Turnbull Must Ignore Pathetic Shorten Attempt To Evade TURC Fallout

THE PENDING release of the Trade Union Royal Commission’s final report has spawned a last-gasp attempt by ALP “leader” Bill Shorten to propose measures to limit the political fallout of the inquiry for Labor; after two years of stonewalling, insisting there were no issues of misconduct at unions, his half-baked proposals stink of panic and desperation and must be ignored. Shorten is peddling a political trap Malcolm Turnbull must avoid at all costs.

One of the (many) substantive criticisms made of Malcolm Turnbull by conservative Liberals, as the embarrassing final months of his hapless first stint as Liberal Party leader played out, was that Turnbull was too eager to provide “bipartisanship” to Labor at every available opportunity, thus eliminating any and all points of difference between the Coalition and the ALP.

From wasteful, misdirected, and largely unnecessary stimulus spending to Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and to a slew of controversial Rudd government initiatives, Turnbull repeatedly traded away the opportunity for the Coalition to differentiate itself and to some extent, the country is paying for some of these own goals now through the ballooning national debt Turnbull helped inflate by waving then-Treasurer Wayne Swan’s ill-advised stimulus package through Parliament.

There are already signs this love of “bipartisanship” remains alive and well in the Turnbull bunker, but more on that a bit later.

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption is to hand its final report to the Governor-General today, with its subsequent release by the government set to occur as soon as tomorrow; The Australian is carrying a report that details a letter — sent by opposition “leader” Bill Shorten to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last Wednesday — the aim of which is basically to enable the ALP to evade the political fallout from what is universally expected to be a damning indictment on union behaviour by proposing a series of half-baked, half-arsed and abjectly pathetic last-ditch measures to reposition Shorten and Labor as “tough” on union misconduct.

Frankly, any utterances by Bill Shorten, his parliamentary colleagues, or their cronies in the union movement to the effect that they are at all concerned with malfeasance at trade unions should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve, and no Australian voter should succumb to the temptation to listen to a man whose political career is deservedly terminal trying to slither toward credibility on the backs of the many of his union buddies who now face prosecution.

For the past two years, Labor and the unions — to a man — have stonily maintained the mantra that the Royal Commission was nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt, despite ample evidence at the time it was instituted of wrongdoing and illegal behaviour at a number of unions that more than justified such an inquiry being convened.

When this position began to grow indefensible (and to look absolutely ridiculous to the watching Australian public) the line about politically motivated witch hunts gave way to increasingly bitter attacks on the Commission, individual Commissioners, and legal counsel working on it.

Thanks to some imbecile at the NSW Division of the Liberal Party who saw fit to extend an invitation to Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon to deliver the annual Sir Garfield Barwick Lecture — an invitation that was, it seems, hastily and unthinkingly accepted — Labor and the unions were handed a soft target upon which to turn their onslaught, and respected former High Court Justice Heydon was subjected to an outrageous and baseless barrage of accusations of wanton political bias and personal slurs from elements at the ALP nonetheless pretending to act in good faith and in the name of upholding the law.

Shorten, for what it was worth, earned himself an official reprimand at one of his appearances before the Royal Commission, for despite having publicly pledged to “co-operate fully” with the Commission — he could hardly fail to promise to do that — his testimony was vague, rambling, tangential, and waffling.

(Needless to say, there was much that Shorten — just like a lot of other persons of interest who appeared before Heydon — could not remember).

And when all of those endeavours came to nowt, Labor’s designated attack chihuahua Penny Wong led the charge of an equally insidious push to politicise the office of the Governor-General and have Sir Peter Cosgrove intervene to shut the Commission down on the basis of spurious charges of “bias,” obliterating its 1975-vintage position of outrage that the Governor-General accepts advice from his or her Prime Minister and no-one else (Whitlamesque emphasis added).

Now, in the cold light of a pre-Christmas hangover and facing an imminent federal election Labor is increasingly likely to lose badly — and confronted by the dawning reality that the Royal Commission’s findings are certain to be very, very grim — all of a sudden, Shorten wants to “help.”

Shorten has already been advised that he personally faces no action arising from either his testimony before the Commission or from his time at the helm of the AWU in Victoria and nationally. But in view of the belting that seems set to be unleashed on unions and union officials over alleged violations of various laws, his preparedness to be “tough on union wrongdoing” now is disingenuous, to say the least.

At this point, I refer readers to an article published in this column just three weeks ago, following the arrest and charging of CFMEU figures John Setka and Shaun Reardon; that article deals, in part, with a so-called clean-up of the union movement Shorten announced at that time a Labor government would pursue, and it contains a link to a piece from the Courier-Mail that details at length exactly what Shorten’s “clean-up” might entail.

As I pointed out then, Shorten’s regime of proposed penalties were unlikely to deter the most hardened and militant unions from repeat transgressions in future. Yet the details of what Shorten now apparently proposes — as reported in The Australian and based on his letter last week to Turnbull — seem, if anything, even softer than what he trundled out to deflect attention from the arrests of Setka and Reardon.

The one nugget from The Australian‘s article this morning is the proposal to reduce the political donation disclosure threshold from $13,000 to $1,000 for individuals, companies, and unions: this probably sounds great to anyone loosely interested in probity in politics, and it also plays into Labor’s longstanding obsession with cutting the Coalition off from the corporate monies that Labor (for what I would have thought are obvious reasons) generally fails to attract.

The intention is obvious: with sleight of hand, Shorten’s “initiative” is intended to deceive people into thinking that just as the Coalition would be cut off from corporate donations, so too would Labor be cut off from the mass funding it receives from union members’ fees.

But the glaring omission is that no provision is contained in the proposal to stop unions from funding and engaging in political campaigns of their own: the $13 million advertising blitz against WorkChoices in the run-up to the 2007 election, for example, was booked and paid for by unions directly — not from funds donated to the ALP. Under Shorten’s proposal, there would be nothing to stop unions from effectively conducting campaigns against the Coalition from their own funds on Labor’s behalf. Electoral advertising laws require only that advertising material carries an authorisation and details of the organisation to which the person providing it belongs.

