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Pick up the phone

By 2353NM

The Conversation, a news website operated and funded by a number of universities, has published a significant number of articles on Prime Minister Albanese’s Jobs and Skills Summit. Most of them, as has most of the reporting of the ‘summiteers’ work, have been broadly positive.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton chose not to attend the summit, claiming it was a ‘talkfest’. The Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals, David Littleproud, did attend and from most reports involved himself in the discussion. The reporting of his participation and contributions were again, mostly positive.

The strange thing about Dutton and Littleproud is that technically they belong to the same political party, Queensland’s Liberal National Party (or LNP for short). Under the LNP rules, elected federal politicians have the opportunity to sit with either the Liberal Party or National Party caucuses on Capital Hill. Clearly there are differences in the LNP – we might call them the Liberal faction and the Nationals faction.

To an extent, Dutton was correct in that the Jobs and Skills Summit was a ‘talkfest’ – most of the contentious issues were either discussed and resolved at various ‘roundtables’ in the weeks leading up to the summit or passed to committees comprised of various stakeholders to go and investigate and report back to government.

The Summit at worst did present an opportunity for stakeholders to bring their preconceived biases to the table (or not in Dutton’s case) and air them. What really happened was quite different. Employer groups, unions, politicians, the heads of large charities as well as a few eminent business people sat together for a day and a half and found out that the ‘other side’ were not the personification of the devil incarnate, rather they were humans with similar concerns. Most attendees agreed in fact the current enterprise bargaining system is broken and women have generally had the raw deal in the employment stakes for eons.

And that can only bode well for the future. Most reports of the Summit suggest that David Littleproud wasn’t the only one with his sleeves rolled up, following the discussion and making positive contributions, everyone from Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest to the ACTU’s Sally McManus was doing likewise. Probably unsurprisingly to us mere mortals, they found a lot of common ground.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that communicating is more effective at resolving disputes than just about any other method. While banged up together in the halls of Parliament House, there was plenty of time for networking and informal discussions between diverse groups such as union officials and management from Chambers of Commerce and Industry. While there were no reports of them all joining hands and singing ‘Kumbaya’, it would have been hard for the attendees to walk away without some understanding of the views of others. You could make the case that the Nationals now have a better view of the issues relating to labour supply and skills development than the Liberal faction of the Coalition. It was also reported that most speeches at the Summit suggested to some extent that we are all in this together.

Which begs the question why Dutton didn’t attend and what have the Liberal faction of the Coalition learnt from peering into the Summit rather than being a part of the Summit. It appears the answer is nothing much. The Sunday after the Liberal Front Bencher Michaela Cash was on SkyNews decrying the outcomes of the Summit as a lot of hot air and not much else. Dutton certainly hasn’t changed his tune – but then again it took a number of years for him to admit he should not have walked out on Kevin Rudd’s apology to first nations people.

It appears that the Liberal faction of the Coalition are still fighting culture wars from decades ago using the tactics of total opposition, rather than reading the room and seeing that conversation and communication are far better at achieving results that most can live with. As a result of the Summit, hopefully unions, employers and government will follow the government’s objective of reducing the aggressive posturing and increasing the compromise, consensus and dialogue, which does achieve a better outcome for all.

It’s a pity the Liberal faction isn’t talking to anyone – especially the National faction of the Coalition. While there will still be some posturing and argument over future industrial relations and skilling policy, most Summit attendees have hopefully cottoned on to the lesson that picking up the telephone and talking is far better than picking up the megaphone and yelling from some distance away. Who knows they might also bypass Peter Dutton – because they probably know everyone else’s phone number.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Terence Mills

    “The strange thing about Dutton and Littleproud is that technically they belong to the same political party…”

    How true, there is only one LNP in Queensland, I hadn’t thought of that : so in Qld they are both of equal ranking or both as equally irrelevant as each other.

  2. Perry

    It’s so much easier to oppose than to engage.

