By David Bates

There are three things I know we can all take for granted:

Before I go any further, let me make one thing absolutely clear: I am not anti-union, I am anti-incompetence. And for that matter, I’m also anti-‘breaking the law’ anti-‘breathtaking hypocrisy’. 

As the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption continues to prove, quite a few Australian union officials are incompetent and/or contemptuous of our laws and/or breathtakingly hypocritical.

Every year the Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes ‘union density’ figures, and each year we learn that a shrinking number of workers see value in handing over their hard-earned wages to become union members.

You might think this declining membership concerns the unions. I really don’t think it does. Their core business no longer appears to be representing hard-working employees. Instead, it’s about controlling giant (and very lucrative) super funds, running the Labor Party, and helping union officials secure safe seats in our nation’s parliaments.

None of that would really matter though if it weren’t for the endemic corruption being unearthed daily by the Heydon Royal Commission. It should disturb each and every law-abiding Australian – employer and employee alike – to learn of the payments, dodgy deals, bullying, and other appalling behaviour that has been engaged in by some unions for decades.

Reasonably-minded readers might assume diligent unions (and the Labor Party) would welcome – even relish - the opportunity to shine a light into dark corners of the union movement and expose those intent on doing the wrong thing while profiting on the backs of union members. 

Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Both the union movement – and their political party – have done virtually everything in their power to shut down this Royal Commission.  They engaged in an unedifying, offensive and near-hysterical campaign to force Commissioner Dyson Heydon to step down. This Commissioner – a former Justice of the High Court – was treated by many with contempt.

Perhaps this behaviour isn’t that surprising though given the penchant of quite a few union officials to ignore the law whenever it suits their personal or industrial interests.

Unless, and until, Australia’s unions are cleaned-up, it’s my view they have absolutely no place influencing our national agenda. There are many decent, law-abiding unionists and ALP members who are disgusted at the corruption and poor governance being exposed by the Royal Commission. For their sake – and in the interests of unions remaining relevant – this Royal Commission must be allowed to finish its job.