Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Essential Energy is “holding gun to the head of its entire workforce”

Essential Energy is “holding a gun to the head of its entire workforce”, a union claimed after voting for strike action against plans to end a workplace agreement. 

Electrical Trades Union members on Tuesday voted to take industrial action against the New South Wales government-owned electricity distributor, which has applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate its 2013 enterprise agreement, along with policies protecting staff from forced redundancies. 

Unions say the move will expose thousands of workers to possible forced redundancies and threatens to drop pay to the award rate.

In the ETU ballot 95% of workers voted in favour of work stoppages of up to 72 hours, and 96% in favour of bans on a range of work practices, including overtime and training.

The ETU secretary, Steve Butler, said: “Essential Energy management are holding a gun to the head of their entire workforce, telling them to voluntarily accept cuts to their pay and conditions or face an unprecedented legal move that would see workplace agreements and policies simply torn up.

“The result of this ballot shows workers simply won’t accept that kind of treatment, and they are ready and willing to take industrial action and other forms of protest until Essential Energy reverses course and returns to the bargaining table.”

Scott McNamara, the energy manager at United Services Union, said: “If Essential Energy succeeds in having the existing workplace agreement torn up, thousands of jobs could be cut across NSW, while wages and conditions for the remaining workforce would be slashed”. 

“This is an unprecedented attack by a publicly owned organisation on its own workers,” he said.

Essential Energy has 150 employees, whom the company is obliged to keep and try to redeploy because they have refused to take voluntary redundancy.

The Electrical Trades Union and United Services Union are concerned those staff will be sacked immediately if the company’s application is successful.

News corpse hysterical history

“University of NSW students told to refer to Australia as having been ‘invaded’”, screams today’s headline in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph about a guide at the university for “appropriate language use for the history, society, naming, culture and classifications of Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islander people”.

But, horror, the Tele warns – “students are being told to refer to Australia as having been ‘invaded’ instead of settled in a highly controversial rewriting of official Australian history”.

They even use conservative historian Keith Windschuttle and (wait for it) the Institute of Public Affairs to help make their non-case

It is beyond time for Britain to apologise to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The journals and letters of the British – from the first explorers and colonial governors to the soldiers and so-called “settlers” – who arrived from 1770 to massacre tens upon tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and steal their land, make unambiguously clear what happened.

Generations of Australian public intellectuals have wrestled with this shameful past. We’ve had the so-called “history wars” polarised between the alleged “black armband” of historical truth-telling and the “white blindfold” of adherence to some absurd notion of benign British settlement. There has been nothing resembling a national reckoning.

Former prime minister Paul Keating came closest to kick starting one with his 1992 Redfern speech:

... the starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians,” he said. 

It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion. 

It was our ignorance and our prejudice. And our failure to imagine these things being done to us. With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds. 

We failed to ask - how would I feel if this were done to me? As a consequence, we failed to see that what we were doing degraded all of us.

Train for Non Violent Direct Action to stop WestCONnex!

Sunday, 3 April 2016 
10:00 am to 5.00 pm 
Sydney Park, St Peters

Places filling fast! Bookings must be finalised shortly!

The Baird Government is arrogantly bulling ahead with its $18 billion plan to lock Sydney into decades of motorway building and high-rise redevelopment. Only non-violent direct action can stop this assault on our city. This is your opportunity to learn its theory and practice!

Course includes: introduction and overview, the role of NVDA in the WestConnex campaign, your fears and concerns, legal aspects, roles in direct action, practical and emotional preparation, physical tactics and role play.

YOUR TRAINER   Nicola Paris of CounterAct has 15 years experience across the full spectrum of progressive social change campaigns. CounterAct has run workshops for, or collaborated with, The Wilderness Society, Quit Coal, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Leard Forest Alliance, Australian Student Environment Network, Friends of the Earth, Lock the Gate, the Melbourne East West Tunnel Campaign and others.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Groups call on Government to deliver secure health and education funding at COAG

Peak community, health and education groups today called on the Federal Government to forge an agreement with the states and territories at this week’s COAG meeting to guarantee critical health and needs based education funding into the long term.

The groups, including ACOSS, Consumers Health Forum, the Australian Education Union, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and the Australian Council of State School Organisations, want to see the funding for public hospitals that was taken out of the National Health Reform Agreement restored, and a commitment to fund the full six years of needs based education as proposed by the independent Gonski Review, beyond the current 4 year commitment.

Healthcare services and schools are vital to the wellbeing and future prosperity of our country. Yet the funding shortfall following the Federal Government’s $80 billion cuts to the health and education budgets over the next decade will cause great harm, especially as it unfairly impacts people who can least afford access to private schools and healthcare.

In a united call, the groups highlighted the need for the Commonwealth to cooperate with states and territories in these important areas of shared responsibility, which will require more resources over time as the population ages and costs increase. These extra funds will need to come from the strengthening of government tax bases through equitable tax and federation reform as well as greater efficiencies in the delivery of services.

The principles of universal access should underpin reforms. Health services must be available for all who need them, when they need them and schools must be adequately resourced so that all children get the support they need to reach their potential.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“The current funding deficit must be addressed at this week's meeting. The states and territories, who are responsible for delivering these services simply do not have the capacity to plug the gap. Ultimately, the Commonwealth must work constructively with the states and territories to guarantee stable and adequate funding into the future for the universal services that we all want as a community.

“We must not squander the opportunity to deliver revenue growth through fair tax reform. The future of services depends upon it. Given the critical nature of the funding shortage and the tight fiscal environment, investment in services should be a higher priority than funding election year tax cuts.

Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells said:

“The restoration of health funding is a critical first step. Longer-term, we must shift from a focus on hospitals to strengthening primary and integrated care to keep people out of emergency wards and hospitals in the first place. We must invest in new models of integrated care and in primary health care-led health reform. This will deliver better health outcomes and a more efficient and effective health system.”

 Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe said:

“We want to see bi-partisan support in Parliament for the full six years of Gonski, not just four, because this will deliver funding straight to the schools and students who need it. There is widespread support for the needs based Gonski model in the community and amongst our elected leaders. It is lifting results and helping children - what’s missing is the political will to commit the funding needed for the long-haul.”

Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore said:

“The worst affected by the failure to adequately fund healthcare services are socioeconomically disadvantaged groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people in rural and remote communities, who have difficulty accessing medical and other health services already. We know equitable education and good health care help address inequity - let's make it happen.”

 Australian Youth Affairs Coalition National Director Leo Fieldgrass:

"Needs based school funding is vital for all students to thrive in 21st century Australia. Targeting funding to educational needs will raise individual and community outcomes, boosting economic growth. Young people and families expect a long-term commitment from politicians to the Gonski model of equitable education."

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht:

“Health system funding arrangements should not be changed in isolation from the impact this will have on other parts of the health system and should not be unilaterally imposed by the Commonwealth. We support reforms that maintain and enhance the equity, accessibility and sustainability of the Australian health system to the benefit of the whole community. This requires a commitment to the long-term and durable funding of the health sector.”

Australian Council of State School Organisations President Phillip Spratt:

“Inclusive access for all to high quality health care and a fully resourced education system underpins the sense of fairness and fair go that is Australia. Transparent, straightforward and sufficient needs based funding is vital to support the two-thirds of Australia’s 3.6 million school aged students, their parents and the communities that rely on public education as the first, and in some cases the only choice for their child’s future.”

Monday, March 28, 2016

Exploited Fiji workers leave with nothing

Exploited seasonal workers from Fiji must return to work for the company accused of ripping them off or go home.

The ABC on Sunday reported the workers, who were paid less than $10 a week, had been ordered to go back to AFS Contracting in Victoria's north or leave the country. AFS sponsored their temporary visas to come to Australia and has remained tight-lipped about the claims.

Officials from the Employment Department and the Immigration Department told the workers they did not have long to choose, the ABC reported.

"They are pushing us to go back home," worker Merewairita Sovasiga said.

"Every one of us is not happy. We are going back home with nothing."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was looking into the workers' complaints.

"The Australian Government regularly engages all Seasonal Worker Program participating countries on matters relating to their nation's workers, including with Fiji on the allegations in this matter," DFAT said.

"Most of these workers have homes that were devastated by the cyclone," said Sakiusa Lesuma, a Fijian-Australian who is assisting the seasonal workers.

"This is the reason they want to stay back, and work somewhere else, earn some money."

The ABC understands the Departments of Immigration and Employment told the Fijians the only option to earn money was to return to work for AFS Contracting and its owner, Tony Yamankol.

The workers from Fiji at the meeting said they would not do that.

"If you don't want to go back to Fiji, then they're trying to send us to our employer, Tony [Yamankol]. But I don't like it," one of the workers at the meeting, Manueli Taione, said.

"The way they treat us, they treat us like slaves, you know?"

The ABC tried repeatedly to contact AFS Contracting owner Mr Yamankol to ask him about the workers' allegations. He did not respond to numerous phone calls and emails.

Visits to the farm where the Fijians worked, Mr Yamankol's home and his registered office address were unsuccessful.

Turnbull–Abbott Shirtfront

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Carbon Emissions rate - startling discovery

The rate of carbon emissions is higher than at any time in fossil records stretching back 66 million years to the age of the dinosaurs, according to a study on Monday that sounds an alarm about risks to nature from man-made global warming.

Scientists wrote that the pace of emissions even eclipses the onset of the biggest-known natural surge in fossil records, 56 million years ago, that was perhaps driven by a release of frozen stores of greenhouse gases beneath the seabed.

That ancient release, which drove temperatures up by an estimated 5 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) and damaged marine life by making the oceans acidic, is often seen as a parallel to the risks from the current build-up of carbon in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

"Given currently available records, the present anthropogenic carbon release rate is unprecedented during the past 66 million years," the scientists wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The dinosaurs went extinct about 66 million years ago, perhaps after a giant asteroid struck the Earth.

Lead author Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii said geological records were vague and "it's not well known if/how much carbon was released" in that cataclysm.

Current carbon emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are about 10 billion tonnes a year, against 1.1 billion a year spread over 4,000 years at the onset of the fast warming 56 million years ago, the study found.

NSWTF: Federation welcomes NSW Labor's TAFE protection bill

Submitted by NSW Teachers Federation on 24 March 2016

Federation welcomes the introduction of a bill in NSW parliament to guarantee TAFE at least 70 per cent of VET funding and urges Bill Shorten’s federal Labor party to adopt policy that will cap funding for private VET providers.

NSW ALP leader Luke Foley on Wednesday introduced the Technical and Further Education Amendment (TAFE Funding Guarantee) Bill 2016 to “ensure the future health of TAFE in NSW”.

If passed by the NSW parliament the bill would cap contestable VET funding for private providers to 30 per cent. Mr Foley took his party into the last state election with this policy.

“While a 30 per cent cap is NSW ALP policy, which it took to the last state election, we call upon the federal ALP to follow suit and offer the same protection for TAFE,” Mr Mulheron said. The ACTU has also called for a 30 per cent cap on contestable funding.

