Inquiry into HSU to begin in Sydney

Health Services Union (HSU) whistleblower Kathy Jackson will be among witnesses called to give evidence at the royal commission into union corruption, starting on Monday in Sydney.


Two former high flyers, disgraced ex MP Craig Thomson and former HSU boss and ALP national president Michael Williamson have already been sentenced over fraud relating to the misuse of members’ funds.

Williamson, who was HSU general secretary from 1995 to 2012, was sentenced to at least five years in jail earlier this year for “leeching” almost $1 million from the union and then recruiting others to hinder a police investigation.

During the hearing, Judge David Frearson labelled him a “parasite” motivated by “pure greed”.

In March, Thomson was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to 12 months jail for spending more than $24,000 of members’ money on prostitutes and personal expenses while national secretary of the HSU.

The HSU’s acting national secretary Chris Brown said the union would be pursuing Thomson to recover the misused money, including funds linked to matters dealt with by a Fair Work investigation but not brought to court.

As well as blowing the whistle on Williamson and Thomson, Ms Jackson has been accused of using $1 million in union funds to pay off two personal credit cards, which she says were used for work expenses.

It’s further alleged she also withdrew $220,000 in cash using union bank cheques.

Seven witnesses are listed to appear before the commission, which is scheduled to run from Monday to Thursday.

The commission’s focus shifts to the HSU after last week examining an alleged slush fund legally established in the early 1990s by Julia Gillard and run by her ex-boyfriend and former Australian Workers’ Union official Bruce Wilson.

The inquiry will be held before Commissioner Dyson Heydon.