Saturday, January 31, 2015

Australian Workplace Relations Study destroys Abbott/ Hockey Myths

The Australian Workplace Relations Study (AWRS) is one of the most significant studies of Australian workplace relations in 20 years, involving 3000 businesses and 8000 employees.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the study provides hard evidence that claims by the Abbott government and employers about high wages and low productivity are simply not true.

“Wages account for only a minor part of sales and services revenue for 90 per cent of businesses,” said Ms Kearney.

“It’s simply not true for employers to claim they can’t afford to open on weekends or public holidays because of penalty rates.

Ms Kearney said labour productivity has also remained steady or improved for 85 per cent of businesses.

“Australians are productive and working hard yet employers and the Abbott government are obsessed with driving down wages and are trying to use the Productivity Commission inquiry to do so.

“The evidence can’t be ignored. This study shows quite clearly that the Productivity Commission inquiry and the Abbott government’s four industrial relations bills are part of an ideological agenda – not based on fact.”

Ms Kearney said the original Australian Workplace Relations Survey was scrapped by the Howard government to hide the effects of its draconian industrial relations laws.

“It’s somewhat ironic that the independent umpire’s first comprehensive study since then busts open the myth that the Fair Work Act is hampering productivity and comes just a week after Tony Abbott launched his own attack on wages and rights at work.”

NSW Farmers anger over Liverpool Plains mine

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission(PAC) gave approval on Thursday to Chinese government-owned Shenhua to build an open cut mine which will cover 175 square kilometres on the edge of the Liverpool Plains, considered one of the best food-growing regions in Australia.

Anger over the mine could endanger the sitting Nationals, who include the federal agriculture minister, Barnaby Joyce, and state MP Kevin Anderson, who faces an election on 28 March.

The NSW approval now places the responsibility on the shoulders of the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt. The minister has final approval after he considers a report by an expert scientific committee examining the environmental ramifications of the mine. 

It is understood a federal decision is due on 13 March, two weeks before the state election.

Tim Duddy, a farmer and spokesman for the Caroona Coal Action Group, slammed National party representatives saying locals “could not find a less effective party for rural interests if they tried”.

"Even the communist party would do a better job because at least they recognise that we all need food,” Duddy said.

“The cash has been flowing today, from people wanting to help. Every donation they have given to the National party they are going to reroute to fight the mines.”

Duddy said local people should “shirtfront” Joyce to “turn the central heating up”. He said crossbencher Palmer United party senator Dio Wang would be visiting the region on Monday. 

NSW Farmers Association president Fiona Simson said the local community felt “betrayed” after a range of NSW Coalition ministers committed to protect the best farming land through a Strategic Land Use Agreement at the last state election in 2011. 

“The National party will be held to account for this decision,” Simson said. 

“It’s a Coalition government. When we look at [Duncan] Gay, [Andrew] Stoner, [Brad] Hazzard, successive government ministers committed they will not approve projects. Clearly the community feels this is a massive policy breach and the agricultural community feels betrayed by the government.”

Madrid: Huge Podemos Anti-Austerity Demonstration

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Madrid in support of new anti-austerity party Podemos, a week after Greece elected its hard-left ally Syriza.

The protesters chanted "Yes we can" as they made their way from Madrid city hall to the central Puerta del Sol square.

The party and its anti-austerity message have been surging in polls ahead of elections later this year.

"There are many people that agree with the need for change. Enough already with stealing - that the corrupt take everything and we can't do anything," said Dori Sanchez, a 23-year-old unemployed teacher who came from Manovar in south-eastern Spain for the rally.

Podemos said 260 buses brought supporters to the capital from across Spain for the rally referred to as the March for Change, with hundreds of locals signed on to host travellers.

Demonstrators carried banners that read "Universal Basic Income", "Tick, tock it's time for change" and "Together we can".

Syriza beat mainstream Greek parties by pledging to end austerity, as Podemos aims to do in Spain's general election due in November.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, a 36-year-old former university professor, appeared alongside Syriza's Alexis Tsipras, now Greece's prime minister, to publicly support him during his campaign.

Podemos was formed a year ago but has surged in opinion polls with promises to fight what Iglesias called the traditional "caste" of political leaders.

Like Syriza, Podemos found popular support by targeting corruption and rejecting austerity programs aimed at lifting the countries out of deep economic crisis.

It wants to prevent profitable companies from firing people, abolish private hospitals to return to a fully state-controlled health care system and enact a "significant" minimum wage hike.

PSA: So ... Which Direction Are We Headed ?

Campbell Newmans Unemployment Strategy

Queensland’s growth and employment figures are worse than when Newman assumed office, even as he has spent the term throwing more workers onto the economic scrap-heap. Queensland’s unemployment rate of 6.5% is now the same as Tasmania’s. But the picture is worse in the provincial cities of Australia’s most decentralised state: unemployment is running at 7.8% in Townsville, and 8.2% in Cairns. The real wage growth of low-paid workers has fallen below the rate of inflation. Austerity has translated into a direct assault on the economy and living standards, with no improvement in sight. 

But beyond this, the LNP has attacked bedrock institutions which are not only integral parts of Queensland communities, but highly valued in and of themselves as “public things”. Hospitals and schools, railways and ports are not just infrastructure, but repositories of collective memory and achievement. Clean groundwater and the reef are not cesspits in which to dump our externalities, but things worthy of preservation. After decades in which market liberalism has triumphed, we have not only learned that we are permanently worse off when assets are privatised and economies liberalised, but that we lose a little more of our purchase on the world. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Economist dismisses Bank of England claims

UK economist and anti-austerity campaigner Michael Burke rejected Bank of England CEO Mark Carney’s claim that Britain had escaped its debt trap. The former Citibank economist said Britons remain deep in debt, and that people are borrowing more than ever.

“Mark Carney is delusional if he thinks Britain and the US have found a way out of the debt trap,”

“They have transferred debt, from companies to households. Household debt in both countries is among the highest in the world.”

‘Struggling Eurozone states need debt forgiveness’

Speaking in Dublin, Carney sharply criticized austerity policies common to the Eurozone states, warning the single-currency area was constrained by strangulating levels of debt that could plunge it into years of stagnation.

Carney argued the Eurozone needs to soften its budgetary policies and follow a swift path toward fiscal integration. He said a fiscal union would aid in the transfer of resources from wealthy to poorer nations.