In other words, Shorten actually has the bare-faced audacity to put a proposal on the table that purports to crack down on illegal union behaviour but which in fact would result in the Coalition being permanently handicapped if ever implemented whilst the ALP — with a slight readjustment to its relationship with the unions — could skip off, scot-free, to a more advantageous position at all future election campaigns.

It isn’t for nothing that Shorten is increasingly derided as “Billy Bullshit” by those who watch politics, but this is just one smartarse manoeuvre too many.

It isn’t unreasonable to subject unions to the same standards of accountability and governance that apply to the business community; the union movement has been allowed to act as a law unto itself for far too long. The damning imminent report of the Royal Commission is the end destination of such latitude, and it has to stop.

Shorten’s protestations that it is “unfair” for “union volunteers” to face penalties for misconduct akin to those applicable to company directors should be ignored; it’s a bit like saying an incorporated small enterprise with two staff should be immune to the law as well. It shouldn’t. If such regulations are as “onerous” as he claims, then all that expertise in training unions have been caught out issuing false invoices for at the Commission might be put to some practical effect in bringing their “volunteers” up to speed.

But really, just the fact Shorten is trying to negotiate anything over this issue at all is a sign he knows his union mates are cornered and, coming this late in a process that has gone on for two years, stinks of desperation, expediency, and panic.

The deeply unpopular Shorten was only ever able to assemble election-winning poll numbers on account of the six years he and his party spent demonising, defaming and then crucifying former Prime Minister Tony Abbott; once Abbott was removed from office, there was nothing to detract from the simple fact Shorten is completely unelectable.

The Turnbull government has a perfectly good Registered Organisations Bill on its books; it has only been voted down by Labor and the Communist Party Greens out of self-interest and to protect their union mates. There is no principle involved on the part of Labor and the Greens in defeating that Bill three times to date, and those parties should be shown no indulgence now in the face of a stack of prosecutions set to hit the organisations their handiwork has repeatedly been contrived to protect.

And this brings me back to the Prime Minister and his past fondness for “bipartisanship.”

It is true that Turnbull and Trade minister Andrew Robb compromised with the ALP to get the free trade agreement with China through Parliament recently — not coincidentally, in the face of a concerted and dishonest campaign by the CFMEU to discredit it — and whilst the amended version of the agreement was and is better than no agreement at all, it would be disturbing if those compromises were successfully exploited by the ALP as a precedent to hoodwink the Prime Minister into doing its dirty work now.

There is no middle ground when it comes to eradicating and punishing illegal behaviour, and there are no grounds for leniency (in the name of “fairness”) in shielding unions from the standards that should have been imposed upon them decades ago, and to which they have been immune for far too long.

The recommendations of the Royal Commission should be adopted and implemented without exception, and every alleged instance of criminality resulting from it vigorously prosecuted.

As for the Coalition’s Registered Organisations laws and the accompanying legislation to reconstitute the Australian Building and Construction Commission, these should be reintroduced to Parliament as a matter of great urgency and — if once again voted down by Labor and its associates at the Greens — immediately used as grounds to call a double dissolution election fought on the issue of acceptable standards and probity in the union movement and those sections of the wider economy the unions have for decades been allowed to control unfettered.

As for Shorten, Turnbull must tell him to tell his story walking.

Shorten deserves the electoral humiliation he is on a collision course with and his union mates deserve to be brought to justice. It is not Turnbull’s job to either help Shorten retrieve his standing as Labor “leader” or to ameliorate the punitive action headed in the direction of Trades Hall.

And were Turnbull to agree to the duplicitous attempted stunt that would shackle the Coalition at future elections whilst effectively allowing unions to run and pay for Labor’s campaigns, it would validate every past doubt held about his judgement by conservative Liberals once and for all.

Simply, Shorten is trying to entrap Turnbull. It is imperative he be given nothing more than short shrift.


Governor General: Labor’s Heydon Stunt Stalls In Senate

THE CONSTITUTIONAL FRIPPERY Labor is desperate to pursue in the name of its lawless, thuggy union mates has hit a hurdle in the Senate, as crossbench support for implicating Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove in its bid to destroy union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon is proving hard to secure. Even if ultimately forthcoming, the stunt will come to naught: knowing deep down its position is ambit, Labor will not take its “fight” to the Courts.

It is a fairly straightforward post from me this morning, as I am out and about; but one of the issues we have been following closely in this column — ALP attempts, on instructions from its Trades Hall masters, to destroy Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon and/or have his inquiry shut down is meandering further along the path to inevitable stalemate.

Those who missed my most recent piece on the ALP’s crack-brained scheme to politicise the office of Governor-General in its quest to get the lawless, miscreant thugs who face prosecution as a result of Heydon’s Royal Commission off the hook can revisit it here; that article also contains links to other material I have published on this subject, so those tuning into this for the first time will be able to get up to speed with our discussion as well.

I have been reading The Australian this morning, and I note with some satisfaction its report that due to difficulty convincing crossbench Senators to embrace its grimy attempt to trash the independence of the office of Governor-General — a reticence, just for the record, not evident among the sanctimonious Communist Greens Senators, who parade themselves as scions of virtue but who are predictably happy to jump into bed with the ALP on yet another unprincipled outrage — it has been forced to formally postpone tabling its motion to that end until today.

Short of the votes as Labor is, it is also worth noting that Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm — whose decision to abstain from voting on the motion to be tabled by Penny Wong will assist its prospects for passage — is not acting from any desire to savage Heydon or to endorse the insidious vice-regal action Labor seeks, but from a position apparently motivated by a get-square bent against the Liberal Party over a dispute about party registration that is completely unrelated to the matter at hand.

