Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Kathy Jackson to take stand at royal commission into union corruption -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

TANYA NOLAN: The union official Kathy Jackson, who blew the whistle on corruption within her own union, will today face questions about her own alleged misuse of funds.

Ms Jackson has taken the stand at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption.

She was responsible for raising concerns about corrupt practices within the Health Services Union, involving former Labor MP Craig Thomson.

Nick Grimm is at the royal commission.

Nick, what was the substance of Kathy Jackson's evidence to the commission so far?

NICK GRIMM: Tanya, so far she's been asked about the processes that she went through to blow the whistle on the activities of Craig Thomson, who you mentioned, the former Labor MP, and also Michael Williamson who was national president of the union. Now, both those men have been convicted of misusing members' funds. Michael Williamson is currently serving a prison sentence for that conviction. Craig Thomson is on bail pending an appeal.

Now, Kathy Jackson today has told how she first began having concerns about Craig Thomson's use of a union credit card back in 2007 and then later she began to have suspicions about the union's national president and agonised over what to do about it because, as she's explained it, he was a very powerful figure within the union and the ALP. At one stage he was national president of the ALP.

Now, she's explained that her suspicions about him were raised as a result of what she described as his lavish millionaire's lifestyle, the lifestyle that she told the royal commission couldn't be explained by his income from the union.

On one occasion in fact, she and her family were invited to visit his holiday home at Lake Macquarie on the New South Wales central coast, which she described as palatial with views that couldn't be built out because Mr Williamson had also bought the property next door.

Let's have a listen to her account of her visit to his home.

KATHY JACKSON: Once I visited his house it became quite evident to me that this was not just your average holiday home that most ordinary Australians would own. It was quite palatial. There was very expensive fittings to the home, stereo systems.

And I remember sitting out on the back deck - and there other officials of the Health Services Union there at the time as well, it was a working meeting - I remember saying to him, 'cause it's on the lake, and I remember saying to him, you know, you've got a great view here, what happens if somebody blocks you out and he said oh don't worry about that. We've bought the place next door as well.

TANYA NOLAN: Kathy Jackson speaking there.

Well, Nick, what are the allegations surrounding her own alleged misuse of union member money?

NICK GRIMM: Yeah, there hasn't been any evidence taken on that directly just yet, Tanya. The evidence has been dealing with the matters to do with her efforts to uncover the corruption of figures like Williamson and Craig Thomson but Kathy Jackson has suggested that the claims that have been made about her own use of slush funds and misuse of members' funds were all part of a get square by her enemies within the union and the Labor Party.

She's been telling about the effect that reporting the corruption to police, what that had on her, and that she was subjected to enormous stress and abuse as a result. On one occasion she was woken one night to a loud bang and found a shovel had been left on her doorstep. She said that she was quite hysterical as a result of that because she took that as a threat.

On other occasions she was called a Labor rat who was doing the work of the Liberal Party and trying to bring down the Labor government. She was even called a Liberal Party prostitute, she said.

At one stage she also became quite emotional as she gave an account of how she suffered a breakdown and had to be involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital and put on anti-psychotic medication, something that she blames entirely on her opponents in the union and the ALP.

As for those other allegations that have been raised about her in the media recently and here at the royal commission, she suggests it's all part of a campaign to discredit her.

Let's have a listen to some of what she's had to say along those lines.

KATHY JACKSON: So I went to the police and the police would see it as one union official making an allegation against another union official and I had no confidence that my allegations would be taken seriously.

And at that point the opportunity would be given to Williamson and co. to execute me at that point - when I mean execute me I mean to totally destroy me, my political career in the union movement, which they've done quite successfully, regardless of whether I'm telling, you know, I'm here telling the truth.

I've always told the truth and here I am, you know, as a target, not by the membership, but more importantly a target by the media because they want to have their story told, because it suits their purposes, but a target by the ALP and the Labor movement, which I knew would happen but I never thought it was going to happen this badly.

TANYA NOLAN: That's Health Services Union official Kathy Jackson giving evidence there.

Nick, how long do we expect her to be in the witness box?

NICK GRIMM: She's expected to continue giving her evidence throughout today. At this stage it's not certain when her evidence is going to wrap up but we are not anticipating that it's going to go into tomorrow.

We then understand two more as yet unnamed witnesses are going to be called to briefly give evidence tomorrow then the matter will wrap up for the week and further hearings are expected some time down the track.

I might just add that none of the witnesses have been cross-examined on their evidence so far, suggesting that they may all well be called to give further evidence about these matters at a later date.

TANYA NOLAN: Our reporter at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption, Nick Grimm, thank you.