ALP war on free-markets

Recently the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has announced a few economic policies that are a worrying sign for free-market advocates and libertarians. Given the policy failures of the Liberals (tax’n’spend; Iraq war; strict gun laws; expanded drug war; ASIO act; heavy regulation etc) it is easy for libertarians to consider the ALP as potentially the lesser of two evils. But it seems that Kevin Rudd is trying hard to establish himself as the bigger enemy of free-markets.

In March the ALP announced their plan to spend billions of our money on a telecommunications strategy to increase broadband speed. The ALP hoped the scheme would cost around $8-9 billion (with half coming from taxpayers) but some experts claim it could cost around $15-16 billion or more. That’s a lot of money to spend on an industry that should have no government involvement.

The ALP followed up with Julia Gillard’s grand plan to increase industrial relations regulation. This has provoked a backlash from business who fear the loss of flexibility in the labour market. Rudd says he wants to get the “balance right”, which includes unfair dismissal laws and forcing employers to give employees certain penalty rates, overtime pay, redundancy pay, holiday pay, maternity leave etc. By driving up the effective cost of employment this policy will either lead to reduced alternative benefits (reduced work flexibility or pay or fringe benefits) and/or lower demand for labour (and therefore a relativley higher level of unemployment).

Now we hear that the ALP wants businesses to take on social and enviornmental obligations instead of focussing on the interests of the shareholders (ie owners). Once again, the private property rights of Australian citizens are being squeezed as the ALP argues that “society” has a claim on the property rights of shareholders.

So we have huge government spending, increased regulation and weakened property rights on the ALP agenda. And given that the ALP agrees with many of the Liberal party mistakes (tight gun control; war on drugs; tax’n’spend; heavy regulation) and the Iraq war is now less of a political issue, the Liberal party looks like it might be in a position to re-gain some libertarian support as the better of the big-two.

58 thoughts on “ALP war on free-markets

  1. There is no question in my mind that the Coalition is far, far preferable this time.

    There is also no question in my mind that the ALP will form the next government.

  2. That’s pretty much my position at the moment too… pretty much the exact opposite of last election. Is it possible that the support of libertarians is the kiss of death in modern populist politics?

  3. The belief that what Labor says is what Labor will do is not supported by history, certainly in the last 30 years.

    Even more than the Coalition, Labor is highly pragmatic in government. Yes it frets over high-minded leftist policies in opposition, but the prospect of being known as the party that increased unemployment, inflation or national debt scares it silly. It is still embarrassed by the economic performance of the Whitlam government while the State Labor governments are probably more wary of going into debt than Coalition governments ever were.

    It was also Labor that reduced tariffs, floated the dollar, deregulated financial markets and kicked off the COAG reforms.

    Because it has fewer business allegiances, it is less susceptible to business rent seekers. Ethanol producers and sugar farmers, for example, are unlikely to receive special treatment.

    True it might turn back the clock on IR, but it won’t be a return to the old days. Any such rollback will also set up the next Coalition government to properly deregulate the labour market instead of the half-arsed effort that we got with Workchoices.

    And finally, remember also that if Labor wins the election it will not control the Senate.

    Frankly, I don’t think the prospect of a Labor victory is a matter for concern. It’s also high time John Hunt the Coward, Heffernan the Headcase, Andrews the Sanctimonious and the rest of that unprincipled mob learned a bit of humility. It will only be for a few years – the thrill of wall to wall Labor governments won’t last long.

  4. Jason has serious concerns about IR, but could it pass the Senate?

    A minority Liberal Government seems like a good development, as long as they are not beholden to the Greens or populist, socilalistic independents.

  5. I think Jason is right.

    It’s tempting to go with the ALP as a protest vote against Howard, and the ALP deserves credit for opposing Howard’s involvement in the invasion of Iraq. They also deserve support and for being somewhat softer on the issues of the internment of illegal immigrants and anti-terrorism anti-civil liberties legislation. Howard’s kneejerk and extra-constitutional centralism on water, competition policy, industrial relations and guns shows he is the greatest Canberra centralist since Whitlam.

    The trouble is Labor is not proposing a genuinely neutralist foreign policy. Rudd is saying “the real war is in Afghanistan” and urging greater attention and involvement in the internal security problems of our South East Asian and Pacific neighbours, not less. If we are to take him at his word, he presumably intends to increase the already excessive militarisation and interventionism of our foreign policy. And much the same goes for domestic policy too. I think they will want to use the Howard precedent to extend Canberra domination over environment, IR, water, land use, you name it. Instead of watered down economic rationalism being imposed from on high from Canberra we will have watered down social democracy.

