Unions are like tax – you hate them but you need them. Having said that, I still think that they're evil with at the end of their day their own survival is their main target. It is a shame, but you cannot fight human nature, and when someone gets that much power, to stop a business, to stop and country, to stop whatever they want to stop if they are not happy with what is happening then it is inevitable that the power will go to their heads and corrupt them. For example, the tube drivers in London are being paid around 35000 pounds/yr for just driving. They get large pay increases and if they don't they strike! Evil evil evil! Tube drives are uneducated numb heads and all they need to do is start the train and stop it! Hardly difficult!!
They are so corrupt – I read this on the SMH.COM.AU
THE federal Labor MP and former union boss Craig Thomson faces allegations that his union credit cards were used to pay for escort services and to withdraw more than $100,000 in cash, as well as bankroll his election campaign for the central coast seat of Dobell.
Documents provided to the Herald show that Health Services Union officials concluded last year that union credit cards issued to Mr Thomson – and other financial resources – were used for election campaign spending. These had not been disclosed under electoral law.
Mr Thomson, 44, was the union's national secretary from 2002 to 2007 and is chairman of the House of Representatives economics committee.
The union officials also concluded that Mr Thomson's union Commonwealth Bank credit card had been used to withdraw cash advances totalling $101,533 during his five years as national secretary.
And the documents suggest the Commonwealth Bank MasterCard in Mr Thomson's name was used to make payments to operators of a Sydney brothel and two escort services as well as numerous payments to restaurants and bars and for purchases of personal items.
The allegations are outlined in a letter written by the union's national secretary, Kathy Jackson, to the law firm Slater & Gordon in December asking it to hire forensic accountants to examine possible financial irregularities during Mr Thomson's period in office.
But Mr Thomson, who was an HSU official for nearly 20 years before securing preselection for Dobell, one of the Coalition-held marginal seats Labor targeted in the 2007 election, strenuously denied the allegations.
He said yesterday they were the result of feuding in the union's Victorian branches, with “more and more outrageous claims and counter-claims being made” by factional opponents.
Mr Thomson insisted there was no truth to suggestions his union credit card had been used to withdraw cash from ATMs every few days for five years or that union funds and resources used in his election campaign had not been appropriately authorised or disclosed.
He said all financial transactions until June 30, 2007 had been approved by the union's relevant internal committees and decision-making bodies and had been audited by an independent external auditor “and no inappropriate spending was found to have been made by myself”.
Another audit was being conducted into the period from June 2007 until he resigned in November 2007 to take up his seat in Parliament.
“I am confident that it will clear me of any allegations of inappropriate use of union funds,” he said.
The Herald has been provided with copies of monthly statements for a Commonwealth Bank MasterCard titled “Mr Craig Thomson's business card cardholder statement” which show hundreds of cash advances from ATMs between November 2002 and November 2007.
The advances are for amounts ranging from $100 to $600 and average about $20,000 a year.
Ms Jackson's letter says the union's auditor wrote to the national executive last May saying he had become aware of the existence of this card and that there appeared to be no documentary evidence to support the cash advances.
The credit card statements also show:
* A payment of $330 in February 2003 to Aboutoun Catering of North Sydney, which is listed in the Yellow Pages as an escort service;
* Two payments of $570 and $2475 in 2003 and 2005 to “Keywed Pty Ltd Restaurant” in Surry Hills, a company listed on the internet as the payee for clients of the Sydney Outcalls Network, an escort agency;
* A payment of $418 in June 2005 to Nolta Pty Ltd, a company that South Sydney City Council records show operates Tiffanys brothel in Surry Hills.
The Herald provided copies of the statements to Mr Thomson and asked whether he had authorised the payments or had any explanation for why they were included on the documents. He did not respond specifically to these questions.
However, he said he had concerns about the veracity of the documents. Earlier this week he suggested they must be fabrications if they showed transactions of that nature, because the transactions had never happened.
“It was the national office credit card,” he said of the MasterCard. “There were a number of staff who had access to that card, but statements were looked at each month in detail by the union's finance committee.”
The letter from Ms Jackson says the union's auditor advised last May that many transactions on the Commonwealth Bank card and on three union Diners Club cards in the names of Mr Thomson and two former HSU employees were not supported by receipts or documentation.
“Some of these items appear to be of a personal nature, and some were incurred after Mr Thomson's resignation from office,” Ms Jackson's letter says.
“There are transactions in respect of which the invoices suggest that they were political expenditure, and a number of transactions for which there are no invoices/receipts and which may be political expenditure.”
Ms Jackson asks Slater & Gordon to provide legal advice on whether HSU funds had been spent in accordance with the union's rules, whether funds had been misappropriated and whether funds spent on the credit cards needed to be declared as political expenditure under electoral law.
In a statement issued last night Ms Jackson said the HSU's national auditor had raised issues last year that the union's national executive had decided unanimously required further independent investigation.
Slater & Gordon and an independent auditor, BDO Kendall, had been appointed to conduct the investigation and make recommendations. “That investigation is continuing. No findings have been made,” Ms Jackson said.
“Given the seriousness of the issues under investigation, it is not considered appropriate to make further comment until such time as the investigation has concluded.”
Mr Thomson said the HSU's national president and NSW general secretary, Michael Williamson, was overseeing the audit examining the allegations. Mr Williamson is a powerbroker in the ALP's NSW Right faction and was recently elected as the party's national president.
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