Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Federal Court imposes personal fine on CFMMEU organiser

Construction union organiser Joe Myles has been ordered to personally pay a $19,500 penalty for unlawful conduct, under a significant Federal Court ruling designed to undercut the union’s strategy of paying penalties of behalf of law-breaking officials.

The decision follows a landmark High Court ruling in February that union officials can be hit with orders stopping unions paying fines on their behalf.

In a setback for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, a Federal Court full court said today the personal payment order against Mr Myles was designed to show officials they could not break the law knowing the union would always bale them out.

“The union acts through its officials, of whom Mr Myles was, and is, one,’’ the court said.

“The penalty against the individual must be a burden or have a sting to be a deterrent. The history of contravening by the union, all undertaken through its officials, reflects a willingness to contravene the Act and to pay the penalties as a cost of its approach to industrial relations.”

As well as the penalty order against Mr Myles, the union was penalised $111,000 for the unlawful conduct at the Regional Rail Link project in Victoria in 2013.

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the decision “makes clear to all union officials that when you break the law, you can no longer rely upon union members to pick up the tab”.

“This landmark decision is directed at preventing CFMMEU funds undercutting the sting or burden of the personal penalty,’’ he said. “The decision of the High Court and Full Court in this case now clears the way for personal payment orders to be sought in appropriate cases currently before the Courts.”

Mr Myles and 20 people parked vehicles across the entrance to the project, blocking Boral concrete trucks.

The 24.4 cubic metres of concrete in the trucks and 24.4cu m already poured were wasted. Mr Myles threatened a superintendent with “war” if his demands to put a CFMEU delegate on site were not met.

In today’s judgment, the court said the blockade was “extremely serious”.

“It involved the loss of a large quantity of concrete; it caused loss and damage of a significant amount to those conducting the works; it was a form of coercion on a building site of the utmost weight and force; it was deliberate and continued over a period of time; it was known to be a serious contravention of the Act; and, it was done with an apparent sense of impunity by Mr Myles as a union official directing it,” the judges said.

Under the order against Mr Myles, the court said he must not seek or encourage the union the pay the penalty, or accept or receive any money from the union for the penalty.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission sought an order requiring Mr Myles go to its office with a personal cheque or bank cheque to pay the penalties.

But the court refused, saying the ABCC application “smacks of an overly officious attitude”

“We are of the view that deterrence (specific and general) justifies the order that we are prepared to make,’’ the judges said. “It is directed at preventing union funds undercutting the sting or burden of the personal penalty.”

They said Mr Myles had a “history of significant contravention”.

“A personal payment order of the kind to which we will come will bring home to him, and others in his position, that he, and they, cannot act in contravention of the Act knowing that union funds will always bale him, or them, out,’’ they said


Liberals call Labor ad "grubby"

Malcolm Turnbull has hit back at new Labor attack ads over his wealth, as the government scrambles to win over the Senate crossbench to pass the last stage of company tax cuts.

Labor has rolled out a television ad, saying Malcolm Turnbull will personally benefit from the corporate tax cuts because of his massive shareholdings in big business.

Mr Turnbull said it was an example of "how the Labor Party is abandoning everything that it used to stand for."

And he defended his right to make money. "They want to attack me for having a quid," the multimillionaire said. "They want to attack me and Lucy for working hard and having a go. Luce and I have done that all our lives. "Making money. Paying tax. That's apparently not the Labor way any more. "You're not allowed to have a go. Make money. Work hard. "The old Labor leaders would be horrified by Bill Shorten's politics of envy."

Coalition colleagues said the ad was "grubby" and "appalling" and point out most Australians, including Labor MPs would benefit from the corporate tax cuts through superannuation funds.


Hateful Labor inflates Hanson

Labor likes to paint Pauline Hanson as a polarising figure who poses a threat to the social fabric of the Australian nation.

Through a blind hatred of the woman, the opposition has now ensured the One Nation leader has become a threat to the economy. This is not an indictment of Hanson. It is the consequence of Labor’s political decision to abandon common sense when it comes to business tax cuts — cuts it once supported.

