Peter Wicks looks at some the lawyers, reporters and politicians who helped make Kathy Jackson what she is today.
The Trade Union Royal Commission has finally recommended Kathy Jackson be investigated for possible criminal charges. It now seems, at long last, everyone is in agreement about someone who may prove to be the biggest thief of workers' funds in Australia’s history.
While Jackson may now be finally forced to deal with the consequences of her actions, what about those who backed her? Those who supported her and went out of their way to influence media, court proceedings, the public and police investigations to try and ensure that she was never held to account?
Are these people not accomplices? Or at the very least enablers?
I thought a timely reminder was in order of just who backed Jackson and her crew on their journey.
Perhaps we should start with the Royal Commission itself.
Before Jackson allegedly perjured herself and turned the Commission into a circus sideshow with her antics, she was seemingly being protected.
Preferential treatment on the stand for her colleagues, while her opponents were attacked and chastised, resulting in one prominent journalist commenting at the time:
“The fix is in.”
As Jackson’s thug sidekick Marco Bolano did his best to intimidate Commission witnesses and members of the media, whilst collecting workers compensation for supposed complete incapacitation, the Royal Commission took statements and then gave him a free pass.
Meanwhile, the Commission let Jackson’s time on the stand turn so melodramatic and face so many delays in procedure that her cross-examination was never completed.
In addition, the exposure of private correspondence between Jackson’s legal team and the Commission staff, discussing the way events would unfold, displayed a cosy relationship indeed.
It was only after a barrage of highly damaging media reports that the Commission was forced to stop throwing lifelines and let her sink or swim.
In a legal sense, Jackson’s support seemed sound right from the start.
On side she had her partner Michael Lawler, vice president of Fair Work Australia and brother of then CEO of the Australian Crime Commission, John Lawler — the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the country. Both appointed to their positions by John Howard's Liberal Government.
Some may also remember right from the beginning that Jackson was receiving pro bono legal representation from rightwing law firm Harmers, who at the time were also generously representing James Ashby pro bono.
Speaking of politicians, let’s not also forget that Coalition MP’s were stumbling all over each other for a chance to talk up the rightwing pin up girl. The lady with the deer in the headlights look on her face that was gonna take down the union movement for them, despite lacking the ability to ever complete a sentence in a coherent manner.
At the top of that dung pile of rightwing pollies was Prime Minister Tony Abbott, singing the praises of this decent and noble woman who just so happened to knock off well over a million bucks from the nation’s lowest paid workers. Joining him in his choruses of high praise in parliament was fellow dung beetle Christopher Pyne.
For the first time in Australia’s political history, the Coalition put forward and passed a parliamentary apology to a million dollar plus thief and her gang. An apology for the words of someone who tried to warn them about what is now public knowledge.
Perhaps when parliament next sits, we can look forward to an honorary roll call of Pentridge’s Cell Block C?
The list of Coalition MP’s is too long to list, but there was Barnaby Joyce, George Brandi and Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz, to name but a few.
On the sidelines, we had the talkback radio shockjocks who treated Jackson as if she was some super-hybrid of Wonder Woman and Mother Mary.
Hadley was dealing with apprehended violence orders from his former wife (later dropped), and Chris Smith was thanking his lucky stars for being able to pull-off the bipolar defence and return to the air after getting pissed at an office party and sexually harassing four female staff members. Smith has a long history of allegedly groping female colleagues (perhaps he should have a chat with Jamie Briggs). These things didn't stop them preaching the morality of the alleged thief Jackson and the wannabe thug compo rorting Marco Bolano on air. Birds of a feather, eh?
I sent Ray Hadley an email asking for his opinion of Jackson now but, alas, he appears to be on holidays.
Perhaps even more disgraceful and shocking, however, was the behaviour of the print media by some elements of News Ltd and Fairfax.
The Australian's Ean Higgins appeared to be pleased to print Jackson’s opinions as if they were facts while distorting the facts surrounding Craig Thomson’s legal woes. Indeed, this was something he was slammed for by the magistrate, who publicly condemned one Higgins article for falsehoods, misleading headlines and for being chock full of errors.
However, it was Kate McClymont’s efforts at Fairfax that were the most shocking.
Just like Independent Australia, Kate McClymont has published a book recently that revolved around corruption and the abuse of power. However unlike McClymont, Independent Australia hasn’t had to pull the book from sale and destroy copies.
If only McClymont had done the research that Independent Australia is becoming known for, maybe her views would have differed. But, despite being sent the documentation, researching was not something Kate seemed to be interested in doing. Perhaps Kate should shorten her title from "investigative journalist" to “invested journalism”, since she seemed so heavily invested in Jackson.
McClymont went on to win a Walkley Award for writing an article full of now disproven lies from an alleged thief and a mysterious private investigator.
McClymont’s former partner Graeme Brosnan was, of course, a private investigator, however despite persistent rumours of a business relationship with Michael Lawler, MyClymont and Brosnan deny these allegations.
MyClymont who seemed to be extremely fortunate to be in the right place at the right time when anyone associated with the HSU was arrested or had their premises raided was strangely absent when the cops raided properties associated with Jackson and Lawler.
Now that both Higgins and McClymont seldom mention anything HSU-related, I’m pleased to report that both News Ltd and Fairfax have moved on to factual reporting and real investigation, rather than just regurgitation of the misinformation of a serial liar and misappropriator of millions.
Although, I do note that Higgins did a rather lame piece on Jackson in The Australian last week; let’s hope he quickly goes back to reporting on jaywalkers and council issues, or whatever it was that has kept him away from reporting on this important topic.
Last, but not least, we come to the guy throwing the dollars behind Jackson’s union campaigns and those of her factional accomplices — Feeney the financier.
David Feeney is a current member of Shorten’s opposition front bench and has spent years organising donations for the Jacksonville election fund, to finance the woman who has long been trying to take his leader down. Some may think this sounds like high treason, but for Feeney it’s just another day at the office.
So, why would Feeney do this?
Feeney relied on the proxy votes Jackson controlled via the HSU at ALP conferences to prop up and retain his position. IA also understands there allegations of other financial ties between Feeney and Jackson however these are unlikely to become public knowledge until the Organised Crime division of the Federal Police and Victoria Police have finished their investigation into the relationship.
Whatever happens to Jackson and Lawler – and perhaps Feeney – it is unlikely that any of the Jackson enablers will face any consequences for trying to ensure an alleged criminal remained free and in a position to continue picking the pockets of workers.
They say that you should start a new year in the same manner you mean to finish it. I, for one, intend to hold these grubs to account at each and every turn.
That’s just how I roll…
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