In this blog I discuss the use of words in the political discourse. Particularly the words, Corrupt and Dishonest. I argue that their use by Liberal Politicians is in itself, Corrupt and Dishonest.
based on a mistaken belief.
synonyms: erroneous, false, untrue, wrong, incorrect, faulty, flawed, inaccurate, inexact, imprecise, mistaken, misinformed, misguided, misleading, deceptive, delusive, delusory, illusory, sophistic, specious, fictitious, spurious, fabricated, distorted, made up, trumped up;
I have put it here as a guide for the reader with which to judge what I am going to write.
So let us set the scene.
Tony Abbott becomes Prime Minister designate of Australia on 7th September 2013. His ministry is sworn in and he starts governing.
One of his promises, soon kept, was to have a Royal Commission into The Trades Unions. The Title was Royal Commission into Trades Union Governance and Corruption.
The Royal Commissioner was a retired judge. Dyson Heydon. AC QC.
The Commission was established on 13th March 2014.
On 30th October 2014 the commission was extended to 31st December 2015.
When it reported, the commission referred a number of people and organisations to various other jurisdictions.
There were a total of 44 individuals and organisations referred for 90 alleged matters which were both civil and criminal.
I did an analysis of the referrals and here is the break up.
26 were referred to the Fair Work Commission (Federal). Civil matters
7 were referred to New South Wales fair Work commission. Civil matters.
5 were referred for Larceny, fraud or obtaining a financial advantage by deception. Criminal matters.
2 for giving False Evidence to the Royal Commission. Criminal matters
1 for misleading Statements Criminal matter.
5 to the ACT Fair Work commission. Civil matters
19 for corrupt commissions. Criminal matters
13 for false accounting. Criminal Matters
1 Taxation matter Criminal matter
1 to revoke charity status Civil matter
5 to ASIC. Civil matters
3 aide and abet. Criminal matters
1 ACT Criminal Offence. Criminal matter.
1 to Change an Act of parliament.
So a total of 42 Criminal matters and 48 civil Matters.
We hear much of the CFMEU nowadays from the Liberal Party Government I propose that much of the Language they (the Liberal Government) use is Corrupt in and of itself.
Of the individuals referred to other law enforcement and other agencies 10 were from the CFMEU for 13 referrals of which 6 were Civil matters and 7 were criminal.
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott both argued for the return of the ABCC (Australian Building Control Commission) as a watchdog for the construction industry. Their argument as you will see is one of criminality, but the ABCC is not a Commission which deals in criminal matters. There are enough Police forces and a Crime commission in Australia which can do that. SO arguing criminality in the same breath as the ABCC return is a bit tricky.
Recklessly using words and facts.
Why was the word Corrupt used in the Name of the Royal Commission?
Let us look at the dictionary meaning of the word Corrupt.
1. 1. having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.
“unscrupulous logging companies assisted by corrupt officials”
synonyms: dishonest, dishonourable, unscrupulous, unprincipled, amoral, untrustworthy, underhand, deceitful, double-dealing, disreputable, discreditable, shameful, scandalous;
corruptible, bribable, buyable, venal, fraudulent, swindling, grafting, criminal, lawless, felonious, villainous, nefarious, iniquitous;
informal crooked, shady, tricky, dirty, low-down, rascally, scoundrelly;
informal bent, dodgy;
“they alleged that the government was inefficient and corrupt”
In all of the Crimes Acts of the States and the criminal codes of those States the word corrupt is used but it is not defined.
What does it then mean? A lawyer friend says that the word is interchangeable with dishonesty.
The only Act of a Parliament of a State (or the Commonwealth) in Australia that I could find which defines Corrupt Conduct is in Section 8 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 in New South Wales. This act only deals with public officials, but is useful to understand the definition of Corrupt conduct.
As you will see Corruption almost always involves some sort of crime which has a dishonest base to that crime.
8 General nature of corrupt conduct
(1) Corrupt conduct is:
(a) any conduct of any person (whether or not a public official) that adversely affects, or that could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the honest or impartial exercise of official functions by any public official, any group or body of public officials or any public authority, or
(b) any conduct of a public official that constitutes or involves the dishonest or partial exercise of any of his or her official functions, or
(c) any conduct of a public official or former public official that constitutes or involves a breach of public trust, or
(d) any conduct of a public official or former public official that involves the misuse of information or material that he or she has acquired in the course of his or her official functions, whether or not for his or her benefit or for the benefit of any other person.
(2) Corrupt conduct is also any conduct of any person (whether or not a public official) that adversely affects, or that could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the exercise of official functions by any public official, any group or body of public officials or any public authority and which could involve any of the following matters:
(a) official misconduct (including breach of trust, fraud in office, nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, oppression, extortion or imposition),
(d) obtaining or offering secret commissions,
(g) perverting the course of justice,
(i) election bribery,
(j) election funding offences,
(k) election fraud,
(m) tax evasion,
(n) revenue evasion,
(o) currency violations,
(p) illegal drug dealings,
(q) illegal gambling,
(r) obtaining financial benefit by vice engaged in by others,
(s) bankruptcy and company violations,
(t) harbouring criminals,
(v) treason or other offences against the Sovereign,
homicide or violence,
(x) matters of the same or a similar nature to any listed above,
(y) any conspiracy or attempt in relation to any of the above.
