Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More applications does not make more jobs

The overall unemployment rate is now 6%, and 13.5% for 15-24 year olds. In May there were 146,000 job vacancies with 720,000 people unemployed. Another 920,000 were underemployed and wanting more hours of work. Underemployment is a very important labour market indicator as, under the terms of internationally agreed labour statistics collection, an individual is counted as employed if working one hour a week for pay or profit.

Altogether, these figures mean 1.64 million people who have no work or not enough work are potentially competing for available job vacancies.

While the labour force underutilisation rate of 13.5% suggests that there are around 10 potential job applicants for each vacancy, we need to consider that some sectors of employment will have very large pools of applicants. This applies especially to those jobs with broader skills requirements.

This is the core reality of the Australian job market. The intensification of job search requirements means people receiving Newstart will be coerced into applying for many jobs that they have very little chance of obtaining.

No one suggests that they shouldn’t be doing what they can to find a job, but futile applications for jobs serve no purpose but to tick the boxes to receive a payment. It is an immense strain on the unemployed person – as if being unemployed and living on Newstart isn’t hard enough.

Employers can expect to sort through hundreds of applications completed by job seekers having to submit 40 a month.

The government might also consider the burden it imposes on employers and employment service providers. Many employers will be inundated with unsuitable applicants. We might speculate that they will be less inclined to advertise positions attracting hundreds of applicants, perhaps opting for more informal means of recruitment.

At the same time, employment service providers will be tasked with pushing unemployed people into inappropriate job search efforts.

GetUp! : Greg Hunt, Adani and Great Barrier Reef


Environment Minister Greg Hunt has caved to the mining industry and approved Indian mining giant Adani's monstrous Carmichael Mine, threatnening the Great Barrier Reef. 

The coal mine will be the biggest in Australia. It will pollute our climate with massive CO2 emissions for decades. It will mean massive and continual dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and will fill the Reef with thousands of coal ships every year. 

The good news is that while Adani may have the approval, it still needs to find up to $10 billion before it can proceeed. This means the battle to protect the Reef from Adani is down to who can persuade investors, us or them.

Adani will try and convince investors to lend it $10 billion to wreck the Reef. We'll try and convince them Adani is a company with no public support who cannot be trusted. Game on.

How will it work?

We're working with online advertising experts to target investors, bankers, business partners, and politicians both where they read their news, and any time they research Adani's project online. Every time someone searches "Adani" or "Abbot point" or similar terms, there's a bidding war between advertisers who want their ad displayed.

So if we want to reach potential investors, and show that Adani is not trusted by Australians, every extra dollar beats these people at their own game. Alone, none of us can fight back against a huge company like Adani. But together, we can make sure that everyone knows they should not be trusted with our Reef. Let's do this.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has caved to the mining industry and approved Indian mining giant Adani's monstrous Carmichael Mine, threatnening the Great Barrier Reef.

The coal mine will be the biggest in Australia. It will pollute our climate with massive CO2 emissions for decades. It will mean massive and continual dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and will fill the Reef with thousands of coal ships every year.

The good news is that while Adani may have the approval, it still needs to find up to $10 billion before it can proceeed. This means the battle to protect the Reef from Adani is down to who can persuade investors, us or them.

Adani will try and convince investors to lend it $10 billion to wreck the Reef. We'll try and convince them Adani is a company with no public support who cannot be trusted. Game on.
 How will it work?
We're working with online advertising experts to target investors, bankers, business partners, and politicians both where they read their news, and any time they research Adani's project online. Every time someone searches "Adani" or "Abbot point" or similar terms, there's a bidding war between advertisers who want their ad displayed.

So if we want to reach potential investors, and show that Adani is not trusted by Australians, every extra dollar beats these people at their own game. Alone, none of us can fight back against a huge company like Adani. But together, we can make sure that everyone knows they should not be trusted with our Reef. Let's do this.

https://www.getup.org.au/adani

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ACTU: Unions will fight big business attack on Australian workers

29 July, 2014 | Media Release

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) has launched an ideological attack on the very heart of Australia’s industrial relations system designed to benefit big business at the expense of hardworking Australians.

“The BCA’s Building Australia’s Comparative Advantage report is yet another wish list from big business wanting to pay and treat Australian workers however they want, without facing any consequences,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

“This is big business dictating the Abbott Government’s IR agenda – no rights, no penalty rates, no collective agreements, no independent umpire and no protection for workers.

“It’s an attempt by business to weaken the safety net, lessen protections and remove entitlements for workers,” said Ms Kearney.

Wages growth is moderate and lagging behind inflation, while labour productivity growth is the highest in a decade.

“Put simply, Australian workers are producing more for less,” said Ms Kearney.

OECD figures show Australian workers are among the most productive in the world. On average, Australian workers produce goods and services worth US$55.50 per hour. That is more than the Euro-area average (US$54.60 per hour), Canada (US$49.20), the UK (US$46.60), New Zealand (US$38.50) or the OECD average (US$47.70).

“The BCA itself acknowledges that labour productivity is high. This paper is not about boosting productivity – it is about putting the interests of big business ahead of Australian workers,” said Ms Kearney.

“This paper shows big business is trying bring back elements of Work Choices, despite the fact that Australia recorded its worst period of labour productivity growth when Work Choices legislation was in place in the mid-2000s.”

The BCA’s long term agenda appears to be to diminish the independent umpire, leaving workers unable to address safety risks at work or tackle discrimination and harassment, said Ms Kearney.

“Unions will fight any move by business groups or the Government to attack penalty rates or the rights of Australian workers.”

Monday, July 28, 2014

Greg Combet Book Launch - Trades Hall Sydney 29 July 2014

Greg Combet has co-written a book with his former press secretary, Mark Davis, The Fights of My Life, which will be officially launched in Sydney tomorrow.

Although a keen student of labour history himself, Mr Combet said he had resisted overtures to write a book while he was in public life, believing it was inappropriate to do so, and has never been the type to keep a diary.

His attitude has always been to look forward to the next task or challenge.

But writing the book has allowed him the time to reflect on the meaning of some of the great fights of his time in the labour movement.

“One of the things I’ve realised over the years is there’s very little of our history written by people who’ve been involved in things and that was a key reason I decided ultimately to do the book,” he says.

“There was a personal element, a cathartic thing to get it out after I’d finished a long period as a union official and a labour politician but mainly I wanted some of the things I’ve been privileged to be involved in, I want them to be known and recorded and for people to be proud of what they’ve done.”

The overarching message that Mr Combet hopes to get across through his book: “nothing is achieved without fighting for it and defending it. And you’ve got to fight for it again and again.”

It is a message that has strong resonance at a time when the union movement is fighting numerous battles to protect jobs, oppose the dismantling of the social wage, defend the minimum wage, penalty rates and other conditions, and even preserve their role as independent representatives of working people.

Mr Combet says he regrets he is no longer able to take a frontline role in these fights, but he wants to help those who do in whatever way he can.

He says the union movement should be very proud of what it has contributed to Australia, but the battle to protect those gains is never-ending.

“It’s very important in our democracy, the labour movement. It is a mass movement of a couple of million people . . . It’s helped shape this country and its values.

“But it doesn’t happen by magic. It’s not sprinkled from above somehow, it’s built by grassroots activism, and around a set of values: fairness, justice, equality of opportunity, democracy, individual and collective rights, all these things are critical to having a decent society.”


Abbott ‘more dangerous than Howard’

Mr Combet has spent many years observing Tony Abbott at close quarters and says the current Prime Minister is potentially more dangerous to working people than John Howard was.

“He’s extremely tough and very intelligent,” he says.

“This is a battle of values and he’s a very tough, seasoned campaigner. He has won the leadership of the country by fighting for it.

“His book’s called Battlelines remember, and he’s on the other side of those lines from the labour movement and he’s a hard fighter, and if you don’t fight him, he’ll win, he will impose his values and his vision on this country.

“And much of that will be antithetical to the interests of ordinary people and there is no alternative but to fight it.”

Mr Combet says he has no doubt that unions must take the fight up to Tony Abbott to protect the labour movement’s vision for Australian society.

“If the labour movement is not fighting and giving people a democratic say and embracing and upholding democratic values, who is?” he says.

While he outlines some ideas for union and Labor Party reform in his book he has little time for those who say unions are no longer relevant or that the ALP should sever all connections with the union movement.

