When newly elected secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Sally McManus, defended the right of unions to take unlawful industrial action, there was outrage.
Leigh Sales opened with the loaded question “Do you believe in the rule of law?”
“It shouldn’t be so hard for workers in our country to be able to take industrial action when they need to,” Ms McManus responded. “I believe in the rule of law where the law’s fair and when the law is right, but when it’s unjust I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.”
The politicians went on the attack.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Senator James McGrath, said the rule of law “is not a smorgasbord to be picked at will”.
“It’s the entire underpinning of our legal system, indeed of our society,” he warned. “Taken to the extreme, what she is saying is that the union movement and the unions are not going to obey the rule of law in this country and that is a disgrace.”
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash was likewise alarmed, declaring: “This is an extraordinary admission … that [Ms McManus] believes she is above the law and that unions can pick and choose when they obey the law and when they do not.”
Bill Shorten joined the critics. “That’s what democracy is about. If you don’t like a law, if you think a law is unjust, use the democratic process to get it changed.”
Malcolm Turnbull was scathing.
“If she doesn’t believe in obeying the law, if she believes the law only applies when it suits her, then I don’t think we have a lot in common in terms of values,” he said. “This is a nation governed by the rule of law and if she thinks if she and her unions are above the law then there is not much work we can do with her, I am afraid.”
Peter Dutton joined in with his typically crass contribution.
“The ACTU has ended up with this lunatic running the ACTU, taking them further to the left, and Bill Shorten has nothing to say about it,” he said.
Well right back atcha kids.
You have been talking about changing the rules about citizenship in the constitution for decades and now your inactivity has come back to bite you.
Ignorantia juris non excusat