No voice for individual party members? Democracy? Leftist authoritarianism at work again. Elite rule is instinctive to them
A secretive industrial deal between two unions over government-funded infrastructure projects has installed Steven Miles as Queensland’s next Labor premier.
Just days after Annastacia Palaszczuk resigned, union powerbrokers were quick to stitch up a factional agreement that would secure Mr Miles’s accession to the top job and avoid a drawn out battle that would have followed a contest for the leadership.
Treasurer Cameron Dick and his 18-member Right faction threw their support behind Mr Miles after the deal was struck late on Monday night, cruelling chances of Health Minister Shannon Fentiman who declared her plans to run for the leadership just hours earlier.
Multiple sources briefed on the negotiations said the agreement between United Workers’ Union boss Gary Bullock and Australian Workers Union leader Stacey Schinnerl was centred on the government’s Best Practice Industry Conditions Policy, which forces unions and contractors to negotiate agreements on government-funded civil construction projects worth more than $100m.
Ms Schinnerl had been unsuccessfully lobbying the government for months, anxious the policy gave the militant construction union the CFMEU and its members an advantage in civil construction and road-building projects. Both unions have been battling for industrial coverage on the lucrative taxpayer-funded projects, which traditionally fell into the AWU’s jurisdiction.
Ms Schinnerl finally had the upper-hand when Mr Bullock had to rely on the Right faction as kingmaker to give Mr Miles the numbers in caucus.
According to sources briefed on the negotiations, Mr Bullock offered to relinquish the Left’s hold on the transport and main roads portfolio – currently held by controversy-prone Left minister Mark Bailey – to the Right.
Along with that, there were concessions to the AWU on the BPIC policy that would sideline the factionally unaligned CFMEU and potentially other non-UWU Left unions which had fallen behind Ms Fentiman, including her own AMWU, as well as the ETU.
An AWU spokesman said the union supported best-practice industry conditions for workers engaged in the civil construction industry, and “we have been constructively engaging with multiple government departments for years to get the best possible outcome for our members”.
“It’s time for our party to stick together and focus on winning the next election – the stakes are too high for working people for our movement to be divided,” the spokesman said.
The Australian has been told the deal was done before Mr Dick – who has always pushed back against union influence over the parliamentary Labor Party – was in the room. He was saddled with it, and then had to take it to a two-hour telephone hook-up of his Right faction MPs last night.
A deep reshuffle of cabinet is expected later this week, with Mark Bailey, Annastacia Palaszczuk and Stirling Hinchliffe to depart from the ministry, along with potentially more, including Craig Crawford and Mark Furner.