After all, says Greg Combet, unions are still the most powerful organised force for progressive change in our society.

WHEN
July 29, 2014 at 10am - 1pm

WHERE
The Atrium, Sydney Trades Hall

CONTACT
MUP 
rsvp-mup@unimelb.edu.au
Confirm your attendance by contacting MUP  (03) 9342 0322 



Sunday, July 27, 2014

ACTU: Pregnancy discrimination highlights need for changes to workplace laws

25 July, 2014 | Media Release

The Human Rights Commission’s report into pregnancy and return to work highlights the need for the Government to strengthen workplace laws to stop discrimination against women at work.

“The ACTU and unions requested this review because growing numbers of our members tell us they are being discriminated against at work during pregnancy, when they return to work from parental leave, or when they need to care for a family member,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

“The shocking figures in this review reveal the magnitude of the problem,” Ms Kearney said.

“The fact that one third of mothers and one quarter of partners either resigned from their job or looked for other work highlights the unacceptable cost of this discrimination on women, their families and the economy.”

The structure of the workforce is changing and employers and workplace laws needs to keep up, Ms Kearney said.

“The ACTU has been advocating for some time now that the structure of work, and the way we organise work, must change to accommodate the greater participation of women in the labour force and the sharing of caring responsibilities in modern working families.

“As the Human Rights Commission review shows, the pressures of balancing work and family is unfairly borne by employees - mostly women.  Not only is this unfair, it is unsustainable.”

Unions support all of the recommendations put forward by the report and strongly commend them to the Government and employers for immediate action, said Ms Kearney.

“In particular, unions are calling on the Government to improve the right to request flexible work arrangements in the Fair Work Act.

“There is currently no obligation on an employer to accommodate an employee’s request for flexible work arrangements.

“Furthermore, there are only two provisions in the entire act that specifically say an employee is unable to appeal a decision – that is in regard to flexible work arrangements and extending parental leave from one year to two.

“This quite clearly discriminates against working parents – in particular mothers -  and must be addressed if the Government is serious about ending the shocking discrimination the Human Rights Commission review has laid bare.”

NSW: WestCONnex - One Big Con


What's happening with WestCONnex?

1. The proposed WestCONnex route is changing.

2. Financing to build WestCONnex will come from selling the right to toll roads.

But opposition is growing!

Private lobby group the Committee for Sydney, representing a cross-section of the community from councils to cultural organisations, is calling for federal funding for mass transit/public transport systems instead of only urban roads to address Sydney’s growing transport needs.

And inner west councils Marrickville, Ashfield, Leichhardt and City of Sydney councils have all expressed concerns about, or refused to sign, UrbanGrowth's memorandum of understanding on WestCONnex. This highlights the community's increasing awareness that what's needed is better public transport and planning.

Pressure does work...

The fact that the NSW Roads Minister agreed to move the WestCONnex route away from Ashfield Park, in order to defeat a Senate inquiry into WestCONn development, shows that political pressure does work!
ON

Vic: Yarra Council joins Moreland to fight East West Link

July 21, 2014

Yarra Council will join forces with Moreland Council to launch legal action in the Supreme Court against the Napthine government's controversial East West Link.

The inner-city council held an emergency meeting on Monday and unanimously voted to challenge Planning Minister Matthew Guy's June 30 decision to allow the 18-kilometre road project go ahead.

Yarra mayor Jackie Fristacky said council had an obligation to act in the best interests of its residents.

"Yarra has long opposed the East West Link because of the absence of a transparent and viable business case and the devastating impact it would have on our local community, local heritage, inner city traffic and many other important aspects impacting liveability."

The move followed Moreland council voting to pursue a legal challenge against the road last week - and vowing to lobby anti-East West Link councils Melbourne, Yarra and Moonee Valley to join their fight.

Socialist Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly, who has spearheaded a community campaign against the tunnel, said he hoped the Supreme Court appeal delayed the signing of the contracts until after November's state election.

Read more:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

AMWU - Shipyard a Welcome Port in Jobs Storm

Jul 24, 2014

If you want to test the value of navy shipbuilding to local jobs and businesses just ask James Melmoth, Paul Voss and Mark Schreuder.

They are among  a dozen displaced Victorian workers from the auto and aluminium industries fortunate to find a temporary safe port in Williamstown, where BAE System has taken on extra trades to complete the navy’s giant Landing Helicopter  Docks.

They recently won 12-month contracts as mechanical fitters completing the second LHD ship and are relishing the creative learning curve of fitting out areas such as the bridge and exhaust system.

It’s a huge relief for Mark and Paul, who were among 700 workers made redundant at Alcoa in Geelong.

But their futures depend on the Federal Government granting enough new work to local shipbuilders, possibly through the new patrol boats, to give them a chance of contract renewals or permanency after the LHD project finishes.

“My partner and I have five kids between us, she’s on Workcover right now so we’d really be down to nothing without this, living on my redundancy payment,” said Mark, an Alcoa worker for 26 years.

“There’s nothing in Geelong now, so we know how important it is for workers and the community in Melbourne’s west to keep work at this dockyard.”

His family obligations mean that resources work in WA or Queensland would be a last resort for Mark.

And Paul, a few years out of his apprenticeship, prefers to gain experience at BAE rather than trying to adapt to the exhausting FIFO lifestyle far from parents and friends.

James was given three days’ notice of redundancy at Holden’s engine plant at Port Melbourne after 16 years at GMH.

The hammer blow came three days after getting a mortgage for his family’s new home.

“I couldn’t find work for five months and it’s very lucky I had an understanding bank manager - we’ve got a young one and a baby on the way,” he said.

“This place has saved us but if we don’t hear of any more projects by Christmas, it might not last.

“If you employ our shipyard workers rather than sending work overseas, half  the wages will end  back in the Government’s pocket in the tax we all pay – that has to be better than paying out more unemployment benefits.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

ACTU: Unions proud to launch first Reconciliation Action Plan

23 July, 2014 | Media Release

The ACTU launched its first Reconciliation Action Plan at the organisation’s NAIDOC celebrations at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Melbourne last night.

“Launching the Reconciliation Action Plan was a wonderful way for us to come together and celebrate the contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make to the union movement and our country,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

The ACTU is the peak union body representing 46 affiliated unions and the interests of almost two million workers and their families across Australia.

“The ACTU and our affiliated unions want to play a part in shaping our communities and our society so that we all value the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” said Ms Kearney.

ACTU Indigenous Officer Kara Keys played a key role in developing the Reconciliation Action Plan.

“Australian unions have supported the long struggle of Indigenous peoples for recognition of their civil rights and treatment as equals,” said Ms Keys.

“The Reconciliation Action Plan is a road map for how unions continue to support and ‘walk the talk’ of reconciliation.

“We have developed a number of actions based around relationships, respect and opportunities,” said Ms Keys.

Actions include:

  • Establish mentoring and work experience opportunities for Indigenous people
  • Investigate opportunities within the ACTU to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples employment opportunities
  • Provide opportunities for staff to undertake more significant cultural immersion
  • Continue to develop external relationships and build partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, local Elders and councils

“By working in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the union movement, we hope to create opportunities for mutual understanding and deeper participation,” said Ms Kearney.

Corporate Culture: Abbott Government Threats and Agression

The federal opposition has weighed into the fight over wages and conditions at the Commonwealth’s biggest department, with Labor accusing the government of “aggressive” tactics. The Department of Human Services’ 30,000 public servants have been offered just 1.15 per cent a year, which will be slashed to about 0.75 per cent annual pay rise if they do not sign up by a September 1 deadline. The offer is also conditional on about $250 million of wages increases, working hours and annual leave being traded away and DHS bosses are keen to put the deal to a workforce ballot as soon as possible, bypassing trade unions.


Senator Doug Cameron
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Human Services Doug Cameron came out swinging on Thursday morning, accusing DHS of “threats” and “aggressive” industrial tactics in pursuit of the Abbott government’s cost-cutting agenda.“The Abbott Government’s aggressive tactics in negotiating an employment agreement with Department of Human Services workers is a disturbing sign of things to come for public servants across Australia,” Senator Cameron said.

Senator Cameron said the government’s threat to cut its pay offer if bureaucrats do not sign on within five weeks was “unacceptable for the department that delivers vital front-line services such as Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support.”

