Craig Thomson claims he has been vindicated over the Fair Work Australia’s report into the HSU East Branch after an independent report found flaws with FWA’s investigation processes. Mr Thomson’s response is peculiar given it that this most recent report does not have a whole lot to do with him.

Picture: Kym Smith

KPMG were asked to look only at the investigation methodology of FWA. They did not comment, nor was it within their ambit to comment on the findings. However critical of the methods of the investigation KPMG were, it does not flow that the findings made in the FWA HSU report would have changed.

It is however a blow to FWA’s credibility in being able to professionally exercise its powers under relevant workplace laws.

By Mr Thomson claiming vindication, he is saying that a third party investigation into the FWA investigation of his former employer can set him free from this mess. Two wrongs do make a right it seems.

In one interview, Mr Thomson telegraphed his nemesis Kathy Jackson is about to feel some heat. So it may even be that three wrongs make a right.

Mr Thomson’s response to the KPMG report is however instructive on where he sits with personal responsibility.

Some basic issues have been lost in the giddy cloud of hookers, corporate malfeasance, talk of Mr Thomson’s delicate mental heath and conservative politicians being more supportive of hospital orderlies than ever before.

As a metaphor of clumsiness on the big issues from this Labor Government, it named the workplace and union regulator “Fair Work Australia” and cleverly also the tribunal “Fair Work Australia”. They are as different as the police are to the courts.

This has created confusion as many believe the tribunal has made findings against Mr Thomson. In fact it was the regulator making findings against the union. The workplace police do have limited powers to look at individual union officials’ conduct. Their real power, though, is to regulate and investigate unions and employers for potential breaches of workplace laws, including laws governing unions.

In other words, Mr Thomson is a bit player in the FWA report, not the star.

Mr Thomson has not disputed that there is substance to the findings around cash withdrawals, reckless spending into the millions without a tender process and entertainment at brothels.

Cleverly, Mr Thomson has hinged his conduct to the criminal test, which has a very high threshold. George Brandis did not play his best hand by pressing this issue when he wrote to NSW police urging them to keep digging.

In defending Mr Thomson early, Julia Gillard used terms like “innocent until proven guilty” and “he has a right to a fair trial”. This is true for potential civil and criminal matters, but not so for matters of what is right and what is not.

Because the lax systems and procedures at the HSU East Branch, Mr Thomson may not have committed a crime as he wasn’t doing anything he was told he couldn’t. As the boss of an organisation lacking reasonable governance policies, he and perhaps the board in essence were able to authorise the gouging of the union. Not illegal. Just grubby.

This saga is not about fraud. It is not about hookers. It is about integrity. So while the courts can sometimes make comment about the integrity of a person, it is not a crime to lack personal integrity.

Some questions for Mr Thomson that a court does not have the power to rule on:

1. As you have a company credit card, what sort of items could not be purchased on this, especially as even suppliers of sex take Mastercard? My local fish and chip shop is cash only but not sure what else is?

2. Please explain why it is OK for a supplier to the Union to pay the school fees of your children (if this is true as alleged)?

3. Why do you propose that your conduct should be considered in the context of others, such as Ms Jackson and the investigator from FWA? Shouldn’t they all stand-alone?

4. If you were truly concerned with acting in the best interest of your union members, how could there by such shoddy corporate governance practices, allowing millions to be wasted? Even if these pre-dated your time as the boss, why did you not fix them when you rose to the top?

Independent reports will come and go, as may trials of other players in the HSU pantomime. These will divert attention from the Honourable Member for Dobell, but reality they are wholly independent of Mr Thomson. The bloke that Mr Thomson stares at as he is cleaning his teeth before bed-time knows this.

This morning on the Today Show, Mr Thomson offered his deliverables to the electorate in response to a question about whether he did the right thing. He can talk about his achievements in Dobell all he likes. He is only deluding himself. He could have organised for every constituent to receive a first class trip around the world, but it won’t change the fact that before entering Parliament, he was reckless with the money of people he was paid handsomely to protect and to advance their interests.

The question begs, if Mr Thomson had a different perspective on his personal responsibility, would he have even run for office? That question doesn’t matter so much now that he has damaged the reputation of the responsible employees at the HSU, the union movement more broadly and of course every parliamentarian.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST

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49 comments

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    • gnome says:

      01:00pm | 22/08/12

      Now an enquiry please, into KPMG’s skills and experience in investigating the capabilities of Fair Work Australia.

