Compare the ABC's editorial response to the TURC final report with the range of editorials from responsible publishers
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.
Thugs, bullies and thieves exposed by union probe
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’’.
Unions royal commission: adopt Abbott’s zeal in tackling corruption
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 great Labor-union con job exposed
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."