Lawless Thugs: Just Deregister The CFMEU

A CFMEU PLOT to “own” the ALP and not “piss-fart” around in pursuit of its desired political outcomes is nothing new; with Labor “leader” Bill Shorten beholden to the lawless, militant union and its increasing threats to replace Labor MPs who stand in its way — replete with one-fingered salutes to Courts seeking to impose the law — the CFMEU is no better than the BLF, and equally counter to the national interest. It should be deregistered.

In news that will surprise nobody, The Australian is today reporting on a campaign by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to take “ownership” of the Labor Party to impose its “will,” and to replace politicians who get in its way; this is nothing new, and merely signals the continuation of a process that has been underway for many years.

A glance at ALP state governments in Victoria and Queensland (where the supposedly pro-worker CFMEU is costing tens of thousands of jobs) offers ready proof of that.

But the CFMEU — whose objective, ostensibly, is the pursuit of power, not workers’ rights or (God forbid) safety — has been the subject of well in excess of 100 adverse Court judgements in recent years, with millions of dollars in fines imposed against it effectively ignored, and it is impossible to argue that this bastion of thuggery is even remotely interested in quaint notions such as the rule of law or even the advancement of workers’ rights as it claims.

Were the CFMEU bothered with such quaint ideas, it wouldn’t be donating money to every Tom, Dick and Harry who might be able to do its bidding — and deputise for its dirty work — in Houses of Parliaments across Australia; most recently, CFMEU money has flowed to literally anyone it might be able to induce to scuttle the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, for which the federal Coalition has received two election mandates.

It may be indelicate to point out that the only individuals or entities with anything to fear from the restoration of the construction watchdog are those bent on thumbing their nose at the law and engaging in precisely the kind of lawless thuggery and militant recklessness the ABCC is contrived to stamp out.

Yet the CFMEU, with its long history of delivering a one-fingered salute to the Police, the judiciary, and to any elected government which seeks to curb its excesses, perfectly fits the template of a quasi-criminal lynch mob determined to elude (and even smash) any attempt to impose the rule of law upon it.

The unions do not run Australia. The CFMEU most certainly does not run Australia. Yet as we have seen and discussed time and again, this is exactly the belief that underpins its activities, and fuels the entitlement mentality obviated by the ranting edicts from the apologists for illegal behaviour who form its “leadership.”

So-called Labor “leader” Bill Shorten can bleat about his “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal behaviour by unions and union officials all he likes, but the simple reality — as The Australian notes today — is that Shorten is irretrievably compromised on this issue by undertakings he has given to the CFMEU to oppose the ABCC as a condition for its support of his “leadership,” and has failed to use whatever influence he continues to exert with the union to force its compliance with Court decisions and the (justified) penalties imposed upon it.

There is no “obsession,” as Shorten puts it, with “creating an ‘easy-to-hire, easy-to-fire’ society” on the part of the Liberal Party, although the union delusion that companies run into the ground on the end of union demands should nonetheless provide rock-solid employment to its members in perpetuity is based in a convenient fantasy, not reality, whatever he and they might otherwise think.

And Shorten and others who persist with the fatuous notion of a Liberal Party “anti-union” agenda might reflect that were rancid outposts like the CFMEU to behave as sober, rational and law-abiding entities, there would be no movement to crack down on them at all.

As for “fairness,” this ridiculous and frankly offensive excuse for Shorten’s slavering and pandering to a group that is little more than a criminal gang can and should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.

There is a relatively recent precedent for the disbandment of a lawless union; in 1981, the then Thompson Liberal government in Victoria moved to have the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) deregistered: an action taken up by the Fraser government federally, and later overseen to conclusion by the Hawke government — a far more responsible incarnation of the ALP than the abjectly pathetic assortment of union-compromised quislings sitting to the left of the Speaker in federal Parliament today.

The BLF continued the long tradition of militancy, violence and complete disregard for the rule of law that for too long has characterised the very worst excesses of the trade union movement in this country, and for too long has taken form in the most militant, lawless (and yes, violent) unions to whom hacks like Shorten solemnly pledge solidarity and fealty in preference to the national good and the benefit of all Australians.

The filthiest dregs from the BLF bucket — including some of those who spent time in gaol for their trouble — were eventually, and inevitably, recycled into the CFMEU bucket where, once again, they sit like a slime at the very bottom.

If Malcolm Turnbull has any spine at all — and if his rhetoric against the illegal conduct of this noxious showpiece of the union movement has any substance behind it at all — he will move to emulate the Thompson/Fraser/Hawke governments’ actions, and move to have the CFMEU deregistered.

Hundreds of officials charged and convicted. Millions of dollars in fines that have either been ignored or paid from vast war chests designed to shield individuals carrying out heavy-handed and anti-democratic activities. It isn’t as if there are no grounds to rid Australia of this blight on the industrial landscape.

And what it simply cannot be allowed to do is enact a root-and-branch takeover of one of Australia’s major parties — making de facto control of that party absolute, rather than virtual — and placing it in position to inflict God only knows what vandalism upon Australia’s institutions and system of laws in its own interests.

It remains to be seen whether legislation to restore the ABCC passes Parliament or not, but even if it doesn’t, there remains at least one avenue for recourse open to those who refuse to allow one section of the community to ride roughshod over the law, Australia’s economic welfare, and the national good.

Just deregister the CFMEU. It’s not as if it has been without opportunity to fix its act.

It has repeatedly, and malevolently, refused to do so. When it is gone, there are few who will miss it.

Turbulent Times: Turnbull Closes In On A Victory To Regret

WITH ONGOING counting ameliorating swings against the Coalition in a handful of critical seats, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is nearing an election win, probably with 75 of 150 seats in the House of Representatives; with an eye to the strategic prospects of the Liberal Party and the long-term welfare of Australia, this is a “victory” likely to be extracted at astronomical cost, and one the Coalition parties will regret for many years to come.

The old adage — that “winners are grinners, and losers can do what they like” — is, in this instance, a piece of histrionic frippery that applies to nobody where the 2016 election is concerned; just as this column reluctantly provided a tepid, peg-on-nose endorsement of the Coalition on Saturday on the sole basis it was not Bill Shorten and Labor, there will be no congratulations emanating from this quarter when the results are finally declared, and the leeches and parasites who will now infest the Senate crossbench should give advance consideration to the fact that the behaviour now expected of them will compound a likely national calamity.

First things first: whilst the election result remains undetermined in the most literal sense, a better-than-expected strengthening of the Coalition’s position as counting continues now sees it likely to eke out at least half of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives; yet even if its best-possible case scenario of 77 seats (and perhaps about 50.2% of the national two-party vote) eventuates, it will do nothing to overturn the judgement that the 2016 election has been a debacle that was entirely avoidable, and for which Australia is likely to pay heavily.

