Monday, May 14, 2012

Can we please open up prattling Gerard Henderson to some competition ...

(Above: and after Pig Iron Bob came ...)

If only David Cameron had consulted the pond, he'd have known LOL stood for lots of loons, or perhaps loads of loons, or even looning out loud, not lots of love or lots of laughs, or laughing out loud, or even lots of very lickable lollipops.

That way, he could have avoided being labelled part of a GOG - gaggle of geese - who don't have the first clue.

Speaking of GOGers, today is of course the day when that honourable prattling Polonius Gerard Henderson parades his predictable pap, and he's in sharp form in Absence of competition breeds unions' contempt for members.

Hold your breath - it will be a long time before you get to read Henderson's scribble about how Absence of competition breeds Woolies' and Coles' contempt for customers, or perhaps Absence of competition breeds billionaire miners' contempt for average joes.

It turns out that Henderson is in paranoid mode, and for once it's not the fault of the public service or the ABC. It's that other handy saw, the independents, because they've insisted that Craig Thomson make some kind of explanation to parliament.

Let Polonius take up the tale:

Perhaps, in modern parlance, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Modern parlance? Well the use of parlance firmly establishes Henderson as an old fogey, but if Rosalind Fergusson's Shorter Dictionary of Catch Phrases is a reliable guide, use of the phrase "good idea at the time" goes back to the 1930s or earlier.

That's about the same vintage as "it shouldn't happen to a dog!" and is much more venerable than "it must be something he (or she) ate, which can only be tracked back to the 1950s and to a Flanders and Swann' song The Reluctant Cannibal: It must have been someone he ate.

Hang on, hang on, how did we get into a history of phrases? Oh alright, it's because of the utter tedium of reading Gerard Henderson dabbling in modern parlance.

Let's get back to the chase:

... the insistence of the independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor that Craig Thomson deliver a statement to the House of Representatives next week could turn out to be counterproductive.

Counterproductive? Because it will reveal Thomson as delusional? Because it will land with the low thud of incredulity we saw that greeted his performance on Today with Laurie Oakes, which you can see here - but can we suggest a thrashing with a cat o' nine tails as a pleasant alternative?

It's true there's a meme going around that the Labor party, pushed to the brink, will dump the dirt on deserving Liberals, as payback, as you can read in the lizard Oz's account Liberals dismiss warnings of Craig Thomson revenge slurs. (paywall applies)

But Henderson has a different, lurid paranoid fantasy:

If the now-independent MP for Dobell uses the privileges of the House to attack his former colleagues in the Health Services Union East branch, or senior public servants in Fair Work Australia who have made findings against him, this will further discredit the Parliament.

Well that would be shocking and shameless, seeing as how the HSU East branch has been run to impeccable standards, and as they say in modern parlance is purer than the driven snow (yes, the pond believes Shakespeare is modern parlance, as in Macbeth, and Black Macbeth will seem as pure as snow, followed by The Winter's Tale usage Lawn as white as driven snow, and earlier references here).

Who will control this mendicant with his malicious tongue? Surely it should be the Labor party, which would cop another flaying if Thomson strayed out of the field of play and launched rockets at his old union colleagues or Fair Work Australia?

Don't be silly. He's no longer a Labor man, he's no longer propped up by the Labor party, he's an independent, and so it's his fellow independents who must take the blame, and uphold the standards:

Oakeshott and Windsor are invariably lecturing about parliamentary standards, even though the latter recently called Tony Abbott a ''rabid dog''. In view of the fact that the forthcoming Thomson statement was largely their initiative, they have a responsibility to ensure he does not misuse parliamentary privilege to make what might otherwise be defamatory comments.

Yes, if anything happens, it's all their fault, and if he starts going off track, the pond recommends a rugger bugger tackling of the fiend in mid-speech, followed by a sin-binning which might see Thomson held by security in a knocked-up on-site prison, while the independents lecture him about conducting standards to the level of Tony Abbott.

What's that you say? Bob Brown's bitch? Steady, it's a standard, and the gutter is a level playing field.