To be sure, Labor may — today, this week, or some other time — convince the Senate to follow it; there is certainly enough anti-government sentiment (and enough unprincipled, opportunistic charlatans on the Senate crossbench) for the ALP to persuade those abhorrent parliamentary squatters that breaking convention and trashing the independence of the Head of State is a good idea, and one that should be indulged in the name of excusing the criminal and corrupt misdeeds of its paymasters at the union movement.

But what Labor obviously thought was a slam-dunk exercise in having the Senate defy and challenge the Abbott government yet again is not a cut and dried as it may have first believed, and anyone interested in standards and decency in government can at least take heart from the minor win that even if it capitulates, the Senate hasn’t mindlessly fallen into line.

There are real issues at play here, as we’ve discussed in the past; for me — setting aside the thoroughly appropriate convention that the Governor-General is above politics — what does it for me is the fact that to do the bidding of union criminals, Labor is trashing its own carefully constructed position on the office of the Governor-General, to which it has remained wedded ever since the Dismissal: that the Governor-General takes advice from his (or her) Prime Minister, and from no-one else.

Gough Whitlam must be turning in his grave: not only would the actions his party is determined to take be anathema to him, but the cause — excusing corrupt and illegal actions — is, based on his own regard for propriety, one he would almost certainly never endorse.

Since we last looked at this matter, the consensus of discussions taking place in the mainstream press and elsewhere is that not only would an “address” from the Senate have absolutely no binding impact on Sir Peter Cosgrove — as we have already discussed — but that for want of some form of words to give effect to a semblance of consideration, Cosgrove would be likely, rightly, to disregard it.

Labor’s defence that Senate “addresses” were common prior to 1931 doesn’t justify this constitutional outrage: 1931 was the better part of a century ago, and parliamentary convention has evolved since that time. (If reviving common practice from that era is such a good idea, then let’s look at abolishing all the fixes Labor made to the Senate in the 1900s too, and revert to the system as originally designed: I bet that won’t fly, allowing conservatives to get closer to control of the upper house as the restoration of the Federation-era system would do).

However the charade of the “address” Wong has been charged with securing in the Senate plays out, the campaign against Dyson Heydon is likely to end right there and then.

Cosgrove, on balance of probabilities (if not in utter certainty) can be expected to ignore the “address.”

And despite whatever bluster consequently issues forth from the ALP and the unions, the dispute over Heydon’s fitness to head a Royal Commission or his “bias” against unions will never see the inside of a Court.

The problem is that not only is there not a shred of evidence to suggest Heydon is in fact “biased” — and the fabricated outrage over a silly mistake made without full knowledge of the circumstances of the Sir Garfield Barwick Lecture does not satisfy that test — but having read Heydon’s opinion in refusing to recuse himself from the union Royal Commission and reviewed it informally with a legal associate, I am also satisfied his reasons are absolutely solidly based in law.

For Labor to go off to Court, should Cosgrove refuse to do its dirty work on behalf of thugs and bastards in the unions who now face prosecution, it runs the real risk that any appeal judge would dismiss its challenge to Heydon’s reasons as groundless.

Were that to happen — with a reinforcement of the original Heydon decision dismissed by another Court which Labor has neither pretext nor reason to attack, and malign, and seek to destroy in public opinion as “biased” — then its argument against the Royal Commission would collapse irretrievably, and it would have no choice but to abandon its filthy mates and masters to the fate they deserve.

And in turn, the vapid, unethical foible Labor had tried would be laid bare before the public, and desperate for community support for its dishonest, jumped-up attempts to save criminals from justice, the ALP — the union hack who “leads” it, the union stooge doing the unions’ work in the Senate, and the entire confected masquerade of uproar — would be shown up before voters as the abhorrent outrage of self-interest it really is.

Much better to rip into the Governor-General; and if Cosgrove ultimately ignores the “Senate” when Wong comes calling on him, that is what it will do. So beholden and obligated to unions and the thugs who face prosecution is the ALP, it is utterly unmoved by the prospect of any damage it might do to Cosgrove’s office.

Labor — as we always say — cares about power above all else, and in this case, it is the power of its dodgy friends to operate outside the law and evade justice that it is concerned with. It is a reprehensible but indefensible reality.

It’s not hard to deduce why Labor is reticent about taking its challenge to Heydon to Court; it is completely baseless.

But in a grotesque way, that aversion to Court — and to having current and former union hacks shuffled through it — is well informed.

The number of recommendations for prosecution arising from Heydon’s inquiry is growing. Those who have been guilty of all kinds of lawlessness are going to have their day in Court: and the ALP, despite noisy outrage and sympathetic coverage in the usual Left-leaning press, will be powerless to stop it.

And that’s a bloody good thing — and the real pay dirt for those, like me, who genuinely care about the restoration and improvement of standards in public life.


TURC: Heydon Decision A Victory For Decency

THE DECISION by Dyson Heydon to dismiss an application from the unions to disqualify himself from the Royal Commission into union corruption is welcome, and is a victory for decency over unethical apologists for criminal misconduct. A tasteless stunt has been terminated, with the prospects for any appeal seeming limited indeed. Now, the business of weeding out and prosecuting criminal thugs in union ranks must continue unimpeded.

It is impossible to feel any sympathy whatsoever toward loathsome unions which — so hellbent on preserving their freedom to act as lawless filth — would set about destroying the reputation of one of Australia’s most distinguished legal figures on the flimsiest and the shabbiest of pretexts.

Namely, the fact Dyson Heydon accepted an invitation to deliver a law lecture in honour of the former Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick, only to withdraw his acceptance upon understanding the event was staged in benefit for the Liberal Party, hardly amounts to damning proof of political “bias” let alone satisfies the test of apprehended bias the deranged and frenzied onslaught against Heydon was synthetically contrived to satisfy.

Let there be no mistake: in trying to tear Heydon down as the head of the Royal Commission into alleged criminality in union ranks, Labor and the unions have blundered very, very badly; as half-arsed as it was, the attempt to have Heydon recuse himself from further proceedings was the only wild, desperate hope the unions had to shield the miscreants in their midst from justice.

