Today’s session of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has been quite the education. In response to questions about monies assigned by employers to curious ends under the supervision of Bill Shorten’s AWU, the Opposition Leader has shared insights into the hard world of commercial mushroom production and the value of display advertising in union publications. Plus, he has hailed the lofty intentions of companies that pay for political campaign managers and see those contributions billed as something else.
Amid this tangle of digressions and tangents, Shorten insisted that all this was above board, not to mention a very good thing when employers make that special effort to foster close and cordial relations with their workers’ representatives. He laid it on so thick, and at such length, that Commissioner Heydon was moved to suggest that Shorten would do his cause more good were he to answer questions as put.
It must have been an uncomfortable moment, but Shorten might yet have taken some consolation in the knowledge that, had he been testifying on the other side of the Pacific, details of those employer payments would have been enough to put a US union official behind bars.
The offence and punishment for payments like those listed in the document atop this item (click on the image) is laid out in (29) U.S. Code § 186 – Restrictions on financial transactions: