Kathy Jackson and TURC: Waking up with fleas

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With the Trade Union Royal Commission in turmoil after details of counsel coaching Kathy Jackson were revealed. Peter Wicks considers who is scratching whose back and who is just itchy.

I would like to say I was shocked and appalled at revelations in yesterdays The Australian that Kathy Jackson was not only helped through the Royal Commission, but advised also. However I am even further from being shocked by this than Joe Hockey not being able to achieve a budget surplus.

Huge congratulations are due to Pamela Williams and Jared Owens for some brilliant journalism.

It’s not that the revelations aren’t shocking – they are – it is only that this was something I had expected and suspected all along but could not confirm. Williams has answered some of the questions I asked with answers I anticipated in November 2014.

The article confirms that Jackson worked closely with the Royal Commission, as did her partner Michael Lawler, she was given advance notice on what she would be facing questions on and tips to prepare for them. She was also given scope to attack her factional rivals and it was suggested that she also attack the sections of the media who were bothering her. 

The Commission also suggested,she attack Labor Party figures and, in particular, Bill Shorten.

Bias? What bias?

Those that say this gives further weight to the argument of bias and the Commission as a taxpayer-funded witch-hunt miss the point. This does not give the allegations extra weight, it confirms them as undisputed fact.

The article quotes Eric Abetz telling Bill Shorten that he needs to get “on board” with the Commission. Why on earth would anybody climb aboard a train that was off the rails, on fire and headed for a cliff?

The hide of Abetz to say anything at any rate given it was exposed long ago that either he or his office was in regular contact with Jackson after her phone records appeared as evidence here all the way back in July 2012. Perhaps someone in the Senate should ask Abetz about the amount of contact he or his office has had with Jackson or Lawler since the Commission commenced. That could prove interesting indeed.

On a personal level, this confirmation of just how closely the Royal Commission worked with possibly Australia’s largest union fraudster – $1.4 million and counting – and her Tony Abbott appointed partner, sheds light on a few things for me.

For starters, Kathy being advised to use the opportunity to “tackle media critics” by Commission staff brings a few things into focus.

It would, firstly, explain why Jackson’s evidence was full of my articles in a desperate bid to show how she was being bullied by the “blogosphere”. There was a chapter of Kathy Jackson's submission dedicated to trying to put a dark cloud over my work and I can’t help but now wonder if that was done on advice from the Commission.

Interestingly, that dark cloud really turned out to be a savage storm, however it opened up over Jackson in Federal Court when she was ordered to repay much of what I was apparently bullying her about — $1.4 million worth of it, anyway.

Advice from the Commission might also explain why Kathy Jackson ally and twice member rejected union official election reject Katrina Hart gave a signed submission of evidence against me that she knew to be utterly false. In doing so she committed what I believe to be perjury, as providing false information to a Royal Commission knowingly is a serious offence.

Despite formally presenting the Commission evidence of this and despite the seriousness of the offence, I am of the firm belief that the Commission did absolutely nothing about this whatsoever. No questions asked, no investigation, no charges, no consequences of any kind.

The Commission’s closeness to Team Jackson may also explain the lack of action after another ugly incident involving union thug, alleged workers compensation cheat, and Kathy Jackson’s boy blunder Marco Bolano.

Many will remember reports of Marco Bolano attempting to intimidate me and two others in an alleyway beside the Royal Commission venue.

Despite there being three statements given to Royal Commission security, no action was taken.

The irony of being intimidated by a union thug at a royal commission purportedly into exactly this type union behaviour was stark. The fact that nothing would be done about it was also at the time a clear indication that this was a castrated Commission — it could not even manage to clean up thuggish behavior right under its nose.

However judging from the Australians evidence the truth of the Commission's motive could be even worse.

It is also worth noting that this was not the only incident in Bolano at the Commission, with one witness being intimidated and threatened by him to the point where she was advised by police to hire personal security and showed up to give evidence with a bodyguard in tow. Another member of the press was allegedly grabbed around the waist and dragged away from the press pack by Bolano.

All of this the Commission was aware of, yet nothing was done.

This is a Royal Commission left with absolutely no integrity left in the tank.

For a legal process that is supposed to be both independent of government and holding the highest standard of accountability, it has proven itself to be anything but.

A royal commissioner is supposed to be beyond reproach – someone the public can have full faith in – and so for that Commissioner to take days to decide if the public perception had been tarnished told the true story in my mind. For that commissioner to then decide that perception had not been tarnished was beyond ridiculous, given every hour it took for that decision to be made tarnished that reputation further.

We have seen Liberal Party fundraisers, evidence held back, misleading leaks made to the media and now this revelation.

For a royal commission that is supposed to be about weeding out corruption to climb into bed (or the barber's chair) with what a Federal Court has shown to be perhaps the biggest fraudster the union movement has ever seen is a clear indication of how much faith can be put into its findings and how much faith we can have in its integrity.

When the Royal Commission decided to partner up with Kathy Jackson & co, they would have done well to remember this saying:

“If you lie down with dogs, don’t be surprised when you wake up with fleas.”

No wonder they're scratching. 

Peter Wicks is an ALP member and former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy. Read more about the Jacksonville saga HERE. Donate to Peter's Jacksonville book writing fund HERE.

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