ABC’s “Four Corners” last night was an almost surreal experience for many viewers as it focussed on the former national secretary of the Health Services Union, Kathy Jackson, and her love affair with the vice president of the Fair Work Commission Michael Lawler.
Jackson, originally hailed as a whistleblower by the Coalition government for exposing the misuse of union funds, was found to have misappropriated $1.4 million of union money in August and ordered to pay it back. She has appealed the Federal Court decision.
Lawler, a former barrister appointed to the FWC by Tony Abbott, has a quasi-judicial role and made a number of startling revelations while being interviewed on “Four Corners”, including secretly recording conversations with FWC president Iain Ross over the past four years.
He also appears to have gone on overseas holidays with Jackson on the union’s tab, but said he did not know HSU funds were being used.
Lawler is now being investigated by a former Federal Court judge at the government’s request. He has been on sick leave for the last nine months, on full pay from his $430,000 role, helping Jackson prepare her defence.
But in a sign of how far Australian television has come since the days when Graham Kennedy was banned from TV 40 years earlier for a crow impersonation that went “faaark”, the ABC broadcast Lawler using the term “c**tstruck”.
Lawler was discussing how he’d been seen by others over his relationship with Jackson.
“I’ll be characterised as that scumbag, crook, fraudster, and, at the very best, somebody who’s been bewitched by an evil harridan, namely Kathy. That I’m c**tstruck and that I have been utterly taken in by somebody who’s a serious crook,” he said.
The term is defined as meaning someone who is besotted or irrationally attracted to a woman.
But around 40 minutes into the astonishing expose into their private lives, it left many viewers wondering if they’d heard right. It also set a new benchmark for profanity on TV.
You can watch the Four Corners episode here. It begins by warning viewers of “extremely coarse language”.