|Bill Shorten is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Federal Parliament. He was doing better than Tony Abbott in the opinion polls but now faces a new PM, Malcolm Turnbull. Like Abbott, Shorten is deeply disliked by the majority of the voters.
It would not surprise me if the Labor Party soon tries to remove him as Leader of his Party. Now that would be amusing, as there is no doubt that Shorten was a key player in the removal of both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard when Labor was in government. It was Shorten who stuck the knives in the backs of those Labor Prime Ministers.
I must confess that I have a particular reason to dislike Shorten. He came into Parliament because he had been a bigshot in the Australian Workers Union (the AWU). He is now the subject of an enquiry into corrupt practices in that union.
When I was 19, and a student at the National Art Student, I used to work in the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric system during the Summer months to pay my way through College. When my father died in 1956, I found myself to be the main breadwinner of our family, and I ended up spending a full year in 1957 working underground in the Snowy scheme, in order to pay off all the family debts. I started out as a brakeman (the locomotive driver's offsider) and then graduated to driving electric locos underground.
I soon discovered that there used to be a healthy union in the Snowy scheme before I worked there. The local Union rep was a fellow called Bill Hand. Hand managed to obtain excellent pay and working conditions for his workers locally, and every concession won was quickly adopted by other projects in the Snowy Mountains. This proved costly for the American company which operated there. It was a conglomerate called Kaiser, Walsh, Perrini, Raymond. The company used dirty tactics to defeat Bill Hand and then obliged all the workers to join the Australian Workers Union. In the years to come, the AWU did absolutely nothing to protect and benefit the workers on that project.
By the time I arrived on the scene, working conditions had deterioted seriously. When I was driving the locos, I soon discovered that the brakes never worked, because no money was spent on repairs and maintenance. To stop the locos one had to go into reverse!
The only time we ever saw the AWU union reps was when they came up to the Snowy to collect our union dues.
That US conglomerate never got another contract on the Snowy because of the number of dead and wounded on that project. It was a 14 mile tunnel between Lake Eucumbene and Tumut Pond. There were 14 deaths and countless injured. I knew about that because one of my duties as a loco driver was to quickly take the wounded out of the tunnel. I did many of those "blood wagon" trips.
I am not a fan of the AWU and its sleazy leaders.