THE HALF-ARSED defence against findings by the Royal Commission into unions is specious, dishonest, sanctions criminality, and relies on the logic of a retard; not content to rail against revelations of lawlessness perpetuated by grubs in their midst, Labor and Trades Hall are peddling a case that amounts to a plea for public excusal of illegal acts. It must be punished by the abandonment of unions, and by retribution against Labor at the ballot box.
There is no need to apologise for the allusion to the disabled in today’s article, for not even a mental cripple or a dribbling geriatric could fail to have their intelligence insulted by the despicable blather the Labor Party and the unions have spent the past three days saturating the airwaves with.
As a defence against the findings and recommendations from the Heydon inquiry into union corruption and unlawful conduct it is reprehensible: dishonest, predicated almost exclusively on false premises and utterly free of any assumption of responsibility or tinge of remorse, what has poured forth from Trades Hall and its lackeys at the ALP is tantamount to the explicit sanctioning of the alleged criminal behaviour that has been uncovered, and represents a plea to the court of public opinion to simply turn a blind eye to the lawlessness that the unions have been found to have engaged in.
I listened to ACTU secretary Dave Oliver ranting and carrying on about the TURC report on ABC radio on Wednesday, as I was out and about, and the few days since then have shown that far from some considered personal response to the Commission in his official capacity, the downright contemptible diatribe Oliver was engaged in was actually part of a considered, systemic and uniform “defence” that has since been regurgitated by almost every union and ALP figure to have commented publicly on the findings of that report.
So my remarks aren’t specifically aimed at Oliver — someone I once thought was a reasonable individual, despite his deep enmeshment with the union movement, although I long ago ceased to hold that opinion — but at all of his maaates at Labor and Trades Hall who are all singing from the same cracked record as he has been.
The Royal Commission into suspected criminal misconduct and corruption at six unions — along with the reintroduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and Registered Organisations legislation that would force union officials to be subjected to the same standards of governance and accountability as company directors — were election commitments taken to the people by the Liberal Party prior to the 2013 federal election, and endorsed overwhelmingly by voters at that election.
For a party that has made as much noise over the past two years about “broken” promises — often baselessly — one would have thought the Labor Party would have been delighted to see all three commitments followed through by the Abbott government, and subsequently under Malcolm Turnbull.
But as we know, in the eyes of Labor and the unions, the Heydon inquiry was “a politically motivated witch hunt,” to which I can only offer the stock response that for witch hunts to take place it is necessary for there to be witches to hunt in the first place.
There is no limit to the aspersions and slurs these people will cast around in their desperate and amoral quest to wriggle out of the dire legal predicament their own actions, and those of the people recommended for prosecution by Heydon, have landed them in.
Just yesterday, a vocal and well-connected Labor operative told me — partly as a personal insult and partly as a barb aimed at anyone not in the Trades Hall bunker and filled with rage — that “Torys” (sic) had proven themselves soft on child sex abuse, for their “partisan, politically motivated witch hunt” had diverted government money away from another Royal Commission into child sex abuse by the church, and when I clarified that he had accused Liberal Party people of showing leniency toward paedophiles because they had called a Royal Commission into his beloved union movement, he told me that as far as he was concerned he was “unapologetic” and that “Torys” “should be condemned in every manner possible.”
This classy piece of work is employed by a senior ALP MP and the remarks were made in a semi-public forum. It’s as bad as that.
Yet the defence to date — from all the various heads of the union hydra — boils down to a handful of points, all of which are heavily misleading, some plain wrong, but all aimed at winning public sympathy for a movement and the institutions within it that are rotten to the core.
Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon wrote in his final report that “it would be utterly naive to think that what has been uncovered is anything other than the small tip of a very big iceberg.” “Where is the iceberg?” screams the union/ALP crowd. “Where?”
