A royal commission into union corruption in Australia

February 12th, 2014 at 6:38 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

THE GOVERNMENT today announced a well-funded royal commission which will spend at least 12 months probing trade union secrets and corruption in the building industry going back a quarter of a century.

The inquiry into building industry and union criminal practices will be a sword cutting both ways, the Government said today in a warning to both trade and employers.

The powerful royal commission by former High Court judge John Dyson Heydon will highlight dodgy deals which Attorney-General George Brandis today said were “widespread, systemic and ingrained across a range of institutions”.

Findings would be passed on to police for possible prosecutions.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz said: “This is a sword that will cut both ways and we are determined to ensure that the rule of law exists in our construction sector.”

This is well overdue. Almost every week there has been a story detailing more corrupt activity in certain Australian unions, with prosecutions occurring in some high profile cases. The problem seems systemic, not just about a few isolated individuals.

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41 Responses to “A royal commission into union corruption in Australia”

  1. bringbackdemocracy (413 comments) says:

    Perhaps there should be one in New Zealand looking at links between political parties and international criminals trying to avoid extradition.

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  2. thedavincimode (6,589 comments) says:

    bbd

    Don’t stop there. Add brown paper bags full of cash, the racing industry, the fishing industry, the immigration industry, Hawke’s Bay Health …

    Too late to look at stealing taxpayer money for political campaigning – that was legalised.

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  3. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    After reading this, one cannot avoid thinking of UNITE’s Matt McCarten and his tax-evading gangsters.

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  4. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    bbd: Don’t forget Lecher Len of Auckland infamy. There is plenty to come out on this mongrel yet. He is as bent as a rainbow pimp.

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  5. EAD (806 comments) says:

    How about looking into the biggest corruption of the lot – our fractional reserve banking system run by predominantly Australian Banks?

    now up to 1.5million views on youtube for a simple video on how our monetary system works!!

    If you care about yourself, if you care about your country’s future, educate and inform yourself by simply watching this informative video. Learn why our debt keeps going up, houses keep getting more expensive and why interest rates are being nailed to the floor around the world. It also explains how governments fund socialisim via inflation.

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  6. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    Take an economics class EAD

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  7. thedavincimode (6,589 comments) says:

    EAD

    Couldn’t be bothered myself, but is the presenter related to Vern Cracknell by any chance?

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  8. Elaycee (4,331 comments) says:

    EAD: Are you related to wikiwhizz?

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  9. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,827 comments) says:

    Can’t wait to see Gillard grilled.

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  10. Simon (709 comments) says:

    Well done EAD.

    The parasite class have long since over exploited the productive and had to restore to money printing and credit creation.

    Forget the unions the biggest turds in NZ are the RBNZ.

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  11. tvb (4,240 comments) says:

    There is nothing wrong with Australian banks. They funded our banking system through the GFC when it was probable the NZGovernment would have had to do it at huge cost to the taxpayer. We benefit hugely having our banking system underwritten by the Australians. Anyhow this Royal Commission is striking a stake right at the heart of the ALP and Bill Shorten in particular. ALP politicians keep bleating on about tp send corruption allegations to the police WITHOUT a widening inquiry but that line is looking very feeble. They say the cost of the commission is huge. But I think Tony Abbott is going to win on this one. The Corruption Commission is NSW is giving the ALP considerable harm.

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  12. big bruv (13,548 comments) says:

    Great move by the Aussie’s. We should do the same here.

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  13. EAD (806 comments) says:

    Apologies if you perceived it that way (maybe the mind was a bit over enthusiastic this time of day). The presenter is Mike Maloney who did a number of presentations alongside Robert Kiyosaki(from Rich Dad, Poor Dad) on similar topics.

    FWIW – all it explains is how banks cause price levels to increase via currency creation/debasement which robs the citizens as the purchasing power in their currency is diluted and transferred to those who issue new currency (the banks and government). You may disagree with me but I consider this deeply immoral and repugnant as a sound monetary system would enable us to become much more prosperous especially the middle/lowers classes whose pay packets can’t keep up with inflation nor get a savings account that pays enough interest to cover what the true inflation rate is.

