Whistleblowing Women

Australian women who blow the whistle on corruption in their workplaces.

Kathy Jackson : a Whistleblowing Woman in the Health Services Union

24 August 2011 : Kathy Jackson, Health Services Union national secretary, referred allegations that MP Craig Thomson had spent $150,000-plus of union funds on pr_stit_tes and other personal items to the NSW Police.


The 45-year-old, mother-of-three is the one person in this sordid affair whose integrity shines through.


26 August 2011 : a dirt-covered shovel was left on Kathy Jackson's doorstep.

The sinister message was unmistakable - You are digging your own grave.

"Give it your best shot," Kathy said, in a defiant challenge to her unknown attackers.


Just hours earlier, another senior union office holder, Michael Williamson, Craig Thomson's mentor, had withdrawn Kathy Jackson's authority to speak to the media.


The dark circles under Kathy's eyes told of the toll that her courageous stand has taken - the sleepless nights she had endured after the dirt-covered shovel was left on the doorstep of her Melbourne home.

Kathy has refused police protection and said she will not "lock herself away", also claiming she was targeted because she was a woman in the male dominated union world.

"I'm a big girl and if they think that this is going to stop us, then they have picked the wrong girl."


2 September 2011 : sources said Kathy Jackson had had a breakdown and been admitted to the psychiatric unit of a Melbourne hospital.

Craig Thomson fiasco an insult to HSU members, Miranda Devine, The Sunday Telegraph, 28 August 2011 :  http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/craig-thomson-fiasco-an-insult-to-hsu-members/story-e6frezz0-1226123510249

Union boss in Thomson probe has breakdown, Michael Bachelard, The Age : 4 September 2011  : http://www.theage.com.au/national/union-boss-in-thomson-probe-has-breakdown-20110903-1jrq3.html
15 October 2013 : Michael Williamson pleads guilty. Kathy Jackson says that many other HSU officials must have known what was going on - but they did nothing.

On 15 October 2013 Michael Williamson pleaded guilty to three fraud charges and one count of attempting to recruit a former associate to obstruct police.

The charges carry a potential prison sentence of up to 34 years.

Mr Williamson, 60, was general secretary of the Health Services Union from 1995 to 2012.


Kathy Jackson, HSU national secretary, urged Tony Abbott to order a judicial inquiry to root out further corruption.

"Many officials are busy trying to reinvent themselves as cleanskins when they must have or ought to have known what was going on but did nothing."


The charges in brief -

a) The $600,000 envelopes scam

Mr Williamson reaped $600,000 by commissioning a businessman, Alfred Downing, to inflate the cost of printing union books in exchange for a share of the profits.

Mr Downing withdrew the cash in amounts of less than $10,000 to avoid alerting financial authorities, and delivered the money in envelopes to Williamson's "close friend" Cheryl McMillan over coffee.

McMillan kept some of the money she received from Downing and gave the rest of the cash to Mr Williamson.

This system took place on at least 300 separate occasions" between December 2006 and February 2010, including when Williamson was national president of the Australian Labor Party.


b) The CANME Services shell business.

$338,470 in HSU funds was funnelled to CANME Services, a shell business, for non-existent work.

The money was spent on credit cards, clothing and beauty purchases, as well as mortgage payments and private school fees.


c) The Credit Cards.

In 1998, Mr Williamson and McMillan also pressured the owners of a publishing company, Carron and John Gilleland, to open American Express credit cards in their own names so that the pair could disguise spending on election expenses.

A credit card was later issued to Mr Thomson.

The Gillelands agreed because they feared their company, Communigraphix, could lose union contracts worth $300,000 a year.

When Williamson urged them to destroy the credit card statements amid police investigations in April last year, the conversation was covertly recorded and the statements were saved from destruction.


Mr Williamson's HSU salary ballooned from $290,000 to $513,000 in the six years to 2011.


Former Health Services Union national secretary Craig Thomson is strenuously defending criminal and civil charges for allegedly rorting thousands of dollars of union funds, including for paying prostitutes.