The iceberg, of course, is the union movement: for a “politically motivated witch hunt,” Heydon’s inquiry examined just six unions. Of the material collected from witnesses, much was found to have been knowingly false when it was given. On the balance of probabilities, it stands to reason that every other union in this country, to some extent or other, is riven by the same corrupt and illegal behaviour as the six examined by Heydon. A truly politically motivated inquiry would have investigated every last one of them. This didn’t.
Heydon made 79 recommendations, 37 of which involved referring individuals to law enforcement agencies for prosecution of alleged criminal offences. The ALP/union junta were ready for this too. “The Royal Commission found just a handful — just a handful — of people doing the wrong thing,” they screech, replete with accusations that any comparable investigation of any other section of society (Oliver nominated the banking sector and the judiciary) would be “lucky” to find so proportionately few miscreants in their ranks.
It misses the point: “every other section of society” generally involves industries that are subjected to the oversight of some regulatory authority in addition to the common law; the unions, by contrast, are subject to no such oversight.
This doesn’t bother these bozos, all of whom talk of some kind of investigation into “the Liberal Party’s corporate and business base,” and the more partisan among them absurdly call for a Royal Commission into the business community. Those among them who claim they’re happy for a regulatory authority to be set up to monitor unions add, without fail, the rider that their support is conditional on its oversight extending to companies as well.
But the corporate sector already has such a body to enforce governance and conduct investigations of suspected or alleged breaches — it’s called the Australian Securities and Investments Commission — and in fact, it has two: for the Australian Tax Office is largely irrelevant at Trades Hall, whose constituent unions enjoy the privilege of not-for-profit status and are thus exempt, wrongly in my view, from paying company tax.
So let’s hear no more of the hard done-by unions who might actually be forced to clean up their act after all of this.
These people can’t even be honest about the amount of money that was spent; yes, it was originally estimated to cost $80 million. But figures released by the Department of the Attorney-General last month showed the final cost to have been $49.9m, down from a revised estimate of $53.3m at the time of last May’s federal budget.
Oliver claimed it was $80 million that could be spent on “something else:” but he would say that, and so would every other noisy ALP or union hack with a vested interest in stopping either themselves or their maaates from having the book thrown at them. In their view, you could piss the $80 million up against a post, for all they care; so long as their unions and the thugs who run them and work in them remain free to operate as laws unto themselves, that is the only thing that matters.
For people who claim to represent the very best interests of working people and who claim to richly deserve the position of trust this entails — and which so clearly has been consistently and rigorously abused — such a proposition deserves contempt, not sympathy and/or public support.
The Turnbull government will make a final attempt early in the new Parliamentary year to have the legislation to restore the ABCC and the Registered Organisations bill passed, but it has been made quite clear — by Turnbull himself, no less — that if the measures are again blocked in the Senate, the government is prepared to fight an election over the issue.
I think it should. It is an election issue that will play overwhelmingly in the Coalition’s favour.
Labor “leader” Bill Shorten — cleared at the Commission — claims to welcome the prospect of an election fight over this issue, making it known via Twitter that Labor had fought on WorkChoices before and won, and would do so again.
But this isn’t WorkChoices, and the same floating voters who came down on Labor’s side when WorkChoices was a live issue are likely to be repulsed and disgusted by the findings of the Heydon Commission, and vote accordingly.
In any case, this year’s election will be the fourth consecutive election Labor has fought on WorkChoices. It might be time to find a new scare campaign after ten years singing from the same song sheet.
I should note that Shorten didn’t even have the decency to interrupt his holiday to make a public statement on an issue so obviously of great importance to his party and to the labour movement he hails from; if he thinks anyone is impressed by the contempt he has shown the Royal Commission by his failure to be seen in public over the issue, he is likely to be disappointed. Shorten may have no case to answer personally, but by failing to even hold a press conference, the inevitable conclusion to draw is that he’s hiding: and that will bring suspicion and distrust, not admiration.
And Shorten’s idea of a “Labor solution” to the matters uncovered at TURC — woefully inadequate in curbing union excesses, as I’m sure they’re intended to be — actually makes the truly obscene attempt to turn a situation that ought to have the ALP and the unions with their tail between their legs into one that permanently disadvantages the Coalition financially and politically. What a sham.
