By David Bates

The ABC’s 7:30 program rarely features stories that make me laugh out loud. It’s usually a sombre, reflective affair with plenty of insight and analysis. Monday night’s episode was the exception to that rule.

In their lead story, ambitiously entitled ‘CFMEU Clean Up’, we learned about Labor’s plans to tackle trade union corruption and mismanagement. Sounds a lot like putting Dracula in charge of the bloodbank to me. I imagine it sounds much the same to Australia’s small business owners too.

According to Labor leader Bill Shorten, Labor doesn’t tolerate corruption. Indeed, on last Sunday’s Insiders program, he said unions must always “…be acting consistently with the standards in the community.”

Wrong. Unions shouldn’t be expected to comply with ‘standards in the community’, they should instead be expected to comply with the law.

Speeding is common – perhaps a ‘community standard’. For that matter so is taking a ‘cash-in-hand’ payment to avoid tax, or adding a new camera that never existed to a travel insurance claim. But that doesn’t make these things either legal or morally acceptable.

Of course, we all know why Mr Shorten can’t just come out and condemn unions for breaking the law….they virtually control his party and front bench.

But this wasn’t the best part of Monday’s 7:30 story. No, the most jaw-droppingly entertaining commentary was provided by the leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Ged Kearney.

Ms Kearney didn’t express shock and outrage at the appalling levels of trade union corruption and mismanagement uncovered by the Royal Commission.

No, she appeared far more concerned about two leading members of the CFMEU being arrested at their homes on a Sunday instead of at the office on a Monday. She described that as ‘over the top’, ‘quite alarming’ and ‘disturbing’. Seriously?

No, Ms Kearney. What’s ‘disturbing’ is that many members of the movement you lead still genuinely believe they are above the law. They’re not.

But what made me physically fall about laughing was this comment from Ms Kearney:

“…if you look hard enough you might find one or two instances (of corruption or mismanagement) in any industry, in any business, across the entire community.”

True enough. But the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption hasn’t just identified one or two instances of corruption or mismanagement in the union movement has it, Ms Kearney. No, the Commission has confirmed such conduct is rife in some parts of the movement you lead.

Both Ms Kearney’s and Mr Shorten’s apparent optimism and faith in the union movement (which now represents just 15% of Australian employees) is as breathtakingly unjustified as it is comical.