      I am willing to go out on a limb here and say the report is probably a lot of sanctimonious crap.

    • Babylon says:

      01:30pm | 22/08/12

      you don’t bite the hand that feeds

    • Greg in Chengdu says:

      03:54pm | 22/08/12

      Craig Thomson does this all the time, He’s done this seceral times during this saga claiming this investigation or that investigation finds him innocent, because just like Gillard he thinks we are all stupid! This report is about FWA’s investigation practises or lack there of and nothing to do with Thomsons guilt or innocence. So Craig you can do as much wishful thinking as you like but its in the police’s hands now. Lets see what they have to say.

    • James X Leftie says:

      01:13pm | 22/08/12

      If Craig didn’t steal the $500k.. who did?

      How is the investigation into his identity theft going? Any leads?

      Union members deserve justice.

    • Babylon says:

      01:37pm | 22/08/12

      For some, It’s an imperative that Thomson is washed clean.

      Yonks ago I predicted he would ‘just have to pay back a few thousand and apologise.’

      I still stick to that prediction.

    • Mack says:

      04:20pm | 22/08/12

      They keep telling us that the members of the HSU are poor toilet cleaning workers. Well they must prefer to let a sleazebag get away with ‘borrowing’ $500,000 of their union fees than they are in getting it back from him. I would be more than a bit peeved if my $10 a week in union fees was going to pay for prostitutes. For the HSU members, it must be easy come, easy go, I suppose.

    • Babylon says:

      05:37pm | 22/08/12

      yeah Mack,

      I just cannot understand why the AWU hasn’t spent the past 17 years trying to find the $1 million?

      It’s almost like they hold their contributing members in distain or something?

      Personally, I cannot believe people subscribe to the industrial arm of the Labor Party.

    • KimL says:

      01:20pm | 22/08/12

      I don’t know who is wrong or right over this issue anymore, nor do I care. We have been so bombarded with this Craig Thompson issue most of us are just sick of it. When he is charged come back and let us know, until then I am not interested

    • St. Michael says:

      02:33pm | 22/08/12

      Thank you for illustrating why we have a bunch of tools in our Parliament.

    • AJ of Here says:

      02:54pm | 22/08/12

      Yes. We should all ignore it. As KimL says, “F- the union members!”

    • FlyOnTheWall says:

      03:34pm | 22/08/12

      That’s what they’re counting on, KimL.
      Because people take no real interest in such matters, when they hear the 10 second grab of Craig Thompson spouting “vindication!” people just assume he is [vindicated]... that’s how this whole sorry mess works nowadays.
      Gillard has tough questions to answer and is copping heat from some sections of the media, so the news of the day of course becomes “Abbott is a sexist, and can’t take orders from women!”.

      See how it works? Are you following?

      Point being, take an interest, learn all you can about these people, don’t get bored and rely on 10 second grabs on the evening news or radio… be curious, the labor party in particular, along with their friends in the media, play the country for fools on a daily basis.

    • Mark Beukers says:

      06:28pm | 22/08/12

      > When he is charged come back and let us know, until then I am not interested

      Thank you for perfectly illustrating a point this article making, that most people don’t care if he turned a blind eye to the HSU wasting millions or any other shady activities as long as he is ‘innocent’ in the eyes of the law.

      I find it quite depressing that this is the standard that so many people set for our politicians.

    • Jay says:

      01:25pm | 22/08/12

      I do not believe Australia has had a more dishonest or corrupt bunch of politicians than the ones that grace our Parliament. Slipper, Gillard, Thomson, The Greens and God knows how many others have yet to crawl out of the woodwork. Is it any wonder the younger generation could not give a stuff about politics?

    • RobJ says:

      02:11pm | 22/08/12

      Dishonest? Hmmm, Children Overboard? Mohamed Haneef? WMD???

      What’s corrupt about the Greens, facts please, not Boltesque talking points.

    • Mark says:

      03:43pm | 22/08/12

      Rob >> Jay said he doesn’t think we have had a MORE dishonest government… He never stated this was the first dishonest government. I think Julia’s portfolio of lies and deception over the past 3 years far outway John Howards lies for the 10 years he was in power.

