Thursday, June 30, 2016

ACTU: Turnbull Cuts Welfare and Pensions to fund Corporate Greed

The Liberal Government’s cuts to welfare and pensioners in order to pay for its election promises is  a callous move that once again favours high income earners over struggling Australians. 

Treasurer Scott Morrison today announced an optimistic $2.2 billion in “savings” to be obtained from further cracking down on welfare and pension recipients – money that that will be used to pay for tennis courts, CCTV and a number of community grants that have been promised for Liberal and marginal seats as part of the government’s increasingly desperate re-election pitch.

This comes in the wake of the Liberal Government’s ongoing defence of its billion dollar cuts to healthcare that will add a double hit to the budgets of families who are already on very low incomes.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:
  • “It’s a cynical move, even for this government, to try and plug holes in its election promises costings by attempting to squeeze even more money from some of the most disadvantaged members of our community.”
  • “Not content with coming after Medicare, Malcolm Turnbull has turned his attention to pensioners and people struggling on low incomes as he seeks to scrape together the money to pay for his $50 billion corporate tax break out and other election handouts.”
  • “So called welfare crackdowns are usually the last refuge of desperate governments looking for quick political points or easy budget savings – this is not the sort of lazy politics we were promised when Malcolm Turnbull assumed office.”
  • “It’s shocking that the Turnbull Government has waited till the last minute to make cuts to pensioners and welfare recipients – taking money from people who really need it and handing it over to billionaires and multi-nationals who don’t.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Liberal seats get the pork barrel

Most of the new infrastructure projects on which the Turnbull government is spending $859m are in Coalition-held seats, especially marginals.

The projects have all been announced since the 3 May budget and are detailed in the Coalition’s costing document released on Tuesday by the treasurer, Scott Morrison, and the finance minister, Mathias Cormann.

An analysis by Guardian Australia of the projects reveals that 73 are in Coalition seats and just four are in Labor seats, although several others serve multiple electorates including Labor seats.

The seat held by the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, New England, is a major beneficiary, receiving grants for the Armidale airport roundabout, Inverell shire traffic flow improvements, the Jewry Street bridge, the Munsie bridge upgrade, Scone bypass, Tenterfield heavy vehicle bypass and an upgrade of Tamworth regional airport.

One of the biggest commitments was $105m for the Gateway and Pacific motorways, to benefit the Liberal National party seats of Bonner and Flynn and the Labor seat of Moreton in Queensland.

The other biggest commitments were all in Coalition-held electorates: $110m for the Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes upgrade in McPherson; $65m for the Bowen basin service link and Walkerston bypass in Capricornia; $60m for Outback Way in O’Connor; $50m for the Murrumbateman bypass in Eden Monaro, and $50m for Appin Road in Hume and Macarthur.

Liberal-held marginals benefited from a large number of projects including Lyons, in Tasmania, with seven projects, and Dobell and Robertson on the New South Wales central coast, with four and three respectively.

The only projects in Labor electorates were Ryans Road in Port Adelaide, the Hobart airport roundabout upgrade in Franklin, and the Monaro highway widening and Pialligo Road duplication, both of which are in Canberra but also benefit the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro.

Asked at a doorstop on Wednesday why most of the new infrastructure money was to be spent in Coalition seats, Cormann said: “In the course of this election we’ve made commitments right around Australia.”

He said he would leave “commentary” on the appropriateness of the spending to others: “It will be a matter for the Australian people to decide whether they support ... the commitments that we’ve made

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ACOSS slams attack on vulnerable

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie will be available for comment to respond to the release of the Coalition’s costings and further ‘crackdowns’ on welfare payments.

Dr Goldie will be outlining ACOSS’ concerns about the Coalition’s proposals to take further funds out of the welfare system, while doing nothing to ensure income adequacy for those living on the lowest incomes.

She will also highlight the risks that the welfare ‘integrity’ policy announced today could lead to significant hardship for vulnerable people affected if it results in more automated or aggressive debt recovery approaches.  

“Australia’s lowest income earners and most vulnerable households have borne the brunt of Coalition savings measures in three successive budgets and enough is enough, said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“ACOSS strongly opposes taking any more money out of income support payments. This is the last place the Coalition should be looking for savings to fund new election spending promises.

“People are struggling to survive on $38 dollars a day Newstart payments which have not been increased in two decades,” Dr Goldie said.

Infrastructure debacle

Australia has doubled the amount it spends on infrastructure, but poor governance has made it hard for everyday Australians to notice the benefits, experts say.

Key points:

  • Transport audit predicts major city car travel times to increase by 20 per cent over 15 years
  • Average 90 per cent increase in demand for public transport in capital cities
  • Australia has doubled the amount spent on infrastructure to about $500 billion in the past decade

A transport audit conducted last year by Infrastructure Australia predicted major city car travel times would increase by at least 20 per cent over the next 15 years, and could double along the most congested routes.

The audit said there would be an average 90 per cent increase in demand for public transport in capital cities, leading to what it called an increase in "crush loadings" at peak hour.

But the head of the Better Infrastructure Initiative at Sydney University, Garry Bowditch, said for the past decade in Australia there had been a radical, if stealthy, transformation in government spending.

"Most Australians will be surprised to know we've doubled the amount of infrastructure spending to about $500 billion in the last decade," he said.

"So we've done the revolution, and I think most of us are saying, 'well, where are the benefits?'

"A lot of people have the pleasure of paying $30 or $40 a day on tolls for the opportunity to either sit in traffic jams or travel well under the speed limit."

Mr Bowditch said the problem was how governments decided which projects they would fund.

"There's been very poor governance within the infrastructure regime — that's been across the board, across all political parties," he said.

"They've seen the role of the infrastructure as very much one that's stimulating the economy, pursuing pet projects, and having very little accountability for the money they spend."

Apprenticeship disaster

Across Australia the number of Australians undertaking an Apprenticeship has dropped by a third. 

That’s 136,400 Australians no longer in training, no longer being given the opportunity to learn a skill and get a job.

Not only does this hurt young Australians wanting to learn a trade, but failing to ensure we continue to have a skilled workforce hurts our economy. 

Malcolm Turnbull has cut funding to Apprenticeship Centres by $10million per year, abolished the Tools for Your Trade Program and has also cut incentive payments to adult apprentices.

 It is 4 days out from the Federal Election and while the Liberals claim they’re for “Growth and Jobs” their actions are speaking louder than their words. 

Corporate windfall $2.18bn a year flowing offshore

More than 40% of the benefit of the Coalition government’s $48bn company tax cut will go offshore to shareholders of multinational corporations and foreign tax authorities, a new report has found.

