As the Michaelia Cash situation spools out of control, you have to wonder who actually benefitted from this titanic clusterboink.
So, your boss’ birthday is coming up. What do you get a man who holds the top job in the country and wants for nothing? Well, hopefully, a boost in the polls, via the medium of 26 AFP dudes rocking into AWU offices in the search for dirt on someone he dislikes. As all good gift givers know, you need to wrap that present nicely, so ensure all the pomp and circumstance is presented with some friendly media on hand to record the fun for posterity. Oh and of course, in time for the nightly news, so all in the nation can partake of the celebrations.
Ok, I’m being snarky, obviously. Though, if that was the intent – stranger things have happened – it turned out to be a bit of a fizzer.
To start with, the timing is a shocker. During the same morning, all over the news, we saw how the AFP are under strain as officers are diverted to stuff like guarding city HQs and Malcolm Turnbull’s mansion. We are talking serious “strain” too – operations involving drug importation and officers falling asleep on duty. Bit of a worry, as the AFP are our top cops, trotted out to always illustrate how our Government is “Keeping Australians Safe”.
A little later in the morning, poor old AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin even had to admit in Senate Estimates they did have to cut back on some work due to funding. Most telling was the following statement:
“Obviously reductions in our budget mostly apply to our discretionary funding, so that is areas that fund a large portion of our anti-narcotics, our organised crime work, our general operational work, our fraud and anti-corruption, our child exploitation.”
Later in the day we had the AFP actually issue a media release, expressing disappointment about an internal working document being leaked. Again, the AFP assured Australians:
“The AFP makes decisions daily on operational priorities, resourcing and determining which matters pose the greatest risk to the safety and security to the Australian community, and directing its resources where they are most needed.”
So lo and behold, imagine our shock when, on this very same day, televisions all over the nation broke the news the Sydney and Melbourne offices of the AWU were being raided by the AFP.
Were the AWU running guns? Were the dodgy Unionists stockpiling explosives? Were the AWU sending vast amounts of member’s money overseas to terrorist organisations? Were the AFP tipped off the AWU had computers full of child porn?
Nope, as we were breathlessly told by the waiting media, who just happened to be there before the top cops turned up and just happened to know the AFP was there to find documents from. Not just any old documents. Documents relating to a donation made to GetUp! over a decade ago. Yep, a cold case as they say in the TV cop shows.
Gee, we were lucky those cameras and reporters were there to bring us that breaking news as to how the AFP are keeping Australians safe.
Ok, I’ll pull that tongue out of my cheek, but in all seriousness, most Australians don’t belong to either the Liberal or Labor party. Hell, most don’t actually care about politics until they are forced to rock down to the local school every couple of years, grab a sausage sanger and do their civic duty. I’m sure the rusted-on Liberals and Nationals thoroughly enjoyed the good old bit of strong arm union bashing on display, just as the rusted-on Labor types felt righteous outrage at obvious overkill and targeting of the union and their bloke, Bill Shorten. For most though, it was probably a blip on the news, forgotten by the time the sports segment hit. Or before.
For mine… I’m not a fan of Bill Shorten, but I am a child of the Joh years in Queensland, so when I see what should be an Independent Organisation working for us, Australian citizens, being entangled in political games, denigrating their own reputation, I get a serious pang of nostalgic neg vibes.
Were the AWU running guns? Sending money to terrorist organisations? Computers full of child porn? Nope. A donation made to GetUp! over a decade ago. A cold case as they say in the TV cop shows.
Yes, yes, Bevan, we know, as SKY after dark also tells us, the Government does not tell the AFP what to do. Well, not directly anyhow. They were acting on a referral from the RCO (the Registered Organisations Commission), a supposedly-independent Government organisation – which has only been around for like 5 minutes, well since May 1st of this year – set up under the auspices of Michaelia Cash who is Minister for Employment, Minister for Women, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and a Twitter fan favourite for her union bashing performances in the Senate.
I’m sure it is just a coincidence that Mark Bielecki, the Registered Organisations Commissioner, decided to go after donations made to GetUp and other ALP MP election campaigns, including Mr Shorten’s, from 2005-2006 by the AWU, which, have all been duly declared.
Yes, 2005-2006. Obviously a matter of great national importance and urgency.
Surely the newly set up statutory authority, the RCO, would not put a cold case to the top of the list just because the Minister who oversees them is the referee of the complaint?
Surely the AFP did not prioritise this cold case unless they honestly thought these donations would “pose the greatest risk to the safety and security to the Australian community”?
Surely it was just a coincidence that Channel 7 happened to have cameramen and journalists loitering outside both the Sydney and Melbourne AWU headquarters?
I’ll take that tongue out of my cheek again. Yeah… Nah… This is political.
After quite indignantly denying her office had leaked the AWU raid to the media, it appears Ms Cash has had to backtrack on the repeated assurances she made in Senate Estimates with it being revealed someone in her office did actually give their mates in the media heads up. The staffer in question has since fallen on their sword and resigned. Not a good look, considering we are being assured by Government that there is nothing political about this whole saga? As an aside, we have been assured the ROC is a totally Independent body, so, if they are so Independent, nothing to do with Government, why would they be advising Ms Cash’s office about the timing of the raid? Surely Ms Cash would not need to know that, I mean, nothing to do with her once the referral is made?
— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) October 25, 2017
Does anyone believe exactly the same scenario would have occurred had it been Joh Blow (who is now retired or say working for CommBank) who was head of the AWU at the time these donations were made in the exact same circumstances? Of course not. This has been done because obviously Bill Shorten is hoping to be Prime Minister, and the Government, plus Malcolm Turnbull, is polling badly.
I really don’t like to defend Bill Shorten. As I said, I’m not a fan, but, he could be the Devil incarnate and I would still be unhappy about this Joh-era type “form”. Governments politicising statutory authorities, hand in glove with police forces, just really doesn’t end well.
— Financial Review (@FinancialReview) October 25, 2017