Tougher Than Leather – Craig Thomson and his accusers wild spending of HSU funds

Posted: August 15, 2013 in HSU Saga, Politics

If there is a “Tough Guy” in Australian politics it is Craig Thomson.

Like him, love him, or loathe him, he just can’t be knocked down.

Forget Tony Abbott with his photo ops in bicycle gear and budgie smugglers, Abbott doesn’t have a fraction of the toughness and strength of character that Thomson has.

Craig Thomson has put up with years of harassment and a pile of political smear so high that the mightiest of conquering mountaineers would struggle to scale it. The Coalition have attempted to drive him to bankruptcy with legal proceedings, the media have hounded him and printed lies, and he has become a human punch-line, the butt of a million jokes.

All of this has been without a single conviction for any charge at all, be it a brothel or an ice-cream. The evidence backing up any of the charges against him is weak at best and endless subpoenas have failed to find any more. It seems odd that finding evidence against a man we have been told for years is so guilty has proven harder to find than the Holy Grail and a chicken tooth.

One back-fliiping witness the Coalition hung their hopes on

One back-flipping witness the Coalition hung their hopes on

Still Thomson has taken it on the chin, dusted himself off and kept on going.

Not only that, he could have waltzed off into the sun and found another job come September, but no, he has instead put his hand up to go through it all over again choosing to run as an Independent candidate. This shows a level of dedication to his electorate that is admirable and arguably unrivalled.

It is no wonder that someone with this much resilience is someone who the Coalition and its rich backers are trying every trick to defeat. We keep hearing reports saying that Thomson is as good as gone, but clearly if actions speak louder than words then this is just more lies from a desperate opposition, as mountains seem to be moving in attempts to defeat him.

John Singleton ad man and majority owner of 2GB is even financially backing two independents in the seat including cricketer Nathan Bracken.

Craig Thomson and his family - Living in and raising the family in Dobell

Craig Thomson and his family – Living in and raising the family in Dobell

You may remember that the case against Thomson is primarily based on the word of disgraced union turncoat Kathy Jackson, and the proven flawed investigation performed by her fiancée’s organisation Fair Work Australia, now the Fair Work Commission.

You may also remember that the claims by Jackson, the Coalition, and the media had Thomson spending over half a million dollars of union funds fraudulently a couple of years back. Since then the dollar figure has plummeted to well under $30,000, around 5% of what it was initially after the bulk of the wild initial claims were tossed out.

Since then self-proclaimed “whisteblower” Kathy Jackson has herself come under quite a bit of scrutiny as her intentions seem to become more dubious with each peek into her own past behaviour. The end result of this is that she is now under police investigation for allegations that could make claims against Thomson look like a kid being accused of pinching milk money.

Wixxyleaks has been provided with documentation that shows further evidence of wild spending patterns from figures provided to the Australian Tax Office by Kathy Jacksons branch of the union whilst she was its Secretary.

These statements show massive cash withdrawals, exorbitant spending on multiple credit cards, bar tabs and huge spends on liquor, there is massive spending at Coles Express on who knows what, there are thousands of dollars in Child Care payments for Jackson’s children despite her telling Chris Uhlmann on the ABC’s 7 30 that members never paid for her child care, an unexplained discretionary fund, restaurants, and some rather pricey camera equipment.

Below is a link to file that has images of random BAS expense reporting, as well as a spreadsheet showing the irregular expenses including credit card payments, cash withdrawals of close to $30,000 and child care payments for the Jackson children.

Assorted Financial Statements HSU Branch 3

Questionable Transactions From Statements

The links below detail the expenses in one quarter of 2005. I have included a breakdown summary of questionable transactions.

Bear in mind these make up just 3 months of Kathy Jacksons years controlling the union

 HSU Branch 3 July to Sept 2005 BAS Expense Report

HSU 3 Branch BAS July-Sept 2005 expenses breakdown

These show in just 3 short months Jackson managed to rack up over $1800 at Coles Express, over $1000 in 24hrs in bar tabs and liquor store purchases, close to $28,000 in credit card repayments, more than $8,000 in cash withdrawals, and over $5,000 to a mystery fund.

All up close to $76,000 in expenditure that is unusual to say the least. All this in only 3 months.

$76,000 of union members money. Some of the lowest paid workers in the country.

Kathy "Are you sure this is an EFTPOS machine?" Jackson

Kathy “Are you sure this is an EFTPOS machine?” Jackson

If I was a member of Jacksons union I would be calling for heads on a plate, but also rejoicing that her allegedly corrupt faction has been turfed out now and the union is now being run in a responsible manner.

It is also worth noting that most of the claims against Thomson are for expenses while he was travelling on union business.

With that in mind I find it disgraceful and shocking that the woman pointing the crooked finger at Thomson could spend over $22,000 of union funds on snow holidays in one quarter. That does not include what went onto credit cards either.

Speaking of credit cards I also note that Jacksons personal credit cards are being direct debited from the union account.

Is Jackson really going to claim that there was union business to be done at Mt Hotham and Falls Creek?

Still,the woman Tony Abbott described as a woman of great courage and worthy of admiration, must have got some great ski holiday pictures with her shiny new expensive camera.

