The last time a Labor Government in Australia delivered a surplus was in 1989, and this video reminds us of how different the world was back then/. Very effective.
Adelaide Now reports:
PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he is willing to call an early election and campaign on a policy of cleaning up the union movement, after a royal commission found it infested by louts, thugs, thieves, bullies and perjurers.
In his final report, Trade Union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon on Thursday recommended criminal charges be considered against 48 people and organisations and civil action taken in 45 other cases, but said this was just the tip of “an enormous iceberg”.
Mr Turnbull said a federal-state police taskforce would continue to investigate referrals from the commission. The Government will also move to establish a new registered-organisations commission to regulate unions and employer groups. The commission would have similar powers to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
The Government also wants the Senate to approve by the end of the month a bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
Mr Turnbull suggested he could call an early double-dissolution election if the March deadline was not met.
“We are willing to fight an election on this,’’ he said.
“If this is not passed, if we cannot get the passage of this legislation through the Senate, then in one form or another it will be a major issue at the next election.’’
What will Labor do? The unions literally control the Australian Labor Party. Up until very recently it was actually illegal to join the Australian Labor Party unless you were a union member. They control branches, selections and factions. Will they insist Labor defend the indefensible?
In his report, Mr Heydon referred to widespread misconduct that had taken place in every jurisdiction in Australia, except for the Northern Territory.
He said the commission had only uncovered “the small tip of an enormous iceberg’’.
“It is clear that in many parts of the world constituted by Australian trade union officials, there is room for louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers, those who threaten violence, errant fiduciaries and organisers of boycotts,’’ he said.
“These aberrations cannot be regarded as isolated. They are not the work of a few rogue unions, or a few rogue officials. The misconduct exhibits great variety. It is widespread. It is deep-seated.”
It is very deep-seated.
The Herald reports:
Victorian MP Cesar Melhem has been referred for possible corruption charges by unions royal commissioner Dyson Heydon who believes his hearings have only uncovered a small tip of widespread union misconduct.
In his final report released on Wednesday, Mr Heydon says thugs and bullies are involved in unions around Australia and misconduct has taken place in every jurisdiction, except the Northern Territory.
He says the misbehaviour can be found in any unionised industry, in any industrial union at any period of time.
“These aberrations cannot be regarded as isolated,” he said.
“They are not the work of a few rogue unions, or a few rogue officials.
“The misconduct exhibits great variety. It is widespread. It is deep-seated.”
He believes what has been uncovered is just the “small tip of an enormous iceberg”.
“It is clear that in many parts of the world constituted by Australian trade union officials, there is room for louts, thugs, bullies, thieves, perjurers, those who threaten violence, errant fiduciaries and organisers of boycotts,” he said.
This is no surprise to those who followed the hearings. The union movement in Australia is deeply corrupt, helped by the fact they effectively control the Australian Labor Party.
Roy Morgan have polled Australians on their preferred party leaders. It’s very bad news for Bill Shorten.
ALP supporters say their preferred leader is:
- Tanya Plibersek 34% (up 2%)
- Anthony Albanese 21% (up 5%)
- Wayne Swan 12% (up 3%)
- Bill Shorten 10% (down 7%).
How long can you last when you’re only the fourth choice of your party’s supporters?
Would be interesting for someone to do a poll in NZ asking the same?
If Turnbull resigned, his preferred successor is:
- Julie Bishop 46%
- Scott Morrison 15%
The poll also shows the Coalition 11% ahead of Labor.
ALP Leader Bill Shorten testimony to the union corruption royal commission has possibly doomed him. The corruption that has been revealed is stunning.
LABOR leader Bill Shorten has been admonished and his credibility as a witness questioned as he repeatedly avoided answering questions at the royal commission into trade union corruption in Sydney today.
Commissioner Dyson Heydon said he was concerned about Mr Shorten’s credibility as a witness and warned him to give “proper” answers as he faced questions over his deals as union boss.
I suspect Shorten has to do this, because to tell the truth would be damning.
Mr Shorten was being quizzed over $300,000 in “bogus” payments from building companies that secured union co-operation on the giant Melbourne EastLink project.
