Backs to the Wall

Investigative journalist Peter Wicks is our Guest Author today, with his take on last night’s extraordinary edition of Four Corners. Thank you so much, Peter, for permission to republish – and thanks for your tireless efforts over the past four years working on this intriguing and appalling story.


Tonight’s episode of 4 Corners had all the anticipation of a heavyweight title fight, and for good reason.

It was viewed as a last ditch attempt by a pair of rich people living in luxury to escape the long arm of the law as it draws closer.

While the main attraction may have been the alleged Queen Of Corruption, Kathy Jackson, tonight was her partner Michael Lawler’s turn to shine.

Michael Lawler, whose involvement readers here have been aware of since 2012, is the current Vice President of Fair Work Commission (formerly FWA). Appointed to his position by Tony Abbott, the organisation he was appointed to then became notorious for the lengthy investigation into the HSU. This was the investigation into Craig Thomson, Lawler’s partner’s predecessor as Secretary of the Union, and also a crucial member of a hung parliament whom if forced out could even have made the man who appointed him Prime Minister.

Hmmm, no conflict of interest there…

As a result Craig Thomson was driven to breaking point emotionally and smeared in the press, and still remains a punch-line for allegations he was eventually found not guilty of.

I have often said these people spend their time in an alternative reality, one that I have referred to as “Jacksonville” and on occasions I have described Lawler’s alternate state as “Lawler Creek”. Now it appears to have dawned on him that he may just be up that creek without a paddle.

The remarkably healthy looking Lawler that we watched tonight has spent 9 months on fully paid sick leave. This is at the taxpayers expense and at a rate of $435,000 pa.

Tonight as the law closes in Lawler has decided to once again take the taxpayer for granted by using the taxpayer funded ABC to plead his case.

What is it with these people and sponging on the taxpayer?

The spin began even before the episode started with a teaser by 4 Corners with a voice-over claiming over a video of Lawler speaking to camera;

“This is the secret video diary of a desperate man”

This statement is in direct conflict with the facts already confirmed by 4 Corners and certainly gave an indication of what may be to come.

The word “secret” is not one I would use to describe something filmed for public consumption and then given to a current affairs programme to be aired on National TV. But that’s just me and I’m not Michael Lawler…

The arrogance of putting together a five-hour monologue in your own defense is astounding. Save it for the coppers Michael, I’m sure they have subpoenaed a copy by now at any rate, watched it, had a good laugh and filed it away as evidence.

The alternate universe the pair live in was clearly on display tonight, with lots of cringeworthy moments that no doubt had viewers dry retching across the country.

Many had expected a puff piece for this episode, as early reports in some of the media suggested that would be the case. While I’m sure Lawler and Jackson agreed to provide access to 4 Corners to film the piece in the hope it would end up a puff piece that took their side. Instead we ended up with a fly on the wall piece on a delusional, self-centred and arrogant pair of people who think they are smart enough to fool the public through the media.

In the episode Michael Lawler denies he has ever “knowingly” benefitted from the proceeds of crime, that being fraud from the HSU. However he makes that denial whilst sitting in room in the multi-million dollar house he resides in. A house purchased by his partner Kathy Jackson, in part with funds allegedly fraudulently acquired at the expense of HSU members. A house that the couple attempted to transfer into Lawler’s name to avoid Federal Court forcing its sale to pay back to the members.

Jackson at the time claimed the transfer was to repay Michael for his personal and legal support. The legal support being for when he apparently provided legal support and legal representation for what he only now realises was criminal behavior if we are to believe his “unknowingly” claim.

Lawler thinks the public will understand him taking time off to care for his partner. He is right about that, we would understand if he was doing what the rest of us would do, take holiday leave, long service leave or if necessary unpaid leave. Nobody I know of would think it was in any way moral to expect the taxpayer to foot the bill for a $435K pa salary to look after ones partner. It’s not as if his partner cured cancer or anything. If fact she allegedly defrauded cancer researchers of money owed to them while misappropriating the lowest paid union members funds of over a million dollars.