I am loath to engage in seat-by-seat commentary, shifting as the electoral sands continue to be, but it now appears the Coalition has taken a seat from Labor (Chisholm in Melbourne) and should hold Forde, on Brisbane’s southern outskirts; five other previously Coalition-held seats remain in the Australian Electoral Commission’s “too close to call” bracket, and whilst the Liberals trail in all five this morning, it does seem likely they will hold at least one of these to make it to the 75-seat halfway mark in the lower house.

But Labor will command a majority of the seats in all states except WA and Queensland, including a total Coalition wipeout in Tasmania for the fifth time in the seven elections since 1998, and all four of the seats in the territories; this is no endorsement of Malcolm Turnbull’s government, although it should equally be noted that (despite the arrogant post-election hubris of Bill Shorten) it is no endorsement of the ALP either, and on one level, both sides — through the humiliation delivered to Turnbull and the failure to triumph by Shorten — have been rewarded with no less than they deserve.

To be clear, there is no winner from the 2016 federal election.

Rather than the near-death experience Turnbull appears to have suffered in the lower house, the greatest disaster of this election — and the greatest disservice it will prove to have inflicted upon the country — is the outcome in the Senate, which now appears likely to be populated by up to 13 crossbenchers in addition to no fewer than nine Communists Greens.

The new Senate (which will be constituted immediately the results are declared due to the backdating of terms after a double dissolution) is likely to prove a fatal thorn in the side of the elected government in the lower house; the behaviour of Labor and the Greens in the last Parliament provide a pointer to their likely behaviour now, and those entities — in cahoots with at least two Senators from the imbecilic Jacqui Lambie Network — will be able to block 100% of Coalition legislation through their control of at least 38 of the 76 spots in the upper house.

Opposition “leader” Bill Shorten, set to be unanimously reconfirmed in his position today for a further three years by the ALP caucus, is certain to continue the blanket suffocation tactics he directed Labor to employ over the past three years; for little Billy Bullshit, notions of responsibility and allowing the Coalition to govern are likely to be given short shrift as the malodorous stench of a terminally wounded government emboldens him to focus on the eventual kill, and with an eye to the haemorrhagic state of the federal budget, this means a continuation of the Shorten tactic of waving spending increases through the Senate (if any are even presented) whilst knocking any measures to cut outlays on the head.

The effects of this tactic were thrown into stark focus yesterday, with international financial ratings agency Standard and Poors downgrading Australia’s investment outlook from “stable” to “negative,” and whilst the country retains — for now — its prized AAA credit rating, it seems inevitable that this will soon enough be lost: make no mistake, the ALP is desperate for this downgrade to occur on the Coalition’s watch, and if it does, Shorten and his goons will proclaim it to be the final and irrefutable evidence of the inability of the Coalition to manage the federal budget, and claim final absolution for Labor’s fiscal recklessness during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd period.

The reality, of course, will be rather different.

But it is at this point the Coalition is going to begin to pay — really pay — for its utter ineptitude where the ability to fashion and sell a message is concerned; as far back as the early weeks of the Abbott government, Labor was already trying to publicly wash its hands of any responsibility for the mess it left the country’s books in, and the response this effort elicited from the Coalition was misdirected.

Rather than mounting a savage demolition of the ALP from the government benches — as John Howard and Peter Costello did to devastating effect in 1996 — the Coalition instead devoted its energies to justifying targeting its own electoral base (and swinging voters who backed the Coalition in 2013) in a hopelessly ill-focused 2014 budget instead of taking careful aim at the tens of billions of dollars of recurrent social spending legislated by Gillard.

Then-Treasurer Joe Hockey went to the trouble of conducting a Commission of Audit — as Costello did in 1996 — but unlike his predecessor Hockey sat on the final report until the week before his 2014 budget, and only then tried to use its findings against the ALP in what gave every public appearance of being an afterthought.

And despite the wimpish option of slugging its own base with tax hikes and targeting its own constituency of families to wear the bulk of what cuts is actually deigned to attempt, the Abbott government — right from the start — failed to accrue double dissolution triggers based on economic management that might have provided the Coalition with real ammunition to fight the election that is now almost concluded.

Turnbull will have no choice but to abandon the actual pretext he went to the people on — union governance — for after a truly dreadful election campaign, there is simply no point in convening the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament to which the government, after a double dissolution, is entitled; even if it manages a bare majority in the lower house with 76 seats, the Coalition will remain about ten votes short of an absolute Parliamentary majority, and looking at the Senate it is highly plausible that none of the crossbench Senators will vote for its measures to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

As veteran journalist Paul Kelly observed on Sky News last night, Turnbull is obliged, at the minimum, to attempt to pass the union governance measures through the House and the Senate, if for no better reason to be seen to be paying lipservice to the agenda he took to voters. But he is destined to fail in the upper house, and the very notion of convening a joint sitting in an attempt to prevail is now laughable.

In fact, the only group in Australia that can claim to have achieved any kind of victory from the election — unforgivably — is the union movement.

Nobody should believe the protestations from Trades Hall that unions’ overarching objective is to play the role of “safety enforcer” in Australian workplaces; their behaviour over the past three years marks them out as just another political outfit, and one committed to anti-democratic and at times violently brutal enforcement of its objectives.

Unions have been complicit with the ALP in recent years in attempts to rig state elections in Victoria and in Queensland, with rent-a-crowd ring-ins dispatched to marginal seats to masquerade as essential services personnel, and to spread the standard itinerary of Labor lies about fictitiously apocalyptic Coalition “plans” to decimate schools, hospitals, and  emergency services.

In both states, unions (and particularly the rancid filth at the bottom of the virulent Trades Hall bucket, the CFMEU) have sought to extract their pound of flesh from the resultant Labor governments they helped get elected; the present attempt in Victoria by the hard-Left United Firefighters’ Union to take over the Country Fire Authority, with the sanction of the Andrews government and in defiance of the vast majority of volunteer CFA firefighters it would shaft, is merely a curtain-raiser to likely similar assaults against a range of targets from the State Emergency Service to surf lifesavers as unions use Labor governments to violate volunteer organisations and to entrench themselves where they are not wanted.

But the malevolent assumption by unions of a role to actively rig elections has been taken a step further in the election campaign that has just been held: union money has flowed to (and been accepted by) almost every non-Coalition candidate, in both Houses of Parliament, with any prospect of defeating the Coalition anywhere in Australia; it is one thing for the unions to campaign against a conservative government (the nature of their outrageous “campaign” tactics notwithstanding), but it is another matter altogether to rig an election by trying to make a conservative victory impossible at the first place before a single vote is cast.

One of the reasons we know the Senate crossbench will do whatever Labor and the unions want it to do is because of the sheer volume of union money that has sluiced through supposedly “independent” campaign funds; any idiot who took union money to bankroll themselves, whilst simultaneously clinging to the delusion they would be able to vote however they liked if elected, is in for a very, very nasty surprise.

