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January 2014

More on the Labor/Union complex in its efforts to avoid the delivery of justice to HSU members

It's very difficult to find evidence of anything the Labor/Union movement has done to deliver justice for Health Services Union members.

Labor et al spent plenty of money on legal bills arising from Thomson's alleged frauds on the HSU.   But Labor's money went to save Thomson's backside rather than to assist authorities in prosecuting him.

One official versus thousands of members.  Sorry members, the one official is more important - you lose.

Here's StephenJ with some thoughts on the way that Thomson related charges have been framed.



Steve J said:
At the risk of being contradicted later today would it not be possible for the Magistrate to approach this issue in this way? An example of the charges is shown here : As I understand it when a corporate credit card is issued to an employee it is the employer who is liable to the Bank. If unauthorised expenses are incurred the employee has a debt owed to the employer. Thomson dishonestly obtained a financial advantage for himself (by evading the debt he owed to the HSU) by falsely representing that these expenses were authorised. They could only have been authorised if it was an implied term of his contract of employment that he could use the card for whatever he wished to an unlimited amount (subject of course to whatever maximum credit limit the card had). The charge is under the following section CRIMES ACT 1958 - SECT 82 Obtaining financial advantage by deception (1) A person who by any deception dishonestly obtains for himself or another any financial advantage is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum). Note that the offence does not require an identification of the entity against whom the deception is practiced. Schedule 1 of the Criminal Proceedure Act 2009 contains the following. 11 Statement of intent to deceive, injure or defraud In stating an intent to deceive, injure or defraud, it is not necessary to state an intent to deceive, injure or defraud any particular person if the statute creating the offence does not make an intent to deceive, injure or defraud a particular person an element of the offence The intent element of the offence is contained in the word “dishonestly”. It was therefore unnecessary for the Charge to relate the dishonesty to a debt owed to the Bank. If this element was unnecessary to the charge the incorrect identification of the Bank should be irrelevant. The charge makes it clear that it is “unauthorised debts” incurred by Thomson that is the subject of the complaint. As the Bank is unconcerned about such matters it should be reasonably clear that it is in Thomsons relations with the HSU that the relevant Financial advantage has been obtained. Thomson on this view not been misled by the charge and its terms encompass the actual financial advantage that he gained. It is stating the obvious that it is extremely disappointing that the issue has to be even considered.
The informations (or "charges") that the Court is currently considering would not have been in issue at all had the Thomson case been heard in the County Court as was the intention of the prosecuting authority.   The charges would have been before the Judge and Jury as Presentments or Indictments.

This is a synopsis of reports at the time that Thomson's defence team argued the matter should not proceed to a County Court trial before a jury, rather that Magistrate Rocs should conduct a summary hearing.


FORMER Labor MP Craig Thomson will avoid facing a jury on charges of misappropriating union funds to pay for perks including adult movies and escort services, after his lawyer stated there was likely to be little debate about the facts of the case.

Mr Thomson, who is running for re-election in his NSW federal seat of Dobell as an independent, today won his application to have the 173 charges heard by a Melbourne magistrate instead of proceeding to a judge and jury.

Making the application, Mr Thomson's barrister Greg James QC said it was "very likely" there would be no issues about the facts of the expenditure, and the case instead related to whether Mr Thomson had authority for the spending as HSU national secretary.

"These are not complex charges," Mr James said.

Mr Thomson is accused of falsely representing that the HSU had authorised thousands of dollars of credit card spending, including payment for escorts and cash withdrawals from bank accounts, and using union credit cards to pay for pornographic movies at hotels.

He has repeatedly denied using Health Services Union credit cards to pay for escorts.

Prosecutor Kieran Gilligan told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that Mr Thomson had aggravated his alleged offending by attempting to "disguise" the spending, had breached the trust of members, and continued using the cards for personal purchases approximately 10 times after he was elected to parliament.

"It's alleged cash withdrawals were never approved as a legitimate union expense," he said.

"It was never part of the union policy that cash withdrawals could be made at all."




In a statement released after his court appearance, Mr Thomson said he was happy with magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg's decision to hear the case alone.

"The reason for the application was to have this matter heard as quickly as possible," he said.

"Despite some media reports, I am not making any admissions. But there is a threshold issue of who had authority to use the credit card, which must be heard first.

"This is an efficient use of court time and because of my limited personal resources, also an appropriate approach.

"If the Crown cannot prove its case on this issue, all other charges become null and void."

Mr Rozencwajg's decision to hear the case will mean a swifter conclusion and a lesser penalty if Mr Thomson is found guilty.

