Health Services Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson arrives at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
Health Services Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson arrives at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Photo: AAP

Controversial unionist Kathy Jackson allegedly used union
credit cards to misappropriate more than $660,000 for her own expenses
including airline tickets, boutique hotel rooms and upmarket dinners
while on a series of lavish overseas holidays.

Her alleged expenses, revealed in bank statements subpoenaed
by the Health Services Union, also list large purchases at Melbourne
department stores and liquor shops. Thousands of dollars were allegedly
blown in single visits to some of the city's most exclusive bars and

The transactions relate to multiple union credit cards
controlled by Ms Jackson and bring the total amount of members' funds
she is alleged to have misused to more than $1.4 million.

Ms Jackson, the former Victorian HSU boss, rose to national
prominence for exposing the credit card misuse of her predecessor,
disgraced former federal MP Craig Thompson. He was convicted of fraud
charges earlier this year for misappropriating about $24,000 of union
funds. But Ms Jackson has come under growing scrutiny for her own
conduct and now faces a string of damning corruption claims levelled
against her by her former union.


The latest claims, outlined in documents seen by Fairfax
Media, allege that she misappropriated members' fees to fund a five-star

Acting HSU national secretary Chris Brown said the union was
"seriously considering" referring the matter to Victoria Police to
launch a criminal investigation into Ms Jackson's conduct.

Ms Jackson is implicated in the misuse of union funds to the
tune of $250,000 through union-provided credit cards, a further $250,000
in cash cheques and $100,000 in unaccounted payments.

Three union credit cards – a Diners Club card, a Citibank
MasterCard and a CBA MasterCard – were allegedly used by Ms Jackson to
fund flights and travel expenses on 18 holidays between 2003 and 2011 to
destinations such as the Gold Coast, Hong Kong, New York City and

Among the alleged expenses detailed in the HSU statement of claim are:

  • $2200 at George Calombaris' flagship Melbourne restaurant, The Press Club, in December 2003.
  • $3011 for accommodation at the Paramount Hotel, New York, in January 2004.
  • $1742 at clothing store J Crew in Boston in February 2004.
  • $14,000 in cash withdrawals in Hong Kong in a week in October 2004.
  • $13,000 for accommodation at Astra Alpine Lodge, Falls Creek, in August 2005.

The documents allege she spent about $120,000 of union funds
on various domestic and international holidays, $76,900 on retail
products such as Apple-brand electronic goods for her personal use,
$13,000 on dozens of trips to her local grocery stores and bottle shops,
and $32,000 on entertainment.

Ms Jackson is currently being sued by her former union for
about $740,000 amid separate claims she broke governance rules when she
hired a law firm in late 2011 and when she appointed factional ally Rob
Elliott to a $150,000 position. She is also accused of misappropriating
union money in a slush fund called the National Health Development

The HSU is seeking court orders for Ms Jackson to pay back $1
million for misusing members' funds. It has applied for a summary
judgment, arguing she had failed to comply with court orders 17 times
and had been deliberately delaying the case against her.

If the summary judgment is not granted, the HSU will pursue
the alternative claim alleging Ms Jackson misappropriated $663,000 in
union funds for her own use, as outlined in the new bank records.

Ms Jackson did not attend a court hearing on Tuesday, saying she was too sick. But Mark
Irving, representing the HSU, accused Ms Jackson of faking an illness
in a bid to "avoid judgment day" for as long as possible.

"This reversion to alleged illness is something that has
arisen constantly in proceedings in this court and elsewhere to get
adjourned proceedings," he said.

Justice Richard Tracey ordered that copies of the union's
proposed orders and oral submission be sent to Ms Jackson's lawyers. He
adjourned the case until October 14.

Philip Beazley, representing Ms Jackson, did not respond to a request for comment.