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  14. burt (7,987 comments) says:

    So while the Australian economy is heading south the government take stock and decide to shake out the rorters and parasites. Meanwhile in NZ our economy is heading up and we’ll probably elect a government that further entrenches union control and makes more parasites wealthy at the expense of consumers.

    Please NZ – don’t go back to the 70′s – the union friendly policies were not sustainable then and they certainly won’t be this time around.

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  15. Psycho Milt (2,362 comments) says:

    The problem seems systemic, not just about a few isolated individuals.

    This is true of Australian society in general, rather than just unions – which means Abbott has an agenda other than dealing with corruption.

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  16. Huevon (208 comments) says:

    A similar inquiry in New Zealand might reach some interesting conclusions…

    There have been two incidents in my working life where I have seen clear links between organised crime and unions:

    1. As a uni student I worked in my holidays in a packing warehouse. The local union delegate was a drug dealer.

    2. In another job (professional) the business of the father of one of my colleagues was involved in a union dispute. The family was subjected to threats and intimidation. I’ll never forget the look on my colleague’s as he told me about the night he’d spent with two patched gang members standing outside his house.

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  17. Yoza (1,661 comments) says:

    I would have thought most of the plutocratic West would welcome corrupt unions. Corrupt unions cause more damage to the conditions and rights of their members than the profits and authority of businesses.

    Huevon (37 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 9:05 am

    There have been two incidents in my working life where I have seen clear links between organised crime and unions:

    There are legitimate businesses then there is a fuzzy area and then there is organised crime. In my experience ‘organised crime’ is an extreme form of laissez-faire capitalism – if unions have been infiltrated by organised criminals it will be to financially benefit those crooks and whatever business is prepared to deal with them.

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  18. Odakyu-sen (501 comments) says:

    “… In my experience ‘organised crime’ is an extreme form of laissez-faire capitalism – if unions have been infiltrated by organised criminals.. .”

    Le gasp! Unions infiltrated by laissez-faire capitalism. Quelle horreur!

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  19. kowtow (7,895 comments) says:

    Remind me who let Crim Blob Con in ?

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  20. Yoza (1,661 comments) says:

    Odakyu-sen (205 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Le gasp! Unions infiltrated by laissez-faire capitalism. Quelle horreur!

    Exactly! So why would an openly corporate friendly government be worried about corrupt unions?
    The more obvious motive is the Aussie government is creating an anti-worker PR campaign to discredit organisations that represent workers generally. I’m guessing they must be very wary of the impending wave of job losses due to the closing down of the auto-industry, the down turn in the mining sector and the struggle to maintain a viable agricultural sector in the face of global warming.

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  21. Yoza (1,661 comments) says:

    kowtow (6,313 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Remind me who let Crim Blob Con in ?

    He was granted permanent residence in New Zealand on 29 November 2010.

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  22. RRM (9,630 comments) says:

    “Royal commission into union corruption…”

    Of course they are corrupt, it is a gang.

    Next week, a Royal Commission into wet water…

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  23. Tom Jackson (2,479 comments) says:

    EAD. That is how modern banking works. No conspiracy.

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  24. Kimble (4,405 comments) says:

    The Gillard government knee-capped the anti-corruption watchdog in the building industry (the ABCC) at the behest of the building industry union.

    If anything does, that will bring down the Union, Gillard, and Shorten.

    Labor would be lucky to survive.

    Unions = corruption. No amount of whining about kids down chimneys is going to change that observable fact.

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  25. Yoza (1,661 comments) says:

    Kimble (3,982 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Unions = corruption

    Thanks, I appreciate your effort to reinforce the point I was making. This isn’t a campaign to uncover corrupt unions, it is a PR smear campaign to denigrate those who have been elected to represent working class interests.

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  26. big bruv (13,548 comments) says:

    “I’m guessing they must be very wary of the impending wave of job losses due to the closing down of the auto-industry”

    Yoza is referring to the impending closure of the Toyota plant. The same Toyota plant that went to the workers last year and asked for a bit of flexibility in the working arrangement so they could work toward keeping the plant open.