There are some this morning who are attempting to mount in the press the spurious case that as Heydon himself heard the application brought against him by the ACTU, on behalf of the violent CFMEU and the similarly lawless AWU, that his findings are tainted; such a “case” panders to base ignorance of legal process in the wider community, for such applications of bias are routinely heard by the very target of their endeavours, and the findings delivered must be legally sound if they are to avoid being overturned on appeal.

It is to this end, however, that the “biased judge determines biased result” claptrap speaks; and should the unions elect to pursue further legal action in their ambit, spiteful and contemptible campaign to have Heydon replaced (or the Commission shut down altogether) it seems unlikely such a frivolous enterprise could succeed.

Heydon has spent decades delivering judgements at law; it is implausible, in this case especially, that he would have chosen to find in his own favour on baseless grounds. But bloody-minded and utterly desperate to protect criminals in their ranks, an appeal by unions should surprise nobody if it eventuates.

That said, a possible clue to the wholly ambit nature of the stunt the unions have engaged in to date can be found in the fact the ACTU did not send legal counsel to TURC yesterday to hear the ruling on its application to dismiss Heydon: hardly the act of parties certain of their legal standing, or readying for an appeal based in fact if they lost, which they did.

Unhappily for the ALP and the unions, Dyson Heydon stands no guiltier of “bias” today than any other legal practitioners whose professional discipline and training require them to set aside personal opinion — be it in matters political, commercial, criminal, environmental or familial.

Indeed, Heydon’s explanations — that he does not use email and does not own a computer, and that his emails are printed for him by an assistant — are not only plausible, but simply enhance the position he has consistently maintained, that whilst he was prepared to deliver a lecture in the name of his late and esteemed colleague, Barwick, he withdrew as soon as it became clear the undertaking was potentially a financial benefit to the Liberal Party.

This is not the action of a “biased” lawyer, and if the ALP and the unions want to blame anyone — not that I advocate those lawless entities going hunting for scapegoats — the idiot at the NSW Liberals who saw fit to issue the invitation, and whose actions put Heydon in a potentially compromising position that Heydon himself extricated himself from at the earliest juncture, is the person they should be focused on.

Yet they won’t: for the sole, base reason that destroying that individual would not and cannot get their criminal brethren off the hook and prevent the evidence that might support prosecutions against them from fully emerging. Only destroying Heydon can do that.

If there is a message at all from this tawdry and tasteless attempt to assassinate the character of a good man, it is a message to the court of public opinion: to the ordinary and decent men and women of Australia — many of whom are members of unions, some of whom have been ripped off and shafted by union officials purporting to act in their interests, or have been victims of union bastardry, violence and thuggery — and that message is a simple one.

Brutally, when the noise and abuse and mock “outrage” from ALP and union quarters over the past three weeks is stripped away, the people of Australia have witnessed an indecent and ruthless quest to shield criminals, excuse illegal actions, and to destroy those who would stand in their way.

The total lack of ethical or moral weight with which the campaign against Heydon has been conducted should give many pause for thought, for the true extent of the lengths Labor and unions have been prepared to go to in order to protect the lawless and shaft the decent have been laid out for all to see.

Prepared to trash anything and anyone in its quest to serve morally bankrupt union masters, the ALP now proposes to politicise the role of the Governor-General in a bid to have him intervene and sack Heydon himself: good luck with that, although I would add the utter vandalism Labor is prepared to wreak on Australia’s institutions on union orders is breathtaking, and should serve as further notice — were any required — of just how rotten the ALP-union axis really is when weighed against any reasonable test of integrity.

In fact, the conduct of both Labor and the unions during this process of seeking Heydon’s head is an object demonstration of why he must be allowed to continue his work at the Royal Commission.

To that end, hearings into the ACT branch of the CFMEU commence at 10am this morning; we wish Heydon and his staff well as they resume their odious but crucial task.

Perversely, the union movement stands to be cleaner, stronger and more decent at the end of the Royal Commission process and after any prosecutions that result from it are finalised: a prospect that should be welcomed and relished by the overwhelming majority of union members who are not crooks, are not violent thugs, and who do not purport to act as laws unto themselves.

It is imperative the Commission’s aim to identify, root out and prosecute the insidious filth in union ranks that give the movement as a whole such a dreadful reputation — and the violent, malicious thugs who are their ringleaders banished from unions and any other positions of responsibility altogether, especially at the ALP — now continue in line with its reasonable terms of reference, and the eye to public expectations of decency and probity that sit counter only to the interests and agenda of the lawless, and the rogue.

It is a free country, and the ALP and unions today can do as they choose in response to the Heydon decision.

People of fair mind and good will, however, will be satisfied with the outcome as it stands, and support the Commission as it completes its work.


#QandA Obscenity and Today’s Newspoll

A VERY SHORT piece from me today, as I am on the run; but last night’s episode of the ABC’s #QandA programme once again attracted controversy, which on this occasion should be kept in perspective. Further, the avoidable stupidity of a wayward Liberal Party member inviting unions Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon to a party event has coloured today’s Newspoll in The Australian: and once again sent the Abbott government into freefall.

I am off to Brisbane today — for the first time since the incident a fortnight ago that ended with a diverted return flight and a night in a Sydney hospital — and whilst I am not anticipating (or hoping for) any trouble on that front, it does mean a very full day juggling business and personal commitments.

However, I wanted to post very quickly on two subjects this morning that will fill political discussion today.

Firstly, the latest outrage to erupt from an episode of the ABC’s notorious #QandA programme last night (see here and here) is, for once, something the Right (and the wowsers) should take a Bex and lie down over before trying to skewer the ABC with it; I watched #QandA — as usual — and whilst the discussion was unremarkable (and with Virginia Trioli again deputising for Tony Jones was greatly improved as a viewing experience) the unfortunate own goal kicked via the #QandA Twitter feed is not the kind of thing producers would have complete oversight of.