“Tony Abbott is trying to force department workers to sign immediately by threatening further cuts if they don’t,” Senator Cameron said.
“This government is focused solely on cost-cutting, which ignores key drivers of efficiency, productivity and customer service.
"Negotiations should be focussing on drivers of productivity such as workforce skills, investment in technology, improved management systems and work organisation and a strong customer focus."

Shadow Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Brendan O’Connor joined his colleague’s attack, saying the Abbott government was taking a “wrecking ball” to public service jobs.
“The dirty details of this deal reveal Tony Abbott wants to do away with collective bargaining and productivity improvements and instead only look at the bottom line,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Mr Abbott is using the public service as a test-bed for his extreme industrial relations agenda and that should worry all Australian workers.”

Read more:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Corporate Culture: Millers Point Public Housing Sell Off Begins


The NSW Liberal Government is about to start selling off the first 6 of the 293 houses they are aiming to sell. This will socially cleanse the Millers Point community of all the public housing tenants.

Millers Point resident and chair of the Millers Point Resident Action Group John McInerney said there is an argument in favour of selling off some of the heritage-listed public houses given the costs of maintaining them, but that they strongly object to the wholesale sell-off of all the government-owned properties, including 33 boarding houses.

"The community here call it social cleansing and that's an apt description because this will change the diversity and the mix of people that live here," said Mr McInerney, a former Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney.

"The people who clean this city, the firemen, the service workers won't be able to live here because with this sell-off you'll only get high-income groups buying into the area."

National Gonski Week 28 July - 1 August

NSW Teachers Federation 17 July 2014

School and OCAA members have today received an email foreshadowing the arrival of a kit, and leaflet intended to assist in the planning of activities during National Gonski Week 28 July to 1 August.

The primary purpose of this week is to inform parents, caregivers and community members of the critical importance of school funding reform and the real difference it will make in our schools.

We know there are many parents who would appreciate receiving more information about the Gonski funding model and its benefits. Our research shows they are very keen to hear more from their child’s school about what the additional funding will enable schools to do for students.

We encourage you to join with your colleagues from around the country in National Gonski Week to help spread the word about the importance of school funding reform.

A high quality colour information leaflet will be sent to schools in sufficient quantities for distribution to parents and caregivers.

Federation president, Maurie Mulheron said:

"We must work together to change the Federal Coalition’s position on this vital issue. Greater parental and community engagement is critical. The National Gonski Week provides an opportunity to increase community involvement in the campaign."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

United Voice - Early Childhood Commission Report

United Voice, the early childhood union, says despite constraints by the Federal Government the Productivity Commission has recommended an increase in funding for early childhood education and care.

Imagine what they could have recommended if they were given the task of providing a high quality system that truly meets children’s and families’ needs.

The Commission’s report released this morning has wide-ranging recommendations which, if implemented, would have profound impacts on the quality of education and care of young children.

David O’ Byrne, Acting National Secretary of United Voice, says “United Voice has examined the report on the basis of what is in children’s best interest.

“We welcome the recommendation that the National Quality Framework (NQF) be a prerequisite of all government funding.

“However, several key recommendations to undermine NQF standards would weaken the sector’s ability to provide the high quality education and care essential to meet children’s developmental needs.

“These include:

  • Removing the requirement for degree-qualified educators for children under three years of age - learning begins at birth. Experts recognise the first three years are critical to the brain’s development, and the foundation on which all future development occurs. Children need these early learning specialists who are trained in and understand children’s learning so they get the best start in life.
  • Removing the requirements for diploma qualifications – diploma-trained educators have skills and training to develop play-based programs that are important for children’s learning and development.
  • Allowing centres to operate below current educator-to-child ratios in sed programs that are important for children’s learning and development.
  • “Positive recommendations include:
  • Simplifying the current payment system by combining the childcare benefit and rebate, and paying the funding directly to providers - a long overdue measure which will cut costs and remove uncertainty for parents.
  • Continuation of universal preschool access for four year olds.
  • Increased subsidies for children with disabilities and additional needs.

The report acknowledges that, despite their skills and qualifications, educators are low paid.
“We support the recommendation that government funded nannies must be qualified and covered by the NQF. Ensuring and monitoring compliance with the NQF will be challenging but vital, as will employer compliance with employment laws and regulations.

“However, we all know that the devil is in the detail and we will continue to urge the Commission to look at what is in the best interest of the child.

“When it comes to educators, the Commission has acknowledged their skills, qualifications and low pay, but has failed to recommend practical solutions.

“If families are to have the sustainable, quality sector on which they can depend, we must stop the continuing exodus of educators from the sector. Every week 180 leave, driven from their profession by poverty level wages. This fundamental problem must be fixed.

“The Commission’s report has clearly been constrained by the Government’s insistence that funding for early childhood education and care will not increase. This is despite Australia having one of the developed world’s lowest levels of expenditure on this essential service.

The Australian Government spent approximately 0.45% of GDP on ECEC in 2013. The OECD average spending on ECEC is 0.6%.New Zealand, which the Commission looks to as a best practice model, spends 1% of GDP. We must catch up with this spending to ensure quality outcomes for children.

“For children’s sake, we encourage the Government to reconsider its position on funding.

“United Voice looks forward to engaging with the Commission in the next phase of its inquiry. We will put the case for strengthening the sector’s ability to provide young children with the quality that is their right, regardless of their families’ income or where they live,” says David O’Byrne.

Unions Fight Back against Abbott Government’s Cruel Budget

22 July, 2014 | ACTU Media Release

Unions will seek to shield Australian workers from the Abbott Government’s cruel and unfair budget by pushing through workplace claims to pass the costs onto employers.

“If an employer requires a worker to provide a sick note then unions will make an industrial claim for the company to pay the $7 GP co-payment,” said ACTU National Secretary Dave Oliver.

“More than 4 million Australian workers are covered by enterprise bargaining agreements and unions will be fighting to get clauses into all new agreements to help workers cope with the harsher budget measures.”

Mr Oliver said the ACTU Executive will today vote to endorse a new enterprise bargaining toolkit for unions detailing industrial claims workers can make to cover the cost of the Abbott Government’s unfair budget measures.

Industrial claims include:

  • Employers to reimburse workers for the $7 GP co-payment if a sick note is required
  • A working parents allowance of $13.75 per week if the current child care rebate is frozen at $7,500 rather than continuing to be indexed at CPI
  • Workers to be paid $0.78 per km if using their own vehicle on employer’s business to compensate for the fuel excise increase 
  • Workers to claim a 0.5% superannuation increase per year over four years so they are not disadvantaged by the Government’s decision to freeze the Superannuation Guarantee at 9.5 per cent for four years

“Unions will also be fighting to ensure employers guarantee all existing penalty rates, which are under concerted attack by business groups and the Government,” said Mr Oliver.

“The Government is targeting hardworking Australians who can least afford it, while at the same time giving big business a 1.5 per cent cut to company tax and freezing the increase to the Superannuation Guarantee.”

“As a result of cuts to family payment and the new GP and fuel tax, a family with two children and a single earner on $65,000 will be around $1,600 this year and $6,000 worse off in two years’ time,” said Mr Oliver.

“Unions will not stand by and let hardworking Australians be unfairly targeted by this Government,” said Mr Oliver.

“The ACTU’s new enterprise bargaining toolkit will empower workers to fight back against the Government’s cruel attack on hardworking Australians.”


COMMISSION WATCH - Separating Fact from Fiction

http://commissionwatch.com.au
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM – THEY ALL FALL DOWN
Inconvenient facts keep mucking up the trade union royal commission’s anti-CFMEU storyline. Tony Abbott’s royal commission tried to build five anti-CFMEU narratives in four days of explosive hearings … [Read More...]

BIG RETURNS ON CORPORATE DONATIONS
The Abbott Government is slashing the budgets of business watchdog ASIC and the ATO as its corporate backers cheat consumers and dodge taxes on an industrial scale. At the same time, it proposes … [Read More...]

EXCLUSIVE – ROYAL COMMISSION PROBES SUCCESSFUL FUNDS
Newsflash - Australia has a royal commission into retirement savings after all. It is Tony Abbott’s trade union royal commission and it is not remotely interested in dodgy financial planners, the … [Read More...]

WE’LL HAVE YOUR HOME
Tony Abbott’s industrial policeman is going after the homes of 33 Western Australian families as his trade union royal commission mulls new US-style union-busting laws. On Wednesday, July 9, the … [Read More...]

