Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sydney Climate Change Rally 29 November 2015

Turnbull Puzzlement ...

Sydney Tongan Community
Bogans Against Climate Change
Meanwhile across the Country in Western Australia the president of the United Firefighters Union Kevin Jolly said changing fire seasons means the Government needed to invest more resources.

"The summer period ... from December through to march has been extended. You know we are here in November and in Western Australia and we've already had catastrophic fires," he said.

"There are no sceptics of climate change when you are behind a hose. Firefighters are working hard and longer and the Government needs to recognise that and put in more resources."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Melbourne : Tens of thousands gather for Climate rally

Tens of thousands of people have gathered for a climate change rally in Melbourne, in one of the largest demonstrations of its kind.

Rally organisers have estimated that up to 60,000 took to the streets, while Victoria Police said up to 40,000 were in attendance.

A climate change rally in Melbourne in 2006 drew 30,000 people.
Friday's rally was the first of several demonstrations planned across Australia for the weekend.
The demonstrations have been timed to take place ahead of United Nations climate talks in Paris next week.

Leaders will meet at the climate conference to discuss a new global climate agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius.

Melbourne march organisers hope those attending the meeting will heed the message of climate concern. 

"The majority of Australians want action on climate change," said Geoff Cousins, chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation, one of the organising groups.
"People now realise this is not some theoretical concept.
"This is affecting their lives on a daily basis and they want something done about it."

Friday, November 27, 2015

TPP: Australia negotiated the “worst deal” on local jobs

27 November 2015

Australian Unions are deeply concerned with aspects of the recently concluded Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, with an analysis of the text showing that Australia has negotiated the worst deal on safeguards for local jobs out of any of the 12 countries that are a part of the agreement.
ACTU President Ged Kearney has also written to Trade Minister Andrew Robb, seeking clarification over union concerns the agreement may prohibit labour market testing.

While Australia has agreed to temporary entry for all workers under its 457 visa program, covering 651 occupations, most other countries make much narrower commitments or no commitments at all.

For example, Japan limits entry to someone employed by an overseas company or in an advanced research position, Chile limits its commitments to a business person engaged in a specialised occupation and the US, where the TPP is deeply unpopular on both sides of the Presidential election campaign, makes no commitments on labour mobility whatsoever.

The Government may have signed away its right to require labour market testing of employers seeking to take on temporary overseas workers. While other TPP countries, such as New Zealand and Brunei have explicitly kept such safeguards in place, Australia has reserved no such right, raising serious concerns that it may be prohibited.

The recent China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) generated widespread community concern over similar threats to local jobs, and with the Government’s sights now set onthe 23-country Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and a free trade agreement with India, it’s starting to look like there is a pattern of apathy when it comes to protecting Australian jobs.

This indifference can also be seen in Warren Truss’s recent green lighting of Alcoa’s plan to replace the Australian crew on its ship the MV Portland with low paid imported workers.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “Australia has negotiated the worst deal on safeguards for local jobs out of any of the TPP signatories.”
  • “We’ve already seen their approach to ChAFTA and yet again it looks like the Coalition Government has made a trade deal that gives away Australian jobs without receiving any real benefit in return.”
  • “Under the TPP, a nurse from Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Chile or Peru could apply for a job here, but an Australian nurse could be prevented from applying for an identical job in one of those countries.”
  • “It’s highly unfair.” 
  • “Minister Robb and Prime Minister Turnbull need to come clean on what they’ve signed away under this deal.”
  • “With similar trade agreements under negotiation with India and as part of TiSA, the Government needs to guarantee that labour market testing and fair outcomes for Australian workers aren’t being signed away.”

ACOSS-SACOSS: Weatherill's tax proposal poses big risks

Friday 27 November 2015

ACOSS and the South Australian Council of Social Service responded jointly today to South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill's proposed tax and federation reform deal.

"The South Australian Premier's proposals underscore the risks of tax and federation reform being pursued as a 'deal' between Governments rather than a reform agenda which delivers clear benefits for people as both taxpayers and service users," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

"The proposal in its present form poses big risks for low and middle income taxpayers and service users."

Ross Womersley, Executive Director of SACOSS said, "We commend the Premier for his determination to secure the revenues South Australia and other States and Territories need to fund essential services like health education and social services. He has been prepared to tell voters the honest truth that existing public revenues cannot properly fund the services the community needs into the future.

"Tax reform must be about increasing revenue as well as improving fairness and efficiency. However the Premier's proposals do not achieve this goal and they pose big risks for people on low and middle incomes, both as taxpayers and people in need of services.

"As taxpayers, people on low and middle incomes face the prospect of paying more while people who are better off pay less. This is the clear result of using a higher GST to pay for income tax cuts, as modelling released by ACOSS earlier this month clearly shows."

Dr Cassandra Goldie said, "Our concern is that as service users, the public would get no guarantee in return that essential health, welfare and education services would be properly funded. The huge Commonwealth funding cuts to health and schools would remain in place, and they would have to take the Commonwealth that the proposed deal on sharing of the income tax base with the States would stick, and then take their State on trust that the money would be spent on essential services."

"The proposal would amount to a deal between Governments with too many risks and too few guarantees for taxpayers and consumers.

"What if the Commonwealth retreats from its income tax sharing commitment? For States, 100% of GST revenue is a better deal than an uncertain share of a larger tax base controlled by the Commonwealth.

"Where is the commitment to a fairer tax system without tax shelters for the well off like negative gearing, private trusts and superannuation tax breaks that mainly go to the top 20%?

"What do low and middle income earners get in return for paying a higher share of the overall tax take through the GST? There are no guarantees that the extra money available to States would be used to fund essential services.

"Not only that, the Commonwealth cuts to health and schools remain in place and service guarantees through tied grants would go. What happens to refuges for victims of domestic violence, hospitals, and schools? There is no guarantee or accountability that people will have universal access to these services regardless of their income and where they live in Australia.

"The proposed deal would deliver more revenue to the States but for how long? And for what purpose?

"There are too few guarantees and too many uncertainties in the proposal.

"ACOSS is open to reform of tax and federation to deliver the revenues Governments need for essential services, to secure clear guarantees for essential services, and ensure that tax is raised on the basis of fairness, economic efficiency, and ability to pay.

"A first priority and common ground through the National Reform Summit should be closing down tax concessions no longer fit for purpose and a shift from inefficient taxes like stamp duties. All options should remain on the table and we should open up the public debate about what we want out of tax and federation reform in the public interest.

“We are concerned at the current fixation on changing the GST as some-sort of panacea by making it more regressive, when this is the last place we should be looking,” Dr Goldie said.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

ACTU: Government Must Not Ignore Tax Loopholes for Wealthy

Families should not be punished while government ignores tax loopholes for the wealthy
26 November 2015

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver  GST hike  multinational corporations  tax loopholesJay Weatherill’s proposals for changes to GST and income tax today are just smoke and mirrors disguising the real priorities for a fair tax system that the federal government chooses to ignore – making the wealthiest and companies pay their fair share.

The Federal government has stripped $80 billion from health and education, starving States of funds and forcing them to consider alternatives such as a hike in the GST which hits the lowest paid the hardest.

With wages growth at an all time low and government and big business gunning to reduce penalty rates, workers and families are again the losers.

One in five Australian owned private companies with an income over $100 million paid no tax last year. This should be addressed as a priority, yet the Turnbull government favours legislation which would exempt Australian companies from disclosing their tax arrangements.

If the ASX200 companies paid their corporate tax, an additional $8.4 billion revenue would be raised.

Secondly, the Turnbull government should commit to ensuring Australia’s wealthy, those individuals earning over $1 million a year, pay their full share of tax like everyone else. Generous superannuation tax concessions, negative gearing and capital gains concessions which benefit the top 20% of income earners cost a further $14.7 billion in lost revenue.

GST is a regressive tax punishing low to middle income households who pay twice as much of their income on GST compared to higher income households. ACOSS modelling shows that the lowest income households pay GST worth 13.5% of their income. High income households pay only 5.9%.

ACOSS modelling also shows that increasing the current GST to 15% with a 5% cut to the personal income tax rate as compensation, would deliver no extra revenue for the government.

Quotes attribute to ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver:

  • ”The old adage seems true – never get between a Premier and a bucket of money.  Premier Weatherill is back flipping on previous commitments on raising GST. His proposals are not sustainable and prop up the vast tax inequalities that already exist. This Magic Pudding isn’t going to keep giving. It will run out.”
  • “Stagnant wages, tax loopholes and the Federal government starving the States are the problems that need to be fixed, not playing with a regressive tax that hits the lowest paid over and over again.”
  • “We have to build our economy, not have a Band Aid approach. Governments must focus on jobs growth, investing in innovation and new technologies, infrastructure and export opportunities that will ensure strong wage growth and deliver higher revenue and a stronger economy."

UK: Tory Backdown From Toxic Tax Plans

UK Chancellor George Osborne was forced into a humiliating climbdown yesterday over his toxic plans to slash tax credits.

The Tories appeared to make a complete U-turn on the cuts in his Autumn Statement after a campaign led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

It saved three million families, who were set to lose £1,300 on average from next April, from being plunged further into poverty.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Working families countrywide have breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“Since the cuts were announced in the summer, parents have faced increasing anxiety over losing the tax credits they rely upon so heavily.”

The Chancellor has been under huge pressure since he announced the policy in the first all-Tory
Budget for two decades.

The government suffered a historic defeat in the House of Lords when peers refused to pass the cut into law last month.

He even faced a growing rebellion in his own party, with Tory MPs Stephen McPartland and Heidi Allen publicly condemning the cuts.

Announcing his U-turn yesterday, Mr Osborne said: “I’ve had representations that these changes to tax credits should be phased in.

“I’ve listened to these concerns. I hear and understand them.
“And because I’ve been able to announce today an improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in but to avoid them altogether.”

But the small print of his spending plans reveals £1 billion will still be cut from tax credits next year.
July’s Budget included cuts to tax credits amounting to £4.4bn, but Treasury documents show Mr Osborne has only reinstated £3.3bn to that Budget.

And the Chancellor said himself that the U-turn on tax credits will only provide a temporary reprieve until 2018 for Britain’s poorest workers.

“Tax credits are being phased out anyway as we introduce universal credit,” he said spitefully.
In addition, 140,000 families already receiving universal credit will still suffer the cut to tax credits immediately, while they will hit new applications from 2018.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “The Chancellor has been forced into a U-turn on his tax credits.

