Paul Howes to Julia Gillard, "We've got your back". To Tony Abbott who wants the fraud investigated, "we ain't going to cop this shit no more".
This is fantasy land. Julia Gillard is a person of interest in a police enquiry into fraud, stolen money and other matters where the AWU is a party that suffered loss. Paul Howes says to Julia Gillard, "we've got your back".
Tony Abbott has promised an enquiry into union corruption so that we can have all the allegations tested and comprehensive open hearings conducted to find the truth. Paul Howes says to Tony Abbott, "The time has come to put this behind us. We ain't going to cop the shit no more."
Julia Gillard's parallel universe
- BY:EWIN HANNAN, INDUSTRIAL EDITOR
- From:The Australian
- February 22, 2013 12:00AM
INSIDE Jupiters Casino, where the days blur into long nights, Paul Howes, chief union spruiker for the Prime Minister, is sitting across the table, lavishing praise on Julia Gillard.
"I am in awe of her," he says. "I think she's an amazing leader and I think no matter what happens in September, history will treat her very kindly. She will go down in history as one of the great Labor leaders."
His hyperbole jars with the contemporary political narrative but will not surprise the hundreds of blue-shirted delegates who attended the national conference of the Australian Workers Union on the Gold Coast this week.
If the casino is about creating an artificial world to lure in gamblers, the four-day union event felt, at times, like a parallel political galaxy.
On Monday, the day the latest Nielsen poll drove home the bleakness of Labor's plight, Gillard was feted by her union comrades. Guests lined up to have photos taken with her.
Surrounded by friends and allies, those at her table included Howes (accompanied by his partner and Qantas corporate spinner Olivia Wirth), veteran AWU powerbroker Bill Ludwig, ACTU secretary Dave Oliver and Maritime Union of Australia leader Paddy Crumlin. After her speech, a standard stump address, the room gave her a standing ovation. "Thank you for being here, PM," Howes said. "Thank you for (the) honour - and we've got ya back."
You can read the entire report at The Australian's website here. Like the AFR, it's quite lengthy.
I can't imagine any other organisation copping the sort of behaviour we've seen from these union officials this week. Officials are employed to act in the best interests of their members and to protect their members' money and other assets. The AWU's members are owed lots of money from crooks who knocked it off. Tony Abbott has promised those union members an enquiry to get to the bottom of it.
But the problem, according to Paul Howes and Dave Oliver from the ACTU is not that union officials have exploited their positions to enrich themselves - the problem is that Tony Abbott is exploiting the exploiters.
During a conference debate on union governance standards, Howes and Oliver used their speeches to accuse Abbott of trying to exploit the Health Services Union scandal to destroy the wider union movement.
Oliver said Abbott wanted to capitalise on the scandal to try to bring down unions and he predicted the Coalition would call a royal commission or judicial inquiry if it won the election.
Howes said unions last year did not fight back hard enough when the Coalition used the "bad behaviour of a few to destroy the good name of a many".
"I think we allowed the Coalition and the media barons to paint a very untrue and distorted picture of this movement. So in 2013 we are going to march back out there, proud of what we do.
"The time has come to put this behind us. We ain't going to cop the shit no more."
The sh*t which Paul Howes ain't going to cop isn't the embezzlement of funds, creation of false entities, operation of bogus bank accounts, purchase of houses and the like. The sh*t he ain't going to cop is Tony Abbott going after those individuals.
Well Paul, one way to make sure the media barons don't present distorted pictures is to present and argue your case. I'd love to speak with you please. It'll only take 10 minutes.