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More Than Words – HSU Secretary gives it straight back to a former MSM journalist

November 8, 2016 - 21:10 -- Editor

In what feels somewhat like Déjà vu I have recently found myself once again correcting the reports of the mainstream regarding to goings on within the HSU.

The mainstream, both News Ltd and Fairfax, who for years told us how heroic Kathy Jackson was as she allegedly bled the unions dry now suddenly think they can convince us that they are an authority on all things HSU.

So enters Brad Norington once again. Brad now works as a freelancer and it would appear he only earns a crust writing HSU stories for the Australian.

This week not having anything new on that front he apparently decided to rehash some of Fairfax’s old articles attacking new Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching, and branding it as his own work. News Ltd, with seemingly no other crap to print dedicated almost a full page to it.

Norington also decided to weigh in on the Secretary of Health Workers Union Diana Asmar’s maternity leave payment that Fairfax delved into about six long months ago.

Diana Asmar

Diana Asmar

Norington shot her some questions and rather than go into the details I thought it might be more entertaining for readers to read Asmar’s response to Norington in full as I think you will find it amusing;

Mr Norington,

1. I was entitled to paid maternity leave. I received not one dollar more than that legal entitlement. An assertion that an employee must forfeit her paid maternity leave entitlement if her employer wishes her to keep working is a legal and logical absurdity – a painfully palpable misogynist nonsense with which you ought be embarrassed to be associated with. I look forward with anticipated hilarity to your “experts in gender” (perhaps also a bored elderly old bloke like yourself in search of adventure) providing bush-lawyer argument to the contrary. There is simply no credible legal or moral authority supporting your nonsensical proposition that an employee must forfeit a paid maternity leave entitlement if their employer wishes them to keep working.

2. My employer – the Branch Committee of Management of the Health Workers Union – desperately wanted me to keep working rather than to take my maternity leave in time, if I was physically able to do so. They voted unanimously to pay out the entitlement and acted on legal advice and in strict accordance with Union policies and procedure. It was then fully disclosed in the Union’s accounts.

3. I very reluctantly agreed to keep working because of the importance of spending as much time of the first weeks of a baby’s life physically proximate to their mother. It was an agonising decision, so it’s in that context that I find it rather odd that a seemingly bored unemployed old man I don’t know would question such a difficult decision while arguing such a demonstrably absurd position that I ought to have forfeited my maternity leave entitlement because I worked through what would otherwise have been time off. I’m happy to explain every decision the Union reaches, and regard that as my duty, even to unemployed former journalists like yourself. Your query is as bizarre as anything I’ve encountered since being elected.

4. I only agreed to keep working because the Union was in such a parlous state when I was elected, with multimillion dollar debts, hundreds of expired or lapsed workplace agreements, thousands of neglected members and membership in freefall. This is a situation we inherited from the Jackson/Bolano era and, I note, we have stabilised and are continuing to turn around. Taking three months off to spend with my baby boy in the midst of the crisis situation we inherited was simply not an option. The Union would not have survived its Secretary leaving the Union rudderless by taking a few months off work at that critical time.

5. I further note this issue was ventilated in The Age newspaper written by Ben Schneiders in February this year. Schneiders opined it was “unusual” for me to receive my maternity leave entitlement in cash rather than time. As you seem to be rehashing or reiterating his earlier work, I should note that his was a deeply strange article that asserted the HSU was “insolvent”. A few months after that the Health Workers Union posted a large surplus, $451, 000, the largest of any HSU branch in the country. Schneiders had much cause to be embarrassed for his pitifully misinformed reporting. I understand you were recently discussing the Union with Ben Schneiders and Royce Millar and swapping notes. While that sounds very comradely and cosy, some would consider it unsafe to rely on their assertions, given their criminal history (computer hacking) and grim record of extreme-left agenda pushing. I suggest you confer with your former News Corp colleagues about them before getting too reliant on Comrades Schneiders and Millar. They’re bad news.

6. My salary is $143,695.01. It may be worth comparing to the ceremonial HSU National Secretary Chris Brown (recently outed as a confidential source of yours in your recent book), and the small HSU #3 health professionals branch secretary Craig McGregor, who’s sub-par public sector agreement still remains in limbo. I gather all three of these salaries are less than you were paid prior to your abrupt departure from The Australian last year and less than the salary you have recently sought from prospective employers who declined to hire you.

7. You seem unwilling to address in writing the serious issues I have put to you about your conduct: i) that you are falsely representing yourself as being “of The Australian” and “from The Australian” when the newsdesk at The Australian says no-one by your name works there and you appear to not have an email address connected with the company but instead with “yahoo.com” and ii) Your ongoing close association with the self-professed Marxist current leader of the small HSU #3 branch, your decision to accept gifts and hospitality from him and your decision to out him as a previously confidential source in your recent book.

8. Further, can you explicitly rule out that you are being paid directly or indirectly by the HSU #3 branch or any other part of the Union(excluding the free drinks they have already provided you)?

Diana Asmar

Mother of two

Secretary, Health Workers Union

In a earlier response Asmar had gone over the same information and but also the following points;

2. Your recent book outlines that male officials of the Health Services Union – including the self-described Marxist and Greens political party enthusiast Craig McGregor who runs the small HSU #3 branch – were frequent “confidential” sources of yours for your book. While it’s an interesting decision for you to have outed your sources, I gather without their permission in some cases, it does afford us with the opportunity for an open debate on an important issue. You should explain to them in any article on this subject that women in the workplace fought long and hard for maternity leave and that if a few men – whether it be you or even male Marxist trade unionists – think it ought not be an entitlement, they should try giving birth to a child before questioning our right to receiving that maternity leave. The failure of some men in the extreme Left to align their rhetoric with the reality of how their treat the women in their lives has always been shocking to me.

3. You have recently been the recipient of hospitality from some of the aforementioned male officials at a national Health Services Union drinks function in Sydney. I am told you enjoyed yourself lavishly. I suggest that you disclose this gift in the appropriate way in any article you write that mentions the Union. I also suggest you disclose it to what your purported employer within what we understand to be the strict code of conduct of the organisation.

After reading Asmar’s responses you are probably wondering why Norington does not appear to be too fond of Asmar in his re-runs of Fairfax articles.

However jokes aside, she does raise some valid points re the representation of whom he claims to work for, and if he is enjoying the hospitality of the HSU it should certainly be mentioned in any article. There are also issues surrounding the naming of sources who sought to be anonymous.

The way I have always worked is that if someone is the source for me in doing my work then I supply the hospitality. If Norington is the recipient of HSU hospitality than that would suggest to me that he is doing their work, rather than them assisting with his.

Despite Asmar’s detailed response to him, I understand that as yet no response has been forthcoming from Norington regarding Asmar’s queries

If I was one of the union secretaries constantly mentioned in his articles, I would be distancing myself as far as possible from someone attacking a woman for accepting a workplace entitlement.

After all, isn’t that something they are supposed to defend?


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