Fairfax newspapers have reported contestable VET funding in NSW is projected to increase to 50 per cent this year: “A document seen by The Sun-Herald shows direct NSW government funding will be reduced to half of TAFE's income in 2016, according to formal estimates prepared by the department.” In Victoria, 80 per cent of VET funding is contestable, opening up a huge market to private providers and there has been massive rorting of the system by these providers.

Federal Labor this month announced it would mount a review of the VET sector. Vocational education shadow minister Sharon Bird announced the review would be undertaken to “build a stronger VET sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs”.

In support of TAFE, Ms Bird said there was “abundant evidence that the vocational training sector must be underpinned by a dominant and viable public provider”.

Mr Foley this week told the NSW parliament that while there was a place for the private sector to provide vocational education and training, it was the role of government to ensure there was a strong, affordable and accessible public education system.

“This bill will cap contestable public funding for private education providers at a maximum of 30 per cent. This cap will guarantee that TAFE, the public provider, receives a guaranteed minimum of 70 per cent of public funding, and potentially more. This will ensure the future of TAFE in this State by providing certainty of funding to students and staff.”

The 70 per cent of funding to TAFE will also ensure that the TAFE Commission receives in each of its regions not less than 70 per cent of the funding allocated to vocational education and training courses.

Mr Foley scoffed at the Baird government’s statement that it “believes in TAFE”, saying it had “ripped” $1.7 billion from education and training. Thousands of TAFE teachers and support staff had been sacked. “Those are not the actions of a government that believes in TAFE,” Mr Foley said.

He said the government planned a fire sale of TAFE campuses in Chullora, Epping, Belrose, Scone, Dapto, Vincentia, Maclean, Murwillumbah Corowa, Narrandera and Grenfell.

Mr Foley drew attention to the continuing collapses of private providers who pocketed millions of dollars of taxpayer funds, lured hundreds of impecunious students into debt and now leaves those students facing incomplete courses.

“This week we have seen a major private training provider, Australian Careers Network, file for voluntary administration and just last week Evocca College announced the closure of seven of its campuses in our State. This follows the collapse of Aspire College of Education. So why does the government continue to prioritise private providers above a well-established and proven TAFE model?” Mr Foley demanded.

Coles Planning to trash Workers' Rights

Australia's workplace laws need a "rethink" according to Coles managing director John Durkan, who hit out at the nation's industrial relations system, claiming it disadvantaged customers and discouraged innovation and productivity.

The supermarket boss called for the simplification of industrial relations after revealing Coles' latest Store Team Agreement was mired in argument before the Fair Work Commission.

"Coles is currently defending a challenge to the approval of our latest Store Team Agreement, more than a year after our team members voted overwhelmingly in support of it," Mr Durkan said at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia event.

"Under the current workplace relations laws, one team member, a weekend casual represented by a union official from an unrelated union, has been able to hold the fate of 75,000 people's working conditions hostage over months of argument before the Fair Work Commission."

If the worker is successful, Mr Durkan said staff at the Wesfarmers-owned supermarket chain would go back to an older, less beneficial workplace agreement.

"I believe our experience at Coles demonstrates the strong need for a rethink on how Australian enterprise bargaining laws operate ... I certainly wouldn't want any other companies or their employees to endure the same protracted, uncertain process that our team is currently facing," he said.

Mr Durkan also took aim at penalty rates and questioned their role, when Sunday was Coles' biggest shopping day of the week.

And he repeated Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder's warning that the competition in grocery retail was not limited to other supermarket operators such as Woolworths and Aldi, it also included online retail giants such as Amazon, which could trade 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mr Durkan was singing from the same song book as his chief executive on the effects test as well, warning it could have many unintended consequences such as pushing up the cost of groceries in regional areas.

SMH Read more:

ACTU: Turnbull Attacks Workers’ Rights – Unions Defend Penalty Rates

Prime Minister attacks workers’ rights while unions defend penalty rates
23 March 2016

The Federal Government’s attack on working people continues with the announcement today that the Prime Minister is willing to ram through the damaging ABCC legislation, and still refuses to defend penalty rates before the Fair Work Commission.

Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary, Dave Oliver, said the Turnbull Government is more interested in playing politics and siding with big business than in standing up for workers’ rights.

“The Prime Minister has certainly revealed his true colours,” Mr Oliver said. “While the ACTU and other unions have been busy submitting to the Fair Work Commission in support of protecting the penalty rates of weekend workers, the Prime Minister has been focused on plotting ways of attacking the union movement and Australian workers.

“Penalty rates are not a luxury, they are what pays the bills and puts food on the table for the weekend workers who rely on them.

“The Prime Minister should take a position. This idea that it’s not the Prime Minister’s place to have a position on important issues like penalty rates is absolute rubbish.  Australians deserve to know whether our Prime Minister is willing to stand up for low paid workers.

“Prime Minister Turnbull says he is leaving this up to the Fair Work Commission, but he has criticised penalty rates in the recent past, and his government commissioned a report rubbishing penalty rates which has been submitted as evidence to the case.

“The ACTU’s submission highlights the extent to which Australian families rely on penalty rates.  It seems the Federal Government simply refuses to recognise the importance of penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of workers.

“The Government weighed in on behalf of Qantas in the Fair Work Commission, but it appears, will not intervene to protect the lowest paid workers in Australia. We ask that the Government similarly make a submission and rule out any proposal to slash penalty rates.

“Many organisations have submitted to this Inquiry defending the take-home pay that working families rely on, including the SDA and United Voice and the federal Labor party.

