Monday, June 30, 2014

ACTU - ACOSS - BCA: Alliance proposes partnerships to secure jobs

The Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Business Council of Australia today jointly proposed improvements to employment services to deliver better job outcomes for people disadvantaged in the labour market.

The proposal, put forward ahead of the announcement by the federal government of new national contracts with employment services providers, follows the development of an alliance between three organisations to work together to tackle entrenched disadvantage.

The organisations propose employment services be reoriented towards a ‘partnerships approach’, which more effectively links employment services with employer needs, and where funding is redirected to more targeted training and in-job support.

The partnerships approach is proposed to include the following:

  • Establishment of employment brokers to create partnerships between employers and employment services to better match jobseekers with labour demand.
  • Establishment of regional employment boards in areas of high unemployment to promote the partnerships approach among industry, unions, employment services and training providers.
  • Redirecting training resources from the existing Employment Pathway Fund to focus more on disadvantaged jobseekers, and to fund work experience and training as part of the partnerships approach.

“Stronger partnerships, supported by employment brokers would enable job service providers to better respond to employer demand, tailor training opportunities to employer need and provide in-work support to jobseekers to ensure lasting employment outcomes,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO.

“It is critical that people currently excluded from the labour market are given support to participate, and at the same time, employers need to have a direct line of sight to disadvantaged jobseekers,” she said.

The demand-led model offers employers the opportunity to partner more directly with service providers, and ensure services can link jobseekers with opportunities.

“The employment services system needs to be much more effectively matched to the needs of employers, the other crucial half of a successful job match,” said Business Council of Australia Chief Executive, Jennifer Westacott.

“Business wants to play a role in ensuring all jobseekers are in a position to contribute to and benefit from economic growth. A partnership with service providers will help make the most of opportunities for disadvantaged jobseekers,” Ms Westacott said.

The ACTU believes the model offers an opportunity to overcome obstacles facing disadvantaged jobseekers.

“There are groups of people in Australia – the very long-term unemployed; many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and high numbers of people with disability who remain excluded from society,” said President of the ACTU, Ged Kearney.

“A partnerships approach would be facilitated by the broader community, including training providers, unions and community services. By working together we can reduce poverty, enhance human dignity, and improve job security and the economy”, Ms Kearney said.

The organisations are seeking government support to facilitate two trials of the employment partnerships – one at the national level focused on large national employers, and one at the regional level focused on a network of regional employers.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Corporate Culture: Tony Fitzgerald and Queensland Megalomaniacs

Former Queensland corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald has launched another scathing attack against the Newman Government.

Mr Fitzgerald says constant requests for interviews about politics in Queensland have forced him to make a statement.

The former corruption fighter says the Newman Government is using its majority to dominate debate both inside and outside Parliament.

Mr Fitzgerald also hit out at News Corporation Australia, accusing them of publishing biased reports favouring the Liberal National Party (LNP).

"Queensland is extremely vulnerable to the misuse and abuse of power.
"There are almost no constitutional limits on the power of the State's single house of parliament.
"Unless there is an effective parliamentary opposition to advocate alternative policies, criticise government errors, denounce excesses of power and reflect, inform and influence public opinion, the checks and balances needed for democracy are entirely missing."

In the statement, he said the State Government has "flaunted its disdain for democracy and good governance" by attacking the independence of the judiciary and the state's Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).

Last month, Mr Fitzgerald condemned the appointment of Tim Carmody as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, raising concerns about Judge Carmody's experience and questioning whether he has been too supportive of government policies.

"People whose ambition exceeds their ability aren't all that unusual," Mr Fitzgerald said following the appointment.

"However, it's deeply troubling that the megalomaniacs currently holding power in Queensland are prepared to damage even fundamental institutions like the Supreme Court and cast doubt on fundamental principles like the independence of the judiciary."

Japan: Shocking Report From Fukushima

Friday, June 27, 2014

CSIRO Scientists - "Save Our Science" National Demonstations

About 160 scientists have protested in Geelong as part of nation-wide demonstrations against cuts to the CSIRO in the federal budget.

The CSIRO plans to axe about 500 jobs after more than $100 million was cut from the organisation in the May budget.

Staff at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong have not been told whether they will be affected by the cuts but fear up to 20 jobs could go.

Researcher and CPSU representative Vicky Boyd, who works with diseases that pass from animals to humans at the AAHL, said the cuts across the CSIRO were devastating.

"We're learning more about these diseases so we can stop the spread," Ms Boyd said.

"It's vital to the Australian community and unfortunately these federal cuts to our science budget are affecting us at the ground level - we're actually losing scientists at the bench level that do this vital research."

Ms Boyd said any cuts in Geelong would hit hard.

"Particularly in Australia, and in Geelong, we're losing our industry and at least I thought we were perhaps going to grow with innovation and our science, but all that is being cut as well," she said.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

MEAA: Peter Greste and colleagues – the fight for justice continues

Thursday, 26 June 2014

MEAA has been involved in campaigning for the release of the Al Jazeera journalists since December last year and we thank the many MEAA members who have participated in the campaign so far. Now Peter and the other journalists imprisoned for their journalism need our help more than ever.

How you can help:

Global campaign. Today MEAA, together with the International Federation of Journalists and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, initiated a global campaign among journalist unions and media organisations to write to the Egyptian government demanding the release of the Al Jazeera staff.

You can add the name of your organisation here:


Please sign the Amnesty International Australia petition:


You can write to Peter using this new email address: Learn more about this here:


You can the campaign: via Twitter @PeterGreste (hashtag #FreeAJstaff) and Facebook:

We’ll also be promoting other campaign activities via the MEAA Media social media accounts:

Twitter: @mediaalliance and


Politics in the Pub 
The Family Hotel, 15 Parke St, Katoomba
2.30 until 4.30 pm on 28 June. Admission is free.

With rising rents, homelessness and soaring house prices Blue Mountains Union Council will be holding a Politics in the Pub on the housing crisis in  NSW on Saturday June 28th

Read More

ACTU: Abbott Reeling From Community Rejection

By putting the brakes on a wholesale review of workplace laws, the Abbott Government has acknowledged that the same hardworking Australians that will take a hit from their budget changes to health, welfare and education are the same people whose wages and workplace conditions will be in the firing line under this review.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver called on the Abbott Government to come clean with its real intentions for workplace reform.

“If Mr Abbott was serious about not attacking rights at work he would drop the whole idea of a Productivity Commission inquiry and withdraw the Bill he currently has in the Parliament to bring back unfair individual contracts,” Mr Oliver said.

“Tony Abbott and his Government know the Australian people will reject their toxic views on industrial relations whenever they eventually decide to be honest about it.

“The terms of reference for this review are a complete repudiation of the Mr Abbott’s pre-election promise to workers that wholesale changes were not on the agenda.

“It’s clear that the Government’s ultimate intention is to put the whole workplace system on trial – pay and conditions, minimum wage, rights at work, collective bargaining and unfair dismissal.

“What we’re seeing at the moment is a Government reeling from the community’s rejection of their unfair budget and assault on the social safety net.

“This isn’t Mr Abbott backtracking on his plans to cut wages and conditions, it’s a short term political calculation to avoid alerting the Australian people that he intends to make life harder for them.”

Murdoch's Dream Budget - ABC Attacked

A Sample of Rupert Murdoch's Crowing as Abbott Budget Hits ABC
Corporate Culture v. Australian Culture

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Corporate Culture – Secret ABC Report: Slowly Privatise to Death

The Abbott government's cost-cutting review of the ABC envisages a radical shake-up that would lead to the outsourcing of most television programs, including flagship shows such as Play School and At the Movies, to the private sector and a further centralisation of operations in Sydney.

Fairfax Media has been briefed on the confidential report and can reveal it has estimated the ABC would save a net $70 million by outsourcing all television production to the private sector. On top of $90 million reaped by selling off production facilities, the proposal would save $400,000 each year. Implementation costs would be $20 million.

