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The government should be on the same side as the unions

Here we go on the ABCC merry-go-round again.

In 2001, the Howard government established the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry headed by Terence Cole QC.

Commissioner Cole’s final report was tabled in parliament in March 2003, and found evidence of – among other things – widespread inappropriate payments, disregard of safety regulations, threatening conduct, under-payment of workers and tax evasion.

The total cost was $58.61 million with more than $21 million spent on legal and audit costs, around $8 million on information technology, over $4 million on rent and $3 million on travel expenses.

Despite a finding of widespread lawlessness, it found no evidence of criminal activity and led to no prosecutions, the main result being the establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, an independent statutory authority responsible for monitoring and promoting workplace relations in the Australian building and construction industry.

The ABCC, who had controversial coercive interrogation powers, operated from 2005 to 2012. Not one criminal conviction was recorded as a result of its information over its seven years in existence.

Deputy Police Commissioner Graham Ashton told a Senate hearing In March 2014 that the building watchdog provided it with 15 referrals, about two a year. Only one led to a finding of guilt. The offender was placed on a diversion program.

The Heydon Royal Commission, commissioned by Tony Abbott to try to smear Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten in particular and unions in general, cost $46 million dollars. As of July, a taskforce led by the Australian Federal Police and attached to the inquiry has charged just 12 people – with five already escaping conviction. The one guilty conviction resulted in a suspended sentence.

For some reason, it says on the Liberal Party page “As at March 2016, there were over 100 officials of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) before the courts for allegedly breaching workplace laws.” Like so many of their claims, that appears to be completely untrue.

The last Budget allocated $6 million more for the AFP-Victorian Police joint taskforce, which currently has outstanding cases against a grand total of six unionists (though Kathy Jackson may have made that seven – finally). By contrast, taskforce Argo in Queensland, focused on child exploitation, has a budget of $3 million.

Malcolm Turnbull sent us to an election, costing a lot of money, supposedly because of the necessity of bringing back the ABCC. I am not certain how much he has allocated to run it but an earlier budget gives us an idea: “The ABCC will cost Australian taxpayers $165.4 million for the period 2007-08 to 2011-12, under budget forward estimates.” That was 10 years ago.

Mr Turnbull claimed that the ABCC led to productivity gains of 20% – a claim that is entirely made up as shown in this Crikey article.

In February this year, the Law Council of Australia made a submission to the Senate regarding the proposed ABCC legislation:

A number of features of the Bill are contrary to rule of law principles and traditional common law rights and privileges such as those relating to the burden of proof, the privilege against self-incrimination, the right to silence, freedom from retrospective laws and the delegation of law making power to the executive. It is also unclear as to whether aspects of the Bill which infringe upon rights and freedoms are a necessary and proportionate response to allegations of corruption and illegal activity within the building and construction industry. For these reasons, the Law Council’s primary recommendation is that the Bill not be passed in its current form.

But, as we know, George Brandis doesn’t take advice – he just assures us that everyone agrees with everything he is doing, no oversight or second opinions necessary… or even tolerated.

We are on a never-ending cycle f inquiries which all say there are problems but very rarely find anyone to prosecute. The unions have had more successful prosecutions than the various investigative bodies have and have also sacked people found to have done the wrong thing.

Why not try the novel idea of working with the unions to devise better regulations and easier rules that would address sham contracting, enterprise bargaining, workplace safety and the many other issues where there have been problems. Rather than trying to destroy unions, let them help clean out bad practice and improve accountability.

The government should be on the same side as the unions, protecting the people from exploitation and keeping them safe. That is their job after all though one could be forgiven for thinking they were venture capitalists whose only goal was to protect “risk takers” and maximise their profits.

Mums and dads don’t matter – only mum and dad investors.

 

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39 comments

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  1. Glenn K

    the government is on the side of corporate power and as such these RC actions etc are by design intended to crush and weaken Unions, thereby keeping wages low and workers easily disposable. As attributed to Benito Mussolini “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”. Lest there be any doubt that the LNP are Fascists, Kay’s article clearly provides the evidence.
    Only when we go into the inevitable deep recession (1yr? 2yrs? 5yrs?) will the average voter realise how bad he/she has been done and how toxic the LNP are to the health of Australia…..

  2. kerri

    Another great article Kaye Lee!

  3. Matters Not

    People who engage in ‘collective’ action of any type are a blight on the community. Except those who join the LNP and act collectively, swear as to the importance of Cabinet solidarity and are bound by ‘secrecy’. Then there’s the BCA, IPA, AMA – the list of employer unions is very long.

    But I suppose that the latter just demonstrates the truth of the former. Or maybe there are good ‘blights’ and bad ‘blights’ and it depends on class location of the members?

