All types of court proceedings are quite often a game of strategy and with two moves Bill Shorten has been badly checkmated by Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon. Counsel assisting the Royal Commission now has at least two opportunities to cross-examine Bill Shorten and that makes Stoljar’s job so much easier. Although it was never going to be too hard for Stoljar to nail Bill Shorten given Shorten’s finger prints are all over the crime scene of union corruption for the last 20 years or so.
It hit the media last Friday evening (12/6/15) that Bill Shorten had been notified by the Royal Commission late the day before (Thursday) that he was required to give evidence at the RC in August or September. It is likely that it was Bill Shorten who leaked the story.
Shorten let the media know that he was not happy about appearing in August or September and had asked the Royal Commission if he could give evidence earlier. The below letter from Shortens lawyers to the Royal Commission asks for an earlier appearance date.
Bill Shorten’s lawyers were trying a swifty. Not only did they want an earlier date but they also wanted it to be the only date as they say “so that he may address all issues of interest to the Commission”.
Shorten had a big problem in that the media had started to dig hard in the last week or so and found a lot of evidence of his corrupt conduct during his union days. Shorten decided he was better to give evidence early rather than later before more and more evidence of his handiwork hit the media.
The Royal Commission accepted Shorten’s request to give evidence in July but knocked him back on his request to address all issues as the below media statement shows.
Royal Commission media release – Thursday 18th June
Commissioner Dyson Heydon today issued a summons for the Honourable William Shorten to appear before him on Wednesday 8 July 2015.
The Commissioner has agreed to a request from lawyers representing Mr Shorten to bring forward the date of his proposed appearance from August/September.
The Commission’s preference had been to address all matters concerning Mr Shorten in one sitting. However, given Mr Shorten’s request to bring his examination forward by several months, this will now not be possible.
The hearing will be pursuant to Practice Direction 1, which means Mr Shorten will initially only be examined by Counsel Assisting.
Any person affected by Mr Shorten’s evidence will be able to apply for authorisation to cross examine him at a later date.
This has boxed Shorten in as Counsel Assisting Jeremy Stoljar gets to question Bill Shorten and then have a month or two before he questions him again. This allows Stoljar to investigate and check if the answers that Bill gave the first time are true and then question him again on the issues.
The only chance Bill Shorten had was to hold out until August or September and that way he would have only had to go in the witness stand once. If Shorten and his lies were good enough he might have had some hope. Now with the Royal Commission having at least two goes at Shorten he has no chance and it is very much checkmate.
Bill Shorten’s first wife Debbie Beale under investigation by the Royal Commission
It has been reported that the Royal Commission is investigating Bill Shorten’s first wife Debbie Beale:
“The Abbott government’s royal commission into union corruption has trawled through the personal affairs of Bill Shorten’s ex-wife as part of its investigation of the Opposition Leader in his former role as head of the Australian Workers Union.”
“Fairfax Media understands that Deborah Beale, Mr Shorten’s first wife and the daughter of a former Liberal MP, has been asked by the royal commission about some of her share dealings when she was married to Mr Shorten.” (Click here to read more)
I remember watching Bill Shorten on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last year and he said that he never earned over $100,000 when he was at the Australian Workers Union (AWU). That might be true but as we know from Craig Thomson etc. the big money working for the unions is the credit card usage and slush funds. If the Royal Commission checks Bill’s credit cards from when he was at the AWU he might be in trouble.
How will Bill Shorten answer questions at the Royal Commission?
A lot of the witnesses at the Royal Commission have been suffering from amnesia so I am curious how well Bill Shorten will answer questions. A clue might be in the interview that Shorten did with Neil Mitchell at Melbourne radio station 3AW on the 13th May 2015. Shorten ducked the same question 13 times in under 5 minutes. (Listen below)
(Click anywhere on the above video to listen)
Shorten was always in one of those situations where he damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t regarding his pending appearance in the witness stand at the Trade Union Royal Commission. But it is too late now as Shorten has made the choices he has and has to live with the consequences.
From here on in the only words that really count are the words coming from Bill Shorten, Counsel Assisting Jeremy Stoljar and Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon. It’s game on.
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