It has to be said that at this point, the pond began to wonder who was more delusional - Thomson or Henderson - and began to nod off, as Henderson embarked on a one-sided history of the trade union movement from way back when, superficial and biased, and all to do with a lack of competition and leadership.

Sure enough, towards the end the Communist can gets a good kicking, including the days of World War Two, and the way communist unions were involved in industrial disputes.

... successive conservative governments failed to prevent communist controlled and influenced unions from attempting to subvert the war effort during the early years of the Second World War.

Indeed. The pond was shocked and astonished to learn how that vexatious pinko pervert commie mob the Waterside Workers of Port Kembla, refused to load pig iron for shipment to Japan in 1938, just because they were then in the business of raping and looting China.

Naturally pig iron Bob and his team stood firm, and issued a withering denunciation, which you can read here:

The Australian Government has, therefore, decided that it must take steps to enforce its authority. It will, on Tuesday, 6th December, publish a notice in a special gazette under the Transport Workers' Act specifying Port Kembla as a port to which, and to Waterside Workers, at which Part 3 of the Transport Workers' Act shall apply and will also take steps to appoint a licensing officer for the port. It is giving notice in this fashion in the hope that, even at this stage, the waterside workers at Port Kembla will realise that their action, though perhaps well meant, is quite inconsistent with the principles of democratic Government.

Happily the pig iron travelled to Japan, thereby helping the war effort enormously, though perhaps it might in hindsight be a cause for wonder that it was the Japanese war effort that was helped. And the looting and raping of China proceeded apace, thanks to the man who on 10th September 1938 advised the world that he didn't see a war in Europe happening (flickr it here).

Never mind, it was actually Earle Page who did over his colleague the best when he observed that Menzies was incapable of leading the nation in war, partly because he'd been disloyal to Lyons and partly because he'd failed to serve in World War 1. (more here). Up against that kind of animus, the unions were strictly - in modern parlance - small beer (oh okay, small beer might have arisen in the middle ages to describe the third brew from the same mash drunk by children, but please remember, modern parlance really started with the Romans).

But again tedium has made the pond digress. Back to more paranoia:

It was much the same during the Vietnam War. As Paul Ham wrote in Vietnam: The Australian War, ''throughout the war, HMAS Jeparit, HMAS Boonaroo and other transport vessels faced the threat of constant delays caused by union action''.

Yes, it was those damned pesky unionists who ruined the war in Vietnam. By golly, if it hadn't been for them, there's every chance Australia and the United States would have prevailed, allowing of course for the white-anting by the ABC and public servants throughout the land. It was a just war, a war that should have been won ... (and if you believe that, please apply to the pond for a price for the Opera House we have for sale just at this minute for a knock down price).

And it goes without saying - since Henderson doesn't say it - that Sydney would be a much better place if only that bloody Jack Mundey had been stopped from applying green bans all over the place. Think how much better the world would have been if Kelly's Bush had been given a decent A. V. Jennings make-over, think how much more attractive the Rocks could have become if the entire heritage site had been demolished, and so on and on (more here).

By the end of Henderson's perambulation, the pond had nodded off, only to perk up ears at the final Henderson solution:

If governments cannot prevail against embedded union leaders, not that much can be expected from the occasional whistleblower. The best way to reform the HSU East is to open it up to genuine competition.

Which would of course make a genuine dog's breakfast of industrial relations. There would be genuine confusion and genuine chaos. Which would be genuinely pleasing to G. Henderson.

Now you might think it simpler to have an industrial body a little better prepared than Fair Work Australia that could prepare a report in shorter time than three years, and you might think if a corrupt union official is uncovered, then there are all kinds of mechanisms available to prosecute the corruption, but then that would mean you aren't Gerard Henderson, and you also probably aren't a member of the union movement or the Labor party, extending protracted benevolence in relation to a sordid mess in a bid to stay in power ...

You might also wonder why Gerard Henderson is always on hand on a Tuesday to chirp nonsense in the usual way. Indeed.

Perhaps the best way to reform the opinion page of Fairfax is to open up Henderson to genuine competition ...

(Below: oh you poor possum, if you got this far, why not a change of subject and a change of mood, thanks to the reader who sent in this encompassing definition of marriage. Click to enlarge).

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