Shorten’s union took secret backhanders from companies they did deals with. They sold out their own members, in order to increase the union’s wealth. And they tried to keep it secret by sending fake invoices to the companies for services never needed or delivered. There should be people in jail for this.
The hearing began with Mr Shorten being quizzed over a $100,000 a year deal — over three years from 2005 to 2008 — paid by building giants Thiess John Holland when Mr Shorten was Victorian and national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union.
The union issued a string of invoices to the engineering contractors for ads in their union magazine, training and dinner dances to make up the payments.
Senior Counsel Assisting the Commission Jeremy Stoljar said the invoices were being issued with “no regard” whether the events and services had “actually been provided.”
One invoice for $30,000 was for research done on “Back Strain in Civil Construction Industry” but no research has ever been provided.
If the payments were legitimate, then they would have not been hidden through fake invoices.
Mr Shorten revealed in the hearing on Wednesday he had failed to declare a donation from a labour-hire company ahead of the 2007 federal election.
The $40,000 donation from Unibuilt was not declared until Monday this week.
Unibuilt later donated money through the Australian Workers’ Union that was used to fund Mr Shorten’s campaign director Lance Wilson between February and November 2007.
Mr Wilson, known to Mr Shorten as a member of Young Labor, was however listed on the books of Unibuilt as a “research officer”.
The companies were not only paying secret money to the union, but also giving secret donations in terms of staff to Shorten’s personal campaign for Parliament. And Shorten never disclosed this until two days ago.
I think the man is toast. They may not like Abbott, but they simply can’t trust Shorten. The latest Newspoll has him with only 28% satisfaction and 56% dissatisfaction – very very low ratings for an opposition leader. That is a net -28%. A year ago he was only -3%.
I’m told this is not a parody, but a serious ad by an Australian Trade Union that doesn’t think it should give up control of the Labor Party.
The SMH editorial:
The position of Bill Shorten as federal Labor leader is becoming untenable. The latest revelations of his union past published by Fairfax Media on Wednesday afternoon raise further doubts and questions about his suitability as alternative prime minister.
Mr Shorten should respond to the questions immediately, in full, rather than wait until he fronts the royal commission into trade union corruption in late August.
The Opposition Leader should also reflect on the damage his continued leadership is doing to Labor, and as such to the interests of the people he claims to represent.
As long as the Australian Workers Union stain lingers and/or grows, Labor cannot hope to win an election next September, let alone a snap poll that Prime Minister Tony Abbott may well call to capitalise on the Shorten malaise.
Last week Fairfax Media identified tens of thousands of dollars of largely unexplained employer payments to the AWU’s Victorian branch from January 2004 to late 2007. Mr Shorten was state secretary from 1998 and federal secretary from 2001 to 2007.
The evidence is that the AWU made deals that were good for the AWU bank balance, rather than good for the workers it claimed to represent.
The fine print in documents lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission and AWU bank records show the giant builder Thiess John Holland paid Mr Shorten’s union nearly $300,000 after he struck a landmark workplace deal that saved the company as much as $100 million on the Melbourne Eastlink tollway project.
The deal was hugely favourable to the employer, just like other deals struck by the AWU during Mr Shorten’s reign. Some deals involved payments to the AWU, or the payment of member’s dues. The AWU struck agreements with companies when it suited the union’s political purpose, which was to bolster membership. This allowed the AWU to assert its dominance over rival unions and bolster the power of its leaders in the Labor party’s corrupted, undemocratic structure.
Neither unions nor companies should get a vote in political parties. Political parties should be for individuals. Having unions decide who your leader is, incentivises such behaviour.
Despite his claims to have zero tolerance of corruption in Labor, Mr Shorten has done too little to reform the party structure, which delivers unions like the AWU disproportionate influence and operates on dirty factional deals.
Mr Shorten could shrug some of this off if voters had warmed to him. While the Labor leader in person is a smart and charismatic man with good ideas, he remains approved by only 41 per cent of voters, the Fairfax-Ipsos poll says. The latest revelations over his AWU past also came a day after he had been caught out playing bad politics, as the Greens and the government compromised on pension reform.
