Jordan Shanks – Punching down for power

From my (evolving) 1980’s Labor Left perspective on life, I’ll admit to being unimpressed when I first saw Mr Shanks prattling away on video. I thought, Who is this puerile, egotistical yuppie and what is he on about? Eventually however, (as he was amplifying worthwhile causes) his videos started to cut through my initial perceptions.

Who doesn’t love koalas or seeing Clive Palmer ridiculed?

Now, having seen Shanks’ ego-driven bigotry firsthand and researched his motivations and history – I have to confess my initial reaction was overly generous. I assure you, his arrogant sense of superiority to us Gosfordians (his term for “average Australians”) runs unchecked throughout most of his material.

What strikes me most about his video defaming the AUWU, is the open hatred Shanks directs at the AUWU officials and his disdain for the unemployed which he has unsuccessfully attempted to reinterpret.  Shanks may be a former model, but such vehemence never looks pretty.

Just Shanks’ sneering “comrades” shtick alone, would be deeply insulting to many of the activists and unionists I’ve worked alongside over the years. He’s either totally unaware of Labor’s socialist roots (he studied politics) or contemptuous of them.



Origins of a media meltdown

Jordan Shanks of the ironically named Friendly Jordies copped some flak from an Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU) official on Twitter, the fracas escalated rapidly and clearly Shanks’ ego and pro-Labor political sensibilities were hurt.


“This attack on my YouTube celebrity and associations with Labor royalty, by some drug-addled, unemployed non-entities shall not go unpunished!” thought Mr Shanks (obviously)


In his main video ‘my apology’ Mr Shanks uses a segment from an earlier podcast dealing with the AUWU that was circulated on Twitter. He conveniently cuts the segment with the part where he boasts of his “heavyweight” Labor mates.

And I quote: “As soon as I started going after the Australian Unemployed Worker’s Union, a lot of heavyweights within the Labor movement, who I can’t disclose *cough* Bill Shorten’s staffers – (Much laughter) – There were others as well. . .

So (unsurprisingly) Shank’s RW Labor party mates supported his attack on a union for the unemployed.

Paving the way no doubt, for yet another nice chunk of money to Friendly Jordies from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).



A request for ‘dirt’ on the AUWU, a recommendation that people leave the union and an all-encompassing value judgement about former members portraying them as set-upon victims, demonstrate both Shank’s bias and emotional immaturity. 

All this, from someone who rails against other “journalists” (justifiably in most cases) as “corporate whores”.


“Fucking Buzzfeed.” Jordan Shanks – the face of Friendlyjordies…

…frustrated with the media fallout after an (April 6, 2016) Buzzfeed article ‘revealed’ his videos are funded by unions, GetUp, Greenpeace, and other left-wing organisations.

“Perhaps the source of this ire was a 2016 BuzzFeed article, which includes an email from Jordan trying to drum up paid commissions from progressive organisations.”


He is no more generous to the online youth media than to the mainstream. They are, in his mind, false prophets corrupted by corporate sponsorship.

The ABC is just a Liberal Party mouthpiece. “I just see it as a propaganda network because anyone that works for it is a propagandist. It’s the same with BuzzFeed, it’s the same with Vice, and they’re failing as a result because it’s so easy to see through.”


Shank’s unashamedly pro-Labor stance and employment by the ACTU demonstrate his objectivity is on a par (albeit at a more vicious and transphobic level) with the Junkees/Westpac relationship he eviscerates in a video.


Why do Labor hate the AUWU?

Many people criticise the Australian Labor Party (ALP). Some argue, they’ve become a party of over-compensated, professional politicians that exclude working class people and pander to the absurdities of religion and tax cuts for the Rich.

Others, with less favourable opinions, point to former Labor politicians such as Mark Latham and Gary Johns as examples of the depths the Labor Party has sunk to since the glory days of Gough.

There are even some who hold the view that the Labor Party is now at best, the electorally unsuccessful wing of the Duopoly and then there are. . .


. . .the radical, abrasive (and always eclectic) opinions of the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU) which are unappreciated by a neoliberal Labor party/ACTU.


Australian Labor Party and unions agree to slash income support and working conditions


YouTuber brat spat

The escalation of this Twitter dispute into the vociferous, unprofessional rant we witnessed by Shanks, on his YouTube channel Friendly Jordies, was surprising (to me) in its intensity, if not in its intent.

It’s apparent the Labor Right are excited by their affordable Topham Guerin aspirant’s efforts and consider the AUWU (indeed any independent dissent) as an impediment to their gaining traction on social media platforms such as Twitter.