There is ''significant scope'' for savings by increasing the use of external production studios rather than filming television programs internally, the efficiency review finds.Advertisement

The ABC increasingly relies on programs purchased from the independent production sector, but still makes in-house some of its most loved programs - including Play School, At the Movies and Spicks and Specks.

The review questions the ABC's decision to build new television production studios at Southbank HQ. The ABC has traditionally had a ''build and own'' culture that is out of step with the modern media, the review says.

The $70 million estimate does not include news and current affairs programs which would remain in-house.

The review's downsized vision for the ABC also includes selling off the broadcaster's fleet of outside broadcasting vans and abandoning the expansion of digital radio services.

A spokesman for Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the review, announced in January, focused on back-office operations and that programming was excluded from its terms of reference.
Any decisions on changing the ABC's levels of internal and external television production would be made by the ABC board and management.

Community and Public Sector Union president Michael Tull said that outsourcing television production would ''sound a death knell for the ABC's distinctive Australian voice''. He said: ''If that in-house capacity goes then Australia can say goodbye to the great dramas and edgy comedies which are such a central part of who we are.''

Read more:

Smoking: Plain Packaging Works

The federal Treasury has entered the debate over cigarette sales, publishing previously secret information that shows sales falling since the introduction of graphic health warnings and plain packaging.

The Treasury collects data on sales per stick in order to levy tobacco excise, but has until now withheld it from publication to protect commercially sensitive information.

Added to the Health Department's website quietly last week amid debate over the effectiveness of plain packaging, the Treasury data shows 3.4 per cent fewer cigarettes were sold last year than 2012. Plain packaging became mandatory on December 1, 2012.

The Treasury data is consistent with national accounts data that shows a decline of 0.9 per cent in the amount of tobacco and cigarettes sold between 2012 and last year. The national accounts show a further fall of 7.6 per cent in the three months to March after the first of a number of big increases in tobacco excise announced late last year. The Bureau of Statistics bases the national accounts measure on a survey of households, whereas the Treasury collects information on every stick and pouch of tobacco sold.

The Treasury data suggests that, adjusted for population growth of 1.7 per cent, the number of sticks sold per person slid about 5 per cent between 2012 and last year.

The ABS data has consumption of tobacco the lowest ever recorded. Both measures conflict with industry claims that tobacco sales climbed by 59 million sticks or roll-your-own equivalents last year.

The claimed 0.3 per cent increase is said to be sourced from data analysis firm InfoView, although the data behind it has not been released.

Australian Council on Smoking and Health president Mike Daube said the Treasury data was clearly more reliable than unpublished industry figures.

''It's worth noting that in publishing the Treasury data the Health Department said it was an indicator of tobacco volumes in the Australian market. It was a gentle guide to those who need guide dogs and white sticks that these are the most relevant figures,'' he said.

''The whole debate is dishonest. We've always said that the main focus of plain packaging is long term.''

There will be further declines when tobacco excise jumps by 12.5 per cent in December and by 12.5 per cent in December 2015 and 2016. As well, there are six-monthly indexation increases that move in line with average weekly earnings, not the consumer price index.

The Health Department website links to a briefing by Imperial Tobacco chief executive Alison Cooper which says that during the first six months of plain packaging the Australian tobacco market shrank ''roughly 2 to 3 per cent''.

Read more:

Save the LISC

LISC? What is it?

Australian workers who currently earn up to $37,000 per year get a tax rebate from the Federal Government’s Low Income Superannuation Contribution (LISC). Eligible workers receive up to $500, paid annually back into their super account, on the tax paid on their superannuation contributions. The LISC rebate was introduced to make superannuation tax concessions more equitable.

The Abbott Government is now proposing to abandon it.

Why should it remain?

Without the LISC, the lowest-paid 3.6 million working Australians would receive no tax break on their compulsory super contributions, while the highest-paid workers would continue to receive a tax break of 30 per cent. We think it’s unfair to penalise any working Australian for saving for their retirement – especially those who have the least capacity to save.

Who will it affect

Do you earn less than $37,000 per year?
Are you a part-time worker? Are you a working mum?
An apprentice? If so, you or someone you know could be affected if the LISC is abolished.

Get Up!: Tasmanian Forests Win

This morning the World Heritage Committee emphatically rejected Prime Minister Tony Abbott's submission to have Tasmania's ancient forests stripped of their protection status and opened to logging!

It took the 21 delegate World Heritage Committee less than 7 minutes to unanimously reject the Abbott Government proposal, stating that:

"The justification presented to the reduction are, to say the least, feeble. Accepting this delisting today would be setting an unacceptable precedent...we cannot also disregard the positions voiced in this issue by the Australian Senate, by nature conservation associations and I would dare say, most of all, by Indigenous communities."

The conservative attack on our forests was underhanded and deceitful. Although Abbott's submission to the World Heritage Committee was contradicted by the Department of Environment, other right-wing forces tried every decietful trick in the book. A fake environment group misleadingly called Australian Environment Foundation which was founded by the Institute for Public Affairs even entered the international negotiations with the intention of confusing the Committee and pretending to represent the environment movement. 

But luckily, the story didn't end there.

Our movement stood up and fought hard to defend the forests - and a genuine, massive, heartfelt public response is something the conservatives just can't fake, which is why GetUp members continue to make a difference.

Juanita Neilson Memorial Lecture - 30 June 2014

Juanita Nielsen Memorial Lecture: Saving Public Protest from Apathy, Police and Bad Laws 

Do you value the right to protest? Too often this right is treated with apathy, curtailed with bad laws, weakened and sidelined. Is it fair to say protests should not disturb the public? Isn’t that the point of public protest - to create a public disturbance to draw attention to an issue? Is it time to stand up for the right to public protest?

The guest speaker for this year’s Juanita Nielsen Memorial Lecture is Ruby Hamad. Ruby is a vegan, feminist, Sydney-based writer and filmmaker. She tweets, blogs, and tutors in Online Media at the University of Sydney. Her work has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, New Matilda, and more.

She will be joined Jenny Leong, Greens candidate for state seat of Newtown, and Therese Doyle, Greens Newcastle Councillor, who will MC the event.

Click here for more information about the event.

To RSVP, email

About Juanita Nielson

Juanita Nielsen, publisher of the independent paper NOW and active campaigner against high-rise development in Kings Cross, disappeared in July 1975. It is widely thought that Juanita was kidnapped and murdered because of her stand against over development and local corruption. A coronial inquest found that Juanita was murdered. Her murderers were never brought to justice. The films Heatwave and The Killing of Angel Street cover what happened to Juanita.

Monday, June 23, 2014

MUA: No More Death Toll

Management at Toll did not not know what hit them when 150 emotional MUA members occupied their offices at Homebush, Sydney.

Led by Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith, slogans such as - "No more death Toll," "no more deaths on the waterfront," "safety must be law, you're killing us no more" and "safety before profit" - were relayed over loudspeaker throughout the company's building.

Members made the trip to Toll's offices to protest the company's role in trying to block the National Stevedoring Code of Practice just one week after a member, Anthony Attard, on the Toll site at Melbourne was tragically killed at work.

None of the staff at Toll seemed to know about Anthony's death, they acted put-out at being mildly inconvenienced at their workplace. Somewhat ironically a lot of the company propaganda scattered around the offices showed the company spruiking their safety policy.

"Toll can make as many glossy brochures as they want but we will continue campaigning, continue fighting, even if it means occupying every Toll office in the country, until we get a result.

"Toll, as a board member on the Australian Logistics Council, have explicitly backed the ALC's position on waterfront safety, a position that essentially says safety shouldn't get in the way of profit.

"Toll is not our only target, we will go after all of the stevedores that stand in the way of safety becoming law.

