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Jackson defends management of slush fund -

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TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Health Services Union boss Kathy Jackson has defended the way she managed a $280,000 union slush fund. Giving evidence at the Royal commission into trade union corruption, Ms Jackson said the establishment of union fighting funds was common practice. Laetitia Lemke reports.

LAETITIA LEMKE, REPORTER: It's the union investigation that Kathy Jackson says she's been waiting for, but today, it was her own integrity under the microscope.

JOURNALIST: You've acknowledged the public wouldn't regard your branch as having followed proper practice. Now you ...

KATHY JACKSON, NATIONAL SECRETARY, HSU: I did not say that. I did not say that, Mr ABC. That's all I'm saying.

LAETITIA LEMKE: Ms Jackson did say more to the Royal commission, explaining a $280,000 slush fund that she used at will.

KATHY JACKSON: I would say it would fall short of proper practice in relation to what the public expect, but I don't say that it's - I don't say it's an illegal account.

LAETITIA LEMKE: Kathy Jackson told the hearing it was a fighting fund set up with branch committee approval. She said the money was used for union and political campaigns and such funds were a necessary evil in maintaining unions.

KATHY JACKSON: Because there are people out there, factional warlords out there that are always on the hunt to take over a union, to make sure that union's alliances or allegiances changes, whether they're left or right, to whoever is funding that election.

LAETITIA LEMKE: When it came to detailing what money went where, Ms Jackson couldn't remember. Counsel assisting pushed her on a number of withdrawals, including one of $50,000. But Ms Jackson said it was the first time she'd seen it.

COUNSEL ASSISTING: The commission provided you with these account statements.

KATHY JACKSON: Yes, but I did not go through every single page.

LAETITIA LEMKE: Ms Jackson told the hearing she kept handwritten notes on how the money was spent, but said the exercise book had since been stolen. She told the Royal commission she hoped its investigation would lead to better regulations, making unions more accountable for their money.

While this week's hearing into the Health Services Union has wrapped up, the Royal commission into trade union corruption continues with investigations into the Transport Workers' Union starting in Perth next week.

Laetitia Lemke, Lateline.