Just as the unions were prepared to dish out the largesse to skew the electoral contest and engineer a Shorten victory, they will — as they have shown in Victoria and Queensland — now collect on their investments, and any crossbencher who regards themselves as free to vote with the government at will is going to be very quickly set straight about the realities of the agenda they surrendered to by taking union donations in the first place.

Pointedly, Bob Katter Jr — who yesterday announced “without any enthusiasm” that he had decided to offer the Coalition support on matters of confidence and supply — said that at the first sign of “union bashing,” all bets would be off: exactly what might constitute “union bashing” remains unclear, but it’s a fair bet that this spectre will be evoked if the Turnbull government tries to legislate its union governance measures, irrespective of whether such an enterprise is doomed or not.

But Katter — who also took union money — has also made it known that had the Parliament been hung (which it now seems certain not to be) and had Anthony Albanese been leading Labor instead of the noxious Bill Shorten, he would have backed the ALP to form a government: his “support” for Turnbull can only be understood in this context, and his threat about “union bashing” likely to prove merely a foretaste of the unions’ return on their campaign investments.

Unions are just about the most tainted and compromised organisations in Australia; they are a ship you do not board unless the political agenda of the Left is something you are prepared to unquestioningly back.

Labor, and the unions, have gone to inordinate lengths in recent years to make money from lobbyists, property developers and tobacco firms a no-no, and lethal to the political touch: and so too should be money from the union movement, for the genesis of such funds lies not in the pursuit of industrial safety but rather political brutality, and its objectives are anything but democratic.

Just as Labor and the Greens bang on about “campaign finance reform” — which is code for chopping the Coalition off from funds from the business sector — union money, which both Labor and Greens take, is an absolute no-go where this “principled” stand on donations is concerned.

To be frank, we are very close to the point Australia would be better off without the unions altogether in their current form.

But they will now wield greater influence in this country than they have ever done, with so many little elves and sprites on the loose in both Houses of Parliament to do their bidding; it is a reality that adds a very ugly undercurrent to what promises to be a very ugly three years, in which little is achieved but which lays the groundwork for even more damage to the national interest in coming years.

Whatever the eventual seat tally, the government enters its second term in office with dozens of marginal seats; with no electoral buffer remaining, the Coalition is now exposed to an absolute belting at the next election if things do not go well for it — which is why I have consistently opined that it might have been better for the Liberal Party to go into opposition now.

With a bare majority in the lower house, a gaping shortfall in the Senate and a majority of the two-party vote by the barest of margins — secured against a woefully thin election “manifesto” prosecuted with an appalling campaign — it is difficult for the Coalition to argue it has a mandate for anything at all.

The forces ranged against Turnbull in the upper house will see to it that what little authority he has emerged from the election with is smashed to pieces in extremely short order; it is not without reason that this column has questioned whether Turnbull — a decent individual, even if we disagree with many of his ideas — is really cut out to handle the stifling pressure and incessant crisis atmosphere that will soon enough engulf his government.

He faces an opposition “leader” who will continue to be utterly unscrupulous about the tactics and methods he uses to try to destroy the Coalition once and for all; Bill Shorten received no support from this column over the past three years (where a more reasonable Labor leader might have had his or her moments) and he will receive none now.

He faces a Senate hellbent, either by outright intent or through the puppeteering that will be enforced on it from Trades Hall, on laying the groundwork for a thumping Labor win at the next election.

He faces (justified) internal criticism of not just the terrible campaign he presided over, but of his leadership for the duration of 2016 and the dithering, aimless management style that has seen what might have been a solid election triumph squandered.

And in tackling the increasingly urgent problem of Australia’s fast-deteriorating fiscal position — against the backdrop of a likely, cyclical global economic slowdown or recession within the next few years — the only remedial action the Senate is even remotely likely to permit is a massive increase in taxation to preserve what was always Labor’s spending agenda: pinning the mantle of “highest spending government ever” on the Liberal Party, and fixing the budget ahead of Labor’s return to office.

Two problems fixed at a stroke if you’re Shorten; only one that Turnbull will ever be remembered for if he falls into the trap, and one the Liberals will pay for at the ballot box for many, many years to come.

It is appropriate that Turnbull ultimately, if belatedly, accepted full responsibility for the mess that was the Coalition’s election campaign; the real question is whether or not he will accept responsibility for the next, for electoral humiliation in three years’ time is likely to be the price for Turnbull’s survival by a hair’s breadth now.

This is a “victory” of the hollowest possible kind; a government re-elected to do very little will in practice be able to do almost nothing unless it accedes to the belligerence of its opponents, in which case it will be absolutely crucified for its actions.

A perfect storm has been established with more than a little help from the shockingly deficient capacity of the Coalition — from the very top down — to competently prosecute the political imperatives of the excellent position in which it found itself three years ago.

Aside from the government’s ongoing electoral prospects, the biggest victim will be the national interest, which has been heavily compromised for almost a decade, but which is likely to suffer now in ways that haven’t been experienced in 25 years.

Over to you, Malcolm.

 

Union Filth: CFMEU, Trades Hall Bid To Rig Election

WITH Bill Shorten vowing to block a restored Australian Building and Construction Commission and “any special inspectorate” to win the ALP leadership, it’s fair to suggest the CFMEU will run Australia if he wins on Saturday; ominously, unions also fund a range of “Independents” in what can only be seen as an attempt to rig the election. Unions are entitled to want Labor to win, but not to derail democracy by working to create a one-party state.

When those of my fellow Liberal Party members look askance at me for criticising the party (and particularly at this time, its insipid election campaign), the issue I want to touch on today should serve as a clarion call as to the reasons why.

For once I am going to say something nice about Jacqui Lambie — and more on that later — but for all the trenchant criticism this column has levelled at the regrettable Tasmanian Senator and the deserved charge we have levelled at her of being the stupidest individual ever elected to any Australian Parliament, Lambie at least had the good grace to provide a straight answer to a straight question, which is more than can be said for most of the rest of the scum seeking to leach up to $1.2m out of the taxpayer for the six years on Easy Street that a Senate berth offers.

But The Australian today carries revelations of undertakings given by Bill Shorten back in 2013 — apparently in return for the backing of militant construction sector unions, including the CFMEU, for the ALP leadership — that Labor under his stewardship would oppose any restored incarnation of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the Fair Work Building and Construction inspectorate, or “any separate industrial inspectorate for the construction industry” (and disband these if they existed upon election to government) on the breathtakingly hypocritical grounds that he did not “believe in laws that unfairly discriminate against workers in different industries, including providing different powers for regulatory agencies.”

It sits in stark contrast to Shorten’s gung-ho, string-the-bastards-up approach to a Royal Commission into the banking sector, which in turn we suspect is nothing more than a diversion from the entrenched violence and lawlessness that is endemic in the union movement, and in the construction sector in particular: as we noted yesterday, dozens of Shorten’s old union buddies are facing prosecution on charges arising from a Royal Commission into Trades Hall; as The Australian notes, quoting FWBC chief Nigel Hadgkiss, 948 breaches of federal workplace laws were committed mostly by the CFMEU last year in what Hadgkiss characterised as an “alarming rate of lawlessness.”

