Australian Health Care Boss Williamson Sentenced; Inquiry Continues

Sydney harborIn Australia, investigations of labor corruption go all out. Recent leaders of that country’s Health Services Union no doubt wish that wasn’t the case. This March, former HSU National President Michael Williamson was sentenced in Sydney District Court to up to seven-and-a-half years in prison for fleecing his union of about AUD$1 million, though the true total of his thefts may have run well into the millions. He had pleaded guilty last October. A union commission is continuing its search for answers in this scandal. Recently-released phone recordings have confirmed Williamson directed his HSU East Branch successor to block a police probe. And the union has sued its former national secretary, Kathy Jackson, for diverting $660,000 toward personal expenses. Jackson denies all wrongdoing, saying the charges are the work of opponents bent on punishing her prior whistle-blowing.

Union Corruption Update twice has covered this case, in September 2012 and …

Ex-Australian Health Care Union Boss Williamson Arrested, Charged

Sydney harborWhen Michael Williamson resigned last summer as head of Australia’s Health Services Union, his legal problems were only beginning. Now they’ve been raised to a new level. This April 8, police in Sydney accused the former labor leader with diverting about $600,000 in union funds to personal use over a more than three-year period. The charges follow 20 embezzlement, fraud and obstruction charges lodged against him early last October. Williamson and several other persons were arrested. In all, the union during his tenure allegedly made at least $20 million in questionable, if not illegal payments to vendors without proper documentation. The case also serves as an example of why mixing union business and national politics, in any country, is an invitation to corruption. 

Union Corruption Update first covered this story last September. Michael Williamson, 59, a resident of the Sydney area, weeks earlier had resigned from his post as national president of the Health …

Australian Health Services Union President Resigns Following Revelations of Corruption

Sydney harborA major reason why union leaders go crooked is because they see opportunities to steal. And few things provide those opportunities quite like a government sympathetic to union expansion. Australia would seem no exception. At the start of August, Michael Williamson, national president of that country’s Health Services Union (HSU), resigned via text message less than two weeks after the leaking of findings of an eight-month investigation to the media had alleged a clear pattern of “stark favoritism” in union spending and contracting. The probe, which had begun a year ago, led to a May 2 raid by New South Wales (NSW) police on the union’s East Branch headquarters in Sydney, now in government receivership. Acting HSU chief Chris Brown praised the report as a guide to preventing future scandals. Yet given the nature of Australia’s health care system, prevention will be easier said than done. Americans should take heed as well. …