Saturday, August 29, 2009

A New Path for Japan

[The ruling right wing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has governed Japan for all but 11 months since 1955, went into the elections with all major polls showing they will lose control of the lower house of parliament in a historic victory for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).]

By Yukio Hatoyama [President of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)
New York Times: August 26, 2009

In the post-Cold War period, Japan has been continually buffeted by the winds of market fundamentalism in a U.S.-led movement that is more usually called globalization. In the fundamentalist pursuit of capitalism people are treated not as an end but as a means. Consequently, human dignity is lost.

How can we put an end to unrestrained market fundamentalism and financial capitalism, that are void of morals or moderation, in order to protect the finances and livelihoods of our citizens? That is the issue we are now facing.

In these times, we must return to the idea of fraternity — as in the French slogan “liberté, égalité, fraternité” — as a force for moderating the danger inherent within freedom.

Fraternity as I mean it can be described as a principle that aims to adjust to the excesses of the current globalized brand of capitalism and accommodate the local economic practices that have been fostered through our traditions.

The recent economic crisis resulted from a way of thinking based on the idea that American-style free-market economics represents a universal and ideal economic order, and that all countries should modify the traditions and regulations governing their economies in line with global (or rather American) standards.

In Japan, opinion was divided on how far the trend toward globalization should go. Some advocated the active embrace of globalism and leaving everything up to the dictates of the market. Others favored a more reticent approach, believing that efforts should be made to expand the social safety net and protect our traditional economic activities.

Since the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (2001-2006), the Liberal Democratic Party has stressed the former, while we in the Democratic Party of Japan have tended toward the latter position.

The economic order in any country is built up over long years and reflects the influence of traditions, habits and national lifestyles. But globalism has progressed without any regard for non-economic values, or for environmental issues or problems of resource restriction.

If we look back on the changes in Japanese society since the end of the Cold War, I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the global economy has damaged traditional economic activities and destroyed local communities.


Friday, August 28, 2009

No NSW power-selloff necessary

New projections showing NSW may have sufficient generation capacity until at least 2018-19 have undercut the Government's aggressive push to sell the electricity industry.

Data from the Australian Energy Market Operator show the state's power supply is secure until at least 2015-16, with planned power stations ensuring there will be no power shortages well beyond that. This is five years later than the forecast of possible blackouts used by the former premier Morris Iemma to push the sale.

These forecasts come as the Government is yet to decide how it will sell the state-owned power industry. An aim of selling the first of the retailers by year's end now looks optimistic.

A spokesman for the Finance Minister, Joe Tripodi, said the Government would be calling ''very soon'' for expressions of interest in acquiring the power assets. A strategy paper which will indicate how it plans to sell the assets will be released.

The Government is still considering what combinations of power retailers such as Integral Energy and generators such as Macquarie Generation to put on the market, or whether to float them on the sharemarket.

In today's data, the Australian Energy Market Operator, which has taken over the operations of the national electricity market, says NSW is in the best position of any mainland state member of the market. Queensland, for example, faces shortages from the summer of 2014-15.

The Colongra power station on the Central Coast will be finished later this year, with further generation capacity planned beyond that, especially at a number of Snowy Mountain power stations, industry officials said.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NSW: Workplace Safety Forum

Unions NSW
Monday 31 August 12:30pm
Trades Hall Auditorium 4-8 Goulburn St,
enter via 377 Sussex St) Sydney

The Federal and State Governments are proposing new workplace health and safety laws that could put you at risk.

Come to this important forum to hear from, workers, their representatives and safety experts including Professor Ron McCallum AO on the impact of these changes. Demand that our politicians don’t risk our safety, and send a message to the State and Federal Government not to reduce workplace safety standards.

This is the day before a meeting of Safe Work Australia and the release of the exposure draft of the new model OH&S legislation. Through the ACTU, other state trades and labour councils are coordinating activities during that week.

