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To go or not to go, that is the question

By John Hargreaves - 31 August 2015 24

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Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon will today reveal whether he will continue as head of the trade union royal commission after he was embroiled in a conflict of interest scandal.

Many would expect I would have little sympathy for Heydon, and that I would take the view that this is a political witch hunt lacking legitimacy.

Many would suggest that I would bag out the royal commission and its findings at the first opportunity.

All true, but let me give a few reasons. And these reasons are not because the royal commission would shine a negative light on the Labor Party or the union movement.

I have no truck with the exposure of corrupt officials whether they be in the corporate sector (Alan Bond, Rene Rivkin, Christopher Skase to name a few), the Liberal and Labor parties (both blessed with an array of corrupt MPs from all around the country), or the union movement (Kathy Jackson, Craig Thompson, Michael Williamson, again to name a few).

However, I believe it is the role of the police to scrutinise the activities of these entities, not a politically motivated royal commission.

Most people when asked, would see a royal commission as a court, since they are usually headed up by a retired judge, usually a retired Supreme Court and occasionally a High Court judge. But royal commissions are not a judicial entity. They are an instrument of the Executive.

Interestingly, police are also an arm of the Executive but have autonomies enshrined in their legislations and conventions surrounding their operations.

The use of royal commissioners, appointed by the Governor General, to undertake investigations and exposures is a blunt political instrument.

They have no power to sit in judgment, no power to fine or jail. They only have recommendatory powers to the government that appointed them. They name and shame and refer matters to the police for investigation. They are thus, by definition, a child of a particular political persuasion.

The trade union royal commission is a brilliant case in point. It is charged with bringing into the public limelight shonky practices, illegal activities and corrupt behaviours of a particular sector of the community.

It has no remit to investigate both sides of a transaction. For example, take the issue of bribery. It takes two to tango. Only the union movement is being investigated over suggestions of bribery. Yet the giver of the bribe is not being scrutinised.

Neither is the corporate sector, the biggest bribers of all time, under the microscope for bribery, predator practice, price collusion, corrupt practices, intimidation or similar issues. The blue tie sector is getting off scot free.

The union movement is a cohort dedicated to the benefit of its members. Most unions for example, don’t particularly care when issues arise outside their brief. Unions are answerable to their membership. If that membership has a problem it can go to the police for action. Since when did the PM receive an invitation to check into the CFMEU on behalf of its members? And the AWU?

What right does the PM have for such scrutiny? Is he a member of a union? I bet not. So the activities of shonky union bosses affect him not in the least.

If a company is feeling pressured by a union, or is being asked to take part in corrupt activities, it should enlist the aid of the police, not the PM.

I guess in summary, I think the issues of shonky practice on both sides of the bargaining table should be matters for the police, not made into a political football.

If a royal commission is to be created, let it investigate something in the general public’s interest, not just those of a few.

But perhaps the PM thinks that the police and the myriad DPPs are incompetent and can’t do their job.

Any observer, polarised or not, would have to agree that there is a smell of bias inherent in Dyson Heydon accepting an invitation to speak at the Liberal fundraiser.

I was interested to read that his excuse after saying he wouldn’t give the lecture, was that he had overlooked that it was a Liberal Party sponsored event.

Would he give Mr Shorten any latitude if Bill was to say, “Well, Your Honour, I guess I just overlooked the matter”, would he have extended the same latitude to the union officials? No! He sent in the police to raid the CFMEU offices.

If His Honour does not recuse himself, he has not conducted himself according to standards he, himself, set. If he does recuse himself, he will be branded as a Liberal agent in the scurrilous smear campaign he was charged with heading up. He can’t win this one.

What will happen to the royal commission in either case? If he doesn’t go, the whole process is confirmed to be shonky and political. If he does go, the evidence collected thus far will be tainted as full of bias.

Like the man said: You have to be like Caesar’s wife, beyond suspicion of reproach. His Honour and the whole shebang have failed this man-in-the street test.

What’s Your opinion?


