Just when you think that the HSU saga could not become more surreal, Peter Wicks uncovers some other residents of “Jacksonville” that have questions to answer from Union members.
[Read the other stories in this series]:
- Thomson 9: You are now entering Jacksonville
- Thomson 8: The HSU family
- Thomson 7: Credit card slips, clarifications and truth bombs
- Thomson 6: Kathy Jackson and the HSU $½ million
- Thomson and Jackson 5: Sticky fingers
- Craig Thomson under the rain
- Craig Thomson’s kangaroo court
- The Jackson and Lawler HSU tangle: Part Two
- How Jackson, Lawler and Abbott tangled Thomson with the HSU
SOMETIMES I wonder what the best job in the world would be. Maybe you’ve done the same?
President of the USA? Nah ... too much pressure.
Rock star? Nup. Too much liver damage and too many penicillin shots.
So, how about being paid to not work at the HSU? Well, I must admit, that does sound pretty good. You don’t even have to crawl out of bed for that job!
Unfortunately, it seems that role is already taken and the lucky HSU employee’s name is Rob Elliott.
Rob resigned from the HSU back in 2002 – allegedly with a bit of a nudge and wink – and really hit the jackpot. You see, it seems Rob was too valuable to lose completely, so he kind of stayed ... well, collected pay and benefits as a "consultant".
Union members will be pleased to know their hard earned dollars, paid out in union fees, are being used to secure the talents of somebody who is clearly quite vital — even when he doesn’t show up.
According to sources within the HSU, Rob Elliott has been on the payroll, allegedly without the need to show up or do anything at all, for 10 years.
Living in “Jacksonville” clearly has its privileges. Details are sketchy in regards to what wage Rob was paid for staying in bed up until 24 May 2010, but after that we have some idea, as a new agreement was reached. Some of Rob’s entitlements include:
- A salary that starts at $150K.
- Salary adjusted by percentage amount to CPI change on 1/10 each year (more than nurses in NSW and Vic now receive under their current Governments).
- 9 per cent superannuation to Rob’s choice of fund.
- Continued HSU nomination to HESTA Board, where he retains all fee’s and payments approx $30,000 per annum.
- Credit of all unused sick leave and annual leave (is this meant to be ironic?) since his resignation in 2002, and also 1.71 weeks long service leave credited for each year since his resignation as well.
According to the Appendix to the document, Elliott is required to work 75 days per year – at a whopping $2,000 per day – from the Melbourne offices of HSU East — and is allegedly something honoured only in the breach.
And who authorised this extravagant use of Union funds?
No prizes for guessing this one...
Kathy Jackson signed off on this on 25 February 2010 — at around the same time she said she was desperately trying to claw back Union members' funds through her Clean up HSU East campaign. And although Jackson likes to say I am part of a Michael Williamson conspiracy, and am singing to his tune, you will be interested to know that Williamson’s signature is on the deal also.
Sorry Kathy, now you are going to have to find a conspiracy about me that doesn’t involve Williamson — or Elvis.
The contract is available to be viewed via this link.
Interestingly, the contract's Appendix claims Elliott’s service – though technically as an employee – was really as a consultant.
Of course, a consultant would not be able to claim annual leave, sick days, superannuation, or accrue long service leave. There would also need to be a company name for the consultancy firm, an ABN and invoices — something that Jackson knows quite well, based on her previous experiences.
This raises even more questions about some of the strange financial arrangements that have occurred under the watch of both Jackson and Williamson.
The date on the new contract is the date the HSU branches amalgamated, which is why a new contract needed to be drawn up — as previously he was being paid by one of the HSU branches.
Rob was to help with the amalgamation and, allegedly, according to staff, was extremely consistent in his failure to appear.
Not a bad gig if you can get it.
The question must be asked: why did Jackson and Williamson seemingly turn on Thomson, but throw money at Elliott? Was it because they thought Thomson could not be bribed? Or was it just because Rob was Jackson’s mate?
When you consider that, based on his current contract, Elliott may so far have received $1.5 million from the Union and is still being paid today — it is no wonder members are furious at how their Union was being run.
Of course, if these allegations are incorrect, we would welcome evidence from Mr Elliott that he has been attending the HSU East branch offices for 75 days a year and providing valuable consulting services worth $2,000 a day, along with a swag of other perks.
Another thing occurred yesterday, Vex News was contacted by a puzzled Wai Quen in regards to the $22,000 payment that Vex was told by sources was for a car. This was, in fact, incorrect — it was not for a car and apparently Wai never received the payment and does not even have an ABN.
Some would try and say this lets Jackson off the hook. Actually, it seems to suggest quite the opposite.
If Wai never received the payment, never provided legal services for the HSU and does not have that ABN — then the document is evidence of fraud.
Kathy Jackson must explain: if the payment did not go to Wai, then who did the payment go to and what was it really for? Alternatively, Jackson must provide information about who else could have authorised that payment.
After all union members would like to know where their money is going.
Finally, I wanted to pass on my best to Marco Bolano. Eyewitnesses have informed me that he seemed to have tripped up inside the Federal Court today and rammed acting secretary Peter Mylan with his shoulder, sending Mylan reeling backwards onto the floor. I trust Bellano’s shoulder is not too bruised from this unfortunate "accident".
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