Judge considering HSU, Jackson case

Whistleblower Kathy Jackson was paid $170,000 a year to run the Health Services Union, but she has since declared bankruptcy and is being sued for upwards of $2.

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5 million over allegations she used union money as a personal bank account.

Federal Court Justice Richard Tracey says he will consider the HSU’s case against Ms Jackson as speedily as possible after a civil trial finished in the Federal Court on Thursday.

Ms Jackson, who blew the whistle on former union boss Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson, is accused of misusing about $1.3 million.

The claim largely centres on allegations she used an unauthorised slush fund for personal expenses, with separate credit card spending and cash withdrawals also under scrutiny.

Barrister Mark Irving, for the HSU, alleged Ms Jackson set up the National Health Development Account (NHDA) without authority in 2003, and used it to hold union funds under her control.

Ms Jackson, who denies any wrongdoing, says the account was approved by the branch committee of management (BCOM) and was used for union interests, court documents show.

But the union says she splashed cash on international holidays, and withdrawals allegedly aligned with deposits into her personal accounts.

Some or all of about $100,000 allegedly paid for a divorce from Ms Jackson’s ex-husband, the HSU says.

Video games, a boozy group dinner worth $2200 and interior furnishings were allegedly charged to union credit cards, the court heard.

Mr Irving also said “vast wads” of cash were withdrawn from a branch cheque account and most of it was kept by Ms Jackson, who he alleged used an inaccurate ledger as a “false trail”.

The court heard cheques were cashed, $100 each was given to BCOM members at meetings and Ms Jackson retained the balance – allegedly almost $250,000.

Ms Jackson says the money went back into a union kitty for discretionary use, the court heard.

She was paid $170,000 a year while national secretary and also received a $63,000 honorarium from the Victorian branch, which the HSU wants back.

Ms Jackson declared bankruptcy late last month.

She wrote to the court saying she could not afford to be represented at trial, and that the matter was now a claim against her estate.

Mr Irving said he expects the ongoing trade union royal commission would consider issues from the civil trial once Justice Tracey hands down his judgment.

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