Sunday, May 30, 2010

You & Me: Documentary

Prue Adams, Aunty Carol Cooper, Virginia Field

"You & Me", the film, tells the story of a friendship between two women who grew up in the same Blue Mountains community but whose experience of life was very different.

Aunty Carol Cooper is a Darug and Gundungurra Elder, and a Traditional Owner of the Blue Mountains; Virginia Field is of Anglo-Celtic descent, and her family has lived in the Blue Mountains for four generations.

Basketball brought them together, and now, more than 40 years later, they are telling their story as a declaration of reconciliation, and as an invitation to others to share their stories.

“Basketball was something Carol and I were passionate about and it gave us a way to express ourselves,” Virginia said.

“Despite having different life experiences and cultural boundaries as kids, as we got to know each other there was a really strong sense of connection and respect between us and our families.

“Making the documentary wasn’t easy.

“But after the apology by Federal Parliament to the Stolen Generation we felt it was the right time to talk about our childhood and present a positive story of reconciliation — an expression of friendship being the bottom line.”

Aunty Carol said “maybe through this film other people may feel they can talk about their own experiences and feel that now is the right time for that.”

Towards the end of the documentary, the pair planted a Wollemi Pine in the European-style garden of the Carrington Hotel, which holds special meaning for both of them.

One of Virginia’s ancestors purchased the site but didn’t like the area so he sold it in the 1870s before the hotel was built and moved to Blackheath.

Aunty Carol’s grandmother once worked as a washerwoman at the hotel, but at the time she was only allowed inside through the back door.

The filmmakers acknowledge and respect the Darug and Gundungurra peoples as the traditional custodians of the Blue Mountains NSW, where the film was made.

A special premiere screening of You and Me was held at 2.45pm for a 3pm start on Sunday, May 30 at The Edge Cinema.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Behind the mining boss scares!

Mining and Energy Bulletins
Bulletin Vol. 13, No. 14

27 May 2010

New Rich List reveals: Mining Bosses increase their personal fortunes by $9 Billion in 12-months

No wonder the mining bosses are kicking and screaming against the Rudd Government’s proposed super-profits tax – they don’t want to share any of the enormous wealth they make from Australia’s non-renewable natural resources with the people who own them.

It is purely and simply a matter of GREED.

The release today of the Business Review Weekly (BRW) annual Rich 200 List, reveals that Australia’s richest mining bosses increased their personal fortunes by $9 Billion in the past 12-months. That is $9 Billion on top of the Billions they were already worth last year.

The two most vocal and hysterical opponents of the new super-profits tax are WA’s Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and Queensland’s Clive Palmer.

Twiggy Forrest is the 4th richest person in Australia with a $4.24 Billion fortune while Mr Palmer comes in 7th with $3.92 Billion.

Both of these made their entire fortunes from exploiting the natural resources that belong to the people of Australia.

The idea that billionaire mining bosses and billionaire mining companies cannot afford to give the Australian people a fairer return on the resources that we own is absurd.

That mining bosses like Twiggy Forrest and Clive Palmer continue to amass massive fortunes while mining communities struggle to keep pace with the sharp end of the resources boom, is equally obscene.

Friday, May 28, 2010

10 years ago: Reconciliation march

28 May 2000
Taking 6 hours to march across Sydney Harbour Bridge a huge crowd estimated at something like 200,000 and 300,000, easily outstripping even the biggest anti-Vietnam War and nuclear disarmament rallies of earlier decades. A week later, about 60,000 people marched in Brisbane. Scores of smaller walks followed throughout the country, culminating in big marches in Melbourne and Perth at the end of the year.

By the time they finished, more than half a million Australians had marched, confirming reconciliation as a people's movement.


Last week, the Managing Director of SBS Television announced that another one-third of the staff of the SBS Subtitling Unit will be made redundant. On top of the marginalisation of unique multicultural content, the introduction of mid-program advertising, and the programming of the station to render it thoroughly mainstream, we are now left fighting for the survival of a distinctively Australian resource.

