LITTLE SYMPATHY and a lot of contempt should befall former ALP President and Health Services Union boss Michael Williamson following his incarceration for a minimum five-year stint at Her Majesty’s pleasure; Williamson has shown no remorse for stealing $1 million from the union or for obstructing the Police investigation into him, and whilst he reportedly contemplated suicide when caught, he deserves to live to be punished.
If there is any satisfaction to be derived from the fact Michael Williamson will spend at least five years behind bars, it lies in the fact that a filthy specimen who has preyed on the membership monies of honest working folk has had the book thrown at him, but in truth there are few winners in the outcome that was played out in a Sydney court room this morning.
It is perhaps a regrettable sign of the times where unions and the leeches who illicitly profiteer from them that all readers — in Australia at least — will be well and truly familiar with the case; even so, for those wishing to view a news report on this morning’s proceedings, they can do so here or here.
I am fed up with the “defence” that has become fashionable for crooks like Williamson to seek to deploy that their fathers touched them when they were children; readers know what I think should happen to paedophiles, and it doesn’t extend to their continued consumption of oxygen, to put it mildly.
Even so, the notion that such an assault renders the judgement of the victim so defective as to assuage any pangs of guilt or conscience over the perpetration (in this case) of a million-dollar fraud, committed systematically and with forethought over a lengthy period of years, is grotesque, and so distasteful as to be dismissed from any consideration of Williamson’s culpability.
If nothing else, the efforts he went to to conceal his crimes and obstruct official investigations into his wrongdoings — readers might recall his arrest at HSU premises a couple of years ago, during which he was apprehended trying to remove computer drives and cases of incriminating documents before Police arrived — should dispel any doubt over what is, despite guilty pleas, a total and utter lack of remorse.
I contend those guilty pleas were entered into only to attempt to mitigate the penalty handed out this morning, and the same can be said of psychologist reports suggesting being molested as a child and/or a story about abandoning acting out a suicide that were tendered in Court on his behalf.
A cynic would certainly be entitled to laugh, wryly, that all manner of sins cause people like Williamson to stick their fingers in the till: it’s almost always money when the “consequent” offences are committed, and almost always lots of it — irrespective of the misdeeds of the past that were allegedly wrought upon the perpetrators.
Had he followed through on his planned suicide, he might have saved the taxpayer some money in keeping him, for sure; yet this would have been a selfish, self-serving outcome rendered by Williamson in his utter obsession with his own welfare that would have denied his victims — those HSU members who paid their dues in exchange for what they were reasonably entitled to expect would be union representation — the natural and legal justice his criminal activities entitle them to.
Justifications — such as Williamson’s desire to see his five children educated privately, and that they didn’t “go without” — simply don’t wash; I would like to send my kids to private schools that I have no idea how I will afford when the time comes, and certainly don’t want them to “go without.” I would never help myself to a million dollars of someone else’s money to make it possible, and neither would any other decent, fair-minded and law-abiding citizen in the same position.
The sense of entitlement that goes with Williamson’s offences is an insult to the ordinary folk who either struggle and scrimp to afford such things, or accept that they must go without.
Not that Williamson was poorly remunerated by the union before he ripped it off.
The comment of sentencing judge David Frearson that Williamson had developed a “reprehensible sense of entitlement’’ is a succinct and deadly accurate assessment of Williamson’s attitude.
Still, in being jailed for a five-year non-parole period of a seven and a half year sentence, I am satisfied the punishment fits the crime; it would fit even better if Williamson were forced to repay, in full, the monies he stole from the HSU by way of restitution, and to the best of my knowledge he isn’t being compelled to do so (any readers with more up to date knowledge in this regard should feel free to comment).
And that sentence contrasts with the veritable slap on the wrist administered to fellow HSU miscreant and general grub Craig Thomson on Monday, who was handed a twelve month prison term with nine months of it suspended; like the piece of shit he is, Thomson walks free even now: pending an appeal, too arrogant and conceited to even acknowledge or show remorse for his crimes, and still clinging to the spurious defence that as HSU chief he had the ultimate sanction over what union monies could be spent on and therefore should not be punished for spending them on prostitutes, cash advances, and God alone knows what else.
In closing, I should point out that whilst I do not like unions and am implacably opposed to most of their tactics, objectives, and the methods they use to pursue them, the bulk of union figures are generally good people, if misguided; it is the odd rotten apple that gives the rest of the barrel a bad name.
So it is in this case, and Williamson and Thomson are excellent advertisements for the Royal Commission into the wider union movement that is soon to commence.
The pursuit by unionists of union objectives is one thing, but the criminal fraud, theft or otherwise abusing the power entrusted to union officials is another matter altogether. Alas, there are too many rotten apples in too many union barrels, and the Heydon commission should rid the wider movement of much of the insidious filth that perpetuates the poor name unions wear in the eyes of most people who choose not to join their ranks.
Williamson can rot in hell for all I care, and if he still wants to top himself when he gets out of prison then nobody should stand in his way.
But it is imperative he be punished first, and this alone means that the sentence handed down to him in Sydney today is a win for his victims, the rule of law, and what is right.