  4. Kaye Lee

    It also depends on the number of people you are representing and how powerful a voice they have without collective representation. If a doctor has an issue, he can employ lawyers and accountants to solve it for him. James Packer owns an immense empire and is dumb as a post but he can pay people to sort things out for him. When I was being unlawfully transferred by the Department of Education in my first year teaching (I was bonded and, after taking a reserve job, my next appointment was supposed to be permanent, not another bloody maternity leave) the union represented me. I was cut off the payroll for refusing to go (there was a permanent job coming up in one month at the school I was at and I was already taking half that load) but the union sorted out a compromise that was agreeable to all parties. As if I could have done that on my own.

  5. Trish Corry

    The entire point of Liberal Conservatives is that they hate the worker. They believe prosperity is gained through allowing employers to develop as much as they can with no restriction, including setting wages and conditions. They believe the wages and other costs such as safety should be set to whatever the employer believes. The very point of the ABCC through a conservatives eyes is that Industrial relations disputes and stop work disrupt productivity and therefore ‘steal’ profits from the employer. This means that the worker should be jailed and fined. If that is done in a collective fashion – called ‘coercion’ then that should be an even harsher punishment.

    This is the fundamental difference between Liberal and Labor. The problem with Australian politics is that people think they are the same or they should be the same. There is no point saying that the should be the same, or that it is their job, not in their eyes it is not.

    Ideology does matter. This “oh they voted with them because of this so they are the same’ (taken out of context most of the time) is a farce and does not matter as much as the ideology and values system of the major parties.

    Why don’t the conservatives work with Unions? Bob Hawke worked with Unions and Business in a tripartate agreement called the Accord. I am sure it is on this site that he is slammed for that and labelled a Neo-Liberalist who has destroyed Australia along with his mate Keating and blamed for ‘starting neo-Liberalism’. The buzz word on AIMN that has everyone casting daggers at the Labor Party with no idea of the context.

    On the other hand Thatcher cut wages, abolished the minimum wage and encouraged police violence and intervention in disputes and gave as much power to the employer as possible. This was essentially UK’s workchoices. The ‘freedom’ of the employer. There is no comparison to Hawke’s consultation strategy at the time with the Accord. If it was Fraser instead of Hawke – this would have been us.

    Putting the accord in context at the time, saved us from what Thatcher was doing in the UK – that was real Austerity and Hawke and Keating set Australia on a trajectory of economic growth. How people carry on about Howard having good economic growth. If it was not for Hawke and Keating that period would have been very different if Fraser continued.

    Let’s not forget it was in 2005 that Unionists were still being jailed for reasonable union activity. Have the Liberals woken up and gone all Mary Poppins or something if it is considered they should work with the unions?

    This is why the Liberals won’t work with the Unions: “The Liberals HATE the Worker” Say that in Doug Cameron’s voice over and over again until that becomes clear.

    If people really are so concerned about a Government working with the unions or care about the rights and conditions and safety of the worker – then vote ONE Labor. It isn’t a hard concept.

  6. etnorb

    This entire ABCC crap should be made “dead, buried & cremated”! As your excellent article illustrates, the Libs are still trying to inflict this “Star Chamber” to (supposedly) inflict “control”, regulate, harass, fine (not bloody likely though!), normal, everyday workers, who just happen to be Unionists! It was little Johnny Hayseed who vowed & declared to smash Unions & try to make all workers have to work under his insane bloody “work choices” (sic) crap. We all saw how good that went, but now (again) the effing Libs are hell-bent on trying to reintroduce this effing ABCC crap! WTF?? I know personally of one respected Union CFMEU worker–who was also a Health & Safety rep–who was dragged through the court system for a number of years on trumped up so-called “breaches” of the ABCC crap, who was finally acquitted of any “charges” he was accused of! The whole stupid “exercise” was just a waste of public money, workers wages & Lawyers fees, & the Courts time etc.

  7. Kaye Lee

    “The buzz word on AIMN that has everyone casting daggers at the Labor Party with no idea of the context.”

    Must you?

    I will leave it to Ged Kearny speaking about the balance sheet of the Accord to answer you.

    “I was intrigued in the course of researching this speech, to come across a paper written by Bill Kelty in March 1994, which included an objective “balance sheet” of the Accord.

    For all its achievements, there were also defects.

    And I do think that subsequent generations of union leaders are also aware of the limitations of the Accord. It does not help to gild the lily.

    There were unintended consequences from that period that we are grappling with today: the growth of precarious work, skyrocketing executive salaries, the spread of sham business practices grew and insufficient attention paid to inequality, especially at the top end.

    The latter day Accords began to anticipate these problems, but the election of the Howard Government meant the project was left unfinished.

    Wage restraint from 1983 to 1990 meant unions held back from doing their core work of bargaining with employers for better wages and conditions, and some forgot how to organise and are still paying the price.

    By 1991, the centralised wage system had become a yoke and shackle for unions, and the movement fought for and won direct collective bargaining.