“And I want to congratulate the members in this House on all sides who have made this happen.
“I’m glad he’s listened to Labour and seen sense.”

But Mr McDonnell said the impact on new applicants and universal credit meant this was not the “full and fair reversal that we pleaded for.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Chancellor has been forced into a spectacular climbdown on tax credits.

“But by the end of the parliament many working people will still suffer big losses because he is keeping planned cuts to universal credit.”

Mr Osborne also vowed he would “deliver in full” the unprecedented £12 billion welfare spending cuts included in the Budget.

Mr McDonnell said: “We know where they’ll fall — on the most vulnerable, the poorest and those just struggling to survive.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

International Day for the Prevention of Violence Against Women

Today on International Day for the Prevention of Violence Against Women we recognise the amazingly talented and strong working women of NSW.
But as the day rolls in we are also forced to acknowledge the fact that so many women are suffering at the hands of men.
Whether it be violence at home or discrimination at work. We still have a long way to go to ensure women are free from discrimination, sexism, intimidation and violence.
Paid domestic violence leave is an important universal right all workers should have access to. We know that women have been murdered on the way to or from work because when they try to leave an unsafe home the perpetrator of violence knows where they work.
Women need to know that their workplace has a commitment to supporting them through paid leave to speak out, seek help and take action if they are affected by domestic violence. Economic dependency traps people in violent relationships. This important workplace right will save lives.
The provision of timely, effective and expert non-judgemental support for women experiencing violence can also make all the difference to whether a woman successfully rebuilds her life and achieves safety.
This means quality support from a range of services must be available - in particular specialist women-led women’s services. Recent funding cuts at all levels of government have had a dramatic effect on women-led women’s services.
The sad reality is one in five women in Australia experiences sexual violence, one in four experiences emotional abuse and one in three experiences physical violence.
We need to break this cycle and say no to violence and threats of violence against women whether it be at home or at work.
Over the last few years, unions have negotiated 860 agreements containing paid domestic violence leave with employers - covering almost two million workers - and today the Federal Opposition has recognised the importance of extending this right by pledging to introduce domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards if elected. 
While steps are being taken, we need to keep the pressure on all political leaders to support a full 10 days paid domestic violence leave and increased funding to women’s-led women’s services. You can join the thousands of voices who have already spoken out by signing the petition here. 
It is critical that people experiencing domestic violence are able to maintain their jobs and financial independence in order to escape unsafe situations.
The current Australian unions claim in the Fair Work Commission is for all workers to receive 10 days paid leave. Paid leave offers support for employees across the range of issues that arise through domestic and family violence - such as urgent medical care, legal appointments or making sure their children are safe and secure while keeping their jobs.
A commitment to paid leave says to workers affected by domestic violence that they are supported and their job is safe.
In unity,
Mark Lennon
Unions NSW

Yanis Varoufakis on economics of war, terror and refugees

Yanis Varoufakis on economics of war, terror and refugees

CPSU: Biggest Climate March the World Has Ever Seen

The last weekend of November will see the biggest climate march the world has ever seen.

In towns and cities across the globe, citizens will gather on the eve of the world leaders meeting in Paris for the United Nations climate summit, to demand real action on climate change.

The CPSU has endorsed these rallies and will march with our members in cities across Australia.

NSWTF: Old funding model widens performance gap

By NSW Teachers Federation 23 November 2015

More equitable funding arrangements and differential resourcing could address the impact of disadvantage on the performance of Australia's schools, a recent report identifies.

Educational opportunity in Australia 2015: Who succeeds and who misses out, prepared for the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University states: "Only 68.3 per cent of children born to parents in the bottom fifth of family SES are school-ready, compared with 84.8 per cent of children in the top fifth. The disparity is similar in the middle years. Strikingly, only three in five from the bottom fifth (bottom two deciles of SES) complete a Year 12 certificate or equivalent by age 19, compared to more than four in five from the top fifth."

Federation President Maurie Mulheron said: "The research confirms a fundamental finding of the Gonski Review panel, that the old funding model created a widening gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged.

The report states: "The challenge of helping young people who are falling behind to catch up and take advantage of opportunities over later stages is no easy task, because those missing out are far more likely to have disadvantaged backgrounds… Being behind at any point need not be a life sentence, even for the disadvantaged, though even here the chances of recovery and of gaining ground are still in favour of students from more advantaged backgrounds. The most advantaged learners are not only less likely to fall below expected standards in the first place but more likely to catch up again if they do."

Authors suggest current levels of funding "may contribute to continuing levels of education inequality in Australia" and noted that over time total funding of school education "has been directed disproportionately to non-government schools".

The report states differential resourcing provides "schools serving larger numbers of disadvantaged students with the resources to address the more intensive educational needs of their students".

“A substantial body of research…both local and international, demonstrate that children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds tend to achieve less well at school, are less likely to stay on at school or enter further or higher education and are more likely to be unemployed or in low-paid jobs. These students have higher levels of need and require additional support to achieve the outcomes attained by other groups of students. This means that schools with larger numbers of disadvantaged or high-need students must invest more resources than other schools to meet the same standards," the report also says.

The report notes the effects of student disadvantage are quite strong in Australia compared to other countries.