"Unfortunately for Toll they have set their target in our sights after a comrade died on their site."

As expected, management would not face the protesters and hid in their offices, escaping confrontation through the back door and calling the police to disperse the crowd.

"But beware Toll, beware Qube, beware Patrick, this is only the beginning of a campaign that will not be exhausted until our demand for a safe workplace is met," he said.

WestConnex Public Information Meeting - 25 June

Time: 6.30-8.30pm 
Date: Wednesday, 25 June, 2014 
Venue: Back room, Annandale Neighbourhood Centre 
Address: 79 Johnson St, Annandale 

AMWU: Baird Budget Trashes Manufacturing Jobs in NSW

17 June 2014

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has slammed the NSW Coalition Budget for failing to deliver local jobs from new infrastructure projects.

Despite announcing $13billion for transport infrastructure in the budget today, the NSW government cannot point to a single local job that will be created from these projects. In fact, the announcements so far indicate that the Baird Government will force manufacturing of trains, buses and ferries offshore or interstate.

“Mike Baird has been out today calling this the infrastructure budget, but the only thing he is building is blue collar unemployment queues in Western Sydney and the Hunter” said Tim Ayres, AMWU NSW Secretary.

“This budget is a slap in the face to Australian manufacturing workers.”

“There are currently 3000 jobs in the Hunter that rely on rail manufacturing. In Western Sydney, 1 in 5 workers are employed in manufacturing.

“But where is the investment from the government? It’s non-existent.”

The scale of the jobs crisis was highlighted last month, when bus builder Custom Coaches, went into voluntary administration. This has resulted in the loss of nearly 50 skilled jobs in Western Sydney and unless the administrator can sell the facility, another 250 jobs wills go.

Today, the budget has announced 200 new buses but has made no commitment to building them locally.

“These new buses are a huge opportunity for the government. If they care about local manufacturing jobs, the Minister and the Premier will convene an urgent meeting at Custom Coaches to talk about the local capacity to build these new buses,” said Mr Ayres.

As well the potential job losses in train and bus building, the government has made no significant announcement on local jobs associated with the Western Sydney Airport. In the initial stage, this is a $2.4billion dollar project that could deliver 50000 local jobs. Yet this budget will deliver only $109 million towards the project.

“Infrastructure jobs do not appear out of thin air – they require a serious, long-term commitment from the NSW Government.

“This government must commit to building locally and giving local businesses the certainty to invest,” said Mr Ayres.

“This budget is D-Day for the transport manufacturing industry. Without a rapid turn-around from Mike Baird we will lose thousands of jobs in the Hunter and Western Sydney.”

Vic: CFMEU official's arrest 'politically motivated'

The Victorian police force is being used as a ‘‘political weapon’’, the construction union says, after a court heard that advice from government agencies triggered the arrest of a senior union organiser.
Victoria Police has withdrawn trespass charges against Mick Powell, of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, who was arrested on a building site at the Ringwood Aquatic Centre last month.

Ringwood Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that Mr Powell was charged while inspecting the site on May 22. But WorkSafe documents confirmed Mr Powell had been officially invited there to deal with health and safety issues.

Under cross-examination, Constable Christian Mellican said state and federal government agencies – the Victorian Construction Code Compliance Unit and Fair Work Building and Construction – had told police that the union officials were illegally on the site.

Mr Powell was arrested and taken into custody.When asked which legislation Mr Powell was charged with breaching, Constable Mellican said it was federal legislation, the Fair Work Act.

He said police were told about the laws after speaking with "a number of sources’’, which he later revealed to be an inspector and a director from the two agencies.

Slater & Gordon, representing Mr Powell, said the case proved the police force was being used as a tool to enforce the Coalition governments’ anti-union industrial relations campaign.
‘‘It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Victoria Police has responded to the political pressure from the state and federal governments to arrest and charge CFMEU officials with criminal offences,’’ lawyer Marcus Clayton said.

A spokesman from the Construction Code Compliance Unit said it acted independently of government and liaised with police regarding operational matters when necessary.

CFMEU secretary John Setka said union organisers had been at the Ringwood site lawfully and the police response was politically motivated.

‘‘It’s shocking that the Victorian government would send the Victorian police in to stop our organisers and safety officers doing their jobs,’’ he said.

‘‘All Victorians should be concerned that the safety of building workers and community members are being put at risk by the Victorian government’s ideological campaign against the CFMEU.’’

Slater & Gordon told the court it would seek payment of Mr Powell’s legal costs from Victoria Police, estimated to be more than $10,000.

A police spokeswoman was unable to comment on the case within 28 days of the charges being withdrawn.

Fair Work Building and Construction also declined to comment.

Qld: Our Assets are Not4Sale

Community Cabinet rally to tell LNP …Our Assets are Not4Sale 

Not4Sale campaign supporters will once again be out in force when the who’s who of LNP State politics rolls through the Sunshine Coast for the first Community Cabinet since the Nicholls Asset Sales Budget.  Rally attendees will express their opposition to the government’s intention to sell $33 Billion worth of public assets including 49% of electricity supplier Energex.

ETU State Organiser Stuart Traill and Not4Sale Community Organiser Lara Watson said the rally which will be held on Sunday 22nd June at Maroochydore State High School,  from 12 midday, will show the government that even in their heartland people hate asset sales and  there is nowhere to hide.

“The LNP have spent the good part of two years denying their intentions to sell public assets, and then following a $6Million PR campaign they come out and say, you know those assets that we as Queenslanders all own – we’re going to pinch them and sell them off to our  mates” Mr Traill said.

“While the government have been dishonest and sneaky about their position, trying to hoodwink the Queensland people into accepting a flawed privatisation policy that will fail, we have been forthright and consistent with our opposition to asset sales, not to be bloody  minded, but because on all available evidence privatisation as a policy fails. Privatisation fails consumers, it fails communities, it certainly
fails the workers and it fails economically, it has failed throughout the world and interstate and it will fail here,” he said.

Mr Traill said the government knows privatisation of essential services affects the most vulnerable but the LNP just don’t care.

“The poor, the elderly and those living in regional and remote communities are always hit the hardest, as they were in South Australia and Victoria, and they have no one in this current mean spirited - government advocating for them”

“We are in the grip of the new breed of free market Liberals in Queensland now, the old school Nats who used to profess to look after the bush and regions like the Sunshine Coast are content to sit on their massive pay rises, getting fat on the public purse while people struggle, they are a disgrace. The fact this government even contemplated taking concessions off senior Queenslanders at the same time
as they increased power prices by 13.6%, shows how low they have gone”

“We expect a big turn out on Sunday because Queenslanders are filthy about this Government, they feel they have No Choices and they aren’t being listened to. People feel betrayed and it’s not just privatisation, it’s also the government’s job cuts ideology which has seen 1717 electricity workers and more than 15 000 state sector workers sacked since March 2012, people have had enough of the spin and the double standards. Queenslanders are concerned about the trashing of the law and the arrogant disregard for our elderly; I don’t reckon there is one segment of the Queensland community that hasn’t been harmed by this government’s policies”

“We have had local councilors, farmers and small business owners contacting us with concerns about what will happen to their communities, families and businesses if the LNP’s relentless job cuts and privatisation agenda’s continue.”

“We ask members of Sunshine Coast communities to join with us and show the LNP State government that we do not support its proprivatisation, anti-community policies and it’s time for them to listen and act in the best interests of  Queenslanders”

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Abbott Government Putting the Boot Into Young Unemployed

DR JOHN FALZON: Let me put it to you this way, this game is as old as the hills and sadly has been played by both sides of politics but never this viciously. And the game consists of blaming people who are experiencing unemployment, blaming them when in fact the fault lies with the labour market. So the inference is it’s a matter of changing behaviour, what we need to change is the labour market so that people do has access to jobs. No one disagrees with the objective of increasing the level of employment participation but you know this is a bit like condemning someone for not being able to get up the ladder rather than building a ramp. This government has not only failed to build the ramp but has kicked away the ladder. You don’t help a young person into a job by making them poor and you don’t help them to become employable by driving them to despair. And that’s what these measures will do.

