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20
Aug
2015

Game On?

My Commentary yesterday drew attention to the apparent adoption of a more aggressive Coalition policy strategy and the publication by News Corp of detailed information on union activities. Today’s media exhibits  remarkably different priorities, with Fairfax press and the ABC barely touching on either Coalition strategy or the Heydon issue and News Corp going full blast on unions and Labor.

The Australian’s front page reports an interview with the ACTU which reveals a “Secret ACTU army moves on PM”, its editorial argues it’s High time for a plebiscite on trade unions,  and it has Abbott in “full flight” in Parliament including his accusation that Shorten  executed former Labor prime minister Rudd. It also gives front page treatment to the Federal Court decision that former Health Services Union official, Kathy Jackson, stole $1.4mn of union money (this is reported on page 12 of The Age). The Herald Sun editoria lseeks to Expose the union thugs and Andrew Bolt claims Labor-CFMEU shoot the sheriff.  And  under the heading There’s no indication Heydon would’ve been partial, The Australian publishes 5 letters, including mine (see below).

The impression given by News Corp and the Coalition’s changed strategy is that it is “Game On” in exposing the ramifications of union power, which I have long argued is the most important problem (political and economic) facing Australia. This also opens up the possibility of an early election even if Abbott’s polling is down on a TPP basis ie if News Corp runs a “reduce union power” line, Abbott may see an election as the only possible way to improve his existing situation. This happens to coincide with Murdoch’s visit to Australia (which includes concluding a deal on accessing football for TV).

Below are the outspoken editorial in today’s The Australian and Andrew Bolt’s equally strong piece. Note the editorial’s description of Shorten as “the erstwhile union puppetmaster turned assassin of two prime ministers”. And Bolt not only describes Labor’s response to the exposure of union lawlessness as “shooting the sheriff…by trying to protect its paymaster from justice” but asks “if this is what Labor does now, fear for what it will do in government”. Bolt of course plays a much more important role now than he did at the last election.

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