The federal government’s ham-fisted assault on working Australians has suffered another blow this week with the secret, confidential and apparently extremely scary findings of the recent $80 million Trade Union Royal Commission revealed to be “grossly misleading”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Government have been trumpeting the findings of the Royal Commission as proof that the union movement is irredeemably corrupt, with the report even going so far as to assert that Australian trade unions represent a “grave threat to the power and authority of the Australian state”.
Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie blasted the findings of the Trade Union Royal Commission in the media this week after reading the confidential “secret files”, describing them as an $80 million waste of taxpayer money.
“I didn’t find anything like a grave threat to our nation’s power or authority,” explained Lambie. “The only grave threat I found was to the credibility of the Liberal Government.”
Investigation by Liberal Party puppet delivers pro-Liberal verdict
The Trade Union Royal Commission was headed up by Dyson Heydon, a conservative former High Court judge with a long and colourful history of pro-big business rulings and backroom dealings with the Liberal Party – Heydon, for example, was on the panel that awarded Tony Abbott his Rhodes scholarship. Years later, Abbott would repay the favour by appointing Heydon as the Trade Union Royal Commissioner, a job with a cool $1 million per year salary.
Matters only worsened when it was revealed that Dyson had accepted an invitation to give a speech at a Liberal Party fundraiser in August 2015. The Royal Commissioner of the investigation into Australia’s trade unions, headlining a fundraiser for the Liberal Party? Concerns were raised about whether or not this proved Heydon was unfit to lead the Royal Commission. After all, this was a serious accusation!
Fortunately for all, Heydon knew exactly who the best person to ask was – himself. Heydon graciously cleared himself of any and all wrongdoing after some brief self-reflection and decided that there was no reason he should step down from his $1 million-a-year job.
It’s easy to see why nobody has any faith in the Trade Union Royal Commission.
Ideology out of step with reality
It must be just a coincidence that this apparent threat to national security by unions comes at a time when ministers in the Liberal Party are dropping like flies – whether it’s sexual harassment, severe misconduct, or even absolute proof of dodgy business deals for mates. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the Liberal Party’s poll numbers are on the way down.
The Trade Union Royal Commission has absolutely exposed corruption – not the corruption of the unions that they set out to find, but the endemic, perfectly legal, untouchable corruption of the system that allows a Prime Minister to appoint his old mate to a well-paid, cushy position as head of a pre-determined investigation designed to further a staggeringly ideological agenda. If Heydon and Turnbull really wanted to prevent corruption in the union movement, maybe they could look at research from Australia’s own Macquarie University which shows clearly that increasing the democratic processes of unions is the only effective way to fight corruption.
Over-regulation of union movements only strengthens corruption and drives it further underground. But then, this was never about fighting corruption – it’s about trying to regulate unions into non-existence and render them, and the people they represent, powerless. This is an ideological war being waged with your money.
An assault on your rights
Here at the AMIEU Newcastle & Northern we are quite certain that we don’t represent a “grave and serious threat to the power and authority of the Australian state”. But what we do represent is clear: hard-working people from all across the meat sector, struggling against a government determined to do everything possible to support big business and hurt the working class.
Whether it’s a refusal to address legislation that allows hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to be brutally exploited, or ruthless pursuit of international agreements that will drive jobs offshore and grant corporations extraordinary powers, the Liberals want to see Australia’s poorest hurting and they’re pulling out every weapon in their armoury to do it.
We reject the findings of the Trade Union Royal Commission in their entirety as the partisan, biased, and yes – corrupt – ideology that they are. Perhaps Senator Lambie’s calls for a federal anti-corruption watchdog are something that Malcolm Turnbull could look into next?