Elections are an expensive business. The last federal poll cost $170 million. That’s a lot of school books and hospital supplies. But if the cost of elections troubles you, despair not as relief is at hand.

This is Wayne Hanson and he'd really like a new Premier. Photo: Lindsay Moller

Who needs elections anyway when you’ve got the Australian Workers Union?

For the second time in six months this union is kindly offering to step in on behalf of the voters – or more accurately, instead of the voters – to take over the hiring and firing a democratically elected government leader.

Victoria goes to the polls tomorrow but in a lot of ways a bigger political story is unfolding in South Australia as Mike Rann fights for survival ahead of this weekend’s State Labor conference.

Rann’s current problems are largely of his own making. For most of his time in office, a sizeable majority of South Australian voters have supported Rann, who has presided over growth and investment after that long period of post-State Bank darkness.

But since defying expectations by winning a workable majority at this year’s March election, Rann has lost his mojo. The Budget which he and Treasurer Kevin Foley brought down has been denounced as offensive to traditional Labor values, with its cuts to public sector jobs and services and its erosion of worker entitlements.

Rann has yet to provide a convincing explanation as to the merits of the sister-state relationship with Puglia, where conveniently enough he owns his own Italian getaway. It is a pretty suss arrangement which looks like an exit strategy for a guy whom many believe has lost interest in doing the job he was elected to do.

But the key word here is “elected”. Mike Rann was elected Premier for a third time in March of this year. One bloke who has never been popularly elected is Wayne Hanson. Wayne is the state secretary of the Australian Workers Union. I don’t know anyone in Adelaide who voted for Wayne. Despite this Wayne has decided that Mike Rann, despite being re-elected just eights months ago for a fixed four-year term, should get out of politics next year, and that he should take Kevin Foley with him.

The Australian Workers Union has a motion listed for debate at this weekend’s convention calling for Rann and Foley to “effect generational leadership change prior to the 2011 state convention”.

Aside from showing that even the old shearers’ union now speaks in management jargon, this poorly-worded motion demonstrates an extraordinary level of impertinence by this union. It’s almost as if the AWU is professionally indifferent to the rights of voters, in its determination to influence or even decide the structure of Labor’s parliamentary party.

The amazing thing about the union’s conduct, especially in light of its controversial role in the Rudd-Gillard coup, is that it’s not even chastened or cautious about its behaviour. In contrast, these guys seem to get off on it.

The national secretary of the AWU is Paul Howes. He strikes me as a smart person in a policy sense – his straight talk on issues such as Afghanistan is admirable coming from someone broadly of the Left. He also has a pretty inspiring back story, spending much of his youth homeless and living on the streets of Sydney’s inner-west.

For all that there is something about the swaggering pathology of Howes, who has boasted in his new book about his role in knifing Rudd, which is offensive to anyone who believes that it’s ordinary voters who should hire and fire leaders.

Labor speechwriter and journalist Bob Ellis wrote a piece on the ABC website The Drum this week about the recent spat between Howes and Mark Latham. In the piece Ellis revealed that he often corresponded with Howes and that, in July of this year, three weeks after Rudd had been removed as PM for Gillard, the AWU boss had this to say about Rudd:

“I’m trying to work out some way to keep his legacy and memory alive for years and decades to come as a constant reminder of how one slightly unhinged, vindictive geek from semi-rural Queensland almost destroyed the soul of our great movement and why we should never let his ilk stain the party again.”

It’s a pretty extraordinary level of abuse to direct at someone who by then was politically dead anyway. Indeed the extent of Howes’ venom suggests that he should be wary about labelling other people unhinged vindictive geeks.

Meanwhile, back in Adelaide, AWU secretary Wayne Hanson will happily tell anyone who will listen that he believes (despite what an absolutely majority of South Australians decided eight months ago) that Mike Rann must go as soon as possible.

“We are saying to the leadership, you have had your place in the sun,” he told The Advertiser’s Greg Kelton this month.

So just a few months after Rudd was punted, triggering an almost unmanageable chain of political events which almost cost Labor power, this same outfit is trying it again in SA.

