Bringing the focus home after the Federal Election

 Our volunteers in Burt and Cowan really made a difference

The count is almost over but the result is in. The Turnbull government has been returned with the slimmest of margins. However, an election is about more than just the people elected to office. It is a contest of values, issues and ideas and how these are fought out and how they come together to shape government and our society. This election was also a turning point for union members and our values.

It's time to take the lessons learned federally and turn our focus to the State Election in 2017.

What can we take forward?

It is a good time to reflect on the outcomes from our work together and begin to draw some conclusions. For this to happen we need to hear from you.

Please give your feedback and share your insights through these online surveys:  

Build a Better Future

For this Federal Election we've been part of the ACTU's Build a Better Future effort - the largest Australian union election campaign in recent history.

No matter how close the election result, when we have a union campaign ready and able to respond to further threats of privatisation or cuts to wages and living standards, that means we are in a position of strength.

Meredith Hammat, Secretary, UnionsWA

It would be easy to overlook what we have built and the strength we now have for the ongoing tasks of protecting the rights of workers and ensuring government meets the needs of working people.

Unions, union members and supporters in WA have been on a constant campaign footing since 2013, having organised through both WA state and federal elections in 2013, the 2014 Senate by-election and the 2015 Canning by-election.

These campaigns have grown year after year in WA.

  • We have identified more than 42,000 union members in key marginal seats across WA.
  • More than 1,200 volunteers have turned up to be a part of our campaigns.

For union members in WA, the 2016 federal election was both a lot of hard work with some fun along the way.  You can check out the photos and videos from the campaign here.

Central to our campaign was talking with union members in marginal seats who were undecided voters about the issues that are important to them.  

The Issues

Medicare:

We raised some key policy issues in this election campaign including protecting Medicare from creeping privatisation and protecting penalty rates for weekend work. For good reasons, our key message was to put the Liberals last.

Just two weeks from election day, as the campaign to protect Medicare from privatisation took hold, Malcolm Turnbull overturned a Budget decision to privatise the data records for Medicare and gave a public commitment not to privatise further.

That's a win.

Penalty Rates:

As recently as October 2015 Turnbull was saying that he believed lowering penalty rates pay was "inevitable".  As concerns about his views grew and the election approached, Turnbull gave a commitment not to legislate to cut penalty rates.

That was another win.

The Score Card

The vote from WA for the Liberals has been high for many years. At this 2016 Federal Election, there has been a swing away from the Liberals of -2.6%.  The two-party preferred swings against the Liberals in the key target seats of Burt (-13.4%) and Cowan (-5.3%) were so large that new MPs were elected.

The overall outcome in WA is that the Liberals now hold 11 of 16 Lower House seats, compared with 12 of 15 seats at the 2013 election.  The Liberals also lost a seat in the Senate this time.  Key electorates such as Hasluck, Swan and Pearce are now considered marginal, held by Liberals by less than 5% of the vote.

While parties and personalities matter, it is the policies of our national government that can have the greatest impact on the lives of working people and our families.

What's next?

History tells us we can't defeat the conservatives in Canberra without first defeating them on our home turf here in WA. Now we need to turn our attention to defeating the conservative government in WA in March 2017.

So, if you haven't already signed up to work on our campaign for the 2017 State Election, you can do so here.

We've only just begun to fight.

Be part of the change.


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