THIS WEEK, as the Craig Thomson trial draws closer to finalising, the lesson to be learnt is that there are serious flaws in the way our media report important events.
While Independent Australia has someone who assumes the whole day’s events are worth reporting and stays in court all day to relay it all, the vast majority of the mainstream press seem to be off at the café, the pub, or gone for a round of golf by lunch.
How is this, in any way, in the interests of their readership?
It is no wonder the magistrate has been so critical of, particularly, The Australian's coverage of the court proceedings in the past.
The testimony of former Sydney brothel owner Peter Lazaris was widely reported by all of the mainstream press like it was the major event of the day.
What wasn’t reported was that, in a full day in court, Mr Lazaris’ testimony lasted less than ten minutes. Neither was it reported that he was asked to step down from the witness stand by Magistrate Rozencwajg.
The reason he was asked to step down is that his testimony was for the most part irrelevant to the case as it had no link to Craig Thomson and because, for the most part, he was just reading aloud on the stand.
Magistrate Rozencwajg allegedly expelled Lazaris with a degree of scorn, saying:
“I can read just as well as he can.”
That was not reported anywhere that I saw.
It is my considered view ‒ though I am not an expert in the area ‒ that brothels advertise, promote and promise discretion. I would not call going on a witness stand in a magistrates court before a salivating press pack discreet, but that’s just me.
Given this, it would lead me to assume one of two things: either Mr Lazaris is entirely unprofessional, or alternatively that Thomson was never a client. There was certainly nothing that Mr Lazaris presented that gave any confirmation or indication that Thomson was indeed a customer — only excuses as to why he could not offer evidence one way or the other about liaisons Thomson swears never occurred.
Brother owner Peter Lazaris walks out of the Magistrates Court, presumably on his way to the set of Miami Vice. (Image via dailytelegraph.com.au)
As we have seen from Umberto Ledfooti’s court coverage on Independent Australia, there has been a long list of witnesses that have appeared that have painted a clear picture that there were no official guidelines around credit card usage within the union, with one of those witnesses being Kathy Jackson's former husband Jeff Jackson, whose alleged improper spending on a union credit card vastly exceeds that of Thomson.
There has been testimony from Belinda Ord that the documentation Kathy Jackson has repeatedly claimed was destroyed by Thomson was in fact under a desk in Jackson’s office. These documents included financial details, credit card details, copies of signatures and driver’s license details — in short, everything one would require to set someone up.
This too has been ignored by the mainstream media.
Today it was time for Kathy Jackson to finally take the stand.
Jackson, as you are probably all aware, is the self-proclaimed whistleblower whose allegations started the entire circus we have witnessed for the past few years.
As you are also very likely aware, Jackson is the fiancée of Michael Lawler, the vice president of the Fair Work Commission (formerly FWA) whose investigations, based on the evidence that was hand-delivered to them by Jackson, seemed to specifically target Thomson.
She is also the one who was in a factional partnership with the now convicted former HSU president Michael Williamson, who employed her to form the ill-fated HSU East. So strong was her relationship with Williamson that, before she betrayed him, she even purchased his wife Julie a $3,000 pair of earrings as a gift:
Not bad on a union salary, ’eh?
In her testimony before lunch Jackson often referred to what she called information from the “blogosphere”. Jackson is clearly infuriated by the fact that her own actions have brought her under police scrutiny and documentation ‒ and there is a lot of it ‒ that has exposed her lies has been made public.
Today, Jackson confirmed that Craig Thomson’s salary package included a salary, a car, a mobile phone for personal and business use and a credit card.
Wait... A credit card as part of a salary package?
If this is the case, then it would suggest he can spend on that card however he likes, as surely no employer can tell you how to spend your own salary.
Jackson also confirmed before lunch that child care payments for her children were made for around four years well after her return from maternity leave. This is the same childcare that she told Chris Uhlmann, when interviewed on the ABC’s 7.30 on May 21 last year, her childcare fees were not paid for out of union funds.
From the transcript:
CHRIS UHLMANN: Well Mr Thomson's made as many accusations about you as you have of him. He points out that you drive a union paid for Volvo, that your childcare and gym fees are paid for, you have taken numerous overseas trips at the expense of the union and that you're salary doubled in the weeks after he left to $270,000.
KATHY JACKSON: I reject all those claims….
Too bad the “blogosphere” exposed that lie, I guess…
Another alarming admission from Jackson is that she spent over $100,000 per year of union funds by withdrawing cash.
That is a lot of cash to spend, certainly far more than Thomson’s withdrawals which now find him facing charges in court.
When queried about her $22,000 skiing trip to Mt Hotham in 2005, shown on the branch's GST reporting document below, Jackson claimed she was attending a union conference there:
I guess it was just a lucky co-incidence that it was in the middle of ski season and that her and Jeff are both keen skiers.
This brings us up to lunch today. She was back on the stand after lunch.
The circus continues. More from Umberto and me tomorrow.
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