    Of the over two thousand workers only four disagreed with what Toyota wanted to do, these four union members then threatened to take the issue to court, as a result Toyota had to back down.
    It is no wonder that Toyota have decided to close the plant given the power of the corrupt unions.

    I have no sympathy for them.

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  27. Kimble (4,405 comments) says:

    This isn’t a campaign to uncover corrupt unions, it is a PR smear campaign to denigrate those who have been elected to represent working class interests.

    Yeah, uncovering all the corruption in the Unions will just be a happy coincidence.

    Corruption in the Unions doesn’t matter because they are Unions and only people who don’t like Unions would care about the corruption? There shouldn’t be any investigation of Union corruption because it might make Unions look bad?

    You sound guilty as fuck. Enjoy prison.

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  28. anticorruptionnz (198 comments) says:

    corruption = monopoly + discretion – accountability

    you don’t have to look far to see this equation at work in NZ the only things people are accountable for are speeding fines and parking digression. the rest get away with a warning.

    no one is held accountable to anything other than parking and speeding and perhaps having a pool which is not up to the dictated standard.

    we have companies without directors we have systems for money laundering we have government departments which are not just deaf but blind and stupid or ignorant.

    corruption is rife in NZ the building industry and the infrastructure industries aided by the banks and accounting firms ( and lawyers) runt he joint those in government and local government make a big deal of spending money on services but readily had over millions to projects such as a rail link which will benefit their buddies who give them free hotel rooms.

    We engage Ernst and Young to do a report on ppps when Ernst and young internationally is promoting ppps

    how obvious does this need to be in NZ yet no one thinks that we need a commission agaisnt corruption.

    If you do then please down load my petition. http://www.anticorruption.co.nz/petition-for-an-independent-commission-against-corruption/

    If any one knows of an MP who would like to present it I would love to hear.

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  29. RichardX (326 comments) says:

    Yoza (1,172 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 10:25 am
    The more obvious motive is the Aussie government is creating an anti-worker PR campaign to discredit organisations that represent workers generally. I’m guessing they must be very wary of the impending wave of job losses due to the closing down of the auto-industry, the down turn in the mining sector and the struggle to maintain a viable agricultural sector in the face of global warming.

    So it has nothing to do with Craig Thomson, AWU slush fund, building industry kickbacks, etc, etc

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  30. Psycho Milt (2,362 comments) says:

    Yeah, uncovering all the corruption in the Unions will just be a happy coincidence.

    More of a pretext than a coincidence. Still, I guess it will provide a precedent for Labor to ruin the Nat/Libs support base the next time they’re in government.

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  31. burt (7,987 comments) says:

    Still, I guess it will provide a precedent for Labor to ruin the Nat/Libs support base the next time they’re in government.

    Sadly it will. The people who think the government should spend more protecting the poor will vote to reestablish union rule making sure their people (the unions) get to siphon money into their own back pockets which will push prices up and hurt the low earners. It will be exactly like Turkey’s voting for an early Christmas but they will not be able to see it because they are slaves to a failed ideology.

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  32. Yoza (1,661 comments) says:

    big bruv (12,058 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 11:03 am

    “I’m guessing they must be very wary of the impending wave of job losses due to the closing down of the auto-industry”

    Yoza is referring to the impending closure of the Toyota plant.

    … , GM, Ford and all the smaller industries supporting them.

    The same Toyota plant that went to the workers last year and asked for a bit of flexibility in the working arrangement so they could work toward keeping the plant open.

    Of the over two thousand workers only four disagreed with what Toyota wanted to do, these four union members then threatened to take the issue to court, as a result Toyota had to back down.

    If four union members went against the wishes of 2000 union members then, yes, that is appalling. Although, I haven’t been following the travails of Toyota Australia and only heard of the 2017 closures on the radio yesterday.

    Kimble (3,983 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 11:14 am

    [Yoza]“This isn’t a campaign to uncover corrupt unions, it is a PR smear campaign to denigrate those who have been elected to represent working class interests.”

    Yeah, uncovering all the corruption in the Unions will just be a happy coincidence.

    I support the uncovering and prosecution of corrupt union officials, they are the enemies of those they purport to represent.

