If you’re part of Australia’s political class, different rules appear to apply. The two recent examples that stick out like the proverbial dog’s appendages are:
- Bill Shorten – who, among other things, accepted a $40,000 personal gift from Unibuilt – who his union was supposed to be negotiating against on behalf of Unibuilt’s workers. Despite this, Jeremy Stoljar (who’s abilities in the Trade Union Royal Commission I have serious reservations about) recently recommended that Shorten not be sanctioned for any unlawful behaviour. Let’s see if Commissioner Heydon thinks the same.
- Lisa Scaffidi – who also accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of personal gifts designed solely to influence her decision making as Lord Mayor of Perth – and who was recently found to have engaged in serious misconduct by the WA Crime and Corruption Commission. No biggie, it appears, as she was recently voted back in for another term as Lord Mayor. Will any criminal or other disciplinary proceedings be brought against her? Who knows?
If I accepted a personal gift (read: bribe) from the other side of the negotiating table, my employer would rightly sack me on the spot and refer the matter to the police. This is because the only purpose of the ‘gift’ is to influence me to act against the interests of my employer. There is no other reason why such a gift would be offered. None. Don’t believe me? Then how about we consult the words of one of Scaffidi’s ‘gift givers’:
“BHPB’s strategy for accomplishing its objectives included ‘utilising Olympic hospitality to motivate China-based stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, government and media, to enhance business opportunities for BHP Billiton“.
Shorten and Scaffidi might as well have taken money straight out of the workers’ and rate payers’ bank accounts and put it straight into their own. So why does nothing happen to them? Why are they allowed to continue in their roles when nobody else in the real world would be allowed to do so?