I don’t find many positive things to say about Australian trade unions, but full marks to them for standing in the way of an anti-democratic and anti-competitive deal between the major political parties to nobble their ‘third party’ opponents.
The precise content of the deal being negotiated between government and opposition has not been revealed, but from The Age‘s report it includes bans on union and corporate donations and
the legislation would also have severely limited third-party advertising campaigns such as the one the ACTU ran against WorkChoices at the last federal election.
Understandably, the unions were not at all happy about this and appear to have vetoed the proposal within the ALP. As one ‘source’ says:
‘What happens when Tony Abbott goes to the next election with a WorkChoices policy, and the unions can’t run an advertising campaign against them?”
The Liberals, stung by the scale of the anti-WorkChoices campaign, have clearly announced their desire to deal with their union opponents using election law. While I generally support labour market deregulation, the anti-WorkChoices campaign was a healthy part of the democratic process, not a flaw to be remedied. WorkChoices was an attack on the union movement, and clearly unpopular even before the anti-WorkChoices campaign got into full swing. In a democracy, any organisation in civil society should have full rights to do everything they can to defend themselves. And the Australian people should have full rights to support organisations that represent their policy views.
When businesses get together to fix markets to suit themselves it’s a crime. I can’t see why we should view political cartels any more favourably than corporate cartels. The political party dealmakers belong on the ACCC shame list.