Today with amusement I read a commentary piece in the News Ltd tabloid press entitled “How Running A Union Can Make You Crook”.
The piece was penned by a man some may remember, although more than likely not fondly. That man is Peter Costello, the former treasurer who was responsible for dishing out the extravagant middle class welfare that every successive government since has tried to struggle out from under the weight of without going into free-fall in the polls. Handouts to the rich he seems to think make him some kind of Saint.
The piece had some valid points but ultimately failed to prove what it was trying to show. As an attempt to display a series of union officials who had become conveniently sick, Costello may have landed a few blows but missed several easy shots, and lost his point trying to tie in people who didn’t fit the mold.
Costello starts of by going for the low hanging fruit, the Health Services Union. From there his complete lack of knowledge, willful ignorance, and desperation bring him unstuck rapidly in his feeble attempt at an attack.
I thought I’d offer some constructive criticism.
The piece opens with;
“Spare a thought for David Asmar, whose wife Diane is state secretary of the Health Services Union (HSU) in Victoria. The unions royal commission has been wanting to question David for a long time about money in an AWU slush fund.”
Actually Peter, I’ll spare that thought for Diana Asmar (not Diane but hey…), who is named seemingly for the hell of it in your opening paragraph.
This is not the unions royal commission as you write it, the unions did not call a Royal Commission (with capital letters) into themselves, it is the Trade Union Royal Commission.
As for the Commission wanting to speak to David Asmar for a “long time” can I suggest that maybe a subpoena or request should have been filed a long time ago? Instead he was handed one as he was leaving the country, something the Commission clearly knew he was doing.
I would agree his sudden illness is suspicious in nature, but making a hash of the story won’t help your cause.
Next up Costello takes aim at Craig Thomson.
“Then there is former HSU national secretary and former MP Craig Thompson who has been convicted of 13 counts of theft. Evidence tendered at his trial showed that his mental state suffered while he was working at the union had contributed to his criminal behaviour.”
For all of the controversy and jokes made about the spelling of his name you would think that Costello or News Ltd editors may have picked up that it is actually Thomson without a P.
Thomson was convicted of 13 counts of theft and had no funds to appeal the convictions that he denied throughout his trial. Given Thomson’s denials he certainly tendered no evidence of any mental state that contributed towards events he denies.
The evidence Costello speaks of was medical reports from medical practitioners that were brought before the Federal Court at the start of the civil case brought on by Fair Work.
Next up it’s time to have a plug at Kathy Jackson and Michael Lawler;
“Then there is Kathy Jackson, once also a national secretary of the HSU who turned whistle blower against corruption. She has been ordered to repay $1.4 million of union funds which she used, without authority, for her own purposes. She has been unwell and treated in hospital. Her partner, Fair Work Commission vice-president Michael Lawler, has also been unwell, so unwell he had to take nine months’ sick leave from his taxpayer-funded job.”
Fair enough there I’d say, but I’ll come back to it
There is a quick dig at Michael Williamson as he’s
“probably not feeling good”
Really Mr Costello, that’s a pretty weak and lame tie in. Perhaps Williamson was just a name you had to tick off on your list of people you needed to name?
Costello goes on, dripping with sarcasm to say this.
“All these officials have been working to the detriment of their health in the service of union members. It shows how much the members really owe them. Why shouldn’t they be well looked after?”
Let’s go back a couple of paragraphs here Mr Costello. Michael Lawler you mentioned, he’s not from the union movement. Let me refresh your memory for you.
Michael Lawler was appointed to his position, as Vice President of what is now the Fair Work Commission, not elected by union members. The man who appointed him was a former colleague of yours named Tony Abbott, who is now telling the world how he “stopped the boats” after he was knifed in his first term as a disgraced Prime Minister.
Mr Abbott came to appoint Lawler as he was the Industrial Relations Minister in the government that you were a part of. It’s worth remembering your part in the caucus that decided he was the appropriate choice was not a small one either, you were the second highest-ranking member.
Michael Lawler will forever be remembered as the guy that tried to show how smart he was on 4 Corners at recording phone calls and only ended up giving a demonstration of his foolishness.
Yes it is utterly disgraceful that he should have unlimited paid leave and has been able to take nine months off on $435K per annum funded by the taxpayer. Equally disgraceful though is that he was able to negotiate these ridiculous conditions with the government that appointed him. The government you were a major part of.
How soon we forget.
Mention could also have been made regarding Lawler’s sometimes companion at Royal Commission hearings and former HSU Branch 1 Secretary Marco Bolano, who is reportedly being investigated for workers compensation fraud after taking a year off on over $200K pa. Or his former partner, Leonie Flynne, another TURC witness from Kathy Jackson’s faction off on workers compensation for stress.
As we near the end of the piece we come to the part where the pot shot at Labor cannot be held back any longer.
“But give credit where it is due. Union officials can’t do it all on their own. Federal Labor has been supportive. It hasn’t criticised any of this behaviour. Remember how Julia Gillard stood by Craig Thompson?”
In statement after statement we have seen Labor MP’s stating that they hope that any criminal activity is weeded out and reported to police. This has been the case since the Commission commenced.
As for criticising the behavior, I have followed the HSU matter closely and its fair to say there has been an avalanche of criticism regarding the behavior of Kathy Jackson from Labor MP’s, including a fiery speech in Senate by Stephen Conroy.
Yes, I do remember Julia Gillard standing behind Craig Thomson. That was when he was being accused by Kathy Jackson, the $1.4 Million misappropriating fraudster you mentioned earlier, of spending around $500K of union funds on himself. Thomson was eventually convicted of less than $5K and had no money left to appeal these charges.
In fact when it comes to standing by those who are alleged to have rorted union members, they don’t stand any closer than Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne standing by the woman who is likely the largest union fraudster this country will ever see, the aforementioned Kathy Jackson.
There is also the matter of Kathy Jackson as the guest of honour at the Liberal think-tank secret-handshake club HR Nicholls Society. This $1.4 Million fraudster was brought in and wined and dined and gave a speech to the HR Nicholls Society audience.
I also note that you Mr Costello are named as a member and founder of the HR Nicholls Society. Perhaps you too should be careful of who you stand by.
With that in mind Mr Costello, here’s a tip for young players.
There is a saying involving glass houses and throwing stones.
I suggest you look it up when you have a chance.