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Sorting the gems from the dung in the royal commission on union corruption

David Peetz writes in The Conversation (29.4.16) about the potentially worthwhile changes to trade union behaviour and governance that might come out of the recent Royal Commission into union corruption.

‘Open up volume two of the report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption and Governance, and the first substantive thing you encounter is an unattributed poem – about blackmail.

‘Written before the first world war, it was seen as an argument against peace with future enemies. By placing it here, commissioner Dyson Heydon consciously likens unions, particularly the Maritime Union of Australia, to Viking raiders and says that if you give in to union demands once, they will keep coming back until you finally defeat them.

‘It’s hardly an unbiased view of trade unions in 21st century Australia. Nor is it the only hint of bias in the report nor in its behaviour.

‘And why should it be unbiased? A royal commission is not a court, it is an arm of the executive government, or what Heydon called an “administrative inquiry”. A royal commission report is like a huge, and very expensive, consultancy report.

‘… Unions need to work out which of the recommendations are worth considering – to sort out the gems from the dung.’

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