In particular, he singled out Health Services Union national secretary Kathy Jackson and its national president Michael Williamson for leading a campaign against him and providing the basis for the allegations contained in the FWA report, and named union deputy general secretary Marco Bolano as having threatened to link him to escorts several years ago. He then spent some time covering his personal history at the union and his claimed achievements as an MP, before devoting himself to addressing the findings made by FWA. According to Thomson, he became the subject of a vendetta within the union after imposing accountability on the union and insisting on more stringent control of expenditure. He accused FWA of being biased by the relationship between Jackson and her partner, FWA vice-president Michael Lawler, and of only speaking to Jackson and Williamson to investigate the findings and not investigating exculpatory matters raised by Thomson himself.
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The FWA delegate concluded that the National Executive did authorise a national campaign against the proposed Work Choices legislation. Mr Thomson has submitted that all expenditure was disclosed in accordance with relevant electoral disclosure laws. While I make no comment or judgement and have no knowledge regarding whether or not this statement is correct, I note that my investigation concerns whether there have been contraventions of the Rules or of the RAO Schedule and that any disclosures under electoral law are not relevant to my consideration of whether such contraventions have occurred.
That act, in dealing with the expenditure by Mr Thomson, largely revolved around whether that expenditure was authorised in accordance with the rules. That was the essence of my investigation, not whether it did or did not comply with any aspect of the Electoral Act. The schema in the Electoral Act does not recognise that the expenditure of funds to raise the profile of a person in an electorate prior to that person actually being endorsed by a registered political party could be categorised as being for the benefit of the registered political party that subsequently endorsed the person as their candidate.
The AEC analysis of the Fair Work Australia report was released as quickly as possible due to the continued public interest involved and to give time for members of parliament to digest the complex analysis of the application of the requirements of the Electoral Act to the information contained in the Fair Work Australia report.
Indeed, work on the AEC analysis commenced on the evening that the Senate publicly released the Fair Work Australia report, prior to my receipt of the request from the Special Minister of State contained in his letter to me of 8 May What the AEC analysis attempted to do was to examine each item of expenditure described in the Fair Work Australia report as assisting Mr Thomson in his election bid during the election and to make an assessment on, firstly, whether that item of expenditure was disclosable under the Electoral Act; secondly, who had the disclosure obligation; and thirdly, whether that item of expenditure was actually disclosed in one of the political expenditure or donation returns lodged over the period.
That is not the role of the AEC. Nor does the AEC analysis carry any implications for the veracity or otherwise of the findings of the Fair Work Australia report in terms of the charter that Fair Work Australia has to carry out. All the payments identified in the Fair Work Australia report have been taken at face value and simply assessed against the provisions of the Electoral Act in terms of an obligation for disclosure.
Whether or not the payments were properly authorised under either the relevant union rules or under industrial laws is not material to the disclosure obligation arising under the Electoral Act. Mr Nassios: I looked at it briefly when I got your correspondence at the beginning of last week.
It really looks at different areas, I think. Mr Nassios: The report of the Electoral Commission itself makes it fairly clear. I certainly did not look at my investigation in terms of how it may impact on the Electoral Act. To that extent I can only agree with the views expressed in the Electoral Commission's report.
During the course of the inquiry, the committee heard that in conducting its analysis of the FWA report, the AEC had not received a copy of the Report on suspected irregularities in the expenditure of the National Office of the Health Services Union , contained in Annexure J of the FWA report.
The AEC described its approach in undertaking the analysis:. Mr Killesteyn: We took each of the payments that were identified under the Fair Work Australia report. We applied them against the law and we made a view about whether they had been disclosed or not. That is what we did. If any report was referred to me that was lacking the annexures to that report, which are intrinsic to the value of the report, I would simply write back and say, 'I cannot do it until I receive that report.
Mr Killesteyn: I acknowledge that. But what we did, as I have said on many occasions, was to analyse the payments identified in the Fair Work Australia report because that is what the public interest was around in relation to whether those payments have been disclosed or not.