The notion of the CFMEU forming the muscle and direction behind current-day Labor governments is not new; state Labor outfits in Queensland and Victoria are beholden to the thuggish junta, having accepted manpower, vast sums of cash and other support to help achieve their return to the treasury benches in those states, and the CFMEU — on one level, unsurprisingly — wants its pound of flesh and its share of the spoils once the power and patronage of government have been secured and can be carved up.

Yet unlike the unions — and especially under the kind of regime apparently proposed in acquiescence by Shorten — the banking sector is well-regulated and is subject to regulatory oversight by corporate watchdog ASIC that, whilst imperfect, has weeded out more than its fair share of rotten eggs from the depths of Australia’s financial services industry.

On the kind of regime that might apply to unions if promises of abolishing specific oversight of a perennially troublesome sector are kept, the militant unions would face the Police — always under-resourced when it comes to investigating the kind of industrial breaches to which Hadgkiss alludes, which are for the most part not the jurisdiction of the states anyway — and little else to keep them in check.

Which, of course, is precisely what these lawless monsters want: they believe, wrongly, that they run this country, and that the only law that counts is the one they decree; this is a situation that cannot and must not ever be allowed to eventuate, let alone be tolerated, and the assurances of just that to help win his party’s leadership merely reinforce the reasons why Bill Shorten is an utterly inappropriate candidate for the Prime Ministership, or any other responsible public office in Australia.

I wanted to raise this issue today because it dovetails with a little research exercise I conducted during a break last week: or at least, I tried to conduct it, for the co-operation factor was virtually nil when it came to asking questions of candidates purporting to stand on accountable platforms for public office.

But it has been widely discussed in recent months that unions (and not just the most militant ones) have been pouring money not just into the Communist Party Greens — who are happy to take the wages of sin that the ALP shuns on “principle” whenever its union chums disgrace themselves — but also into the coffers of virtually every non-Coalition candidate who might stand a plausible chance of being elected at Saturday’s election.

First, I sent a note to Jacqui Lambie on Twitter, who directed me to a page of “recent donators” (sic) and, curiously, explained that she had turned down approaches from the MUA and the CFMEU.

Screenshot (1)

It took all of a mouse click to find out why she was anxious to tell me she had turned the MUA and the CFMEU down: this apparent aversion to dealing with the worst of the worst was clearly not a unilateral one, for the page of “recent donators” included $25,000, in two chunks, from the notoriously militant ETU.

Screenshot (2)

I said I would say something nice about Lambie, and I will; she deserves acknowledgement for answering a direct question, even if the answer was less than desirable. She didn’t try to hide behind a wall of obfuscation and for that at least, readers should pay credit — even though it seems her backers are just as unfit for purpose as she is a worthy candidate to sit in the Senate.

But whatever you think of Lambie — a nice girl I’m sure, if limited — there is no praise forthcoming for other, more credible candidates who perhaps forgot the answer to the same question when asked.

Screenshot (3)

I’m sure it won’t surprise readers that not one of the six — Nick Xenophon, Bob Katter, Cathy McGowan, Glenn Lazarus, Andrew Wilkie or Tony Windsor — even bothered to acknowledge the contact, let alone respond.

I just wanted to hear it from the horses’ mouths, with plenty of media coverage in recent times having suggested most or all of these candidates had taken union donations. Pauline Hanson wasn’t asked (I don’t know if she has an official Twitter presence and, if she does, whether it is manned). Derryn Hinch, I understand, has not accepted union donations, although I am happy to be corrected if evidence materialises that he did.

But whilst I am prepared to publish, fulsomely, an acknowledgement on behalf of any of these candidates who can substantiate that no union monies have been received by themselves and/or their campaign funds, the insidious flow of union cash into the coffers of any of these individuals at all places a very large question mark over just how “independent” any or all of them are.

And this, in turn, brings me back to the central point: the determination to evade any official oversight on the part of the union movement — using the ALP as an accomplice and an accessory before the fact — but also an apparent attempt by Trades Hall to rig the election altogether, by purchasing the allegiance of those it believes stand a good chance of being in a position to block any Coalition legislation that seeks to bring them to account.

What do these candidates — Lambie included — think they are expected to do: hold a tea and scones morning to show their gratitude? Whether explicitly articulated, or implied on a wink and a nod, these donations serve no other purpose than to oblige parliamentary votes on relevant legislation if and when the time comes, and to provide the unions with mechanisms for leverage (read: thuggery and standover tactics) if whomever the gullible unfortunate, who merely though he or she was taking a token of generosity at face value, refuses to play ball.

It raises a chilling prospect: no longer content merely to treat the ALP as its plaything, and to use it as a vessel for carrying out the legislative work required to shield itself from any accountability whatsoever, the union movement (or at least, the most undesirable elements of it) now appears determined to rig an election altogether, by donating funds to multiple parties and individuals beyond the confines of the ALP, in what can only be interpreted as an attempt to begin to drive Coalition candidates out of electoral contention altogether on as widespread a basis as possible.

For all the talk of campaign finance reform at the ALP and the Greens (which, conveniently, always excludes union money from any consideration of the matter), an obvious first step would be to ban any donor — corporate, union or private citizen — from giving money to any more than one political party (or independent campaign) at any given election: and in fact, such a restriction would go some way to cleaning up the regime of political donations at a stroke.

Of course, no such step will be championed by the Left now; its newest strategy is to spread the dosh around as widely as possible, and this is just another manifestation of behaviour that might be technically legal, but can hardly be construed as democratic.

And of course, no union can be accused of criminal misconduct if there is nobody or nothing to investigate and prosecute the misdemeanour in the first place; state Police forces are stretched enough as it is without having this kind of responsibility lobbed at them, and in any case — as I said earlier — most of the breaches that would be involved are not state matters at all.

Which is pretty much everything the unions, and their sock puppets at the ALP, are trying to engineer.

For now. I mean, who knows what might come next if this latest outrage isn’t jumped on and stamped out?

Yet having secured a double dissolution on union misconduct and the need to restore the ABCC — a promise for which a mandate was obtained in 2013, and which was more than validated by the findings of the Heydon Royal Commission — the Coalition, in round terms, has said nothing about the unions, the ABCC, or anything else to do with the lawless and evasive nature of these entities that really are the absolute filth of Australian society nowadays for the duration of this election campaign.

At some point in the future, the volume of money spent at elections will see the Coalition outgunned, overall, by multiples: and a majority of that money, the longer this practice is permitted to continue, will eventually emanate from the militant unions who think they own and control Australia.

It’s about time the government started talking about these matters while there remains time before the election to do so. After all, the recipients of the union monies are — Lambie excluded — obviously too ashamed or sensitive to admit the donations, and if the Coalition is serious about cleaning up union behaviour at all, this would be a reasonable place for it to begin a conversation.

