Today news came of yet another rort involving the Peter Mac hospital, this time involving Tony Abbott who used them for a presser so he could bill the taxpayer for his trip to a Liberal fundraiser.
Have they learnt nothing from ICAC?
Meanwhile in Sydney the wheels were falling off the team Jacksonville bus at the Royal Commission.
First witness for the day was HSU National Secretary Chris Brown, and straight away there were issues.
Kathy Jackson had decided that she did not want Chris Browns statement to be entered into evidence because she clearly didn’t like what was in there.
This is the same woman who has been quite happy to sling mud in every direction, including mine, and yet she continues to hide herself from any scrutiny whatsoever. In fact last time she came under scrutiny was on the witness stand and she refused to answer. Most will remember her making the bizarrely outlandish claim that she had been ambushed because the Commission had dared question her decision to go on a quarter of a million dollar spending spree with money from a cancer hospital while it’s workers were short paid. Tony Abbott’s mates at the Peter Mac hospital.
Efforts were made to link Chris Brown to Michael Williamson, although there was little evidence to prove this. The major evidence was a tapped phone conversation that was played which showed that at one stage they had the common goal of removing Kathy Jackson from the union although for different reasons, Williamson probably out of revenge for what she was doing to him, and Brown likely for what she was doing to the union members which evidence appears to show as bleeding them dry of funds.
Chris Brown was not on the stand for very long, and some have questioned why witnesses who may have evidence to give that implicates Jackson seemed to be rushed through the Commission or jammed into days like today with 11 witnesses, while Jacksons crew were given time to spare. Peter Mylan is similar in that regards, although unlike Chris Brown, Peter Mylan had close ties with Williamson. It is also interesting to note that Peter Mylan received six days notice from the Commission to prepare a statement which was being asked to include information on five pages worth of subjects. Peter Mylan’s statement can be viewed on my resource page.
Today’s big drawcard however was Jeff Jackson.
Those of us watching got to see some of Jeff’s charm and sense of humour in several his responses involving the purchase of a Saab car that didn’t quite come off and the very memorable say he separated from Kathy.
However it was his recollection regarding the two payments he received from Kathy for $50K and $58K that were of great interest.
Kathy had previously explained away one as a loan to the Number 1 Branch of the union despite it being paid to ex-husband Jeff directly, and the other as being paid to him for electioneering purposes. Both of these payments were made from union members funds, the $50K payment was made using money from Kathy’s NHDA account, however records show that money had been transferred into that account from the HSU Cheque account.
When asked about the $50K payment Jeff stated;
“I believe, my best recollection was that it was payment in relation to a property settlement.”
It would seem from Jeff’s statement under oath that union members have had the pleasure of paying for Kathy’s divorce settlement.
Lamps, child care, $3000 earrings, ski trips etc etc it seems that there is not a lot Kathy’s members haven’t paid for, now it would appear divorce settlements can be added to the growing list.
After a short cross-examination, Kathy’s lawyer asked questions for what seemed like forever but was probably about 15 minutes trying to raise doubt over Jeff’s testimony by questioning him on his memory, something which had already been established. It is worth noting that Jeff remained confident on his original response.
After lunch some of Kathy’s faction went back on the witness stand, and the wheels on that Jacksonville bus really started wobbling.
Kate Wilkinson was first up and was asked questions relating the BCOM member payments that she testified were no more than $100 a day. I mentioned in my article last time this testimony was given that this did not add up to what was withdrawn from the account.
Turns out I was right, the varying figures each month left thousands of dollars in change that went into a kitty, a kitty apparently kept in a steel box and was at Kathy’s disposal and was unaudited and unregulated.
One thing was for sure, this kitty was one well fed kitty. Some may even refer to it as a fat cat.
Wilkinson also stated that the money from the Peter Mac settlement that some have described as a bribe, was passed to Kathy to use at her disposal for purposes for the good of the union. Normally for a union this would include flyers, and membership services etc, for Kathy’s union it meant paying an ex-husband, child dentistry, and spending at JB Hi Fi and David Jones.
Wilkinson also testified that she had no idea that the NHDA account was not audited and when asked if she would approve the transfer of union members funds to an unaudited account, Wilkinson answered “No”. However that is exactly what occurred.
Wilkinson also mentioned that she thought Kathy had spent some money on Anti-Workchoices advertising, although Jackson is quite at ease dining with Workchoices architect.
Reuben Dixon’s testimony can be summed up in four words, it was all Kathy.
Dixon appeared to be saying that BCOM were in the dark and that Jackson controlled everything.
Jane Holt came under attack for several aspects of how she dealt with cheques as the financial controller of Kathy’s union.
Holt personally signed off on in excess of $100K of cash cheques, with there being no record of what they were for.
Not only that, there were blank cheques lying around the office with Holts signature already on them, something that I would have grave concerns over if I was a member and it was my money in the cheque account.
One thing was clear, members money and it’s security was certainly held in little regard in Jacksons branch.
While all of this was going on, in the media room we were watching with fascination at the behaviour of Marco Bolano in the hearing room. His behaviour seemed quite erratic and it seemed like he was like a balloon about to burst.
After the hearing finished several of the media went outside to see if Kathy Jackson was going to do a doorstop interview, already outside was Marco Bolano.
As we were waiting for Kathy to emerge Bolano took it upon himself to verbally attack Brad Norington, a senior journalist for The Australian for what has been excellent and thorough coverage. Bolano came over and started his verbal attack on Norington with a raised voice in what was clearly an attempt to intimidate him. Three times Brad Norington had to ask Bolano to respect his personal space.
All of this was done in front of several members of the media who all watched on uncomfortably.
It seems astounding that at a Royal Commission set up to try to wed out this disgusting behaviour it is happening right outside the premises and even allegedly in the hearing room prior to this with another member of the press.
Complaints have been made regarding Bolano’s attempts to intimidate and harass both witnesses and member of the media previously to both police and to Royal Commission security. Yet the behaviour continues.
It seems the Royal Commission is powerless to stop the behaviour it has been set up to expose.
Tomorrow Kathy Jackson faces cross-examination.