Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ACTU – Queensland Government is taking action to regulate labour hire practices

The following quotes are attributable ACTU Secretary Sally McManus: 

“This is a win for the hundreds of union members who spoke up at the Queensland Government labour hire licensing inquiry. Their efforts have made a real difference for working people.”

“The Federal Government must immediately introduce a national licensing scheme to protect all insecure labour hire workers.”

“The Queensland Government is taking action to regulate labour hire practices — the Federal Government needs to stop sitting on its hands and do the same.

“Dodgy labour hire companies routinely rip off workers and keep them in a state of fear for their job so that they cannot speak up about safety issues or their rights at work.

“About 40 per cent of workers are now in casual or contract employment. Cowboy labour operators are rife, and workers and their families miss out. We need new laws that protect these workers and afford them the same bargaining power that permanent employees have.”

“Workers covered by an enterprise agreement should not be able to be sacked and replaced with labour hire workers at much lower rates of pay and worse conditions under labour hire arrangements.”

“People deserve good, steady jobs that provide them and their family with security and the ability to plan for their future, get finance for their first home and provide for their family.”

ACOSS – Government tries to slash incomes of poorest - again

The Australian Council of Social Service urges the Parliament to again stand up against the latest attempt by the Turnbull Government to cut the incomes of people who have the very least in the country.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said, "The proposal to cut the Energy Supplement will directly hit people already living in poverty by slashing between $4 to $7 per week from people trying to survive on social security payments, including the $38-per-day Newstart Allowance.

  • "Pensioners, carers, people with disability, people who are unemployed, and single parents all stand to have their social security base income cut if the bill to slash the Energy Supplement is passed.
  • "Poverty and inequality would worsen and our unemployment payment, which is more than $100 per week below the poverty line, would be cut by $4.40 per week. Pensions would be cut by $7 per week.
  • "Cutting payments to people who are locked out of paid work will not help them find a job. Instead, it will make it tougher as they will struggle even more to put a roof over their head and put food on the table. For many people, $7 pays for a family meal, an outfit for kids or travel to look for work. 
  • "Despite being an essential service, in less than a decade electricity prices have skyrocketed by more than 80%, disconnections have increased by 47%, the number of households on hardship measures has risen, and more households are rationing energy to the detriment of their health and well-being.
  • "Low-income households also continue to suffer housing stress with 800,000 low-income households paying more than 30% of their income in rent and more than 100,000 people are homeless.
  • "We commend the Nick Xenophon Team, Labor, the Greens, Senator Lambie and Senator Hinch, for previously rejecting this and other cruel measures. We urge them to stay firm.
  • "The community sector is united in its opposition to it. The government should focus on improving the adequacy of our unemployment payments rather than throwing their recipients into further destitution.
  • "Newstart is unbearably low. Business, unions and the community sector all agree that the level of the unemployment needs to be increased. It is extraordinary that the Turnbull Government persists in trying find budget savings by cutting income support to this group even further.
  • "This Bill has been repeatedly rejected by Parliament. It is a 'zombie' that needs to be buried with the rest. It is cruel to keep this threat over the lives of people affected.
  • "We call on the Parliament to protect the incomes of up to two million people receiving income support and again reject this bill," Dr Goldie said.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Convict Escape Ship – Cyprus Brig in Japan – 1830

A watercolour of a British-flagged ship that arrived off the coast of Mugi, in Shikoku, Japan in 1830, chronicled by low-ranking Samurai artist Makita Hamaguchi in documents from the Tokushima prefectural archive.

Photograph: Courtesy of Tokushima prefectural archive

A watercolour by samurai Makita Hamaguchi showing one of the sailors with a dog from the ship that ‘did not look like food. It looked like a pet.’

Photograph: Tokushima prefectural archive

An amateur historian has unearthed compelling evidence that the first Australian maritime foray into Japanese waters was by convict pirates on an audacious escape from Tasmania almost two centuries ago.

Fresh translations of samurai accounts of a “barbarian” ship in 1830 give startling corroboration to a story modern scholars had long dismissed as convict fantasy: that a ragtag crew of criminals encountered a forbidden Japan at the height of its feudal isolation.

The brig Cyprus was hijacked by convicts bound from Hobart to Macquarie Harbour in 1829, in a mutiny that took them all the way to China.

Its maverick skipper was William Swallow, a onetime British cargo ship apprentice and naval conscript in the Napoleonic wars, who in a piracy trial in London the following year told of a samurai cannonball in Japan knocking a telescope from his hand.

Swallow’s fellow mutineers, two of whom were the last men hanged for piracy in Britain, backed his account of having been to Japan.

Western researchers, citing the lack of any Japanese record of the Cyprus, had since ruled the convicts’ story a fabrication.

But that conclusion has been shattered by Nick Russell, a Japan-based English teacher and history buff, in a remarkable piece of sleuthing that has won the endorsement of Australian diplomatic officials and Japanese and Australian archival experts.

Russell, after almost three years of puzzling over an obscure but meticulous record of an early samurai encounter with western interlopers, finally joined the dots with the Cyprus through a speculative Google search last month.

Nick Russell

“If you’d said I was going to go hunt and find a new pirate ship, I’d have gone, ‘you’re crazy’,” Russell told Guardian Australia. “I just stumbled on it. Boom. There it was on the screen in front of me.

“I immediately knew and as soon as I started checking, everything just fitted so perfectly.”

The ship anchored on 16 January 1830 off the town of Mugi, on Shikoku island, where Makita Hamaguchi, a samurai sent disguised as a fisherman to check the ship for weapons, noted an “unbearable stench in the vicinity of the ship”.

It was Hamaguchi’s watercolour sketch of an unnamed ship with a British flag that first intrigued Russell when he saw it on the website of the Tokushima prefectural archive in 2014.

With the help of a local volunteer manuscript reading group, Russell has since worked at translating written accounts of the ship’s arrival by Hamaguchi and another samurai, Hirota, now held by the Tokushima prefectural archive. Hamaguchi’s is called Illustrated Account of the Arrival of a Foreign Ship, while Hirota’s is A Foreign Ship Arrives Off Mugi Cove.

Russell first thought it may be a whaling ship, but the manuscript readers were skeptical. Having learned mutinies were common among whalers, Russell last month Googled the words “mutiny 1829”.

