The Trade Union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon has decided that he is not biased nor would the fair minded lay person apprehend bias on his part.
He said in his decision at page 26:
‘First, the applicants have not articulated why, and there is no rational basis for concluding, that a fair-minded observer might, acting reasonably, apprehend any predisposition against the Labor Party or the unions in a speaker who merely agrees to give a legal speech at an event with the characteristics last described.’
So you agree to speak at a Liberal Party event/fundraiser and the fair minded observer might not apprehend any bias against the ALP or unions. No of course not. The Liberal Party is the close friend of the ALP and unions. That is why the Liberals set up the Royal Commission. To show how close they all were.
Here is part of what Prime Minister Tony Abbott said about the Royal Commission:
“Martin Ferguson came out and said that the inquiry is important, this inquiry is not a political inquiry, this inquiry is important for the future of the union movement and the Labor Party” Mr Abbott said on Thursday Island.
Well, I don’t know about you, but to me Abbott repeating and adopting Ferguson’s comments shows it was always and still is a witch hunt.
And that is the problem. The Royal Commission was set up to destroy those unions, like the CFMEU, that actually do try to defend workers, jobs and safety on site and win good pay rises. That also means, given the relationship between the trade union bureaucracy and the Labor Party, it was of necessity, an attempt to destroy the Labor Party and its links with unions. That is why Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader, was called before it. It is why the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was called before it.
Dyson was appointed because he is a conservative and a former judge. He knew what was expected of him when he was appointed to the lead the witch hunt.
His actions have highlighted the political nature of the Royal Commission. Heydon’s refusal of recusal is inexcusable and signs the death warrant for the Royal Commission. Many Australians will see the Royal Commission and whatever it does and recommends as an example of Tony Abbott’s political manoeuvring and Heydon’s pro-Liberal bias.
What next for the trade union movement and the Labor Party? Already there is talk of an appeal against Heydon’s decision. If that delays the witch hunt until after the election and Labor winning power then that is one defensible strategy. However depending on Shorten to beat Abbott is a risky strategy at best.
A better one would be, as I have argued previously, to boycott the Royal Commission from now on. As I said two weeks ago:
‘Labor and the unions could refuse to have anything more to do with the Commission because of Heydon’s perceived bias. This opens up those who have been subpoenaed and refuse to appear to fines of up to $1000 or six months imprisonment. Although this is a strict liability crime, if the person has a reasonable excuse for not appearing then that is a defence. And what could be more reasonable than not appearing at a Royal Commission because of the perceived bias of the Commissioner?
‘I know Labor won’t do this. They are the meek respecters of bourgeois ‘lawfulness’ ad respectability. However, imagine the electrifying effect the Labor Party could have if it replied to this most political of Royall Commissions with a political response. Imagine if Bill Shorten rallied our side by declaring in Parliament that because of the perceived bias he would no longer cooperate with the Royal Commission and would not in future be appearing or producing documents. Every Labor Party MP and member could then join him in pledging they would do the same.
‘No government, not even the Abbott government or its handpicked Royal Commissioner, is going to prosecute the Leader of the Opposition. And before anyone says ‘contempt’, the Royal Commissions Act 1902 also deals with that. The fine is $200 or 3 months in jail (less than the failure to appear penalties) but again the politics of prosecuting and jailing Labor politicians for opposing a biased and political Royal Commission would I suspect be fatal for Abbott.
‘The other target of this witch hunt is the union movement, in particular those unions, like the CFMEU, that actually fight for and mobilise their members. They too, through the ACTU, could refuse to have anything more to do with this political attempt to destroy them for the crime of defending wages, jobs and imposing safety standards on the bosses in the building industry.
‘Unlike Labor, unions have more than symbolic power. If the ACTU, or at least the left unions, were to announce a complete boycott of the Royal Commission, and to back that up not only with the threat of (illegal) mass strike action in defence of anyone prosecuted for not appearing, but also with an education campaign among their members as to why they must walk off the job in response to the biased Commission, it could destroy the witch hunt.
‘Thirty years of class collaboration have made these arguments more difficult to make but even the most stupid of union leaders must see that the Royal Commission threatens their own privileged position as the retailers to the boss of our labour power.
‘Boycott the Royal Commission.’
The CFMEU is due to appear before the witch hunt today at 10 am. Don’t attend.