“The Prime Minister is happy to wax lyrical about the need to regulate unions, but he has refused to outline his plan for standing up for workers,” said Mr Oliver.

Anti Union Commission – Criminal Charges Farce

A fifth construction union official has had criminal charges made by the trade union royal commission taskforce dropped.

The Australian federal police’s union taskforce charged the Queensland Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union organiser Justin Steele with assault over an incident at a building site in May 2015.

Police alleged Steele struck a female builder-developer’s arm and pushed her shoulder during a standoff at a South Brisbane site on 14 May. The charges against him were dropped on Wednesday.

An AFP spokeswoman told Guardian Australia two charges of assault and one of breach of bail conditions were dropped “based on the withdrawal of the complaint”.

The CFMEU’s national construction secretary, Dave Noonan, said: “Steele has maintained all along he did nothing wrong. He had a disagreement with a building developer over getting onto a site.”

The union said Steele had been taking photographs of unsafe practices on a building site “when the developer accosted him, demanding to give up his phone”.

A week later police visited his home with a warrant permitting the seizure of his mobile phone.

The AFP spokeswoman said its union taskforce had no comment on the decision to withdraw the complaint nor the statements made by the CFMEU.

The failed criminal case is the fifth arising out of the trade union royal commission and its associated police taskforces.

Construction union official's criminal intimidation charge thrown out of court

Earlier this month the director of public prosecutions dropped charges against the CFMEU’s ACT secretary, Dean Hall, because the case fell outside the permitted statutory time period.

Hall had been charged over alleged intimidation of a WorkSafe inspector on a Claxton construction site in Canberra in 2013.

The other three failed cases involved dropped charges against the CFMEU ACT official Johnny Lomax and the Queensland CFMEU assistant secretary Andrew Sutherland and a not guilty verdict for the NSW official Michael Greenfield.

The first criminal case arising out of the royal commission to have succeeded was the case against former ACT organiser Fihi Kivalu, who pleaded guilty on 10 March to blackmail charges.

Police arrested Kivalu after evidence before the union royal commission in July 2015 at which he admitted receiving $150,000 in “gifts” from employers before he left the union in 2014. Builders gave evidence they made payments to keep the CFMEU from disrupting their work sites.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sinodinos v NSW Electoral Commision

Cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos has again denied wrongdoing as he enlists lawyers to fight a New South Wales Electoral Commission report.
Sinodinos is seeking a retraction of references to himself in the report that he says uses “loose language”, which could convey erroneous impressions about the NSW Liberal party political donations scandal.
The commission is refusing to pay the Liberals more than $4.4m until it reveals the identities of secret donors who poured about $700,000 into the party’s coffers before the 2011 state election, when Sinodinos was its treasurer and finance director.
“Despite what Labor says, the NSW Electoral Commission decision does not accuse me of setting up a slush fund or breaking the law,” he said in a statement on Saturday. “I have never been accused of corruption. I deny any wrongdoing or illegality.”
Sinodinos has personally, and through a seven-page letter from his lawyers released on Friday night, called for a retraction of references to himself in the commission report, which was made public on Wednesday.
He earlier slammed the report as “flawed”, believing it erroneously conveyed that he knowingly disguised donations.
Sinodinos has refused to respond to “unsubstantiated rumours, gossip or scuttlebutt” published in the wake of the report, which has again prompted calls for him to resign or be stood aside.
Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek accused prime minister Malcolm Turnbull of protecting the senator by refusing to stand him down.
She said Turnbull wasn’t prepared to take action against his “numbers man” because he needed him in the face of a resurgent right wing of the Liberal party.
“The only conclusion you can draw about the fact that Mr Turnbull is not prepared to act to stand Senator Sinodinos aside is that he can’t afford to,” she told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.

US : TTP on the nose for presidential candidates

One issue unites three U.S. presidential candidates from quite different positions on the political spectrum. Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is a trade and investment agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations now awaiting an up-or-down vote by the U.S. Congress. Trump says it’s a bad deal for the United States. Clinton says it will cost jobs and lower labor, food safety, and environmental standards. Sanders says it is a corporate assault on democracy.
Trump is right: It’s a bad deal. But he’s wrong that it’s bad only for the United States. It’s actually bad for all of the 12 countries. Clinton is right that it will cost jobs and lower standards, but she’s wrong that the problem is failing to set the bar high enough.
Only Sanders names the most essential reason we must reject the TPP: It is an all-out corporate assault on democracy. Its approval would empower corporations to further hamstring efforts by any member nation to address the potentially terminal environmental, social, and economic threats of our time.

Friday, March 25, 2016

CFMEU: More Royal Commission Charges Dropped

Three charges against Queensland CFMEU organiser Justin Steele, laid by the Trade Union Royal Commission Police Taskforce in May last year, have been dropped.

The CFMEU welcomed the news of what is now the fifth instance of failed charges by the Police Taskforce.

Ahead of his appearance today at the National Press Club where he will be debating with AIG head Innes Willlox on the federal election industrial relations battlefield, CFMEU Construction National
Secretary Dave Noonan said Mr Steele had endured a blaze of undeserved negative publicity the purposes of which was to advance the political agenda of the Federal Government.

“Mr Steele has maintained all along he did nothing wrong. He had a disagreement with a building developer over getting onto a site,” he said.

“The union has since uncovered this developer has a dodgy history and she failed to turn up to two Justice Mediations in relation to this case.”

In April last year, Mr Steele was taking photographs of unsafe practices on a building site, when the developer accosted him, demanding to give up his phone. A week later police visisted his home
in the early hours of the morning with a warrant permitting the seizure of his mobile phone.

