Jacksonville 12: Trouble in Jacksonville

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Independent Australia has been leaked an unprecedented amount of new material, much of which suggests there may have been a massive misappropriation of HSU members’ funds — allegedly by Jeff and Kathy Jackson. Peter Wicks reports.

Kathy Jackson and Peter Reith at the HR Nicholls Society

[Click here to get up-to-date on all our investigations into this affair by visiting IA's dedicated “Jacksonville” page.]

IT WAS a cold and wet Tuesday night in NSW; enough to dampen even the most enthusiastic of spirits.

On the Central Coast, Craig Thomson sat down to a homemade vegetable risotto with his wife Zoe and tried to stay positive. In Sydney, I was with my wife Felicity, both of us scouring our way through bank statements, looking for clues as to where the HSU members’ funds were being spent.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Kathy Jackson was being wined and dined by the Liberal Party's elite as the guest of honour and keynote speaker at a HR Nicholl's function.

I saw footage of some of Kathy's speech; she sounded a little shaky, unsure of her words — almost like someone else had written her speech for her. On top of this, Kathy looked liked she had aged 10 years in the last 2 weeks — and I'm sure the bags under her eyes weren't the type that were imported from Italy.

Her speech was the usual drivel you would expect from a union leader — an honour to be with a Liberal crowd, how awesome Tony Abbott's policies are, that sort of thing.

Still, many said that it was great to see her Dad looking so proud, sitting there next to her. He was beaming from ear to ear; some might say he looked smitten, even — like the cat that had swallowed the canary. Then they realised it was just Peter Reith; it was an easy mistake to make, as nobody had ever seen Reith smile so much before.

Since then, things have only gotten worse for Kathy. Her Federal Court Case is not going at all well and the events in court on Fridayare almost laughable. Unfortunately, Federal Court is not the place for jokes, as it demeans the status of the court itself.

Probably the strangest part was when Kathy sought, once again, to have the case adjourned and presented the judge, Justice Flick, with a psychiatrist’s certificate to justify her request. Fair enough, you might think? Except that the certificate was not signed, making it useless. To add further insult, it wasn’t even dated. Needless to say, Justice Flick was having none of it. Still, I hear there were spectators in the court who were quietly impressed that it wasn’t written in crayon.

Alas, this week is not going to be much better in Jacksonville; in fact, things are likely to become worse — much worse.

For starters, the Federal Court case is set to reach its finale on Thursday. Kathy looks to walk away from this with a red face and a massive legal bill. I hate to think how many fundraisers Alan Jones is going to have to put on to sort that bill out.

Add to this, the Victorian Police investigation is starting to ramp up a notch. Even some elements of the media are starting to see through the well thought out, and meticulously planned, "that's a bunch of crap" defence when it comes to the documents we have presented and the questions they raise.

However, in order to ease the burden on Kathy, I have been able to answer one question myself.

Some of you may remember the letter acting secretary Peter Mylan sent to the Volvo dealer Kathy's SUV came from. He was querying what happened to the approximately $5,000 the HSU overpaid for the vehicle according to the invoice and payment amount signed off by Kathy.

[See the Volvo Letter and Payment in PDF]

Well, as you will see by the below documentation, I have solved this one. I have received a photocopy of the cheque and it is made out to cash. The dealer may not have even seen the extra money and therefore ignored Mylan's letter. I still wonder where the missing $5,000 went, though...

Cheque for Kathy Jackson's Volvo - made out to cash for $5,000 more than was owing on the car.

[See the Volvo Cash Cheque in PDF]

Anyway, many of you will remember Jeff Jackson; he is Kathy's ex-husband, and an ex-secretary of HSU Branch 1. He is also a lovely bloke who likes to ski in his spare time, but apparently does not like to work with people with disabilities.

[See the Jeff Jackson Ski Club payments in PDF]

Some of you may also remember Kathy Jackson saying that nobody other than Craig Thomson had spent Union members’ money on prostitutes. She stated this in many interviews.

So what do they spend their money on? What important Union business goes onto the union credit cards?

Fortunately, we can now answer this question, because last week approximately 3 years’ worth of credit card statements landed in our laps. The credit card is for card for HSU Branch number 1 — and belonged to Jeff Jackson.

I have put a link below to a summary page which gives a breakdown of the amounts and types of transactions — and also a link to the 160 odd pages of the actual statement for those who wish to see for themselves.

(Please note, the dates on this summary page are the dates the transaction went through at the bank, not the date the actual transaction took place; there is, of course, a delay due to bank notification and processing.)

[See the Jeff Jackson Credit Card Summary in MS Excel. See the Credit Card statements in PDF.]

The total spend over this period is $128,321.94.

Still, at least it was on Union business.