The refusal to negotiate an outcome on an issue that once had bipartisan support has forced the government to deal with crossbenchers who never had a commonsense view of the economy to begin with.

With One Nation’s two votes in the Senate being critical for passage of legislation, Bill Shorten has effectively put Hanson in charge of economic policy. Labor’s Senate negotiator Penny Wong was apoplectic at the deal done last week between Hanson and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann to get personal income tax cuts done.

Wong was blindsided and the opposition was caught out. Its only option was to double down and launch an unhinged attack on Hanson — a tactic that some in shadow cabinet believe is a dangerous folly.

This week it is all about company tax and the opposition’s pressure campaign has succeed in spooking Hanson. She has folded on the flimsy argument that the government isn’t doing enough to crack down on multinational tax avoidance. This, of course, is nonsense. The government has passed the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law and a Diverted Profits Tax to stamp out profit shifting overseas.

This is Hanson looking for a short-term rescue plan before the Longman by-election.

The problem for Labor and Hanson is that they have approached the issue as if it’s all about them. Corporate tax cuts are hardly populist policy. The government isn’t doing it because it makes people love them.


Australia needs more private universities

More private universities would introduce diversity into higher education

Pressure is building to allow more private universities into the higher education sector, as the industry begins to rationalise.

Private providers and industry experts say it's time to open up the university sector which has 39 publicly funded universities but only four that are private.

Government data shows three of the four private universities ranked highest on a survey of overall student experience last year. The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching survey showed the top three also scored above 90 per cent on a ranking of overall educational experience, where the industry average was 78.4 per cent.

Professor of economics and dean of business at Alphacrucis​ College – a private higher education provider in Sydney – Paul Oslington, says the biggest barrier to new private universities is a hostile public policy environment.

And writing in today's Australian Financial Review, Professor Oslington says the public universities are strongly averse to competition from entrants.

"Public universities have campaigned against government funding for students choosing private higher education, even when degrees are accredited by the same body and according to the same standards as degrees offered by the public universities."

Ground shifting

The comments come as the ground shifts under public universities, with Adelaide University and the University of South Australia beginning merger talks, and after the debacle when a public university turned down a multimillion-dollar philanthropic donation from the Ramsay Centre on grounds of autonomy.

National sector leader, education, at consultants KPMG and a former university vice-chancellor, Stephen Parker, says there are restrictions on new entrants to the uni business that protect quality. But they are also prohibiting diversity.

Professor Parker said the sector had reached a size where it warranted reform. "We can't do anything to prejudice our global reputation. But the time has come to carefully free up the system."

He said in the face of disruption the time had come for the uni sector to focus on diversity. New higher education providers, with different business models could offer courses in specialised fields.

Apart from the four private universities (Bond, Notre Dame, University of Divinity and Torrens University) there are more than 140 non-university higher education providers, including religious, business and performing arts colleges.

National education leader at consultants PwC, David Sacks, said the public/private divide was a distraction. Public unis are required to do research, have comprehensive offerings and operate on a big scale.

Private providers are smaller and have the freedom to follow a particular mission and specialise. If government changed the settings the result would be more diversity in higher education.

He said the choice was whether Australia wanted more sustainability by keeping the uni system as it is or whether the settings could be changed to drive growth.

Mr Sacks said anything that made the sector more student-outcome focused was welcome. He noted the government's performance-based funding due to start in 2020 was about outcomes not inputs and that was well intended.

Bond University on the Queensland Gold Coast is a non-profit, private uni and offers degrees in four subjects: design, law, business and health sciences. A typical business degree costs $100,000. The academic year begins in the third week of January, runs over three semesters and ends in mid-December. Most public unis offer two 13-week semesters; start in February and end in early November.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said higher education was a diverse market and any new entrants should meet the "high standard we've set".

"It's one of the reasons there are now three times as many non-university higher education providers as there are universities in Australia and they continue to attract strong enrolment growth," he said.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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