“These were nothing but trumped up, politcised charges executed amidst hype and sensation, designed to paint the union in a negative light. Mr Steele was unnecessarily vilified in the press.”

Mr Noonan said this was yet another example of wasted police resources.

“The taxpayers are footing the bill to further the Government’s ideological agenda,” he said.

The decision to drop the charges against Mr Steele follows the dropping of charges against ACT Secretary Dean Hall, ACT CFMEU official Johnny Lomax, Queensland CFMEU Assistant Secretary Andrew Sutherland last month and the Not Guilty verdict of New South Wales official Michael Greenfield.

“In all of these cases, it was obvious from the outset that there were no grounds for the charges laid and no chance of success.”

“There can be little doubt that the Turnbull Government is wasting public money to fulfill its political agenda of passing the ABCC bill.”

Election Issues: We Need a National Corruption Watchdog – Not Another ABCC

Election Issues: YOUR ABC IS BEING GUTTED – Stop the Chop !

Since the election of the Abbott/Turnbull Government, the ABC has LOST: 
  • Almost $500m in funding, and almosi 500 jobs, including many senior staff 
  • The Australia Network (ABC Television broadcasts into Asia and Pacific). & 72 jobs
  • Much of the reach and diversity of Radio Australia
  • TV production facilities in Adelaide and Hobart (Brisbane and Perth had already gone)
  • ABC Shops 

CUTBACKS have included:

  • Televised sports broadcasts
  • Classic FM Live Broadcasts (50%)
  • Foreign Correspondent
  • Regional news bulletins and state news rooms
  • Regional radio (12 studios closed)
  • Specialist programming units (50%) 


  • State 7.30 Programs
  • At the Movies
  • RN Specialist Programs - Bush Telegraph. 
  • Hindsight, Encounter. Poetica. 
  • First Bite.
  • Into the Music. 
  • 360 Documentaries. 
  • By Design. 
  • The Media Report. 

Footnote: the Rudd Gillard Labor Government increased ABC Funding by $130m 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

East Timor and Brandis ASIO laws

The overblown security concoction being cooked up by George Brandis and our security elite is more about protecting the spy establishment than the nation.

Already we have a taste of what lies in wait once the new bundle of ASIO laws are passed. 

Legislation, to be introduced shortly, provides for two new offences relating to unauthorised disclosure of information about “special intelligence operations” – up to five years and then up to 10 years for aggravated offences. Currently the tariff for unauthorised communication of information is two years. 

There’s to be no mucking around when it comes to preserving state secrets, including ones that are not particularly worthy of the word “secret”. The penalties will apply even in cases of public interest disclosures about misconduct by security agencies where no risk to national security is involved. 

That’s what makes the Timor-Leste spying case so apposite. Of course, it was a bugging and spying operation conducted by ASIS, not ASIO – though things have become a little blurred. 
The then head of Asis, David Irvine, who got authorisation for the bugging of the Timor-Leste ministerial office, is now the head of Asio, and ordered the raids on parties engaged in the complaint about the eavesdropping mission. 
As a result of the espionage the Timorese are now before the permanent court of arbitration at the Hague, trying to unstitch the treaty with Australia over the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.

Further evidence of Sea Level Rising

The current rate of global warming could raise sea levels by “several meters” over the coming century, rendering most of the world’s coastal cities uninhabitable and helping unleash devastating storms, according to a paper published by James Hansen, the former Nasa scientist who is considered the father of modern climate change awareness.

The research, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, references past climatic conditions, recent observations and future models to warn the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets will contribute to a far worse sea level increase than previously thought.

More Death to US pensions after Enron scams

Nearly 15 years since Enron’s collapse decimated the retirement accounts of its employees, hundreds of thousands of U.S. energy workers remain precariously exposed to big, concentrated bets on company stock in their 401(k) retirement plans.

The slide in oil prices to their lowest levels in over a decade wiped out several billion dollars of retirement wealth in the energy sector in the past year. The losses may prove temporary for companies that successfully navigate the crisis, but tens of thousands of employees of struggling firms may see much of their nest eggs gone for good.

In Oklahoma and Texas, workers are delaying retirement plans, surrendering trucks, cars and land in personal bankruptcy cases, or just praying oil prices will recover.

"I just didn't see it coming," said John Thompson, 57, who was laid off in February from Oklahoma City-based SandRidge Energy Inc. SandRidge shares, which peaked above $65 in 2008, are now worth 10 cents apiece. "Because of this, I'm not retiring any time soon."

SandRidge did not return messages seeking comment.

Almost without exception energy company 401(k) plans offered at least 10 different investment alternatives to company stock, their plans show.

Yet company reports and interviews with more than 20 current and former employees at independent energy firms show many employees have not taken advantage of opportunities to switch out of company shares.

Maureen Nelson, who retired from Chesapeake Energy Corp in 2013, said she lost an estimated $100,000 as she watched the company's shares plunge in value.

Inertia and a strong faith in company leadership played a role in holding on to company stock, but so did company policies.

Many energy firms continued to match employee contributions with company stock, even as most large U.S. companies stopped the practice after the Enron debacle, according to several corporate benefits consultants.

The energy industry followed the lead of heavyweights such as Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp, which for years provided matching contributions in company stock in worker 401(k) retirement plans while also funding separate defined benefit pension plans for them.


Smaller companies could not afford to do both, but they typically matched employee contributions in stock. And energy workers often plowed some or most of their own contributions into company stock, benefits consultants said.

"It's not prudent investing," said Lou Harvey, chief executive of Boston-based financial research firm Dalbar Inc. “But employees tend to clamour for company stock.”

