Did the unions stitch up Malcolm Turnbull?

Malcolm Turnbull - Getty Images

Malcolm Turnbull – Getty Images

Malcolm Turnbull got a big shock on Saturday night when the election was too close to call. Although the polls had been indicating this, the word from Australia was that the marginal seats were going in favour of the Coalition.

Apparently the unions in Australia aren’t as useless as the unions here.

Labor received a massive boost, too, from a decision by the union movement more than a year ago to fund and place full-time paid organisers in 22 marginal seats across the country. Those organisers had already identified tens of thousands of uncommitted voters by the end of last year through volunteers undertaking person-to-person phone calls. By the time the campaign launched, they were ready to hit the phones again.

ACTU vice president and campaign director Sally McManus told Fairfax Media “in the end we had 46,102 conversations with undecided voters. And by the end, we had convinced 33,191 undecided voters to put the Liberals last. We ran those phone banks every single night for the eight weeks of the campaign and we finished the last call at 4pm on Friday.”

She said the unions had identified threatened rises in the cost of pathology fees and blood tests as a hot-button issue as far back as February.

“In the last 48 hours of the campaign we handed out 1 million Medicare leaflets,” she said.

“I think the union movement can take huge amount of credit [for the campaign’s success], absolutely no question. Just look at the statistics – we got a 5.5 per cent swing in the seats we targeted.”

Imagine if Labour here organised the unions to fund marginal seat campaigns, or fund the research that Labour cannot afford to do because they are flat broke. They might go from the high twenties into an election-winning position. The problem for Labour is it appears Andrew Little and Nigel Haworth are so bad at fundraising they have failed to ask the union movement for money for this style of campaign.



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