It’s as if this government has decided okay let’s make life as miserable and horrendous as possible for these young people who are unemployed. Let us drive them to despair let us make them feel as if they are to blame for the sins of the labour market. You know there’s nothing smart, even from an economic rationalist perspective. There’s nothing smart about putting the boot into people who are experiencing disadvantage. This welfare bashing might be therapeutic for those who carry it out but it won’t deliver one job for anyone who is currently locked out of the labour market.

Therein lays the policy contradiction. What this government is effectively doing is saying to young people we want to drive you to either depend on charity, we want to make you feel like you have to go to charity for assistance, or we want to put extra pressure on your family to support you. You know they are certainly not considering, or maybe they are considering, because they seem to be hell bent on increasing the level of inequality. Or worse still and this is a terrible thing to say, but one has to wonder, whether they are intending to reduce the level of youth unemployment by increasing the level of youth incarceration, because that is going to be one of the consequences of driving young people more deeply into poverty and more deeply into despair.

Katoomba Winter Magic

Saturday, June 21, 2014

C20 Summit: ACOSS challenges Government to lead G20 response to youth unemployment

In her address to the C20 Summit, Dr Cassandra Goldie will call on the Government to show global leadership in reducing youth unemployment and achieving inclusive growth.

“A key goal of this year’s G20 agenda is to reduce youth unemployment and increase employment opportunities for young people. As host of the G20 Summit, the Australian Government should be leading the way by strengthening supports to assist young people to transition from school to work,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO.

The 2012 G20 Employment Task force report pointed to the need to strengthen training and school to work transition programs and provide career guidance as essential measures for reducing youth unemployment.

“By contrast, the measures proposed in the recent federal Budget will leave young people who are unemployed with no income support for the first 6 months each year. This move is unprecedented among wealthy countries and contrary to the advice of respected organisations like the OECD which have called for a strong income support safety net and more investment in training for those affected by the Global Financial Crisis.”

At the same time, the Government is offering no commitment to funding vital programs like Youth Connections, which work with young people to help them complete their schooling and make a successful transition to further education, training, or employment.”

The youth unemployment rate is now 13%, or around 260,000 people aged 15 to 24. This compares to an unemployment rate for the working age population of 6%.

"We call on the Federal government to confirm its responsibility to take the lead in reducing youth unemployment and to ensure a decent income support safety net for those affected. The Government should work with civil society organisations and employers to reverse the loss of over 30,000 jobs for young people over the last six years."

 “The C20 Summit offers a crucial opportunity for Government to meaningfully engage with civil society and community sector representatives to develop an inclusive and sustainable growth agenda and to ensure that no one in our local or global community is left behind, including young people.”

"Australian civil society organisations are already working in close partnerships with business groups and others on policy solutions to address social and economic policy challenges. It's time the government worked with us in this effort by supporting civil society organisations and providing opportunities for meaningful engagement in the policy process.”

Dr Goldie will be addressing the C20 Summit at the University of Melbourne Law School at 9am on Saturday 21 June.

Friday, June 20, 2014

NSWTF: Gonski Explained

The "What Is Gonski?" animation produced for the Teachers Federation will be hitting silver screens across NSW for a week from Thursday 19 June.

NSW: Bill to save TAFE passes NSW Upper House

By NSW Teachers Federation 19 June 2014

The Upper House of the NSW parliament today carried a bill initiated by the NSW Greens to stop the Smart and Skilled training market, restore TAFE funding and freeze TAFE fees and money going to private providers .  Greens MPs were joined by the Shooters and Fishers Party and Labor, to pass the bill.

Greens MLC, Dr John Kaye, said:

"The battle to save TAFE from the free-fall collapse it experienced in other states has taken an important step forward.

"Just as similar competitive market schemes in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland have seen those states' training sectors plunged into chaos, the Baird government is subjecting TAFE in NSW to a massive decline in students, funding and staff numbers.

"Stripping TAFE of funding for its core courses and handing over to students to choose between providers is recipe for falling standards, shorter course offerings and the triumph of cheap marketing tricks over quality outcomes for the state.”

Acting President of the NSW Teachers Federation, Gary Zadkovich, welcomed both the passage of the bill, and the policy announcement from John Robertson today, which would see student fees capped at current levels and the abolition of the NSW Government’s Smart and Skilled’ changes.

Dumped! National Radioactive Waste Won't Be Disposed Of At Muckaty

After a long campaign by traditional owners, unions and progressive organisations across the country, the Commonwealth Government has committed not to pursue plans for a national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty, 120km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

The campaign to oppose the dump began in 2005, with strong support and involvement of the MUA.
Upon hearing the news, Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray dispatched the following message to traditional owners:

"Dear Muckaty Traditional Owners,

On behalf of the Maritime Union of Australia I want to warmly congratulate you on your historic victory to protect your land from radioactive waste.
When the Commonwealth Government first announced plans to use Muckaty lands as a dump for nuclear waste, it was simply assumed by most that it was an inevitability - a done deal.
Yet your spirit, smarts and sheer tenacity have resulted in a great Australian victory for the underdog.

I know that Muckaty Traditional Owners - and many others who supported your cause - have travelled tirelessly across the country to build awareness and support.

I know that behind the scenes many have worked diligently on organising continual letters, rallies, meetings, community conversations, trips to Tennant Creek, fundraising gigs, and movie nights.
What a magnificent thing it is that all this effort has finally paid off handsomely.

MUA members are often required to move radioactive waste, so it is an issue that resonated strongly with our members from the start.

We are proud to have stood with you in your fight and we are overjoyed that you have been successful.
I am certain that the bonds we have forged during this long struggle will remain strong for many, many years to come.

Your great victory is an inspiration to all of us who fight for justice in the face of overwhelming power.
I hope you celebrate long and hard - you truly deserve it.

Yours sincerely,
Ian Bray
MUA Assistant National Secretary

Chaplaincy funding should be redirected to support student needs

By NSW Teachers Federation 20 June 2014

On Thursday 19 June, as the result of an action taken by a Queensland parent, the High Court of Australia declared the funding of the Abbott Government’s Schools Chaplaincy Program unconstitutional.

Australian Education Union federal president, Angelo Gavrielatos said that this is an opportunity to redirect the $245 million budgeted for the chaplaincy program to areas of greater need.

“The AEU has considered the Chaplaincy Program a misguided program from its inception. Apart from undermining our secular traditions, this additional funding should have been allocated to schools to better meet the educational needs of students with trained, specialist staff.”, said Mr Gavrielatos.

“There are great needs within our school systems. We have 100,000 students with disabilities not receiving the support they need, as well as shortages of other trained support staff. This must be a higher priority than chaplains.

“Before the 2013 election, the Abbott Government promised an extra ‘disability loading’ for students with disability from 2015.

“It failed to deliver on its promise in the Budget, but found an extra $245 million for chaplains.

The Government must admit it has let students with disability down, and redirect the Chaplaincy funding immediately.

“It also removed the option of a secular welfare officer from the Chaplaincy Program, restricting schools ability to choose what best suited them.

“Schools need a wide range of expert trained professionals to support student welfare and educational needs, such as specialist counsellors/school psychologists, as well as staff trained to meet the needs of students with disability.

“The Abbott Government needs to fund all schools properly, not use funding to impose its ideological agendas on schools.