    One only has to leaf through the pages of Shaun Carney’s excellent book from that era, Australia in Accord, to get the picture.

    “Within the trade union movement there has been widespread disenchantment at the results of the Hawke Government, a feeling that the unions were duped by the promises held out by the Accord,” he writes at one stage, also referring to a feeling that the Accord became political “window-dressing” for the government.

    So the Accord was not perfect in delivering on the objectives of the union movement. It should not be overlooked that the Accord was never a truly tripartite process. Business, by and large, declined to collaborate with the government and unions at the time. ”

    http://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/speeches-and-opinion/ged-kearney-address-to-the-accord-30-years-on-symposium-31-may-2013

  8. paulwalter

    Quite simple. Diverts attention away from thoughts of a Banking Inquiry.

    Anyone fooled?

  9. Trish Corry

    Oh never mind the Accord Kaye. We won’t need that in the Utopian land where the Liberals should be working with the Unions. I don’t need to read a cut an paste of Gerard Kearney’s analysis. I’m quite capable of standing face to face with unionists who slam the accord.

    Must I? – absolutely. I think it is absolutely critical to point out the differences when the opportunity arises. Otherwise, lets just all stay on the trajectory that Lib/Lab are just both the same.

  10. Kaye Lee

    I have never said that Labor and Liberal are the same – ever. I have typed my fingers to the bone pointing out the lies by the Coalition.

    I really am getting aggravated by your continual disparaging comments about the AIMN or certain commenters who you incorrectly think have joined forces to attack Labor or you or the unions or history.

    The great thing about the AIMN is the different opinions that are brought to the table because people here back up what they say. They don’t always agree but they give reasons for the way they think.

    The Accord achieved some good things. To not examine the unintended consequences means a learning experience is wasted on how to do it better next time.

    And I find it exceedingly arrogant of you to dismiss what Ged Kearny and Bill Kelty have to say on the matter without reading it. Reminds me of Malcolm Roberts.

  11. paulwalter

    Ladies, Ladies…

  12. Terry2

    Have you noticed how grumpy Barnaby Joyce has been lately ?

    I realize he is having some solar keratosis treated over recent weeks but just watching his body language in parliament shows a very ill tempered man.

