Rich-lister Paul Darrouzet's help in concealing Wilson's slush funds - Part Two
The original certificate of incorporation for Thiess Contractors - "Snowy Dirt-Balls" Pty Ltd

Our September 2017 FOI application - did Turnbull or his office communicate with the Trade Union Royal Commission over Shorten

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.00.18 am

It's now 2 years since the Trade Union Royal Commission abruptly released a media statement (prior to final submissions and almost two months prior to the Commissioner's final report) "clearing" Bill Shorten of criminal conduct.

The apparent about face came six weeks into the Turnbull administration.

On 3 September 2017, more than two months ago I wrote to Turnbull's FOI officer.

FOI Request

 
 
 
Dear Sir or Madam,
 
Thank you for considering this request under the Freedom of Information Act, 1982.
 
I seek all communications involving the Prime Minister or staff with or about the Trade Union Royal Commission from 14 September 2015 until 6 November 2015.
 
For the avoidance of doubt, I include records (including telephone call data and text messages) involving Jeremy Stoljar SC,  William (Bill) Steenson or Commissioner John Dyson Heydon AC QC.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Michael Smith
 
ENDS
 
The FOI office had 30 days to reply.
 
On 23 October I received this note (Turnbull took office on 15 September 2015)
 

 

Afternoon Mr Smith

Thank you for your email.  To assist with the processing of this matter could you please provide some additional information. 

  • The timeframe of your request covers both the office of the former Prime Minister Mr Abbott and the current Prime Minister Mr Turnbull.  Could you please confirm if it’s your intention for the request to cover both Prime Ministers?
  • Your requests reference staff—to ensure clarity can you please confirm if this is staff of the relevant Prime Minister’s Office?

Should you wish to discuss please don’t hesitate to contact on the below number.

Kind regards,

FOI Adviser

Access and Administrative Review Section | Honours and Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

ENDS

 
I made clear it was the Turnbull administration.
Last night, 8 November 2017 I received this.
 

 

Dear Mr Smith

Thank you for your email dated 27 October 2017 in which you confirmed the scope of your request to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) in the following terms:

I seek all communications involving Prime Minister Turnbull or his staff with or about the Trade Union Royal Commission from 15 September 2015 until 6 November 2015.

Timeframe for receiving your decision

We received your initial FOI request by email on 3 September 2017 and the 30 day statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after that date. We were therefore required to provide with you a decision on your request by 3 October 2017. We apologise for the delay and will finalise your FOI request as soon as possible. In the circumstances, we may seek an extension of time from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Publication of documents

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be published online on our disclosure log at http://www.dpmc.gov.au/pmc/accountability-and-reporting/freedom-information/foi-disclosure-logs/foi-disclosure-log, subject to certain exceptions. If you think you might wish to raise any objections to the publication of any of the information which may be released to you please contact us by email at [email protected].  If you do wish to object to the publication of information, you would need to provide supporting reasons.

Exclusion of officers’ names and contact details 

For documents that fall within scope of the request, it is the Department’s policy to withhold:

  • any person’s signature;
  • the names and contact details of Australian Public Service officers not in the Senior Executive Service (SES);
  • the mobile or direct numbers of SES officers;
  • the names and contact details of Ministerial staff at a level below Chief of Staff.

The names and other details of SES officers will not be withheld unless there is some reason for that information to be exempt from release. If you require signatures, the names and contact details of non-SES officers or Ministerial staff below the level of Chief of Staff, or the mobile or direct numbers of SES officers please let us know at [email protected] so the decision-maker may consider; otherwise we will take it that you agree to that information being excluded from the scope of your request (that is, the information will be treated as irrelevant and redacted from any documents for release).

We will write again when the Department has more information.  Further information on FOI processing can be found at the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner at http://www.oaic.gov.au/foi-portal/about_foi.html.

Yours sincerely

FOI Adviser

ENDS

The link that the FOI advisors for the PM's office provided resolves to this:

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.51.19 am

But the important stuff is there - like the FOI guy's Twitter link, Facebook link and the respects not to our warriors, but to Aboriginal elders.  Lest We Forget.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.55.27 am

BACKGROUND TO MY REQUEST

One of the weirder decisions of the Trade Union Royal Commission was its release of a late night statement on 6 November 2015 which said:

In very brief overview, counsel assisting have submitted that the Commissioner should find that a number of officials of the AWU and the AWU itself may have engaged in criminal conduct in relation to the falsification of invoices and the taking of commissions.

