Ben Fordham with former AWU Victoria President Bob Kernohan today on 2GB - audio here
Rod Madgwick and mates like Marcus "betterment of mankind" Einfeld

Royal Commission versus police investigation into union affairs - why Bill Shorten is not keen on the Commission

A Royal Commission aims to get the whole truth about what went on.   People can be compelled to give evidence under oath.   A Royal Commission is typically set up so that the community can be fully informed about important matters that may have been covered up or conducted in secret. 

Police keep the peace, they receive and investigate reports of crime and they identify, arrest, charge and prosecute offenders where there's sufficient prima facie evidence to prove criminal charges.  

The best way to illustrate the difference is to analyse the report submitted by Detective Sergeant Glen Turnley after his investigation of Ian Cambridge's report to the National Crime Authority in 1995.

The NCA referred the crime report to Victoria Police and the matter was allocated to the Major Fraud Group within the Crime Department with Detective Sergeant Glen Turnely given the job.

Here is a redacted copy of Sergeant Turnley's final report recommending no further investigation.

Turnley was not an officer of the AWU, nor was he an industrial lawyer.   He was a busy policeman operating by himself and reliant on the truth of the statements and explanations given to him by officials of the AWU.  His final report contains several false, misleading or otherwise inaccurate assertions - no doubt reported by Sergeant Turnley in good faith and the belief he had been told the truth.   The effect of those false statements was to provide an innocent explanation for criminal offences - a cover up.

A Royal Commission would not accept exculpatory statements at face value without testing the credibility of witnesses, seeking corroboration, enforcing the legal sanctions for perjury, for misleading the Commission or being contemptuous of the Commission by failing to answer questions.

In essence, Turnley was told by AWU officials that the money came in to the AWU, it went into an AWU account, all the spending from that account was in accordance with AWU rules and there was no complainant who would say otherwise.  Those assertions are risible, but that's what Turnley decided was the most complete and accurate report of what he had been told by officials of the AWU.

It's easy to see how a corrupt person in a position of influence within a trade union, operating in concert with other corrupt officials could deflect police enquiries like Turnley's.   A police detective sergeant and his Superintendent have the power to write-off reports of crime as Turnley's report demonstrates.   If I was a corrupt union official or an external adviser I would much rather deal with a policeman in a coffee shop than stand in the witness box, on oath, answering a well researched counsel assisting's questions.   If a few blokes in official positions within a union all say the same thing to a copper, what's he going to do?   Whereas the sweat really starts to pool up in the small of the back in a Royal Commission witness box as telephone intercepts and other intrusive evidence gathering techniques are trotted out to dispatch the "I did nothing wrong" defence so beloved of journalistic elites.

A Royal Commission can't be judged by the number of prosecutions of people it launches.   It is not designed for that purpose.   It is designed to get the truth.

Here's the report that wrote off the the reports of Wilson's crimes in 1995.


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