DIGITAL FIRST: Broken online by theage.com.au
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, told her law firm partners she knew nothing about the mortgage on a Fitzroy property, bought partly with union money stolen by her former boyfriend, despite having been involved in the mortgage arrangements for the property two years earlier.
A 1993 bank letter confirms that Ms Gillard - then a salaried partner with law firm Slater & Gordon - received an insurance certificate of currency, which was required for approval of a $150,000 mortgage provided by the firm's loan department.
Julia Gillard ... told her law firm partners she knew nothing about the mortgage on a Fitzroy property. Photo: Reuters
But Ms Gillard denied knowledge of the mortgage when challenged by the firm's managing partners in late 1995, after they first discovered her involvement in the work.
"I don't, I don't think I knew that at the time," she told senior partner Peter Gordon, according to new details of the interview obtained by The Age.
A West Australian fraud squad investigation in 1996 found the rest of the purchase money - more than $100,000 - had been siphoned from a union association by Bruce Wilson, Ms Gillard's then boyfriend and a senior Australian Workers Union official.
The unit in Kerr Street, Fitzroy, was bought in the name of Ralph Blewitt, a union crony of Mr Wilson who this week returned to Melbourne from his home in Malaysia to brief Victorian police, who are considering whether to reopen their investigation into the scandal.
In the newly-released details of her September 1995 meeting with Mr Gordon, Ms Gillard - after being questioned in detail about her work for Wilson and Blewitt - denies any knowledge of the Fitzroy mortgage.
Peter Gordon: "Were you aware at any time that the balance of the funds to make up the capital was to be provided by contributory mortgage of which Jonathan Rothfield (a Slater & Gordon partner) was trustee?"
Julia Gillard: "I don't, I don't think I knew that at the time, where the source of funds was. It's subsequently been raised with me that that was done through the Slater & Gordon mortgage register but I didn't have any recollection of that."
The additional transcript material has been released by Nick Styant-Browne, another former equity partner in the firm, after he was contacted by The Age with questions about the mortgage. He said he was able to release it as it clearly did not involve any issues of lawyer-client confidentiality.
A spokesman for Ms Gillard told The Age she stood by her statements in the interview with Mr Gordon and had no recollection of seeing the bank correspondence.
A Commonwealth Bank letter sent to Ms Gillard on March 22, 1993, shows she was involved in the property's insurance, a prerequisite for the mortgage.
Addressed "Attention: Julia Gillard" and headed "Certificate of Currency", the letter from the bank's insurance department confirms the Kerr Street unit had been insured in the name of Ralph E. Blewitt.
"In accordance with your request, we advise the building/s are insured for $200,000 with the Commonwealth Bank Insurance Scheme and the policy is renewed until 18th March 1994," it says.
On the same day the letter was sent, a handwritten note in the file headed "Bruce Wilson" refers to the certificate of currency from the Commonwealth Bank and adds: "Ralph spoke to Julia Gillard".
The 400-page conveyancing file also shows that Ms Gillard waived professional fees on the conveyancing and loan work, sought and received a detailed briefing on penalty interest provisions for the mortgage and forwarded a cheque from Mr Blewitt for costs associated with the purchase.
What the PM's spokeperson said last night:
The conveyancing for the Kerr Street property was handled by Olive Brosnahan, a paralegal, under the oversight of Nick Styant-Browne, the relevant partner. A note in Ms Brosnahan's handwriting appears on the publicly available file dated 22 March 1993. It states that Ralph (Blewitt) was chasing up the Commonwealth Bank in relation to the Certificate of Currency. It also records the making of a phone call to Ms Gillard which resulted in a message being left for Ms Gillard. The file contains no evidence of Ms Gillard returning this call.
What this entry on the file shows is that Mr Blewitt was personally attending to dealing with the Commonwealth Bank about the certificate of currency.
Ms Gillard has no recollection of seeing the correspondence from the Commonwealth Bank dated 23 March 1993.
Ms Gillard stands by her statements in the Slater and Gordon interview of 11 September 1995 as her best recollection of events two and a half years earlier.
There is no contradiction in anything you have put to us. In addition, contrary to previous claims by you and The Age, the Prime Minister did not run nor was in charge of the conveyancing file – and as such couldn't be expected to have a detailed recollection of the transactions in the file two and a half years after they occurred.
In addition, the certificate of currency does not show that Ralph Blewitt was her "client" in relation to this conveyancing matter, as you allege, nor that the Commonwealth Bank was "her bank", as you allege, nor that she personally sought confirmation of the insurance cover, as you allege.
Given your recent history of publishing unsupportable claims on this matter, and having afterwards to correct them, it's a pity The Age is again considering publishing allegations you can't substantiate.