The local arm of the AWU should reflect on the national debate which followed Rudd’s knifing and the August 21 election cliff-hanger.

Voters had their chance to turf Rann a few months ago and chose not to do so. Some of them may now be ruing their decision given his recent performance. But it doesn’t follow that they’re hoping a bloke called Wayne Hanson, who they wouldn’t know from a cold pastie, should step in and get rid of Rann for them.

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73 comments

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    • Eric says:

      05:01am | 26/11/10

      Well, the ALP is owned by the unions - and business owners have a right to sack their employees.

    • PaulB says:

      07:21am | 26/11/10

      On this we agree Eric.  They have always been slaves to the crude, fat Union bosses.

    • Seanr says:

      08:33am | 26/11/10

      Well said Eric, a fact more Labor voters should pay attention too.

    • Fiddlesticks says:

      09:13am | 26/11/10

      Utter fantasy.

      The Labor Party is supported by ordinary Australians, by private businesses, and by the Union movement that represents a proportion of Australian workers. Membership includes both every day members of the public and delegates of Unions.

      “Ownership”?  What a deliberate, pointless distortion of truth.

      Typical Eric.

    • Eric says:

      12:22pm | 26/11/10

      Fiddlesticks, last I heard unions had automatic control of about 60% of delegates to ALP conferences. Has this changed?

    • Tracker says:

      12:52pm | 26/11/10

      @ Fiddlesticks, once upon a time Unions used to say “majority of Australian workers” but i guess with the ever declining membership, Unions have to suffice with “a proportion”..lol

    • Fiddlesticks says:

      03:50pm | 26/11/10

      Eric’s claim was “ownership”. Now he’s moved to “60% of delegates”.

      Not being a unionist, I don’t have numbers to hand, State or National. It’s Erics claim - so surely must be down to him to check it, eh.

      He might care to remember that not all unions affiliate with the ALP - so not all unions would have a delegate anyway.

      As for Tracker, well, what a shining example of the state his side of politics has brought public debate to. Tell the literal actual unarguable truth, and yet they’ll try to find a way to sneeringly suggest you’ve somehow cheated.

      Gah.

    • acotrel says:

      07:50am | 27/11/10

      Two days ago you were all beating your chests and crying about the 29 guys who died in the NZ mine disaster.  There is a big question mark hanging over the mine owners relationship with their workers.  Why was monitoring of mine gases not routinely conducted, and why were the men working in such high risk conditions?  You guys who get into union bashing, should reflect on the role of the union in boosting safety/productivity.  You must recognise that your actions in bashing the unions has probably played a part in that disaster!

    • Fiddlesticks says:

      03:40pm | 27/11/10

      What a hoot!

      Even the bumbling Ms Bishop B only claims 50% Union delegates at Labor conferences.
      http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/where-does-get-up-get-off

      Dear oh dear.

      “Mmmf Mmmf rrrghhh!”
      What’s that Eric?
      Ah, got your foot caught in your mouth…*again*! 

      Oh dear!

    • acotrel says:

      05:42pm | 27/11/10

      ‘Elections are an expensive business. The last federal poll cost $170 million.’

      And the Liberal party pollies were still unable to claim their birthright? There must be something wrong with the electoral boundaries?  What we need are more gerrymanders!

    • Darryl Price says:

      09:37pm | 27/11/10

      Yeah `...is only control, not ownership. They have to keep pouring funds into the party, so it’s control at a price.

    • Fiddlesticks says:

      10:06am | 28/11/10

      Oh dear. Killer punches, eh? Jeepers. You Liberal folks certainly have problems understanding democratic processes.

      50%:  Sigh.
      As Darryl seems not to know,  and recent events apparently did’nt give him the clue, 50% is not control. It’s just *half*. *Not* a majority. It’s a tied vote. 

      And guess what!  The motion re Rann was put to a vote on the floor of the SA conference and….wait for it…...went down. Defeated. By the members/delegates voting together. *Lost*. Dear oh dear.

      “Pouring funds in”
      Mmm, yes indeedy.  Amazing isn’t it?  A live, active organisation like a Political Party needs funds coming in to run. Subscriptions, fees, donations - What an underhand idea!