STATEMENT FROM JOHN SETKA
Statement from John Setka January 29 2014 In the current political climate there are many rumors and false allegations about union officials being reported as fact by various media … [Read More...]

Monday, July 21, 2014

AMWU makes hip hop kinection

17 July 2014

Perth’s old Midland Railway Workshops came alive with music, dance, art and games for  NAIDOC week with a Hip Hop Family Day thanks to our union’s “blue collar coalition”.

The AMWU teamed with five other unions and the Community Arts network last weekend to bring families and contemporary artists together to celebrate indigenous culture with a modern outlook.

After Indigenous Elder Richard Wilkes officially opened the event, the 300-strong crowd was treated to some home grown hip hop talent from the Beat Walkers, with Static Crew and Little Sparks following up.

Local MC’s Trooth and Bryte teamed up with DJ Zeke Ugle to keep the event hopping before multiple Deadly Award-winning headliners Last Kinection appeared.

They got dancers of all ages up and about with a high energy set.

As well as the music, kids could get their faces painted, try a graffiti art workshop, have a sausage sizzle or get creative with craft workshops.

AMWU WA State Secretary Steve McCartney said it was good for unions to support the communities where our members live, as “it always achieves good things.”

“It’s great to be bringing this event to Midland, which has so much history for the AMWU,” he said.
“Having worked here myself back in the day, it’s very satisfying to see the railway workshops getting back in service for such a great event.”

Mr McCartney said that Federal and State Coalition governments were stripping away public funding for not-for-profit support groups and services, so unions would stick by these groups which were “the glue holding our society together.”

ACTU: Abbott Government sells out Australian maritime workers

18 July, 2014 | Media Release

The Abbott Government has sold out Australian maritime workers via an underhand move in the Senate that will cost jobs and tax revenue.

Just one day after Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party teamed up to stop foreign workers being employed on maritime crew visas, Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash has used an obscure legislative instrument to reverse the Senate’s decision.

“This disgraceful move replaces Australian jobs with positions available only to overseas workers with visa conditions that don’t give them the protections Australian workers are entitled to,” said ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver.

Maritime crew visas were never intended for use in the offshore resources industry, said Mr Oliver.

“It’s a loophole being used to exploit workers. It was there to bring in Filipino, Indonesian seafarers not on Australian wages and conditions," he said.

“It means foreign workers can be employed in Australian waters and be paid as little as $1,000 a month.

"It will allow overseas workers to work for up to three years straight in the oil and gas zone without a visa that has Australian labour law as the legal basis underpinning their wages and conditions.”

Mr Oliver said the Abbott Government has put the interests of big business ahead of Australian workers yet again.

“Not only will this underhand move by the Government cost jobs, it will cost millions of dollars in taxation revenue,” he said.

"Seafarers and officers in the offshore sector pay millions of dollars in tax each year but maritime crew visa holders are not required to pay any tax in Australia because of the nature of the visa.

"To force Australian workers into unemployment while at the same time decreasing  tax revenues is a ludicrous decision that shows big business is calling the shots for the Abbott Government."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Field days for cartoonists



Oxfam Report on Women's Pay

At the current rate of change, it will take 75 years for women to get paid on par with men, according to research released on Monday by Oxfam.

Around the world, women are paid less than their male peers, are over-represented in part-time work and are discriminated against in the household, markets and institutions.

In Australia, about 65 per cent of women work but they are over-represented in part-time and casual work, and women's wages are about 65 per cent of men's.

Policies such as Australia’s sex discrimination regime – which forces workplaces to monitor and report on gender equality – have fostered more supportive workplaces for women, Oxfam found.
But there is a large gap in the levels of retirement saving, with Australian women losing out because of more varied employment.

While the gender gap has narrowed between men and women in some areas, such as education, it has persisted in others, including participation and freedom of movement.

The relationship between women’s paid and unpaid workloads – caring for children, looking after the elderly – is the most neglected systemic issue in economic policy-making, the report says.
Globally, women are subsidising the economy with an average of two to five hours of more unpaid work than men, Oxfam found.

If women’s paid employment rates were the same as men’s, the GDP in the US would increase by 9 per cent, the European Union’s by 13 per cent and Japan’s by 16 per cent.

The report, published to coincide with a meeting of global business figures in Sydney this week in the lead-up to the G20 in Brisbane in November, calls on countries in the G20 to make gender participation central to any reforms.

Only one high-income country in the G20 – South Korea – has achieved greater income equality alongside economic growth in the past 25 years.

Read more:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Libs Flogging Preacher Exposed

Pyne must sack curriculum chief over corporal punishment remarks

By NSW Teachers Federation 16 July 2014

The NSW Teachers Federation has called on the Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, to immediately remove Kevin Donnelly from his position as co-chair of the review into the national curriculum over statements Mr Donnelly made in reference to hitting children.

Federation President, Maurie Mulheron, said today:

“Clearly Kevin Donnelly is unfit to hold the position. Teachers and parents would be rightly appalled that in this day and age any responsible person would advocate the bashing of children at school by adults.

“Mr Donnelly has been charged with the responsibility of reviewing a curriculum for the twenty-first century but is now advocating a return to nineteenth century physical punishment.

“At a time when, as a nation, we have established a Royal Commission into child abuse, we have the head of a Federal Government review into curriculum calling for a return to the physical abuse and the psychological intimidation of children.

“His statements are unacceptable and appalling.

“Christopher Pyne must act immediately to remove Kevin Donnelly from his position.”

CPSU Stops Stop-watch Management

The public service's main union says it has thwarted a plan by the federal bureaucracy's biggest employer to arm managers with stopwatches and make them stand behind call centre staff.

The Community and Public Sector Union said it stepped in after learning of the plan by the Department of Human Services to use stopwatches to time calls to clients.

A statement from the union said DHS had told workers that managers ''would stand over them with stopwatches to time their calls – all in the name of improving efficiency''. This was to have been introduced last week.

Union deputy president Lisa Newman said it was was an insult to staff already under increasing pressure from heavy workloads.

''They are under constant pressure to cut the times and number of calls they take,'' she said.
''The last thing they need is the added pressure of a supervisor clicking a stopwatch and taking notes. This takes micromanagement to a new level.''

Fruit Loops in Liberal Tea Party

Queensland Liberal National senator James McGrath used his maiden speech in Parliament to call for the GST to be increased and applied to "everything", and for an overhaul of the public broadcaster.

The former senior Liberal adviser asked for a review of the ABC's charter and said if the broadcaster did not address concerns about bias it should be sold and replaced by a "regional and rural broadcasting service".

"While it continues to represent only inner-city leftist views, and funded by our taxes, it is in danger of losing its social licence to operate," he said.

He also called for the federal health and education departments to be axed, and for the GST to be increased to 15 per cent and applied across the board to pay for the abolition of the payroll and company taxes.

Labor senator Doug Cameron has attacked Senator McGrath as a "Tea Party extremist".

"I'm still gobsmacked by that speech," Senator Cameron told reporters on his way into Parliament this morning.

"It's clear that the extremists are the ones that are coming into Parliament from the Coalition – this Tea Party approach dominates the Coalition ... from Tony Abbott down.
"What is it with these people, what is it with them?
"These are the people that are supposed to be the high-calibre Liberals. If this is the high-calibre Liberals I'd hate to go to a Liberal party branch in Queensland and see the low-lifes in operation.

"These people are fruit loops."

Senate votes down visa changes for foreign offshore rig workers

On Wednesday night Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party teamed up to stop foreign workers being employed on maritime crew visas.

Paddy Crumlin from the Maritime Union of Australia said the new visa was a loophole being used to exploit workers.

"It was there to bring in Philippino, Indonesian seafarers not on Australian wages and conditions," he said.

Greens senator Penny Wright said the changes meant foreign workers could be employed in Australian waters and be paid as little as $1,000 a month.

"This regulation would allow overseas workers to work for up to three years straight in the oil and gas zone without a visa that has Australian labour law as the legal basis underpinning their wages and conditions," she said.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hockey threatens "CUTS BY DECREE"

'Smirking" Joe Hockey has warned he is ready to bypass Parliament and force through new spending cuts if Labor and the Greens do not come to the table on billions of dollars of budget savings.

