- News Limited Network
- May 25, 2013
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has been drawn further into the union fraud investigation involving her former boyfriend, as Victorian police examine her radio account of a 1993 property transaction.
News Limited can reveal Australian Workers Union offices in Perth and Melbourne have also been searched as fraud squad detectives step up their probe into the slush fund scandal.
Ms Gillard has vigorously denied any wrongdoing in relation to the scandal.
The Victorian detective leading the investigation – which is expected to involve up to 100 witnesses – has obtained an official copy of an interview during which Ms Gillard is quizzed about her involvement in a Melbourne property sale. Police also sought a supporting statement from the Sydney radio broadcaster Ben Fordham.
Ms Gillard – a former partner at Slater & Gordon – was legal adviser to Mr Wilson and his then deputy Ralph Blewitt when they purchased a Fitzroy, Melbourne, property for $230,000 in 1993, with $67,722.30 coming from the AWU Workplace Reform Association.
Ms Gillard witnessed a power of attorney document which allowed Mr Wilson to purchase the property on behalf of Mr Blewitt. During a feisty interview with Fordham on March 7, the PM insisted she “absolutely” witnessed the legal document, dated February 4 1993, in the same office as Mr Blewitt.
It is understood that Mr Fordham spent around 20 minutes with Victorian police on Wednesday during which he handed over a recording of his March 7 interview.
“I agreed to meet with a detective from the Fraud and Extortion Squad in the 2GB boardroom on Wednesday and handed over a recording of the Julia Gillard interview,” Mr Fordham told News Limited.
“I also signed a supporting statement recording the circumstances in which the interview took place. The detectives are interested in comments made by the Prime Minister regarding her involvement in the AWU matter. It was a pretty formal meeting and the detective would not discuss the case with me.”
In response, a spokesman for Ms Gillard said: “There has been no change to the PM’s previous statements on this matter. The PM was not involved in any wrongdoing. She hasn’t been contacted by police.”
Another former union official, former joint national secretary Steve Harrison, has been contacted by police and agreed to speak about his knowledge of the alleged fraud.
Mr Harrison, who now consults on industrial relations in Sydney, was a close ally of former AWU state secretary Bob Smith, who has also spoken with police and maintains that he was approached by a Greek builder seeking payment for work done on Ms Gillard’s property, in Abbottsford.
Ms Gillard has previously said she checked receipts for the work and there was no question she paid for all the work herself.
A team of detectives are working full-time on the 17-year-old scandal. Last night, the AWU confirmed police “have requested documents from the archives of the (union’s) West Australian and Victorian branches”.
“Since the AWU reported this issue to authorities in 1995, the union has always provided all the information it holds and provided all necessary assistance to the relevant authorities regarding this matter and will continue to do so,” a union spokesman said.