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Tell all your friends - and remember the Labor rallying cry, vote early, vote often.
Tell all your friends - and remember the Labor rallying cry, vote early, vote often.
The annual Kennedy Centre Honors were broadcast in the USA yesterday our time.
Recipients at the 38th annual national celebration of the arts are: singer-songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress and singer Rita Moreno, conductor Seiji Ozawa, and actress and Broadway star Cicely Tyson.
The presentation of a Kennedy Center Honors to the band, Eagles, has been postponed to 2016. "The Eagles will be unable to participate in the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors on December 6 due to Glenn Frey's health," said the band in a statement. "The Kennedy Center has graciously agreed to postpone the Eagles' award presentation until next year, when all four Eagles, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit, can attend."
Formidable company - an intimidating hall for most performers I'd imagine. But not this woman. I defy you to watch this performance to the end without goosebumps or a little tear! Aretha.
PS If you're aware of an edit without the Carole King/Obama cutaway shots, a bit less backing singers and more Aretha I'd love to know!
THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP
SENATOR THE HON. GEORGE BRANDIS QC
MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT
SENATOR THE HON. MICHAELIA CASH
30 DECEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Press conference on the Royal Commission into Union Corruption’s Final Report.
Chairman Mal spoke first - the entire transcript is below, but here are extracts from his first few paragraphs. Is this the work of a leader, certain of where he is taking us and absolutely committed to the mission? He took 9 paragraphs to get to this:
Now, the Government's commitment to reform is absolutely unwavering.
We are utterly committed to this exercise in law reform.
Yes, the government has to negotiate with the Senate, that's a fact of life. But it doesn't augur well that the PM's "absolutely unwavering commitment to reform",and his "utterly committed" program to reform IR laws was announced thus:
......the Royal Commission's report has uncovered many weaknesses in the trade union movement, but if its recommendations are substantially adopted, if the lessons of this report are learned,
This report, if it is heeded, if its recommendations are implemented - and we will describe how we will seek to do that, how we will do that, if that is done.....
We will fight them on the beaches according to Chairman Mal,
"It is possible that they will attempt to land on the beaches. If they do, my commitment to fighting them is absolutely unwavering, I am utterly committed to the fight. If my plan is heeded, if its recommendations are implemented - and we will describe how we will seek to do that, how we will do that, if that is done....."
We will never surrender?
The full transcript follows.
MALCOLM TURNBULL: I would like to thank the Honourable Dyson Heydon, his Counsel Assisting and all of the staff of the Royal Commission for their work. This has been a monumental effort, completed under enormous pressure of every kind, including unwarranted and baseless attacks on the Royal Commissioner himself. Now let me say this about the Royal Commission report, the Royal Commission's report has uncovered many weaknesses in the trade union movement, but if its recommendations are substantially adopted, if the lessons of this report are learned, the trade union movement will emerge much stronger.
Trade unions have never represented such a small percentage of Australian workers as they do today. This report, if it is heeded, if its recommendations are implemented - and we will describe how we will seek to do that, how we will do that, if that is done - then the trade union movement will be stronger. The members that it represents will have greater confidence in their officials and other workers will have greater confidence to join it. So right at the outset, let me say this, this report uncovers practices which have been long known to exist.
It is a real watershed movement- a real watershed moment for the Labor Movement, for its leaders, for Mr Shorten. They can take this opportunity to support these recommendations and undertake real and lasting reform of the trade union movement. The beneficiaries of that reform will be their members, and other Australian workers that may in the future seek to join the union movement. And right across the board all Australians will benefit from a more confident, capable, competent, honest administration of unions right across every sector in Australia.
This is an opportunity for Mr Shorten. This is an opportunity- a test of his leadership and he should seize it and rise to the occasion and recognise that it’s the interests of his members that is at stake here, the interest of ordinary working men and women of Australia who have been so let down by so many officials of the union movement. Now, let me turn to the report itself. The report finds, as we know, many examples of misconduct, of illegality, of corruption, of wrongdoing. Some of it is thuggery, some of it is theft.
There have been some very improper practices, which I will turn to in a moment, but an important point to bear in mind, as you consider- as we consider the attacks on the Royal Commission that will come from the Labor Party today, is that as the Royal Commissioner observes, almost all of the underlying facts have been established by admissions to the commission, incontrovertible documents, decisions of courts and tribunals or well corroborated testimony. This is not- these are not volumes of opinion. These are volumes of findings based on fact.
Now, let me deal with one particular example of the Australian Workers Union, the example of a company Cleanevent who employed cleaners, the- and I quote from the Royal Commission report. It's paragraph 63. In exchange for $25,000 per year, the Victorian branch of the AWU in substance agreed for three years not to seek better terms and conditions for its members employed by Cleanevent. It would not have been difficult to obtain better terms and conditions, but the Victorian branch of the AWU preferred to take the fairly paltry sum of money for itself. For the workers employed by Cleanevent, the outcome was appalling. The members of the Cleanevent management team- this is the employer- involved in the deal describe it as saving the company amounts ranging from $1 million to $2 million.
