Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Stu's a right Charlie

Charlie McKillop's accusing ACTU's Stuart Traill of using his employer's work and computer for political campaigning is a fair call.

Outspoken union hack Traill, who works at Ergon Energy, sent out a media release from his work yesterday.
It's well-known that Ergon, with a strong pro-union environment, has in the past blindly allowed staff to carry out anti-Liberal activities against incumbent Entsch.

Charlie says Traill is doing his press releases from his workplace.

Separation of workplace and private and political interests, is very important. This is what Byrne attempted to accuse myself of in ringing my employers back in August and September.
Traill says McKillop should explain how much of her campaign is being run from Entsch’s office that is Federally funded. Ergon stated that Traill is an elected employee delegate of the Electrical Trades Union and is entitled to use Ergon facilities for union business.

There are blurry boundaries in political campaigning. The Federal election campaign has, for all intensive purposes, been underway for many months, long before the election was actually called, yet politicians and candidates have been pushing the propaganda for a long time.

You’d easy argue, we’ve been in a campaign for nearly a year. I can hear that a lot are exhausted by the continue barrage of politic-speak. And as soon as this finishes, we’ll be full on into the local body campaign, which, for all intensive purposes, really started back in July.

I’ve worked in Parliament, albeit New Zealand’s, long enough to know that there’s a clearly defined line between campaigning and utilising taxpayer funded facilities or work time for other purposes. The ethics of workplace support and campaigning for a particular political viewpoint is fraught with degrees of perception. The old adage of you need to be seen to be doing the right thing, is very true.

While Traill has no doubt used his work resources for political means at some time, I’m sure Charlie has too. Both come from overtly political environments and it’s difficult not to divorce oneself wearing one hat, and putting on another during the day.

I recall a political staffer back in Wellington once got exposed for campaigning about party, however he proved that it was part of the normal duties of his role. However when one is employed in a Government-funded position, there needs top be separation of work and play.

Byrne’s argument for my blogging against him and his Council, was in conflict with Council’s local support of the Red Cross, my employer. It was a preposterous accusation, as any individual should enjoy a democratic right to question and challenge an elected official and their policies, in their own time and as a ratepayer and resident. I ensured that my political activities had no connection with my workplace, or my office on the Esplanade at the Blood Service. Why on earth would I want to compromise the good reputation and efforts of my work?

However elected officials, by very nature, are campaigning every day, in everything they do and say. This is why, although there is a propensity to re-elect an incumbent, they also have the baggage of stuff ups, perceptions of the way they deal with their constituents, and what they have of have not achieved.

I wish all the best to Jim and Charlie, and other opponents, as the only way to have a totally independent campaign, is to stand aside completely from pre-existing commitments and employment. However, this is impossible, as life doesn’t usually fit into different boxes. We all have different parts that merge to make up who we are and what we stand for.

The fluidity of politics and how the pendulum swings, ultimately determines the outcomes of political races.

Whereas Howard may well lose office, it won’t be because Rudd has a much better offer on the table merely that we’re over his arrogance, presumptions and exclusion style of leadership. In Cairns, the local political scene is very similar. Byrne’s management and his style of modus operandi is something that the average resident and ratepayer have voiced again and again, through this Blog, in the letters columns of the Post and even at the Cape York pub. We have grown to dislike this.
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Charlie has a valid point by questioning who pays and resources political campaigns. We were watching like a hawk at the last local body elections who funded who.

It’s an important question and will factor into the debate about who people vote for come polling day.

14 comments:

Mark said...

An interesting commentary Michael, particularly with recent revelations of unauthorised use of official state government mail, such as jury and vehicle registration notices, for Labor election material. It should be noted that Ergon is state government controlled.

Do some googling and you can also discover frequent political blog commentary by a Cairns person who coincidentally has the same name as the media contact for Jim Turnours press releases during his time at DPI, seems to all happen during work hours too! Funny that, maybe he doesn't work there anymore?

Anonymous said...

I'm more concerned on knowing where Charlie stands on Workchoices and what will happen if she and her big bosses' party gets re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Well John Howard is using the taxpayers money for bombarding us with his WorkChoices advertisements.
Funny how people aren't watching them. Too busy chatting to Americans online and learning first hand about the American experience with their RIGHT TO WORK legislation.
Yes, Charlie has ducked away from WorkChoices, but she will do as she is told to do.

Mark said...

Well done anonymous you are absolutely correct that people are not watching these ads! Thats because they haven't been on for a month now and such advertising ceased when the election was called.

The right-to-work laws exist in 22 US states and prohibit trade unions making membership or fees a condition of employment. These laws are hardly new, they have been in place for decades and all the economic data is that incomes have grown much faster in those states without compulsory union closed shops. I'm not sure of the relevance as this has also been the situation here since well before Workchoices?

Also, while you're chatting online to those Americans maybe you could ask them how their uber-bureaucracy Dept of Homeland Security is doing as this is the costly failed Bush policy that Rudd is determined to mimic here against the advice of all security experts. But we seem to have strayed well away from the original post ....

ziggy said...

Well Mark -how do you factor in the unskilled working subclass in the US who work two jobs or more to keep themselves barely above the poverty line with no safety net. This is where the AWA's will be doing the damage in Australia. Sure it makes the business owners and shareholders rich but what about the social price being paid. Perhaps Australians don't really want to follow with their noses up the arse of domestic US Industrial Relations, particularly when you take note of the social& economic disasters occurring there because of them.

Mark said...

Ziggy,I don't factor in any relevance of US conditions to Australia beause there are none!

Australia, unlike the USA, has a strong social safety net for both welfare support and health which have been further strengthened in the last 10 years on the back of the economy. Workchoices legislated minimum wages are more than double the US Federal minimum wages (after adjusting for currency). Tax reforms are now set to obliterate all tax for lower paid workers. There is no comparison and any insistence there is appears to be some kind of obsessional delusion. Growth in full time jobs has actually surged since workchoices so where is this cataclysm?

I think we must be living in different cities when the biggest issue for every small busines person I talk to is attracting and keeping good staff. There are successful local businesses currently paying their staff, on agreements, well above award levels in Cairns!

Anonymous said...

Dunno if you follow American news at all Mark. The American States with the Right to Work legislation have had their wages frozen for 10 years. It was the very first thing the Democrats did on their election was to pass a raise on the minimum wage.
Go to YOU TUBE and watch the delightful singer PINK sing her song, "Dear Mr President" about working conditions in the USA. The song says it all.
The sub-prime mortgage crisis which is hitting our own banks (Macquarie Bank has lost millions $$)and financial institutions is a direct result of not only the "free market" de-regulated finance industry, but also reflects the loss of wages and jobs of ordinary American people.

The sub-prime crisis will hit our own financial institutions as they also buy their investment "products" on the international market. Already our banks are talking about a credit squeeze as they try and sleuth what their losses are likely to be. (No-one knows yet the full extent of this bloody disaster.)

So, Mark, the Right to Work legislation, the erosion of working Americans wages is already having a negative impact on world financial institutions.

Our own banks are also hinting that they will independently raise interest rates soon; something which will force many Aussie families up over the edge.

By the pricking of my thumbs......something wicked this way comes.....(Shakespeare)

ziggy said...

Wow Mark, do you really think it can go on forever? What is going to happen when the economic downturn hits Cairns because of the high overseas value of the Australian dollar and the resulting lack of tourists. Or when the mining boom bubble bursts - which it eventually will? And the so called surplus is spent - as it almost is. Where do you think the strength of the safety net will be? Of course judging by your comments we won't even venture into the area to discover why our country has traditionally had strong welfare support or even consider the union thugs who have fought for it over the years as well as for the welfare of the unskilled worker.

Surely you must subscribe to more than the HR Nicholls Society and you must understand that AWA's are failing dismally outside of the mining sector and will continue to do so even more as the global economic climate changes- as it will.

Finally, are you saying that before Howard's AWA's employers couldn't pay their staff above the award? I am a small business owner and I respect my staff. I have been paying above award wages for years and will continue to do so including all the pre Howard benefits because I respect their loyalty.

JJ said...

Well said Ziggy!
I believe you may as well be talking to a wall as argueing with Mark. Everytime someone mentions Stuart Traill, out he pops. Mark is an obvious Hack for the Liberal party. Blame the big bad Unions Mark. That seems to be the Liberal parties line now. No tampa or children overboard this time.
Your coping a bit of a hammering here, so just remember your lines and stick to the anti union agenda. What a joke.
Do you really expect people to believe us unionists want businesses to go to the wall? We have family and friends that run small businesses. We rely on them, are mates with them, support them, and feel sorry for them over the hours they put in everyday, probably just like you do.
But why is it wrong for me to work a fair day and expect a fair pay? I cant understand the reasoning of people that attack us constantly for wanting a collective agreement that doesnt discriminate against the person that does their job well, but is too quiet or introverted to negotiate with a boss that doesnt notice them because they do that job with no fuss. Just because we give a shit about the people we work with doesnt make us evil Mark... ah there i go talking to the wall again....

Fab40 said...

I rarely enter these on-line debates. However, I would like to share my opinion. And it is just that, an opinion. Which is what each of you have too. No-one is always right, or completely right. Each of us has the right to our beliefs and should also respect the beliefs of others. So, it would be kinder to stay on topic and issue rather than reduce comments to personal attacks...

In my opinion, it is naive to think that the mining 'bubble' will 'burst'. Is there indeed a bubble? While developing countries grow and start to achieve economic growth which propels them into developed economy status they will continue to demand high quantities of raw materials. Which Australia has plenty of. Would those of us with a labor oriented mind also then say that these economies are not allowed to grow just as ours has in years past? Are we justified in making new rules for India and China that we as an economy do not follow? Can we allow ourselves the arrogance to stop these people entering our developed nation status? And as countries with huge populations, these economies will demand huge quantities of raw materials for many years. If we choose not to export to them so they can manufacture and sell back to us, are we prepared for the consumer consequences on our own lifestyles. How many have plasma TVs, imported cars, and all sorts of gismos bought at The Warehouse and Crazy Clarks that would no longer be available.

We live in a world economy, not an Australian one. Yes, our interest rates are related to world actions, as is our inflation and our growth. It is a double edged sword. Our economy grows because of world wide influences just as it can collapse. Are we so naive as to think Little Johnny or Big Kev have much influence. Interest rates will rise whomever is in government. Maybe it is beholden on us all to act within our circle of influence - if you don't want to pay interest don't borrow the money. Enjoy your current standard of living without wanting more all the time. Don't buy a car, boat or home entertainment system on your mortgage. Gasp, maybe pay cash...buy a first home with only two bedrooms and one bathroom rather than 4 bedrooms and two bathrooms, do the landscaping and driveway concrete yourself...trade up later as your equity increases rather than constantly spending the equity...

Increase our labour force through long term migration strategies that bring in foreigners as child adoptees. There are millions of children worldwide who need love. I challenge any of the readers of this to identify a culture that does not include love of a child in their values! Children do not hate, they love. If these migrants were allowed in greater numbers now they would retain the best of their home cultures and grow up Aussies too. In my opinion (and only as an example) a Serbian child does not hate a Coatian child when they are born, they learn this hatred through their environment...these kids become part of us and we part of them. They are educated here, want to stay here, work here and contribute to our society and economy.

Our country is a complicated place. Of course our government and our society has to provide the resources to educate but it is beholden on our system to educate all of us, keep us healthy and provide basic welfare and support structures. Whether we are born here, come here as children, or come here as adults...

Enough of my opinions...

Mark said...

Strewth, what a chorus of pessimism and foreboding all pouring from a font of inacuracy and misconception! And in the midst of all that in comes fab40 with insightful commentary to blow us all away!! But what fab40 did not explicitly state was that the recidivist from the past is actually Rudd?? There is no newness ..... its a fraudulent throwback to a past age!

If you guys are seriously concerned about these impending cataclysms then i can only suggest you back Peter Costello as he is the Treasurer who has kept the nation on an even keel through crisis and boom.The idea that Australia's economic success of the past decade is just because of China and resources is flawed as evidenced by its resilience and growth through episodes such as the Asian collapse and previous US recession. Industrial relations reform has been critical to provide the flexibility to support growth, and real wage increases, through economic cycles.

Anonymous mate, please don't resort to barefaced lies! The American states with right-to-work legislation (which simply prohibits compulsory union closed shops) have NOT had their wages frozen for 10 years. Your comments relate to a federal legislation and this is a separate jurisdiction. The American federal minimum wage has no direct relationship with these state laws. Research shows that wages in states which restrict union power have grown faster as have jobs and wealth. If you want an objective review of research go here: http://right-to-work-laws.johnwcooper.com/. More jobs. more wealth, higher growth, same or higher wages. Thats the truthful story ......

But the relevance of your demonic US-centric approach escapes me as you seek your own personal demons ....... there is no reasonable tenable comparison of the US society to Australia beyond your paranoic propoganda! Modernity appears to have even passed you by? Rudd has been sold as moving beyond the end of the class war and yet here you still embrace it with gusto? So what is it we are buying?

And to get back to the original thread theme by Michael ...... when Stuey Traill appeared as a chicken at JH's Bruce Hwy announcement was he being paid by Ergon courtesy of our electricity bill??

PS: Some of the economic claims made here represent extraordinary extreme paranoic misrepresentations! If you go to the link on my name above you can email me directly and i would be happy to correct the myriad of misconceptons you have portrayed, which would take too much time and be too boring in blog comments. Look forward to hearing from you :0)

Anonymous said...

How nice to be told that interest rates are not the responsibility of Governments. Suddenly, the Liberals are all parroting this line.

Yet, read the letters pouring into the Cairns Post daily, and remember John Howards' 2004 Election Campaign when he bombarded the electorate with claims the Labor Party was entirely and solely responsible for high interest rates in the 1990s.

Thank Christ, the electorate has woken up. All you Libs go and hide under your bloody beds. Usama/Saddam is coming to get ya with "weapons of mass destrction".

Anonymous said...

Funny how Iraq is absent from this coming election.
It is the greatest lie of our time. "Weapons of mass destruction", and was parroted by John Howard and the Liberal Party of Australia. It has destroyed a nation which never did us 0Australians any harm. Over one million Iraqis have now been killed. The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq has diminished the West and sullied our reputations around the world.
It has also seen the formation of an alliance between India, Russia and China, in the Shanghai Co-operation Treaty.
The case for war crimes and war reparations has already started.
Still, the Liberals keep on parroting the lies of their mentor - the man, John Howard is on record as saying how much he "deeply, deeply admires" - one George W. Bush.

Mark said...

Anonymous the current Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was formed in 2001 before any Iraq War. India is not a member.