      Fancy them thinking they ought to pay for their campaigns, advertising, printing, magazines, staff, offices. What a lowwwwwwww dirty trick! No wonder the Liberals, the Greens, the Democrats, the Nationals all “stole” the idea!

      For pity’s sake. You folks need to seriously lift your game. Posting silly stuff like Eric’s and Darryl’s just leaves the Liberal support base looking like a pack of idle high school drop-out wall-scribblers.

    • Roger Ramjet says:

      06:15am | 26/11/10

      Yeah, Im just not sure the ‘democratically elected line’ washes. Penbo, you’re a smart bloke. and I know you have to pretend to be dumb for your readers, but you know better than most how Australia’s system of government works. Im summarising here of course, but we elect Members in electorates and the party that gets a majority gets to pick their leader who subsequently gets the top job. When they stop representing that party, they get the boot.

      I hear what you’re saying but, I just dont agree this isnt democratic.

    • Mark says:

      10:27am | 26/11/10

      That’s the theory anyway, and the documented constitutional position. The practical reality is that the premier / prime minister gets elected. That is demonstrably what the voters expect. What we should really do of course is to call fresh elections when there is any move to replace the leader.

    • a voter says:

      11:46am | 26/11/10

      Well Mark
      That’s your opinion of course,
      but it doesn’t make it true. and you do not speak for all voters.

    • Charlie says:

      12:18pm | 26/11/10

      Mark the premier is elected by a majority of members in the lower house thats not a fact for dispute or discussion.  The unions as an affiliate of the party and what constitutes the party’s membership have every right to call for the leader to step aside, and this isnt some shady back room move, its very public its very open and not within any comparison to what Gillard did to Rudd. The union leaders themselves are also democratically elected leaders of their membership who are expected to act in the members interest.  this just seems to be a favourite whipping horse for the media and has no presented anything new or even interesting expect that penbo perhaps hopes to one day be relevant.

    • John says:

      06:16am | 26/11/10

      Quit flying the sensationalism flag, the electorate does not vote for the leader at all, they vote for their representative in parliament.

      The party, be it Labor or Liberal, decides on who will be the leader.

    • marley says:

      08:32am | 26/11/10

      Well, that’s fair enough.  But the AWU isn’t the ALP.

    • Adam Diver says:

      08:37am | 26/11/10

      I am suprised you didn’t say liberal do it as well (whilst in oppossition). Regardless of the exact science of politics ther is no doubt that both parties “play the man (or women)” and as such a certain, albeit, unwritten expectation is that the person in charge remains so, barring exceptional circumstances.

      If we really want to be exact, I suggest that their is no leader of the party unitl after an election occurs so that the party get elect someone who was actually elected. With the evolution of safe seats, this is no so much an issue these days, doesn’t mean its not technically correct now, does it?

    • Robert Smissen, rural SA, God's own country says:

      09:38am | 26/11/10

      @marley, Are you sure? ? ? ? ? ?

    • grumpy old man says:

      06:56am | 26/11/10

      its very scary stuff, I don’t think the majority of voters understand that this country is run by a trade union franchise, and as such, that franchise needs to follow the franchisors rules or get sacked.
      The AWU IS indifferent to the views of the voters. Its primary concern is running its franchises, the labor State and Federal Govts.

    • acotrel says:

      08:36am | 27/11/10

      ‘Well, that’s fair enough.  But the AWU isn’t the ALP’

      There are dumb b*stards like yourselves and Howes in every walk of life, and they’ve all got the vote!  Get used to it!

    • acotrel says:

      09:01am | 27/11/10

      I’m a grumpy old man too!  However I recognise the importance of industrial democracy, and it’s relationship to safety and productivity.  Have you ever had a REAL JOB?  Your comment makes me doubt it! The unions have a legitimate role in industry, regardless of how much you might like to make Australia a dictatorship! Australian workers are volunteers, NOT conscripts!

    • iansand says:

      07:02am | 26/11/10

      Do the rules of the ALP give the conference power to determine who leads the party?  We are not in the UK.  While this motion may be some sort of shot across the bows, even assuming it is passed it will have no effect.  If that proposition is correct one would have thought a fair and accurate report might mention it.  Unless Penbo subscribes to the Fox News version of “fair and accurate”.