$600,000 cash in 300 envelopes: former Labor Party president Michael Williamson's fraud exposed, Jared Owens, additional reporting Joe Kelly, Mitchell Nadin, The Australian, 16 October 2013 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/cash-in-300-envelopes-former-labor-party-president-michael-williamsons-fraud-exposed/story-fn59noo3-1226740602457?from=public_rss&utm_source=The%20Australian&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&net_sub_uid=5065648

16 October 2013 : Michael Williamson files for bankruptcy.

The day after Michael Williamson entered a guilty plea, he filed for bankruptcy.

Gerard Hayes, HSU NSW general secretary, had assured HSU members that the union would "leave no stone unturned as we pursue Williamson for the full $5 million".

In March 2014, members would be told that they "have received nothing" from Williamson.

Poor excuse for unionists, Ex-HSU boss says fraud was for kids, Amy Dale, p.8, The Courier-Mail, 4 March 2014

18 October 2013 : several members of Michael Williamson's family seem to have been on the HSU payroll - and the HSU budget seems to be very odd.

Michael Williamson installed his brother Darren Williamson and son Chris Williamson within the HSU's media and communications team, paying them about 145,000 and 110,000 a year respectively.

His sister-in-law Monique Irvine was earning about $140,000 as an HSU organiser.

His mistress Cheryl McMillan was paid $150,000 as an HSU procurement officer.

Her sister-in-law, Julie Astill, was paid $125,000 as HSU office manager.

Williamson himself was paid $513,000.

John and Carron Gilleland were paid $680,000 to print a bimonthly HSU magazine.

A new magazine contract, entered into by the new HSU secretary Gerard Hayes, costs only $105,000 a year.

Alfred Downing's company Access Focus was paid $1.385 million to provide HSU "promotional items".

Only $200,000 will be spent in this area under the new HSU budget.

Ms McMillan (who co-operated with police against her former lover) allegedly met regularly for coffee with Mr Downing where he would give her large amounts of cash in envelopes.


HSU members perform some of the hardest, most thankless work caring for the sick.

HSU members receive very low wages.

HSU cheat feathered nest for his family, John Lehmann, p. 26, Friday 18 October 2013


15 February 2014 : The royal commission into union corruption.

We are about to learn how some union people sell us a story of the poor and powerless to make themselves rich and powerful.

In the past, union whistleblowers have always been publicly derided.

They have been dismissed as crooked, having an axe to grind, or downright mad.

Privately, they have found themselves sacked, threatened and even assaulted.

To date, the lot of the union whistleblower has been to sit - discredited, isolated, in poverty - and watch those they dobbed on rise higher and higher into power and glory.


Now their voices are going to be heard.


Kathy Jackson withstood the pressure of the culture of corruption in the Health Services Union.

Jackson deserves the respect and support of the entire Labor movement.

Instead, many revile her.

At a 2011 HSU council meeting at Darling Harbour, after Jackson had gone to the police, she says that Michael Williamson was given a standing ovation by the 900 HSU council delegates.

"They played the Rocky theme when he walked in ... there were people heckling me and screaming at me and ( fellow HSU whistleblower) Marco Bolano ... that I was a traitor to the movement ... people were calling out "Judas" from the crowd ... this went on for four hours."


There must be some good people inside the ALP machine.

Why do they behave this way towards whistleblowers?

They are like the wives of cashed-up gangsters.

They want the good life.

But they don't want to know how it is paid for.


Hang on to your hat : union corruption probe will be a wild ride, Grace Collier, Commentary,  p. 22, The Weekend Australian, 15-16 February, 2014

Whistleblower Jackson's wisdom that sparked war, Gary Johns, p.10, The Australian, 25 February 2014

Hang onto your hat : union corruption probe will be a wild ride, Grace Collier, p.22, Commentary, The Weekend Australian, 15-16 February 2014.

February 2014 : a new HSU leadership team investigate Kathy Jackson's own spending.

In February 2014 a new Health Services Union leadership team subpoenaed bank accounts and other records to track Kathy Jackson's own spending.



Police threat for Kathy Jackson over misuse of HSU funds, Brad Norington, The Australian, 21 October 2014.

1 October 2014 : the tables turn on Kathy Jackson. Or is this the usual 'payback' that whistleblowers experience?

The Health Services Union (HSU) have now submitted an amended statement of claim in Federal Court proceedings against Whistleblower Kathy Jackson.

The claim is based on newly subpoenaed credit card and bank statements.

It relates to the alleged misuse of union members' funds when Ms Jackson led the HSU No.3 branch in Victoria.

Ms Jackson allegedly made large cash withdrawals or cashed cheques in the fortnight before going for holidays overseas.

She also allegedly used cash withdrawals to pay off her mortgage.

The HSU allege that Ms Jackson used union credit cards for holidays in Mount Buller and Falls Creek, Port Douglas, the Gold Coast, Queensland, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the United States.

The HSU also allege that Ms Jackson used HSU credit cards for personal items at Myer, David Jones, Safeway, Vintage Cellars, Harvey Norman, Betta Electronics, JB Hi-Fi, L&L Shoes, Seed clothing store, Ted's cameras, Borders Books and Music, RG Madden Giftware, Bed, bath and Table, Poppyshop, Babystitch and Kleen Design.

In December 2010, Ms Jackson allegedly spent $1893 at Downtown Duty Free on her HSU Diners Club card.

In September 2014 Ms Jackson referred to HSU barrister Mark Irving as a "charity sh-g" - following an affair 21 years ago - after she tried to avoid being cross-examined by him.

Mark Irving told the court that Ms Jackson had repeatedly used legal tactics "calculated" to delay the case and to "avoid judgement day for as long a possible".



Union adds to Jackson hit list, Brad Norington and Pia Akerman, P. 2 The Australian, 1 October 2014.

21 October 2014 : the HSU may try to recover $I million plus another $667,060 from Kathy Jackson.

The Health Service Union's 96-member national council is expected to pass a resolution when it meets in Sydney in November 2014 recommending a police referral based on documents detailing Kathy Jackson's alleged misuse of union credit cards, cash cheques and general accounts.

The HSU have lodged an amended claim to recover $667,060 it alleges Ms Jackson misspent.

This claim for $667,060 is on top of an existing $1 million the HSU alleges Ms Jackson was not authorised to spend.

Ms Jackson remains the HSU's honorary national secretary but has been on unpaid sick leave due to stress for more than two years.

Ms Jackson claims that she is currently too unwell to brief her barrister.

She has asked for the Federal Court proceedings to be adjourned till February 2015.

Ms Jackson, meanwhile, has lodged an HSU workers' compensation claim in which she backdates an alleged injury to at least 2012, when she was executive president of the HSU.

If successful, she would receive benefits calculated at about 80 per cent of her then $287,000 salary - capped at $110,760 a year.


Police threat for Kathy Jackson over misuse of HSU funds, Brad Norington, The Australian, 21 October 2014

1 November 2014 : Former HSU boss Michael Williamson is serving five years in jail - but now Kathy Jackson faces possible criminal prosecution.

Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson faces possible criminal prosecution.

Ms Jackson is alleged to have submitted a "false claim" when she negotiated a $250,000 payment from Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for the Health Services Union after a dispute over workers' back pay.

Ms Jackson characterised this payment as a "penalty".

The hospital's management had agreed to pay the money as some form of compensation for industrial work done during the back-pay dispute.

Over time, Ms Jackson transferred $284,500 from the HSU into a personal bank account.

Ms Jackson justified part of the funds transfer on the basis that it was seed money for the union to use for political purposes, and therefore was allegedly not union members funds.

Jeremy Stoljar, the counsel assisting the royal commission into union corruption, recommended Ms Jackson be charged in his final submissions.

This recommendation is highly damaging to the credibility of Ms Jackson.

Still nominally the HSU's honorary national secretary, Ms Jackson has been on unpaid sick leave for more than two years.

She is undergoing treatment at a NSW south coast private hospital for stress-related issues.

