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A beautiful morning and a contemplation of just how a fish rots when that fish is the Gillard government.

Ah, its a beautiful l morning up here in my part of the world. There is just the slightest hint of coolness in the dawn air and my coffee is hot and full of the flavour that you have dreamt about in those moments between sleeping and waking. Now as I sit here I just can’t help but be unsurprised that the Labor government is staying in power because Craig Thompson is doing a merry  dance with lawyers and judges and other minions of the legal process.

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Its kinda apt that a very bad Government is ably to stay in power only because someone who was allegedly a rather bad secretary for his union who allegedly misused a motza of his unions funds for his own gratification.This is especially so when you consider the sort of misuse of government funds that is about to happen via the so called “clean energy fund” to be administered by the looniest of the loony Christine Milne and he fellow Green religious zealots. Ok, I’m just doing a bit of free association thinking here but I can’t help thinking that in this celebration of the crucifixion of Jesus that the one thing that we can be certain of is that there will be no cure for the canker of Craig Thompson and resurrection for Labor from the pustular death that his membership of the caucus is bringing ever closer.

Craig Thompson discussing his political future on the bus to Parliament house.

Of course the raw numbers in the house is the only reason that Thompson is even still a member of the Gillard governemnt and that he has not done the honourable thing and resigned his seat…

Maybe Ray’s claim that “a fish rots from the head down” is not that true when it comes to this current government because if you think about it having a rotten cloaca like Craig Thompson is certainly not doing anything but rotting the fish from the arse hole up.

Cheers Comrades

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Peter Slipper bewigged and malodorous

Just a quickie this morning as I very soon have to get my number one child up and ready for school. I find this story rather sadly amusing:

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The man knows that he has no reputation and that he is loathed so much in his own seat that he will be turfed out at the next election and clearly he is not seeking any sort of redemption in the eyes of the public with nonsense like this.
So much for the Gillard‘s government being “progressive” if they are willing to countenance nonsense like this.

Cheers Comrades
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Super bitches, heroines and a story arc that just keep delivering the drama, or it ain’t over yet Craigy

Kathy Jackson, heroine of this tale

You would have to think that Craig  Thomson has become something of a poster boy for the Labor party’s worst attributes if you have  been following the saga with any sort of detailed eye.  For those of us who enjoy a good scandal (well if it is being experienced by the other side) that this one has all of the elements of a rollicking good soapy plot. You have an aspirant for power who is fond of a bit of the old illicit rumpy pumpy , a union  that seems to be innately corrupt, its officials who represent the most lowly workers are shoulders deep in the trough using the union funds for rather dubious purposes, you have the long suffering pregnant wife who provides the sympathy angle to humanise the villain and make his strident critics look heartless when they want to keep him at his post during the climax of her confinement. All we need now is aliens and we would have every possible cliché that you could imagine. However the most amazing thing of all about the whole Thomson affair is that its all true and its all happening in real time in the lounge rooms of the nation. Better yet in true soapy style just when his apologists were thinking that he had dodged a bullet over the use of his union credit card the trouble rises to the surface again as another police investigation into the HSU begins over the financial irregularities and the misuses of union funds:

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Most notable in its absence yesterday on the parliament set was the leading super bitch of the drama fully endorsing our anti-hero Craig Thomson as she has done so many times before and who knows what that will do to the story arc.

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Its the subtleties that give a plot-line its depth and body that make a simple story of an ambitious union official turned member of parliament so amusing and its the power plays that turn on such a flawed character that make this rather trite story of a pants man undone into high drama.
As they used to say on a rather camp superhero show “tune in next week for the next exciting episode, same Bat channel same Bat time,,,,
Cheers Comrades

“Heavyweights have power to stray with impunity” by Grace Collier

Grace Collier

Without this prospect, the disgrace would not attract the same attention, because the misappropriation and theft of union members funds are sadly routine occurrences in parts of the union movement. Even Fair Work Australia seems to find it hard to get energised on the matter. Although it has been investigating the Thomson allegations, which he vehemently denies, for two years, no outcome has been achieved. This failure to provide timely answers to union members about what happened to such large sums of money suggests they should not be the body responsible for policing the financial conduct of unions.

Annually, well over $1.3 billion of members’ money is given to Australian unions. The spending of that money is left entirely to the discretion of a small group of union secretaries who operate in a largely unregulated financial setting. Of course, not every union boss is a thief, but the system is just too open to abuse and it’s far too easy to stray without fear of discovery.
When a union official jumps the fence to work for the bosses, they are spoken about by their ex-comrades as having gone to work for the dark side. It is an ironic saying, for if there is a dark side, it is surely the world of the union movement. While I have no knowledge of the Health Services Union, I can speak from many years of experience with unions and as a union official.

Union secretaries inhabit a business environment that is mostly without scrutiny. Morally they sit above reproach, untouchable, having all say but no responsibility. Have you noticed how union officials seem to be able to say anything they like and get away with it?

Generally speaking, an elected union secretary is a privileged person who spends their days surfing a wave of cash, flexing their muscles in the Labor Party factional arena and occasionally saying something on television, which in some cases is wildly inaccurate and outrageous and for which they are never brought to account. The actual running of the union and looking after the members’ interests is delegated to staffers.

Unions are just community organisations made up of groups of workers; financial members, who pool funds for the purpose of advancing their industrial interests. As well as putting money into the union, members vote to elect people to run their union. These elected people are the secretary and an assistant secretary.

In addition, an executive of a few people is elected or appointed by the secretary. The executive is the group charged with checking and overseeing the spending of the members’ funds. Once a quarter they attend meetings at the union office on a voluntary basis, after hours, to approve the spending of the union money.

Some union secretaries seek out the most uninterested and compliant people to sit on the executive. These union secretaries do not want an executive that will challenge spending decisions and scrutinise credit card statements. They want an executive that will munch their biscuits and slurp their tea while signing papers they have not read.

Thieving the money of union members is unfortunately a routine occurrence in some quarters of the labour movement. Money is habitually spent on meals, travel, alcohol, strip clubs and other forms of entertainment that most members would consider inappropriate.

Some union office gatherings have even been held in strip clubs, but mostly it is after conferences that the secretary gets a bunch of his favourite officials together and heads off for a big night financed by union funds. Anyone who wants to see union officials behaving badly and misappropriating funds simply needs to hang around the close of the ALP annual conference and follow the hard-core drinkers to the after party.

Sometimes the after party will occur in a location such as a flash inner-city apartment owned by a property developer who has donated it for the private use of union officials. Such donations are made as part of the package deal with which industrial peace is bought on a construction or other project. Never underestimate the lengths that business owners will go to for the smooth and uninterrupted supply of labour.

I have seen a union official driven around in the limousine of a boss, plied with privilege and gifts just to keep a workforce of only 15 people on the job. Imagine what it is like to have the absolute power to click your fingers and pull 5000 people off a job and cost a company $20 million a day. Imagine what that power could bring you.

Sadly, for union members, scandals hardly ever come to light. Most often union secretaries who have got just a little bit too greedy and obvious with their spending are ousted by a group of officials within the union office, who decide that they want to take over and be the secretary. A bit of digging around in the accounts usually proves enough to convince the incumbent to fall on their sword and move on. The new secretary takes over, and the cycle of spending abuse continues. What starts as a few meals, haircuts or trips away, unchecked, with the passage of time, lack of accountability and the sense they deserve perks for doing an unappealing job, often ends up as outright robbery.

Grace Collier is an ex-union official, an industrial relations consultant and author

This piece is reproduced with the kind permission of the author

Julia faces the march to the scaffold thanks to Craig Thomson

Yesterday when I got home form doing the shopping I was rather distressed to find that our Internet was down as it apparently was for many users of ADSL  so I could not even check to see what delights have been left here by the Sandpit’s players, anyway all is well again and today I have the delight of discovering that the HSU has decided to hand over all of the records of Craig Thomson’s time leading their union to the Police.

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It now seems like only a matter of time before this scandal brings down the government, so the question for Labor supporters starts to become what is the best way for the party to salvage enough credibility to have a reasonable foundation upon which they can rebuild the party? There may well be some merit for the party to actually go to the polls before they are pushed, they will almost certainly still lose but there is a chance that they may retain some some respect with the voting public for facing the people willingly rather than being dragged kicking and screaming to the gibbet.
Cheers Comrades

Craig Thomson looks set to fu*K up the Gillard government

If there is one thing that any politics junkie loves it is the delicious build up we see as a scandal ripens, sorry that only applies if you are supporting the side uninvolved in the bad behaviour, if you are a supporter of the side in strife then its just a litany of pain and angst. When Malcolm Turnbull over did it and blew his load too early in the utegate scandal I was well to put it mildly rather cross and upset. Now that I’m on the other side of the Craig Thomson scandal I am just enjoying the ride, enjoying the much more skilful prosecution of the the argument from an ascendant opposition I can only be delighted by the latest revelation that  Craig Thomson appears to have been playing fast and loose with the rules on electoral spending.

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What is really depressing for Labor supporters is that Craig Thomson appears to have been inappropriately using the Union credit card for things other than a professional leg over. It looks like the ones who are going to end up being totally fucked by Thomson is Gillard’s woeful government. Interestingly enough I have just heard (on Radio national) an appeal to Oakshott and Windsor to change their allegiance to the Coalition. Now I don’t really expect them to jump the sinking Labor ship just yet,however they may just take the gamble that they can preserve their self made claims of being truly independent and primarily interested in what is best for the country by dumping the Gillard government. Frankly I think that they won’t jump ship because I think that they may decide that the devil they know is better than the the icy waters of uncertainty.
Federal politics is an amazing roller-coaster ride at present and there is more excitement to come on the Craig Thomson thrill ride and as Al Jolson said “you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Cheers Comrades

The Queenmaker and Saturday Schadenfreude

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shamelessly nicked from Andrew Bolt 🙂

For those readers who are inclined to appreciate a bit of Saturday morning Schadenfreude  I post this clip from Auntie and I invite you all to take note of both the form of words chosen by the member for Dobell and his delivery and demeanour. Now it may just be my bullshit detector going off here but I get the very distinct impression that he is delivering a scripted (by party advisers) response rather than anything that is sincere and honest.