AGL licence in Gloucester Suspended

Huge news. AGL's coal seam gas license in Gloucester has been suspended following a major environmental breach. 

Hazardous BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes) were found in the water of two of AGL's wells. AGL discovered the chemicals on January 15, but didn't report the breach until almost two weeks later. 

It's the latest in a string of incidents that have proven without a doubt that AGL can't be trusted with our water, our land or our communities. 

The suspension of their drilling license is good, but doesn't go nearly far enough. Can you demand AGL withdraw completely from Gloucester right now? 

AGL aren't usually all that keen to consult the community or listen to feedback. But right now, we have a real opportunity to be heard. In just two weeks, AGL will have a brand new CEO, Andrew Vesey. We know he'll be listening carefully to what people say as he looks to negotiate a tricky first few months on the job. 

We need Mr Vesey to be aware of the widespread, passionate, grassroots opposition to the Gloucester CSG project from the first moment he arrives. Let's welcome him by delivering an open letter with thousands of signatures demanding AGL immediately withdraws from the Gloucester CSG project. 

Click here to add your name and tell AGL's new CEO Andrew Vesey to withdraw from Gloucester immediately. 

AGL's CSG projects have been mired in so many controversies recently it's been hard to keep up. Here's what they've done: 

1: AGL's license has been suspended by the NSW Government after finding hazardous BTEX chemicals in the water of two of its wells.1 
2: AGL has been drilling for CSG under people's homes in Sydney without residents having any idea.2 
3: One-in-ten of AGL's Camden wells were found to be leaking in a gasfield 200m away from houses.3 
4: Hunter Water refused AGL permission to dump wastewater in the sewer system, but AGL did it anyway4 
5: There have been huge fluctuation in groundwater levels near AGL's CSG wells5 

It's simple. We can't trust AGL: 

Toxic Tony keeps spraying

Germany: Huge Strike by 70,000 Engineering Workers

Some 70,000 German workers representing some 300 engineering firms have gone on “warning” strikes, demanding higher pay rises than their employers are offering.

The biggest German trade union, IG Metall – which represents 3.7 million workers – said that 70,000 engineers working mainly for BMW, Daimler, and automotive supplier Schaeffler staged a strike after rejecting their employers’ offer of a 2.2 percent pay rise for 2015, beginning March 1.

Instead, the union is demanding a 5.5 percent rise, citing Germany’s solid economic growth. IG Metall warned that more workers will strike if its demands are not met.

On Thursday, the German labor office announced that unemployment in January fell to its lowest since reunification. The announcement came just one day after the government raised the country's 2015 economic growth forecast from 1.3 to 1.5 percent.

“The next days are going to be hot,” IG Metall said in a statement, adding that Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhine-Westphalia are the most affected regions. “The strong participation in the strikes shows what the workers think of the proposal” of their employers, IG Metall vice president Joerg Hofmann said.

GreenPeace: Great news for recycling!

People in NSW will soon be able to claim a 10c refund on their empty drinks bottles and cans – preventing millions of plastic containers from ending up in our forests, beaches, rivers and oceans 
This will create a cleaner Australia, and one that’s kinder on our birds and animals. Plastic litter can be deadly for seabirds and other marine life, which is what makes this win so important. 

You may have already heard of ‘Cash for Containers’. You buy a drink, and get 10 cents back when you return your empty bottle or can. In Europe, it’s one of the most popular and proven ways to reduce plastic waste, helping achieve recycling rates of up to 97%. And it’s a program that has operated successfully in South Australia for over 30 years, where recycling rates are double those of the rest of the country. NSW will soon enjoy the same benefits.

This nearly didn’t happen. Coca-Cola and their beverage industry buddies fought us all the way, running attack ads, cosying up to politicians and even taking the fight to federal court. Coke thought they could bully and buy their way out of doing the right thing by the planet. But the truth is, no matter how much cash they threw at this, they couldn’t match us.

Over 150,000 people signed petitions, called MPs and funded ads to tell politicians to back ‘Cash for Containers’. Thousands took to their cities, beaches and parks to pick up plastic trash and raise the alarm. We didn’t do it because someone made us; we weren’t doing it for recognition or rewards. It was simply the right thing to do.

Now Premier Mike Baird has listened to our voices and brought ‘Cash for Containers’ to NSW.

Qld: Employment figures show austerity policy disaster

Usually total and full-time employment grow around the same pace, and certainly in the same direction. But from the start of 2013, while full-time employment in Queensland stagnated or fell, total employment grew strongly – because of a growth in part-time employment. 

The bad news for Newman is even this growth has now dimmed. Queensland’s employment growth in the past 12 months is second worst only to South Australia, and similarly second worst over the past three years:

It’s not a picture that suggests the austerity measures have produced wonderful economic gains. The limited employment growth that Queenslanders experienced was short-lived and mostly for part-time work only – hardly the thing that is promised when politicians tell voters that the pain will be worth it.

Qld: Stop the Assets Sell Off Poster

NSW: Huge open cut coal mine will destroy farms

A huge coalmine will be built next to some of the most productive farmland in NSW after receiving final approval.

The Watermark open-cut mine, on the Liverpool Plains near Gunnedah in northern NSW, will go ahead after the NSW Planning Assessment Commission determined that farming could proceed on the fertile blacksoil plains next to the mine site.

The commission also determined that groundwater impacts should be minimal and farmers should receive compensatory water from the mine operator if their supplies were harmed by the mine.

Farmers have been stridently opposed to the mine plan and raised fears about the impact it would have on water availability on the Liverpool Plains, which is a key food production area.

The Watermark mine, owned by Chinese coal giant Shenhua Group, will extract up to 10m tonnes of coal a year for 30 years.

Environmental protection group Lock the Gate attacked the approval, saying it destroyed the credibility of NSW mining laws.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scotland: moratorium on fracking

Scotland has imposed a moratorium on shale gas planning permits while an assessment on the impact of shale drilling is completed, ministers told the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing told Holyrood MSPs that an investigation into the effects of fracking for shale on public health and the environment had been launched and they would not be issuing any permits until its completion.

“We are imposing a moratorium on granting planning consents,” the minister, a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), said.

While there are no current plans to extract shale in Scotland, the moratorium also means none will be approved until it is lifted.

