Friday, November 30, 2012

Silly Season: An Abbott & Bishop Farce

What shames the nation is the relentless witch hunt led by Abbott and Bishop and supported by members of the press who should know better. And this latest development defies credibility.

What happened is that a newspaper published an accusation against our prime minister without checking the accuracy of the accusation.

Tony Abbott read the newspaper article and, also failing to check the accuracy of the accusation, accused Julia Gillard of committing a crime and he did it outside of parliament and on TV.

Then someone at the newspaper office that started the farce discovered that their accusation against Gillard was false and publically retracted the accusation.

But there was no retraction from Tony Abbott.

Julia Gillard gave him an opportunity to make the retraction in the parliament question time.

Tony Abbott, perhaps unaware of the newspaper's retraction, totally missed this opportunity and instead, attacked Julia Gillard with the false accusation and demanded that she resign.

Murdoch Hacking Enquiry

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Struggle Against the NT Intervention

ACOSS: Newstart Allowance Increase is Priority

Thursday November 29, 2012

The Australian Council of Social Service said the report of the Senate inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart and other Allowances, released today, adds another voice to the chorus of calls for urgent action to increase these payments for single people.

"A substantial increase in Newstart Allowance for singles should now be front and centre among priorities for the 2013 Budget," said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

"The Inquiry heard from dozens of community organisations, business organisations, unions and experts that single people and sole parents on Newstart and similar payments cannot meet the most basic living costs, or search for employment, on $35 a day.

"Many endorsed our call for a $50 per week increase in these payments for singles, and for them to be indexed to wage movements so that the $140 per week gap between allowances and pensions does not grow any wider. These increases were recommended by the Henry Report.

"We welcome the call from Labor and Greens Senators on the Committee for an urgent increase in Newstart and related payments for singles, and for those payments to be indexed to wages. We also welcome proposals from the Coalition Senators to increase the earnings threshold above which payments are withdrawn, though our clear priority is to increase the payments.

"However, we warn against any approach to payment reform that divides social security recipients into 'deserving and undeserving poor' by providing extra assistance exclusively to one group and excluding others. It’s the historical targeting to deservedness rather than need that has been the root cause of much of the unfairness and complexity in our social security system today

"This is the reason that allowances for unemployed people are $140 a week less than pensions, unemployed people and sole parents missed out on the increases to pensions in 2009, and 80,000 sole parents will have their payments cut by $60 a week or more from next January 1, 2013.

"When the Pension Review recommended an increase in the single pension in 2008 based on evidence that single pensioners were doing it tough, the Government moved swiftly to implement the proposal. Unemployed people and sole parents missed out. The Henry Report recommended in 2010 that single unemployed people should receive the same increase - now worth $50 per week. Two years have passed. The Senate report confirms that is a high time this was implemented.

"Just like a National Disability Insurance Scheme, introduced into parliament today, an increase in Allowance payments is an urgent national priority. We can do both. Both are vitally important if we want to improve the lives of disadvanatged people in our country in the interests of greater economic and social participation by all.

"ACOSS understands the current budgetary constraints, but budgeting is always about priorities. In the current economic climate, our priority should be on increasing the participation of everyone, not just in individuals' interests but to benefit our society.

"We call on the Federal Government to heed this mounting evidence and move to do the right thing by this group of forgotten people in Australia who have been left to languish on such meagre and unliveable allowance payments," Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas - 0419 626 155

Community Sector Press Conference: 3.30pm Senate Courtyard, Parliament House, Canberra
Dr Cassandra Goldie - CEO, Australian Council of Social Service
Ara Cresswell - CEO, Carers Australia
Nicole Lawder - CEO, Homelessness Australia
Eleri Morgan-Thomas - Spokesperson, Mission Australia
Amy Elleway - Deputy CEO, Family & Relationship Services Australia
Dr John Falzon - CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia
And other representatives from the community sector.

Need for High Speed Rail

Speaking at the Australasian Railway Association's national conference in Canberra on Tuesday, Paul Howes, from the Australian Workers' Union, said both conservative and Labor state governments had "made an art form" of promising new rail projects, only to later renege on their promises.

"Governments around the country announce, re-announce, tear up, re-draw, re-plan and re-announce transport plans that are unfunded, un-costed, and due to start construction on the never-never," he said.

"As a result you can hardly blame the public and business for being a touch sceptical whenever a politician promises a new rail line."

The Baillieu government has embarked on studies for new rail lines to Doncaster, Rowvillle and the Melbourne and Avalon airports. Its Labor predecessor was also elected in 1999 with similarly ambitious plans to build new metropolitan rail lines, only to later withdraw them, saying they were too expensive.

Because of government inaction, rail had not achieved anywhere near its true potential in Australia, Mr Howes said. "Australia has an infrastructure deficit of somewhere near 1 trillion dollars, and rail under-investment is just one sad story within this broader policy failure," he said.

The best example, he said, was the failure to build Sydney's second airport: "I find it hard to believe that we will ever see more than just papers and announcements about studies for [this] airport. There's no political will and there's no cash to make it happen."

But he said the idea of a high-speed rail link between Canberra and Sydney needed to happen.

"In most other developed countries, fast rail is being built to link major cities and to provide relief from our crowded skies," said Mr Howes, comparing Australia's inaction to China – which has the largest high-speed rail network in the world. The United States and United Kingdom governments were also working hard on plans for high-speed rail investment. "And yet where are we on this issue after all of our government papers, studies and consultations?"

Mr Howes said he had flown to Canberra to speak at the conference instead of taking the 287-kilometre train trip. "The fact that it takes over four hours to travel between our nation's capital and our largest city is quite frankly ridiculous," he said. "Comparative trips in Asia, North America and Europe would take less than half the time."

The fast-rail project was a "once-in-a-generation nation-building projects that deserves the full support and commitment of both the Federal and state governments", Mr Howes said.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bishop's Bluster

Julie Bishop started the day alleging the Prime Minister was like a bank robber's knowing accomplice who had benefited from the heist - a Bonnie to her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson's, Clyde. ''She provided the stolen vehicle, she drove him to the bank and she looked away while he robbed the bank,'' she told her party room, according to the official party spokesman.

''She [the Prime Minister] and Wilson and [sidekick Ralph] Blewitt wanted to hide from the AWU the fact that an unauthorised entity was being set up to siphon funds for their benefit and not for the benefit of the AWU, '' she told reporters.

Shocked and awed
But by day's end the deputy Liberal leader was trying to make her own get-away from her defamatory and unproven allegations. No, she was not alleging that the Prime Minister had benefited personally from the fraud perpetrated by her then boyfriend. No, she was not even suggesting the Prime Minister had been a ''knowing party'' to it.

Read more:

Unions NSW: Supporting Democracy or Silencing Dissent?

WHEN: Thursday, 29 November 2012
TIME: 6:00pm (Drinks to follow in Atrium)
WHERE: Unions NSW Auditorium
Ground Floor, Trades Hall, 4 Goulburn St, Sydney (Entry via 377 Sussex Street)

Qld: Unions Demand Jobs Enquiry

Queensland's public sector union will put pressure on federal MPs, including former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, to demand a federal inquiry into the State Government's unpopular job cuts.

And the focus of the inquiry would be the impact on regional communities, which have affected the availability of vital government services, Together Union secretary Alex Scott said.

"Queensland Government MPs have ignored the stories of pain and grief that have been laid at their doorstep," he said.

"The Federal Parliament must get to the bottom of that given that Queensland's own regional MPs have been so uninterested."

The union has gathered 19,000 signatures on a petition supporting a federal inquiry.

Mr Scott said that the impact of regional job losses went beyond the families concerned and affected the delivery of government services in areas like health and emergency services.

"Queensland's regions have been attacked through these job cuts," he said.