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24 Responses to
To go or not to go, that is the question
John Hargreaves 4:10 pm 01 Sep 15

Blen_Carmichael said :

John Hargreaves said :

And these reasons are not because the royal commission would shine a negative light on the Labor Party or the union movement.

No, of course not,

John Hargreaves said :

The union movement is a cohort dedicated to the benefit of its members.

Absolutely. Just ask the members of the HSU.

John Hargreaves said :

But perhaps the PM thinks that the police and the myriad DPPs are incompetent and can’t do their job.

Presumably then, John, you’ll be demanding the Royal Commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse be disbanded? After all, we have police and “myriad DPPs” to deal with this? Goodness me, did Julia Gillard think they were incompetent and can’t do their job?

John Hargreaves said :

What will happen to the royal commission in either case? If he doesn’t go, the whole process is confirmed to be shonky and political.

There you have it. If the decision doesn’t go the way John Hargreaves demands it should go, it must be “shonky and political”. (Source Hargreaves J.)

And so it is indeed. So the Commissioner doesn’t know how to read or write emails! I believe it! Not!

In allowing himself to stay on he has become the court, the sentencing judge and the not-so-executioner. The application should not have been heard by him. The main issue was for me, the appearance of bias. He put the high jump bar up! Now he has exonerated himself, thus putting himself above the law. The appearance continues.

BTW I read some bile from Piers Ackerman belting Labor and the unions over this issue and I nearly brought up my lunch. That guy really ought to seek help!

Dame Canberra 12:16 pm 01 Sep 15

Just another example of why everything this government touches turns into a joke. And Labor’s not much better.

rosscoact 6:22 am 01 Sep 15

All findings of this Commission will, of course, be responded initially with ‘Well he would say that, wouldn’t he’ and that is a shame because the corruption on both sides of the building industry needs to be cleaned up.

Of course this Commission isn’t looking at payers of bribes only the receivers.

Blen_Carmichael 10:05 pm 31 Aug 15

John Hargreaves said :

And these reasons are not because the royal commission would shine a negative light on the Labor Party or the union movement.

No, of course not,

John Hargreaves said :

The union movement is a cohort dedicated to the benefit of its members.

Absolutely. Just ask the members of the HSU.

John Hargreaves said :

But perhaps the PM thinks that the police and the myriad DPPs are incompetent and can’t do their job.

Presumably then, John, you’ll be demanding the Royal Commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse be disbanded? After all, we have police and “myriad DPPs” to deal with this? Goodness me, did Julia Gillard think they were incompetent and can’t do their job?

John Hargreaves said :

What will happen to the royal commission in either case? If he doesn’t go, the whole process is confirmed to be shonky and political.

There you have it. If the decision doesn’t go the way John Hargreaves demands it should go, it must be “shonky and political”. (Source Hargreaves J.)

watto23 9:43 pm 31 Aug 15

I completely agree that their needed to be a royal commission into Unions. But I’m also of the firm belief there needs to be investigations into political donations. Lets be honest here. If you think the Liberals do everything by the books then you are probably very stupid. However Abbott is not exactly rocket scientist material. The smartest thing he could have done was dumped the commissioner quickly and put another of his stooges in place. That would have said the RC was not political and he wanted no doubt about the comissioner bias. But of course he was part of the group of idiots that gave Abbott a Rhodes Scholarship (of which it seems to be a scholarship for the haves and very little to do with intelligence) and Abbott was nice enough to give him a plum RC job 🙂 Not at all linked in anyway at all. Human nature of course says otherwise. So regardless of the outcome, now there will be doubt.

There is too much BS in Australian society about jobs and using Australian jobs for political purposes, by both sides of politics.

watto23 9:36 pm 31 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

Dame Canberra said :

The best thing about Heydon’s announcement this afternoon is that he insists “There is no evidence he has a computer” and is “incapable of sending or receiving emails”. Righto.

Tony Windsor once said the same thing and now he is an expert on everything.

Don’t worry our PM said he’s no tech head. I’m not sure whats in his head to be honest. Not many brain cells I’d suggest.

rubaiyat 9:08 pm 31 Aug 15

HenryBG said :

The long-term benefit to the ALP that will be delivered by this Royal Commission will be moderated by the current laughably inept defensiveness being exhibited by ALP members and supporters who – presumably – either involve themselves with corruption or are at the very least prepared to tolerate it.