It is further submitted that a number of persons employed by major employers and employers themselves may have engaged in similar criminal conduct, by receiving and paying bogus invoices and paying commissions (see e.g. Chapter 3 – Thiess John Holland, paragraph 213; Chapter 5 – ACI, paragraph 118; Chapter 6 – Chiquita Mushrooms paragraph 85; Chapter 8 – Winslow Constructors, paragraph 44). 

Counsel assisting have submitted further that a number of officials of the AWU may have engaged in conduct in conflict of interest by causing the union to enter into lucrative side deals that were not disclosed to the members. 

There is no submission that Mr Bill Shorten may have engaged in any criminal or unlawful conduct.

EXTRACT ENDS

This non-submission on Shorten was in stark contrast to the evidence elicited during his excoriating appearance in the witness box - recall this exchange:

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.15.35 amScreen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.15.35 am Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.22.25 amScreen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.15.35 am

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.15.35 am



Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.15.35 am

We will soon know if there's any record of Turnbull or his people communicating with the TURC prior to its about face.

Here are some of our articles following Shorten's appearance.

 

 

July 2015

Tony Abbott is fit and dresses neatly - but seriously Bill Shorten, please tone down the Tone-obsession, at least in public

Julia Gillard got a bit bewitched by budgie-smuggling Tony, now Bill's falling into the trap.

Here he is at a press conference today to sell the message that he's a leader not a follower.

(Thanks to Nathan Lee for the edited video from today's Shorten leadership masterclass)

Bill, look what happened last time a Labor leader started to obsess over Tone.

PS - Bill,when in doubt consult the KRudd playbook.

Here, Krudd preaches on negative politics and Labor's positive plans for the future.    


Bill Shorten's in trouble - he's trotted out Beaconsfield in a video shot in his backyard

Is it just me, or does Bill sound like he's had a few before recording the speech?

Bill and his people are in cloud cuckoo land with this comment:

Tony Abbott and the Liberals had a red hot go this week at trying to distract us from what they've really been up to. But Tony Abbott’s Royal Commissions won’t make us forget his attacks on Medicare, his plans for $100,000 degrees, cuts to pensions, and his bizarre war on renewable energy.

I think you were the focus of attention Bill, not a lot to do with Tony Abbott.   

. 
.

I’ve spent my whole adult life standing up for the pay and conditions of working Australians — and I’m not about to stop now.

No matter what Tony Abbott and the Liberals throw at us, Labor’s record stands proud against WorkChoices.

At the Beaconsfield mine disaster I saw first-hand how important workplace safety is. And as Parliamentary Secretary, I fought for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I want to keep on building on that important work and form the next Government.

Telling Australians about Labor's positive plan for the future, compared to Tony Abbott’s plans to drag us back to the past, is important if we want to win the next election. That’s why I’ve recorded a quick message about my vision for Australia: and as a dedicated Labor supporter, I wanted you to see it first.

Can you watch and share my message to every Australian that I’m ready to stand up for Australia’s future?


Bill Thumbnail

Tony Abbott and the Liberals had a red hot go this week at trying to distract us from what they've really been up to. But Tony Abbott’s Royal Commissions won’t make us forget his attacks on Medicare, his plans for $100,000 degrees, cuts to pensions, and his bizarre war on renewable energy.

If Tony Abbott wants us to focus on Labor’s record of standing up for the pay and conditions of working people, instead of the lies he told to get into office or his $80 billion in cuts to schools and hospitals, then so be it.

But I want Australians to know I am more determined than ever to stand up for a future that makes good schools, good hospitals and good jobs accessible to every Australian.

Thanks for standing with me on this,

Bill

PS You can watch my message to Australians in full here. Give it a share too so others know I’m ready to take on Tony Abbott!


Undeserved criticism of Royal Commissioner Heydon over his advice from the Bench to Bill Shorten

Bill Shorten's appearance at the Trade Union Corruption Royal Commission dominated the ABC's Insiders program today.

Barrie Cassidy made his feelings known on Friday in this piece for ABC The Drum.

Perspective is missing on Bill Shorten's royal commission appearance

OPINION

By ABC's Barrie Cassidy

Updated Fri at 10:01am

Of all that is wrong with Australian society, why should Bill Shorten's union activities of a decade ago take precedence? Barrie Cassidy writes.