The Subtitling Unit was essential to what made SBS Television unique in global broadcasting. Now it will be left with 20 staff serving three channels, where once 60 staff served one single channel. For what little non-English content remains on the station, the MD has said he will buy inferior subtitles overseas, because they are cheaper.

The SBS Subtitling Unit has been acknowledged for decades to be the best in the world. If it were a football team, it would be regarded as a national treasure and promoted, marketed and funded accordingly. Instead, it will now be the victim of a rationalisation to save a few dollars, and in the process, the jobs of a team of specially skilled Australians will go offshore.

Save SBS Television. Copy this and email your MP

Henry: Mining sector did not stop recession

The mining sector did not keep Australia out of recession, and any claim that it did is not backed up by the facts, Treasury Secretary Ken Henry has told a Senate hearing.

"The suggestion that the mining industry kept Australia out of recession is curious to say the least," Dr Henry said.

''It is true that Australia avoided a recession, but the Australian mining industry actually experienced quite a deep recession. In the first six months of 2009 it shed 15 per cent of its workers. Mining investment collapsed, mining output collapsed.

''Had every industry behaved that way our unemployment rate would have climbed to 19 per cent.''

ACCC: How Telstra blocks ADSL2

Telstra has asked to be fined $4 million for mistakenly excluding competitors' broadband servers from telephone exchanges over two years, instead of the $40 million being sought by the competition watchdog.

The telecommunications giant argues poor supervision rather than a deliberate corporate policy allowed Telstra Wholesale staff to reject applications from competitors who wanted to install ADSL2+ broadband equipment in Telstra exchanges, even though there was enough space for the equipment.

The ACCC claims Telstra indulged in anti-competitive behaviour when it rejected 27 applications from competitors at seven different exchanges between January 2006 and February 2008, and has asked Justice John Middleton to set a fine for Telstra.

Telstra remains the only service able to provide ADSL2 at the Katoomba exchange in the Blue Mountains. Is their simply no room there for other service providers equipment?


ACTU: Abolish ABCC

The ACTU has welcomed the announcement that the head of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) will not seek reappointment when his term expires in September.

The ABCC was set up by the Howard Government and has been an abject failure. It should now be abolished, said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.

"Under John Lloyd the ABCC has engaged in politically partisan behaviour that is inconsistent with its obligations as a statutory body.

"Earlier this year a major report by the International Labour organisation (ILO) found the Australian Building and Construction Commission is in breach of international laws and fails to protect workers.

"International industrial laws are intended to protect the rights of workers, not persecute them," said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.

"Yet this is precisely what the ABCC does. Overwhelmingly, the ABCC has investigated and prosecuted workers rather than employers.

"The ABCC has wasted millions of dollars while health and safety in the construction industry has not improved.

"There should be one set of laws for all workers, regardless of the industry they work in."

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Construction unions have again called on the Federal Government to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) after its head John Lloyd announced that he would not reapply for the position when his term expires in September.

CFMEU C&G Divsion National Secretary Dave Noonan said, “Mr Lloyd has been a vocal supporter of the Howard government’s policies and has even participated in meetings of the extremist HR Nicholls Society. Under his leadership the ABCC has failed to prosecute even one employer for ripping off construction workers wages and entitlements, despite having the responsibility to do so.

“But the real issue here is not who heads up the ABCC - it is that the law which underpins the institution is discriminatory and unfair. Justice will only be served when Australian workers are all subject to the same industrial laws. That means one law for all.

George Gotsis turns 80

George Gotsis is widely known as the Godfather of May Day in Sydney keeping it alive for the past four decades. At the celebration organised by the MUA Sydney Branch for his 80th birthday he said:

"I'm very proud to be a member of the Maritime Union and proud to continue the working class struggle,'" he said. "The best days of the worker are the days of struggle."

George recalled his first years in Australia in the sixties working at BHP in Port Kembla, organising Greek immigrant workers.

