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.