News National Michael Lawler resigns from Fair Work Commission

Michael Lawler resigns from Fair Work Commission

Michael Lawler and Kathy Jackson
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Fair Work Commission (FWC) Australia vice president Michael Lawler has resigned immediately.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash made a statement in the Senate on Thursday confirming Mr Lawler’s resignation.

“Shortly before Question Time, I received notice from the office of the official secretary to the Governor-General, indicating that His Excellency today received a letter from Mr Michael Lawler resigning as a presidential member of the Fair Work Commission,” Ms Cash said.

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“Mr Lawler’s resignation from the Fair Work Commission commences with immediate effect.”

Mr Lawler is married to former Health Union Services boss Kathy Jackson.

The news comes after police on Wednesday discovered the body of a 40-year-old man in the couple’s New South Wales home, who police believed died from a “medical episode”.

Retired Federal Court judge Peter Heerey had been appointed to investigate the conduct of Mr Lawler, who took nine months sick leave from his $435,000 job to support his partner through a legal battle.

Mr Lawler did have until March 4 to respond to Mr Heerey’s independent report on complaints about his conduct.

The government would have responded after that date, Ms Cash told parliament on Thursday.

Union whistleblower Kathy Jackson and her partner Michael Lawler. October 16, 2015.
Mr Lawler and Ms Jackson appeared in a bizarre <i>Four Corners</i> episode in 2015. 

Ms Jackson was the national secretary of the HSU between January 2008 and February 2015.

She was successfully sued by the HSU in the Federal Court for misappropriating union funds and ordered to pay $1.4 million in compensation in 2014.

In October, FWC president Ian Ross told a Senate hearing he had approved 215 days of sick leave for Mr Lawler on the basis that he was medically unfit to perform his duties.

“He did not seek and I did not approve leave for the purpose of assisting his partner in legal proceedings,” he said.

Because Mr Lawler is a statutory office holder, a vote by both Houses of Parliament would have been required to remove him, had he not resigned.

Had Mr Lawler not resigned, a vote by both houses of Parliament would have been required to remove him.

Labor’s employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor welcomed Mr Lawler’s resignation and called on the Government to release Mr Heeley’s report.

“Given the gravity of this matter, it is in the public interest that the content of this review, including all findings of Mr Heeley, be disclosed,” Mr O’Connor said in a statement.

“The FWC is a very important institution and has played a significant role for more than a century and Labor has been concerned that its reputation could have been traduced by the conduct of Mr Lawler.”

Mr O’Connor said the Government must also reveal any details of any agreement it has made with Mr Lawler.

Watch Ms Cash’s announcement below:

– with ABC

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