Paul Bibby June 15, 2012
Kathy Jackson. Photo: Melanie Russell
Lawyers for the embattled National Secretary of the Health Services Union, Kathy Jackson, have told the Federal Court she is suffering from a "medical condition" and needs more time to prepare her case against those who are seeking to have HSU East placed into administration.
But the judge in the case, Justice Geoffrey Flick, dismissed Ms Jackson's application for a week-long adjournment, causing her lawyers to leave the court room and not return.
It was the latest twist in the ongoing Federal Court battle initiated by Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Bill Shorten, in a bid to end the factional dysfunction which has paralysed the union amid claims that union officers repeatedly siphoned off funds for their own benefit.
Having dismissed her first set of lawyers and unsuccessfully applied for Justice Flick to disqualify himself last Friday, Ms Jackson returned to court today with a new barrister, David Rofe, QC.
Mr Rofe told the court that he had been unable to meet Ms Jackson to help prepare her case, in part, because she was "not really in good health" and was suffering from "a medical condition".
He said Ms Jackson had been working to prepare her case on her own and had not had time for a meeting.
"She hasn't had the time to give her three children the normal attention most parents would do," Mr Rofe said.
"Her role in this whole dispute is very important. The court should not deny her the opportunity to access counsel."
But the lawyers for those in the case who support the appointment of an administrator opposed the adjournment, arguing that, a week after dismissing her barrister, Ms Jackson had still not given any indication of what her case would be.
Adam Hatcher, SC, appearing for HSU acting national president Chris Brown, noted wryly that Ms Jackson's medical condition "did not appear to impede" her "well publicised speech to the HR Nicholls Society during the week".
Justice Flick dismissed the adjournment application, at which point Mr Rofe and his instructing solicitor immediately excused themselves from the bar table and did not return to court.
After further legal argument Justice Flick adjourned the hearing until next Thursday.