This stumbling upon a link between a samurai record and the story of the Cyprus was the research equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack, according to Warwick Hirst, the former curator of manuscripts at the State Library of New South Wales.

“It was a fantastic find,” Hirst, author of The Man Who Stole the Cyprus, told Guardian Australia. “I have no doubt that the Japanese account describes the visit of the Cyprus.”

Read More in the Guardian

Monday, May 29, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

NSWTF – A cuppa and a chat with your MP to mark Public Education Day

25 May 2017

Federation members and staff celebrated Public Education Day today with a morning tea during which they lobbied state and federal representatives to keep faith with the original full Gonski schools funding plan.

General Secretary John Dixon emailed all members to carry out similar action at their workplaces during the recess or lunch break sending out a list of parliamentary contact details to help the cause, reminding teachers that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull planned to cut $846 million from NSW public schools in 2018 and 2019.

Within Federation House, Mr Dixon told members and staff: “I invite you to join me in solidarity with our members in schools to both have morning tea and – with your smart phone in hand – email local MPs. Other devices along with email addresses and suggested wording will be available. We will be joined by members attending the Trade Union Training course.”

At the tea, President Maurie Mulheron’s message to mark Public Education Day was read out:

  • “Almost 137 years ago the Public Instruction Act of 1880 instituted free, secular and compulsory education to enable children, regardless of religion, race, creed or class, to sit, in the words of Henry Parkes, 'side by side' in their local public school.
  • “Public Education Day provides an opportunity each year to reflect on the nation-building that starts with children sitting side by side in a public school.
  • “Public education is profoundly democratic for it does more than educate an individual; it brings together children and young people from a range of diverse backgrounds and creates community. In doing so, public education strengthens the social, economic and cultural fabric of our nation.
  • “On this day we also recognise that funding to public schools is under attack from those that would seek to increase the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged. Our national TAFE system is being threatened by an ideologically driven market-based model.
  • “So, on Public Education Day 2017, teachers, parents and community members will continue to fight side by side against the forces of privilege and privatisation.
  • “This has been our tradition. This will be our pledge.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ACTU – Another generation locked into Income inequality under Turnbull

23 May 2017

Turnbull Government policies continue to worsen inequality for women with analysis of this year’s budget showing younger women are some of the biggest losers.

A study of budget initiatives by the National Foundation for Australian Women reveals many of the measures will ensure women continue to experience less financial security than men and younger women are on course for a lifetime of wage inequality.

There has been no effort to improve gender inequality by the Turnbull Government and budgetary decisions effectively mean there is a disproportionately negative effect on women who are already over represented at the lower income levels.

For example a female graduate with a HECS debt, who also has children would experience a significant drop in take home pay also decreasing her superannuation savings over her lifetime.

Tax cuts for high wage earners will result in decreases in government support which disproportionally affects women.

Women already:

  • Earn 9.4 % less than men at graduation
  • Have a third less in retirement savings than their male counterparts
  • Do 76% of the work in the $345billion unpaid work economy
  • Earn $26,853 less than men on average

Since the Liberals came into power in 2013, Australia has slipped from 19th to 46th place in the Global Gender Gap Report.

The ACTU calls on the Government to specifically outline how they will tackle growing gender inequality and ensure future budget papers are transparent with regards to the important issue of effective marginal tax rates(EMTRs) for different groups of women.

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

  • ‘Women have been let down by the Coalition Government, including in its latest budget; not only will gender inequality not improve, it will most likely continue to worsen under their watch.’
  • ‘Another generation of women will have less money, less opportunity and less financial security because they’re earning lower wages than their male counterparts from graduation, to childbearing years and right through to retirement. ‘
  • ‘Tackling gender inequality is a huge challenge, we know this, however the job of government is to try and make lives easier, not harder.’
  • ‘Anti-women budget measures along with the ongoing attacks on penalty rates only serve to highlight the Turnbull Government’s inability to understand the lives of working people.’

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UK Election – Labour's Manifesto Appeal

Even some of Jeremy Corbyn's harshest critics felt obliged to admit that the Labour manifesto contains good policies that appeal to a broad cross-section of society

When you think about where they were a month ago it’s hard not to be somewhat impressed. This election was supposed to be May’s for the taking. Having insisted there would be no early election, she then changed her mind to boost her majority at a time when Labour seemed at its weakest. 

Since then, her poll lead has halved. In vote share terms, Labour is currently polling only a percentage point lower than its result in the 2005 election – which was enough to secure a significant majority.

The reason the Tories are still so far ahead is because, post-EU referendum, they’ve swallowed up most of the Ukip vote by adopting the nationalist agenda.

The release of the parties’ respective manifestos was a pivotal moment. Even some of Corbyn’s harshest critics felt obliged to admit that, actually, the Labour one contains a lot of good stuff.

Promises including free childcare for all two-to four-year-olds, a properly funded NHS, free hospital car parking, one million new homes, a cap on rent hikes, an increase in the carers’ allowance, an end to the 1 per cent public sector pay rise cap, an increase in carers’ allowance, the reintroduction of the education maintenance allowance and free higher education made sure there was plenty to appeal to a broad cross-section of society.

Monday, May 22, 2017

RTBU: Complain to NSW Minister Constance

MAY 19, 2017 News

Transport Minister Andrew Constance has just announced that all public bus services across Inner Western and Southern Sydney will be privatised in July 2018.

Mr Constance’s plan, which would come into effect in July next year includes:

  • Privatising 233 bus routes across Sydney, almost a third of the system
  • Slashing the jobs of 1200 bus drivers and public transport workers
  • This will cause disruptions across Sydney and likely lead to bus stop closures, higher fares, changing of routes and a reduction in services.

And we know this is just the first step. All NSW Public Transport is under threat from this new privatisation agenda.

Mr Constance thinks the privatising our buses will stop the complaints. We need to show him he is wrong.

Send a complaint to Constance to let him know we must keep our public transport in public hands.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

ACTU: Unions won’t bow to Clubs Australia threats

21 May 2017

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) stands firmly behind United Voice (Queensland Branch) and its protests aimed to protect penalty rates for workers in Queensland’s licensed Clubs Australia venues.

Despite Clubs Australia’s demanding a back down, unions and workers will continue to speak up against wage cuts with protests across the country.

Unions call on these community-based Clubs to put the interests of their local community, and therefore their workers, first by committing to supporting penalty rates.

