All Guns Dribbling: Union, ALP TURC Defence Is Retarded Logic

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.

 

Nurses, Firefighters, Union Thugs: Election Stunt Must Be Outlawed

ARROGANTLY SMUG in knowing they got away with it in Victoria, Australia’s militant, anti-democratic, lawless unions are readying to deploy nurses and other service workers in dozens of electorates to campaign against the Abbott government at next year’s election. Campaign they might, but to do so in uniform must be outlawed as an abuse of trust. Any surplus union thugs masquerading as nurses and the like should be prosecuted.

Something I wanted to talk about on Tuesday — until Bill Shorten decided he would bask in the glory he thought he could milk out of two gay marriage bills to be introduced to Parliament by persons unconnected with the ALP, that is — concerns a despicable little stunt used by Labor and its thuggy brethren over at Trades Hall at the state election in Victoria last year, and which probably cost the Coalition government.

Regular readers will recall that I spoke about this in the washout from that election back in November, and I would encourage anyone who did not see my article at that time to read it here before we progress too far: the reason will become apparent soon enough.

For the ACTU has announced it will replicate the campaign used to devastating effect against the Napthine government in Victoria, and roll it out across Australia at the federal election due in less than 18 months’ time; and aside from being incandescent with rage that something like this could once again be used to unseat a conservative government, my anger derives not from the unions exercising a right to protest, but from the abuse of taxpayer-funded services, the misuse of responsibility, and the abuse of public trust this particular style of campaign is predicated on.

To some extent, it is also fraudulent, and we’ll come back to that point.

But sending out “uniformed firefighters and nurses” to campaign against a federal government is one of the most deplorable intellectual deceptions the Left has yet managed to conjure up, given firefighting services and hospitals are all operated by the states; what makes it worse is that one of the seats singled out in the report — Corangamite — sits in Labor-governed Victoria, and with a change of government here six months ago the buck for any trouble in the state’s hospitals stops with the very beneficiary of the unions’ efforts last time they wheeled this outrage out, Premier Daniel Andrews, not the Prime Minister or his MPs.

Still, when you’re Labor and the unions, facts and honesty and the truth can never be permitted to get in the way of a good story, and the most telling truth of all is that it wouldn’t matter how well a conservative state government managed to run schools and hospitals and emergency services: the same lies would be trundled out by the same vicious thugs in the knowledge enough gullible people would trust the people in the uniforms — and believe it.

I watched ambulances drive around Melbourne for months last year, scrawled with anti-Liberal slogans; it was obscene, and the most disgusting thing of all is that when the ambulance employees’ union settled with the State of Victoria over their pay claims — less than a week after Labor beat the Coalition in November — it was to accept a “deal” that was, to all intents and purposes, virtually identical to the one they had spent most of the year knocking back from a Liberal government.

I am going to keep my remarks as succinct as possible from this point; there are few things as incendiary to me personally as the union movement and the unmitigated bullshit it carries on with, and to the extent I get called a “hater” by my opponents — a tag I dispute — it is in any case necessary to look only as far as Trades Hall to see why I might attract such accusations at all.

I don’t dispute the right of unions to protest (although I disagree with them vehemently) and I don’t advocate making it illegal for publicly employed and/or funded essential services personnel to campaign against a conservative government.

I do, however, think that having been caught unawares last year by both the “trial phase” of this sort of misbehaviour at a couple of state by-elections in Queensland and then subjected to the patent lies and downright reprehensible misuse of public services in a full-blown state election campaign in Victoria, the Coalition — which has now been served advance warning that the same treatment awaits it federally — needs to act, and act quickly.

To be clear, I would be just as adamant that if peak industry groups (for example) or other business-based entities were doing what the unions now regard as their universal right, that should be knocked on the head too: there is a “red line” that is being crossed here, or several in fact; this kind of campaign is indecent, to say the least, and a flagrant abuse of positions of privilege.

Much as it pains me to acknowledge it, the unions do enjoy a position of privilege too: as advocates for their members, it is incumbent upon them to deal fairly and honestly in their interactions with their membership base, the public, and politically. They don’t, of course. But that’s not my problem to fix.

