Parallel union backing for a carbon tax and tariff protection shows just how out of touch with the interests of their members the union movement has become, Senator Ron Boswell said today.
“The carbon tax will reduce the competitiveness of our industry and simply send jobs and emissions offshore, while a return to tough tariff walls will simply invite retaliation and restrict our access to international markets even more,” Senator Boswell said.
“Lumping these two regressive policies together is a double whammy for Australian business, and for the workers they employ.”
Senator Boswell’s statement comes after the national Secretary of the Australian Workers Union Paul Howes said he would withdraw support for the carbon tax if one single job is lost.
In The Australian of 13th April Mr Howes is quoted as saying that no one with “half a brain” would support trade liberalisation at a time when manufacturing was suffering. He said he doesn’t want to see Australia “sacrificed on the funeral pyre, for the sake of ideological purity”.
On Meet the Press in March Mr Howes said: “We are not trying to lie to workers and say that carbon pricing can be avoided, that it is not going to happen. It is going to happen. That is the reality. It’s our job as union officials to actually speak the truth to our members and say that we will deal with this in a calm manner and that is what we are doing.”
“Mr Howes has now seen the light - the remarks he made yesterday about withdrawing his support show Labor has lost its support from its core voters.
“Companies like Blue Steel recorded a loss of $55.million in the last half year, and share prices have gone from 12 dollars in 2007 to two dollars today. It’s clear that more pressure from a Carbon tax will cost jobs in the Cement, Aluminum, and LNG industries. Mr Howes knows this and is back peddling.
“I would urge all Labor representatives to get behind Mr Howes in dumping this tax.
Left wing Labor Senator Doug Cameron, a former national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, has also thrown his weight behind the carbon tax, and constraints on free trade.
Senator Cameron was quoted in The Australian of 9th March 2011saying that “basically we have to convince people that for a strong economy and decent environment this (a carbon tax) has to be done and that we are the only ones with the way forward to deal with this in a sensible and systematic way.”
But on free trade Senator Cameron recently called the Prime Minister’s free trade agreement with America “a lemon” and “a bad decision.”
Senator Boswell said the confused support for a carbon tax and constraints on free trade showed that the labour movement was just as confused as its political arm.