    • Greg in Chengdu says:

      03:57pm | 22/08/12

      Totally agree the labor party have treated this time on power like its a free for all christmas

    • Bomb78 says:

      04:17pm | 22/08/12

      Jay: Got to agree with RobJ. If you’re going to make allegations of corruption, some evidence would be good. I dislike the Greens too, but I fail to see how they are corrupt.
      Incompetence and dishonesty wouldn’t be hard cases to argue, but ‘more’ dishonest than those that come before would just be a pissing contest.
      And having lived through both the Joh and Beattie years in Queensland, I can safely say we have had collections of dishonest and corrupt politicians that would take some topping.

    • iansand says:

      01:30pm | 22/08/12

      The real significance of all of this is that no prosecution will proceed on the basis of the FWA report (if it ever was going to).  Any prosecution will have to be based on a ground up, new investigation.  This may already be happening.  So any prosecution will not be finalised by the next election.  Any grounds for disqualification from Parliament will not be made out until the next election.  There is thus no political gain possible from further attention on Thomson, so the opposition will not pursue this any further.  Thomson’s tawdry behaviour will become nothing more than a footnote for afficionados of Parliamentary scandals and all the sound and fury will have signified nothing.

    • TimB says:

      02:07pm | 22/08/12

      Some of us prefer to at least try to hold our leaders to some standards rather than taking the cop-out approach of ‘Meh they’re politicians’.

      Such views add nothing to the discussion and are of help to exactly no-one.

    • dovif says:

      02:24pm | 22/08/12

      Iansand

      It is still a horrible indictment on the ALP, that the best the ALP could offer to the Australian public (ie those the ALP selected for elections) included people like Thompson, Neal, Rudd (include transcript from Swann, Julia etc) and Julia. It is a clear indication of the lack of talent within the ALP’s talent pool and will make it very difficult for the ALP to be trusted in the future, without significant structural change

    • year of the dragon says:

      01:32pm | 22/08/12

      Interesting article.

      “before entering Parliament, he was reckless with the money of people he was paid handsomely to protect and to advance their interests”

      Reckless implies that his mis-use of the money was inadvertent.

      It seems that he was more than reckless: he was pre-meditated and deliberate in his mis-use of union funds. That this isn’t a criminal offence is outrageous.

    • dovif says:

      02:34pm | 22/08/12

      Rackless with the money of other people they are paid handsomely to protect and to advance their interests seem to perfectly discribe the whole of ALP, maybe the modus operani of the whole ALP is based on Thompson’s

      BER, Insulation, Carbon tax, budget deficit, Green Loan, Grocery Choice Fuel Choice, Cheques to overseas to stimilate their economy

    • Denny says:

      01:36pm | 22/08/12

      Thompson is a first rate fool who is trying to muddy the waters, again. What he claims to be in the KPMG report and what is actually written seem to be at odds with each other. Nowhere does the KPMG report say the findings are flawed. They say the process was flawed, and that Fairwork was inadequatley staffed, and that procedures were not well defined but it does not say the findings were wrong.

      If anything Thompson has been the beneficiary of Fairworks incompetence. had it been on the ball, perhaps he would be facing the court right now instead of trying to fool the media.

      I heard the grub shorten trying to blame Tony Abbott for Fairwork’s incompetence. Does anyone in that government from the PM down have any shame at all? Thompson is still in trouble but given that most MSM condone both his and Gillard behaviour (in another matter), it might be a cold day in hell before justice is served.

    • eRon says:

      01:43pm | 22/08/12

      Jeez, I didn’t see this coming. Thommo is a genius!
       
      How f***ed is a society that has police hiding around corners with cameras to catch and punish motorists for doing 2km/h over the speed limit, but can’t find the wherewithal to investigate effectively (despite spending hideously extravagant sums of taxpayer funds) and punish several high profile players that have systematically removed hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organisations that promote themselves as representing the most lowly paid of all of our citizens?
      That these people manage to stay in the national parliament, and crow about their vindication, by virtue of the ineptitude of the investigating entity, is every bit as perverse as it is offensive.

    • Steve Douglas says:

      02:24pm | 22/08/12

      geez eRon were you booked for breaking the law recently (i.e. speeding)?  Use a little bit of thinking - the police who try to stop speeders (and potentially killing people with their thoughtlessness) are not the same police that would investigate serious crime.  It is not the police who have caused this problem with getting to the bottom of the HSU “incident”  - it is our political masters especially those so closely associated with the Trade Union movement.