Australians are strongly behind this campaign with 81% saying employees required to work outside normal hours should receive a higher hourly rate of pay and 63% saying those working Sunday should get higher rates of pay than those on a Saturday, according to a recent Essential Poll.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Employers who have staff who rely on penalty rates needs to decide whether or not they will support their workers or cut their pay.”
  • “The whole union movement is behind this campaign and any employer considering cutting penalty rates should keep this in mind.”
  • “Clubs Australia shouldn’t be surprised that after pushing for penalty rate cuts they’ve received a backlash by employees and unions.”
  • “Workers have the right to be angry and have been peacefully protesting. We won’t stop speaking out against these unfair wage cuts just because Club Australia don’t want to hear it.”
  • “Wage growth is at an all-time low and any cut to penalty rates will simply exacerbate cost of living pressures, particularly for low wage earners who will bear the brunt.”
  • “I would recommend Clubs Australia consider the fact that less money in worker’s pay packets is less money spent in their clubs.”

Saturday, May 20, 2017

ACTU: Save Dave Campaign

20 May 2017

Australia’s industrial laws are broken and it’s individuals like NSW miner Dave McLachlan who are suffering.

Dave, a miner in Southern NSW was fired in April by South32 for standing up for his workmates against an employer who had failed to implement the terms of an EBA for nearly 18 months.

Dave and his workmates had been protesting against South32’s refusal to provide a laundry service for their coal-ridden work uniforms for 18 months, despite a legal agreement to do so.

Dave led a 10 minute protest with his colleagues in his undies to further highlight the issue. He was then sacked.

South32’s action demonstrate better than any slogan that Australia’s laws are broken. South32 can simply thumb its nose at a legally binding agreement for 18 months but when a union delegate tries to make a point in a humorous but effective manner he is sacked.

Dave’s’ guts and determination to stand up for mates should make us all proud.

South32’s actions should make us all ashamed that we have let our laws become so unbalanced.

The right to protest is fundamental not only to the union movement but to a free and open society, and it is to the great shame of South32 that they have acted in such a heavy-handed way against a man with an impeccable work record protesting against their own misconduct.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), and the entire union movement, is behind Dave and we will use every means at our disposal to expose the industrial thuggery by South32.

As the secretary of the ACTU I am proud to stand with workers like Dave and this weekend I’ll be getting that message out to the people of Wollongong through a series of TV ads running during the nightly news.

Friday, May 19, 2017

ACTU: Government bows to business on 457 visas

19 May 2017

The Turnbull Government is already back-flipping on its minuscule changes to the rort-plagued 457 visa program after lobbying from big business. 

These changes would allow occupations, which the Government is aware have been rorted in the past, back onto the program.

Occupations such as Marketing Specialist and Retail Buyer will be allowed back into the program, despite evidence that these titles were being used to hire low-skilled clerical staff and retail assistants — jobs which should be filled by local workers.

In addition, reports indicate that Ships Engineer will be reintroduced to the program, compounding the problems faced by local seafarers who are forced to compete with international crews being paid cents on the dollar.

These changes will not only ensure that there are fewer jobs available for Australians, more of whom than ever need more work than they can find, but will also expose vulnerable international labourers to exploitation by employers keen to cut corners and costs wherever they can.

Quotes attributable to Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “The changes to the 457 program proposed by the Government just last month did not go far enough and it is shameful that only a few weeks later they are backing away from them.”
  • “This is just another example of how the power has shifted too far in favour of big businesses, which can pick and choose the rules they want to follow, with full support of the Turnbull Government.”
  • “This is a government which is putting the interests of business ahead of working people again and again. Australians who are struggling to find more work need to know that this government is actively working against them.”
  • “The Turnbull Government claims its visa changes are about ensuring Australians have the opportunity to work, but here they are under-cutting the Australian labour market by allowing employers to use foreign workers for jobs which locals are qualified for and ready to fill.”

Monday, May 15, 2017

TWU – Over 22% of Truck Drivers Experience Mental Health Issues

Release date: 15/05/2017

The Transport Workers’ Union has begun a plan to tackle mental health issues across the transport industry after a new survey showed over one in five truck drivers have said they experienced mental health problems.

The plan will involve a partnership with Beyond Blue and training across the union to ensure organisers and delegates are equipped to deal with mental health issues among workers. 

The initiative will also move towards engagement of employers and clients on developing workplace policies on mental health.

The plan is one of a number focuses on the crisis in transport, along with low pay, poor conditions, and high injury and fatalities rates, which will be discussed by the Transport Workers’ Union at the union’s National Council in Fremantle this week.

“There are many reasons why transport workers are more vulnerable than other professions to mental health problems: long hours away from family and the stresses that puts on relationships; low pay and poor working conditions; and in the case of truck drivers, high injury and fatality rates. This initiative will seek to provide support to those living with mental health problems but also to make recommendations on what needs to be done to tackle them,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.

The TWU is concerned a Federal Government bill to make union-employer training funds illegal will see vital mental health programmes in transport shut down.

“It is appalling to see the Federal Government moving to shut down mental health programmes linked with training funds as part of its ideological opposition to a co-operative approach between companies and employees,” he added.

A survey* of over 4,000 truck drivers shows 918 stating they experienced mental health issues. A previous survey** shows truck drivers have a 7% higher chance of developing depression than other Australians.

Suicide rates are also high among truck drivers. A study by Deakin University showed 323 truck drivers committed suicide between 2001 and 2010. An analysis by the Victorian coroner’s court shows truck drivers had the highest number of suicides out of any other profession, with 53 drivers taking their own lives between 2008 to 2014. 

“There are particular pressures on truck drivers which makes the job Australia’s deadliest and is the reason why one in three workers killed last year was a transport worker. Often the cause of this pressure is the role played by wealth retailers and manufacturers which continually lower their transport costs, financially squeezing for transport companies and drivers and forcing a race to the bottom in the industry. Because of this drivers are forced to speed, drive long hours and skip breaks just to support their families.,” Sheldon added.

“As a former truck driver I know first hand how mental health issues can affect people. This is a problem right across the transport industry and we want to tackle it by making it a priority,” said Leon Ruri, TWU organiser who has worked in the WA community on mental health.

The TWU National Council which is taking place in Fremantle from  May 15-18. The Council will also see a road safety campaigners group launched, involving family members of people who have died in truck crashes, and sessions on the future of work and how the transport industry should respond to automation and driverless vehicles.

