Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, August 20, 2003
WHEN THE COMMUNARDS of Radio National want to promote the political agenda of Trades Hall, they usually disguise the connection.

The preferred sleight of hand involves one of those Think-Tanks Whose Politics May Never Be Labelled, like the Australia Institute. These pens-for-hire then conduct a study, in the style of a deliberative poll, using the money provided by organised labour, and publish an "independent" report. If Auntie gives this confection its undivided attention for a day or two, who can complain? Apart from Uncle, of course.

This morning's Life Matters breaks the mould in a decisive way. Perhaps they're becoming over-confident, following the stirring defiance of their great leader, Biffer Balding.

We're dealing with the choices we make about dividing our time between work and family, and we can all call in. If you're quick, you still can.

But the programme's first twenty minutes is devoted to a paean of praise for the campaign of the Victorian Electrical Trades Union to contol overtime. This is what you would expect, since the lead speakers are Dean Mighell, the secretary of that Union, and one of his hand-picked electricians.

They have hammered their members and their employers into accepting an absolute limit of ten hours overtime per week. That is, on top of the award-dictated 36-hour week, you may not work more than another ten hours, totalling 46 hours per week, over seven days. That is, no more than 6.57 hours per day, on average. And I haven't factored in the RDO. That is, one Rostered Day Off per month. That is, a compulsory, Union-dictated, paid holiday.

It's a dream! warbles the ETU's chosen talent. I am getting to know my kids.

It's the social trend of modern fathering, chants commere Julie McCrossin.

We're behind it, proclaims Labor's front-bench titan, Lindsay Tanner. He diagnoses "affluence fatigue", a social disease he's been told about by, you're ahead of me here?, the Australia Institute.

What if your mortgage demands you work eight hours a day? Get with the programme, troglodytes!

What if you're single, or married-no-kids, and want to save for a deposit on a house? Stiff cheese.

What if you're single, or empty-nested, and want to save for a comfortable retirement? Get out of here!

What if you're wife is so corny she wants you out of her way when she's dealing with the kids, or wants a man who can provide the kind of income she is capable of helping to spend? Don't worry, she'll divorce you and you can try again.

What if you just think it's all your own business? You'll never get a job in Auntie's workshop.

What if you think these finger-waggers are prepared to sacrifice your prosperity and your country's future on the altar of their collecctivist ideology? Get out of Victoria, where building anything costs 30% more than elsewhere in Australia, thanks to Dean Mighell and his comrades.

With a little help from Auntie.