So Peter Costello once again tries to demonise the unions – this time by trawling through the bios of Labor’s front bench to see who has union ties. And – surprise, surprise – he has found a few. (Isn’t it rather like discovering a priest in a cathedral?)
It might be even more instructive to look at Costello’s own side and their connections to the business elite – the real elite in this country – which is essentially and rapaciously self-serving. Costello himself made his name as a lawyer working for gougers.
One can go further with this if pre-parliamentary life is the issue. How many of the Coalition’s front bench have ever worked in a job overlooked by a boss? Not too many. We have autonomous lawyers, inherited farmers, business people – not exactly the sort, like your average Australian, who is bossed around in the workplace with increasingly little redress (thanks to WorkChoices). Have any of these people ever sweated at work? Have they ever been sacked? Bullied? Harrassed? If not, they have nothing in common with most working Australians.
Being a trade union official is nothing to be ashamed of. It is in fact the modern day equivalent of industrial pastoral care – looking after the interests of others, especially the defenceless, rather than the rich and powerful who are interested only in becoming richer and more powerful. (And as Dick Pratt has shown, by fair means or foul).
And while on bios, what about schooling? How many of Costello’s mob have ever attended a non-elite private school? Is John Howard the only one?
Their collective life experience is very unlike that of the vast majority of Australians. It’s a dangerous game, Peter Costello. And you started it.