Dummy Spit of the Week

The teflon coated one was doing a fair job of hiding his disappointment on Thursday, after a few business organisations expressed complete disinterest in funding an advertising campaign for WorkChoices to counter the ACTU’s campaign against WorkChoices. There was barely a skerrick of petulance in his voice when I heard him on the radio, saying:

“It’s desirable in a debate about public policy that those people who believe in good policy come out and support good policy. I don’t take anything for granted in the political world and the next election is going to be very tough for the Coalition.”

Nonetheless, the Australian Industry Group and the National Retailers Association have made it clear that they won’t be spending squat on advertising WorkChoices. This suggests that they perhaps don’t hold WorkChoices in the same high regard as the Prime Minister. The Business Council of Australia hasn’t – as far as I know – given any response to Howard’s call to marketing which leaves me wondering if they consider WorkChoices good policy at all.

“Forward” he cried, and the assembled ranks of the captains of industry didn’t budge, perhaps mindful of a lesson that the French bourgeoisie learnt in 1789 – no one ever made a quid out of defending the Ancien Regime.

John Howard isn’t the only one disappointed by the business community’s disinclination to fight the good fight on WorkChoices. Hero Blogger Janet Albrechtsen shares his opinion and she’s much less tactful about it. Her post on the topic is silly enough, but if you can’t be bothered reading that – short though it is – here’s a much pithier statement of her opinion in a response to a reader’s comment:


Governments of both persuasions have been spending our tax dollars to sell their message. Nothing new there. The point I made was that if unions are in on the act, where, oh where is big business. They are a bunch of sissies, happy to talk about WorkChoices but not brave enough to put their money where their mouth is. Let’s face it, WorkChoices, which is aimed at helping business grow, employ more people, etc is in the interests of shareholders. I would have thought it was their fiduciary duty to ensure we don’t head back to the bad old days of over-regulated work places. (my emphasis)

Aww, diddums! Widdle Janet won’t get to see the big boys fight. Maybe she should get a PayPal button and launch an appeal.

Hat tip to Bearcave for the Albrechtsen Link.

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Posted in Federal Elections, Howardia, levity
15 comments on “Dummy Spit of the Week
  1. I think Wayne Swan was suggesting that big business is starting to sniff the wind and thinks there might be a change in the air.

    I don’t think there’s much doubt that big business would like WorkChoices to stick. But maybe they’re starting to think that the Coalition, and WorkChoices, are dead ducks and they don’t want to pointlessly alienate the next government.

    Here’s hoping, anyway…

  2. steve says:

    Seeing Howard has upset and ignored the Public Service and this aloofness is spreading to other Ministers then the truth is probably that communications are bad with everybody encountering the Howard Governnment, including Big Business.

    These people are professional lobbyists who still have to earn a dollar not long after the final disintegration of this Government. They can read opinion polls, tell when disunity and inertia are present and are amongst the first to know the smell of decay. So why would they pay to offside the Next Government when they are on the edge of having to work with them?

    They would also know from their links to workers just how sceptical people are about workchoices and when the story gets softened to ‘they were a good idea but the Government are too extreme and have lost touch with reality’, big business will be there putting the boot into the Government.

    After all there is no honour amongst thieves!

  3. Tim says:

    Yes, the new ir laws will hurt, as always, the people at the bottom of the scale, those with no voice or access to computors. The laws need to be repulsed, so that poorer people can live a life proudly and feel not like a piece of shit in society. The lower income people are equal to everyone and as just as able as them, only we are downridden by capitalism.

  4. professor rat says:

    The Aussi tourist industry interests in Bali are operating normally right?
    The AWB fairly normally?
    Defence industries?
    K-Rudds wifes churn operation?

    Geez, I’d be pissed off too not to get any quid pro quo from those old pros.

    I suspect the problem is overseas corporations for which the obvious solution is universal unions – or one big union – like the IWW for example.

    The Ethanol industry is encouraged to collectivise and wheat of course…so clearly not all unions are bad and the people don’t care what color the rat is so long as it takes care of the Cheese board.

  5. I’m not so convinced that “big business would like Work Choices to stick” (apart from Peter Hendy at ACCI, whose role as hand-puppet is obvious). AIG have always been far more sensible and non-ideological, as have some in the retail sector.

    I’m not saying they want to go back to the 80s, or that they are arm in arm with the ACTU position, but there are plenty of aspects of Work Choices that ethical business folks – large and small – are not too keen on. Its prohibitions on being able to include certain matters in agreements, and its deliberate attempts to frustrate constructive negotiations and engagement with Unions are just a couple of examples.

    It varies from industry to industry (and probably region to region too), but I’ve certainly had more than a few (including some from some of the biggest businesses) say to me that they’d love to see some of the new ideologically driven red tape and government intervention taken out of the system, and more scope for cooperative bargaining be allowed.

