Disgraced former union leader Kathy Jackson has been ordered to pay about $1.4 million after a damning judgement found she stole money from the Health Services Union.
Federal Court Justice Richard Tracey found Ms Jackson guilty of misusing her position as head of the Health Services Union to fraudulently gain financial advantage.
The judgment marks the end of the HSU's long-running lawsuit against Ms Jackson, its former national secretary.
In the ruling on Wednesday, Ms Jackson was found to have misappropriated union money in a variety of ways, including large cash withdrawals, the misuse of three credit cards and from a financial settlement from a Melbourne cancer hospital.
HSU national secretary Chris Brown described the decision as "finally bringing justice to the union's 70,000-plus members".
‘‘Many HSU members are among the lowest-paid workers in the country, delivering essential services and caring for the most vulnerable members of our community,’’ he said.
‘‘Kathy Jackson knew this, yet she spent their money on lavish banquets running into tens of thousands of dollars, extravagant family holidays and luxury goods among other things.’’A three-day Federal Court trial last month heard of the many ways Ms Jackson - a one-time corruption whistleblower - had been dipping into union funds for years to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Justice Tracey ordered Ms Jackson pay the union more than $1.3 million in compensation for damage to the union, and a further $67,912 for overpaid salary that she received while on holidays.
Important to the union's case was a $250,000 payment from the Peter MacCallum cancer hospital in 2003 to Ms Jackson's HSU No. 3 branch.
The payment was to settle a back-pay dispute at the hospital, but instead was used as seed money for a bank account from which Ms Jackson withdrew large sums of money for her own personal use and $50,000 to her ex-husband as part of a divorce settlement. The hospital workers received nothing.
Ms Jackson is under criminal investigation for alleged widespread theft and fraud from a police anti-corruption taskforce connected to the royal commission into trade unions.
Almost all of the union's civil claims of Ms Jackson's misappropriation were upheld on Wednesday, with only Ms Jackson's credit card misuse reduced from nearly $400,000 to about $306,000
‘‘Between 2003 and 2011, Ms Jackson used the credit cards to pay for personal expenses, retail purchases, food and alcohol, entertainment and health and fitness services,’’ Justice Tracey said.