  3. Phil Pryor

    Peter Duckwit-Futton is a rapidly drying, lying, stying plop of piggipoo, a Queensland backward political pervert never aiming to go forward. Australia needs minds, hearts, muscularity, thought, planning, honesty, decency, suitability, restoration, ambition. Only that last bit applies to the Balding Ballbag, and it is centred on ambitious posing while accumulating wealth by devious means. PDF is a complete disgrace to us, as we now need restoration, confession, rejigging, political rejuvenation. Crims and crooks in the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison era need prosecuting, charging, jailing, (shooting??) and eliminating, and PDF is a smear of filth yet to be wiped, not listened to or tolerated. Unrecyclable garbage needs careful burial. As for David Nothing-Good, forget the small plop. This opposition opposes civilised outlooks and behaviour. Why forgive their filthy garbaging acts and omissions??

  4. Andy56

    seat warmer.

  5. New England Cocky

    ”[I]t would have been hard for the attendees to walk away without some understanding of the views of others.”

    JL you are forever the optimist!! WHEN since 1970 has any member of the Nazional$ ever been concerned about anybody except themselves and their own (and extended family) personal pecuniary interests?

  6. Kathryn

    The problem with Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott and other short-sighted, dictatorial autocrats that inhabit the regressive right-wing extremist corner of the LNP, is that they are rigidly STUCK in their own insular little echo chamber and do not want to entertain any other ideas, listen to any positive suggestions nor engage with anyone who does not submit or agree with their distorted, self-serving, elitist and negative view of the world!

    Whilst the ALP are, for the most part, a left-wing political government that promotes compassion, tolerance, equal rights and understanding, ever since that malignant little war criminal, John Howard, crawled to the top of the worst, most corrupt and undemocratic regime in our history, the LNP – by comparison – have enshrined misogyny, promoted division, overlooked racism and tolerated inequality to the point where they have “normalised” disunity, encouraged conflict and promoted hatred within our society. It is, indeed, a sad reflection on the LNP that they have – for decades – used hatred, uncertainty and war to incite the brand of parochial fear that seems to ignite the kind of nervous, narrow-minded trepidation that is so firmly entrenched within the type of ultra-conservative people that inhabit the backward, uncultured and racist regions of far north Queensland. Not surprisingly, it is from THIS regressively right-wing region of our nation that the worst, most hateful and intolerant politicians have emanated, eg Peter Dutton, Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts, Karen Andrews, the appalling George Christensen, the pompous self-serving Matt Canavan, Colin Boyce, Barnaby Joyce – and so many other rigidly conservative, misogynistic and racist politicians, many of whom have shamed our nation on the international stage! It is apparent that the LNP, instead of weeding out these draconian misogynists, hateful racists and divisive right-wing extremists from their fold are, instead, promoting them!

    For many years now, the kind of divisive racism, destructive intolerance and malignant level of sanctimonious bible-thumping hypocrisy – so endemic in One Nation – has also become an essential part of the twisted ideology within the growing level of far-right-wing extremism that has infected every dark corner of the LNP at State and Federal levels! As long as totally corrupt, dangerously undemocratic fascists, white alpha-male misogynists, intolerant racists, born-to-rule megalomaniacal narcissists and callously inhumane political psychopaths (like Peter Dutton) rule over the LNP like obscene Behemoths, compassionate and egalitarian Australians MUST keep them in OPPOSITION for decades to come!

  7. Fred

    Kathryn: Hear hear. And then just to rub salt in, we had Cash and Taylor tell us today how Labor has “inherited a strong economy” while ignoring the $1 Trillion debt and associated repayments part of the inheritance. Meanwhile the NSW deficit has blown out to $11.3 billion, far exceeding the $3.6 billion deficit forecast in the 2021-22 half-yearly review… But wait, there’s more, no not free steak knives, the budget deficit is expected to increase to $114.8 billion in the 2025-26 financial year, about 14 per cent of gross state product. Where does the LNP get the idea from of being “the only fiscally responsible” party, when clearly they are not.

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