Well Thomson becomes another Independent ? This is allowing her to cut the opposition argument down by saying, we have done all we can do while we have his name cleared. We have to face it, the allegations are as a Union official, not a Labor Minister, elected by his seat. Now they will say we cut him loose from us, and it is his choice if he supports us. As he still isn’t found guilty they can’t stop him representing his electorate, stale mate. Of course it allows Gillard to preselect another for the seat of Dobell, and any votes Thomson would get would just strip votes off any opposition candidate. It would be a waste of time attacking Gillard over him no, we need to concentrate on the Government’s FWA Investigation and in particular the mishandling of the case over the past 4 years.
As for the magic Slipper if she discards him, the Libs can’t say too much as of course as they have slippery hands why they hadn’t dealt with him previously?
Of course Slippery has such a incredible intelligence that he never suspected that entering several CabCharge documents that had exactly the same amount or has modified dates on them would matter, and how could it matter if he wasn’t even in the same city at the time.
And of course Thomson is confident no charges will be laid for there is a little matter of procedural Fairness or Natural Justice, that appears to have been tromped on . To run an Investigation is not something just anyone can do as I have emphasised preciously.
What is meant by ‘procedural fairness’?
‘Procedural fairness’ applies where a decision is to be taken which could have a detrimental effect on the rights, interests or legitimate expectations of a person. These principles apply to administrative decision making processes by government officials and agencies as well.
The Principles of procedural fairness have been applied to workplace investigations into employee misconduct, particularly where a likely outcome of the processes is dismissal or demotion or even criminal action against the employee.
When an employee is to be charged with having transgressed a workplace rule, there are three underlying ‘rights’ to which that employee is entitled in the context of any further employer action in relation to the charges. These are based on the notion of giving the employee:
- notice of the allegations on which management decisions might be based.
In most cases this will require the employer to set out in writing the detailed allegations and the proposed penalty so that the employee knows sufficiently what is being said against him or her and has an adequate opportunity to deal with the allegations.
- the opportunity to ‘be heard’, that is, to respond to the allegations.
This may include giving the employee the opportunity to make their own submissions and present their own material this should be done in a Formal taped record of Interview, allowing them to have their own copy of the inteview and ensuring their rights have been given to them; and
- unbiased, neutral decision making, meaning that the ultimate decision makers should be impartial
Some tips to ensure procedural fairness
The interviewer will ask the interviewee about each individual piece of acquired evidence, and whether they had anything to say about it.
To bear this in mind an Investigating Officer would always:
- Act promptly and communicate transparently in relation to all matters concerning the investigation and subsequent decisions. All parties (witnesses, the alleged wrong doer and the complainants) should be informed of how long the process will take and what they can expect to happen during and at the end of the process. If delays occur, all those involved should be informed of the reasons for the delay and when the process is expected to recommence. This is very simplistic, however, if an Investigation is taking longer than expected, we must account for why this has occurred.
- Support: Where an alleged suspect chooses to respond to allegations in person, it is not unreasonable for them to be accompanied by a person of their choice (such as a union representative, interpreter,friend, or legal representative), however should a suspect want an interpreter, always offer to supply one, in order to ensure the translation is happening as said. The person with the suspect must be notified of their role in the interview, and that they can not answer any question asked by the investigator. They can however, suggest to the suspect whether they answer or not. The suspect may either present his or her defence or simply be present to listen to the allegations and not answer any of the questions. Or of course can exercise their right to not attend the Interview.
- Neutral decision which requires:
- that the person in charge of the investigation and the ultimate decision maker should have had no direct involvement in the alleged incident. This is where trained Investigators are at their best, as this is all they do and have no involvement in the decisions of the Department or Organisations. We are presented with a case, we identify the allegation of an offence, and we set out to gather evidence that will either absolve or strengthen the case against a suspect.
- the more serious the allegations (and the possible consequences), the more important it is that the investigation will then be conducted by an independent person who does not directly supervise the alleged suspect. If there is no suitably qualified or independent persons available to conduct the investigation within the workplace, the employer should appoint an external investigator; This is where everything FWA did was a failure, they never had any trained Investigators, and instead paid big money getting AGS to review what had been done. AGS are not Investigators, although they know what CDPP require to have presented to them. I therefore feel the actions of FWA in presenting a report to CDPP is transparent as a time wasting techniques and denying natural justice to all involved in this matter.
- that all parties are comfortable that the person in charge of the investigation and subsequent decision-making is impartial and unbiased. This involves ensuring that this person (or persons) has no conflict of interest, that is, their private interests should not conflict with the investigation outcomes; With Mr Thomson’s position with the Govt. this was not the case, it could be seen to easily influence the matter.
- recognising the need to train supervisors and managers responsible for conducting workplace investigations and the subsequent decision making processes to ensure that they understand the concepts of fairness and ethics in this context (Van Gramberg, 2001). Again a total failure of the FWA and MUST be addressed for it’s very short future.
- Confidentiality: Management and those responsible for the investigation should use their best efforts to ensure that all investigation details remain confidential. Information regarding the investigation should only be communicated on a need-to-know basis to avoid potential defamation actions from releasing information damaging to the reputation of the alleged wrong-doer. I have previously pointed out with the Minister for this Dept and the AGS being the same, he would reasonably be expected to find out what was happening in this case.
- Record: All meetings and interviews should be documented including details of who attended and agreed outcomes (even where no formal investigation is undertaken). ? Unknown, but doubtful this has occurred or that there is even an Investigations file on this matter.
- Evidence: all relevant evidence should be obtained and carefully considered. It is not sufficient to simply rely on that evidence which “best fits” the circumstances and provides the desired outcome. As a matter of fairness, witnesses and the alleged wrong-doer should have an opportunity to review their statement before signing and should be provided with a copy. It is doubtful there are even acceptable Witness statements for this matter, and any evidence would not be sufficient to actually support an allegation.
- Documented outcomes: The investigation findings and recommendations should be documented in a written report, and the decision of the final decision-maker noted on the personnel files of the complainant and employee under investigation (Aequus Partners, 2008) and a brief of Evidence supplied to the CDPP if required to allow their consideration of whether charges be laid against the alleged offender.
Why is it the FWA was allowed to commence on this Investigation, when they did not have a suitably qualified Investigator in place to deal with this matter? How has the FWA dealt with other matters that should be considered for Criminal action ? Why is it that a Commonwealth Government is allowing Unions to run the Industrial Relations watchdog for Australia ?
These are valid questions, and looking at the people in FWA can be justified in being asked. But the MOST important question is how can a Dept, who can refuse to give the state police access to evidence as to whether a Fraud has occurred, NOT have a Investigations Section with qualified Investigators to deal with these matters ???