The report by academics at the University of Technology Sydney, commissioned by GetUp, reviewed 250 of the largest payers of company tax in 2013-14. 

It found cutting the corporate tax rate to 25% would result in $2.18bn a year flowing offshore in dividends to overseas-based investors. That represents 40% of the total cost of the $48bn tax cut over 10 years.

Victor Jara

An army lieutenant under late Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet was found liable by a Florida jury on Monday for the 1973 torture and killing of popular folk singer Victor Jara and ordered to pay $28 million (£21.2 million) in damages, attorneys for the victim's family said.

The federal civil court jury in Orlando found that Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nunez was responsible for the torture and execution of Jara in the days following Pinochet's overthrow of leftist President Salvador Allende.

"It has been a long journey seeking justice for Victor’s death. His songs continue to be sung today, and inspire both artists and those who seek social justice," Jara's 88-year-old widow, Joan Jara, said in a written statement following the verdict.

"For Victor, art and social justice were one and the same. Today there is some justice for Victor's death, and for the thousands of families in Chile who have sought truth," Joan Jara said.

According to Chilean court documents, Victor Jara was shot dead by soldiers in Chile's Estadio Nacional, which served as a mass detention and torture centre in the early days of the military government.

Jara inspired such artists as Bruce Springsteen, the Clash and U2 and his death soon became a potent symbol of the era's abuses.During Pinochet's rule, which lasted until 1990, an estimated 3,200 people were killed and 28,000 tortured by the state.

In 2013, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), an organisation dedicated to preventing severe human rights abuses, filed a civil suit against Barrientos, who now lives in Deltona, Florida, on behalf of Jara's widow and daughters.

"This is the first trial seeking accountability for the death of VĂ­ctor Jara. The verdict in this case represents another significant step to understanding what happened at Chile Stadium in the first days after the 1973 coup," Kathy Roberts, the centre's legal director, said in a written statement.

Attorney Luis Calderon, who represented Barrientos at the trial, declined to comment on the verdict through a spokeswoman at his Orlando office.

Monday, June 27, 2016



Employment figures released today show that Australia has hemorrhaged 93 jobs a day in the manufacturing and mining industries on Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull’s watch.

The ABS Labour Force Detailed Quarterly statistics show there are 44,000 fewer manufacturing jobs and 49,000 fewer mining jobs compared with when the Coalition took power in 2013.

“Australia now has the lowest proportion of manufacturing jobs in the OECD,” CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said.

“Since the Liberal Party has been in Government, we have lost 93 jobs in manufacturing and mining every day. This number will dramatically increase when Ford, Toyota and Holden cease manufacturing from later this year.

“And the number of underemployed people is now at its highest since records began.

“Jobs and Growth needs to be more than just a slogan. Job growth requires governments with an active role in supporting manufacturing and local communities through targeted industry policies.

“The Abbott and Turnbull Governments have turned their back on entire industries in this country – from car manufacturing, to paper, to steel.

“And their one-sided free trade agreements sell out Australian manufacturers.”

A report released earlier this month by the Centre for Future Work revealed manufacturing sector growth in countries with proactive government policies.

The report’s author Jim Stanford said that the decline of manufacturing in Australia was not ‘normal’ or ‘inevitable’.

Australia’s mining and manufacturing industries have traditionally provided full time, high income jobs, to blue collar workers, often in regional Australia. The sectors have been a rich source of R&D and provided opportunities for young people to take up apprentices.

“Instead of a plan for Australian manufacturing, all Malcolm Turnbull can offer is a three word slogan and a massive tax cut for business and the banking sector.”

Healthcare workers pen open letter to save Medicare

Nurses, midwives, mental health, pharmacists and allied health professionals, medical
scientists and Medicare administration staff have come together in the last few days
before the election to save Medicare.

The campaign will be led this week by an open letter from unions representing more than
600,000 frontline healthcare workers and Medicare administration staff including the
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the Health Services Union, the Australian
Services Union and the Community and Public Sector Union.

There is growing community concern over the future of Medicare amongst health
professionals who believe the Turnbull Government has a disturbing track record that
must be taken into account in regard to our precious universal healthcare system.
Polling consistently shows Australians value Medicare enormously and that healthcare is
a fundamental issue for many when they are casting their vote.

The open letter outlines the attacks on Medicare committed by the Federal Government,
including the freezing of rebates for general practitioners, $57 billion in cuts to public
hospitals and many other budgetary measures that make accessing healthcare more
expensive for Australians.

Quotes attributable to Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Ged Kearney:

  • “Unions representing more than 600,000 healthcare workers and Medicare staff have come together to save Medicare from the Turnbull Government.”
  • “The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, and the Liberals have a track record of attacking Medicare.”
  • “They have attempted to introduce a co-payment to visit your GP and now they have refused to back down on the freezing of Medicare rebates for general practitioners until 2020, which is a co-payment by stealth.”
  • “There is no doubt in our minds that Malcolm Turnbull has a plan to turn Medicare into an American-style, user-pays healthcare system.”
  • “If any part of the system is placed in corporate hands, Medicare is placed at risk.”

France says NON to TTIP

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has dismissed the possibility of an agreement on the US-EU transatlantic trade deal, since it goes against the interests of the European Union.

“No free trade agreement should be concluded if it does not respect EU interests. Europe should be firm. France will be vigilant about this,” Valls said addressing members of the governing Socialist Party on Sunday.

“I can tell you frankly, there cannot be a transatlantic treaty agreement. This agreement is not on track,” Valls added.

Valls pointed that the agreement “would impose a viewpoint which would not only be a breeding ground for populism, but also quite simply be a viewpoint that would be bad for our economy.”

The TTIP – or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – is a EU-US free trade treaty project that was dubbed as controversial the moment it was proposed three years ago and has been criticized for its secretiveness and lack of accountability ever since.

The proposed agreement aims at promoting trade and multilateral economic growth by creating the world’s largest free-trade zone. Backers say it would help small businesses opening up markets and making customs processes easier, while trade tariffs on products would be reduced.

But critics fear big corporations would be the only ones to profit from the deal, with corporate interest coming even ahead of national interest.

The French minister has also stressed the “dramatic” consequences of canceling quotas on milk, stipulated in the TTIP deal. Dairy sector is particularly important to France, being a key driver of its economy.

The negotiations on the treaty were expected to be over by the end of 2014, however they are still in progress with the next round being scheduled for July.

The project has, however, been met with quite fierce opposition in Europe, especially in France and Germany, with critics speaking of its negative effects on environment and agriculture.

