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Kathy Jackson in front of an interesting sign.

With the Abbott Government’s announcing a Royal Commission into the union movement, Peter Wicks says — bring it on.

AS I PREDICTED before last year’s election, the political witch-hunt that is the Royal Commission into unions has been announced by the Abbott Government.

However, what many of you may be surprised to hear is that, whilst I believe the Royal Commission is being carried out for purely political reasons, I am quite happy to see it happen.

So, why do I ‒ a Labor Party member ‒ support an Inquiry set up to tarnish the Labor Party and cause the union movement damage?

For starters any corruption that is weeded out by the Commission is something I will be glad to see exposed and stopped. Anybody involving themselves in corrupt practices is only doing the union movement and the Labor Party harm and we are best off rid of them.

I am also a firm believer in the much-needed and promised, but never delivered, reform of the Labor Party. The Royal Commission could be a catalyst for change within the Party and any change that takes the bulk of the Party’s power away from a few select unions and puts in back in the hands of rank and file members is a good thing in my mind.

I am also heartened to see the HSU is one of the unions that will come under the scrutiny; all of the evidence I have made public will certainly be available to the Commission.

As we know, Michael Williamson has had his time in court and now faces prison.

Craig Thomson too has had his time in court and is due back next Tuesday, 18 February, to hear the verdict of the magistrate — although I’m quite sure the trial by media will continue on irrespective of the outcome.

Some people, however, have thus far evaded court and are taking way too long to investigate.

With that in mind, the two people I am really looking forward to seeing grilled by the Royal Commission are Kathy Jackson and her partner Michael Lawler.

The following are 18 questions I hope to see addressed by the Commissioner, former High Court justice Dyson Heyden:

  1. Why was Michael Lawler not asked to step aside from his post as Vice President as Fair Work Australia (FWA) as it investigated his de facto spouse’s Union?
  2. Why were the parameters of the FWA investigation configured to eliminate any investigation into Lawler's partner Kathy Jackson’s HSU branch during the time she was secretary?
  3. Why Michael Lawler allegedly contacted union staff and made complaints to police about union staff, and why this is not considered a conflict of interest, given his position?
  4. Why Michael Lawler's two teenage sons were employed by Kathy Jackson’s branch of the union, despite living interstate?
  5. Why there were allegedly repeated attempts made by a computer with a client name michael-lawlers to access the HSU network using Kathy Jackson’s login details?
  6. Why Michael Lawler allegedly refused to co-operate with the independent investigation conducted by KPMG?
  7. Why Kathy Jackson’s child care was paid for by the members for over four years according to her sworn court testimony, despite her denying this was the case to the media?
  8. Why are some of Jackson’s childcare payment cheque requisitions made out for staff benefits and strangely staff uniform payments when the staff at the child care centre do not have uniforms?
  9. Why was evidence delivered by Kathy Jackson to FWA investigator Terry Nassios by hand in boxes that had allegedly been tampered with?
  10. Why did companies such as Koukouvaos Pty Ltd and Neranto #10 Pty Ltd, which were owned by Kathy and Jeff Jackson, invoice for so much consultation work when they were both paid senior HSU officials?
  11. Why did Ian Temby refuse to look at evidence against Kathy Jackson when he was compiling the Temby report, stating that unless it related to Michael Williamson there is nothing he could do. Does this indicate someone was controlling where the investigation led to provide possible protection for other parties?
  12. What were the circumstances that led to a contract, signed by Kathy Jackson and Michael Williamson, for Rob Elliott's termination that saw him being paid by the HSU for doing nothing for 10 years?
  13. Why union phone records indicate Kathy Jackson made numerous phone calls to the offices of disgraced former Liberal NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce, along with current Liberal Employment Minster Eric Abetz?
  14. Why was there exorbitant spending on union credit cards held by Kathy Jackson and Jeff Jackson?
  15. Why was there a payment listed as to Wai Quen for $22,000 despite her not working for the union and living overseas at the time, a payment that Wai Quen denies receiving?
  16. Why was there an approximately $5,000 difference between the Kathy Jacksons claim for the cost of her union paid for Volvo and the invoice from the dealer?
  17. Why Kathy Jackson paid herself a $63,000 honorarium payment?
  18. Why there were so many blank cheques bearing Kathy Jackson’s signature left in the HSU Branch 3 Office?

There are many more queries than that, of course, but those would make a fine start.

The other thing I will enjoy watching is all of those trustee’s and BCOM members of Kathy Jackson’s branch on the witness stand trying to explain why they signed off on Jacksons immense spending, such as the $100,000 plus per annum in cash withdrawals she testified about in court.

The BCOM and trustees are made up of these people amongst others;

  • Kate Wilkinson
  • Jenny Dunlop
  • Kathryn Whitfield
  • Rueben Dixon
  • Olga Gountras
  • Chris Hill
  • Mark Hindson
  • Lisa Magnusson
  • Adriana Vespucci
  • Kristine Olaris
  • Lia Augoustakis
  • Jennifer Croll

Another I'm looking forward to seeing on the stand is Jackson's financial controller Jane Holt, whose Berry’s Bridge Winery seemed to sell a lot of wine to Kathy’s Union branch.

These are the people that HSU Branch 3 members hold responsible for almost sending their union bankrupt and the members deserve answers.

These are just some of the things to look forward to in a Royal Commission.

The current Labor Party line that the matter of allegations of union corruption would be better looked after by the Australian Crime Commission don’t sit well with me.

That’s because the former CEO of the Australian Crime Commission is John Lawler — Michael Lawler’s brother and Kathy Jackson’s supposed future brother-in-law.

I understand the fear, suspicion and trepidation regarding a Royal Commission of this nature, but for the sake of seeing these issues addressed, I say....

Bring it on.

Peter Wicks is, as he mentioned, an ALP member and is also a former Labor NSW state candidate. You can follow him on Twitter @madwixxy.

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