For more information on how the changes could affect you, go to:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sydney Ferries songs: Safe in Public Hands

A Song by Balmain Ukelele Club©2009
(To the tune of Lili Marlene with apologies)

To whom it may concern this week, at Transport Ministry
Regarding sale of Ferries as a possibility
If selling the Ferries it's your plan
We oppose it, everyone

Keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands
Yes, keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands.

Our international icon, should stay in public hands
Looking after tourists who come from foreign lands
Customer service that's their game
Private ferries are not the same

Keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands
Yes, keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands.

Homebush to Mosman, Darling Harbour too
While there's nothing like a Ferry to get out to the zoo
Regular commuters cruise the bends
Enjoy the sights and tell their friends.

Keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands
Yes, keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands.

Our famous Manly service, could well go Telstra's way
Why should we sell, when we've already paid
For a public transport system we will fight
To try and sell is just not right

Keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands
Yes, keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands.

So Ministers of Transport, please do think again
If Ferries they go private you will lose your friends
Think of the election and the heat
You'd end up losing lots of seats

Keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands
Yes, keep our Sydney Ferries, safe in public hands.

Balmain Ukelele Club on YouTube:

Many thanks to Tim Glover and the Balmain Ukelele Club and Save Our Sydney Ferries for permission to add this song to the BMUC Blog.

Monday, August 24, 2009

ACTU: Women underemployed and underpaid

High levels of underemployment and chronic low pay for Australian women are set to worsen as a result of the global recession warns a major new report to be released today (Monday).

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the new report, along with other data showing women in some sectors earned a massive 31% less than men, was very worrying.

“Big businesses need to do more to promote good jobs for women,” said Ms Burrow.

“Women are missing out on decent jobs and they are being underpaid. It’s just not good enough.”

Recently released data by the Federal Government shows the average woman working full time earns 17% less than her male counterparts and women in senior management positions earn 28% less than men in similar roles.

The impact of the recession on women report released today by The Australia Institute, finds that women comprise the majority of the ‘hidden unemployment’ in the economy and their financial position will worsen as a result of the GFC-induced downturn.

This hidden unemployment has resulted in many women not using labour market schemes designed to help people re-enter the workforce and to protect workers from the worst of the economic crisis.

Almost half the women who are in the workforce work part-time, with many wanting to work more hours. But child care and other caring responsibilities are restricting how women can respond to job opportunities and to labour-market and training programs.

“While not as many women have lost full time jobs as men so far in this downturn, they are starting from such a low base already,” Ms Burrow said.

“Women have more precarious jobs and are over-represented among the hidden unemployed who completely opt out of the labour market. They also have broken working patterns which mean they retire with much smaller superannuation balances.

“Australian women deserve better.

“Employers need to do more. They should provide women with quality jobs, better pay and greater career opportunities,” said Ms Burrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

MUA: Gotta Love Sydney Ferries

A coalition of community groups has launched a new campaign to keep Sydney's famous green and gold ferries in public hands.

Applications from private companies to tender for the operation of Sydney's harbour ferries close today.

The campaign was launched by the legendary heritage and trade union activist Jack Mundey, under the banner "Gotta love Sydney Ferries - some things are too important to sell off".

"Our green and gold ladies of the harbour epitomise its working class heritage," Mr Mundey said.

"They provide a first rate transport service in an idyllic setting.

"Selling them off is like plastering a for sale sign across the Sydney Opera House, some things are just too important to sell."

The Save Our Sydney Ferries campaign will roll out in key communities serviced by ferries on the Harbour and the Parramatta River.

Maritime Union of Australia Assistant Secretary Paul Garrett said the community and workers would stand side-by-side to help Sydney Ferries remain in public hands.

"Sydney Ferries are one of the cleanest, safest and most enjoyable ways to get around the heart of our city. It makes sense that they should be owned and operated for the people, by the people," Mr Garrett said.

Since the Walker Review, Sydney Ferries has turned a corner and is now one of the best performing public transport operators in Australia. Reliability has increased to 99.5 per cent and on time running continues to rise at 98.1 per cent.

Vessel incidents on the harbour involving Sydney Ferries have dropped from 109 in 2007-08 to 61 in 2008-09 and complaints have reduced from 1,220 to 889 over the same period.

