Sunday, July 09, 2006

Unions' scare campaign lacks truth - Piers Akerman

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The ACTU's scare campaign on industrial relations reform has been given a huge leg-up by "our" ABC, even though Labor's predicted nightmare scenario of mass sackings did not happen.

ACTU boss Greg Combet did give the game away when he said: "They reckon we used to run the country a while back. I reckon it wouldn't be bad if we did.''

ABC and former ABC staffers appear to agree with him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When Combet appeared on ABC Sydney radio last week, he was given an open microphone to claim (unchallenged) that "99per cent'' of a story about large numbers of West Australian mining industry employees being on Australian Workplace Agreements was "drivel''.

Host Virginia Trioli let that one go through to the keeper, even though the mining industry stands by the figure.

Trioli did recognise that Combet's view conflicted with the pledge West Australian Premier Alan Carpenter had given mining giant BHP Billiton: that AWA conditions and pay rates in the state's resources sector would remain intact under Labor.

"Don't we have a problem if a Labor premier is arguing something that is clearly counter to the view that you're holding?'' she asked Combet.

Wrestling with this knotty problem is presumably the greater ALP-ACTU-ABC collective, which prefers its premiers to speak with a common voice on industrial relations.

Kim Beazley has promised to abolish AWAs should he win the next election, describing them as the poison tip of John Howard's industrial relations arrow.

Former ABC reporter Charles Wooley also gave Combet free rein on his Across Australia program, even when Combet farcically implied that election candidates fielded by the ACTU would be standing independently of the ALP, the party the union movement proudly claims to have spawned and which it continues to underwrite.

Wooley expressed minor scepticism at the idea that union candidates could be independent of the ALP, but smartly dropped the issue without pointing out theobvious rewards to Labor from such a campaign.

Not that Wooley's listeners would be in any doubt about his leanings.

In May, the fly-fishing Tasmanian told his audience he believed Kim Beazley should be prime minister because he is "a decent and intelligent bloke with a good heart'' who "if he could just get there, would suit the office, and it would suit him''.

Is Wooley really suggesting that a politician who has achieved nothing of note in a 26-year parliamentary career be placed inthe prime minister's office?

Is he saying that an Opposition leader who cannot be identified with one positive policy initiative should be placed in charge of the nation? Wisely, the Australian electorate has already rejected such foolishness at two elections.

Media monitoring and public polling would suggest that the ACTU and ALP's fear campaign has had some effect, but there is nothing to suggest employers have engaged in mass sackings or that there is any real basis for concern.

Indeed, contrary to the views disseminated by the ABC and Charles Wooley, the adoption of AWAs accelerated through the June quarter, more than doubling in the past four weeks.

Nationwide, the hotlines set up to field queries from employees and employers received fewer than 140,000 calls between March 27 and June 30. Fewer than 80,000 of them were from employees.

But Beazley owes the trade-union movement big time - as he freely admitted when he wished it well last Christmas, saying: "We have drawn closer to the ACTU and the union movement - the other side, the industrial wing, ofthe total labour movement; Greg Combet and Sharan Burrow, and many others in the union movement's leadership.

"It is the closest relationship I have ever seen in my entire life in the Labor Party, which is now close to 40 years.

"I would never have believed that we could get so close, but we are there now and we will be there for a considerable period of time.''

In fact, Beazley's debt to the unions can be quantified. By the next federal election, the ALP will be in hock to the unions to the tune of at least $78 million.

Since 1996, the union movement has delivered almost $50 million to the ALP. Then there's the $8 million the ACTU spent campaigning against the Government's workplace reforms last year, and the $20 million Combet has pledged to spend before next year's federal election.

Of this amount, almost $1million came from the CFMEU in 2004-05 alone, taking its total donations since 1996 to $5,224,465.

Australia has successfully struggled to free itself from thesort of union bastardry represented by Combet and his militant henchwoman Sharan Burrow, who last month had to be reprimanded for her breach ofthe International Labor Organisation's protocols.

The ALP-ACTU-ABC collective's fear campaign may have created some anxiety, but the community concern is nothing like the panic that would sweep the nation if this bloc ever looked like regaining power.