Clearly the AUWU were not subdued by the Labor-inspired attack on their union





Shanks supports Labor’s election winning pragmatism…

“(Shanks) defends, for example, offshore refugee detention centres (despite opposing them being “obviously correct”) as a necessary concession made to ‘Gosford’ – what he calls average Australia.” – So refugees will just have to continue to suffer on the wheel of Labor’s electoral strategy?


…but actually believes the Greens are better

“Liberals will always vote in the interests of corporations – that’s all you need to know. Labor will compromise with corporations to get a better deal for workers and the average Australian, and the Greens will take the moral high ground.” source

“I ask him why he doesn’t support the Greens. “They are not viable they don’t have a political machine behind them. I support Labor because I read.” source

Since Mr Shanks’ attack, donations to the AUWU have increased and most intelligent commentary has condemned the misuse of his platform to bully an organisation devoted to helping the unemployed.










I think the disclosure bit should go at the beginning or at the end? (and should only be a line or two) but as an AUWU member I say, “Fuck your bourgeois, conservative, format expectations!” 😀 


More ego-hurt inaccuracies and insults from someone who has no real lived experience as an unemployed worker.

So here’s my disclosure – I’m an AUWU member, have had a multitude of jobs, been a staunch member of unions since the old pre-Labor Accord days when we had the right to withdraw our labour and was formerly a Labor supporter for longer than Mr Shanks has been on the planet.

Oh yeah and I’m unemployed.

So again Mr Shanks is wrong, most AUWU members are notex-private school, inner-city drug fiends, who are too weak to get real jobs and thus join a union”. In fact the largest addition to the AUWU ranks recently, is a diverse range of women in their 40’s and over.


Jordan Shanks – Bias, obfuscation and lies

AUWU membership

Mr Shanks’ claim that the AUWU has only 42 members is yet another poorly researched barb to fit his self-serving narrative.

The AUWU has about 16,000 members – a membership that has all the cultural, racial, ideological and class diversity, Mr Shanks’ predominately white, upper-middle-class and neoliberal Labor party eschew. Shanks’ so-called “Labor” party calling for a working class quota is a sign they are lost and scrambling.


The AUWU is not a union

Shanks argued the AUWU is not a union.





This is just offensive to me. It’s a tactic similar to “Julian Assange is not a real journalist.” or “You can’t protest because you haven’t applied for a permit.”  The former to isolate, the latter to ensure state control.

I touched on it here. . .


The rapid rise of an unregistered union in the fast food and retail sectors is causing concern for employers and traditional unions alike. Source

The unemployed can’t unionise

“Unemployed union – You do realise that’s an oxymoron?” – says the all knowing Shanks, “Unions are supposed to represent workers.”

Perhaps Mr Shanks should try researching a subject before expounding on it in such a definitively ignorant manner?

To be fair: I guess when one is mounting a campaign based on petty retaliatory spite and the approval of Labor “heavyweights” (particularly against a soft target like the AUWU) facts are not that important.

The unemployed have been organising in unions for approximately 100 years in Australia.

  • The Unemployed Workers Movement (UWM) was another communist fraternal organisation established nationally in 1930 to organise and fight for the unemployed.” – Source  
  • Unemployed Workers – Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : Sat 25, Feb 1928) – Source  

UWU Poster – Melbourne – Red Letter Press 1982



For a more in depth analysis of “what is a union?” – go to Slack Bastard’s blog. @ndy addresses this issue and others in his excellent (if more restrained) Friendly Jordies ~versus~ Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union piece.


The AUWU budget surplus scandal

Mr Shanks made much ado about the AUWU’s surplus of approximately $30,000 – Shock horror!

Imagine if the AUWU didn’t have that money accounted for and attainable? Does anyone really believe that Shanks wouldn’t be gibbering about the misuse of funds, drug addicts, ad nauseam. . ?

That’s the nature of Shanks’ hit piece designed to impress the RW millionaires occupying the space where the Labor party used to be, no matter what the AUWU has done, it will be wrong.

The surplus ties into another scandal our intrepid investigator missed – or did he?

The AUWU shonky donation scandal

The AUWU receiving $20,000 from the Panthera Foundation via Reveille Strategy.

“As part of the COVID-19 response of the Federal Government, Reveille Strategy have received various subsidies and tax rebates. We have decided to use some of this money and donate $20,000 to the AUWU to support their vital work.” Source

You bet I investigated this, unlike Shanks who somehow missed it.


“Do you support the Australian Unemployed Workers Union taking TENS OF THOUSANDS in corporate cash from Robodebt enforcement profiteers Panthera and Neo-Liberals in return for silence?” –  asks @godwingrech a few dozen times.