Typically, workers at larger energy companies would have 20 percent to 60 percent of 401(k) assets in company stock, according to a Reuters analysis of such holdings for more than 400,000 employees.

By contrast, the average U.S. 401(k) plan has about 7 percent of assets in company stock, according to Washington D.C.-based Investment Company Institute.

Turnbull's maths all ABBC

Studies show there are no productivity gains attributable to the ABCC, just as there are no savings in relative costs.”

Professor David Peetz, added in a January 2014 submission on the ABCC that Econtech’s $5.5bn saving claim had “no solid basis” as it had cherry-picked data and erroneously assumed productivity increases were caused by the ABCC.

The Productivity Commission also noted“many individual constructors did not raise [industrial relations] issues as a major source of cost pressures in recent years”. 

According to a survey 50% of building supervisors said the ABCC had made no difference to productivity levels, nearly one quarter considered it had improved it somewhat and just over 15% said the effect was significant.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Yannis Varoufakis and Joseph Stieglitz 2015

ACTU: Turnbull Can’t Bully Australia

This morning Malcolm Turnbull confirmed what Australian Unions believed would happen – he is bringing back Parliament early to try and ram through anti-worker laws. He says if the laws aren’t passed when Parliament sits on April 18th, he’ll call a double-dissolution election to fill the Senate with his mates to get his own way.

Join our nationwide movement to fight the election. If you can’t volunteer your time, make a donation to help those who can.

These anti-worker laws represent some of the worst attacks on our rights at work since John Howard’s WorkChoices regime was thrown out in 2007. The Liberals want to bring back the deadly Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), and go after Australians' right to be heard at work – a definite ploy to drive down your wages.

Our movement has fought off these attacks before and we will do it again – with your help.

Now is the time to get involved in the campaign to build a better future for this generation of workers and the next – to fend off attacks on our rights at work and the things that make our living standards great, like our Medicare and properly funded schools. We can win again, but we need the support of people like you.

With so much at stake this election there’s never been a more exciting time to volunteer – sign up today.

If you can’t volunteer, will you give a small contribution to help our campaign to protect our living standards from Liberal attacks? Giving $25 will pay for 500 how-to-vote cards in the 25 most marginal seats. It makes a difference.

If you're ready to contribute, go ahead and hit the big red button:

Together, we’ll show Malcolm Turnbull he can’t bully Australia’s working people.

Dave Oliver
Australian Unions Team

Sydney: Demonstration to Restore East Timor Maritime Boundaries

When: 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Wednesday 23 March 2016

Where:  Choose the most convenient place for you…..

Action 1… 12:15 Gather at Archibald Fountain to receive banners (4). They are 4m long and 75 cm deep, needing a group to hold them. Those present then split up and stand at the four corners of Hyde Park, holding the banners to be seen by those passing in vehicles or on foot.

Action 2…. One banner outside Greenway Plaza, North Sydney. Group to decide which corner of the large intersection of Pacific Highway to stand at.

Action 3…. One banner outside DFAT Offices in Angel Place.

We need at least 8 people with each banner.

What we want:

  • Resubmit to the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice;
  • Immediately open negotiations for a permanent maritime boundaries based on the median line principle;
  • Return all revenues taken unilaterally from the Timorese side of the halfway line


In March 2002, two months before the declaration of independence in East Timor, the Australian Government withdrew from the Maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. The result was that the Timor Leste leadership had limited options in negotiating its maritime boundaries with Australia prior independence. 

During subsequent negotiations regarding boundaries and allocation of oil and gas revenues, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, under the guise of an Australian Aid Program, fitted surveillance devices inside the Timorese cabinet room and gained a negotiating advantage.

Successive Timor Leste governments have long objected to the 2006 Certain Maritime Boundary Treaty (CMATS). The treaty denies the sovereign right of the government of Timor Leste to settle maritime boundaries with Australia – one of its nearest neighbours – until 2050.

Celebrate Centenary of Easter Uprising – 27 March 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sydney Rally – Welcome Refugees

NSWTF: Palm Sunday rally: Sunday 20 March – Welcome Refugees

Palm Sunday rally: Sunday 20 March

Welcome Refugees
1pm Sunday 20 March, Belmore Park

Federation is a proud sponsor of this year’s Palm Sunday Welcome Refugee Rally.

We encourage all our members, who are able, to march under the banner of Unions for Refugees.

We will meet at the Belmore Park Rotunda from 1230pm. The rally will march to Victoria Park.

Federation will provide our small hand held flags to identify our contingent.

Public opinion on refugees is shifting with the outpouring of calls for the 267 asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Island to stay in Australia.

The stand by workers at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane to refuse to discharge baby Asha to be returned to Nauru, focused opposition to the cruel bipartisan policy of offshore processing. It also showed the strength and compassion of the union movement. The vigils and protests and the workplace selfies on social media have shown the widespread support for baby Asha and the campaign to  Let Them Stay. The churches’ offer of sanctuary to the 267 has also shown how sweeping is the call for a humanitarian refugee policy.

This year’s Palm Sunday rallies can add to the growing community calls, not just to let those in Australia stay in Australia, but to close Manus Island, close Nauru and end mandatory detention.

For many years governments have used refugees as scapegoats for their failure to provide jobs, or properly fund housing and health care. This creates hatred and racism that poisons our workplaces and communities. The government is talking about making cuts to spending on health, education, parental leave and pensions while it wastes billions on refugee detention.

The escalated warfare in the Middle East, Afghanistan and North Africa is driving more and more people to seek asylum. Australia can do much more to help these asylum seekers, and much more to help end rather than extend the wars.


