By David Bates


Bill Shorten has this week been giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Though it might sound rather dull, coverage of the Commission’s hearing should be compulsory viewing for every employer in the country. It’s providing a fascinating insight into just how ‘modern’ trade unionists think and act.

The problem is this Royal Commission receives barely any media coverage, despite the fact that it continues to uncover seemingly endless examples of union decadence, corruption, and other unlawful behaviour.

Imagine if small business owners disregarded Australian laws to the same extent – and as frequently – as some of this nation’s unions apparently do.

Imagine what would happen to you if you screamed obscenities and physically threatened a Worksafe Inspector or other compliance offer who visited your office.

Imagine the consequences you’d face if you secretly signed up all your employees to an organisation they knew nothing about and wanted nothing to do with.

And imagine how outraged unions would be if you chose to ignore binding court rulings that had been decided in their favour.

I’ve written before about the need for every Australian – employers, employees, and union officials alike - to respect the rule of law. But the Royal Commission reminds us every day that many unions appear to have scant regard for the laws passed by our parliaments, and which the rest of us duly comply with as we go about running our businesses.

Mr Shorten would assist both his party and his movement if he spoke as passionately about defending our laws as he does about defending trade union officials. And his credibility would be greatly enhanced if he simply stopped defending the indefensible.

We all know he’s proud to be a unionist, and in a democracy such as ours he has every right to be. But there are some in the union movement who treat not only employers – but even their own members – with disregard and blatant contempt. There are also clearly some who genuinely believe they are above the law.

Mr Shorten would do well to put as much distance between himself and those officials as he possibly can.