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John Passant

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August 2009



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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)

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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)

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Sick the ABCC onto BHP and Rio Tinto

I know that Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard would never lie to us.

So I trust them when they say that the Australian Building and Construction Commission is there to stop lawlessness in the building and construction industry.

And I believe them when they say that the ABCC is evenhanded and will investigate breaches of the law by workers and bosses.

So it must be just that the investigations into the bosses and their breaches of the law are a bit more complicated than those of ordinary workers because I can’t see any companies on the ABCC’s prosecution or investigation list.  Workers yes, but no bosses.

I am a patient man.  I know the ABCC will be investigating the building bosses now, just constructing a great case against their lawlessness.

Which brings me to BHP Billiton And Rio Tinto.  These two companies build things.  They construct things.

They do all this so they can dig stuff out of the ground and send it to far away and exotic places for lots of money.

Some of Rio Tinto’s staff have got into a little bit of bother in China. The Chinese have arrested them.  That is very naughty of the Chinese. 

It may be, based on newspaper reports, that the allegations against the Rio Tinto employees could include bribing Chinese public officials for information that would be useful to Rio Tinto in its negotiations with the Chinese over iron ore prices.

Many of BHP and Rio Tinto’s employees are members of unions which have a strong presence in the building and construction industry – the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Amalgamated Metal Workers union are two examples.

These unionists are the sorts of people the ABCC pays particular attention to, all in the name of stopping ‘lawlessness’ in the building industry.

Last week there was  a senior Chinese Official in Australia. He said, unremarkably, that if the alleged activity of the Rio Tinto employees had taken place in Australia we would have arrested them too.

True, but it goes further than that.

You see, there’s this provision in Australia’s criminal code which makes it an offence to bribe a foreign official. 

That applies in Australia and with modifications, outside Australia too.  So if an Australian company bribes a foreign public official outside Australia they might well be committing an offence in Australia.

So that could mean that all that building and construction to enable BHP and Rio Tinto to make a motza from the Chinese is being done with the taint of possible lawlessness hanging over it. 

The ABCC, with its very very very strong powers, should investigate. Don’t you think so Julia?  Just to clear the air, of course. 

Obviously they’d be able to do a better job than the Australian police and the Australian Crime Commission.

Why?  Well, five years after this Criminal Code  provision came into effect, according to the Attorney-General’s Department, there had not been one investigation under it.  Not one. 

And this is investigations I am talking about, not prosecutions.  Either Australian companies are saints or the law is for show only.  

It’s time for Julia Gillard to order the ABCC to investigate if Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have been bribing foreign officials and committing a crime in Australia.  That at least would show us the probity of these great companies.

Start at the top.

Don Argus is the Chairman of BHP Billiton. He is perhaps the pre-eminent capitalist in Australia.

Direct him to attend a hearing into these matters. Threaten him with six months jail if he doesn’t attend. Refuse him the right to a lawyer.  Demand he answer every question. 

Exercise the draconian ABCC powers to the hilt to see if bribery has been going on. 

 If investigating Argus isn’t fruitful start with the next heavy in BHP – perhaps the CEO Marius Kloppers.  And do so all the way down the feeding chain of management. 

You never know. It might turn something up.

Do the same with Rio Tinto who certainly have a  slight smell about them.  So Julia, to help them show to the world they are clean skins, tell the ABCC to investigate them, from the top down.

 In case the ABCC doesn’t know, Jan du Plessis is Chairman of Rio Tinto.  The Chief Executive is Tom Albanese.

You know, Julia, just like the ABCC is doing with Ark Tribe, a building worker whose only crime was to attend a union meeting and go on strike over safety issues.

Go on Julia.  After all, it’s one law for all, isn’t it?

Readers might also like to look at ‘Rudd gives China a Stern talking to’ on this site and ‘Australian hypocrisy over Rio Tinto’ in Socialist Alternative.



Comment from juan
Time August 7, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Hi John good to see you back on board. I have been away o/s for a few weeks and have just checked your blog. Good to see the fire and indepth analysis.

Comment from John
Time August 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Thanks Juan. Welcome back. yes, i got tired of waiting for my employer’s approval after 4 months or more and so have decided to rely on my ACT law enshrined human rights to free speech and to participate in public life.

Pingback from En Passant » Is Ark Tribe Labor’s next political prisoner?
Time August 13, 2009 at 12:39 am

[…] might also like to have a look at Sick the ABCC onto BHP and Rio Tinto, A tale of two Labor jails: from abortion to the ABCC, Trade union treachery, The Construction […]

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