Please enter your email address to change your password.

Cash should apologise after her anti-AWU witch hunt

March 7, 2022

The Australian Workers’ Union wants an apology from Senator Michaelia Cash after her government’s highly politicised, five-year-long, union-bashing exercise collapsed.

The Federal Government’s Registered Organisations Commission quietly admitted to the AWU last week that its investigation into the union and its former National Secretary leader Bill Shorten had been dropped due to insufficient evidence.

The investigation was sparked by media claims that Mr Shorten had not correctly declared an AWU donation to activist group GetUp, and or whether he had gained proper authorisation for a donation the Australian Labor Party.

The investigation followed traumatic raids by 32 Australian Federal Police on the AWU’s Sydney and Melbourne offices in October 2017. It was also later revealed a staff member in Senator Cash’s office had tipped off the media beforehand.

AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said former Industrial Relations Minister Cash, who is now the Attorney General, owed the union and the nation an apology.

“The AFP raids launched on our offices in 2017 were one of the most shocking abuses of power by an Australian government in modern history,” Mr Walton said.

“The donations made by the AWU at the centre of this investigation were never remotely secret, let alone concealed.

“Yes, the AWU donated money to ALP campaigning. Yes, the AWU donated money to GetUp. These donations were openly discussed, declared, and even promoted in our magazine.

“Yet the Coalition Government’s ROC has spent thousands of hours, millions of taxpayer dollars, and the resources of the Australian Federal Police, trying to get mud to stick the AWU and its former National Secretary Bill Shorten – who just happened to be Opposition Leader at the time. All over a paperwork issue.”

On the day of the raids the media arrived outside both AWU offices 15 minutes before the union received a phone call advising it that a warrant had been issued.

Journalists later revealed they received a phone call from Senator Cash’s office an hour before the raids, to make sure there would be cameras on hand at the AWU offices.

The AWU’s legal adviser at the time, Josh Bornstein, a principal of Maurice Blackburn, said the 32 police had been deployed to investigate “a debate about internal paperwork of unions”.

Tagging the raids as were “an outrageous abuse of power”, Mr Bornstein said the ROC could have just as easily written to the union, or produced a summons, for the documents.

“None of these actions were taken,” Bornstein said. “Instead, a highly orchestrated media strategy was implemented so that television cameras arrived before the AFP to capture the raid and thereby seek to paint the union in the worst possible light.”

Mr Walton said that the ROC had effectively conceded that the whole thing was an enormous waste of time and money.

He said the AWU and the nation deserved an apology from Senator Cash.

“Our union has had to divert enormous resources and energy to fighting the full resources of the Australian Government,” Mr Walton said.

“After more than four years, millions of taxpayer dollars, two whiteboards, and a media-flagged AFP raid, I am incredibly happy to put this matter behind us.

“Michaelia Cash’s rhetoric and actions in 2017 were appalling and shameful. She should apologise to our members and she should apologise to the Australian people.”

Speaking last week, Mr Shorten accused the government of using the cover of the Russian invasion of Ukraine to “quietly just drop everything because ‘of the absence of sufficient evidence’.”

“That says it all. An ideological smear job by a pack of gutless cowards,” the former Labor leader said, adding the five-year investigation against the union had amounted to a witch hunt.

Loading cart ⌛️ ...