Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


NATION: the Bill Shorten Show Trial. Hewson on the rise of Isis

Wronski’s Week in Review

The Bill Shorten show trial, an ‘eagerly anticipated’ or hugely oversold piece of legal theatre played to packed houses in Sydney midweek thrilling sell-out audiences with its stunning production values and its convincing performances – especially from Shorten who stoically underplayed himself in the role of a man on trial for his political life.

Shorten’s trial was a timely treat for a nation which could relax in an old-fashioned lynching, boo the union villain and take time out from the pressure of the daily threat of an ISIS attack, ‘coming after us,’ asylum seekers invading our sovereign borders and Gina Rinehart’s new Roy Hill Pilbara mine never making a profit.

Iron ore dropped to $44 a tonne on Thursday and investment bank Citi predicts an average of $38 for the last quarter ten dollars down from the price Joe Hockey locked in to his last Budget calculations. But in Sydney it was on with the show. And what a show it was!

Commissioner Dyson Heydon exceeded everything you could ever hope for as the sinister but charismatic Grand Inquisitor and the show held its packed house spell-bound as a pale Bill Shorten gulped enough glasses of water to flood a Beaconsfield mine while top Sydney silk, Inquisitor Jeremy Stoljar justified his 3.3 million dollar fee by cutting his ‘unreliable witness’ down to size by craftily avoiding any allegation in favour of inviting Shorten to assent to it in principle. Shorten, of course, could not agree but the trap had been sprung.

‘Do you agree with this proposition: it would profoundly weaken the bargaining position of the AWU if in negotiating with the company about an EBA, that company is at the same time making a donation to the then national secretary’s political campaign? Do you agree with that?’ Jeremy Stoljar had Shorten on the ropes.

And not before time. ABC News-readers, not to be bested by other media vigilantes, were breathily speculating on a yet to be discovered ‘smoking gun,’ a Sherlock Holmes clue. That Holmes solved crimes by logical deduction is something quite overlooked in our rush to judgement of a man who has committed no crime, except, perhaps that of being Bill Shorten and just not seeming up to much – rather than up to too much. As, Robert Conquest observes: ‘Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.’

Guilt is easily presumed…

Commentators lead us to assume, as we all must, that Old Bill is guilty simply by virtue of his appearing before Mr Heydon. If they don’t find that gun this time, they will call him back until they do. Guilt is easily presumed if you are called before a Royal Commission, especially such a lavish production as the TURC, the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption.

Commissioned by waving an open cheque in front of lawyers, in this case from George Brandis’ former employer Minter Ellison, the Coalition has helped legal eagles feather their nests to the tune of 17 million. The Bill killers will make a right royal killing of their own. The TURC could blow $80 million by 31 December when it reports.

TURC’s season is certain to be continued. Funds flow freely in the Coalition’s class war. No fee is too high in the war on Labor and the vast underclass of poor needy and vulnerable the party still pretends to represent. No price is too high to buy eternal coalition rule. It is certain that the commission will run longer rather than shorter. Abbott, no doubt would relish a commission in perpetual session. Yet it damages the Inquisitor also.

Happily forking out nearly four times the sum it begrudges its campaign against family violence, the Abbott government’s priorities and values were also very much on show in the commission. It did not disappoint. A nine hundred question duet between Stoljar and Shorten was followed by a Busby Barkly orchestrated chorus of cabinet ministers who came on just to kick Bill. Yet each paraded a brazen hypocrisy and risked drawing attention to their own malfeasances along the way.

‘secret side deals’

Julie Bishop quickly sank her slipper into Shorten calling on him to fess up over ‘secret side deals’ that were ‘not to union members’ benefit.’ Her smear would do more damage were it not for her own ‘secret side deal’ to keep three days’ silence, misleading parliament over Man Haris Monis’ letter not making the inquiry into the Martin Place tragedy.

But forget merely conspiring to mislead parliament. Shorten’s deals were just too horrible to specify and so utterly unlike the deal Bishop struck to protract proceedings defending CSR Ltd against claims by miners and workers who had contracted mesothelioma through exposure to asbestos in their workplace.

As she explains, “rhetorically asking the court why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying” could be construed as ‘legal theatre’, not truly reflecting on herself as a person. Theatre? Theatre of cruelty, perhaps, Ms Bishop.