      What is more interesting about this article is that it is another step along the road to the presidentialisation of Australian politics.  That the people elected the leader and only the people can remove him or her is a very new notion in Australian politics.  I wonder why it is being peddled?

    • Labor Ruined NSW says:

      05:24pm | 26/11/10

      Spare me with your your “fair and accurate”. Go back to the ABC, you will like the sort of balance they provide. And as for standing up for the union’s rights to sack PMs and Premiers, why should an organisation than represents a piddling percentage of the population have the right to dictate to the electorate who the leader of the Labor party will be?

      Is it because they bank roll the Labor party and run the best scare campaigns?

      It is because of people like yourself that we have had to endure the Rudd experiment and now we are trying to survive through the Joolya years. The ALP is sh*t at running the counrty but masters at staying in power. Shows were their priorities lie doesn’t it?

    • iansand says:

      07:13am | 27/11/10

      You didn’t read my post, did you?

    • hot tub political machine says:

      01:33pm | 27/11/10

      I think its self-evident

    • Macca says:

      07:08am | 26/11/10

      Paul Howes is a highschool drop-out, failing to complete year 9, who’s life experience extends no further than left-wing ideological groups and work experience as a AWU Organiser.

      He is willing to manipulate and bulldoze anyone to set his own policy agenda, which is almost certainly being fed to him by his mentor Bill Shorten.

      Some from the left will argue that Large Business owners and CEOs also have their own policy agendas. But unlike Howes, they grow the economy and jobs, and whilst many would rather not agree with it, make changes for the better of Australia.

      Paul Howes does no such thing. He is a leech on his members union fees and will be a party hack for life.

    • Joan says:

      07:38am | 26/11/10

      .Paul Howes sacked Rudd and gave the tick to Gillard 23rd June Lateline.  Paul Howes words in book :  I would have given good money to see Mark Latham tasered.”  .. I bet he would too ... this guy is the creepiest, scariest guy on Australian political scene and he`s not a politician.

    • Jeem says:

      07:48am | 26/11/10

      I’ve always thought of Unions as a beast from yester-year.  They served their purpose establishing work conditions and labor laws.  Now it’s time to move on.  To what benefit does society gain by keeping them around?

    • Macca says:

      09:17am | 26/11/10

      @Joan, “this guy is the creepiest, scariest guy on Australian political scene and he`s not a politician”

      Not yet…

    • St. Michael says:

      11:35am | 26/11/10

      @ Jeem: because you can’t trust governments to leave those work conditions and labor laws in place if unions are not around to keep them alive.  The pressure to repeal or slacken labor laws is constant from business lobby groups.  For all of the workplace abuses that take place in Australia on a daily basis, Fair Work Ombudsman, the so-called “workplace policeman”, launches 50 prosecutions per year.  That’s across the *entirety* of Australia.  The unions pick up the rest of the slack.

    • Jeem says:

      12:24pm | 26/11/10

      @St Michael, fair enough.  But if we’re aiming to have a series of checks and balances, who’s watching over Howes?

    • Long live freedom. says:

      07:19am | 26/11/10

      Why is anybody surprised by the union’s actions? While they are run by socialists, marxists and other enemies of democracy, freedom of choice and individual liberties will always be unimportant. Trade unions have never cared for the rights of individuals (compulsory unionism, anyone?) and exist only to make themselves stronger at the expense of everyone else.

    • Heath Karl says:

      09:18am | 26/11/10

      In my experience it is always the people crying fowl over “rights of the individual” who are the biggest enemies of freedom and democracy. Its always those people who try to prevent me and my marxist, socialist comrades from joining together to fights for our rights.
      You can be alone, we can be a union.

    • Tom says:

      07:26am | 26/11/10

      Unions have destroyed NSW.

    • acotrel says:

      05:52pm | 27/11/10

      NSW has always been a dog’s breakfast.  Labor is in government in Victoria, and the state is well run, and prosperous.  The reason NSW is in political trouble is down t o all those people descended from the shackled lot.  The record is one of corrupt police, and corrupt criminals, what can you expect from your politicians in that environment? - You’ve done it to yourselves.

    • Me and My Chevy says:

      07:28am | 26/11/10

      Oh Eric, damn it you got there before me again.

      Luckily, Howes doesn’t read The Punch, nor Hanson for that matter. We use words that are too big for them to understand. But as a little aside, they have thought that a long time. But they aren’t completely correct (I almost said Right but that would be wrong).

      The more these thugs get away with, the less chance of Labor re-elections as we go forward. Now I know they don’t play chess or they would not be discussing this outside, but I sure wish they would think before they open their mouths and remove all doubt, as to their intentions. The Labor movement does not need chappies like this as paid up members.

    • Jeem says:

      07:36am | 26/11/10

      Couldn’t it be said that since labor WAS re-elected, that when all is said and done, knifing Rudd wasn’t any more of a debate than typical liberal vs labor, and there is no cause for concern if someone tries to do it again?

      If you don’t like the internal politics of a party, don’t vote for them.

    • Rosie says:

      09:37am | 26/11/10

      Agree, this is 21st century politics, like it or not it is the way it is. There will be no cause for concern if thugs can easily replace an elected PM overnight.

      Very easy for the so called “intelligentsia” sect to drop all moral issues to target the vulnerable and anyone that are comfortable with whatever is thrown at them. We are told constantly we are living in the 21st century and not the 60s, 50s or 40s, to accept even if it is against our moral standards.

      Our PM who thinks with the power she obtained through just two people she has the right to foolishly tell the leader of the Opposition in Parliament that he should take his wife and family for a 12 month holiday! “I detest people that use their power cheekily” It is disrespectful and PM or not she had no right to suggest something so outlandish in Parliament. “Attack Tony Abbott as the Opposition Leader but leave his wife and family out of it.”

      David why isn’t the media pulled her up for it. If the shoe was on the other foot and the leader of the Opposition had given her the same advice and uttered the word “boyfriend” you guys would have gone into a frenzy.

    • acotrel says:

      09:05am | 27/11/10

      A bit of dissension in the ranks of Labor gives the conservatives so much joy!

    • Fiddlesticks says:

      08:04am | 26/11/10

      $170 million?

      Works out at about $12 a head for enrolled electors.

      Though it might be better to think about the base as the whole population, for a start. So that’s less than $8 a head. And over the cycle? About $2 a year,  to get a free vote for a democratically elected government in due time once every three years.

      Not a sum or a convention to be thrown away lightly, I suggest.

      As for the SA AWU, well for goodness sake. What a lot of huff and puff about a motion that might be put to a State Labor Party conference.

      Unions baaaad, bosses goood, eh, in the sleepy old Punch office.  Nothing better to do?


      Bit of silly season chest thumping here, on both parts.

    • hot tub political machine says:

      08:54am | 26/11/10

      Yeah I agree, bit of a non-story.

      Interesting when people get outraged at how either unions or business groups (it would be confusing if we called them business unions so groups will have to do) are running the country.

      Its been going on for a while now…....hard to be too outraged.

    • Richard The Lionheart says:

      08:14am | 26/11/10

      I was a member of the AWU (clerical division) once. The few meetings I went to were miserable affairs always interested in gaining more members I.E. more income. My inquiries over weekend overtime rates were usually met with, “we’ll get back to you.” There was better info on the internet. The office always looked busy and everyone from the receptionist up had a new white company car. Not a red one! No value for money during the time I was a member. Being a member should not be tax deductable. This might be the kick up their backside they need.

    • Warwick says:

      08:24am | 26/11/10

      Even unions speak in management jargon. Doesn’t it make you sick? But good language is only a secondary concern of unions. Journalists, on the other hand, should know how to use the language without making glaring, ungrammatical bloopers, like “a guy whom .......... has lost his interest in doing the job.”

      You say that the good folk of SA voted for Rann to become premier. Where exactly was this list of “premier” candidates on the ballot paper? Did the voters have to list their preferences for the position or simply endorse their favourite? It must be very different from New South Wales, where we do no more than vote for a local member.