Tony Abbott - A great admirer of Jackson and her spending habits

Tony Abbott – A great admirer of Jackson and her spending habits

Many have asked me how Kathy Jackson has gotten away with this without being locked up, and how the Victorian Police have been slow in their investigation.

Jacksons fall-back position has always been that all expenditure was approved by the Branch Committee Of Management (BCOM). This is her way of passing the blame onto others for her erratic behaviour and exorbitant spending.

So the BCOM is responsible for all.

The BCOM had given Jackson approval to use the members money for luxury ski holidays. The BCOM gave the go ahead for Jackson to pay a company she owned, Neranto no 10 vast consultancy fee’s . BCOM told her to send over $20K to her mate Wai Quen for legal services, despite Quen being in another country and not performing any service for the money. BCOM gave her the nod to try to break world records for credit card expenditure. BCOM gave her the nod to pay her fiancée Michael Lawler’s children in another state while everyone else was on Xmas break. BCOM also said all was cool with spending more on a Volvo than was invoiced and not questioning where the change went.

This is also the same BCOM who gave the blessing for immense wage rises for Kathy Jackson, Marco Bolano, and others in the union with Kathy and Marco taking over $200K each, Kathy over a quarter of a million.

This only scratches the surface of the BCOM endorsed union spending.

So who are the BCOM and why have they stayed quiet and what on earth would drive them to approve these expenses?

Below is a list of BCOM members, some of whose names you may recognise from Cheque requisitions and payment approvals that can be found on the HSU/Jacksonville Resource Page. I have also included the Branch President and Vice Presidents as well as the Union Trustees.

Name Position 
Ms Kathryn Whitfield Branch President
Ms Kate Wilkinson Senoir Vice President/National Council Delegate
Mr Robbie Matejin Junior Vice President/National Council Delegate
Ms Kathy Jackson Secretary
Mr Bryan Yeates Assistant Secretary/National Council Delegate
Ms Olga Gountras Trustee
Mr Reuben Dixon Trustee
Mr Chris Hill Committee Member
Mr Mark Hindson Committee Member
Ms Lisa Magnusson Committee Member
Ms Adriana Vespucci Committee Member
Ms Kristine Olaris Committee Member
Ms Jenny Dunlop Committee Member
Mr Robert Bradley National Council Delegate
Mr Andrew Hewat National Council Delegate
Ms Lia Augoustakis Committee Member
Ms Jennifer Croll Committee Member

All of these people listed above are people that should be talking with police or the union and assisting with the return of misspent union funds.

I hope these individuals will do this out of shame or out of a desire to see the right thing done by the members after all these years of seemingly robbing them blind.

However I suspect that those who come forward will be doing it out of self-protection. With Kathy Jackson laying the blame at these people feet all of them are now increasingly likely to be facing civil damages claims as the union seeks to see its members funds returned.

Particularly worried should be Olga Gountras and Reuben Dixon who as trustees were the two people whom union members entrusted to make sure the union was being run in a responsible manner. I don’t see how they could have possibly failed to perform their duty in a more spectacular fashion.

When I asked the Secretary for the HSU Number 3 Branch Craig McGregor about the new information detailed here, he told me that “all legal avenues” would be explored in retrieving any union funds that have been used for personal purposes by previous members of the unions administration.

If there is one thing that I have become all too aware of in this investigation it is this, these union members are not tough just like Craig Thomson, they are also patient, they know their day is coming.

The sooner the better I reckon…

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Comments
  1. clarittee says:

    This whole thing stinks. Too much co-incidence and the timing “perfect”. Doesn’t just happen by accident.

  2. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a says:

    by the pricking of my thumb
    something wicked this way comes

  3. Marilyn says:

    I noted in the disgraced FWA report that they blamed Thomson for the behaviour of the BCOM even said he was responsible for them, he was not even on it.

  4. This is so rich. Thank you Wixxy, and congratulations to Craig and his wife for standing firm. There is something so wicked happening in our society at the moment when it is almost impossible to get the truth out to the general public. Perhaps ‘they’ will win this time, but at some point Australia as a country will have to tackle the way the rich and greedy, aided by the media, cheat and lie to fool the populace to vote against their own best interests.
    Good luck Craig!

  5. vfmarky says:

    Great update thanks. Like Margaret MacMillan and others I wish Craig Thomson well – he really is a man of great courage. I’ll never forget his speech in parliament to the opposition and the government (who were a bit too quick to cut him loose). I also hope this issue, like Ashbygate, blows wide open very soon. Sadly I can’t see it happening before September 7. Wouldn’t it be ironic if, as an indi, he retains Dobell in a hung parliament…

  6. joy cooper says:

    Thank you Wixxy for keeping us up to date with what is happening in this reprehensible affair. Do hope those involved, up to their necks, in this disgraceful chicanery, the likes of which we haven’t seen for a long time, are held accountable very soon. Surely their political patronage will be wearing thin especially as more comes to light.Tony Abbott will have to win government in his own right now, not by trying to oust a legally elected MP as has been tried with Craig Thomson & Peter Slipper.

    Am extremely pleased that Craig & his wife have such fortitude to remain so strong under the onslaught of attacks from the media, the more ignorant of the public & the LNP. It must be the belief in his innocence & I wish him well for the upcoming election.

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