The Government is struggling to win support for a number of controversial budget changes, including plans for a co-payment on doctor visits, and moves to increase the fuel tax.

If they are not passed the Government faces a multi-billion-dollar hole in the budget bottom line.

Mr Hockey says he will have to look elsewhere for savings if the Senate is not willing to negotiate.

Mr Hockey said that if the Senate continued to block the Government's plans, he was prepared to look at budget cuts that did not require legislation.

He said any decision to make further cuts to the foreign aid budget would not require parliamentary approval.

Labor says it is willing to negotiate with the Government, but points out that the Treasurer and Finance Minister have both previously ruled out making changes.

"Today he's talking about alternatives, [but] we've been told there's no alternatives," shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told Radio National.

"He and Mathias Cormann keep saying this is the only choice, there's no alternative to this budget.

"So if the Treasurer wants to put up alternatives, let's get rid of the bluff and bluster and the beating of the chest with which he specialises, and get down and tell us what the alternatives are."

But Mr Bowen said Labor was not willing to compromise on its values, describing the budget as unfair and one which "attacks our social fabric".

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer said voters would punish the Coalition at the ballot box for any "irrational" cuts.

"I don't think we're frightened at what Joe Hockey says," he said.

"If Joe Hockey does that, if he just tried to hurt people for the sake of hurting people, the Australian people will throw the Government out at the next election - there'll be a new government."

Abbott fawning praise for Murdoch

The Australian has celebrated 50 years in print with a glowing endorsement from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who said John Howard had the newspaper to thank for his elevation to the nation's top job.

At a gala dinner in Sydney marking the half-century milestone, Mr Abbott - who once worked as a journalist at The Australian - said the contemporary publication is "one of the world's very best".

And he wanted to "kill the urban myth" that News Corp papers were ciphers for boss Rupert Murdoch.

"The Australian has borne his ideals but not his fingerprints: it has been his gift to our nation," Mr Abbott told an audience which included past and present politicians, sporting greats and business leaders.

"Long ago The Australian found its authentic voice and that has helped governments and people to find theirs."

Mr Abbott said the newspaper barracked for causes rather than political parties and promoted issues not individuals and told both sides of a story.

However it was The Australian in 1994 that cleared the way for Mr Howard to take the Coalition leadership and become prime minister "by putting on the front page his change of mind on Asian immigration".

Thirteen years later though, the paper was campaigning against Mr Howard, he added.

Mr Abbott acknowledged that The Australian had sought arguments for and against a number of issues, including the much-debated price on carbon.

"No think-tank, no institution, no university has so consistently and so successfully captured and refined the way we think about ourselves."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

MUA: Bust the Budget Sydney Video


ACTU: Unions welcome FSI focus on lower super fees and retention of FOFA laws

15 July, 2014 | Media Release
Unions welcome today’s publication of the interim report of the Financial System Inquiry.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Tim Lyons said unions have long argued that Australia needs a more efficient financial system.

“Australia needs a financial system geared to supporting job-rich investment and better retirement incomes rather than generating huge profits for banks, insurance companies and wealth managers.

“In particular, unions welcome the interim report’s view that superannuation fees in Australia are too high, and that the changes the government wants to make to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws are not in the best interests of customers.”

The Report notes that high super fees can reduce the savings workers have when they retire by an average of $40,000, largely due to high fees being paid to fund managers.

“Industry funds are for members, not big companies chasing profits, so on average they charge less in fees than retail funds and deliver more when workers retire,” said Mr Lyons.

“The interim report’s focus on reducing fees and on ideas for more innovative retirement phase products like annuities is consistent with ACTU policy. We aren’t convinced by some of the suggested policy ideas floated in the report, but the objectives are sound and we’ll be engaging on that basis.”

The report did not support the view of retail super funds and government ministers that any MySuper product should be eligible to be chosen as a default fund by employers, Mr Lyons said.

“Super contributions should be viewed as deferred wages and are therefore appropriate to industrial regulation and collective bargaining.

“Workers and their representatives are best placed to decide which MySuper product is in their interests – not just any MySuper product chosen unilaterally by an employer following consultation with their bank.”

Unions also welcome the interim report’s view that the government’s proposed changes to FOFA laws is not in the best interests of consumers.

“The report highlights research by ASIC which shows consumers have lost substantial sums because financial advisers were acting in their own interests, rather than those of their customers.” said Mr Lyons.

Unions strongly support the FOFA reforms that became effective in 2013 and oppose the changes the government currently wishes to make at the behest of the banks.

“The Financial Systems Inquiry Interim Report is a further blow to the government’s plans to water-down vital protections for those who rely on good quality financial advice. All Senators should take this report as another clear signing that gutting FOFA is a bad idea” said Mr Lyons.

Monday, July 14, 2014

AMWU: Ausreo Lock-out

Workers locked out by western Sydney building products supplier Ausreo are feeling the financial strain but remain determined to stick together after three weeks without work.


The 24 members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union have been locked out by management for seeking the same wages that colleagues interstate get paid for doing the same work.

They have since been keeping a daily vigil outside the gates of their factory at Wetherill Park. The union has urged Ausreo to re-start talks and allow the workers to return as many risk losing their homes if they miss mortgage payments.

On Friday, management and the union met for the first time in a fortnight, but there was no resolution to the dispute with the workers preparing to dig in for the long haul.

The union says Ausreo, which supplies concrete reinforcing products to the building and construction industry,  has been stonewalling since the existing enterprise agreement ran out in February, claiming that paying machine operators in Sydney the same wages and conditions as machine operators at Ausreo’s Melbourne site was “not sustainable.”

Most members are level four machine operators, wanting their hourly wage rate to be raised $3 so that it equals the rate the company pays in Melbourne.

They are also seeking improvements to redundancy provisions. Instead Ausreo offered the possibility of a 3% “Christmas bonus” paid at management discretion, with no change to present base rates for the next three years.

AMWU organiser Ghazi Noshie said: “There’s a lack of respect from management for the workforce and I sense this company had always wanted to lock them out and try to destroy the union onsite.”

Delegate Dennis Ngo said workers were bearing up well because they were united and had support from AMWU members at other sites and the community.

Like many of his co-workers, Mr Ngo has had to deal with financial strain and the stress of uncertainty during the dispute. The Ngo family have also cancelled child care for their two-year-old daughter as they try to survive on the wages of Dennis’ wife Jenny, who works in a food processing factory.

“I’ve had to go the bank and have part of my mortgage payment delayed by some weeks,” Mr Ngo said. “There’s a lot of us the same, but we’re determined because we want a fair go, we’re sticking together.”

PSA: Stop the Privatisation of NSW


Help stop the privatisation of NSW
Jul 7, 2014

While the PSA strongly supports the principles behind the NDIS, the total privatisation of ADHC will dramatically undermine choice and the provision of quality services for clients.
The implementation of the NDIS will be far more effective if the Government retains a key role in delivering this vital human service.

To make matters worse, the Government so far has failed to make a commitment to protect the job security, conditions, entitlements and pay of the public servants who are to be transferred, like it or not, to a private employer.

This is unprecedented in the privatisation arena and is undoubtedly just the beginning of a mass sell off of public services in NSW.

That’s why we must act now and nip this in the bud.

Please sign the petition HERE and ask your friends, work colleagues and friends to sign also.

As it is a parliamentary petition, we need original signatures on the petition.

So collect as many signatures as you can and post the petition back to:

The Public Service Association of NSW GPO Box 3365 Sydney NSW 2001

Nurses: Be upfront on new Maitland Hospital Mr Baird

Wednesday 9th July 2014

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has once again called on the NSW Government to detail exactly how the proposed new Maitland Hospital will be operated.
During a fleeting picture opportunity at the proposed site in Metford today, Premier Mike Baird told local media he was open to a public-private partnership, however he said he was unable to provide any significant information until planning work was completed.

Local residents, together with NSWNMA members, have previously sought clarification from Maitland MP Robyn Parker, NSW Ministry of the Health and the Health Minister in relation to the government’s plans for the new hospital, to no avail.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said a new state-of-the-art hospital was welcome for the growing Lower Hunter population but reiterated the lack of detail on how the hospital would run had been disappointing.

“Many of our members have signalled their frustrations at the lack of specific information about the new $20 million hospital planned for Metford,” Mr Holmes said.

“We understand there is a planning process underway but to show up at the proposed site for the cameras and not provide any detail about the project is a slap in the face for residents.

