Shortengate: the facts and implications

Shortengate contains so many threads that it could unravel not only his and others’ political carrears but the entire corrupt and feudal structure that is Australia’s unique industrial relations system.  Remember, we have the only system in the world where a judicial body determines what the pay rates should be for the vast majority of workers.  And that system is run as a retirement home for Union lags and ALP-friendly lawyers.

Anthony Klan has asked 10 questions that need to be answered in a case that would fall within racketeering laws if it were to be addressed in the U.S.

The facts are that one firm, Cleanevent, was allowed to create a monopoly in certain areas of cleaning by negotiating with Bill Shorten as head of the AWU an agreement whereby its workers were paid $18 per hour while those in rival suppliers of the service had to be paid $28 per hour.  The monopoly Union agreed to this in return for receiving $25,000 a year from Cleanevent as well as the contact details of all their workers.  These were signed up to swell the numbers the AWU claimed to represent. It is not clear whether they actually got charged Union fees.

There appears to have been no shortage of workers willing to supply their labour at $18 per hour, and indeed, some may well have been prepared to work for less.  In that sense the workers themselves were not dudded but the inflated costs that consumers pay for their service was diverted from the (excessive) wages the Fair Work Commission provides to workers largely to the profits of Cleanevent.  The firm is estimated to have earned $2 million a year from the scam, and the union’s paltry $25,000 a year speaks volumes about the commercial skills of the silver tails heading up the modern unions.

While questions need to be asked of Shorten who is forced to appear before the Royal Commission, the net should be wider.  In particular, where was the ostensible defender of competition the ACCC?  It has been headed over the years of the agreement by two ALP aligned Chairs.  Here is a naked case of a monopoly service being created in the only way such services can be sustained, that is through the connivance of government.  The ACCC chooses to pursue trivia in highly competitive industries rather than to root out institutional assisted monopolies where they clearly lead to exploitation of the consumer and stilted playing field for business rivals.

But while the ACCC has been blind or sleeping, it is the arbitration system that is the real cause of consumer exploitation and workplace inflexibilities.

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the death of Ray Evans, the founder of the H. R. Nicholls Society and agitator for free markets in labour.  Other than generating a national debate on IR all the agitation has merely led to shifts in the form of labour regulation, many of which have proved retrogressive.  Could this Royal Commission and the scandals it is unearthing finally start unravelling the regulatory straightjacket Ray was tilting against?

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38 Responses to Shortengate: the facts and implications

  1. Could this Royal Commission and the scandals it is unearthing finally start unravelling the regulatory straightjacket Ray was tilting against?

    God, I hope so Alan.
    But as you say, the judicial system is so politicised in favour of the corrupt Left that I won’t be holding my breath.

  2. wreckage

    In answer to the final question: Absolutely no chance, I’m afraid.

  3. Ooh Honey Honey

    Ironically though it sounds like the deal with Cleanevent allowed them to compete by circumventing the award system. We just want that for everyone I guess.

  4. rafiki

    “the union’s paltry $25,000 a year speaks volumes about the commercial skills of the silver tails heading up the modern unions”.
    I think it might be too early to make this call. $25,000 a year is paltry unless there are other elements of the consideration that underlay the deal. It may be that Shorten and others regarded the increased voting power of their faction that resulted from inflated memberships as enough additional benefit. A very close examination of money trails might reveal a more complex picture, but maybe Heydon will think that there is not just time available. For what it’s worth, I suspect that we don’t have the full picture.

  5. Tintarella di Luna

    The Trade Union Royal Commission must also look at the impact of this corruption on the institution which oversees all other institutions — the parliament — given the symbiotic relationship between the Labor party, the make up of parliamentary Labor and the very trade unions which determine who is elected to parliament and who is shunted aside based on the dodgy numbers at National Conference.

    The ramifications are absolutely pivotal to the good governance of Australia and for Australia’s economy. When the Labor party is in power it makes the laws and appoints the judges and the commissioners to quasi-judicial and statutory appointments and it is those appointments which determine how the law that is made is then applied. One need only look at Queensland or Victoria or look at the Fair Work Commission appointments, and look at the paralysis of process around the investigation into Craig Thomson, the disappearance of documents and files pivotal to the establishing an AWU slush fund in WA whereby 100s of 1000s of dollars were siphoned off into the pocket and backyard of Bruce Wilson, former lover of one Ms Julia Gillard.

  6. Bad Samaritan

    Another angle not yet covered is the connection between various modern well-heeled ALP luminaries such as Shorten, Marles, etc and their “old schools”; the Xavier College, Geelong Grammar, Scotch College crowds.. In Bill’s current case, how many execs and owners in businesses doing sweetheart deals with him back then (and when he was a minister)were his former schoolmates, or else other former alumni of Xavier College?

    In my experience one of the major contact channels in career advancement / contract awarding is via the Old Boys network even if the you didn’t know the people when you were at school. In fact, isn’t this the essence of the Old School Tie; a major component of crony capitalism? Well?