The coming days will determine whether Mr Shorten, the ultimate political operative, can find the numbers to survive. The damage being done in the meantime is a big price for voters and Labor to pay.
Earlier this year Abbott looked terminal. Now Shorten is the one facing extinction.
The Herald Sun reports:
LABOR has been left the lone champion of millionaire welfare recipients after a landmark deal was stuck last night between government and the Greens to redirect pensions to the poor.
More than 170,000 of Australia’s poorest pensioners will have their pension increased by $30 a fortnight in the wake of the decision.
So Labor was against giving poor pensioners more and rich pensioners less!
The government will cut the eligibility threshold for the part pension from $1.15 million in assets, on top of the family home, to $823,000.
More than 90,000 part pensioners, with assets more than $823,000 on top of the family home, would lose the part pension while 236,000 would have it reduced.
The pension rises have been achieved by the current taper rate of $1.50 per $1000 reverting back to $3, which had been in force for 15 years until the Howard government changed it in 2007.
Labor wanted to keep millionaire retirees on the part pension rather than direct savings to the poor.
The party of the working class!
Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday said Labor had gone from being the “workers party” to the “welfare party”.
What a great line.
The Herald reports:
With less than a fortnight to go before federal Parliament’s long winter break, Bill Shorten has two problems: his apparent inability to win over voters and an impending appearance before a royal commission into trade union corruption.
The Opposition Leader, whose approval rating has dived to an all-time low, according to an opinion poll yesterday, insists he has nothing to fear from the Coalition-ordered inquiry. On the contrary, he said, after being called to give evidence, he welcomed “the opportunity to talk about my 21-year record of standing up for workers”.
The Government is gleeful about the prospect of Shorten becoming entangled in murky revelations including that the powerful Australian Workers Union (AWU) negotiated a deal that deprived low-paid cleaners of A$2 million ($2.2 million) a year in weekend and holiday pay. Shorten, who is expected to testify in August or September, headed the AWU’s Victorian branch from 1998 to 2006, and was national secretary from 2001 to 2007.
The Labor leader has denounced the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption as an “abuse of taxpayers’ money to serve a political agenda”. However, like Julia Gillard, a former industrial lawyer who has faced repeated attempts to draw her into a scandal involving an AWU slush fund, Shorten may find it difficult to shake off his past.
The Royal Commission is the smartest thing the Coalition has done. The level of union corruption in Australia is huge, and they quite literally control large sections of the Labor Party.
The country may never get back into budget surplus if the government’s spending cuts continue to be blocked by Labor and the Senate, the governor of the Reserve Bank and the head of Treasury have warned.
The ominous predictions on the future of the nation’s finances were made by new Treasury Secretary John Fraser and RBA boss Glenn Stevens in an extraordinary briefing to Cabinet on Tuesday, The Daily Telegraph reports.
In a 20-page slide presentation, the finance chiefs showed the budget position continuing to worsen without significant structural reform.
They showed that even with an economic growth path of 3 per cent per annum, the budget would continue to be in deficit beyond the 10-year prediction made in last year’s budget forecasts.
While Labor has labelled the government’s spending cuts as “unfair”, Mr Fraser’s presentation showed the government was now borrowing $110 million a day to pay its interest bills on debt and the growing budget deficit.
It is a timely reminder that Labor left the Libs with an unsustainable spending track, just as NZ Labour did in NZ. People may not like some of the Libs spending cuts, but the status qup is not sustainable.
WA Today reports:
The head of the Northern Territory branch of the Labor party has reportedly flown overseas to fight in Syria against terror group Islamic State.
Matthew Gardiner, who also served as a secretary in the United Voice union and a treasurer in peak body Unions NT, left the country several weeks ago to fight with Kurdish militants, the ABC reports.
It’s believed Mr Gardiner, 43, who served with the Australian Army in Somalia in the 1990s, was able to leave Australia because he was not on any watch list.
It is illegal to fight in Syria on any side of the conflict against Islamic State. …
Although Mr Gardiner resigned from his position at United Voice, he remains the NT branch president of the Labor Party. He has not been seen for weeks and his mobile phone is switched off.
