Author(s): Brad Norington
Kathy Jackson was hailed as a heroine for blowing the whistle on the million-dollar fraud of Michael Williamson, the corrupt boss of the Health Services Union. While remaining steadfast in this very public ordeal, she endured bitter personal attacks from enemies in the Labor Party and the union movement. But what if Jackson was just as corrupt as Williamson? Or worse? This is the real HSU story. The unbelievable misuse of the union dues of some of the lowest paid workers in Australia. While Jackson was portrayed as a Joan of Arc figure, she had been spending vast amounts of her own union members' money on jet-setting holidays, fashion, jewellery, a home mortgage and even part of a divorce settlement. Nothing, it seems, was off limits. The HSU scandal is more than a dark morality tale marked by high drama and farce. It exposes deep problems at the heart of the union movement and the Labor Party: tribalism, nepotism, a misplaced sense of entitlement and the abuse other peoples' money. Together they are an intoxicating mixture and provide a ripe environment for corruption on a grand scale.
Brad Norington has more than 30 years experience as a journalist writing for The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. He was The Australian's Washington correspondent during the first term of the Obama administration and covered four years of wrangling between the White House and US Congress, as well as events such as the tragic Newtown school shooting and the raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout. Appointed after this as The Australian's chief reporter in Sydney, Norington tracked the real story behind disgraced corruption whistleblower Kathy Jackson and her partner Michael Lawler in a lengthy investigation series. He has written extensively on politics and industrial relations, and is the author of several books.