    • Paul says:

      02:32pm | 22/08/12

      What is really offensive is that this sniveling p***k Thomson will retire from politics at the next election with a nice little pension and plenty of perks. His repugnant snout will be in the trough for years to come and he obviously has no qualms about accepting it all. Absolute low life oxygen thief!

    • Angel says:

      02:39pm | 22/08/12

      Well said. Thank you.

    • eRon says:

      03:44pm | 22/08/12

      Nah, Steve. Haven’t been booked for years…
      People traveling at 2kmh over the speed limit aren’t killing anymore people than those traveling 2kmh slower, my friend.
      And if you read more carefully, my complaint was not about the police, but the “society” that allows these two events to occur, at the same time.
      I agree completely with your last sentence.

    • eRon says:

      01:50pm | 22/08/12

      Who set up FWA (both of them)?
      Should it really come as any sort of a revelation that they are both expensive, and ineffectual?
       
      Bill Shorten’s attempts to bolster the FWA credentials are about as convincing as this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf4nlIEHfaU
       
      This mob of clowns just have to go… They really do.

    • Babylon says:

      01:51pm | 22/08/12

      What KPMG has confirmed is that Gillard should never of appointed her FWA to do this investigation 4 years ago. Not if she truly wanted to get to the bottom of the crimes.

      Gillard’s FWA do not have the processes and procedures to conduct a big enquiry of this nature.

      I wonder what was in her mind when she appointed the unsuitable FWA to do this investigation?

    • JoniM says:

      02:18pm | 22/08/12

      Just like the HSU East Branch was set up by greedy corrupt union leaders to rape and pillage unionists funds, the ALP set up FWA for equally politically beneficial abuse. The FWA became the protector of the unions in Industral Relations issues and a great place to hide away enquiries into politically damaging issues for the government ( eg Thomsen case). Kick the ball into the long grass of FWA ! Four years of fumbling around there served its purpose for this government !

    • lostinperth says:

      01:52pm | 22/08/12

      Thomson is a clear example of why Union leaders should have the same code of conduct as company director’s have. If a corporate director had spent his shareholders money the same way thomson spent his member’s he would be behind bars.

    • Joan says:

      02:04pm | 22/08/12

      Unions, and their involvement in Australian politics are so on the nose. - it sickens all Australians and Craig Thomson is the face for all that sickens Australians about todays unionist types that play political power games and take advantage to remain silent..  Our PM Gillard remains silent with respect to her involvent with people involved in misuse of union associated money. Not surprisingly she has been on Craig Thomson side from day one. Like sticks with like.  Howes AWU unionist helped to oust peoples PM Rudd June 2010- as Gillard knifed Rudd overnight and Gillard attack dog AWU unionist Swan then set up on Rudd to finish him off. What a disgusting lot of human beings not an ounce of decency between them -  they make your skin crawl as you listen and watch them at home on TV .  Nauseating.

    • JoniM says:

      02:06pm | 22/08/12

      “As the boss of an organisation lacking reasonable governance policies, he and perhaps the board in essence were able to authorise the gouging of the union. Not illegal. Just grubby.”

      And therein lies the whole problem !
      That’s why the Police & FWA have taken so long with investigations and why it is unlikely that Thomsen will never face court and the clown will continue to peddle he was simply a “victim"of all these false accusations.
      The whole HSU east branch was set up deliberately this way to allow for rape and pillage members money ! Williamson, Thomsen and Co simply followed their ALP DNA instincts to rort and corrupt but , of couse to always look after your mates !
      And then you’ll have the Union movement tell us this is just an isolated incident not reflective of the broader union movement ! Well except for a few other isolated incidents like the Wilson / Gillard rort or whatever Dean Mighell’s latest ETU scam was ? We’ve already seen every second ALP / ex-unionist from the last NSW State Government under ICAC investigation or some District court case ! The plethora of isolated incidents is now becoming quite ho hum ! Who cares ?  Just another ALP / Union rort ? Pht !
      But Abbott has an issue with capable women!
      And country Independents too !

