Val GOSTENCNIK met with lawyers for Williamson's HSU to help Bill Shorten get an administrator into the union
Bill Shorten's lawyer Val GOSTENCNIK attended a conference with lawyers acting for Michael Williamson friendly elements of the HSU days before Bill Shorten applied to put the HSU into administration.
Holding Redlich solicitors billed the HSU $2,060 for a series of telephone "attendances" on Val GOSTENCNIK and others 3 days before Shorten's application for an Administrator. GOSTENCNIK made the application to the Federal Court on Shorten's behalf.
Kathy Jackson was then the National Secretary of the HSU. She reported Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson to police for embezzlement of HSU funds in August/September 2011. Jackson alleged at the time that Shorten's application for an Administrator was co-ordinated with Williamson-friendly elements within the HSU. Ms Jackson told the AFR, "“[Mr Shorten] wants to make sure he ends up in a position where he controls this union personally, not as the minister, but personally.”
On Friday 21 March 2014 the Legal Services Board of Victoria was sent this complaint about GOSTENCNIK. The complaint alleged a serious conflict of interest on GOSTENCNIK's part in acting for Fair Work Australia in its investigation of Craig THOMSON while at the same time acting for Bill Shorten in Shorten's application to put the HSU into administration. GOSTENCNIK was in possession of FWA's then confidential investigation report into Thomson and the HSU, information that was not available to other parties in the Shorten application to the Federal Court for an Administrator to be appointed to run the HSU.
The following publications refer to GOSTENCNIK and SHORTEN:
- Report to the Legal Services Board alleging serious misconduct against GOSTENCNIK.
- Chronology regarding SHORTEN's application to the Federal Court.
- GOSTENCINIK's role in recommending an "independent" body to review FWA's Thomson investigation of Thomson.
- StephenJ's commentary about potential breaches of the Commonwealth Crimes Act by GOSTENCNIK
The following correspondence is from Holding Redlich, lawyers acting for Michael Williamson-friendly elements of the Health Services Union in 2012.
Here is Holding Redlich's letter to Chris Brown, one of Michael Williamson's supporters.
Here is the Holding Redlich Trust Statement for the HSU for May to August 2012 - $270,000 in legal fees paid for by the HSU in the Federal Court proceedings that resulted in Shorten's administrator being appointed.
And here is a bill received by Chris Brown in August 2012 in relation to work Holding Redlich performed in April 2012 in the same matter.
Note the following billing entry for 27 April, 2012.
On 3 April 2012 Bernadette O'Neill, Fair Work Australia GM sent GOSTENCNIK a complete copy of FWA's report into Thomson and all its attachments/statements etc.
On 12 April 2012 GOSTENCNIK accepted Bill Shorten's brief to act for Shorten in his application to have an administrator appointed to the HSU.
27 April, 2012 GOSTENCNIK attended the above conference with lawyers for Chris Brown and the HSU.
30 April, 2012 GOSTENCNIK applied on Bill Shorten's behalf for an Administrator to be appointed to the HSU.
Here's the AFR's reporto published on 27 April 2012 the day after Shorten announced he would ask the Court to appoint an Administrator:
Judge queries Shorten move against HSU
PUBLISHED: 26 APR 2012 11:12:00 | UPDATED: 27 APR 2012 11:38:02
PIP FREEBAIRN, HANNAH LOW AND MARK SKULLEY
A Federal Court judge has expressed scepticism about the Gillard government’s sudden decision to install an administrator to take control of the Health Services Union and questioned why the government turned up to court asking for two weeks to get the paperwork together.
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten took the rare step of moving to place the HSU East branch into administration, a decision welcomed by the ACTU and Unions NSW and blasted by Kathy Jackson, the national secretary at the centre of a power struggle in the union.
“He [Mr Shorten] wants to make sure he ends up in a position where he controls this union personally, not as the minister, but personally,” she said.
Mr Shorten, who said he was acting to protect the union’s 55,000 members, signalled he might block publication of a report by Fair Work Australia into alleged irregularities in the union that examined the role of former national secretary and federal Labor MP Craig Thomson.
“I will not put at risk any potential civil or criminal charges,” he said.
He was accused by the federal opposition of trying to shield Mr Thomson.
Appointing an administrator will delay the release of an investigation by barrister Ian Temby and accountant Dennis Robertson into alleged rorting in the HSU East branch, which covers workers in Victoria and NSW.
A version of the report was due to go to the branch’s executive on Monday. The meeting was cancelled because of legal action.
A government-hired lawyer asked the Federal Court in Sydney on Thursday for a fortnight to file the application to appoint an administrator.
Judge Geoffrey Flick said the request was a “bit odd” and gave the government until the end of Monday. Justice Flick said it would not be enough to issue a “press release” in his courtroom about a “hypothetical application”.
“I have a degree of scepticism as to the timing of this application,” he said. “The minister should have made it much earlier than today.”
In Melbourne, Mr Shorten said the government had to decide on a “most serious and grave action” to protect the union’s members from further “dysfunctional fighting”.
Mr Shorten said the government’s intervention would not support any individual or faction within the union. His claim was attacked by outspoken HSU leader Ms Jackson who has pursued Mr Thomson and HSU president Michael Williamson.
Ms Jackson agreed there were grounds to appoint an administrator but accused Mr Shorten of being personally involved in backroom manoeuvring against her, and protecting Mr Thomson.
Ms Jackson alleged that a HSU member and suburban Labor Party identity in Melbourne, Diana Asmar, contacted union members in recent weeks to seek individuals who would be prepared to lodge internal charges against her. Cr Asmar is a former Labor mayor of the City of Darebin and unsuccessfully stood for a position in the union’s Victorian branch against a key supporter of Ms Jackson.
Mr Shorten said he had “absolutely not’’ been involved in backroom machinations against Ms Jackson and had not seen Cr Asmar for about a year. A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he had not “met with or spoken to Diana Asmar this year”.
The federal opposition’s workplace relations spokesman, Eric Abetz, said Mr Shorten’s actions were “too little, too late” and voters and union members were entitled to know the full details.
“The release of the Wood Royal Commission, the release of the Fitzgerald inquiry in Queensland, did not prejudice the bringing of criminal charges,” he said.
“It also shows the thinking of [Prime Minister Julia] Gillard and her government that the longer this matter can drag on, the better, because it gets them closer and closer to the election date without having to deal with Mr Thomson.”
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott dismissed Mr Shorten’s actions as a “squalid manoeuvre” to hide a contentious report.
“What is the government trying to hide here?” Mr Abbott said on the Nine Network on Friday.
“What does the government know? Is the government trying yet another squalid manoeuvre to keep the FWA report hidden, to try to protect Craig Thomson for even longer?”
A Senate committee sought advice from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions over a request from Mr Thomson’s lawyers to suppress a Fair Work Australia report that outlines 181 workplace law breaches at the Health Services Union while he was national secretary.
Read more at the AFR website.
I look forward to Shorten's appearance at the Royal Commission - and GOSTENCNIK's answers to the Legal Services Commissioner.