I hope Lawler will forgive us mere mortals if we are a little less than understanding.

It has also been brought to our attention that Lawler likes to record conversations without the consent of the other person. This from a member of the judiciary is something that many will find highly alarming given its highly questionable legality.

Realistically Ian Ross does not set the rules regarding leave, these would be based on Lawler’s original contract which would have been negotiated with the Howard government when he was appointed. The Howard government was also responsible for the appointment of his brother John Lawler as CEO of the Australian Crime Commission.

Whether or not he was entitled to the leave, it shows a lack of judgement and common sense at the very least to take sick leave to help your partner defend herself from criminal allegations.

As we know Michael Lawler is the subject of an independent inquiry which was announced recently by Employment Minister Michaela Cash. Today the terms of reference for that investigation were released.

I think Lawler may have a tough time ahead based on those terms.

Lawler is hoping that we will sympathise with him due to his claimed mental issues. He expects this while we listen to him berating and abusing an elderly dementia sufferer whose money he has been spending. I think he has high hopes.

Those who were expecting revelations would be disappointed, those wanting a peek into another sense of reality would have been pleased.

The big news of the night was Lawler using the term cunt-struck, and the ABC letting it run.

Alternate universe indeed.

There will be more to come on this from me another day after I have dissected the details.

In the meantime though congrats to Caro Meldrum-Hanna and the 4 Corners team on a riveting piece.

Car crash television at its finest.

408 thoughts on “Backs to the Wall

  1. Goes with the pic:

    “All it will cost taxpayers is a $47.5 million tax break to Twentieth Century Fox and Disney’s Marvel Studios in the form of a 30 per cent location tax offset, up from the usual 16.5 per cent rate.”

  2. Just remember, Kenny was Turnbull’s chief of staff while Turnbull was LOTO. He quit when Turnbull got the boot. Somehow Kenny was permitted to visit Nauru when all other journalists, the UN and politicians have all been banned. It is blatantly obvious he was sent there to do the government’s dirty work and his entry arranged by order of the government.

    Once again Turnbull’s judgement comes into question with the people he favours and has around him. Kenny is scum.

  3. Chris Kenny, opinion columnist for satirical newspaper The Australian, has been confirmed as the first person to have been deservedly sent to Nauru.

    Speculation is rife that Kenny will join the likes of singer Chris Brown in being denied re-entry to Australia with the Department of Immigration very clearly stating that no one from Nauru will be resettled in Australia, no matter how they got there.

    Sources within The Australian claim that even if it turns out to be a one-way journey, sending Kenny to Nauru was a great boon for the paper.

    “It’s a terrific decision editorially speaking,” claimed one insider. “Like all Australian media we’ve been trying for about eighteen months to get a journalist into Nauru, and here we are now having an almost-journalist there.

    “It was a hard task, too. You know, Nauru charges an exorbitant non-refundable amount to even apply for a visa. Once that’s paid they can just bat you away all the same. Who knows how Chris was able to get in there. Maybe it was his persistence, maybe his tenacity, maybe it was that he’s the former chief of staff of the Australian Prime Minister – it could be anything.

    “It’s great for him, too. Put him in a room of disadvantaged, downtrodden people and he’s like a kid in a candy shop. We were half expecting him to show up in a pith helmet ready to ‘bring civilisation’.

  4. Villawood. Notes from an immigration detention centre, by Safdar Ahmed.
    View at

    And –
    Message from a refugee at Nauru detention centre

    On Friday 16th of October 2015, I was educated on how to apply mosquito spray to my body, in preparation for my transition into the Nauru community. Not only this, but I was also educated on how to use a tissue when blowing my nose, and how to put rubbish in a bin and don’t throw rubbish on the street. Also if i have gastro I am a threat to society.
    They are teaching us how to be civilised people. I don’t think they are aware of Iran’s 5000 year history of civilization! I am an educated person. I was a teacher for 28 years in my country

    View at

  5. Just what the Turnbull government needs –

    Tony Abbott set to pull Liberal strings behind the scenes

    Tony Abbott has made it clear he intends to maintain a high profile in Liberal affairs and will not shy away from controversy.

