Cash-rich labour unions are the new masters of all they survey

Cash-rich labour unions are the new masters of all they survey, by Grace Collier.

More than a century ago, union members felt slighted. They created a mechanism to exert control over society, to shape it in their interests and tilt the scales in their favour. This was the Australian Labor Party. Today it fulfils its role as intended but it is a subsidiary and needs the support of its parent. Nobody should be surprised by this continuing financial arrangement.

Labour unions are not the industrial wing of the Labor Party; the Labor Party is the political wing of the unions. The unions are not there to serve the ALP; the ALP is there to serve the unions. The unions are the masters and the politicians are the servants. ALP politicians are in their jobs with the approval of a union boss. Like racehorses, they are selected to run, and like racehorses they are easily interchanged.

It is important to understand this dynamic if one is to understand Australian politics and Australian unions.

Grace omits a crucial dynamic: unions have 50% of the votes in every ALP pre-selection. The other 50% of the votes are by normal Labor Party members. So every Labor parliamentarian must keep union support, or they are out of a job.