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Barnaby Joyce on fire in Parliament

"AWU - the most corrupt union in Australia". Grace Collier in The Australian today

Grace Collier, former union official and columnist for The Australian writing in the paper today.

Bill ludwig julia gillard

The 3 amigos


AWU a gift not to be wasted

NEXT week, the tide could turn for Tony Abbott. The royal commission into unions kicks off in earnest, and the Prime Minister’s opponents will come under serious pressure.

Thirteen days ago, Joe Hockey said Arthur Sinodinos would return to the frontbench. If this happens, Abbott will destroy much of the political advantage the royal commission will bring.

Explosive testimony about the Australian Workers Union will be heard. Credible people with no incentive to lie will, under oath, tell their stories.

These stories will go through the Labor Party like a bowling ball. Further, the Australian community will finally see the AWU for what it really is, the ­entity regarded by those in the know as the most corrupt union in Australia.

CFMEU people are feared by employers but tend to look after their members; if I was a construction worker I would race to join the CFMEU, but hell would freeze over before I would join the AWU.

The AWU is not so much a union; it is more a business that uses the legal structure of a union to fund its core activity, which is putting people it can control into parliament. The AWU is the union ­employers clamour to deal with and they will pay for the privilege. In return, the AWU sells ­itself to employers, doing deals that leave workers worse off.

The AWU’s brand is this: it trades on simply not being the CFMEU; and not being the CFMEU is worth a lot of money. Employers are willing to pay a lot for “industrial peace”. When people hear that term they imagine a boss handing over a wad of bills to a union ­official who then shares it out among the workers, who take the money as compensation for not going on strike.

This scenario doesn’t offend people because it gives the ­impression at least the workers are getting something. However, nothing could be further from the truth, and the truth is extremely offensive.

The truth is this: industrial peace is paid for when a corrupt employer pays a wad of cash to a union official from a weak union for his presence.

The presence of the weak union means other strong ­unions are legally locked out of the workplace, thus denying workers adequate representation. The weak union official pockets the cash and holds the strong unions at bay for the ­employer, while at the same time turning a blind eye to low pay and dangerous work conditions.


Read more at The Australian here.

As you are revolted by the Royal Commission's revelations into the AWU which will unfold in Sydney next week and Perth a couple of weeks later, think about this man, the fealty he owes - and the character of the person to whom he owes it.


I am very proud to carry in the Parliament of Australia every day, my union membership card.  You give me immense pride. I am what I am because of you.

I am, and indeed the Labor Party is, what it is when it’s at its best, when we remember where we come from, and remember what get us up in the morning every day and drives us every day until we finish work every evening. It’s the Labor movement values which make, I believe, the Labor Party the preeminent political force in Australia.

Now I respect your leadership. Frankly I’m blown away by how Paul Howes and Bill Ludwig have taken this union from strength to strength in recent years. It’s a remarkable accomplishment. You’re whole national organisation – the state branches all deserve recognition. You do good things, and you’ve got to keep believing in yourselves and the good things you do.

I am happy to hold up my union card, because I know there’ll be some anonymous editorial writers in some of the right-wing media who will say: how terrible it is that a minister would hold up his union card. Well you know what, I am pro union. I am not embarrassed to use the word union. Unions have contributed much more good in this country than any other institution in Australian democracy outside of the Parliament of Australia.

So I say again, and I declare, I am pro union.