What I do think should happen as a matter of some urgency is that uniformed workers in public service — nurses, firefighters, paramedics, Police, SES personnel, the armed forces, the whole box and dice — should be summarily dismissed if they campaign politically, especially during official election campaign periods, in uniform: it should be a sackable offence.

Any of these people who get on the phone to voters in marginal seats in their official capacity (as the unions also did last year) with fabricated stories about medical negligence, budget cuts that didn’t exist, horror stories about specific cases that might or might not have been invented, and all the rest of the bullshit unions got up to in Victoria should also be subject to dismissal.

Anyone joining these campaigns in facsimiles of official uniforms (or, worse, in genuine garments “borrowed” for the purposes of political campaigning) should be charged with impersonating public officials, and prosecuted.

And any person or persons found to have vandalised public property in the way the ambulance union had its employees do in Victoria should similarly be charged with property damage offences and prosecuted.

(I don’t give a rat’s arse that Fair Work Australia — a keystone regime set up as a sop to unions, and to enforce their industrial will, by the Gillard government — declared the defacement of ambulances to be lawful, either: it was a disgrace).

Penalties for union personnel found to have organised, influenced, coerced or otherwise orchestrated this kind of stunt should be set steeply as a permanent deterrent: up to a million dollars for individuals, and up to $10 million per union per offence.

If the unions have $13 million to bankroll a campaign predicated on the abuse of public trust in essential service personnel, then they can afford the kind of penalties that should accompany them.

And the Abbott government can do this; enabling regulations might or might not require legislation, but could be applied under either the commonwealth Electoral Act or the federal criminal code: either way, the means to stamp this sort of thing out once and for all is well within the Abbott government’s grasp.

To reiterate — and for clarity — if nurses and ambulance drivers and firefighters want to campaign for Labor and/or against the Liberal Party, they should remain free to do so, in plain clothes, on their own unpaid time, and to do so without the legitimising imprimatur of acting in their official capacity.

But when the ambulances and fire engines and the rest of the union bullshit apparently set to confront voters at the next federal election is rolled out, nobody can say they weren’t warned; and equally, nobody should pay the slightest attention to the message.

I know I have used the word “outrage” and others similar to it perhaps a few times too many in this article, but if you can’t win an election on facts and argument you shouldn’t win an election by union manipulation and a dishonest stream of taxpayer-funded lies.

Attorney-General George Brandis should get onto drafting up the required measures to outlaw this obscenity as a high-order priority when he returns to his office next week.

Nobody is calling the average voter stupid, but allowing such audaciously fraudulent campaign strategies to flourish and be propagated is hardly a recipe for genuinely democratic choices or outcomes either.

 

Stone Age: Knuckle-Dragging Unions Are Australia’s Filth

A DENIAL OF REALITY so abject as to motivate an attempt to expel of one of their best servants in Martin Ferguson from the ALP showcases the incompatibility of labour unions with any meaningful role in modern Australia; this archaic, feather-bedded, self-serving cabal of rent seeking Neanderthals is a pox on Australia, its governmental and social institutions, the ALP, and on workers they pretend to represent but rather compromise and imperil.

It is, perhaps, one of those delicious ironies that a group of thugs who profess undying hatred and contempt for “conservatives” should in fact be the most conservative band of troglodytes in this country itself, but this is the reality of the “modern” union movement in Australia.

Dwindling in size and number but clinging stubbornly and malignantly to long-outdated organisational structures that they refuse — almost violently — to submit to transparent standards of governance, Australia’s unions are today a byword for mindless attacks on business, compromising the employment of their members through frivolous wage claims, and the ruthless purging and victimisation of anyone in their ranks who dares speak out about the deep culture of thuggery that sustains an edifice that is predicated on a lie.

I suggested to readers a few days ago following a brutal onslaught on Twitter from union thugs and associated mouthpieces for the labour movement that I would have something to say on the subject at some point this week; I have been pipped at the post to a degree by the appearance of an excellent article in The Australian today by Janet Albrechtsen — no friend of the Left — and I will come back to that fine missive shortly.

But to fill readers in on the shitfight (an understatement if ever there was one) I got embroiled in on Twitter over the weekend, I must say that an attempt to discuss the fraught issue of penalty rates soberly and intelligently was responded to with some of the most ridiculous slurs and insults I have ever heard; I’m a big boy of course, with the hide of a rhinoceros, and this sort of thing doesn’t faze me in the least.