    The former prime minister is set to be the special guest next month at a function for forces pushing for plebiscite preselections that would give all party members a vote for their choice of candidates in NSW.

    Mr Abbott was travelling yesterday before delivering the Margaret Thatcher Lecture at London’s Guildhall on Monday.

    Influential NSW Liberal figures said Mr Abbott was expected to remain in parliament and use his past position and authority to play an active role in party matters

  6. So that’s what Tony has been doing in the UK – delivering the Margaret Thatcher Lecture.

    The keynote speaker will be Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister of Australia and iconic conservative leader. There will be a raffle and silent auction, as well as an opportunity to bid for rare items of memorabilia at an auction

    Abbott, the ‘iconic conservative leader’. Yeah, sure. I think that’s a typo. It should have read ‘moronic’.

  7. Used to look favourably upon the Greens but these days my response would be to tell Di Natale to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

  8. tlbd

    I’m disappointed that picture didn’t work yesterday. It was of an owl sitting in the palm of a hand about 5cm tall/short, I immediately thought of you and would have been a good one to put up when you were grabbing a few extra zzzzzzzzz’s.

  9. “…delivering the Margaret Thatcher Lecture. ”
    The walking dead speaking to the laying dead!

  10. Someone ought to remind Di Natale of how much greens supporters loved it what Bob Brown said “We don’t want to keep the bastards honest, we want to replace the bastards,” and check to see whether he still goes along with that.

    Di Natale is clearly thinking of an ALP government delivering Greens policies. The Greens would have to drop their combination idealism/intransigence model if they want to start thinking about coalitions.

  11. ‘Becoming erratic’ translates as ‘losing his marbles’.

    Eric Abetz should quit with whatever dignity he’s got left after negro slur: Jacqui Lambie

    Eric Abetz should quit Parliament with whatever dignity he has left before he continues to embarrass himself and the Liberal Party, senator Jacqui Lambie says.
    Eric’s gone from being top of the game to the back, back, backbench

    And Senator Lambie has warned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to keep an eye on the recently demoted senator because he is “becoming erratic”

  12. Last week we had AllBull saying but for the Grace of God he too might have been a cleaner. Now we have Simon Birmingham thanking his lucky stars none of his children have disabilities.

    These wretches make me sick. Not an iota of empathy or understanding among the lot of them, just ‘Thank God I’m not like you’ followed up by more funding cuts, or more slashing at wages. Bastards!

    Now Birmingham is planning to cut funding for students with disabilities.

    Funds in doubt for disabled students

    Some schools could have funding for disabled students cut next year, warns Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

    Senator Birmingham thanked his “lucky stars’’ his own children did not have a disability.

    “We all look at some friends who have children with varying disabilities and I thank my lucky stars that’s not me,’’ he told a ­Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday night. “I am very conscious of making sure we do what we can in that space.’’

    Senator Birmingham said some states and territories, or schooling systems, might end up with less money as a result of a new funding model due to start next year

  13. Shorten won’t have to front unions inquiry

    The royal commission into trade union corruption does not intend to recall Labor leader Bill Shorten to respond to new allegations.

    The commission this week heard about an alleged deal between construction giant John Holland and the Australian Workers Union that began when Mr Shorten was in charge.

    A spokesman for the commission told AAP on Friday there was no intention to call Mr Shorten.

  14. Tony Turnbull still outsourcing to the IPA. Troglodytes still in charge.

    Coalition committee tries to balance climate science briefings by inviting denialists from thinktank

    Climate scientists have been briefing Australian politicians this week. But one session did not go to plan

    But on the Friday, the scientists were told that Kelly had also invited three representatives from the “free market” thinktank the Institute of Public Affairs to also make presentations. This was, apparently, to provide “balance”.