MUA: Chevron Investors Briefed on Growing Multi-Billion-Dollar Tax Problem

Posted by Ashleigh Telford on November 24, 2015

Chevron shareholders, pension funds and investment managers from the UK, Europe and the United States, were briefed on investor implications of Chevron’s aggressive tax avoidance schemes and the potential multi-billion implications of major tax audits in Australia.

The investor forum examining Chevron’s tax problems was held today at the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) office in London.

Richard Murphy a co-founder of the Tax Justice Network, and a key advisor to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, spoke at the forum on the changing environment for tax planning by multinationals.

Mr Murphy said, "It's very obvious that some investors are taking a great deal of interest in the tax risk inside the companies in which they invest and are demanding more information from them. Some companies are responding well, and even with enthusiasm, to these demands.”

“Companies like Chevron have not acknowledged the changing environment and continue to pursue aggressivetax minimisation at all costs. Chevron shareholders should be demanding enhanced disclosure and transparency on tax planning to ensure that risky tax strategies don’t undermine the long term value of their investment,” Mr Murphy said.

The briefing also heard from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) on the increasing costs Chevron are facing from adverse court decisions and tax office audits. Investors were given an overview of the landmark Federal Court judgement in Australia concerning a $2.5 billion loan. The case brought by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) left Chevron with an amended tax bill of nearly AUD$300 million and is expectedto be a major test case of global thin capitalisation rules when Chevron’s appeal is heard.

The court judgment also has major implications for Chevron’s massive Gorgon Project and its $35 billion related party loan. The loan is currently under an ATO audit with the potential for it to cost Chevron several billion dollars in back taxes given the issues being examined are very similar.

Last week Chevron appeared before the Australian Senate Inquiry on Corporate Tax Avoidance where it was labelled as Australia’s largest tax dodger and received bipartisan condemnation.

Paddy Crumlin, president of the International Transport Workers’ Federation and Co-Chair of the Committee forWorkers’ Capital, opened the London investor forum. He stated that changing attitudes towards tax planning incorporate board rooms and governments have real implications for shareholders.

“We know that governments are now more closely scrutinising promises made, corporate structures and financing arrangements  before granting project approvals on large resource projects.”

“Inaction on enhancing transparency on tax planning will put Chevron at a serious disadvantage in the global competition for exploration and production licences in new markets” Mr Crumlin said.

ACTU: Paid Leave For Those Affected By Domestic Violence

25 November 2015

The ACTU very much appreciates the Labor Opposition’s recognition of paid leave for those affected by domestic violence. Domestic and family violence should not be a political issue. We call for a bipartisan approach and ask that the Turnbull government also commit to paid leave for those most at need.

It is critical that people experiencing domestic violence are able to maintain their jobs and financial independence in order to escape violent situations. The current ACTU claim in the Fair Work Commission is for all workers to receive 10 days paid leave. Paid leave offers support for employees across the range of issues that arise through domestic and family violence - such as urgent medical care, legal appointments or making sure their children are safe and secure while keeping their jobs.

Unions have negotiated 860 agreements containing paid domestic violence leave with employers - covering almost two million workers - and we are pleased that the Labor Party has recognised the importance of extending this right to all Australians.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

“A commitment to paid leave says to workers affected by domestic violence that they are supported and their job is safe.”

“Research shows companies already offering paid domestic violence leave or changes to work arrangements have reported virtually no problems in their workplace. In fact, most employers reported positive benefits of providing paid domestic violence leave including improvements to their relationship with their employees.”

Corporate Culture: Transurban Consortium takeover

After paying $7 billion for the vast bulk of Brisbane's tollway network last year, the Transurban consortium was best placed to grab the final piece of the jigsaw, Brisbane's AirportlinkM7 tunnel and tollway. They have done just that, bringing the curtain down on an era that cost banks and investors billions in the process.

Savings from combining the Brisbane tollroads that only Transurban and its partners could rely on helped justify a $1.87 billion purchase price and a $2 billion total outlay including stamp duty that is just 54 per cent of Airportlink's original $3.7 billion construction cost.

The company that owned the tollway, BrisConnections, had a stonking $3.1 billion of debt on its balance sheet when it was floated on the ASX by Macquarie in 2008 for $1.2 billion, payable in three equal instalments.

BrisConnections floated with predictions that 95,000 vehicles a day would be using its tollway by 2012, rising to 120,00 vehicles a day by 2026. Just under 51,000 vehicles a day used Airportlink in the latest year to June.

It's a candidate for the title of worst float in ASX history. Investors who paid a first instalment of $1 with $2 to come in 2008 did all of their dough: their float shares fell 60 per cent on their first day of trading, and were worthless within months.

Lenders put the group into receivership early in 2013, and the price Transurban's consortium is paying puts the total loss on a debt load that has compounded to $3.9 billion at almost 52 cents in the dollar.

Actual losses depend on when the debt was acquired, and at what price. About a third of the exposure is with original bank lenders. Another third was sold to Macquarie at a discount around the time BrisConnections went into receivership. Hedge funds have bought the rest at firesale prices.

SMH More

WestCONnex Family Picnic 6 December

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Korea: Stop attacks on unions

The increasingly authoritarian government of Korean President Park Geun-hye is stepping up its attacks on trade unions and their rights. Police raided the offices of the KCTU Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union (KPTU) on November 6, attacked participants in a mass demonstration against regressive new labour legislation on November 14 and followed that up by raiding the offices of 8 KCTU affiliates on November 21.

