Good corporate governance, reduced conflicts of interest, independence,
freedom of association, one vote one value. These are just some of the
mantras that governments, regulators and businesses around the world
have increasingly embraced in recent years.

However, all of these notions are affronted by the ALP’s formal
association with the Australian union movement, which gives affiliated
unions a guaranteed 50% vote at all party conferences and effective
control over all preselections.

Being captive of this union gerrymander means the ALP has a bias
against the unemployed who aren’t in the union club and also gives
priority to highly paid Australian workers over their comrades battling
it out in Asian sweatshops, who would love to work in Australia.

Look no
further than Kevin Reynolds, boss of the CFMEU in WA, telling an
employer on 2 June to “take you and your bloody Filipinos and piss
off” in this story on PM.

John Howard is right to say that union power clearly explains Kim Beazley’s pledge to abandon AWAs –
although he somehow managed to tell some of the 30 business observers
that paid $5000 to attend last week’s NSW state conference that Labor’s
ties to the unions don’t mean much these days.

Go to this page on the Victorian ALP website to check out membership conditions and you’ll find the following:

A person applying for membership must be a union member, if eligible, with an
affiliated union. Members of an affiliated union receive a $5 discount on their fee. Use the “Choose Union” link below
to select your affiliated union. If your union does not appear in the affiliated
union list, please enter your union name in the box provided.

You then have the survey which asks whether you employ
labour and then states “If yes, please confirm that you undertake to
employ only trade union members.” This whole union gerrymander is re-emphasised in “the pledge”, where
new members promise to support Labor and its candidates and to
“actively encourage trade union membership”.

With private sector union membership down to 20%, it really is time
the ALP had a long overdue hip replacement operation. How on earth can
it remain a broad-based political party when one special interest group
literally has formal control to the exclusion of all others? There
should be a formal separation so the ALP is genuinely independent,
leaving union members, like anyone else in the community, free to join
the party, while some unions could even choose to donate.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey