How union boss’s lavish life unravelled

 

Disgraced health union boss Kathy Jackson spent more than $100,000 of her employer's money on a luxury car, lavish overseas trips and expensive artwork.

The 52-year-old appeared via video link in the County Court of Victoria for her pre-sentence hearing over four charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

"There's not a need factor rather a greed factor," prosecutor Mark Gibson SC told the court on Tuesday about the offending.

Kathy Jackson spent the cash on a Mercedes Benz, lavish overseas trips, expensive art and more than $1000 on DVDs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
Kathy Jackson spent the cash on a Mercedes Benz, lavish overseas trips, expensive art and more than $1000 on DVDs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

The former Victorian Health Secretary Union boss took more than $102,892.85 during her time on the job.

She was found guilty of similar offending after a two-month long trial last year where she pleaded not guilty to 20 charges.

But a jury didn't believe her and found her guilty.

The court heard she spent $22,000 on a Mercedes Benz and splurged $13,100 on expenses while on a trip to the United States.

The union boss admitted to spending $67,700 which helped fund overseas trips to lavish destinations including New York, London, Paris and "shopping trips" to India and Hong Kong.

She took 23 unauthorised trips interstate and overseas using credit cards with her then-husband, partner Michael Lawler, children and friends between 2003 and 2010, the court was told.

One of the trips to Bali was a "spur of the moment" decision, Mr Gibson told the court.

She also used union funds to buy more than $1000 of DVDs at JB HiFi, furnishings for her home and expensive artwork including a portrait by renowned painter Charles Blackman.

The offending was serious but she could avoid jail.

Kathy Jackson and her partner Michael Lawler. Picture: Supplied
Kathy Jackson and her partner Michael Lawler. Picture: Supplied

The former union secretary blew the whistle on former HSU boss Craig Thomson over corruption allegations including his spending habits.

At the time of the offences, she collected an annual salary of more than $100,000, the jury was told during her trial last year.

The offending had brought "great shame" to Ms Jackson and it had damaged what should have been a "meaningful legacy" for the former union boss, her lawyer Theo Alexander told the court.

One of her references said she was "one of the finest human beings to ever grace this planet", Mr Alexander told the court.

She will be sentenced later this month.

Originally published as How union boss's lavish life unravelled


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