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Thursday 15 October 2015

Are secret Union deals simply extortion?

The TURC sittings this week have hardly raised a murmur in our 'distracted' press. I write 'distracted' but many other adjectives, unprofessional, feckless, irresponsible, incompetent, may be more suitable.

The statements of Thiess employees could be described as nothing less than bombshells casting asunder all of Bill Shorten's past testimony and the media's dismissal of smoking guns. What is more smoking than direct affirmation that the special 'side deals' were negotiated by Bill Shorten as secretary of the Victorian branch of the AWU. Deals whereby Thiess would make secret payments of large sums to the Union in exchange for industrial peace. 

It is all there. Secret payments for sham invoices for services which were never provided. Sham invoices paid in full paid by Thiess and money received by the AWU. Why was Thiess paying the AWU ? They were buying industrial peace. No doubt had the company not paid they believed they would have suffered industrial disruption. 

Lets check the definition of extortion and protection racquet; - 

Extortion is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. It is sometimes euphemistically referred to as a "protection racket" since the racketeers often phrase their demands as payment for "protection" from (real or hypothetical) threats from unspecified other parties.  


Mmm. Do you see any similarity with the apparent modus operandum of the AWU in their deal with Thiess? It seems the Union acts like common racketeers obtaining money in exchange for providing 'protection' from industrial action, by, no doubt, its own members. This smells awfully like extortion!

Make no mistake this payment to the Union is in effect a benefit to the Union bosses, who use these fraudulent funds either for advancing their Union as it competes for members against other Unions, or for, let's call it 'private purposes'. Such as those derived, for example by the likes of Williamson, Thompson, Jackson and let me include Shorten.

A Union should never accept employer payments

There is a legitimate role for Unions in working on behalf of their members to improve working conditions, but when a Union accepts any payment directly from an employer in any form it is not just a 'conflict of interest', it is a crime. It is akin to 'demanding money with menaces', it is eliciting a bribe, it is extortion.

Where is the media?

The testimony by employers on the AWU fraud has been reported in the print media.

However most surprisingly; for much of this week, the commentariat seems to have been on holidays! Except for Skynews' Paul Murray Live, discussion or even mention of the TURC, or the AWU, has been strangely absent from news bulletins and political programs. I may have missed some, but I cannot recall any reference to what should be a politically explosive issue on any of the ABC's news bulletins or indeed AM, PM or 730 programs. Astoundingly selective reporting!

Even when mentioned, there is a tendency for the media to regard this type of practice as an occasional slip up of an individual Union or individual Unionist. However evidence at the TURC seems to indicate otherwise. We have seen these types of criminal 'deals' at the CFMEU, the HSU, and now at the AWU. It is very likely a widespread prctice.

It seems that most of our media media has avoided calling the Union's role in accepting direct payments from employers a crime. This is despite the clear evidence to the contrary. Is the media shying away from reporting on a problem whose magnitude and political impact is potentially catastrophic to one of our leading political parties? You can draw your own conclusion. For me, I believe we have a significant problem. Not only do we have rampant extortion in operation within our industrial relations system, but by failing to report on it without fear or favour, our media seem to find it acceptable!

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