Shorten’s use of union support to help himself win the safe Labor seat of Maribyrnong or deals he did with some big firms to make the workplace work for all parties, or in implementing enterprise bargaining, on the other hand, are true horror stories, according to the coalition which hints that there is so much more to come out.

Eric Abetz, does horror well. Snatching himself away from Pandora’s Box and the nightmare of polyamory rampaging through once respectable suburbs or Tassie’s Channel Highway life-style blocks should gay marriage be legalised, our Minister for unemployment and government Senate smear-leader, delighted loyal fans with his scariest Dalek-speak as he put the boot into Bill.

…helping national conversations about Bill’s guilt…

‘Most people would be horrified by some of the evidence exposed through the royal commission,’ monotoned Abetz, vastly helping national conversations about Bill’s guilt by saving the average punter the bother of finding out the real details and preserving energy for kicking.

Eric can’t wait for the commission to drill down to Bill’s unpaid public library fines and what he lets into his recycling bin. Elaborate? No. Persecute! Exterminate! ‘Most people want him gone.’

Spokesperson for most people, ebullient under-thinker and glad-handed tax conceding Pollyanna, Bruce Billson was keen also to spike the national conversation with a Bill-killer pub test analogy about a car salesman’s commission.

“I think what people are really interested in – imagine if you had a trusted mate buying a car for you, trying to get you a good deal, then you find out your mate is getting a sling from the man who is selling the car, that’s just dodgy,” he told his party’s Channel Nine mates.

Dodgy deportation deals? Billson counted shrewdly on viewers forgetting yesterday’s weather let alone being able to remember last week’s story about his successfully lobbying Immigration Minister Vanstone to overturn the deportation of a Calabrian underworld figure, Joe Madafferi. Besides it never happened, he explained. The AEC is happy. Go away.

Flouting police advice that Madafferi posed a danger to the community, Billson and a couple of his Liberal mates put in a word with Amanda. Nothing dodgy here, just a trail of big donations to the Liberal Party leading to the successful reversal of Madafferi’s deportation. Vanstone has recently said she was led to believe that Madafferi had gone straight.

… just another Kathy Jackson …

Much Bill-kicking of this nature followed, lessened only by the absence of those many party members on holiday during the winter break. Many others subbed for them. Anne Henderson on The Drum linked Bill with the ‘really bad’ CFMEU. Give it time and he will be just another Kathy Jackson in the popular mind. Her case has cropped up helpfully in the same news bulletins. No longer is she the darling of the right, the ‘lion’ lauded for her work in dishing dirt on Craig Thompson when the Abbott government needed her.

High and low kicking notwithstanding,TURC’s current season is sure to be extended yet again into 2016 to permit the commissioner to drop his Shorten-ordure from a great height all over Labor’s election campaign which Bill is now by no means certain to lead. Mud sticks.

Of course, not all of us welcome the diversion. Most are still coming to terms with our taxes being used to pay people-smugglers. And the silence that has ensued.

It is alarming just how quickly this ‘creative’ bit of border enforcement, as Abbott describes it, has been redacted from the national agenda. What could be next? From the same heart of darkness comes the TURC witch hunt.

The Royal Commission into unions is a disturbing show trial, not merely because, as it is luridly billed, its mission is to ‘shine a light into the dark and dirty underbelly of unionism,’ its adverse findings on organised labour predetermined. It is also a cynical attempt to distract and divide. This is not to pretend that there are not questions to ask of some elements of the union movement but we already have established democratic means to achieve this. It is also less about Bill Shorten than what Abbott’s series of commissions represent, a pox on our democracy.

TURC destroys reputations, demonises unionists and distracts from the coalition’s utter failure to function as a government. Out of touch with Australian society and out of its depth in the world, the coalition is as unprepared to countenance gay marriage as it is to heed warnings that China’s stock-market bubble would one day collapse. Attack is all that matters.

… timing his cut perfectly for the evening tabloid media …

‘Cut to the chase,’ Chief Witch-finder Heydon interjects, unhappy with his witness having so much to say for himself. If this ‘unprecedented intervention’ as Labor describes it, shines any kind of light it is on Heydon himself and his skill in timing his cut perfectly for the evening tabloid media for a ready-made headline that Bill was an unreliable witness.

Bill Shorten discovered, to his cost, that Commissioner Heydon is not to be mucked around on day two of his testimony; his second long day in the witness box. It was a low point in a long week of misrule in which the Coalition tried again to dim the lights of scrutiny and accountability in its quest to remake the ABC into a government propaganda arm while it underplayed its responsibility for maintaining an orderly functioning democratic society, promoting hysteria and blind fear of terror instead in order to disguise its manifest failure.

Ultimately, the retired Chief Justice will never shine any kind of light into anything that matters to the people at all so powerful and entrenched are the ‘dark and dirty dealings’ of the coalition’s black spot approach to ‘good government.’ Let minors suffer sexual abuse on Nauru a state which has degenerated into a one party dictatorship which has abandoned the rule of law. Let women be forced to trade sexual favours for hot showers. Our government just makes it illegal to tell.

Yet, perhaps, after all a light of sorts is indeed cast by the commissioner on the government’s willingness to abuse its power. Even to Cory Bernardi this is wrong or ‘power creep,’ as he calls it, referring not to his bully of a PM but a process whereby government executive power steadily usurps the rule of law.

Has Bill been killed or merely grilled? His reputation has been seriously damaged and his career may never recover. The bigger question is what is also being done to the rest of us.

James McDonald, Southerly Currents: It’s up to the Parliament to stop the madness of the Abbott Junta

Guardian: John Hewson on Q&A: Australia’s role in Iraq war implicates us in rise of Isis Former Liberal leader tells ABC program that Australia’s decision to join invasion of Iraq was ‘an embarrassment to all of us’

Guardian: Tony Abbott’s Q&A ban is aimed at ministers, not ABC, says Malcolm Turnbull

Guardian: Clean energy bank ‘seeks legal advice’ after Coalition pulls plug on wind and solar projects



  1. phill Parsons

    July 12, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Do they expect the voter to forget the NSW ICAC Inquiry that caught a Premier and other Lieberals and saw the Finance Minister, $inodino$, stood down. He is yet to be rehabilitated.

    Do they expect the voter not to reflect on the lies of September 13, the cuts across the board of the 14 Budget, the confusion of the 15 Budget, the attacks on education, health, the environment, the States.

    The polls may show a blip but the trend line is not favourable and no doubt their private poling and reading social media will be telling them something.

    What will it tell us if they go in August, they hurt Shorten. If it an election deferred and is called in March it means they cannot offer a pre-election budget having emptied their daft ideas locker to hold up the polls.

    If they go to the polls at another time, but earlier than the 3 year term, it means they are advised of an economic collapse coming very soon.

  2. john hayward

    July 12, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    A John Howard appointment to the bench has a specific moral gravitas of approximately zero. An appointment to a deliberative body by Abbott is considerably lighter.

    While Dyson and Co have so far been unable to collect any bounty in the offing for illegalities, the affair has exposed in Bill qualities that would be close to fatal in almost any other profession – he’s lighter than air in terms of both brains and integrity.

    John Hayward

  3. Pete Godfrey

    July 12, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    I just hope that next time the Labor party get into power that they start a Royal Commission into Liberal party donations, their links to odd donor groups like the North shore club, developers, the mafia and all things crook.
    That will be a show to see.
    We could also have an enquiry into why the Liberals are telling lies about Pensioners.
    Why it was that the Liberals under Menzies shifted the Welfare Fund into Consolidated Revenue, why the Libs don’t mention that we pay 7.5% of our income tax towards our pension. Which in fact makes us all “Self Funded Retirees”.
    There are many lies that could be exposed with a proper enquiry into the Libs.
    We could have an enquiry into how many of their party politicians have sat in parliament against the law because of allegiances to foreign powers.
    I am sure that there are plenty more. Like they say “Let the Show Roll on”.

  4. TV Resident

    July 12, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    The liberals with their ‘witch hunt’ against labor, I don’t see hurting labor so much but making Abbott and his cronies look more foolish than ever before. I believe that Abbott with his created dictatorship will come back to bite him rather badly come election time. His fossil fuel support, his climate change denial, his fearmongering when it comes to overseas conflict, his 100% support for the wealthy to the detriment of the poor..etc etc should all be remembered come election time. I wish election time was sooner rather than later before this fool Abbott totally destroys our way of life as we know it.

  5. Leonard Colquhoun

    July 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Whatever the merits, motivation or MO of this Royal Commission, surely one major matter is that far too many union members are not being put front and centre of their officials’ time, energy, money and sense of priorities, a betrayal if ever there was one.

