At a hastily convened presser last week, Craig Thomson made the observation that the number of simultaneous investigations into his credit card usage could be getting a bit out of hand. No kidding.

Thomson reckoned there were nine relating directly to him, as did some weekend news reports. But just how many probes into the Health Services Union are there?

Crikey trawled through the mire to record the total number of magnifying glasses dedicated to the smouldering remains of a one-time pillar of the labour movement. Probes, probes into probes and probes into probes into probes are plentiful indeed …

HSU investigations:

  • Pitcher Partners’ report into the Victorian No. 1 branch. The April 2009 report found that the chief of the HSU’s Victorian No. 1 branch Jeff Jackson didn’t require written approval for expenses and that he liked to sign blank cheques which would be filled in at a later date without authorisation.
  • The 2009 Slater & Gordon and BDO Kendall report on suspected irregularities in the expenditure of the HSU National office that piqued the interest of the Sydney Morning Herald. It alleged that Thomson’s credit card had been used inappropriately for “adult services”.
  • The 1100-page March 2012 Fair Work Australia report by FWA investigator Terry Nassios concluded that Thomson used HSU credit cards to pay for escorts while he was national secretary.
  • The Fair Work Australia report into the Victorian No. 1 branch. Last December, Nassios produced another FWA report detailing damning findings against Jeff Jackson.
  • The Temby and Robertson investigation. Ian Temby, QC, and accountant Dennis Robertson conducted an internal review of the HSU’s expenditure processes, and the use of HSU credit cards. Temby found that “an interim report into the troubled East branch of the Health Services Union says the union has no credit card policy or formal purchase order system despite millions of dollars of expenditure each year”.
  • NSW Police criminal investigation. The first criminal investigation, launched as part of Strikeforce Carnavon to probe claims commissions were given to Thomson when he was national secretary, as well as to national president Michael Williamson.
  • Victoria Police criminal investigation. Victorian Fraud Squad offices have travelled to Sydney to gather more evidence in its separate criminal investigation into HSUEast.

Court cases:

  • Federal Court case 1: Fair Work Australia has launched civil action against Thomson, to test his claims the FWA report was biased and flawed.
  • Federal Court case 2. Fair Work Australia has also launched civil action in Victoria against three former officers of the HSU’s Victoria No. 1 branch — Pauline Fegan, Jeff Jackson and Shaun Hudson — in relation to 26 alleged contraventions of workplace laws and union rules.

Probes into other probes:

  • The Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Legislation Committee is meeting today to to examine Thomson’s speech to parliament as well as the process that led to the FWA report.
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Public Accounts: Rob Oakeshott has proposed an inquiry into FWA’s three-year investigation and to debate the Coalition’s bid to suspend Thomson from Parliament.
  • The House of Representatives Privileges Committee, chaired by ALP MP Yvette D’Ath, is examining the Thomson case and has asked leader of opposition business Christopher Pyne to outline specifically how he believes Thomson has mislead the House of Representatives.
  • The Workplace Relations Consultative Committee. Bill Shorten has asked the committee to draft legislation to improve the transparency of registered organisations and Fair Work Australia’s investigation processes.
  • The Australian Electoral Commission’s analysis of the FWA report. The AEC analysed Terry Nassios’ national report and found that Thomson had correctly declared spending on his election campaign in accordance with the Electoral Act.

Probes into probes into probes:

  • The Privileges Committee is probing its own probe after details of discussions about Thomson were leaked to the media.

Tabloid TV probes:

  • A Current Affair’s Craig Thomson investigation. Channel Nine’s finest, accused by Thomson of “grubby journalism”, is contacting pr-stitutes to tell their side of the story. Last Thursday reporter Justin Armsden brought viewers up-to-date with its ongoing investigation.

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW