Thursday, March 30, 2006

Saving Medicare | April 8th Politics in the Pub

Bruce Childs: ex Senator and Save Medicare Alliance
Dr. Con Costa: Doctors Reform Group
2.00 pm Saturday April 8th, 2006
Hotel Gearin 273 Great Western Highway, Katoomba

Call on the Federal Government to use the record budget surplus to restore Medicare to world-class standards.

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To learn more about the save Medicare Alliance call (02) 8595 2134 or email

Fund Our ABC petition

Support of the Fund Our ABC campaign has been overwhelming. Over 60,000 people have signed a petition to increase the ABC's funding in the next Federal budget. With your help, can we get to 75,000?

Help us reach 75,000 signatures, so we can demonstrate unmistakable unity on this issue when we present your petition to politicians in Canberra.

You can use this link, or copy the note below.

Thanks for being a part of this,

The GetUp team

Monday, March 27, 2006

March 27: Year Zero begins

Australians trying to protect safety and living standards have been pitched back to “Year Zero” by WorkChoices regulations.

Dozens of disputes, legally pursued under Howard Government laws, will become illegal today (Monday) and go on ice, for at least eight weeks, while affected workers are put through a series of bureaucratic and legal hoops.

One of the first beneficiaries will be Howard Government backer and WorkChoices promoter, Geoff Dixon, whose airline, Qantas, is trying to claw thousands of dollars out of family incomes, and send skilled Aussie jobs offshore.

Angry maintenance workers protested at Melbourne and Sydney airports, last Friday, when they learned they would have to go back to square one to protect themselves and their unions from massive fines.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

HR Nicholls Society: IR laws "centralised power"

The HR Nicholls Society said, the myriad of complex new laws would also create a system where so-called IR professionals would stand to make a lot of money sorting through it,

The society was set up more than 20 years ago to argue for unfettered management of the workplace and as a counter-balance to union influence.

But society president Ray Evans does not like the centralised power being handed to the government under the changes, nor its encroachment on states' rights.

"It's rather like going back to the old Soviet system of command and control, where every economic decision has to go back to some central authority and get ticked off," he told ABC TV.

"There is a lot of that sort of attitude in this legislation and I think it is very unfortunate."

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Alfed Deakin Lectures 2005: Innovation at the Workplace

Australia's economic performance over the last decade has been remarkable. Employment figures are at their best for many years. With the federal government about to embark upon another round of labour reform, the challenges for both unions and business are huge.

How will we rise to the challenge of delivering flexible benefits to an increasingly mobile and decentralised workforce? What kinds of strategic investments will corporations need to make to ensure the long-term viability of Australia's workforce?

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Unfair dismissal for all workers

"Australia's largest companies will also be able to use the Government's IR laws to unfairly sack workers.

"These laws will give big business enormous new powers to fire workers at will. What this means is that no worker is safe from the impact of the Government's new unfair dismissal laws. It doesn't matter if you work in a small business, a medium sized business or a billion dollar company with tens of thousands of staff - under the Government's new laws you will be able to be unfairly sacked and your job security is going to be eroded.

"After $50 million spent on advertising and a year of spin it seems that the Federal Government is no longer able to hold back the truth about its new laws.

"Unions have been arguing for months now that by exempting sackings for 'operational reasons' from unfair dismissal claims the Federal Government would allow any big business that wanted to avoid unfair dismissal laws."

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IR laws not source of productivity growth

Howard's IR laws are not going to help Australia catch up with the world's productivity leaders, according to an analysis by Peter Costello's Treasury Department.

The analysis, which flies in the face of Mr Costello's view that industrial relations reform will be the main source of productivity growth, shows there will be bigger pay-offs from investment in education and by business investing more in capital equipment.

The public admission follows secret treasury analysis, rejected by Mr Costello, that workplace reforms would deliver smaller wager rises for low income earners and cut productivity growth.

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MUA watchdog on container poaching

Maritime workers uncover new scam on Australian waterfront as MUA launches campaign against multi-national ship operators highjacking Australian cargo

Fremantle wharfies will stand guard over containers awaiting the arrival of the Australian licensed Boomerang I due in port this weekend, after the ship lost cargo in Melbourne to a Flag of Convenience vessel.

The Boomerang I, the first Australian crewed liner vessel in the coastal trade for a decade has priority under the Navigation Act to ship coastal cargo. But while on her maiden voyage to Melbourne last week, the FoC vessel MSC Kota Ekspres made off with containers on a continuous voyage permit. This is in contravention to Australian maritime law, which only allows foreign vessels to carry domestic cargo if no Australian licensed vessel is available.

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Restore ABC funding campaign

The ABC is $264 million poorer in real terms today than it was 20 years ago. The programs we rely on - from independent news and current and affairs to quality children's content - are under extreme pressure. In a very real sense, the integrity of the ABC is now at stake.

