Bill Shorten is the Minister for Industrial Relations. And he is a trade unionist. Conflict of Interest?
Members of Parliament usually divest themselves of investments or other affiliations that could give rise to conflicts of interest.
I know that the Labor Party requires its members to be members of unions - but Bill Shorten's behaviour at a conference of the militant Maritime Union of Australia alongside Paddy Crumlin should give rise to concerns about his impartiality in his ministerial role.
Jennifer Hewett from the AFR was there - you can read her report in full here.
West not wild for PM
Bill Shorten wryly noted the perfect photo opportunity created by him standing in front of a giant banner proclaiming “140 years of militant struggle’’. Perhaps he even felt oddly comforted giving a speech to the West Australian branch of the Maritime Union of Australia.
After all, it was always going to get a more enthusiastic reception than Julia Gillard’s own version of militant struggle when she sallies forth to stay at a hotel in Rooty Hill in Sydney’s west next week. At least her fight will be over a lot sooner than the MUA’s.
Naturally, national union secretary Paddy Crumlin had already given a rousing oration that included describing everyone from lawyers to bankers to multinationals to Liberal politicians as “cannibals eating the flesh of honest workers”.
He declared this year to be a litmus test and assured Shorten that union loyalty “would go the distance” in what he termed the war against workers now unfolding.
Given that the aggressive tactics of the West Australian branch of the MUA are the bane of shippers, exporters and the state Liberal government – and give new meaning to the concept of productivity losses and work to rule – this doesn’t seem a particularly encouraging level of support for the Gillard government.
State secretary Chris Cain is regarded even by many of his colleagues in other states and unions as a destructive force – if often a successful one – in his constant campaigns for ever higher wages and more generous conditions for members.
The Australian Financial Review revealed this week that his latest round of militant struggle includes demands that companies servicing the offshore oil and gas sector put yet more money into slush funds (sorry, union employer training funds), reject foreign workers and use union data systems for recruitment. That’s in addition to a claim for another 26 per cent pay increase over the next four years, supplemented by even higher allowances.
Gee. Could that go part of the way to explaining the extraordinary cost pressure on the resources industry which now makes WA one of the most expensive places in the world to do business?
Shorten didn’t pay too much attention to that aspect. Nor to some of the more infamous work practices of the WA branch.
The Australian took a heavier line
Bill Shorten sides with union militants
- BY:EWIN HANNAN AND NICOLAS PERPITCH
- From:The Australian
- February 27, 2013
WORKPLACE Relations Minister Bill Shorten has publicly aligned himself with the militant Maritime Union of Australia, declaring he wished he could inject its "spirit" into some Labor MPs to convince them the election was winnable.
Addressing a second major union conference in a week, Mr Shorten told MUA members in Western Australia yesterday that "there's no other place I'd rather be today anywhere in Australia, and I mean this with all my heart, than here with you".
read on at The Australian website