Investigative blogger Peter Wicks reveals more suspicious HSU payments and introduces another Jackson into the saga — Kathy Jackson's former husband, Jeff Jackson.
In any game, as anybody can tell you, getting a big lead early does not necessarily mean victory will be yours. Often, there is a comeback — or those in the front fall in a crumpled heap.
If you need proof of this, just ask Steven Bradbury — or, in politics, perhaps just wait about six months and then ask Malcolm Turnbull.
In the battle for the future of Craig Thomson's political career, on the other side is the Coalition, the conservative press and shock-jock brigade, and their cheerleader “whistleblower”, the Health Services Union boss Kathy Jackson.
The collateral damage – or innocent casualties – in all of this seem to be the entire membership of the HSU.
The debate, of late, seems to be ignorant of facts and high on morals — as the only real charge remaining against Thomson, that hasn’t been dismissed by the relevant authorities, it seems, is his alleged use of prostitutes on a HSU credit card.
This allegation is backed up by the flimsiest of evidence, with credit card records that were dismissed by eight separate investigations. However, they have been once again brought to light by his accuser's partner's organisation, Fair Work Australia, and their so-called “investigation”. This FWA investigation has a rapidly growing cloud over its integrity, as does FWA's integrity — with the involvement of its Vice President, Michael Lawler, coming into the spotlight. Many, including myself, are calling for a Judicial Inquiryinto this matter.
In the all-important contest for public opinion and, thereby, moral justification, the public up until now appear to have sided with Jackson and the Coalition.
Jackson herself, now in the spotlight, has some huge questions to answer in regards to allegations of corrupt practices, as evidence comes to light regarding seemingly unusual financial transactions, and conflicting public statements. Even before this evidence – first published in Independent Australia – came to light, she had been fighting off allegations of money laundering as recently as February this year.
The Liberal Party, keen to hitch their wagon to anyone who might help them score political points, have eagerly gone along for the ride. Their involvement has clearly overstepped the mark, however, as opinion polls show people are turning away from their “rabid dog on the attack" strategy.
The likes of Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne, Eric Abetz, and George Brandis have been cheered on by the usual candidates from the establishment press. Helping them in their bid for the moral high ground have been the shock jocks, including one who had reportedly been apprehended by police at least once for loitering in public lavatories, allegedly for sexual gratification, and another who has allegedly faced repeated suspensions for getting drunk and groping female members of staff.
Yet again, hypocrisy rules the (air)waves.
To his credit, Thomson has lasted the distance, where many would have cracked under the pressure. He has bided his time, with the person who knows him best – his wife, Zoe – by his side. Thomson has no doubt been waiting for the debate to start looking at the facts — rather than the hysteria and moral panic we have seen up until this point.
The facts we have been publishing at Independent Australia, in the form of documents, have not shown Thomson's innocence. However, they have shown that Thomson's accuser appears to have her own agenda and, on the face of it, has been using members’ funds for her own personal purposes.
Kathy Jackson's bizarre antics in Federal Court last week, as she tried to save her job – and perhaps prevent independent auditor's going through the finances of the union she ran – only serve to heighten these concerns.
Today, new evidence of strange financial practices under Jackson's watch have come to light.
You can see via the below link, two expense payments for Kathy Jackson. The first one you will notice is itemized. I am unsure if any of these payments are odd, but I will assume that they are all legitimate. The second expense payment however, is not itemized. This $4,695 payment of members money is just marked as "general".
I have not known any company to just pay an expense payment for that amount without some sort of indication as to what it's for. Then again, most companies wouldn't allow someone to approve their own expenses.
Also strange are the payments via the link below, marked as BCOM payments.
These four payments total a whopping $37,600 of union funds. This includes "Honorarium" payments of $13,800, and yet more suspicious "professional fees".
Union members would like to know what these payments were for. Members also query who was deserving of all these "honorarium" payments whilst their union was being bled dry from within and the future Baillieu and O'Farrell governments were planning to strip members of their hard-earned benefits.
There is an earlier case, which I think shines a light on the way the HSU operated under the control of the Jacksons, as for a time there were both Jeff and Kathy Jackson there.
The case involves a woman who was being forced to resign due to her having Multiple Sclerosis. This you would assume is something the union would go hard on, an employee being pushed to resign over a disability, particularly the "Health" Services Union.
The employee in question was actually diagnosed with MS before starting her role at the job she was being forced to resign from. Not only that, she had worked in the role for a number of years and her performance was apparently in no way hampered by her MS — in fact she was achieving better results than others in her field. At the time of this happening, she even had 63 days of unused sick leave owing to her.
Still, her heartless employer was determined to get rid of her.
With all of this, you would think the Union would have come down on her employer like a tonne of bricks, but alas you would be wrong.
"Who was this heartless employer?" I hear you ask.
The employer was none other than the Health Services Union, and her boss doing these actions, none other than Jeff Jackson.
Below is a link to the letter from the employee, Diana Asmar, who was then actually the Mayor of Darebin, to Jeff Jackson in response to being terminated.
A few things emerge from this letter, which raise more serious questions.
In particular, in the second paragraph on the second page, there is the mention of superannuation. In fact, it suggests that an offer was made for a fraudulent claim to be processed, with the aid of Kathy Jackson, who was on the HESTA board, all Diana needed do – allegedly according to Jeff Jackson – was obtain a dodgy doctors certificate.
This begs the question: was this normal procedure, and does this mean there any claims that were put through HESTA, that are fraudulent?
I have heard unconfirmed allegations of Jeff Jackson receiving a disability payout and then going back to work almost straight away at the HSU.
So, this is a startling claim by Asmar — as it raises questions not only over member's funds but also over their retirement savings as well.
The other question in my mind is: "Is it in the best interests of the members to offer Diana a payout of over $100,000?"
Still, it seems no matter how many documents we discover that suggest wrongdoing, Kathy Jackson is determined to fight on. She has been quick to point fingers, make accusations, and conjure up conspiracy theories, but has as yet been unable to sufficiently answer the serious questions raised by these documents.
This week is another big week for Jackson, with two major events in the calendar.
On Tuesday night, Jackson is performing at the HR Nicholl's Society bash. The HR Nicholl's Society is a Liberal Party industrial relations think tank, and on Tuesday, it welcomes Jackson is the Guest Of Honour at one of its events. A packed house of Coalition members, party faithful, and hangers-on will be there to see her perform hits like, I Got The Power, We Are The Champions, I Am Woman, and These Boots (Are Made For Walking). Well, not exactly, but I would expect her speech to be along those lines.
Many have wondered whether the Liberal Party would cancel this event, but I have my doubts. I tend to think that the Liberals will keep using her while they think there is the chance of a political point to be made; then, when Jackson's utility has been exhausted, they will brush her off like something nasty stuck to their Italian leather shoes — and quickly forget they ever admired her.
On Friday, Jackson is back in Federal Court — to appeal the decision to put an interim administrator in place and to put all positions up for re-election. Jackson, it seems, does not want the Union’s finances closely examined and is not at all fond on letting the Union members decide who runs the Union.
I hope that Jackson manages to get through the week without attempting, again, to contact the judge in private. I also hope she can manage to contain herself in court a little bit better than last week — where she turned the case into a circus.
I am sure that there will be more to report on during the week, as the Jackson show continues its national tour.
Meanwhile, in the electorate of Dobell, Craig Thomson patiently waits for those with the early lead to stumble.
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