Mr Rozencwajg said he did not regard the case as a complex one, with or without a concession that Mr Thomson had used the credit cards as alleged.

Mr Thomson faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment if found guilty.

There have since that date been various hearings of varying lengths of time in which counsel for Thomson and the prosecution have tried to agree on the form of words that accurately sets out just what Thomson is admitting to.


What was simple and uncomplicated when the defence was keen to avoid a jury is now complicated and incapable of easy comprehension.   Justice anyone?

The Australian with more on the ABC's love-affair with Tantowi Yahya

The Australian's Jared Owens with more on the ABC's go-to guy for anti-Australian/anti-Abbott commentary, Tantowi Yahya.

Return guest a 'backbencher'

INDONESIAN politician Tantowi Yahya, a vociferous opponent of Australian foreign policy, has become a frequent guest on the ABC despite being only a first-term MP who achieved fame as a country singer and TV quiz show host.

Mr Yahya, a conservative Golkar Party MP from South Sumatra, represents a minority of Indonesians with his political views, but enjoys widespread TV coverage because of his excellent English and slick media skills.

Mr Yahya -- one of about 50 members of Commission I, the parliamentary committee for defence and foreign affairs -- has featured on ABC current affairs programs at least six times in recent months, using the broadcaster to criticise Australian policies toward asylum-seekers and intelligence-gathering.

Appearing on the 7.30 and Lateline programs, Mr Yahya has been described as being "from the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Commission" and "a prominent member" of Commission I.

David Hill, professor of Southeast Asian studies at Murdoch University's Asia Research Centre, yesterday described the former Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host as "more like a backbencher on the edge of the main game".

"It would be like Johnny Farnham or actually a bit like Peter Garrett, before he became a minister, who had a very substantial media presence and then was drawn into politics because of that," Professor Hill said.

"He would not be an adviser (to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono). He's not, for example, in the same category as Dewi Anwar, who is one of the vice-president's senior advisers.


The Australian concludes with this from the ABC.

ABC director of news Kate Torney did not respond to written questions about the decision to call so frequently on Mr Yahya. 7.30 executive producer Sally Neighbour could not be reached for comment.


Stu of NT's video from last week shows the ABC's approach to unearthing authoritative Indonesia commentary in all its unbiased, balanced glory. 


Mark Scott, Managing Director of the ABC published this statement yesterday

Statement from Managing Director Mark Scott

The ABC has constantly reviewed its operations to deliver the best and most efficient return to Australian audiences. We have been in consultation with the Minister and will work with the Department and Mr Lewis on this new study.


That's it.   I had to double check to see if my computer wasn't displaying the statement properly - but nope, that's it.

Here are the terms of reference for the review.


The Study

The national broadcasters, ABC and SBS, receive $1.2 billion in funding a year from the Australian Government. It is a routine responsibility of all Government authorities to use taxpayers' funds as efficiently as possible and to strive for operational improvements, and the broadcasters are no exception.

Parliament has agreed over time to a broad range of responsibilities for the ABC and SBS which are incorporated into their respective Charters. The delivery against those Charter responsibilities, relative priorities and resource allocation are largely at the discretion of the ABC and SBS Board and management. There is limited transparency to the Australian public, the Government and the Parliament of the breakdown of costs of delivering the ABC and SBS Charter responsibilities and whether these could be more efficiently delivered by the national broadcasters.

This study will seek to clarify these costs, provide options for more efficient delivery of services (based on current practice in Australian broadcasting), identify risks and any impediments to change and assist the national broadcasters to continue to deliver their Charter responsibilities in ways that minimise costs and maximise benefits for the Australian community.

The study will focus on the costs of inputs-that is the 'back of house' day-to-day operational and financial operations, structures and processes applied to delivering ABC and SBS programs, products and services. It is not a study of the quality of the national broadcasters' programs, products and services, or the responsibilities set out in their Charters but of the efficiency of the delivery of those services to the Australian public.


The Department of Communications will conduct the study and will be assisted by Mr Peter Lewis, formerly Chief Financial Officer of Seven West Media Limited. ABC and SBS personnel will also form part of the study's secretariat. It will focus on all ABC and SBS activities, other than those specifically specified as out of scope below, including:

• Television

• Radio (Analog and Digital)

• International services

• Digital services including online and catch-up TV

• Production-including facilities

• Advertising (SBS only)

• Enterprises/retail services

• Corporate overheads

• Asset management and capital expenses.