“They must commit to funding the full six years of the Gonski agreements with the States, so that all schools can be resourced to a decent standard and all children receive a quality education.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ACTU: Penalty rates are not for the taking Mr Abbott

18 June, 2014 | Media Release

The campaign to protect penalty rates kicked up a gear today with the release of new ACTU research, ‘One out – The Abbott Government and the return of unfair individual contracts’ which outlines how the Abbott Government’s proposed Industrial Relations legislation robs workers of their penalty rates alongside other workplace rights.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said that Australian Unions are taking up the fight to protect penalty rates and will be engaged in grass-roots lobbying in every State and Territory alongside a national advertising campaign, amid significant and rising concern over the Abbott Government’s proposed Industrial Relations legislation.

“Tony Abbott and his Government are working hand in glove with the business lobby to cut penalty rates and lower take home pays,” Mr Oliver said.

“Legislation before the Parliament will strip current protections around individual flexibility agreements (IFAs) and make it much easier for employers to force workers to forgo penalty rates.

“Hundreds of thousands of workers could be moved off safety net conditions onto IFAs with less pay and less conditions under a scheme that will make it virtually impossible for workers who are ripped off to recoup their losses.”

Mr Oliver said unions members were staunchly opposed to the blatantly anti-worker legislation and would be taking the fight to workplaces, to the community, to the industrial tribunal and onto televisions sets around the country.

“Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Mr Abbott didn’t present these plans to the public pre-election instead he promised that workers would benefit or, at least, not be worse off,” Mr Oliver said.

“This was an outright lie. Mr Abbott is attacking the workplace rights of hardworking Australians including penalty rates, the minimum wage and imposing unfair individual contracts.

“Our campaign will warn hardworking Australians about what they could face and encourage them to actively stand up and fight this legislation and fight Mr Abbott’s attacks.”

Mr Oliver said that this legislation gives employers the green light to cut people’s pay under the guise of greater ‘flexibility’.

“When employers say ‘flexibility’, what they actually mean is reduced pay and conditions, Mr Oliver said.

“History tells us that under WorkChoices, individual contracts cut penalty rates for an estimated 65 percent of signed up workers, nearly 70 per cent lost annual leave and shift loading, half lost overtime and allowances and a quarter lost out on state and territory public holidays.

“This new plan will see workers working longer for less pay and outrageously includes a provision that requires them to sign away their future right to claim that the IFA left them worse off."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

IMF - World Bank: Minimum CO2 price of $US32 needed: study

The IMF and World Bank have called for the introduction of a universal price on carbon. A global carbon price of at least $US32 ($A34.60) per tonne is needed by 2015 to apply an effective brake on global warming – almost five times today’s European market rate, a study says.

Co-authored by British economist Nicholas Stern, an authority on the costs of climate change, the report reviewed a widely-used model for assessing risk and found it led to a ‘gross under-assessment’ of danger.

This beefs up the case for strong cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, helped by a carbon price ‘in the range of $32-103 per tonne of CO2 (tCO2) in 2015′, said the study carried by The Economic Journal.

‘Within two decades, the carbon price should rise in real terms to $US82-260/tCO2,’ it added.

Such a price should limit the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 425-500 particles per million, the level required to contain global warming to 1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius, said the report.

The study was co-authored by Stern’s colleague, Simon Dietz, at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

It was released a day after the close of UN talks in Bonn on concluding a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The pact is expected to be signed in Paris in December 2015.

In April, the UN’s expert Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world can still limit global warming to relatively safe levels, provided annual emissions are cut by 40-70 per cent by 2050.

The panel listed a global carbon price as one option for tackling the challenge. It warned temperatures could rise by up to 4.8 Celsius this century and sea levels by 26-82 centimetres on present emissions trends.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have also this year called for the introduction of a universal price on carbon – the most common greenhouse gas blamed for climate change.

For the moment, carbon prices are determined by national or regional systems – either as a tax on emissions or as a cap-and-trade scheme that allows companies to sell unused allotments.

The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the most ambitious cap-and-trade system in the world, has seen prices drop drastically from a peak of about 30 euros per tonne eight years ago to $US7.7 today – partly due to countries issuing too many allowances.

The Stern-Dietz report said the standard DICE model used to calculate economic risks from climate change, also by studies included in the IPCC’s latest report, used unrealistic values and underestimated the potential damage.

The updated model, ‘strengthens the case for strong cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases,’ Dietz said in a statement.

Hockey inflames the rich-poor divide

Mungo MacCallum in Echonetdaily

Our increasingly irascible treasurer, Joe Hockey, has raised an old Liberal Party demon in his latest efforts to persuade the voters to control their nausea over his budget offering.

His critics, he told a gathering of the elite at the conservative Sydney Institute, were indulging in class warfare, and that was obviously a bad thing.

Why, it was the rhetoric of the 70s. Obviously it was simply unAustralian to even suggest that there were classes in our wide brown land, let alone that they could have their differences.

This is not a new theme: indeed it was the mantra of his party’s founder, Robert Menzies, in his landmark manifesto of 1942. ‘In a country like Australia,’ proclaimed the great man, ‘the class war must always be a false war.’ He did not deny the existence of class altogether – far from it.

Certainly there were the rich and powerful, who could look after their own interests.

And then there were the mass of unskilled people – government did have a role in providing them with security and improving their conditions, although this was more the job of their own trades unions.

And most importantly, there were the forgotten people – the middle class, a group of which he went on to claim both membership and ownership – he appeared to believe he had personally discovered it, if not actually fathered it. But we did not have classes here as in England.

Well, no; there is no established aristocracy. Tony Abbott is yet to make his knights and dames hereditary titles. But there are certainly individuals and even families referred to, not in total irony, as Australian aristocrats – think the Macarthur-Onslows or the Baillieu-Symes. Such families inhabit the same exclusive suburbs and estates, belong the same clubs, go to the same parties and frequently intermarry and interbreed.

Then they send their offspring to the same schools so they can be part of the same networks when it is time to move on, frequently into the family business – until recently the great newspaper families of Syme, Fairfax and Packer were known as dynasties.

This was the old Australian establishment, alive and kicking in the 70s and still not entirely defunct. But as numerous authors, notably Craig McGregor, have pointed out, there is still class in Australia – not as sharply defined and certainly more mobile than it used to be, but class nonetheless.

The upper class was, and is, identified by Menzies simply as the rich and powerful: a good pedigree is still no handicap, but wealth is the keystone.

In neo-Marxist terms, these are the capitalists, the ruling class. And at the bottom are the underclass: the increasing numbers living on or below what is accepted as the poverty line.

These days they are seldom starving (although many are hungry) but they are, unmistakably, the downtrodden.

And the present government apparently believes that it is entirely their own fault, and that they are not even entitled to expect the trades unions invoked by Menzies to help them out of it. Not only that, the inequality gap is widening, and widening fast. It is perfectly true, as Hockey avers, that while the rich have got richer, so have the poor – what used to be called the trickle-down effect.

But the figures that worry the sociologists who compiled the ‘Advance Australia Fair?’ report released last week show that the rich are breaking well clear of the pack in terms of both.

At the end of the 1970s – ironically the time of Hockey’s class warfare rhetoric – Australia was one of the most egalitarian countries in the world; for almost all the previous fifty years incomes at the bottom of the scale had risen faster than those at the top.

This was what Australians meant when they boasted of the land of the fair go. But things have changed. The richest fifth of Australian households now account for 61 per cent of net household worth, while the poorest fifth hold just one per cent. And the income share of the top one per cent has doubled, while the income share of the top 0.001 per cent – just 230 of the super-rich – has more than trebled.

This is a shift not just in the distribution of money, but also of power: the ability of well-organised wealth to influence government policy has become more blatant in recent times – the mining industry being the most obvious case study, but there have been others and there will be more.

To draw attention to the problems, as those unhappy with the Abbott-Hockey approach have done, is hardly class warfare. And in any case, it is not the critics who started the fight but Hockey himself.

Not content with producing a budget which has done about as much to promote national harmony as the Cronulla race riots, the man John Howard once described as his ‘great big bear’ of a man has gone out of his way to spruik in the most inflammatory terms possible.

It was Hockey who divided us into lifters and leaners, Hockey who claimed (absurdly) that every wage earner was labouring for more than a month each year to buy welfare for someone else, Hockey who assured us only 45 per cent of us paid tax to cover more than $6,000 worth of entitlements for every man woman and child in the country: us against them, not the haves versus the have-nots, but the workers versus the bludgers.

This is pure Tea Party: if you’re poor, you are guilty. So get off your arse (or out of your wheelchair) and do a bit of heavy lifting.

Class warfare indeed.

Hockey reckons it’s all a misconception driven by envy, but consider: is there a single supporter of the budget on an income less than about $150,000 a year? Just one? And it must be said that the critics are rather more diverse.

Sure, the victims are the noisiest, but they have been joined by a number of very well paid commentators, and such former Liberal luminaries as John Hewson. And I suspect that, from his grave, Sir Robert Menzies is giving them the thumbs up. Not much class warfare there.

Save the Arctic from Shell and Gazprom

11 Years after: How Not to Teach About the Iraq War

By Bill Bigelow, Rethinking Schools curriculum editor and
Zinn Education Project co-director

U.S. marines entering one of Hussein's palaces during Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003
As we watch the horrors of war escalate in Iraq, it's worth pausing to note how profoundly corporate textbooks mis-educate our students on the years of warfare in Iraq. A widely used world history textbook, Holt McDougal's Modern World History, includes exactly one "critical writing" activity on the Iraq war:

            Imagine you are a speechwriter for President Bush. Write the introductory 
            paragraph of a speech to coalition forces after their victory in Iraq. 

If more people in the United States knew our history, we would not have allowed the U.S. government to punish Iraq with deadly sanctions, to invade Iraq, or to wage economic warfare with radical free market policies. And if we knew our history, we would not allow propaganda to substitute for analysis in U.S. textbooks. To make sense of the bloody internecine fighting we see unfolding now, students need honest, clear-eyed history.

Continue reading Rethinking Schools curriculum editor Bill Bigelow 2013 Zinn Education Project column at: Common Dreams | Huffington Post.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Australia's Arms Race

Australia has become the seventh largest importer of major arms in the world and the biggest customer of the United States - the worlds largest arms producer. Australia now buys ten percent of all US arms exports.

From 2009 to 2013 imports of warships, fighter jets and tanks increased by 83 percent. As the Abbott budget shows this spending spree is set to accelerate even further as defence spending is the only area of expenditure to increase.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


The Australian Local Government Association's latest State of the Regions report, produced by National Economics, examines how the fortunes of metropolitan areas relate to the mining boom between 2007 and 2013.

It notes the boom favoured construction activity, particularly in Perth, while Melbourne and Adelaide – the cities the report said were worst-affected by the downsides of the boom – are only gradually responding with infrastructure investment.

It finds Australia as a whole has serious deficiencies in its infrastructure capital stock and there is scope for governments to raise investment levels, especially in transport and communications.

It proposed an additional $346 billion in infrastructure investment effort over the next 12 years.

"The most promising investment opportunities in Australia at present, assessed from a long-run point of view, lie not in the private sector but the public," the report said.

In an international comparison, the report found Australia's private capital investment in capital stock was pulling its weight whilst public investment as a ratio of GDP was the fourth lowest of OECD countries in 2008, at 39 per cent.

"Over the next ten years, a reasonable aim would be to invest to raise infrastructure stocks in the deficit regions so that they approach those of the best practice regions," it said.

It recommended the investment would focus on New South Wales and Victoria's capital cities and other regions where the deficit is deterring economic growth.

Action required to address unemployment

The report also calls for substantive action on youth unemployment, noting that in mining regions, outcomes for young people are patchy, with significant levels of youth disengagement from education and employment.

Far north Queensland, Queensland's Wide Bay Burnett region, Lingiari in the Northern Territory and the New South Wales mid-north coast were among those with the highest number of people aged between 20 and 24 not working and not studying.

"The worst performing regions have relatively poor educational facilities with poor access to tertiary education combined with businesses in the region that are reluctant to provide entry level jobs," the report said.

The report also noted that the abrupt closure of the local car industry is a "bad idea".

"Though one hopes that the skilled workers will be re-employed, the precedent of the closure of the textile, clothing and footwear industries during the 1980s is not very encouraging," it said.

It explained that equipment from closed factories is simply scrapped, wasting resources, and also noted Australia has a tendency to spend more on imports than it earns from exports.

Friday, June 13, 2014

National TAFE Day - Wednesday 18th June

Are you ready for National TAFE Day, next Wednesday 18th June?

There are so many ways to celebrate TAFE – it might be a morning tea in Moruya, a forum in Canberra or coffee in Adelaide.  You might teach a class, or spend the day studying. You can celebrate alone, or with 2 friends or 20 colleagues.

The main thing is to get involved and do something to celebrate the achievements of our remarkable TAFE system!

Here are some ideas to get involved!

Get everyone in your workplace to take a Stop TAFE Cuts photo. Stop TAFE Cuts signs are available from our website. Supporters at Victoria University did this last week – check out the photos on our Facebook page. Send your photos to

Tweet for TAFE. Send us a tweet @TAFECampaign with your favourite thing about TAFE or why TAFE is too good to lose. Don’t forget the hashtag #StopTAFECuts

Have a conversation. Talk to your colleagues, friends and family about why TAFE is important. You can download a leaflet from our website to help you get started.

Encourage others to get involved. Sign them up to The more supporters we have, the stronger our collective voice is.

On June 18, share or post this Facebook image on your page and add a comment about why you want to Stop TAFE Cuts!

As Stop TAFE Cuts supporter Gabi from Moruya TAFE says “TAFE has touched the lives of most Australian families.” It’s time to celebrate that achievement, and really demonstrate that TAFE is too good to lose.

Please support National TAFE Day. We need every supporter to get involved and do something to mark the day. Have fun, spread the word and send us photos!

The Stop TAFE Cuts team

Abbott and Trans-Pacific Trade - TTP

Abbott’s US visit will not solve Trans-Pacific Trade (TPP) stalemate

“Prime Minister Abbott’s Washington talks on the stalled TPP between the US, Australia and ten other Pacific Rim countries will not solve the three major intractable problems which have dragged the negotiations into their fifth year,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) said today.

“Firstly, the US is still driving the TPP agenda on behalf of its major export industries for changes to other countries’ domestic laws which other governments have resisted.  These are not traditional trade issues, but are health and other policies which should be decided through open democratic and parliamentary processes, not through secret trade deals,” said Dr Ranald.

“US Pharmaceutical companies want longer patents and higher prices for medicines. IT companies want longer copyright payments and stricter controls over internet downloads which would cost more and restrict internet access for consumers, schools and libraries. Hollywood media companies want less Australian content rules for our film, TV and other media. And US corporations want special rights for foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals if domestic laws or policies can be claimed to “harm” their investment. The Philip Morris tobacco company is currently using an obscure Hong Kong investment agreement to sue the Australian Government for damages over plain packaging legislation, despite the Australian High Court’s rejection of their compensation claim under Australian law. This undermines our democracy and sovereignty,” explained Dr Ranald.

“Secondly, the two major players, the US and Japan, cannot agree about the traditional trade issues of  increased access to each other’s agricultural and vehicle markets, and have not made any market access offers to other governments. This leaves the Australian and other Governments waiting in the wings, and shows who is really running the negotiations,” said Dr Ranald.

“Thirdly, strong domestic opposition to the TPP in the US has influenced both major parties and has prevented the Congress from even introducing the ‘fast track’ legislation which would remove the constitutional power of Congress to amend any TPP deal. The US cannot deliver on any deal until this legislation is passed. The strength of US community opposition means neither party wants the TPP to become an issue in the November Congressional elections. This means the negotiations could drag on into 2015,” said Dr Ranald.