Scotland is estimated to have reserves of around 80 trillion cubic meters of shale gas, which would be enough to provide Britain with gas for more than 30 years.

The Scottish moratorium comes only days after some English MPs attempted to impose a similar measure in the House of Commons.

Productivity review could bring the government unstuck

By Professor David Peetz

Choosing the Productivity Commission (PC) to review industrial relations could prove politically embarrassing for both Workplace Relations Minister Eric Abetz and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australia’s federal government has made a major political error, possibly terminal, in asking the Productivity Commission (PC) to inquire into industrial relations.

Before the 2013 election, the strategy of the Coalition appeared to be to say as little as possible, especially about industrial relations. It would then go to the 2016 election, bolstered by the “sophomore surge” of new members building their personal support, and seek a mandate for a bold plan, to get an otherwise “once in a generation” reform through the parliament. This would follow the model of John Howard’s 1998 electoral success with the goods and services tax after promising, some time before the 1996 election, to “never, ever” introduce one.

While some IR changes were foreshadowed in 2013 and have yet to make it through the parliament, the key part of this strategy involved setting up a promised PC inquiry. The expectation was it would make recommendations for “bold” changes for which the Coalition sought justification. The Coalition could pick and choose those recommendations it wished to pursue. The PC could be relied upon to make bold (some would say, “politically correct”) recommendations, as it is seen as a body of overwhelmingly liberal market economists.

The Productivity Commission and IR

Indeed, the IR issues papers released last week show the PC adopting a very broad-ranging approach to the topic, consistent with ultimately making “once in a generation” recommendations.

The PC is challenging some issues, such as the distinction between competition law and IR law, that are fundamental to the nature of IR and to the concept, underpinning IR law, of achieving some sort of balance of power in the workplace.

While the issues papers raise questions in a fairly even-handed way, not wanting to appear to pre-empt the PC’s findings, it is no friend of the union movement.

The focus of the review is revealed by its use of language. It is a review for employer issues of productivity and flexibility, not employee issues of equity and justice. In the issues papers, there are 40 mentions of “flexibility” and 50 of “productivity”, but only three of “equity”, while “justice” is only mentioned in others’ titles. “Penalty rates”, “dismissal”, “minimum wages” and “awards” – all sources of employer complaint – get 45, 50, 142 and 123 mentions respectively; “women” gets three (mostly historical), “gender” another three, “inequality” two and “poverty” one.

Observers on both sides either expect or hope the PC will recommend radical change: substantial deregulation in some form of penalty rates, dismissal provisions, minimum wages and awards, with the intent of boosting productivity and flexibility. There is strong reason, though, to be sceptical of both outcomes. History tells us the results, if implemented, would include lower real wages, especially for low-paid workers, and probably increased insecurity for them.

The demise of the 2013 strategy

The government’s poor showing in opinion polls, though, has undermined its original political strategy. It cannot guarantee re-election even with its current policies, let alone with the addition of radical IR changes.

The union movement could be expected to campaign against the expected changes. It may well argue the Coalition would plan a return to “WorkChoices”. Literally, this would be untrue, as the Coalition has been keen to bury and cremate the phrase and to avoid repeating the exact components of WorkChoices, which principally caused its defeat in the 2007 election.

Read More

Qld: BHP Bans Queensland Miners !

Queensland workers will be banned from a Central Queensland coal mine BHP shut three years ago as the mining giant seeks to import cheaper workers from interstate, the miners union said today.

The CFMEU has obtained an internal briefing paper prepared by a mining industry contractor outlining the terms under which the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) is seeking to operate the Norwich Park mine near Dysart.

It states: “BMA has strongly indicated that success of the project will be dependent on being able to operate the mine efficiently while using labour that is paid significantly less than is currently the case at surrounding existing operations. A strong desire has been expressed that labour should be sourced from lower paying areas outside of Queensland (Adelaide, Melbourne for example). They are likely to try and leverage off the labour model used at Norwich Park to generate lower cost labour models at their other operations.”

The paper suggests BHP intends to restart production in the mine in July, three years after it shut in May 2012, and use the lower wages at Norwich Park to drive wage-cutting at other operations.

CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary Andrew Vickers said it was clear BHP had closed Norwich Park as part of an industrial strategy to slash wages and deny jobs to local Queensland workers.

“Four hundred skilled Queensland mineworkers were put out of work when BHP closed Norwich Park in 2012,” said Mr Vickers. 

“Now it appears that Queenslanders from Dysart or Moranbah or Mackay will have to relocate to Melbourne or Adelaide if they want to work at a local coal mine.

“It’s no coincidence that BHP is now planning to reopen the mine exactly three years after closing it, to avoid legal requirements to hire back the local workers it ruthlessly dumped.

“This was always their plan. BHP is playing Queenslanders for fools – denying them the jobs and royalties they deserve from Queensland resources.

“Labor and the LNP must condemn this ruthless behaviour from BHP and demand the company stop discriminating against locals being employed in coal mines on their doorsteps.” 

Cuba Suggests Return of Guantanamo Bay

Cuban President Raul Castro has laid out the conditions to normalise relations with the United States, demanding an end to the embargo, the return of Guantanamo Bay and Havana's removal from a terror list.

Mr Castro issued his demands a week after the highest-ranking US delegation to Havana in 35 years and Cuban officials held landmark talks aimed at reopening embassies and renewing ties that broke off in 1961.

The Cuban leader, brother of former president Fidel Castro, also warned Washington to cease interference in Cuba's internal affairs.

"Everything appears to indicate that the aim is to foment an artificial political opposition via economic, political and communicational means," Mr Castro told a summit in Costa Rica.

"If these problems are not resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States would be meaningless," he said.

"The main problem has not been resolved: the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes huge human and economic damage and is a violation of international rights," Mr Castro said.

"The establishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process toward the normalisation of bilateral relations, but this won't be possible as long as the blockade exists."

Speaking at a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Costa Rica, Mr Castro said that the road to ending the embargo would be "long and hard".

US President Barack Obama called on Congress last week to put an end to the embargo, which was imposed in 1962 and has been a major source of tension between the Cold War-era rivals since then.

Earlier this month, Mr Obama used his executive powers to ease travel and trade restrictions with Havana, putting a dent on the embargo.

But Mr Castro said that the US leader should do more.

