THIS WEEK, once again, Brad Norington of The Australian has revived my faith in investigative journalism in this country.
Norington, on February 28 exposed us to the murky world of Tony Abbott's heroes Kathy Jackson and Michael Lawler and their recent relationship with 83-year-old dementia sufferer David Rofe QC, and in particular their involvement with his estimated $30 million estate. Many have described their behaviour as “ambulance chasing”, and there are other words I could use to describe their behaviour and ethics that are not fit to print.
Tony Abbott has in the past described Jackson as “brave and decent”; he may have a different definition of these words than me.
I looked up “brave” in the dictionary. I found no mention of using what in my opinion are excuses to delay Federal Court proceedings for around two years. It also failed to mention refusing to answer questions on the stand at a Royal Commission and claiming to be ambushed.
While I was at it, I also looked up “decent” and can’t say I was surprised to find that taking around $250,000 of cancer research money and depositing it into your personal bank account wasn’t there.
Nor was teaming up with your partner to reportedly try to control the estate of an old man with dementia.
However, just when you think that things could not become any murkier, they do.
Norington’s article published yesterday gives an eyewitness account of the pressure exerted on the 83-year-old dementia sufferer David Rofe by this Coalition pin-up girl Kathy Jackson and her Tony Abbott appointed Fair Work Commission vice president partner Michael Lawler. If the allegations, which have come via a signed affidavit that was given to NSW Police, are true then it really does paint this pair in an extremely poor light.
The $1.35 million dollar property that Lawler purchased with Rofe’s money allegedly against Rofe’s wishes can be viewed via this link and, as you can see by the pool with no safety fence, high balconies and steep sloping yard — they are not what I would have envisioned as being ideal for an 83-year-old dementia sufferer.
Demential sufferer death trap?
However what is interesting about this turn of events is not only what happened but who was involved.
The events described in detail in Norington’s article took place at a lunch at the residence of Kathy Jackson and Michael Lawler. The witness who has signed an affidavit with an account of what occurred over lunch was none other than former AWU official Bob Kernohan. Also at the lunch were Kathy Jackson, Michael Lawler, Davis Rofe QC and also blogger Michael Smith, who at the time was living with Jackson and Lawler.
If we cast our minds back a little to the Trade Union Royal Commission, it sheds an interesting light on the entire procedure.
The Royal Commission was set up by Tony Abbott and George Brandis and it was clear from the outset that it was designed and set up to achieve two primary goals — the crucifixion of Julia Gillard and the vindication of Kathy Jackson.
The Royal Commission spectacularly failed on both counts.
What I find alarming is that all living under one roof during the Royal Commission we have:
- Kathy Jackson: the union turncoat facing allegations of $1.4 million in fraud who has been praised by Coalition MPs, including Tony Abbott;
- Michael Lawler: the vice president of Fair Work Commission, the government body where workplace issues and union matters are resolved and who’s investigation into the HSU skipped over his partner Jackson's time and was the basis for the HSU hearings at the Commission, was an appointee of the man who set up the Royal Commission Tony Abbott, and someone who has acted as a lawyer for Kathy Jackson;
- Bob Kernohan: the leading witness against former PM Julia Gillard and former "best friend" of right-wing blogger and anti-union propagandist Michael Smith;
- Michael Smith: The blogger and former shock-jock who led the charge against Julia Gillard and who has been a cheerleader for Kathy Jackson despite evidence against her, is also a friend of the Royal Commission’s creator George Brandis, who even gave a speech at Smith’s wedding after travelling there at the taxpayers' expense, only paying it back reluctantly after the media highlighted it.
It would seem the only people missing from this cosy affair were Brandis and Abbott himself.
The Royal Commission was set up to destroy reputations and, ironically, it may just succeed in doing that. However, it is the reputations of Abbott and Brandis that are most at risk and, given Abbott’s standing within his own party, not to mention the polls, and given also Brandis’ recent censure over the hugely embarrassing Triggs debacle, I’m not sure either has much credibility left for their reputations to cling too.
One thing is for sure: these matters involving Jackson and Lawler are going to continue on for a long time yet and every time their names come up in the civil and likely criminal cases it is Abbott’s and Brandis’s names that will be associated with them, along with other Coalition members.
Meanwhile the taxpayer continues to pay Lawler’s $435,000 salary that Abbott gifted him and, until that issue is resolved, Abbott will always be linked with the pair.
Abbott’s ignorance of this matter is neither “brave nor decent”.
However it’s what we have come to expect.
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