But it won’t. You know it won’t.

 

Election 2016: Fix Australia Or Pander To The Entitled

AFTER 23 years of economic growth — evading Asian and Global Financial Crises — the cavalier belief Australia is immune to recession is evident everywhere you look. Shovelling money at vested interests is an indictment on all sides of politics, which pander unapologetically to the self-entitled. This irresponsibility and profligacy will soon enough rebound on Australia, and cripple it if hard times return. The 2016 election is a chance to break the cycle.

Back in the early 1990s — having just dropped out of a university course* I had no interest in to avoid being railroaded into a career I didn’t want — I went out to find a job; the awful 1990-92 recession had only just officially ended, and it took months to find full-time work: and even then, it paid the princely sum of $370 per week after tax, and usually involved me working 60 hours per week for my 40-hour salary cheque.

I begin thus this morning because I’m 43 — I will be 44 in August — and the point is that if you are any more than literally a year or two younger than I am, you have no first-hand employment-related memory of living through a recession at all; you may, if you’re less than ten years younger than I am, have some recollection of your parents being impacted by it (mine weren’t, thankfully) but for the most part, we are nearing the point at which half the working-aged population has no idea of the hardship and involuntary sacrifice that dreadful recession inflicted on this country.

I have been motivated to write on this subject by, of all things, an article in today’s Daily Telegraph by Tim Blair, noting the “rise” of the so-called “Del-Cons” (or “delusional conservatives,” as Blair’s fellow columnist Miranda Devine calls them) and whilst I’m not a “Del-Con” — I was dead against Malcolm Turnbull becoming Prime Minister but recognise the Coalition is a better bet than Labor under Bill Shorten — I can certainly see something is very wrong with this country, and that the problem is reaching a tipping point from which it mightn’t ever be resolved.

And when I hear Bill Shorten demanding a Royal Commission into the banking sector (presumably to take the heat off his chums at Trades Hall) and see the CFMEU posting things on Twitter decrying “corruption” (conveniently, aimed at the Liberal Party) when 100 of its officials face charges and it thumbs its nose at being held to higher standards of governance by a regulator — and with anything uttered by the government to neutralise these wild demands failing to make an impact — I know that not only can Turnbull not be relied on to fix anything, but that Shorten would be infinitely worse.

The public debate in Australia has been hijacked over the past decade by the Left, which has been so successful in framing for average voters what it will deign to permit and what it won’t that retail politics now is virtually governed by what is prohibited, rather than what is possible: and this might not be such a bad thing if money were endless, or if some of the sacred cows were even worth saving from slaughter, but alas, they are not.

If a recession were to hit this country — or, I should say, when a recession hits it, for a severe downturn at some point is a certainty — Australia is now so dangerously over-extended that the long-term consequences of responding to it could at best hamstring its ability to recover for years, and at worst cripple it altogether.

For too long (and I include the latter portion of the Howard government in this), Australian governments have been content to play fast and loose with the fiscal realities that beset this country, and happy to play Russian roulette with its long-term security in pursuit of short-term political gain; the trend accelerated exponentially under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd regime, and whilst the Abbott government made some attempt to apply the brakes, its “solution” in the form of the 2014 budget was entirely misconceived.

Net government debt is approaching 30% of GDP; now nudging the half-trillion dollar mark, there are those who argue (usually for expedient political reasons) that this is “low by international standards” and thoroughly manageable.

Today, it might be.

But in a recession that saw half a million jobs disappear, not only would the tax payments of half a million people disappear with them, but welfare payments to most of those people would double the burden on the Commonwealth: and coupled with irresponsible recurrent spending that is eye watering to contemplate and unaffordable even in “good” times, these factors would conspire to push Australia’s financial position perilously close to the edge of a cliff.

In 2008, Rudd and his insidious Treasurer, Wayne Swan, pumped billions of dollars, in part, into ensuring the nation’s housing bubble did not burst as part of their overcooked stimulus package: whilst there was some cooling in the residential property market, it could hardly be described as a “crash,” and in any case that sector has again since boomed — making domestic housing prices the highest in real terms they have ever been, and putting home ownership beyond the reach of generations of current and future young Australians.

When the recession comes, the bubble will burst: and all those paper profits lovingly protected by Labor for fear of the electoral backlash will disappear, but the damage, in fiscal terms, from that folly has already been done.

Yet if you look around, these aren’t isolated anecdotes; everywhere you look lies some evidence of a disease that has seen Australia grow addicted to the mentality of the entitlement and the handout, and resentful to the point of belligerence of any suggestion that the time to stop the rot might be at hand.

The country’s welfare budget is $190bn, year in, year out, from a total government spending pool of $430bn: it’s a national disgrace that almost half the money Australia spends takes the form of one handout or another. Yes, some of it — age pensions, benefits for the legitimately unemployed, some of the support measures for the sick and the disabled — are not only appropriate, but crucial. But “free money” is too often rorted money, and the merest whisper of political opposition is enough to kill off any meaningful attempt to adequately police it.

Health and Education, in real terms, now enjoy the highest levels of funding ever dished out in this country: but educational outcomes are deteriorating, whilst too many patients are forced to either wait unacceptably long times for urgent treatment — some dying first — or to pay exorbitant fees for it on top of Medicare and/or private health insurance premiums, or both.

Suggest culling bureaucrats in exchange for delivering more frontline services, and the Left wheels out a militant union “job security” campaign to kill a government. Try to tie teacher pay to delivering better outcomes — even with extra training for those teachers who need it — and the powerful education unions take it upon themselves to try to kill a government. The snouts that comfortably engorge themselves in the trough remain free to binge, safe in the knowledge they are untouchable. Then along comes the next Labor election campaign, and even more money is thrown into this self-perpetuating cycle of mediocrity.

Go for a drive through central Melbourne, and you’ll find the famously wide streets are much narrower these days, with a lane chopped out of most city streets to make way for “super tram stops;” this madness is compounded by the refusal of the Melbourne City Council to crack down on vehicles that double park and completely block through access. Go outside the CBD, and other roads are being narrowed to provide amenity strips, for “beautification,” to make way for largely unused bicycle lanes, and a whole lot of other trendy stuff that is a sop to the Greens.

This kind of thing is happening in every major city in Australia; it costs billions of dollars every year, and that money is in effect turning useful public areas into useless wastes of space.

Meanwhile, there is no money to build critical new road infrastructure to ensure the nation’s cities don’t choke, and grind to a halt as they swell and grow and burst at the seams: rather, there’s a lot of talk about forcing people onto public transport (another Greens hobby horse) that is not only inadequate to cope with present patronage levels, but accounts for a sliver of all commuter trips anyway. Rightly or wrongly, the notion of public transport solving transport problems in out cities is a red herring.