Barrie reckons perspective was missing from Shorten's appearance at the TURC, well it must be contagious, because perspective on Shorten's evidence had gone walkabout from Insiders  today.

Here's a link to the Insiders opening segment on Shorten today - its key message?  Shorten took 900 questions, reminiscent of the Julia Gillard AWU Scandal press conference.   Then there was the smart-arsed criticism of the Royal Commissioner.

To understand Commissioner Heydon's advice from the Bench to Shorten about his oral evidence you have to understand what that evidence was and how it was delivered.

Commissioner Heydon spoke to Shorten after hearing about 6 hours of often rambling, often evasive and non-responsive grandstanding speeches in answer to simple questions.   Senior Counsel Assisting had just asked Shorten if he was evading questions, a serious offence. Others won't use my description of Shorten's evidence, but it should be reported at the very least, that the Commissioner spoke to Shorten only after 6 hours of listening to inappropriate responses and after a warning from Counsel Assisting.   

These are legal proceedings with profound consequences, not a soap box for political speeches

Here's the whole Insiders report, nothing about the quality of Shorten's evidence, just this "politically motivated smear" from the Commissioner.

 This grab will give you some idea.


Bill Shorten wants to replace the $60M trade union royal commission with a Shorten v Abbott town hall debate

Bill Shorten has lost it.   He wants to replace the TURC with a town hall debate between himself and Tony Abbott.

Shorten hasn't said a thing about the crimes and corruption investigated and reported on by the TURC.    He must have convinced himself that it's all made up.

The TURC is a $60M+ authority with coercive powers to compel witnesses to give truthful evidence, an in-house police task-force, telephone intercept powers, cross-examinations  under oath and a wide-ranging remit set out in its Letters Patent.   The Commission's Interim Report advised the Government of "grave threats to the authority of the Australian State" arising from union corruption.

But none of that counts to Bill.   It should be replaced with a "for one night only" mega spectacular Shorten v Abbott debate.   All the problems will just disappear after that hey Bill?

Here's the report of Shorten's on-the-record comments in Melbourne today.

"If Mr Abbott has the courage of his convictions, he shouldn't be hiding behind a royal commission to do his political dirty work," Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

"Have a debate with me in parliament or in any town hall about workplace relations."

But the government has urged the public to stay tuned for further revelations.

"I think there's a lot more to be seen here," Employment Minister Eric Abetz told the Ten Network on Sunday.



Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/bill-shorten-challenges-prime-minister-tony-abbott-to-debate-on-unions-20150712-giah76.html#ixzz3fetMOrnw


A reader writes - "you need to shut down your right wing propaganda machine" - his letter and my response here

Michael J wrote to me yesterday about my "right wing propaganda outlet", questioning the accuracy of what we publish and suggesting that I need to move to South Korea after I shut down this propaganda machine.  
 
Michael's email is published in full at the bottom of this post.   I thought it was worthwhile to put together a little of the history of the website - for Michael J but for all of us too.
 
Here's my response, emailed to Michael J this morning.
 
 
Dear Michael,
 
Thank you for writing about my website.
 
The story of www.michaelsmithnews.com started when I was a talkback host on radio 2UE in Sydney.  On 1  August, 2011 I interviewed Craig Thomson MP - he admitted to me that he'd authorised the use of Health Services Union money to pay escort agency bills.   You can read about that interview here:
 
 
 
That interview received wide publicity like this
 
 
 
As a result of the publicity I received notes from unionists advising me of all sorts of other scams.   A few people wrote about the AWU and a scandal I'd never heard of involving a bloke called Bruce Wilson and his then girlfriend Julia Gillard.  I researched that story for a while and found a former President of the AWU in Victoria Bob Kernohan.   Mr Kernohan agreed to be interviewed and over a few days (with very expensive lawyers guiding what could go in and what couldn't) we pre-recorded a 30 minute interview that was approved by Fairfax's external defamation lawyers (Fairfax owned 2UE).   The interview was heavily promoted across the weekend of 31 August 2011 and it was due to be aired after the midday news on Monday, 1 September 2011.
 