  13. johnlward010

    Growth will only come when:
    Employers provide a living wage, not a minimum wage.
    All 457 workers, franchisers are made to report to the fair work commission.
    WOOFERS (Workers On Organic Farms) get paid cash instead of food and shelter. ( see Truck Act 1904).
    Skill set should decide rate. Not sex, skin colour, or religion. Growth and tax for the treasury, will come when women are paid the same as men.
    There is no rational reason why one pair of hands are cheaper in the market place than another.
    When education is provided to advance the nation and enhance mankind, not just individuals that can afford to pay for education.
    Training is for the job, education is for the expansion of the mind.
    Growth will come when men and corporations stop making war and stop exploiting our planet instead of sustaining and recycling our resources.
    The time is now to hold the people who make decisions, on behalf of corporations, ‘personally responsible and accountable’, for those decisions:
    Growth will be sustainable, once we understand the limits to and the adverse consequence stemming from untrammelled growth.
    “Corporate Personhood,” most people who hear that phrase for the first time scratch their heads. The absurdity of corporate personhood has that effect on people — it just doesn’t make sense! But corporate personhood is not only, ‘real’ under law, it has an enormous impact on all of us. It behooves us to know what it is, how it got here, and why we need to get rid of it.
    To understand what’s going on, you need to to go back to the Constitution of the United States of America. This document, written by 55 gentlemen cleverly described by one historian as “the well-bred, the well-fed, the well-read, and the well-fed.” As some of the wealthiest, most privileged people in the new country. They were highly aware that their power had everything to do with how much property they owned. Land, crops, buildings, personal goods, and — for most of them — property in the form of human beings, their slaves. As some of the best- educated men in the world (by European standards), they also knew about democracy, and they understood what a threat the real thing represented to their personal power.
    The kind of democracy they prized; and wrote about so eloquently, could only be practiced by people like them. Certainly not by the rabble, or, as Alexander Hamilton so fondly referred to us, as “the mob at the gate.”
    So in the Constitution they created a republic and a system of government that is designed to protect property, not people. And not surprisingly, when folks in the new United States got their first look at the proposed Constitution, they howled!
    At least half of the population was furious, opposed to the Constitution. They had just fought a long, bloody revolutionary war grooving on words like “liberty” and “freedom,” not “president” or “Congress” or “supreme court.” But the Federalists who proposed the Constitution had the finances and the unity to promote their ideas strongly. After a lot of politickings, they got the Constitution ratified. But only with the assurance that a Bill of Rights would be added to protect people from the excesses of government that would be possible under the new system.
    It’s worth noting that nowhere in the Constitution does the word “democracy” appear; nor the word “corporation,” nor “slave.” First let’s look at the basic structure they created to protect property.
    They start with the sacred words “We the People of the United States” who are sovereign and have individual rights (human?). And then we have a government to serve those people that is accountable and has specific duties. The People delegate some of their power to the government in order to perform its specific duties.
    In a representative democracy, this system should work just fine.
    There’s just one little problem. It’s that word “People.” At the time the US Constitution was ratified, in order to be considered one of “We the People,” you had to be an adult male. You had to be white, and you had to have a certain amount of property. At the time of the Constitution, this narrowed “People” down to about 10% of the population.
    Those who owned property, including human property, were very clear that this was rule by the minority — and that’s the way they wanted it.
    The word “corporation” appears nowhere in the Constitution, and the reason is that the United states Founding Fathers had zero interest in using them to run their new government. In colonial times, corporations had been chartered by the king for the purpose of exploiting the so-called “New World” and shovelling wealth back into Europe. Corporations like; the Hudson Bay Company and the British East India Company; and the Massachusetts Bay Colony had a lot of autonomies to do this work. These corporations, could pass laws, levy taxes, and even raise armies to manage and control property and commerce.
    The Boston Tea Party began the ‘War of Independence” that ejected those rapacious corporations from America and ensured that England moved to transporting it’s over population of the poor, criminal and political difficult classes to a new colony discovered by James Cook of the Royal Navy.
    They were not popular with the colonists.
    So when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they threw control of corporations to state legislatures where they would get the closest supervision by the people. Early corporate charters, were very explicit about what a corporation could do, how and for how long, with whom, where, and when.
    Individual stockholders were held personally liable for any harms done in the name of the corporation, and most charters only lasted for 10 or 15 years.
    Most importantly, in order to receive the profit-making privileges they sought, corporations had to represent a clear benefit for the public good. And when corporations violated any of these terms, their charters were frequently revoked by the state legislatures.
    Time passed and memories of royal oppression faded, the wealthy folks increasingly started eyeing corporations as a convenient way to shield their personal fortunes. They could sniff the winds of change and see that their minority rule through property was under serious threat of being diluted. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was ratified, freeing the slaves. Three years later, the 14th Amendment was ratified, giving citizenship rights to all persons born or naturalised in the United States — the intended beneficiaries being the newly freed slaves.
    During and after the Civil War there was a rapid increase in the number and size of corporations, and this form of business was starting to become a more important way of holding and protecting property and power.
    President Abraham Lincoln wrote.
    “We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood.
    It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic, but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned; an era of corruption in high places will follow. The money-power of the country will endeavour to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.
    God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.”
    The passage appears in a letter from Lincoln to (Col.) William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864.
    Increasingly through their corporations, the ruling class started influencing legislators, bribing public officials and employing lawyers to write new laws and file court cases challenging the existing laws that restricted corporate behaviour.
    Lincoln again. “These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves; we are called upon to appropriate the people’s money to settle the quarrel.”
    speech to Illinois legislature, Jan. 1837.
    See Vol. 1, p. 24 of Lincoln’s Complete Works,
    ed. by Nicolay and Hay, 1905)
    Bit by bit the US state legislatures increased corporate charter length while they decreased corporate liability and citizen authority over corporate structure, governance, production, and labor. But they were only going to be able to go just so far with this strategy. Because corporations are a creation of the government — chartered by the state legislatures — they still fell on this side of the line with “duties accountable to the people”. Minority rule by property was to be gained; they had to cross this line and become entitled to rights instead.
    And their tool to do this was the 14th Amendment, which passed in 1868.
    After a series of lower court cases, the watershed moment came in 1886 when the US Supreme Court heard a case called Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. Citing the 14th Amendment, and without hearing any arguments, the Supreme Court declared that corporations are persons deserving the law’s protection. There was no public debate about this and no law passed in Congress — corporations received the status of persons by simple judicial fiat. And they did this at a time when all women, all Native Americans, and even most African-American men were denied the right to vote.
    A key witness before the Supreme Court in the lead up to the 1886 was Roscoe Conkling. A former Senator, who helped, draft the 14th Amendment. In his evidence he claimed that reading from his diaries of the time; it was the intention of the drafting committee, which the rights, to be conferred, on former slaves to citizenship: Were meant to be equally applied to corporations.
