Wednesday, July 08, 2015
Bill Shorten before the Union Royal Commission
My first reaction in watching was just how much I would hate to go through something like that. My second reaction was interest in the theatre of it all. As part of this, I acquired an instinctive dislike of the Counsel assisting the Commission.
This morning's hearing centered on two main things.
The first were the terms and conditions of the employment of Mr Shorten's campaign director. This was funded directly or indirectly by Unibilt. Bit confusing here, for there were two companies with similar names. From this emerged the fact that a declaration for this contribution had only been recently lodged. Clearly, the Commission was attempting to establish that there was something shonky about either the the donation or that it was in some way linked to favours.
The second was the nature of an enterprise agreement with a cleaning company. Here the apparent aim is to establish that workers were disadvantaged in some way with benefit to the Australian Worker's Union.
Following the morning's hearings, I checked on media reaction. I must have been watching a different spectacle from reporters present, especially those in the Murdoch press. Obviously the failure to declare the 40k donation is important, although I can see how it might have happened because you have both electoral and consolidated party returns.
I went into the hearing with an open mind. It provided quite fascinating insights into the way processes work. However, and in the absence of new material this afternoon, nothing has been revealed that might (or should) provide that smoking gun. I went into the hearing with a relatively low opinion of Mr Shorten. Even though by lunchtime Mr Shorten was losing his cool, I would have collapsed long before this, I went through a total attitude shift. I really had no understanding of the man's strengths.
We will see what come out this afternoon and in later hearings. Clearly, it will do some political damage. The press reaction shows that. However, the live streaming allows someone like me to make my own judgments before seeing the press reporting.
My main reaction this afternoon was to thank heaven that I am not a current politician. My second reaction was to wonder how many deals I negotiated could stand up to that type of scrutiny. The main focus was on the Clearevent enterprise agreement.. Mr Shorten clearly became uncomfortable in discussion on internal company documents providing information that he was not aware of. His evidence will resume tomorrow.
Looking at media coverage. This is Andrew Bolt in Melbourne's Herald Sun; news.com.au; Mr Bolt also appears in the Courier Mail; Sky: the Government thinks that Mr Shorten is a bit like Craig Thompson; I'm not able to give you the Australian's covereage for it's all behind paywalls, but the headlines are universally negative; Michelle Grattan in the Conversation; Michael Gordon in the SMH (and other Fairfax media as well); finally, the Guardian.