Disability insurance? Great idea, but too ridiculously expensive to ever have been responsibly implemented: and it hasn’t been responsibly implemented, for even the most conservative estimates show the scheme $111bn underfunded over the decade from 2018; Labor’s own figures concede the true shortfall is double that.

But the merits of the program not for debate, Labor duly legislated it in full knowledge there was nothing to pay for it: it bought off the disability community, with the expectation, cynically, that it would be tied to Labor at future elections. And it contributed to the desired objective of making it impossible for the Liberals to manage the budget.

Does anyone think this is a sound basis for making policy?

This extends right down to a “low-income superannuation supplement” that was to be funded from a mining tax that, incredibly, raised no tax at all: yet even when the Abbott government repealed the tax, the ALP and Greens — in cahoots with the politically bankrupt Clive Palmer — used Senate obstruction to see that the spending remained in place. It was reprehensible.

Thousands of statutory authorities, QANGOs, “community-based organisations” and other leeches — many of which serve no purpose at all than for social engineering, or pushing left-wing propaganda from beneath a cloak of feigned independence — cook up tens of billions of taxpayer dollars every year; some of them employ “commissioners” on half million dollar salaries, or bodies of hand-picked bureaucrats earning far more than the average worker in roles that make them little more than campaign functionaries, right down to shit-bit organisations like the one I attacked before the 2013 election: and interestingly, once it became known that I’d linked some of the “information” sheets published by that organisation in my article, it moved them to another spot in its website to render my link invalid — but I’ve replaced the link, so readers should be able to see the crap it spends government handout money on for today at least.

All of this costs billions of dollars each year — tens of billions of dollars — and with government debt increasing by $50bn each year, as Labor and the Greens have mostly refused to allow any spending cuts at all through the Senate, it’s a no-brainer to suggest that something has to be done.

There are dozens — perhaps hundreds — of other examples I might have used to make the point today; to go further would simply be to add more, when I think it’s fairly obvious a) that there’s a problem, and b) that despite any protestations to the contrary, it really is a case of too much spending rather than not enough revenue to pay for it.

Even during the GFC and on Swan’s own figures through Treasury, government revenues increased by seven percentage points per year, every year on average, for the duration of the Rudd-Gillard years: and whilst Shorten promises $102bn in new taxes if he wins the coming election, and claims these will mostly be paid by “the rich” and big companies, the fact is that these imposts are to pay for things that should never have been spent upon to begin with.

In any case, Labor’s record of managing money is so poor (thanks to Swan’s handiwork) that there is no guarantee it could even collect $102bn in taxes: after the mining tax debacle, God knows how far short it would fall.

But when you include the GST and the Medicare levy, Australians are already paying the highest real rates of tax they ever have — and it’s not enough?

People on average incomes of $75,000 per year struggle to make ends meet even now in some capital cities. Hitting them harder is no solution.

And this brings me back to the whole point of the “Del-Cons,” the unknown timing of the arrival of a future recession, and the deadly game of Russian roulette being played with Australia’s future security by politicians who are either too cynical to care about the consequences or too gutless (or incompetent) to persuasively argue against them.

My fear is that when recession comes, it will hit Australia harder than 1990-92, and perhaps even harder than the worldwide recession of 1982-83; hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and the government will — thanks to the reckless actions of the past decade — be severely compromised in its capacity to respond.

The usurious wage gains forced in union-protected sectors will evaporate as employers close down: and with them will disappear an exponential knock-on ricochet through the wider economy that will worsen the overall impact of any downturn as businesses lose customers who can no longer afford to buy their goods and services.

And should the downturn derive not from a global slump but a military conflict involving one or more of Australia’s major international partners — and that prospect is certainly a possibility — then the capacity of the Commonwealth to fund welfare obligations through external borrowings would also be heavily compromised.

For now, however, the forces of the Left — having all but won the public conversation through their emotive emphasis on opposing “cruelty” and “unfairness,” and dishonestly tugging on the heartstrings of ordinary voters on issues like Education and Health — are happy to see the sloshing of money at the constituencies it wants to bribe continue, spending like drunken sailors, and pissing money up against a post as if there’s no tomorrow.

One day, unless something is done to put a stop to this madness, there might not be a tomorrow at all, metaphorically speaking. When that day comes, the carnage and misery will be widespread, and lasting. The Left will take no ounce of responsibility for the repercussions of its own handiwork.

Next time so-called “Del-Cons” are agitating for smaller government, less union influence, less spending, the pruning of exorbitant and often ridiculous government outlays, a drive for value in what gets spent, and some tax cuts for ordinary folk so they can save some money or at least decide themselves where they spend it, perhaps writing them off as right-wing zealots and the like is too short-sighted a response.

Maybe some of us on the Right are deeply concerned about the direction the country is headed in, and doubly worried that electing a conservative government seems to have proven futile in stopping it given the cultural grip the narrative of the Left appears to have entrenched for itself.

There is an election coming up, and a double dissolution to boot: if Malcolm Turnbull could finally fashion a package for moderate conservative government, he might just win not only the respect of some of his detractors, but enough support from the voting public for a solid enough mandate in both houses to implement it.

The coming election is an opportunity to fix things. It’s about time somebody announced a platform to do precisely that, and found the smarts to sell what should be a no-brainer, instead of farting around with variants of the proven methods of failure that have laid waste to a decade.

 

*I am happy to note that since last year, I’ve been working on finishing it on a part-time basis: but this is to access options that didn’t even exist a quarter of a century ago; those who think I’ll end up teaching senior English in a high school any time soon are going to remain very, very disappointed. 🙂

 

“Full” Employment: Shorten’s Jobs Pledge Recycled Hot Air

ANOTHER DAY, another empty ALP “policy” statement; the announcement by opposition “leader” Bill Shorten that a Labor government would aim to achieve full employment is not a policy, is completely devoid of substance, and merely regurgitates an identical slogan uttered by every state and federal ALP leader over the past 25 years. No government has presided over full employment since the 1960s. One “led” by Shorten would be no different.

For an idiot savant like Bill Shorten — who has spent two and a half years ranting about “honesty” and the need to keep election promises — to start talking about full employment as a Labor election platform is such an oxymoron it is difficult to know where to begin; Shorten’s political specialty is connecting misleading statements about his opponents with attractive-sounding but vacuous populist propositions to make himself look better than he is, but for this particular Labor “leader” to start belting the jobs can in the hope it will win him votes is (to quote one of his predecessors) a bridge too far.

Yet having spent more than a decade presiding over an organisation at the AWU that purports to look after workers’ rights — and there are and were an awful, awful lot of part-time and causal workers who are AWU members — Shorten now aims to do precisely that: suddenly, he has discovered “the under-employment of more than a million people,” just in time for a federal election, and wheeled out a vague and tired “policy” objective of achieving full employment in Australia if Labor wins office later this year.

I have been following elections in this country since I was a teenager in the 1980s, and I can’t think of a single state or federal election over a 30-year period at which the Labor figurehead (whoever it was) did not campaign on some nondescript but awe-inspiring number of jobs he or she would seek to create — including, more often than not, some formulation to suggest the achievement of full employment — but naturally, it’s one agenda item the ALP has never delivered on.

