Like it or not, politics are important

Brett

“A federal election is a pivotal moment.” – Brett Holmes

We are on the eve of a federal election and everyone who is enrolled to vote has a choice.

Over the past three years Australian federal politics have been toxic. It is easy to understand why many people have found this disheartening and have disengaged from the political process.

But the NSWNMA believes it is important that you understand the issues from a union point of view, so your vote is informed and considered. That is why we have produced this booklet.

Like it or not politics is important. Your union needs to negotiate with governments about pay and conditions. Politicians make decisions and laws which impact on our working lives. So it is important that you understand what the parties are saying about issues and what impact their policies will have on our capacity to win better outcomes for members.

We understand there are other issues that are relevant to your vote, but in this booklet we have stuck to those issues we believe will have the most impact on nurses and midwives: the health system, aged care and your workplace.

Until the recent change of Prime Minister, there was a real possibility of a landslide election and a Tony Abbott-led Liberal National Party (LNP) coalition government, in control of both houses of parliament, with almost no opposition left.

That could still happen.

We need to remember that the Howard Government implemented WorkChoices when it achieved power in both houses of parliament.

It is clear that an Abbott Government would use the poor behaviour of one union to justify hobbling the rest of the union movement in legal inquiries and red tape, as the Newman Government has done in Queensland.

Its real agenda is to remove the capacity of unions to campaign on behalf of their members, leaving workers vulnerable to an attack on their workplace rights.

A key element of Liberal National Party policy on industrial relations is to use the Productivity Commission as a vehicle to remove worker entitlements, such as penalty rates, in their second term of office.

Privatisation of our public health system is also on the agenda for Liberal National Parties at state and federal levels.

If we have conservative governments at both the state and federal level, the door will be left open to private operators to seize control of the billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money currently paid to maintain our public health system.

This will be done under the false premise that private business is always more efficient than public sector management of crucial services.

A federal election is a pivotal moment. It sets out the terrain on which unions must operate when trying to improve the working lives of their members.

It is important to exercise your democratic right to determine which party is to govern the country on your behalf.

When you do exercise your vote, I urge you to give strong consideration to the issues that will impact upon your daily lives as nurses and midwives.