Thousands of protesters took to streets in the German city of Hannover in April, opposing the deal in fear it would put corporate interest before the national. Large corporations will be given more prerogatives than middle-sized and small businesses if the project is accepted, the protesters believed.

Corbyn - no plan to resign

Britain's opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday he regretted the resignations of several members of his senior team of lawmakers in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the European Union but he did not plan to resign.

Twelve members of Corbyn's team or "shadow cabinet" withdrew their support for him on Sunday, with many criticising his contribution to the referendum campaign and saying they doubted his ability to lead the party to victory in the next election.

"I regret there have been resignations today from my shadow cabinet. But I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me, or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them," he said in a statement.

"Those who want to change Labour's leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Labor releases budget plans

Key points:

  • Labor to bank nearly $3 billion from the Coalition's superannuation changes
  • Labor says it would to balance budget at the same time as the Coalition, in 2020-2010
  • Treasurer says Labor's plan is a threat to Australia's AAA credit rating

Labor will save $430 million over four years by placing a $5,000 cap on the amount individuals can claim for the cost of managing their tax affairs and removing the Private Health Insurance Rebate from so-called "junk policies", or those that only cover public hospital treatment.

Speaking after Labor's second campaign launch in Brisbane, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said Labor had listened to the advice of medical and consumer groups which had been calling on the Government to either scrap the rebate or ban junk policies. 

"These are policies in which the beneficiary —the policy holder — receives no benefit," he said.

"It simply insures people for public hospital access they already get as citizens, but enables the Medicare surcharge to be avoided."

Releasing Labor's final election costings and promises, Mr Bowen said Labor would deliver a further $10.5 billion in savings over the next decade, bringing its total budget improvements to more than $130 billion.

But buried inside its Fiscal Plan was the revelation the party would bank the $2.9 billion in savings from the Coalition's superannuation changes, while not necessarily adopting the policy.

"Labor would consult with stakeholders and take a broader examination of all these measures on coming to government," the document states.

Coalition accused of having 'zombie measures'

Bill Shorten gestures with his hand as he speaks at a podium.

Labor has confirmed it will return the budget to balance at the same time as the Coalition, in 2020-21, but its deficits would be deeper for the first four years.

GetUp ! 65000 support health campaign

As the Federal election reaches fever pitch, hardly a day goes by without hearing a mention of health, which is currently ranking as one of the most important issues for voters in key battlegrounds. 

And it's no wonder. Since the Turnbull Government handed down their Budget almost two months ago, locking in $54 billion worth of cuts to our hospitals – nearly 100 GetUp members championed community-led campaigns for their local hospital, and more than 65,000 people got behind them. 

The dedication and commitment of GetUp members, willing to fight for their community, is truly extraordinary. Check out some of the local hospital campaigns in action. 

Petition for Prince Charles Hospital
Pattie and supporters deliver their petition to their local member Peter Dutton in Dickson. 

Bronte and Michael delivering their petition to Russell Matheson
Bronte and supporters deliver their petition to the Member for Macarthur (Photo credit: Ben Chenoweth, Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser) 

Nambour Hospital petition leader
Caption reads: Health funding campaigner Cynthia Francis and supporters present their petition calling for restoration of funding to Nambour General Hospital. (Photo credit: Patrick Woods, Sunshine Coast Daily) 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Greece blames EU austerity for UK exit vote

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose own rebellion against European Union policy brought the bloc to a crisis last year, said on Saturday he did not blame the British people for voting to leave but rather EU leaders.

Speaking to his leftist Syriza party's central committee, Tsipras blamed the Brexit outcome on the "chronic deficiencies" of European leaders and their insistence on austerity policies that fed populism and nationalism.

"As much as the decision of the British people saddens us, it is a decision to be respected. We must not put the blame on the British people ... when the borders remain open on austerity policies but stay closed for people," Tsipras said.

Tsipras led his Syriza party to victory in two elections and a referendum last year in an attempt to end years of austerity imposed on euro zone member Greece because of its untenable debt.

However, he was forced by the euro zone to accept more conditions as a quid pro quo for another bailout and continued membership of the euro zone.

Pollsters the most shocked by uk exit vote

Nearly everyone, from London gamblers to U.S. money managers got it wrong. Britain's vote to leave the European Union shocked pundits, investors and politicians alike, underscoring the inherent difficulty of forecasting such rare events.

On PredictIt, an online political events betting site operated by Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and U.S.-based partners, bettors had the probability of a “leave” camp win at just 16 percent on Thursday as British polls closed. 

Within four hours of the vote count, that had shot to 90 percent.

The dramatic reversal caught many investors flat footed and showed how they have trouble hedging against such shocks even with the help of such tools as exchange-traded funds or computer algorithms designed to capture an electorate's social media vibe, economists, pollsters and fund managers said on Friday.

Predicting the outcome of Thursday's referendum was harder than that of a national election because there was virtually no historical data to draw on, said David Rothschild, an economist at Microsoft Research. 

He said pollsters also did not pay enough attention to working class and less educated voters.

The city of Sunderland, for example, home to Britain's largest car factory and considered a bellwether of the sentiment among blue-collar voters, surprised with the strength of its support for EU departure and when the result came among the first that night it sent the pound reeling.

Rothschild, who forecast Britain would vote to remain in the bloc it joined in 1973, had a lot of company.

A person familiar with the campaign's monitoring by the U.S. intelligence agencies admitted that they were befuddled by the vote's outcome." We're all scratching our heads."

By mid-week, a rise in demand for S&P 500 put options was indicating that more and more investors were either betting on a market drop or hedging themselves against such a scenario, said David Jilek, chief investment strategist at Gateway Investment Advisers.

Yet while opinion polls went back and forth and kept indicating a close vote, betting odds consistently favoured the "remain" camp. 

And since oddsmakers fared better than pollsters in predicting the results of the last general election and the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 52-48 percent victory for the "leave" campaign to leave was such a shock.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Turnbull and Medicare

UK Votes to leave European Union

Britain has voted to leave the European Union, results from Thursday's landmark referendum showed, a stunning repudiation of the nation's elites that deals the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War Two.

The results also show how unreliable the endless polling predictions have become, not to mention the hysterical predictions of. the banking and big business corporations responses to how people might actually vote

World financial markets plunged as nearly complete results showed a 51.8/48.2 percent split for leaving. The vote instantly creates the biggest global financial shock since the 2008 economic crisis, this time with interest rates around the world already at or near zero, stripping policymakers of the means to fight it.

The pound suffered its biggest one-day fall in history, plunging more than 10 percent against the dollar to hit levels last seen in 1985.

