Circumstances meeting our prejudice = proof, in politics. Or, Kevin Rudd does what unions tell him to do

John Howard is spending billions on finally doing something about infrastructure, social and otherwise, in Australia’s Indigenous communities. From my perspective it is for all the wrong reasons – claming there is a national emergency out there, etc. Indigenous Australians have suffered a national emergency ever since we landed more than 200 years ago.

From the Prime Minister’s perspective it is for all the right reasons: squeezing indigenous community groups, undoing decades of progress on Indigenous land rights and, of course, the election. Fortunately most people can see through that one. At last, 11 years in, the dirty tricks of John Howard have become punches well-enough telegraphed for the general public to understand.

In other arenas, though, there is still game to be had. Specifically, the old canard that Labor belongs to the unions. I liked the SMH’s take on the ‘story’ (“Another leak casts Rudd as a puppet”), although the Australian’s was also good (“We’ll tame Rudd, union vows”). Get it? The unions are so confident that they can run the Labor party that they say so to their members.

Here are my headlines:

Labor policies keep unions onboard

Unions will never support Howard, Robertson says

Fire Howard, work with Rudd, union boss says

See, the theme of my headline is the theme of what union chief John Robertson told his bloody members: that whatever Labor is doing, either to position themselves for the election or because Rudd actually means it, they’re better off with Labor in charge than the Liberals. So for now they’re better off not rising to the bait of Labor’s electioneering, focussing instead on the harm done by Howard’s governing. It was rather a good rallying of troops, I thought, and rather a good playing of cards, because Robertson is right. There may or may not be former bosses of the ACTU on Labor front benches anymore, but it doesn’t matter. Labor is still the better party for the interests of the worker, and Robertson’s constituents need to remember that, for their own self-interest.

But then the story would be “Nothing has changed” – hardly as much fun as leaked tapes, weak leaders, parties in bed with unions, and so forth. Howard will be desperate for it to stick, though, because his Indigenous Emergency is no Children Overboard or Interest Rates. It didn’t work well and it’s already backfiring.

If marching the army in and victimising Indigenous Australians the last 3 inches they have left in this country is the best he had up his sleeve, Costello will be waiting even longer to become Prime Minister.


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