Keynote speeches during the week will include State Premier Mark McGowan, Labor Party infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese and ACTU Secretary Sally McManus.

For anyone experiencing mental health issues please call 1300 DRIVER or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

MUA – Fair Work Ombudsman Misses The Mark … Again

Posted by Mua communications on May 15, 2017

The Maritime Union of Australia says the Fair Work Ombudsman must get back to the task of ensuring Australian jobs after its landmark case against seven crew members of the Tandara Spirit was withdrawn.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the FWO pulled its investigation after wasting the time and resources of the union and putting workers through unacceptable stress anxiety.

  • "The FWO has used taxpayers' money to go after unemployed Aussie seafarers who were sacked under the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s controversial and widely-criticized policies that discriminate against Australian workers in favor of the use of international seafarers in our domestic jobs market,” Crumlin said.
  • “The FWO should be looking at ways for Australian workers to have jobs, then we wouldn’t be in this position. Instead, the FWO appears to be merely resorting to policy sycophancy to its political masters who have an ideological axe to grind against unions.
  • “The MUA had thought the $2/hour paid to the exploited foreign seafarers who replaced the Tandara Spirit was the bottom of the barrel but a new low of $1.25/hr on vessels hired by BP and Caltex was recently uncovered.
  • “The MUA has been saying for several years that BP ships around 900,000 tonnes of fuel each year from its Kwinana Refinery in Western Australia to other cities in Australia and this work should be undertaken by Australian seafarers as it qualifies as coastal cargo.
  • “That’s the sort of thing the FWO should be going after, rather than an ideological frolic to try to stamp out unions and their workers at the behest of Eric Abetz and Michaelia Cash.
  • "There are now no Australian-crewed fuel tankers, down from 11 in 1995 and that flies in the face of any credible national security plan.
  • "Unlike Australian seafarers, foreign crews have no security checks yet they are carrying petroleum products, ammonium nitrate and LNG around the Australian coast.
  • “The ongoing closure of refineries around Australia means we now import over 90 per cent of our petrol and diesel ­ up from 60 per cent in 2000 ­ and this number will continue to rise if there are any further closures of Australia’s few remaining refineries.
  • “More than half of Australia's fuel comes through the Straits of Hormuz to Singapore and the narrow Straits of Malacca, an area already notorious for its piracy.
  • "Add to that the potential flashpoint in the South China Sea and it’s clear we should be refining at home and shipping fuel around the coast using Australian vessels and crews.
  • “The Turnbull Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the IEA 90-day storage rules and oil companies should also be held responsible given they have in recent years replaced Australian-manned ships with FOC vessels flagged in notorious tax havens such as Panama, Liberia and the land-locked nation of Mongolia.”

MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray, who was on the ground in Victoria at the time, said it needs to be pointed out that nearly all of these seafarers are still unemployed.

“While it is welcome news that these seafarers from the Tandara Spirit are no longer being prosecuted by the FWO, there are still no jobs for them to go to. They were replaced under the watch of the Abbott/Turnbull Government by exploited foreign labour and that hasn’t changed.” 

Beware Morrison's Fake Medicare Guarantee

What should a Medicare guarantee look like?

A Medicare guarantee worth its salt would be one that protects the public from the administrative assaults of the 2014 budget. This would involve enshrining in legislation the Commonwealth-state health care agreements – as well as the “partnership” payments, which are other Commonwealth grants to the states for health care – and introducing automatic indexation of Medicare rebates.

The Medicare Guarantee Fund as proposed in the 2017 budget does not do this. It provides no guarantee of policy stability, no guarantee of additional funding, and no guarantee that a future budget will not tear into the Medicare fabric in the way that characterised the 2014 debacle.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

ETU – Who killed Apprenticeships and Cut Penalty Rates?

ANMF – Let’s all celebrate International Nurses Day 2017

Friday 12th May, 2017

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says today’s International Nurses Day (IND) is a chance for the whole community to acknowledge and applaud the crucial contribution nurses make to the Australian health system each and every day.

IND was first declared on 12 May 1974 by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) to celebrate the birthday anniversary of Florence Nightingale.

Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said this year’s IND theme - “A voice to lead” – is relevant to the ANMF, as the union speaks out against the negative impacts of the Budget on nurses.

  • “IND is a great opportunity for everyone to take a minute and reflect on the amazing work nurses do every day - we should be acknowledging and indeed, applauding their contribution to Australia’s health and aged care systems,” Ms Thomas said.
  • “However, we also need to use IND to voice our concerns about the Budget and how it’s going to impact our members, particularly nursing and midwifery students and nurses working in the under-resourced aged care sector. Like other members of the community, nurses will continue to pay more in out of pocket costs for specialist health services, given the Government has refused to immediately lift the freeze on GP rebates.
  • “If the Government was serious about alleviating the cost of healthcare, it would immediately put an end to the freeze, full stop. But even when it is eventually and completely lifted in 2020, it will be too little, too late – the damage would have already been done.
  • “The Budget again has shown no care for aged care. Australia faces a shortage of 20,000 aged care nurses, but there’s been no reversal of the crippling $1.2 billion in funding cuts, nor has there been any regulations for safe staffing ratios for aged care nurses.
  • “Aged care nurses are finding it harder and harder to cope with dangerously high workloads and there’s been a notable rise in the number of missed care episodes at aged care facilities across the country. Without mandated 24/7 nurse ratios, the care nurses can provide to vulnerable nursing home patients continues to be compromised.
  • “The Budget will also force students dreaming of becoming nurses and midwives to pay thousands of extra dollars for their degrees and have to start repaying their HECS debt much sooner, after the income threshold was cut to $42,000.
  • “On International Nurses Day, we are disappointed the Government can deliver up to $50 billion in corporate tax cuts to big businesses, but can hurt hard-working aged care nurses and Australia’s next generation of nurses.”

The ANMF, with over 259,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia. 


The Queensland Government today accepted a dirty deal that allows three mining bosses to walk free after their involvement in the fatality of coal mineworker Mr Ian Downes.

Mr Ian Downes received fatal injuries when the mine wall failed and fell on him at Anglo American’s Grasstree Mine underground mine in Central Queensland.

Charges where brought against three mine bosses and Anglo Coal (CAPCOAL MANAGEMENT PTY LTD).

