Three Cheers for Work Choices
I had a nice lady from Newspoll on the phone last night to discuss my humble opinions on the Australian Industrial Relations System on behalf of Joe Hockey and his friendly assassins. Clearly the Howard Politbureau want to hone their electoral message. They were really digging for resonant themes. Work Choices was not mentioned once, although the lady laughed when I kept asking if this was the same as Work Choices. I assured the lady that I thought that the current IR Laws were crap and we left on good terms.
And then I read this in the Age. Surely this is nothing to do with an election campaign says I feigning disbelief. Perhaps that is why the election is being delayed. Need more time time to dig up dirt.
FeralFederal cabinet has unleashed the full force of the law on the NSW branch of the Transport Workers Union, launching eight separate inquiries into allegations that the union rorted its own members' funds.
TWU state and national secretary Tony Sheldon described the investigations as "the Spanish Inquisition", but said he would co-operate.
The furore follows weekend reports that the union set up a bogus company — the Industrial Rights, Education and Training Fund — which amassed several million dollars for unspecified purposes. The fund is alleged to have taken payments from employers who, in return, were given industrial peace and were able to negotiate favourable industrial agreements that undercut workers' pay rates.
Cabinet discussed the issue on Tuesday, and yesterday Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey announced that:
■Treasurer Peter Costello will ask the Australian Tax Office to investigate.
■Special Minister for State Gary Nairn will ask for an Australian Electoral Commission probe.
■Parliamentary secretary to the treasurer Chris Pearce will ask the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to check compliance with the Corporations Act.
■Mr Hockey has written to NSW Police Minister David Campbell asking him to investigate potential breaches of the state Crimes Act over allegations of corrupt commissions.
■Mr Hockey has asked NSW Premier Morris Iemma to check the TWU's disclosures under NSW election funding laws.
■Mr Hockey has asked Mr Iemma to explore whether the TWU's investigations of occupational health and safety breaches were in good faith.
■Industrial Registrar Doug Williams is checking the union's compliance with its disclosure obligations under the Workplace Relations Act.
■Workplace Authority chief Barbara Bennett is checking the collective agreement between the TWU and labour hire firm Blue Collar Recruitment for its compliance with the act.
Mr Hockey has tried to draw the Labor Party into the issue. "Kevin Rudd and (ACTU president) Sharan Burrow and Tony Sheldon have a lot of explaining to do to members who have had their wages undercut so that this fund can be greased to run Kevin Rudd's campaign," he said.
How are these guys every going to find the time to campaign with all the dirt digging that has to be done. And what was all that stuff about the