"The loss of jobs and services in local hospitals risk bringing us back to the bad old days of service delivery failures, and high unemployment. This inquiry needs to happen now before the future of regional Queensland is lost."

Mr Scott said Together had asked for support for the inquiry from MPs including Adam Bandt, Bob Katter and Kevin Rudd

The focus on Mr Bandt, Greens deputy leader, comes after he introduced a private members bill in Federal Parliament on Monday to amend the Fair Work Act.

The bill proposes a process for workers on an insecure basis to be moved to ongoing employment on a part-time or full-time basis.

The bill was to be debated on Monday night.

Mr Rudd has also been strategically targeted only a few months after he teamed up with Together union on LNP territory to denounce Premier Campbell Newman's job cuts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Racism. It Stops With Me


The National Anti-Racism Strategy was launched on 24 August 2012 and will be implemented between 2012 and 2015.

The Strategy is available to download here

National Anti-Racism Strategy
  • image description

  • Sydney: Labourstart Global Conference 26 - 27 November

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace

    23 November, 2012 | ACTU Media Release

    The ACTU has welcomed new laws that will require organisations with more than 100 employees to report on how they are improving the position of women in the workforce.

    The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace (EOWW) Amendment Bill was passed by the Senate last night, renaming the EOWW Agency the Workplace Gender Equality Act Agency and strengthening its powers.

    ACTU President Ged Kearney said gender inequality in Australian workplaces had persisted for too long and the bill was a welcome step towards addressing this.

    “Failing to give women equal access to the workplace is a denial of their rights, and damages the long-term productivity of Australia,” Ms Kearney said.

    “We cannot be complacent and expect that gender equality will just happen, we need to keep working to remove the barriers that stop women being full participants in the workplace.”

    “Australia ranks amongst the highest of OECD countries for women’s education but the participation rate for mothers with children below school age is amongst the lowest and the gender pay gap remains at 18.3%.

    “Women are four times as likely as men to experience sexual harassment or discrimination.

    “This bill will ensure that employers accurately record the position of women in their organisations and allow the WGEA Agency to develop benchmarks.”

    Ms Kearney said the previous legislation did not do enough to accurately monitor the position of women in workplaces in terms of their job classifications, total remuneration, and the policies and practices used by employers to overcome inequality.
    The Bill will require employers with over 100 employees (including unions) to provide quantitative information to the Agency on five key Gender Equality Indicators:

    • Gender composition of their workforce;
    • Gender composition of their governing bodies (i.e. boards);
    • Total remuneration payments of women and men for the reporting period;
    • Availability and usage of flexible working arrangements for employees and arrangements supporting employees with family or caring responsibilities; and
    • Consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace.

    Employers will be required to inform relevant unions when the information is provided, and unions will have the chance to comment on the information. Those who fail to comply will be excluded from accessing government funding or contracts.

    Ms Kearney said employers had fought against these two provisions, but without them employers would not be accountable for improving gender equality.

    “This bill is a good start but there are a lot of details to be worked out, and the union movement will continue to work to ensure that the reporting system and benchmarks are as rigorous as possible,” Ms Kearney said.

    “I would like to acknowledge the work of the SDA and United Voice in the Advisory Group that developed this legislation.”

    Commodore Bainimarama to chair the International Sugar Organization

    Fijian prime minister and military dictator Commodore Bainimarama has been selected to chair the International Sugar Organization, an intergovernmental organization established in 1968.

    His appointment may take place at ISO’s annual meeting in London November 27-28 – despite the fact that Fiji’s military government has a dismal record of abusing labour rights and ISO’s rules require member states to maintain fair labour standards in the sugar industry.

    The head of Fiji's military dictatorship should not be chairing the International Sugar Organization, and ISO should have no meetings in Fiji until democracy and trade union rights are fully restored.

    Support the IUF's online campaign -- Click here to send a message to ISO!

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Need for Job Security

    Former deputy prime minister Brian Howe chaired an inquiry commissioned last year by the ACTU into insecure work. He observed in the inquiry’s report that a new divide has opened in the workforce that was “no longer between the blue-collar and white-collar worker [but] between those in the ‘core’ of the workforce and those on the ‘periphery’”.

    The inquiry found as much as 40 per cent of the workforce – some 4 million workers – are engaged as casuals, on short-term contracts, in labour hire, or as independent contractors.

    It noted the key driver of this change “has been the emergence of a business model across both the private and the public sectors that shifts the risks associated with work from the employer to the employee and minimises labour costs at the expense of job quality”.

    The inquiry’s recommendations go to many issues that will be seen as workplace re-regulation. But they also go to simply making the casual workforce a more viable option, and to changes that can make life less perilous for this massive slice of the workforce – for example, by changing the way employers report work to the Tax Office to stop people who must partly rely on income support systems from suffering massive swings in income.

    At the National Press Club this week, the ACTU’s Ged Kearney noted that “on the one hand we have a couple of million workers regularly working more than four hours of unpaid overtime a week; and on the other we have hundreds of thousands who are unable to earn what they need because they can’t get enough hours of work”.

    Business needed to accept that a secure job was not an impediment to productivity, she said.

    “In many respects, it is a vital precondition. If workers are being paid well, with a reasonable degree of job security and predictable hours, with skills that are being developed and recognised and put to good use in the workplace, if they are consulted and fully involved in any change processes occurring in the workplace, then you are far more likely to have a productive and engaged workforce.”

    Kearney argues the 40 per cent of the workforce in casual labour not only do not have paid leave entitlements, “they miss out on quality skills and training and career opportunities”. That must surely be a problem when we pay such lip service to the need to boost the skills of our workforce. The ACTU will convene a “community summit” in March to push the case for reform of insecure work.

    Kearney indirectly noted the Prime Minister’s letters to the Business Council and the ACTU last week calling for a return to the days of the Accord. “We’ve heard a lot in the last week about the need for collaboration and consensus in the debate about productivity and the economy,” she said.

    “This is a debate that Australia shouldn’t be afraid of having – indeed it is a debate that Australia needs to have,” she said. “We are putting both parties on notice that secure work is an issue that working people care deeply about.”

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    Wilderness Society - Tasmanian Forest Agreement

    • Tasmanian forest agreement finally reached!
    • Half a million hectares to be protected.
    • 30 years of conflict coming to an end.
    At last. After two years of intense negotiations and 30 years of friction between forestry groups, governments, communities and environmental organisations, an historic eleventh-hour forest agreement has been reached.

    As part of the agreement, half a million hectares of precious Tasmanian native forest will be protected from logging, and the logging industry will be comprehensively restructured.

    Three weeks ago, we were faced with the total collapse of these long-running peace talks. It looked like we'd lost our chance to protect Tasmania’s ancient forests for good, but a return to the negotiation table has paid off.

    Ultimately, this is a win for our magnificent forests... but it's also a win for people power. This momentous outcome is the realisation of much hard work, many late nights, and blood, sweat and tears poured into a sustained campaign by many people over many decades. This process has demonstrated that the will of people to influence change, and the notion of constructive dialogue, is can be used as a model to move other environmental issues forward.

    This process was never about destroying an industry or putting people out of work – it was about supporting change and reaching an outcome that is both environmentally acceptable and actually deliverable in the real world of economics, politics and personal philosophies. It’s a very emotional issue for some, but today's announcement represents a great outcome for our forests, for workers, and for the Tasmanian community.

    As this has been a genuine negotiation, we didn’t get everything we set out to achieve. For example, an explicit timeline-based exit from native forest logging. However, we can honestly say that we left no stone unturned, and we believe we've achieved a comprehensive conservation outcome alongside a restructure of the logging industry that will support people through change.

    The formal protection of 504,000 hectares of high-conservation-value native forest, added to existing reserves, will make Tasmania a global leader in conservation. The forest agreement will reduce the available wood supply to the logging industry by more than half – from 300,000 cubic metres per annum, to 137,000 cubic metres.

    All 504,000 hectares will have forestry rights revoked immediately by enabling legislation through two mechanisms – a ‘protection order’ generated by the Minister of Forests and a Conservation Agreement under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Convservation Act 1999, and an agreement between the state and federal governments.

    While immediate protection will apply, the reserves will be formally recognised as national parks and other reserves in two blocks – the first installment of 395,000 hectares immediately, and a subsequent installment of 108,000 hectares within two years if the agreement has continued to hold.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Qld: Moura Mine Job Cuts

    The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) says job cuts at Anglo Coal's Dawson Mine in central Queensland are devastating for the local community.

    The AMWU says 40 full-time maintenance positions will be made redundant at the Moura mine, south-west of Gladstone.

    The company axed about 35 positions last week from its Grasstree mine at Middlemount, north-west of Rockhampton.

    AMWU state organiser Phil Golby says companies are increasingly looking to a transient workforce.

    "With the downturn in the coal and all other industries around the country, it seems to be a common theme is what we do is get rid of job security," he said.

    "We get rid of jobs and basically replace them eventually with people on contract, working for contract companies and it basically drives down workers' conditions and wages across Australia."

    Mr Golby says he plans to meet workers next week.

    "It's another kick in the guts," he said.

    "Moura and a lot of the mining communities have been struggling to keep a community together with the advent of fly-in, fly-out workers.

    "Eventually it means there'll be more drive-in, drive-out workers or fly-in, fly-out in the central regions."

    Yindjibarndi Exposes Mining Company Scam

    By National Indigenous Times reporter Gerry Georgatos
    Fortescue Metals Group has embarked upon a “war of attrition” using the legal system against the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation and initiating 25 separate actions through the courts and tribunals of Australia and engaging seven firms of solicitors and seven barristers in a strategy designed to destroy the Yindjibarndi’s ability to continue resisting the mining giant’s demands for an agreement to mine on their land, one of Western Australia’s leading barristers has claimed.

    Barrister George Irving, who has been acting for the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation since 2008, said Fortescue’s wealth and power was being used in an obvious strategy to “financially stretch the Yindjibarndi Corporation”. Mr Irving and Yindjibarndi Chief Executive Officer, Michael Woodley said this strategy would not work. Mr Woodley said it was disappointing funds spent “standing up to Fortescue” would have otherwise been spent on their people. Mr Irving’s comments support claims by the former solicitor, Kerry Savas that Fortescue had actively supported the establishment of the breakaway Yindjibarndi group, the Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation which has agreed to accept the Fortescue offer to mine the Yindjibarndi land.

    The two Yindjibarndi groups continue to argue in a series of court and tribunal actions which group has the right to act on behalf of the Yindjibarndi people. Fortescue has confirmed it has been funding the cost of the Wirlu-murra group’s legal actions. Mr Irving said it appeared clear to him Fortescue was driving a campaign to financially fold the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation. “Since mid 2009 until now Fortescue has lodged 25 court cases and tribunals against the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation and used seven firms of solicitors and seven barristers. It is a strategy,” he said. “I have stayed as the in-house legal representative to the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation because they need me. My own view is it would have been an injustice if I was not representing them, it would be unfair.”

    Chief Executive Officer of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, Michael Woodley said the series of legal actions by Fortescue and the claims the mining giant was actively funding the Wirlu-murra breakaway group raised serious questions about the whole process of Native Title. “How is it fair or appropriate mining giants like Fortescue can be allowed to use their power and wealth to establish breakaway groups who will support their demands to mine our land,” Mr Woodley said. “Fortescue should have nothing to do with determining who should represent the Yindjibarndi people. That is for the Yindjibarndi to decide.

    “What has happened here is Fortescue put forward an offer to mine our land which was significantly less than offers made by other mining companies to mine on our land. “When the Yindjibarndi’s true and legally recognised representative, the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, refused to accept the Fortescue offer Fortescue has gone off and set up a rival group, funded them and now claims that group is the true representative of the Yindjibarndi people. “The vast majority of Yindjibarndi do not recognise the Wirlu-murra group as their representative yet we are now forced to undertake a series of court and tribunal actions that have been initiated by the Fortescue-funded Wirlumurra group. “If there was no Fortescue there would be no Wirlu-murra.

    That’s the point and it is wrong a big mining company can just use its unlimited wealth to undermine and destroy the legally recognised representatives of the Yindjibarndi so it can get a cheap deal for mining rights on our land.” The litany of court and tribunal actions being undertaken by the Wirlu-murra group and Fortescue follow claims last week by the former legal representative of the Wirlu-murra, Kerry Savas the Wirlu-murra was “set up and funded” by Fortescue. Mr Savas, who spent more than a year representing the Wirlu-murra, has claimed Michael Gallagher resigned as an employee of Fortescue and was then engaged as a consultant for the establishment of the Wirlu-murra group and Mr Gallagher has since been the “eyes and ears” of Fortescue within the Wirlu-murra.

    More from

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Vic: Grocon - underpaying allowances

    CFMEU VIC has won significant back-pay for Grocon employees and subontractors on the McNab Avenue Footscray job, after the Victorian Building Industry Disputes Panel found the company had undervalued the project for payment of allowances.

    Grocon had calculated the value of the project on its first stage costs, at $80million. The CFMEU argued that it should have been valued at its full costs of $350m, giving a site allowance of $4.10/hour, instead of the $3.70 paid.

    The Disputes Panel agreed and described the company’s attempt to value it by stage one as “somewhat disingenuous”.

    Grocon’s safety and work practices were also under scrutiny recently, after a crack 30 metres long and up to 65mm wide in Elizabeth Street forced VICRoads to close three lanes. A retention wall on Grocon’s Cancer Centre site had moved about 16mm. In separate incidents, a carpenter severed a finger and a dogman’s load was struck by lightning.

    The CFMEU remains in dispute with Grocon over safety and workplace reps. These incidents show how vital it is that the Union continues to fight until workers on Grocon sites have full safety rights.

    Europe: General Strike 14 November

    ACTU: Stop Attacking Rights at Work

    16 November, 2012 | ACTU Media Release

    Claims by the Australian Industry Group that more companies will close and more jobs will be sent offshore if we do not change the Fair Work Act to limit worker and union rights are a scare campaign, the ACTU said.

    ACTU President Ged Kearney said the AIG was ignoring the real drivers of productivity and wanted to impose an agenda that would leave ordinary workers worse off.

    “The recent review of the Fair Work Act debunked the idea that Australia’s workplace system is holding back productivity growth,” Ms Kearney said.

    “In fact Australia’s fastest productivity growth of recent time was in the 1990s, and productivity rates slowed under the Howard Government.

    “Increasing productivity is crucial to create jobs and keep Australia’s standard of living. But the AIG needs to recognise that increasing productivity is a complex business.”

    “Long-term productivity increases will come from investment in infrastructure, education and skills training, and better management by companies.

    “Productivity is about better using workers and their skills, not about cutting their pay and conditions.”

    Ms Kearney said the AIG’s call for more ‘flexibility’ in the workplace, was simply code for shifting more people into insecure forms of work, or cutting conditions like penalty rates.

    “This alleged flexibility means more people on short-term contracts, in labour hire, or in casual work,” Ms Kearney said.

    “The AIG needs to respect the fact that the Australian people have voted against Work Choices at the last two elections, and they expect fair treatment in the workplace.

    By contrast the ACTU welcomed the call from Business Council of Australia President, Tony Shepherd, to “return to an era where different sectors were able to agree on a common purpose and a plan to foster productivity”.

    ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver, said that he had today written to the BCA and the Prime Minister, reiterating the ACTUs’ willingness to participate in a cooperative tripartite debate on productivity.

    “The major challenges confronting our country can be addressed by constructive engagement and cooperation between business, government, and the union movement,” said Mr Oliver.

    “A genuine debate would be about improving management systems, innovation, infrastructure and skills, not the low road of attacking workers take-home pay.”

    Katoomba Cultural Centre Open

    NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Senator Doug Cameron
    Labor Senator Doug Cameron launched an attack on Premier O'Farrell's TAFE funding cuts at the opening ceremony after Mr O’Farrell praised the role of the arts in his opening remarks.

    “I had this boring speech from the department to read out (but) I’m not going to do that. You’ve got the premier here, so you may as well take the chance,” he said before taking Mr O’Farrell to task over his government’s cuts to the TAFE system.

    “The TAFE system should not simply be about business. . . TAFE is an absolute institution in this country. It started the lives, and it saved the lives of many, many, many people, and we need to keep funding it. We can’t simply be an economy, we’ve got to be a society,” he said to loud applause from the opening night audience.

    But even Senator Cameron’s passionate remarks were hard-pressed to upstage the cultural centre building itself.

    Located next to the Carrington Hotel in Parke Street, the long-awaited building contains a regional art gallery, World Heritage exhibition, new Katoomba library, cafe, courtyard and viewing platform.

    With funding from the Federal Government as well, the council hopes the cultural centre will become a focal point for the local community as well as a drawcard for tourists.

    Saturday night was the first chance most people had to see the building and its inaugural exhibition, Picturing the Great Divide: Visions from Australia’s Blue Mountains.

    With a tortuous 14 year history — and much controversy over the inclusion of a Coles retail development in the lower levels of the complex — the opening night was an opportunity for celebration and acknowledegment.

    Former Blue Mountains MP Bob Debus and former Blue Mountains Mayor Jim Angel were singled out for their crucial contribution to the project as was former Ward 1 Clr Terri Hamilton who officially opened the new library.

    “The sling and the arrows and the aggravations, they all fade into irrelevance when you see what is here tonight, what has been achieved by a joint approach between the private sector, council, Federal and State Governments,” said Blue Mountains Mayor Daniel Myles.

    The night finished not in controversy but with a local celebration of the arts when former Katoomba resident Ian Colless performed a specially-commissioned dance piece titled Ritual.

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Save the Tarkine

    The Tarkine National Coalition's Scott Jordan remains unconcerned about more than 3000 people turning up to the AWU rally held in Burnie on Saturday.

    Mr Jordan said although the rally did get significant numbers he believed it was largely to do with a level of miscommunication about the coalition.

    "Obviously it is a large turnout for Burnie,'' Mr Jordan said.

    "But what we're concerned about is the amount of people that think our agenda . . .  is to cost them jobs.''

    Mr Jordan said the idea that the group was out to lock everything up and not support mining in the area was a myth.

    "We draw the line for new mines in the area,'' he said.

    "But we have always made sure our boundaries excluded existing mines.

    "We have gone out of our way to make sure there's no threat to existing mines.''

    Mr Jordan said the National Tarkine Coalition was planning to hold its own rally in December and the general expectation was for a big crowd.

    "We're hoping for a big crowd,'' he said.

    "But you always set out your expectations when you hold an event like this.''

    The rally, to be held on the lawns of Parliament House in Hobart, holds symbolic importance for Mr Jordan.

    "We're going to take the message to Hobart,'' he said.

    "Traditionally it's been the way (to go to Hobart).''

    Mr Jordan said he did not think of the Tarkine issue as solely the province of the North-West Coast but that everyone in the state and in the country should have a say.

    "Although the people of the North-West Coast have a special interest these are places of state and national interest,'' he said.

    Unseemly Coal Seam Gas - Worse Than Coal ?

    More Polluting Than Coal ?

    Researchers at Southern Cross University have used a specialised measuring device and recorded elevated levels of methane in the air above the Tara gasfield in Queensland.

    The scale and distribution of methane levels in the gasfield suggests that the gas is probably migrating up from the coal seam via cracks and fissures in the ground.

    Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (at least 21 times more powerful then carbon dioxide) but current accounting of emissions under the carbon price ignores these types of uncontrolled emissions from the ground.

    Fugitive emissions on the scale foreshadowed in this study would dramatically increase the climate change impacts of CSG, potentially making it far more polluting than coal.

    If properly measured and accounted, the carbon price liabilities of these emissions may make the CSG industry in Australia economically unviable.

    More from GetUp!

    NBN - Laying the Fibre gets up to speed

    NBN contractors such as Silcar/Thiess, SPATIALinfo and Service Stream are now so efficient at rolling out fibre down streets - from the exchange to people's houses - that stopping to add tens of thousands of large-fridge sized node cabinets – as proposed by the anti-NBN lobby – represents an expensive, time-consuming hindrance. The hindrance comes with a practical nightmare of powering the node and intense bureaucracy born from the requirement of dealing with power companies, associated regulations and the necessity of using power companies' own engineers to hook each one up. One contractor said, "I don't know how you'd power them."

    The contractors also pointed out that it could still be cheaper if the scope of an alternative rollout was reduced. Nonetheless, they did mention that the state of the copper would be an issue. Other infrastructure leaders subsequently concurred and pointed out that maintenance to Australia's copper networks (both PSTN and HFC) has practically collapsed over the past three years because there has been little reason for commercial companies to spend money on maintaining networks that are scheduled to be ripped out of the ground. There's now a very real question of whether it would be feasible to rely on any infrastructure, which relies upon existing copper, even if we wanted to.

    The contractors foresee no problem hitting 6000 connections per day from early next year which would mean NBNco's plans are running on schedule. Stephen Ellich, Director of Service Stream, explained how the rollout process required passing through various phases, "The first phase is design. When everybody started everybody was probably thinking, 'Well we'll never design that many jobs at once!' Now, you know, we're simultaneously designing jobs in the order of...
    30,000 to 40,000 premises per month."

    Dan Birmingham from Silcar chipped in, "We're hitting 50,000 a month at the moment."

    Ellich went on, "So you add those numbers together and the puzzle starts to come together.

    "We're ramping up each phase of this project to build it. It's not like it's a 'day one' requirement - we see it truly as a journey. And it's that investment in the resources, training, and the infrastructure which includes our own plant out in the field, our own splicing equipment, our own CAD stations, spatial access and training, that gives us the ability to build an industry that is capable of building 6000 at every phase."

    Tony Cotter, MD and CTO for SPATIALinfo pointed out that the rollout was not unprecedented and that when Telstra and Optus rolled out their HFC networks, they were hitting 5000 per day while in the US the 'Verizon - FiOS' roll-out was hitting 5000 to 6000 connections per day

    "It's not unachievable" he said.

    NSW: Day of Action for Education, Sunday 18 November

    Community Day of Action for Education, 
    Sunday November 18, 
    11am, Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour

    There has been an enormous backlash over the O’Farrell Coalition government’s cut of $1.7 billion over 4 years to education funding, announced on September 11, 2012. This will cut 1,800 teaching and non-teaching positions from public education.

    Right now there is a seismic shift of public opinion over the direction of state and federal public education policies. It is time to rally to demonstrate the huge demand for real improvement in the public education system which is a bedrock for a fair, democratic and prosperous Australia. Get all of your friends to come to the Community Day of Acton for Education, Sunday November 18, 11am, Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour, Sydney.

    Seventy per cent of people polled by Auspoll said the planned cuts would hurt kids in public schools; 82 per cent said it was important or very important to increase funding for public schools, and only 28 per cent said they would have voted for the O’Farrell Coalition if he had disclosed his plans to slash education funding.

    On the other hand, there was real enthusiasm and appreciation for the Gillard labor government on September 3 when the Prime Minister announced that she had embraced the Gonski Report’s recommendations and would negotiate with state and territory governments over how much each level of government would contribute.

