Heroes and villains emerge from the Trade Union Royal Commission

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While the careers of both Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten have been successful, disgraced judge Dyson Heydon is currently facing sexual harrassment allegations (Image by Dan Jensen)

Of those involved in the Trade Union Royal Commission, some have triumphed whereas others have fallen from grace, writes Peter Wicks.

THERE'S BEEN quite a bit in the news lately regarding Dyson Heydon, the alleged sexual predator John Howard hand-picked to sit on the bench of the High Court.

Heydon was also chosen to head Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption, a name that pre-determined an outcome that it struggled to prove. Also known as TURC, it may as well have been TURKEY for all that it proved. However, for the millions it cost John Q taxpayer it would have had to be a turkey the size of Uluru.

While the Trade Union Royal Commission is back in the frame again, I thought it may be a handy time to look at some of the players and how things have panned out for them.

Many saw the Royal Commission as part of Abbott’s “Kill Bill” strategy — a golden opportunity to destroy his rival, Bill Shorten, and to ruin the legacy of his predecessor, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, at the same time.

Despite a raft of disgruntled witnesses providing testimony, both Shorten and Gillard emerged from the Royal Commission unscathed.

Currently, Julia Gillard holds several prominent positions including the Chair of Beyond Blue. Bill Shorten remains in parliament and is currently a shadow minister with two shadow portfolios: Government Services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Meanwhile, Tony Abbott is, one hopes, enjoying his life of irrelevance after suffering a humiliating election defeat. Although recently he was back in the news after his bronze bust was attacked by vandals.

Voted out of parliament by his own constituents is a humiliation not suffered by a prime minister since John Howard’s beloved Bennelong constituents gave him the boot in 2007 after deciding that a former ABC journalist was more trustworthy and voting for Maxine McKew. Howard made history for losing government and his seat in the same election.

John Howard is currently spending his time attempting to defend the indefensible — a couple of high profile cases come to mind, one concerning Dyson Heydon.

Slyly, John Howard has defended his insertion of Dyson Heydon into his former position in the High Court.

Heydon has suddenly found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. He has gone from the judge to the judged as numerous women have emerged with allegations of serious sexual harassment.

An independent inquiry by the High Court found that Heydon sexually harassed six associates while on the bench.

The legal firm representing Heydon released a statement denying the findings:

“Any allegation of predatory behaviour or breaches of the law is categorically denied.”

Now Attorney-General Christian Porter has said his department will investigate the claims. Considering the allegations include inappropriate touching, which amounts to assault, it is unclear why it is not the police investigating these serious allegations.

Saying that, I’m sure justice will be done. Just as I’m sure Bill Gates and Huawei have formed an evil alliance and are spreading COVID-19 around the world through 5G.

So what kind of person warranted an appointment to the High Court by John Howard?

The kind that had these things to say about victims of paedophiles.

Taken from Dyson Heydon’s 1975 textbook titled ‘Evidence: Cases and Materials’:

‘Children sometimes behave in a way evil beyond their years. They may consent to sexual offences against themselves and then deny consent. They may completely invent sexual offences.’

And further:

‘Some children know that the adult world regards such matters in a serious and peculiar way and they enjoy investigating this mystery or revenging themselves by making false accusations.’

Interesting use of the word ‘peculiar’.

This is a case that will be followed closely. Everyone loves a victim blamer.

So what of the Royal Commission’s star witness, Kathy Jackson?

Jackson, of course, had a huge fall from grace, from the Commission’s star witness to the Commission’s public embarrassment as the wheels fell off during her testimony. From there, her Commission doorstop interviews became legend, turning into slow motion train crashes complete with talk of charity shags and hot tubs in the “turbo room” at a brothel.

Both Jackson and her partner, former Tony Abbott appointed VP of the Fair Work Commission, then became a punchline after Caro Meldrum-Hanna’s brilliant exposé on the pair on Four Corners.

Currently, there are two legal cases involving Kathy Jackson.

One involves the legal fight over the $30 million estate of the high profile QC David Rofe. Unfortunately, Rofe had several wills — about 30, in fact. And in some, Jackson receives a substantial sum from his estate.

I have no reason at all to doubt the legitimacy of her claim. Nothing says “genuine claim” more than a notorious liar and alleged union fraudster forming a close relationship with a dying millionaire and diagnosed dementia sufferer with a multimillion-dollar estate. Particularly when in court she admits to actually altering Rofe’s will herself.

The other case is, of course, her criminal trial. I am constantly asked about where this is up to and I wish I had better news.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has seen jury trials adjourned in Victoria and so, once again, closure for this case is something the union members and the public are going to have to keep waiting for.

Needless to say, I will be following the events as they happen.

It is telling that years later we are still talking about the Royal Commission into Trade Unions. It is also telling how the Coalition's proposed heroes have turned into the villains and their proposed villains have come out vindicated and continue to go from strength to strength.

This use of taxpayer’s money to fulfil a political objective continues to grow uglier by the day. Even six years later.

Peter Wicks is an Independent Australia columnist and a former Federal Labor Party staffer. You can follow him on Twitter @MadWixxy.

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