Grace Collier on the ACCC

Grace Collier asks the question:

First, does the ACCC think it is legal to pay union officials to use their right-of-entry powers to harass businesses that are in competi­tion with you?

Toll Holdings and the Transport Workers Union have a contract until 2017 that requires the union to spy on, harass and extort money from five of Toll’s competitors a year, for a union-owned entity to earn $50,000 a year. The royal commission into union malfeasance has the contract and the confession that it was entered into for anti-compet­it­ive reasons.

I assume ACCC action is already under way, but no one else shares that view.

The ACCC will not confirm or deny anything and everyone I talk to in industry and government says the ACCC people will do nothing, are useless and should all be sacked.

Two points: It’s probably not illegal to pay unionists to harass your competitors – not under the Act anyway.* Probably nobody in Canberra thought of it. Smart thinking by Toll. There might be some common law prohibition – gain by deception or something, but I suspect the ACCC couldn’t care less. The IR people wouldn’t care either – in their world view, harassing business is what unions are supposed to do.

Where Grace Collier is exactly right is on the ACCC – they are useless and should be sacked.

The ACCC does not exist to promote competition or protect consumers. It exists to create the impression that government exerts some control over business. From time to time the government uses that power to harass business. They can be very good at that – but as their long campaign on petrol prices shows, in the end they are quite useless in lowering prices (quite the opposite in fact) but in the meantime they have imposed huge costs and losses on the sector. To the extent that the ACCC undermines economic growth all Australians who have Super (i.e. that ever-shrinking part of the productive economy) bear the costs.

* – mind you, s45D of the ACT might apply.

(HT: Andrew Bolt)

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30 Responses to Grace Collier on the ACCC

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    In Japan this is one of the business services the Yakuza offer.

    So the TWU are now doing contracted stand-over work are they? Perhaps the ACCC should invite the real Yakuza in to balance them and give them some er, vigorous competion.

  2. Token

    There might be some common law prohibition – gain by deception or something, but I suspect the ACCC couldn’t care less. The IR people wouldn’t care either – in their world view, harassing business is what unions are supposed to do.

    The silence by the political classes to the revolations from the royal commission which Collier dutifully reported really does prove that the political class does not see that fixing this problem is its role.

  3. John Comnenus

    I know of a company that has been trying to recover a couple of mil from Toll that it has refused to pay for a number of years. The company is now going the expensive legal route. Has anyone else heard of Toll being a bully as a prime contractor?

    Hopefully some very senior people in Toll are heading to the slammer. In my view, and from the limited information I have, they appear to be a highly unethical organisation.

  4. Andreas

    So the TWU are now doing contracted stand-over work are they? Perhaps the ACCC Toll’s competitors should invite the real Yakuza in to balance them and give them some er, vigorous competion kick some fat unionist arse.

    Yes!

  5. Token

    So the TWU are now doing contracted stand-over work are they? Perhaps the ACCC Toll’s competitors should invite the real Yakuza in to balance them and give them some er, vigorous competion kick some fat unionist arse.

    Yes!

    It is going to be necessary to bring in the Yakuza as the activies against orginisations like Grollo in Vic prove the CFMEU has already become part of the outlaw bikey “franchise”.

    Hmmm, is there any previous example where this all leads to when the law is structured in a way where the only recourse is via illegal channels?

  6. This says plenty about the ethics of Toll.
    All who consign freight to Toll would be well advised to have a long thing about how secure is their commercial-in-confidence freight.

  7. ProEng

    Sinc, I am not a legal person but suggest there are a number of sections of the Trade Practices Act which could be breached by the company and the union. I suggest that Part IV A (eg section 51AB) & B may be applicable. The ACCC should be strengthened to get stuck into unions. Those breaking the law should be jailed and the unions fined to the extent they become bankrupt and can be longer legally operate. Also, the Company ACT should be amended so that it applies to Unions and Associations so that Directors can be personally liable for breaches of the law and negligent conduct.

  8. Craig Mc

    This says plenty about the ethics of Toll.

    And which football club is run by Toll’s ex-boss?

  9. And which football club is run by Toll’s ex-boss?

    I’ve no idea. Football interests me as much as does dating women-in-dungarees, going to church, or nailing my private parts to the workshop bench.

  10. Token

    …but suggest there are a number of sections of the Trade Practices Act which could be breached by the company and the union.

    Are you assuming that the AG in the relevant juristictions see their job is to enforce the law as it exists?

    They only do that with regard to fleecing tax payers via traffic infringements and laws covering mostly harmless yet illegal narcotics by sufferers of long term pain.

  11. Token

    I’ve no idea. Football interests me as much as does dating women-in-dungarees, going to church, or nailing my private parts to the workshop bench.

    Does it involve a hapless club which has not made a grand final in 50 years, yet allowed talk of a female being full forward?

