Shorten’s problem

The Herald reports:

With less than a fortnight to go before federal Parliament’s long winter break, 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.

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