical" of Ms Gillard to complain of being the victim of a smear campaign while at the same time referring to him as a "complete imbecile" and a "sexist pig".
A fired-up Ms Gillard took aim at Mr Blewitt during a lengthy press conference in Canberra in which she delivered another spirited defence against suggestions she was involved in any wrongdoing in relation to a union slush fund nearly two decades ago.
Mr Blewitt returned to Australia last week, suggesting Ms Gillard still had questions to answer about the fund.
He told 7.30 that he has provided Victoria Police with a dossier of files "which show documents that certainly connect Julia Gillard to having a hand in the establishment of the AWU Workplace Reform Association in WA, and other matters".
While Ms Gillard has admitted a role in the establishment of the fund, Mr Blewitt declined to outline those "other matters".
"There's a legal position here. I have to look to myself," he said.
"I've stuck my neck out here and I don't intend to make public information I've given to police."
He said he did not have an agenda against the Prime Minister but umbrage with her comments earlier today.
"I'd say this: Julia Gillard has been labelling this a smear campaign. It's a bit hypocritical of her to now come out and try and smear me to detract people from main event here," he said.
"They're going to try to tear down my integrity, my honesty.
"OK, I think everyone is guilty of some things in their life - none of us are pure."
The AWU Workplace Reform Association was established when Ms Gillard was a lawyer working for Slater & Gordon in the 1990s.
She approved legal advice for the association's incorporation, and some of the funds were used by Ms Gillard's then-boyfriend, AWU official Bruce Wilson.
The funds were allegedly used for fraudulent purposes.
Mr Blewitt told 7.30 that Mr Wilson was the mastermind of the slush fund, which was ostensibly established to help re-elect union officials.
Ms Gillard has vehemently denied any knowledge of fund misuse. Mr Wilson has also defended the Prime Minister, saying she had done nothing wrong.
Mr Blewitt challenged Mr Wilson to prove the Prime Minister's innocence.
"I say this to Bruce Wilson: I welcome you coming out in defence of the Prime Minister along with Nicola Roxon," he said.
"You've both declared her not guilty - let's pack up our bags, go home, case closed.
"If you are so certain Mr Wilson that you - that she has got nothing to answer - then you should immediately release Nick Styant-Browne, Slater & Gordon and another law firm Maurice Blackburn of client confidentiality.
"Notify them that you wish to allow them to release any documents or files that they have if there's nothing to hide there there's nothing to stop you doing that."
Mr Blewitt said he did not benefit from the slush fund, other than "the odd beer or dinner with Wilson".
He claimed his involvement in any fraud surrounding the fund was a matter of "keeping his job".
"The mastermind of the slush fund was Bruce Wilson," he said.
"I was his deputy, his trusted lieutenant ... personally, I had no financial gain whatsoever.
"I joined Mr Wilson in 1987 in the union. We then rolled the old guard of the AWU in Western Australia and Wilson came to me and said 'you're either with me or against me - your choice'.
"This was very early on in the piece, back in the late '80s. I saw him as being a charismatic person with the best interests of the union at heart, with similar aims and aspirations."
Mr Blewitt has sought immunity from prosecution for any alleged fraud connected to the slush fund.
He claimed that $100,000 from the fund was used to buy a house under his name, but said he received no proceeds from the eventual sale.
"I was used as a vehicle by Wilson - he had complete control over that," he said.
"The house was purchased in my name so he could distance himself from it, just the same as with the establishment of the corporate affairs commission document - he used my name to distance himself from it."
Mr Blewitt is in Australia courtesy of a man writing a book on the AWU in the late 1980s and early '90s.
Posted by . at 3:15 AM