The government is attempting to silence democratic criticism and force through anti-union legislation and an unpopular trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), by restricting basic trade union and democratic rights.

To learn more and to send a message to the government of Korea CLICK HERE

Labor tackles dishonest GST push

Labor tackles the Coalition’s ‘dishonest’ debate on the goods and services tax, proposing a 12.5% rise in tobacco excise every year for four yearsA packet of cigarettes will cost more than $40 under Labor’s policy to raise the tobacco excise by 12.5% a year for four years.

The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, will on Tuesday confirm the policy, which will raise $3.8bn in the first four years and $47.7bn over a decade – revenue that starts to build Labor’s argument there are budget alternatives to raising the goods and services tax.

Under current policy, a pack of 25 cigarettes costs about $24.69 today and will cost $29.91 in 2020. Under Labor’s proposed policy, it would cost $40.80 in 2020.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Joe Hill Centenary: The Rebel Girl

Lil Rev and Bucky Halker – Joe Hill Roadshow

Turnbull still supporting Brough

Anthony Albanese attributed the Coalition’s boost to Turnbull being “a shiny new thing for people to look at” but maintained that the government’s numbers would decline when voters examined the substance.

He argued the prime minister was facing the same sorts of problems with his political judgment that emerged when Turnbull served as the Liberal opposition leader.

“Just like he trusted Godwin Grech last time, already, early on in his prime ministership we saw him appoint Mal Brough to the position in charge of ministerial responsibility for the integrity of the parliamentary process and yet Mal Brough is under investigation from the AFP about the Peter Slipper and James Ashby affairs and, indeed, there was a raid just this week on Mal Brough’s house,” Albanese told The Bolt Report on the Ten Network.

“Malcolm Turnbull should have been aware of that, and should have avoided that potential conflict.”

Australian editor and Thai reporter not guilty

An Australian editor and his Thai reporter colleague were found not guilty on Tuesday of criminal defamation for reporting on the alleged involvement of Thai naval officers in the trafficking of Burmese Rohingya refugees.

“We’re delighted. It’s such a wonderful day for media freedom and Thai justice. When the judge read out the verdict there was a huge sense of relief. And there was a round of applause when we left the court house,” Alan Morison, editor of independent news website Phuketwan, said.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Was the Martin Place gunman a spy ?

It is now obvious to everyone except Blind Freddy that the Martin Place siege gunman Man Haron Monis was an ASIO agent from the time he arrived in Australia in 1996.

Final proof came this week when the NSW government-ordered inquest was recalled without notice and then banned the press and public from hearing ASIO’s evidence.

Remember when the inquest was first ordered? No stone would be left unturned, said Premier Mike Baird, and the people of NSW would hear every last detail of the inquiry into the shooting, the shooter and the police/security response.

That promise was broken this week as the coroner closed the court, hid ASIO’s evidence from public view and suppressed the names of witnesses.

Just days before he took hostages at the Lindt Café in Martin Place at gunpoint, ASIO again gave Monis a clearance saying he presented no threat to security. But to everyone else with an ounce of common sense he was a major criminal at large.

Why didn’t the super sleuths at Australia’s intelligence agency (surely an oxymoron) recognise their informer was a depraved, dangerous, homicidal fantasist?

Read More

Treasurer – meet the real world

Very occasionally, the real world forces its way into the deliberations of federal policymakers, and when it does it’s a mildly shocking thing, like an open window bringing breeze and car horns and birdsong into a muzak-filled air-conditioned shopping mall.
This week it arrived in the form of Terese Edwards, from the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children, who was giving evidence to a Senate inquiry about a government plan to cut $4.8bn from family payments – which adds up to cuts in payments to a single parent with two children between 13 and 18 of about $3,000 a year, including axing a twice-a-year top-up payment.
The treasurer, Scott Morrison, quite correctly says the top-up payment was introduced because many families were finding themselves with a liability after being accidentally overpaid by the government because they had underestimated what their family earnings would be. Now that technology has overcome that problem, the “Christmas and July bonus payments have outlived their purpose”, the treasurer insists. The government also argues that once children are in their teens mothers can, and should, go back to work. Which, in an ideal world, is also true.
But these arguments ignore one big thing. For mothers who cannot find well-paid work, the current family payments – even with the bonuses – are barely enough to get by on.
Edwards explained that low-wage jobs and unemployment benefits left single parents with so little that they now relied on the “bonuses” for pretty important purposes – paying for any out-of-the-ordinary costs, such as car registration or replacing an appliance.

She gave the results of a 2014 survey of single parents, in which 74% said they had trouble paying utility bills, almost 14% said utilities had been disconnected, 58% said their children had given up sport or other activities because they couldn’t afford the equipment or fees, 62% said they could not afford health or household insurance and 57% said they struggled to keep their car on the road.
And she read from stories the single mothers had sent her to pass on to the inquiry.
“My son never passes on school notes regarding anything that costs money. I’ve found them ripped up in his school bag, hidden in this room, etc. I think he has noticed my hands shaking so many times from monetary stress that he will do anything to keep things like this from me. He’s 13 and has desperately wanted to get a job since he was 11. He constantly asks why I hardly ever eat dinner but, fortunately, he still seems to believe that I absolutely love toast and two-minute noodles when I do eat.”
Or: “Please, please, please tell them ... all the pollies … that we will go over the edge if there are any more cuts. My luxury is our 18-year-old Corolla.”
Or: “Jack is great at sports, he pretended that he was injured so he would not get picked for the inter-school competition. It was $35. We just don’t have the spare cash.”
According to the government, the family benefit cuts – first announced in its disastrous 2014 budget and recently softened to try to win parliamentary approval – are the only way it can pay for a plan to spend an extra $3.5bn on childcare.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Queensland Teachers Human Rights Stand

Queensland Teachers’ Union members at Yeronga State High School are taking a historic stand on a human rights issue, and for the first time have taken industrial action in support of their campaign, with a one-hour stopwork meeting this week, an action backed by many local students and parents.