  12. Toll by name, toll by nature. Why is anyone surprised?

  13. 1234

    I simply wouldn’t believe Grace Collier unless the supporting evidence is provided. She has form in saying she has seen a document that will blow an affair wide open – viz her claim that she had seen a document about Gillard’s time as a solicitor that would make her PMship untenable. Even though this was splashed in the oped pages of the AFR more than two years ago nothing has been subsequently produced.

  14. Does it involve a hapless club which has not made a grand final in 50 years, yet allowed talk of a female being full forward?

    No idea what you are talking about.
    The only football clubs I can name are the Qld & NSW state of origin teams, respectively. Plus; NQ Cowboys, Brisbane Broncos, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, The All Blacks, Penrith Panthers, Springboks, Dallas Cowboys, & a few others.
    I couldn’t tell you who won any grand final, or indeed if there is ever a grand final played.

    That aside, it would seem that we have confirmation of what has always been suspected; Toll are an unethical & ruthless bunch of anti-competitive bullies.
    I can say this much, they aren’t all that well run.
    Declaration: Toll are a customer of mine. I’m a far better supplier to them than they are to me. They are hopeless. Good on talk, very poor at backing up with action promises made by fellers who wear ties.

  15. Craig Mc

    1234: Never stop believing! Our Julia will return in shining triumph any day soon. Never mind that nasty royal commission.

  16. Craig Mc

    SATP: You weren’t meant to care, but Sinc might.

  17. Token

    I simply wouldn’t believe Grace Collier unless the supporting evidence is provided

    Are you talking the evidence on the record in the royal commission which was the basis of the article, which the lawyers of Toll verified?

    Please 1234, throw more dirt, as you are very sloppy and not very good at it.

  18. Token

    No idea what you are talking about.

    SaTP, I will assume the statement is made from ignorance.

    As you are from north of the Murray you will not get the deep significance in terms of networks & connections the boards and committees the Vic AFL teams provide. The parallels are not there in rugby league as neither NSW or QLD is obsessed with NRL to the degree that Victorians & Melbourne in particular is with AFL.

  19. As you are from north of the Murray…..

    Crikey, when did the Murray (apparently a stream running along the south coast of this great continent) become the demarcator of anything, except perhaps between two deep southern variations of Mexicans?
    Is there actually anything on the narrow & bleak isthmus betwixt it & the southern ocean?

  20. Bruce of Newcastle

    Can we call him Son of Numbers? I am thinking of this guy.

  21. Dan

    become the demarcator of anything, except perhaps between two deep southern variations of Mexicans?

    Why debase yourself with American terminology?

  22. thefrollickingmole

    And with apparent criminal links and a nationwide transport network I wonder what other unethical activities they might allow for their “mates”?

    You allow a seriously corrupting thing like standover men and you would have to wonder what other activities might be considered fair game?

  23. thefrollickingmole

    Oh, not to mention they dont do deliveries unless paid for by a credit card now. But Im sure their security systems in place are fine…

  24. Why debase yourself with American terminology?

    Western Movies (alas now but a memory) were responsible decades ago for that term being used to describe anybody from NSW. Victoria, being even further south, also qualifies.

  25. Dan

    Geographically, no. It makes them South Americans.

    You FNQ types really should think through your put downns

  26. Token

    …become the demarcator of anything, except perhaps between two deep southern variations of Mexicans?

    LOL, I first saw the term Mexico used for Victoria when as a kid we visited a cop shop in southern NSW.

    Nice to see that the cops who thought they were having fun were labelled by the mob with whose heads are baked harder by the sun than the cockroaches.

  27. Nice to see that the cops who thought they were having fun were labelled by the mob with whose heads are baked harder by the sun than the cockroaches.

    There is an invention known as a “hat”, this invention caught on long ago in Qld.

    Easy to believe that it may still be unknown in NSW & other parts.

    You FNQ types really should think through your put downns

    That one has been around for longer than I’ve been born. Western movies were quoted to the first Japanese servicemen taken Prisoner-of-War on the Australian mainland; “Hands up, alla same longa Hopalong Casserty!” (Makes me wish I’d been there to say it myself).

    But the main reason Victoria didn’t get much thought is the lack of internal migration. Most anything that has advanced Qld beyond the era of about the Boer War has been done, or kick-started by internal migrants, mostly from NSW or SA. Victorians, with notable exception, weren’t much for internal migration at the time.

  28. Dan

    That’s a lot of words for fuck all

  29. entropy

    Calling the benighted denizens of hose forced to live in the frozen wastes of southern Australia ‘Mexicans’ is a reflection of our deep and rich culture , where the pacific war was prosecuted from the shores of Queensland, thus providing temporary digs for thousands of yanks, many who took Qld brides and made a permanent hone here. Hence ‘mexicans’ , ‘southerners’ and castle pronounced Cass-l.

    If you fail to recognise our deep and rich cultural right to put you down as vaguely mendicant wish you could be heres, then I can’t help you.

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