"We were all unskilled workers from southern Europe," he said. "The job was dangerous and young workers were burnt and injured. We had to organise ourselves and the first progressive union leader I met was Snowy Webster from the Seamen's Union."

In 1964 George got a tip off from the local wharfies' branch jobs going on the Sydney wharves. Soon after began organizing black bans on Greek shipping to protest the military junta and the arrest of Greek maritime union leaders. Maritime unions slapped 48 bans on five ships.

"EV Elliot said we'd continue the bans until the people won freedom in Greece," George recalled.

So it was no surprise when George made his first application for citizenship under the conservative government it was rejected.

"In 1966 I made an application of citizenship," he said. "And here's what they said: 'Your application for naturalisation as an Australian citizen has been received but after careful consideration, the minister has decided your application is not acceptable.'"

A couple of years later George tried again. And again it was refused. In 1969 the outcome was the same.

"With the election of the Whitlam Government in 1972 and Al Grasby becoming minister for immigration George was confident his application would not be rejected again. But it was. This time it did not even reach the minister. The department rejected the application.

So George went to his union and a call went through with the message that if George Gotsis was not made an Australian citizen within the week they'd stop all the ships.

"In three days I was a citizen," said George.

Friday, May 21, 2010

AMWU: Build Them Here

The AMWU in NSW is launching its 'Build Them Here' campaign to call on the New South Wales Government to award transport contracts locally, rather than sending them overseas.

The AMWU wants the NSW government to award train, bus and ferry contracts to manufacterers in the Hunter region in order to protect local manufacturing jobs and the manufacturing industry.

An independent report commissioned by the AMWU has found if these contracts were secured locally at least 1,200 direct jobs would be created.

Local content requirements for public transport procurement have dropped significantly in recent years.

Train carriages and buses are now commonly brought in from overseas in flat pack or shell form, to be fitted and out and given their finishing touches here.

This trend is undermining our local transport manufacturing industries.

Due to some ongoing contracts, NSW has managed to maintain the skills and technologies needed to build our buses, train and ferries.

But if the NSW Government – the biggest player in transport procurement – continues to send the work to low-cost offshore competitors, it won’t be long before we lose our skills base and manufacturing capacity.

In the tendering process for the next round of trains, buses and ferries, we are asking the NSW Government to:

  • insist tenderers submit a local industry participation plan
  • commit where possible to build locally to maximise content
  • specify a three to one apprentice to tradesman ratio.
  • A strong transport manufacturing capacity in NSW can build jobs, offer an efficient solution to public transport procurement into the future and drive our economy.
For more information and to support the campaign, visit the Build Them Here campaign.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Argentine solution for Greece?

With the press full of stories about the debt crisis in Greece and their draconian* prescription of sackings and pay and pension cuts for Greek workers, it maybe that other recent experiences offer a much saner solution. (*Draco was a politician in Ancient Greece who thought the punishment for any law-breaking should be death)

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez has warned that her country's experience shows that austerity measures are exactly the wrong medicine in a debt crisis - and so Europe's rescue plan for Greece is "condemned to failure."

She told Argentinians at the weekend that if economic activity is cut back "you reduce even more the capacity to pay the debt."

Argentina has had to go it alone after rejecting the deep cuts demanded by the International Monetary Fund to secure more loans.

In 2001 the country was where Greece is today, with its economy sputtering, companies failing and huge debts.

But rather than a trillion-dollar rescue to avoid defaulting, Argentina defaulted and had to figure out how to rebuild its economy without outside help.

In fact the country boomed during this period of isolation. By boosting government spending to stimulate the economy, Argentina has increased its GDP by more than half since 2003.

ACTU: Lift minimum wage

A resurgent Australian economy with forecasts of strong GDP and jobs growth over the next two years makes the case for a decent rise to minimum wages even more compelling.

The ACTU will today (Monday) present its case before Fair Work Australia for a $27 a week pay rise for about 1.4 million workers covered by industrial awards.

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said new economic forecasts in last week’s Federal Budget had strengthened unions’ $27 a week claim and undermined arguments from employer groups for a further wage freeze.

“It is appalling that millions of Australians were forced to suffer a wage freeze for more than 18 months given the strength of the economy,” Mr Lawrence said. “Last week’s Budget shows the Australian economy is in good shape and will improve over the next 12 months.

“The Budget includes improved forecasts for sustained economic and employment growth, increasing average hours worked and inflation within the Reserve Bank target range. Unemployment is forecast to fall to 5% in the coming year. That adds up to 450,000 new jobs over the next two years.

“It is essential that low-paid workers share fairly in the economic recovery after shouldering the burden of last year’s downturn. Our claim is responsible. Australia's economic outlook is good and the recovery is in progress, but more importantly, the case for a pay increase is strong.

“We are seeking a decent and reasonable pay rise to restore the real value of minimum wages for award-dependent workers.”

The ACTU’s claim is for an extra $27 a week, or 71 cents an hour. It would lift the minimum wage above $15 an hour for the first time, to $570.78 a week.

This week’s hearing is the first under the new wage-setting mechanism established by the Fair Work Act. It replaces the so-called Fair Pay Commission, set up during the Howard Government’s WorkChoices, whose decisions resulted in cuts to real wages of up to $97.75 a week.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jessica Watson: Circumnavigator

Jessica Watson has become the youngest person to sail around the world, solo, non-stop and unassisted.

After 210 days and just two days shy of her 17th birthday, Watson sailed her 10-metre yacht Ella's Pink Lady up Sydney Harbour, the same spot she left from almost seven months ago.

Thousands of people lined the foreshore to welcome her home. As she made her way up the harbour, she was flanked by a flotilla and a crowd cheering loudly, waving banners with messages of support. Her name also appeared in sky writing above the harbour.
  • Jessica Watson began her journey on October 17, 2009
  • Returned to Sydney Harbour on May 15, 2010
  • Journey covered almost 23,000 nautical miles
  • Circumnavigation took 210 days

Car bomb attack on CMFEU office

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union state secretary Andrew Ferguson told police yesterday about threats made to his staff by individuals from the company.

The CFMEU office was gutted by fire on Thursday night after a stolen Mazda 626, filled with drums of petrol, was driven through the foyer and set alight about 10.30pm.

Union officials told detectives they met with the construction company earlier in the day about a dispute involving migrant workers.

Mr Ferguson, who would not reveal the name of the company, yesterday described the ram-raid as un-Australian.

"We're involved in a dispute with a contractor who has underpaid migrant workers," he said.
"There have been some menacing remarks towards one of our officials."

The ram-raid was captured on CCTV cameras.

Mr Ferguson said that the attack would have a major impact on local community groups and a Buddhist festival planned to be held at the CFMEU headquarters over the weekend will have be relocated.

The ground floor of the building was extensively damage, while upper levels suffered smoke damage.

Mr Ferguson said smoke alarms and the office sprinkler system had saved the building from destruction.

A church group was using the office an hour before the attack.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jeff Shaw: asbestos victims remember

Asbestos victims are mourning the death of former NSW attorney-general Jeff Shaw this morning, saying he will be remembered for making radical changes to the legal system that resulted in thousands of victims and their families receiving compensation.

Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia president Barry Robson said one of Mr Shaw's most significant acts in his six years as Attorney General was the introduction of amendments in 1998 that abolished the statute of limitations on dust claims and removed the legal loophole that meant if a victim died during the case, his general damages died with him.

"The amendments that were passed in 1998 by the NSW Parliament represented one of the most significant law changes aimed at delivering social justice for working people in Australian history," Mr Robson said.

"His decision to champion these changes in cabinet, despite fierce opposition from many insurers and employer groups, delivered a system that has resulted in thousands of asbestos victims and their families receiving compensation worth tens of millions of dollars that they would otherwise have been denied.

"It is a testament to Jeff that identical amendments have since been passed in every state and territory in Australia, with his genuine national reform preserving the general damages of thousands of victims into the future.

"He was a man of genuine principal, he believed in social justice, and he followed those beliefs through for asbestos victims, making it a lot easier for the working people who were exposed to this deadly substance.

"Best of all his changes meant an end to the dreadful, gruelling bedside hearings that would stretch on as victims lay dying in hospital, knowing that unless they outlived the case their families would miss out on compensation."

For further information

Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia

Australian unions growing

New figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that unions have taken advantage of the removal of Howard's anti-union WorkChoices to reverse a long-term slide and achieve the fastest membership growth in more than two decades.

In the first survey since the government's Fair Work laws took effect - and WorkChoices was entirely abolished - the number of people joining unions rose nearly 5 per cent in a year, or by 82,200 workers. Growth was strongest in the public sector.

That lifted the union share of the workforce to nearly 20 per cent overall and 46.3 per cent in the public sector.

Griffith University professor of employment relations, David Peetz, said the end of the Howard government's WorkChoices laws was an important factor in the growth, with AWAs ''one of the means that were used to undermine trade unionism''.

He said the Fair Work laws were ''a lot less of an impediment'' to unions than WorkChoices and predicted the end of the big drops in membership seen over the past few decades.

''We are starting to see what are the early signs of what could be a union revival,'' said Professor Peetz.

Since August 2007 - three months before the Howard government was defeated - union membership has risen by 8.2 per cent or by about 138,700 workers. It is now similar to the levels of the mid 2000s but is well below the 50 per cent coverage of the early 1980s.

Membership in the public sector grew most strongly while in the private sector it grew 5 per cent over the past two years. Despite that growth, fewer than one in seven private sector employees belong to unions.

In WA membership has jumped from just over 14 per cent of the workforce to more than 17 per cent.

Secretary of Unions WA Simone McGurk says the biggest membership drive has been in the mining industry.

She says the Federal Government's decision to abolish Work Choices and introduce the Fair Work Act has contributed to the growth in membership.

"The new Federal legislation the Fair Work Act is an improvement and I think more people joining unions and wanting to be represented collectively is now showing in the statistics.".

Tory + Lib Dem = slash and burn

Wealthy Tory David Cameron and wealthy Lib Dem Nick Clegg joined together to launch a vicious war on the British workers

They formed Britain's first coalition government since the second world war, dedicated to imposing savage public-spending cuts, curbing wages and slashing welfare benefits.

The election saw millions of people vote for the Lib Dems under the illusion that it was anti-Tory.

The leaders of the new coalition are committed to inflicting a vicious cuts budget on the British people within the next 50 days - despite unemployment recently surging past two and a half million.

Labour MP John McDonnell declared: "In return for the bauble of the title of Deputy Prime Minister and a few seats in the Cabinet, Nick Clegg has sold out the country by delivering us all up to the Tories for the most savage assault on our public services since the 1980s under Thatcher.

"I urge Labour MPs to go back to their constituencies and prepare for the fightback."

Mr McDonnell added: "Our task now is to mobilise our communities to fight back against every threat from this coalition of the cutters to close our hospitals and clinics, to shut our classrooms and cut teachers and to attack our pensions and welfare benefits."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

IBM agrees to bargain!

In a world first, IBM have agreed to bargain with the Australian Services Union for a collective agreement. Last night IBM issued a notice to all their Baulkham Hills (NSW) Flightdeck employees informing them that they intend to bargain for a collective agreement.

IBM also wrote to the ASU agreeing to meet and responding to a list of claims the ASU provided to them two weeks ago.

"We are very happy that IBM has finally agreed to bargain for a collective agreement. We are proud that IBM ASU members are the first group of IBM workers in the world to get this far. We want to reach an Agreement with IBM and we have presented them with those issues we wish to bargain about. High on our list of priorities are the rights for workers who face be facing redundancy because of IBM's stated intention to move work to India and China.

"ASU members are asking for a higher redundancy payment for any worker whose job is moving off-shore. We believe this is justified as it is not just the current Australia based workers who are losing their job, but a job is lost for future generations of IT workers in Australia. If companies chase lower wages and working conditions in other countries, there should be an extra cost for this.

"We look forward to our negotiations and welcome IBM's acceptance that they need to negotiate according to the laws for workers in Australia," said Sally McManus, ASU NSW & ACT (Services) Branch Secretary.

Vandana Shiva: Sydney Peace Prize

Indian physicist and environmentalist, Dr Vandana Shiva, has been announced as the recipient of the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.

Dr Shiva is being feted for her "courageous leadership of movements for social justice - the empowerment of women in developing countries, advocacy of the human rights of small farming communities and for her scientific analysis of environmental sustainability."

"Vandana Shiva's work highlights the fundamental connection between human rights and the protection of the environment," said Mary Kostakidis, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, which is associated with the University of Sydney.

"Governments worldwide seek her counsel on sustainable development. She offers solutions to some of the most critical problems posed by the effects of globalisation and climate change on the poorest and most populous nations. Her voice is an essential one as we consider pressing decisions facing the global community."

Speaking from Delhi, Dr Shiva said that she was "honoured to receive this prestigious award and to follow in the footsteps of so many significant world citizens. The protection of biodiversity, support for women in agriculture and for all subsistence farmers are human rights issues which I'll address in Sydney."


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Budget: Good for jobs, economy, workers

11 May, 2010 | Media Release
Responding to the 2010 Federal Budget, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

"The 2010 Federal Budget is good for working Australians, good for the economy and good for future generations. It is a traditional Labor Budget that delivers tax cuts, better quality healthcare for a changing population, and higher superannuation for working people.

"This Budget provides for massive investments in national infrastructure, a boost to workforce training, productivity and participation, and a lift in business efficiency at the same time as it shares the wealth and smoothes the business cycle by taxing the super profits of mining companies.

"The Budget provides a strong plan for jobs now and in the future with $661 million in new spending on an extra 70,000 places in vocational education and training, and assistance for young unemployed people, with a welcome focus on adult literacy, language and numeracy skills.

"Unions welcome the Budget’s immediate financial support for working families with teachers, nurses, retail staff, office workers and those on average incomes getting up to $450 a year from 1 July. Combined with other changes to the taxation of interest and work-related deductions, these people will be up to $841 a year better off within four years.

"It provides a social wage dividend with better quality and better value health, hospital, and aged care, higher spending on education, a boost to vocational training and a lift in superannuation. These are all measures that unions have campaigned for and can take credit in helping achieve.

"The Budget cements the gains for working Australians from the Government’s response to the Henry Review of Taxation. Unions welcome the lift in the Superannuation Guarantee from 9% to 12% to ensure a decent retirement for all working Australians, the superannuation contributions tax rebate for low-income earners, reduction in taxes on bank savings and the simplification of tax returns which will benefit employees.

"The 50% deduction on interest earnings will help low and middle-income earners who are more likely to put extra savings into interest-bearing accounts.

"The Resources Super Profits Tax is an important initiative that makes sure all Australians share in the wealth generated by our natural resources. It will reduce the tax burden on less profitable mines and foster exploration and investment in new projects. It will smooth the boom and bust cycle and boost the bottom line by $12 billion over the next four years.

"The Budget figures demonstrate the Rudd Government’s response to the Global Financial Crisis saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. They forecast unemployment to continue to fall to below 5% within two years, and the economy will grow by 3.25% next year."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Killalea State Park Saved

South Coast Community & Union Alliance Claims Another Victory !

I write to advise of another fantastic victory for community – union activism on the South Coast hot on the heels of the Heritage Listing of Wollongong Harbour last week. The NSW Government has announced today that it has terminated the development agreement which would have seen the effective privatization of Killalea State Park. On behalf of the South Coast Labour Council I would like to congratulate all affiliates, the Environmental Defenders Office activists and in particular the Save Killalea Alliance for their commitment and perseverance in securing this tremendous victory.

