Brother angry at union claim
White-hot anger: Bill Ivory. Picture: Gordon Becker

The family of a dead union official have hit back at Julia Gillard's former boyfriend Bruce Wilson for invoking his name as his alibi over the Australian Workers Union slush fund scandal.

Bill Ivory told The West Australian it was "disgusting" Mr Wilson tried to hide his own behaviour behind his late brother Glen's reputation when he appeared at the royal commission into trade union corruption.

"My take on it is white-hot anger that Bruce Wilson seems to be prepared to do anything to deflect the focus of attention," Bill Ivory said. "He figures Glen is dead and is not here to defend himself."

The commission is investigating allegations that Mr Wilson, a former WA AWU secretary, and his offsider Ralph Blewitt committed fraud by issuing bogus invoices to construction companies for workplace services that were not performed.

The pair are alleged to have set up a secret slush fund called the AWU Workplace Reform Association in 1992 and used the money for their own gain, including buying a house in Melbourne.

Ms Gillard, Mr Wilson's girl-friend at the time, provided the legal advice on establishing the association but has maintained she knew nothing of its operations. She has also denied cash from the association paid for renovations to her home.

During a daylong stint in the witness box last week, Mr Wilson told the commission the association provided workplace training services as part of a deal with construction firm Thiess on the Dawesville channel project in 1993.

He claimed Mr Ivory, who at the time was AWU WA president, provided the training and was paid $15,000. He said Mr Ivory was a member of the association.

But counsel assisting the commission Jeremy Stoljar produced a sworn statement Mr Ivory gave to WA Police investigating the scandal that contradicted Mr Wilson's version. In the statement, Mr Ivory said no AWU training officer was appointed to the project and he did not even know the association existed.

Mr Ivory died of cancer in 2004.

Bill Ivory said what made him angriest about Mr Wilson's appearance at the commission was his claim his brother did not write the statement because it used language that did not fit in with his background as a bulldozer driver.

"Glen had a wide circle of support in the union because he was moderate and that did not suit Wilson," he said.

Mr Ivory said he could not recall discussing the AWU scandal with his brother, and rejected Mr Wilson's claim he had been paid $15,000.

He also doubted his brother was able to provide training at the time in question because he was recovering from a debilitating back injury.

"Certainly I never saw any evidence Glen had money," he said.

"He never took a holiday and his car was an old jalopy."

The West Australian

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