Last Friday there must have been a lot of thankful people dishing out a lot of thank you messages.
The report was originally due later in January, but was released earlier for reasons that may only be speculated upon. But it is fair to say it was released on a day that shows that the government thought this Royal Commission had been a failed exercise, why else dump it out there without the prime minister on the Friday before Christmas?
The most thankful of all would be Kathy Jackson, whose appearance and testimony at the Royal Commission caused more headlines and front page news stories than any other witness, what with charity shags and claims of ambush. In fact, the only witness that received more attention on the day they appeared was former Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the day she was shown at long last to be completely clean, even in the eyes of a right-wing witch hunt like this Commission.
Jackson would be thankful she has been completely ignored by the Commissioner's report. Not even the $250K she took from cancer workers and threw in a personal bank account to go on a wild spending spree. The account that was disguised to look legitimate in the HSU books and then, when discovered, an attempt was made for it to be passed off as a slush fund.
Not only did Jackson go on a wild spending spree, but she shared the love and the loot around with accomplices, giving huge sums of money to her ex-husband Jeff, as well as a big chunk in an envelope to her factional ally and standover man Marco Bolano — apparently so Marco could use the money to illegally fund his own union election campaign.
Still, Commissioner Heydon must have been asleep at the wheel on those days, as it didn’t rate a mention, apart from one passing reference.
He must have also missed the section of his counsel assisting’s report that recommended Jackson be referred to the Department Of Public Prosecutions for criminal charges.
Also thankful would be Attorney General George Brandis and Senator Eric Abetz, for saving them the embarrassment of their Royal Commission pointing out their star witness as the most corrupt person appearing before the Commission if the allegations are proven true. Even based on those allegations she has admitted to under oath during the parts the Commissioner seems to have slept through, there has been no other witness appear that has personally acquired such vast sums of money from their union without the members knowledge, let alone blessing.
In fact, there must be a truckload of Coalition MP’s, including Abbott himself, going “phew” and silently giving thanks that Commissioner Heydon was happy to put his own reputation at risk to save them the embarrassment of pointing out their unwavering support of an alleged criminal.
However it is the union movement that should be thankful, particularly the CFMEU who seem to have been the most targeted in this whole taxpayer-funded charade.
The union movement should be overjoyed that this report cannot be taken in any way seriously, if its 1,817 pages have blatantly missed possibly the most corrupt official to have appeared before the Commission. This highlights the fact the whole commission has been nothing but a very expensive witch hunt done for political purposes.
But perhaps the most thankful of all should be the public; after all, as the legal fraternity involved rack up hundreds of thousands of billable hours, it is the public that are footing the bill.
You may think that’s nothing to be thankful for, but at least we now know exactly what it is we are paying for.
Any doubt that this Commission was actually about protecting member’s interests rather than a witch hunt for political purposes has now been shown as wishful thinking.
There is only one certainty in all of this and that is one of the items on the Royal Commission's agenda was the protection of the Coalition's golden girl Kathy Jackson.
Perhaps a hint for the media was the departure of the Royal Commission’s media director Adrian Kerr immediately after the report was released. This meant that after Commission dropped its bombshell, they could not face media scrutiny about it.
Kerr had been visibly uncomfortable in his role on some of the sitting days and was particularly touchy on matters involving the Commissions integrity. In his email to the press regarding the release of the Commissioners report, Kerr finished off by saying this
'This is my final day with the Commission. Thank you all for a great professional year on the job. I’ll keep your contact details for future reference.'
A strange way of announcing your departure to the country's media — or perhaps strange timing is better phrase.
A Royal Commission is considered the most powerful legal inquiry this country has in its arsenal and is considered by many to be beyond reproach.
An inquiry of this magnitude, set up to expose corruption in the union movement so offenders can be criminally prosecuted, that is found to have as part of its agenda the protection of possibly the most corrupt union official this country has ever seen, is an inquiry that is, in itself, corrupted to its core.
We should be thankful that, at long last, that the Royal Commission has shown its true colours.
A corruption inquiry that seeks to smear the union movement and selectively ignores allegations of corruption on a grand scale? The only thing that could be more corrupt than that is the Government that set it up.
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