As one of the schools that provide outstanding support for refugee and asylum-seeker communities in Brisbane, Yeronga teachers, students, community members  and school leaders have been campaigning for the release of Mojgan Shamsalipoor from detention since her removal to Darwin in August.

Ms Shamsalipoor is a popular student who inspires her teachers, friends  and  fellow pupils with her sunny nature and determined optimism, despite the fact she has faced severe hardships, including rape and the threat of forced marriage, and lack of water on her journey here.

The young Iranian woman  was just a few months from graduating at Yeronga State when she was forcibly removed from the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre where she had been staying and taken to the Darwin detention centre after a failed visa application.

She has continued to show her dedication to study and remains hopeful, even though she is being held away from her husband and family in a high-security facility thousands of kilometres from her school and home.

Yeronga teacher Jessica Walker saw Ms Shamsalipoor daily while she was studying at the school, and says the brave young woman is the human face of a brutal system that puts genuine refugees at risk and denies the Australian community worthwhile citizens who want to work and contribute to their new country.

“Mojgan inspires all of us — she’s just a beautiful young woman and you walk away feeling more positive after you meet her,” says Ms Walker, Queensland Teacher’s Union (QTU) representative at the school.

“Despite what she’s gone through, she feels incredibly grateful just to be here.”

More than 10 schools came out to back the action, and students left classes to sit across the fence opposite their teachers to show their solidarity with the campaign to allow Moigan to apply for a bridging visa. There were no penalties imposed over the stopwork.

There are more than 700 pupils at Yeronga, and at least 50 are seeking asylum in Australia.

“I’m proud of our students and I think being exposed to some tough stories has broadened their outlook,” says Ms Walker, 34, from Paddington, Brisbane.

“I just got the most wonderful letter from one of our Year 12 students saying they are inspired by our actions and Mojgan’s plight — I was really impressed and a little bit emotional.”

“We’re not asking that Mojgan be given asylum, just that her case be given a fair hearing,” says Ms Walker.

“We have grave concerns for her emotional wellbeing, and that of other similar students who are experiencing increased distress and a sense of hopelessness.”

Ms Shamsalipoor fears returning to Iran, having arrived in Australia by boat in 2012 after fleeing sexual abuse and an arranged marriage to a man in his 60s.

Her asylum claim was rejected last year after she had lived in Australia for two years on a bridging visa.

“Mojgan and people like her just want to become contributing members of our society — able to work and study here, and give back to their new country,” says Ms Walker.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton revealed in September he was personally considering a request to help Ms Shamsalipoor, who is married to an Australian permanent resident, to be allowed to apply for a partner visa, after he was approached by Coalition MP Natasha Griggs.

The one-hour stopwork meeting and rally held this week were the latest steps in the #FreeMojgan campaign, which includes a petition. Momentum is building as other unions and community groups express their support and their concern over the mistreatment of children and young people seeking asylum.

NSW Labor: GST Petition

We need you to sign this petition. This is really, really important.
If the Liberals increase the GST to 15% the average Australian household will be forced to pay up to an additional $4000 every year in tax.

The GST already disproportionately affects those on lower incomes and a 50% increase will only make this problem worse, hitting lower income Australian families the hardest, while those in the highest income bracket will barely see an increase.

Shifting a greater burden onto those at the bottom is hardly recipe for a ‘fair’ Tax reform. Click here right now to say no to Turnbull's unfair tax.
Our priority should be to get the tax system right so that everyone pays their fair share of tax, at a fair and sustainable rate. That’s Labor’s goal for tax reform, but we need you to show your support.
After billions of federal funding cuts to our health and education systems, why should the people of NSW be slugged with an unfair tax to pick up the slack?
Mark, make your voice heard and sign the petition now. Tell Malcolm Turnbull that we won't be conned into raising an unfair and inequitable tax.


Now's the time to make your voice heard.

NSW Labor

Unions NSW: The banks are coming after your super

Our not-for-profit system of industry superannuation has seen workers retire on significantly larger nest eggs than those who used superannuation schemes run by the banks.
But legislation is currently before Federal parliament that would fundamentally change the nature of our not-for-profit system of industry superannuation. That means more workers’ super contributions would be handed over to the banks. Which in turn, would mean $267,000 less at retirement for a 25 year old earning $50,000 in 2010. Taken as an income stream, it would be thousands of dollars less every year. That would make a huge difference in retirement. Contact the cross-bench Senators and tell them to vote to stop this.
The union movement built our not-for-profit industry superannuation scheme. Now it is worth $1 trillion per year the banking sector want to get their fingers on it. That means more workers’ money diverted to corporate profits.
In union,
Emma Maiden
Assistant Secretary
Unions NSW

Making Super fairer for women

 A sweeping overhaul of superannuation policy has been proposed to overcome the enormous disadvantages for women when they retire as the Australian government considers changes aimed at promoting fairness.