    The public education cuts in NSW are part of the $10 billion in cuts from the whole public sector announced by Treasurer Baird in the September 2011 Budget and the 1.2 per cent Labour Expense Cap imposed in the June 2012 Budget. These two measures mean a cut of 15,000 public sector jobs, including School Administrative and Support Staff positions in schools, as well as teaching and non-teaching positions in head office, regional offices and TAFE.

    A key mechanism for imposing these cuts is the ‘Local Schools, Local Decisions’ policy announced in March 2012, whereby resource and staffing levels at schools will not be based on student enrolments, learning needs and curriculum. Instead the Principal will be given a staffing budget, and will have to employ within that limit. School Principals will be required to do more with less and every year will have to decide what to do without – self-management of decline!

    This kind of devolved financial structure has been imposed in TAFE for many years and the outcome has been the loss of permanent positions, abolition of courses, the end of equity programs and reduced funding. Now TAFE will lose another 800 positions and will impose higher fees and so limit access to courses for many students.

    For more information on the Community Day of Action and the NSW Teachers Federation campaign,,, and at Facebook

    Thursday, November 15, 2012


    What the sell off will mean for you:

    Higher electricity prices

    Selling public assets results in higher prices. Big business is focused on only looking after their shareholders and not NSW families.

    • A less reliable network with more blackouts

    Privatisation of the electricity network in Victoria saw a 32% increase in the number of blackouts between 1995-1999.

    • Reduced public safety

    The victorian Bushfire Royal commission found that the privatised electricity network was one of the main causes of the 2009 bushfires where several people lost their lives. Don’t let this happen in NSW.

    • Less money for local community organisations

    in 2009-2010 the NSW state-owned power companies provided almost $10 million in sponsorship to local charities, festivals and community organistations including vital services like the Westpac Rescue helicopter. That funding will be put at risk.

    Massive job losses especially in rural And regional areas
    This will hurt the community and have a negative impact throughout the local economy, particularly youth unemployment.

    ACOSS: Stop Cuts to Sole Parent Payments!

    Single parents and their children suffer as Senate passes cuts

    October 9, 2012 - Leading welfare voices came together in Canberra on Tuesday to protest against the Federal Government's decision to press ahead with damaging cuts to the payments of more than 100,000 single parents in defiance of two separate Committee recommendations.

    ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said, "This is not the right way to achieve a Budget surplus, on the back of sole parents and their children. It's cruel and unfair, especially for the children that will be severely affected!"

    Regrettably the legislation passed in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon (October 9, 2012), but we will not stop the fight against the changes which are set to take affect from January 1, 2013.


    In the May 2012 Budget, the Federal Government announced that it planned to save $700 million by forcing well over 100 000 more single parents (over 90% are women) off the Parenting Payment onto the Newstart Allowance, which is now so low it is unbearable to live on.

    There is a Parliamentary Inquiry right now investigating the adequacy of this payment, which hasn't been increased in real terms in almost 20 years.

    The Bill to force more single parents onto the low Newstart payment has been dealt with by two parliamentary committees. Both these committees, with majority government members, expressed serious concern about their cut in income, which could be up to $60 per week, or even more than $100, depending on your circumstances.

    Both committees recommended that the Bill be delayed until the completion of the Newstart Inquiry towards the end of this year. But now the government has decided to bring the legislation forward in the Senate next week.

    This is simply unacceptable and we continue to urge a Government rethink on this damaging policy.

    Sign the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children ... Petition

    TAS: Bill White case thrown out of court

    Long-serving Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) organiser Bill White was charged with trespass when he refused to leave the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment site in July and police were called.

    Mr White's arrest sparked union rallies and warnings the $586 million project could be delayed.

    He pleaded not guilty and Magistrate Catherine Rheinberger found he had no case to answer because it was unclear who had legal authority over the communal area Mr White had visited.

    A relieved Mr White said building company Fairbrother had been to blame.

    "It's a waste of everyone's time," he told reporters.

    "I don't see what the problem is, us talking to our members.

    CFMEU state secretary Bill Oliver welcomed the outcome.

    "The CFMEU puts Fairbrother on notice," he said in a statement.

    "We will defend our members and officials no matter what it takes.

    "It was legitimate business which Bill White was conducting, and there was no cause to forcibly remove him.

    "The CFMEU is fighting to improve the wages and conditions of Tasmanian workers, which lag behind those on the mainland."

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    18 November 2010 - DAY OF ACTION

    NSW: Coroner slams NSW cops over Taser death

    Police officers involved in the death of a Brazilian student who was tasered 14 times face possible charges after the NSW coroner handed down a scathing finding on the incident.

    Mary Jerram labelled the officers' behaviour "thuggish" and rejected the evidence from some of the officers.

    She recommended disciplinary charges for five of the officers involved and said the police action taken against Roberto Laudisio Curti, 21, should be referred to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

    She recommended police review the use of Tasers and training procedures, including whether the "drive-stun" mode should be banned and whether Tasers should be issued to probationary officers.

    Drive-stun involves applying the Taser directly to the skin, as opposed to discharging the device's barbs from a distance.

    Mr Curti, from Sao Paolo, died in the early hours of March 18 after officers discharged Tasers at him 14 times, used capsicum spray, handcuffs and a baton and knelt on him after a chase through Sydney's CBD.

    The coroner found he had an adverse reaction to a small dose of LSD the prior evening, then stole biscuits from a convenience store before police mistakenly believed he was armed.

    She said officers clearly used excessive force in abuse of police powers and were "in some instances even thuggish" and "out of control".

    Ms Jerram also said Sergeant (now Inspector) Gregory Cooper's coronial evidence was "self-contradictory, self-serving and obscure".

    "Pushing his entire weight on the back of a man prone, who was handcuffed and had just been tasered was hardly the action of an experienced, senior officer," she said.

    The officers had acted with "an ungoverned pack mentality, like schoolboys in the Lord of the Flies".

    Ms Jerram was scathing in her criticism, saying officers' evidence to the inquest had at times involved a suspicious similarity of wording and inability to remember events.

    Mr Curti died of undetermined causes in the course of being restrained by police officers, she found.

    His brother-in-law, Michael Reynolds, said the family and their lawyers believed criminal charges should be laid and had made a formal request to police to pursue such charges.

    "Whilst nothing will ever bring Roberto back, we continue to push for those responsible to face the consequences for their appalling behaviour on that night," he said outside court.

    NSW: O'Farrell Bull: "Scientific Grazing" in National Parks

    Who put the Oaf into O'Farrell?

    Environment Minister Robyn Parker said the trial would only be conducted on land where grazing permits were issued when the areas were State Forests.

    She said that to enable graziers to adapt to the change to national parks, these permits had been extended to 2016, but no new land will be opened up to grazing for the trial.

    "The trial will examine the social, economic and ecological impacts and benefits of grazing," she said.

    Former National Party MLC Richard Bull will act as independent facilitator to oversee the project and report back to the minister.

    "As part of his role, Mr Bull will consult with relevant regional committees as well as stakeholders and experts, including the River Red Gum Scientific Advisory Committee," Ms Parker said.

    "Representations from local members, notably the Member for Murray Darling John Williams, indicated there was an opportunity to continue stock grazing in these areas."

    Opposition environment spokesman Luke Foley said allowing grazing in national parks was the latest in a long line of attacks on the State's national parks estate by the O'Farrell Government.

    "Hard hoofed animals have no place in our national parks. Allowing cattle into our national parks would have a terrible impact on fragile plants and soils," he said.

    "Our national parks provide a refuge for more than 1000 endangered species of flora and fauna, as well as protecting precious landscapes.

    "Letting the graziers into NSW national parks would have a devastating impact on our native animals and plants.

    "When the Victorian Coalition Government introduced cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park, the Federal Environment Minister overruled them because of the impacts on the environment.

    "Handing our national parks over to graziers privatises the benefits of our pristine areas that are supposed to be shared and enjoyed by everyone in NSW.

    "The Environment Minister and O'Farrell Government need to learn that just like logging doesn't protect koalas, grazing in national parks doesn't help biodiversity."

    AFL-CIO: Promise Us!


    We only have a few weeks to make sure President Obama and Congress do everything they can to rebuild the middle class. The stakes are huge and we're up against millions of dollars from the same corporations and right-wing billionaires that spent record amounts trying to elect Mitt Romney. It’s up to us to fight for working families.

    United Voice: National Demonstrations - 17 November


    MUA: Tell Chevron ...


    Using dodgy visas to hire overseas backpackers.

    The jobs in the offshore resource industry should be for locals – there are enough local workers to fill almost all the jobs Chevron and their contractors need.
    But hiring offshore workers isn’t the worst of it. As well as bringing in foreign workers, Chevron contractor Allseas isn’t paying them Australian wages and conditions, and is bringing them in on
    dodgy visas.
    Chevron: how can Australian workers compete with this?

    Not training our local kids.

    We need to make sure that there’s a good future for our kids – the resource boom can help with this.
    Our kids need to be able to get good training through apprenticeships and workplacements – supported by companies like Chevron and their contractors.
    Companies like Chevron are making billions in profits on these projects. Some of this money should be training our kids. Giving them jobs. Securing their future.
    Chevron: commit to training our kids for their future.

    Not supporting indigenous communities.

    For too long the indigenous communities in the Pilbara have been ignored during the resource boom.
    We must make sure that everyone is benefitting from the boom – but particularly the indigenous communities.
    Not a single real dollar has been committed to indigenous training – just fluffy announcements and spin.
    The programs that have been announced never lead to real jobs.
    Chevron: commit to some real support of our indigenous communities.

    Michael de Wall - Public Education the Equaliser

    Michael de Wall of the NSW Teachers Federation speaking about "Local Schools Local Decisions" policy.

    The event was called "Education the Equaliser" but Michael re-named it "Public Education the Equaliser".

    Blue Mountains Unions Council - Politics in the Pub Rod Brooks Memorial Forum. 10 November 2012

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Education the Equaliser - Phillip Chadwick

    Politics in the Pub Education the Equaliser
    Transcript of Phillip Chadwick President TAFE TA presentation
    Katoomba Nov 10 2012

    Good afternoon, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today on the very important issue of “Education the equaliser” and in particular Public Education.

    My name is Phill Chadwick, I am a tradie, a teacher of electrical trades and the proud president of my union. As a practicing Electrical Trades teacher with 22 years of teaching experience under my belt. I have held positions at North Sydney, Granville and my current location at Miller in Sydney South Western Suburbs. I live and work in my local area, both myself and my children have been educated in the local public schools system.

    I have been asked to speak to today to inform your community on the current reforms to the Public Education System and the devastating impact it will have on TAFE colleges and most importantly TAFE students in your local area. Education is a great equaliser but under the reforms now being introduced by Barry O’Farrell a few will be more equal than the many.

    TAFE NSW’s roll is to deliver High Quality, Low Cost, Vocational Education and Training, with an emphasis on access and equity to its students. The origins of TAFE began in 1833 as the “Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts” delivering courses in popular music, dancing as well as geometry and architectural drawing. Even from the early days the providers of technical education in NSW took the view that education should not only strengthen job prospects – it should enrich society.

    In 1883, now known as “Sydney Technical College” financial responsibility was assumed by the state government. NSW has now enjoyed 130 years of publicly funded Vocational Education and Training. TAFE NSW is now considered as a world class training organisation.

    TAFE NSW has risen to world class status despite being hampered by years of financial neglect from both state and federal governments, for years TAFE has had to run on the smell of an oily rag. In April of this year in a funding review similar to as Gonski is to schools, the Council of Australian Governments “Partnership Agreement” provided close to 2 billion dollars of funding to VET systems Australia wide.

    Conditions of the funding required the state governments to open TAFE to completion from private providers and to produce a business model to show how the public provider’s role would be maintained and protected in the competitive system.

    In May of this year, in the NSW state budget, as part of 1.7 Billion dollar attack on public education, Barry O’Farrell took away the oil and left us with just the rag. He chose to protect TAFE by ripping more than 54 million dollars from the TAFE budget and announcing the loss more than 800 full time teaching jobs.

    Regrettably in the Blue Mountains region the budget cuts have impacted heavily on of all things, tourism and hospitality. The outdoor recreation certificates 3 and 4 course have been targeted and stripped of subsidised funding in the same way Fine Arts has been in other parts of the state. Outdoor recreation students despite the course having a history of 79% of graduates finding employment in that field, face the prospect of paying full commercial fees next year. The teachers of Out Door Recreation also face uncertain futures. Under a “Spill and Fill” of the 6 full time staff in the section, only 3 will be employed next year. Teachers are being forced to compete with colleges for their own jobs. Further to that there are more Part Time Casual Teachers that will have no work next year. 70% of all face to face hours taught at TAFE are delivered by Part Time Casual Teachers in what’s known as precarious employment.

    Also under threat are the certificate 1 and 2 Cafe skills and Healing courses taught at Katoomba.
    The rhetoric of the Macquarie street spin doctors to support this is “we feel it is only necessary to put government money into courses were jobs are an outcome”. So much for local decisions, this only leaves the local blame.

    Throughout the rest of the state institute managers have chosen to target our Special Program areas for cuts. These include teaching areas such as;
    • Adult basic Education
    • Disabilities support
    • English for Speakers of Other Languages
    • Multicultural support
    • General Education and
    • Outreach - these are the people who help people back into training after many years.
    Under the budget driven reforms cuts to student services will see loss of access to certificate 1 (year 10 level) literacy and numeracy courses in Adult Basic Education.

    Disability, English for speakers of other languages and multicultural teachers are to be reclassified as brokers, effectively preventing them from direct contact with students who have special needs. This will be left to regular trade teachers who do not have training or speciality in these areas.

    General Education Students will suffer the loss of the ability to access HSC subjects at TAFE. This area has been targeted as the government has raised the school leaving age to 17 and considers this service to students are no longer required. The government forgets about the students that don’t fit in at High School and somehow manage to slip through the cracks. There will be no second chances.

    Considering the social fabric and makeup of our community in the west of sydney, I find these cuts which target some of the most disadvantaged, a heartless act. I am informed that as a result more than 450 part time teachers will be out of work, this on top of the 800 positions that I have already mentioned. They are the invisible statistics, they won’t need deletion, they just won’t get that phone call to come into work.

    Teaching sections across the entire metropolitan area are being RATIONALISED. This is code to be closed and moved to another location far, far away. Trade sections such as “panel beating spray painting and sign writing” are being shut at Wetherill Park and Mount Druitt with the loss of more 30 teachers in the process. Students will be relocated to Ultimo and Campbelltown Colleges if they can find a spot.

    But our problems don’t stop there, Education minister Adrian Piccoli has recently announced the Smart and Skills reforms to Vocation Education and Training. In 2014 the NSW government will introduce their COAG required “Smart and Skilled” reforms to the NSW TAFE system. These reforms mirror changes that have crippled the Victorian TAFE system. These changes have lead wide spread deletion of the courses offered to students and the pending closure and sale of a number of TAFE colleges due declining market share in enrolments. The decline was due to the introduction of Private for Profit

    Providers into the VET system. TAFE enrolments’ remained static but Aggressive marketing tactics and offers such as fee IPADs loured students to the privates and enrolments exploded.

    This mess is a clear example of a policy that might have looked fine on paper but simply didn’t work in practice. In 2011, the Victorian Government was forced to inject an extra $400 million into Training, only to find the money gobbled up by a long list of pink bats style scandals exposed this year. Under the guise of flexibility, courses where delivered in impossibly short time frames. ABC’s 730 ran several stories on the Dodgy providers. One of which was the largest single private provider in Victoria (refer to 730 archives for names).