Ten minutes before midday I was contacted by Fairfax's senior management who instructed me not to play the pre-approved and promoted interview.   One week later I was suspended from my on air role and told I could immediately go back on air if I signed an undertaking never to talk about The AWU Scandal again on air.   I knew that Mr Kernohan was telling the truth and I promised him I'd help to tell his story to the Australian public.   I refused to sign the undertaking Fairfax put to me and as a result I resigned from the company some weeks later over our editorial differences.
 
This video might help with some of the detals.
 
 
 
I continued to research the AWU Scandal after I left 2UE, collecting documents and interviewing people.   The Wilson/Gillard'/Blewitt frauds took place from 1992 to 1995 and the cover-up then operated until 2012.   It was clear a series of major frauds involving the AWU had taken place and that Julia Gillard's input was key to the success of the frauds and to the cover up.
 
Julia Gillard owed her Prime Ministership to the very union that was ripped off so heavily.   You might recall that on the night of 23 June, 2010, then national secretary of the AWU Paul Howes appeared on the ABC's Latline program 
 

AWU has switched allegiance to Gillard

Print Email

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 23/06/2010

Reporter: Tony Jones

Australian Workers Union National Secretary Paul Howes joins Lateline.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: One of the key moments of tonight's extraordinary developments was the announcement that the Australian Workers Union had lost confidence in Kevin Rudd and was backing a move to Julia Gillard. 
 
 
I determined to get to the bottom of the relationship between Ms Gillard, the AWU Scandal and her ascension as the AWU's Prime Minister.   
 
Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 9.24.15 am
 
In August 2012 I set up the website www.michaelsmithnews.com to distribute all the documents I had and to seek out more information.
 
I pay all the bills associated with the site  - my readers support me by donating to keep us going. I carried advertising for a short time but don't have any now.  
 
I'm not associated with Rupert Murdoch or his businesses.
 
Whenever possible I link to or publish original documents so my readers can make up their own minds about what documents mean.    I also encourage comments from all sides of the spectrum and in particular from people who are experts in specialist fields like the law, accountancy and the like.
 
The website is mine and the opinions it reflects are mine.  It's not associated with or supported by any corporation or political party.   It came about because of my experience of the abuse of political power while I was at 2UE and my promise to get to the bottom of The AWU Scandal.
 
The Trade Union Royal Commission, the Victoria Police, the Legal Services Board of Victoria and the WA Police are each conducting ongoing investigations into The AWU Scandal.   I was the complainant to the Victoria Police, I understand that the detectives responsible for the AWU enquiry have forwarded a brief of evidence to the Office of Public Prosecutions which is currently deciding who will be charged over the crimes.
 
I'll continue to operate the site until those investigations have been completed - then who knows what's next.
 
Thank you for your note and please let me know if there's anything I can do for you.
 
Kind regard,
Michael Smith
 
ENDS
 
Here's Michael J's note:
 
 
 
 
Michael:
 
It was suggested I read your story on Shorten and the grilling he is getting at the Royal Commission.  I read a bit but quickly realised that your media outlet is a right wing propaganda outlet.  As such I question the accuracy of what you write.
 
Personally I am sick and tired of Rupert Murdoch propaganda publications.  So is your media outlet funded by Murdoch or through subsidiaries?
 
I have today come across information that Tony Abbott is an ex Murdoch journalist.  Is that correct?
 
If this Royal Commission is what I suspect it is then you and need to hang your head in shame and maybe move to a place you would fit in better:  South Korea.  Australia cannot afford to spend in the order of $100 million on a Royal Commission every time the Liberal Party and their well heeled supporter wants to gain political power, with the resultant financial rewards when repayment is exacted.
 
Unless my facts are wrong, and it does appear that they are not, you need to shut down your propaganda machine or else REPORT THE HONEST NEWS, not that which convinces ordinary voters to do what is bad for them.  And whilst I am at it can you tell me where you have run the story linking this government to the coal industry, the mining industry and the big banks, ALL OF WHOM HAVE BEEN REWARDED BY THIS GOVERNMENT.  In case you have not noticed taxpayers now subsidise the fossil fuel industries to the tune of $80 BILLION a year out of public coffers…..whilst the so called ‘free press’ does not report.
 
I wish we had laws to remove deceitful people who seek to ruin our nation from the nation.  There is no place for people who call themselves Australians who plot against the nation for the benefit of big business vested interests.  This is what the ‘traitor’ encompasses.
 
Michael j.