"These statistics show that Sydney Ferries are safe and reliable. They are also an affordable way for people to travel and a popular tourist attraction for the many destinations around Sydney Harbour," Mr Garrett said.

Today's community rally was joined by the Balmain Ukulele Club who penned a song for the occasion.

ACTU: Cochlear begins to listen

Bionic ear manufacturer Cochlear should immediately begin bargaining with unions following a clear vote by employees in favour of a union collective agreement.

More than 310 workers at Cochlear’s Lane Cove plant in the northern suburbs of Sydney have voted by a 59% majority in favour of an enterprise agreement with the company.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said this was the sixth time Cochlear workers had voted for a union collective agreement and is another major rebuff of the company’s hardline industrial relations position.

He said the workers had exercised their rights, and the company should now set aside its ideological stance and sit down with unions to negotiate a new collective agreement.

“The vote at Cochlear is an important step towards restoring workplace rights that were taken away by the Howard Government’s WorkChoices,” Mr Lawrence said.

“For almost two years, the company has ignored the workers’ expressed desire to be represented by their union.

“The Cochlear workers have repeatedly said they want to be represented by their union in negotiations over a new deal covering their pay and conditions.

“The majority vote in favour of a collective agreement came despite a veiled threat by Cochlear management to sack its workers and move production overseas if they voted for a union agreement.

“After their sixth failure, it’s time Cochlear management faced up to the reality that their workers want to be represented by their union and returned to the negotiating table.”

Mr Lawrence said the ACTU was ready and willing to assist negotiations for a union collective agreement at Cochlear.

“We hope to work together with management to ensure Cochlear continues to be a world-leading, viable and productive company with highly-skilled, good jobs for Australian workers,” Mr Lawrence said.

Friday, August 21, 2009

RailCorp: no more unfilled jobs!

RailCorp failed to fill 22 vacant positions at Town Hall station for several years, in breach of its legal obligations, the Federal Court has found.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union said the case highlighted systemic understaffing across many stations, where hundreds of positions have gone unfilled, and was a ''huge slap in the face for the Premier'' as he talks up train travel.

''At a time when more passengers are using public transport than ever before, RailCorp has been caught red-handed understaffing the rail network,'' said the union's branch secretary, Nick Lewocki.

The situation at Town Hall station had put passenger safety and security at risk, he said.

''Insufficient staffing at major stations could be disastrous in the event of an emergency, or if people need to be evacuated,'' he said.

The Federal Court decision relates to RailCorp's obligation to advertise and fill positions that become vacant, or declare whether they will continue to be ''authorised positions'' within four weeks, under its union collective agreement with staff.

But internal documents showed that the 22 positions that fell vacant at Town Hall during 2006, 2007 and 2008 were subject to a note to the station manager from management and human resources to either ''hold onto these until I get some advice-clearance to recruit'', or ''do not action''. All of the positions were frontline customer service roles. Many stayed vacant for at least a year. Fourteen of the jobs remain unfilled.

Mr Lewocki said the court decision meant RailCorp could no longer stall hiring staff as a cost-cutting measure.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ACTU: Penalties for Hardie directors not enough

The penalties and bans handed down to former James Hardie executives and directors are not enough considering the extent of their immoral and illegal behavior and the harm the company’s deadly asbestos products have caused, say unions.

Justice Gzell of the New South Wales Supreme Court has today handed down fines and bans from directorships to the former board of James Hardie for misleading and deceptive statements made earlier this decade.

Unions have expressed disappointment that the financial penalties were well short of those sought by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said: “It is important for the victims of James Hardie’s asbestos products that justice was done but these penalties will provide them with little comfort.

“The former directors betrayed the trust of innocent victims of the company’s products by deliberately lying about James Hardie’s ability to meet its compensation liabilities.

“While we welcome the disqualifications given to the former directors, the financial penalties are inappropriate for the magnitude of the breaches of their duties.”