    It was not till thirty years after his death that his diaries were examined and found to have no such reference.
    He had lied to the Supreme Court, but by then the legal fiction of corporate personhood had defined corporates as natural persons.
    Ten years later, in Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court established the “separate but equal” doctrine that legalized racial segregation through what became known as “Jim Crow” laws.
    Fifteen years later the writers of the Australian Constitution included reference to corporation powers in Section 51 xx. Four referendums from 1911 to 1926at which the people of Australia had been asked to enlarge the scope of Commonwealth power in relations to corporations received the NO vote. However in 1971 the high Court overruled its 1908 decision and thereby rendered those four referendums irrelevant.
    In less than 30 years, African-Americans had effectively lost their legal personhood rights while corporations had acquired them.
    In case you’re still wondering whether the primary purpose of the Constitution and the body of law it spawned is about protecting property rather than people, remember this.
    Of the 14th Amendment cases (granting Citizenship to Negro males) heard in the Supreme Court, in the first 50 years after its adoption,
    less than one-half of one percent invoked it in protection of African-Americans. More than 50% asked that its benefits be extended to corporations.
    When you look at two-plus centuries of US legal history; the pattern is that people acquire rights by amendment to the Constitution, a long, drawn-out, difficult process.
    Corporations acquire them by Supreme Court decisions.
    Rights for corporations, because they’re about property, is about who is excluded; rights for human beings is about who is included.
    Once corporations had jumped the line, they proceeded to pursue the Bill of Rights through more Supreme Court cases.
    In 1893, they were assured 5th Amendment protection of due process.
    In 1906, they got 4th Amendment search and seizure protection.
    In 1925 it was freedom of the press and speech.
    In 1976, the Supremes determined that money is equal to speech, and since corporate persons have First Amendment rights,
    they can contribute as much money as they want to political parties and candidates.
    And so we find ourselves at a time when corporations have amassed enormous power and wealth.
    They control nearly every aspect of our lives, because they masquerade, under the law at least, as one of us.
    But most of us don’t know it.
    A key reason for that is that the whole thing is pretty esoteric.
    A corporation is a legal fiction, an abstraction. You can’t see or hear or touch or smell a corporation; it’s just an idea that people agree to and put into writing. But because they have legal personhood status, corporations are like super-humans with all the advantages and none of the disadvantages that we mere mortals have. Corporations now have infinite lifespans so they can continue to accumulate wealth and power forever. You can cut off the figurative arm or leg or even head of a corporation, and it can still continue to exist. Furthermore, corporate lawyers invoke their personhood status or not at their convenience, allowing them to be whatever they want according to their needs.
    Along with this abstract existence, corporations have acquired a lot more abstract property. Ownership of land and buildings is still important; but now corporate property also includes concepts like mineral rights, drilling rights, air pollution credits, intellectual property, and under NAFTA — rights to future profits.
    All this abstraction fits into the ways property is used to maintain minority rule. When corporations were on the duties side of the ledger, the primary technique for enforcing minority rule was to establish that only a tiny percentage could qualify as “We the People”: In other words, that most people were subhuman.
    As different groups of people struggled to be included in those first three words of the Constitution and eventually succeeded. Corporation crossed over to the rights side and ultimately became superhuman, still maintaining an artificially elevated status for a small number of people.
    Today the work of corporatists is to take this system globally.
    Having acquired the ability to govern in the United States, the corporation is the ideal instrument to gain control of the rest of the world. The concepts, laws, and techniques perfected by the ruling minority here are now being forced down the throats of people everywhere. First, a complicit ruling elite is co-opted,
    installed, or propped up by the US military and the government.
    Then, just as slavery and immigrant status once kept wages nonexistent or at poverty levels, now sweatshops, maquiladoras, and the prison-industrial complex provide ultra-cheap labor with little or no regulation. Just as sharecropping and company store scrip once kept people trapped in permanently subservient production roles; now the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s structural adjustment programs keep entire countries in permanent debt. The world’s poorest people forced to feed interest payments to the world’s richest while their families go hungry.
    Just as war was waged against native populations that lived sustainably on the land. Now wars are instigated against peoples and regimes that resist the so-called “free trade” mantra because they have the audacity to hold their ideas about governance and resource distribution.
    Cultural distrust were intentionally instituted; like racism, sexism, classism, unionism, homophobia; any divisive religious, ethnic, ideological; to prevent people from making common cause, against the ruling minority. Those systems continue their destructive work in today’s politics.
    These systems of oppression were not established overnight; they were gradually and sometimes surreptitiously introduced and refined in ways that made them acceptable. At the time of the Constitution, corporations were widely reviled, but a century later they were a commonplace business institution, and a century after that they have become our invisible government! They accomplished this over decades, changing a little piece of law here and incorporating a throw-away comment in a judicial decision there.
    Resistance to these oppressions evolved in a similar way. Those who wished to end slavery, for example, worked for many years collecting information, refining their analysis, and debating among themselves. They came to understand the issue as one of the human rights and that the whole institution of slavery was fundamentally wrong. They didn’t come up with a Slavery Regulatory Agency or voluntary codes of conduct for slave owners. They called themselves Abolitionists; The whole thing had to go.
    If one looks at corporate personhood the same way. You will see that corporate personhood was wrongly given — not by We the People (us). But, by nine Supreme Court judges.
    We further see that corporate personhood is a bad thing, because it was the pivotal achievement that allowed artificial entities to obtain the rights of people,
    thus relegating us to subhuman status. And finally, because of the way corporate personhood has enabled corporations to govern us, we see that it is so bad, we must eradicate it.
    Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property.
    Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person. Like abolishing slavery, the work of eradicating corporate personhood takes us to the deepest questions of what it means to be human.
    If we are to live in a democracy, what does it mean to be sovereign?
    The hardest part of eliminating corporate personhood is believing that We the People have the sovereign right to do this. It comes down to us being clear about who’s in charge.
    What would change if corporations did not have personhood?
    Well, here are a few examples. If corporate persons no longer had the First Amendment right of free speech, we could prohibit all corporate political activity — no more contributions to candidates or parties, no more lobbying. Just think of the ripple effect on our political process if no corporate money could contaminate it!
    Corporate persons are now protected against search without a warrant under the 4th Amendment.
    That means that OH&S and the EPA have to schedule their inspections at a time convenient to corporate managers. If you think the air, land, or water in your community is being polluted, or the workers mistreated;, neither you nor the government can go on corporate property to get information without legal permission.
    Think of the consequences if corporate polluters, were no longer shielded by the government.
    Without their protections under the 5th and 14th Amendments, corporations could be prevented from merging and owning stock in other corporations.
    If corporate personhood is denied, a floodgate of possibilities opens for citizen sovereignty to replace corporate governance.
    Abraham Lincoln warned: “It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.”
    No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride[*] the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”