The vote will initiate at least two years of messy divorce proceedings with the EU and cast doubt on London's future as a global financial capital. The future of Prime Minister David Cameron -- who gambled the fate of the nation on an outcome he predicted would be catastrophic -- was doubtful at best.

An aide working in Cameron's office told reporters: "We're in uncharted territory ... Everyone's just really tired. They haven't slept."

The euro slumped more than 3 percent against the dollar on concerns a and exit vote will do wider economic and political damage to the world's biggest trade bloc, stripped of its second largest economy.

CFMEU: Message to Turnbull from Real Tradies

Peace in Columbia

Colombia's government and leftist FARC rebels signed a historic ceasefire deal on Thursday that brings them tantalisingly close to ending the longest running conflict in the Americas.

The accord, capping three years of peace talks in Cuba, sparked celebrations and tears of joy among some in the Colombian capital. It sets the stage for a final deal to end a guerrilla war born in the 1960s out of frustration with deep socio-economic inequalities and that outlived all other major uprisings in Latin America.

"May this be the last day of the war," said bearded FARC commander Rodrigo Londono, better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko, his voice choked with tears after shaking hands with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at a ceremony in Havana.

Santos, 64, is half-way through his second term and has staked his legacy on peace in the face of opposition from sectors of the country who think the FARC should be crushed militarily.

“This means nothing more and nothing less than the end of the FARC as an armed group,” Santos said, adding that the final peace deal would be signed in Colombia. “The children and youth of our country have never known a single day without the violence of the conflict. Neither have the adults.”

In Colombia, even before Santos spoke, church bells pealed at noon to mark the start of the signing. Crowds in Bogota, the capital, gathered around giant TV screens set up in the streets, dancing, cheering and clapping as the ceremony unfolded.

One placard read, "we've finished the war, now let's build peace."
About 1,000 people gathered in the Plaza Bolivar, the city's main square, to celebrate despite rain. Some waved flags and balloons, others hugged and wiped away tears.

"I’m 76 and have lived this war all my life – I never thought the time would come when these characters would sign peace. I’m so happy – I can die in peace," said Graciela Pataquiva, a retired teacher, crying as she spoke.

Santos' government says a peace deal would add one percentage point annually to economic growth in Colombia, which over the past two decades has turned itself around from a failing state to an emerging market darling.

The deal went further than many had hoped, with the FARC committing to putting a final accord to the Colombian people in a plebiscite, a promise made by Santos that had been a key sticking point.

Not everybody supports the peace process, and Santos will have to work hard to convince opponents to back it in a referendum.

Under the agreement read out by mediators Norway and Cuba the rebels will lay down their arms within 180 days of a final agreement and demobilize into 23 temporary zones and eight camps. 

The ceasefire will only kick in when the final deal is agreed, although have already effectively stopped attacks for almost a year.

Led Zeppelin court victory

Led Zeppelin did not steal a riff from an obscure 1960s instrumental tune to use for the introduction of its classic rock anthem “Stairway to Heaven,” a federal court jury decided Thursday.

The verdict in Los Angeles settles a point that music fans have debated for decades but didn’t find its way to court until two years ago, when the trustee for the late Randy Craig Wolfe filed a copyright lawsuit.

The trust claimed that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page lifted a passage that Wolfe, better known as Randy California, wrote for “Taurus,” a short work he recorded with his band Spirit in 1968.

Page and singer Robert Plant showed little emotion as the verdict was read then hugged their lawyers.

Jurors found the trust had cleared a few hurdles, including that Page and Plant had “access” to “Taurus,” meaning they would have been familiar with it.

Page and Plant, who wrote the “Stairway” lyrics, said their creation was an original. In several hours of often-animated and amusing testimony, they described the craft behind one of rock’s best-known songs, all the while denying knowledge of one of the genre’s least-known tunes.

Plant cracked up the courtroom when said he didn’t remember most people he had hung out with over the years.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Qld buys cattle station to help save reef

The Queensland Government has bought a massive Cape York cattle station in a bid to stem hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sediment pollution flowing into the Great Barrier Reef every year.

Key points:

  • The cattle station cost taxpayers $7 million
  • Environment groups say the purchase is unprecedented
  • It is hoped reducing sediment will help the reef recover from bleaching

Environment groups and scientists are hailing the purchase of the 560 square kilometre Springvale Station as a huge victory for reef conservation. The fully operational cattle station south of Cooktown cost taxpayers $7 million.

"What the scientists tell us is that this one property is responsible for 40 per cent of the sediment running into the Normanby River system, and ultimately into the Great Barrier Reef," Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said.

"If in remediating this single property we can almost halve the sediment running into the Normanby, we can make an enormous difference to the Great Barrier Reef."

The World Wildlife Fund's Nick Heath said the purchase was unprecedented.

"Never before has a government bought land to protect the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef," he said.

"Springvale is the biggest source of pollution in what is otherwise a pristine catchment."

Gullies caused by generations of grazing on Springvale are channelling 500,000 tonnes of sediment into the reef every year.

Cape York Gullies

The biggest threat to the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef is from coral bleaching caused by climate change.

The natural wonder is experiencing its most severe bleaching event on record, with an estimated 22 per cent of its coral, mostly in the northern sections, having died.

"We know reducing sediment gives coral a better chance of recovering from bleaching events like this one," Dr Miles said.

Mr Heath added: "Sediment is mud... it clouds the water, preventing the reef from photosynthesising. Corals need light to survive and mud kills the light."

"That area of the reef has been extensively coral bleached this year and if it has bad water quality the corals won't come back, the corals will turn to slime."

Dutton in denial again

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has denied that the timing of his press conference on the interception of an asylum seeker boat is political.

Mr Dutton and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held separate press conferences to confirm a group of 21 asylum seekers has been returned to Vietnam earlier this month.

Twenty-one Vietnamese asylum seekers have been intercepted approaching Australia by boat, processed at sea, and returned to Vietnam.

The boat, intercepted by the navy earlier this month in the Timor Sea, is the third from Vietnam to be intercepted by Australian authorities in the past 14 months.

Asylum seekers previously forcibly returned to Vietnam have been jailed despite assurances from the Australian and Vietnamese governments that they would not be prosecuted, persecuted or punished for attempting to reach Australia.

ACTU: Domestic Violence Leave rubbished by Carnell and Cash

Response from ACTU President Ged Kearney to Kate Carnell’s comments on Domestic Violence Leave
21 June 2016

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) notes with concern the comments from the supposedly impartial small business ombudsman Kate Carnell in the Australian Financial Review this morning on domestic violence leave.

The ACTU has been at the forefront of efforts to establish domestic violence leave in all modern awards. Ms Carnell’s comments are deeply disappointing and show a lack of understanding of the issues at play.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “The argument being put forward by small business ombudsman Kate Carnell and Minister for Women and Employment Michaelia Cash that domestic violence leave will make employers less likely to hire women harks back to the arguments made against equal pay, maternity leave, and indeed to the arguments made against every incremental advancement for women in the workplace.”
  • “It is profoundly disappointing when a person in a position that requires political neutrality trots out the Turnbull Government’s lines, and even more so when those lines are designed to stop an initiative that would help people experiencing domestic violence keep their jobs.”
  • “Ms Carnell seems unaware that personal leave is in many cases inadequate for people experiencing domestic violence, as employees are not able to take personal leave to attend court appearances or to relocate for safety reasons”.

The ACTU claim in the Fair Work Commission on domestic violence leave:

The ACTU claim seeks to extend the right to domestic violence leave to all workers.
The claim is for 10 days paid domestic violence leave for workers to attend court appearances, medical and legal appointments and make safety and re-location arrangements.

NSWTF: Teachers Response to State Budget

Submitted by NSW Teachers Federation on 21 June 2016

Public school and TAFE teachers are disappointed that the state budget surplus announced today has not been used to provide the school infrastructure necessary to cope with increased student enrolments and restore the funding that has been stripped from TAFE colleges.

On the positive side, however, the NSW government is continuing to allocate its share of the recurrent funding necessary to fully implement the Gonski needs-based model.

Federation Deputy President, Gary Zadkovich, said:

“It is good news that the Baird government is continuing to do what its federal Coalition counterparts shamefully refuse to do – fully fund Gonski so all schools can be lifted to the national resource standard and all students’ needs can be met.

“Federation members welcome the extra $821 million in Gonski funding allocated in the state budget for 2017 and will continue to campaign in the federal election for the Gonski model to be fully implemented in the final two years of the NSW agreement.

“While the government has allocated nearly $1 billion extra over four years for public school infrastructure, this falls short of the submission made by the Department of Education to NSW Infrastructure in 2014, which estimated the capital and land costs of accommodating the projected 23 per cent increase in student enrolments over the next 15 years would be $8.25 billion.

“The budget allocation for school maintenance of $330 million over two years also falls short of the estimated $732 million needed to address the maintenance backlog that was reported by the Auditor-General in 2015.

“It is folly for the state government to achieve a budget surplus and not invest sufficiently in the public school infrastructure and maintenance needed to accommodate the huge growth in student numbers over the coming years.

“The government must also ditch its public sector wages policy and remove the cap on salaries increases if it is to recruit and retain the teachers required to meet the growth in public schooling. This salaries cap places public schools at a serious disadvantage in teacher recruitment when private schools are not limited in this way.

“It is a shame that the budget surplus has not been used to lift investment in our beleaguered TAFE system. Governments have systematically reduced investment in TAFE colleges over many years. TAFE courses have been cut, student fees increased and teacher positions slashed as a result of the NSW government’s discredited Smart and Skilled privatisation policy.

“Huge sums of government funding have been diverted away from our highly-regarded TAFE colleges to benefit the shareholders and directors of private, for-profit training companies, while plunging thousands of people into student loan debt that many will never be able to pay back.

“For these attacks on TAFE courses, teachers and students to occur at a time of budget surplus is appalling. Compounding the damage is the government’s refusal to date to instruct TAFE NSW management to pay teachers a just salaries increase that has been denied since their agreement expired last year.”

CPSU: End Indigenous Disadvantage – Redfern Statement


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CPSU members and members working in Indigenous policy and service delivery have overwhelmingly endorsed the Redfern Statement and its demands for Government action to end Indigenous disadvantage.

A survey of around 350 relevant members has found 86% of respondents want the CPSU to publicly support the recently launched Redfern Statement, while 82% support the creation of a dedicated federal Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

The Redfern Statement was jointly launched earlier this month by Indigenous health, education, legal and reconciliation organisations, with broad support from non-government organisations committed to empowering Indigenous Australians to end disadvantage.

The Redfern Statement’s demands include:

  • Restoring the $534 million the Turnbull-Abbott Government slashed from Indigenous programs in the 2014 budget.
  • Better engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including through funding the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
  • Establishing a Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs that is managed and run by senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public servants and brings together policy and service delivery.

CPSU National President Alistair Waters said: “Our members have spoken clearly in support of the Redfern Statement and its goal of ending the massive disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We stand by the Redfern Statement and call for action to implement it. The statement is a clear plan for reversing the damage done by the Turnbull-Abbott Government, including massive budget cuts, and engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to develop and implement new, empowering and enduring policies.”

“The Redfern statement also recognises the impact of the Turnbull Government more broadly, by calling for a resumption of indexation of the Medicare rebate, a pause that has adversely and disproportionately affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The threatened privatisation of Medicare under Malcolm Turnbull will similarly hurt Indigenous Australians even more than other parts of our community.”

“A dedicated Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs managed by senior Indigenous public service workers would bring together policy and service delivery and ensure centralised expertise. It is a key step but it would be just one step in the journey to improving the situation. The real key to change is developing policy and implementing programs with and not merely for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Survey responses included:

  • “Unless Aboriginal people have a voice of their own, development will not occur. Self-determination is an essential ingredient to Indigenous development.”
  • “A federal Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs could also be a training mechanism for young Aboriginal people to train and have a say in their future. Many of the youth see no future for them. The current system is a disgrace.”
  • “The current way in which Indigenous Affairs is operating is not working and not delivering on the intended outcomes of the Government, including getting adults to work, children to school and creating safe communities... A department dedicated solely to the delivery of programs and services to Indigenous Australians headed by Indigenous leaders is an important first step in the right direction.”

WestConnex is a disaster

4 Women arrested defending house from being demolished. WestConnex is a disaster.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Government plan for NT development ignores Aboriginal people again

Indigenous leader Peter Yu says the Federal Government's current push to develop northern Australia fails to embrace Aboriginal people, and that Traditional Owners are incorrectly being viewed more as a hurdle than an asset.

Speaking at this week's Developing Northern Australia conference in Darwin, Mr Yu said the Government was focussing on traditional industries such as mining and irrigated agriculture, but was "practically silent" on economic activities where Indigenous people were leading — such as land management, carbon sequestration, conservation and eco-tourism. 

He said the Government's White Paper on developing the north was fundamentally flawed.

"Well it's predictable from an Aboriginal perspective and what it really represents is a kind of 19th century think-tank," he said.

"I think having a White Paper is a good thing to do, but I don't think it's expansive or inclusive enough in terms of understanding the north in its contemporary setting, particularly in regards to the demographic of the traditional owner community right across northern Australia."

