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John Passant

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August 2015



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Boycott the witch hunt into trade unions


The Labor Party is going to ask the Governor General to sack the Trade Union Royal Commissioner, Dyson Heydon, because of perceived bias. The trigger for this was of course the former conservative High Court judge and current Royal Commissioner accepting an invitation to speak at a Liberal Party fund raiser celebrating conservative High Court judge Garfield Barwick.

Labor will move a motion in the Senate calling on the Governor General ‘to revoke the letters patent issued to the Honourable John Dyson Heydon AC QC.’ It will need cross bench support for this to pass. The Governor General won’t act on it. In ‘normal’ times he follows the advice of the Government.  I suspect Labor are using this tactic to argue that the majority of the Senate support getting rid of the Royal Commissioner (which may also mean winding up the Royal Commission).  This gives it the veneer of democracy and presumably strengthens the argument that there is a reasonable apprehension of bias on Heydon’s part.

The problem of course is that these are the same sorts of ‘democratic’ arguments Malcolm Fraser used in blocking supply and seeing the Governor General of the time John Kerr act on his own (with the advice of the aforementioned Garfield Barwick) and sack the democratically elected Whitlam government.  It is the wrong tactic.

At the least Labor should be trying to build a mass movement to get Heydon resign. They won’t. The idea won’t even occur to them, and can’t be built anyway in a time of social peace, a social peace imposed by workers courtesy in the main of the Labor Party in government.

There is of course a more radical response. 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.



Pingback from Boycott the witch hunt into trade unions – Written by JOHN PASSANT | winstonclose
Time August 19, 2015 at 4:25 am

[…] Posted by John, August 18th, 2015 – under ALP, Australian Labor Party,Dyson Heydon, Labor Party, Royal Commission into unions. Comments: none […]

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