“The TPP is not in Australia’s interest. We call on the Abbott Government to reject US proposals and to release the text of the TPP for full public and parliamentary debate before any decision to endorse it is made by Cabinet,” concluded Dr Ranald.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Corporate Culture = More Inequality

Around the globe, people have lost faith in their economies as a vehicle of prosperity and see them more and more as battlegrounds between their interests and those of the rich and powerful. And it is not a fight they think they are winning.

This is the landing point in the surge in inequality that Thomas Piketty charts in his global academic hit Capitalism in the 21st Century, a work that crunches data over the past 100 years to build a profile of inequality built on fact, not ideology.

Piketty's theory is that inequality can be calculated by looking at the balance of capital and wages in the economy.

His data shows that while capital reigned supreme in the early years of the 20th century, it waned through the Depression and world wars with rising levels of equality through to the 1970s at which point the inequality curve began rising again.

The free market economic agenda, selling off assets and the creation of new financial markets saw capital's share of growth increase, a surge that has continued apace into the 21st century.

In the context of Piketty's data, voters' anxiety about declining fairness and equality in recent decades appears to be based not just in nostalgia for a rose-coloured past, but in a very real economic trajectory.

This week's polling suggests voters don't think the market economy is delivering the kind of society they want and explains why arguments from Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey that the best thing they can do for the economy is generate growth by making life easier for business are falling flat.

It's clear the budget has struck a nerve in the electorate - but perhaps what voters are really rejecting is not just a series of policy measures, but its potential to accelerate the unravelling of the kind of Australia they want to live in.

Read More

Class War: Hockey's Brutal Budget Attacks Young Australians

Young job seekers forced to wait six months for unemployment benefits will be required to apply for 40 jobs a month, document their efforts to find work and meet regularly with an employment service provider, despite not receiving any payments.

Under proposals announced in the budget, job seekers aged under 30 will be ineligible for payments for six months after applying for benefits.

Despite not receiving any money, job seekers will be required to meet the activity requirements for unemployment benefits throughout this period. If they fail to do so, their waiting period will be extended by four weeks. Job seekers will be required to attend monthly appointments with an employment service provider, and show evidence, such as a job search diary, that they have looked for 40 jobs that month.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said making people live for six months with no income support would make it more difficult for job seekers to meet their obligations.

''The government hasn't thought through how this cruel measure will be implemented, how compliance will work or how people will live for six months, let alone how they'll meet any obligations within that time,'' she said.
''People don't want to be stuck on income support. People want to be working, but the government's approach is making things much tougher.''

Labor has vowed to oppose the changes to unemployment benefits, which the government estimates will provide savings of $1.2 billion over four years.

In his budget reply speech, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described the changes as "perhaps the single most heartless measure in this brutal budget", which would "create a forgotten generation of Australians - shut out of the workforce".
Mr Shorten said the changes would condemn young people to a "potentially endless cycle of poverty when they should be getting a hand to find a job".

Read more:

Vic: Bust the Budget 10,000 March in Melbourne

Up to 10,000 union members have marched through central Melbourne to protest against Federal Government budget cuts.

Union members carrying flags and banners gathered at Trades Hall to vent their anger about what they say are savage cuts.

Then they marched through the CBD to the Victorian Parliament buildings where they were met by dozens of mounted and uniformed police officers.

Cuts to government benefits and dramatic changes to higher education and health funding were announced in the budget last month.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said workers had a right to be angry.

"Protests like this are going to continue until this budget is off the table, and until this Government is out of office," he said.

The protest was organised by Trades Hall Council, with involvement from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), United Voice and other high-profile unions.

I think it's unjust and it needs to change and that's why we're here today.
Firefighter Steve Mundy

Firefighter Steve Mundy, who took part in the protest, said the Federal Government was not doing the right thing by the Australian people.

"I think the cuts to working class Australians are unfair and I think it's unjust and it needs to change and that's why we're here today," he said.

Felice Jacka maintained the Federal Government did not have a mandate.

"I feel that this Government got in by lying, blatant bare-faced lying," she said. "They said one thing and they've done something else."

Anthony Stafford said the budget cuts were not fair.

"The proposals that have been put forward by the Abbott Government go against everything that Australians stand for," he said.


CPSU JUN 11, 2014

Government budget cuts to the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are set to deal a massive blow to Australia’s reputation as a word leader in climate, marine and atmospheric research.

As part of the overall response to federal budget cuts of $115 million which are expected to cost 500 jobs across the entire organisation, CSIRO management has revealed a plan to scale back research and cut science jobs in the Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR) division.

In a letter to the CSIRO Staff Association, management states that 31 full-time equivalent positions would be cut from CMAR over the coming weeks, the vast majority of them research scientists.


Staff Association Acting Secretary – and CMAR air quality scientist – Dr Michael Borgas said that in addition to CSIRO’s big budget cuts, the organisation had taken an extra funding hit by a budget measure that specifically targeted the science of climate change.

“The Government also cut more than $20 million from a separate climate change program of which CSIRO was a major beneficiary. So since the budget there’s been real fear for the future of our world-class climate, marine and atmospheric research.

“Unfortunately those fears appear to be justified. The only ‘direct action’ the Government appears to be taking on climate change is sacking the scientists performing the research or abolishing the departments who deliver the advice,” he said.


Citing the need for “focused reductions or reshaping of research delivered by CMAR,” in response to budget cuts and declining external earnings, CSIRO management have declared the need to “reduce research capability” in a number of areas.

These include cuts to Coastal modeling, Ocean Climate processes, Biochemical processes, Coasts and Oceans Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Pelagic Spatial Dynamics and Population Dynamics, Marine Risk Assessment, Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate, Climate Modeling, Climate Variability, Climate projections and Science Engineering.

CSIRO management has also stated that climate and atmospheric projects and research that delivers “maximum impact” and earns “external revenue” will be spared but that research capability would be cut in other areas. Marine biodiversity – a mainstay of Tasmanian research – will feel most of the pain.


The overwhelming majority of these latest cuts will come from the ranks of researchers, with 28 of the 31 full time positions to be cut being made up of scientists.

Of those, eighteen marine and atmospheric research positions will be lost from Hobart. These cuts follow an earlier announcement that 31 jobs Tasmanian jobs, mainly support roles, are scheduled to go as part of a CSIRO internal restructure.

Victoria will lose 8 positions from the Aspendale Laboratory, located in the outer south western suburbs of Melbourne. A centre for climate and atmospheric research, last month CSIRO identified Aspendale as one of eight worksites management plan to close as part of their strategy to reduce building maintenance costs.

Corporate Culture - Business Plans To Kill Australian Shipping


Big business is intentionally overstating the impact of shipping costs in an attempt to replace Australia's shipping industry with low-cost, low-standard Flag Of Convenience (FOC) options, according to the Maritime Union of Australia and the Australian Workers' Union.

The Business Council of Australia has linked with other big business lobby groups in an effort to destroy the Australian shipping industry by claiming current shipping costs are making business operations less viable.

A submission by the Australian Aluminium Council to the Abbott Government's Options Paper on regulation of coastal shipping, released today, claims the "viability of refineries and smelters is impacted by... shipping costs," and that “Australian jobs in the bauxite, alumina and aluminium industry are put at risk by the current regime.”

However, shipping costs have never before been nominated as a significant factor by the aluminium industry when explaining the recent closure of major refineries and smelters.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said big business lobbies, including the aluminium industry, were simply trying to rationalise an irresponsible cash grab.

"It always sounds impressive to say that costs need to be cut or industries will be destroyed, but this is simply untrue," Mr Crumlin said.

"All we have here is big business sensing an opportunity to squeeze a few extra pennies in profit by destroying an entire Australian industry and replacing it with Flag Of Convenience ships with third-world standards. If we were to follow the BCA's recommendations and open up our coast up completely to lowest-common-denominator Flag of Convenience vessels, we would see 10,000 quality Australian jobs lost very rapidly.