"It doesn't offer anything new in terms of a reconstruction of that paradigm to the extent that we [Indigenous people] are going to be front and centre of this discussion [about developing northern Australia]."

Mr Yu said doing business "the old way" was no longer going to work in the north.

"Currently there is no structural or formal engagement between Indigenous people and Governments over the future development of northern Australia," he said.

"This is a huge omission and must be addressed if we are to imagine an inclusive northern Australian development future."

Indigenous engagement strategy required for NAIF funding

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) officially opens on July 1, but has already attracted more than $30 billion worth of potential projects.

The NAIF's role is to administer the Federal Government's $5 billion loan scheme to stimulate northern development, and according to its new chair-designate, Sharon Warburton, to be eligible for a loan, proponents must have an Indigenous engagement strategy.

"I'm delighted that one of the mandatory criteria for access to NAIF concessional funding is to demonstrate Indigenous engagement," she told ABC Rural.

"And we'll be looking for very well thought through diverse and broad strategies from project proponents on how they're going to achieve that Indigenous engagement."

Mr Yu said he was interested to see what the NAIF's methodology of Indigenous engagement actually meant.

He said there was no Indigenous representation on the NAIF board, which needed "to be rectified".

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Okinawa - Huge Protests against US Military Bases

Thousands of people gathered on the Japanese island of Okinawa on Sunday in one of the biggest demonstrations in two decades against U.S. military bases following the arrest of an American suspected of murdering a local woman.

The protest marks a new low for the United States and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in their relations with the island and threatens plans to have the U.S. Marines Futenma air station moved to a less populous part of the island.

The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to close the Futenma site, located in a residential urban area, after the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl by three U.S. military personnel spurred mass demonstrations against the American presence.

That plan has been on hold since residents living near the proposed relocation site protested against the move, worried about noise, pollution and crime.

Okinawa assembly members opposed to the move won a majority in the prefectural assembly election this month, providing renewed support for Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga's plan to have the base move elsewhere.

Okinawa hosts 50,000 U.S. nationals, including 30,000 military personnel and civilians employed at U.S. bases.

The site of some of the bloodiest fighting between U.S. and Japanese forces in World War Two, Okinawa remained under American occupation until 1972 and around a fifth of its land is still under U.S. military control.

Yet, with the United States and Japan looking to contain China's growing might in the East China Sea, the Okinawan island chain, which stretches close to Taiwan, is becoming strategically more valuable to military planners.

Japan's Self Defence Force, which is pivoting away from defending its northern borders from a diminished Russian threat, is fortifying the region with radar bases and anti-ship missile batteries.

Last month's arrest of the 32-year-old U.S. civilian working at a U.S. base prompted the U.S. military to announce a 30-day period of mourning for the victim and restrict off-base drinking on the island in a bid to assuage local anger.

But relations were further frayed by the subsequent arrest of a U.S. sailor on Okinawa on suspicion of drunk driving following a car crash.

Vale Brian Dunnett

Brian Dunnett passed away today, Saturday 18 June 2016, aged 81 in Sutherland Hospital, after a long illness.

Brain Dunnett on Mandolin – BushMusic Club Rehearsal at National Folk Festival
Towards his last days he was surrounded by his family and many comrades and friends. He enjoyed their company and took pleasure in remembering old times. He displayed great dignity and courage, he knew he was not coming home and when his situation become terminal he did not want any medical intervention.

Brian was the son of a railway worker. A political and trade union activist for well over 50 years, from his early working life at the Chullora Railway Workshops, where he was a shop steward for the Electrical Trades Union, and later at the Eveleigh Workshops. He was a leading member of the Eureka Youth League in the 1950s-60s and for more than 30 years, a member of the Communist Party of Australia. He participated in the SEARCH Foundation from its formation.

Brian was always a fighter for social justice and human rights. He was opposed to corruption of any kind. He was involved in many demonstrations, particularly against the Vietnam War, and conscription. He had a strong interest in international solidarity and was particularly concerned with the mass killings of members of the PKI in Indonesia under the Sukarno Regime in 1965 and 1966.

Whilst still working on the railways, one of his proudest achievements was gaining a Post Graduate Diploma from Ku-ring-gai College, later Macquarie University. This was evidence of his perseverance, thoughtfulness and ability.

He was a keen supporter of maintaining the Eveleigh railway workshops at Redfern as a historical area.

He had a long involvement in the folk music scene and participated in many Folk Music Festivals in Canberra and elsewhere. Particularly since his retirement, a major focus was on collecting railway folk songs and promoting railway workers’ stories and music, as an important component of Australian working class history.

Brian leaves his long-time partner, Maureen Champion, his two children, Mark and Angela, and two grandchildren, Felicity and Alysha – along with a wide circle of friends associated with the railways, folk music, and left political activism, as well as in Kurnell where he and Maureen spent many happy years.

As Pam and Tony have commented, ‘we have lost a comrade and friend of over 50 year’s duration – we will miss him’.

We extend our condolences to his devoted family and to his many friends and comrades.

Pam and Tony Hawkins
Beverly Symons

Friday, June 17, 2016

Nothing positive about Negative Gearing

The Federal Government's argument that negative gearing mainly benefits average Australians has been undermined by documents obtained from its own Treasury.

Key points:

  • FOI report shows more than half of negative gearing tax benefits go to top 20 per cent of incomes
  • Bottom 20 per cent of earners getting 5 per cent of benefits
  • Modelling predicts negative gearing and CGT policies could add $6b to the budget bottom line

Negative gearing allows investors — notably property investors — to deduct losses against other sources of income, such as wages.

Federal Labor earlier this year vowed to go after the tax deduction if elected, by restricting it to new properties from mid-2017.

An ABC Freedom of Information (FOI) investigation has revealed most of the advantages of the property tax break go to high-income earners.

The modelling — prepared by a third party after Labor's February announcement — said more than half of the negative gearing tax benefits go to the top 20 per cent of incomes in Australia.

"Negative gearing benefits high-income families," the document said.

The report stated those in the bottom 20 per cent were getting just over 5 per cent of negative gearing tax benefits.

Discount 'overwhelmingly' benefits high-income families

Vale Jo Cox

 Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has labelled the killing of a British MP as a hate crime.

Labour MP Jo Cox died after being shot in her constituency in northern England in an attack that has caused campaigning for next week's EU referendum to be suspended.

Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen

Our hearts go out to Jo's family, including husband Brendan and their two children, at this awful time. Jo Cox was a brave and passionate MP, who championed refugee & women's rights, campaigned against modern slavery, and was a former head of policy at Oxfam.

