The tip of an iceberg, or a broadbrush smear?

Terry Sweetman in the Courier Mail has raised a real question about the objectivity of Commissioner Dyson Heydon’s report on trade unions.

    the part of the iceberg he can identify is populated by about 30 unionists and 16 executives from large commercial organisations who are adversely mentioned or recommended for possible prosecution.

Sweetman says the misconduct identified by Heydon stems from just six of the 132 unions in Australia (Heydon’s figures).

Sweetman concludes that:

    [Heydon’s] vivid language is a very broadbrush smear of honest unionists and their leaders and organisers.

He says that Heydon seems to have resorted to some kind of gut feeling in claiming that misconduct is “widespread and deep seated”. Or perhaps it’s all in the secret sixth volume.

Sweetman says of the recommendations:

    Many of his recommendations make sense, particularly a national approach to the regulation of employee and employer organisations, with a single regulator overseeing all such organisations throughout Australia.

    And none would argue with heavier penalties for those who misuse union funds or pocket benefits from employers.

    Others seem contradictory and at least one, that Parliament (not courts or tribunals) be able to declare officers of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union unfit to hold office, is downright dangerous.

Some fairly high profile people like Kathy Jackson and Victorian Labor politician and former AWU Victorian secretary Cesar Melhem have been named, so the media will stay interested. The inquiry was in part motivated by politics, and the politics is running with the conservatives right now. We’ll see what 2016 brings.

Bill Shorten has a problem in his close association with some of the misconduct. His successor at the AWU is in the frame and some of the corporates he did deals with also get a mention.

We last looked at the Royal Commission at Taking out the garbage. See also Quiggin’s What about the iceberg? Now he’s taken a look at what unions really need to change.

3 thoughts on “The tip of an iceberg, or a broadbrush smear?”

  1. The laws for dealing with corrupt union officials – and with dishonest employers, crooked COEs and criminal company directors – exist already but they are infrequently enforced and when they are enforced, the penalties are mere slaps on the wrist (i.e.: 8 months protected imprisonment for diddling hundreds of millions of investors’ funds). Members of the public (like me) want to know why there is one law for the rich or the influential and another law for ordinary people.

    I think this whole circus was a colossal Distractor. The LNP have shown the whole world that they are no more capable of running an economy for the benefit of all than were Labor and so they needed something to distract the public attention from their incompetence. Yes, industrial affairs does need a jolly good shake up but bunging on a union-bashing pantomime is no way to do that.

  2. Pretty much spot on Graham but for the ” bungling ” part.
    No mater how good the net is, the biggest prawns flick over the floats and the small ones go through.
    The clever ones, spooked by the noisy prawner, bury up and wait for the net to pass over.

    Do we know any more of the 7 tonne truck full of documents that disappeared ? ( not the truck, the potentially incriminating evidence )
    And that’s just one truck we heard of.

  3. Jumpy: Definitely do like your prawns. How apt. 🙂

    No, not “bungling” but ” …. bunging on ….” However, bungling sounds fine in a slightly different context.

    People seem to be fed up with professional scoundrels, who have never been on-the-tools, pretending to be union officials so long as the loot keeps rolling in. Likewise, people are fed up with The Unions being painted as the devil incarnate and so blamed for everything from the Great Fire Of London, Hurricane Katrina, curtains fading (so you can now stop blaming daylight saving for that), the fall in exports, the extinction of the diprotodont and heaven only knows what else.

    Union Bashing might have been entertainment for the bewildered and the feeble-minded back in the last century but it has no place in 2016, when we need business operators, staff, investors, suppliers and customers all to work together or else they all will perish together. Union bashing is a silly luxury we just cannot afford nowadays.

Comments are closed.