Workers coated in asbestos; buggered up backs? No issue was off-limits for an AWU sham consultancy - Thiess was happy to hand over the cash.

Bill Shorten's dodgy $30K back-strain research for the mates at Thiess is straight out of the Bruce Wilson sham consultant copybook - here's a deadly report from The Age, 25 September 1995

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 11.51.05 am

One of Australia's leading construction companies, Thiess Contractors Pty Ltd, paid $25,000 to a trade union to clear the way for the use of contaminated soil in Melbourne's Western Ring Road project.

Under a deal between the Australian Workers Union and Thiess in January 1994, a large amount of soil containing low levels of lead, asbestos and other contaminants was used to construct sections of the $600 million Government-funded project.

According to documents obtained by The Age, the AWU Victorian branch agreed to lift work bans preventing use of the contaminated soil after the company withdrew threats of stand-downs, and offered to pay for a union-organised site study.

Union officials now say the study never took place, and the terms of the payment were never made public.

The AWU's national manager of occupational health and safety, Mr Yossi Berger, imposed the bans because of concerns about the health impact of the soil.

Both vigorously opposed the use of the soil but were overruled by the then secretary of the AWU Victorian branch, Mr Bruce Wilson, who negotiated a unilateral deal with Thiess. Mr Wilson resigned as union secretary last month.

The deal is expected to form part of a Victoria Police major fraud group investigation into the operations of the union's national construction branch.

The 1994 dispute centred on plans by Thiess to use about 115,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil from two sites in Footscray and Maribyrnong as fill in the construction of two overpasses and a stretch of the ring road in Laverton North.

The EPA yesterday confirmed that the soil was used on the site, between February and July 1994, with its approval and according to strict environmental guidelines.

While details of the peace deal between the union and Thiess were never publicly discussed, senior union officials were shocked when the company confirmed earlier this month that it paid the AWU Victorian branch $25,000 for the alleged study.

Mr Berger said he was amazed by the amount of the payment because no study had ever been organised or carried out. Given his position he would have known if a study was done, he said.

A former senior AWU official at the centre of the dispute was also adamant no study was carried out.

Mr Boyd said the payment was effectively hush money in return for letting the company use contaminated soil.

According to Mr Boyd, construction workers employed on the project may have been exposed to deadly contaminants. Mr Boyd also opposed the plan because it could set a dangerous precedent.

An EPA spokeswoman confirmed that another construction company, Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd, also received permission to use contaminated soil for road fill, in March this year.

Details of the payment emerged during a meeting between the national secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (building division), Mr John Sutton, and senior Thiess officials on 4 September, in Sydney.

Mr Sutton said Thiess's national manager of human resources, Mr Paul Darrouzet, told him the company had made only one payment, of $25,000, to the rival AWU, which was ``in respect to contaminated soil (and) a joint study into road work".

Mr Darrouzet allegedly told Mr Sutton that the Victorian Trades Hall Council and Mr Berger approved of the deal and knew of the amount paid.

But in a letter to Thiess on 7 September, Mr Boyd demanded an apology, saying he ``did not know of, or participate in any way, in any exchange of money between Thiess and the AWU".

Thiess subsequently acknowledged the mistake, saying that all relevant payments to the AWU had been ``processed through our usual creditor's system, following the receipt of invoice".

The AWU's joint national secretary, Mr Ian Cambridge, denied any knowledge of the deal.

``It comes as a surprise," he said. ``We had no knowledge and it is just another matter, along with all the other matters, that will be thoroughly investigated" (by the Victoria Police major fraud group).

Bulk union memberships, sham advertising, false training invoices and bogus consultancies - this week at the Trade Union Royal Commission was just like re-living Bruce Wilson's reign at the AWU.  

Mr Stoljar opened Thursday's session by quizzing Bill Shorten on $100,000 annual payments from Thiess/John Holland.

Mr Stoljar to Shorten, “Is this a bogus invoice (below) claiming for work never done?”

Shorten:,“I would never be party to issuing bogus invoices, full stop.”

Mr Shorten said he expected the invoice for the back strain research would have been for a service that had “either been conducted or is going to be conducted”.

“I don’t recall (the research), but it would have been done if the invoice was issued,” he said.

Mr Stoljar said other evidence presented to the royal commission suggested the AWU did not conduct the research.

“These invoices are issued by my accounts department,” Mr Shorten said.