    Corruption in the Unions doesn’t matter because they are Unions and only people who don’t like Unions would care about the corruption? There shouldn’t be any investigation of Union corruption because it might make Unions look bad?

    I do not think the state should fund anti-worker PR campaigns under the pretense of rooting out corrupt union officials. As Psycho Milt points out this could quite easily blow up in the faces of the Nat/Libs by alienating their white skinned blue-collar working class constituents.

    You sound guilty as fuck. Enjoy prison.

    You know what they sat: If you can’t be good be careful. And I am always careful.

    RichardX (212 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 11:24 am

    So it has nothing to do with Craig Thomson, AWU slush fund, building industry kickbacks, etc, etc

    Large organisations that condense authority into the hands of a marginally accountable hierarchy are always open to those at the top abusing that authority. I think in the interests of their future survival the union movement will need to structure itself on anarchist principles where each section is autonomous and any national or regional executive are immediately responsive to the aspirations of the membership.
    As long as there are workers there will be a union movement, you cannot escape such a reality. The more readily workers identify with their representatives the more dangerous a union is to the exploiting classes – flushing out corrupt union officials helps legitimise future union activity by eliminating corrupt practices as viable revenue streams.

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  33. Kimble (4,405 comments) says:

    Still, I guess it will provide a precedent for Labor to ruin the Nat/Libs support base the next time they’re in government.

    Oh no! What will they do? Seriously. What the fuck do you think they will do? Who are they going to go after?

    What organisations have their hooks into the Liberals as much as the Unions do Labor? Are there any? Are they as corrupt as the Unions? No, and not applicable. It is just a nice little lie the Left tells themselves to excuse their celebrated corruption; “oh, but the other guys are corrupt too, so its alright, right?”

    It’s how they excused Labors attacks on the free press, “oh, but the Right are the true enemies of free speech”. It’s how they excused their idiotic border policies, “sure boat people died, but the Liberal policy will cause more boat people deaths at sea”. The only way you guys can cope with how awful your side is is to imagine that everyone is as bad.

    What you are really talking about, Milt, is Labor going after businesses and private conservative organisations. Which is exactly what they do anyway. The ABCC, knee-capped at the behest of the CFMEU, is the prime example.

    No. Regarding any future Labor government, Liberal supporters have no more to worry about today than they did yesterday.

    I do not think the state should fund anti-worker PR campaigns…

    And there you have it. Nothing to see here folks! Ignore the corruption! I mean.. um, what corruption?

    Labor wont do anything about Union corruption because they ARE Union corruption.
    And according to Yoza, the Liberals shouldn’t do anything about Union corruption, because IT WILL MAKE THEM LOOK GOOD!

    In his fantasy world, the solution is for the Unions to clean up their own act.

    Yeah right, and drug dealers would no doubt police themselves too.

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  34. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    this could quite easily blow up in the faces of the Nat/Libs by alienating their white skinned blue-collar working class constituents

    I know you live in a fantasy world, Yoza, but that is a bit of a stretch, even for you.  Those white-skinned blue-collar workers you talk about are the Australian Labor Party’s support base, not the Coalition’s.

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  35. Psycho Milt (2,362 comments) says:

    Kimble: feel free to delude yourself that corruption in Australia is limited to the unions if you like, it’s no skin off my nose.

    Ignore the corruption!

    He is. In a country in which corruption wasn’t the norm, these guys couldn’t operate. Limiting an investigation to the unions will leave corruption the norm, and these union officials’ successors (to the extent that Abbott fails to destroy unions entirely) will be equally corrupt. That, combined with the fact that it’s hugely politically expedient for Abbott to aim corruption investigations only at unions, suggests that this isn’t actually about corruption at all.

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  36. DJP6-25 (1,300 comments) says:

    It’d be nice to see a similar undertaking here.

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  37. Kimble (4,405 comments) says:

    feel free to delude yourself that corruption in Australia is limited to the unions

    You KNOW the unions are corrupt, but you just suppose that everyone else is too. You are assuming that the supporters of the Liberals are as corrupt as Labor, or that the organisations that support them are home to the sorts of criminals that Unions invariably attract.

