I Want To Break Free

Posted: August 31, 2012 in HSU Saga

The life of a union secretary can be tough, the hours can be long and the pay can be average. Most union secretaries live a life that is far from privileged.

Let’s take the HSU for example.

Former branch secretary Craig Thomson, received a reasonable, but not excessive salary, and lives a modest life. Craig lives on the NSW Central Coast in a house that is worth somewhere between $450K and $500K, he continues to pay a mortgage.

The person who took over Craig’s job at the Union when he entered parliament, Kathy Jackson, now moving to NSW, has her house on the market. Kathy is hoping to pick up $800K for her property. Not too bad for a union secretary, but again, not that extravagant.

But hang on, I’ve stuffed up here, my mistake, I must have missed the other digit. Kathy is looking for a cool $1.8 Million. Jeez union life must have picked up quite a bit since Craig’s day. Then again, the Jackson house does come with one hell of a pool pump.

The Jackson house for sale at Balwyn

It does seem a bit odd that the person living in the sub $500K house is accused of rorting on the job, by the person who took over his job in the $1.8 Million home. But nevertheless…

Anyway, as I reported earlier, Jackson is looking to break free from Melbourne, and no wonder, the union has been left in a devastating mess, both financially and in terms of member morale.

Despite her postal address indicating that she lives in Chifley, a residence owned by Katrina Hart, the word on the street is that she is in fact living in Blackwattle Bay. Not quite the same…

Doing it tough at Blackwattle Bay

Also breaking free is Jackson’s fiancé from FWA, Michael Lawler. The audition for Dancing With The Stars never came off, and lately he has not been the most popular around the office. Lawler has been under a shadow since diving head first into the HSU saga, giving FWA a bad reputation, this was not helped when he refused to co-operate with the KPMG investigation into FWA.

Some of you may have seen 7 30 on the ABC on 27/8 where FWA’s co-operation with Victoria Police is discussed. Below is part of the transcript.

CHRIS UHLMANN: 7.30 has also contacted both the NSW and Victorian police. NSW police say Strike Force Carnarvon is progressing well and that they hope to finalise matters relating specifically to a bag seized by police in May within the next month or so. And in Victoria, the police are clearly getting frustrated with the workplace watchdog.

Their fraud and extortion squad started investigating the management of the Health Services Union last September.

Today, police released a statement to 7.30 saying that despite several requests by Victoria Police since the investigation began, Fair Work Australia have so far declined to provide any documentation to support this investigation.

ERIC ABETZ, LIBERAL FRONTBENCHER: I cannot believe that any citizen, let alone a government agency, should so wilfully not co-operate with a police investigation into a fraud that impacts thousands and thousands of Health Service union members.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Fair Work Australia disputes the police statement. It says general manager Bernadette O’Neill wrote to Victoria Police in May saying – and this is a quote – that she would, “… facilitate provision of any further information sought by Victoria Police consistent with her statutory powers and functions”.

Apart from Abetz being a Senator, not a front bencher, there is something interesting here that the ABC didn’t pick up or mention.

When Bernadette O’Neill stated that she would

“… facilitate provision of any further information sought by Victoria Police consistent with her statutory powers and functions”.

 The ABC didn’t mention that Vice President Michael Lawler does not answer to her. Making Michael Lawler co-operate with a police investigation is beyond her “statutory powers”.

This is why he refused to co-operate with the KPMG investigation, and would not allow them to have access to his electronic equipment for their investigation.

My suggestion in regards to Michael Lawler, would be obtain a Federal warrant if seeking his “co-operation”.

As for Abetz’s throwaway line of how he can’t believe someone would

not co-operate with a police investigation into a fraud that impacts thousands and thousands of Health Service union members”.

 I can believe it Eric, because they are your mates, Jackson and Lawler. Are you seeking to desert them now perhaps?

Although Lawler is keen to break free, and head to NSW, he has not always liked others to have a clean break.

Carol Glen for example. Carol managed to free herself, but not without an earful of abuse along the way.

Carol Glen. Choosing dignity, despite abuse

Below is the letter of complaint, published for the first time, that she sent to the then FWA President, Justice Giudice, in it there are some remarkable allegations.

Carol Glen Complaint FWA

These allegations regarding Michael Lawler, are particularly interesting as he consistently claims he was not involved with, or interfered with HSU business, despite the amount of evidence that disputes his claims. Maybe a front page with a photo of Lawler with a stretched nose, and the headline “We Don’t Believe You” would be in order?

Apart from the language, and the threatening nature of the call, the alarming thing to me is this particular part.

“… you can fuck off and take sick leave if you don’t want to do the work and still be paid but you can’t resign, just go off on sick leave but don’t do this.”

I was unaware that the Vice President of Fair Work Australia had the authority to offer people the ability to be paid to not show up for work on the HSU’s behalf.

I was also unaware that the Vice President of Fair Work Australia was allowed to exert pressure on employee’s of the HSU.

Indeed, I was unaware that the Vice President of Fair Work Australia had the authority to decide on members behalf that their money should be spent paying somebody to do nothing.

I was certainly unaware that the Vice President of Fair Work Australia could tell an employee of the HSU directly that they cannot resign.

Then it dawned on me, Lawler is a Tony Abbott appointee. He probably thinks this is some strange loophole in the Workchoices legislation he has tattooed on his heart.

Luckily for the members, Carol had just a little more integrity than her abusive caller, preferring instead to actually work for a living. I know that probably seems foolish to people like Jackson, Lawler, and Jackson’s mate Rob Elliott, who still to this day collects a salary from the HSU despite not having worked there for years. But, the members should count their blessings Carol does not feel the same.