Former chief executive Peter Macdonald has been fined $350,000 and disqualified from company management for 15 years. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission had sought a fine of between $1.47 million and $1.81 million. Former chairwoman Meredith Hellicar and other non-executive directors have been fined $30,000 and disqualified for five years.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Qld: Unions pursue indigenous stolen wages

Legal action will begin in Queensland's District Court to recover unpaid wages on behalf of indigenous workers who were underpaid for decades.

The court action on behalf of Yarrabah man Uncle Conrad Yeatman has the support of the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU).

Mr Yeatman worked as a carpenter and labourer and had his wages withheld from him since he began work at age 14.

In 2002 then premier Peter Beattie estimated that Aboriginal workers could have been ripped off by up to $500 million.

The Beattie government offered $55 million in compensation.

However, even that amount has not yet been paid in full, leaving the Bligh government subject to criticism from the union movement.

"This government cannot even honour its promise to pay this amount to these workers," said QCU general secretary Ron Monaghan.

"Even though the government re-opened the Stolen Wages Reparation Scheme last year, they still siphoned-off over $20 million into an education fund for indigenous children," Mr Monaghan said.

He said the union movement did not oppose the fund, but it should not have been established using workers' money.

Mr Monaghan said the $55.4 million set aside for compensation to repair the damage inflicted on workers whose wages were stolen, and it should be used for that purpose.

"All we are asking is that the government come good on its promise to pay these workers what was promised to them," Mr Monaghan said.

Like many other Mr Yeatman refused earlier offers of compensation, believing them to be only tokens of what was owed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

AWU win under Fair Work Act

The AWU Victorian Branch has won Australia's first legal ruling confirming that a majority of workers want to bargain collectively with their employer in a test case on the new Fair Work laws.

The independent umpire Fair Work Australia (FWA) made its first Majority Support Determination after the AWU lodged a petition signed by most workers at Invocare Australia's Victorian funeral parlours saying they want to bargain collectively.

AWU State Secretary Cesar Melhem welcomed the decision as a victory for Australian workers' democratic right to get together and to bargain for better wages and conditions, even if their employer may be reluctant to do so.

"I'm very pleased that our detailed consultations with workers and careful legal preparations for this case have avoided previous delays and cleared the way for our members to get on with negotiating a better workplace agreement", Mr Melhem said.

"This test case shows how the new Fair Work Act gives stronger power to workers who stick together and can bring employers to the negotiating table", he said.

"Under the Liberal Party's scrapped WorkChoices system, no workers had this right and instead were being forced onto sub-standard individual AWAs, even when a democratic majority of them wanted a collective agreement", Mr Melhem said.

"The AWU will now be working to ensure workers benefit from another right under the new system - for their employer to bargain with them in good faith."

The ruling covers around 70 funeral directors, funeral directors' assistants, embalmers and trainee embalmers working at InvoCare Australia's Victorian parlours including Le Pine, White Lady, Simplicity, Mulqueen and Value Funerals.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tetsuro Tanaka film at Yamagata

8 – 15 October 2009
Tanaka-san Will Not Do Callisthenics selected for Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in the New Docs Japan section:

"Presenting ten films that penetrate Japanese society from multiple perspectives, by accomplished directors including those who reside abroad, and those who originate from abroad. The gazes and expressions of filmmakers who continue tackling documentary film—that experiment in memory of the past—resonate in the land of Yamagata."

Director: Maree Delofski
Editor: Morgan Gregory
Sound Editor and Mixer: Greg Fitgerald

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Release Aung San Suu Kyi

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said:

"Australia again repeats its call for the Burmese regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi immediately and unconditionally, and to release the more than 2000 political prisoners in Burma," he said.

"I have today instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to call in the Burmese ambassador to express Australia's dismay at Aung San Suu Kyi's conviction and sentencing.

"Australia's ambassador to Burma is on my instruction also conveying the Australian Government's views directly to the Burmese regime.

"The regime still has the opportunity to set aside the conviction and sentence, release Aung San Suu Kyi and move down the path of national reconciliation."

Mr Smith said Australia would maintain sanctions against the military Junta.

