Page 4886 - Week 13 - Thursday, 2 November 2017
factor”, that is, the connections that are formed in this city through business and personal relationships. People do mix in similar circles in this place and Canberra is also an intrinsically political town. Therefore it goes without saying that after what will be almost 20 years in power at the end of this Assembly, the Labor Party’s reach is visible. Former staffers are everywhere and are seen to be reinvented as public servants, and often find top-level jobs within peak industry organisations. Former political journalists become Labor staffers. The reach is long; the connections are deep. This phenomenon in itself is not corrupt in the criminal sense but it leads to an indoctrination of poor culture.
The longstanding relationship between the Labor Party and the union movement has corrupted the way in which political decisions are made, business is conducted and the future of the city is determined. It is important to note that there is a small portion of the union movement that are pulling the strings within the ACT Labor Party and this Labor government. These individuals do not represent the majority of union membership in the ACT; that goes without saying. But the minority are loud and they are forceful. This minority call all the shots, control the preselections of those opposite and are the beneficiaries of many corrupt taxpayer-funded deals. This control compromises all those members opposite who form this Labor coalition government, headed by Mr Barr.
This control is seen publicly in many forms. For example, we know that ACT Labor MLAs need permission from the unions before attending certain industry group meetings and functions. Chief Minister Andrew Barr has not denied that his fellow Labor MLAs need to seek permission from the unions before attending events such as the Master Builders Association annual dinner, a demand that was made by UnionsACT. Not one Labor member was in attendance at a function hosted by the Master Builders Association recently. The event was an annual event that is community based. This particular event was hosted in conjunction with OzHelp, who have the objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and how industry can work together with other stakeholders to prevent suicide. It is worth remembering that this snub came at a time of celebration of an organisation that was established jointly with their union friends in the CFMEU and the Master Builders Association.
Another example is that of how this government is going about communicating and engaging with other stakeholder groups—the greyhound industry, ClubsACT and now the MBA. It seems that ACT Labor deem it appropriate to pick and choose whom they meet with, regardless of their position in the Canberra community, just because they do not agree with Labor policy; or, more accurately, do not entirely agree with Mr Barr himself.
This corrupting influence prevents a government from working in the interests of all Canberrans. This undue influence works internally as well. In 2015 there was yet another example of unions having significant, corrupting influence over ALP preselections when the ACT’s longest serving Labor minister was relegated to third on the left faction ticket, a faction heavily controlled by unions such as the CFMEU and United Voice. This turn of events was enough to see the second most senior ALP member, the deputy leader of the government and longest serving ALP MLA, pull the pin on their career, and has since seen the ascension of Ms Berry