This victory clearly demonstrates the effectiveness and relevance of Green Bans in our contemporary struggles.

In Unity
Arthur Rorris

The Abbott Re(al)action

Tony Abbott is on the record twice this year as promising to bring back key elements of WorkChoices by cutting unfair dismissal protections for workers and reintroducing AWA-style individual contracts:

“…We had a mandate to take the unfair dismissal monkey off the back of small business and we will once more seek that mandate… We had a mandate to introduce statutory non-union contracts and we will seek to renew that mandate.”
Tony Abbott, 12 Feb 2010 address to Qld Chamber of Commerce and Industry

"I think if we have reasonable individual agreement arrangements, if we keep the unfair dismissal monkey off the back of very small business, if we have a strong cop on the beat, like the ABCC, I think we’ll have a productive, a fair and a free workplace."
Tony Abbott, 5 April 2010, Q&A, ABC TV

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Teachers lift ban on tests

The Federal Executive of the Australian Education Union today resolved to lift the moratorium on the administration of the NAPLAN tests.

AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said the decision followed an offer by the Education Minister Julia Gillard to form a working party of educational experts, including representatives of the AEU, to provide advice on the use of student performance data and other indicators of school effectiveness.

That advice and the further development of the My School website by ACARA will be in line with the commitments of the Federal Government which include “an opposition to the misuse of student performance data including simplistic league tables”.

"The working party will provide a way to advance and address the profession’s educational concerns relating to the misuse of student test data including school league tables," Mr Gavrielatos said.

"It will also provide an opportunity for teachers and principals to engage in a genuine dialogue with the government on a sound approach to school accountability and improving results.

"Our focus has always been on trying to ensure that data is not misused in ways that are damaging to students and schools.

"Across the country public school teachers have shown their willingness to take action to protect their students and that is something that should be applauded. In many cases it has been totally misrepresented as an opposition to accountability and transparency which is regrettable."

The Federal Executive resolution is available at

Monday, May 03, 2010

Unions back super profit tax

Newcastle Trades Hall Council secretary Gary Kennedy said it would return some of the coal industry's "massive profits" to the public, who owned the resources.

Mr Kennedy said coal companies had enjoyed "an exceptional deal for a long time".

"They'll complain that the NCIG loader opening tomorrow morning cost $1 billion to build but they will get $6.5 billion worth of coal a year flowing through the loader and the companies behind it are making massive profits so it's not a big ask," he said.

"The profits are so big that they are lining up to open new mines - the amounts of money are massive - so if the Government thinks the new tax is fair enough it's all right by me."


Miners union National President Tony Maher welcomed the resource super profits tax.

“It is exactly what is needed to give all Australians a share of the wealth.

“The Federal Government should consult with business, unions and community groups about targeting assistance for mining communities most affected by mining operations.

“Mine workers and their families won’t buy any job scare campaign run by well heeled executives who will be fighting the resource super profit tax.”?


South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris rejected the mining industry job's warnings as "scare tactics". Tax reform of the resource sector was overdue.

"You have to draw the line with that (job losses) argument, and say everyone is responsible for paying a fair proportion in tax," he said.


Tax on resource super profits means all Australians benefit from resources boom

“Using a new tax on the Super Profits of resource companies to fund a package of superannuation concessions, infrastructure investment, and to simplify business taxes makes good sense,” ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said. “All Australians should benefit from the resources boom – not just highly-profitable mining companies.

“It is important that the money made by selling Australia’s natural resources and the benefits of economic growth are shared equitably and we avoid the dangers of a two-speed economy.

Deliver better services to workers and famlies living in remote Australia

“The profits of mining companies should be put back into physical and social infrastructure that will make the industry more efficient, more productive and more sustainable for the long-term.

" We also need to deliver better services to employees and their families, especially those living and working in remote areas, and invest in skills development and training to help attract and retain skilled workers to the industry.”

