Miners Slam Abbott Dole Ban Plan, While Unions Boast They Know What Bosses Want

A mining industry body today said Tony Abbott’s plan to cut under-30s off the dole to help the mining industry find skilled workers was “misguided”. The comment, by Queensland Resources Council director Michael Roche was reported by the ABC.

The ABC report missed the main story, running with a headline reporting a union leader saying that this was Abbott’s “Sarah Palin” moment. It’s barely news that a top unionist would criticise the Liberal leader, and the Sarah Palin comparison is nothing more than using her name as a swear-word. There’s nothing in common between Palin, a formerly obscure chancer who seized her opportunity to become a national right-wing figure in the USA, and Tony Abbott, who was already the leader of Australia’s conservative Establishment party, and who had everything to lose.

The story that a mining industry group thought Mr Abbott’s policy is a bad idea is clearly far more significant – if a Liberal leader can’t get the miners behind him, he’s in big trouble.

Meanwhile, Australia’s tame-cat union movement reminded people which side they’re on.  Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Jeff Lawrence said Mr Abbott’s proposal was unlikely to make any difference to the labour market in the resources sector. Mr Lawrence said there were challenges for Australia in training new and existing workers, but these challenges required effective industry-driven responses, not simplistic fixes.

So what the ACTU said is that it knows better than the Liberals what the bosses want and need. Probably true, but rather revealing. The statement released by the ACTU had a few token references to support for low-paid workers, but the only formal campaign mentioned had nothing to do with agitation to increase wages, but was the National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce, which is suposed to develop solutions to skills shortages. The words “strike” and “industrial action” were not mentioned in the statement.

So there we have it. A nutjob Liberal leader who is no doubt just going to worry his party more and more, and a union movement which sees itself as a consultative member of the capitalist class.

4 Responses to “Miners Slam Abbott Dole Ban Plan, While Unions Boast They Know What Bosses Want”

  1. 1 Arthur

    I’m wondering whether space is opening up for working class politics again?

    Seems the Coalition still have their (conservative) “battlers” constituency, stronger among tradies etc than the ALP and unions. But it can’t be very solidly attached, given the sheer absurdity.

    The ALP and unions gave up pretending to represent workers quite a long time ago. Only the “left Greens” and “socialist” still try to maintain the illusion by hysterically denouncing the Coalition as though the ALP was significantly different.

    The “left Greens” are pretty much as irrelevant as the “socialists” (with which they strongly overlap) while mainstream greens are pretty open about wanting to reduce workers living standards much more extensively than the ALP and Coalition.

    There’s been quite a bit of rioting in Europe already and major quakes in the British two party system (though still no sign of working class politics, and with Brown still able to preempt it in a way Blair could not and Rudd cannot). Australia still hasn’t been really hit by economic crisis but there doesn’t seem to be much left in the way of ruling class misrepresentation of workers to prevent some rapid shifts when it does get nasty.

  2. 2 keza

    The immigration/population question may well become a hot issue … it’s already heating up. Abbot’s dole cutting proposal is definitely related to this.

    The Greens/ unions and a large slab of the right will all be coming out against increased immigration. This is an area in which without some genuine left leadership there’s great potential for some very reactionary ideas to get a grip.

  3. 3 Bill Kerr

    Agree with much of this analysis but given that abbott is flying one of several kites prior to policy formulation it’s the wrong approach to describe him as a “nutjob”, just as it is wrong to describe Bush in that way for his policies.

    Another loose end to be tied up is the parallel with Noel Pearson’s policies in aboriginal affairs. If you take policies which make sense in certain cases to extremes then they take on a different meaning.

    I prefer the approach used by Michael Perelman in his thoughts on the tea party where he makes the effort to look behind the policy back to the economic base of the underlying proponents

  4. 4 Bill Kerr

    arthur: I’m wondering whether space is opening up for working class politics again?

    One of David Harvey’s strong points is that he is not in denial about this, I listened to one of his recent talks and he said that the capitalist class have in a general sense positioned the working class where they want them. He was challenged on this but stuck to his argument. Partly on the strength of this I am buying a couple of more books by Harvey, after reading reviews, ‘Conditions of post modernity’ and ‘Spaces of Hope’. In the intro to the latter one he describes the changing mood in the Capital classes he has been teaching almost every year for 30+ years, you can read it on the look inside amazon feature, it’s quite interesting IMO.

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