Sign this petition to restore the ABC's funding. We need to act now before it's too late.

Let's show politicians in Canberra that the ABC's owners - the Australian public - are prepared to stand up and defend it. For this to work, every signature counts. We've set a goal of 10,000 signatures. Will you - and your friends and colleagues - help us get there?

There's only a few days to get 10,000 people to stand up for the ABC and for public-driven, not profit-driven, Australian media.

Right now there is real debate within Howard Government on this issue. This gives all ABC supporters an unprecedented opportunity to save it.

Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan has signalled her support for a real funding boost to the ABC. Last month she admitted that costs have escalated hugely and that the ABC not only needs funding for its new digital technology, but also to enable it to lift its game with content.

But she still has to convince Treasurer Peter Costello and Finance Minister Nick Minchin.

Your actions today can make a difference because the ABC now has meaningful support in Cabinet. The government needs to hear from you that with an anticipated budget surplus of $9.7 billion, soaring to $10.7 billion by 2009, ignoring the ABC's plight is inexcusable.

Click here to add your name to this important petition

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fleas Bite Back

Bushies who refused to share digs with rats, feral cats and sewage are being hunted by city lawyers bankrolled by the Howard Government.

Corporate law firm, Freehills, has been contracted to track down blue collar workers who objected to “fleapit” conditions and prosecute them in court.

Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, has endorsed the campaign to secure up to $1.5 million in fines against AMWU members who struck to improve Outback living conditions.

A spokesman for the Minister endorsed the prosecutions and promised similar actions "would be pursued across the country".

The cases, alleging breaches of the federal Workplace Relations Act, stem from action by around 70 people, last year, over inhabitable living conditions at Moranbah, central Queensland.

AMWU members stopped work for three days but returned, after securing improvements, to complete maintenance on a dragline for a nearby coal mine.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Howards IR: attack on apprentices

Employees in NSW could lose protection from covert surveillance at work and state laws outlining how apprentices may be treated will be overridden, the release of regulations reveal.

Responding to the changes, the deputy director of Sydney University's Industrial Relations Research Centre, John Buchanan, has warned that scrapping state apprenticeship laws will worsen the skills shortage.

"One of the real reasons for skills shortages has been the collapse of quality on-the-job training," he said.

"These changes are going to strip even more quality out of the training system. They go in the complete opposite direction to what is required."

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Iraq: third anniverasy of invasion

In London, crowds filled Trafalgar Square to demonstrate their opposition to the war.

... a George W Bush lookalike raised his hat to onlookers in Sydney.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in cities around the world to protest against the war in Iraq, on the third anniversary of the US-led invasion.

Across time zones and cultures, their anti-war sentiments and their opposition to the US-led action in Iraq was the same.

The message across the globe was the same - to end the war in Iraq.

France: huge demo against new labour laws

Calm returned to Paris after riot police teargassed scores of demonstrators in the wake of a demonstration by an estimated million people who took to the streets of France to protest a widely unpopular new labour law.

Hundreds of young demonstrators defied police following a peaceful march through Paris which attracted up to 350,000 people, hurling objects at officers who eventually drove them back, charging the crowd and using tear gas grenades.

Vehicles were set on fire and overturned, and nearby windows smashed. There were 166 arrests, while seven policemen and 17 demonstrators were injured in the unrest at the eastern Place de la Nation that lasted for six hours, police said.

About 500 students then marched on Paris' Sorbonne university in the Latin Quarter, the scene of earlier clashes.

Chanting "Liberate the Sorbonne!" the students charged and removed some barriers erected by police to block access to the university, and threw a Molotov cocktail at a riot police van, but a fire was quickly extinguished.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

New Zealand: organising McDonalds!

They said it couldn't be done.

They said you can't organize young, minimum wage workers at places like Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's.

But the plucky New Zealand union known as "Unite" wasn't listening, and stunned the world a few weeks ago by launching the first-ever strike at Starbucks.

Now they've taken on McDonald's, and they are serious about challenging one of the most ruthlessly anti-union corporations on the planet. They're signing up workers, taking the company to court, and launching a global campaign to flood McDonald's in New Zealand with thousands of email protest messages.

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Support campaign now:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

UK: Unions are up against real hard nuts

Some companies are so set against trade unions that they will resort to ruthless tactics to persuade workers not to organise.

Gregor Gall, professor of industrial relations at the University of Hertfordshire, monitors union-busting activities. According to his figures, the incidence is falling - from 155, involving 98 employers in 2003, to fewer than 20 in the first five months of 2005 - but that does not mean industrial relations are improving. "Many of the easier campaigns have been fought and union recognition gained. Now unions are going up against the real hard nuts."