Reveille established a gofundme for the AUWU to which the Panthera Foundation then donated $22,925.

Agree it’s not a great look. I’ll go further. Personally, I think it is the only criticism that has any real weight. Well yes, the nasty Twitter commentary that I called out weeks before Shanks. I’ll get to that later.

The AUWU intend to put it to the membership to decide what to do about the Panthera funds. It’s called process and it takes time. It’s also the reason alluded to previously, for much of the surplus.

Can anyone point to the AUWU being silenced and restrained because of this donation?

Yes, this donation involves a direct link to Panthera and by osmosis the ALP, ACTU, ACOSS, Per Capita, etc. . .
Welcome to the wonderful world of unemployment/poverty advocacy.

At the risk of being speculative, one wonders if these links are the reason Shanks avoided bringing the subject up?

The AUWU helpline scandal

The AUWU manage a helpline to assist people with the intricacies of our deliberately user-unfriendly and punitive unemployment benefits system.

Unlike the Labor provocateurs, who urged Shanks to attack our union, the AUWU are volunteers who do not receive a massive salary and gratuitous perks, nor do they have the luxury of being able to afford child-minding facilities and other services to assist their efforts.



Just keeping advocacy volunteers onboard, when they have their own lives and profit-motivated Job Centres to deal with, is a task in itself. The AUWU had problems over a few months with volunteers staffing the hotline, which was addressed in the AUWU Annual report – 2018-19.


Alarmingly, Tracey Smallwood (the newly elected Advocacy Coordinator) reported that the Advocacy Hotline, Advocacy Intake Forms, and Advocacy Emails, were in a state of complete disarray.

Most disturbingly of all, was a backlog of callbacks and emails dating back to September 2018.

Thanks to the enormous efforts of both Tracey and Owen Bennett (among other advocacy volunteers), every single email, form, or voicemail was followed up on and apologies were ensured.

From then on, the new Advocacy Working Group team (Tracey, Gene Saraci as Online Advocacy Coordinator, and other advocates) have ushered in a new era for AUWU advocacy services and have done so with a degree of professionalism and energy that any AUWU member would be proud of.

From – AUWU Annual report – 2018-19


The AUWU helpline is not a suicide helpline as Shanks would have us believe, when he waxes emotively about a man who killed himself, purportedly because the AUWU helpline was down.

NB: “…every single email, form, or voicemail was followed up on and apologies were ensured.”None of the people involved in clearing the backlog are aware of a suicidal caller. 


Let us examine Mr Shanks’ AUWU helpline claims logically. . .

Jordan Shanks: (Slowly enunciating in dramatic tones) “As the previous President personally told me, the very first call he received, was from a woman whose son had just raped her.”

Not sure why an unemployment benefits’ helpline would be the first port of call in this situation. If I were to receive such a call, I’d direct the woman to a rape/crisis helpline. Doubt anyone else would act any differently.

Apart from dramatically milking this ugly scenario for all its worth, I don’t even see the point of his relating this anecdote.

Maybe to set the scene for this. . ?

“That backlog from what we’ve heard, included messages from a man who was begging them for help repeatedly, over and over. Each message more desperate and pain-driven than the last. When was this backlog checked? Nine months later.”

It’s almost as though Shanks himself witnessed these calls, “…each message more desperate and pain-driven than the last”  the use of an occasional close-up to highlight Shanks’ own empathetic “concern” was a nice touch.

Once again, we are left wondering why someone in this situation would call an unemployment benefits’ helpline to obtain assistance and why anyone would continue to call, when it was clear there was no response forthcoming?

From what we’ve heard, the final message in this saga was from his sister informing them that the man had killed himself.”

So after a repeated lack of response from an unemployment helpline that allegedly led to her brother killing himself – the sister, who apparently hadn’t suggested he contact anyone else or sought help herself for her brother – thought – I’ll just give that unresponsive unemployment benefits’ helpline a ring and let them know what’s going on?

Shanks’ story doesn’t add up. It sounds more than implausible, it sounds fabricated.

The repeated “from what we’ve heard” declarations are a revealing (subconscious) ‘tell’ – Removing oneself as the focus in a lie, is a classic indicator in deception analysis.

Shanks in full flight invoking the lessons gleamed from his inspirational mentor Tony Robbins – pictured

No wonder Shanks didn’t think highly of BuzzFeed.


Continues – Labor sic their pet attack dog Jordan Shanks (friendlyjordies) onto the unruly AUWU untermenschen – Part 2