With Craig Thomson's appeal due to be heard next month, the FWC Commission drops most of its case against him and Kathy Jackson's cronies duck for cover. Peter Wicks reports.
The HSU saga continues — and not all of it is happening in the Trade Union Royal Commission.
Let’s start off with Craig Thomson.
Thomson’s appeal against the guilty verdict relating to allegations of improper spending of approximately $25,000 spending of union funds is due in court next month.
Meanwhile, that fearless truth seeking broadsheet The Australian has put its own unique spin on the Fair Work Commission decision to drop a massive chunk of its case against Thomson, declaring in a headline:
‘Fair Work tightens compensation case against Craig Thomson’
Tightens is obviously what our cheerful News Ltd propagandists call it when a case against one of their targets weakens to the point vast amounts of it needs to be dropped.
It makes you wonder what sort of negative spin Murdoch’s mob are currently concocting in the event the case against Thomson is dropped.
Thomson’s solicitor Chris McCardle disagreed with The Australian’s assessment, saying it was less a “tightening” than it was a case of the FWC having:
“… no fucking evidence.”
At the same time, the results are in from HSU NSW branch elections.
These results tell us a few things.
Firstly, they tell us Kathy Jackson faction candidate Katrina Hart is about as popular with HSU members as a sneeze in an Ebola treatment facility.
Branch Secretary Gerard Hayes was quick to send out an email to members with the good news. Hayes told members that more than
‘… 5,000 HSU members voted in this election, which is an excellent result.’
I have a different perspective than Mr Hayes.
With over 30,000 members, I would say that having less than 18% of members voting is not an excellent result; in fact, I’d suggest dismal would be a better description.
The average turnout for a union election, I’m informed, is 24% — which puts this one at more than 25% below average.
Is this because HSU members in NSW are less inclined to vote than the average members? The last election for the HSU NSW Branch had a turnout of approximately 29% of members, the previous one was around 34% and the election prior to that was in 1999 and had a turnout of around 65%.
So what does this mean then?
My gut tells me this shows a distinct lack of enthusiasm to select either candidate as branch secretary.
It also makes me wonder what would happen if there were a candidate for secretary that could put together a ticket without being either aligned with the Jackson faction, or the right faction of the Labor Party. That might bring back some enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, in Victoria, things have gone a little off the rails.
Jamie Martorana a former (some would say, current) ally of Kathy Jackson and Marco Bolano was running a ticket against current Secretary Diana Asmar.
This was being contested in the Federal Court as Martorana had not been working in the industry since 2010 and therefore was not eligible to be a member of the union.
Martorana’s claim was that he was not able to work due to a mental health issue — however, now he is well again, he can not only be a member, but run the union as well.
I found it more than a little alarming that yet again we have a mental health issue as a part of a defence for someone from the Jackson faction.
We have Martorana claiming mental health issues for not being able to work, we have Marco Bolano claiming mental health problems to pick up a massive compensation claim; Leonie Flynn claiming mental health problems for her unreliable testimony and for not being able to show up to work; and, of course, Kathy Jackson herself in a psychiatric ward instead of Federal Court.
Of all of these claims, the only one I take seriously is that of Flynn, whom I genuinely feel for and hope she is receiving whatever assistance she needs and is not just being used as a puppet by people pretending to care about her — again.
Details have also emerged of Martorana’s package signed off by Kathy Jackson and Michael Williamson after Martorana had only been in the role for five months. It seems Martorana was receiving $240,000 – nearly a quarter of a million dollars of members’ funds – over two years.
The matter finalised in court last week and the Court decided that both Jamie Martorana and Jayne McGovan, who was running for assistant secretary, were ineligible to stand for positions. McGovan obviously thinking she could stand for an official’s position for a union of which she was not even a paid member.
The court is now waiting for the Martorana team to come back with a new number one and number two candidate — a situation that most would see as rather comical and makes the chances of their challenge succeeding somewhat less likely than Andrew Bolt converting to Islam.
Kathy Jackson meanwhile is reportedly still in a psychiatric facility where she is not due to recover until she thought the Royal Commission was due to finish. The matter however is due back in Federal Court on 5 November, when her doctor’s explanation for her condition will be examined in greater detail than the vague report provided to the Court last time. Although remarkably for a mental health condition was allegedly incredibly specific about when Jackson’s normal self would return —15 January 2015.
I was once told if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then there is a good chance it is a duck — you don’t need to be David Attenborough to figure that out.
Now I don’t claim to be a doctor or any kind of expert on mental health, however when I see people like Marco Bolano running around intimidating people, I don’t think you need a degree to realise he is not incapacitated. By the same token, when Jackson runs out of options to further delay a case against her for approximately $700,000 only to suddenly claim to be suffering a mental health condition, I don’t think you need to be a mastermind to recognise the convenience of the situation.
Of course, I am not saying that any of these people are faking conditions — I’ll leave that up to doctors to determine and for the public to make up their own minds.
Whatever your views on the mental health status of the key players in the HSU saga, one thing is definite, there is rarely a dull moment.
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