17 August 2015

The Prime Minister Tony Abbott appointed The Royal Commission to enquire into trade union governance and corruption. The Commission was to look into alleged financial irregularities associated with the affairs of trade unions:  The Australian Workers Union, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Electrical Trades Union, Health Services Union and the Transport Workers Union. The Commission was to look into financial irregularities including slush funds.

The PM nominated The Honourable Dyson Heydon, a former High Court judge, to head the Commission.

While being the head of the Commission, Justice Heydon agreed to give a talk on a Liberal party fundraiser.

When he became aware of the conflict of interest, Justice Heydon decided to withdraw from the fundraiser.

Labour party stated that the Royal Commission was a political witch hunt. The Labour party and the trade unions are demanding that Justice Heydon should be disqualified from heading the Commission.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said that if Justice Heydon did not step aside, Labour would seek a court order to remove him from the Commission. He also demanded that Justice Heydon should disclose all his links with the Liberal Party, including whether he was a member.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said that these events show that Justice Heydon’s appointment was publically motivated and asked the Government to shut down the Commission. ACTU secretary Dave Oliver also argued that the Commission be scrapped. The Greens industrial relations spokesman Adam Bandt also asked the commission to be stopped.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott again defended Justice Heydon, and insisted the event was not a fundraiser. Three decades ago, Justice Heydon was on the selection committee that awarded Mr Abbott his 1981 Rhodes Scholarship.