  14. Wayne Turner

    The LNP hates workers,except when it comes to lying to them to get their vote.

    Sadly,so many workers vote for the LNP,against their own interests,because they believe the lies they spin aided by the MSM eg: superior economic managers – They are NOT. Unions are all evil = They are NOT. etc,etc…

  15. Michael Taylor

    “The great thing about The AIMN is the different opinions …”

    And that’s the way it should be.

    I’m a dyed in the wool Labor voter but as far as I’m concerned if anybody has a beef with them then they are free to say so. Without critics, we could never grow or learn.

  16. nurses1968

    I went and checked the calender to see if today was April Fools day and this article was a try on.What about an item called I should win Powerball or something more realistic or was it just a quiet article day

  17. Kaye Lee

    I see you only read the headline

  18. nurses1968

    “I’m a dyed in the wool Labor voter”
    I’m a dyed in the wool Greens voter.
    See anyone can say anything.I did read the article and the reality is that if that was to happen I’d have as much chance of being the next Pope so why bother

  19. Kyran

    The history of DD elections is rather intriguing, as a subject in its own right. Since federation, there have been 7 DD elections.
    The first, in 1914, “sought to abolish preferential employment for trade union members in the public service”. The Liberal government lost the election and the bill was not pursued.
    The next was in 1951 when the “coalition government sought to reverse the proposed nationalisation of the banks put in place by the Australian Labor Party government.” On that occasion, “the government was returned with a reduced majority in the lower house, but now with a majority in the Senate. The Commonwealth Bank Bill was presented to Parliament again on 26 June 1951 and passed both houses.”
    From federation until 1973, there had been two DD elections, neither of which resulted in a joint sitting.
    72 years, two DD elections, that’s an average of one every 36 years.
    Since 1974, we’ve had five DD elections. 42 years, five DD elections, that’s an average of one every 8 years.
    Our performance with regard to DD elections since the 70’s has led to a rather odd construct.
    “Historically, a double dissolution election has been called in lieu of an early election, with the formal trigger bill not playing a significant role during the subsequent election campaign.”
    Sound familiar? Who heard about the three bills that were the cause of the DD during the campaign?
    Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013
    Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013
    Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014.
    Out of the seven DD elections, only one resulted in a joint sitting. Mr Whitlam, 1974. The bills under consideration;
    Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973
    Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973
    Representation Bill 1973
    Health Insurance Bill 1973
    Health Insurance Commission Bill 1973
    Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973.
    The “Medibank” bill was the primary mover. What is really odd, as a layman, is that the cause or need for a DD election seems to be becoming more urgent (hence the frequency), yet there are no rules for a joint sitting, other than 2 standing orders.
    “The members present shall appoint a member to preside.
    “The member chosen to preside shall present to the GG for the Royal Assent any proposed law duly passed at such joint sitting.”

    http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjC18eI69TPAhXpsVQKHebzBhYQFggrMAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aph.gov.au%2FAbout_Parliament%2FHouse_of_Representatives%2FPowers_practice_and_procedure%2FPractice6%2FPractice6HTML%3Ffile%3DChapter13%26section%3D04%26fullscreen%3D1&usg=AFQjCNEXeMk9PwrLUY4HprITitekTCAq4A

    There was a High Court challenge to the outcome of the 1974 joint sitting, which has left little more than a question mark.
    “Thirteen months later, four states challenged the validity of the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Act 1973 in the High Court on the grounds that correct constitutional procedure had not been followed: it had not been one of the ‘proposed laws’ in dispute when the double dissolution was called and could not therefore be voted on by the joint session.”
    “The High Court ruled that the Act was not eligible for the double dissolution process, as the Senate had not had sufficient time to “fail to pass” it.”