Queensland District President Steve Smyth said that the Queensland Government should never have accepted a deal that allows the three mine bosses to walk free.

  • “If you kill a worker, you should go to jail – it’s that simple,” said Mr Smyth.
  • “These guys will now be free to continue managing mines, without having to face justice and be held accountable for their poor management that led to the death of Mr Downes.
  • “The Queensland Government and its Departments need to stop protecting big business and hold these companies and their bosses to account,” he said.

Anglo had three fatalities at their mining operations in the period of May 2014 to February 2015 and not one person has been held accountable to date, despite the fact Anglo had pleaded guilty to one charge which led to the death of Mr Downes.

Mr Smyth said while the family and workmates mourn the loss of a loved one, friend and colleague, the Queensland Government has rubbed salt into the wound by accepting this “dirty deal” and allowing these bosses to walk free.

  • “Yet again justice for a life has been denied. The Queensland Government and its departments should be standing up to industrial homicide, not excusing it.
  • “The Queensland Government and its departments need to be held accountable for their role in protecting bosses that have killed a worker.
  • “Where is the justice for the family?”
  • “By accepting dirty deals the Queensland Government and its departments are just as guilty as the bosses of the mine.”
  • “Our condolences go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Downes at this difficult time,” he said.

Turnbull Budget – An Evening with Jenny Macklin –16 May

Friday, May 12, 2017

UK Election – Voters back Labour's Manifesto

Voters overwhelmingly back policies set out in Labour’s leaked manifesto, including nationalising the railways, building more houses and raising taxes on higher earners, according to a poll.

The ComRes survey shows around half of people support state ownership of the train network (52 per cent), energy market (49 per cent) and Royal Mail (50 per cent).

Roughly a quarter of people (22, 24 and 25 per cent respectively) said they opposed the policies, outlined in the party’s draft document, which was signed off by Labour executives at a meeting on Thursday.

All 43 pages of Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for a Labour government were leaked on Wednesday, days before the official manifesto launch.

The 20,000 word document revealed a radical plan for the country after 8 June; proposals that saw right-wing critics claiming the Labour leader wanted to drag Britain back to the 1970s.

The latest polling, conducted in the last 24 hours and published in the Daily Mirror, reveals wide-scale support for the proposals, even if the party leader remains unpopular.

On the plan to ban zero-hours contracts, 71 per cent said they backed the move, while just 16 per cent said they were against it.

Income tax hikes for the highest 5 per cent of earners on salaries of more than £80,000 also got the thumbs up from 65 per cent of voters, with 24 per cent opposed to higher levies.

And more than half (54 per cent) of voters said they supported the policy of building 100,000 more council houses each year.

Voters are split on whether MPs should be given a final vote on the terms of the Brexit deal, a policy that also found its way into the Labour manifesto.

Thirty-six per cent supported Labour’s call for Parliament to have a say at the end of the negotiating period, while 35 per cent are opposed, the survey found.

Meanwhile, Theresa May's support for fox hunting is at odds with nearly eight out of ten (78 per cent) of those polled, who said they wanted the ban to remain in place.

Voters were less flattering about the Labour leader, the survey found, with 56 per cent saying Mr Corbyn would be a “disaster” as prime minister and 30 per cent saying he should be given “a fair chance”.

Labour’s proposal for renationalisation of the railways is borne out by a Which? survey which reveals the extent of overcrowding and delays on the network.

More than half of travellers (53 per cent) could not get a seat at least once during the past six months, while one-in-seven (15 per cent) said this occurs "regularly".

Which? said it has been contacted by thousands of people sharing details of their nightmare train journeys.


Friday 12 May 2017.

The NSW Teachers Federation welcomes Federal Labor’s budget reply announcement of greater investment in public schools and TAFE.

Acting Teachers Federation President Gary Zadkovich said:

  • “Teachers and parents in public school communities across NSW will be greatly heartened by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s commitment to fully fund the Gonski needs based agreements.
  • “This will ensure that students in all public schools will receive the extra support they need to succeed in education.
  • “Labor’s commitment to Gonski needs based funding stands in stark contrast to the Turnbull government’s deceitful attempt to cut $846 million from NSW public schools under its school funding plan.
  • “Labor’s pledge to boost investment in TAFE by $637 million, and guarantee at least two thirds of public vocational education funding for TAFE, are important steps toward rebuilding the TAFE system after years of destructive, market based policies.
  • “This greater investment in public education is a crucial foundation for building a more just and prosperous future for all Australians.”

Millers Point – Peter Muller Eviction

ACTU – Cruel Budget Targets Widows and Unemployed

Big corporations are the big winners from the Coalition’s latest Budget, as the Government wages war on the most vulnerable and those with very little.

Australians who rely on welfare and university students have been hit with more than $7 billion in cuts, while the plan to cut taxes for big corporations by $50 billion remains on track.

The war on the vulnerable includes a cruel three-strike system that will see families hit hardest when essential payments are cut off or cancelled for non-compliance.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) sees this Budget as another attempt from this Government to bolster the coffers of big corporations and the bank balances of the wealthy while cutting payments to the young and vulnerable.

Worst of the Government’s Budget:

  • $50 billion corporate tax cuts on track
  • Cut at least $3 billion from welfare
  • Cut almost $4 billion from higher education
  • $22.3 billion cut from school education funding
  • Slashed 1,200 jobs from the department of human services
  • Tax cut for income earners on $180,000 or more

The following quotes are attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “This is not an honest budget. It is an attack on the most vulnerable at a time when inequality is at a 70 year high in Australia.”
  • “It does not deliver good, steady jobs. It does nothing to address high youth unemployment or the crisis of underemployment.”
  • “It also makes wild assumptions about future wage growth at a time when low paid people’s penalty rates are set to be cut, wage theft is rife and jobs are increasingly insecure.”
  • “What it in fact does is robs Peter to pay Paul; Big corporations will get their $50 billion tax cut at the expense of university students and our most vulnerable people.”
  • “Attempts to convince Australians that this budget is fair because of tiny taxes on the banks is no more than a smoke and mirrors exercise.”
  • “We needed a budget to boost living standards for working people. On that score this Budget has failed. In fact, inequality will grow.”

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ANMF – Budget losers: Nursing students and aged care nurses

Wednesday 10th May, 2017

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says nursing and midwifery students, and nurses and assistants in nursing (AIN) working in the under-resourced aged care sector are the big losers in last night’s Federal Budget.

And ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the Government’s gradual winding back of the unpopular freeze on Medicare rebates is “too little, too late” for most patients.

  • “Make no mistake, the freeze on Medicare rebates is still in place, you could say it’s only being de-frosted,” Ms Thomas said.
  • “This just means that people visiting the GP or needing a specialist consultation will continue to be slugged with increasing out of pocket costs for their healthcare for the next two years, it’s particularly tough on low-income earners already struggling to make ends meet.
  • “If this Government was serious about alleviating the cost of healthcare, it would have immediately put an end to the freeze on GP rebates, full stop. But even when it is eventually and completely lifted in 2020, it will be too little, too late.
  • “The Budget again has shown no care for aged care. Australia faces a shortage of 20,000 aged care nurses, but there’s been no reversal of the crippling $1.2 billion in funding cuts, no regulations for mandated, safe staffing ratios for nurses and carers.
  • “Nurses and AIN’s are finding it harder and harder to cope with dangerously high workloads and there’s been a notable rise in the number of missed care episodes at aged care facilities across the country. Without adequate targeted funding the care they can provide to their residents continues to be compromised.
  • “Students dreaming of becoming nurses and midwives have also been impacted by an increase in the cost of university degrees. They’ll be forced to pay thousands of dollars more to fulfil their dream and then have to start repaying their HECS debt much sooner after the Budget cut the income threshold down to $42,000.
  • “The ANMF is disappointed the Government can deliver up to $50 billion in corporate tax cuts to big businesses, but can target Australia’s next generation of nurses and low-paid nurses and AIN’s working in aged care.”

Ms Thomas said the ANMF welcomed the Budget closing the funding gap for the NDIS, funding for mental health initiatives, medical research into childhood cancer and the scrapping of $13 billion in “zombie measures” which couldn’t be passed by Parliament, including proposed cuts to paid parental leave (PPL).

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ACOSS – Budget Vilification of People who are Unemployed Continues

Welcome change of tack in health education and housing, but vilification of people who are unemployed continues

Tuesday 9 May 2017

ACOSS welcomes the change of tack to invest in health, education and housing, but the 2014 Budget mindset to demonise and impoverish the most disadvantaged continues.

“The government is trying to put the 2014 horror budget behind it, securing the National Disability Insurance Scheme and putting housing affordability on the agenda but the government still neglects, blames and targets the most disadvantaged in the social security system”, said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“The government’s significant change of tack on Medicare and schools funding is welcome, recognising that people value essential services. The challenge is to properly fund them. The government has begun to strengthen the revenue side, by increasing the Medicare levy and taking further steps to stem tax avoidance by international businesses. But securing funds for essential services like Medicare while restoring the budget is not just an accounting exercise: it will require major reform to make sure that every individual and businesses pays tax according to their ability to do so.

“ACOSS welcomes the first steps to address housing affordability, including key elements to encourage private investment in affordable housing and secure funding for homelessness services. This start will only deliver for those on the lowest incomes if the next step is taken: new public investment in social housing and improved rent assistance for tenants. On the other hand, the extension of super tax breaks to people buying a first home or downsizing is a backward step that will increase house prices and waste public revenue.

“But in social security, the government remains stuck in the 2014 budget mindset that demonises and impoverishes people who are unemployed. Access to their payments is restricted by the continuation of income management and extension of the ‘cashless debit card’. The wasteful Work for the Dole scheme continues, and the government is having another go at cutting the Pensioner Education Supplement.

“It speaks volumes for the government’s approach to social security that unemployed people are denied the one-off $75 Energy Supplement and it proposes to drug-test recipients and deny the Disability Support Pension to people if their disability is drug-related. New waiting periods are proposed for Age Pensions for people who are migrants and have had to rely on income support during working life.

“A major restructure of penalties for unemployed people saving more than $200 million a year is proposed without convincing evidence the system is widely abused, or discussion with the community sector. Given the severe impact that penalties have, the system should not be restructured without a public review.

“It’s time the government invested in jobs and unemployed people instead of penalising people for poverty. The modest investment in career counselling for older people who are unemployed, and linking of employment assistance with infrastructure projects shows the way forward but with unemployment projected to remain above 5% for four years, there’s much more to be done."


MAY 09, 2017

The CPSU has warned of more looming disasters in service provision in the coming year, after a Federal Budget that did little to repair the Turnbull Government’s cuts to essential public services and public policy capacity and cuts some key areas further. 

The biggest single cut is 1,188 jobs slashed in the Department of Human Services.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “Treasurer Scott Morrison is trying to sell this as a responsible and fair Budget, but the reality is he’s dug a bigger hole for the Government by continuing with short-sighted and unfair cuts to public services.”

  • “This Government has hollowed out essential services and policy capacity with $7.6 billion of cuts since 2013 and the impact of that reached a tipping point in the past year as the Government’s been hit by disaster after disaster, from Census fail to Centrelink robo-debt.”
  • “It's breathtaking that despite these disasters the Government is doubling down on its cuts with another $1.9 billion to be cut through its so-called 'efficiency dividend' and $277 million in DHS jobs alone. That means Malcolm Turnbull is arbitrarily ripping more than $2 billion out of public services that are already well past breaking point.” 
  • “The Government’s refusal to repair the damage it has caused through years of cuts means there’s very likely to be more disasters in the coming year and that they could be on an even larger scale. Worst of all, it’s ordinary people who’ll continue to bear the brunt when things go wrong.”
  • “Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services in DHS are a prime example. 5,000 permanent staff have been cut in that agency and 36 million calls went unanswered last year and yet this Budget cuts over 1100 jobs in DHS. It's a massive cut and a disaster for our community.”  
  • “To add insult to injury, the only thing offsetting that massive cut is Government outsourcing DHS work to the private sector, with a $5.5 million pilot program that creates 250 jobs in an unnamed provider. There’s no way that will fix an agency in crisis.”

“The idea that trusting the highly sensitive needs and information handled by DHS staff to a privatised operation offsite is scary to say the least. We're concerned this might be the first step in a plan to outsource these services. Do we want  private call centres, perhaps even based overseas, providing such vital services?” 

