The Royal Commission into trade union corruption announced on Monday by the federal government is a real game changer on many fronts and maybe many more depending on how the Royal Commission performs. For starters it is the first Royal Commission that has been driven by the online community, although I am sure that no one in the MSM (Mainstream media) will tell you that.
While the paperwork does not give a time frame, it has been reported that the RC is scheduled to last for 12 months and if it sticks to that time-table it will be one wild ride trying to cram all the corruption into those 12 months of the commission.
I will just address a few issues the Royal Commission raises in this post and the rest as the RC unfolds.
Royal Commission details
The Royal Commission was announced on Monday the 10th February 2014 at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Tony Abbott MP, Senator Eric Abetz, Minister for Employment and Senator George Brandis QC, Attorney-General.
The key elements of the Royal Commission media release said:
It will inquire into the activities relating to ‘slush funds’ and other similar funds and entities established by, or related to, the affairs of these organisations.
This will not be an inquiry into trade unionism or the day to day activities of honest trade union officials.
Instead, it will address increasing concern arising from a wide range of revelations and allegations involving officials of unions establishing and benefiting from funds which have been set up for purposes which are often unknown and frequently unrelated to the needs of their members.
We don’t want honest workers to be ripped off by dishonest union bosses. Before the election the Coalition promised to establish a judicial inquiry into the Australian Workers’ Union slush fund scandal. This announcement honours that promise.
A number of similar allegations have also been raised in relation to many other funds established by officials of other unions. These strongly indicate there are systemic issues involving secret funds, commissions and kickbacks that need to be considered.
In addition, recent allegations of corrupt behaviour, unlawful kickbacks and standover tactics in the construction industry have made it clear that there is a need for serious scrutiny of allegedly corrupt conduct, wherever it may occur.
As a result, the terms of reference are not limited to any particular organisations, particular allegations or particular industries. The inquiry will be able to go wherever the evidence leads it. This means that union officials, employers and any other persons who are involved in such conduct will be subject to equal scrutiny. (Click here to read the full media release)
The Terms of reference (Click here to read), which is what the Royal Commission will do, are wide and broad but a key element that caught my attention is section 2 which says:
- Without limiting the matters in paragraph 1, alleged activities relating to the establishment or operation of any such entities as they relate to the various registered branches of the following employee associations:
- the Australian Workers Union;
- the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union;
- the Electrical Trades Union;
- the Health Services Union;
- the Transport Workers Union; and
- any other person, association or organisation in which in respect of which credible allegations of involvement in such activities are made.
This site has published many posts in the past as far as the Australian Workers Union is concerned and we knew that was coming, but what made my eyes light up was the Transport Workers Union which is run by Tony Sheldon. Regular readers will know that Mr Sheldon threatened this site with defamation in May last year (click here to read the lawyer’s letter and post) because of two previous posts that I had written outing him for setting up a slush fund to pay Craig Thomson’s legal bills. (Click here and here to read the two posts) That story alone could and should get a run at the Royal Commission. I think it is time for KCA to polish the boots and iron the shirt, Royal Commission here we come!
Australian Labor Party is owned by the Unions
They say a picture tells a thousand words. Well look at the picture above and the one below and it is not hard to work out who runs the Labor Party. I know prior to the last election is was something like 70% of the federal politicians had a union background and that was not by accident. The unions control the numbers and who gets into parliament for the Labor Party.
Is the RC a political witch hunt?
Tony Abbott had no option but to have an inquiry into the AWU slush fund theft at the very least as that was an election promise as per the announcement above where it says “Before the election the Coalition promised to establish a judicial inquiry into the Australian Workers’ Union slush fund scandal. This announcement honours that promise.” I have also previously said if Tony Abbott did not have an inquiry as promised then he owned the fraud at the AWU and was just as guilty for covering it up which plenty of other voters would have thought the same.
It was just a matter of what shape the inquiry would take which was made easier given the latest union criminal allegations in the media.
The Commissioner – Former High Court judge Dyson Heydon
“Dyson Heydon (2003-2013) has been quoted as saying:”
“Retired High Court judge Dyson Heydon has fired a parting salvo at his fellow judges in an essay that categorises them as overbearing personalities and weaker spirits, with a herd mentality that poses a threat to judicial independence.”
“In a thinly veiled critique of the dynamic on the High Court, the most solitary figure on the bench in recent years attacked the tendency of some judges to dominate others, in an essay subtitled ”The enemy within”, published in the Law Quarterly Review.”
And: ”In pre-hearing judicial conferences, the activities of dominant judicial personalities carry the danger of creating the appearance and the reality of prejudgment – a closure by members of the court of their minds too early, before word of oral argument has been uttered,” Mr Heydon wrote (Click here to read more)
Other than that I do not know a lot about him but the above gives you some idea of what Heydon is like and how he thinks. I have no doubt we’re about to get a true and accurate picture of the man with the Royal Commission which the whole of the Australian public will be able to see and judge for themselves.
Why we had to have the Royal Commission and the game changers
Australia needs a strong Labor Party as we in effect have a two-party system and they are one of those parties. The problem being is that the internal corruption in the Labor Party had become so rife that they had become unelectable and not an alternative government. Australia needs a strong opposition no matter who it is to keep the government of the day honest.
The Royal Commission is a real game changer for the media. The RC originally was only as a proposed inquiry into the AWU slush fund fraud which started being reported again online back in August 2011 on this site and was initially driven solely online. The MSM did eventually do a lot of the heaving lifting in reporting the AWU fraud, but so has the online community. (Click here for the historical posts) Without the online reporting into the AWU fraud there would highly unlikely be a Royal Commission as I doubt the recent revelations in the MSM regarding corruption at other unions would have led to a RC by itself.
So people involved in online social media reporting and news (Blogs, Facebook and Twitter etc.) can take some credit for the Royal Commission. Social media will also play a large roll in reporting the Royal Commission and probably influencing it as much if not more so than the MSM.
I have already written extensively about union corruption and I expect that I will be loaded up with new material for posts from the Royal Commission. I also expect to make a submission or two to the Royal Commission and hopefully help make a change for the better. I see one of my main roles as trying to read through all the lies told before, during and after the Royal Commission and report it back to you in the posts on this site.
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