But for once, it’s noteworthy not because of the undiluted hatred and venom hurled in my direction, but on account of the bald assumptions made about me by people I don’t know and the total insistence among themselves (and presumably publicly, for Twitter is no private platform) that they were right that does make me shake my head, for if this is indicative of how the unions treat any individual seeking to engage in discussion then it’s little wonder they carry so little moral authority (or membership) among ordinary Australians today.

Weeding out the proliferation of Fs and Cs that were thrown my way, I was a “Tory arsewipe” who was on “six figures” who championed “slave wage rates” in my “brutal attack upon Australian workers;” penalty rates — about which I was said to have never worked in a role that attracted them — were something I cruelly and callously wanted to take away from decent people struggling to make a living. I was on a vicious crusade to destroy workers and advocate for business, which had “fat enough profits” to pay more without endangering the viability of individual enterprises: and when pressed on the struggle of small businesspeople to make a living, I was high-mindedly told that people should ensure they could pay all penalties and plan for wage rises before they opened a business, and that if they couldn’t afford to trade on a Sunday (for example) they shouldn’t bother going into business at all as Sunday penalties were a “right” of workers that is “stolen” by businesses who close “to avoid paying what they owe.”

I could go on, for that is just a small (and sanitised) selection of the “arguments” put to me: and whilst I admit to being “a Tory” every other assumption about me was false.

The point — simply stated — is that penalty rates are a relic of the time when Australia more or less operated from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am and 5pm, and in an old story, the increasingly global nature of our world and the increasingly 24/7 nature of our society means that for wages to be sustainable, the concept of “ordinary time earnings” needs to be expanded, revised, and brought into the 21st century.

Unions love the idea of additional employment and available hours for workers that go with these evolutionary societal changes. But they refuse to acknowledge that they, themselves, must change; the one constant in an ever-changing world is the union movement, with its demands for usurious pay rises, obsolete penalties that no small business should have to place at the top of its list of budgeted expenditures merely to be able to open the door, and the culture of extorting what it wants by brute force, thuggery, disruption of the world around it, and — when all else fails — violence.

It should be noted (and here is as good a place as any) that unions now count just 15% of Australia’s workforce as members, which tends to explode the myth that unions are the only parties able to bargain with employers to secure satisfactory outcomes on wages and conditions, but they dispute that too: and for my trouble over the break, I was told by my assailants on Twitter that I was “delusional” and one of the “lucky few” people who weren’t ripped off by a boss if I thought that way.

So there you have it: Australia boasts tens of millions of exploited people. Who’d have thunk it?

At some point we will come back to the seismic trouble in Australia’s economy, its budget deficit, and the ballooning pile of debt left behind by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, for which Labor presently refuses to take responsibility nor even acknowledge the existence of at all. It’s all another Tory conspiracy, you see.

But in the sense that some tough decisions must be made to aright the ship after Labor (in cahoots with its thuggy mates in the union movement) spectacularly and reprehensibly trashed it, once again, the staid conservatism of the unions is on show for all to see: the rest of the country can pull its belt in, and make sacrifices, and do it a little tougher for a little while as far as the union movement is concerned; they, meanwhile, will continue to go about their business of driving businesses into the ground, imperilling the jobs of countless workers by militantly pursuing ambit wage rises that are unaffordable and unsustainable, and seeing to it that Parliaments across the country are stacked out with Labor stooges guaranteed to do whatever they are told by their masters over at Trades Hall.

We have talked quite a bit about the unions and their bloody-minded crusade against reason and the real world in recent months; from their penchant for bringing whole cities to a halt to advance their insidious agenda, to the price they seek to extract from Labor governments indebted to them for the fruits reaped from their thuggery at the ballot box, and to the charade of “penalty rate flexibility” that merely redistributes the total cost of the penalty rate bill across the whole wage ledger of gullible businesses who bargain with unions in good faith, there has been an awful lot going on when one remembers this “bastion” of workers’ rights that claims to be fighting for its existence shows scant regard for the realities of modern Australia that are so incompatible with the spurious and ambit nature of its agenda.

(Obviously there are a lot of related subjects I could have included, but in the interests of concision we will leave them — for now).