This man is the alternate Minister of the Crown for workplace relations.
Commissioner Heydon and his staff have produced a formidable body of work, 500 witnesses etc etc etc - and O'Connor has the temerity to characterise the Final Report as the work of a "sleazy tabloid sub-editor".
But then he has form in the lousy, mean-spirited having a go at people department.
On a day of high fire danger.
|2013 Tasmanian bushfires||Tasmania||20,000+ ha||4 January 2013||1||At least 170 buildings|
|2013 Wambelong bushfire||New South Wales||54,000 ha||18 January 2013||0||At least 53 homes, 118 sheds, agricultural machinery and livestock. Infrastructure destroyed at Siding Spring Observatory.|
As Stu of NT points out, Mr O'Connor is not without connections right into union heartland.
Finally a reminder about dish it out but can't take it O'Connor - here's the alternate Minister of the Crown's approach to keeping those who displease him informed.
Gerard de Valence's analysis of the Gyles and Cole Royal Commissions was first published here.
The two previous Royal Commissions into the building and construction industry included one led by Roger Gyles in 1990-92, and another headed by Terence Cole in 2001-03.
Both concluded the fundamental problem was a lack of respect for the rule of law, a phrase found repeatedly throughout both final reports, and this was a problem on both the employer and union sides. Cole said:
Culturally, first, there needs to be recognition by all participants that the rule of law applies within the industry.
Gyles also suggested those who break the law should be punished and said:
Observance of the law and law enforcement in general play very little part in the industry. The law of the jungle prevails. The culture is pragmatic and unprincipled. The ethos is to catch and to kill your own…Once it becomes acceptable to break, bend, evade or ignore the law and ethical responsibilities, there is no shortage of ways and means to do so.
Gyles found illegal activities: “…range from physical violence and a threat of physical violence at one end to petty pilfering of building materials at the other. In between there is a great variety of illegal activities, essentially economic in nature or effect, from collusive arrangements involving giant corporations and industry associations to labour-only sub contractors paying small amounts of graft to project managers. Those involved range from managing directors of large corporations to labourers on site. No sector of the industry has been immune.”
Nevertheless, Gyles concluded that industrial relations was overwhelmingly the most important issue and the union’s conduct and philosophy the fundamental cause of the industry’s problems. He recommended the government deregister the BWIU (now the CFMEU) in both the state and federal jurisdictions, and his Commission’s Building Industry Task Force pursue cases and recommend changes to the law. Gyles made 63 recommendations to the NSW Government, of which all but two were adopted.
Following Gyles came the NSW Code of Practice for the Construction Industry (1996), then the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments through the Australian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) introduced a National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry in 1997. Many codes and guidelines have been issued and revised at both levels of government over the last decade. Policy interest in this area escalated significantly after 2003 when the Cole Royal Commission reported.
The ABC's editorial response to the Trade Union Royal Commission's Final Report and Recommendations is outright irresponsible. The national broadcaster parrots the lines used by the crooks in their cover up. It plays down the overwhelming evidence of serious crimes that have been uncovered and suggests that the Commission was simply a political exercise. Compare and contrast the ABC with the editorials below - we deserve much better from the National Broadcaster.
The Commissioner in his final report:
Widespread misconduct … has taken place … There is little that is controversial about the underlying facts. Almost all of the underlying facts have been established by admissions to the commission, incontrovertible documents, decisions of courts and tribunals or well-corroborated testimony … You can look at any area of Australia. You can look at any unionised industry. You can look at any type of industrial union. You can select any period of time. You can take any rank of officeholder, from secretaries down to very junior employees. You can search for any type of misbehaviour. You will find rich examples over the last 23 years in the Australian trade union movement. These aberrations cannot be regarded as isolated. They are not the work of a few rogue unions, or a few rogue officials. The misconduct exhibits great variety. It is widespread. It is deep-seated … It would be utterly naive to think that what has been uncovered is anything other than the small tip of an enormous iceberg.
Two months ago, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed trade union membership had plunged to 15 per cent of workers and just 11 per cent of those in the private sector, it was evident the movement was on a path to self-destruction.
The case for reform is now far more compelling following yesterday’s release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Judging by yesterday’s initial responses, workers, employers, industry groups and the Turnbull government grasp the point. So do harder heads in the Labor Party. But regrettably, judging by his no-show yesterday, Bill Shorten does not. Or perhaps he does not know how to defend the indefensible. Nor does ACTU secretary Dave Oliver, who sounded like he was in fantasy land yesterday when he tried and failed to link the royal commission to the unrelated, ultra-mild recommendations of the Productivity Commission to scale back Sunday penalty rates. Far from attacking workers, the royal commission has exposed a plethora of unfair and costly attacks on workers by bosses — the bosses of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Australian Workers Union, the Transport Workers Union, the Health Services Union and the National Union of Workers.