“I can’t say explicitly what was triggering them, but in terms of back strain, that is a huge issue in civil construction and heavy industry.

Stoljar, "I wasn't asking whether it was a huge issue. What I am asking you is in the period leading up to 18 January 2006, was research work done by the AWU Vic in relation to back strain?"

Shorten, "I can't say, I don't recall it, but I believe it would have been if the invoice is issued.".

Here's the invoice:

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 10.24.12 am

And here's the request for invoice - check the detail!

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 10.25.42 am

Nothing is off-limits to these people.


Laurie Oakes - Bill Shorten a gutless waffler incapable of delivering........

The most amazing feature of the Shorten saga this week is that there are still people who support him as the alternative prime minister.

When Laurie Oakes writes that a Labor leader is terminal, that's it, it's all over.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten must face the facts on his role

 

FORMER ALP national secretary Bob Hogg might not have been smart to say it. “Just go,” he advised Bill Shorten on Facebook after the Labor leader’s first embarrassing day in the trade union royal commission witness box.

Shorten’s supporters turned on Hogg with a vengeance, proving yet again that glasshouse dwellers are unwise to throw stones. But that does not mean the one-time Hawke staffer and Labor Party life member was wrong. There is a strong argument for Shorten to consider his position — one that is not based entirely, or even mainly, on the royal commission.

The Opposition Leader should think about making way for someone else because it is glaringly obvious that a change would greatly increase Labor’s prospects of winning the next election. There is plenty of evidence. Take, for example, the furore over Malcolm Turnbull’s speech to The Sydney Institute last Tuesday.

It caused some Right-wing Liberals to comment with suppressed fury that Turnbull is a far more effective Opposition leader than Shorten.

Plenty of people on the Labor side agree, comparing Turnbull’s impact with Shorten’s image as a gutless waffler incapable of delivering a cut-through message.

From revelations about an undeclared election donation to allegations of conflicts of interest in wage negotiations when he was a union boss to royal commissioner Dyson Heydon questioning his credibility, Shorten’s two days of grilling did him plenty of damage.

And the royal commission report is still to come.

But the most telling aspect of Shorten’s performance in the box is that it would have reinforced all the doubts about him that have been growing in voters’ minds since he assumed the leadership 18 months ago.

Two opinion polls at the start of the week illustrated how Shorten has now joined Abbott at the bottom of the popularity trough. Voters are not impressed by either leader.

For all the talk about Abbott fighting back since the attempt to spill him from the Liberal leadership early in the year, he is still on the nose.

And, despite going all out on national security and abandoning economic reform in favour of shameless populism, he has still not got the Coalition out of the electoral danger zone.

At 39 per cent or 40 per cent, depending on which poll you favour, the Coalition’s primary vote is still below the level required for victory. One Liberal MP said yesterday: “Voters have stopped yelling at us but they still don’t like us.”

And Abbott’s stubborn continuation of the war against the ABC’s Q&A program, complete with the silly instruction to ministers to boycott it, has again raised questions about his judgment. It ignores advice from Liberal pollster Mark Textor and party director Brian Loughnane to avoid distractions and ideology and concentrate on mainstream issues of direct concern to voters.

Abbott is convinced that, with Shorten as Opposition Leader, he could start an election campaign four points behind and win. That may well be true.

Quite a few Liberals, though, say privately that it would not be true if Abbott faced someone — anyone? — other than Shorten.

“Labor would win with just a good, stock player,” one of them said yesterday.

Shorten, however, is unlikely to admit, even to himself, that he is an impediment to Labor’s election hopes. Expect him to stumble on.

 


Senator Eric Abetz, Minister for Employment - Statement on the Royal Commission

 

Bill Shorten unleashes on Tony Abbott's , calling it a political smear campaign and waste of taxpayers' money (@liztilley84)

 
 

.@BOConnorMP: This $80 million witch hunt by the Government will not in any way impact on Bill Shorten  

 
 

$80million has been spent on this Royal Commission - five times more than addressing domestic violence http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4270865.htm   

 

Why is more money spent on union royal commission than addressing domestic violence asks Labor MP

There's no evidence of Bill Shorten acting improperly after his time giving evidence at the trade union royal commission and there are other issues such as the amount of money spent on the inquiry,...

abc.net.au
 

There's a very big trap here for Labor.   Labor's mantra - that the Royal Commission is a witch-hunt, waste of money, political show-trials etc - is starting to wear very thin.  Every new revelation reinforces the reasons for setting the TURC up in the first place, and the revelations are currently coming thick and fast.