$9,898.35 at supermarkets and bottle shops. $9,185.86 on Homewares, including $1,025 at Bunnings. $1,600.06 on Foxtel (gee, I hope he got the adult channels for that price). Over $9,000 in Hong Kong and China. Over $29,000 in restaurants and bars; at least he didn't go hungry. And, of course, $2,410 in brothels.

Hang on… Brothels? Kathy said this didn't happen, maybe it was just a one-off. Nope, it seems we have six separate alleged visits to brothels charged to HSU members — including two visits to the very same brothel Thomson was accused of using.

Two of the six alleged brothel visits recorded on Jeff Jackson's credit card

Another spend on the statements the union members would be pleased with, is on the 21/04/04 for $240 at Loving Promises at Sydney Airport, a ladies lingerie store. I do hope that Kathy scrubbed up OK in whatever it was. I'm sure the members hope it was worth the spend. Then again maybe it was a present for one of Jeff's friends in the red-light district, we may never know

And this is not the first time Jeff Jackson has been accused of running amok with Union members’ funds, either. As the document linked below shows, questions over Jeff's spending have been raised since the mid-1990s.

[See the alleged Jeff Jackson Rorting Documentin PDF.]

In case you were thinking Jeff’s overseas travel on Union funds was approved by the Union, we have been told by several sources that none of his overseas travel was approved by Union’s peak executive committee, known as BCOM; of course, we would welcome Jeff being able to produce documentation or minutes of meetings to support his expense claims.

As we would welcome proof BCOM also approved his Foxtel subscription and alleged brothel visits.

If you are a Union member now, I cannot imagine how angry this must make you. To think that somebody you put so much trust in, someone who was supposed to be on your side, would allegedly use your Union funds as a personal bank account. And over $128,000 in three years — that is disgraceful.

Kathy Jackson Credit Card Payments and Branch 3 wages

HSU 3 Branch Bank Statements

One of the most damning features of the evidence we have uncovered is that it was totally missed by the Fair Work Australia investigation.

Some may say that this is evidence of corruption, while others might allege it to be proof of utter incompetence. Either way, it is unsurprising that both Michael Lawler, Kathy's partner, and Terry Nassios, the lead investigator, both went on "long leave" just before Craig Thomson gave his response in Parliament.

Long leave - or out to lunch?

Fair Work Australia had several years of investigation into the Union — while Independent Australia and I have had only a few weeks. FWA have had an investigative team at their disposal — we have had to rely on "wearing out the shoe leather" style of investigation.

It seems inconceivable to me that they managed to find what they did on Thomson – who has now seemingly been all but cleared – but yet missed all the Jackson documentation. This makes me question whether this was a witch-hunt — and also to question whether Michael Lawler has any influence and involvement, behind the scenes, whether directly or indirectly, in what direction the FWA investigation took.

It would appear to me that looking for evidence was a bit like the old "haystack scenario". The investigators found the needle in the haystack with the name Thomson on it — but somehow failed to notice the elephant, dressed in a pink tutu and sparkling with neon lights spelling "Jackson", dancing the can-can right next to the haystack.

Corruption or incompetence? I'll let you make up your own mind.

Unless a Judicial Inquiry is launched, we may never know.

Kathy Jackson faces the music.

But after all is said and done, at least we know Kathy is there for the staff. She would never turn her back on them or offer them up on a silver platter.

On the day before the police raid – a raid that the police involved have allegedly referred to as a "dummy" – Kathy was, it seems, there to boost staff morale. We have been told that Kathy was reportedly taking photos of the staff lunchroom as they ate lunch — strange behaviour indeed. Especially when you consider that she flew up from Melbourne seemingly specifically for the occasion.

The next day, the surprise police raid that nobody knew was coming occurred. By sheer chance, Kathy was out the front at the time talking to the press, who then stayed to watch the "dummy" raid and take photos or film the staff as they left. As the HSU office is in a skyscraper — it shows just how perceptive the press are these days that they knew exactly which people to film, almost like they had identified who they were from photographs the day before…

As things start to seemingly fall apart for in Jacksonville for Kathy and Jeff Jackson – and also Michael Lawler, the Fair Work Australia connection – it is interesting to see friends begin to back away.

The Coalition, in particular Tony Abbott, now appear to be trying to distance themselves. It must be great to have a friend like Tony, who sings your praises in Parliament one day — and then turns his back and runs from you the next. All over some trifling allegations of embezzlement.

Call it a hunch, but I think Tony Abbott is going to look back and regret two days in his past: the day he appointed Michael Lawler; and the day he sang the praises of Kathy Jackson in front of the world.

A storm is brewing, and I think everybody living in Jacksonville is going to get drenched...

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