    How about this as a thought. In September, 1975, the High Court stated that that bill could not be considered as a trigger for the DD. Fair enough. Having searched high and low, I can’t find the rules for a joint sitting, other than what they decide. If the ABCC is the trigger, fair enough. If the joint sitting is called, its only requirement is to appoint a preside-nt, whose only compulsion is to present to the GG any proposed law passed at such joint sitting. As far as I can find, there is nothing stopping any proposal being considered by a joint sitting.
    On just terms. Sect 51.
    Calling a joint sitting of this ‘government’, this ‘parliament’, may be very interesting. talcum doesn’t have the spine.

    https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjpifbx19TPAhVS32MKHVKXD7wQFggrMAM&url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FDouble_dissolution&usg=AFQjCNH5u2pjpMbW8Z-NkYnup5qS90BZHQ

    Workers rights versus political expediency. The vibe is broken. “On just terms” is little more than a platitude.
    Thank you, Ms Lee. Take care

  20. LOVO

    Nurses1968 @ 8.26, shouldn’t that be “I’m a tye-dyed in the wool Greens voter” , jest sayin’ 🙂

  21. trishcorry

    Yes, Michael and Kaye. People should be able to criticise the Labor party, but Labor party members and anyone else should also be able to freely point out unfair criticisms (especially ongoing ones) when the opportunity arises. I guess it is only ok to grow and learn when people speak up against Labor “to make them better” but if someone points out Labor history that is constantly disparaged (by the regular commentary and some articles) was actually a good thing, then it is not OK to do so. How is that ‘welcoming different opinions?’ It isn’t.

    At least Nurse gets what I mean. When I read this article, I was stuck in some semi-manic type state between laughter and tears. Maybe you just need to be a ‘dyed in the wool’ Labor voter to understand reading how absolutely ridiculous the second last paragraph on sounds, which speaks to the ‘action’ or the ‘intent’ of the piece.

    Someone mentioned on here the other day they were sick of the Lib/Lab being the same mantra as well. No one appeared to have a blue fit about that. This entire article ending how it does speaks to an entire misunderstanding of the actual struggle Laborists who fight real conservatives face every single day.

    This is not about the Accord. It was an example of how Hawke worked with all unions and business and it was a great thing for that point in time. The Liberals are unable to at any time, as it is inherently against their values system. The fact that, that point went over your head really just adds weight that you just ‘don’t get it.’

    The premise that the Libs should be working with the Unions said in a serious way, makes me want to cry into a row of tequila slammers.

    So sorry my comments aren’t “glowing” on this matter. That’s life.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Trish, you have completely misunderstood the ‘intent of this piece’. I would prefer if you did not tell me what my ‘intent’ on anything is because, quite frankly, you really have no idea.

    My intent was to pass on some facts about the cost and results of the two RCs and the ABCC. You are right…the article was not about the Accord. That comment was in response to yours just showing that there were some down sides to the Accord as well….and you are wrong about them including business in the negotiations…but you wouldn’t have read how Ged Kearny pointed that out as a problem and went on to say in the link I gave that it was important to do so in the future.

    “The fact that, that point went over your head really just adds weight that you just ‘don’t get it.’”

    Could I say Trish, that you failed to get anything that was written so I am wasting my time even responding. If you seriously think that I was suggesting that the Liberal Party is likely to hook up with the unions then you need to work on your comprehension skills,.

  23. Jack Straw

    Kaye: Why not try the novel idea of working with the unions to devise better regulations and easier rules?

    We have regressed so far these days into fundamentalism. The Conservatives are like Isis and can’t get past IDEOLOGY.

  24. Trish Corry

    Kaye the title of your article is: The government should be on the same side as the unions

    The last two paragraphs which sum up the article are:

    “Why not try the novel idea of working with the unions to devise better regulations and easier rules that would address sham contracting, enterprise bargaining, workplace safety and the many other issues where there have been problems. Rather than trying to destroy unions, let them help clean out bad practice and improve accountability.

    The government should be on the same side as the unions, protecting the people from exploitation and keeping them safe. That is their job after all though one could be forgiven for thinking they were venture capitalists whose only goal was to protect “risk takers” and maximise their profits.”

    It is either serious, or it is satire. You can’t have it both ways.

  25. jim

    We have the worst government . since 1949 and it’s the LNP,……As the Australia Institute’s research in June found – across a broad range of economic measures, the Abbott/Turnbull government has performed the worst of any Australian government since 1949. Economist Jim Stanford’s report examines economic performance across 12 indicators – including GDP per capita, the unemployment rate, employment growth and the growth of real business investment and intellectual property investment …And the MSM continue the smoke screens SSM, Trump, anything but LNP incompetence.