“Premier Baird needs to be upfront with the people of Maitland and the surrounds and let them know if he’s planning on signing the new Maitland Hospital over to a private operator to run – it’s a simple question.

“At the limited community consultations run by the Local Health District, it is a key question of residents – ‘Is this going to be a public or private hospital and will this impact on our access?’

“Unfortunately for locals, Premier Baird has chosen to roll out the same mantra he uses to describe the new Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenchs Forest, which is also earmarked to be run by a for-profit operator.

“The people of the Lower Hunter deserve to know if their public hospital will be run for the benefit of private shareholders,” said Mr Holmes.

NSWTF: Senate inquiry backs six years of Gonski funding

By NSW Teachers Federation 10 July 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott must heed the recommendations of a Senate inquiry into schools funding which has backed the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding, the Australian Education Union said today.

AEU Deputy Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the findings of the inquiry reflected the views of thousands of teachers, students and principals who had made submissions calling for the Gonski funding to be delivered in full.

“The inquiry has made it clear that the Coalition’s plan to abandon Gonski will have a detrimental impact on students across Australia,” she said.

“As the inquiry’s report states: ‘Unless governments and schools can make long-term decisions and target those groups of students most in need, the gap between the disadvantaged and the advantaged in the Australian school system will increase.’”

“There needs to be a long term commitment to Gonski and the six years of funding needed to ensure every school has the resources to educate every student to a high level.

“The inquiry found what we have now under the Abbott Government is a mess: no commitment to the six years of funding or to work cooperatively with the states and territories, the abandonment of the Gonski model after four years and real cuts in funding every year after that totalling $30 billion over a decade.

“The Senate inquiry’s report said the Gonski Review and the needs-based funding it recommended was a “fundamental benchmark in the history of school funding in Australia” which demonstrated the link between education outcomes and investment in the school sector.

“The inquiry also called for a lift to funding for students with disability, and greater transparency in how schools funding is spent.

“Growing international evidence shows the importance of equity in achieving excellence across a system, yet Australia seems to be moving further away from this as the Abbott Government abandons Gonski agreements with the States,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The inquiry has also called on the Abbott Government to keep its abandoned promise to institute a ‘disability loading’ that recognises the true cost of educating students with disability from 2015, citing the urgent need among students with disability.

“Up to 100,000 children with disability may be missing out due to a lack of funding, and the Abbott Government has failed to honour its 2013 election promise to replace the temporary loading with a needs-based one,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This broken promise is causing ongoing pain to thousands of children with disability who are being denied the chance of a decent education.”

“The AEU supports the recommendation that the Commonwealth work to ensure state and territory governments that did not sign up to Gonski contribute towards the cost of getting all schools to a national resourcing standard.

“We also support the call for greater transparency about where school funding dollars go and are concerned that the Abbott Government is working to reduce accountability by changing the Australian Education Act,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Some state governments are clearly pocketing the Gonski funding and kids are missing out as a result.

“The Abbott Government must listen to the Senate, and the thousands of principals, parents, teachers and community members who have contributed to this inquiry, and commit to the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding.”

Saturday, July 12, 2014

HYPERBOLE and HUBRIS: Carbon Traps Abbott and Hunt? (Murdoch v. Murdoch)

Could it be that the repeal of the carbon tax is the worst thing that could possibly happen to Tony Abbott?

Such a proposition seems bizarre but consider the following pre-election statements from Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt about the carbon tax’s impact on the cost of living. Then consider what the actual companies concerned now say will happen with their prices.

The carbon tax will damage the economy and harm householders. It will ... create havoc with household budgets as rent, food, electricity, gas and the price of essentials all increase. – Tony Abbott, 23 March 2012

It’s going to hit the price of milk; it’s going to hit the price of fruit and vegetables. ..The reality of the carbon tax is it is small family businesses and it is goods such as milk and fruit and vegetables that are going to be hit. – Greg Hunt, 22 May 2012

We had yesterday an announcement from Qantas and Jetstar that their tickets are going to cost more because of the carbon tax. So everything you do will be more expensive under the carbon tax. Turn on the lights, you pay. Open the fridge, you pay. Get on the train, you pay. Catch a plane, you pay. – Abbott, 3 February 2012

Qantas, Virgin Australia and Woolworths are all refusing to reduce prices once the carbon tax is ditched, while Coles would not guarantee reductions…. Woolworths claimed only five products out of 40,000 rose in price during the carbon tax ­regime and said grocery costs had fallen since 2012. – Daily Telegraph, 10 July 2014

Abbott’s very rise was built on hyperbole about a carbon tax that would be a wrecking ball, undermining our very way of life, hurting our hip pocket at every turn. He rose on a chorus of front page news on the Daily Telegraph, Herald-Sun and Courier Mail screaming about the carbon tax’s impact on the cost of living.

Now it looks like he’ll be hung by his own hyperbole.

The electorate have already found themselves deeply disappointed to find that budgets deficits aren’t lowered by some kind of magically painless “DNA” which only the Coalition possess, which was Abbott's pre-election rhetoric. Rather it has been plain old tax increases and cuts to government benefits and services. Since the May budget, poll after poll has charted an almost unprecedented level of unpopularity for a government and leader less than 12 months into its first term. Some polls have the government trailing 45 per cent to Labor’s 55 per cent on a two-party preferred basis – this would represent electoral devastation for the Coalition.

Now the electorate’s inflated expectations – fed by Abbott’s cheerleaders in the tabloid press – will suddenly crash into a second wall of economic reality, post carbon tax repeal.

After their visits to the supermarket and when they open their next electricity bills, consumers around the nation will be deflated to find very little improvement in their cost of living.

Coming on top of a budget full of surprises (which really shouldn’t have come as a surprise if you knew that DNA doesn’t reduce deficits) the electorate is likely to feel like it's been conned.

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/7/11/carbon-markets/could-end-carbon-tax-spell-end-abbott

Note

The screaming tabloids ( Daily Telegraph, Herald-Sun and Courier Mail) in the article are all part of the Murdoch stable while there is no mention of the bolting horse Murdoch's flagship the Australian in which this excellent summary is published.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Contempt and Conniving Coalition

Peter Martin SMH

The Coalition is reaping what it sowed. It has repeatedly treated the Parliament with contempt in its effort to neuter parts of Labor's financial advice laws before they had full force on July 1.

Rather than put changes before the Parliament as an amendment to Labor's act, it introduced them by regulation when the Parliament wasn't sitting. It was aware of legal advice from Arnold Bloch Leibler that they would not survive a challenge in the High Court. Regulations are meant to assist the implementation of acts, not to nullify them.

Labor alleges that Treasury sent a copy of the regulations to the Senate tabling office on July 1 and then attempted to withdraw them, saying it didn't want them tabled until the last possible date, next Tuesday, July 15. What is not tabled cannot be disallowed.

Directed by a vote of the Senate to table the regulations immediately, the Minister, Mathias Cormann, refused. Cynics suggest he was trying to delay the process long enough to get through to the five-week parliamentary break and then accuse the Senate of creating uncertainty when it tried to exercise its rights. Then Labor's Senator Sam Dastyari pulled a stunt, one worthy of Cormann himself.
He read from the regulations and had a Labor senator demand that he table the document he was reading from.

In the confusion the motion passed with the help of the Greens and a handful of independents. On Monday Labor will give notice of a motion to strike the regulations down. If it succeeds, consumers will be protected in the way Parliament originally intended. It will have got around the workaround.

Read more:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Arrogance undone: Abbott Carbon Tax Upset

Senator David Leyonhjelm is congratulated by Senator Doug Cameron after delivering his first speech in the Senate
The federal government has suffered another blow to its beleaguered budget after being forced to retain tax-cut compensation due to start next year and an expensive energy-research agency, both of which were slated to go under its carbon-tax repeal package.

Amid growing concerns internally about its management of the new crossbench-dominated Senate, the government was first defeated on a procedural motion to force the carbon-tax repeal to an early vote on Wednesday, and then learnt it would be blocked on the proposed abolition of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

It also lost a vote on another critical aspect of the carbon-tax repeal when the otherwise pro-repeal Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm combined with the Greens, Labor and other crossbench senators to keep $1.5 billion worth of tax relief due to start from July 1 next year.