    • Fiddler says:

      02:08pm | 22/08/12

      why does he even say anything? He is almost vertain to not be selected to run for the ALP at the next election, and even if he is, given the current polling, almost certain not to be elected. He should just shut his mouth and appear a fool rather than open it and remove all doubt.

    • JoniM says:

      02:48pm | 22/08/12

      He actually thinks he is innocent of any wrong doing!
      He was just being a normal Union leader ! What’s all the fuss ?

    • TimB says:

      02:48pm | 22/08/12

      The issue of pre-selection brings up another question- If Thomson has Gillard’s full support & is ‘innocent (until proven guilty)’ according to the ALP…surely they should have no problem selecting him to stand for election again. Indeed one wonders why he’s even sitting as an independant given the ALP’s proclaimed support.

      ...After all, championing his innocence whilst attempting to distance themselves from him could be seen as a wee bit hypocritical wouldn’t you think?

    • cynic says:

      02:14pm | 22/08/12

      Been in ir for 30 years. The real underbelly here is the conduct of thompson as a senior union official is not isloated:- see a certain former awu official in the ealry 1990s for example. There are others. My point being; many senior union officials go onto parliament.  Their integrity, or lack thereof, is the real worry as they get to be in government. The lack of basic corporate governance is common in unions so how do you think they will be in government???? Public servants will not counter them for fear of destroying their careers.

    • Badjack says:

      05:28pm | 22/08/12

      @ CYNIC….......... going into parliament is bad enough but what is worse, they are on Industry Super Fund Boards. Oh yeah.

    • andye says:

      06:45pm | 22/08/12

      @cynic - “The lack of basic corporate governance is common in unions “

      BINGO.

      I’ve said this before, but unions aren’t the only organisations rife with corruption. Certain industry bodies and various other organisations where a lot of money and power with little oversight in in the hands of a few people, this will eventually happen.

      As much as many people want to make corruption a partisan issue, it is basically inevitable when the structure of an organisation fits the pattern I described above. Corporations are only as corrupt as they can be, with their increased oversight.

      I note that most posts aren’t about fixing any of the problems, they are simply about using this case to smear as widely as possible.

    • TimB says:

      02:23pm | 22/08/12

      I Hope Blind Freddy, TRD, and everyone else impotently howling about Kathy Jackson pay close attention to this bit:

      “3. Why do you propose that your conduct should be considered in the context of others, such as Ms Jackson and the investigator from FWA? Shouldn’t they all stand-alone?”

      Investigate Jackson all you like. I really don’t care. But don’t use it to distract from the very valid questions surrounding Craig Thomson.

    • Leigh says:

      02:25pm | 22/08/12

      Is there anything you couldn’t get away with if you had a hide as thick as Craig Thomson’s?

    • Huonian says:

      02:27pm | 22/08/12

      Thomson, Williamson, Wilson, Barrett…......a parade through the media of the union movement’s finest .

      Anybody at the ACTU yet worked out why so few workers are in unions these days ? 

      How many of Julia Gillard’s team are ex union hacks?  Do you think this might explain why she’s in so much trouble?

    • poa says:

      03:20pm | 22/08/12

      new ad on tele…If you work and pay union fees..You’re a BLOODY IDIOT!

    • Ian1 says:

      03:35pm | 22/08/12

      @Miles “three wrongs don’t make a right”....

      Well, depending on your point of view.  If Craig needed to make a right turn but took a wrong turn (i.e left), by making two further wrong turns (left, left) he would have made a right.

      Not a fan of Craig at all, I’m just saying.

    • chuck says:

      04:03pm | 22/08/12

      KPMG - didn’t they need a bale out during the last Fin. crisis ha, ha?

    • BruceS says:

      04:06pm | 22/08/12

      Thank you Miles. What a sad sordid disaster.

    • Badjack says:

      05:14pm | 22/08/12

      Hey folks….. when Thompson comes out makes these stupid statements about being in the clear , just remember, he is not talking to us, he is talking to his wife.

    • Grey says:

      07:52pm | 22/08/12

      Ahh, the bully pulpit of the media.

      Mr Thomson has been very clear: he did not pay or use prostitutes and that if there is documentation to the contrary then that documentation is either fraudulent or fraud or both.  He has specifically stated that the signature on the credit card voucher presented by Fairfax is not his.  These are questions that must be resolved.

      And it appears that still no one will take him to Court over the matter…..Yet another excuse has been found.

 

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