  7. notafan

    Sounds similar to the deal Coles and Woolworth have but IGA etc cannot get.
    These arrangements are a workaround for no disadvantage clauses.
    I like having collective bargaining to protect workers but the system appears to have become corrupted.
    How does this get fixed.
    Sounds like too many unions are now run by ‘professionals’ looking for fat cat and political careers with little or no interest in protecting the rights of members.
    It is similar to the problem with policing.
    No interest in investigating ‘minor’ crime, only in revenue collection.

  8. nfw

    The trouble with this post/article and many many others is the author is preaching to the converted. The leftoids will find some spin to make it a win for the workers. They just won’t be convinced by a “small” one-off, as they will say, insignificant episode. as Mr Ali puts it; it is only a minor irritant. The leftoids are low IQ and/or delusional and power hungry. They will laugh this off while attacking Mr Hockey for speaking the truth, ie get a good job which pays well and you can afford, after a while, a good home. Their ALPBC will make sure its open-mouth dribbling adherents never find out the truth about any Lie-bor politician.

  9. Docket62

    @NFW. That is the truth of it right there…..

  10. incoherent rambler

    It is similar to the problem with policing.
    No interest in investigating ‘minor’ crime,

    Laws that generate disrespect for our police and destroy any possible goodwill with citizens deserves a thread of its own.

  11. outsider

    Saw the execrable Chris Uhlmann on this yesterday. He waved it all away with a smirk. Just a bit of political argy bargy, to use JEG’s wonderful contribution to the contest. Abbott trying to get his enemies, that is the Green Line.

    Will it go anywhere? Of course they are all involved and criminality abounds but given the soft kid gloves granted JEG last year – ‘you must be tired, Ms Gillard’ – few hold hopes. One thing though, you have a far better chance with Ms McNaughton than Stoljar, J. The woman has it all, manners, tact, a forensic grasp of detail, balance, drive, the ability to ask hard questions, and keep probing from a position of knowledge.

  12. Tel

    Magic door allows you to bypass the minimum wage… got to pay the gatekeeper of course.

  13. pete m

    Please don’t call it Shortengate.

    Gates are lovely things and their collective worth should no longer be the calling card for political scandals.

    Leave gates alone!

  14. Old School Conservative

    I’m beginning to warm to a theme – an Australian version of say “Culture of Corruption” or “Clinton Cash”. Written by an honest investigative journalist who can cut throughout the masses of data that currently clog our consciousness.. Now there’s a best seller that would bring all the facts before the Australian public.

  15. Up The Workers!

    In sealing the deal for the poor, ripped-off and sold-out suckers of Clean Event employees, Bull Shitten, the Australian LIARS Party master-negotiator, demonstrated all of the laser-sharp negotiating skills he demonstrated so commandingly when he decisively (but unsuccessfully) negotiated the purchase of a lukewarm meat pie with that little Vietnamese shop-keeper lady some years ago.

    His brutally tough negotiating skills, are evidently just as sharply honed as Wayne Swan’s arithmetical ability, or Craig Thomson’s sincerity, or Juliar Gillard’s honesty, or Stephen Conjob’s planning and cost-analysis abilities, or Kevin Rudd’s modesty, or Peter Garrett’s insulation-installing methodology.

  16. Boambee John

    notafan
    #1710300, posted on June 15, 2015 at 7:05 am
    Sounds similar to the deal Coles and Woolworth have but IGA etc cannot get.

    notafan:

    I seem to recall that Fairfax did a hit piece a few weeks back on how the “right wing” Shoppies Union (led by those eeevil Catholics) had done a deal with the major supermarket chains to remove penalty rates in favour of a fixed hourly rate. Fairfax waxed quite wroth on the matter.

    I’m certain //sarc// that it is only a matter of time before Fairfax does a similar article on the AWU/Cleanevent deals and Bill Shorten’s involvement (after all he did go to a Jesuit school).

  17. Boambee John

    “an honest investigative journalist “

    Old School Conservative:

    How does one find such a person in the Australian MSM? Surely it would be “easier by far that a camel should pass through the eye of a needle …”

  18. johno

    Could this Royal Commission and the scandals it is unearthing finally start unraveling the regulatory straitjacket Ray was tilting against?

    That largely depends on how well the Abbott government plays it. Their track record isn’t encouraging.

    It will also depend, a bit, on those within the ALP who bridle at having to work within a system of union preferment. A deliberating civil war, or possible split, are possible, but no sign of one yet.

  19. Baldrick

    While questions need to be asked of Shorten who is forced to appear before the Royal Commission…

    But according to TheirABC:

    Opposition leader Bill Shorten has agreed to appear before the Royal Commission …

  20. Boambee John

    “A deliberating civil war, or possible split, are possible, but no sign of one yet.”

    johno:

    Item on Macquarie News this morning, that a group of Coalition and ALP members are negotiating on a deal (involving civil unions) to defeat Bill S’s Gay Marriage Bill. Don’t underestimate the potential that this particular battle in the culture war might have to precipitate an ALP split.

  21. Snoopy

    Argy Bargy wasn’t coined or contributed by JEG. She stole it from Peter Beattie. Old habits die hard.

