Mark Kenny from the Sydney Morning Herald must have been on Mars for the past few months.
He could not have watched the Trade Union Royal Commission's hearings and then written this woefully wrong-headed commentary piece, published by the Fairfax organisation here.
The TURC daily discloses evil crimes committed by bold, brazen apparatchiks behind the hitherto certain cover of trade union omerta. Any fair reading of Commissioner Heydon's letter to the Attorney General, combined with a modicum of understanding about the Commission's operational methods and intelligence (which doubtless have not been publicly disclosed) would lead a fair-mind, interested in the well-being of the nation to conclude that an extension is not only desirable, but a failure to extend the terms would amount to tacit approval of the crimes the Commissioner refers to.
Here is the Kenny argument.
Unions royal commission extension reveals true motivations
A cynic might say the 12 month extension of the royal commission into unions is politically convenient for the Abbott government because it will shift its report and release date to within sight of the 2016 election.
This was put to Attorney-General George Brandis by a Fairfax Media journalist on Tuesday and despite space implications, his explanation is reproduced here in full: "We're responding to what the royal commissioner has said to us."
Leaving aside that this is hardly a muscular refutation of a serious charge - to wit, using scarce taxpayer funds to manipulate an issue and wedge one's political opponents - is it even true?
Notably, the royal commissioner John Dyson Heydon did not openly seek the extension nor even the adjustment to his terms of reference now granted.
Indeed on this point he was explicit: "This letter is neither an application to widen the terms of reference nor an application to extend the reporting date," he wrote to Senator Brandis.
"Its goal is simply to acquaint you with what the senior staff of the Commission think can be achieved by December, with the difficulties which, in their view, have faced the Commission thus far, and with some possibilities thereafter."
Dyson Heydon even appeared to discount the value of a longer inquiry while acknowledging the scope was already sufficiently broad: "It is true that it has not been possible in the short time available, and indeed would not have been possible in a much longer period, to identify every piece of conduct falling within the Commission's terms of reference."
In other words, we haven't uncovered everything the inquiry gave us scope to study and would not be able to with twice the time.
Implicitly, however, he may well have sought that expanded remit, for what was the point of the letter if not to invite said broadening?
"It is very apparent from what Mr Heydon says in his letter that there is a large amount of unfinished business before the royal commission which from a practical point of view would not be able to be considered satisfactorily were the original reporting date adhered to," Senator Brandis said while unveiling the change.
The vibe perhaps?
The real reason for the extension now comes to the fore: Simply put, the union royal commission has not yet delivered the political bang for the public buck its champions had so eagerly anticipated.
Indeed, the "big fish" it was meant to land have wriggled off the hook. Former prime minister Julia Gillard's hours in the witness box discussing her pre-parliamentary work as a union solicitor promised so much but in the end delivered dull TV. There was no smoking gun, no gotcha moment. Ditto it seems for Tory hopes of fatally wounding Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's reputation by linking the former AWU boss materially with dodgy union dealings.
Kenny goes on and you can read his entire piece here. It goes without saying that the Commission's internal and confidential workings would not have been disclosed in the publicly released letter to the Attorney General. The Commission is doing a great public good and its extension is in all our interests.
Some things Mark are above politics.