    The Victorian government then stunned everyone by taking $290 million from the not-for profit TAFE providers to compensate for the blow-out. But TAFE did not cause the problem. The VET budget was blown out by private entrepreneurs. The Government had no proper mechanism to monitor these providers. The outcome of the Baillieu cuts is clear: 2000+ experienced TAFE teachers will be lost to the sector; COURSES are being cut; FEES are going up; REGIONAL students have less choice of career; RURAL communities will find it harder to develop new skills; and PUBLIC assets will be run down and sold off.

    At the moment back in NSW, TAFE students may re-enter the training system a number of times throughout their lives to top up training as their work and personal situations change. At the moment the cost of this training is subsidised by the government. In 2014 as a result of smart and skilled students will only receive government subsidised training if they are on the Education minister’s skills shortage list. This will be a once in a life time one off “entitlement”. Courses for areas not on the list will pay full commercial fees.

    Skills shortage areas are recognised by the “Productivity Commission and State Training Services” as Electrical, Construction, Engineering, Mining, Aged and Child care. There is no guarantee that all, or any of these skills areas will be on Mr Picolli’s secret list. The list will be dynamic, it will be complied through “consultation” with industry and market research. I hope the consultation is better that what has happened here in the Blue Mountains with ODR.

    For example of what the cost of full commercial fees will be, Fine Arts students at TAFE will be forced to pay fees of around $8,000 to $10,000 per year. This will give you an indication of what the government plans for courses not on Mr Picolli’s list.

    These reforms are retrospective, if you have already done a certificate 3 level course like a trade, any further training at TAFE or any other private provider will be at full commercial rates.

    The education minister has stated that we do not want to repeat the mistakes of Victoria. This is how Education minister intends to stop the cost blow outs of Victoria in NSW. Under Smart and Skilled, shortages will now be created in areas where no skills shortage existed due to the short sighted stimulus and response method of planning.

    Education will no longer be the Equaliser. Those on the skills list will be more equal and have more access to training, than those who are not on the list. Under smart and skilled the devastation to the TAFE system will be worse than Victoria, as student’s desert training due to the oppressive fees. 130 years of public funded High Quality low cost training will be sacrificed in a Race to the Bottom as public and private VET providers compete for students.

    What must be done. Chris Evans must grow some of the proverbial and take a big stick to the states on Victoria, NSW and Qld and force them honour their obligation under the partnership program to protect the public provide provider.

    In the short term we must demand the NSW Liberal Government grow a social conscious, lobby and protest to marginal Liberal MPs to reverse the education cuts and job cuts at TAFE. In the long term Vote out BOF and cast him and the ANP back into the political wilderness where they belong.

    The governments spin doctors will label my words as scaremongering. I am not a scaremonger; I am a tradie, a teacher of electrical trades and the very proud president of my union.
    Thank you.

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Obama win: implications for Australia

    Tony Walker AFR

    Here’s the question: what implications, if any, does an Obama victory based on the overwhelming support of women, minorities and young people have for Australian politics and for Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott in particular?

    In the 48 hours since US President Barack Obama secured a memorable victory in the midst of a continuing economic slump, the political class on both sides of politics in this country has been conducting quiet conversations with each other – and themselves – on that topic.

    Barring polling on the subject I have no idea whether a US election has had a ripple effect here beyond what you might expect, but there are clearly lessons to be learned from what happened in America this week. Lesson number one is a successful candidate needs the broadest possible base of support.

    Obama gained that broad-based backing in contrast to challenger Mitt Romney, who lost three demographics: women, minorities and young people, by wide margins.

    Romney won big among white male voters across the country. He racked up large gains in evangelical communities, and he did well among Catholics, but this was not enough. In the end, his constituency was too narrow.

    This begs the question whether Tony Abbott might be similarly vulnerable.

    In two important areas, the respective systems are exhibiting similar characteristics – the female vote and the 18 to 29-year-old demographic, or as it’s polled here the 18-34 voting bloc.

    In the US, the woman’s vote is becoming more critical as it has trended Democratic. Females voted overwhelmingly – by double digits – for Obama.

    In an Australian context where issues such as a woman’s right to choose are less toxic, it’s unlikely that a demographic split will be as pronounced, but a gender gap is working against a conservative opposition leader.

    Newspoll has Abbott trailing Gillard by a margin of 41-34 per cent among women when asked who would be the better prime minister. At one level this is a fairly meaningless question since Gillard is the prime minister, but a pronounced female tilt towards Labor is worrying for the Coalition, if the US example is borne in mind.

    This brings us to the younger age bracket. Again it is possible to discern similarities between what happened in the US and here. The Coalition trails Labor by 6 to 8 percentage points in the 18 to 34-year-old demographic.

    The world is shrinking, which brings us to the issue of incumbency. This is hard to measure, but American pollsters believe it accounts for 1-2 percentage points, all things being more or less equal.

    Whether that applies in Australia is moot, but there is no doubt Obama benefited from his incumbent status against a challenger who never appeared entirely comfortable in his role, and who lacked a consistent narrative.

    If there’s a lesson from the US this week it is that aspiring political leaders need such a narrative.

    Gillard has been striving for one, whether you agree with her not. Abbott is yet to articulate one, and may have exhausted his repertoire.

    The US election reminded us that politicians need to tell a story. It’s what’s called the “vision thing” and its importance can’t be overstated.

    TAS: Unions rally to back Bill

    Rally to Back Bill: Monday 9.30am Hobart Magistrates Court

    All Tasmania unions and community supporters will rally outside the Hobart Magistrates Court on Monday, November 12, at 9.30am in support of CFMEU Organiser Bill White.

    Bill faces court on trespass charges, after he visited a Fairbrothers site in Hobart, to assist union members.  Bill was going about his job as an organiser, as he has done for years in Tasmania, when he was arrested.

    Three weeks earlier, Fairbrothers had made a handshake deal with the CFMEU about entry. But then the Tasmanian Master Builders intervened.

    Since its amalgamation with CFMEU VIC, the strengthened Tasmanian Branch is winning new gains for members.

    “The Burnie Paper Mill demolition job has set the standard with a much-improved agreement, and there is plenty more on the way for workers who join the CFMEU,” says Noel Washington, CFMEU VIC Senior Vice President, who now heads up the Tasmania Office.

    “All the MBA have to do is come to the table and negotiate better deals for workers.”

    More Info: CFMEU TAS website: Rally to Back Bill.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    Education Debate come to Katoomba

    Education debate comes to Katoomba
    2:30pm Saturday November 10 
    Blackburn’s Family Hotel 15 Parke St. Katoomba

    (download A4 poster(download small flyer(November Union News)

    Parents of school children across the Mountains have been taking part in meetings with the Teachers Federation to hear about the impact of State Government funding cuts to education.

    Parents & Citizens Associations, including Faulconbridge Public and Blackheath Public, have heard from NSW Teachers Federation organiser, Michael de Wall that the $1.7 billion cuts will hit hard.

    In addition to the impacts of fewer funds, the union says principals will take the blame if something goes wrong, and special education needs will not be met under the Local Schools, Local Decisions policy.

    Mr de Wall will join with NSW TAFE Teachers Association President, Phil Chadwick, to discuss the impact of the funding cuts to both schools and TAFE in the Blue Mountains. They will be joined by Springwood trainee teacher, Keely Tregillgas, who will share her insights into the profession from the student teacher perspective.

    The event, open to the public, is part of the Politics in the Pub series organized by the Blue Mountains Union Council, will take place at 2.30 on Saturday 10 November at the Family Hotel in Katoomba.

    Mr Chadwick says TAFE NSW now finds itself at a crossroad.

