19 August 2015
by Ben Schneiders
Kathy Jackson exposed as a thief, liar and hypocrite
Kathy Jackson has been exposed. As a thief, a liar and a hypocrite of the highest order after the judgment against her of $1.4 million.
Just 18 months ago, Jackson received a rare apology from the House of Representatives as she was lauded by Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne as a "lion of the union movement".
The apology was to Jackson and others defamed in a 2012 speech delivered by former federal MP and Health Services Union leader Craig Thomson. Even Labor leader, and the one-time friend of Jackson, Bill Shorten supported that apology.
That's how untouchable she was, the "whistleblower" who had exposed a one-time Labor national president Michael Williamson and helped send him to jail for his crimes.
Many in the labour movement were deeply suspicious of Jackson being portrayed as a "whistleblower". Their instincts and inside knowledge were right.
Jackson was a crook of a scale far in excess of Craig Thomson, the MP who faced serious allegations of spending union money on prostitutes, a scandal that dogged the Gillard government.
But Jackson, who helped amplify the crisis around Thomson, was harbouring some secrets of her own. As the Federal Court decision on Wednesday shows, for many years she had been systematically stealing from the HSU including on a lavish personal lifestyle.
The judgment by Richard Tracey is largely symbolic as Jackson, in her latest move to avoid justice, declared bankruptcy just before her civil trial was to begin in July.
But the decision is important for the HSU and its new national secretary, Chris Brown, as they try repair the union's soiled reputation and its important role as a voice and advocate for low-paid health workers.
Jackson may not have to pay back the money she has stolen but it is far from over for her.
A joint Victoria and Federal Police taskforce, connected to the royal commission into union corruption, is probing Jackson for widespread fraud and theft. They will be watching Justice Tracey's decision closely.
The taskforce's inquiries have been extensive and it has been keenly interested in a $250,000 payment from the Peter MacCallum cancer hospital to Jackson's old union in 2003.
They want to know if that payment was a bribe to help settle a back-dispute and what she did with all the money from the hospital.
The civil trial has also revealed the full extent of Jackson's spending on credit cards and the hundreds of thousands drawn out in cash from the HSU.
While civil trials have a lower burden of proof than criminal inquiries, there has to be a real chance now that one day Jackson will join her old HSU comrade Michael Williamson behind bars.