There appears no question that Craig Thomson misused union funds, though his sentence of 12 months gaol (3 months to be served) is being appealed. The amount in question is about $24,000. He has lost his career, faced intense and intrusive media scrutiny, been publicly humiliated, ordered to repay the money to the HSU, faces huge legal bills, and felt the pain of the embarrassment he has caused to his family.
The whistleblower who led to his demise is Kathy Jackson. She was lauded in glowing terms by Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne for her courage. Coincidentally, her partner, Michael Lawler, was appointed Vice President of Fair Work Australia on a salary of $400,000 a year by Tony Abbott when he was Employment and Workplace Relations Minister.
Independent Australia and Peter Wicks have been following this story. It now appears that Kathy Jackson is being referred to the Royal Commission who will investigate allegations that she has absconded with far more than Thomson ever dreamed of.
And then we have Karen McNamara who was a captain’s pick, parachuted into Thomson’s seat of Dobell, bypassing normal preselection which infuriated the local Liberal Party members. (The same was done when Abbott chose to install Lucy Wicks as the candidate for the other Central Coast seat of Robertson.)
Ms McNamara was called to face ICAC where she was under fire for claiming to have raised $100,000 for the 2011 campaign for State Liberal Darren Webber when official records indicated only $11,000 had been raised. Ms McNamara said that Mr Webber and his fellow Central Coast MP Chris Spence had told her that funding was being “centralised” through Terrigal, which meant only a small amount of funds had actually gone through the Wyong account which needed to be declared, though she had bragged about raising $300,000 for the campaign when seeking preselection.
State Member for Terrigal Chris Hartcher has been involved in fiery exchanges at ICAC where it has been suggested that Mr Hartcher helped set up slush fund Eightbyfive in the lead up to the last state election to funnel illegal donations to the campaign’s right wing Liberal candidates on the Central Coast. The fund is alleged to have issued sham invoices to hide secret donations for political favours.
Both Mr Hartcher and Mr Webber have been sitting on the crossbench since last year, along with fellow Central Coast MP Chris Spence.
Campbell Newman takes the frontal assault approach by scrapping limits on political donations and election spending, and lifting the threshold at which donations have to be reported. He then sacked a Minister who expressed concerns about his decision.
We also witnessed the calculated attack on Peter Slipper. Weeks of Parliamentary sitting time were devoted to the public humiliation of this man and the destruction of his career. This very cynical political exercise was all over $900 in cab charges. We are all aware of the many entitlements fraudulently claimed by politicians that have been subsequently repaid, usually only when directed to do so, for far greater amounts – $50,000 in the case of Peter Reith and over $9000 by Tony Abbott.
It is astonishing to find what politicians feel justified to claim. Even though he is earning a sizable salary, and getting free publicity and electioneering along the way, our Prime Minister thinks it is perfectly justifiable for him to claim an additional allowance when he chooses to take part in charity and sporting events. Our treasurer sees nothing wrong with charging thousands of dollars for meetings with him. Our Speaker views the chambers as a private Liberal Party function room, and the Prime Minister uses Kirribilli House to entertain the likes of Bolt and Jones. Our Attorney General has a very expensive penchant for books and he has no hesitation in creating high paying jobs for boys from the IPA.
Their sense of entitlement has become so entrenched that they would not think of catching commercial flights when they can summon a private jet. Public transport when you have a comcar and chauffeur, why would you? Driving oneself can be so tedious when one can’t drink.
I understand that they are away from their families at times. As for so many other people, that is the choice they made when they took on the job. Should we be paying for families to all go to the Melbourne Cup or football grand finals? Surely they earn enough that they can afford to do this themselves should they wish?
Eddie Obeid’s greed has done us a great favour in holding a candle to the dark chasm of corruption that is our government. Every day we hear of more slush funds and money laundering schemes and dubious foundations. The stench is growing and it is emanating from the Liberal Party. They are happy to accept huge donations from vested interests, some of them illegal. They go to complicated lengths to hide or launder these donations. They admit to selling access to office for those who can afford it while neutering lobby groups for the disadvantaged.
Their budget protection of these donors whilst attacking the poorest cannot be denied. At great cost to us all, hard won reforms are being rolled back as the donations roll in.
There are three groups who think the Liberal Party aren’t corrupt. Those who will always vote Liberal regardless, those who are too naïve or lazy to find out the truth, and those who are profiting from the corruption.
The only reason for resisting the formation of a Federal Commission Against Corruption is because…
Some of my best friends are corrupt.