The case study singled out by Malcolm Turnbull illustrated the point. As Commissioner Dyson Heydon detailed, in exchange for $25,000 a year, the Victorian branch of the AWU agreed with cleaning company Cleanevent not to seek better terms and conditions for its members for three years. At the very least, Mr Heydon noted, unions receiving such benefits should be forced to disclose them to members before votes were taken on enterprise agreements.
In a measured, factual and even-handed style, Mr Heydon — one of Australia’s most distinguished former High Court judges — outlined widespread, deep-seated and hardcore corruption from the most junior ranks of union officials to that of “many state secretaries’’. Evidence gathered from 505 witnesses over 21 months justified Mr Heydon’s conclusion that the corruption detailed was the “ small tip of an enormous iceberg’’ in which the union movement had “room for louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers, those who threaten violence, errant fiduciaries and organisers of boycotts’’.
Malcolm Turnbull must vigorously prosecute the case against the trade unions for widespread corruption and influence peddling presented by the trade union royal commission.
It is paramount in both a policy and political sense.
It is also another Tony Abbott legacy that the new Prime Minister must embrace with all the commitment and passion his predecessor invested in the cause. This is no time to try to “tone down” the rhetoric about trade union corruption and the misuse of trade union members’ funds.
What is being disclosed is not just a question of corruption in the building industry or sleazy sweetheart deals, it is a travesty of the spirit of trade unions representing workers and their best interests.
Abbott paid a huge price for his determination in the fight against union corruption and Turnbull would be foolish not to take advantage of all the pain he absorbed.
Of course, Abbott always intended to use the outcome from the royal commission as a major political weapon in the 2016 election against Labor and Bill Shorten.
The ALP, the Opposition Leader and the ACTU haven’t found a credible answer to the disclosures of the royal commission, which involve the power-wielding within the parliamentary Labor Party.
Simply saying there is “zero tolerance” to union corruption is a nonsense. There should be zero tolerance to corruption anywhere and this self-evident, self-serving piece of sophistry makes Shorten’s response look even emptier.
The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption began hearings 20 months ago when the Herald, like so many others, felt angry and cheated by unions and their Labor Party mates. The royal commission's damning final report released on Wednesday will only inflame that anger and entrench a sense that the broader community has been conned.
The con has been committed not just by what federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten calls "a small number" of union leaders. It has been part of what commissioner Dyson Heydon calls "an enormous iceberg" of misconduct in a movement which allows room for "louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers, those who threaten violence, errant fiduciaries and organisers of boycotts".
The con has been perpetrated, too, by those in the Labor Party who tolerate and benefit career-wise from a party structure that accepts, even supports, union misbehaviour. The justification for Labor – that unions are essential to protecting workers, social equity and the safety net – cannot justify criminal actions and breaches of basic accountability, especially when only 11 per cent of non-government workers are union members and when a more democratic political party structure could achieve the aim even more efficiently.
It is clearer than ever that the union-linked Labor Party of 2015 can never argue for fairness and good governance while the union sore festers.
The report makes no legal recommendations about Mr Shorten, although it outlines he was in charge of the AWU when 13 false invoices were recorded, and that he instituted talks for an agreement that eventually paid a big company for industrial peace. He also played a part in recruitment of workers whose membership was never properly recorded. He benefited from a research officer paid for by a company. The AWU has been referred to Victoria prosecutors and the Fair Work Commission for possible legal action, too.
Labor has committed to supporting legal action against those named adversely in the report. That is the bare minimum. The party has blocked legislation on union governance and increasing independence of union-linked industry superannuation funds. It is seeking government co-operation in adjusting the legislation, and asks Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull not to make the union issue the focus of the next election.
How union corruption figures in the next election depends solely on Mr Shorten. To win voter trust and survive as Labor leader, he needs to ditch the party's rhetoric that this royal commission was only a political witch-hunt. True, the conflict of interest revealed by Justice Heydon in agreeing to give a Liberal-linked speech has forever diminished the standing of his findings. And the commissioner's language at the start of the final report is remarkably strong for an otherwise reserved former High Court judge: "You can look at any area of Australia. You can look at any unionised industry … These aberrations cannot be regarded as isolated. They are not the work of a few rogue unions, or a few rogue officials. The misconduct exhibits great variety. It is widespread. It is deep-seated."
PS - it's a little after 5.30AM where I am for the time being- 4 hours behind Sydney.
Will you help keep this cause alive?. There is so much still to be done and I ask for your support in doing it.
National Australia Bank
Acct No: 537650476