The #QandA Twitter feed (as published on the ABC’s programme portal) carries a disclaimer that the broadcaster is not responsible for the material shown; despite some oversight, it is also impossible for every Tweet included in the feed to be exhaustively vetted without destroying the “real time discussion” nature of the inclusion of that feed.

Moreover, whilst whoever thought creating a Twitter account called @AbbottLovesAnal needs to take a long, hard look at themselves — it isn’t funny, appropriate, incisive or clever — the subject of the Tweet was hardly incendiary; and as distasteful as a similar lapse a year or two ago featuring an account called “@Smell_Mike_Hunt” this might have been, climbing all over the ABC looking for blood on this particular occasion looks petty, and would merely damage the cause of those seeking to use it as leverage for instigating any meaningful overhaul of the broadcaster’s conduct.

Meanwhile, Newspoll today shows that whilst the Coalition remains eight points behind Labor after preferences — unchanged from the previous survey — the personal and “preferred PM” ratings of Prime Minister Tony Abbott have again taken a hit, whilst those of Labor “leader” Bill Shorten are, whilst remaining truly terrible, slightly reflated.

The Liberals really only have themselves to blame for this, and as I have unapologetically noted before, whoever the fucking idiot at the NSW Liberals was who thought inviting the Commissioner of a politically-charged inquiry into the union movement to address a Liberal-organised function ought to be run out of the party.

The ensuing uproar might not have cost the Coalition more support in this survey — and already constituting a 7.5% swing against the government from the last election, it scarcely needed to — but a clue to voters’ likely behaviour, if the Royal Commission fails to prosecute hefty numbers of union criminals and/or is abandoned, lies in the marginally improved findings for Shorten.

Australians will give people a go: but if someone is unfairly maligned or baselessly attacked, they will compensate often by moving in the opposite direction, which to a degree is how Abbott was ever able to become Prime Minister in the first place.

And so it is in Newspoll today, where the blanket allegations of bias screeched by the ALP and some of its less-than-impartial press friends — however baseless those allegations are — have seen a clear show of sympathy for Shorten turn up in the figures, although not enough (yet) to make the opposition “leader’s” position remotely plausible.

The other feature I would quickly note is that at 54-46 to Labor, Newspoll has become settled in a 53-54% two-party result for the ALP; movements (including the 51% recorded by the Coalition two months ago) now remain within the statistical margin of error; and that the ALP primary vote, which once fed similar two-party results off a primary figure in the low 30% range, has gradually crept up and now also stabilised at or just below 40%.

In other words, Labor has solidified its base in the face of Coalition incompetence, poor governance and communications, and incidents like the Heydon fiasco are now arguably sealing the strength of the overall ALP position.

It seems the Coalition is running out of chances to retrieve its position: the credible discussions of calling a snap double dissolution election just two months ago have now evaporated thanks to the fiasco over Bronwyn Bishop’s travel expenses, and now over Dyson Heydon.

We will see in a few weeks how the Canning by-election plays out, but the portents are not encouraging: and on that note, I bid all readers a great day — and as Wednesdays have become almost impossible for posting articles for the time being, look forward to seeing everyone again on Thursday.


Criminal Union Filth: Dragging Cosgrove Into #TURC Will Backfire

MILITANT, LAWLESS unions are calling in debts from their ALP stooges today, with the mad rush to nobble Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon and/or trash his inquiry into union criminality ramping up with wilful disregard for the laws of the land. Now, miscreant Labor has hatched a plot for Governor-General Peter Cosgrove to dissolve the Commission. The move will backfire spectacularly, and in ways it has clearly not foreseen or would choose.

Those who follow me on Twitter (@theredandblue) will know that over the past week — ever since the revelation of unbelievable stupidity involving NSW Liberals inviting trade union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon to address a function they were organising became public — I have repeatedly made the point that if all the Heydon Commission really was is a politically motivated witch hunt, there would be no need to clamour to have it closed down: there would be nothing to find. Or to hide.

And those readers who have been with me over the journey in this column will have heard me say, many times, that Labor cares about power, not people: although in the present circumstances the obvious exception is people who happen to be lawless union thugs on the run from justice.

It hardly befits a party masquerading as fit to govern Australia, irrespective of what you think of the Abbott government.

I stand by the article published in this column on Monday, and apologise once again for the dearth of comment I’ve provided of late: the event that occurred in the skies over Sydney last Tuesday night continues to leave me drained and a bit rattled, and combined with a nevertheless unrelenting schedule the time for writing content has been scant.

But the central point — to use the vernacular and, to be blunt if crude — that whoever the fucking idiot at the NSW Liberals was who saw fit to invite Heydon to a Liberal Party function (irrespective of the semantic declamations that have since emerged) ought to be run out of the party remains valid, and the fact such an invitation would inevitably result in the mother of all shitfights with a Labor/unions opponent prepared to fight to the death using virtually any conceivable tactic was foreseeable makes it inexplicable the invitation was ever issued.

Any doubt around this can be dispelled by a simple viewing of most Twitter feeds (even the ones not ostensibly selected to provide political news) and/or the most cursory reading of any newspaper in the country: Labor and the unions have gone on the warpath over the Royal Commission in a way they have rarely — if ever — done previously, and even the possible exception of the events of November 1975 struggles to match the raw fury and self-obsessed, terrified, base survival instincts they are exhibiting now.

Yet speaking of 1975 and the inescapable allusion to vice-regal power, it seems the ALP might have finally overreached in its response to its manufactured debacle over Heydon’s agreement to give the Garfield Barwick Lecture; its newly-minted attack plans are likely to explode spectacularly in its collective face, and backfire on both the Labor Party and the unions in ways they obviously have failed to consider.

I read last night with some amusement a piece in the Herald Sun from Andrew Bolt, which detailed a Labor plot — led by arch-socialist and left wing Senate leader Penny Wong — to use a long-abandoned mechanism, avoided by convention in modern times lest the office of Governor-General be politicised, to empower present viceroy Sir Peter Cosgrove to dissolve the Royal Commission into the trade union movement on the grounds Dyson Heydon had “failed to uphold the standards of impartiality” expected of him.