"He could use with resolve his broad executive powers to substantially change the scope of the blockade, even without the Congress decision," he said.

The 33-nation summit is expected to issue a declaration condemning the embargo. The group was created by the late Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

"Enough with the criminal blockade of Cuba," Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa told the summit. Nicaraguan counterpart Daniel Ortega said the embargo "will have to disappear".

ACOSS: Budget must chart a fairer path back to surplus

The Australian Council of Social Service today urged the Federal Government to focus on restoring revenue by addressing inefficient tax arrangements, rather than through spending cuts, and chart a fairer path back to surplus in its second Budget.

In its Budget submission released today, the peak community sector body has identified more than $13 billion of potential savings in the next financial year, rising to over $18 billion in 2016-17, through measures which it says restore the integrity of Australia’s progressive tax system.

“This Budget must be a lot fairer than the last one, and the way this can be achieved is by seriously targeting wasteful spending at the top end, including tax expenditures, instead of pursing policies that shift the burden on to people on the lowest incomes,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“We cannot balance the budget with one hand behind our back. When two thirds of the structural budget deficit is due to declining revenues, we need a serious effort to restore revenue to adequate levels. Cutting deep into vital social and economic investments and services is the wrong approach and will cost us more in the long run.

“The reality is that Australia’s welfare system is already tightly targeted. We have identified the few areas left in which social services spending can be reined in without causing social and economic harm; such as tightening the assets test to access the part Age Pension and abolishing the Seniors Supplement. These changes will help ensure that government support is going to people who need it.

“Much of the real waste in the national Budget is on the tax expenditure side, in the form of tax concessions which predominantly benefit people on the highest incomes, and this must be a priority in the next Budget.

“A fair Budget must include action to close current loopholes in the personal income tax system, which allow relatively well-off individuals to avoid tax by diverting and ‘sheltering’ their income or income producing assets in structures such as discretionary trusts and private companies. ACOSS estimates that tightening the use of private trusts to avoid personal income tax would save as much as $1 billion in 2016-17 and a further $1 billion would be saved by curbing the use of private companies used for the same purpose.

“We must also take steps in this budget for long overdue reforms of negative gearing, superannuation tax concessions, and Capital Gains Tax concessions, which collectively are costing us billions in foregone revenue. 

“The removal of CGT concessions for small businesses would save $1 billion in 2016-17. These concessions encourage over-investment in business assets against other options to improve business profitability and are a high risk retirement savings strategy. Reforms to negative gearing tax concessions would generate a further $1 billion, increasing over time.

“ACOSS is proposing a staged reform approach to provide investor certainty where necessary, with most of the savings to come in subsequent years, making more room in future budgets to fund important community services such as health, education, disability, affordable housing and aged care.

“A fair Budget must value appropriate investment in people and the community services and programs that support them, especially during a time of economic slowdown with rising unemployment and growing levels of poverty.

“This must include an adequate living allowance for people looking for paid work, which the current $37 a day Newstart payment simply does not provide. If there is a single policy that would help to reduce the level of poverty amongst the poorest households in Australia, and improve employment outcomes, it is to restore the adequacy of Australia’s unemployment payment, and the supplement for rental costs (Commonwealth Rent Assistance) which no government has been prepared to do for over two decades.

“This Budget will also need to take steps to address the youth unemployment crisis, with the rate running at over 20% in many parts of the country. We need to see investment in a youth employment plan to fill the vacuum left by the decision to defund Youth Connections. ACOSS has made further recommendations to improve the employment services system and ways to support and enhance the employment opportunities of people currently locked out of the labour market.

“The necessary investments we are proposing in this Budget are modest but fundamental to close the gaps in our safety net. This must include the reversal of last year’s Budget funding cuts to vital services that support people in social and economic disadvantage. The total cost of the investments we propose is around $6 billion in the next financial year, which is affordable given the savings we have identified.

“This Budget cannot repeat the mistakes of the last one, which imposed the heaviest burden on those with the least capacity to carry it, and proved to be socially and economically damaging and divisive.  Given the current environment, it would be extremely risky if the government pursued further cuts at this time.

“Australia is a wealthy country with the capacity to ensure all people have access to quality health, education and early childhood services, affordable housing and a strong social protection system. We can manage the challenge of steering our national Budget onto a sustainable path if we make the right choices today.

“Our Budget proposals are about pursuing the common good for people, communities and the country as a whole. They are based on evidence, and sound policy about what will work over the longer term to improve employment outcomes, drive investment in real economic activity, and to ensure that everyone has an adequate standard of living to live with dignity.

“Now is a time for unity not more division. We urge the Government to work with us and the broader community as equal partners in this collective task,” Dr Goldie concluded.

TAFE election pitch on song at Tamworth festival

By Dinoo Kelleghan 23 January 2015

Hundreds of visitors at the Tamworth Country Music Festival are stopping to listen to Federation's call for the State Government to restore funding to TAFE and halt the slide towards privatised training.

"We're hearing mind-blowing stories from other states about what students are experiencing with private training providers," Assistant General Secretary (Post School Education) Maxine Sharkey said from Tamworth where she and her team are campaigning hard on the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign in the run-up to the NSW election on March 28.

"That's allowing us to talk to our people about what might happen if we follow the Victorian or South Australian example." In Victoria, private providers have been allowed to take over 70 per cent of the training market, with profit-taking overshadowing quality delivery.

"The festival gives us such a great opportunity because we're able to talk to such a wide range of people - from other states and territories as well as from NSW," Ms Sharkey said.

"We're getting people to think about TAFE cuts in relation to state elections and also the next federal election; we're talking to hundreds of people here."

Ms Sharkey said festivalgoers were "more than happy" to sign up to the Stop TAFE Cuts campaign, and the response was across the board - "from every state and territory, every age, every background".

The team at Tamworth are hearing first-hand about how difficult it is for country people to get to TAFE for their courses. "When the TAFE in their town is closed down or the course they want is stopped they have to travel to the next town. That could be 100km away. Then that TAFE gets closed down," the AGS said. All these experiences were being relayed to other festivalgoers, with the Stop TAFE Cuts booth being a useful conduit of information.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Liberal State and Federal Cuts Killing Apprentiships

Victoria has flagged an emerging crisis over the falling number of people entering apprenticeships and traineeships.

New figures reveal a collapse in the number of starts in the wake of cuts to state and federal training subsidies since 2012.

