Inside the system

Lawyers make a killing from anti-union witch hunt

ABBOTT’S ROYAL Commission into trade unions is costing the public $60 million, with overpaid lawyers taking home a fortune to do a hatchet job on the unions. Council Assisting Jeremy Stoljar is taking home $3.3 million. Other barristers contracted for the Commission are also doing well—Fiona Roughley will pocket $831,000, Richard Scruby $960,000, Sarah McNaughton $866,000 and Michael Elliott $1.3 million. Law firm Minter Ellison, the former employer of Attorney-General George Brandis, has a contract worth a whopping $17 million.

Abbott claims he’s spent all this money out of the kindness of his heart, for the sake of workers themselves. He says workers deserve “good unions”, and that an exemplary union is one “where members’ money is honestly administered and which is out there trying to ensure its members aren’t oppressed.”

Yet, the CFMEU is facing financial warfare from bosses and the wrath of the Commission in response to their attempts to do just that—defend their members. And no one has heard any complaints from Abbott.

In June the Victorian branch of the CFMEU was forced to pay construction giant Grocon $3.55 million as a result of a series of blockades at Melbourne construction sites in 2012. The blockades were a necessary and legitimate tactic to ensure basic union rights and safety for workers in an often dangerous industry. Unfair laws deem them “illegal”.

Grocon was found guilty of negligent safety practices that resulted in the deaths of three people on building sites in 2014. Ye they were only fined $250,000.

The culprit, Grocon CEO Daniel Grollo, sits on Abbott’s Business Advisory Council. Abbott’s rank hypocrisy, double standards and his cosy relationships with criminal employers all make it clear that the costly Commission is about defending profits, not workers.

WA Department turns hoses on homeless

THE WA “Department of Culture” installed a timer activated sprinkler system to deter homeless people from sleeping in a lane next to King Street Art Centre in Perth. The “30 second-spray system” blasted water onto the area that homeless people were using for shelter.

A homeless man Ted, who has been sleeping rough for 15 years, told Fairfax media, “We don’t bother anyone but they’ve put sprinklers here to get rid of us.” The Department removed the sprinkler system in July after coverage on Nine News caused public outrage. However, it still defended the degrading and cruel installation, saying it was removed because it wasn’t “to specification”. The Department’s deputy director-general David Ansell defended the dystopian device by saying it was installed to “curb anti-social behaviour”.

Abbott bureaucrat parades in Confederate flag

ACROSS THE US, Confederate flags have been taken down from state capitol buildings, and off the shelves at stores including Walmart, Amazon and eBay.

But Mark Coffey, the Northern Territory manager in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, didn’t see a problem with turning up to a Central Australian Beef Breeders dinner in July wearing a Confederate flag jacket. Coffey, a former police officer, has held senior roles administering Indigenous Affairs for many years, including overseeing the NT Intervention.

The flag was flown by the armies of Southern States in the American Civil War as they fought to defend slavery. Racist mass murderer Dylann Roof notoriously posed with the flag before he massacred nine people at a black church in South Carolina in June.

Coffey’s hosts responded to his choice of a racism and slavery themed outfit by awarding him the prize for “best dressed” at the dinner in Alice Springs. His wife accompanied him wearing the “butcher’s apron”—the Union Jack.

Pollies rort entitlements to watch sport

ANALYSIS OF politicians’ expense claims by the Guardian has found that Australian MPs claimed in excess of $27,000 in parliamentary expenses while travelling to watch sporting matches in 2014. The guilty include Deputy PM Warren Truss, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

They claimed expenses to go and watch the AFL Grand Final, the Australian Open, the Bledisloe Cup and the Ashes. Truss was the worst offender, attending the Ashes, the Australian Open, the State of Origin and the Australia v France rugby union Test. He claimed $8962 in travel expenses in the period where he was watching the matches.

The Liberal appointed Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has used his expense account to indulge his taste for fine dining. In the 12 months Wilson claimed $77,763, including a $17,800 tab for “meals and other expenses”. The spending spree comes on top of his $40,000 accommodation allowance and $332,000 salary package.

Politicians spend over $500,000 on flags

IN THE second half of 2014 Federal politicians spent over half a million dollars spreading the Australian flag around. John Alexander, Liberal MP for Bennelong, topped the spending. He made short work of $17,949 adorning his North Sydney electorate with the symbol of genocide and racism.

Coalition MPs were responsible for the bulk of the $502,000 flag spending. Over the period, which coincided with Abbott’s attempts to ramp up his “terror scare”, each MP was permitted to dole out an unlimited quantity of flags to RSLs, schools and other organisations as well as up to 900 desktop and hand-waiver flags, and 50 large flags could be given to individuals as well.


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