The Liberals are of course so concerned for the welfare of the workers involved that at the next meeting of the Royal Commission they will be hauling in the franchisees of Seven Eleven.

Except Liberal voters/donors are definitely outside the brief of this Royal Commission.

That is no apology for Labor. A Pox on the self serving Union Bosses and their mates the Company Bosses who are all in the corruption.

When this inevitably reaches right to the door of the Liberal Party, which it will if the current Royal Commission Show Trials aren’t carefully managed, it will be your laughably inept defensiveness being exhibited.

HenryBG 7:33 pm 31 Aug 15

The long-term benefit to the ALP that will be delivered by this Royal Commission will be moderated by the current laughably inept defensiveness being exhibited by ALP members and supporters who – presumably – either involve themselves with corruption or are at the very least prepared to tolerate it.

dungfungus 7:00 pm 31 Aug 15

Dreadnaught1905 said :

dungfungus said :

Dame Canberra said :

The best thing about Heydon’s announcement this afternoon is that he insists “There is no evidence he has a computer” and is “incapable of sending or receiving emails”. Righto.

Tony Windsor once said the same thing and now he is an expert on everything.

That’s slightly disingenuous, though, isn’t it Dungers?

While Tony Windsor did say that he “Can’t operate a computer” (Daily Telegraph, 09/09/10), I’m not aware of him every saying that he couldn’t use email. In fact, that same Daily Telegraph article implies that he did (“A blackberry is his limit”).

Certainly his biography (Ruth Rae, 2014) indicates that he read and sent emails.

I have no idea what you meant by ‘expert on everything’, unless you were offering a snide comment on his support of the NBN?

” slightly disingenuous”?
Isn’t that like saying “a little bit pregnant” or “almost unique” or “nationally all over Australia”?

rubaiyat 5:02 pm 31 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

Dame Canberra said :

The best thing about Heydon’s announcement this afternoon is that he insists “There is no evidence he has a computer” and is “incapable of sending or receiving emails”. Righto.

Tony Windsor once said the same thing and now he is an expert on everything.

It’s a small club, but think we can graciously let him in.

Dreadnaught1905 4:40 pm 31 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

Dame Canberra said :

The best thing about Heydon’s announcement this afternoon is that he insists “There is no evidence he has a computer” and is “incapable of sending or receiving emails”. Righto.

Tony Windsor once said the same thing and now he is an expert on everything.

That’s slightly disingenuous, though, isn’t it Dungers?

While Tony Windsor did say that he “Can’t operate a computer” (Daily Telegraph, 09/09/10), I’m not aware of him every saying that he couldn’t use email. In fact, that same Daily Telegraph article implies that he did (“A blackberry is his limit”).

Certainly his biography (Ruth Rae, 2014) indicates that he read and sent emails.

I have no idea what you meant by ‘expert on everything’, unless you were offering a snide comment on his support of the NBN?

John Hargreaves 4:37 pm 31 Aug 15

Alan Bond’s excuse was he couldn’t remember and he went to jail. What would have happened to Shorten if he had answered one of the questions with “I have overlooked…..”

This is a case of the high jumper setting the bar high and not being able to clear it. Heydon said the appearance was more important than the fact but doesn’t apply it to himself.

This RC quacks like a duck!

dungfungus 2:53 pm 31 Aug 15

Dame Canberra said :

The best thing about Heydon’s announcement this afternoon is that he insists “There is no evidence he has a computer” and is “incapable of sending or receiving emails”. Righto.

Tony Windsor once said the same thing and now he is an expert on everything.

Dame Canberra 2:50 pm 31 Aug 15

The best thing about Heydon’s announcement this afternoon is that he insists “There is no evidence he has a computer” and is “incapable of sending or receiving emails”. Righto.

astrojax 2:44 pm 31 Aug 15

so, he says he is staying; let’s hope the courts reach the right decision…

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