More recently, Jo had been a strong campaigner to keep Britain in the European Union.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Labor will renew Trove funding

Labor has promised $12 million in funding over four years to the National Library of Australia for it to resume adding new content to its online database Trove.

Trove allows people to access collections of books, photographs, newspapers, maps, and historical documents online.

The database was launched in 2009 and since has digitised millions of records from the library's own collection as well as items from state and local collections.

The Coalition Government has made cuts to a number of national cultural institutions in Canberra, including the National Library.

Recent budget estimates papers state the National Library will shed 28 staff as the result of a $20 million funding cut.

The Library previously said would not be able to keep adding to the database without dedicated funding. 

Shadow Arts Minister Mark Dreyfus said it was essential Trove continued to be funded.

  • "It's an absolutely invaluable resource for historians, school teachers, for academics," he said.
  • "It's unique in the world, it's a national treasure and it has to go on being added to.
  • "It needs to keep adding to the items that are available to make it as complete and as full a resource as possible."

Trove has more than 20 million unique users every year including museums, libraries, galleries, historical societies and research bodies.

Mr Dreyfus said Trove was a resource worth continuing.

"We're going to have to examine carefully how the damage that's been done by those cuts can be repaired, but this one can't wait," he said.

ACTU – PaTH scheme should be abandoned after public support evaporates

Public support for the Turnbull Government’s controversial PATH scheme has plummeted from 69% who supported it a month ago to only 42% who now believe it will create jobs, according to Essential polling conducted in the last week.

The scheme, which makes unemployed people available to companies as free labour while the government pays them $4 per hour, was initially welcomed by voters desperate for any sign that the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s attacks on skills training and the unemployed might be coming to an end.

But the more people learn about the grim reality of life on Mr Turnbull’s PaTH to nowhere, the more they realise it’s more of the same from a government that has cut a billion dollars from TAFE and $247 million from skills training.

The Turnbull Government should scrap PaTH immediately.  The ACTU notes that the ALP has announced genuine programs for both pre-apprenticeship training and minimum apprentice numbers on major government projects that will give young people genuine qualifications and a great start to their working lives.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “Youth unemployment is reaching critical levels across Australia and the next government needs to give kids a hand up, not hand them over to companies to be exploited as free labour, without the protection of Fair Work Australia, federal OHS standards or worker’s compensation.”
  • “Completing the PaTH scheme gives a young person nothing that will help them find a real job. For the same money that is being spent on PaTH, the same number of young people – 120,000 - could complete a Certificate IV; a real qualification that leads to a real job.”
  • “The Turnbull Government should abandon this scheme, which has never made sense and now, less than a month since it was announced, has lost the support of the Australian public.”

Key facts:

Newstart allowance for a single person with no children is currently $527.60 per fortnight.

If the recipient works a PaTH internship for 25 hours a week, they only receive an extra $200 per fortnight ($4 an hour worked), meaning they receive $363.80 per week in total.

The minimum wage is currently $17.70 per hour, saving business a total of $442.50 for 25 hours work per week per employee.

PaTH participants would receive $78.70 per week below the minimum wage as well as missing out on other important conditions like sick leave, superannuation and penalty rates.

Youth unemployment has reached 33% in outback Queensland, 24% in Cairns, 21% in South East Tasmania and 18% in the Hunter Valley, according to April’s jobs figures.

ABS figures released in March put current job vacancies nationally at around 172,900 while also reporting that 737,300 people are looking for work.

ACOSS – Coalition must retreat from Budget measures that hurt people in poverty

ACOSS has called on the Coalition to retreat from pursing the so-called ‘Zombie’ and other Federal budget policy measures that would reduce incomes to adults and children at risk of or already living in poverty.

“Casting a shadow over this year’s federal election campaign are $18 billion dollars of ‘zombie’ Budget measures, including payment cuts from the controversial 2014 Federal Budget that hit people on low incomes in Australia” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“Also hanging over the heads of low-income households are $1.4 billion in proposed cuts to Energy Supplement payments to people claiming pensions, allowances and family payments announced in the 2016 Budget.

Combined, if implemented by a new Coalition government, these cuts will mean that:

  • a sole parent with two teenage children and no private income (who applies for social security after these measures take effect) would be $96pw worse off.
  • an unemployed 22 year old living independently of their parents would forego $1,053 in income support while waiting an extra month for benefits, and then receive $51pw less.

All new recipients of social security, including people who are unemployed, carers, single parents, people with disabilities and age pensioners would be worse off by at least $4pw for singles and $8pw for couples, plus at least $2pw per child due to withdrawal of the Energy Supplement. This would remove the last remaining real increase in Newstart for the last two decades.

“The 2014 Budget proposals were soundly rejected by the community, policy experts and repeatedly by the Senate yet, in a breach of budget transparency, the measures remain on the books. Income support for people at risk of poverty are the last place that government should look for Budget savings,” said Dr Goldie.

We know that people on low incomes are already seriously struggling to make ends meet. The evidence is clear and compelling.

ACOSS research shows that there are 2.5 million people living in poverty, including 600,000 children.

  • A recent survey by the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children found that up to 65% of single parents are going without food in order to ensure their children have enough.
  • A recent Salvation Army survey found that nearly 70% of their clients experienced extreme housing stress and one in five families surveyed could not afford medical treatment for their children.
  • Anglicare has again confirmed that for people on low incomes there is virtually no rental accommodation in larger cities that is affordable. Of the more than 75 000 rental properties surveyed across Australia only 21 were affordable for single adults living on Newstart, only one was suitable for young people living on Youth Allowance.
  • St Vincent De Paul just last week reported extensive rates of electricity disconnections for households on low incomes due to high housing, food and transport costs. They found in one Melbourne suburb (Werribee) more than 500 households were disconnected twice in 3 years.

“With both Labor and the Greens ruling out these measures, we call on the Coalition to do the same.

“We welcome Labor’s announcement last week that they continue to oppose proposed social security payment cuts to households on the lowest incomes and their commitment to review the adequacy of the Newstart Allowance.”

“We also welcome the Australian Greens’ support for their commitment to increase the Newstart payment and to establish a payments commission,” said Dr Goldie.

CFMEU: Bizarre Behaviour Of Fair Work Building Commission


The CFMEU has labelled the latest instalment of the Fair Work Building Commission’s (FWBC) crusade against workers as bizarre, in the wake of a warning to workers on the Ichthys project in the Northern Territory that they could be sacked if they wore union stickers on their hard hats.

CFMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan said that there was no law preventing workers from wearing union stickers.

“To have your livelihood threatened because you choose to wear a sticker on your hardhat is another appalling example of the behavior of the FWBC. 

