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.

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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.

Foreign Frolics Friday

 

Hello Pubsters. I have arrived home safely and well after a little jaunt around some of the Western part of the USA. Travelling was fun be it is good to be home. We where greeted with uncontrollable howling for about 1 minute from Ned and Syd then they had a bit of a sniff at the luggage then walked of for a snooze. Seems as though we aren’t as important to them as we thought. Ungrateful sods. The cats turned up a couple of hours later demanding food , No hello ,welcome home or anything from them. More ungrateful sods. The fish did what fish do, swam around wanting food.

WE started in Honolulu for a few days as the OH isn’t fond of flying that much and a non stop trip to the Continental USA would have seen the plane meet by security for here and a hearse for me. As it was she just made the journey to Hawaii in a more or less stable condition. We didn’t get of the Main island and just relaxed and did the tourist things. Pearl Harbour National Park was good. Honolulu in my opinion is just a bigger version of the Gold Coast but was good for a stop over and to prepare for Main Attraction. A bonus is that we had cleared immigration in Honolulu so avoided the long queues and apparently not very nice officials at LAX. The persons we dealt with in Honolulu were friendly and helpful.

We flew direct to San Francisco. arriving rather late at night but our flight path gave us a excellent view of the city at night.

San Fran. is a great city  with plenty to see and do. I won,t go into minute details of what we did but as well as the usual Fisherman’s wharf , Cable cars  Golden gate etc. we had a great time just walking around stopping at a shop/eatery/bar here and there and jumping on a bus to see where we end up.The wave Organ is pretty amazing. Made up of pipes that change sounds when the water rushes in .

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After nearly a week in SF. It was time to move north to Seattle, home of the Space Needle, Pike Place Markets among other thing, and more importantly for me Boeing aircraft .

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After a while there and discussion we decided to bite the bullet and do a little road trip Seattle to Salt lake city. Not something most people do but what the heck we thought. Hired a car and off we went through Washington,Oregon,Idaho and Utah. Now I have driven most of Australia and we have a great country but nothing we have can match the scenery over there,Little towns, Farms ,

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And much better roads

Arrived in the capitol of Mormons and was surprised to find that not every male wears a white shirt and tie and asks me if I  wanted to preached to.

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After a few days here and again with much discussion we hopped over to Sin City Las Vegas.The excuse for this was that Grand canyon tours are better from there,but in all truth people told us we had to go at least once while we here and I must admit I was interested to have a look. I actually liked Vegas, It was loud.bright.noisy and non-stop but the people were friendly, we saw a show called ” Absinthe ” at Caesars palace. it was pretty good sort of a circus,vaudeville show for Adults only. Caesars Palace is huge but in my opinion looking a bit dated. Lost a bit of cash on the tables but OH won some on roulette so we broke about even.

tropicana view

The Grand Canyon tour was amazing. We did a chopper tour, leaving vegas flying out to the canyon, Over Lake Mead and Hoover dam and the into the canyon itself. It really is huge. Landed and had some lunch and scenic walk along the edge with views then took off back to Vegas .Expensive but close to the highlight of the trip. ON our flight where a couple from LA. celebrating there 25th wedding anniversary . Apparently he proposed when the were hiking there years ago so returned on a bit of a nostalgic trip. Terrific couple and we hit it off really well. OH and his wife got on well,both joggers and fit ,and with a handbag addiction. They own a landscaping company in LA, and is pretty successful. We met up for dinner that night and had a great time. Our plans were to go to San Diego then back to San Fran before the flight home,but they convinced us to go to LA and they would show us around ,so being foot loose and fancy free that is where we ended up.

You don’t really realise how big LA is until you fly over it. It is massive. We flew into Burbank Airport  and got good views. Our New Friends live in a suburb called Alhambra about 20ks from the CBD.

WE saw a lot of LA and met some fantastic people. Too much to go into here but am proud to say avoided the Universal studio tours and the red bus homes of the famous tours though our guides did point out a few places. Mrs 6 pac went shopping  with her new friend and returned with a handbag from rodeo drive which she refuses to tell me how much it cost, so I am guessing it was over $100.

After LA we flew back to San Francisco for 2 nights then back to Honolulu for another 2 days then home again.
So there it is a very brief quick overview of our us adventure.I have left out heaps but that is the general gist of things.
We originally planned to go to the East coast as well but decided after being in SF for 3 days that in order not to rush through we would stick to the west and do the east next time.
The yanks in general are lot like us in many ways. Most people are very friendly and helpful. We made many new friends and swapped email address and such. Australians still seem to be very popular and well liked over there.
It’s great to be home though. With all our faults and troubles we really don’t have it that bad here. Especially now that the idiot is no longer in the top job.I would have loved to have seen him defeated in a general election and see him sulk giving a concession speech.
Maybe he wouldn’t have given one going on what I’ve read on his dumping

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Thanks to Fiona for keeping the pub running as she always has.I will try and help out more and give her a well deserved break
Have a good time.

Freedom Friday

(Image Credit: Freedom Counseling Center)

Mid-spring, and already it feels like early summer. With a strong El Niño now underway, those Pubsters who dwell in the colder (during winter) states may have seen the last of the winter chills for a while. From one perspective, it is nice to be free of shivering in the ice house where I live; on the other hand, the prospect of extreme heat doesn’t entice either.

What other freedoms are worth noting this Friday? Well, there’s the (comparative) freedom from football of various descriptions, in Australia, at least. As I’m not a passionate follower or a passionate loather, I’m pretty much indifferent. However, my commiserations for those of you suffering withdrawal symptoms, and my congratulations to those who can now enjoy respite for a few months, or weeks . . .

My personal freedom is that the lease on my mother’s flat ends at midnight tomorrow night. The cleaning is just about done, there are a few small items to remove, but otherwise that’s that.

The other freedoms to be celebrated this Friday evening are the freedom to enjoy each other’s friendship, to play our favourite music, to be the life of the party or to relish quietness. Freedom is so precious, and we are lucky that one of the freedoms we seem to excel at is the freedom provided by our toleration of each other.

So, feel free to make yourselves at home at The Pub and to do what you will this evening (within the bounds of toleration, it goes without saying)!

(Image Credit: Country Place)