Since, costs have further shifted on to employers as award wages for apprentices have risen and government programs to help cover the costs of tools and travel have also been cut.

Figures obtained by the HES show the number of students starting state-subsidised apprenticeships and traineeships last year had halved to just 25,821 by the end of September. This compares with 55,182 for the corresponding ­period in 2012. The steepest ­decline occurred last year.

“We have inherited a major ­decline in the number of people starting apprenticeships and traineeships,” Victoria’s new Skills and Training Minister, Steve Herbert, said, blaming cuts to state subsidies and TAFE-specific funding by the previous state government. He said employer confidence had also been rocked after revelations of rorting by some training companies, which are being investigated by the state regulator.

Among regional students, training commencements across all courses are down 13 per cent from a year ago at 64,858, and 25 per cent from 2012.

Major traineeship and apprenticeship provider Group Training Australia echoed Mr Herbert’s concerns. “Some employers are losing confidence in the training system,” said Gary Workman, executive director of Group Training in Victoria.

While subsidy cuts were concentrated in non-trade traineeships, he said, apprenticeships were being hit by the construction downturn and higher costs on ­employers. He estimated that, in Victoria, employer costs for ­apprenticeships were up 20 per cent as the government contribution had fal­len and award costs had increased.

In the May budget, the Abbott government abolished subsidies for apprentices’ tools while introducing a HECS-style loan to help with costs, repayable once they earn more than $50,000 a year.

The new Victorian state government has committed $320 million in ­additional funding for TAFE.

MUA: Dodgy Shipping Operator Risks Entire Crew for Money

A Flag-Of-Convenience (FOC) ship has been detained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Newcastle for endangering its crew’s lives today.

The Orient Becrux was found by AMSA to have breached the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea after the Hong Kong-based charterer made the Filipino crew unlash the cargo at sea.

Australian Health and Safety law dictates that cargo should only be unlashed by qualified Australian stevedores while the ship is berthed.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) believes that some of the cargo included 300 rail cars and other general bulk.

ITF Australia Co-ordinator Dean Summers said that unlashing at sea was an egregious breach of safety by Pacific Basin shipping that had put the whole crew’s life at risk. “In this instance they were lucky there was no major incident,” Summers said.

“In a worst-case scenario, the shifting cargo could have caused the ship to sink by compromising its stability.

“There was also the potential for the ship to block the narrow shipping channel of the world’s busiest coal port, all to save a couple of dollars. “

This is money grubbing of the worst kind, whereby in order to save a few dollars you get an already exploited workforce to do work they’re not qualified to do and risk everyone’s life in the process.

He congratulated AMSA for taking a appropriate action with the ship and Pacific Basin and said he hoped other dodgy operators would take heed.

- See more at MUA

ACTU: Inflation figures show Abbott and Hockey are strangling Australia

The Consumer Price Index released by the ABS today is more evidence of the economic failings of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.

The price of Australian consumer goods and services increased just 0.2 per cent in the three months to December, with headline inflation rising 1.7 per cent in the year to December.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Tim Lyons said Australia has no inflation problem and no public debt problem.

"What we do have is stagnant economic growth, rising unemployment and record low wages growth that is barely enough to keep up with even low inflation.

"Productivity growth should be reflected in rising real wages but it is not happening.

"Yet despite these facts, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey want to cut wages even further by attacking safety nets like the minimum wage, award wages and penalty rates through the Productivity Commission inquiry into workplace relations."

"By attacking the social wage, universal healthcare and education, Tony Abbott is increasing inequality, driving down our living standards and leading to the Americanisation of our society."

Mr Lyons said the Abbott government is taking Australia’s economic policies in the wrong direction.

"Economic growth is too slow and real wages are basically stagnant," said Mr Lyons.

"This sucks the purchasing power from consumers, which strangles demand for goods produced by business so they in turn are not investing for growth.

Mr Lyons said it is a vicious downward spiral exemplified by the austerity measures in Greece over the past six years.

"In the rest of the world there is now a clear and welcome movement away from austerity measures,” said Mr Lyons.

"There is a global push to reduce inequality and increase economic growth through targeted social protection, minimum wages and jobs growth.

"Sharp and growing inequality is bad for growth, a point now recognised by international institutions including the IMF and World Bank.

Mr Lyons said the Abbott Government needs to focus on jobs growth.

"L20 economic modelling presented at the G20 in Brisbane last year shows that lifting the wages share of national income and boosting public investment in infrastructure will reduce inequality and boost growth."

"Today’s inflation figures are yet another wake up call for the Abbott government to rethink its attack on wages, rights and conditions at work. The Abbott government’s policies are strangling our future."

Inequality and Minimum Wages

The release of the Productivity Commission’s issues papers into the workplace relations framework is set to reignite the industrial relations (IR) debate. And given the minimum wage looks to be in the commissions’ firing line, low paid workers should hope that along with productivity and competitiveness, terms that are often used when talking about IR, inequality is also given priority.
IR debates invariably affect lower paid workers more than those on higher wages. Low paid workers are more likely to be on the minimum wage and more dependent upon penalty rates – and these two issues are always in the firing line.
So it is worth noting that any cuts to the wages of lower paid workers will have a much bigger impact than it did in the past because there are more low paid workers now than in the past.
The OECD records that in 2002, just 13.8% of Australian workers were low paid (defined as earning less than two-thirds the median wage). This was well below the OECD average of 17.2%. But by 2012 while the OECD average had fallen to 16.3%, the percentage of low paid Australian workers had risen to 18.9% – the biggest rise in the OECD over that period:
These numbers put into sharp relief the impact any changes to the minimum wage will have on Australian workers.
And while business leaders suggest our high minimum wage hurts our competitiveness with other nations – because our labour costs are higher, the value of Australia’s minimum wage has fallen significantly in the past decade:
In the 10 years from 2003 to 2013, the minimum to median wage ratio has fallen the most of any OECD nation. If our high minimum wage is hurting our competitiveness, it is doing so much less now than it did in the past.
Indeed since 1985, the ratio of the minimum to median wage in Australia has fallen significantly. In the 1980s the minimum wage was around 65% of the median wage, now it is around 54%:
Is this a good thing? Those who argue a high minimum wage discourages employment because it costs too much to hire such workers would argue yes. But those who would point to that growing number of Australians earning “low pay” would worry that we are in danger of breeding an American like number of “working poor.”
More from The Guardian

US: National Registry of Exonerations: 2014 was Record-breaking

For the first time, more than 100 exonerations were recorded in the United States in one year. According to The National Registry of Exonerations Report for 2014, 125 exonerations of innocent criminal defendants mark an increase of 34 over the prior record of 91 in 2012 and 91 again in 2013. The report notes the work of Conviction Integrity Units in the increase.

