Politicians at 20 paces

Opposition small business spokesman Craig Emerson is a “union sycophant and a union lackey”, claims the Minister for Small Business Fran Bailey in a press release distributed yesterday.


Untrue, says Emerson’s adviser, who told SmartCompany this morning that Craig Emerson is a former small business owner, has never been a union official or worked for a union.


Bailey’s advisers have clearly been pouring over Hansard to find comments from past debates that might link him to the union movement.


For instance, in his speech on the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Promoting Safer Workplaces) Bill 2005, Emerson said: “I am very proud to advocate on behalf of the union movement of Australia,” according to Bailey’s release.


Of course, Bailey is not the only Coalition politician attacking her political opponent with claims of union-bias. The Coalition has made the issue the feature of its advertising campaign and Prime Minister John Howard made a similar point several times in last night’s televised debate and at a press conference this morning in Canberra.


Most small businesses would likely prefer that the politicians’ advisers should stop trawling Hansard for rhetoric and start talking positive policy initiatives for the future.


For the record, here’s Emerson’s bio (from his website)


He has been:


  • The director of Eco Managers, an economic environmental consulting firm.
  • Senior policy adviser to Wayne Goss, former premier of Queensland.
  • CEO of the Southeast Queensland Transit Authority.
  • Director-general of the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage.
  • Economic adviser to the Hon RJL Hawke, former prime minister of Australia.
  • Economic adviser to Senator the Hon Peter Walsh, former minister for finance.
  • Assistant secretary, Industries, Trade and Resources Division in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • Post doctoral fellow, Asean–Australia Economic Relations Project, ANU.
  • Economic adviser, ESCAP/CTC Joint Unit on Transnational Corporations, United Nations, Bangkok.


And to be fair, here’s Bailey’s business background from her website:


“Prior to entering parliament, Ms Bailey operated several small businesses, including a retail outlet and a commercial and stud cashmere business which exported both meat and fibre.”


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