One Nation market themselves as being against the elites and supposedly representing “the people… ignored by the two party system”. But the Liberals’ push for industrial relations “reform” is rapidly exposing their true colors.
In early October One Nation voted for Turnbull’s amendments to the Fair Work Act aimed at what Turnbull described as “hostile union takeovers” of the Victorian Country Fire Authority.
One Nation justified this by saying it was a “freedom versus control” issue. But Turnbull had a clear union bashing agenda and the end result is just more restrictions on what can be included in Enterprise Bargaining Agreements.
Then in late October, to the delight of the Liberals and the big end of town, One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts announced that One Nation was, “inclined to support the Government’s ABCC and ROC [Registered Organisations] legislation”. The party is also supporting $6 billion in cuts to welfare, including plans to deny young people the dole for four weeks after they lose their job, and the cuts to paid parental leave.
If Turnbull can get this legislation though parliament—where Abbott failed—then his standing in the Liberal Party and in corporate boardrooms will rise immensely. Corporate Australia is desperate for another round of Workchoices-style “reforms”. The ABCC and the Registered Organisations legislation, designed to cripple construction unions with massive fines, is seen as a good start.
For this reason the Coalition has been courting One Nation Senators. But unions too have been trying to woo them, with senior unionists including Ross McLennan from the Queensland Council of Unions meeting Hanson.
Lobbying One Nation is a bankrupt strategy. The party isn’t just racist but is also deeply anti-worker. Hanson is a former member of the Liberal Party and Malcolm Roberts, a former mine manager, gave a speech to the HR Nicholls Society that could have been written by any Liberal politician. He targeted “union boss thuggery”; blamed the IR system for “our weak economic position”; and called for an ACCC (competition watchdog) “that is wealthy and armed to the teeth” with the task of breaking union “cartels in construction, mining, offshore oil and gas”.
Instead One Nation needs to feel the pressure of a public union campaign. They are extremely vulnerable. Much of their voter base are not dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. About 50 per cent of them preferenced Labor ahead of the Liberals at the election. Many have been sucked in by her “anti-elite” rhetoric. Rather than lobbying One Nation, we need to be demonstrating outside their offices against their racism and pointing out whose interests they really serve.
By Mark Gillespie