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Australian Fascism and Gerard Henderson

Gerard Henderson is a right-wing skirmisher who heads up The Sydney Institute, a conservative think-tank which organizes guest-speaker lectures, and publishes a journal and a magazine. The Institute is supported by corporations which Henderson seems coy about identifying; sponsors have reportedly included AMP, Boral, BT, Macquarie Bank, Shell. A major function of the Institute seems to be to act as a vehicle for Henderson's diatribes against the Australian Left, reminiscent of Cold War politics.

Henderson has worked his way through various institutions of the Australian Right, beginning as an employee of the Catholic anti-communist critic of the Australian Left, B.A. Santamaria, and his National Civic Council. It was here Henderson imbibed the politics of anti-communism, cutting his teeth as a propagandist defending Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War and attacking the radical student and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

International Women's Day March: Sydney

10.30am Meet at Sydney Town Hall, George St, for speakers then to march to Hyde Park. Bring banners, flags and your own messages.

At Hyde Park there will be speakers, entertainment and stalls.

Date: 11th March 2006
Time: 10:30am for Speakers at Town Hall

Start at Town Hall and march to Hyde Park

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Business leader backs "another wave" of reforms

Yesterday it was revealed that Finance Minister Senator Nick Minchin had told a closed meeting that he believed the Howard Government should go to the next poll seeking a mandate for a second wave of reform.

The chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Hendy, has backed the Finance Minister's assertion that the Coalition should implement further changes.

Read the full ABC story here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

NSW Government shields staff from IR laws

The NSW Government has launched a defense against the Howard Government's workplace laws, bringing almost 200,000 employees back into its own workforce.

The move prevents the workers, employed by about 50 state-owned companies, such as energy utilities and area health services, being swallowed into the draconian national workplace system the Howard Government has devised using its power to regulate corporations.

Monday, March 06, 2006

ACTU plan to solve childcare crisis

Building 1,000 new childcare centres and reducing childcare costs for working parents would attract up to 250,000 women into the workforce and could generate a significant economic growth dividend says the ACTU.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow called on the Federal Government to increase its investment in childcare so there are more childcare places at a cheaper cost to working families.

Releasing a new ACTU plan to solve Australia's childcare crisis, Ms Burrow said:

"Increased investment in childcare would bring big benefits to working families as well as to the economy with ABS data showing there are currently around 250,000 women not in the workforce because they are either unable to find a childcare place or unable to afford one.

Under the ACTU plan, it is as easy as 1 - 2 - 3.

  • One, the Federal Government should invest in building 1,000 new childcare centres.
  • Two, it should guarantee up to 20 hours of affordable childcare for working families.
  • Three, it should increase wages for childcare workers and solve the childcare workforce crisis.
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Howard butchered innovation to increase profits

On coming to power, the Howard Government systematically crippled Australia's innovation infrastructure, and the effects are already showing. Under Labor, investment in research and development by Australian businesses was rising at a rate that would have put Australia in the top quarter of OECD countries by now. Under Howard, this investment is falling and Australia is heading into the bottom quarter.

The amount that the Government saved in the context of a total Commonwealth budget by withdrawing support for innovation is a joke. The research syndication scheme cost the Government nothing: it just diverted money from tax scams into vital early stage finance for innovators.

Maintaining the Bureau of Industry Economics cost a few million dollars a year but, as we now know, Howard and his ministers don't want to hear advice that might contradict their preconceptions. The big-ticket items, maintaining support for the CSIRO and Australia's universities and continuing the 150 per cent research and development tax allowance would have cost at most $5 billion a year, less than half the surplus.

Australia's ability to run up ever higher international debts has spared most Australians any pain from the reduction in our national innovation capacity, but the country is living on borrowed time.

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Compare What's Fair

Compare What's FairCompare What's Fair helps you to compare current award entitlements with a proposed Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) for your typical working week.

You can check if you will lose any current rights or entitlements under a proposed AWA.

You can also calculate the amount that you would earn over a year, including entitlements, based on your typical working week under an existing award and a proposed AWA

Compare What's Fair lets you evaluate the minimum hourly rate required under an AWA to give you the same annual salary as the current NSW award applying to the work that you do.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

10 years of Howard: record debt

This week we learnt that the net foreign debt had reached $473 billion by the end of December.

That's almost two and a half times the $193 billion it was when Mr Howard came to office in March 1996 promising to do something about Labor's terribly irresponsible foreign debt.

Measured more sensibly - to take account of both inflation and the real growth in the size of the economy - it's gone from the equivalent of 38 per cent of gross domestic product to 51 per cent.

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Without action, future Australians will be paying off John Howard’s international trade deficits for many years.

History will remember the Howard period as an era of ideological obsession that focussed on destroying workers rights’ while mortgaging our future.

see also