The Liberal Party is a cabal of bullies. They subject a long list of victims to continual harassment and abuse, and escalate their attacks at every opportunity.
One frequent target is the trade union movement.
Last year, then employment minister Michaelia Cash ordered the federal police to raid the offices of the Australian Workers Union. Rather than face punishment for this authoritarian misuse of state power, Cash has insisted that she will not be “bullied” into answering for her actions in court.
Unionists have no such luxury. They are regularly forced to face allegations of lawlessness and thuggery in the courts. In one of Australia’s greatest show trials, the 2014 Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, unionists were slandered by the government and the press for months on end.
One accusation was made by a contractor who claimed to have been stabbed by CFMEU officials.
When it was later revealed that the accuser had stabbed himself and then smeared his own blood on the tray of a ute to frame the unionists – something so bizarre it could have been the basis for a true crime program – there was no apology to the union. The report was discreetly buried in the back pages of the Murdoch press.
The Liberal Party has always reserved particular ferocity for the CFMEU. Prominent CFMEU members have been hit with criminal charges simply for organising, and the union has been fined millions for defending the safety of its members.
For two decades, the Liberals have fought for the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a draconian unit invented to get around usual legal process to punish and intimidate construction workers and their union.
Since assuming the leadership, prime minister Scott Morrison described a picture of CFMMEU official John Setka’s kids as “making his skin crawl”. The kids were holding a sign that advised the ABCC to “get fucked” – a commendable sentiment and simple exercise of free speech in a democratic country. Not according to Morrison, who retaliated with threats to deregister the union.
The Liberals specialise in bullying kids. Members of the party argued that 9-year-old Harper Nielson should be suspended from school if she continues to sit during the national anthem.
African kids are told they can’t hang out with their friends at night because it scares politicians and ruins their fine dining experiences. LGBTI kids are told they don’t have the right to equality. And then there are the Aboriginal kids locked in jail and the refugee kids left languishing in torture camps by the Liberal government.
It hardly seems sufficient to describe these abuses as bullying. Refugees bear the brunt of sadistic and sociopathic government policies, implemented by a guy who proudly displays an “I stopped the boats” trophy on his desk.
One of the only Liberals to speak honestly in the kerfuffle about bullying is defence minister Christopher Pyne. “I haven’t been bullied or intimidated in 25 years”, he said. Tragically, this is all too accurate. The likes of Pyne enjoy six-figure salaries, generous superannuation and other taxpayer-funded perks, while they punish society’s most vulnerable.
This, not sour grapes from lost preselection ballots, is the real bullying.