Rally MC: David Isaacs (former paediatrician on Nauru)

Joel Shakespeare (former Save the Children worker on Nauru)
Jessica Walker (Queensland Teachers Union, Yeronga High School & Save Mojgan campaign)
Dr Sue Wareham (Medical Association for Prevention of War)

Faith speakers

Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition)
Shokufa Tahiri (Afghan refugee)

TROVE Under threat from Turnbull.Abbott Razor gang

Trove is a digital collection of historical resources from all around Australia. Each day it's used by 70,000 people: academics, authors and everyday Aussies searching for information on their family history. Now it's in danger of being wound back due to budget cuts !

Find and get over 474,949,565 Australian and online resources – books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more.

Visit  TROVE

Saturday, March 19, 2016

MEAA: Save 120 Fairfax Jobs

MEAA has blasted the management of Fairfax Media after the company announced a further 120 editorial jobs would be axed in the latest cost-cutting drive.

The job losses, which Fairfax wants to make to The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, translates to about a quarter of the remaining editorial staff in the Sydney and Melbourne newsrooms.

MEAA CEO Paul Murphy said the announcement was a “body blow”, particularly after Fairfax recently posted a half-year profit of $27.4 million.


“It's the people on the newsroom floor that have driven Fairfax’s transition to digital,” he said.

“Through all the challenges, they have continued to produce high quality, award-winning, independent journalism. And this is their reward: yet another savage cut to editorial.

MEAA will seek to convince management to look at other alternatives rather than more job cuts at a company that has lost hundreds of journalists in recent years.

“We will be fighting for every job,” Murphy said.

“MEAA believes that yet another round of editorial redundancies only erodes the Fairfax business.

“MEAA calls on management to consider smarter ways of identifying business efficiencies as a way of lowering costs so that it can continue to produce the high standard of journalism its audience wants.

“Constantly cutting away swathes of the very people who create the journalism that is the reason your audience buys your product makes no sense.”

TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition calling for Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood to reconsider these cuts.

CFMEU: Solidarity with Fairfax Media Staff

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union stands in solidarity with Fairfax Media staff, following the announcement of 120 editorial job losses across The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Financial Review mastheads.

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said the announcements were devastating given the massive job losses already experienced at Fairfax in recent years.

“This is a huge blow for those journalists whose jobs are now on the line. It’s a massive blow for their families and colleagues and, sadly, it’s another devastating blow for quality journalism in Australia,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Everyone from the CFMEU, from our officials and employees through to our 110,000 members, stand in solidarity with Fairfax workers whose job it is to inform, educate and entertain us.

“We stand with the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which has always been a strong and proud union, as you can see by the number of Fairfax staff walking off the job in support of their colleagues.”

The CFMEU calls on Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood to keep all his staff on the job in the interest of the workers and their families, the public and for the good of rigorous journalism in Australia.

Click here to sign the Fair Go Fairfax petition in solidarity.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Unions Team – Hands Off Our ABC

Take action for better funding for the ABC by emailing your MP.
The ABC is in crisis now because the Coalition government has stripped $254 million from its operational budget over the past two years.

This has resulted in the loss of 400 jobs, with more on the chopping block, the axing of popular state-based 7.30 programs, changes to regional radio programming, and more. And that’s not including the axing of the Australia Network, the international TV division.

This all happened under Malcolm Turnbull’s watch as Communications Minister.

Yet, the ABC is expected to do more and more with demands for additional digital TV channels, radio networks, and online services.

Hands Off Our ABC is a community and advocacy campaign co-ordinated by the two unions that represent the vast bulk of employees at the ABC: the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Community and Public Sector Union.

The goal is an editorially-independent ABC that is fully-funded by the government and meets its charter as a comprehensive national broadcaster, that is resourced to tell Australian stories across multiple platforms, and positioned to take advantage of new technology to retain its position as the most trusted and reliable source of news and entertainment in Australia.

Join the campaign today: begin by taking action for better funding for the ABC in this year’s budget.

Australian Unions Team 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Labor's social policy framework strong foundation to reduce poverty and inequality

In a political system that’s adrift in the daily media cycle, Labor’s social policy agenda brings long overdue attention, focus and rigour to efforts to reduce inequality and poverty, placing good social policy at the centre of good economic policy', said Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO.

'The platform builds strong foundations for policies to reduce inequality and poverty, including full employment, decent incomes, universal services, and shifting power to communities.'

‘We need more of this kind of serious, long-term policy thinking from all sides of politics. Affordable housing and a fair and efficient tax system should also be added to the mix,' said Dr Goldie.

‘The statement signals the need for well targeted public investment in benefits, services and community infrastructure from a future government. This is an investment, not a cost. In our view there’s no conflict between investing in people and growing the economy: they are one and the same thing. It’s vital that governments make room for these investments rather than imposing arbitrary caps on public spending.'
Inequality and poverty:

‘We need governments with high ambitions for Australia, and full employment and reducing poverty and inequality are important ones.'

‘They are also achievable: 29 out of 33 OECD countries – including wealthy nations such as Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada, have less poverty than we do. Twenty OECD countries have less income inequality than Australia,' said Dr Goldie.

Employment and incomes:

‘ACOSS welcomes Labor’s commitment to a full employment objective, an expert review of the adequacy of Newstart Allowance and its acknowledgement that the purpose of family payments is to prevent poverty among children. Taken together, these are the most important things governments can do to reduce poverty in Australia.'

‘Full employment is not a mirage: it remains a legislative objective of the Reserve Bank and should be the goal of governments as well.'

