The Age reports that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has slammed the trade union royal commission for waiting until late on a Friday night to announce it had cleared him of wrongdoing, saying it was typical of the way the “politically-motivated” inquiry has been conducting itself.
The commission was on the defensive on Saturday over its decision to release a submission at 8pm on Friday, after nightly television news bulletins, revealing counsel-assisting does not believe Mr Shorten engaged “criminal or unlawful conduct”.
And surprise, surprise: Construction giant Thiess John Holland faces possible charges over payments to the AWU during construction of the $2.5 billion EastLink tollway in Melbourne’s south-east.
So if the aim of the Royal Commission was to discredit the leader of the opposition, it looks like it was a waste of time and money. The irony is that the Royal Commission which cannot press criminal charges has unearthed corporate behaviour that may lead to one of Australia’s largest construction companies facing criminal charges.
And that certainly wasn’t what Tony Abbott had in mind. So now he’s had two ex-prime ministers and a leader of the opposition hauled in front of expense royal commissions.
The result? A big fat nothing.
But what he has done is set a precedent for governments to go on witch hunts for their political opponents.
Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy must be looking at this situation with increasing concern given what appears to be some fairly nefarious dealings while he was Minister for Planning.
Expect some form of enquiry into planning processes In Victoria timed to produce its findings conveniently before the next Victorian election.