Aussie unions meddling in NZ Politics

The Labour party makes a lot of noise about overseas donations. Trevor Mallard famously described one donor to the National party as an American bag-man but didn’t have the guts to name him outright.

Labour even passed a law to specifically prevent overseas donors despite the fact they were given $500,000 from Owen Glenn who at the time resided in Monaco. They even wrote a special exemption for him so they could continue to get funds.

Now that the candidate donations are in we can see that once again labour, and in particular Andrew Little have been caught pants down with their hypocrisy.

Andrew Little has received two donations from Australian unions. He received $1500 each from the Australian Workers Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

The head of the AWU is Paul Howes who is self-described as one of the faceless men of the Labor party, exerting power and influence in the smoke filled rooms. He even wrote a book called Confessions of a Faceless Man, which was his autobiographical analyses of the last election and 18 months in Australian politics.

Paul Bastian is the head of the AMWU and has spoken out in favour of retain subsidies in the Australian automotive industry in contrast tot he Productivity Commission highlighting this as a concern. He would rather protect outdated industry than embrace change. presumably this is why his union also backed Andrew Little.

Quite apart from the fact that New Zealand unions spent up large supporting Labour, it seems now that the Aussie unions are wanting to flex a little bit of muscle in New Zealand elections.

You have to wonder whether the teachers of the NZEI and the civil servants who are members of the PSA are happy with 6 figure sums being spent of their membership cash in the form of political lobbying. I wonder too whether or not either of those unions enjoys tax-free status registered with the Charities and Societies Commission.


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  • Mike Smith

    conspiracy? Undermining our way of life!!

  • Simo

    MUNZ leftie Pasloe has a whiffy Aussie accent, but naaaa could never be influenced by Aussie unions – how f#$^%&&king dumb is MSM to even suggest this is a possibility when its the bleeding obvious………Devolution of MSM is rampant and this just proves its growing irrelevance

  • Apolonia

    There is no end to Labour’s shame.

    • Mike


  • Salacious T Crumb

    Andrew Little sounds more and more like Mallard, except whinier and seems to generate more sounds bites than his leader

  • Vlad

    There is a failure of understanding by the NZ mainstream media about Australian political dynamics.  While Australia has done extra well from mining and resources & have progressed towards a more open economy & political life, Australia is still a deal-based environment, with heavy manipulative politician and union involvement in legislation and governance of business.  Our leftie folks would like it to be this way as well, hence their desperate efforts to involve Len and the Labour Party at the wharf, or in any other negotiation between industry and employee.  We must not let it slide backwards, we do not have the loose money sloshing about that minerals give Australia, and we are well advanced from them as a market economy. 

    • AngryTory

      Well I remember Abbot from the kicking he gave the Maritime union in the 90s.

      If Australia was a democracy like Queensland Abbott would have made the union gone by lunchtime!

  • TJ

    “You have to wonder whether the teachers of the NZEI and the civil servants who are members of the PSA are happy with 6 figure sums being spent of their membership cash in the form of political lobbying.”
    This is the issue in relation to Unions which you should be delving into WO. I think you are taking the wrong angle by focusing on trying to reconcile income to member numbers, tax status and other trivial issues. 

    The question is what are these jokers burning members money on. 

    • Peter Wilson

      The well rehearsed counter argument is this.

      Big – and small – business contribute to right wing parties, therefore Unions should be lobbying and donating to left wing parties.

      “But it’s the business’s own money isn’t it?”

      Of course not. It’s wealth generated on the back of the low wages of the employees, so effectively workers are contributing to the National Party.

      • Jassen

         You talk absolute drivel sometimes. Not every successful business has low paid employees.

        As is the fact that not every low income family breeds more kids to claim more benefits.

        The risk takers who invest their own money into a business to grow it and hopefully one day become successful, have every right to do what they want with their money. 

    • Acting Up

      Hi TJ, unions in NZ will spend their income on unions services like negotiating collective agreements, representing individual members, organising meetings of members, meeting and discussing all sort of things with employers, and so on. Business as usual sort of stuff. The majority of money will go on staffing and related costs. An amount will also be spent on democratic structures; delegate training, meetings and so on.

      Unions affiliated to the CTU will provide affiliation fees – these will be a small part of union income. Unions affiliated to the Labour Party (most are not) will also provide affiliation fees; again, a small part of income.

