My usual disclosure here - Kathy Jackson is a close friend, I value my friendship with her and I don't walk away from my friends when they're in trouble. That said we have our differences and those differences were extensively canvassed during a post-commission lunch/dinner (I thought it wise to spare you the post-prandial posting until this morning as the hangover lifts).
Kathy Jackson worked as a senior executive in one of the grubbiest and most sordid organisations I've ever encountered - Australia's labour movement and its political wing the ALP. She participated in its atrocious and unconscionable practices - in her case to the best of my knowledge she acted within the law and the rules of her organisation. But the organisation, the movement itself is inherently an "outlaw" organisation so far as broader community and corporate norms in Australia are concerned.
At some point Kathy's observations about the behaviour of individuals within the movement accumulated to the tipping point that led to her courageous and dangerous decision to report her observations to authorities. In large part the public revelations about the HSU have led to The Honourable Justice Heydon's appointment as a Royal Commission to enquire into union corruption and governance. For that we should all be grateful.
My primary difference with Kathy is over what is and what isn't "members' money". Kathy tells me that at the various union-leader courses she attended it was drummed into her that the Branch Committee of Management is given certain powers to make directions about the union's affairs. In the case of the Peter Mac money she says the direction of the BCOM to put the cash into a separate account meant that money was no longer members' money. I can see her point but I don't have to agree with it. I can also see that hers is an honestly held view in her mind.
Yesterday was awful. But it's done and we move on. It was also not without some important new pieces of evidence, including the production of the Peter Mac internal board and other papers that made clear that the $250K paid to the HSU was in no way related to the payment of employees' entitlements. Further the fact of the payment to the HSU was widely communicated to the staff at the Peter Mac at the time, negating the reports in some compliant media that the "deal" was secret. We also saw compelling evidence that the transfers of money from the HSU's head bank accounts to the NHDA were made at the direction of the branch's BCOM.
I will leave the last word about yesterday's proceedings to a few readers - for me the following comments were quite important and I thank you for them.
Michael won't give up. Jason ( a friend and colleague), Bob'k, Ralph and Ruby will also tell you that.
True friends like Michael never hold the unchangeable past against you. He will help a friend repair their present and future. He knows through personal experience that a true friend who understands your tears and troubles is far more valuable than a hundred friends who only show up for your smiles and joys. Cheers from a MSN blog fan.
FB of Perth said:
The strength of any friendship is standing by through thick and thin that is what real friends do. Not sitting in judgement on your friend who may have made some errors of judgement and if so the law will do what is required but do you discard the person not if you are a "friend".
Robert TG said:
Kathy, as a union official, honestly doesn't see what was wrong with the "windfall" money being spent. The money was a reimbursement of expenditure, but since the union didn't expect it, and the bills were already paid by the union, the money was treated as a slush fund. The board, and Kathy, being a loyal unionist, didn't see anything wrong with this treatment of funds. This says it all about how deep the corruption and beliefs of union official are off the reality of law the rest of us have to live by.
Unfortunately business commitments today didn't allow for any #TURC watching. But quickly reading the above comments and other social media it sounds to me that it was a less-than-perfect occasion for Kathy Jackson. A couple of observations if I may. Calls for Michael Smith or any other of Kathy Jackson's friends to ditch her are pathetic pious piffle, indicating only that that those seeking for Kathy Jackson's friends to dislocate themselves from her, especially now, know nothing of the mutual obligations of true friendship, in good times and bad. Given that certain media outlets and social media sites were telegraphing much of what Kathy Jackson's enemies "had on her", I am totally gobsmacked at what I read of her apparent ill-preparedness as I was astounded to hear that she had not engaged personal legal counsel in advance of her #TURC appearance particularly with the advanced knowledge of some of what her enemies had been selectively leaking to the media. Notwithstanding Kathy Jackson's admirable and courageous whistleblowing, those brave actions do not of themselves allow for any immunity from #TURC's scrutiny of her own union related behaviour. And so when I read of the "harshness" of #TURC's special counsel's questioning, I am somewhat disappointed in the naivety of some people's expectations and understanding of #TURC's obligations to its federal government commissioning. Nevertheless, I am anxious to read or hear of Michael Smith's observations and understandings of what transpired today as I look forward to reviewing today's #TURC's proceedings. I am hoping that Michael can provide some balanced and informed commentary to counter the joyous crowing of Peter Wicks and Andrew Landeryou on their blogs and in their tweets.
John Howard Fan Club said:
Mike you're a champion and I still have your back. But on this occasion I will have to disagree with a few things and hope you don't take offense. I've been concerned for some time now, and it's not through the propaganda from the Shorten camp it's based on overwhelming evidence. I think you have backed the wrong horse if I may use that term loosely. Mike it's far to damaging to your brand to back people with such an element of uncertainty hanging over them. I fear that Kathy Jackson has some demons that will surely be exposed in the Royal Commission. Unfortunately most unionists are all tarred with same brush. Unions are a self indulgence machine and it's human nature to get greedy we are all guilty of it at some stage in our lives. Unions however take this to extremes and the evidence that Jeremy Stoljar is uncovering in relation to Kathy and her partner or former husband is undeniable. It's so painfully obvious I'm not sure how you could see otherwise. I welcome your thoughts on this and I trust that you wont hold it against me for being concerned for you as our champion of justice. I don't want to see your brand damaged Mike, this will impact greatly on everything.