  6. Philip Lowe

    July 13, 2015 at 1:49 am

    AWB,Power Without Glory.Puppet and Muppet shows and here’s another.Get ’em pissed and keep ’em happy.
    Snouts in the trough boys,
    Snouts in the trough boys.
    Snouts in the trough boys,
    Bullshit and van-i-tee boys.
    Remember Pompei the Great equaliser.It didn’t matter who you were or how much you owned then.Or how about Titanic when some of the First class passengers demanded ‘First Class Lifeboats’.
    As John Howard would have said ‘How Un-Australian’
    (Lord Howard of Iraq).

  7. Russell

    July 13, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    With a bit of luck a hard hitting Royal Commission into the Liberals’ MIS scams and multi-billion dollar Forestry rorts will be on the cards next time Labor gets in. Not to mention the illegal dual citizenships of serving politicians.

  8. mr t

    July 13, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I am continuously amazed by the lack of governance, financial controls and procedural guidelines in the political association wings of the major parties. Admittedly, there is an element of the child with their hand in the lolly jar but these are people who aspire to lead our country across Treasury, Defence, Health, Education, Trade etc.

    It is not only the conga line of union delegates but we also have a litany of Liberal and National MPs who can’t seem to differentiate donations, business opportunities, capital gains, workplace expenses and allowances from personal benefits. There are practices maintained by some that would not be tolerated in any workplace. I can only assume most have led a closeted life from school through to their current positions. Either that or the exhibited behaviours are endemic in the worlds of unions and business associations.

  9. john hayward

    July 13, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    #7, Russell. That “bit of luck” will need to fall off the back of a truck, wrapped around the brains, moral courage, and imagination the Labs currently lack.

    While the rest of the world is gasping at The Gummint’s idiocy in all things climatic and ethical, the Labs think they are on to a winner with the drop of live cattle exports to Indonesia, a heavily subsidised pork-barrel industry which is a huge methane emitter as well as an ecological disaster.

    John Hayward

  10. Russell

    July 13, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Re #9
    Maybe a lot of luck?

    In the Australian live cattle trade circles, word is that after many years of us shipping young steers AND heifers to Indonesia they now have enough climate-specific cattle bred up to cut ties with us. They ate the steers and bred the heifers.

    Another in a long line of Australian own-goals.

    Google “Indonesian cattle farm self-sufficiency.”

  11. Steve

    July 14, 2015 at 12:45 am

    #8; I’d have to agree with you mr T. We employ these people to run our country?!!
    They wouldn’t last 48 hours running a checkout at Woolies!

  12. Peter Maddox

    July 14, 2015 at 1:45 am

    # 5…. Even more credible if your response had of read “Whatever the merits, motivation or MO of this Royal Commission, surely one major matter is that far too many Australian citizens are not being put front and centre of their elected politician’s time, energy, money and sense of priorities, a betrayal if ever there was one”.

  13. Leonard Colquhoun

    July 14, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Re my Comment 5, and Comment 12’s amendment – agree 99% with both, but remind readers that the focus of the main article is a RoyCom^ on union misbehaviour.

    Further point: the ‘unintended consequence’ is a curse on good intentions, similar to that sardonic you-beaut ‘No good deed goes unpunished’. One unintended consequence of pay-for-parliamentarians has been to pervert representing We the People into careerism, with its obvious change of focus for some / many / most (/ all?) MPs, and for far too many union officials (many with very soft hands). But have no idea of how to deal with that, except for We the People to keep booting the pricks out at each election.

    ^ Well, every one else makes up these abbrVns.

  14. Russell

    July 14, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    Re #13
    Needs to a permanent totally independent judicial body investigating each and every politician. Also needs to be a process where only by a full public referendum that politicians get any new payrises and/or perks.

    Pay them too much and corruption takes hold. Pay them much less and you get people who will want to do the job purely for the honour and privelege of making life in our country the best it can be, as it should be.

  15. Basil Fitch

    July 17, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    And so, from the latest Morgan Poll results:-
    ALP 51% L-NP 49%
    “In early July during the Trade Union Royal Commission Federal L-NP support is up 2.5% to 49% cf. ALP 51% (down 2.5%) after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten fronted the Commission over the past week. Shorten has faced hundreds of questions in the past week about his time with the Australian Workers Union (AWU); if a Federal Election were held now the result would be too close to call.