“The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” said Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations and the author of the report.

TTP: Dirtiest Trade Deal You've Never Heard Of !

For years, there's been talk of creating a new free trade deal that would span countries bordering the Asia-Pacific, including the US, Canada, New Zealand, as well as several countries in Latin America and Asia. The deal is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – or "TPP" for short.

The TPP agenda is being driven by big business, big pharmaceuticals and big tobacco – but the impacts will affect all Australians.

Between foreign corporations suing our governments over public health measures and environmental protection laws, higher pharmaceutical prices, and surveillance of Australians' internet usage, there's a lot for citizens to be concerned about – which is why Prime Minister Abbott and Trade Minister Robb are keeping it quiet.

What we do know from leaked parts of the agreement is terrifying. But most Australians haven't even heard about the TPP. That's why we need to sound the alarm now, and sound it loudly.

Can you sign the petition calling on our politicians not to sign our rights away and share the video with everyone you know?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

IFF: Occupy Dandenong! Workers fight lockout with lockin

National Union of Workers (NUW) members at the International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) facility in Dandenong (Victoria) have responded to a management lockout by occupying the lunchroom.

After months of fruitless bargaining for a new wage agreement which saw management demanding big concessions, union members voted to ban overtime and paperwork. Workers arriving for the early morning shift on January 27 were informed of the lockout and several dozen union members rushed inside as the gates were closing. They've installed themselves in the lunchroom while members and supporters demonstrate outside.

You can support them - CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE TO IFF urging the company to lift the lockout and bargain in good faith!

US-based International Flavours and Fragrances is one of the largest transnational makers of food ingredients and a supplier to many leading food and snack companies.

Abbott Royal Crawl creates National Unity !

The Sydney Morning Herald

"It was a cringe-worthy decision to reward Prince Philip with the recently created Australian knighthood ... because it sends an disturbing signal about modern Australia."

The Australian

A "decision lacking leadership", "high-handed" and "tone-deaf", saying that another captain's pick like this "might be mutiny".

"It's a decision that reeks of an outsider cocking a snook rather than a prime minister seeking to unite a nation."

The Australian Financial Review

While the thrust of the editorial was on the government's failure to sell its budget repair measures, editors left space to call the move an "indulgent captain's choice" as well as an "unfortunate" start to the year for the government.

The Courier Mail

"On the day we should be celebrating Australia's national identity ... we were instead dragged by our elected leader into a cultural cringe so remarkable that it is almost beyond comprehension."

"Mr Abbott must decide whether he wants to be a monarchist, first and foremost, or the Prime Minister of Australia."

The Daily Telegraph

"The knighthood itself was a very poor decision. It gains no ground and only invites ridicule," the editorial read.

Adelaide Advertiser

"There are several reasons it is in fact an extremely bad idea – the Prince has, in the past, been accused of racism; his appointment stole all the oxygen from Australians being honoured yesterday; the move is sure to further enrage a grumpy backbench and skittish frontbench and ramp up leadership rumblings; and it seems plain old-fashioned."

The Age

Our southern neighbours also found the move puzzling, calling Mr Abbott "tin-eared".

"It is almost impossible to fathom Prime Minister Tony Abbott's justification for naming Prince Philip."

"The Age takes issue with the representation of Prince Philip's service as being either extraordinary or pre-eminent; it is considerable, but no more than would be expected."

The West Australian

"The Duke of Edinburgh decision is a similar example of Mr Abbott making his own call and another sign of his poor judgement on such matters."

The Canberra Times

"Most Australians are wary of class and elitism, which may go some way to explaining why the decision to reintroduce an order of Australian knights and dames drew so much derision when it was announced last March. But to use that system, which sits above the Australian of the Year Awards, to honour a foreigner over all the inspiring and impressive Australians named just hours earlier seems wrong on many levels."

End Note

Media mogul and News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch even got in there on Wednesday, tweeting that the knighthood was "a joke and embarrassment."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Anti-Austerity success in Greece and Spain

Greece’s left-wing election victors Syriza have formed a coalition with the right-ring Independent Greeks to build a new government.

The leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, will be its Prime Minister and is expected to appoint his cabinet later today when he submits the names to President Karolos Papoulias.

Tsipras has campaigned on a series of economic policies that could see Greece tear up the terms of its deal with creditors that has kept the country afloat since 2010.

"In Greece, democracy will return," the 40-year-old told a throng of reporters as he voted in Athens today. "The message is that our common future in Europe is not the future of austerity."

The combination of Syriza's 149 MPs and the Independent Greeks' group of 13 will give the Government a slim majority of 162 seats out of 300.

In a statement to reporters as he emerged from Syriza's headquarters this morning, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos said: “I want to say, simply, that from this moment, there is a government. The Independent Greeks will give a vote of confidence to the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“The aim for all Greeks is to embark on a new day, with full sovereignty.”

Syriza, swept to a historic victory yesterday with its radical pledge for a “new deal” for the country’s finances, vowing to completely re-write its massive bailout deal with the Eurozone.

It narrowly missed out on a majority in the Greek parliament but beat current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's conservative coalition into second place and the neo-fascist Golden Dawn into third.

After Greece’s elections, a new European front between traditional parties and their anti-austerity challengers is set to open on Monday when the Andalusian Socialist premier Susana Diaz is all but certain to make a call for snap regional elections for 22 March.

It would act as a curtain-raiser for a year of elections across Spain, with Podemos, a new anti-austerity party, expected to be a serious contender, much like Syriza in Greece. Local elections are due in May, while Catalonia has its own regional vote in September; general elections are most likely in December.

Last Thursday, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias was a guest of honour at one of Syriza’s meetings. “Change in Greece is called Syriza, change in Spain is called Podemos,” he said. “Hope is coming. Onwards to victory with Syriza-Podemos.”