But this brings me back to Albrechtsen’s excellent article (and if you didn’t click through earlier in this post, the link is replicated here); with an eye to the despicable campaign waged in unions’ interests in NSW against electricity asset leasing, we’ve already discussed the notion that expelling former ACTU head and Labor minister Martin Ferguson runs counter to every constructive consideration the unions might care to entertain — but it seems, bloody-minded as they are, that the unions will persist in having Ferguson thrown out of the labour movement anyway.

I urge readers to peruse Albrechtsen’s piece today, for in the context of the ground I have already covered, it fleshes out the case I had in fact intended to make anyway; as I said at the outset, I have been beaten to the mark to some extent by her article, but that’s fine: it’s all part of a conversation that needs to be had.

But Albrechtsen highlights the background of the militant CFMEU that now arguably controls the state government in Victoria, bought its way to influence through donations to Queensland Labor, and exerts a heavy influence over Labor in NSW — as evidenced by the campaign the union mouthpiece Luke Foley waged in that state in an unforgivably dishonest (and racist) campaign against asset leasing.

The fact such thuggish organisations wield such disproportionate power with just 15% of the population buying into them is a cause for alarm, not celebration, as Albrechtsen correctly notes in reflecting the triumphalism of ACTU chief Ged Kearney after the election result in Victoria became clear last year.

And when it is remembered that former union hack (now federal Labor “leader”) Bill Shorten was instrumental last month in scuttling legislation that would have enforced the same standards of governance on union conduct as applies to the business community — hardly an unreasonable proposition — the deeply enmeshed ALP is as much part of the problem today as it always has been, and no Labor government can ever be expected to institute responsibility where workplace relations are concerned whilst Shorten remains at its head, or whilst Labor’s present and unhealthy reliance on union henchmen for its daily riding instructions continues unabated.

Lest the import of my case today be lost in the detail, I conclude by restating the clear thesis I started with, and which the balance of this article — and its various links — flesh out: and that, very simply, is that the union movement in Australia is composed of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who are a filth upon Australia, and a disgrace to what historically might be seen as a fine tradition of union representation.

“Modern” unions add nothing to this country, and it is time the debate about their role and influence is properly had; insults and bastardry are one thing, but as the lobby group for workers’ rights in this country the unions are a powerful agent for economic destruction: and far from advancing or enhancing the interests of anyone or anything — except themselves — Australia’s unions will, if left unchecked, simply destroy the very benefits they insist must be spread further and further among those they purport to represent but which, in practice, are mere tools to featherbed their own sinecures and self-interest.

 

Unions: Bringing Cities To A Halt Is Unacceptable

THE SPECTACLE of tens of thousands of union stooges clogging cities, abusing passers-by and interfering with others going about their business is unacceptable: in Melbourne as elsewhere yesterday, the disruptive and at times almost riotous presence of militant unions — replete with children cynically denied their day at school — seeking to damage a conservative government is an insidious phenomenon whose day has well and truly passed.

The right to protest is one near and near to the collective heart of the Left, and to trouble-making militant unions in particular; just like the movement itself which has failed to evolve into the 21st century, the unions yesterday put on a 1970s-style show of disruption in the name of “peaceful protest” that really ought to have taken place in parks or sports stadiums where it could not interfere with the ability of law-abiding citizens to go about their business and get to their places of work.

Before we go too far, readers can access — depending on preference — coverage from today’s Murdoch or Fairfax press.

This week is one in which I am flat out, as readers will have already deduced from the small number of articles posted; it’s actually a relevant point in context, affected as I was by the chaos and mayhem unleashed in Melbourne yesterday in the name of “workers’ rights.”

And my remarks this morning will be brief.

But what took place in Melbourne — replicated elsewhere across the country with a cavalier disregard for anyone or anything except the obsessive and fanatical objective to destroy a conservative government — was unacceptable, and it is time the streets were insulated from the kind of anarchy and disturbance the smouldering remnants of Australia’s union movement unleashes for political gain at will.

I found myself in the legal precinct in the Melbourne CBD at 9am yesterday on my way to a meeting in Carlton (which is where — for those unfamiliar with Melbourne — the unions’ national seat lies, with Trades Hall and several large, militant unions headquartered within a few blocks of each other).