I was amused by this because I didn’t think even a desperate ALP obliged by its puppeteers and paymasters at the unions to do something, anything to get the arses of the crooks in their midst out of the sling would be so stupid as to try to revive an obsolete legal mechanism on such a dubious pretext, and at such obvious risk to its own reputation as a political outfit purporting to readiness to win the trust of the Australian public at an election — the damage to that end already having been done by the confessed liar, self-evident grub and sleazy shyster in Bill Shorten as its “leader” notwithstanding.

It seems, however, that the Wong threat was no laughing matter; Bolt himself provided a link to a companion article from The Australian which elaborated on just that theme: and once people have read the explanation in that piece, I’m sure they will agree with me that the precedent Labor now seeks to cite, based on the circumstances in which the Senate last “addressed” the Governor-General in 1931, is a very flimsy rationale indeed, although I don’t doubt for a moment it is legal: the Constitution is filled with arcane powers that enable the monarch or his/her representative to act, sometimes independently with regard to prevailing circumstances (as in 1975), and sometimes in concert with Parliament.

But that doesn’t make it right: and not to put too fine a point on it, so brazen are Labor and the unions in trying to destroy the Royal Commission and its Commissioner in any way possible and so desperate are the vested interests who stand to be prosecuted (and presumably heavily fined and/or imprisoned for lengthy periods) that they are now prepared to hack away at the very pillars of ordered government in Australia to try to achieve those ends.

As the piece from The Australian notes, it would also constitute a grave and timeless hypocrisy on the ALP’s part, for it has long argued (and did, in 1975) that the “proper” function of the Governor-General is to accept advice from his/her Prime Minister and from no-one else.

This arrogant and presumptive interpretation of vice-regal power underpins Labor rage over the decision by Sir John Kerr to dismiss the Whitlam government in 1975 to this day; its apparent preparedness to itself seek to engineer a departure from that formula now — in the name of lawless thugs in its own ranks whose most useful community service would be rendered behind bars — starkly illustrates just how intellectually bankrupt, and how utterly amoral, the Labor Party today really is.

Were the Senate to vote to “address” Cosgrove, the Governor-General would be under no obligation whatsoever to accede to its demands; indeed, the likeliest response would be to tell Wong and her cohorts — e’er diplomatically — to get stuffed, although it is to be hoped such a riposte would be delivered with the bluntness Cosgrove was revered for as a soldier.

It may be that this has occurred to Wong, who yesterday indicated the opposition would defer its motion in the Senate until early September to allow Prime Minister Tony Abbott to “show some leadership,” which is code for sacking Heydon. Again, Abbott can and should refuse to budge. It is a bit rich for someone like Penny Wong to be talking about leadership at the best of times, let alone when she is party to an attempt to trash decades-old conventions of governance and to undermine the very system of government in Australia.

Yet even so, the fact this is playing out at all reeks of the stench of an artifice that is rotten to the core, and the fact Labor and the unions — irrespective of the validity or otherwise of the “smoking gun” they think Heydon’s (withdrawn) agreement to give the Sir Garfield Barwick Lecture offers — are, at root, fighting to stop criminals in their ranks being identified, comprehensively outed, and prosecuted.

There is no “principle” underpinning the actions of the unions and the ALP. It is just that simple.

Former Howard government staffer Chris Kenny — now a columnist at The Australian, and certainly no friend to Labor — nonetheless published one of the most sober and rational perspectives yesterday; I would go so far as to distil the ridiculous nature of the ALP’s behaviour even further: what Labor and the unions are trying to sell people on is the contention that Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon giving a law lecture at a Liberal Party function shows bias and disqualifies him from impartially presiding over any official forum in public life.

What is fails to explain is how Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner (and acknowledged socialist activist) Gillian Triggs similarly appearing at ALP fundraisers is any different.

But then again, the ALP has never had any compunction over shameless hypocrisy when it suits its own grubby ends.

In the end, Labor doesn’t care about the laws of the land; it doesn’t care about ethics and accountability and probity, be it in government or in institutions like the unions; it couldn’t care less how much damage it does to the fabric of democracy in this country or the offence it gives to decency and integrity: if the filth that is the criminal union thuggery from whose collective teat it suckles are at risk of being brought to justice for their lawless outrages, Labor will trash anything — anything — in its grimy quest to conspire in their evasion of prosecution.

As Bolt noted, if Cosgrove does tell the ALP — under the guise of the Senate “addressing” him — to bugger off, the assault that will be launched against Cosgrove and his office will make it appear that Dyson Heydon has merely been trifled with in jest: anyone who thinks Labor and the unions have reached full flight just yet are kidding themselves.

Really, Labor doesn’t care about Dyson Heydon either: he’s just the unfortunate patsy who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and under the harsh glare of a media frenzy that was only possible for the ALP to whip up because of some dickhead in the NSW Division of the Liberal Party. But such a patsy is all the ALP needs to justify its own slimy actions to itself.

Ironically, the greater threat to Labor and union self-interest lies in what many regard as the lesser of two evils.

And that, simply stated, is that the ACTU succeeds in its bid tomorrow to have Heydon recuse himself from proceedings, and the Royal Commission continues under a new Commissioner; as one observer has already noted, the Abbott government would be free to appoint whoever it liked: and whilst Heydon might not exactly be a poster boy for the circles of the Left, someone like retired High Court judge Ian Callinan QC would be the last thing they would want.

Such an appointment, should it come to pass, would be no less reward than the unions deserved for their trouble.

But there’s something else Labor seems to have failed to foresee in embarking on its field trip toward Yarralumla in an attempt to co-opt the Governor-General to do its dirty work — getting a lynch mob of criminal union thugs off the hook — and it is this.

Should the Wong move succeed, it will have been possible to realise such an anti-democratic injury to due process and the rule of law under the very system Labor wants replaced by a popularly elected republican model of government under a popularly elected (and, by its very nature, inescapably political) President as Head of State.