Speaking to reporters after the Senate chaos, Senate Leader Eric Abetz and Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government would now introduce a set of amended bills to repeal the carbon tax to the House of Representatives on Monday.

The arrogant Abbott government had expected to be celebrating the achievement of its long-term ambition to axe Labor's price on carbon this week, but instead has found itself scrambling day by day to convince the cross bench that it was not just hatching a plot.

Mr Palmer had earlier on Thursday confirmed that his senators would not vote for the carbon tax repeal on Thursday, saying amendments had been lodged with the Senate Clerk’s office at 8.30am.
''We asked that it be distributed and we had a violent action from government, a violent reaction I would say,'' Mr Palmer said. ''We had ministers calling us and visiting our senators and complaining.''

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said the government had failed to explain the impact on small and large business from the latest deal with Palmer United Party.

"Australians are entitled to know does the price pass-through apply to all businesses or only to electricity and gas companies," she said.

"Maybe if the government had paid attention to proper process rather than just try to ram these through to get a political win, it may not have been in such a chaotic and shambolic mess," Senator Wong said.


AMWU: Government Stifling Solar Investment and Solar Jobs

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union
Tuesday 8 July 2014

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has joined the chorus of criticism of the Federal Government’s lack of investment and support of renewable power and the manufacturing opportunities solar energy brings to Australia.

As reported by the ABC, Solar Reserve - one of the world's most advanced solar power companies - has dumped its plans to develop electricity plants for the public market in Australia. The company clearly blamed the Government’s lack of support for solar power and solar manufacturing.

“Renewable energy manufacturing is one of the developed world’s great success stories when it comes to new industries and jobs growth, and Australia has traditionally led the way in the development of these technologies” said AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian.

“This government is continually talking about ‘out with the old, in with the new’ when it comes to manufacturing – renewables are a perfect opportunity for Australia to invest in generating not only new industries but new economy jobs. 
  
“But instead of supporting this growing new industry, the Government’s attitude is one of open hostility. 

“The Government has appointed a recognised climate change skeptic to review the Renewable Energy Target. It wants to dismantle the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has already supported  $2.2 billion of new investment in the sector while the Treasurer is on the record calling wind energy turbines “utterly offensive”.

“Imagine if the Government helped solar and other renewable energy manufacturing companies to locate in Adelaide or Geelong – the thousands of workers facing redundancy from the automotive industry’s closure could transition into solar production.” 

ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday 7 July highlighted that the Federal Government’s lack of support for investment into solar had already deterred solar manufacturing companies from locating to Australia.

“The Government needs to see and act on the opportunity here – not just for power generation but for jobs,” said Mr Bastian.

“By supporting the RET and giving industry support for solar companies to locate here, the Federal Government could kill two birds with one stone – help Australia transition its power base, and provide good manufacturing jobs in regions that need them.

“We hope the Government will re-consider their hostile attitude and support renewable energy companies moving to Australia.”

Holding Asylum Seekers At Sea --- Piracy

Human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC says the Federal Government's decision to hold 153 asylum seekers on a Customs boat on the high seas could amount to piracy.

After weeks of silence, the Government on Tuesday confirmed to the High Court the group, which includes children as young as two, was in custody on the boat.

"It looks for all the world like piracy," Mr Burnside said.

Suggestion the Government's handling of 153 asylum seekers amounts to piracy maybe misplaced, but doesn't mean the actions are legally unaccountable, writes Donald Rothwell.

"If they went onto the Australian vessel because they had asked for help and they were offered help, then they seem to have been taken under false pretences because the Government not only publicly denied their existence it also seemed distinctly uninclined to offer them any help."

The asylum seekers say they are Sri Lankan but left from India about a month ago. Sri Lanka has indicated it will not take them back and Mr Burnside thinks India would be unlikely to.

"Because India of course is not a signatory to the refugees convention," he said.

CFMEU SONG: Whatever It Takes


ACTU: Unpaid Super a Billion Dollar Problem

07 July, 2014 | Media Release

The ACTU said that it was the proper role of superannuation funds and of Unions to chase employers who were failing in their legal responsibilities to pay their worker's superannuation.  As the Royal Commission has started to look at superannuation, there is a danger of missing the real issue: that superannuation payments are workers entitlements and failing to pay them is a form of theft.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Tim Lyons said unpaid superannuation was a huge problem for many hundreds of thousands of workers, and that Unions were all too familiar with the stress of workers having to chase their employer for their entitlements.

"Our view is that all superannuation funds have a responsibility to fund members to ensure that superannuation, both compulsory and salary sacrifice contributions are paid in full by employers,” Mr Lyons said.

"You would have to seriously question the actions of a fund that didn’t take proper steps to ensure members get their money, but we understand this is common in the for-profit superannuation sector.

"Non-payment of superannuation is a form of wage theft, and Unions also have a vital role in ensuring that it doesn’t happen.

"Every day union officers and delegates are chasing unpaid and underpaid wages, and entitlements like super. Chasing unpaid entitlements has been an important part of our job for a hundred years, and it’s one our members expect us to do thoroughly and professionally.

"Sadly, many workers would not be surprised to hear evidence today that some employers need to be chased to ensure wages and super are paid on time and in full.

"Superannuation is a critical part of workers entitlements, but too many rogue employers sometimes try to get away with not paying. Unions have always been critical of the performance in this area of the ATO, which also has power to investigate non-payment of super.  It is under resourced to perform this role, and as the Government doesn’t keep the money it never seems to be a priority.  Even still, between 2009 and 2013 the ATO recovered $1.3 billion in unpaid super.  Our experience on the ground is that this is a tiny part of a much bigger problem.

"Bad employers not paying super make it harder for those businesses that do the right thing to compete. In our experience a failure to pay super is also a “canary in the mine”. It is often the alarm bell that a business is in trouble, and could collapse owing workers their entitlements and trade creditors their money too.  That’s why a prompt and robust system to ensure payment is needed.

 "It’s ironic that we have an investigation into attempts to secure workers superannuation at the same time as the Government has made huge funding cuts to the ATO and to the financial regulator ASIC, and refused a further inquiry into financial planning scandals."


PROUD WHARFIE, PROUD INDIGENOUS MAN

Patrick ‘Paddy’ Neliman is proud wharfie, proud member of the Maritime Union of Australia, and proud Torres Strait Islander man. His mother is from the Murray Islands and his father is from Badu Island. Patrick is a member of the ACTU Indigenous Committee, and was the recipient of the ACTU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award earlier this year.



“I work for a company called Northern Stevedoring Services, or NSS. I’ve worked for these guys in Townsville for 19 years, beginning in 1994, and now I’ve been a permanent for close to 10 years. I drive the cranes, the big Portainer gantry cranes, and the skill level that I do at work is we discharge the boxes and bulk and all of that kind of stuff and loading of ships as well.

“It’s a challenge every day. Our workforce distributes over Cairns and Mackay and Gladstone as well, but here in Townsville, we have 82 on the floor, not counting the office, 75 of them are members which is good.

“Size-wise, we’re just a small port. But volume wise we’re up there with Brisbane. It is a container and bulk handling port, they load stuff like sugar, fertiliser, cement. We do containers as well. Clive Palmer’s nickel, it gets discharged here in Townsville too, mainly stuff like that.

“I got the job when I was 20, turning 21. Before that I was in the Queensland Police Service. I was trained to be a police officer but I didn’t like that too much, so I came back to Townsville and my brother woke me up one day and got me down to the CES, I applied for a job, didn’t know what stevedoring meant, something to do with wharves, but anyway, I applied for a job.

“Back when I started, it was almost a sin if you weren’t union. I’ve been a delegate for about six years now. I put my hand up because blokes were retiring and I ended up being in the next lot to do the EBA talks.’’

Leadership role
“[As a delegate], I think I’ve found myself develop to become a better listener, and also a bit of a problem solver. I’ve generally taken on a counseling type of thing: let people talk, find out what the problem is and try to guide them with the best advice or experience I have. I’ve found myself to be a bit better at that stuff, where before if somebody told me something it went straight over my head and I didn’t know what was going on. Now I have an understanding of what’s going on and more care about how we can make a change.