“Strong lobbying by the CPSU has helped secure a much more sensible outcome in Defence, though it's still a long way short of all that's needed. Government has sensibly followed our advice to clamp down on wasteful and expensive consultants and contractors and will use some of the $304 million saved to hire a much needed 620 new staff. It doesn't restore all the jobs cut by this Government, with 1,400 positions cut just in the past year, but it's a good start.”

“We support Government funding of physical infrastructure if it’s for sensible projects that provide tangible benefits. But it’s also as least as important for the Government to invest in people, with public services that support people to contribute to and share in Australia’s prosperity. We're also concerned the hollowing out of policy capacity means the Government won't be able to get decent advice on the projects worthy of funding.”

Jeremy Corbyn Takes on the Asset Strippers

Jeremy Corbyn has said wealthy elites are trying to "hijack" Brexit as he formally launched Labour's campaign.

Speaking in Manchester, the Labour leader promised a reckoning for "tax cheats, rip-off bosses and greedy bankers" if Labour wins the election.

The Labour leader earlier told activists that the question of whether the UK would leave the EU had been "settled" and the task now was to act in the national interest and not show "who can be toughest with Brussels".

Mr Corbyn told activists that his mission was to transform Britain, saying "we have four weeks to take our wealth back and four weeks to show what kind of country we are"Repeating his argument that the economy was "rigged" against ordinary people, he said a Labour government would take action against asset strippers, tax evaders and those who "ripped off workers and consumers".
"We have four weeks to ruin their party," he said.

Speaking afterwards to the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg, he said that he was angry at levels of poverty and inequality in the country, which he believed were shared by the public.

"They are very angry. They see the growth of the super-rich and very wealthy corporations and they see their communities left behind. Their anger is palpable and I think we have to address that."

"I don't know any more than you what is going to happen in the future but I do know that we are not approaching this from megaphone diplomacy. We are not approaching this from threats... our view is you have to talk to them, negotiate with them and recognise there is quite a lot of common interest."

If elected, he said his negotiating priorities would be guaranteeing tariff-free access to EU markets, ensuring the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and maintaining employment rights such as the working time directive.

"People know there's been a referendum and a decision was made a year ago," he said. "We have set out very clear terms for negotiations... we are negotiating a trade agreement with Europe and protection of the things we have gained from the EU."

Facing the challenge to win on 8 June, Mr Corbyn told supporters he was determined to show "things don't have to remain the way they are".

He promised decent homes for all, extra funding for schools and vowed to "draw a line" under privatisation in the health service, social care, energy market and the rail network.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

UK Council Elections Roundup

The much vaunted 11-point Tory lead has proved rather less than the 17-point lead currently to be found on average in the opinion polls.

Professor John Curtice argues:

More importantly it is only four points above the lead that David Cameron secured in the 2015 general election.

That performance gave the Tories a majority of just 12, a majority that is now deemed by the Prime Minister to be inadequate. Theresa May wants a landslide, and while an 11-point lead would probably give her a comfortable victory, such an outcome on 8 June might now be deemed something of a disappointment.

In short, while these results give little reason to anticipate a Labour victory in June, what remains in doubt is just how big a majority the Conservatives might yet secure.

Indeed, although a strong advance in the local elections in Scotland gives the party good reason to anticipate making some gains north of the border next month, there was little sign of the strong Tory advance in Wales that one recent poll seemed to identify. Meanwhile, despite signal successes for the party in the West Midlands and Tees Valley mayoral races, elsewhere the party struggled to replicate its 2015 performance, let alone improve on it.

But of course voters do not necessarily vote in the same way in local elections as they would in a general election. That is especially the case when it comes to the Liberal Democrats. The party regularly outperforms its current opinion poll rating in local elections, and true to form it secured a projected 18 per cent share of the vote, well above its current poll rating of 10-11 per cent.

However, this performance represents only a modest four-point improvement on the party’s vote when the county councils were last fought over in 2013, and still falls short of the levels of local election support that the party regularly enjoyed before 2010.

As it hoped, the party did advance more strongly in places where Remain did well in the EU referendum, many of them places with a relatively large university educated population. The increase in the party’s vote was typically three points higher in such places than elsewhere. Even so, the party’s Remoaner dividend still seems to have been a relatively limited one.

Meanwhile, the increase in Conservative support meant that the party struggled to convert its increased support into extra council seats. The party still has plenty to do if it is to achieve a significant increase in its parliamentary ranks on 8 June.

John Curtice is professor of politics at Strathclyde University

Thursday, May 04, 2017

MEAA – Worldwide support for Fairfax journalists

MEAA Online

Around the world journalists have expressed their support for Fairfax journalists in the wake of the company's decision on World Press Freedom Day to sack 25 per cent  (1-in-4) of its editorial staff from its metropolitan newsrooms in Sydney and Melbourne.

The global journalists association, the International Federation of Journalists, which represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries, strongly criticised Fairfax management's decision to cut 125 of its journalists to save money. "The IFJ stands in solidarity with the Fairfax staff," the Brussels-based organisation said in a statement. The IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “On the day that we stand together and celebrate the brave work of journalists across the world, we are now standing in solidarity with our Fairfax colleagues and their continued fight for their jobs. We call on Fairfax management to take immediate steps to remedy the situation, without losing more jobs.”

In less than 24 hours, more messages of support from around the world have been flooding in.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation in Brussels, said: "We were shocked to hear of the unilateral and deeply damaging plan of Fairfax management to cut 125 full-time equivalent jobs, at a time when the world is crying out for quality journalism to combat the lies, distortions and fake news which are driving xenophobic, nationalistic and extremely dangerous political narratives. On behalf of the International Trade Union Confederation, representing 181 million trade union members worldwide, I wish to join with the International Federation of Journalists in expressing our total solidarity with your action. We are witnessing a closing of democratic space around the world, and the exercise of free speech and good journalism are vital to democracy itself. The decision of Fairfax management is wrong and misguided, and the international trade union movement stands with you every step of the way in your campaign to reverse it."

Tim Dawson, president, and Seamus Dooley, acting general secretary, of the National Union of Journalists - UK and Ireland, said: "We learned with great concern of the decision of Fairfax Media to enforce sweeping redundancies at the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Australian Financial Review. The axing of 125 jobs will have a devastating impact on the workers and their families. The proposed cuts will severely damage the titles at a time when editorial investment is crucial to retaining audiences. On behalf of NUJ members in the UK and Ireland we extend solidarity to your members and congratulate you on the swift response to the announcement of unilateral action on the part of the company. We wish you will well in your strike action and assure you of our strong support.