    Like I said, go ahead and name those organisations that Labor will target. The ones that have left themselves open to an investigation because they are as corrupt as the Unions. The ones that provide the same degree of partisan support to the Liberals as the Unions do to Labor.

    In a country in which corruption wasn’t the norm, these guys couldn’t operate.

    Corruption ISN’T the norm. They are operating contrary to everyone’s expectations.

    Oh, but if Abbott isn’t going to wave his magic wand and eradicate all corruption then this cant actually about corruption at all, it seems. And everyone should just carry on pretending as if the Unions are behaving like good, worthwhile members of society.

    If Labor announced the exact same Commission, would you be saying the same thing you are saying now? I doubt it. The only thing that matters, apparently, is that a conservative government might possibly look better than their union-backed opposition.

    And lets just ignore the reality that the Unions will NEVER police themselves. They will NEVER clean themselves up. Who else will ever do it? Labor? Never.

    So if the Liberals can’t, as you are demanding, then you are in effect demanding the Unions stay corrupt.

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  38. Psycho Milt (2,362 comments) says:

    Corruption ISN’T the norm.

    Not so.

    Unless we’re talking here about a few individual instances of corruption that have been well publicised (in which case no commission would be needed), there are many successful instances of corruption involving unions going on all the time.

    Now consider the environment required for that. The reason you don’t offer the cop that pulls you over $20 to skip writing you a speeding ticket is that it’s likely to turn out very bad for you. Same reason why government officials don’t tell you that signing off on whatever-it-is will be very difficult, while raising their eyebrows at you expectantly: corruption is frowned upon. So, the very fact that Australian union officials are asking for kickbacks means there’s a reasonable assumption that they’ll be able to get away with it, because that’s the way things are done. You can’t have corruption in isolation, and as the Aus Minister of Employment said, this is a sword that will cut both ways (or at least, it would be if there was more to this than union-busting).

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  39. Yoza (1,661 comments) says:

    F E Smith (3,222 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    [Yoza]“…this could quite easily blow up in the faces of the Nat/Libs by alienating their white skinned blue-collar working class constituents>”

    I know you live in a fantasy world, Yoza, but that is a bit of a stretch, even for you. Those white-skinned blue-collar workers you talk about are the Australian Labor Party’s support base, not the Coalition’s.

    You are seriously out of touch if you think the Liberals in Australia or National in New Zealand could get into power without that white male blue-collar voter’s endorsement. Both of these parties, Libs/Nats, represent a demographic minority. Without Chris Trotter’s ‘Waitakere Man’ and his Aussie comtemporary neither the Nats in New Zealand nor the Libs in Australia would have a hope of being elected.

    Kimble (3,986 comments) says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Labor wont do anything about Union corruption because they ARE Union corruption.
    And according to Yoza, the Liberals shouldn’t do anything about Union corruption, because IT WILL MAKE THEM LOOK GOOD!

    In his fantasy world, the solution is for the Unions to clean up their own act.

    Yeah right, and drug dealers would no doubt police themselves too.

    I do not have a problem with corrupt union officials being rooted out. I also agree with the point Psycho Milt is making in that where there are corrupt union officials taking kick backs there are, by necessity, corrupt businessmen paying those kick backs. I also have no doubt those same corrupt businessmen are offering all sorts of inducements to politicians and bureaucrats to ensure their projects are completed in reasonable time and profitably.

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  40. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Labour are D E A D in Aus it will be a decade if that or if ever before you see another Labour GVT in AUS

    Abbot would have to make some serious complete balls ups for them ever to get in

    The K Rudd and Julia Show

    J E S U S

    You’d want to do a Royal Commission into the Royal Commission as well

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  41. Ben Dover (526 comments) says:

    Australian Unions do not Support Kiwi workers on SCV

    will give advice happy for you to be a member but as fars as legal support

    against corrupt employers forget it

    YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN here as a WORKER just so you know

    and some Aussie employers think it is one Rule for them and another

    for KIWIS

    You can only get by here
    by being highly skilled at whatever it is you do

    Because people who succeed employ “skilled people”

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