One of the elements of the HSU that has been seldom mentioned in the main stream media is the support for Kathy Jackson by her partner Michael Lawler.
Given his position as the Vice President of Fair Work Commission, whose investigation was the catalyst for most of the legal proceedings related to the Health Services Union, it would be interesting to know at what point that support started and how it started.
Another interesting perspective that has not been ventured into by those in the mainstream is the awkward position this puts Tony Abbott in, given it was Abbott who appointed Michael Lawler to his position as Vice President of FWC when he was a Minister in John Howard’s government.
I am also of the understanding that Michael Lawler cannot be removed from his position unless he either resigns or is stood down by the actions of the Minister. This realistically means that his position is held at the discretion of Tony Abbott who is co-incidentally the man who appointed him.
Most will remember Tony Abbott and his attacks on Craig Thomson for the allegations raised against him that are currently on appeal. The case against Thomson as it stands is for approximately $25K of spending during Thomson’s time as Secretary of the Number 3 Branch of the HSU.
Abbott has spoken of how badly he felt for the low-paid workers of that union that someone would use their position as Secretary of a union as a means to spend member’s money in an inappropriate manner. He also piled praise on the self-proclaimed whistleblower Kathy Jackson for bringing this matter to the public’s attention.
Remember Thomson is facing charges related to approximately $25K of spending.
Now Abbott’s brave and courageous Jackson has seemingly checked herself into a psychiatric ward just in time to escape Federal Court proceedings over approximately $1.4 Million of allegedly inappropriate spending of union member’s funds.
This is the same lowly paid workers that Abbott felt sorry for when allegation were made against Thomson. The same branch of the HSU that the alleged inappropriate spending came from. There are however two major differences, Kathy Jackson is not carrying one vote in a hung parliament, and the allegations against Kathy involve approximately 50 times the amount of funds, although more is yet expected to surface.
Funny Abbott seems less concerned for the poor struggling members now though.
Most of you will also remember how Abbott attacked Prime Minister Julia Gillard for her willingness to await legal outcomes in the spirit of innocent until proven guilty. Abbott accused Gillard of supporting Thomson, and raised questions over her integrity for not sacking Thomson. As far as Abbott was concerned Gillard was supporting the actions of someone accused of theft and his view was that Gillard should also be punished by voters for standing behind Thomson.
Now we have a situation where the Vice President of Fair Work Commission is supporting the person alleged to have misappropriated $1.4 Million of union member’s money and the only man who can have him removed from his position is Tony Abbott.
That position by the way is one of the most expensive public servant positions that the taxpayers fund. It is also the Vice Presidents position for the countries industrial relations watchdog. His involvement with Kathy Jackson brings Fair Work Australia’s integrity into question as the relationship was going on during the investigation into the union that conveniently skipped over Kathy Jackson’s branch while she was secretary.
If Tony Abbott was a man of his word he would ensure that the taxpayer no longer paid the wages of someone with this much doubt hanging over them and sack Michael Lawler, a man whom many have described as not just a partner of Kathy Jackson but an accomplice given his alleged involvement in the matter.
Whatever you think of Lawler’s involvement in the HSU affair, the speculation of his involvement in the original investigation, his refusal to co-operate with the KPMG Independent inquiry into the investigation, the computer documents indicating Lawler’s computer had accessed the HSU’s network that can be found on my resource page, the threatening phone calls he allegedly made to Carol Glen after she resigned and so on, there has been no doubt of his support for Jackson. Oh and of course Kathy Jackson employing two of Michael Lawlers children at the union at a higher hourly rate than many members were receiving.
As the taxpayer picks up his salary Lawler has been accompanying Jackson to Federal Court proceedings both in Sydney in 2012, and actually attempting to act as her legal representation via phone in Melbourne this year, something many saw as an insult to the Federal Court itself. He has also accompanied her to the Trade Union Royal Commission to lend his support and allegedly threaten and abuse press members whilst there.
However with allegations of $1.4 Million worth of inappropriate use of members funds by Kathy Jackson I think most would agree that if even one cent of that $1.4 Million was spent on Michael Lawler or spent on something he gained something from then his position as Vice President of the nation’s Industrial Relations watchdog is untenable and he should be removed from his post.
We have seen evidence and heard admissions of vast numbers of cash withdrawals that total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars by Kathy Jackson. We have seen overseas trips and holidays, huge payments for liquor and dining.
If Kathy Jackson ever bought Michael Lawler even a can of coke with this money than he may have been in receipt of stolen member funds or goods purchased with them. If she ever paid for a meal, a hotel room, a round of drinks at a bar, paid a cab fare, even brought groceries or paid a power bill for house they shared then the integrity of Fair Work Australia needs to be protected by his removal.
I would find it inconceivable that there could be $1.4 Million of money spent, including hundreds of thousands in cash, by someone and their partner gain absolutely no benefit from it whatsoever.
Even the perception that the Vice President of the watchdog may have gained advantage from the alleged mismanagement of member’s funds of one of the unions his organisation watches over is enough to leave a dark cloud hanging over the Fair Work Commission.
If Tony Abbott does nothing to protect the Fair Work Commission and nothing to hold Michael Lawler to account then he is not only everything he accused Julia Gillard of being in relation to Thomson.
He is 50 times more so.