Funny that.

Whilst small business — a constituency detested by the ALP, irrespective of whatever it says to the contrary — is overwhelmingly the driver of employment growth in Australia, the sector can only do so much; the only ways any government can “create employment” is by stacking out the public service (generally with politically pliant personnel) or by the politically fraught measure of instituting a program of compulsory National Service.

Of course, Labor is no slouch when it comes to the former: public services across Australia, state and federal, are swollen by ambit appointments that are often unnecessary and, largely, excessively remunerated, but that’s the point: the ALP has used its periods in office all over the country to ensure that at any given time, reliable and well-remunerated sets of eyes and ears remain stockpiled and embedded within the mechanisms of government even if Labor does not at any given time hold government itself.

These people, of course, perform valuable service in many cases, but it’s scarcely the point. Were there no political purpose for hiring them, their jobs wouldn’t even exist: and whilst “everyone does it” might be a justified retort, the fact is that the ALP does it more, and better, than anyone.

Where National Service is concerned, I don’t actually mind the idea of a conversation around it; a gap year — or even two — after young people finish school during which they are well paid, receive some practical training and experience, and actually return something to the country could (if properly calibrated) be a mutually beneficial arrangement that helps add to their employability in the longer term. Yes, it’s controversial, and no, I don’t want to divert right down that tangential track now. But the point is that aside from public service recruitment, it is the only other guaranteed way of creating jobs, and I’m certain Shorten and his cohorts won’t have a bar of the idea.

They hate the armed services, too.

For someone whose own union made an art form of stripping pay, overtime and other conditions away from low-paid workers — often causal or part-time — it’s a bit rich, to say nothing of offensive, to listen to Shorten rail against “under-employment” now.

And the announcement today comes with no details, or solid, tangible plan, or a series of markers against which to measure progress, or any itinerary to be followed after the ALP takes office: a cynic would point to the fact there are no promises of actual jobs, and that Shorten has merely said he “aims” to achieve full employment.

Yet so has every other Labor leader since the debacle of the Whitlam government — every one of them more substantial individuals than Shorten could ever dream of being — and none of them were able to achieve it. Yes, some of them never won elections, for those who want to split hairs. But with the exception of the paedophile Keith Wright in Queensland and the crooks prosecuted in the WA Inc debacle in Western Australia, all of Labor’s defeated leaders were more formidable figures than Shorten too.

It is well and good to aim for things; when you are aspiring to be the Prime Minister of Australia and starting without a scrap of credibility, aiming at things is probably all you’ve got going for you.

But Shorten’s announcement that he suddenly gives a rat’s rectum about armies of under-employed people — when there is ample evidence that the existence of these people never troubled him in the past — ought to fool no-one.

It is not a policy; it is entirely devoid of any meaningful substance; there probably isn’t a single job in it, the truth be told; and it ranks alongside attacking anything the ALP opposes for partisan purposes as “unfair,” or GST scare campaigns based on wet lettuce leaves and excruciating slogans like “lettuce be free of GST.”

In any case, “under-employed” people are the only group that gets the casual penalty rates so beloved of Labor these days, and which provide such a useful political sledgehammer with which to attempt to bludgeon opponents with WorkChoices scares. Moving those folk onto full-time salaries removes a powerful political weapon. Shorten can’t have it both ways and, to be sure, I don’t think he wants to do so at all.

In the end, those who thought Kevin Rudd and his slogans were bad find themselves faced with a more insidious encounter again to contend with when it comes to Shorten: and for all the stereotypes about politicians saying anything they think will yield votes, Bill Shorten actually does it.

Just think about it: he is opposed to anything that might fix the federal budget his own party booby-trapped with recurrent spending; he is opposed to anything that might rein in the culture of welfare dependency that is becoming a national disgrace, but on which millions of Labor votes depend; he is opposed to anything that might modernise Australia’s outdated and archaic industrial framework, whilst hundreds of thousands of jobs are being lost in industries “protected” by unions and their high-wage, anti-business agenda; and he is opposed to reforms in areas like Health, Education, and other sacred Labor cows, which might cut overall expenditure but reap better outcomes for less money, for the specious reason that someone might lose a job that isn’t actually required.

No government in 50 years — Labor or Liberal — has presided over a full employment situation, and neither would one ever formed (God forbid) by Bill Shorten.

And anyone who seriously believes the election of a Labor government will automatically lead to a full-time job for everyone who wants one is kidding themselves.

 

 

Unions: ALP Just A Cat’s Paw For Criminal Thugs

AS the Turnbull government proceeds with bills to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and enact Registered Organisations laws to force unions to higher standards of governance, Labor is consumed by incandescent rage opposing them. Populated by those who excuse criminal acts and the lawlessness exposed by a Royal Commission, the “modern” ALP is a cat’s paw for thugs masquerading as a pretender to govern.

The unions — now covering just 15% of the adult Australian workforce, a figure that falls to single digits if applied purely to private enterprise, and even then bloated by virtual closed shops in some industries — are, today, little more than a fringe group.

Yet that fringe group can and does wield far more influence and power than its representation entitles it to; senior union figures sit on the boards of major Australian companies; anyone whose superannuation savings (inadvisedly) sit in an industry fund are channelling money into unions’ and union officials’ coffers; and whenever an elected conservative government even considers doing something the unions disapprove of, their minions bring whole cities to a standstill until brute force and bully tactics force a backdown.

Readers know I am no friend to the union movement, and the sort of lawless behaviour uncovered at Dyson Heydon’s Royal Commission provides some inkling as to why; if an employer (or employer group) attempted half the things that unions have gotten away with in this country for far too long, the unions would see to it that the government of the day — of whatever complexion — shut their businesses down by whatever means legally available to do so.

It takes a certain chutzpah to maintain a position whereby others must be squashed into oblivion at the earliest sign of activity that unions dislike, only to insist that Trades Hall remain unfettered, unregulated and above the law where its own enterprises are concerned: and especially when that freedom is repeatedly abused, the law ignored, and union coffers filled at the expense of both the workers they claim to represent and the wider community they purport to serve.

I’ve been following the goings-on surrounding the Turnbull government’s attempts to pass legislation — already once defeated — to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the accompanying bid to enact Registered Organisations laws that would hold the union movement to the same standards of conduct and governance as the business community, and some additional reading can be found here and here; it seems inevitable the bills will be voted down, which is a shame, for any right-minded person who believes in the rule of law and the principle that it applies equally to everyone has a stake in seeing those bills passed.

Those caveats, clearly, exclude the ALP.