    Primary support for the L-NP is up 2.5% to 41.5% now clearly ahead of the ALP 34.5% (down 1.5%) – the lowest level of ALP support for over a year since April 2014. Support for other parties shows the Greens at 13.5% (down 0.5%), Palmer United Party 1% (down 0.5%), Katter’s Australian Party 1.5% (up 0.5%), while Independents/ Others were 8% (down 0.5%).

    This week’s Morgan Poll on Federal voting intention was conducted over the last two weekends, July 4/5 & 11/12, 2015, with an Australia-wide cross-section of 3,110 Australian electors.

    Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating

    The Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating is down 8pts to 90.5pts this week with 45.5% (up 4%) of Australians saying Australia is ‘heading in the wrong direction’ and 36% (down 4%) saying Australia is ‘heading in the right direction’.

    Analysis by Gender

    Analysis by Gender shows a majority of women supporting the ALP. Women: ALP 54% (down 1.5%) cf. L-NP 46% (up 1.5%) and a majority of men supporting the L-NP. Men: L-NP 52.5% (up 4.5%) cf. ALP 47.5% (down 4.5%).

    Analysis by Age group

    Analysis by Age group shows the ALP still with its strongest advantage among younger Australians. 18-24yr olds heavily favour the ALP 63.5% cf. L-NP 36.5%; 25-34yr olds also heavily favour the ALP 61% cf. L-NP 39%; 35-49yr olds slightly favour the ALP 51% cf. L-NP 49% while 50-64yr olds now favour the L-NP 52.5% cf. ALP 47.5% and those aged 65+ heavily favour the L-NP 58% cf. ALP 42%.

    Analysis by States

    The ALP now has a two-party preferred lead in 3 Australian States. Tasmania: ALP 58% cf. L-NP 42%, Victoria: ALP 53.5% cf. L-NP 46.5% and South Australia: ALP 50.5% cf. L-NP 49.5%, Queensland is evenly divided: ALP 50% cf. LNP 50%, while Western Australia favour the L-NP 52.5% cf. ALP 47.5% and New South Wales favour the L-NP 52% cf. ALP 48%.

    The Morgan Poll surveys a larger sample (including people who only use a mobile phone) than any other public opinion poll. The Morgan Poll asks Minor Party supporters which way they will vote their preferences. *News Corp’s poll does not measure or reference the PUP vote!

    The Morgan Poll allocated preferences based on how people say they will vote – allocating preferences by how electors voted at the last Federal Election, as used by News Corp’s poll* shows the ALP (51%) cf. L-NP (49%) – for trends see the Morgan Poll historic data table.

    Gary Morgan says:

    “In early July L-NP support increased 2.5% to 49% cf. ALP 51% (down 2.5%) on a two-party preferred basis after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten fronted the Royal Commission into Trade Unions last week to answer hundreds of questions about his conduct while at the Australian Workers Union (AWU) immediately before his election to Federal Parliament in 2007.

    “Amongst the allegations are that Shorten ‘cut deals’ with employers to benefit Union leaders at the expense of regular union members and also that the employers paid the wages of campaign staff during Shorten’s successful run for the Melbourne seat of Maribyrnong at the 2007 Federal Election – a seat Shorten has held ever since – without the employers concerned declaring they were doing so.

    “The publicity covering the questions raised about Shorten’s conduct and credibility while at the AWU has no doubt had a direct impact on the drop in ALP support (34.5% primary support – the lowest ALP support since April 2014). This is despite the significant media coverage of Zaky Mallah’s controversial Q & A appearance and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s ban on Coalition frontbenchers appearing on Q&A.

    “Des Moore from the Institute of Private Enterprise’s (IPE) conclusion ‘says it all’ – Shorten has failed the ‘Pub Test’ while fronting the Royal Commission last week. In addition Shorten’s answers to the questions posed by SC assisting Jeremy Stoljar raise more questions about Australia’s industrial relations which the Abbott Government needs to address now.

    “The conclusion from the Royal Commission to date is clear – Australia’s industrial and workplace relations system needs to be overhauled to increase efficiencies and improve productivity. The secrecy surrounding ‘deals’ negotiated between employers and union leaders at the expense of union members must be removed and union members must know exactly what ‘deals’ are being conducted on their behalf – and whether they agree with them or not.” “………..Basil

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