Even at that hour, the road trip from William Street near the Supreme Court to Drummond Street in Carlton — 3km in total — took 45 minutes, and the cause became obvious as soon as I made it onto Russell Street at the northern edge of the city: unionised workers, thousands of them, obstructing traffic there, on Victoria Street and on Lygon Street, to the extent that even the six-lane thoroughfare of Victoria Street was reduced to one lane in each direction.

Dozens of Police lined the streets, to little effect, and who could criticise them? Members of the union pack strayed at will onto roads, walking in front of cars, and abusing motorists in the most colourful of terms whenever someone remonstrated with them: never mind the fact that these idiots could have been killed, or that motorists did not wish to be responsible for killing them, the clear message was that road users should not have been there at all.

It got worse, of course; late in the morning word filtered through that it was “time” for the union horde to “bring central Melbourne to a halt” by way of a lunchtime protest: the shenanigans in the morning had been preparatory only. The real event was to get underway several hours later.

And so it was, yesterday, in other major urban centres around Australia.

I can speak only from a Melburnian perspective; I think it is an embarrassment and an ugly blight on our majestic city that an insidious marauding band of thugs should be permitted to bring it to its knees and choke the life out of it — if only for half a day, and irrespective of the frequency of such events — in the name of an ambit political agenda.

As I repeatedly noted in social media yesterday, the protest could have happened at Fawkner Park, or at Etihad Stadium, or somewhere else where ordinary decent folk would not have had to look at it or, more to the point, been affected by it.

After all, if some other group of 50,000 people tried to bring Melbourne to a standstill — not least, in furtherance of a political agenda of the Right — its ringleaders and key protagonists would be rounded up and jailed. What in hell entitles and privileges the union movement to differential treatment?

In sharp contrast to this, ACTU chief Dave Oliver took to posting “solidarity selfies” on Twitter.

Ostensibly, the unions were protesting Tony Abbott’s “attack on workers’ rights” which is curious indeed, given the Abbott government has made no attempt at workplace reform, and will not do so without an electoral mandate for explicit proposals arising from the present Productivity Commission review.

Yet the unionists had that covered: the review is a “Trojan Horse” aimed at reviving the Howard government’s WorkChoices program.

Ah, of course. WorkChoices again.

It was also a purported protest over Medicare changes, despite these having been unilaterally abandoned this week by the Abbott government. Perhaps news travels very slowly where unions are concerned.

But the spectacle of hundreds of thugs wearing shirts emblazoned “Fuck Tony Abbott” and wielding banners making similar proclamations is just not on; I noticed several groups of school kids obviously on excursions in the vicinity of the thuggy union pack. How can anyone deign this appropriate?

Not to be outdone, of course, the unions came with a contingent of their own children — cruelly denied a day of the education their leaders rattle on so incessantly about — and these kids carried banners asking that their “futures” were not affected by the Abbott government, and other messages of cynical exploitation foisted upon them by their irresponsible militant parents.

It is always easy to spot a unionist on these occasions; they turn up in their work uniform, a free day off apparently an impost on their employers they have no trouble inflicting on the hand, literally, that feeds them.

And I make that point because very few — if any — “ordinary” folk were in evidence as part of the disruptive farce that played out in Melbourne yesterday.

It’s not as if they are convincing anyone except themselves.

And the only people interested in or motivated by the sort of bullshit propaganda that gets spouted on occasions like yesterday are the perpetrators themselves; one of their ilk tried to tell me that they were performing a public information function, and that their messages were of “information” and “education,” and readers will forgive me for saying so but aside from the gullible and the stupid very few — if any — people are likely to have been “informed” by yesterday’s antics at all.

I would never deny anyone the right to protest.

Even so, the days of “events” like this being allowed to disrupt cities of international stature in the name of making grubby political capital from them are, like the militant union movement itself, a relic of the 1970s that cannot and should not be tolerated.

Public order is a higher imperative than the indulgence of a band of troublemakers who are incapable of articulate expression or of accepting the result of a highly democratic exercise called an election.

Next time, this kind of thing should only be permitted if conducted at a private venue or public space away from key transport, logistical and infrastructure links, chartered by the movement itself, and kept well away from the overwhelming majority who really couldn’t care less for the unions.