Mr Stoljar noted that the HSU had proceedings afoot against Ms Jackson in the Federal Court as it seeks to recover $1.4 million in funds it claims were improperly spent by her, plus a further $300,000 it wants in damages and interest.

Counsel urges more charges against Jackson, Brad Norington, P.6 The Nation, The Weekend Australian, 1-2 November 2014

20 August 2015 : Justice Tracey finds that Kathy Jackson has shown a "pervasive sense of entitlement".

Federal Court judge Richard Tracey yesterday ordered Kathy Jackson - once hailed for exposing fraud within the Health Services Union (HSU) - to repay $1.4m in compensation and overpaid salary to the HSU, with interest and costs likely to bring the total amount sought to more than $2m.

Justice Tracey found that Ms Jackson, former national secretary of the HSU, had cashed cheques from union accounts, transferred HSU money into a slush fund without authorisation and claimed holidays as work trips, effectively stealing from the HSU's members.

Justice Tracey said Ms Jakson had shown a "pervasive sense of entitlement", keeping her actions secret so she did not have to explain her lavish spending to HSU management.

Ms Jackson has already moved to put her main asset, a $1.3m property at Wombarra, 65km south of Sydney, into the hands of her partner, Fair Work Commission vice-president Michael Lawler.

The HSU's current national secretary, Chris Brown, yesterday described the transfer as a "scam arrangement" and said he would be surprised if the Victorian and federal police joint taskforce investigating Ms Jackson did not lay charges against her.

"Many HSU members are among the lowest-paid workers in the country, delivering essential services and caring for the most vulnerable members of our community," Mr Brown said. "

Kathy Jackson knew this, yet she spent their money on lavish banquets running into tens of thousands of dollars, extravagant family holidays and luxury goods, among other things."

Justice Tracey found Ms Jackson had used the union's credit cards "substantially for her own personal purposes", spending -

$175,154 on travel-related expenses,

$101,792 on retail goods,

$20,864 on entertainment,

$14,639 on food and alcohol and

$5237 on health and fitness. 

Justice Tracey said Ms Jackson had moved $284,500 of HSU money into the slush fund known as the National Health Development Account without authorisation, using it for personal discretionary spending despite swearing in an affidavit that such accounts were commonplace and vital to maintaining influence as a "factional player" within the ALP.

Just more than $100,000 went into her personal accounts, with another $100,000 spent on her divorce settlement with fellow union official Jeff Jackson.

About $80,000 went on political expenditure, while nearly $56,000 was withdrawn as cash just prior to her holidays. 



Stolen funds put Jackson in police sights, Pia Akerman and Rachel Baxendale, P.1 and 6, The Australian, 20 August 2015

Kathy Jackson - the sad truth about this 'whistleblowing woman' has now been revealed.

In August 2015 it all came to a dramatic end for Kathy Jackson.

Ms Jackson had painted herself as a Boadicea in the vanguard of whistleblowing against union corruption.

With melted wings, she fell to earth yesterday in the ceremonial courtroom 6A of the Federal Court in Melbourne.



Scorching end to Whistleblower's day in the sun, Pamela Williams, The Australian, P.1 and 6, 20 August 2015

The HSU did not participate in the case against Labor MP Craig Thomson. The HSU executive did not complain about his actions.

Labor MP Craig Thomson was HSU national secretary between August 2002 and his December 2007 election.

On 11 September 2015 Federal Court Justice Jessup found Thomson had spent several hundred thousand dollars of HSU money for political and personal gain.

For example, Justice Jessup found that Thomson had used HSU credit cards to pay for s-xual services totalling more than $5000.

Thomson had described these expenses as "meetings" and "teleconferencing".

Lawyer Chris McArdle, who is acting pro bono despite Thomson owing his firm money, said a significant aspect of the case was that the HSU had not participated.

"No-one came forward claiming to be a victim of my client's actions.

No member of the union, and no executive of the union complained," he said.

Justice Jessup will rule on November 9 on the extent of Thomson's financial penalties.


Thomson misused HSU cash, judge finds, Rachel Baxendale, P. 8, The Weekend Australian, 12-13 September 2015


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