If such an obscenity can be perpetrated under arguably the best system of constitutional government in the world, what vile outrages might be possible in an Australian republic?

I’m no republican — staunchly monarchist to my bootstraps, in fact — but it does rather seem that Wong, by her actions for and on behalf of her party and union thugs, is writing a goodly portion of a slam-dunk, lay down misere case for a “No” vote should the question of a republic ever be put again at a referendum to the Australian people.

Yes, Liberals in Sydney have provided Abbott with an additional crisis he needs like a hole in the head on top of all the self-inflicted nonsense his government is reeling beneath, and the ALP is understandably running hard with it.

But Labor should consider very carefully just how extensive the consequences of what it is doing might prove. Its thuggy mates are still likely to be prosecuted. The electorate may — should — awaken to the disgusting apology for institutionalised criminality and corruption it is making, killing off the cretin Shorten’s prospects for winning an election, and the ALP with them.

But by dragging the office of the Governor-General into this, the stakes are raised; history, precedent and the Constitution itself dictate that in the end, Labor is set to lose more than any other party to these distasteful events.

The price of protecting criminal union filth will be a high one for Labor to pay. Its repercussions may take years to be fully felt, and in ways it would not choose; and which it either cannot, itself, have foreseen or considered, or about which it simply couldn’t care.

After all, Labor cares about power, not people. It may rue these disordered priorities to its detriment.


Dyson Heydon And A Liberal Act Of Gross Stupidity

THE FRACAS over accepting — and withdrawing from — an invitation to give the Sir Garfield Barwick Lecture by former High Court judge and Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon has sparked vicious, baseless attacks by Labor and unions; the lecture, for Liberal Party lawyers, hardly makes Heydon partisan. Yet in racing to destroy him, unions seek unfettered freedom to act as a law unto themselves, and Labor’s complicity in excusing illegal acts.

As we continue to catch up a bit on the busy week in politics that a heavy schedule and a health scare conspired to keep me away from, I want to share with readers a perspective from one of the conservative contemporaries with whom I regularly mull over the political goings-on in this country and beyond; no conspiracy theorist, this gentleman regularly notes that when faced with opponents, conservatives are content to work to defeat them, and whilst the tactics* used can sometimes be brutal, in general terms the advancement of conservative objectives is sufficient.

By contrast, the Left — not merely content to defeat opponents — sets out to destroy those ranged against it; people like me are dismissed as “RWNJs” for merely disagreeing with them (often without rancour) and blocked on Twitter, once the social media trolls of the Left have spread a campaign of ridicule, contempt and abuse around the Internet about us. That’s the “soft treatment.”

But when it comes to the “hard treatment” reserved for those on the Right regarded as posing existential and/or electorally mortal threats to the Left and its interests, the explicit objectives of campaign are based on the single-minded aim of destroying opponents utterly: their ideas, their reputations, in some cases, the liveability of their lives. If Prime Minister Tony Abbott were litigiously inclined, for example, he could sue any number of lefties into the middle of next century for defaming him personally; the treatment was deployed against John Howard for years, but of course Howard and his coterie were far shrewder and more effective than the current bunch in dealing with such preposterous attacks.

And the reason I raise these perspectives today is because the self-interest and moral nihilism of the Left have intersected with the utter, utter stupidity of someone in the NSW Division of the Liberal Party who apparently thought it a good idea to invite retired High Court Justice Dyson Heydon QC — now the Royal Commissioner into the trade union movement — to deliver the annual Sir Garfield Barwick Lecture for “The Lawyers Branch and the Legal Policy Branch” of the NSW Liberals.

What is interesting about this episode from the outset is that the Fairfax press and the ABC have exhibited a total lack of interest in or willingness to report on the growing catalogue of misdemeanours apparently committed by individuals and organisations within and adjacent to the trade union movement that Heydon’s Royal Commission has progressively uncovered; not for them any reticence about thuggish union brutality or illegal conduct.

Rather, those sinecures have united with the ALP and the union movement in a wholesale campaign to wreck Heydon’s reputation and his distinguished legal career, attempting to trash his personal and professional integrity, seeking to discredit on a flimsy pretext the validity of the Royal Commission into the union movement with a view — ultimately — to having it shut down, and alleged criminals in the labour movement being allowed to escape scot-free and without judicial consequence.

And why? Because someone in the NSW Liberals, who should have known better, was dumb enough to think having Heydon address a Liberal Party function was a brilliant idea.

For additional reading today I include this piece from The Age, which dutifully and contemporaneously regurgitates the ALP/union case against Heydon, without so much as a syllable relating to the indecent and unlawful excesses of the union movement; and this article from Daily Telegraph writer (and favourite of this column) Piers Akerman, which at least presents with some semblance of balance insofar as it catalogues Labor’s wildly deranged rants against Heydon in the context of some of the obscenities already uncovered by his Royal Commission.

Tellingly, Piers also quotes at length left wing lawyer (and trouble-making agitator wherever conservative politics and its objectives are concerned), Julian Burnside QC, who flatly and repeatedly refused to allow criticisms of Heydon’s impartiality and integrity to stand — even when interviewed by the taxpayer-funded left wing propaganda machine that is ABC news and current affairs, and even when repeatedly pressed to do so.

Piers also goes on to itemise a litany of ALP attempts to frustrate and/or abort Royal Commissions in the past that have focused on alleged criminality on the part of its people that is most instructive, including — damningly — a threat made by former senior ALP frontbencher Stephen Smith that any judicial figure who accepted a commission to investigate former WA Premier Carmen Lawrence in the 1990s over what became known as the Penny Easton affair should brace for “political attack.”

The culture of intimidation, threats, bastardry, thuggery and general lawlessness that Heydon is attempting to sift through in a Royal Commission now is nothing new where the ALP and the broader Left in this country are concerned.

