Paul Howes Quits AWU And Other Political Positions; Disavows Parliamentary Aspirations (For Now)

Paul Howes, the 32-year-old National Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, has announced his resignation and indicated he will also relinquish his other political positions in the labour movement and the ALP.

Howes

Howes has been a paid official of the AWU since he was 17. After Bill Shorten left the union in 2007 to enter federal parliament, Howes assumed its leadership. He has been a significant political influence in the ALP, supporting the removal of former prime minister Kevin Rudd in 2010 but falling out with his Right faction colleagues by refusing to support the overthrow of Julia Gillard last year. [Read more…]


Transition To Abbott Government Begins; Shorten, Albanese Vie For ALP Leadership As Recriminations Start; Mirabella Struggling In Indi; Palmer Takes Fairfax; Micro Parties Descend On Senate

The transition to the Abbott Coalition government has begun, following Saturday’s federal election.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has surrendered his commission to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. It is expected that Tony Abbott and his ministry will be sworn in early next week. Abbott arrived in Canberra today to hold meetings with his senior colleagues and to take briefings from the public service.

Abbott

In the Labor Party, moves appear to be afoot to elect a new leader by consensus. The outgoing Treasurer, Chris Bowen, announced he would not be a candidate for the position. It now appears that either Bill Shorten or Anthony Albanese will become leader. [Read more…]


Wayne Swan’s Speech To The AWU National Conference

The Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has addressed the Australian Workers’ Union National Conference in Brisbane.

Swan’s speech follows Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s appearance last night.

Swan’s speech returned to his familiar theme of Labor values, warned of Tea Party tendencies in the Liberal Party, reiterated the government’s commitment to jobs, and emphasised the importance of the government’s re-election in September. [Read more…]


Julia Gillard’s Speech To The Australian Workers’ Union National Conference

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has addressed the National Conference of the Australian Workers’ Union in Brisbane.

The AWU is an important component of Gillard’s power base. The support of Bill Shorten, the former National Secretary of the AWU, and Paul Howes, the current National Secretary, was crucial to Gillard’s overthrow of Kevin Rudd. Treasurer Wayne Swan is supported by the AWU and its National President, Bill Ludwig. The AWU is an important component of the right-wing faction of the ALP. [Read more…]


Paul Howes: National Press Club Address

This is the text of Paul Howes’ Address to the National Press Club.

Howes is the National Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union.

Paul HowesIt’s great to be back at the National Press Club, and I appreciate the invitation.

It feels as though in Australia today no-one is interested in talking about the big challenges.

No-one wants to roll up their sleeves up and get on with the job.

Fighting for what you believe in is no longer interesting in modern politics.

The national conversation has become dominated by vacuous drivel about particular phrases, styles and presentation.

It’s like an inane feedback loop that builds to a conspiracy of mediocrity between our political class and the commentariat – a crime that I am as guilty of as anyone.

In this current political environment, it’s easy to forget where you’ve come from, and to lose sight of where you’re going.

This navel-gazing suits the conservatives.

It makes it easier for them to chip away at the foundation stones of our egalitarian society.

It makes it easier for billionaires and mega corporations to plunder our public resources without giving anything back.

It makes it easier to defeat the ideals that the labour movement stands for.

The time to fight back is now. [Read more…]


History Is Written By The Winners

This time last year, Kevin Rudd still had seven months left as Prime Minister and Malcolm Turnbull had nearly a fortnight before he lost the Liberal leadership.

Rudd-GillardA lot has happened since.

By any measure, it has been a big political year. The rise of Tony Abbott and the dumping of Rudd book-end a remarkable period in Australian politics. The ascent of Julia Gillard is a mere five months old. The inconclusive election that produced a minority government took place just three months ago this weekend.

It is surely too soon to write the definitive history of this period but it’s being written anyway.

One account, “The Party Thieves”, has been written by the ABC’s Barrie Cassidy. Another, “Confessions of a Faceless Man”, has been penned in diary form by Paul Howes, head of the Australian Workers’ Union.

There’s remarkable agreement between these two about what happened. [Read more…]


Day 4: On Message

In Papua-New Guinea yesterday, armed police patrolled Parliament House. There was talk of the Prime Minister being toppled. The Parliament met, but the Opposition lacked the numbers and 74-year-old Michael Somare remained in control. There was much activity but nothing much happened. The old pro who first became Prime Minister in 1975 lived to fight another day.

On Day 4 of the 2010 Australian election campaign, it was much the same: lots of activity but a sense that the real events were taking place elsewhere.

For Gillard and Abbott, it was time to focus on bread and butter issues. Time to shake off the distractions and target the message. Time to ready for the grind that is coming.

Abbott began and ended the day well. On Channel 7’s Sunrise, in an interview that lacked the danger of Monday’s encounters with the media, he once again killed, buried and cremated WorkChoices. The Channel 9 evening news in Melbourne led with Abbott cycling the streets and announcing expenditure savings.

Julia Gillard also appeared on Sunrise, her lines now perfected and rolling forth in a torrent. “I don’t want to see a big Australia … I want to see a sustainable Australia… we’ve announced a modest measure to take a bit of pressure off … Tony Abbott is strongly supportive of WorkChoices…” [Read more…]