Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Union Advertising

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:43): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Industrial Relations on the topic of unions advertising themselves.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The Labor Party was formed out of the trade union movement to give working people their own political voice. Recently, a union has undertaken an advertising campaign to promote members to join them. There have been calls to have that union advertisement, seen on an Adelaide tram, removed. It has then been described as 'political advertising' by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, that minister also stating, 'I don't know how the CFMEU got onto one of these trams, but I don't think controversial topics belong on our trams.'

As it currently stands, our trams are privately operated and the advertising that appears on them is managed by a third-party agency. I believe this agency has confirmed that the union advertising has complied with all the necessary codes and guidelines. I also note that media campaigns by unions are not new. Unions sponsor events and, in fact, this particular union even sponsors football teams. They are like any other advertiser when it comes to buying advertising space, so can the Minister for Industrial Relations explain how a union advertising itself to grow its membership is a controversial topic?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:45): I thank the honourable member for her question. One of the things that the honourable member quite rightly pointed out in the question is the fact that the tram service has now been privatised. The former Liberal government in their rush to sell off every single thing that hadn't been sold off in their previous terms in government, like ETSA, privatised our tram and train services.

I am proud to be part of a government that is reversing that. It was one of our fundamental election commitments and, before the privatisation of the train and trams occurred, we made it very clear as a then Labor opposition that it would be a policy, should we win government, to reverse that privatisation. We put everyone on very clear notice that we would take them back as publicly run services.

I don't have a lot of information, and I will need to seek more information from the minister who is responsible for transport in another place, but I understand that external advertising on assets such as these is managed by a third-party agency. I understand there are policies in place about what advertising there can be and what constitutes certain classes of advertising. I do know that much of what groups who represent not just employees, like unions, but represent employers, a lot of what they do can be policy-based and political in nature, so the exact details of what constitutes political I will need to get some more information on and I'm happy to do so and bring back an answer for the member.