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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.

It's only News Ltd, nobody will notice if I just make shit up... Image - Fairfax

It’s only News Ltd, nobody will notice if I just make shit up…
Image – Fairfax

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.

Craig Thomson - Buckling under the pressure Image - News Ltd

Craig Thomson – Empty Pockets
Image – News Ltd

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.

How not to address an itchy ear - Lawler demonstrates how monkeys use telephones Image - ABC

The lowest percentile…
Image – ABC

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.


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14 thoughts on “Hey St Peter – Peter Costello displays his ignorance on unions

  1. Oh I don’t think they even bother with even an attempt at a passing connection to reality anymore. Lies and smears have been so successful for them that they now operate that way by default.

    I read a comment by someone today who repeated the claim of prostitutes being booked onto union credit cards by Thomson. It doesn’t matter that there is no proof or that a court did not find the accusations had sufficient validity it is all just anti-Labor, anti-union propaganda. You could provide people like Costello with video footage of the truth and they would still repeat the lies and smears. They don’t care. The truth is irrelevant. Gaining power and smiting enemies is all that matters.

    Welcome to the world of post-truth politics.

  2. As Goebbels may or may not have said, repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. Something the the Coalition and their mouthpiece the MSM know all about.

  3. Not really being honest with yourself Wixxy. Yes Conroy attacked Jackson but only because he sees her as as an ‘ideological sell out’ after she spoke at the HR Nicholls Society. Conroy is as partisan as they come and views everything in ‘ideological battle’ terms. Essentially he is a factional hack with a big mouth and not much ability. The reality is we havent heard enough from Shorten or Albanese or Conroy in support of the real victims in this – union members. Even you gloss over it Wixxy. You focus on irrelevant details like Peter Costello’s spelling but noone sticks up or speaks up for union members who have been effectively stolen from. Thats what disappoints me in all of this. So called Labor people and self proclaimed spokesman for the workers havent mentioned the workers at all. Instead they play the ‘witch hunt’ victim card and try and ass cover for unscrupulous union bosses. And those without a voice. Those who cant organise, those who cant lobby, those who cant call politicians or afford lawyers – yes you know – the actual workers – people who work for 20 bucks an hour and have kids and mortgages and who pay their annual union levy to thieves – yes those people. Who speaks for them? Not you. And no-one in the Labor party. Really really disappoints me. Our political class are a pack of assholes. And so are our journos. You claim they have but they havent – all we have heard from Shorten is ‘witch hunt’ ‘with hunt’. Not a word for the workers who have been stolen from. Assholes.

  4. I’m reminded of sunsets for some reason. The visual splendor that comes with the certain knowledge that darkness will follow, no matter how tenaciously or loudly that final burst of colour. Fade graciously, Peter Costello, so that those few of us may remember your earlier moments of brilliance, and not just the dull darkness that inevitably followed.

  5. Did Gillard stand by Thomson or by the law called a presumption of innocence, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

  6. Wasn’t Costello that man who as a university student took to his bed, after being hit in the nose I think by someone from the left. Never forgot the photo.

  7. Convoys speech was years after the HR Nicholls event.

    Of course Conroy is partisan, he is a member of a Party, just like most politicians.

    As for those you claim are not talking about the workers. I assume you are basing that on what you have seen or chosen to have read. Where editors cut a 10 minute speech to a 10 second sound bite or quote on what they believe is relevant? I know that these people speak for these workers, not only that, they visit them in their workplaces, Shorten was in one about 2 weeks ago I believe, so don’t give me the “not representing the workers speech”

    As for me, I do mention the workers and reasonably often, but I do need to focus on the allegations as that is what the story is.

    You may like to read this piece which is one I did focusing entirely on the workers, I posted it online again 2 weeks ago to remind people about the workers, you must have missed it…

    But hey, not a word from me eh?

    I bet you still think I’m an asshole though….

  8. @Dudley. Apparently you missed or couldn’t be bothered noticing that wixxy was commenting on a piece consisting of the usual Liars bullshit, written by Peter Costelo for his masters News Ltd. You may remember that its owner, Rupert Murdoch was pronounced unfit to run an international company.

    I have deliberately misspelled his name because correct spelling of names is extremely important in a legal sense.

    It’s also pretty significant that Craig Thomson apparently didn’t know how to spell his own name on the credit card receipts for prostitutes’ services in Sydney while he was in Perth and I wonder how many times you’ve forgotten how to spell your own name?

  9. Dudley I can see why you are so angry with the media’s role in facilitating what amounts to workers getting pissed all over from a great height. I find it particularly galling that so much of this is mandated by fiscal growth bullies from the banking industry. Call it a war on the low paid just because they are actually doing something of productive worth if you will.

    But Peter is most definitely not part of the deception as an art form that passes for journalism which has very worryingly over the last 5 years or so crossed the threshold into the beginnings of what can only be termed fascist propaganda.

    One such propagandist who springs to mind penned an astonishing response to a horrific death in a Chicken Factory, the victim earning not $20/hour…they were getting $10/hour, & at the time he met his fate HE WAS WORKING FOR FREE! No union trouble makers bringing the factory and the country along with it to its knees in this shining example of reform in the workplace let me tell you.

    Yes I’m talking about the one and only Miranda Devine. Miranda doesn’t like me very much as I cannot help grinding in this classic to anyone who happens to be listening while copying her in on Twitter. And what do you know? after doing a bit of a research up comes some banker from Macquarie who also was involved in setting the conditions the factory workers were put through. In case if you don’t already know of it an excellent analysis of Miranda’s column can be found here, highly recommended:

    As for the spelling, normally I would be with you on that (spelling, schmelling who cares) but in this case I think it fair to make a point of it as it does add to how blase & lazy Costello is with his manipulation of the proceedings & what role each official played.

    In any case, Peter is one of the good guys here. Understood that you are angry, so am I. Hope that helps.

  10. I’m usually the last to criticise spelling as I often make mistakes and miss them, but putting a P on Thomson I couldn’t resist as it was something that was such a big deal at the start of the saga….

  11. Paul Keating once referred to this asset-stripping plonker as “The Talking Knee”. His article in a disreputable Murdoch trash rag shows why the shoe – or rather the kneepad – fits.

  12. Costello would know well how being a LNP Treasurer can make you crook.

    Why anyone would listen to the rantings of him, Reith or Vanstone is beyond me.

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