Unions campaign for a sinking Labor

Saturday, August 24, 2013
A child uses purple paint to tell Kate Ellis to reverse the cuts to the single parents pension.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions emailed 90,000 union members on August 21, urging them to “go hard against Abbott” in the last two-and-a-half weeks of the election campaign.

They will have to in South Australia if the Newspoll released on the same day is accurate.

A breakdown of voting intentions by state showed a 7.2 percentage point swing against Labor in South Australia compared with the 2010 election result.

Officials of the United Voice union in the state are onto it. They are trying to organise a “minimum” of 45 members to doorknock the electorate of Adelaide held by Labor’s Kate Ellis, who holds the seat by a 7.5% margin.

According to the union, “Kate is a high risk of losing her seat,” hence the need to pound the pavements. Ellis is the Minister for Early Childhood, Childcare and Youth, and Minister for Employment Participation.

Someone should explain to the ACTU it might be because she supported the reduction in welfare payments for single parents, which amounts to a drop in weekly income of between $60 and $120 for 84,000 single parents, most of whom are women.

Apparently Labor thinks if there was ever a way to encourage these mothers into accepting low-paid employment, watching their children go hungry is sure to do it. No doubt the union members will have a convincing explanation for Ellis’s decision when they knock on their doors.

Or they could encourage Labor to listen to the St Vincent de Paul Society, who, on the same day, demanded an anti-poverty strategy while decrying both big parties for not assisting those who “live in a state of permanent recession:.

Their chief executive said that the nearly 13% of the population living in poverty included more than half a million children.

In rejecting the argument that people are to blame for their own poverty, he said it was time to abandon the “foolish notion” that forcing unemployed people into deeper poverty with the woefully inadequate Newstart payments improved their chances of employment.

But the good news is that the sanctity of marriage seems safe. Joe de Bruyn, national secretary of Australia’s largest union, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, says Kevin Rudd has stopped talking about gay marriage because he realises it will cost Labor votes in its heartland, wherever that might be.

He did seem a little confused on the issue, though. While claiming that there were a significant number of ALP parliamentarians who would vote against it, he also said that it was not possible for the parliament to change marriage just by changing a law.

“This is an issue that is beyond the power of parliament to decide. Marriage being between a man and a woman is something that has existed since the dawn of human history.” Hmm… might be time to lay off the altar wine at early morning mass.

From GLW issue 979