      Here in NSW the premier is appointed by the governor. When the governor is convinced that a particular MP can form a government she appoints that person to do it. But, as soon as that person loses the confidence of her colleagues (who are elected) she has to go.

      In the USA people vote personally for the chief executive of their state, and you get people like Arnold Schwartzenegger doing the job.

      David, what is happening in SA is perfectly legal and perfectly in accordance with the South Australian system of representation. If you think that system should be changed you should say so.

    • DG says:

      08:33am | 26/11/10

      How do people sleep at night knowing that they help to ensure that the electorate do not understand the mechanics of the Australian democracy?

      If someone intends to mislead the public on such an important issue, it may well be a public service if they instead chose to remain silent.

      I would have thought that any person with honour and integrity would have, given the opportunity, ensured that the electorate knew the truth about the electoral process rather than perpetuating lies. Perhaps I am wrong, for I do not suggest that the author is without either of those things.

      It is important that the electorate know exactly who (or what) they are voting for. It is important that people know that a vote for a party is a vote for the members that contribute to that party and important that the public know the motivations a intentions of those people and groups. To that end the above story is a valuable resource for voters in the upcoming election.

      One hopes that the author is ashamed of the role they have played in spreading misinformation about the electoral process. I’m confident that the offending element of the story was unintentional and the authors intellectual will revise the article in due course.

      Critique of the current political process is a worthwhile pursuit, especially insofar as it relates to the appointment of party leaders and the rarity of conscience votes. To have such a debate the public need to know the truth about the current system, articles that suggest that the electorate vote for a leader are harmful to any meaningful conversation on the topic.

      If people want a democratically elected leader, that’s fair enough. Hand an honest and open discussion about the pros and cons.

      Perhaps a temporary solution is that any person who votes with the belief that they are voting for a ‘leader’ should have their vote dismissed as informal. If they don’t even know what they are voting for, how can they be said to be expressing an opinion on the issue at hand?

    • Bob says:

      08:37am | 26/11/10

      You critisize the government and your not elected.
      whats the difference ?

    • Paddy says:

      08:39am | 26/11/10

      The Unions told Conroy to bust up Telstra and have achieved that. They sacked Rudd why not make it a trifecta.

    • acotrel says:

      08:30am | 27/11/10

      So you are saying that splitting Telstra is not a good thing?  You’ve obviously never worked for them!  Conroy must really upset you guys?  He’s word perfect and well informed on every issue in his portfolio.

    • DG says:

      08:55am | 26/11/10

      A funny article. No doubt Mr Hanson feels quite unpeturbed by this little attempt by Penbo to play the ‘auld pal’s act. He will also feel quite comfortable with the knowledge that he is simply expressing (according to all polls) the views of the overwhelming majority of South Australians. Having been elected several times as Secretary of the SA AWU Branch, he also can claim to represent far more South Australians than Penbo. He also probably feels quite pleased that his views and convention motion are supported by the LHMU, ASU, UFU as affiliate voters and by the non affiliate, but Labor leaning PSA,ANF,AEU, shall i go on. Also Mr Rann did not win the 2PP vote, and promised to mend his ways. He hasn’t and now finds his base resolutely calling for his head. The other crew also want Rann and Foley gone but unfortunately dont have a capable replacement, as yet. Now there is a story of public interest that a ‘Journalist might consider’. Nice try to stick up for your mates, but it wont fly.

    • Fiddlesticks says:

      09:06am | 26/11/10

      Warwick and DG have very good points.  And in case it wasn’t clear before, here’s another.

      The AWU has a motion to put to the SA Labor annual conference.

      So? Well, if it gets up on the Conference order of business, it’ll ....wait for it….

      ...get debated and voted on.

      A Political Party’s members voting on their own members proposals.  Fancy a Party using its documented democratic processes to test criticism and policy. What a nasty underhand Union trick that is. How underhand!
      Democracy, at work. All makes the whole base of this Punch piece rather silly, eh.

    • hot tub political machine says:

      09:06am | 26/11/10

      I must say the level of surprise in this piece and the comments (is it pretend shock I wonder?) surprises me.

      I would have thought that Labor being the political arm of the trade unions would be no surprise to the politically savvy punchers. Heck pick up any decent book on the Labor movement and you will probably find it on page one.