"Australia will now consult closely with the international community, including the United Nations and Australia's ASEAN partners, on the need to put even more pressure on the Burmese regime to move down the path of democracy," he said.

"Australia maintains financial sanctions against the Burmese regime. The Government will now move to update these and keep them focused for maximum impact."


UN chief Ban Ki-moon is "deeply disappointed" that Burma's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was handed another 18 months of house arrest and demands her unconditional release, his press office says.

"The secretary general is deeply disappointed by the verdict in respect of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi [and] strongly deplores this decision," a UN statement said.

Mr Ban called on Burma's ruling generals "to immediately and unconditionally release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and to engage with her without delay as an essential partner in the process of national dialogue and reconciliation."

"Unless she and all other political prisoners in [Burma] are released and allowed to participate in free and fair elections, the credibility of the political process will remain in doubt," he added.

A Burma court convicted the 64-year-old opposition leader at the end of a marathon trial for breaching the terms of her detention by the ruling military junta, following a bizarre incident in which an American man swam uninvited to her home.

Judges sentenced Suu Kyi to three years of hard labour and imprisonment, but military ruler Than Shwe signed a special order commuting the sentence and ordering her to serve out a year-and-a-half under house arrest.

TAFE teachers strike vote

Thousands of TAFE teachers at statewide stopwork meetings have voted overwhelmingly in support of further industrial action, including a possible 24 hour strike in the week commencing 31 August 2009, if there is no satisfactory progress in this dispute.

Bob Lipscombe, President of the NSW Teachers Federation said:

"Members are extremely disappointed that the Premier and Minister have not intervened to resolve this matter in a fair and mutually agreeable way.

"Voting figures indicate that over 99.9% of TAFE teachers attending stopwork meetings support a 24 hour strike if a negotiated settlement can't be achieved. They rejected DET proposals to increase teaching hours, remove professional development and other adverse changes to working conditions."

Attendance at meetings this morning has been in record numbers. Members have displayed their anger and have moved additional resolutions calling for even stronger industrial action and work bans.

Friday, August 07, 2009

MEAA: Offshore Commercials Strike

from The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

The Screen Producers’ Association of Australia (SPAA) has ripped up your Offshore Commercials Agreement. From midnight tonight August 6th, 2009, we are officially on strike.

We’ve talked about it, we’ve voted on it and now it’s time to Act. Perhaps you have never worked on an offshore television commercial. Perhaps you never will. But if you work in the industry, you will work under SPAA/Equity Agreements in film, television or in theatre under an agreement we negotiate with the producer there. So if SPAA think they can rip up one agreement, what’s to stop them from ripping up any other agreement. Performers must take a stand here and now.

We’ve stood our ground before and won – your fellow performers are relying on you to stand firm, stand together and stand up in this dispute. Equity is planning some campaign actions to let SPAA know that we aren't happy, starting with a picket next week at their offices in Surry Hills.

ACTU: Unemployment concerns

The steady unemployment rate in July is heartening, but the economy is not out of the woods yet, and a further decline in total employment has been avoided because of an increase in part-time work, says the ACTU.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the unchanged jobless rate of 5.8% was encouraging and further evidence that the economic stimulus plan being rolled out by the Federal Government was having a positive impact.

"We are increasingly hopeful that the official Treasury forecast of 8.5% unemployment over the next 12 months will be undershot, and fewer Australians than previously predicted will lose their job," Ms Burrow said.

"It appears that the action taken by the Federal Government earlier this year is beginning to take effect with building works underway at schools around the nation and homes being upgraded for energy efficiency, among other measures.

"But it is far too early to relax when thousands of full-time workers are losing their jobs each week, and the average time to find another job is now more than eight months.

"The youth unemployment rate has also continued to rise, which is also a worrying sign.

"The benchmark for economic recovery must be jobs growth for both full-time and part-time work, not simply switching between the two forms of employment."

The switch to part-time employment has contributed to a growing issue of labour under-utilisation, where people want to work more hours but are unable to.

