Unions in Labor: A handbrake on reform
The disproportionate level of union influence in Australian politics acts as a handbrake on reform.
This influence is caused by the deep institutional links between the union movement and the ALP. It has both caused and been reinforced by the special legal privileges the union movement has been granted.
The ALP National Platform contains 169 references to unions. Many of these grant constitutional power to affiliated trade unions.
50 per cent of delegates to ALP state conferences must be from affiliated unions. This leads to a similar representation at National Conference. These union delegates are allocated based on the size of a union's membership.
The ALP's National Executive is the chief organisational body in the party. Of the 26 current members currently on the National Executive, 19 are current or former union officials.