The AWU and GetUp!

This week’s extraordinary AFP raid on the AWU over donations made twelve years ago to GetUp! has all the hallmarks of a Godwin Grech Utegate overreach. Watching the thoroughly odious Michaelia Cash squirming in Senate Estimates over the role her staffer played in┬áthe fiasco was particularly enjoyable.

It’s almost a pity that Barnaby Joyce’s eviction by the High Court swept this story of the front page. For all Cash’s protestations about the purer than snow motivation of the ROC and the ABCC, so far neither organisation has exactly covered themselves in glory.

But the point of this post is just a comment on the funding of GetUp! that I think has been missed by the media. There’s been a lot of conjecture about whether the decision by the union to provide the seed funding to launch GetUp! was properly documented and approved, but it seems to me precious little as to why they might have done it.

I think it’s constructive to look at the decision in the context of the time it was made. Remember 2004-2007 was the term that followed the disastrous Latham-led election campaign, that resulted in Howard winning a majority in both houses. Cue WorkChoices, the sale of Telstra, and a lot of other legislation that ultimately proved the downfall of Howard.

Under those circumstances, with the federal ALP completely neutered, developing new methods of galvanising support and calling out the actions of the government seem quite reasonable, and I daresay that’s what prompted the union to look beyond the ALP to outfits like GetUp!

It’s easy to look at these decisions through the lens of how things are today, but sometimes a bit of context is necessary.

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