      Cashflow will be tight, and as not-for-profit organisations, unions must spend their money to the benefit of members, and for the continuance of the union. Several will have secure investments (in the bank , in property) as prudent planning for the future. This will be visible to members.

      Financials will be presented to members at annual general meetings (the ways of doing this will differ); this is a requirement of incorporated societies. Audits are required.

      Unions are private organisations, and are run for the benefit of their members. If members feel that is not the case, they tend to resign. So every union is very aware of the moral and financial imperative to provide what their members want.

      They are more business-like than the stereotype would suggest. The idea that a union is led by a “union boss” who has dictatorial powers, freely spending cash in all sorts of evil plotting, is not true.

      about 400,000 NZers are in unions. They all pay union subs. I don’t think that such a large number of people would do that if they didn’t feel it was worth it..

      • Callum

        One thing you miss is that in many union dominated fields you have no effective choice, you pay union fees whether you are a member or not as an agreed “negotiating” fee yet you have no option to negotiate directly yourself. Teaching is one of those fields, choosing to take a stand against the union means you end up paying them money anyway and have other staff hold it against you.

      • Acting Up

        Hi Callum, yes, is some areas (not many) a bargaining fee will exist. I am aware of this in the District Health Boards. These are in place where a large number of people are in the union. This is a way for the minority who are not union members, but wish to access the collective agreement, to pay the union to be their agent for bargaining. The fee tends to be set at the level of the union fees. Many people will then join the union, to access the other services, and will usually stay members.

        The barriers to get a bargaining fee in place are pretty high; it has to be agreed to by a ballot of the members, then agreed to by the employer, then agreed to by a ballot (run by the employer, I think – not sure) of all people who would be covered by the agreement. So a lot of pre-conditions need to be met.

        Bargaining fee arrangments are few and far between as a result. Employers usually pass on the terms and conditions of the prevailing collective to non-union people as an individual agreement, who simply accept the offer. This can really wind up union members!!

        Not paying the bargaining fee and remaining on the old terms and conditions is an option.

        There is freedom of choice, and hence of consequence. I don’t hold with union members being unpleasant to non-members; we all have to get along in workplaces, or it can get pretty miserable. You don’t attract people to your club by being unpleasant to them!! And someone who is paying a bargaining fee is contributing, and should be treated respectfully.

        On the other hand, people who contribute nothing, get the union-negotiated settlement then crow about this to their unionised colleagues can get a bit of grief. If someone is doing a little free-riding, best to keep quiet in the interests of workplace happiness.

      • TJ

        Hi Acting Up, 

        I have no doubt that a good portion of members dues are spent on activities which, in some form or other, is at least intended to be for the their benefit. 

        We are not talking unsubstantial amounts being paid per year. According the PSA website, a run of the mill public servant on anything over $34k will be paying $385 per year. NZEI is around $590 p.a. for a teacher on over $37k. 

        As Callum alludes to though, I suspect a good number simply pay their dues to ensure they receive the benefits of the latest collective agreement, whether that be more money or better conditions etc., or as a result of an expectation in the workplace. But where else is the money going? Are members given the information to figure this out? Are they keeping management honest in terms of spending their money and getting good value for money? Was a $196k donation to the Labour party by the PSA value for money? 

        I appreciate members can leave if they didn’t think it was worth it, but suspect many don’t and they of course only have themselves to blame. 

      • Callum

        Between education, health and other government based unions you have over 50% of union membership covered. Most of which have bargainings fees and no scope for individual negtiations. That to me would meet the definition of “many” far more closely than “not many”. Nurses and teacher alone are 30%+ of your 400k union members. 

    • Mike

       Burning on? Doing what unions are expected to do. REPRESENTING Their members INTERESTS!!

  • Acting Up

    Hmm – just spent 15 mins writing a response, excellent in its throughness, pushed backspace and lost the whole thing – second time tonight.

    So will keep this one short, in case it happens again …

    PSA has never donated money to the Labour Party.
    Expenditure is carefully scrutinised by senior bodies such as boards or council, and subject to audit.

    Callum, I was looking at numbers of agreements with bargaining fees in place, not potential coverage. Only several in place (agree, covering large numbers); none in the public service to my knowledge. I do agree that nurses and teachers (NZNO 50k or so, NZEI 55K or so, PPTA 18000(?), are a sizeable portion.