Amazing that such a senior political figure would just decide to go to Syria to join the conflict.
NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson has resigned.
He announced the decision, just three months before the state election, at NSW Labor’s Sussex Street headquarters on Tuesday afternoon.
It comes after revelations that Mr Robertson signed a letter for Lindt cafe gunman Man Haron Monis in 2011 – two years after the extremist was charged with sending offensive letters to the families of slain diggers.
The letter asked the Department of Families and Community Services to consider granting Monis access to see his children on Father’s Day.
Ouch. MPs need to be careful whom they choose to advocate for. Even before Man Haron Monis turned lethal, he was a deeply repellent figure whom you wouldn’t want to be trying to get favourable Government treatment for.
The Age reports:
Labor has warned a “deficit levy” would define Tony Abbott as a Prime Minister if he pursued the new tax and says the government was paying the price for the “deceitful, voodoo economics” of its election campaign.
Mr Abbott has not ruled out a short-term tax on high incomes to reduce Australia’s deficit, as the opposition accused the the Coalition of preparing to break an election promise of no new taxes.
So Australian Labor is saying the Government should not increase taxes on high income earners, while the Coalition is considering doing just that.
On this issue, I am of course with Australian Labor. Labor may have left the Coalition a huge deficit, but they solution is not increasing taxes. It is restraining spending.
The Guardian reports:
Labor, which suffered a swing against it of about 9.5% to leave it with 27.4% of the vote, has also pointed to voter dissatisfaction with the power-sharing arrangement in Tasmania.
The federal opposition leader, Bill Shorten, said Labor’s formal relationship with the Greens was marked down by Tasmanian voters. Shorten said he could “foresee no set of circumstances that in the event that Labor was elected to government nationally, that we would go into a formal alliance with the Greens”.
That’s a very strong statement, but reflects how deeply unpopular the alliance in Tasmania was.
HE ripped off lowly-paid health services workers, fraudulently using union funds to satisfy his cravings for prostitutes and porn.
He then lied to the nation — under parliamentary privilege — falsely claiming the charges against him were the work of vicious enemies out to cause his downfall.
But the sum total of disgraced former Labor MP Craig Thomson’s dirty deeds and deceit added up to just three months in jail yesterday — of which he served just two hours in the lock-up before being granted bail ahead of an appeal.
Thomson, 49, was given a 12-month prison sentence, but nine-months was suspended over two years.
That’s a light sentence, especially compared to what Taito Philip Field got.
The Australian reports:
KEVIN Rudd’s growing fears of losing his seat at last year’s federal election led to a fundraising drive among his supporters to pay for targeted polling and a secret $200,000 overseas donation that the party believes may have breached state electoral laws.
Labor’s pollster, UMR Research Australia, yesterday confirmed it had conducted a $200,000 “program of research” in Mr Rudd’s Brisbane electorate of Griffith ahead of the election on September 7.
The donation was received and UMR commissioned to do the research — understood to have included focus groups and “robo” call messages to voters — just days before the election without the knowledge of the national secretariat and state Labor officials.
UMR is now refusing to refund the money to the Queensland ALP, which sent a letter of demand for the $200,000 after a meeting of its administrative committee on Wednesday.
I have to say I’m with UMR on this one. They were commissioned in good faith by the party leader to do research, and they did the research. The fact the party now has to refund the donation that paid for it is the ALP’s problem. Unless there is more to this than meets the eye, I think it is outrageous they are asking their supplier to give them money back. It’s almost akin to the allegations against Countdown.
While Mr Rudd denies any wrongdoing, the committee was given legal advice alleging the donation from the former prime minister’s long-time friend Kung Chin Yuan, a Taiwanese-born businessman, may have breached Queensland electoral rules, as well as internal Labor rules on the limits for branches handling finances. Under Queensland laws, any donation of $100,000 or more has to be disclosed to the Electoral Commission of Queensland within weeks of its receipt. Mr Rudd says all disclosures were the responsibility of the party.
