With new allegations emerging in Fairfax of Kathy Jackson setting up a secret slush fund with HSU money and allegedly falsifying records to conceal it adding to a mountain of evidence already uncovered, Peter Wicks from Wixxyleaks asks what it will take for the Victorian Police to finally act.
IF KATHY JACKSON has been seeking attention and time in the spotlight, as it seems she has for a long time now, it would appear her dream is going to now starting to turn into a nightmare.
Her status as some kind of corruption-busting do-gooder is finally coming undone at a rapid rate.
Yesterday, investigative reporters from Fairfax Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker uncovered and exposed some startling revelations about the self-proclaimed whistleblower.
Their investigations have unearthed a labyrinth of alleged political donations from a slush fund in which union members were unwittingly filling with their hard-earned dollars. These alleged donations went to a variety of one time political allies, including officials from the Australian Workers Union, and Victorian Labor MP Marlene Kairouz. Some of these payments were even allegedly disguised as charity donations in another fine display of a complete lack of social conscience or sense of morality.
It would now seem that her bread is buttered on the other side of the political slice.
She has been a guest of honour and given a speech at a H.R. Nicholls Society dinner function. H.R. Nicholls readers may recall is a right-wing think tank that discusses and advises on industrial relations issues for the Coalition. This is the type of meeting were WorkChoices was most likely born.
There she sat with arch Tory former Industrial Relations Minister Peter Reith by her side, both of them looking like the cat that swallowed the canary.
That canary may now have a bitter aftertaste.
Others will recall Tony Abbott backing her and singing her praises on the floor of Parliament during question time.
Jackson has always enjoyed the cheerleading skills of Eric Abetz and George Brandis. These Liberal Party Senators did everything but break out the pom-poms when it came to singing the praises of this union turncoat.
Let’s not also forget Kathy Jackson's relationship with Michael Lawler, the vice president of the Fair Work Commission — after being appointed to that position by none other than Prime Minister Tony Abbott — a lifelong family friend. Her relationship with the man who used to be the industrial judge on matters involving the health industry ‒ many of which she would have been involved in ‒ has raised many eyebrows.
Engaged on the night she allegedly propositioned a gay man on a dance floor at a union event, Jackson and Lawler were due to be married last year, but are yet to tie the knot.
Kathy Jackson, despite her persistent attacks on Labor leader Bill Shorten, has recently enjoyed the support of some Labor Party MPs, including Victorian State MP Kaye Darveniza and Federal Senator David Feeney.
We will have to wait and see how long that support lasts now.
If the allegations raised in the Fairfax report are correct, there are many questions to be answered by Jackson, who was secretary of the Union at the time the slush fund was allegedly being utilised.
Jackson is quoted in the report:
Ms Jackson declined to answer specific questions about the NHDA, saying she did not want to prejudice the work of the royal commission, which she is assisting. However, she provided a broad statement saying she never used money from the fund “for my own private benefit or for payment to third parties unless such payment was conscientiously believed by me and and [sic] relevant others to serve the legitimate political purposes of the union”.
“I say that I have done nothing in relation to the fund that is criminal or that was not in the best interests of the union as I genuinely believed them to be.”
Jackson's comment yesterday that any money spent has been “in the best interests of the union” doesn’t ring true. For one thing, if it were in the best interests of the Union there would be no need to try to mask a payment as a donation to a charity.
I would also be of the opinion that if something was being done that was for the benefit of the members, the members would be made aware of it — in fact I would have thought it would have been shouted from the highest treetop.
Alas this was not the case, as usual the long-suffering members were kept in the dark by Jackson and her Branch Committee of Management (BCoM) who, according to Fairfax reports, all claimed to be blissfully unaware of what Jackson claims they had approved.
It was not that long ago that Jackson was condemning Craig Thomson for his spending of Union money during an election campaign. Many would call this hypocrisy, however there are differences between the way the members’ money were spent.
Craig Thomson's spending was on a campaign that attacked WorkChoices on the behalf of members — something that was most certainly in the best interests of members. If the allegations of payments from the slush fund under Jackson are correct, the payments would appear to be more of a cash handout or payoff and any benefit to the membership seems to far from apparent.
