Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Thomson/Williamson memories linger-MPSMITH

I am still in shock that Katrina Hart was not elected by HSU members in their recent ballot.   More about that later.   This report from The Age in Melbourne sets out the Shorten/Conroy continuing influence in the HSU.
Shorten went to the Federal Court to appoint an administrator to the union within days of hearing that NSW Police were investigating Williamson.   Shorten's move stymied those within the union who wanted an end to use of the HSU as a operational wing of the Labor.   Many in the HSU would like to see it represent its members' interests, rather than those of Shorten, Conroy et al.

This piece from The Age in Melbourne sets out the Shorten/Conroy link to a Melbourne Labor mayor, groomed by and arguably beholden to those in the Labor Party who have apparently bankrolled her campaign.

THE bitter and expensive fight for control of the Health Services Union has  likely resulted in the election of a candidate in Victoria with links to senior  Labor ministers Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy.
The election result came as MP Craig Thomson (below), the union's former  national secretary, again proclaimed his innocence of charges he used union  funds for personal expenses, including on prostitutes.
In the Victorian Health Services Union elections, former Darebin Council  mayor Diana Asmar - who may soon be named in a damning Ombudsman's investigation  of the council - is almost certain to win.
Her victory over former HSU official Marco Bolano in the poll of 11,000  health workers is expected to be declared by the Australian Electoral Commission  on Friday. The commission on Thursday would not confirm the result, but  Ms  Asmar's team and her opponents believed she would win.
The elections were triggered after Mr Shorten went to the Federal Court in  June to have the union placed into administration. A key figure in Ms Asmar's  campaign was Labor blogger Andrew Landeryou, who is also close to Mr  Shorten.
The expected win will follow an ugly campaign by two warring factions within  the Right of the Labor Party.
Ms Asmar's team is believed to have posted more than 20 pieces of direct mail  to union members, some of it targeted to limited numbers of recipients, in a  campaign that Labor figures predicted would cost upwards of $250,000. Mr  Bolano's team is likely to have posted  six of its own mailouts.
Fairfax Media last week revealed that the Australian Workers Union had a  slush fund that  bankrolled Ms Asmar's unsuccessful bid for Health Services  Union secretary  in 2009.
Both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Mr Shorten attended fund-raiser events  for the slush fund  in 2008.
While Ms Asmar's opponents believe the fund was also likely  used this time,  AWU Victorian secretary Cesar Melhem said last week that ''at this stage'' he  would not use the fund to support her.
While Ms Asmar may win the coveted secretary's position of the union's number  one branch, it is  possible that her team may not win control of the branch  committee that governs the union.
Ms Asmar, who did not return calls on Thursday, pledged during the campaign  not to reaffiliate the embattled  union with the Labor Party. The union left the  ALP in 2011.
In Sydney on Thursday, Craig Thomson's lawyer Chris McArdle said  an attempt  by Fair Work Australia to build its case against his client - by issuing  subpoenas to brothels - had come up with nothing.
Fair Work issued nine subpoenas to brothels earlier this month requesting  information regarding its Federal Court action against Mr Thomson. The watchdog  alleges the New South Wales MP misused  union funds when he was national  secretary. Mr Thomson  denies the claims.
Mr McArdle said four  brothels said  there was nothing to produce. ''One  gentleman actually produced a letter saying he didn't have any records. The  others just returned a form saying nothing to produce,'' he told AAP.
And all the while, there's Craig smiling back.   Hard to believe, but he must have posed for this photo.

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