Fallacious Argument and a Double Dissolution Election. The dishonest use of Language to trick the voting public.

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.
Fallacious defined.
based on a mistaken belief.
“fallacious arguments”
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.
adjective: 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;
archaic hollow-hearted
“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),
(b) bribery,
(c) blackmail,
(d) obtaining or offering secret commissions,
(e) fraud,
(f) theft,
(g) perverting the course of justice,
(h) embezzlement,
(i) election bribery,
(j) election funding offences,
(k) election fraud,
(l) treating,
(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,
(u) forgery,
(v) treason or other offences against the Sovereign,
(w) 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 [1998] 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?


14 thoughts on “Fallacious Argument and a Double Dissolution Election. The dishonest use of Language to trick the voting public.

  1. It seems to me that the only thing that the LNP excel in is abusing the language to be something it does not mean. Their abuse of the words ‘reform’ and ‘innovation’ outrages me because we know that what they are intending and undertaking in both instances is the opposite to what they say.

  2. Thanks Jennifer,
    I don’t think they are very good at Economic understanding either. The classic example is the Automotive industry which according to Econometric modelling from the university of South Australia will see a reduction of 200,000 jobs across the whole of Australia and a hit to the economy of $29 Billion. And they are good Economic managers?

  3. Thanks once again Vince for a well researched article.
    The language used by so many pollies – especially the LNP is designed to make people fearful.
    If the people would take the time to read and sort out what is truth or not, we, perhaps could make a better choice this time around when choosing who we want to govern us.
    Do we want a government to look after society as a whole or just look after the top end of town.

  4. Thank you Sandra,

    For some time now I have been disgusted with the dishonest use of words. For some reason the Labor party don’t seem to have the facility to actually correct these people. The worst part about it is they have legal training and have practiced in the Law.

    There is a concept in the Trades practices legislation called misleading and deceptive conduct which at it’s most outrageous (totally unbelievable claims) becomes “puffery” and is thus not subject to charges. I have argued for a long time now that outrageous statements about facts in political speak should be subject to sanction. There should be a Political and Media practices Act, where false statements have to be backed up by credible sources and facts. If they are not as in these cases about the CFMEU, there should be hefty fines and or prison time for telling lies.

    I will never see this happen in my lifetime, I am sure. The other side of the coin are the News Media which just repeat ad infinitum the lies they sprout.

    It’s obvious what they are doing. Attacking the Labor party by demonising their founders, the union movement. Simple but very devious and dishonest messages.

    • Vince, I think that people are becoming aware that they are being conned. Its when they start hurting in their hip pockets that they start asking ‘hey, what’s going on here really’.
      I keep talking to my grandkids about what is truth. I ask them to keep their minds open, look & evaluate what is being told to them both on TV & print.
      The old adage of you can’t believe too much of what you see & hear (especially when it comes to the MSM) still runs pretty true, even more so in these times of instant sound grabs.

    • The Trade Practices Act recognises the wrongs involved in misleading and deceptive conduct. If a business acts in such a way to induce a consumer into buying something, a consumer can seek redress from the business under Contract Law.

      So the same can apply to the social contract that political parties offer constituents. If constituents accept the offer of what a party promises then that is acceptance and the terms of the contract should be legitimate because if not, the constituents would have an action against the political party.

      I’d love to see Abbott and Turnbull on behalf of the Liberal/National Parties, both hauled before the courts with a class action from disenfranchised voters who argue that the LNP have not fulfilled the promises Abbott blurted before the 2013 election to trick voters into voting for them.

  5. Once again Vince an inspiring well-researched article stimulating some of my thoughts.

    I have privately used the term stealing when referring to Brough’s unauthorised access to Slipper’s diary for the ease of my conveying the basic scheme to use private information of Slipper for personal benefit to Brough and the LNP and to Slipper’s detriment. I suppose in another context I could be accused of dishonesty in using the more inflammatory “stealing” than the technical “unauthorised access”. As the now departed Kerry I imagine would say “I am not he PM or the Minister for Employment whose portfolio is to oversee union affairs truthfully”. Surely if these politicians are publicly using florid language like I did privately they should at least qualify it with the truth and the actual facts – Even Heydon did not refer to 100 CFMEU suspects let alone those people being actually charged! Ensure they are punished electorally!

    • Thank you for your comments David,

      You make a valid point. With the Diary business and Brough. Whereas we both know that the definition of Theft is “dishonestly appropriates property with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it” we also know that an Electronic copy of a Diary page may not under certain State jurisdictions and the Commonwealth be property. So this definition doesn’t apply. We also know that you have to prove dishonesty and that the taking was intended to be permanent. My point is that the process of gathering the evidence to actually charge is onerous indeed. Then that evidence needs to be put before a properly constituted court and ruled upon either by a sitting judicial officer or by a jury. Just saying that the CFMEU are thugs doesn’t actually make them that. Like in your neck of the woods where the VLAD laws assume that people who ride bikes together are guilty of something just because they ride bikes and might be part of a club and have a few tattoos. Of course these are convenient facts that the Liberals tend to disregard in their Language. What makes it more offensive is that the people using the language we are discussing are eminent lawyers.

  6. The saddest thing is that people like you Vince, aren’t employed by government to set things right.

    Government is full of text book kids that only had rote learning and never thought to ask why.

  7. Pingback: More Egregious words used by the liberals. Disgraceful falsification of the facts. | vinceogrady

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