CASH TENACIOUS IN UNION WATCH
The minister has declared war on dodgy deals between big business and labour
We have falling wages growth combined with an increasing cost of living. Throw an energy crisis into this mix and angry voters want someone to blame.
Nevertheless, despite everything, the next federal election is not necessarily lost for the Coalition. On power prices and industrial relations, the government is emerging as the champion of the little guy. This is its political duty, but it also could germinate the first green shoots of an electoral recovery.
For many, Bill Shorten is not to be trusted. People feel this in their bones. This feeling has its origins in compelling data.
Using documented material, opponents of the Opposition Leader can cast him as shifty, as a man who couldn’t lie straight in bed, a man with no morals or scruples, a man who would do any dirty deal — even sell his own grandmother down the river — to get what he wanted.
Shorten’s current vibe is this: a carping, whingeing union rep. This vibe can expanded upon — Shorten cannot be trusted with your pay packets — simply by shoving certain facts in front of people’s faces.
Leading up to the election, a series of advertisements could go to air with devastating effect. Here is one draft script begging to be shot.
The camera opens on the face of a worker describing in their own words how much money they lost when they were shafted by their union doing a dodgy deal with the employer at the time Shorten led it.
The shot cuts to the signature of Shorten on an enterprise agreement, highlighted in red. A graph illustrates the union’s income skyrocketing under his leadership.
The narrator asks the viewer where this money came from and why. Rolling across the screen next comes wave after wave of shocking data — company names next to dollar amounts, showing hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to the union by companies at the time these agreements were in place.
Next, the screen display is a photo of Shorten. The narrator asks: “Would you trust this man to go into your boss’s office, shut the door and negotiate your wages?” Three seconds of silence follows. In that silence the viewer will be thinking, “Uh, no way!” Then the narrator asks the final question that breaks the silence and closes the ad: “Well, then why would you trust him to run Australia?”
Within government ranks, the Employment Minister is doing a great deal to damage Shorten.
Michaelia Cash and her team continue to cast Labor as the party of dodgy deals with big business and sectional interests. This is the truth, as well as an electionwinning formula. It is a shame that more mileage isn’t made out of the minister’s achievements to date.
Cash’s reforms protect the interests of ordinary people and reveal the hypocrisy of Labor. The party is a subsidiary business of the wider labour movement and unfortunately captive to its corrupt sections.
Cash has dismantled longstanding unethical arrangements between businesses and unions.
Achievements to date include legislation to outlaw corrupting benefits, to protect vulnerable workers from unscrupulous employers and to improve union governance, and a building code to prevent cartel-like deals between big builders and unions. Still, there is more on the way. Another bill before parliament will allow crooked union officials to be removed from their positions.
Further legislation just announced will clean up hidden income streams from unregulated funds, which are supposed to provide for worker entitlements but instead are skimmed by employer groups and unions in cosy backroom arrangements.
In response to the minister’s agenda, several union leaders have practically taken up resi-
‘This fear-andsmear campaign on anything other than the code, as I understand it, is designed to damage and destroy’
dence in Parliament House. Whenever parliament sits, day and night, these people can be seen walking the halls, hanging out in the cafe and knocking on doors in the Senate wing.
The unions need 38 votes in the Senate to block legislation — they bank on 26 from Labor, nine from the Greens and always Jacqui Lambie, who is on record as having received union funding.
The strategy the unions use to influence other senators is as follows: • Stage 1: charm them with a “relationship”. Have meetings, issue invitations to dinners, conferences and events. • Stage 2: buy them. Offer donations or campaign support. • Stage 3: threaten to campaign against them in their electorates, robocall their voting base, put up billboards and take out newspaper advertisements. • Stage 4: destroy them.
On August 9, during a motion to disallow the building code in the Senate, here is what Nick Xenophon said: “Even though the CFMEU has previously unleashed a massive advertising campaign against me, featuring gross misrepresentations, outright lies and a post-truth campaign par excellence — the billboards and the full-page ads said that I didn’t care about safety or about jobs — I have continued to talk to them.
“I’ve been told that after today in effect Armageddon will be unleashed against me and that there will be a massive campaign, the likes of which I have never seen.
“This fear-and-smear campaign on anything other than the code, as I understand it, is designed to damage and destroy, based on lies, distortions and misrepresentations, but I suggest it is counter-productive.”
Xenophon is a very fairminded person, not inclined to ideology. His words indicate a turning point in our politics and the Coalition should take note.
Cash’s achievements are highly significant and could be promoted more to lift the government’s standing.