Australia’s most influential broadcaster today defended the building unions against the union-bashing tactics of the Cole Royal Commission.

Building unions, under sustained attack from the Federal Government and the Cole Royal Commission, today found an unlikely ally in Sydney’s number one radio man Alan Jones. In his Today show editorial Jones blasted the Cole Commission for its clear anti-union bias and labelled as un-Australian the pressure put on CFMEU Victorian Secretary Martin Kingham to give up the names of union activists.

Here’s what Jones had to say:

‘It tends to be fashionable in this country to have a hit at the union movement.’

‘And I have to say I’ve been guilty of that in the past.’

‘But when you see the farce that is Ansett and the extent to which companies just go belly-up and leave workers whistling with nothing, then perhaps some sections of the union movement aren’t tough enough.’

‘There has been a fairly major exercise in union-bashing going on for some months, calling itself a Royal Commission into the building industry.’

‘Remember, this is the same building industry that delivered the 2000 Olympic Games and all its infrastructure miles ahead of time.’

‘But the Victorian secretary of the CFMEU has been charged and faces a fine or gaol because he refused twice in July and August to give the name of shop stewards who attended CFMEU training workshops in 2001-2002.’

‘So a union official is subject to criminal charges because he refuses to give up the names of union activists.’

‘He simply said he wasn’t going to put the livelihood of them and their families at risk.’

‘Well, you might remember that the national secretary of the CFMEU John Sutton, called for the Royal Commissioner Mr Justice Cole to stand down because a report was issued in August critical of the New South Wales branch of the CFMEU, allegedly without hearing evidence from the union.’

‘And the union released at the time some unbelievable figures.’

‘97 per cent of hearing time had been devoted to anti-union topics.’

‘604 employers called to give evidence: only 33 workers.’

‘3 per cent of the witnesses from the rank of the worker: 71 per cent from employers or their representatives.’

‘And only 2 per cent of hearing time spent on topics which didn’t adversely affect the union.’

‘Now surely in all of these things fairness has to be real as well as apparent.’

‘But a bloke refuses to give up the names of his shop stewards and he faces criminal charges.’

‘It sounds fairly un-Australian.’