The Taint of History

Writing for Eureka Street, Brendan Byrne provides an interesting rationale for the delay in the establishment of the current Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, drawing on the history of both the Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union (the ‘Costigan Royal Commission’), the more recent Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, and the professional history of the current Prime Minister of Australia.

It is a compelling read, and a compelling argument that Byrne provides, and one certainly worthy of consideration. At the heart of the rationale proposed by Byrne is this:

Australia is at present at a profound economic crossroad. Never has the union movement been weaker. Never has the influence of corporations been more pervasive. Never has the reality of work been more fragmented, insecure, and stressful. It is in this milieu that the Coalition has sought to persuade Australians that unions, collective bargaining, and even some employment entitlements are relics of an outmoded past that need to be dispensed with; and, conversely, that the future of our nation ought to be handed over to ‘market forces’.

However, the Turnbull government is also aware of the ‘kickback’, especially among educated and disenchanted millennials. They are aware that any exposure of malfeasance by the corporate sector will undermine their ideological argument and hand the initiative to their political opponents.

Informed by its historical memory of the Costigan commission and its outcomes, the government’s calling of the Heydon Inquiry, and subsequent reluctance to initiate a royal commission into the finance sector, is as much about protecting their ideological claims and political position as it is about anything else.

Read the whole article below.