Tony Sheldon is to continue Labor's tradition of rewarding dubious characters with a seat in the Parliament.
He has some hard acts to follow - Kimberley Kitching, Julia Gillard, Bill Shorten and Craig Thomson spring to mind - but Tony Sheldon really is in a class of his own.
Here's The Australian today
Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon is expected to be formally endorsed by the NSW Labor right faction tomorrow to head the party’s Senate ticket at the next election.
Mr Sheldon’s endorsement by the dominant right faction has been bumpy after he went public three months ago stating he had union support, which surprised and angered key factional players.
But Mr Sheldon has since reassured union secretaries he was not taking their support for granted and also secured the backing of NSW Labor secretary Kaila Murnain ahead of the NSW Centre Unity meeting tomorrow at the Trades Hall in Sydney.
Here is a little snapshot of the life and times of Tony Sheldon
Sheldon was central in ballot rigging in the Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees union of Australia, Queensland Branch Union of Employees.
he was convicted under s 171(1)(h) of Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904. An industrial relations commissioner's report said of Sheldon's conviction "the recorded convictions for relatively minor offences do not reflect the extent of ballot paper fraud revealed by this report". But Sheldon was just getting started.
Sheldon started doing "side deals" with employers of its members in which company money was paid to a union "training fund"— fairly obviously at a cost of discounting workers' wages.
According to one agreement …labour hire firm Blue Collar agreed as part of an enterprise bargain to pay the TWU 1 per cent of the total payroll for the union's members employed at Qantas in Sydney while under a Shelton negotiated deal saw Blue Collar employees stood to suffer a 30 per cent pay cut.
Sheldon used $200,000 from that fund to oust the head of another union, Russ Collison, the NSW head of the Australian Workers Union.
Sheldon issued strenuous denials that the TWU had interfered in AWU elections. He also denied the TWU had provided resources to Mr Collison's election opponent.
But smarty-Tony was caught out by Mr Collison, who used video surveillance conducted by private detectives to prove a link between Mr Sheldon's main political operative, Scott Connolly, and Mr Collison's election opponent, Colin Bosworth.
Several days of footage showed the pair in a car, and at a motel used for a campaign headquarters.
Channel 9's Sunday program produced a multi-part series on Shelton's side deals with the bosses, it reported: 'Officials from within Sheldon's own circle raised their concerns about a shadowy fund the union had operated for over a decade. The lack of transparency is making some union staff question if industrial peace has been put up for sale.' Senator Michael Ronaldson told the Senate that "Contributions to the TWU's Industrial Rights and Training Fund, set up by Tony Sheldon, were made at the cost of a discount to the workers pay rises".
The Daily Telegraph reported an internal TWU audit found money from the slush fund had apparently been "donated to ALP candidates improperly'. The beneficiaries of this included former 'Heffron MP and ageing minister Kristina Keneally and former minister Di Beamer'. Other beneficiaries included 'Wollongong MP Noreen MP and the Barton State Electorate Council'.
A Deloitte audit report found that Shelton's TWU slush fund had no governance arrangements or financial management processes. It stated:
Sheldon never established a fund board or council with company representation that was distinct from the TWU, despite wage agreements saying explicitly that this would happen.
He did not separate the training fund from the TWU's general ledger. He did not separately audit the activities of the fund. And the definition of how it could be spent was very broad. … It is also not clear whether all TWU members knew about the fund'
We'll fast forward to 2014 and the TURC which made damning findings in its final report about Shelton's relationship with the truth - and fraud.
Mr Sheldon’s conduct was done in order to benefit an organisation – the TWU – in increasing delegate numbers and therefore voting power at the NSW Labor Conference. It was also done in order to procure an advantage for an officer of the TWU, Mr Sheldon, since his power as leader of the TWU delegates would increase. That is conduct falling below the professional standards of a leading trade union official.
During his oral testimony, Mr Sheldon admitted that there were not 39,212 members that could vote in a union ballot that year,54 and that roughly half of the declared members were in fact unfinancial members.
Plainly, the 2008/2009 declaration submitted by Mr Sheldon was wrong. It grossly inflated the eligible number of TWU of NSW members to be used for the purposes of calculating the TWU of NSW’s delegates to the ALP Annual Conference.
Mr Sheldon’s explanation cannot be accepted. All along the TWU should only have been reporting the ‘number of members eligible to vote in a ballot for an office in that union...’.63
It was plain throughout the examination of Mr Sheldon on this topic over 15 pages of transcript77 that senior counsel assisting was extremely sceptical about Mr Sheldon’s evidence on this topic. Mr Sheldon can have been in no doubt that his claim that what happened was an innocent mistake shared by others was not being accepted and that senior counsel assisting was contending, as lame explanation succeeded lame explanation, that Mr Sheldon knew the errors were persistently being made.
These are non-credible answers and senior counsel assisting was indicating his incapacity to believe them.
The examination concluded with the following gratuitous comment from the witness, not in answer to any question:86
THE WITNESS: You’ve probably asked me the same question about 10 different ways. I can give you a few suggestions. You’ll get the same answer.
MR STOLJAR: You haven’t answered yet, Mr Sheldon.
The evidence permitted an inference that Mr Sheldon was giving knowingly false answers, and that he had known for years that false membership numbers were being put forward. From that flows a further inference: that there was some advantage to be gained from doing this. The relevant advantage was an increase in TWU voting power at the ALP Conference and an advantage to Mr Sheldon as leader of the TWU delegates.
After a fair bit of duck shoving, Sheldon was named in this FWC legal action:
Here's the way most of the media has reported it.
I wrote this at the time:
Sounds pretty innocuous doesn't it? Civil court action for failing to remove the names of un-financial members.
That's what you'll read in the papers - if you see anything reported at all.
This should be a very big story. The fact that it's not should worry the living daylights out of anyone who cares about Australia.
This matter is being stage-managed by the Labor and ACTU spin doctors.
Failing to keep the books up to date is not what this is about at all.
This is an open window into the corrupt system that delivers benefits for union officials and fits you and me up with parliamentarians like Shorten, Conroy and Gillard.
There's lots, lots more - but at the end of all that analysis, what are we left with?
Senator Tony Sheldon, sitting with Senator Kimberley Kitching and the crew.
There are very few of us who care and who are active on outing decisions like this one - a fact which I think makes our work all the more important.
You can read some of my own reports referring the TWU to the AFP and FWC here
In the absence of any outcry, NSW will send a crooked operator to the Senate so he can make laws to affect the rest of us.
It's unforgivable that Turnbull did nothing with the TURC final report.
The Dunce Michaelia Cash said:
The trade union royal commission made serious findings of membership rorts against the TWU. It found that these rorts were undertaken to falsely inflate the number of members in order to boost the power base of TWU bosses in the Labor Party. These are very serious matters
AS the final report was handed down Cash said
"Today, the denial stops and today, the distractions stop."
Since then - nothing. Gutless. No judgement. Not fit for office.
And nor is Tony Sheldon.