Jackson 'credible': Tony Abbott

OUTSPOKEN Health Services Union national secretary Kathy Jackson is a hero who should be taken "very seriously", Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said on Tuesday.

Ms Jackson has called for the HSU's national executive to be disbanded and fresh elections held in the wake of the union being suspended by the Australian Council of Trade Unions last week.

She will call for a spill of all positions at the next national executive meeting on April 27, The Australian reported, and will propose the union's rules be changed to provide that the national executive be directly elected by the membership.

Ms Jackson, who before last week's suspension was the ACTU's vice president, was speaking after 10 of the HSU 14-member national executive held a teleconference on Sunday to call on its suspended president Michael Williamson to resign.

Ms Jackson was not invited to join the teleconference.

In August last year Ms Jackson levelled corruption allegations at Mr Williamson and former HSU national secretary Craig Thomson, who is now a federal Labor MP.

Last week Fair Work Australia referred its 1100-page investigative report into the HSU's national office to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Chris Craigie SC, who said he was powerless to act on the report because it did not constitute a brief of evidence.

NSW and Victorian police are also investigating the union.

Mr Abbott renewed his attacks on the HSU and Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday, describing Ms Jackson as a "credible whistleblower".

"I think it's to the enormous discredit of some people in the Labor movement that they are now trying to blacken her name," Mr Abbott said during a visit to western Sydney.

"What she has done has been heroic ... and what she says today needs to be taken very, very seriously."

Mr Abbott said the HSU increasingly looked like a "corrupt boys club".

"The only person in the labour movement in Australia who is oblivious to the problems here is Prime Minister Gillard," he said.

"It's just not good enough. She can't wash her hands of this. Fair Work Australia is her creation. Craig Thomson is her member.

"If it's good enough for the ACTU to go without the Health Services Union's money, why is the Prime Minister still clinging to the Health Services Union's vote in the parliament."

But Ms Gillard said the ACTU's decision had not altered her position on Mr Thomson's place in the parliament.

"I'm taking the same approach as Prime Minister Howard took in comparable circumstances, which is that proper processes should be worked through," Ms Gillard said.

"During the Howard government there were members who were subject of referral to the DPP. Prime Minister Howard then said proper processes should be worked through. Tony Abbott supported him in that. I'm saying what was good enough then should apply now."



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