You'd expect anyone who  cares about trade unions to react at first with shock, then with a commitment to flush out the bad people and culture.

Labor reacts with dismissal, denigration, downplaying the seriousness of the findings etc.   If the Party persists with that line, it may find itself confirming to more and more voters that it is the Party that endorses crime and bad behaviour.   

Labor has recent form - in first delaying the Craig Thomson investigations, then in paying for Thomson's legal bills.  Its reacton to the TURC revelations is more of the same.   You can't defend the indefensible - and you can't start to reform yourself until you admit you have a problem. 

On that score, Labor clearly has a long way to go.

Here's a quick statement from Senator Eric Abetz, the Minister for Employment, setting out some of what the Commission's uncovered.

Statement - Royal Commission 

Published: Friday, 10 July 2015 16:21

Over past days the Labor Party has been engaged in a sensationalised attack on the impartiality, motives and utility of the Royal Commission and even of the Royal Commissioner.

“It is astounding that any Labor Member of Parliament would stoop to attack the independent Royal Commission that has the task of cleaning up union corruption for the benefit of honest union members,” Employment Minister Eric Abetz said.

“This Royal Commission has already revealed serious instances of abuse of power, apparent criminality and other corruption that needs to be addressed.”

“Far from addressing these abuses of power, the Labor Party is now attacking the body that is revealing the extent of the problem.”

The Labor Party seems to want to hide the fact that the Interim Report of the Royal Commission has already found:

  •          The NSW branch of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) sent the ALP inflated sets of membership numbers between 2005 and 2013;
  •          Certain officials of the AWU, NUW, TWU, CFMEU and HSU have used their union’s name and their union position to raise funds for their own benefit and the benefit of like-minded associates, even by compulsory levies on their employees, in breach of duties owed to union members;
  •          Superannuation fund Cbus put the interests of the CFMEU above those of its own members;
  •          A building redundancy fund, BERT, paid to fund illegal strike action and millions of dollars in CFMEU apprenticeship training;
  •          There is a culture of wilful defiance of the law that lies at the core of the CFMEU;
  •          The CFMEU has been engaged in a long-term illegal black ban of concrete company Boral;
  •          The Victorian CFMEU Secretary may have committed blackmail and should be prosecuted. He has also obtained services on his own property in exchange for industrial peace;
  •          The NSW CFMEU Secretary engaged in gross misconduct and lied to the Royal Commission;
  •          CFMEU officials have made seriously threatening comments to fellow officials, attempted to force an official out the union for raising legitimate questions about CFMEU dealings, unlawfully pressured companies to sign up to enterprise agreements with the CFMEU, unlawfully pressured a company to employ one of its members and to give him a good reference, abused Fair Work Building inspectors;
  •          An insurance protection product, Protect, paid millions of dollars a year to the Victorian ETU after it received the benefit of compulsory payments from employers under the standard ETU enterprise agreement; and
  •          Bruce Wilson and Ralph Blewitt used their positions as senior officials of the AWU to steal corporate funds for their personal benefit and should be prosecuted.

The Royal Commission has also heard evidence that raises serious questions about whether:

  •          Two TWU officials crafted elaborate schemes to use member money to purchase luxury American utes that they took into their personal possession as part of redundancy schemes;
  •          The Victorian AWU repeatedly invoiced companies, often under false pretences, in deals secretly struck with companies in return for boosted AWU memberships or other unexplained benefits to the AWU or its leaders;
  •          The Victorian AWU added a number of high-profile jockeys to its membership roll despite the Australian Jockeys Association stating that it never knew of any jockeys joining the AWU;
  •          The NSW CFMEU repeatedly entered enterprise agreements with companies connected with underworld figure George Alex, even though those companies repeatedly went into liquidation owing money to their employees. The Commission has heard that certain CFMEU officials may have received weekly $2500 payments in return.

Rather than shooting the messenger, the ACTU and the ALP simply need to acknowledge that Australian workers have been grievously let down by many elements in the trade union movement.

But for the Royal Commission, this information would have remained hidden from the trade union membership, who are clearly entitled to know.

This is why the Opposition should support legislation to introduce a Registered Organisations Commission and to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission.


 

 

Comments