Dyson Heydon, TURC and the botched Julia Gillard smear job

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Julia Gillard might be enjoying what is happening at the moment at Tony Abbott's anti-worker witch hunt (Image via @NastyMrMilo2)

The Federal Court case that nailed Kathy Jackson has also given us a flashback to the way the Royal Commission handled one significant witness, writes Peter Wicks.

Wednesday’s Federal Court findings inflicted some mortal wounds to Kathy Jackson’s credibility, as we all know, but there were some other old wounds that were opened up again. One such wound may have slipped many minds.

Of the findings against Kathy Jackson, a significant portion was made up of the contract she signed off on for her friend Rob Elliott. This was a contract I first exposed all the way back in June 2012, however after the integrity of the Royal Commission has come under so much scrutiny it takes on a new light.

I recall sitting at the café in the esteemed company of Andrew Casey, Lenore Taylor and Jonathan Holmes after listening to the testimony of Rob Elliott at the Trade Union Royal Commission, all of us scratching our heads at what we had just witnessed.

What we had just seen and heard was Rob Elliott, the man Kathy Jackson paid over $400,000 with union member funds to do nothing, making an absolute mockery of the Royal Commission.

Elliott was brought in as a witness by the Commission to be one of the witnesses testifying against Julia Gillard. Elliott’s testimony was meant to be a smoking gun, however it turned out to bear more of a resemblance to a leaky water pistol.

The problem for the Commission was that the evidence they had expected Elliott to give he didn't. In fact, he appeared to have had a change of heart on when on the witness stand and under oath. Those in the hearing room and in the media room watched on in bewilderment as a clearly furious Counsel Assisting Jeremy Stoljar badgered the witness and tried to make him change his testimony on the stand.

It was clear to onlookers that the witness who was supposed to be driving nails into Gillard’s coffin was, instead, pulling the rug out from under the Commission's credibility.

Now, with the wheels falling off the Royal Commission bus as it hurtled full speed towards a cliff, you wonder how the Commission could put so much faith in someone who had already been shown to have a set of rather questionable morals.

The Commission was – unless it was one of those documents they "overlooked" – certainly aware of the Rob Elliott contract as, in a typically fine display of wisdom, Kathy Jackson entered my article on the subject in to the Commission as evidence.

This fact that the Commission sought testimony from a witness with already huge question marks over his reliability and credibility smacks of desperation and only lends support to arguments that the whole Royal Commission is little but an exercise in political witch-hunting.

Clearly, behaviour deemed acceptable by the Royal Commission is considered in a vastly different light by the Federal Court.

It was not only Elliott that had been exposed, but his wife Kaye Darveniza’s office had been used to write and circulate a Kathy Jackson media release while she was a member of Victorian parliament. Her behaviour prompted me to write an open letter to the Victorian Labor state secretary.

In light of the Federal Court decision this week, Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission into his political enemies has once again been made to look like it left its integrity on the kerb with a sign on it that says “free to a good home”.

However, with the stench that now permeates from it, on the kerb is where it will likely remain.

And to the kerb is where the whole Commission should probably be kicked…

Peter Wicks is an ALP member and former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy. Read more about the Jacksonville saga HERE. Donate to Peter's Jacksonville book writing fund HERE.


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