Victorian upper house Labor MP Kaye Darveniza has been lumped into the Craig Thomson affair after a press release sent by Health Services Union secretary Kathy Jackson listed the MP as its author.
Crikey can reveal that copies of the release, sent to a small coterie of journalists on Monday afternoon, contained Darveniza’s name in the “properties” tab on the attached PDF. It shows that the original Microsoft Word document was last saved at 2.21pm on Monday.
Darveniza, a friend and factional acolyte of Jackson and Senator David Feeney, is the partner of Rob Elliott, Thomson’s predecessor as HSU national secretary. Elliott and Jackson sit on the board of HESTA — the HSU’s preferred superannuation fund. On the HESTA website, Elliott is listed as an “adviser” to the HSU.
A harried Darveniza, one of two ALP members for Northern Victoria, told Crikey this morning “that no-one from her office” had prepared the release. “The only people that have access to my office except myself are my staff,” she said.
When asked why the PDF listed her as its author, she said “that’s all I have to say about it … I have to go”.
The statement’s heartfelt text reflected on Jackson’s recent internment in the Austin Hospital’s psychiatric ward and said that, inspired by her carers, she was itching to get back to work.
“Kathy Jackson today confirmed that information had been supplied to NSW Police in respect of matters that are subject of widespread media reporting within recent days,” it commenced, in reference to the continuing credit card controversy burbling around Thomson and ALP vice president and HSU national president Mike Williamson.
“Ms Jackson further stated that she has every confidence that these matters will be thoroughly and professionally investigated by NSW Police,” the author explained.
The presser concluded with a call for Thomson to heed to Tony Abbott’s demands to fully explain his actions: “Ms Jackson said that she was looking forward to the full explanation to members of his union credit card use promised by former HSU National Secretary, Craig Thomson.”
Jackson is currently on leave from the HSU, with assistant secretary Natalie Bradbury (the sister of Lindsay MP David Bradbury) filling her shoes.
Darveniza and Jackson have a storied history together. Before entering the Victorian parliament in 1999, Darveniza, who his aligned like Jackson with senator David Feeney’s half of the divided Victorian Right, served for eight years as vice president of the national HSU. During that time, the ex-nurse was also secretary of the HSU-affiliated Health and Community Services Union, which represents poorly paid Victorian disability and mental health workers.
For a time, both Darveniza and Jackson had their eyes on the state seat of Northcote, with Darveniza getting a lucky chop out in Melbourne West province in 1999 at the expense of the talented Peter Hansen. Jackson, who failed in her bid for Silvan province in 1996, then demanded Northcote following Mary Delahunty’s resignation in 2006 but was dudded by a Steve Bracks factional deal that gifted the seat to Fiona Richardson, the wife of former ALP state secretary Stephen Newnham.
The duelling PR war inside the HSU has ratcheted up in recent days, with Williamson, at loggerheads with Jackson, recording an amusing fireside chat with spinner Catherine Kennedy last week in which he declared his portion of the union was “moving forward” and in “good shape”.
Kathy Jackson did not respond to a request for comment this morning.