  26. nurses1968

    “My intent was to pass on some facts about the cost and results of the two RCs and the ABCC.”
    Why not call it”The Exhorbitant cost of two RCs and the ABCC” or was that too simple
    “The government should be on the same side as the unions” bears little relation to that.
    Then I guess its your sandpit
    Just sayin’

  27. Kaye Lee

    Trish,

    You are like Batfink …”You can’t get through to me, my wings are like a shield of steel”

    STOP telling me what I was trying to say. I was giving facts. People interpret or do with them as they will..

    To explain to you the last two paragraphs (grits teeth), I was verandah dreaming about how a government and unions really have the same goal – to protect people – and what they SHOULD do to achieve that goal which is patently NOT what they ARE doing because they are on a witch hunt to demonise unions and Labor politicians through endless expensive inquireies that make no difference.

    Is it any clearer to you now…or would you like to correct me again about my real intent.

    “It is either serious, or it is satire. You can’t have it both ways.”

    There is nothing satirical at all about this article but your comments border on high farce.

  28. Kaye Lee

    nurses….do you think that the government SHOULDN’T be on the same side as unions?

  29. MichaelW

    Lets call the ABCC for what it is, an investigation to find any dirt it can on Unions. Nothing to do with corrupt builders.
    During the Howard era I was questioned on two occasions by investigators. All they were interested in was did I know any crooked union officials, had I attended any union meetings and what was said? No I didn’t, yes I had attended meetings and can’t recall what was said. (sound familiar?)

    When I told them I used to run my own business and knew a few crooked builders it fell on deaf ears, weren’t in the least bit interested.

    Having spent most of my working life on building sites I can assure you the cleanest and safest sites are where unions are active. Some of the non union sites conditions and safety were appalling.

    Over the years unions have helped me get back unpaid super and wages without them I was lost.

    Like Howard’s coalition, this coalitions aim is to destroy unions so workers can be paid 711, McDonald’s and 457 visa rates of pay.
    A pox on this the most toxic and nation dividing government ever.

  30. Matters Not

    Dear oh dear. And there are those who say they ‘get meaning’ from the written word rather than ‘give meaning’ to same. Just read above. KL’s words in the article are constants, (there for all to read – again and again – they don’t change) yet the meanings/interpretations given are many and varied. Why is it so? Could it have something to do with the ‘world view’ bought to bear? The ‘lens’ through which the world is viewed. Why is it the case that some can’t see that the meanings they give are rooted in a particular set of assumptions that aren’t universally shared?

    As for nurses1968, why do you exhibit the same grammatical weaknesses, including the inability re the correct use of apostrophes as your employer? (Examples only). Or is it the case that you have not only sold your labour, but your identity as well?

    As for the buyer …

  31. nurses1968

    Matters Not
    What are you the grammar nazi? prattling on as usual

  32. Matters Not

    Cornlegend, just come clean. Perhaps you will feel better?

    No wonder the Labor Party is in trouble.

  33. Trish Corry

    Corny is overseas MN – currently unavailable.

  34. Kaye Lee

    Trish, I apologise for my childish bickering. It is unproductive. We are fundamentally on the same side. We are also allowed to disagree. I wish we could just converse but it always seems to degenerate I am sure this makes others uncomfortable and I certainly don’t feel good about it.

  35. Matters Not

    Thanks for that TC. I am sure you would know, and you would perhaps have an explanation as to why Cornlegend and nurses1968 seem to have the same identity. You know grammatical constructions, same thoughts, same ‘arguments’ and the like.

    Give me a break.

    Why is it the case that so many ALP ‘propagandists’ (I can’t think of a better or more accurate term) think that long term labor movement supporters are complete idiots.

    (KL you are far too kind.)

  36. jim

    Yea but it’s true some folks think of it as a flip of a coin LiB/LAB “they’re just the same” “she’ll be right mate”

    A RC into the banks would see Australia on the world stage as a take no shit country lead the world on Inequality/ Poverty……hmm…..maybe to remedy our treatment of asylum seekers in some way. If they mega companies were made to pay their rightful no more than their fare share of tax would that be a bad thing?. Oh well one wants a RC into the banks and the other one very much does Not “she’ll be right mate” they’re just the same. One takes Millions from the RC into child abuse the and puts into theRC unions just the same.

  37. jim

    The poor are hurting the most as inequality grows as a result of the government’s decision to cut the clean energy supplement to a range of new welfare recipients. The Turnbull government will drive the poorest incomes down to as low as 32 per cent below the poverty line within three years, according to the Australia Institute’s most recent research.

    One cut ten million from the ABS one cut 60 million see Liberal /Labor they’re just the same,http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-09/abs-staff-say-data-undermined-by-funding-cuts/5801844

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