And whilst this column has freely criticised Attorney-General George Brandis’ performance as an Abbott government minister despite once sharing membership with him of the same Liberal Party branch in western Brisbane, his defence of Heydon today and the concurrent rebuttal of Labor/union attacks on him is very close to flawless.

Aside from the hanging offence of agreeing to speak at something at all connected with the Liberal Party — and we’ll come back to that in a moment — Heydon’s other alleged misdemeanour was taking 24 hours to reverse his acceptance to speak once he know the lecture was a fundraiser organised by the Liberals, and one can only visualise the unbridled ALP outrage that this eminent Australian took time to consider his actions before withdrawing, rather than simply jumping to what “anyone with a brain” would (or should) have known was the only acceptable course of action, which just happens to be what Labor wanted.

For the uninitiated, there are — scattered around the country — a small number of Liberal Party branches and other “offshoot” groups that are set up to cater to specific policy or business interests; the groups responsible for the Garfield Barwick Lecture constitute one of these entities. Another I know of exists in Brisbane, with a small business focus. These are not Liberal Party “branches” in the orthodox or widely understood sense; they’re more vehicles for professional interest.

But that carries no truck with Labor, which not only organises itself to facilitate setting competing internal cabals at each others’ throats, but goes so far as to have branches based purely on ethnicity in order to marshall and deploy “numbers” gathered from various immigrant communities to further the internal and broader political goals of those cabals of thuggery.

I tend to think the connection to Sir Garfield Barwick — the Chief Justice of the High Court in 1975, who advised then-Governor-General John Kerr on the course the latter had already determined to withdraw the commission of the Whitlam government — is a red rag to the Labor bull in its own right; the lecture in the former Chief Justice’s name was established in his honour and of course, to Labor types and lefties in Australia more broadly, Barwick is a villain secondary only to Kerr himself as a target of their hatred, and abuse, and vitriol.

The fact Kerr and Barwick acted in a manner that was both legal and constitutionally valid doesn’t matter to Labor types, who — again — will make any excuse for illegal actions, and embark on any number of eternal crusades to destroy completely the reputations of those they identify as enemies. Heydon, already in the gun for his role as Royal Commissioner, associating with Barwick even in the capacity of a lecture in his name is an incendiary and unforgivable act deserving of personal obliteration.

Now, unions — the notoriously militant, violent CFMEU first and foremost — are looking to use the excuse that Heydon has been revealed as “biased” as a pretext for legal action to have the Royal Commission shut down, whilst their puppet stooges at the ALP are seeking at the very minimum to have Heydon replaced.

Both outcomes would amount to a terrible miscarriage of justice.

And the excuse from thugs at the ALP and the unions that it is a politically motivated witch hunt simply doesn’t cut it: if it did, there wouldn’t be the imperative to discredit it and shut it down.

Labor “leader” Bill Shorten wouldn’t even be “leader” at all were it not for the fact the overwhelming majority of his MPs were locked into following the explicit orders given by some ghastly union or the other; rather than think for themselves, ALP MPs did what they were told: with the result the parliamentary party leadership is completely unrepresentative of the party’s membership, who wanted someone else.

The example is telling.

It isn’t hard to see why the unions want the Royal Commission closed down when — as Piers points out — plenty of conduct that at best can be described as “extremely legally dubious” and at worst, downright criminal, has already been uncovered.

The near-certainty of a parade of Labor and union figures through the Courts must be allowed to progress to its logical and inevitable conclusion, for the sake of decency, democracy, and the preservation of the rule of law.

But some idiot — or idiots — in the NSW Liberals have put that outcome in jeopardy.

No doubt someone thought Heydon would be a man-of-the-moment, star attraction billing that would bring attendees and money in a torrent; the fact someone clearly associated with the Liberal Party in an official capacity could act with such a lack of judgement is an indictment. But then again, there are plenty of amateurs and other self-important but useless specimens currently on the payroll and leaching hard-earned donation and membership money.

There are those floating around the Liberal Party who accuse me of treachery, or disloyalty, or aiding Labor, just because I call these things out for what they are. But those who run the party are so lacking in perception — and too often so utterly incompetent — that Labor doesn’t need my help: the people on the party payroll are doing that job just fine, all by themselves.

In the end, there is no case for the Royal Commission to be shut down; and whilst Heydon might perhaps have better availed himself of the full circumstances of the event he had been invited to address before accepting the invitation in the first place, he’s the closest to completely blameless of all the parties to this frightful — and on the Liberals’ part, grossly stupid — episode.

The message that should be emanating from the Liberal Party right now — from the Prime Minister, from Coalition MPs, and from the nameless sources worded up by Credlin’s machine and so ubiquitously quoted in the press as spokespeople — is that the Commission will continue, and that the Abbott government will not flinch in the face of baseless attacks from unions seeking not only to excuse criminal behaviour, but to preserve their ability to act as a law unto themselves.

But it won’t. As I have lamented in the past, this government couldn’t articulate the desire to purchase sex in a brothel. Its apparatus for strategy and tactics and communication is next to useless. The penchant for three-word slogans and incessant diatribes about national security will continue to be offered as a salve for all issues that confront it.

This means that even if Heydon is able to complete his inquiry and prosecutions follow, the ramifications for the Liberal Party will be dire, and once again be self-inflicted: and those consequences will far transcend the absence of a headline act to sell tickets to a lecture.

And it means the unions and the ALP — assisted by their fellow travellers at the ABC and at Fairfax — will continue to work to tear Heydon’s reputation to shreds, for no better reason that he’s onto them: and in a choice between outlawing criminality in the union movement and destroying a good man, I know which option decent people will be more supportive of.


*The Abbott government is excused from any suggestion it utilises brutal tactics or, in most cases, any cogent tactics at all; such is the ineffectual character of an outfit run behind the scenes by the likes of Peta Credlin and Brian Loughnane, who wouldn’t recognise sound tactical and strategic paths if they fell on them. Proof of this contention can be readily observed in any aggregation of reputable opinion polling over the past 18 months.