Short of Skills

There appears to be only one subject to talk about today viz the highly questionable record of Opposition Leader Shorten when he was head of Australia’s largest union, the AWU. In fact, closer examination of this record suggests that, bad as Shorten’s record may be, a more important issue arises. This is that the union movement has acquired enormous power under the regulatory (sic) legislation and independent administrative (quasi-judicial) body established by Gillard during the previous Labor government. In effect, unions are now able to determine wages and conditions across a wide range of industries by threatening disruptions to activities of businesses unless there is compliance and the Fair Work Commission appears generally to accept such wages and conditions even if they fall short of those prescribed in awards. Such acceptance by the FWC flows from the heavily unionised staffing of it, particularly at the top.

Below are some relevant articles from today’s press. Note in particular that the critical articles extend to The Age:

  • An excellent analysis by Andrew Bolt covering not only questionable “deals” made when Shorten was at the AWU but extending to apparently stupid recent decisions he has made as Opposition Leader on asylum seekers and budget spending on pensions –see Bill Short on political skill 
  • The article outlining Abbott’s handling in Parliament of the ABC’s TV program on The Killing Season which effectively delivered the verdict that government under Rudd was chaotic. As Abbott indicated in Parliament, it was remarkable to have an ABC program which provides an accurate analysis. Also remarkable was the inclusion of a statement by Gillard’s staffer that, when Gillard was considering possible ministers for when she became PM, he had been advised by then Minister Arbib that Shorten could not be trusted in a ministerial job and should definitely not be appointed minister  of industrial relations (Gillard ignored this advice when she did take over from Rudd) –see Tony Abbott raises Bill Shorten Killing Season trust issue.
  • An editorial in The Australian headed Bill Shorten’s wrecking ball week bad for Labor and concluding that “Canberra is now looking pretty ugly for them”.
  • A front page lead article in The Age by its investigation team drawing attention to the over $1mn  “largely unexplained employer cash flowing into the AWUs’ Victorian branch” when Shorten was either state or federal secretary (to characterise this as largely unexplained overlooks the protection from disruption obtained by employers). The article names three businesses, including Visy industries “run by Shorten’s billionaire friend Richard Pratt”, and draws attention to union documents lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission (because of the AWU’s affiliation with Labor).It appears that for one major construction project the AWU “beat” its arch-rival the CFMEU because the AWU made an offer which provided greater protection to the employers and cost less. The article concludes by indicating that there will be more reports over the next four days –see Bill Shorten’s union took hundreds of thousands from building company


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