Suspended Labor MP Craig Thomson took to the floor of the parliament yesterday to defend himself against claims of misuse of union funds. Speaking under parliamentary privilege, he made a series of allegations against key figures as being complicit in a prostitute conspiracy and for leading a lynch mob against him. Here’s the line-up …
Marco Bolano, HSU deputy secretary
Marco Bolano was the name everyone was waiting for yesterday, as Thomson identified the HSU official as the man who he claims threatened to frame him in a brothel scandal over his efforts to make the HSU more transparent. He said the threat was made in the office of HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson.
“There was, though, a particular threat that was made that I thought was just part of the routine threats that were constantly made in working in this environment,” said Thomson. “That was a threat by Marco Bolano in words to the effect that he would seek to ruin any political career that I sought and would set me up with a bunch of hookers.”
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Kathy Jackson, HSU national secretary
The woman at the centre of the HSU scandal was unsurprisingly a key punching bag for Thomson, who took aim at the perks she had allegedly received as national secretary (including overseas trips and a doubling of her salary). Thomson also said Jackson and HSU president Michael Williamson had urged him to stop pursuing attempts to open the union to scrutiny.
“You have to look at what standing these people have if you give weight to the allegations. Kathy Jackson drives a union-paid-for Volvo. It is alleged she has child care and gym fees paid for by the union,” Thomson said.
Michael Williamson, HSU president
Thomson accused Williamson of being aware of the hookers conspiracy, telling parliament that the HSU president had told witnesses years later that “this is the way we deal with people in the Health Services Union when we have problems”. “So we have the threat and, post facto, we have an admission,” Thomson added.
The allegations don’t necessarily stack up with what Thomson has said in the past, including during his maiden speech to parliament in 2007 where he singled Williamson out for praise: “Michael Williamson, the HSU national president, was a marvel in relation to the long-term support he provided to me.”
Terry Nassios, Fair Work Australia investigating officer
Thomson slammed FWA’s investigator, branding his 1,100 page report into the HSU as the work of “one man” who was “selective and biased”. Thomson said Nassios had failed to talk to key witnesses and had simply collected a list of allegations from Jackson and Williamson. He added that he had only been interviewed by FWA once, two years ago.
“He was so biased in fact that I had to write to the general manager last year to ask for his removal from his position,” Thomson told parliament. “Mr Nassios had an outcome that he wanted to achieve and was trying to link assertions when there was no body of evidence.”
Michael Lawler, Fair Work Australia deputy president
Thomson also took a swipe at FWA second in charge Michael Lawler, who is in a relationship with Thomson’s successor as HSU national secretary, Kathy Jackson. Thomson told parliament that the media had not sufficiently investigated the links between the pair.
“The questions Fair Work has to answer, the questions the deputy president has to answer, are: what influence did he have in relation to the writing of the report? What influence did he have in terms of the time line that it has taken? What relationship, if any, does he have with the Liberal Party?” he asked.
Bernadette O’Neill, Fair Work Australia general manager
FWA boss O’Neill was another to receive the wrath of the Member for Dobell, as he criticised her timidity in releasing the HSU report to a Senate committee. Thomson said O’Neill did not release the FWA report publicly for fear of defamation.
“She instead released it to a Senate committee so it would be protected by Parliamentary privilege,” Thomson said. “Given that truth remains the defence to defamation in this country, this suggests that Fair Work Australia either does not consider the report to be accurate or it is incapable of substantiation by admissible evidence or both.”