Contributed from New South Wales
The recent Federal Police raid on the Sydney and Melbourne offices of the Australian Workers Union (AWU), is regarded by opponents of the Turnbull government, to be a politically driven assault on the union and activist group GetUp, which also experienced a raid on its offices.
The raid took place to find evidence that the union donated to GetUp in the past. The idea is that if a donation by an affiliate of the Labor Party is found, it is evidence that there is a connection between GetUp and the Labor Party, which must be disclosed under law. If established, this means that GetUp has unlawfully failed sign up with and inform the Registered Organisation Commission.
Critics point out that this is stretching too far and would apply to any organisation that is dependent on public donations.
It is no secret that GetUp has been a thorn in the government’s side, through its connection with community campaigns that run counter to its policies. Many of these campaigns have been successful.
From the government’s side, there is a clear incentive to silence the group and there is an increasing tendency to use policing methods, as a means of clamping down on alternative opinion and hold back community action that is not approved of.
That the raids were set up as as media stunt. Reporters were there before the police and it was immediately clear that there was a connection with the office of the Employment Minister, Michaelia Cash. A senior media advisor resigned after admitting he had contacted the media.
The union has subsequently applied to the Federal Court for the release of all correspondence, between the Registered Organisation Commission and the minister’s office , suggesting that there is an improper relationship with the body set up at the start of this year.
AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said there are “deep Liberal Party connections”. “And we know the ROC was established by the Turnbull Government specifically as an attack dog on unions and Labor politicians who had served in unions,” He suggests.
Adding to the case of political collusion is the seconding to the Registered Organisation Commission, by the Fair Work Ombudsman’s office, a former staffer of Liberal Party Senator Nick Minchin.