Alexandra Tselios

About Alexandra Tselios

Founder and CEO of The Big Smoke, Alexandra oversees the leading digital content platform in both Australia and the USA. As a social and technology commentator, she is interviewed most days of the week on radio and appears on ABC's The Drum and ABC News24. Alexandra is also a Director of NFP think tank, Plus61J, which explores the political and social ties between Australia and Israel; and sits on the board of Estate-Planning FinTech start-up NowSorted.

Smoke Signal: Jail time for former ALP president Michael Williamson

What does a man do with millions of dollars worth of embezzled union money?

It would seem that if you are former national ALP president Michael Williamson, your kids private school fees and mortgage payments are pretty much covered.

After a tense trial of several months, Michael Williamson was put behind bars yesterday, it would be a fair assumption that it marks the end of a very high-profile investigation into the dealings of a man who was meant to be “working for the people”. He has recounted the years of poverty inflicted upon him in his formative years, which I get, but every time something is outside my budget it doesn’t occur to me to bring a union down to its knees – and I thought I was a bit OTT.

Williamson pleaded guilty in October 2013 to cheating and defrauding during his tenure as the company director at the Health Services Union (HSU) despite at one point being on a salary of almost half a million dollars per year.  It is also unfortunate that while he has been publicly outed and rightfully jailed, he simply gets to declare bankruptcy. Psychologist Bruce Westmore said there had been no background of psychological issues that would have explained his actions, however, I would argue that the issue of “greed” is not such an irrelevant psychological issue.

Despite a general hostility towards the Abbott government at this stage, even by many Liberal voters (at least according to the polls), it is not surprising that the recent Royal Commission into corrupt union dealings has ruffled some feathers, but with such activity, and, of course, the infamous Craig Thomson, it will be interesting how the next few months unfold .

Michael Williamson has been described as having an overbearing personality and, I would imagine, a huge ego that battled with the growing fear of being caught – which has now been described as an almost obsessional fear about going to jail. The roller coaster has now come to a deafening halt, with HSU members getting what they seemingly wanted – public humiliation and a jail term.

Share via