    “Under the federal ALP's COAG Partnership Agreement, all states and territories are required to open their Vocational Education and Training systems up to competition from private for profit making providers, while at the same time students retain an “Entitlement” to a  government funded place in the training system,” Mr Chadwick says.

    “The experiences of other states such as Victoria provide evidence of a completely different outcome once the partnership agreement is implemented by Liberal state governments,” he says.

    “At present NSW students already have access to a high quality low cost public vocational education system, which they are able to access at any number of times throughout their life.”

    Trish Doyle, Blue Mountains Union Council Board member, who will moderate the discussion, says she’d love to see teachers, parents and students at the event.

    “As a teacher and parent I am really worried about funding cuts to our education sector,” Ms Doyle said.

    “Our community need to know what’s in store and how we can respond. This forum will be informative so please come along.”

    No bookings needed. For information contact: Deb Smith 47871401

    Friday, November 09, 2012

    WIMDOI: Women in Male Dominated Industries Conference 2012

    The National Women in Male Dominated Industries (WIMDOI) Conference 2012, hosted by the ACTU, will be held in Adelaide from Wednesday 7 - Friday 9 November.

    The 2012 Conference will focus on skills development for women activists in male dominated industries and occupations, including workplace organising and campaigning.  It provides an opportunity for women in male dominated industries to network and develop ongoing support structures.

    Register for the WIMDOI 2012 Conference online or by downloading a form at  ACTU Events

    The Conference will also implement the framework of the Women in Unions Report 2011 which encourages and supports women’s participation in unions; and develop initiatives to encourage women into male dominated employment areas and support them in the workplace.

    WIMDOI 2012 will be held at: ASU SA-NT office, 5-9 Rundle Street, Adelaide

    Register for the WIMDOI 2012 Conference online or by downloading a form at  ACTU Events

    Contact: Debbie Gower (03) 8676 7263

    Thursday, November 08, 2012

    Qantas: 1260 Engineering Jobs Cut in 2012

    • Qantas has this year cut about 1260 jobs from its engineering operations. 
    • 200 Qantas line maintenance jobs cut in Sydney
    • 250 contractors at Avalon in Victoria
    • About 50 jobs elsewhere, including Richmond
    • 100 new jobs created in Brisbane
    Qantas is cutting another 500 engineering jobs in Sydney and at Avalon Airport in Victoria as the airline steps up the consolidation of its heavy maintenance bases from two to one.

    About 200 of the latest job cuts will be to line-maintenance roles at Qantas’s jet base at Sydney Airport and the remainder mostly from heavy maintenance at Avalon Airport near Geelong.

    The "Joyce Effect" on Qantas shares ... why not sack him?
    The airline has decided to cut jobs in Sydney because it believes it has an oversupply of line-maintenance engineers. They undertake day-to-day servicing of aircraft.

    The latest cuts in Victoria are to engineers who have been reconfiguring Qantas’s nine remaining Boeing 747-400 aircraft. The last of the jumbos will be completed by the end of this month.About 250 of the workers to go at Avalon are contractors.

    However, Qantas will boost its workforce at its heavy maintenance base at Brisbane Airport by 100, and the airline has emphasised that the latest cuts will result in a net loss of about 400 jobs.

    It takes the total number of jobs axed from Qantas’s engineering operations this year to about 1260, and is a further blow to Victoria’s manufacturing industries.

    Qantas closed its heavy maintenance base at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport in August, resulting in the loss of 422 jobs. A further 113 positions have already gone from its other engineering facility at the Lindsay Fox-owned Avalon Airport due to a reduction in the work there.

    Union blasts cuts

    The aircraft engineers’ union has described the latest jobs cuts as ‘‘another step towards turning our national carrier into an unsafe airline’’.

    The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association’s federal secretary, Steve Purvinas, said under staffing at the airline was ‘‘becoming dangerous and Qantas management are disregarding basic laws of aviation safety’’.

    “It beggars belief that Qantas management's answer to a recent spate of maintenance errors, many being investigated by CASA, is to sack more staff,” he said in a statement.

    “Given the rising number of errors and the potentially serious nature of some of these, we’re calling on Qantas to reverse these job cuts.’’

    Sydney Peace Prize: Sekai Holland

    Senator Mrs. Sekai Holland Co Minister for Reconciliation Healing and Integration in the Cabinet of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was announced as the recipient of the 2012 Sydney Peace Prize, in a ceremony hosted by the Australian Embassy in Harare , Zimbabwe , April 30.

    The Sydney Peace Prize jury’s citation reads: ‘ Sekai Holland: for a lifetime of outstanding courage in campaigning for human rights and democracy, for challenging violence in all its forms and for giving such astute and brave leadership for the empowerment of women.’

    The announcement of the choice of Sekai Holland was made by Dr Meredith Burgmann at a reception hosted by Australian Embassy in Harare on Monday 30 April.

    Professor Stuart Rees, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation said, ‘In addition to her work for the education of rural women and her founding of Australia’s anti Apartheid movement fifty years ago, Sekai Holland has been a significant leader of non violent, democracy campaigns, and is a key figure in her country’s national dialogue on how to heal the deep wounds of social conflict.’

    In response Senator Holland commented, ‘This award comes as a wonderful surprise but one which is so encouraging. I accept on behalf of the brave women I have worked with for so many years and for my colleagues in our present Organ for National Healing Reconciliation and Integration. I also acknowledge the long term support and friendship which I have received from Australian Aboriginal campaigners for human rights and for peace with justice.’

    Sekai Holland will travel to Australia in November to give the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday November 7th and will receive the 2012 Peace Prize ($50,000 and a trophy crafted by the artist in glass Brian Hirst ) at a Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony on Thursday November 8th.

    Qld: Newman threat to TAFE

    From ABC News

    The Queensland Government is facing widespread criticism over a report recommending half of its TAFE campuses be closed.

    Queensland is the latest conservative-led state to flag major changes to its vocational education system.

    The State Government says it's looking at ways to rationalise the system and manage the state's lack of skilled workers.

    Education unions say if the recommendations are implemented students will end up paying more.

    Stephanie Smail reports.

    STEPHANIE SMAIL: The TAFE report says campuses are outdated, poorly maintained and inefficient.

    It says 13 of the state's 80-plus colleges are currently empty, others have very few students and about half should be shut.

    Earlier this year, state and territory governments signed a trade training deal with the Commonwealth. For improving vocational education and boosting the numbers of students trained, they were promised millions of dollars in additional federal funding.

    But since then $300 million has been cut from TAFE in Victoria and New South Wales has flagged major overhauls.

    Pat Forward is from the Australian Education Union.

    PAT FORWARD: All of the Federal Government reforms are now set in the context of state governments which are showing no appetite whatsoever to maintain a public TAFE system and who are in fact jeopardising the future of the many, many hundreds of thousands of young Australians who go to TAFE for some prospect of a decent vocational education and training.

    STEPHANIE SMAIL: In Queensland the teachers' union says students in regional areas will be the most vulnerable if campuses are closed.

    The union's Kevin Bates says TAFE teaching staff haven't been consulted.

    KEVIN BATES: It's not something you would expect any government to undertake without having key stakeholders sitting around the table. And when teachers and educators haven't been included in that task force then there is a real concern that the content of the report won't necessarily capture all of the concerns and aspirations of an important stakeholder in the education process.

    STEPHANIE SMAIL: The report says low priority training should be dropped in favour of skills that would help boost the state's economy like agriculture and tourism.

    Pat Forward is calling on the Federal Government to withdraw its funding from the states if they don't change their approach.

    PAT FORWARD: Minister Evans must step in now. He must make it clear that these state governments stand to lose the many billions of dollars worth of funding that the Federal Government puts into the system unless they act quickly and decisively and stop this process of just destruction of the public TAFE system in these three states.