Nobody is denying the unions their right to protest. But it is time the shameful spectacle that played out yesterday is consigned to the dustbin of history.

 

Political Stink Bomb: Gillard To (Attempt To) Legislate Penalty Rates

PERHAPS eyeing the likely Liberal landslide at the coming election, or perhaps to shore up support for her leadership of the ALP among the unions that effectively control it, Julia Gillard today pledged to legislate penalty rates. It is economic vandalism, and a flagrant act of political hypocrisy.

The Prime Minister has seemingly capitulated to the union thugs at the helm of the Labor Party; the Murdoch press reports today that as recently as last month, there was little support within the ALP for this change to be made.

Yet being a leader under siege, and at risk of the metaphorical bullet, can sharpen and focus a politician’s mind to an astonishing degree; for this reason it comes as little surprise that Gillard is giving the union movement a prize item from its wish list.

There is a direct correlation between Labor-affiliated unions and Labor Party leadership votes, and when the message to the poll-obsessed ALP is that seven in ten voters want somebody else* to lead it, and if you’re Gillard, there’s probably a need to keep all the friends you can on side.

But I think there’s something a bit more basic — and nastier — behind this too: just as Wayne Swan has tried to do with the issue of election costings (the self-important one thinking he is far cleverer than he actually is), Gillard too is laying in a stink bomb she thinks will explode in the face of Tony Abbott and his Liberal government.

It has nothing to do with “workers’ rights,” either. God forbid.

The purpose of the legislative change is to guarantee higher pay for penalty rates, overtime, shift work loading and public holiday pay, enshrining these into the Fair Work Act to effectively make them a right for anyone working long or irregular hours.

The problem (and this is an old story) is that the small businesses who would mostly be required to pay them are financially strained enough as it is; the rate of business closures since Labor came to power in 2007 has skyrocketed, and many of those still in business might still be standing, but only just.

I have to ask a very simple question: where do Gillard, and her union buddies, think the money is coming from?

Not so long ago, prominent restaurateur George Calombaris campaigned to have penalty rates abolished; his rationale was that to open his upmarket restaurant on a Sunday, for example — paying staff double the rate it would cost on a Saturday or a Monday — was simply not commercially viable.

It’s a fair point, and one I’d add to by simply pointing out that your average diner at Calombaris’ trendy Melbourne restaurant might be willing to pay $135 for one of his eight course degustation dinners, but would they pay $270?

And the reason it’s a fair question is because unless someone like a Calombaris can double the asking price for their goods or services, their business cannot operate at a profit whilst attempting to absorb double the costs.

(Especially not in restaurants — trust me. I spent a few years operating restaurants in the early 1990s, the margins are a lot tighter than you might think).

This is an isolated example, but similar stories can be found in hundreds of thousands of small businesses across Australia who already struggle with the cost imposition of penalty rates and the like.

It’s certainly true that Gillard isn’t seeking to legislate something that doesn’t already exist.

But it is also true that real wages in Australia have grown strongly and almost without interruption for several decades now, and under governments run by both of the major political parties.

And for that reason, if there is to be any movement on the issue of penalty rates it ought to be toward getting rid of them, not trying to extend them in perpetuity.

One of the reasons jobs in so many industries in Australia are disappearing to places like India, or Thailand, or the Philippines, is precisely because of the high real wages in this country: in many areas, our labour costs price us out of the market.

Now, I don’t advocate a wholesale slashing of real wages (which is what I will nonetheless be accused of in some quarters).

But the fact is that penalty rates (of whichever variety) are an archaic relic from times when wages across the board were far lower, poverty was widespread, and checks that now exist on unscrupulous employers did not exist.

They were the times of mainstream union relevance, indeed!

So in case anyone think I’m making light of the issue, I’m not; but what I am saying is that whilst real wages in Australia may have rocketed over the past 40 years, the profits of small business as a whole certainly haven’t.

If there are no businesses to employ people, there are no jobs. It’s really very simple.

And the unions would do well to keep that in mind, as their ongoing struggle to bend the hated employer over a barrel eventually prices the worker out of a job, and the employer out of existence.

Like I said, there is no concern for workers’ rights and entitlements underpinning this latest policy of Gillard’s: they won’t have any rights or entitlements if they don’t have jobs.