    The only hope is that a Rudd government will face an obstructionist conservative dominated Senate. Libertarians need to back any independent Senate candidates who have a chance against the Green and Democrats.

  6. Mark… if the ALP get into power then it will be the Greens/Democrats that have balance of power. Both of those parties are strong supporters of heavy regulation of the labour market and would gladly support ALP increased regulation. Indeed, they would probably try to make the regulations even stronger.

  7. That is why I prefer a Liberal minority.

    How likely is it for the ALP to gain power and not have a Senate reliant on Green and Democrat votes? Let’s say Liberals get more first preferences but Labour wins more marginals?

  8. So far I’ll also be backing the coalition over the ALP fundamentally because of IR but also because I think the coalition is more likely to deliver a better outcome on taxation. For me this position is also the reverse of the last election where Iraq was a much bigger factor in my thinking and where the prospect of IR reforms ever passing the senate seemed remote (I preferenced the coalition over the ALP in the senate just in case). Now that the coalition has used the power of two houses to deliver on IR I am quite keen to see those reforms entrenched.

    Once again, the private property rights of Australian citizens are being squeezed as the ALP argues that “society” has a claim on the property rights of shareholders.

    It was interesting to read Bob Carr in the following article discussing a charter of rights. He stated plainly that his oppostion to such a charter stems from the fact that “conservatives” might use it to try and institute a fundamental right to property. Here is what he said:-

    It is pure fantasy for Labor people to imagine this process must advance the progressive side. It may – until the political cycle turns and there is a conservative majority in the parliament.

    My instinct tells me a conservative majority then adds a “right to property” to the charter. If conservative judges enjoy a majority on the court they will be persuaded to invoke that right to overrule green initiatives that may be imagined to affect property rights – controls on the removal of native vegetation. Or the declaration of marine parks. Or protection of coastal rainforests on farmland.

    In other words a charter of rights can easily be rendered a conservative instrument, restricting the agenda of a reformist government.

  9. What bothers me most of all about the ALP this time around, is the seductive way they played to business, invited them to the national conference; and then callously towed the union line to business’ detriment.

    That kind of divisive double-play demonstrates a contempt for sections of the community – and I think it reflects very poorly on the image that Labor was trying to put forward.

    Ultimately, nothing has changed in the ALP, and that is very evident.

  10. Is it possible that the support of libertarians is the kiss of death in modern populist politics?

    Possibly… though personally, I preferenced the Libs at last election (I’m surprised so many of you voted for that nutbag Latham!)

    The Libs are pretty much conservative socialists now… but ALP consistently seems to be even worse. The ALP needs another Hawke-Keating partnership (though Keating made a much better treasurer than PM).

    Unfortunately, I think the enxt budget will be big on spending… anything can change in the next few months, but my prediction is that Libs will win.

  11. Terje,

    Bob Carr’s comments are quite chocking… I’ve generally opposed a bill of rights for the opposite reason (ie, the left wants rights to things which… errr… aren’t rights) – it’s inredible that a politician would actually come out and say, “if people have rights, we won’t be able to tell them what to do with their own property”… astonishing!

  12. Bob Carr is from the authoritarian right of the ALP…what do you expect?

    His idea is that we can’t give out rights because then the Govenrment cannot abuse people’s liberties. Fundamentally, he does not believe in utilitarian or consequentialist rights.

  13. The concept of “rights” might once have had a lot of value but it has become severly debased by the socialist agenda of the 20th century. We either need a new word that is very specific in meaning or else a widespread campaign to reclaim the word. Words such as “liberal” have also been appropriated by idealists that are not at all liberal. We must be careful to defend the word libertarian because I have already seen attempt at appropriation.

  14. “Limited Government” or simply “choice” or “freedom” may be the soundbytes we need.

    I think we can sell the ideas of personal responsbility to conservatives. Does the Liberal party even stand for thatnow ? Or even Family First or the Christian Democrats?

    Let’s think about market segmentation –

    Choice – social democrats – associations with women’s rights

    Personal repsonsibility – conservatives

    Freedom – liberals

    What are labour selling – the illusion of security. That’s a tough nut to crack.

  15. Their sound bytes aside, will a Rudd government really be any worse in reality to the current pack of clowns? Seems to me we’d merely be trading one pack of nanny-statist goons for another one….

  16. I can’t say the Liberal party’s performance has been impressive – they paid down Government debt – wow, everyone else has to live within their means.

    So it is more of a fear of what labour might do.

  17. Mark Hill, people were not shocked by the content, but by a politician saying it! They are only this honest when they have left politics.
    John, I’ll be voting LDP, but what would you do if the LDP actually held the balance of power after the next election? (This seems more likely than outright control.) What policies can I tell my friends about, to get them thinking ‘worth a vote!’?

  18. Check the website for policy nicholas (… but the main story I would tell is significant tax cuts. We will push for free-markets and free-trade and lower tax whenever possible and would certainly not support the ALPs re-regulation of the labour market.

    We also support individual freedoms and responsibilities in controlling their own lives. This issue extends to a range of issues — smoking, drinking, lifestyle choices etc.

  19. John

    It is certainly good news for any libertarian party because it now means that there is no party with even a remotely free-market agenda.

    Still, in times of such prosperity, i don’t think the electorate want more de-regulation. Libertarians will only have their day in the sun when the country is on its knees such as Britain was in 1979, when voters reluctantly elected Thatcher as the nasty medicine it had to take.

  20. I pretty much agree with David L’s views. The current government is demonstrating arrogance, fatigue, and have run out of ideas. Their formerly strident opposition to all things environmental will do them considerable harm. The current reversal is just populist pap, I am yet to be convinced that the Coalition really gives a damn about environmental matters. There is already enough evidence out there to demonstrate that pollution is adding considerably to our health budget. Immunological related conditions are rising, cancers are rising, neurodevelopmental disorders are rising, age related neurodegenerative diseases are rising and all of the above after demographic adjustments. Unfortunately AGW has masked other environmental issues which are becoming considerably worse. Ironically coal fired power stations are a big issue here because these release vaporised mercury and radiation: far bigger issues than nuclear power.

    I tend to use a “3 term heuristic” for governments. That is, governments frequently demonstrate arrogance and fatigue over time. So kicking them out, even for only one term, is often a good idea.

    A big problem for the Howard govt is who will lead after Howard. Abbott lets religion rule his thinking too much (Ru486), Turnbull is generally despised, Costello is a no-show, too gutless, so who is left? Labor is holding back on this question but they will make a big fuss of it come election time.

    I am not too troubled by the IR issue because unlike libertarians I don’t trust business to be fair and reasonable. I don’t trust anyone to be fair and resonable, human beings are not intrinsically motivated that way hence Richard Dawkins warning that we must consciously seek co-operation and altruism. In the latter editions of “The Selfish Gene” he even included a chapter, “Nice guys finish First”(Ha!). The business community has already done Workchoices harm by exploiting their new found power.

  21. What do you mean ‘unlike libertarians’? I also don’t automatically trust individual businessmen, I just think that competition between them reduces their scope for corruption. Because of competition, I have a broad range of goods to buy, AND I can change jobs for better wages by moving to another firm.
    In contrast, governments, by definition, try to have a monopoly on laws and force in ‘their’ jurisdictions. Monopolies are more likely to fall into bad practices, since they have no incentive to get into good ones. Co-operation, yes, but altruism, no. ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour AS thyself’, not ‘more than’.

  22. unlike libertarians I don’t trust business to be fair and reasonable.

    neither do i. given a choice all business people would be monopolists. but competition, reputation and selfishness will lead to fair and reasonable behaviour far quicker than any govt mandated laws.

  23. nicholas

    that’s the second time on two threads that i have posted almost the same comment as yours! must press refresh first next time..

  24. No wucking forries, Pommygranate! Our two to his one means we’re winning! I think Dead Soul is really in the dead-middle of the political spectrum- a Democrat voter! (Though they always seemed more left-of-center than center)

  25. The front page of the Australian today reportss Howard may back down on the liberal party’s IR laws.

  26. “pommygranate” & “nicholas” to a good job at pretending their agreement is co-incidental, when in truth they are actually the same person! A-ha! Have you ever seen them in the same room together? For that matter, have you ever seen either of them in any room ever? Think about it… 🙂

    Dead Soul — I’m not sure where you got the idea that libertarians “trust business to be fair and reasonable”. That seems like a very signficant misreading of the entire libertarian philosophy, not to mention economics.

    The reason the free-market works is not because businessmen are nice happy fluffy people saving kittens and kissing babies. It is because if businessmen follow their own self-interest than that will lead (though the invisible hand) to the maximisation of the public good. If people are greedy, then freedom works! If people are altruistic, then freedom works! Oh, happy days.

  27. “The business community has already done Workchoices harm by exploiting their new found power.”

    How? How many people were sacked and rehired at a lower rate? Is the umployment rate lower and wages higher?

  28. It’s time to confess that there is no other person actually called Nicholas Gray. I am a hollow man, created so that comedy papers like The Chaser can hide behind me. I only ‘come out’ when my real self Pommygranate has naps, and I can take over our shared body. I feel better now that the truth is out!
    I wonder if Flash-heart is John’s alter ego? And I’ve never seen JC and Graemebird together, either…..
    Come on, guys, time to confess!

  29. That’s a self-serving comment by Brown to try and scare more people into voting Green.

    If the Liberals continue anywhere near their current support level then they will not pick up three seats in every Senate race (as is necessary to hold the Senate).

    There is a chance Family First could have the balance of power… but in current trends I still think a Green/Democrat balance of power is overwhelmingly the most likely outcome.

  30. Regarding IR laws, there’s a short article called “Can the state reduce poverty” posted on 1/5/07. Nothing new for libertarians but if only all those diehard union supporters would read material like this:

    Economically, the liberal party were bad enough. But now labour is most likely going to win and greens/democrats may have the balance of power in the Senate.
    It’s an Australian socialist nightmare.

  31. I think the current storm over Labor’s wropkplace deal has scared the living crap out of them. I also think the labor portfolio and influence will be’/ should be taken away Gillard as she has created a lot of damage . She is too much of a socialist.

    My hope is that the coalition makes it across the line with only a couple of seats. That will teach the ALP (hopefully) to be finally rid of the union movements influence once and for all. That’s where the cancer is.

    A lot of you guys are selling this government down the river when they have done some good.

    Labor is still too far left for my liking. However Rudd will be ready next time around.

  32. That will teach the ALP (hopefully) to be finally rid of the union movements influence once and for all. That’s where the cancer is.

    JC, the unions are the main source of members and money for the ALP. It’s never going to abandon them. They might whither and die due to irrelevance, but that’s a different matter. Anyway, the unions mostly hate the Greens so they are not all bad.

    I still think there is far too much emphasis being placed on what Labor says. It never does what it says. It is always better than that.

    A Labor victory does not concern me at all apart from the risk that the Liberals might become virtually unelectable (as in most of the States) due to religious influence or perpetual infighting. Labor should never be in office for a long time – one term is OK, two is pushing it. (Actually, that goes for any government really.)

  33. Good points David.

    The things that scare about labor are people like Julia Lizard and the threats she made the other day. I don’t think she made a mistake. Her natural reaction was to chill political dissent when she came unstuck……. for the greater good etc. Political dissent is our greatest unprotected right.

    How many more are there like her?

    The unions that matter these days are the white collar junk like the public servants union and the teachers. That’s labors core constituency. So it could be more Green than we think.

    I am also afraid of the having a mini whitlam coming at us like a steam train if these guys get in. I have no big problem in Rudd as I think he is almost Howard’s clone in most respects but I do fear the front and back bench of labor. Some of those guys are friggen mini Chavez types given the chance.

  34. David

    If Krudd had control, The Lizard would never have got near that portfolio in the first place with that attitude and those polices. So if he is a weak leader the rest of the pack could run riot. That party needs a lot of front end steering to make not they can take bends ok. I’m not sure Krudd has it in him to control the rate pack.

  35. Mark,

    I know 2 people from my own circle who had their wages cut.

    There are numerous accounts on blogs of people losing their wages.

    The Coalition won’t release its own figures.

    Most public polling suggests the majority of the Aus population regards the current regime as being principally for profits not the general good.

    Invoking the invisible hand is like invoking the Holy Spirit or Allah. Metaphors don’t change reality.

    The Coalition has just released an adjustment. They can see the storm clouds on the horizon.

    If in these prosperous times and in such a short timeframe people are already reporting loss of income under the new arrangements then one has to wonder what will happen over the long term and when things aren’t so rosy.

    Libertarians frequently attack the power of unions, govts, and greenies but make bugger all reference to the abuses of the business community.

    The market is too slow and too imprecise to protect individual rights. To argue that competition will protect individual rights doesn’t stand up to the facts.

    Unemployment and wages were rising long before Workchoices. Even the government acknowledges that at present we cannot measure the impact of Workchoices, which is rather paradoxical given the backflip I saw on tonight’s news.

    I am not a democrat,

  36. Who in the ALP is more or less free trade?

    Tanner? Emmerson?

    What chance do they have of gaining the ledership?

    I don’t think Abbot or Gillard will ever be PM, Gillard is electorally dead weight tied to Rudd.

  37. Why is it abuse to pay what you are legally willing to pay for a service?

    “Business” (whatever that is, some kind of amorphic entity) therefore has had to pay higher labour costs than market force determined for decades.

    “The market is too slow and too imprecise to protect individual rights. To argue that competition will protect individual rights doesn’t stand up to the facts.”

    Garbage. No one will take a job if it makes them worse off. Then there are doctrines of equity at law. But hang on, what rights are we talking about? The “market” isn’t a machine, it is a process economic agents go through, at an individal level. Are you open to the idea that macroeconomic, utilitarian benefits flow from increasing individual risk – which is short lived and virtually gone?

    “Unemployment and wages were rising long before Workchoices. Even the government acknowledges that at present we cannot measure the impact of Workchoices, which is rather paradoxical given the backflip I saw on tonight’s news. ”

    Somewhat contradictiary to the above and also somewhat true. Regulation did not make employment or wages rise. Capital accumulation did. Wages and employment rose in spite of regulation. It probably is too early to assess work choices, but in the long run it will see a small increase for the demand of labour as inputs and ouputs are better matched and the efficiency of capital increases.

  38. The first individual risk I want to see rise is via the elimination of limited liability. Why is business allowed to be protected from risk while the average worker must take his\her chances?

    If the market is so good at protecting workers then explain to me why nearly 3,000 Australians die from work related causes each year? Much of this arising from toxin exposure. The simple truth is that the average Joe or Jane simply can’t be aware of all these risks, it may take 20 years for the full implications of one’s workplace becomes apparent and surprise surprise when it does most companies fight tooth and nail to deny liability.

  39. I don’t mind the party machine of the ALP being filled to the brim with UNIONISTS but I am troubled by the fact that UNIONS have a 50% say in how the party is run. I’d prefer to see the party run by UNIONISTS (ie people who also belong to unions) than being run so directly by UNIONS. Even if union membership remained a key criteria for joining but people voted as individuals it would be a better party.

  40. “The first individual risk I want to see rise is via the elimination of limited liability. Why is business allowed to be protected from risk while the average worker must take his\her chances?”

    Yes it seems unfair. But and this is a BIG but;

    1. The corporate veil can be lifted.

    2. This merely shortcuts some contractual agreements that would be otherwise made.

    3. Limited liability doesn’t protect corporations from risk, but individual shareholders to a proportion of their shareholdings from insolvency risk.

    So in fact it isn’t unfair at all. Why would workers need to be protected like this – their employers have vicarious liability and they don’t undertake financial risk in being employed.

    If it takes 20 years to know, then no one is really in a position to know these things. 3000 people die each year in the workplace, so who should we punish? Whoever is responsible, be it other workers, the employers or a third party. Workers dying from their work doesn’t mean employers are inherently bad. If I die at home, is it necessarily my families fault? Just how many are the employers fault – if they go unpunished, it should be made easier to criminally prosecute them as you rightfully demand (in part).

    The Hardie Case was balls upped by the ATO – they couldn’t claim it as a deduction. The firm also has responsibilities to shareholders whose superannuation relies on their performance and their current tens of thousands of employees who want a job. The way the Federal Government has handled the HMAS Melbourne tragedy is arguably far worse.

  41. Dead Soul has a good point. Driving and listening to some ABC croc today i heard a gal who lost 1/2 her wages as a result of AWA. This isn’t the first time I have heard this. It is a problem- a temporary one as the market adjusts itself as it heads for higher employment levels and broadening out.

    The average person doesn’t much care about free labor markets and what they will mean in the future. They care about what happens to them in the present time. And rightfully so.

    The government didn’t deal with this well at all. There is surplus labor around primarily caused by the previous labor laws.

    It could have done all sorts of things tax wise to directly mitigate potential reduction of wages as the market adjusted. Cutting taxes to zero in the 30K and below range and pointing out why it was doing this could have changed perceptions.

    There are enough examples of people suffering losses as a result of the changes to make more than enough people worried about their own circumstance. it was the governments incompetence in the way it sold the policy that led to this.

  42. It not even that Unions have control of the party per se. The problem is which unions. Currently it looks like the least healthy groupings hold too much power in that party. How corrupting can it be when the public service and government teachers type unions hold so much power within the ALP.

  43. Cutting (preferably abolishing) pay roll taxes, a state responsibility (so quite difficult) could have easily mitigated these effects, especially in lower skilled work.

  44. Indeed, how can it be a free labour market when employers are punished for giving you a job?

  45. Yes Mark

    However it’s the people with the jobs who are getting salary or perks cuts.

    This is totally understandable as the market adjusts for the surplus. However the average punter doesn’t know or even want to understand this.

    They did such a pathetic job of managing the change that it now loooks like they are regulating again. howard today came out and issued a new edict. They’re too friggen silly to understand how to go about it.

  46. As I understand the Howard ammendment it protects the negotiating position of those already employed on a salary or wage under $75k. It still leaves the market free to adjust above this level or with new jobs. This gives a slight advantage to start-up job creators and new entrants to the market (including the unemployed). Not a bad compromise really given the political imperative.

  47. Dead Soul — once gain your draw a dichotomy between a system being “principally for profits” as opposed to for “the general good”. As I already explained once… the whole point of the capitalist system is that when people pursue personal profit that leads to the general good. This point is not only theoretically robust, but also clearly evident around the world and throughout history.

    You then flipantly dismiss the invisible hand (ie the notion that self-interest leads to public good). I hope you realise you are flipantly dismissing the basis of capitalism and economics. That’s a big call. If you have some reason for us to through away the entire discipline of economics (except Marxist economics) and forget the capitalist system then you might like to share it. Or if you simply don’t understand the basis of capitalism and economics, you might like to research it further.

    Do you really think that capitalism only works when businesses are altruistic?

    Unfortunately, having good intentions and saying “what about the children” is not sufficient if you want to make the world a better place. You also have to understand how the world works. Conequences matter. Nobody can eat good intentions.

    I don’t doubt some people are worse off under the new laws. The test of the laws will be their total impact. It will be interesting to see whether the general wage increases in the economy continue.

    If they do then you will probably conclude (given your above rationale) that most employers altruistically increased wages out of love but a few nasty ones cut wages out of spite. In reality, employers always want to pay less and employees always want more and in the process of free negotiation between free people a mutually beneficial wage is agreed at a market clearing level. Depending on the market, the situation, the person etc sometimes this level will fluctuate up and down (as with the prices of most things)… but as long as people are greedy selfish bastards propelling capitalist economic growth (instead of civil minded bureaucrats creating a soviet “utopia”) then the general trend will be up. That’s a good thing.

    Finally — I agree that we shouldn’t have limited liability unless it is explicitly agreed to as part of the contract with your creditor. We shouldn’t have bankruptcy laws, just contract law.

  48. It’s shitty compromise, an awful one. It had to be made because they weren’t creative or thoughtful in the way they presented the changes or the way they managed the change.

  49. I think it is a rather minor compromise. It protects the position of those that stay loyal to the current employer. Most employers were not going to yank away entitlements anyway. However it leads the door open for incremental change as new jobs emerge and as people turn over from one company to the next. It’s a pragmatic compromise that takes little away from the original reforms.

  50. The opinion piece by Janet Albrechtsen on page 16 of todays The Australian is a must read. It gives an insight into the union agenda behind the Labor IR policy. It needs a wide circulation because I think it highlights the essential danger in the ALP position. The ALP position on IR will turn into electoral poison once the detail becomes well known. Australians don’t want this even if they have not yet noticed what is going on here. Australians often want things from politicians that I disagree with but on this issue I feel quite sure the ALP policy detail is not going to be popular once fully exposed. Rudd needs to change his policy or he will lose. Whether he even realises this yet is unclear.

  51. I also read the Australian, and was quite impressed by Janet’s research. If literally true, and not just an informant’s belief about what the unions want (we should stay sceptical even of nice journalists like Janet), then the unions want to go back about fifty or so years!
    The unions’ idea is that some can dictate things to the rest. If a workplace has 1000 employees, and 100 turn up to a meeting, then the unions would only need 51 people to vote for unions to be allowed in, and all 1000 people would be bound by that decision. (This would have to be a quorum. ‘Quorum’ is a legal term, used to mean the minimum number of people in a business who must be present for decisions to be legally binding. Usually you can’t get all the members in at one time, so quorums are the least you need.)
    If/When proved true, this should be as widely publicised as possible!!!
    Kevin Rudd could then be correctly labelled as Kevin Red!!

  52. I agree with David’s post.

    Sure, they may make some choices which are more ideologically unpalatable to libertarians, but the ALP introduced most of our market-based welfare and Swan said that their policy is not to increase spending as a proportion of GDP. I don’t think their election will make much of a difference to spending (or may improve it) and will probably go both ways in terms of deregulation.

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