The study will not be limited to looking at these activities separately, and could also look at outputs on a cross-platform basis i.e. delivery of news and current affairs across TV, radio and digital, where useful.

Out of Scope

• Transmission costs, which will be the subject of separate advice to Government;

• Changes to the ABC and SBS Charters;

• Editorial policies of the national broadcasters;

• Allowing advertising on the ABC;

• Quality of programs/products delivered by the broadcasters.

Terms of reference

The study will provide an objective assessment of the efficiency of the ABC and SBS in delivering their services. The study will:

• identify the real current and expected future costs of each output of the ABC and the SBS (as set out in Scope above);

• test those costs against better practice broadcasting operational models and practices and quantify differences;

• identify the options available to the broadcasters to improve efficiencies and the benefits and risks of such options;

• identify any impediments to implementation of such options-this analysis may go to operational, governance, structural, financial and cultural issues within eachorganisation;

• develop an 'ideal cost-base' for the national broadcasters and compare this with current cost base.

The study will also identify options to improve:

• transparency of the costs of national broadcasting services to maintain confidence in their expenditure of public funds;

• the processes and systems for decision-making across different genres, platforms and priorities; and

• operational governance and management practices/processes of the national broadcasters including ways of enhancing the efficient and transparent management of the organisations.

Without further limiting its scope, the study should:

• Consider the return on investment of the public funding for the national broadcasters,

including in terms of audience or other usage;

• Analyse costs at the level of services (eg ABC1, ABC2, Radio National etc); platform (television, radio, online); audience brands (eg ABC 4 Kids, or News); program

genre; and in relation to specific Tied Funding such as the National Interest Initiative;

• Provide breakdowns of these costs in States and regions, and by audience or user demographic; and

• Quantify, as far as possible, the costs of operating at locations across Australia.

In undertaking the task, the study will have regard to:

• The ABC and SBS Charters, legislated obligations and editorial and operational independence from government;

• Ratings, audience reach and other relevant audience measures for the ABC and SBS programming;

• Changing audience demand, particularly increasing use of catch-up and online services;

• The role of ABC and SBS in provision of emergency services information;

• The geographic spread of services and infrastructure, their importance to communities compared to the costs of maintenance; and

• The relative importance/performance of the ABC and SBS compared to other broadcasting services in local markets.

The report arising from the study will be provided to the Minister and the Chairs of the ABC

and SBS on completion.


The project will commence in February 2014 and deliver its final report in April 2014.



Here are the terms of reference for the Howard Government's review of the ABC held in 1996.

From the ABC website today

ABC, SBS review: Federal Government to launch efficiency study UPDATED 12 MIN AGO The Federal Government is set to launch a study into the efficiency of the operations of the ABC and SBS. In a statement, the Department of Communications says it will examine operational costs as well as products and services in order to "increase efficiency and reduce expense". The study aims to: Expand The decision comes a day after Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed the broadcaster was unpatriotic in its coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks and asylum seeker abuse claims. Mr Peter Lewis, formerly a chief finance officer at Seven West Media Limited, will assist the department in its work. In a statement, the Coalition Government says "it is a routine responsibility... to ensure that the ABC and SBS use public resources as efficiently as possible". "The objective is to ensure ABC and SBS fulfil their charter responsibilities at least cost to the community, and keep pace with rapidly changing practices in the broadcasting sector," it added. The study will not review the broadcasters' charters, or their editorial and programming decisions. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has stressed that the study will not focus on editorial policies. "What it is designed to do is to ensure that the ABC is running its business as cost-effectively as possible," he said. "The study is not looking at the editorial policies of the ABC nor looking at the programming content."

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the Global Mail's demise.

Wotif's Graeme Wood pulls plug on Global Mail


Date January 30, 2014 - 11:33AM

Entrepreneur Graeme Wood's experiment with philanthropically funded journalism on the web has come to an abrupt end after he told the staff of his website, The Global Mail, that he was no longer going to fund the site.

Mr Wood, who made his fortune out of the travel website, delivered the news to shocked staff on Wednesday night.

Mr Wood, who is the media start-up's non-executive chairman, had pledged $15 to $20 million but had not given all the money upfront.

However, in interviews, he said he had given a commitment to fund it for five years.

The site, which specialised in long-form features and analysis, will close on February 20.

The 21 staff members, who include some of Australia's most senior journalists and photographers, will be made redundant.

Mr Wood told the staff the website had failed to reach the target numbers, even though staff insisted he had refused to set audience targets and had often said that it was influence, not audiences that he was seeking