Were you to come up with a list of commentators likely to savage the Liberal government’s hypocrisy for going after innocent union officials while covering up for its criminal mates in the big banks, Andrew Bolt probably wouldn’t be your first choice.
But there he was on the Bolt Report last week, detailing the government’s scandalous double standard regarding the royal commissions into the banks and the unions.
On 16 May, blackmail charges against CFMEU officials John Setka and Shaun Reardon were abandoned by prosecutors when it became clear their case had no chance of standing up.
The prosecution evidence at the committal hearing clarified that the whole trial was, as John Setka told media outside the court, “a conspiracy to criminalise trade union activity in this country”.
“It’s true the CFMEU are no angels”, Bolt said (on Sky News, that counts as effusive praise for the CFMEU), “but this is a bad look for the Liberals.
“They were red hot for a royal commission into the unions, which has so far come up with not one successful criminal prosecution”, Bolt continued. “But they fought for two years to stop a royal commission into financial institutions that could very well, after all the scandals it has dug up, see some executives in the dock.
“Bill Shorten has just been given a gift. He can push the line that ‘here are the Liberals: soft on corporate crooks, hard on innocent union officials’.
“And he has an audience now for this class war stuff, given that today’s wages figures again show private sector wages still not growing above the inflation rate. Living standards are still flat. That’s going to make a lot of workers very angry, and asking where their share is.”
It sure is. And when even notorious right wingers like Bolt can see it, you know it’s obvious.
Bolt isn’t opposed to the class war being waged by the Liberals on behalf of the rich – he just wishes it were better disguised. The populist right that Bolt speaks for understands that if the Liberals are recognised for what they are – servants of the billionaire class dedicated to maintaining a system of class division – they will be slaughtered electorally.
That’s why Bolt, Tony Abbott and their ilk spend so much time whipping up scares about union thugs, illegal refugees, African gangs, Indigenous bludgers – whichever group they can turn ordinary people against to divert attention from the main enemy of most people: corporate Australia and the governments that serve it.
Unfortunately, though, Bolt is wrong about one thing. He thinks that the Liberals being exposed over the banking royal commission will open the floodgates for Labor to wage “class war” against the rich. If only that were true.