Industry Super Australia says its plan would help close the gender pay gap in super savings, which stands at 44%, potentially improving the retirement income of a schoolgirl preparing to enter the workforce now by 35% – or more than $75,000 a year.

It aims to overcome the multiple obstacles to women accumulating enough super savings to live comfortably in their old age, such as lower overall pay, maternity leave, periods of part-time work and caring leave, which mean 38.7% of single women now live in poverty in retirement – a situation likely to become worse owing to declining rates of home ownership and recent superannuation policy changes.

The Labor senator Jenny McAllister, who sits on the inquiry, says it is often assumed that women’s retirement incomes will improve as more women work and the super system matures but the Industry Super research says this is not true.

“The super gap is a direct product of the differential between lifetime earnings of men and women and Industry Super shows that more than half of women currently aged 25‐29 years, retiring in 2055, will not achieve a comfortable level of retirement income,” she said.

Industry Super Australia’s deputy chief executive, Robbie Campo, says the argument about the impact of the current super system on women has to be central to the debate about the taxation of superannuation.

“The current settings are weighted against the typical pattern of work and unpaid work by women,” she said. “Changing them could give women a fairer share and more adequate retirement incomes.”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Filep Karma released from Gaol

A high-profile Papuan separatist leader has been released from prison after more than a decade behind bars, in a fresh sign that Indonesia may be easing its tight grip on the restive eastern region.

Filep Karma, the most prominent of Papua's political prisoners and convicted of raising a pro-independence flag, walked free from jail on Thursday to an emotional welcome by hundreds of cheering supporters.

His release had been held up for months after he refused to admit guilt in line with demands from the government. 

In the end, authorities agreed to grant him a sentence remission for good behaviour, according to Human Rights Watch.

However 56-year-old Mr Karma said he had been pressured by officials to leave the jail on the outskirts of the city of Jayapura, which he said felt like home after so many years.

"When I was jailed, I had in mind that I was going to be released in 2019, and suddenly I was kicked out — so I was shocked," he said.

Radical plan for coal

Power generators would be forced to pay for the closure of a competitor’s dirty brown-coal fired plant under a radical plan that could help Australia slow the continued increase in electricity sector greenhouse emissions without a carbon price or expensive government subsidies.

The idea – from Australian National University academics Frank Jotzo and Salim Mazouz – offers the government hope of meeting the long-term emission reduction targets it will promise in Paris and provides the energy sector with a solution to the problem of oversupply that has forced the mothballing or under-use of less polluting types of generation.

Old high-polluting brown coal-fired plants, particularly in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, were the biggest winners after the carbon price was abolished with coal generation hitting a three-year high of 75.6% of the east coast market in October, a trend that makes it almost impossible for Australia to meet its promises of long-term cuts in greenhouse emissions even with increased renewable generation from the renewable energy target.

Under the plan the big brown-coal generators, near the end of their operational life, would submit bids for how much money they would need to receive in order to shut straight away. The cost of the winning bid would not be paid by the government but would be spread across all the other generators, in proportion to their own carbon dioxide emissions.

ACTU: Defend Industry Super from corporate theft

Australian Unions built the most successful financial story in Australia – industry superannuation. Now Malcolm Turnbull wants to dismantle it. 

The Turnbull Government is proposing changes that will hand over our super to the big banks. I’m writing to ask you to contact the cross-bench Senators and tell them to vote to stop this.

Industry superannuation has low fees and high returns because they are run in the interests of their members, not to make profits for banks. All profits are returned to members, there are no sales people and it is secure. All of this is at risk if Turnbull succeeds in letting the big banks get their hands on our super.

If you’re young these changes will cost you the most. You could end up paying up to a quarter of your retirement savings in fees. We can’t let this happen.

After a lifetime of work and saving, you deserve better than that.

We built superannuation. Now we need to defend it.

Contact the cross-bench Senators today.

Australian Unions Team 


As you may have heard the NSW Government is threatening to force a ‘one-size-fits-all’ Local Environmental Plan (LEP) onto the Blue Mountains and remove the key environmental and heritage provisions that currently protect our towns, villages and the valuable World Heritage National Parks.

July 2015 Blue Mountains Demonstration 
These provisions were supported by the previous Government but aren’t any longer. Why? Because they don’t fit neatly into a generic plan.

The proposed plan would homogenise the Blue Mountains townships,  encourage higher density development and reduce environmental protections thereby jeoparding the surrounding UNESCO-listed National parks.

The Blue Mountains has evolved over millennia. With its varied ecosystems and biodiversity, the Blue Mountains World Heritage area is one of only 197 natural sites globally. Regarded as the ‘lungs’ of the Sydney basin, it represents one of the largest, most intact tracts of protected bushland in Australia.

The community and Council have worked tirelessly to develop a suitable draft plan (DLEP2013) but the Government won’t approve it. It’s quite incomprehensible that an area of such outstanding global significance could be compromised by a watered down plan.

We’ve published articles, an Open Letter, met with the Minister and continue to lobby ... but we need your help and support now to ensure this valuable, ancient and unique area remains protected.