He did not say, 'Just look at these bits of it. Mr Killesteyn: Indeed, and that is what we have done. Mr Pirani: There was the other area where we raised the concern of the issue about the Dads in Education Father's Day donation. We raised an issue on that one that it was not clear what the arrangements were in relation to that donation—. Mr Pirani: and whether that included a right to appear on television. Again, right at the end we say:. Further without any information concerning whether the payment of the sponsorship included any rights of publicity it is not clear whether this involved any disclosure obligation on the HSU National Office under section AEB ….
So there are some areas where we have looked at the Fair Work Australia report, we have applied the prism of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and there was still not sufficient information for us to be able to offer a firm conclusion.
The committee subsequently wrote to the AEC asking it to review the BDO Kendalls report, Annexure J to the FWA report, and transcripts of interviews undertaken by the Delegate, and to advise the committee if this material impacts on the analysis. On 13 September the AEC indicated that these documents did not change the conclusions in its analysis or the content of the 17 possible measures.
It outlines action taken by the AEC in dealing with this matter. For example, at the hearing on 16 July the committee discussed the matter:. Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: You still have not addressed the question that is the most serious, so far as I am concerned, and that is the finding that large amounts of money which were unauthorised payments by Mr Thomson during the reporting period, which have been either misappropriated, fraud or theft, are given a tick-off by you as having been disclosed by the HSU and therefore there is no problem.
To me that is a gaping hole in the act. You still have not addressed the question of how that should be remedied. Giving you more powers is certainly not the answer, because you do not use the ones that you have got. Mr Killesteyn The difficulty I have with this question of whether the payments were authorised or unauthorised is that irrespective if the AEC concluded that there was a payment that was not authorised, we do not have any power to do anything about it.
Our power is simply vested in the Electoral Act. At this point it is a finding of Fair Work Australia. The matter is going forward for civil proceedings. That is presumably going to be defended.
At this point we have to take the payments as they have been made and make an assessment as to whether they have been disclosed. That is the limit of the act. The facility was there all the time for the HSU national office to make a statement to the Australian Electoral Commission that they could not provide a complete return because they had concerns about particular payments.
That is a facility that already exists. These included:. The AEC was satisfied this item has been properly reported.
He explained that it was unlikely earlier charges were for electoral purposes, but conceded that later charges could have been. In these circumstances the AEC has been unable to identify any public interest that could result in action being now initiated against the HSU National Secretary, Ms Kathy Jackson, in relation to the apparent failure to fully disclose three items of expenditure which were not included in the HSU National Office returns for and financial years.
Consequently, in circumstances where, while uncertain, it was plausible given the material available to it that expenditure may have been political expenditure within the meaning of the Electoral Act, the Union chose to disclose that expenditure. Protect rights; especially of the elderly and youth; promote provision of quality aged care services; health care services. Volunteer aged care hotline; seek opinions of Central Coast residents on key community issues.
At least as far as Ms Stevens was concerned, it is clear that Coastal Voice was intended to be a community group that would set out to engage with persons on the Central Coast who did not identify themselves as being supporters of any particular party. It was intended that Mr Beazley would attend the Coastal Voice function after his official duties. Coastal Voice was always intended to operate as a profile building vehicle for Mr Thomson on the Central Coast for the purpose of enhancing his electoral prospects rather than for purposes related to the HSU.
In the absence of full and specific details of all the activities undertaken by Coastal Voice in specific time periods, the AEC is unable to conclude that those activities which may reasonably be regarded as directly benefiting a particular political party comprise the whole or a significant portion of all the activities undertaken by Coastal Voice and are of benefit to a particular political party. The report concluded:. The logos were also placed on letterhead, advertising and promotional signage at the grounds.
The HSU was provided with advertising space in the competition programs. It was held at the end of literacy week and encouraged fathers to come into schools to read to their children. Table 2. Key details. Advising that the HSU National Office had been identified by the ALP as an associated entity and seeking lodgement of their associated entity annual return for The return was due on 20 October Asking for a list of all associated entities of federally registered political parties for the financial year.
