Jacksonville 24: Little boxes

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Peter Wicks reveals exclusive details of the complaint made by HSU official Carol Glen to the president of Fair Work Australia concerning Michael Lawler’s interference in HSU affairs.

THE LIFE of a union secretary can be tough, the hours can be long and the pay can be average. Most union secretaries live a life that is far from privileged.

Let's take the HSU for example.

Former branch secretary Craig Thomson received a reasonable, but not excessive, salary and lives a modest life. Craig lives on the NSW Central Coast in a house that is worth somewhere between $450,000 and $500,000. He continues to pay a mortgage.

The person who took over Craig's job at the Union when he entered parliament, Kathy Jackson, now moving to NSW, has her house on the market. Kathy is hoping to pick up $800K for her property. Not too bad for a union secretary, but again, not that extravagant.
Jackson's Balwyn residence.

But hang on, I’ve stuffed up here, my mistake, I must have missed the other digit. Kathy is looking for a cool $1.8 Million. Jeez union life must have picked up quite a bit since Craig's day. Then again, the Jackson house does come with one hell of a pool pump. The forthcoming sale was described in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday:
‘Jackson is … selling the four-bedroom house on a massive double block in a ''prestigious area of Balwyn'' for $1.8 million … ''Properties like this don't come along very often.'' For buyers interested in luxury-meets-notoriety, the tree-lined property is a ''developer's dream'' with land measuring 1452 square metres. Family comforts include ''multiple living zones'', three bathrooms, a paved backyard, a ''heated, salt-chlorinated pool'' and a pool house with sauna and ensuite. To be auctioned on September 22…’

It does seem a bit odd that the person living in the sub $500,000 house is accused of rorting on the job, by the person who took over his job in the $1.8 million home. But nevertheless...

Anyway, as I reported earlier, Jackson is looking to break free from Melbourne, and no wonder, the union has been left in a devastating mess, both financially and in terms of member morale.

Despite her postal address indicating that she lives in Chifley, a residence owned by Katrina Hart, the word on the street is that she is in fact living in Blackwattle Bay. Not quite the same...

Dancing with the Stars never came off, and lately he has not been the most popular around the office. Lawler has been under a shadow since diving head first into the HSU saga, giving FWA a bad reputation. And this was not helped when he refused to co-operate with the KPMG investigation into FWA.

Some of you may have seen7.30 on the ABC on 27/8, where FWA’s co-operation with Victoria Police is discussed.

Click on the image to watch the video or read the transcript on the ABC website.

Below is part of the transcript:

CHRIS UHLMANN: 7.30 has also contacted both the NSW and Victorian police. NSW police say Strike Force Carnarvon is progressing well and that they hope to finalise matters relating specifically to a bag seized by police in May within the next month or so. And in Victoria, the police are clearly getting frustrated with the workplace watchdog.

Their fraud and extortion squad started investigating the management of the Health Services Union last September.

Today, police released a statement to 7.30 saying that despite several requests by Victoria Police since the investigation began, Fair Work Australia have so far declined to provide any documentation to support this investigation.

ERIC ABETZ, LIBERAL FRONTBENCHER: I cannot believe that any citizen, let alone a government agency, should so wilfully not co-operate with a police investigation into a fraud that impacts thousands and thousands of Health Service union members.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Fair Work Australia disputes the police statement. It says general manager Bernadette O'Neill wrote to Victoria Police in May saying - and this is a quote - that she would, "... facilitate provision of any further information sought by Victoria Police consistent with her statutory powers and functions".

Apart from Abetz being a Senator, there is something else interesting here that the ABC didn’t pick up or mention.

When Bernadette O’Neill stated that she would
'... facilitate provision of any further information sought by Victoria Police consistent with her statutory powers and functions.'
The ABC didn’t mention that Vice President Michael Lawler does not answer to her. Making Michael Lawler co-operate with a police investigation is beyond her “statutory powers”.

This is why he refused to co-operate with the KPMG investigation, and would not allow them to have access to his electronic equipment for their investigation.

My suggestion in regards to Michael Lawler would be obtain a Federal warrant if seeking his “co-operation”.

As for Abetz’s throwaway line of how he can’t believe someone would
“…not co-operate with a police investigation into a fraud that impacts thousands and thousands of Health Service union members."
I can believe it Eric, because they are your mates — Jackson and Lawler. Are you seeking to desert them now, perhaps? You're much more loyal to your mate Alan.

Although Lawler is keen to break free and head to NSW, he has not always liked others to have a clean break.

Carol Glen for example; Carol managed to free herself, but not without an earful of abuse along the way.

Below is the letter of complaint, published for the first time, she sent to the then FWA President, Justice Giudice; in it, there are some remarkable allegations:

Carol Glen Complaint FWA

These allegations regarding Michael Lawler are particularly interesting, as he has consistently claimed he has not been involved with, or interfered in, HSU business, despite the amount of evidence  disputing this claim. Maybe a front page with a photo of Lawler with a stretched nose, and the headline “We Don’t Believe You” would be in order?

Apart from the language, and the alleged threatening nature of the call, the most alarming thing to me is this part:
“... you can fuck off and take sick leave if you don’t want to do the work and still be paid but you can’t resign, just go off on sick leave but don’t do this.”
I was unaware that the vice president of Fair Work Australia had the authority to tell people not show up for work on the HSU’s behalf, or to exert pressure on employees of the HSU.

Indeed, I was unaware that the vice president of Fair Work Australia had the authority to decide on members behalf that their money should be spent paying somebody to do nothing. I was most certainly unaware that the vice president of Fair Work Australia could tell an employee of the HSU directly that they cannot resign.

Luckily for the members, Carol had just a little more integrity than her abusive caller, preferring instead to actually work for a living. I know that probably seems foolish to people like Jackson, Lawler, and Jackson’s mate Rob Elliott — who still, to this day, collects a salary from the HSU despite not having worked there for years. But the members should count their blessings Carol Glen does not feel the same.
Carol Glen

Carol Glen could not be reached for comment— probably still hard at work.

Anyway, those members who want to break free of all of the chaos, wasted funds, yelling, screaming, and the brawls, know what you have to do come election day. If you enjoy seeing your union dragged through the mud and your funds get flushed down the drain, then cast a vote for Hart, Bolano, or Behrens. If not, a vote for anybody else would be a good start.

And those in Victoria would be advised to double check the ballot boxes are legitimate before putting their ballot slip in them.

Just sayin’...

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