Since its creation last year, Podemos has rocketed to a leading position in polls, netting 28 per cent of the vote in a recent survey for left-leaning El PaĆ­s newspaper; the ruling PP party slumped to 19 per cent. Unemployment in Spain, despite a recovering economy, remains at 23.7 per cent, and 34 per cent in Andalusia.

Vale Tom Uren 1921 - 2015

Flags will fly at half-mast to mark the passing of Labor elder Tom Uren, who died at the age of 93 on Monday.

Tom Uren at the head of the march 1960
Tributes have poured in from both sides of politics for Uren, who was a former deputy leader of Australia’s Labor party and served as a minister in the Whitlam government.

The former sportsman and prisoner of war retired from parliament in 1990 after serving more than three decades in public life.

The memorial service will be held in Sydney next week.

Labor leader Bill Shorten described Uren as a “leviathan” of the Labor movement.
“On a day when we celebrate the best of Australia, we can proudly say that Tom really was the best of us,” Shorten said. “Tom was the keeper of Labor’s conscience in trying times. He was our moral centre. Our light on the hill dims darker with this sad news.”

A member of Uren’s family told Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese that the politician had met his death “with the same character and courage he faced the rest of his life”.

Albanese, who was raised by a single mother, described Uren as a father figure.
“He was the closest thing that I had to a father figure over the last 30 years when, as a very young man, I went to work for him and it was an honour and privilege to be his comrade and his friend,”

Albanese told reporters on Monday afternoon.
“I was able to spend time with him just two days ago. He leaves a legacy that is enormous for our movement. He was a lover of people and of the community and the community gave him that affection back. I mourn him today. I pay tribute to him and I thank him on a personal level for his mentoring of me,” Albanese said.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek acknowledged Uren’s passion for conservation and social justice.

“The face of our city, and the survival of the working-class communities within the inner city areas, is down to Tom. He lived a long and a rich and full life, but the legacy he left us will last far longer,” Plibersek said.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Labor will transfer Goat Island to NSW Aboriginal Land Council

NSW opposition leader says Goat Island will be transferred to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council if Labor takes office on 28 March

Goat Island – the second largest island in Sydney harbour 
– has been owned by the state government since 1908.
Goat Island in Sydney harbour will be returned to Indigenous ownership if Labor wins the upcoming NSW election, opposition leader Luke Foley says.

The island – the second largest in Sydney harbour – has been entirely owned by the state government since 1908.

On Sunday, Foley said the island, known traditionally as Me-mel, would be transferred to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council if Labor takes office on 28 March.

“I am honoured to announce that a Labor government will return Goat Island ... to the Aboriginal people of NSW,” Foley said in a statement.

“It heralds the next chapter in the unfolding story of NSW – and our journey towards true healing as a unified and reconciled nation.”

ANMF: Cutting penalty rates will harm healthcare

Friday 23rd January 2015

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is warning the Abbott Government that stripping away nurses’ penalty rates and other allowances would compromise the healthcare provided to all Australians.

The Acting Federal Secretary of the ANMF, Annie Butler, said penalty rates and shift loadings comprise a significant portion of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Midwife’s actual remuneration as a result of their 24/7 rosters they work to keep the health system going.

“Nursing and midwifery is an around the clock profession. Day or night, people expect to have a nurse there,” Ms Butler said today.

“Therefore it’s only fair that nurses and midwives are fairly compensated for working these hours, on weekends, public holidays and special days like Christmas, when they leave their own families and friends to care for others.

“Penalty rates and shift loadings make up to 40 per cent of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Midwife’s actual remuneration – cutting them would mean a massive reduction in their minimum wage.”

Ms Butler said the ANMF and its members were concerned the Productivity Commission’s Review of Fair Work Laws could see a return to the “dreaded WorkChoices”.

“Australia has a growing shortage of qualified nurses, but how can we expect to recruit and, most importantly, retain nurses, if Mr Abbott now wants to rob them of their penalty rates and other allowances? It’s ludicrous,” she said.

“We’ll see more and more of our highly-trained nursing and midwifery workforce walk away from the profession they love. And ultimately, the quality healthcare they can deliver to Australians at all hours of the day and night, will be seriously compromised as a consequence. The ANMF is warning Mr Abbott that penalty rates and other allowances are critical issues for our members – and they’ll fight to save them.”

Qld: Campbell Newman - vote for NLP or else ...

Campbell Newman says he cannot guarantee the Liberal National Party's big spending promises, even those with bipartisan support, if the party wins government but not the seat a project is in.

The Queensland Premier's comments came as the latest Newspoll survey showed a swing of up to 13 per cent against the LNP in three key seats across the state.

Speaking in Toowoomba this morning, Mr Newman said electorates that did not vote in an LNP member might not get the infrastructure the party had promised.

He said that even applied to communities where projects have bipartisan support, such as Townsville's new stadium.

In December, Queensland Labor promised to commit $100 million for the stadium if it formed government in 2015, while the LNP this month promised to put up to $150 million towards a new stadium and retail precinct.

Mr Newman said although he could not guarantee every commitment, every electorate in Queensland would get its fair share of support if the LNP was re-elected.

"We can't make commitments, of course we can't, nor can we bind the hands of someone from the other side of the political fence if they become the local member and that's our point," Mr Newman said.

"You only get these things if you have strong representation from an LNP member."

India court drops case against Irom Sharmila,

A court on Thursday ordered the release of an activist who has been on a hunger strike for nearly 15 years to protest a law that gives Indian security forces special powers to fight insurgents in India’s remote northeast and other areas. The court dropped the charge of attempted suicide against the activist, Irom Sharmila, witnesses at the court said. Since beginning her protest against heavy-handed security tactics, Ms. Sharmila, 42, has been kept in custody in a hospital in Manipur State and fed forcibly by a tube since 2000 under the anti-suicide law. She said she would continue her fast until the government scrapped the security law, which is in effect in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir and in northeastern areas like Manipur where separatist insurgents are operating.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

ACTU: Is this the last Australia Day workers will be paid penalty rates?

23 January, 2015 | ACTU Media Release

The Productivity Commission inquiry into workplace laws is another example of the Abbott government trying to cut wages and rights at work.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Tim Lyons said the timing alone shows just how out of touch the Abbott Government is with the Australian community.

“As we head into the Australia Day long weekend, millions of Australians will give up this time with family and friends to work and they rely on the penalty rates they will be paid to pay their bills,” said Mr Lyons.