"The 2012 changes to the Coastal Trading Act allow ship owners on the Australian coast to effectively compete in the domestic freight market with FOC ships, despite the latter’s poor standards and exploited crews. Watering down this Act would have dire consequences for our nation, which always has and always will rely heavily on shipping."

AWU Assistant National Secretary Scott McDine expressed surprise that the Australian Aluminium Council had cited shipping costs as a significant factor affecting the Australian aluminium industry.

Mr McDine said shipping costs had never been raised as a significant factor during numerous discussions with Rio Tinto or Alcoa regarding the closures of major refineries and smelters.

"During the AWU's in-depth discussions with Rio Tinto and Alcoa regarding the recent closures of major refineries and smelters, the explanation offered was always the historically low global price of aluminium in conjunction with an historically high Australian dollar,” Mr McDine said.

"Shipping costs were never nominated as a significant factor.”

Electricity sell off a deep betrayal of NSW workers and consumers

UnionsNSW 11 June 2014

The trade union movement now moves to a full time campaign footing in its bid to fight the privatisation of the State’s electricity poles and wires.

The Premier won backing for the sell off yesterday from the Nationals, a clear betrayal of regional NSW.

Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon said the union movement would now mobilise to fight the sell off and the price hikes and job losses it will bring.

“The Premier can give all the assurances he likes, but the public has seen the real world experience of privatisation – fewer jobs and higher prices.

“The private sector can only squeeze more from an asset by cutting costs or raising prices. Either way the public loses out.

“Selling off a natural monopoly is never a good idea. The community understands this and that’s why they are inherently opposed to this sale.

“We have seen what happens with partial privatisations before, in the case of Telstra. It leads to higher prices and an eventual full privatisation.”

IMF: Australian House Price Report

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has found Australia has the third highest house price-to-income ratio in the world.

The IMF's Global Housing Watch says global house prices have risen consistently for nearly the past two years.

The fund says prices are "well above the historical averages" in developed countries including Belgium, Canada, Australia, Norway and Sweden.

In addition, the IMF found 14 out of 24 developed economies examined still have above-average house price-to-income ratios, even after the dent in home values in many countries caused by the global financial crisis.

While a recovery in housing markets around the world is welcome, the IMF says it is critical to avoid another unsustainable boom in house prices like the one that preceded the GFC.

"In fact, our research indicates that boom-bust patterns in house prices preceded more than two-thirds of the recent 50 systemic banking crises," IMF deputy managing director Min Zhu said in a blog post.

Property prices out of whack

Struggling to buy a house? It could be because our property prices are among the highest in the world when compared to incomes, writes Michael Janda.

However, Dr Zhu also noted that historically high housing prices do not automatically portend a crash.

"In some cases, this more detailed look suggests much more modest overvaluation than indicated by the house price-to-income and house price-to-rent ratios," Dr Zhu wrote.

"One example of this is Belgium, where the IMF concluded that despite the high valuation ratios, risks of a sharp correction of real estate prices appear contained."

The IMF is quick to add that this does not mean policymakers can be complacent.

It is urging regulators, like the Reserve Bank and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, to move from "benign neglect" and take a range of steps to contain housing booms.

"Housing is an essential sector of every country’s economy and has systemic implications, which is why we at the IMF are focusing on it not only in individual countries but on a cross-country basis," Dr Zhu wrote.

"What is clear ... is that monetary policy will need to be more concerned than it was before with financial stability and hence with housing markets.

"The interactions of various policy tools can be complex. But all this should not be an excuse for inaction.

"The interlocking use of multiple tools might overcome the shortcomings of any single policy tool. We need to move from 'benign neglect' to an 'all of the above' approach when it comes to policy choices."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

NSW: No To Electricity Privatisation

The NSW Opposition today said that Mike Baird’s plans to privatisation the State’s electricity network would set NSW on the wrong path - driving up electricity prices for households, reducing service reliability and depriving the State of over $1 billion each year to fund our hospitals, schools, teachers and nurses. 

Opposition Leader John Robertson said Labor would oppose the sale because it is a bad deal for NSW
families – something Mike Baird’s own coalition members have publicly pointed out.

“Have no doubt that the sale of our electricity network will see families pay more on their power bills,” Mr Robertson said.

“Families in Victoria and South Australia have seen their electricity bills increase following privatisation in those states – with South Australia having the highest electricity prices in the country.

“What Mike Baird is proposing is no different to taking your superannuation in a lump sum - spending it all in one go on a flash new car and an overseas holiday - and then having no money left to pay the bills.

“Mike Baird is trying to sell the people of NSW a lemon – the community knows instinctively that a private company will not spend billions of dollars buying our electricity network to cut power bills for families.

“NSW will also lose more than $1 billion from our power network each year that is reinvested in this state to fund infrastructure, hospitals, nurse, schools and teachers.

“The community can have no doubts where I stand on electricity privatisation. I have always opposed it
because it is not good for families across NSW or for the state.”

Mr Robertson said Mike Baird had attempted to deceive the people of NSW today by claiming NSW already pays higher energy bills – despite the independent Australian Energy Regulator clearly showing South Australia have the highest bills with prices in Victoria and NSW broadly the same.

According to the independent report:

“This shows that electricity charges are highest in South Australia (annual bill $2335)… Electricity charges (Source: Annual Report on the Performance of the Retail Energy Market – 2012/13, Australian Energy Regulator, February 2014)

“The independent energy regulator has clearly shown that the highest electricity prices in the country are paid in South Australia – a privatised network,” Mr Robertson said.

“The regulator also shows that prices in Victoria and NSW are broadly the same, even though NSW has a power network four times larger than Victoria.

“Mike Baird needs to be upfront with the people of NSW – how will he pay for our schools, hospitals, teachers, nurses and other essential community services when he sells off the poles and wires?

“The public know that any private operator will want to make a big profit from the billions they will spend to buy our electricity network. That means families will pay for those profits.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bust the Budget 12 June 2014

Tony Abbott’s Budget is an attack on the Australian way of life

Australian workers built a way of life that is the envy of the world.

But the first Abbott Government Budget has begun to demolish the pillars that have made our country great.

The 2014 Federal Budget takes a wrecking ball to the social wage with cuts to healthcare, education and pensions. Under the Abbott Government, going to the doctor or filling the car with petrol will cost more.

This is a government delivering for their big business mates by make life harder for working people.

It’s time to fight back and bust the Budget.

We have taken on powerful interests before and won a better life for working people. By standing together and fighting for what truly matters we have the power to beat back Tony Abbott and his radical agenda.

We are committed to winning this fight and look forward to standing with you to defend the Australian way of life.

Federal Budget 2014 – at a glance
  • Young unemployed without income support for six months a year
  • 16,500 public sector jobs to go, with more through privatisation
  • Super Guarantee increase delayed four years; frozen at 9.5%
  • Redundancy entitlements less protected when employers go bust
  • Cuts to indexation for many welfare payments
  • Temporary 2% income tax levy for highest income earners
  • Family payments cut
  • PPL scheme survives, capped at $50,000 over six months
  • New $7 GP payment & higher co-payment for prescription drugs
  • Big cuts to funding to states for health and education
  • Uni fees to rise, student loan debt to attract real interest rate
  • A range of industry assistance programs will be cut or axed
  • Tools for Your Trade program for apprentices abolished, new loan scheme created in its place
  • Twice yearly fuel excise indexation will be reintroduced
  • Company tax to be cut, MRRT and carbon price abolished
  • Union royal commission to cost $53.3 million 
Get involved

If you are in Melbourne, get along to the Bust the Budget rally beginning at the Victorian Trades Hall (corner of Lygon and Victoria streets) at 10.30am on Thursday, 12 June.