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Political persuasion gives unions a stronger hand

WITH Labor in power, Unions WA is automatically elevated to a powerful position in policy making.

The relationship between the two groups has not all been plain sailing.

Nevertheless the Gallop Government has rolled back many of the key industrial relations reforms introduced by the Court Government and Unions WA boss Stephanie Mayman must be counted among the most influential people in WA.

The Australian Medical Association has often been described as the country’s most powerful union.

It has had its work cut out over the past year, with issues such as bulk billing, Medicare funding and professional indemnity insurance.

The key individuals are State president Bernard Pearn-Rowe and State executive director Paul Boyatzis.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led for many years by chief executive Lyndon Rowe, is clearly the dominant business voice.

It generally adopts a pragmatic stance, giving credit to the Gallop Government where it is seen to be due.

As a result, Oppositon leader Colin Barnett has been isolated on some key policy issues, such as energy and business tax reforms, where the Chamber has broadly endorsed Labor’s stance.

WAFarmers, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy and the Australian Hotels Association are other important organisations because of the size and economic importance of their members.

Each group has had a mix of wins and losses under Labor.

The CCI, for instance, would be buoyed by Labor’s pro-development stance, especially in the Pilbara, but has been looking for more support for mineral exploration.

The hotel industry has gained from extended trading hours but has failed to break Burswood’s monopoly on pokies.

The Gallop Government’s decision to end logging in old growth forests was a big win for the green lobby, led in WA by the Conservation Council.

However, it has since been at odds with the Government over issues like the proposed Maud’s Landing development near Ningaloo and industrial development on the Burrup Peninsula.

The Australian Nursing Federation has become one of the most vocal organisations in WA under its young and energetic State secretary Mark Olson.

He is a very astute media player and not shy about speaking out on the politically-charged issues surrounding health sector changes.

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