Where is the contrition? Where is the remorse? Where is the shame? There is none, because Labor and the unions have none.
Everyone with a vested interest — at the ALP from Shorten down, at Trades Hall, or in the Labor-friendly press — dutifully babbles that they have “zero tolerance” of corrupt and criminal behaviour, but if you ask any of them whether the union figures referred to law enforcement agencies by Heydon should be prosecuted, none will answer the question directly. It is an evasion as telling as it is misleading.
And some people who really should know better — like Labor’s Workplace Relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor, brother of senior CFMEU official Michael — have chosen to make publicly abusive statements that would pass for comedy pieces were they not so serious: likening the final report of a Royal Commission to “something written by a B-grade sub-editor of a sleazy tabloid” not only shows a cavalier disregard for the gravity of the alleged criminal behaviour the Commission uncovered, but is also tantamount to thumbing his nose at the decent workers who pay their union dues and who have every right to feel aggrieved by what has been revealed.
As they always do, Labor and the unions are pandering to the extremely gullible and the extremely stupid with their attempt to discredit the Royal Commission’s findings; it speaks volumes of what these organisations truly think of the people they expect to support them, but thinking people will not be duped by the raw and obscene degree of self-interest and butt-covering currently on show.
Some in the ALP get it; just this week, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke — himself an ex-union leader, in the days people could respect unions even if they didn’t agree with them — has called for a reassessment of the ALP’s relationship with Trades Hall, including the de-affiliation and deregistration of the violent, lawless CFMEU.
There are more, like Hawke, who recognise the toxic commodity the unions in their current incarnation represent, and who similarly seek an overhaul of both the union movement and Labor’s ties to it.
Others — like Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews — are making token gestures; in Andrews’ case, this has meant placing distance between himself, his government and disgraced upper house Labor MP Cesar Melhem, who now faces prosecution over alleged offences committed during his tenure at the helm of the AWU in Victoria. But on the issue of the CFMEU, whose money and muscle were largely responsible for delivering Labor government in 2014, Andrews is completely mute.
But for the most part, everything that has emanated from Labor and the unions has been fashioned on an all too familiar template: obfuscate, stonewall, admit nothing, and turn defence into attack: even to go so far as to throw baseless abuse and smears of their own around, safe in the knowledge that if anyone is damaged or aggrieved by the utter bullshit that can be the only viable defence against institutionalised lawlessness and wrongdoing, they personally couldn’t care less because their enemies are not their maaates.
And almost all of these people have failed to grasp the opportunity this Royal Commission offered: had they co-operated, and volunteered the details of the criminal misbehaviour being investigated, they could have emerged squeaky clean and with a solidly credible story to tell current and potential new members. Instead, the union movement will remain heavily tarnished in the public eye no matter how many of the recommended prosecutions succeed. From this point onward, there will always be lingering doubts as to just how “clean” the rest of the unions really are.
Nobody who has pursued the union movement sanctions criminal activity in any section of Australian society, and that includes the business community that seems to be a whipping horse over at Trades Hall this week.
But none of the players in the ALP/union stable have covered themselves with any more glory than the filthy specimens Heydon has dragged out into the sunlight. Those who pay their union dues every month would be well advised to reconsider the relationship, and those (few) voters inclined to support Shorten would be better served by an informal vote than a Labor government at this time.
In the end, Labor and its masters at Trades Hall are banking on the cretinism and stupidity of the voting public to extract a national excusal of illegal behaviour. The only mental retardation in this equation lies within those making that case, not the voters it is intended to hoodwink.
The government’s measures to subject the union movement to proper regulatory oversight are moderate, reasonable, and long overdue. If it takes a double dissolution election over the issue to secure them — at the likely cost of a heavy and deserved defeat of the ALP in so doing — then the price is well worth paying.