Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Rudd's senate bid - ALP factionalism and Qld politics - uranium

Greg Rudd 

The first indication of interest in Greg Rudd was a visit to my blog and now I find that he has declared his intention to run for a Queensland senate seat in the next Federal election due in 2013.  I have posted on Greg Rudd on a couple of occasions. Please go here to see them.  Also read this update from The Age linked on 2012-08-19

There are a couple of things Networkers might look at more closely now that GRudd is a serious political contender.  

Firstly, is the fact that he is not new on the Canberra scene.  He used to be a senior adviser to Con Sciacca.  I don't know if GRudd was ever a paid up member of the Australian Labor Party but I would assume so.  I also don't know if GRudd was ever a factional player within the Australian Labor Party but let's imagine for a minute or two that he was. Con Sciacca was/is a key player in what was known in the early days of its establishment as the The Centre Majority. The faction now goes under the name of Labor Forum or the Australian Workers Union (AWU) faction in Queensland which, at a national level, is part of the National Right.  In Queensland, the National Right (without the AWU at that level) is known as Labor Unity.  GRudd's brother, KRudd, was not a member of Labor Forum but was/is a member of Labor Unity.  It is not unfair to surmise that GRudd was a member of the AWU faction.  

Apologies for sounding so internecine - but all is connected.

This faction is little spoken of or analysed in relation to present political goings on - but it is all important.  We hear of Bill Shorten and Paul Howes in relation to Julia Gillard's rise to power - the first a former Victorian Secretary and National Secretary of the AWU and the second currently National Secretary of the AWU following on from Shorten.  However, neither could have operated to elevate Julia without the countenance of the eminence grise of the AWU, Bill Ludwig.- father of Senator Joe Ludwig. Go here to find out what Paul Barry has to say bout Bill Ludwig.  

To understand the power Bill Ludwig - as well as other former State Secretaries of the Queensland branch of the AWU - yields, one has to understand some things about the AWU in Queensland.  Historically, the AWU - outside Brisbane and the south-east corner - was the major union in the bush.  Sometimes and in some places, it was the only union in the bush. The membership of the AWU in Queensland was approximately equal to the union's membership in the other states combined.  

The AWU, historically, was/is the union of shearers and other agricultural workers.  It was omnipresent and its leaders and its organisers were tough.  It is/was, arguably, the first major union of itinerant workers in the world.  Strictly speaking the AWU is not a trade union but a general union.  In my experience there is only one apprenticeship-trained trade covered by the AWU, and that is chefs.  This is due to the fact that, outside the south-east corner of Queensland, the AWU covers the tourist industry.  

The great pride and power of the AWU lies within the mining industry.  It is THE metalliferous mining union in Australia.  Union power and prestige in the mining industry exists in two halves - metalliferous and non-metalifferous mining.  Metalliferous mining has the AWU as its major union, non-metalliferous mining (i.e. coal) has the CFMEU as its major union.  Other unions such as the AMWU might have membership on mine sites but they have an ancillary role not a major role.  

The government of Kevin Rudd introduced the Minerals Rent Resource Tax (MRRT). There was an uproar (some might say an uprising) from the resource based corporations.  This was scary stuff for a union such as the AWU.  It was the metalliferous miners who yelled the loudest.  Mining unions, particularly metalliferous mining unions, have been under threat from the mining corporations for decades.  Some boards campaign as loudly and vigourously for their right not to have union involvement as unions do to remain involved in the business of their members.  

The AWU is not always the bravest of unions by any means - but it is wily and it is pragmatic.  And remember, Kevin Rudd - the Prime Minister with the running of this new tax was - is not one of theirs.  The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, is.  The Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, is.  In this context, Julia Gillard came to power as the first female Prime Minister of Australia.  The woman who entered Federal Parliament nurtured by the left of the ALP was now brought to Prime Ministerial power by Australia's most powerful right wing union, the AWU.  She became PM on a Friday and on the Sunday night was in Brisbane at an AWU fundraiser.

Greg Rudd has now moved on from his days of an adviser to Con Sciacca. Read his bio here. It is notable that membership of the ALP, in the past or in the present, has not hindered the Rudd brothers in becoming very, very well heeled.  Please note, when you read GRudd's bio, the site on which you find it.  Greg Rudd is clearly not afraid of uranium and its industry.  Neither is the AWU.  Should Greg Rudd make it through the complexities of Proportional Representation voting and into the Senate, I am sure I will not be alone in taking a great interest in his parliamentary career.

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