ALP state secretary Anthony Chisholm told the committee that until this month, he was unaware of the donation until it was discovered in an audit of the Griffith branch. The audit found the donation was paid directly by Mr Kung into the Griffith branch bank account from his bank account in Taiwan and withdrawn hours later to cover the UMR bill.
The Queensland ALP is demanding UMR pay back the $200,000 so it can return the donation to Mr Kung, a Labor donor since 1998.
It’s no surprise that Labor broke electoral laws. But the refund is their problem, not UMR’s.
This is the cover of a brochure put out by the Australian Labor Party against Liberal candidate Carolyn Habib (who was born in Australia incidentially).
Some may argue it is just using her surname, but it is clear the effect they are going for with the following aspects:
- No use of her first name (Carolyn)
- The bullet-riddled crumbling wall which looks like a Middle East warzone
- The military style font
Also the reverse side doesn’t use a photo of her, but a sinister silhouette.
Very nasty stuff.
THE Health Services Union will seek to recover money from former MP Craig Thomson, who was today found guilty of misusing union funds to pay for sex.
A defiant Thomson has denied the allegations since his arrest last January, but he was today found guilty of dozens of charges.
Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg found he was guilty of six charges of using HSU credit cards to pay for sex, as well as other charges including theft.
I liked Julia Gillard, but her defence of Thomson and refusal to move quicker against him was appalling judgement, and rightly damaged her Government.
Mr Thomson’s defence barrister, Greg James, QC, said Mr Thomson did not deny making the transactions but argued about his authority to do so.
The defence was that as a union boss, Thomson could spend union funds on whatever he deemed necessary.
The Australian reports:
TASMANIAN Labor has ended the nation’s first experiment of Greens in cabinet, conceding power-sharing with the minor party alienates its core supporters, suffocates its messages and must never be repeated. …
She said caucus had resolved that it would never again have Greens “in cabinet” and would not make “power-sharing deals”.
Yet the only possible route to power for NZ Labour is through the Greens.
Senior national Labor figures have urged the party to end its dalliances with the Greens. Union leader Paul Howes last week called for the Tasmanian agreement to be the last anywhere in the country.
Once bitten, twice shy.
To give you some idea of how unpopular the Labor-Green Government is, Labor were at just 18% in the latest poll in Tasmania (Nov 13). That is under half of what they got in 2010.
The front page of the Australian yesterday was about how the former ALP President and union boss, Michael Williamson, took $600,000 in cash in 300 envelopes. The union movement in Australia is riddled with corruption as they have become so powerful. Worse they have control over many Labor MPs. This is one reason the decision by NZ Labour to give unions even more say in their party’s management is regrettable.
Williamson admitted to using blank union cheques to pay $338,470 to his wife, Julieanne Williamson’s company CANME, between July 2006 and June 2009.
He never declared his connection to the business and there was nothing to show for Mrs Williamson’s work which could have been performed in-house for $40,000 a year.
Williamson had an employee say the work was approved at a union meeting before shredding meeting minutes and creating fake invoices claiming his wife worked 80 hours a week.
Williamson admitted taking $600,000 in cash kickbacks through Alfred Downing, the director of Access Focus – a supplier to the union, the facts said.
Williamson arranged for Access Focus to produce the quarterly HSU document with prices inflated by around 20-25 per cent.
Downing would pay the union’s procurement manager, Cheryl McMillan, and she gave cash to Williamson on at least 300 occasions, the facts said.
The union hierarchy allowed Williamson to take signed blank cheques, the facts said.
The vice president of the organisation “simply trusted … (Williamson) would use the blank cheques in the best interests of the union”, the facts said. “No cross checking … was ever done.”
Incredible. No accountability at all.
Another story looks at the politics:
Senior Government figures argue there is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to exploit public disgust over corrupt union officials and expose the entire movement to a royal commission.
They are keen to get cracking on draft terms of reference that would allow a high powered investigation into allegations of corruption across the union fraternity.
Such an investigation could potentially include members of the opposition – and damage Labor’s prospects at the next election.
No decisions have been taken – and Prime Minister Tony Abbott is yet to be convinced of the merits of such a probe.
