The spirit of the ALP Accord between business, government and unions during the Hawke administration has been invoked to support the “we are all in it together” initiative launched by the PM to sit around the table with selected people. John Roskam flagged some concerns about the selected people – the chosen few – to sit around the table.
Frankly, I’m surprised that someone like Scott Morrison, who I always thought had such a good understanding of mainstream Australia, would do something like this. First, he ignored the role of small business when he created his economic recovery council, and now he’s seeking the permission of the ACTU to get people back to work. In trying to win over the ACTU the Coalition has said it won’t proceed with its legislation to stamp out unlawful behaviour in the union movement. So in other words the ACTU has already had a big win without it even doing anything. What the government has done is completely misguided. Either it believes the legislation is necessary or it doesn’t. If you’re willing to drop something like this to please the ACTU, it reveals that maybe the government believes the legislation wasn’t really needed in the first place.
The attitude of the ACTU to Australians sharing the sacrifice of the coronavirus crisis was summed up in its response to the NSW government’s plans to delay (yes – merely delay) pay increases for public servants, in exchange for no job losses in the public sector. The ACTU said it was a ‘terrible decision’ and said they’d fight it.
John referred to Des Moore’s “not happy Bob” commentary on the Accord. Des makes the point that you shouldn’t believe everything you’ve heard about the Accords of the 1980s – in fact the recession had more to do with moderating wage demands from the unions and reducing strike activity than anything they agreed to with Labor did.
From Des Moore. Read it all.
It is not possible here to detail the changes in economic policies which have been prevented, in substantial part, by opposition of union leaders. They include, however, such areas as taxation (consumption taxes and lower marginal rates of income tax), efficiency of public enterprises (total opposition to privatisation and resistance to exposing enterprises to competition), efficiency of private industries (resistance to faster reductions in protection), and labour market reform…
In essence, union influence exerted through the Accord has significantly slowed the rate of structural change in the Australian economy and inhibited business investment, thereby keeping down growth in productivity and living standards.
So who would you back in a contest between mediocrity and mendacity?