“Yet today, what is front page news? The Abbott government’s agenda to cut penalty rates, cut the minimum wage and take away people’s rights at work.

“It just shows how out of touch Tony Abbott and his government are with the cost of living pressures so many Australians face.

“It’s another example of the Abbott government trying to lower the living standards of Australians – they’ve gone after Medicare, they’ve tried to hike up university fees and now they want to cut people’s wages and rights at work.

Mr Lyons said the Productivity Commission is working to the terms of reference that were set by the Abbott Government.

“It’s under those terms of reference that all of our workplace laws and rights and protections are on the table – that includes the minimum wage, penalty rates and our rights at work

“Make no mistake - the Productivity Commission inquiry has been brought on by employers and the Abbott Government to cut people’s wages and make it harder for them to bargain for a fair deal at work.

“This is Tony Abbott looking after his business mates instead of Australian people.”

Mr Lyons said Australian Unions will use the inquiry to advocate for improvements to minimum and award wages, and to reduce poverty and inequality.

South Coast Labour Council - Work Choices warning

Pay and conditions like those experienced by foreign workers at the Manildra site in Bomaderry could be "what every worker faces" if protections are removed warns Arthur Rorris, South Coast Labour Council Secretary.

Rorris slammed the Abbott government for breaking yet another promise - this time an election commitment it wouldn't reproduce WorkChoices.

Rorris said the government was getting the commission to "do its dirty work" and was going to "hide like a coward" behind them. "The workers of this country have not forgotten WorkChoices [and] have not forgotten what these attacks mean."

Rorris said just this week, the Illawarra heard of "outrageous allegations of exploitation of foreign workers" at Bomaderry.

"That is fresh in our minds and I say to every worker in the region - the difference between having a minimum wage and not having a minimum wage is clear for all to see in the faces of those workers in the Illawarra Mercury" he said.

"That's what every worker faces if you take away those protections."

Cunningham MP Sharon Bird said the Liberal government went out of its way before the election to say WorkChoices was "dead, buried and cremated".

"It's being resurrected again," Ms Bird said.

Queensland Election: Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk speach

Queensland Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk launched her party's bid for a return to power, saying the LNP has opened the door to corruption during its first term of government.

"Most Queenslanders never thought that 25 years after the Fitzgerald inquiry and reforms put in place by (former Labor premier) Wayne Goss that we'd be talking about a Government that has weakened the fight against corruption," Annastacia Palaszczuk told those assembled at the Ipswich Civic Centre, west of Brisbane.

Arriving onstage to the music of Bruce Springsteen, she said Premier Campbell Newman needed to understand "that Queenslanders are not fools".

  • "We have seen the LNP use its massive majority to change the law so it can receive huge donations from secret donors," she said.
  • "We see a massively cashed up LNP raising tens of millions of dollars in secret.
  • "We have seen the LNP throw open the door again to those carrying brown paper bags."

Palaszczuk pledges $240M for jobs training

Ms Palaszczuk restated Labor's opposition to asset sales and said the ALP remained focused on job creation. She said it had been sheer hard work that had brought Labor back into contention for the January 31 poll.

  • "Labor learned our lesson on asset sales - we learned it the hard way," she said.
  • "I can sum up the difference between the LNP and Labor in six simple words - Labor will not sell your assets."

$240 million over four years to jobs training for 32,000 people.

"We will also be legislating against 100 per cent fly-in, fly-out projects to create more jobs for Queenslanders living in regional communities," she said.

Ms Palaszczuk also confirmed Labor would scrap the Newman government's Royalties for Regions program.

She said the infrastructure scheme was flawed because it unfairly distributed funding among communities. Instead, Labor would start a Building Our Regions scheme offering $200 million over three years and up to $390 million in total - about a quarter of it to be spent in mining towns.

QCU urges voters to put LNP last

Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams is currently visiting Mackay to discuss local issues with union delegates and workers.

"Mackay has an above average rate of unemployment now which is unusual for this area.

"We have about 5500 people unemployed in Mackay and the rate of unemployment in Queensland has gone from 5.5% to 6.6% despite the LNP promising to get it down to 4%," John Battams said.

Currently John is fighting the 100% fly in fly out company decisions from the Caval Ridge and Daunia mines which is impacting Mackay's economy negatively as a result.

Battams advice to end Mackay's economic hardships from the FIFO mine sites is to "put the LNP last and fill out every box when voting."

"This government has done nothing and will do nothing.

"The Labor opposition has said they'll actually activate policies to create jobs and that's the essential difference.

ACOSS - Tax: Are we paying our fair share?

Saturday 24 January, 2014

The Australian Council of Social Service today released a new report on Australia's taxation system which examines how fair our tax is system currently.

Key findings:

The personal income system is relatively progressive:

  • Bottom 20% pays an average of 3% of their income
  • Top 20% pays an average of 20% of their income

Consumption and other indirect taxes are regressive usually ‘flat taxes’ with no tax-free threshold. They do not tax the portion of income that is saved, and high income earners save more

Overall, the average rate of the Goods and Services Tax paid declines with income, unlike income tax where it increases. ABS modelling shows:

  • The bottom 20% pays an average of $38pw in GST, or 7% of their income
  • The top 20% pays an average of $103pw in GST, or 3% of their income

Other ‘indirect’ taxes include business taxes like Payroll Tax, Stamp Duties, and Fuel Excise (this includes State as well as Federal taxes), which are largely passed on to consumers
These raise more revenue overall than the GST and together have a greater overall impact on household expenses. ABS modelling shows

  • The bottom 20% pays an average of $77pw or 14% of their income
  • The top 20% pays an average of $183pw or 5% of their income

The combined effect of income and consumption taxes - including income tax, GST and other indirect taxes – when added together is not as progressive as often believed. In fact, the picture is much more nuanced, with a rate similar to that of a flat rate tax on incomes of around 25% (+ or – up to 4 %) on all income groups

The progressive effect of the personal income tax is substantially offset by the GST and other indirect taxes, so that:

  • The bottom 20% pays an average of $129pw or 24% of their income
  • The top 20% pays an average of $1,006pw or 28% of their income
  • The second 20% pays 21% of their income.

The greater the role for personal income taxes in the overall tax mix, the greater the reduction in household income inequality from the tax system as a whole.