After TURC: Where to now for Labor?

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With a PM in a seemingly perpetual honeymoon and the Trade Union Royal Commission scathing about the union movement, the Opposition has some major obstacles ahead if they want to win the next election, write Peter Wicks.

I COULDN'T HELP but snigger watching Malcolm Turnbull when at the end of a press conference yesterday, he told reporters that, as no charges had been laid, it would be inappropriate to do anything about Mal Brough.

I sniggered as that press conference was to make announcements regarding legislation, the setting up of an independent watchdog and a raft of other changes designed to castrate the union movement. These changes were, of course, based on the recommendations by the Trade Union Royal Commission for police to commence investigations into a number of union officials.

Amazing how Turnbull has himself, a minister and an Attorney-General on the case with changes to legislation and a plan so big he’s happy to take it to an election based on police investigations that in a large part are yet to even commence, let alone see charges laid.

Yet Mal Brough, who until this week was in charge of government integrity, has well and truly passed that point and is under investigation, yet strangely that warrants nothing.

I guess standards are something the government has in plentiful supply.

Yesterday, the Liberal Party fundraiser guest speaker extraordinaire, Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon handed down his findings and recommendations into corruption allegations within the union movement.

The Labor Party and union movement were quick to jump in and point out that this was a political witch-hunt engineered to inflict damage on the Coalition's political rivals.

If you think that’s an old argument and you’ve heard it all before, it’s probably because you have. In fact, you’ve been hearing it for the last couple of years.

If this is the best defense the Labor Party have as its foundations are being taken to with a chainsaw and a bobcat with a chain attached then, I’m sorry, it’s time for mutiny.

Let’s not rely on the Greens for help either. The Greens have themselves copies of The Lonely Planet’s Guide to a Trade Union’s Rectum and are venturing deep inside looking for alternative sources of cash. Adam Bandt speaking at the ETU conference, and Di Natale making himself familiar with union secretaries. One such case being the HSU #3 Branch, Kathy Jackson’s old branch where, despite praising the Greens constantly on social media, the current secretary wonders why he’s having negotiation issues with the Labor Government. I guess dumping unworthy praise on the Government's political rivals ain’t really working out that great…

Speaking of Kathy Jackson, the Royal Commission finally decided that the protection racket plan was not going to hold water and has instead decided to recommend police investigate her. Regular readers here would know that investigation by the Federal Organised Crime division and Victoria Police has been underway for months now.

As for the findings regarding Jackson, I’m not going to indulge in written masturbation about having exposed all of this years ago. I’ll leave all that to those in the mainstream who came to the party years later and now seek to claim to be the journalistic Burke and Wills or something. Readers of Wixxyleaks and Independent Australia know the real history and have the evidence a click away.

What is vastly more important is, where to from here?

We currently have two “left wing” parties, Labor and the Greens struggling to achieve any mind share from the media or the public. Both of these parties are being run by right wing factions within them.

Di Natale and his entire team don’t have enough charisma to fill an M&M and Labor can’t seem to strike a blow hard enough to break a glass jaw.

This week alone, we have seen the promise to fund Gonski by the Coalition left in tatters, the NDIS is in trouble, and the sick-tax is making a comeback in a different form. We have also seen one Government Minister, Mal Brough, stand aside due to ongoing Federal police investigations into him and another, Jamie Briggs, stand down after allegations he behaved in an inappropriate manner to a female consulate member whilst on a piss-up during a taxpayer-funded overseas trip.

That inappropriate behavior was, apparently, a comment on her “piercing eyes” and a peck on her cheek. However given we are constantly being told how “crowded” the bar was, I suspect we will be hearing of butt or breast fondling allegations soon.

While Coalition members have told of their sympathy for Briggs, I have sympathy for his wife and kids who will be the ones left to deal with this without the support of sympathetic colleagues.

That’s all in just one week.

We are also once again talking about raising the GST and the dead buried and cremated WorkChoices is set for a return with penalty rates once again being threatened, even despite Coalition voters support for them.

Yet with a prime minister that is popular with the media as well as the public and leaders of left-wing parties coming off like mutes with a mouthful of marbles, it hardly seems to matter.

I suspect if Abbott was still leader there would be public outrage.

I fear for the country's future if something drastic is not done soon.

We know the right wing agenda — we saw a glimpse of it in Hockey’s first budget. That was what they thought they could get away with whilst an unpopular leader lived at The Lodge, imagine what they’ll go for next time, particularly if they cripple the unions.

Yet here, in Australia, we see more opposition to Donald Trump than we do to the Coalition's threat to our way of life.

Make no mistake, there are matters that have been uncovered during the Royal Commission that warrant investigation and charges being laid, of that I have no doubt.

However, what I find interesting is how much government attention and funding is being put into this matter. As I said earlier, legislation, an independent watchdog and so on. This is to investigate matters involving thousands of dollars, the odd one such as Kathy Jackson surpassing the million  dollar mark and kickbacks to union officials.

Meanwhile, large companies hide funds and evade taxes that amount to billions of dollars. Yet in the Coalition, this fails to raise an eyebrow.

Many of these companies make millions in profits yet have paid no tax at all. This is a sham — and one that is being brushed aside by the Coalition. I wonder if that is because despite not paying tax, many of these companies manage to squeeze out a large political donations to the Coalition each year.

Dyson Heydon was right when he described the alleged corruption the Commission had uncovered as being

“The tip of the iceberg.”

I think he’ll find the bulk of that ice lies in the corporate sector and it will remain submerged because it is protected by the party that employed him as Commissioner.

It’s about time we had ourselves an ice-breaker in opposition stand up and start screaming blue murder.

We cannot let the Coalition control both houses of parliament.

I wonder if Canada will accept economic refugees from Australia with open arms?

Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.

Peter Wicks is an ALP member and former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy. Read more about the Jacksonville saga HERE. Donate to Peter's Jacksonville book writing fund HERE.

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