“The company, Laing O’Rourke, claim that they have made these threats at the instigation of the FWBC, but when challenged to produce the audit requiring the removal of stickers, they have refused.

“The FWBC has refused to tell the workers or the union whether they have threatened to blacklist the company from Federal Government projects if the stickers are not removed, or the workers sacked.”

“The union hopes that the FWBC is not trying to engineer a dispute as part of the Coalition’s election campaign. It should be remembered that the Government’s wish to expand this agency’s powers by reconstituting it as the ABCC was the trigger for this election,” he said.

“A threat by the FWBC to withdraw Laing O’Rourke’s ability to tender for federally funded projects would be very serious, particularly for a company which is currently up for sale. Loss of potential Government work would undoubtedly impact on the company’s value to potential purchasers.”

The written warning by Laing O’Rourke project director, Ian Baker was issued to a worker after failing to comply with a direction to remove union paraphernalia from his personal protective equipment.

The warning followed an audit of the project by the FWBC to assess compliance with the building code, where breaches were allegedly found due to the wearing of stickers.

"This is nothing other than an attack on workers’ freedom of association and freedom of speech," said Mr Noonan.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Apprenticeship Programs a Boon for Job seekers

Apprenticeship programs a boon for young and mature job seekers
14 June 2016

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten today announced details of 10,000 new Apprentice Ready places that will give young job seekers who have been unemployed for six months or more access to a 20-week, industry endorsed pre-apprenticeship course for trades on the National Skills Needs List.

A pilot National Skills Recognition Entitlement program to help 5,000 mature and retrenched workers return to the workforce, matching the workers’ skills to a relevant traineeship, apprenticeship or emerging occupation, was also announced.

These two new programs follow Labor’s earlier election commitment to ensuring one in 10 jobs on major Commonwealth-funded infrastructure projects go to apprentices, creating a further 2,600 jobs.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) views the creation of jobs and training as a core issue of the 2016 election and fully supports these two new programs.”
  • “Australia’s youth unemployment figures remain stubbornly high in the double digits across the country, with 12.3% of 18 to 24 year olds unemployed according to the latest jobless statistics.”
  • “The Apprentice Ready program will see young people trained to be the mechanics, engineers, hairdressers, carpenters and bakers our country needs.
  • “It will give young people who are in dire need of work the qualifications they need, as well as providing an incentive for businesses to take them on as legitimate employees.”
  • “Beyond his $4 an hour ‘interns’ program, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been silent on how a Coalition Government would create new jobs for young people within Australia.”
  • “Mature-aged and retrenched workers also need support and training — opportunities for this important segment of the workforce has also been neglected by the Liberals.”
  • “It’s time to end the constant drivel about corporate tax cuts being the knight in shining armour for Australian job seekers.”

“The ACTU and industry groups like the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group agree that apprenticeships underpin the Australian workforce.”

“The strength of these programs is another definitive reason to put the Liberals last this election.”

Note: ACTU President Ged Kearney will hold a media conference on the steps of the West Australian Parliament House at 11.45am (WST) today.

Turnbull government worst since 1949

New research by the Australia Institute reveals that across a broad range of economic measures, the Abbott/Turnbull government has performed the worst of any Australian government since Menzies took power in 1949. The institute’s paper also notes that historically there is little correlation between “business friendly” policies and economic performance. 
Inevitably election campaigns become focussed on economic management. On this score historically, the Liberal Party is usually assumed to be the better economic manager. For example, a poll earlier this month bythe Essential Report had voters preferring the LNP over the ALP on the issue of who they trusted on “management of the economy” by 39% to 27%.
Such a belief is behind the Liberal Party’s main desire to fight the election campaign on their economic plan, the central feature of which is the company tax cut.
With this has come much commentary that the ALP is waging a war on business, and that being anti-business (or at least anti the company tax cut) means being against strong economic performance.
But a report by the Australia Institute to be released today titled “Jobs and Growth ... And a Few Hard Numbers” shows that there is little correlation between economic performance and either political party. The report, which examines the economic performance of Australia under every prime minister since Menzies, also found that the “business friendliness” of a government does not appear to have much impact either. 
The report examines economic performance across a range of 12 indicators – including GDP per capita, the unemployment rate, employment growth and the growth of real business investment and intellectual property investment. 
The findings by economist Jim Stanford showed that on all but two measures, the performance under the Abbott/Turnbull government has been worse than that under the Gillard government

Monday, June 13, 2016

Vivid Ideas – Worker Co-ops May be the Solution

Workers are being urged to form co-operatives they collectively own to protect their entitlements and to out-do Uber and Airtasker at their own game.

US lawyer Janelle Orsi, who was in Sydney at Vivid Ideas last week, said the business model used by Uber, Airtasker and Airbnb could be cloned and used in a way that could protect a growing number of workers from exploitation.

She said a few giant companies had created a good business model but they had little incentive to do the right thing by workers. But workers could eventually create their own online apps instead of using the ones owned by billionaires.

Ms Orsi, from the Sustainable Economies Law Centre in California, said there were winners and losers in the gig economy. While many benefit from the independence of contract work, others flounder and struggle to make enough money to survive. She said some workers had been sacked with no understanding of why they had lost their jobs.

"There is quite a spread of people who are either really happy with the platform and the work they are doing or not very happy at all. Which also makes it hard to unify the workers around a similar cause and collectively bargain," she said.

"I am not critical of the concept itself, but I'm very concerned that it plays out in a way that does not benefit workers and I think the ownership model has a lot to do with it.
"We need to change the ownership of the aps so workers can own them instead of big companies."

Hard won benefits including sick leave and paid holidays could be protected if workers formed their own Uber-style online platforms.

"The model of having shareholders own the company for the purpose of earning a profit for themselves means they have set up a direct conflict between the shareholders and the workers," she said. "The less the workers get the more the shareholders get."

Ms Orsi said some US online companies were taking 20 to 30 per cent of a worker's takings.

"When you take the shareholders out of the picture entirely and there is no obligation to earn that sort of profit, it allows the company to shift the focus of its concern to the workers, especially if it is the workers controlling it," she said.

Workers who have lost entitlements in the gig economy could renegotiate them as part of a collective with an ownership stake in the platform.

"I think many or most workers are happier being in a more stable work environment and working with other people. But I do think there is a place for independent workers and the consumer demand that is creating jobs in that sector," she said.

But the traditional employment model had also resulted in poor outcomes and the exploitation of low-wage earners in the US.

"What we need is change," Ms Orsi said. 

By the year 2020, she said it was expected that about 40 per cent of the US workforce would be made up of contractors.

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