There were 870,800 people, or 7.6% of the employed workforce, in that situation in May, according to the most recent official data.

Ark Tribe: 11 August

From Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Secretary

At 10.30 am on Tuesday 11 August, Ark Tribe, our construction worker from South Australia will be back in court.

He is charged with not attending an interrogation with the Australian Building and Construction Commission and faces up six months in jail.

As the National Secretary for the CFMEU, I'll be standing in court alongside Ark.

You can show your support by joining us at Elizabeth Magistrates Court, 15 Frobisher Road, Elizabeth, South Australian from 10.30am.

If you can't make it, please stand by him and send your message of support to Ark.

We'll be defending Ark's right court, and we will continue to campaign to get rid of the ABCC and its laws, before another construction worker faces jail.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

BMETS Book Sale 29-30 August

Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters will be holding their annual book sale at the CWA Hall, Megalong Street, Leura, Saturday and Sunday 29th and 30th August from 9am - 3 pm.

Do you have books to donate? We are still looking for quality books/CDs/DVDs. Please NO encyclopaedias/text books or magazines. These are hard for us to sell and usually need to be taken to the recycling depot at the end of a long book sale!! Donations can be left on Ruth's verandah at 8 Westbourne Street, Wentworth Falls or call Ruth on 4757 1953 for more information.

We hope to see you there. There will be bargains galore and fresh books coming the whole weekend. Remember all funds raised go directly to projects supporting women and children in East Timor.

TAFE stopwork: Tuesday 11 August

An urgent stopwork meeting of TAFE teachers will commencing at 9:00 am, Tuesday 11 August against teaching load increases and job cuts.

In moves which reflect the apparent confusion and difficulty of dealing sensibly with the Department on TAFE, the DET has lodged 5 different positions on hours and conditions with the Industrial Relations Commission since May. Each sought different numbers of increased hours from members. The most recent (although it may not be the last), which was only received by the Federation late on Friday, 24 July, seeks the following:

  • Increased annual actual teaching for temporary and permanent teachers by 71 hours. (The DET has previously sought up to 154 hours for head teachers and 118 hours for teachers.)
  • removal of current limits on weekly teaching hours
  • reduced professional development time for all Award classifications
  • handing over control of the right to determine what teachers do in duties related to teaching time, from teachers to managers.

These changes result in savings to the Government far in excess of anything needed to fund the salary increases. They could result in thousands of part time casuals losing their jobs or having their hours and income drastically reduced, and/or hundreds of permanent teacher positions being made redundant or not filled.

Hear an update report and consider further action along with all the other statewide TAFE meetings. (Whether you are on duty or not, your attendance at this meeting is vital to send a strong message to the Government!)


Fair Work victory for cleaners

A NSW cleaning contractor used by universities, hotels and retailers has been fined $80,000 by the Federal Court for threatening to sack 12 cleaners if they did not sign Australian Workplace Agreements that cut their pay.

The case, brought by the Fair Work Ombudsman, dates from the days of the Howard government’s Work Choices, but the regulator says the fine is a warning that employers cannot use coercion when negotiating wages.

Last week the ombudsman raided 16 Sydney CBD office towers looking for underpaid cleaners, and as a result is investigating cleaning companies for the non-payment of toilet cleaning allowances, failure to pay overtime and illegal cash payments that fell below the award rate.

"The cleaning industry contains a significant number of low-paid workers who are vulnerable to exploitation because they often not fully aware of their workplace rights and sometimes have limited English skills," the ombudsman’s executive director, Michael Campbell, said.

"The courts have shown they are prepared to impose significant penalties."

The Federal Court found Cleaners NSW, which employs more than 800 cleaners, had set in place a deliberate scheme to threaten its staff and force them on to AWAs.

The national secretary of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Louise Tarrant, said exploitation was exacerbated by the high number of new migrants and foreign students working for subcontractors.

"The cleaning industry is unravelling for reputable companies. They are unable to compete as people try to undercut one another," she said.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Stand Tall – for Ark Tribe

A Song by Mike Williss©2009 Mike Williss
Lyrics written by Mike Williss, performed by Peter Hicks and engineered by Geoff Francis in Southern Tasmania.

