Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The "Thomson Affair"

just got messier - if that is even possible. The much too long delayed report by Fair Work Australia into the Health Services Union has finally been released.
I have not read it. I will not be reading it. I have no reason to read it. It runs to more than a thousand pages and I have better things to do with my time. It has cost $430,000 so far and will cost far more before the matter is concluded.
A lot could have been done with that $430,000. A lot could have been done with the union money that appears to have been misspent too. More could have been done with the money that will be wasted on future investigations into this sordid affair.
All this makes me angry. I am angry that the person at the centre of the affair continues to maintain his innocence (which is his right) but refuses to answer questions "because it might prejudice any proceedings" against him. That is not his right. He is a Member of Parliament. He might have moved from the government bench to the cross-bench and be nominally "independent" but the move is meaningless - an attempt at saving face by the government but done in such a way that allows them to cling to power.  At very least Mr Thomson needs to stand aside while the allegations that he misused union funds/credit card etc are properly investigated by those with the power to do it. The problem is that, if he did that, the government would almost certainly fall.
Tonight is Budget night. Our Treasurer is promising us a "surplus" - a surpuls of $1.5 billion. In terms of government savings and spendings this is very little. It is the "political" surplus they had to have. It is going to be used as one of the cornerstones of the next election campaign. It will, they claim, show that the government has managed the economy well.
The government has spent a lot of money and has nothing much to show for it. The pink batts are well hidden in the houses of a few and the coffers of the union movement whose members charged excessive amounts for putting them three. The NBN rollout has not reached very far but it will cover a few electorates where they hope to cling to power. There are the often unwanted school buildings in similar electorates and again the BER has lined the union coffers nicely.
Not quite 11% of Australian workers belong to a union. Many of them are inside the state and federal public services. Despite their low numbers they still wield a great deal of power in the ALP and over the government.  It makes me wonder how long it will take to resolve the "Thomson affair" and how much will be swept under carpets for innocent people to trip over at some later date.
It also makes me wonder how much good could have been done if the money used to investigate all this could have been used for worthwhile purposes - like training in communication skills for medical staff.
Just before I wrote this I sent an e-mail to someone who was asking if I would consider running a day workshop for her staff in that very area. I would like to do it but there is no money to pay me. I had to say no. 
I should not have had to say no.


the fly in the web said...

So the Australian unions resemble those of France...representing almost nobody and wielding power in the state.
Not a hopeful formula.

catdownunder said...

Not a hopeful formula at all - they run the Australian Labor Party but represent just 10% of the workers - mostly public servants. Sigh.