Accusations of fraud against Kimberley Kitching are spurious, says Jacksonville investigator Peter Wicks (Image screenshot Twitter)

The mainstream media's defamatory campaign against Stephen Conroy's Senate replacement, Kimberley Kitching, continued today on the ABC. Peter Wicks corrects the record.

TODAY (Sunday, 23/10/16), you may have seen the ABC Insiders programme continue the concerted mainstream media campaign against Labor's new Senate appointee Kimberley Kitching.

In the show, host Barrie Cassidy said the Trade Union Royal Commission and Kitching's husband were both marks against her name, specious claims remarkably similar to those made by the same Fairfax journalist I reported upon last week.

Some of you may be dismayed to hear this Fairfax staff member has been referring to critics of his reporting as the 'tin foil hat crowd'. Yes, mighty Fairfax has now descended to name calling. On the other hand, I know that readers here tend to appreciate evidence based on the facts rather than sloppy journalism rooted in less than half-truths.

The reason this Fairfax journalist has come out all defensive is because it would appear he has been caught out letting an old grudge (that I shan’t go into again) cloud his judgement when running a series of articles on Kitching.

This week, the same Fairfax journalist took to Twitter to defend his claims of Kitching being involved in 'massive mismanagement', 'fraud', and bringing the Number 1 Branch of the Health Services Union to the verge of bankruptcy, and other potentially defamatory statements and accusations.

One Fairfax article even used an old photo of Kitching standing with Kathy Jackson, despite the disgraced "whistleblower" being, as any journalist worth his salt would know, a bitter factional enemy of Kitchings.

To try to insinuate that these two were allies is like saying Tony Abbott was responsible for the carbon tax just because he was a member of parliament at the time it was introduced. Fairfax, in its wisdom, chose not to clarify for their readers that they were in fact bitter rivals and political enemies.

The document in the following tweet was put out as the evidence of Kitching wreaking havoc upon the HSU #1 Branches finances:

It is true that this document appears to indicate a union branch in financial crisis. But what part of this involved Kitching, who was general manager, and how much was due to the prior management of Jackson ally Marco Bolano? Of course, Bolano was eventually removed from his HSU position by a Federal Court judge.

Diana Asmar’s ascension was described by Fairfax as:

'Ms Asmar took control of the union...'

Not exactly calling it the win via a democratic election that it, in fact, was.

As the previous document indicates, the Branch was in absolute dire straits when members elected Diana Asmar. The branch finances had been utterly decimated by over a decade of mismanagement by the likes of Jeff Jackson and Marco Bolano.

Apparently, some at Fairfax seem to think that this should have been fixed with a click of the fingers the second Asmar was voted in. Alas, in the real world, things don’t turn around quite so quickly.

There is absolutely no doubt that while Kitching was at the Union there were some substantial extra expenses incurred by the Union branch.

There was the much talked about legal expenses made when members of the previous management took legal action against the branch, but would it have been wiser for the Union not to defend itself?

Then there was the extra staff hired. At the time Asmar inherited the crippled Union, it was shedding members like a tree sheds leaves in Autumn. There were parts of the State that were not seeing a union organiser and had not seen one in years; clearly something had to give. The Asmar/Kitching team set about hiring the necessary staff to adequately represent those members who had been missing out ... and guess what? The members came flooding back.

Fairfax may favour the document above, however there is another one I prefer and that is  linked below:

Click on image above to open a PDF of the signed HWU 2016 accounts

Now, I don’t claim to be a hot-shot journalist, just someone who likes to present the relevant facts rather than just regurgitating the conventional wisdom. Writing is something I do in my spare time, so I used a lunch break this week to do something that Fairfax seemingly couldn’t be bothered doing — I requested the current financials. (Maybe the current ones didn’t suit Fairfax's smear campaign?)

If Kitching is responsible for the Health Workers Union’s finances, then I hope she is given a position within the finance portfolio quickly because what has been achieved under her watch at the Union has been remarkable.

From the brink of bankruptcy, the Branch now owns the premises it resides in and has amassed a huge surplus, reportedly the largest surplus – if not the only one – out of all the HSU branches.

It has also boosted its membership in a major way and has negotiated some fantastic EBA’s that will reap benefits for members for years to come.

Fair to say, I don’t think Kitching is losing sleep over her success in her role at the Union, even if those at Fairfax may be.

According to Fairfax, indeed, the union was responsible for branch stacking and Labor factional activities. As an unaffiliated union, they have about as much pull in that regards as your local Best & Less store. However, the Union is likely to become affiliated with the ALP later this year and that is what has prompted all of this soothsayer carry on over at Fairfax.

The journos who were content to break the law and be criminally charged to help out a disgraced Green Councillor would apparently hate to see another union affiliate with the political party that shares its values and works for its members.

Then there’s the right of entry exams that Kitching is accused of completing for others. One Fairfax journo claimed on Twitter that this matter had been before an 'independent tribunal'.

The "independent tribunal" referred to is Fair Work Commission and the matter was presided over by Graeme Watson. To refer to this as independent is laughable, given Watson was a vice president of the FWC alongside Kathy Jackson's husband Michael Lawler, and was also an appointee of John Howard. Under cross-examination, Fair Work’s Chris Enright was exposed as having coached witnesses, none of whom actually had witnessed anything in relation to the tests. This is more akin to a steaming turd than a smoking gun.

But then again, Kitchings appointment was a highly controversial decision with many within the Party disgruntled right?

To prove this, Fairfax have managed to get two MP’s to go on the record highly critical over the decision to back Kitching. Those MP’s were King of ICAC Arthur Sinodinos and Kathy Jackson's old mate Eric Abetz.

Tidy work, Fairfax.

Anyone with half a brain would realise when there are several people in a ballot, some are not going to win and they may have had supporters in the Party not happy to see their preferred candidate lose. The nature of democracy is that there are losers and winners, while all sides will have their supporters.

Looking for a big Labor name to speak out, Fairfax found Anthony Albanese.

The story ran with the headline:

“Anthony Albanese fails to endorse Bill Shorten's key ally Kimberley Kitching for Senate”.

As you can see from the above tweet by Crikey's Bernard Keane, the openly expressed bias against Kitching in the mainstream media extends well beyond Fairfax and the ABC

Wow, that sounds like a factional brawl in the making, right?

Except that when you actually read the article, Albo clearly claims no jurisdiction over Victorian Labor matters and, as such, is not in a position to endorse her. They may as well ask him if he endorses the Ugandan president. By the way, Hilary Clinton has also to endorse Kitching and the Dalai Lama has been unavailable for comment.

The article written by James Massola is not misleading in any way, but the glaring headline, which I assume someone else inserted, is not an indication of the article below it.

What I see is a more than capable woman who has worked her butt off to arrive at this position and has helped many others along her way. I see someone whom I often don’t agree with, but is certainly more than deserving of her position and is worthy of congratulations and praise.

What Fairfax see is some grand conspiracy between factions, unions, party officials, MPs and the Party leader to promote someone whose husband they don’t like.

Who’s wearing that tin foil hat again?

Read about how Independent Australia – not the mainstream media – exposed the truth about Kathy Jackson on our dedicated Jacksonville page. Peter Wicks is a former NSW ALP candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy.

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