Attorney-General George Brandis say royal commission findings were “very damning” of Julia Gillard. Photo: Andrew Meares Ex-Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Attorney-General George Brandis has described a statement by counsel assisting the royal commission into union corruption about former prime minister Julia Gillard as “very damning”.
In an overview of submissions to the inquiry, Counsel Assisting Jeremy Stoljar said that Ms Gillard’s former boyfriend Bruce Wilson and sidekick Ralph Blewitt should be charged for a “sham” slush fund they ran in the 1990s.
Ms Gillard provided legal advice for setting up the fund when she worked at Slater and Gordon . In the document released on Friday, Mr Stoljar said that while she did not commit any crime and was not aware of the criminality of Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt, “some aspects of her professional conduct as a solicitor appear questionable”.
Mr Stoljar added that evidence before the inquiry “supports a finding” that Ms Gillard was either a beneficiary or recipient “of certain funds from Mr Wilson”.
The former prime minister has always denied any wrongdoing and maintained that she did not receive money from the fund for her home renovations in the 1990s.
On Sunday, Senator Brandis said that Mr Stoljar’s statement was a serious one.
“I do think that the conclusions that counsel assisting the Royal Commission came to about Julia Gillard were very damning indeed,” he told Channel Ten.
“To describe the conduct of a lawyer, in dealing with money and setting up a series of arrangements through which money is channelled as ‘questionable’, I think, is a very serious thing to say indeed.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was less forthcoming, saying, “it would be probably premature for me to comment on matters that are still before the commission”.
On Saturday, Ms Gillard released a statement via Twitter, noting Mr Stoljar’s view that she did not commit any crime and was not aware of the criminality of others.
“In relation to other matters detailed in the submission relevant to Ms Gillard, her counsel will make submissions at the appropriate point.”
The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption was set up by the Abbott government in March. Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon is due to present his findings by December 31.