Seeking to ensure that the HSU complies with their obligation to lodge an associated entity return for Noting that the HSU National Office had not yet lodged a return and that an independent audit of HSU National Office was underway due to issues arising out of the exit audit after the change of leadership at the National Office.
The ALP updated its advice to the AEC as to which associated entities were affiliated to it: The ALP stated: all unions and some other entities are affiliated at state level only, there is no process of national union affiliation and unions do not have voting rights at the national level. The ALP indicated that there had been some confusion due to prior legislative changes as to which organisations fell under the definition of an associated entity for each party.
As you know, the Union is divided into a number of separate branches, each of which, pursuant to the rules of the Union and the operation of the Act, operate autonomously, including with respect to their financial affairs and reporting with respect to those affairs. This is particularly governed by s of the Act.
In each case, they are affiliated to the Australian Labor Party in their respective states and they provide delegates to the conferences of those branches of the ALP. Pursuant to s 5 of the Act, the National Office of the Union is regarded by the Act as a separate branch for the purpose of reporting.
CHAIR: In plain English can you tell us what was the key factor in your mind in then conceding that they were not an associated entity? Mr Pirani: Two key factors: firstly, that the HSU national office did not have voting rights in the ALP separate from other branches of the HSU and, secondly, that under the Fair Work Registered Organisations Act—in particular section —their national office is deemed to be separate from the other parts of the party.
When we put those two factors together we accepted that they were not an associated entity. CHAIR: Is there anything that has come to your attention since that would change your mind or are you still of that view? Mr Pirani: Based on the information we have there has been no change. The AEC was examined on this issue at the public hearings:.
Mr Pirani: It has a separate registration process under our act. In relation to the union structure—and it is included in our background here—we had advice from the union itself and from the lawyers of the union pointing to a provision in the Fair Work Registered Organisations Act saying that the Health Services Union national office was legally separate from each other branch that had separate legal status because of the Fair Work Registered Organisations Act.
That is the basis on which we were dealing with this matter. Mr Pirani: No other legal opinion. Mr Pirani: No, we also looked at the Fair Work Australia website, which has a list of the separate registration of all the various bodies that made up the Health Services Union at that time. Then we had a discussion with both Ms Kathy Jackson and the lawyers for the Health Services Union national office, and they directed us to a particular provision in the Fair Work Act which deemed the national office to be separate from the other bodies that made up the Health Services Union.
I will just try to find where that is referred to. CHAIR: Could I also ask you: in your understanding, is it not common within the union movement to have the national office separate from the state offices, similarly to the political parties?
Mr Pirani: If I could just refer you to page 56 of our submission. I refer to the contact—. It refers to contact that I had and a letter that I had from the senior lawyer for the law firm Slater and Gordon. When we were originally dealing with this matter, we initially had formed a view that the national office of the Health Services Union may well have been an associated entity.
We were directed to several provisions that were in the Fair Work Act under which they were able to argue—and I agreed with the view—that the national office, because of these provisions in the Fair Work Registered Organisations Act, was legally separate and therefore was separately registered for the purposes of the Fair Work Registered Organisations Act.
No evidence of 'interference' in HSU inquiry, says Fair Work president
Thank you for signing up. Sorry, it looks like an error occurred. In a four-page statement about an 1, page report, Fair Work's general manager Bernadette O'Neill says the allegations involve two current officials, a former auditor and one former official. She says most relate to the former official.
Review of the AEC analysis of the FWA report on the HSU
In a written submission to a Senate estimates committee hearing this morning, Mr Ross said no one had provided any evidence of interference and Mr Lawler had assured him it had not happened. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen. Mr Thomson last week told Parliament his ''main accuser's partner'' was second in charge at FWA, and said questions FWA had to answer included what influence Mr Lawler had on the writing of the report and the time the inquiry had taken. Mr Ross said the implication was that Mr Lawler ''engaged in misconduct'' by seeking to influence the investigation conducted by Terry Nassios. Credit: Andrew Meares. Also, Mr Lawler had assured him that the imputations of misconduct by him were false.