Shorten loses some bark at the Royal Commission

The consensus seems to be that Bill Shorten has “lost some bark” during his appearance at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, but the damage is not serious.

    Sources within the Labor Party have told the ABC that Mr Shorten has “lost some bark” through the process, and that it is “unhelpful” for the alternative prime minister to be hauled before the inquiry and the cameras.

    But they do not think the damage to his credibility is serious and maintain there was “no smoking gun” or “hanging offence” in the commission hearing.

Certainly it has not been a good look for Shorten. Excuses like, it was someone else’s fault, or the other mob do it too, lead to a deficit in public esteem for politicians generally. No doubt Shorten’s personal ratings will suffer, but his leadership will only come into question if Labor sinks in the two party preferred opinion poll ratings. People probably care less than journalists and political aficionados think.

There’s a lot in body language, and Ben Eltham says Shorten looked comfortable at the Commission. Shorten, he says, was good at delivering better pay and conditions for the workers, and a co-operative workforce for the bosses. Projets got completed under budget and ahead of time.

Shorten ran foul of the Commissioner by giving answers that were too expansive. The problem was, I think, that unions and bosses are meant to be at loggerheads. That is their natural state. When they are close and bosses show their gratitude in kind it suddenly becomes a conflict of interest rather than a convergence of interest. Shorten was continually questioning the premise underlying the question, rather than accepting its terms and just answering yes or no.

Eltham says the Commission is “a blatantly partisan witch-hunt” and people understand that. Shorten said of the Commissioner “he has a job to do, I get that, it’s Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission.”

Eltham says:

    The Commissioner himself has therefore now become embroiled in the swirling controversy, as perhaps was inevitable.

Eltham says Shorten may have come out of the affair with his standing enhanced. Certainly it has pepped him up.

    Speaking to a rowdy crowd of Labor faithful at Sydney’s Covent Garden hotel last Sunday night, a visibly animated Shorten gave a rousing speech defending Labor’s core values.

    Same-sex marriage, Indigenous recognition, affordable health and education, and “an Australia where people can organise to have a strong minimum wage and they will not be subject to a royal commission” were the key points.

An animated Shorten started to look like an alternative prime minister.

Meanwhile the real PM, if that’s not a contradiction in terms, has been looking exceptionally animated in recent times, leading to speculation about an early election. Antony Green looks at the options. With the TPP polls better than 52-48 in favor of labor, Abbott would be brave to try, but also mad enough to fancy he’s got Labor and Shorten where he wants them.

Surely Peta Credlin will say no.

13 thoughts on “Shorten loses some bark at the Royal Commission”

  1. The conduct of the Commissioner was a disgrace. He should be sacked.
    Tough, the Prosecution didn’t get the answers Tony Abbott wanted.

  2. He won’t though of course, Paul, because The Commissioner was doing what Abbott wants.

    I forgot to mention that Bob Hogg called for Shorten’s resignation. I’m not sure Hogg has any credibility within the Labor.

  3. I haven’t been following this commission closely but my (perhaps incorrect) recollection is that it has found some serious dirt on some unions. Makes it risky for Labor to dismiss the whole thing as a political stunt.
    On the other hand, the commission chairman was right out of order when he tried to control Shorten’s answers and declared him an “unreliable witness.”
    No matter what the chairman thought the sessions with Shorten were political and covered political things like donation reporting that had nothing to do with unions. Under these circumstances Shorten was well within his rights to challenge the questions being asked and answer questions in a way that answered the implied political questions as well as the nominal question.
    If the commissioner does think that reporting of donations was part of his scope he should be dragging people from all sides of politics before the commission.

  4. Shorten is as crooked as a question mark.
    Both he, and the bosses that colluded in these scams, should be jailed.

    Union corruption is rife in Australia a he was a part of it, no doubt about it.

    Still happening every day;

    More than seven in 10 bosses within the construction sector in the Australian
    Capital Territory are being subject to bullying and intimidation
    from union officials

    Brian, this shit may not affect you, Paul or Ben Eltham but it sure does affect me .

    Trying to make it about Abbott is missing the real point by a country mile.

  5. Making it about Abbott is not missing the point, Jumpy.
    NO Government, whether LNP, Labor or if they ever get on the front benches, the Greens, should ever ever have a Royal Commission for political purposes, which is what Abbott is trying on with this union-busting exercise, because, whether he likes it or not, unions are, and should be part of the ALP.

  6. Paul Burns
    Have a look at the list and tell me if the ALP ones were purely non-political in design.

    That said, who do you thing may address the issue of organised crime within the unions, ALP, greens, who ?

  7. I recon Tanya is praying for 48-52 tpp LNP in the next 2 or 3 polls.
    Will fairfax deliver for her ?

  8. A Royal Commission into the unions was long overdue. The fact that it is in the short term embarrassing to the ALP and good for the Government is unfortunate but the whingers who are calling this a “political” Royal Commission that should not have happened should pull their heads in and think about it..

    Also don’t forget Tony Abbott and other catholic conservatives had to put up with their beloved Church being dragged through an ALP orchestrated RC on child abuse. Does anyone seriously think that made the RC invalid?

    I have always voted ALP and I am generally supportive of unions but the nature of industrial relations is such that dodgy things are bound to happen, especially when regulation is weak. In the long run, the tighter regulation of unions that will inevitably result from this RC, with a greater requirement for transparency etc.., will BENEFIT the Left. Conservatives have always been able to frighten people off the ALP by pointing to examples of bad union behaviour so better behaved unions will make the job of the conservatives much harder.

  9. Jumpy: I looked at the list of royal commissions. Most of the things on the list looked reasonable to me.

    Tell me which of the ones that started under Labor were targeted at the LNP?

  10. John
    You believe investigations into corrupt private business practices is all good but into corrupt union practices should be ignored ?

  11. Jumpy: If you look at your list there were a number of commissions investigating union issues. They were in my list of reasonable.
    You still haven’t said what royal commissions on the list look like attacks on the LNP.
    I do think that the pink batts commission and the behaviour of this commission with respect to Bill shorten have a gotcha smell about them.
    I have spent a lot of time on the front line of dealing with unions in the manganese, iron ore and coal industries from about 1975 to 1992 and would have to say that I would have preferred to deal with a moderate union rep like Bill Shorten than some of reps I had to manage.

  12. For me the question is whether we already knew enough to formulate tighter regulations and transparency requirements. I suspect we did.

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