      And someone find me a Labor leader anywhere in the countryy who at some point hasn’t spoken of their pride at being part of the trade union movement.

      I don’t get it, why are we upset that Labor is run by unions, but we don’t seem to care that half the Liberals have a background in the chamber of commerce and half their money comes from the mineral council.

      Its not shocking, its how democracy works when campaigning costs cash.

    • acotrel says:

      05:33pm | 27/11/10

      ‘I would have thought that Labor being the political arm of the trade unions would be no surprise to the politically savvy punchers’

      Just as the Liberal party is the political arm af the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry - the employers’ UNION? Then we need to find the left wing equivalent of the poisonous H.R. Nicholls Society!Howes is a rank amateur compared to that lot of morons.

    • hot tub political machine says:

      01:09pm | 29/11/10

      Exactly acotrel. I think the level of naievety about how both Labor and Liberal are funded by “groups” or “unions” or “chambers of commerce” or whatever you want to call these collectives is so absurd it must be contrived.

      This all boils down to “shock horror” - like minded people working together in pursuit of their political interests. Wow, human beings forming political collectives, who’d have thunk it?

    • Robert Smissen, rural SA, God's own country says:

      09:42am | 26/11/10

      I don’t care how Rann goes as long as he goes, his grubby little paw prints are to be found on disasterous policies for over 20 years including the State Bank Fiasco that my grand kids will still be paying for. In fact I’d be happy to start a collection for a one way ticket to Puglia for him

    • badjack says:

      10:25am | 26/11/10

      can you give me a reason you have not published my comment. It seems tame compared to some of the above

    • hot tub political machine says:

      10:55am | 26/11/10

      You’ll go mad trying to figute it out BJ

    • iansand says:

      12:27pm | 26/11/10

      There is a two stage vetting process.  At the first stage clearly offensive posts are removed.  The second stage is conducted by an intellectually challenged marmoset which looks for posts that it suspects contain the word “banana”.  Those posts are removed.  Unfortunately the marmoset don’t spell so good, and the process is essentially random.

    • Jeem says:

      12:41pm | 26/11/10

      @iansand, thanks for clearing that up.  And here I thought the issue might have been my grammar.

    • Gladys says:

      10:31am | 26/11/10

      Wow. Ellis quote from Howes (about Rudd being a stain or something) shows that Howes is one dumb union thug. Did he think no one would ever find out about his thoughts on Rudd?

      Or is he so arrogant that he thought he could get away with them? Either way, he’s in charge of the country. Scary.

    • Eno The Wonderdog says:

      10:34am | 26/11/10

      He he - so Labor’s run by the Unions and as we all know the Liberals are run by News Limited..

      ..I’m gonna vote Darth Vader from now on..

    • hot tub political machine says:

      10:52am | 26/11/10

      I don’t like his planet destroy policies. But then again he did seem to be a conviction leader…....until he had an about face and betrayed his empire by stabbing his leader in the back (well ok throwing him down a shaft into the main reactor of the Death star)...no better than Gillard tbh

    • Macca says:

      10:56am | 26/11/10

      @Eno, that’s why The Herald Sun (Victorian Newsltd Tabloid) editorial this morning has supported John Brumby and The ALP to be re-elected….

    • Ben81 says:

      11:16am | 26/11/10

      Uh, no.  I know that “but…but… the Liberals!” is a common argument but more than often it backfires.  Unless of course you come back and say Labor is just as much “run” by Fairfax to show you don’t have some blatant double standards in your loose and plain wrong meaning of the word there.

    • Eno says:

      11:38am | 26/11/10

      ROFL @ Macca - didn’t see that one mate!

    • Chris says:

      12:23pm | 26/11/10

      Unions have ruined the manufacturing industry in Australia with their ever increasing demands. They intimidate and demand. Union membership is theoretically not compulsory but try getting a job in some areas if you are not a union member. You can’t.
      Recently the unions in SA celebrated the fact that they managed to intimidate the courts into a “technical” decision not to prosecute someone who thumbed his nose at a legal authority. The rights and wrongs of that authority aside he ignored a legal order and should have been dealt with accordingly.
      Unions once had their place. They were valuable and did excellent work. They have outlived their day. They represent a minority of the workforce but still wield a majority of the power. It is a dangerous situation and has to be reversed but neither the unions or the ALP are going to do it. Are only hope is to make it illegal for union funds to be passed over for ALP election campaigns either publicly or privately.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      12:29pm | 26/11/10

      The problem is that even if we get rid of Rann - or for that matter any of them-, either by dumping him in 2014 or á la Julia Gillard’s treatment of Rudd he gets stabbed in the back by his own people we are going to be stuck with them all for the rest of their lives. They will continue to be a massively expensive drain on the Taxpayers of SA. This applies to all our politicians. They have so distorted & rorted the entire process to their own benefit that they can bleed the public for decades after we have sacked them. So we get rid of Rann & Co in 2014. Big deal! When the ALP gets back into power in a few years they will simply create nice, cushy, grossly over-paid & perked jobs for the likes of the disastrous Mike Rann & Kevin Foley! The Liberals are NO DIFFERENT they just do it differently!
      The stink of corruption, nepotism, favouritism surrounding the State Government of SA is becoming stronger every day.
      It was Rann who appointed SA’s Special Envoy to Puglia in 2007 at a salary of $200,000 per annum until 2014. The job was, we were told, never advertised as is required. Now on a salary of $200,000 pa we could expect that this person could have well afforded to pay for the publication of his own little book of pictures. But… NO Mike Rann authorised the payment of $17,000 of Taxpayer’s money to pay for it. Was this amount declared to the Australian Tax Office? If not, why not? This publication was not a Government Publication it had nothing to do with this man’s job. If you or I wanted to publish a book we would have to do it using our own money - money which doubtless we could have claimed as a Tax Deduction. This $17,000 was in addition to the $200,000 salary. As it was for the sole benefit of Rann’s SPecial Envoy then surely the ATO has an interest?
      Add to that his appointment of the daughter of a former ALP MP to being in charge of Italian-South Australian Trade. How can you possibly liase between Italy & South Australia if you can’t speak a word of Italian? You can’t. Was this job ever advertised? if not, why not? There would be many, many Australians of Italian descent who, just like this woman, had been long-term State Public Servants who were every bit as deserving as she was with the added benefit that they could at least speak Italian!

    • Justin says:

      12:44pm | 26/11/10

      Australian Workers Union - could they have a more vague title? Is there an Australian Bludgers Union? Probably wouldn’t be very well organised.

    • Woza says:

      10:20pm | 26/11/10

      Does this union bashing even work anymore?  You’d have to be in your 50s to even remember the bad old union days of the 70s and history has probably blown that out of proportion anyway.

      As per the article, it shows that the author is politically naive if the fact that un-elected members of parties can call the shots.  It happens in the liberal party aswell, except usually by people with plenty of cash and thinking of self interests.

        If you don’t like it join the party and have your say, that is the point after all.

    • Ryan says:

      10:46am | 27/11/10

      Well we saw the filthy smear campaign the unions ran against John Howard when he attempted to stamp out these corrupt, filthy and often criminal bunch.

    • Woza says:

      10:14am | 28/11/10

      HAHA!  Seriously?  Wow, I must have been in Bizarro Australia where all the adds I saw were funded by Liberal showing union thugs leaning on dressmakers….....

    • Soames says:

      04:30pm | 27/11/10

      There’s a nexus between the PM’s ‘Revolutions”, the union movement , and the AWU. Just what that is, lies in the philosophy of the Labor Party. Does that signify that the union movement is the overall godfather of the collective state Labor governments? One must ask,  has Premier Keneally’s welcoming comments that ‘old’ NSW Labor hacks due to retire should be replaced by new blood, gone unnoticed by commentators here? Is this not a sign of the power of the AWU nationally?. And in the case of SA, with the Premier facing his past personal mud sticking encounters, his ill-concieved intemperate remarks on High Court decisions involving bikies, (although justified), have made him a target for the hitmen of the AWU?  These, and other questions ought be answered, before someone is ‘knifed’, a chilling term, too often used.

 

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