“Back when I started, it was almost a sin if you weren’t union.’’
“Then the union deputy secretary advised me of this ACTU [Indigenous] committee, and recommended I should have a go at it. He thought I would be beneficial. I just wrote out a little resumé and handed it in and he came back to me at next negotiation talks and told me I got in. Since then, that’s when I got to understand about how unions work on that level with Indigenous communities for better conditions and pay and all that. And then as it panned out it didn’t just stop with our worksites and all of those kinds of policies and negotiations, it got to issues in our community regarding Stolen Wages and other things like that.

“I found out more about the Stolen Wages through working with the ACTU and becoming a delegate, and through the QCU in Queensland, their role in standing up to do things for the Stolen Wages campaign. I was shown how they developed the campaigns and the process to get the ball rolling and address it to the community. And that’s when I was made aware that if it works for that issue, there are a whole lot of other issues about people’s jobs and lifestyles on the islands and through areas.’’

Stolen wages and social compacts
“From 1908 until the 1960s, 80% of indigenous wages were kept in state trusts. I don’t know why. They probably thought Indigenous people couldn’t budget or understand the value of money. So now we’re fighting to get those stolen wages back. It’s a really hard sell but we keep pushing. I march every year with the Stolen Wages banner and I grab any wharfie who’s beside me, anyone in the community to hold the banner and march beside me. Yeah, so it’s alright. We’re still going and we’re a voice for the elders out there, so there’s no stopping yet.

“Now we’re developing social compacts between the unions and the land councils when there is development on the traditional lands. The idea is to give jobs to Indigenous people and they become union members. So memberships should grow and also the conditions and pay should be fair and reasonable for Aboriginal people.

“Out of the 82 in my port, there are only six blacks. We haven’t formulated ourselves to be an Indigenous committee amongst ourselves. But if there’s any issues I raise them with them and they give me a yes or no vote whether they feel strongly about stuff. They’re not identified as being Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders because of their fair complexions, but they’re happy to tell me what they think, they don’t really worry about being identified or not.

“In our last EBA, we put in a clause that we’d get a percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders in our workforce. It’s never been done before, except in WA I think they have 20%. That helped us to put in the clause and hopefully from that we’ll feed in a certain number, a percentage. We’ve got to get more Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders on wharves and hopefully it’ll work out good.”

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

ACTU: Low Income Super Contribution has been saved!

We have some great news - the Low Income Super Contribution has been saved!

Over 14,000 of you signed on to ask politicians to protect the LISC payment. Because of your efforts Clive Palmer announced that his party will oppose Tony Abbott's attempts to get rid of it. With Palmer's votes added to Labor, the Greens, John Madigan and Nick Xenophon the LISC is now safe.

This means that over 3.6 million workers will have a more secure retirement. This is a big deal.

We think that when politicians do the right thing it is worth thanking them and letting them know that it matters. That's why we are asking Australian Unions supporters to write a thank you note to the politicians who have protected the LISC.

Click here to leave a message of thanks for the MPs who supported the LISC: http://www.australianunions.org.au/lisc_thank_you

We will gather all the letters together and deliver them to MPs in Canberra next week.

The LISC was created by the last Labor government to bring some balance back to the superannuation system. Before it was introduced those on big incomes received massive tax concessions while low income earners got nothing. The LISC is a big step to addressing that unfairness.

Click here to say thanks to MPs for supporting the LISC: http://www.australianunions.org.au/lisc_thank_you

This win demonstrates that there are no guarantees Tony Abbott will get his way on everything. When we come together, and stand up for what is right, we have real power. We can make a real difference.

Thanks to everyone who stood up to protect the LISC. You have made a difference to the lives of millions of Australians.

This is what being union is all about.

Thanks again --


Ged, Dave and the Australian Unions team

http://www.australianunions.org.au/

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Joseph Stiglitz Broadens the Horizon

Stiglitz broadens the horizon, Online Opinion, 8 July 2014

Economics can be a pretty dry pastime. Economists are in the business of looking at numbers and making sense from them. But numbers can't tell a story or inspire people; they will only ever be part of the picture. A grander narrative is required.

Last week our Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered a speech at the 2014 Economic and Social Outlook Conference. The speech was essentially a defence of the Budget, and was laden with numbers. All the economic buzzwords were present: surplus, tax reform, trade, competition, productivity. The problem is that it didn't tell a story. This speech might fit the description of an economic outlook, but falls short on the social side. Given the forum Abbott's speech was always going to be economically focused, but he missed an opportunity to place the numbers in a broader, more meaningful context. It is an indication of how narrow our political discourse has become that a Prime Ministerial outlook revolves only around economic buzzwords.

One of the world's most famous economists, Joseph Stiglitz, is in Australia at the moment, and while he has spent a lot of time, unsurprisingly, talking about economics, he is also arguing the case for the broader picture. For a long time, measuring the success of country has been a matter of looking at numbers. Often the calculation of dividing GDP by the population is held up as the definitive picture. It's a neat number, easily compared among countries and across time. But it is a crude measurement, giving a one-dimensional picture of one aspect of a nation's economy. It doesn't come close to illustrating the real state of a nation.

Instead, Stiglitz argues that we need new, better, more sophisticated metrics to measure our economies, metrics that consider the real cost and value of things. Currently we don't measure the full social cost of a government policy. We don't measure things like resource depletion, pollution, the effects of job insecurity, but just because we don't measure them, doesn't mean they're not there.

We have developed a system where only something that has a dollar value gets measured. Even when we try to look beyond this, we still do it through this prism, so we try to put a dollar value on housework or caring, or raising children. We try to shoehorn everything into one economic number, putting a dollar value against everything in our society. This not only fails to provide an accurate picture of our social and economic health, but it is dehumanizing and makes a mockery of things we really value.

The push to move away from costing everything in this narrow approach comes in the wake of what Stiglitz has described as a major shift in economic thinking. We used to think that we had to trade equality for growth. But as we develop a better understanding of how our economies work, and implement better tools for measuring its health, it becomes clear that, not only is this not true, but that it is in fact the reverse. Pushing an inequality agenda can actually hinder growth. Work done by Richard Wilkinson and many others has shown that more equal societies do better. Education, rates of imprisonment, obesity, violence, drug abuse and other health and social problems are all worse in more unequal countries. All these problems have massive flow on costs for society as a whole. The benefits of being able to measure across a broad range of factors becomes obvious.

The neo-liberal approach has always been to cost things too narrowly. This has been on display at the Commission of Audit and in the Budget. Government programs are seen in terms of their dollar value only, or in the dollars they save by cutting it. But this doesn't take into consideration long-term flow on effects of government decisions. If a $7 co-payment discourages a person from seeing a doctor and they develop a chronic disease, or deregulated university fees deter a bright young mind from considering university, there are long-term costs not just to the economy, but in people's life choices.

It used to be that only those interested in social policy cared about social costs, and environmental impact statements were for greenies. But developing broader metrics and indexes to get a full picture of an economy is becoming mainstream. Even the IMF, which Stiglitz points out is not exactly a hotbed of socialists, is starting to use these broader measures to get a better picture of real prosperity and economic sustainability.

If we want to build a fair, inclusive society, then we need to value things beyond their dollar value. We need to be measuring government policies using multiple metrics and indexes to have a full understanding of their social impact. This will not only ensure our continued prosperity, but will enrich our democracy. Our political leaders are more than just bookkeepers for our tax dollars and our public discourse should be about more than economics. We want a real narrative that can inspire us.

GetUp! - Minister Morrison, this policy is not saving lives

We may never hear the stories of the asylum seekers who sought our protection, and those who were handed back to Sri Lankan officials over the weekend. But John's story tells us everything we need to know about why Australia's asylum seeker policy is not saving lives. 


In 1986, I left Sri Lanka and came to Australia as a refugee. As a part of the Tamil ethnic group, I faced violence and intimidation in my own country. I witnessed young children become the innocent casualties of the civil war, as the violence inched closer and closer to our home and my family.

So you can imagine my distress at hearing our government is sending people back into the hands of the very people, whom they're fleeing. This is not the Australia I know, the country that took me in with open arms more than 20 years ago.

Are we willing to send asylum seekers back to a place where people are being arbitrarily detained and tortured? Where women are being assaulted? Where they could die? Maybe Minister Morrison doesn't understand the potential consequences of his actions, but I certainly do.

I know we Australians are good and kind people, but perhaps there are many who aren't aware about the reckless acts being perpetrated by our government and their implications.

Please, will you help me share my story and my message to Minister Morrison?

- Reverend John Jegasothy