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Cesar Melhem MP with advice on how to deal with burglars and other crooks

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Cesar Melhem MP gives free advice about dealing nicely with thieves in the latest online newsletter from the RACV.

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You can read the article here

I've learned a lot from Cesar.

I thought the starting point for understanding burglaries should be the fear and anguish caused to  victims.   Wrong.  

"Western Metropolitan Region MLC Cesar Melhem says burglaries in the region need to be understood in the context of the region’s complex diversity."

I've arrested a few burglars, the ones I met broke into other people's houses because they were anti-social, greedy criminals.   Or so I thought.  Wrong again.   Here's Cesar with the real reasons:

Factors include population growth, socio-economic diversity, decreasing economic growth  and a locking out of the regional population (particularly the region’s youth) from the local economy. 

If my house was burgled, I'd say the ideal response should include arresting the burglar. Here's the correct answer: 

Cesar says the answer for the area is for a government to be sensitive and informed of the socio-economic and cultural nuances of the region, and offer policies that engage growth in the local economy and ensure jobs created from the growth go to the regional population.

“It is also critical we see investment in social infrastructure, such as public parks, meeting spaces, community centres and sporting facilities,” he says.

“Naturally, the greater number of social facilities available further discourages anti-social behaviour.”

Finally, Cesar lists the organisations in his electorate that deal with house burglaries.   Apparently Victoria Police no longer features.  Burglars can expect "A helping hand' according to Planet Cesar:

A helping hand

Cesar says the western suburbs are a great place to live and raise a family, and there are great organisations in the west tackling the factors which contribute to crime, including burglary. 

YouthNow and others who operate out of the Visy Cares Hub in Sunshine, are every day attempting to re-engage our region’s youth with the local economy.”

Maybe I'm too hard on him.  Or maybe his time at the AWU has affected the way he feels about other people's money.   Here's the Trade Union Royal Commission's findings about Cesar Melhem MP.


Breach of fiduciary duty

  1. Industry 2020 is a fund raising organisation.

  2. The objects of the AWU plainly extend to and permit the raising of funds by it and the donation of funds by it. 

  1. The directors of Industry 2020 were elected by the members of the AWU to hold office within the Victorian Branch of the union and to exercise their powers and perform their duties for the union.

  2. It was by virtue of their status as AWU officers that Cesar Melhem and the other Industry 2020 directors had the opportunity to attract custom to the company and raise funds. In order to raise money they deliberately targeted the custom of the employers with whom the AWU dealt, appreciating that an invitation which bore the name of the State Secretary was one that would not lightly be rejected by those employers.

  1. Not only did Cesar Melhem and the other directors have an opportunity to attract funds by virtue of their positions with the AWU, but they went further. They used the AWU’s name and staff in the promotion, presentation and organisation of the various fund raising events.

  2. Those funds were then used by Cesar Melhem to advance his own political interests and aspirations. He was a strong supporter of Labor Unity, and had a personal desire to support that faction of the ALP in Victoria, both at the State political level and in the other union elections (in particular the HSU). He used the funds raised through Industry 2020 to satisfy this desire. In the process he advanced his own reputation within Labor Unity and ALP circles, and developed an environment in which he was more likely to receive favourable treatment in those circles. This is what occurred, as evidenced by the way in which he came to be selected for the seat he took up in Victoria’s Parliament in May 2013.

  3. In addition, some funds of Industry 2020 were used by Cesar Melhem to pay for a number of expensive restaurant meals for Cesar Melhem, to finance luxury overseas conference travel for Cesar Melhem and other AWU officials, and to facilitate payments to striking CEPU members who were not being paid their salaries due to the industrial action they were taking.

  1. In these circumstances, each relevant officer of the Victorian Branch of the AWU (and in particular Cesar Melhem) used their position as an officer of the Victorian Branch of the AWU to gain an advantage for Industry 2020 and themselves (as directors of that company able to decide how the money earned by Industry 2020 was to be spent) to the detriment of the AWU.

  2. By accepting and continuing to hold positions as directors of Industry 2020 in circumstances where they were officers of the AWU, they were each in a position of substantial conflict. The duties they owed to Industry 2020 to advance its financial position conflicted with their duties to the AWU to do likewise for it. Further, their interest in raising money in the name of Industry 2020 for their own benefit and the benefit of their political associates was in conflict with the duty they owed to the AWU to raise money in its name and deal with such funds in accordance with the union’s rules.

  3. Having regard to the high degree of the trust and confidence vested in Cesar Melhem, and the fact he used his AWU position and influence to benefit himself and his political associates, the breaches by him of the fiduciary duties owed to the AWU were significant.

Breaches of statutory duties

124. The union officers’ conduct in deciding to host the events as Industry 2020 events rather than AWU events was conduct ‘in relation to the financial management’ of the AWU within the meaning of that expression in s 283 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Cth). In this regard, each officer had the power and duty to ensure that the opportunity was taken by the AWU. The opportunities were available to the union. They were financial opportunities. And it was possible for the officers of the union to manage the opportunities for the benefit of the union. The conduct of the individuals with respect to these opportunities was, therefore, conduct in relation to the financial management of the union.

For the same reasons as given above in relation to the breach of fiduciary duty, Cesar Melhem and others improperly used their positions as union officers to gain an advantage for Industry 2020 and themselves to the detriment of the AWU and its membership. In so doing they contravened s 287 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act.

In addition, the success of the Industry 2020 events depended upon Cesar Melhem and others using information that they had obtained because they were officers and employees of Victorian Branch (in terms of the identity of persons likely to be willing to sponsor or participate in the fund raising events) in order to gain an advantage for Industry 2020 and themselves to the detriment of the AWU and its members in contravention of s 288 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act.

As observed earlier,112 the question of whether an officer has acted ‘improperly’ is to be tested against the standard of conduct which a reasonable person, who had knowledge of the duties, powers and authority of the officer and the circumstances of the case, would expect of a person in the position of the officer.

129. Applying that test here, a reasonable person with knowledge of the highly dependent nature of the relationship between a union and its officials, and the vulnerability of the union and its membership to abuse of that relationship by officials, would regard the taking of the commercial opportunities described above otherwise than for the benefit of the AWU as improper. A reasonable person would regard the official as duty bound to undertake such activities for the AWU, not for some other entity and, ultimately, for themselves.