Labor building on two-decade old union deal to establish universal superannuation

Unions strongly welcomed the move by the Rudd Government to lift universal superannuation contributions from the current 9% to 12% by 1 July, 2019.

“Unions have been pressing for an increase in superannuation and we are delighted to see the Rudd Government announce a clear path to achieve this goal,” Mr Lawrence said.

“The lift in the Superannuation Guarantee and the improvements to tax concessions for low-income workers are major planks that build on the deal made with working Australians and unions almost two decades ago to establish universal superannuation.

Now unions must bargain to lift super up to our long-term goal of 15%

“Recent moves by the government to prevent financial planners and advisers pocketing hidden fees and commissions from workers superannuation accounts are also very welcome.

“Phasing in the Superannuation Guarantee increase over several years will ensure there is a minimal impact on workers’ take-home pay. It also means that unions will still need to play an important role in bargaining to lift the superannuation contributions up to our long-term goal of 15%.”

Gold Coast May Day

The State Government asset sell-off, NAPLAN testing, the continuing Queensland Health payroll debacle and the Australian Building and Construction Commission dominated unionists' agendas at Gold Coast May Day celebrations yesterday.

Hundreds of members marched through Southport to the Broadwater Parklands to mark unions' triumphs for workers' rights.

But union representatives were dismayed they still did not appear to have Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's ear.

Peter Simpson, from the Electrical Trades Union, said the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which was established under the Howard government's WorkChoices era, was still operating under the present Labor Government.

"The ABCC is an absolute disgrace to have around under a Labor government," said Mr Simpson.

"We fought our (backsides) off to get (Labor) in in 2007.

"I fee like ripping my ticket up and it's already got tear marks in it, I can tell you."

Builders Labourers Federation state secretary Greg Simcoe said the ABCC gave construction workers fewer rights than even the country's worst criminals.

"We have no right to silence," he said, referring to a South Australian case where a union representative was facing jail because he would not tell a commission about details of a safety meeting.

Mr Simpson said NAPLAN testing had also incensed union members.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Blue Mountains: Truck tsunami predicted

NRMA director Graham Blight believes a “transport tsunami” will hit our roads after it was announced Patrick Port Logistics would cease operating rail services between Dubbo and Port Botany on June 30.

Patrick will cease all services to and from its port in a move that is expected to force an extra 45,000 trucks onto NSW roads, both in the bush and in Sydney.

The company cited “rail’s poor share of freight movements” as the reason behind the decision.

But Mr Blight sent a warning that the State’s roads can’t handle the current volume of traffic and added he believes the run from Dubbo to Sydney through the Blue Mountains is one of NSW’s most dangerous stretches of highway.

“This will work out at close enough to 1000 extra trucks on the roads every week,” Mr Blight said.

“We have a transport tsunami coming and it will hit roads that are already not capable of safely handling the volume of traffic."


Don't Close The Depot Down
A Song by John Hospodaryk©John Hospodaryk 2009
[Winner of the 2009 RTBU Railway Song and Poem Competition]

Two thousand trucks across the Great Divide,
Two thousand truckloads of fuel that will ride
Upon the road when there's a train that can bring it safely to your town,
Safely to, safely to your town.
So all I ask of you is don't you, don't you close that depot down,
Don't you close, don't you close that depot down.

We gotta let that rolling stock stay upon the rail,
It's rolled a hundred years, it has never failed.
Don't wanna see them trucks crowdin' up the whole highway,
Whole, whole, whole highway,
So all I ask of you is don't you, don't you take that train away,
Don't you take that, take that train away.

Carbon footprints are truckin' up 'n' down the road,
Up 'n' down, up 'n' down the road.
One of these days one of them rigs you know is bound to explode,
How can we bear such a heavy load!

They're layin' off the workers, I heard it on the news,
'Cos private contractors is what they wanna use,
You know we gotta get together, people, spread the news all around,
All around, spread the word around. We must demand that they don't,
they don't close that depot down,
They must not close, close that depot down.