    I’m sure there is a bit of ‘wind sniffing’ in the position they are taking not to get drawn into a paid advertising stoush, but I wouldn’t discount that part of the reason is that it’s actually quite hard to intellectually defend some of the detail of Work Choices without resorting to fairly hollow and usually misleading sloganeering.

    The ACTU’s fight is with the Howard government, not with business (in general), and I’m sure most business would like to keep it that way. Business wanted some IR reform, but few of them wanted the extremist ideologically driven crusade that has been served up by the Coalition.

  6. Katz says:

    It can never be asserted that Howard doesn’t have a suburban shyster’s mind. He always leaves himself a lexical loophole, viz.;

    It’s desirable in a debate about public policy that those people who believe in good policy come out and support good policy.

    Well, that lets Ratty’s dwindling Coalition of the Willing on WorkChoices off the hook, doesn’t it?

    I must say that if I were Janette I’d be insisting that hubby should be paying a visit to the quack. That twitch is now quite out of control. Mr Howard must be under considerable stress.

    And he isn’t a young man any more.

    Mr Curtin died in office defending from the stresses associated with defending Australia. If, God forbid, Mr Howard died in office, it would be in the cause of hassling chocolate retailers.

    And would the business owners of Australia proclaim Mr Howard to be a national hero? Of course not! Janet Albrechtsen is right about them:

    They are a bunch of sissies, happy to talk about WorkChoices but not brave enough to put their money where their mouth is.

    I believe Lenin came to the same conclusion when he opined that the last capitalist would sell the revolution the rope to hang the last priest.

    But it shouldn’t be surprising to find neocons plagiarising Leninists.

    They share so much.

  7. insider says:

    A cartoon on The Australian’s opinion pages has a suited businessman walking past a street beggar, Howard, trying to solicit funds for the WorkChoices campaign. “Get a job,” the businessman tells the beggar.


  8. woulfe says:

    With the Exclusive Brethren now officially on the nose, the PM has to find others to pay for his attack campaigns.

    But, hey, don’t we have laws against politicians getting other people to fund their advertising for them?

  9. Spiros says:

    It wil lbe noticed by astute readers that Janet Albrechtson doesn’t actually nameand shame any of the big businesses who she thinks are sissies because they won’t fund a pro-Work Choice Campaign.

    For instance, why doesn’t she name and shame the Commonwealth Bank, one of largest companies, which not only won’t join in, but has a good working relationship with the finance sector union?

    Maybe it’s because Janet’s husband is a senior Commonwealth Bank executive.

  10. John Greenfield says:


    It is very interesting that the latest ABC stats show that the overwhelming majority of union members are white-collar middle class types.

  11. ABC or ABS?

    And what counts as “white-collar middle class”? In a bank, for example, that label would cover every employee from the tellers up to the CEO.

  12. steve says:

    It is also interesting that the Commonwealth Bank is also one of the keenest fans of the Howard cheersquad to implement AWAs willynilly. It will have to renegotiate all their staff arrangements with the demise of the Howard Government.

    And as you say John,at least the unions are still there to have a say in their next restructure post AWA.

  13. jo says:

    Maybe the Fed Govt didn’t read the “contractâ€?… it probably says ….will pay for advertising up until the introduction of the new IR laws, nothing about defending them….I think the Business Council coughed up about $6 million for advertising, (on top of OUR taxpayer funded $50-60 million or whatever the amounts was) in the lead up to the introduction of Workchoices.

    But with Janet being such a persuasive saleswoman (& they are a bunch of sado-masochists after all) with enough beating around their ‘sissy’ heads…… there is no doubt dollars will come flowing out of a few deep pockets, soon enough, more likely to defend the Coalition, than the legislation – but with the same result.

    The reality is, bottom lines do their own talking, come EOY – I’d expect a generous topping up of the war coffers– even though there are some odious & onerous ‘administrative’ issues in the legislation, as Andrew Bartlett points out – but much more significant is – the daily “ker-chinkâ€? directly into the pockets of business owners and upper management, meaning that Workchoices Version 1, does do, exactly what it always was intended to.

    I think the Charlton Heston quote from Bowling for Columbine is apt ….. “they’ll have to pry it out of their cold dead handsâ€?…..

  14. John Greenfield says:

    Gummo Trotsky

    Hmmm….I did not realize that finance CEOs were unionized. 😉

  15. Graham Bell says:

    My guess is that the figures are starting to come in and WorkChoices now being seen as hurting productivity and profitability.

    I think a lot of businesses were expecting industrial relations reform but got an airy-fairy ideological frolic instead. Why on earth would they then fork out hard-earned money to make matters even worse for themselves?

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