  15. Oh Good Grief!

    ‘Offers over $40,000’: Tony Abbott joins the international speakers circuit

    The Washington Speakers Bureau says Mr Abbott boasts a “profound depth of experience” and is “keenly positioned to offer unparalleled insight on leadership, the global economy [and] global trade.”
    “Geography alone renders Australia vulnerable to terror, and thus Abbott is able to speak thoughtfully on terrorism and security in the 21st century, including the threat of ISIS and pervasive religious fundamentalism,” Mr Abbott’s biography notes.
    He can also offer a “Western perspective on the future of Asia, explore the short and long-term future of China, and provide a unique and timely political outlook for your audience”, according to the website

    Tons will need a bit more than three word slogans for his new career. Will he be taking Peta and his earworm with him on engagements – if there are any?

  16. Came back from the dentist with my molar still intact. It will eventually have to be extracted. Slight root infection. Had it before then it went away. I really appreciate modern dentist equipment.

  17. He is off (making money, I suppose) telling people he stopped the boats when he should be in Warringah working for the people who elected him.

  18. A hologram of Tones with a soundtrack that says’ Stopped the ..arrrgghh.. bots….axed the ….arrrrghhh …. ….tax… the death cult is coming for….err… all.’ would do just as well as the real thing.

  19. gigilene
    Thank goodness for the wonders of modern dentistry.That equipment looks like something from a medieval torture chamber.

  20. Sour grapes alert!

    Ben Schneiders AT LAST admits that there was more positive evidence about Shorten than there was negative, but Ben has a go at Bill anyway:

    So too are there questions about Shorten’s role and judgement.

    Yes, 900 of them, and he answered them all. He even got warned for answering them too fulsomely.

    But unlike much of the “he said, she said” testimony of the inquiry the evidence of veteran building executive Julian Rzesniowiecki was telling. He had detailed diary notes and emails of his dealings at Thiess John Holland with the AWU and Shorten.

    As someone central to the negotiations he was disarmingly frank; so much so he was prepared to make admissions around sham invoicing, clearly against his own self interest.

    He made admissions knowing that there is not a snowflake’s chance in hell of him ever being prosecuted for them, or even disciplined internally, as he no longer works for Theiss.

    While other witnesses had different recollections, most were either peripheral to the talks or had no written records or much to lose.

    They would be the witnesses whose “different recollections” were so different that one of them told Stoljar he didn’t have a clue what particular fairy story Jeremy was talking about.

    These other witnesses had little to lose. Presumably they were not at all concerned by being charged with lying to a Royal Commission, so they just rattled off some platitudes and shonky denials and scarpered.

    Bloody leftists! Never trust a building exec… oh, wait… unless he’s the one Ben Schneiders found “disarmingly frank”, to the exclusion of the other numpties that didn’t implicate Shorten.

    Read more:

    Hell hath no fury than a journo seeing his beat-up fall apart. All that work. All those “questions that must be answered”. And Dyson doesn’t even want to question Bill again. Clearly the Royal Commissioner doesn’t think Bill has any more “questions that must be answered”.

    Naturally, Ben Schneiders knows better, but for the moment he’ll have to content himself with spitting his dummy and writing a bitchy piece about how awful for Bill it might have been, if Ben had been in charge of TURC.

    Oh well, on to the next smear, Mr Schneiders…

    (Do they call him “Mr” Schneiders, or just that fuckwit who shovels Stoljar shit at The Age?)

  21. Did any of you bother to listen to that Alan Jones Climate denier rant?…God Almighty!…barking..just..barking mad!…and that Marohasy person…stark raving bonkers…Of course, getting Harper voted out and Tony dumped was all a conspiracy of the UN. “warmists”…

  22. gigilene

    Speaking to my mother recently the dental clinic at primary school was mentioned for some reason. We went to the same primary school and had a laugh to learn the name we gave to the building was the same as the one used in her day. “The Murder House” .

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