Crumlin Addresses Prime Minister's Economic Forum

Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin today addressed the Prime Minister's Economic Forum in Brisbane.

The forum involved about 130 leaders of Australian unions, business and the community sector.

Other leading trade unionists included Dave Oliver, Michael O'Connor, Joe de Bruyn, Paul Bastion, Peter Tighe and Michelle O'Neill.

The forum was convened as part of a process to tackle the repetitive negativity and attacks by Tony Abbott and elements of the media and business community on the Labor Government, regardless of the their true record.

The prime minister said the Australian economy is among the strongest in the world - we have impressive growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, very low debt and a record investment pipeline.

These strengths are only further confirmed by the release of economic data in the past couple of weeks, such as the National Accounts and jobs figures.

That said, the sustained high level of the dollar and the patchwork nature of our economy means not all Australians are feeling these economic benefits.

Mr Crumlin participated in a closed session Investment in Productive Infrastructure which was opened by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese.

Mr Crumlin's presentation revolved around the use of workers' capital to invest in infrastructure and the need for a comprehensive national ports strategy. 

He heavily criticised the privatisation of assets - such as Port Kembla - regardless of their strategic importance as monopoly providers of essential infrastructure and services. 

He also stood up for construction unions amid a renewed push for a Productivity Commission inquiry to effectively replace the ABCC.

Mr Crumlin was quoted in several newspapers on the following exchange from an open session:

Maritime Union of Australia secretary Paddy Crumlin said that there were business people who wanted to cut wages as a short cut to their goals but ''they are idealogues and that's class warfare''.

''Workers won't be hammered into it,'' he said. ''We can't be bullied into productivity.''

ACTU president Dave Oliver said bargaining was the only way to achieve improvements in productivity.

''The union movement has always been ready to engage in a sensible and mature discussion about productivity  - not about this dressed-up campaign about attacking workers' conditions by running the argument that industrial relations laws are a barrier to productivity,'' he said.