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Issue #1801      November 1, 2017

An abuse of power

Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin has joined the chorus of criticism of raids by the Australian Federal police on Australian Workers’ union offices in Sydney and Melbourne last week, saying the Turnbull government has “lost the plot”.

The AFP executed search warrants in Melbourne and Sydney in support of the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC), which has been investigating donations made a decade ago to progressive campaign outfit GetUp.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash referred the GetUp donations to the ROC, having said under parliamentary privilege that Bill Shorten – current ALP leader and former AWU secretary – had “serious questions to answer in relation to the $100,000 donation” to GetUp when he was the union’s national secretary and a GetUp board member.

“What happened next door at the AWU shows how the government has lost the plot,” Crumlin said today. “To attack GetUp! – they are mainstream and progressive like the rest of us.

“The media was outside, it’s clear that they were tipped off.

Senator Nick Xenophon has called for an independent inquiry to establish who tipped off the media prior to the AFP raids.

Senator Xenophon, who supported the legislation establishing the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC), said the very credibility and integrity of the ROC was at stake here.

“The public deserve to know how and why the media were tipped off about these raids. The tip-off compromises the integrity of the entire process,” he said.

“The rule of law is being turned into a farcical sideshow with tip-offs like this. It drags the AFP and ROC into a highly partisan and toxic environment.”

AWU national secretary Dan Walton said the AWU had nothing to hide.

“This isn’t a question of whether or not the donation was made,” he said.

“This is a question of whether or not we filled in the paperwork correctly. And we ended up with 32 AFP police officers barging down the door.”

Walton branded the raids “an extraordinary abuse of police resources” and smear attempt.

“I’m quite comfortable to stand up here today to be able to say everything was above board,” he said.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus criticised the nakedly political use of the AFP in the action against working people and their representatives.

“Using the police in such a way, while refusing to do anything to prevent money laundering by terrorists and drug dealers by the big banks, demonstrates the government’s appalling priorities,” McManus said.

“This is the sort of action you would expect to see by an authoritarian dictator, and it has no place in Australia – all Australians should be disgusted.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s grubby political tactics and abuse of power to attack those who oppose his anti-worker policies is a new low.”

GetUp put out a statement condemned the strong-arm tactics of the Turnbull government.

“How a 12-year-old, very public donation to GetUp could lead to dramatic raids raises concerning questions,” the statement said. “This evening’s raids were about union rules and part of an investigation undertaken by the Registered Organisations Commission.

“GetUp has previously acknowledged receipt of a donation of $100,000 in the 2005-2006 financial year from the Australian Workers’ Union. GetUp handled that donation appropriately, and there is no suggestion otherwise.

“GetUp’s decision not to declare as an associated entity with the Australian Electoral Commission has nothing to do with this Registered Organisations Commission investigation of the AWU’s authorisation of its donations.

“They are entirely separate matters handled by separate agencies.”

GetUp national director Paul Oosting said the raids were yet another example of the federal government’s crackdown on organisations, experts and the community who are standing up for everyday Australians.

“This is part of a pattern from this government trying to silence its critics or anyone who challenges it.”

Next article – An enemy of ABC/SBS

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