Peter Wicks records a day in the Federal Court yesterday, which included meeting the beleaguered HSU “whistleblower” Kathy Jackson.
SOMETIMES, it is only when you see a person in real life that you have a full appreciation of them.
I had often wondered why Kathy Jackson seemed to be able to charm so many seemingly intelligent men. When I say intelligent, I am not referring to Tony Abbott, of course.
What is it about her?
I am in Sydney’s Federal Court to see the final showdown between Jackson and Justice Flick.
Standing outside the courtroom, I see Jackson for the first time, she is talking to some men. She looks absolutely radiant, I have to say. She has an air about her that is hard to define. Her eyes radiate warmth, her skin has a flawless quality and every move seems to be done with such grace. I instantly understand the attraction.
Just then, a lady walks past and drops her purse, Kathy gracefully stoops down, picks it up and hands it to the lady with a smile that would make your heart melt.
That’s when I realised — that person wasn't actually Kathy at all. When I finally do see Kathy for the first time, she has a look on her face that would curdle milk.
Still, it is no wonder she is looking decidedly less than confident. Deep lines on her forehead seem to suggest there has been a lot of frowning over the last few weeks — and I don't blame her. Things are not traveling well for her. Not well at all.
Independent Australia and Wixxyleaks have produced leaked documents that raise questions over her integrity and her financial practices within the HSU Number 3 Branch. On top of that, she has the Federal Court case — which has been rapidly descending into a farce.
Today, we are all in Sydney's Federal Court for the finale — and its standing room only for latecomers.
Today is the day that Justice Flick hands down his judgement. There is a sense of anticipation in the air.
Many are surprised to see that Kathy is still being represented by QC Rofe after his hasty departure at the previous court appearance. Rofe is the QC associated with Michael Lawler, Vice President of FWA and Jackson's partner.
The handing down of judgement is delayed by Rofe once again attempting to request that Justice Flick read Jackson's affidavit prior to handing down judgement. Rofe explains that the affidavit has vitally important information — however when asked repeatedly about this information by Flick, it becomes painfully clear that Rofe hasn't even read it himself. There are sniggers and chuckles throughout the court from the press and spectators.
In the end, nothing can stop the judgement — and Justice Flick rules that the union be broken up.
[For anyone interested in getting a more complete run-down of yesterday’s activities, Frances Jones has published a detailed account of the court proceedings.]
Outside court, HSU National Secretary Chris Brown faced the waiting press. Brown said he was happy with the court's decision and agreed with Justice Flick that it was the best thing for union members and would give members the opportunity to decide for themselves who runs the union. Asked about the questions being raised regarding Jackson's integrity, Brown said he was of the opinion that Kathy should welcome any investigation if she was confident it would clear her name.
Kathy Jackson's press appearance raised a couple of interesting points. When asked if she was doing anything about her pay dropping to $150,000 from $270,000 as a result of being stood down as the secretary of HSU East, she stated that she was looking into that and planned to address it. It seems that since her appearance on 7.30 a couple of weeks ago – where she stated that she wanted to have her pay cut by $100K – she has had a drastic change of heart. Quite drastic.
Kathy then told the press that she was "quite surprised by the judge's decision". She then went on to say that
"...the membership should decide whether there should be a demerger of the union or whether we should stay together as one big union".
I can only assume from that statement that she feels a Federal Court Judge did not have the authority to make this ruling. She also forgets the overwhelming vote by Union members at the 2011 convention was for a demerger — and for Jackson to stand down. If she was serious about saying the members should decide she would have resigned back in 2011.
[See the 7.30 report into the break-up of HSU East.]
After the crowd dispersed, I was approached by Andrew Lillicrap — who wanted to discuss my previous post.
Andrew wanted to give his version of the events I described in Part 13.
Andrew told me that he is certainly not a supporter of Jackson — and insisted he was just being polite when he greeted her earlier this week. Andrew explained there was no smooch or kiss — just a polite handshake.
Andrew did, however, confirm that he and Jackson had a sit-down meeting – something Kathy had Federal court orders not to do – at the Sydney HSU office. Lillicrap, however, denied that the meeting was held behind closed doors.
I explained to him that I reported the event not for the greeting, or for the door — but for the fact the meeting took place.
I have to say, Lillicrap came across to me, in the few minutes we were together, as quite genuine. He gave me his contact details and said he was happy to talk to me at any time.
After speaking to Lillicrap, I noticed Jackson sitting on a park bench with her sole supporter. Prodded along by my wife Felicity – and Frances Jones – I decided to introduce myself and see if she wanted to answer some of the questions I had raised.
Walking over, I said "Hi Kathy", shook her hand and introduced myself.
"You seem to be under the false impression that I am part of a Williamson conspiracy against you," I stated to her.
"Well you are," she replied. "You are part of the Right Williamson Faction"
"I can assure you that I am not and I do not even know Mr Williamson," I responded.
"You just are," she stated.
As I tried to let her know that I am happy to listen to any explanation or publish any evidence regarding Williamson — but she walked off. As she walked past, Felicity tried to explain she was wrong about her theories concerning my allegiances.
As Kathy walked off by herself, she looked a strangely lonely figure. I actually felt a little sorry for her, knowing her world was starting to crumble around her. Only for a minute though.
My day in town finished with a coffee with my wife and Chris Brown. As we sat in front of Parliament House, sipping tea and coffee and chatting, NSW Firefighters were protesting next to us after O'Farrell and the Coalition had butchered their Workers Compensation scheme.
In a way, it was kind of fitting — sitting there with Brown, a man trying to hold a union together for its members while another union was running a rally right next to us. I couldn't help but think how much Chris must long for the day when he can fight for his members rights — rather than be stuck in a courtroom or meeting lawyers.
I hope Chris hasn't lost sight of the fact that, what he is doing, is fighting for his members. He is just fighting a different enemy.
Upon arriving home, I read the Financial Review — not something I would normally do. I went through the articles that delved into the Jackson affidavit that was leaked in defiance of Federal Court orders.
Kathy Jackson's signed affidavit contains an admission that she "secretly tape-recorded executive meetings of the HSU". This is highly illegal; even police have to ask before recording a conversation.
Call it a hunch, but I don't think this is the last time Kathy will see the inside of a courtroom.
(Walk on down to IA’s dedicated Jacksonville page and read our detailed investigation into this rather tawdry affair. You can also read more by Peter Wicks at his blog Wixxyleaks or by following him on Twitter @madwixxy.)
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