Email Minister Rob Stokes and the Department of Planning how important it is that the draft LEP (as exhibited by Council) is approved:

Sign and send our pre-prepared letter

Call Minister Stokes office on 02 8574 6707 and leave a message

Spread the word via Facebook   Spread the word via Twitter

Your support is greatly appreciated - Thank you!
Tara Cameron
Senior Vice President, Blue Mountains Conservation Society

Labor will reinstate the Closing the Gap targets

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has committed to reinstate the Closing the Gap targets aimed at reducing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in jail.

Key points

  • Federal Opposition promises to reinstate the Closing the Gap targets to reduce numbers of Indigenous prisoners
  • Commitment to target early intervention, crime prevention and divisionary programs
  • Critics argue the promise will be "throwing money" at the wrong program, school attendance seen as more important

The targets, which were first put in place by the former Labor government, were dumped under the Coalition.

Mr Shorten has delivered a speech promising, if elected, to work with state and territory governments to reinstate the targets and address the "heartbreaking" figures.

"If you are an Aboriginal man you are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than a non-Aboriginal man," he said.

"The reimprisonment rate for Aboriginal young people is higher than the school retention rate.

"Today Aboriginal women are one-third of our female prisoners.

"It is soul shattering that our justice system is defunct for communities in our nation."

Mr Shorten has promised to provide resources for four sites to trial the "justice reinvestment" model that redirects funds into early intervention, crime prevention and diversionary programs. 

The sites would be in urban, regional and remote areas.

"It is time for Australia to face these failures... to demand an end to this grievous national shame," he said.

Tasmania : in-principle support for marriage equality.

Tasmania’s lower house has become the third state parliament to show support for same-sex marriage.

Late on Wednesday a majority, 15 votes, of the House of Assembly backed a Greens party motion for in-principle support for marriage equality.

Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O'Connor moved the motion to give in-principle support to marriage equality.

She has told the house denying people the right to marry was denying them the validity and equality of their love.

"Love is just love, it reaches beyond every law, every judgment," she said.

"What harm can it possibly do, it still baffles me that some people of faith still see this as a threat."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

CFMEU: Public meeting: Jobs on the line in the Valley, can we survive?

The paper mill at Maryvale has been a vital source of jobs in our community since it opened in 1937. The Federal Government has abandoned a policy to buy a recycled paper. The jobs of the 1000 workers there are now under threat. We need the Federal Government to support Australian jobs and one way they can do this is by buying more Australian paper instead of buying imported paper. Currently 16 of the 22 biggest Government departments source their paper from overseas.

Come and hear from the CFMEU, Federal, State and local politicians, industry and community leaders about how we can fight back - and have your say on how we can win.

Where: Morwell Football Club, 11 Aherin St, Morwell. Come and hear from the CFMEU, Federal, State and local politicians, industry and community leaders about how we can fight back - and have your say on how we can win.

Public Meeting
Date: Wednesday, November 18
Time: 7:30-9:30pm
Where: Morwell Football Club, 11 Aherin St, Morwell. 

TTP: Made In America

Trans-Pacific Partnership Made in America logo
Actual logo image from the US Trade Representative office (we kid you not). 

This "Made in America" logo for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) tells us everything we need to know about who it benefits. American multinational corporations, who'll soon have the power to sue our government over laws that protect our health and environment. 

But if the TPP was 'Made in America', then it can be unmade there. Our campaign allies in the US told us if we help them move just six votes out of 435 in the US Congress, then the TPP will go down. And if it fails there, it fails utterly, because America is the linchpin of the whole deal. 

And in breaking news, one member of Congress just backflipped on the TPP, which means we only need five more. So we're working on a bold and cunning newspaper ad campaign targeting those critical votes.We even have to keep the details secret, because if our targets got wind of what we were up to, it might not work. 

What we can tell you is our allies in the US think it's a cracker idea and they're ready to amplify its power through their own media contacts. But they say we have to get in the papers next week, to pick up on the building momentum against the TPP. 

Can you chip in to get strategic ads in US newspapers next week to help turn five critical votes against the TPP? 

With the full text of the TPP finally out in the open, we now know it includes ISDS provisions that hand foreign companies the right to sue our governments over laws that protect our health and environment.1 And it locks in the ability of our internet service providers to spy on us over possible copyright infringement.2 

Oh, and those supposed benefits? America's own Department of Agriculture says the TPP will increase Australia's GDP 0.00% by 2025 (no, that's not a typo).3 

Here in Australia, the government will need Labor's vote to get the deal over the line. Disturbingly, Labor welcomed its potential benefits when the final TPP text was released last week. That's why our surest bet is to make a big, clever intervention in the US to bring down the TPP from within. 

Chip in today to put our secret TPP ad campaign into action:

After so many years of secrecy surrounding the TPP, it's only fair that our plan to stop it is a bit hush-hush. But here's what we can say. The ad campaign is designed to use the power of corporate America against itself. That's why they can't know what we're up to, or it could all fall over. 

The key groups we're working with in the US have been fighting the TPP for years. They've walked the halls of Congress and are giving great advice on who to target, what to say and where to advertise for maximum impact. The final vote could all come down to 1 or 2 people that we help change. 

Two things matter now: speed and having the funds to get big ads in as many strategic US newspapers as possible next week. 

Can you help make it all happen? 

Thanks for everything you've done, 
Mark, Alycia, Daney and Nat for the GetUp team