The Labor Party is horribly, horribly conflicted on this issue, even without the government’s bills on the table; millions of dollars flow from unions directly into ALP coffers every year, and its parliamentary ranks (and, notably, a good portion of its MPs’ advisers) are bloated with former union officials as well; its current federal “leader” has been enmeshed with the unions for decades, albeit without the broad respect and community goodwill enjoyed by the Bob Hawkes and Simon Creans of the world; and its official policy on union corruption and criminal misconduct — to the vacuous extent it has one — amounts to little more than a promise to hear no evil and see no evil.

It is in the ALP’s direct interests for the unions to be permitted to do whatever they like, and anyone who believes its mouth-foaming rage against measures to bring the unions into line with reasonable community expectations of decent and lawful behaviour is born from any other “principle” than the need to keep the cash and resources rolling in is delusional.

What makes it worse is that Labor’s charge against the Royal Commission, its findings, and the measures proposed by the Turnbull government in response has been and is being led, in no small part, by its employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor — the brother of notorious CFMEU supremo Michael — and whilst this column does not suggest impropriety on Brendan O’Connor’s part, it merely underlines the point of just how conflicted the ALP really is.

How credible is it to have the brother of the leader of the most lawless union in the country spearheading the attack against measures to bring it to heel?

Labor says bills to reconstitute the ABCC — in its previous incarnation established by the Howard government, and promptly abolished when Labor won office — are “rotten to the core,” and that the ABCC was “hostile” and “coercive” in fulfilling its brief, but of course it would say that: the ABCC existed solely to stamp out the very criminal misadventures the Heydon inquiry found have again flourished in the years since its abolition, and which logic dictates will continue to do so until or unless beefed-up measures to eliminate them are legislated.

O’Connor, for his part, says the mooted laws are “draconian” (and again, he would say that) and claims the Coalition’s intention to restore the ABCC belies a determination “to return to WorkChoices” which is neither true nor a valid conclusion to draw: re-establishing the ABCC was a Coalition policy that was implicitly endorsed at the ballot box in 2013, and in any case, Labor’s true beef with WorkChoices lay in the fact it desperately didn’t want employees to bargain with their bosses directly, as any mass move to such arrangements would render the unions irrelevant to the process (although beyond the handful of industries and silos in which they are dominant, the unions are more or less irrelevant now anyway).

As we discussed on Tuesday in the context of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s threat to call a double dissolution over the bills in question, Labor and the Communist Party Greens (who also take buckets of union cash, and are just as compromised on this as Labor is) are up in arms over the fact the secret sections of Heydon’s report are to be made available for viewing by the crossbench Senators on whom the fate of the legislation rests, whilst the ALP and Greens will not be provided with even redacted access to those volumes.

I reiterate my deep discomfiture with even the crossbenchers being shown the secret portions of the report; Justice Heydon marked them as secret with good reason, detailing as they do the identities of brave whistleblowers and witnesses whose damning inside testimony made the exposure of widespread wrongdoing at the unions that were examined possible in the first place, and the crossbenchers — some of whom exhibit a complete disregard for notions of propriety, discretion, or conduct becoming elected representatives — can hardly be relied upon to maintain the secrecy of those pages.

But by the same token, the only conceivable reason for Labor in particular to want access to them is to obtain the details of those witnesses and pass them to union enforcers for “further action:” and this very real risk — not a fantasy, not a game, and certainly not an unreasonable conclusion to draw based on the violent actions of some of the most militant union thugs — is one no Australian of goodwill would countenance taking, and no elected representative of good conscience would ever capitulate to ambit demands for them to do so.

As I said on Tuesday, the issue of allegedly responsible members of Parliament refusing to enable steps to be taken to stamp out criminal behaviour at Australian unions is the central point here, and Labor’s proposed fig leaf of increased fines for breaches (and no ABCC or regulatory regime) simply lacks all credibility.

Take Brendan O’Connor’s brother’s own union as a case in point: it has in recent years ignored Court directives, repeatedly been found in contempt of Court, and thumbed its nose at judicial attempts to haul it into line on account of its militant, thuggish, and occasionally violent activities. Part of this pattern has been a refusal to pay Court-ordered fines and restitution in the wake of its path of industrial anarchy.

Labor’s “solution” of bigger fines (which CFMEU policy seems to be not to pay anyway) is a joke, a kite of contrivance flown before the public in a blatantly deceptive attempt to con voters to believe the ALP is serious about cleaning up the rotten union edifice.

And here’s the rub.

The unions virtually own the ALP; I’m not talking about the historical construct that the Labor Party is the political arm of the union movement, but rather a takeover of one by the other. Labor’s people, to a large and increasing degree, come from unions. Labor money, increasingly, comes from unions. Labor MPs, mostly, do not get preselected in the first place without the explicit imprimatur of the unions. And Labor’s agenda, increasingly, is the agenda of the unions, not one that has any relevance whatsoever in the lives of the great majority of Australians who have no truck with the union movement, for it is an agenda that has little to offer anyone who truly wants to get ahead and improve their lot in life.

To use the vernacular, the unions have got the Labor Party by the balls.

Anyone who wants to see the unions cleaned up and refocused on doing what it says they do on the packet is not going to see any attempt from a Labor government — ever — to clean out the stinking pustules and corrupt filth that have tarnished the image of the wider union movement and contributed to the ongoing rejection of union membership by the overwhelming majority of the Australian public.

Stories of what the unions might have achieved and delivered in years past are irrelevant, for that was then, and this is now; and right now, it is the union movement that is “rotten to the core” — not the measures being pursued by the federal government to weed out the toxic miscreants in their midst.

If the government’s laws are voted down in the Senate, this column reiterates its support for the calling of an immediate dissolution of both Houses of Parliament, and in an election fought over union corruption and criminal behaviour, I think Labor would be in line for a nasty shock when the votes at such an election were tallied.

Right now, by its words and actions, and on account of its iron-clad determination to do everything it possibly can to ensure the legislation before Parliament is defeated — an undertaking likely to succeed, thanks to some of the unprincipled wreckers sitting on the crossbench, who merely seek to damage and/or destroy the Liberal Party (and yes, Jacqui Lambie, I’m looking at you, you toad) — the ALP, whether it comprehends it or not, has shown its hand to the Australian public.

And that, very simply, betrays an ugly picture indeed; “modern” Labor has reduced itself to being an apologist for illegal actions, a cheer squad for the continuation of lawless industrial outrages in perpetuity, and nothing more than a cat’s paw for criminal thugs whose only priority — despite claiming to exist and operate for the betterment of their members — is to advance their own fortunes and interests by literally any means conceivable.

Yet the ALP has the nerve to masquerade as a pretender to govern Australia — a privilege utterly at odds with its determination to shield the crooks it is beholden to from the law at any cost — and with a “leader” so deeply entrenched in the union movement as Bill Shorten is and the signposts of CFMEU control over the Labor Party lying everywhere you look it seems, the charade of Labor’s suitability to hold office in this country is one that should simply be ignored.

An almighty brawl over these laws is likely to end with an election. Its outcome is almost certain to be much different to what the union movement expects.

 

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.