All that said, I come back to the stink bomb this announcement by Gillard pretty clearly seeks to leave on the doormat of The Lodge as a welcome present for the Abbotts.

I’ve already hinted at its intent: those ghastly, hated Liberals, in their rush to bring back WorkChoices, will abolish penalty rates for hard-working folk and drive hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people below the breadline.

What an absolute load of twaddle.

Gillard probably thinks she’s being oh-so clever; it’s likely she believes she is setting up for an “Abbott Attacks Workers” campaign destined to render him unelectable.

Firstly, this will be the third consecutive election Labor has attempted to fight on the back of WorkChoices, and the second at which the Coalition has pledged to never reintroduce that Howard-era industrial policy.

Second, Gillard’s promise of legislated industrial change — less than five months before the dissolution of Parliament for the election — is unlikely to be passed whilst Labor is in government, and the bills will be thrown out very early in the order of business of the incoming Liberal administration. The point, in practical terms, is moot.

But third, people don’t really believe Gillard any more, and no longer take her seriously; she is widely and rightly perceived as a manipulative, dishonest hypocrite who will say and do anything in the name of short-term expediency, and whose promises are as durable as ice in the desert.

Don’t believe it? “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.”

It took six months to openly break that promise, and Gillard’s word to the unions need only hold good until or unless she secures re-election in September: an extremely dubious prospect indeed.

I think people will see through this, as they increasingly see through all of Gillard’s “initiatives” these days, and recognise it for what it is.

And that, my friends, is a slavering pledge to her trade union masters to save her arse as Prime Minister, and an absolute disregard — even contempt — for the very workers she professes to be acting for, and for the hard-working business people who employ them.

Bring on 14 September. There is still six months of this to endure.

 

 

*I want Julia Gillard to remain Labor leader, right up to to 6pm on election day. 

Congratulations And Best Wishes To Dave Oliver At The ACTU

This may surprise a few people, but I have always been a firm believer in giving credit where it is due; in this spirit I would like to wish Dave Oliver my heartiest congratulations on his appointment as the new ACTU secretary, and to wish him all the very best.

At a time of chronically falling union membership, decreasing relevance to the majority of wage and salary earners in this country, and poor public advertisements such as the present Health Services Union/Craig Thomson fiasco, Australia’s unions have fewer and fewer representatives to whom people generally are prepared to listen, and take note of.

To this end, the assumption by ACTU secretary Dave Oliver of his new role is to be welcomed, and it is hoped it may be a pointer to a more constructive role for the trade union membership in the broad workplace relations agenda, and in society generally.

I met Oliver a couple of years ago, when he was the head of the AMWU in Melbourne, by virtue of what was at the time my day job in advertising; whilst there are obviously elements of his politics and agenda to which I am completely and implacably opposed — and, no doubt, of mine to him — I was very impressed by what I had seen.

My take on Dave Oliver is that he is no fool; and whilst he can be expected to be a formidable advocate for the interests of union members across the country, it is my view that in appointing him the ACTU has uncovered a decent and fair operator who will be tough and blunt, but considerate of other viewpoints and fair in his dealings.

I have been particularly encouraged by what he has had to say in relation to the fracas going on around the HSU; it is to be hoped that this ethical and no-nonsense perspective will find its way into union operations across the spectrum of the ACTU’s constituent bodies, and across Australia.

I would also hope Oliver’s tenure will coincide with a modernisation of union practices and governance to bring them into line with what might be expected by law of comparable corporate enterprises.

Whilst clearly a political opponent in many ways, I believe Dave Oliver is also someone a future conservative government may be able to do business with; it remains to be seen as to whether that is so, but it is possible — with an appropriate approach from both sides — to achieve constructive and meaningful outcomes for both sides of the industrial relations debate, and I look forward to observing how this process pans out.

I also hope his tenure will lead to the reset on the union side in the way it conducts its business so many — including rank-and-file union members — seek, and that the sort of thing we are presently witnessing on a daily basis at the HSU will become a thing of the past.

But for today, I simply wish to offer Dave Oliver my sincerest congratulations and good wishes on his new role; and I will watch with great interest — to use the vernacular — to see how he goes.