But equally the exploits of Mr Williamson will aid the voices who want allegations of corruption thoroughly pursued.
Dubbed the “$1 million man” due to his extravagant lifestyle, Mr Williamson took nepotism to new heights, ensuring his family were looked after through union contracts and dodgy management practices.
There is also no doubt that his admission of guilt spreads beyond the HSU and its long-suffering members.
Williamson is the first of a number of political and union figures who are facing potential jail sentences or stiff financial penalties for their alleged misdemeanours.
There is no doubt there is a culture of corruption in several large powerful Australian trade unions.
Bill Shorten has been elected Leader of the ALP. He got 64% of the caucus vote and 40% of the members’ vote which have a 50/50 weighting.
30,500 members voted out of around 40,000 members (which is a very small number for their population).
This is a victory for the unions and the Labor Right who were backing Shorten. Will be interesting to see his Shadow Cabinet.
The ABC reports:
Labor leadership candidate Bill Shorten wants to introduce quotas to boost the number of gay and lesbian politicians in Parliament.
Mr Shorten is continuing his pitch to the party membership, sending out a manifesto that calls for the introduction of quotas for politicians representing minority groups.
He says the party should consider quotas for Indigenous Australians and the lesbian, gay, bixsexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.
NZ Labour are introducing a gender quota, and I don’t see how you can argue for a gender quota yet argue against a gay quota. Once you start down the quota route, it is hard to stop.
Also having a gay quota will be challenging also. Do you have a quota for LGBTI generally or individual quotas for each subset? Lesbians won’t accept a gay man as necessarily representing their interests, so you may need a separate quota for gay men, lesbian women, bisexual men, bisexual women, pre-op transsexuals, post-op transsexuals and intersex persons.
Or you could of course just not have quotas at all on the basis they are demeaning and they judge a person on just one aspect of what makes them up.
There is nothing wrong with having a commitment to diversity. But quotas are a very harmful way of achieving diversity.
The ABC is now forecasting that the Coalition will win 92 seats, up from 89 on election night. Labor is down to 54. That is barely above the worst predictions under Gillard.
Shorten and Labo are standing for the Labor leadership. There is a rumour that Rudd thinks the next election is unwinnable, and he will stay on so he can try for the leadership again after 2016! It is ironic that Shorten, the former ACTU boss, is placed in the right faction of Labor. Could you imagine a trade union boss in NZ being seen to be on teh right of a Labour caucus? 🙂
The exit polls to date show there will clearly be a change of Government. Roy Morgan currently has it as:
- Coalition 42.5%
- ALP 33.5%
- Greens 11.5%
- Palmer 5.0%
On a TPP basis they have Coalition 52% to 48%. That would see the Coalition with 83 seats to 60. If Palmer preferences go more strongly towards the Coalition then they say it is 53.5% to 46.5% and 88 seats to 59.
The Sky News/Newspoll exit poll has it 53% to 47% for the Coalition TPP and projects Coalition 97 seats (+25), Labor 51 seats (-21), Greens 0 (-1) and Independents 2 (-3). Their primary vote is Coalition 45%, Labor 36%, Greens 8%.
These are just exit polls. Actual results should start around 8 pm. It is possible that Labor could lose every seat in Queensland including Rudd’s. His seat is being tagged too close to call on the exit poll. Do remember that exit polls can of course be wrong if they are taken in unrepresentative polling booths. Also seat projections are based on linear swings, and normally there is considerable variability from one seat to another in how much they swing. So don’t jump to any conclusions before we actually get some results in.
I’ll try to update this post when there is significant news, but will mainly be tweeting.
UPDATE: And it’s all over. Sky News now has it Coalition 76 and Labor 46. Abbott is now PM-Elect!
Some amusing entries at the Labor Glossary.
A series of poorly managed focus groups.
The pursuit of the objective of preventing minorities and the underprivileged from abandoning support for Labor in numbers that would be electorally fatal, by doing the absolute bare minimum to address their grievances.
Anything that is believed to enhance Labor’s prospects in Western Sydney or other marginal electorates.
It’s not here yet. Please come back in 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016.