There have been substantial developments the last few days in a number of legal proceedings and I will cover 4 of them. Craig Thomson has admitted lying about using the HSU’s money to pay escorts, Bill Shorten has submitted a Claytons defence to the Royal Commission, Cbus employee Maria Butera has lobbed a hand grenade at Cbus and the union movement and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s favourite person Freya Newman has walked free from court.
Former federal MP Craig Thomson is in court in Melbourne with his appeal against his conviction of ripping off the Health Services Union (HSU) when he worked there prior to and just after entering Parliament in 2007. (Thomson continued to use the HSU credit card for a few weeks after he left the HSU and entered parliament.) He is appealing his conviction earlier this year when he was sentenced to 3 months jail with 9 months suspended for stealing over $24,000.
This is noteworthy for 2 reasons. Firstly, Craig Thomson’s admission that he used some of the HSU’s money to pay prostitutes:
“A barrister representing Craig Thomson has told a judge the former federal MP lied about using union money to pay for sex because he was “under attack for moral turpitude” at the time.” (Click here to read more)
And secondly, for Thomson’s stupid defence. Thomson’s barrister Greg James, QC, has argued in relation to Craig Thomson illegally using the HSU’s credit card to withdraw cash:
“He said his client was not guilty of theft or obtaining a financial advantage by deception as alleged by the prosecution and that any cash withdrawn from the bank belonged to the bank and not the union at the time Thomson withdrew it.”
“That debt with the bank would then be settled by the HSU at a later date, he said.”
“”It’s charged as cash of the HSU, and it isn’t,” Mr James said.” (Click here to read more)
I have never heard anything so stupid. That alone gives an understanding of why the judge hearing the appeal warned Thomson that she could increase his sentence. How much Thomson really stole is anyone’s guess and could be well over a $1 million as I have previously written. (Click here to read to read more)
Bill Shorten filed a 3 page submission at the Trade Union Royal Commission on Monday (24/11/14) in defence of allegations made by Bob Kernohan. The allegation Bob Kernohan made related to Bill Shorten saying that “we are all just moving on” in relation to dodgy redundancy payments to fraudsters Bruce Wilson, Ralph Blewitt and others. (Click here to read)
It is really a Claytons submission as Shorten does not even sign an affidavit. This makes the whole submission extremely weak and he fails to address other allegations made against him. Mr Shorten does attach a supporting affidavit from another witness but that only really highlights the fact that Bill Shorten hasn’t signed an affidavit himself.
Super Fund Cbus – Maria Butera
Cbus employee Maria Butera has also filed a follow-up submission and thrown a hand grenade into Cbus and the whole union movement. I wrote a few weeks ago about Cbus throwing Maria Butera under a bus for perjury (Click here to read) and Ms Butera has returned serve.
Butera’s problems relate to illegally helping the CFMEU obtain data of members personal details from Cbus and then Butera lied about it under oath while giving evidence at the Royal Commission.
In her reply on Monday Butera’s lawyers said at paragraph 5 in relation to an internal KPMG investigation at Cbus: “the KPMG preliminary findings report dated the 25th June 2014 describes multiple instances of leaks to the unions (especially the CFMEU). The report details an apparent liberal approach taken by the unions to requesting member information from Cbus, and a history of Cbus complying with the unions’ requests.” (Click here to read the full submission)
The Royal Commission has focused heavily on the CFMEU accessing members personal data from Cbus but with Butera’s evidence there are many other unions that need investigating as well.
So who are these other unions and will the Royal Commission investigate. I think the RC has an obligation to call Maria Butera back as a witness and ask further questions.
As it turns out Cbus have not yet sacked Maria Butera as she “remains under subpoena to the Royal Commission.” (See email in the comment section of previous post click here) They’ll sack her as soon as they get the chance given they sacked Lisa Zanatta.
Ms Newman was charged a few months ago with illegally accessing data relevant to the daughter of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
“The Sydney student who leaked information about a fashion school scholarship controversially awarded to the Prime Minister’s daughter will have no conviction recorded against her, with the magistrate finding she was “motivated by a sense of injustice”.”
“Freya Rachael Sommerville Newman, 21, used her position as a part-time librarian at the Whitehouse Institute of Design to access information about the $60,000 director’s scholarship awarded to Frances Abbott in 2011.”
“Ms Newman pleaded guilty earlier this year to accessing restricted data. The offence carries a maximum penalty of two years’ jail.” (Click here to read more)
It worth noting the difference between Ms Newman and that of the unions accessing data.
While Ms Newman is not the greatest of whistleblowers, as she buckled as soon as she was caught, it does seem she was motivated by a “sense of injustice” as the judge said. But the unions want to access people’s personal data for their own corrupt purposes. There was never an attempt by Ms Newman to profit from that data but the unions do want the data to improve their financial positions.
I haven’t written about Ms Newman before although anything to do with the Prime Minister could and should come under scrutiny. But for some reason I have had doubts about whether Ms Newman should have done what she did and she showed “contrition and remorse” almost immediately she was caught.
While I have not followed the matter extremely closely it does seem that she could have achieved what she wanted to without illegally accessing private data. Also given all the other media have been writing about it I haven’t bothered as I felt there were other issues that needed attention more.
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