Tuesday, 1 March 2016
It has been over-long in coming and, probably wouldn’t be contemplated now by the political mates' club if this wasn’t a federal election year, but it finally looks as though another Tony Abbott appointee is about to leave the stage.
The Australian, 26 February 2016:
Fair Work Commission vice-president Michael Lawler could face unprecedented action to remove him from office within weeks after taking almost a year of sick leave on full pay of $435,000 a year.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said yesterday that she had received an independent report on February 15 into a complaint against Mr Lawler.
The report, written by barrister and former Federal Court judge Peter Heerey followed a four-month investigation.
The report deadline was extended by two months after Mr Lawler notified Mr Heerey in December that he needed more time to respond as he was ill.
Mr Lawler is on leave again from Fair Work.
Senator Cash said she had sent Mr Heerey’s report to Mr Lawler, with a deadline of next Friday for him to make any response to the final report.
The report includes recommendations on whether Mr Lawler should be removed from his position by a vote of both houses of parliament.
“I am carefully considering the report and its potential implications,” Senator Cash said.
“Before I provide further details to the parliament, I believe that, in the interests of procedural fairness, it is appropriate that I first afford vice-president Lawler an opportunity to consider the report and respond.”
The Heerey inquiry followed months of revelations by The Australian of Mr Lawler’s extensive sick leave and the overlap of his sick leave with his work on a legal case against his partner Kathy Jackson, the former national secretary of the Health Services Union.
Ms Jackson was found last year by the Federal Court to have rorted more than $1.4 million from members’ funds and ordered to repay this sum, along with another $1m in interest and court costs.
During the case against Ms Jackson, Mr Lawler on one occasion absented himself from work on sick leave to appear as her advocate in court. During the latter stages of the case, he moved to transfer Ms Jackson’s property into his own name before HSU attempts to freeze her assets.
The Australian Bar Association waded into the controversy last July, urging that the matter be resolved by parliament. This followed the then prime minister Tony Abbott’s claim that Mr Lawler’s large amount of sick leave was a matter for Fair Work president Iain Ross. Mr Lawler was originally appointed to the commission by Mr Abbott……
The Australian, 4 March 2016:
Besieged Fair Work vice-president Michael Lawler has resigned from his $435,000-a-year position in an unprecedented finale to more than a year of controversy over his extended paid sick leave.
One of Australia’s most senior members of the quasi-judicial industrial tribunal, with all the status and perks of a Federal Court judge, Mr Lawler has taken almost a year of sick leave while regularly assisting his partner, disgraced unionist Kathy Jackson, to fight allegations of theft.
Under the statute, Mr Lawler, 55, is not entitled to a pension because he has resigned before reaching the age of 60. Therefore the matter of any pension will fall under the remit of Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.
Should Mr Lawler be able to press the government into paying his statutory pension, he would be resigning with a windfall of 60 per cent of a Federal Court judge’s salary, close to $250,000 a year indexed for life.
Mr Lawler’s resignation comes at the end of a tumultuous week that has included him providing surety for a former soldier on charges of threatening a woman, and the death of another man at the home Mr Lawler shares with Ms Jackson, who last year was found to have rorted $1.4 million in union funds and still faces a criminal investigation…..