While most of the mainstream media focussed on Kathy Jackson's sex bomb diversions, the Union Royal Commission revealed more details of the self-professed whistleblower's alleged rorting. Peter Wicks from Wixxyleaks reports.
After the desperate measure of a legal sex bomb was defused and rejected by Commissioner Dyson Heydon, it was finally time on Thursday to continue along the path the Trade Union Royal Commission was set up to take.
As my article on Wednesday indicated, with so much of what the HSU National Office sought to cross-examine Kathy Jackson on temporarily suppressed, it was always going to be slim pickings on what was left to cross-examine her on, however there was still plenty of interesting details that emerged from proceedings.
The morning's proceedings were started out with questions from Counsel Assisting Jeremy Stoljar towards Kathy Jackson on the subject of inflation.
Jackson has previously pointed the crooked finger of accusation at others for inflating costs, so how were things managed under her control?
In the legal costs related to the Peter Mac settlement, there was an invoice of $1,122 from Slater and Gordon, however this figure was inflated to a cool $65,470 under the Jackson financial recording system and was allegedly represented to Peter Mac Cancer Hospital in the inflated form as part of the $250K settlement that deprived members of their entitlements and gave Kathy a quarter of a million dollars to spend as she wished.
And spend she did…
Next up came travel costs that should have stayed in the coffers of the membership but instead the cash ended up scattered all over the globe.
One particular trip to the U.S. was highlighted as it cost the membership a cool $80,000. Kathy was unsure if her family travelled with her on this trip, however thought her then husband Jeff may have come over for a week. When asked if any of his costs like accommodation etc were paid for by Kathy’s union members, this notion was adamantly rejected, I guess Jeff must have slept in the car or somewhere else.
When it came to other trips Jackson’s memory became quite vague on both the trips taken and who went with her.
I may be able to fill in the blanks a little for her…
I know of at least two trips to the U.S. — one with Jeff with a detour to Mexico and, I believe Cuba, and another with Michael Lawler that may have incorporated Canada.
There was the Hong Kong trip that Jackson had trouble recollecting
There was also a Europe trip, the famed Paris trip, in which Jackson had a friend with her where, it has been alleged, HSU money was deposited into this friend's account as spending money for the trip.
Jackson was also asked to clarify what she meant when she claimed to have been “ambushed” by the Royal Commission last time she appeared. This was before refusing to answer questions and fleeing.
This question to Jackson was not answered in a way that made any real sense and Commissioner Heydon pointed out that she had been told in advance the line of questioning she should have expected, which largely related to the NHDA fund. This had been no more of an ambush than I am Elvis.
Just before lunch, HSU barrister Mark Irving returned to cross-examine Jackson and started out querying her authority to sign cheques for the HSU East branch.
It turns out that Kathy had signed a cheque she was not authorised to sign. Luckily, it was only for a trivial $63,000. Despite the sum and Kathy not being authorised to sign the cheque according to Union rules, sign it she did. As it turned out, the cheque was for someone Kathy clearly considers vastly more important than the Union's rules — herself.
The $63,000 was an honorarium payment — something no other branch secretary had received before in the HSU, but nevertheless Kathy and her BCOM buddies thought she deserved it.
After lunch Heather Wellington from Peter Mac Hospital took the stand.
Wellington was asked about the settlement with Jackson's branch that led to the $250,000 payment to the Union, with the workers getting diddly squat.
Wellington was adamant the payment was a reimbursement of legal and related costs to the union, and was authorised for 'up to $250K'.
Luckily, with creative accounting and inflation, we saw the figure came to exactly the amount that it was capped at.
Irving then continued his cross-examination and moved on to donations that had been made for over $1,000 that had not been declared. Any donation over $1000 must be declared according to the Fair Work Act or the union can be fined and action taken against it by Fair Work Commission.
Jackson admitted to breaching these acts and risking the union in the process. It is also worth noting that while breaching these Fair Work Commission regulations, she was the partner of the FWC’s vice president, the Tony Abbott appointed Michael Lawler.
Things went even further downhill from there, as it turned out that further donations were being made that breached the act from the "kitty" kept in the steel box.
With staggering chutzpah, Kathy actually stated regarding the secret unaudited and unregulated kitty:
“The purpose of these funds was to avoid disclosure.”
Kathy kept repeating she had been advised to set up the kitty fund, but when pushed on who gave the advice, Jackson refused to answer. When the Commissioner finally stepped in and instructed her to answer, she finally admitted that nobody had advised her at all.
Jackson had started with her credibility on low — and it was still going down at this point.
Next up came the blank cheques that had been signed by Jane Holt and left lying around the office.
We were the first to break the news of these cheques and the reckless disregard for member’s money that saw these cheques pre-signed and left lying round the office after Jackson's faction had been voted out of both branches 1 and 3.
Using logic I can’t explain, Jackson alleged that Irving was somehow responsible for these cheques being stolen from Melbourne and then going through his hands and into mine so that I could put them on Jackson's hated “blogosphere”.
Oh... and the mysterious missing exercise book apparently also suffered the same fate — ending up in my possession? Is that Twilight Zone music can hear in the background?
Jackson also could not provide any
reasonable explanations as to why huge sums of member’s money was passed to Marco Bolano’s branch as a “loan” without any loan documentation. Not even an email.
The most amusing part of cross-examination was saved till last however.
Audio was played from the HSU convention. The audio captured the moment then HSU president – the now gaoled – Michael Williamson entered the convention and was introduced.
Yes, there was a great deal of rousing applause — however what was very noticeably missing was the Rocky theme music that witness after witness from Jackson’s faction had testified to under oath.
Sounds like perjury to me.
Today, Jackson was briefly back on the stand. I will talk about that and Jackson's extraordinary outburst outside the courtroom over the weekend.
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