  22. The LNP have an absolutely unique opportunity here to expose the corrupt, hypocrisy of crony Socialist Labor and the Unions and bury them for the next few decades.

    Which of course means the side of the barn will hit them in the face as they flail around blindly looking for the target before they run home crying with a splinter in their forehead.

    Here’s a hint Libs;
    Get some good media advisers, pay them well and after a while you’ll be able to get a bigger Lower House and maybe even own an Upper House too.

  23. Monkey's Uncle

    If a senior Coalition frontbencher had been implicated in the kind of sordid deals that Shorten was involved in, the entire press gallery and much of social media would be baying for blood.

  24. Dan

    The LNP have an absolutely unique opportunity here to expose the corrupt, hypocrisy of crony Socialist Labor and the Unions and bury them for the next few decades.

    Enact RICO and give your right-wing lawyer mates some work to do

  25. Fred Lenin

    Going to be painfull watching “Beaconsfield Bill”,as fran jelly the activite on alpbc calls him . I can just hear him bumbling his semi literate crap and lies to the RC ,who are now immune to lies ,after listening to all the union mafia crims they have heard. Including giliard another semi literate ” law” clerk .
    The qualifications for alp leadership read like the CV of the Godfather, rudd. Drowning thousands of criminal illegals giliard stealing money from Widows and Orphans ,and Beaconsfield Bill making a name for its self ,with the aid of the alp media ,over Poor Buggers trapped in a fallen shaft.
    Whatever it takes as Richo the Fireman says !

  26. Mon

    I do hope the RC asks for more time to cover all the aspects of the corruption that have been allegedly stated in reading the comments. I always think of Shorten not really being a GPS type, more like a hanger on. Maybe somthing to do with who paid his school fees.

  27. notafan

    It’s not the removal of penalty rates per se that is the problem (Maccas don’t have them either surprise surprise) it is the uneven playing field that that creates, especially for small business, that can’t or won’t pay the unions for a ‘deal’.
    Fair Work is a paper caredboard tiger that will only pounce on the weak.
    It’s a no good system and we need to start again.
    I don’t feel entirely comfortable with an employment system completely devoid of protections for workers. The pendulum of power swings to the employee when there is plenty of work around and the employer when there is not.
    Right now neither is free to negotiate with each other.

  28. hzhousewife

    Enact RICO and give your right-wing lawyer mates some work to do</blockquote

    You mean there ARE such people?

  29. I can just hear him bumbling his semi literate crap and lies to the RC.,/i>

    Heydon: So Mr. Shorten, did you or did you not authorise this agreement?
    BS: Well, I’m not going to give a running commentary on the Royal Commission…
    Heydon: Mr. Shorten this IS the Royal Commission…
    BS: Yes, but I stand by my record of standing up for the rights of workers. So successful was it that I managed to persuade people to subconsciously join the AWU, I never even had to ask them.
    Heydon: So you did authorise this agreement?
    BS: Well, I don’t know what the agreement says but I agree with everything in it.
    Heydon: This is your signature? Signed in Perth on…
    BS: Actually I was in Melbourne on that date so it can’t be my signature.
    Heydon: That puts you in an awkward position then doesn’t it Mr. Shorten?
    BS: Let me tell you what is awkward. Why is Tony Abbott refusing gay marriagefreedomequality? Why is Tony Abbott denying windmills a chance to tilt…
    Heydon: MR.SHORTEN, this has nothing to do with Tony Abbott, I’m sure he is busy enough running the country…
    BS: Well I’m going to give a running commentary on running the country…
    Heydon: FFS, get off the stand you muppet.

  30. Jim

    Gold for Mr. Rusty! Your words sounded just like Mr. Shorten’s.

  31. jupes

    Shortengate contains so many threads that it could unravel not only his and others’ political carrears but the entire corrupt and feudal structure that is Australia’s unique industrial relations system.

    Or Heydon will just allow him to get away with it. He has form.

  32. incoherent rambler

    So imagine the TURC recommends charges be brought against a raft large barge of ALP politicians. Which police force would investigate and bring charges and which court system would convict them?

  33. Splatacrobat

    Heydon: FFS, get off the stand you muppet.

    BS: For my time today in providing Union safety training to the court, is it okay I leave my invoice for $25,000 with your Article Clerk your honour?

  34. Has anyone noted the government organisations that took advantage of the below award wages?

    Sydney Olympics, Opera House, etc.

    Think how much of the locked in high wages enjoyed by government white collar employees came as a result of below award wages being paid to the “below the workers”.

    Budgeting 102

  35. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    BS: For my time today in providing Union safety training to the court, is it okay I leave my invoice for $25,000 with your Article Clerk your honour?

    I’m not laughing – if anyone would have the sheer staggering sense of self – entitlement to do so, it would be Bill Shorten.

  36. thefrollickingmole

    Bill will get away with this, after all

    He didnt know what was on those invoices but he agreed with them anyway.

  37. Splatacrobat

    The workplace agreements were Bill’s business model for ensuring a spot in Parliament. When unions run the political wing of Labor,the pre selection process is only window dressing.

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