Carol Glen could not be reached for comment, probably hard at work…

Anyway, those members who want to break free of all of the chaos, wasted funds, yelling, screaming, and the brawls, know what you have to do come election day. If you enjoy seeing your union dragged through the mud and your funds get flushed down the drain, then cast a vote for Hart, Bolano, or Behrens. If not, a vote for anybody else would be a good start.

The 4 essential ingredients in a recipe for disaster

Those in Victoria would be advised to double check ballot boxes are legitimate boxes before putting their vote in it.

Just sayin’….

  1. galileodarwin says:

    As they used to say at the end of each theorem in Euclidean geometry, “Q.E.D”. In today’s terms, you have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. After this brilliant investigative work, Peter, you have not only raised the pertinent questions, but answered them too. Surely, surely, surely after all this, the mainstream media and the ABC can’t continue to evade the truths you have revealed. We can only hope that the police will be more diligently attentive to details than the media have been.

  2. Denis Evans says:

    there are 2 genuine rank and file tickets being organized now without any of the rotten elements of Jackson Belano or Asmare will keep you informed

  3. Janet says:

    “Lifestyle Unionists” living in the lap of the most elite suburbs of Melbourne , i note close to the most exclusive private schools , while talking condascendingly about the “working poor” must be bought to justice . It’s a bit rich (literally) that Jackson has taken a lend of the unsuspecting media, who buy her self-styled “whistleblower ” story all over again , while on the other hand she has witheld the inconvenient truth that both she and Jeff were ALP factional Kingpins who used and abused the HSU as means to their own personal enrichment for many many years. Hopefully peoples bullshit-detectors are on high alert the next few weeks as she finessess the shock jocks and incompetent MSM into believing her ticket is non-other then attempt to squeeze those poor members again.

    Looking forward to the auction results, one thing for certain Jacksons integrity is under the hammer and it’s going , going..gone.

  4. Catching up says:

    Time for a royal commission pint HSU and FWA

  5. I guess that Jackson will end up on trial but I can’t believe the lack of interest in pursuing Lawler. Given the potential to embarrass (at the very least) Abbott and Abetz over their pursuit of Thomson I would have thought the Gillard government would be all over this but where are they?

  6. Denis Evans says:

    The person running as secretary #1 branch is Dianne Asmare former mayor of Darebin council currently under investigation by the ombudsman. closely aligned with Senator Conroy and Bill Shorten ,as a matter of fact her husband is employed by Conroy. I spoke to her the other day and she confirmed she is running but she is not eligible as she has not been a member for years and her membership and eligibility will be challenged by one of the rank and file groups.As a former trade union official of 34 years I came across both Kathy and Jeff many many times and could maybe write a book .There are two genuine rank and file groups with none of the corrupt old officials.One is the clean sweep team the other is formally being organized this week in Geelong,but neither is a front for Jackson ,Balano or Asmare.I will keep you informed

  7. oldveronica says:

    Peter, you have done a marvellous job on this, but unfortunately you have not scratched the surface with the Victorian branch, Jeff Jackson was sacked in the 90s Elliott got him a job in the National official, when the cleanskins left, Fegan bought him back, and therein started the corruption. Jeff Jackson may/did break rules but the one running the No. 1 branch was Fegan, she approved everything (lets face it Jeff was not interested in anything but spending money), she had her private company running within the No.1 branch (look at the video) and she took files out of the office. She set up a private company, after the elections called HSAM, so she was never and will be a unionist, sure Denis knows about her. To finish that disgusting mess, you have to get an insider in Victoria to release the documents. Also, ETU has now challened part of the EBA, so poor workers will have to wait longer.

  8. Peter says:

    Asmar has already started her campaign last week using the membership file from the last election.
    Many ex HSU members have rang the HSU to find out how she got their personal information.
    Could be the start to a new investigation by the ombudsman on Asmar

  9. Denis Evans says:

    I interviewed Asmar over the phone last thursday and put to her the allegation that she was using old electoral roles to contact members ,she denied this and said that she was using contacts given to her by other members,she was not convincing at all she did confirm that she was going to be a candidate for Sec of # 1 branch. she recently brought her union membership up to date because she had not worked in the industry for years but the establishment she claimed to work for had not heard of her. Besides she was the Mayor of Darebin council during this time on a very handsom salary. It won’t be the electoral commission that brings her down but the investigation by the ombudsman into the role of nepotism ,building permit favors and undue influence in favor of developers
    As I have previously mentioned her candidacy is a tin of worms as she is controlled by senator Steven Conroys and Bill Shortens ALP right wing faction, where as Kathy Jackson makesSenator David Feeney wet his pants with undue excitement .This will be a dirty election fronted by stooges as candidates and members will have to sort out the real independents I can tell that 2 rank and file groups without any of the old corrupt elements has emerged and I will let you know very soon

  10. oldveronica says:

    What is it about the HSU and councils, cannot keep their noses out of them, dirty stuff. Let us all hope that there a cleanskins in this sad and sorry union and the members are looked after at last. Some has to expose the Jacksons, Fegans and other at the Vic. NO. 1 branch

  11. scotto says:

    More light is needed on this nest of cockroaches. It’s hard to understand why the FWA/Lawler issues have not been widely reported and that Jackson continues to get the run of any media outlet she speaks with.

  12. silkworm says:

    I don’t think we can say definitively that the FWA has refused to cooperate with police, as Uhlmann has phrased it. The FWA “declining” to provide evidence to police may be a misleading way of saying that there was no evidence to provide.

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