Julia Gillard is under police investigation for fraud. The Chief Magistrate ruled her legal work was to further that fraud. Tony Abbott must object to her World Bank Education Fund position.
Hedley Thomas on the Royal Commission into Unions

Bill Shorten can tell the ABC's 730 program "I have no idea". It won't go down so well with a Royal Commissioner.

SARAH FERGUSON: The AWU is named specifically. Is it - do you expect former Prime Minister Julia Gillard to be called to give evidence under oath about the so-called slush fund that she set up with the AWU?

BILL SHORTEN: I have no idea. 


 Royal Commission Terms of Reference

1.      The governance arrangements of any separate entities established by registered employee associations or their officers, purportedly for industrial purposes or for the welfare of their members, with particular regard to:

(a)                  the financial management of such entities;

(b)                 the adequacy of existing laws as they relate to such entities with respect to:

(i)                 the integrity of financial management; and

(ii)               the accountability of officers of registered employee associations to their members in respect of the use of funds and other assets in relation to such entities;

(c)         Whether such entities are used, or have been used for any form of unlawful purpose;

(d)                 the use of funds solicited in the name of any such entities, for the purpose of furthering the interests of:

(i)                 a registered employee association;

(ii)               officers of a registered employee association;

(iii)             members of a registered employee association; or

(iv)             any other person, association or organisation.

2.      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:

(a)    the Australian Workers Union;

8.      The participation of any persons, associations or organisations other than registered employee associations or their officers in conduct of the type described in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.



SARAH FERGUSON, PRESENTER: To discuss the Toyota decision and the announcement of the Royal commission into union corruption, I'm joined now from our Canberra studio by the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.

Bill Shorten, thank you for joining us.


SARAH FERGUSON: We'll come to the Toyota decision in a moment, Mr Shorten, but first today's announcement of the Royal commission. Could union corruption cost you your chance of becoming Prime Minister?

BILL SHORTEN: What matters in Australia is not political stunts, what matters is making sure that we've got jobs being created and jobs being kept. I mean, let's be very clear though about what I think about union corruption: there is no place in our society for someone who's a union representative taking bribes or being corrupt, just as there's no place in our society for employers or anyone else who engages in criminal behaviour. That's why the Opposition's proposed a much more straightforward proposition to some of the challenges we've seen, particularly in the building and construction sector: give our police the resources they need to catch the crooks and keep the politics out of this.

SARAH FERGUSON: You say that's more straightforward, Mr Shorten, but the problem with the police, as they say themselves, is that they can't compel people to give testimony, and that's been a problem with the unions, that people haven't come forward to make those kind of witness statements that police need.

BILL SHORTEN: But if you know the answer to the problem, which is the way evidence is given and strengthening the law, then why do we need to have a $100 million Royal commission to tell people - the police - what they already know?

SARAH FERGUSON: Well precisely because a Royal commission can compel people to give evidence in a way the police can't.

BILL SHORTEN: But only the police can prosecute someone; a Royal commission can't. Let's be really straight with this: for people at home, they're saying, "What's this all about?" There have been some union people who have been found to have been alleged to have done the wrong thing. That's reprehensible. That makes me sick because I know that most people who are in unions do the right thing every time. So there's got to be no acceptance of any culture of criminality. But what I also know is that if you're going to tackle this criminal problem, you don't do it through a political stunt. Our police need resources. The police know where the crooks are. Their challenge is ...

SARAH FERGUSON: You say - Bill Shorten, you say this is a political stunt, but we know that the allegations of criminality, particularly in the CFMEU, were brought to the union's attention in the course of last year and no action was taken. Isn't that precisely the reason why we need this kind of Royal commission?

BILL SHORTEN: Well I think it was the media who uncovered that particular problem, not a Royal commission. I make the observation that we had the Cole Royal Commission into the building industry 12 years ago. Now, these problems which are reported to exist now may well have existed then, but the Royal commission didn't get anywhere.

SARAH FERGUSON: But the Royal commission did lead to the setting up of the ABCC, the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which your government disbanded. Had you not done so, then perhaps this corruption wouldn't have flourished, you wouldn't be in the situation you're in now.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, first of all, the Australian Building - or the ABCC, the body you're referring to, could only ever chase industrial matters, they couldn't deal with criminal matters. If the problem we're trying to solve here - and it's one - a goal which I share and Labor shares - is tackling crime, then you don't create industrial bodies or you don't create political committees. What you do is you get the police, the support they need, that's why we've proposed setting up an AFP, an Australian Federal Police taskforce, working with all the police agencies. We have the Australian Crime Commission, which already has the powers of a Royal commission. The tools are there, Sarah. What I don't understand ...

SARAH FERGUSON: Well why not have that police taskforce running alongside a Royal commission, as George Brandis acknowledged was possible yesterday?

BILL SHORTEN: Well we certainly hope that the Government takes up our suggestion. My point is that the Australian Crime Commission already exists. It liaises with 13 or 14 police forces throughout Australia. My question is: why spend $100 million to tell the police what they already know. They know the tools they need. I'd rather hear from the police about the extra resources they need. I mean, $100 million of taxpayers' money to have a political ...

SARAH FERGUSON: I think the Attorney-General disputes that $100 million. Let me just ask you about one of the terms of reference, as was announced today.


SARAH FERGUSON: The AWU is named specifically. Is it - do you expect former Prime Minister Julia Gillard to be called to give evidence under oath about the so-called slush fund that she set up with the AWU?

BILL SHORTEN: I have no idea. I know this matter is being rigorously investigated by the police. You have to ask yourself why the Abbott Government wants to go over matters which the police are already dealing with. Also, when we deal with this, we've got to be really straight, I think, for people. There is an issue, I think, to challenge in the building and construction sector with reports of outlaw motorcycle gangs. And no-one's above the law - not a union rep', not an employer.