Saturday, 22 July 2017

Paper takes a stand against the way Canberra is run

It took the paper a couple of days but The Canberra Times has finally given the local trade union movement a clip around the ears for the extraordinary attempt by Unions ACT Secretary Alex White to control Labor members of the Legislative Assembly.

In its editorial this morning headlined UnionsACT's delusions of grandeur undermine the standing of the Barr Government, the paper suggests that if a union group wrote to Labor members of the Federal Parliament demanding to be told in advance if they were planning to meet with people it didn't like they would be laughed out of the room.
The probable responses from former leaders such as Kim Beazley, Paul Keating and Mark Latham wouldn't be fit to print.
The fact UnionsACT allegedly feels comfortable in making such a demand on Labor members of the Barr Government in regard to the Master Builder's Association indicates one of two possibilities.
The first is that, as the Opposition frequently asserts, the Territory is in the thrall of a group of faceless trade unionists who constitute a secret "state within the state" and have the power to tell elected Labor MPs what they can and cannot do.
The second is that UnionsACT has delusions of grandeur.
It is to be hoped hubris, and not the existence of a secret cabal, is the proper explanation for this remarkable demand. Either way, it can only be viewed as a serious assault on the integrity and credibility of the Labor-Greens coalition.
ACT Labor, which is dependent on the pokies revenue from the union owned social clubs for its electoral war chest has made a rod for its own back by previous concessions to the local labour movement.
A Memorandum of Understanding between Unions ACT and the Government, initially signed in 2005 and renewed several times since, allegedly gives the unionists the right to pick and choose who is awarded state-funded contracts.
While both Mr Barr and Unions ACT have asserted this is not the case and that the union group is only "consulted", the terms of the MOU indicate otherwise.
Government agencies are required to to refuse work to firms that do not provide undertakings to comply with work safety laws above those implicit in the contract and under relevant legislation, do not recognise the local unions as the representatives of the workers and do not agree to facilitate a range of union activities.
The closeness of the links between the Government and the unions has been the cause of grief to the local ALP in the past. Then Police Minister, Joy Burch, stepped down in early 2016 over allegations about contact between her chief of staff and CFMEU ACT secretary, Dean Hall.
Earlier this month Unions ACT raised eye brows when it launched a robo-calling campaign against Liberal MLA, Andrew Wall.
Mr Wall was targeted after he objected to school students being given union membership application forms during union-run safety briefings.
That was interpreted by some as being an attempt to intimidate an elected member.
Mr Barr would be wise to publicly reject the latest UnionsACT demand at the first available opportunity in order to put the Government's independence of thought and action beyond all possible doubt.
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