(2A) Corrupt conduct is also any conduct of any person (whether or not a public official) that impairs, or that could impair, public confidence in public administration and which could involve any of the following matters:
(a) collusive tendering,
(b) fraud in relation to applications for licences, permits or other authorities under legislation designed to protect health and safety or the environment or designed to facilitate the management and commercial exploitation of resources,
(c) dishonestly obtaining or assisting in obtaining, or dishonestly benefiting from, the payment or application of public funds for private advantage or the disposition of public assets for private advantage,
(d) defrauding the public revenue,
(e) fraudulently obtaining or retaining employment or appointment as a public official.
If corrupt conduct is in fact going on, dishonesty, as part of a the criminal offence has to be proven in a court of law. With the correct charge and evidence led to prove that the person charged is actually dishonest as part of the offence.
Dishonesty in itself has been discussed at length in the high Court of Australia and is too long to include here but in Peters v The Queen  HCA 7 in the High Court of Australia, the concept is discussed in depth. Particularly the test of dishonesty.
So what the Name of the Royal Commission really means to the reasonable lay person is “Royal Commission into union Governance and Dishonesty”.
That rather seems to be jumping the gun. If they know that the Unions are dishonest, then why have a Royal Commission? Why not just refer them to the Police in the State where that known dishonesty occurs?
This proves to me the proposition that the Royal commission was set up as a political exercise to smear the Unions and their political arm the labor party.
Are the following forms of words corrupt and/or dishonest?
Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia said…………On the ABC 7.30 report 21 March.
LEIGH SALES: You’ve set up the ABCC as a trigger for a federal election, a double dissolution no less, a very rare event in Australian politics. How many Australians do you think have actually heard of the ABCC, let alone care?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well I think many Australians have – many, if not most Australians are very well aware of the level of lawlessness and corruption and waste in the construction industry. The Hayden royal commission set it out very graphically, if we had reason to doubt it. There’s about a hundred officials of the CFMEU and members of the CFMEU in – facing court proceedings at the moment. It is a – there has been a degree of lawlessness in that construction sector that was identified by the Cole royal commission years ago. The Howard Government set up the Australian Building and Construction Commission to have a strong industry watchdog which reduced disputes. It improved productivity by 20 per cent. The Labor Party in government, Mr Shorten in fact as the minister, abolished the ABCC and what have we seen? Industrial disputes rising, lawlessness rising. Do you know, Leigh, nearly 70 per cent of all of the industrial disputes in Australia are in the construction sector and that tells you that Hayden was right and I believe we are right …
George Brandis, The Attorney-General of Australia on ABC Lateline said…………………..21st March program.
EMMA ALBERICI: The PM’s letter to the Governor-General says that this is an important measure to deal with widespread and systematic criminality in the building and construction industry, but indeed, the ABCC can’t deal with serious or organised crime, can it? It’s only a civil jurisdiction.
GEORGE BRANDIS: That may be so, Emma, but the fact is that the Heydon royal commission exposed almost 100 instances of criminal conduct by officials and members of the CMFEU.
But the reality from the Final report of the Royal commission is to be found at this web address
Let’s do an examination of the referrals detailed above.
First though let’s review what a Royal commission is not.
1/ A Royal Commission is not a court of Law.
2/ A Royal Commission does not find people guilty. It refers allegations to law enforcement bodies.
Some Failures to prosecute CFMEU members.
Justin Steele. CFMEU Organiser Queensland. Charge of Assault dropped. Charge proferred by the TURC Police taskforce.
Johnny Lomax CFMEU organiser Australian Capital Territory. Charge of blackmail dropped. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/john-lomax-blackmail-charge-dropped-as-cfmeu-attacks-legality-of-police-raid-20151019-gkcflv.html
What happened to the “almost 100 instances of criminal conduct by officials and members of the CMFEU?”
That is not a fact as George Brandis, a supposedly eminent Barrister and the Attorney-General of Australia seems to believe.
What about “There’s about a hundred officials of the CFMEU and members of the CFMEU in – facing court proceedings at the moment?”
That is not a fact either, as Malcolm Turnbull, a supposedly eminent Barrister and Prime Minister of Australia seems to think.
On 26th March Michaelia Cash, the employment Minister held a Press conference in Perth. The main theme was the ABCC. She repeated the “100 CFMEU members” theme of Turnbull and Brandis but added before the courts for 1000 charges/matters. I can’t give a source because it hasn’t been put on her website yet. But what she said means that each CFMEU member (100 of them) are before the court chargesd with an average of 10 charges each. I would love to see the list.
My idea here is that the use of the word corruption in the Royal Commissions title is wrong in giving the impression of criminality of the union movement as a whole.
The Use of the words that George Brandis and Malcolm Turnbull uttered are also dishonest, because the royal commission only referred 12 matters which had CFMEU content , 7 of them criminal about 10 people who worked for or who are presently working for the CFMEU.
The use of words matters and we are off in this Election campaign to a very bad start.
I think the Liberal Party may be dishonest in their use of language, what do you think?