Health Services report reveals where union millions went

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Health Services report reveals where union millions went

April 30, 2012 – 6:08PM

The interim report into the procurement processes of the Health Services Union paints a scathing picture of a union which has spent millions of dollars on goods and services without going to tender or even obtaining comparative prices.

The report, written by Ian Temby QC and accountant Dennis Robertson, was sent to council members of the union’s East branch this afternoon.

It reveals that a computer company called United Edge, part-owned by the union’s boss Michael Williamson, received $1.3 million per year from April 2008 until September last year.

Communigraphix, the company at the centre of the allegations that it provided kickbacks in the form of credit cards to Mr Williamson and then HSU general secretary Craig Thomson, is revealed to have received $3.44 million from the union over the period March 2007 until September 2011.

Access Focus, which is run by a close friend of the union’s procurement officer has received more than $5 million from the union since October 2007. Access Focus provides consultancy services as well as union memorabilia.

Canme, which is run by Mr Williamson’s wife’s Julianne, has received $384,625 between December 2005 and June 2009.

Mr Temby noted that neither Mr or Mrs Williamson co-operated with his investigation, although they provided written statements through lawyers. Mr Williamson and Mr Thomson have previously denied any wrongdoing.

The report was also critical of the average $600,000 a year spent on union officials’ credit cards. Not only where there no guidelines as to kinds of acceptable expenditure but there was no requirement to provide documents explaining how the expenditure related to union business.

While there was no specific mention of Mr Thomson, it appears from the report that nothing has been done to remedy the deficencies in credit card use by union officials since the Herald first raised allegations in 2009 that Mr Thomson used his union credit to spend over $5000 on prostitutes and to obtain $100,000 in cash advances – allegations he denies.

Mr Temby said that the issue with credit cards and other matters would be dealt with in the final report which is expected to be provided to the union council on Mr Temby’s return form overseas in late May.

Mr Temby said that it was vital that the union receive his interim report in the union’s procurement processes straight away because of the serious issues raised by the lack of internal controls.

The possibility of abuses by “either suppliers or members of procurement staff or both, including cosy or frankly illegal practices” needed to be remedied immediately, Mr Temby said.

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