Long after the other media abandoned the moniker, the News Corp papers have continued to refer to former Health Services Union boss Kathy Jackson as a “whistleblower”. (Fairfax now refers to her as a “controversial unionist”.)

It’s unusual to see a union official who isn’t Paul Howes celebrated in the News Corp rags, but a unionist who turned on her own, seemingly to expose Labor corruption, fell into the enemy’s enemy camp.

Jackson used to attract coverage like this strident defence from Andrew Bolt. But it looks like the love has finally been lost between News and the woman once described by Tony Abbott as “heroic”. The Australian editorialised today:

“WHEN Kathy Jackson turned on her former Health Services Union colleagues and exposed the systemic fraud perpetrated by Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson, she became, quite rightly, a celebrated whistleblower. But now Ms Jackson faces serious allegations that she also misused union funds …

“While Ms Jackson deserves credit for helping to expose HSU fraud, this should not negate scrutiny of her spending. Even whistleblowers have to account for their actions and motivations.”

It took allegations of $1.4 million of misappropriated funds for hero Jackson to finally fall from grace.

The unions royal commission instigated by the Abbott government is not all political witch-hunt — as Andrei Ghoukassian reports today, it has uncovered serious allegations of fraud, slush funds and bribes.

If Abbott and his cheerleaders in the media were serious about rooting out union corruption — and not just on a mission to damage the Labor Party ahead of the next election — the allegations against Jackson would’ve spoken for themselves long ago.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey