Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 9 Hansard (27 September) . . Page.. 2836..
MR MULCAHY (continuing):
under the guise of federal Labor's election campaign. Those opposite may not like the fact that unions are no longer a way of life for the majority of Australians or the majority of Canberrans. In fact, 80 per cent of the people in this town have said that enough is enough, and they have moved on. Membership numbers are dwindling and the unions, it would appear, are having trouble holding onto the people that they have got.
In June, news broke that the ACTU were relying on mistruths and scare tactics to convince their own members that the Howard government's industrial relations changes were the evil that the ACTU and others have been claiming. There is a wonderful document, which I have a full copy of in case the minister does not have it: the federal election 2007 union political strategy manual. It is just full of fascinating reading and full of instructions. There are classic lines in here such as: "Don't read out the minimum wage, four weeks annual leave, two weeks can be cashed out, 10 days sick carer's leave, 38-hour week, unpaid parental leave."There is a host of directions in this handbook, Mr Speaker, which work through ingenious ways to try and manipulate union members into believing certain points of view.
I found it fascinating reading, especially when they start suggesting lines to use to try and mould people's thinking and to try and, in fact, manipulate people who might even be conservative voters or coalition voters and twist their way of thinking. For example, in this document they say, "If a member is not sure, agree with them that there has been no case made."You have got to play along here. The document asks for the agents of the ACTU to consider using various affirming statements such as: "Yes, it's hard to fathom. The government didn't even bother putting a case for change. I don't remember hearing a word about these laws at the last election. It just shows what happens when politicians are in power for so long"—I agree with that one in the territory—"they lose touch with the issues that really matter to ordinary Australians. The government cares more about appeasing its big business friends than looking after working families."
Mr Speaker, if you need help—but I think you know how they operate—these are examples of affirming statements that you have got to use when you are trying to manoeuvre members of the union in the desperate hope that they can oust the Howard government, a hope which seems to be slipping away as each day advances. It certainly shows how desperate the union position has become when they have to resort to misleading their own people through scare tactics to maintain membership. Of course, you wonder why they do it, but it is very clear: times have rarely been better than they are currently as a result of the Howard government's policies. Rather than acknowledging that their product is no longer relevant in the eyes of the vast majority of workers, the unions have latched their hopes onto the federal Labor leader and his team of spin doctors.
They know they are out of touch. I sat down with Bill Kelty about six years ago and he asked me for ideas on marketing. I said, "Bill, your product is the problem. It's like a bad confectionary product that sounded good in the laboratory but when you put it in the market it just isn't working. Your problem is your product."He went away scratching his head, but I was happy to help him because I understand the lack of relevance to most people in Australia of what the unions are now doing. They are there only by virtue of controls that they keep wanting to put in place.