Over three quarters of a million people have to rely on the $37-a-day Newstart payment, of whom over half a million have been unemployed for more than a year. The Labor policy platform aims to reduce the poverty and waste of mass unemployment in three ways: ensuring there are enough jobs, investing in better employment services for people unemployed long term so they have a good chance of securing a job, and improving benefits so that people can live decently while searching for jobs. All three strategies are needed.

Labor’s social policy agenda calls for the replacement of the two parts of Family Tax Benefits: Part A for all low and middle income families and Part B for single income families, with a single payment.

'ACOSS supports reforms to simplify the family payments system. It is vital that any redesign of family payments gives priority to reducing child poverty and improves the circumstances of sole parent families who are living in poverty,' said Dr Goldie.

‘ACOSS agrees that we need to strengthen workforce participation – especially among people unemployed long term, people with disability, older people and parents with young children. This requires a concerted effort to adjust workplace practices and end discrimination, seriously invest in skills and training, and provide the child and elder care services people need.'

Essential services:

ACOSS welcomes the commitment from Labor to investing in essential services like needs-based schools funding, early childhood education for all three and four year-olds, and decent employment services for people unemployed long-term.

'If well designed and properly resourced, these services not only improve lives, they save governments money in the long run and grow the economy. Much of what we call ‘good social policy’ is actually good economic policy as well,' said Dr Goldie.

Community services and empowerment:

'Labor’s commitment to fairer and more robust funding arrangements for community services is welcome. Communities cannot respond to needs in an innovative way as long as funding is tied strictly to a narrow set of inputs. They cannot collaborate as long as they are forced to compete with other services to deliver services at the lowest price.'

Close cooperation between government and representative organisations in the community is needed to get these funding arrangements right. Also important is a new emphasis on empowering local communities and service users, especially in disadvantaged areas, by working with them to identify needs and service gaps rather than dictating from Canberra which mix of services they should provide.

The platform commits to the establishment of an independent body to strengthen evaluation of social policy and to ensure that social policy is firmly integrated with economic policy decisions.

Together with open sharing of government data, this approach could revolutionise government. The agenda explicitly rejects seeing social investment as a drag on the economy but adopts the view that social investment is central to reducing inequality, driving economic growth which is inclusive, with job creation at its core.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor
The CFMEU has today sought to shed some light on the secret backroom deal struck between the Coalition and the Greens on Senate reform, labelling it as an attack on workers’ rights.

The deal could encourage the Coalition to a double dissolution election and give it the mandate and numbers to re-introduce the Work Choices-era Australian Building and Construction   Commission.

The CFMEU has made an FOI request for all correspondence between the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, including from the Prime Minister and Senator Mathias Cormann, and the office of the Leader of the Greens, Senator Richard Di Natale.

CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said the Greens were playing a dangerous game and the community had the right to know what was going on behind closed doors.

 “The Government wants to bring back the ABCC to hurt unions and continue its raid on workers’ pay and conditions,” he said.

“The Greens have sold out the community and its own voters by giving the Government the power to do as it pleases.

“The public have a right to know how these negotiations came to pass and what has been agreed to in the backrooms of parliament.”

Mr O’Connor said the CFMEU would also ask the Greens to release all correspondence in the spirit of transparency.

Rocking Federal Parliament

Jimmy Barnes performed a largely acoustic version of his classic hit Flame Trees for a crowd of politicians, staffers and industry representatives at a dusk concert in a parliamentary courtyard last night.

Barnes, and a string of other Australian musicians, including Josh Pyke and Baby Animals front-woman Suze DeMarchi, performed at the gig with the aim of bringing the industry's issues to the heart of federal politics.

"Musicians struggle for most of their careers," Barnes said after the concert.

"There needs to be more funding around the arts, for music, for rock music. I've seen a lot of great musicians, a lot of great songwriters, come and starve to death and disappear."

Mr Jones was one of the organisers of the event, on behalf of the Parliamentary Friends of Australian Music.

"This is the people's music being played in the people's house," he said.

"We want to take this art form out of the arts portfolio and put it into the innovation and small business portfolios."

You can have a top 10 single in the world from Townsville, or Cairns or Alice Springs if you know how to do it.

Mr Jones said the $15-billion-a-year Australian music industry could be lucrative for some, with the top 2 per cent of musicians earning more than $200,000 a year.

But he said 78 per cent of artists made less than $10,000 a year.

"We have to do better than that. You won't find a more creative, a more innovative industry than music. This is perfect for our agenda," he said.

He acknowledged the Government needed to come up with policy settings to help artists make a decent living out of their craft.

"You can have a top 10 single in the world from Townsville, or Cairns or Alice Springs if you know how to do it," he said.

"This is not just people playing music, it's about technology, it's about graphic design, it's about record production, it's about everything. This is a hugely exciting time."

Mr Jones also raised the impact of lockout laws on the live music industry, and said there was much more policy makers could do.

'I want to rock the house'

Mr Jones also raised the idea of hosting a music festival of sorts on Capital Hill, naming Australian band You Am I as his preferred headline act.

"I want to rock the house," he said.

"I think this is the people's music. I want the Queens Terrace cafe on the verandah out there looking down the drive to the War Memorial with electric guitars nice and loud ... that says the people are in the house."

He said the idea was inspired by action taken at the UK House of Commons.

Barnes characterised last night's parliamentary crowd as a "tough audience" and gently ribbed some for talking rather than listening during early performances.

"I seem to have less problem with that, I sing really loud and I'll punch them if they don't listen," he joked.

Barnes said he would "hate to be in a young band starting out now", given the new world of international music downloading services, the crowded market and restrictions on late-night trading.