Come gather round and listen
To the thunder rolling in,
'Cos the rich are trying to break us
And we're not gonna let them win.

Well they tried it on the wharfies
With scabs and thugs and lost,
So how to break the building sites
Where the workers won't be bossed?

"We own the law, we own the courts
And that's the key to their defeat:
We'll give the workers six months jail
For every time they meet!"

The workers met on safety
And Ark Tribe led the way,
So Gillard's thugs decided
That he would have to pay.

"If your name it is Ark Tribe
Come to our interrogation –
You'll have to dob your mates in:
That's the way we run this nation!"

"Oh my name it is Ark Tribe
And I ain't gonna talk to you.
My freedom flies with the Southern Cross
And there's nothing you can do."

"If there's anything that I've done wrong
I'll take your jail, that's fine!
But killing fifty men a year
Is the bosses' crime, not mine!"

"As for your Liberal and your Labor,
To me they look the same
With Howard's rotten laws served up
In Julia Gillard's name."

"Well, I'd a-ridden with Ned Kelly
I'd a fought with bold Ben Hall,
'Cos it was wild colonial boys like these
Who taught us to stand tall."

Well, if Ark Tribe's put in prison
By their "tough cop on the beat",
The wild colonial boys and girls
Must get out in the street.

And we must ride like Edward Kelly,
We must fight like bold Ben Hall,
'Cos it was wild colonial boys like these
Who taught us to stand tall!

Illawarra: Green jobs

The Illawarra could become a major player in any future green, energy efficient economy, ACTU president Sharan Burrow and Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry told a public meeting at the University of Wollongong yesterday.

The pair are on a nationwide campaign, calling for public and private investment to help kick-start jobs in areas such as energy efficiency, waste and recycling, and alternate energy sources.

But both were keen to point out that the future they were advocating would not spell the end for the coal and steel industries in the Illawarra.

They voiced a similar view on the impact of the federal Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which they believed should be passed in its present form.

"Coal and steel in this region are critical," Ms Burrow told an audience of students and academics.

"Traditional industries are part of the supply chain for existing demands ... but they also have a place in green industry.

"Our real concern is while the politicians wrangle in Canberra we are not unleashing investment into jobs, into regions, into new industries, that is necessary if we are going to be globally competitive.

"You can't win a global race by starting last."

Mr Henry said it would be important to progress technologically to reduce the future emissions from steelmaking and mining.

"Let's get cracking as a nation on tackling climate change but let's be really vigorous in regions like the South Coast to make sure we generate the job opportunities that are there," he said.

The pair were vocal in their praise of the South Coast Labour Council and University of Wollongong for the formation of the regional green jobs plan.

Meantime, Ms Burrow poured cold water on rumours she might be about to follow in the footsteps of Throsby MP Jennie George, a former ACTU president, by moving into Parliament via a seat in the Illawarra.

"Not at all, I can assure you, it's not in my plans to go into Parliament, you have some very good advocates from the union movement in our Parliament and Jennie George, of course, my predecessor, represents you in Throsby and she's a terrific woman and I have no plans to go following in her footsteps."

Japan: election possibilities

Japan's main opposition party has pledged to boost relations with China and rethink US military bases on Okinawa if it comes to power in this month's elections.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is widely tipped to win the August 30 vote and topple the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for virtually all of the last 54 years.

DPJ secretary-general Katsuya Okada said: "The mainstream consensus within DPJ is that the relations between Japan and China are very important. If DPJ becomes the ruling party, relations will be further improved."

More than 50,000 US troops are stationed throughout Japan, which pays billions of dollars each year to support them, and Tokyo is dependent on the US for "nuclear deterrence."

Mr Okada said that it was time for Japan to become more independent, adding that the US military bases on Okinawa should be "reconsidered."

Party chief Yukio Hatoyama has said that a refuelling mission in support of US-led military operations in the Indian Ocean, which partially supports US occupation forces in Afghanistan, would not be extended if the DPJ takes power.