The other claim Jackson often makes regarding her alleged spending and other alleged financial indiscretions is that it was all approved by the Branch Committee of Management, giving her the authorisation to spend at will.
Given the outcome in the Craig Thomson trial, I don’t see that how that excuse holds water. Thomson was found guilty by a Magistrate based on what a “reasonable person” would assume the right code of conduct should be when it came to the spending of union funds, whether authorized or not.
I would assume that if a reasonable person would assume that if Thomson making a few thousand dollars in cash withdrawals over a few years was wrong, then that same reasonable person would think that several hundred thousand dollars in cash withdrawals by Jackson was also more than a little questionable.
Yesterday’s Fairfax article also refers to the auditor accounts showing that someone had edited spreadsheets to remove references to the slush fund.
Falsification of evidence would seem be a serious criminal offences that could attract heavy penalties, including custodial sentences.
False and improper accounting is also a criminal offence carrying hefty penalties. False accounting can be anything from claiming charity payments where there are none, hiding payments, or even claiming an expense that is not true — like claiming a child care payment is for staff uniforms, for example.
Another thing that union members might be interested to hear was their hard-earned dollars being spent on under the watch of Kathy Jackson was the printing needs of Grade 4 students at an expensive private college.
Well, not in Jacksonville.
Below is a photo of a box that contained cartridges for a printer that was clearly delivered to the HSU offices in Melbourne, which is where this box was found.
Whilst it is understandable that the union would need ink, it seems odd that they would need to supply ink for the person it is addressed to.
From what I understand, the union is not in the practice of employing school students, except in the case of Michael Lawler's sons, so members may find it odd that they are paying for the stationary requirements of a year 4 student.
The student, Stephanie Jackson, is, of course, the daughter of Kathy Jackson.
Stephanie clearly has a lot of printing to be done as this box is marked 4 of 6. With that much printing, perhaps she was supplying the school with its printing needs? I hope the school gave a good discount on its fees if that is the case.
This new evidence puts a question mark over the credibility of Kathy Jackson and anything that she has stated as fact without evidence should be taken with a grain of salt the size of the Rock of Gibraltar.
Mixing truth with lies is a tactic as old as the hills, as is throwing someone else under the bus to distract from one’s own misdeeds.
Sadly some in the mainstream media have taken everything Jackson has stated as gospel and printed her lies as facts, often in spite of logic and evidence.
I noted that the Fairfax article was very carefully worded and seemed to pay particular care not to state any wrongdoing by Jackson.
The difference between the style of reporting of allegations against Jackson compared to reporting the allegations against Craig Thomson is disturbingly stark.
The reason for this I believe is the fear of legal action from Michael Lawler’s legal representation. As someone who has previously targeted by his legal attack dogs I can understand the temptation to let the story pass. For this I give Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, and Fairfax great credit for choosing to run with the story.
No matter how Fairfax has worded their article, the facts are that there was a slush fund, there was tampering of accounts amounting to destruction of evidence and there was a payment disguised as a charity donation.
As mentioned earlier, these are allegedly criminal acts.
It suggests the fraudulent misuse of $284,000 of union members’ funds — for what purposes, we still don’t know.
This all occurred under the watch of Kathy Jackson who treated herself to a ridiculous pay rise to bring her salary up to $270,000, and also saw fit to pay herself an honorarium payment of $63,000.
Despite all of this, just like anybody else, Kathy Jackson should be considered innocent until shown otherwise.
What amazes me in all of this is the amount of evidence that has to be produced before the Victorian Police will take some serious action and investigate allegations against her and her former HSU Branch Committee of Management.
It is also alarming in the extreme that evidence is not sought by police until it has gained widespread media attention. I would go so far to say that the Victorian Police are either being influenced to turn a blind-eye or are incompetent.
Every day that Jackson is heard touting herself as some sort of whistleblowing heroine of the union movement is another stain on the credibility of the Victorian Police Force and, in particular, the record of John Tyquin.
However as further details of the questionable behavior by Kathy Jackson surface, it is the praising, promoting and cheering from Eric Abetz, George Brandis, and Tony Abbott that we will remember.
I’ll certainly be reminding people.
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