On the other hand we also have Andrew Wilkie from Tasmania circling like a malignant crow ever ready to exploit the situation and take joy from the role of queen maker; what more could you want on a lovely spring day?

 Update I recommend Laurie Oakes’ piece in the Herald Sun as a lovely way to enhance that delicious Saturday morning Schadenfreude 😉

Cheers Comrades

Will Craig Thomson’s todger cause the death of the worst government in living memory?

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Craig Thomson MP, but for how long?

Yesterday I was pointing out the fact that just one scandal or one death of a MP could turf Julia out of the lodge and I mentioned the unfortunate member for the seat of Dobell, and his apparent liking for the services of, err,”professional” women. The man in question really has dug himself a very deep hole and he is ignoring the usual suggestion that he should stop digging by inventing a most fanciful “explanation”  as George Brandis pointed out in the Parliament yesterday:

In light of these facts and Mr Thomson’s assertions and admissions, the Prime Minister must satisfy herself in relation to the following matters. First, given the amounts of money involved and the entity to whom the credit card payments were made, why did Thomson not query the accounts before authorising them for payment? Secondly, given that Thomson’s mobile telephone number was used to contact the service provider and that his driver’s licence was produced to verify payment, how did his credit card, driver’s licence and mobile phone find their way into the possession of another person? Thirdly, why was their loss or misappropriation not reported? Fourthly, in what circumstances were they returned? Fifthly, as Mr Thomson now claims that his signature was forged, why was that matter not reported to the police? Sixthly, what is the name of the person who allegedly repaid $15,000 to the HSU and what was the reason for the repayment? Was that person an officer or employee of the union and is that person still employed by the union? Seventhly, if it is the case that another person has accepted responsibility for the fraudulent use of the credit card, why has that version of events not emerged from other sources and why was no evidence disclosed or adduced to that effect in the Fairfax defamation proceedings? Finally, if a third party accepted responsibility, why would a settlement of a matter in which Thomson’s reputation was potentially so gravely affected preclude him from taking any steps to protect his reputation? Moreover, the version of events given by Thomson on August 1 contains inconsistencies with Thomson’s previous versions of events. The Prime Minister must therefore satisfy herself of this: given that Thomson now admits that he personally authorised the payment of the credit card account, why did he allege that his enemies had falsified HSU records and does he still allege that?

I regret to say that there is more that the Prime Minister should be asking the Member for Dobell in order to satisfy herself that he should have her confidence. In April 2009, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Thomson, when national secretary of the HSU, obtained cash advances on the HSU credit card totalling over $100,000. An external audit has not been able to locate any receipts or other records to justify those cash advances. Those matters, I understand, are currently being investigated by Fair Work Australia.

Finally, yesterday the Sydney Daily Telegraph reported that New South Wales Labor Party headquarters had paid $40,000 towards legal fees which Mr Thomson had incurred in bringing his private defamation proceedings against Fairfax, the publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald. This morning the Melbourne Herald Sun reported that this amount was in fact $90,000. That payment was apparently made in May of this year. Thomson discontinued the proceedings on about April 28, having failed in December 2010 to prevent the disclosure of his credit card and telephone records. Is the Prime Minister satisfied that it is proper for the Australian Labor Party to contribute some $90,000 towards the member’s private defamation action against Fairfax, which claim he abandoned shortly after the court compelled the disclosure of his credit card and telephone records which appear to give the lie to his claim that his signature was forged?

Finally, it was only yesterday, when this matter was brought to light, that the member for Dobell sought to amend his register of a member’s interests by lodging with the Register of Members’ Interests for the House of Representatives a letter that identified the payment of a sum of money in May 2011 by the Australian Labor Party’s New South Wales branch, in settlement of a legal matter to which I was a party. Why was that amendment made only after its disclosure was revealed?

I have in the course of this speech suggested many questions that the Prime Minister must ask, but there is one simple question that she must answer for the Australian people: why does she continue to believe that the conduct of the Member for Dobell is acceptable, and how can she possibly continue to assert that he is doing, in her words, “a fine job”?

Quote courtesy of Andrew Bolt

Of course Thomson is going to keep denying the allegation, he knows that were he to to the right and honourable thing and resign then Gillard will be out on her arse as quick as you can say “no confidence motion” and therein lays the bind for Labor, unlike the senate MPs have to be replaced in a by-election so Thomson can not go without taking her government with him yet the longer he stays and maintains the frankly ridiculously unlikely claims that his identity was hijacked to use that credit card for services booked over his phone the more that it will reflect badly upon brand Labor. Now Ray may think that Gillard can hang tough for the next two years but I can’t help thinking that the lady who was the front-line “service” provider for which Craig Thomson’s credit card was billed may just come out of the woodwork well before then. That would of course mean that it will be all over red rover…

Cheers Comrades

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