The Federation of Journalists Associations of Spain and the Spanish Federation of Journalists Unions said: "As Spaniards we always thought that Australian people were our antipodeans, but after receiving the news about the drastic plan to suppress 125 jobs in Fairfax Media, we feel ourselves very much identified with our colleagues of the Sydney Morning Herald, Age and Australian Financial Review. The brutality of the mentioned plan has to be called off because quality and free journalism continue to be an important tool of pluralism deserving a real and true democracy. On 3rd May, the World Press Freedom Day, we support the strike of Australian journalists struggling for their right to negotiate any possible alternatives to that savage jobs’ cut.

Other statements:

The Belgian Association of Professional Journalists (AJP) "supports the Fairfax journalists in their protest against the drastic cut of 125 jobs and the threat to the quality of their work!"
The Swedish Union of Journalists: "To our colleagues at Fairfax Media, Australia: We support Your fight for decent work and conditions! In solidarity."
The Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine: "Our trade union expresses its solidarity with the journalists at Fairfax Media (Australia) who went on strike against 125 proposed job cuts. We call on management to find alternate savings."

Take action:

AEU – Voters prefer Gonski to 'out of touch' Turnbull's company tax cuts

Voters prefer Gonski to 'out of touch' Turnbull's company tax cuts

4 May 2017

A clear majority of voters in the Coalition’s 20 most marginal seats want Malcolm Turnbull to reverse his cuts to Gonski funding and believe it is far more important for Australia’s future than his plan for a $48 billion corporate tax cut.

Malcolm Turnbull’s new funding model announced yesterday will still leave schools $3 billion worse off in 2018 and 2019 than funding the Gonski agreements in full.

The polling, taken for the AEU in late April, also found 71% of voters see Malcolm Turnbull as out-of-touch, 67% say he does not understand the needs of working families, and only a quarter were confident he would properly fund public schools.

Voters strongly supported increased resources for schools, with voters preferring Gonski funding to Malcolm Turnbull’s company tax cuts by a two-to-one margin.

AEU Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace said that the polling showed the majority of Australians wanted better funding for schools but did not trust Malcolm Turnbull to provide it.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s new funding model will not deliver schools the same resources as the full six years of Gonski, and will mean that many will never reach the minimum resource standard Gonski recommended.

“His plan to spread extra funding over 10 years, instead of delivering it in 2018 and 2019, will mean students currently in Year 4 will have left school by the time the full funding is delivered.

“It’s no surprise that a clear majority of Australians believe Malcolm Turnbull is out of touch, when he has refused to properly fund schools in their communities. He is even less trusted on schools funding than Tony Abbott was.

“Schools and parents know that Gonski resources are already getting results across Australia. They understand that properly educating all Australians is the best investment we can make for our future.

“Delivering these extra resources to schools would ensure that more students can get one-on-one support or extra literacy and numeracy programs.”

The polling, of 1500 marginal seat voters shows an overwhelming majority sees Malcolm Turnbull as favouring wealthy Australians, and being out of touch with ordinary people.

It showed that 44% per cent of voters would feel more favourable to Mr Turnbull if he funded Gonski in full, compared to just 13% who would feel less favourable.

“Funding schools is a key issue for voters, and it is clear that Malcolm Turnbull’s lack of action is hurting him,” Ms Peace said.

The polling also found that:

  • 56% of voters said Australia is on the wrong track, compared with just 33% who said it was heading in the right direction.
  • 62% said Malcolm Turnbull favours “wealthy Australians”, compared to just 7% who say he favours “ordinary Australians” (24% said both equally).
  • Only 27% said he ‘understands the needs of working families’, compared to 67% who said he doesn’t.
  • Only 25% said he was ‘in touch with ordinary Australians’, compared to 71% who said he isn’t.
  • The polling also shows a wide level of concern around funding of public schools, with 67% of people concerned about the level of public school funding.
  • 82% of Australians believe it is important to increase government funding to public schools, yet only 26% said they were confident Malcolm Turnbull would provide enough resources to public schools.

The polling also shows voters would prefer the Federal Budget to fund Gonski in full to the $48 billion in company tax cuts which Mr Turnbull wants to make his priority.

When asked to choose between the two, 58% of voters wanted Gonski, while only 26% wanted company tax cuts.

“Malcolm Turnbull continues to ignore the evidence that Gonski is working to lift results. He has no plan to lift results, just a plan for cuts that will hit hardest the children who need help the most,” Ms Peace said.

“State governments do not support his new model because it will still cost their schools hundreds of millions of dollars in resources.

“Malcolm Turnbull needs to admit his plans have failed, and give our schools the funding they need.”

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

TurnBULL'S Gonski Smoke and Mirrors

Turnbull was in full Gonski mode on Tuesday: “This reform will finally deliver on David Gonski’s vision, six years ago, after his landmark review of Australian school education,” he said.

Turnbull is trying to take some of the shine off Labor’s political advantage on education which, with health, was at the heart of its 2016 election campaign. Next week’s budget will attempt to neutralise some of the Coalition’s problems on health, which saw Labor run its “Mediscare” at the election.

What Turnbull dubbed the “Gonski 2.0” review will recommend on “the most effective teaching and learning strategies to reverse declining results, and seek to raise the performance of schools and students”.

It will advise on how the extra Commonwealth funding “should be used by Australian schools to improve student achievement and school performance”, Turnbull and Birmingham said in a statement.

The government flagged that the schooling money to the states would depend on their signing up to reforms that came out of the Gonski review.

Another member of the original Gonski panel, Ken Boston, will also be on the review, which will report to Turnbull in December.

Bill Shorten pointed out that “schools will be $22 billion worse off under Malcolm Turnbull than they would have been under Labor”.

Labor’s education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said this was “a smoke and mirrors, pea and thimble effort to hide the fact that instead of cutting $30 billion from schools over the decade, this government will cut $22 billion from schools over the decade”.

“The big picture here is that in the 2014 budget, Tony Abbott promised a $30 billion cut to our schools and in the 2017 budget, Malcolm Turnbull wants a big pat on the back for changing that cut to a $22 billion cut,” she said.

“A week out from the federal budget this is taking out the trash,” she said. “They want clear air on budget night.”

ACOSS – Time To End Vilification of Unemployed People

What welfare blow-out? – Time to end vilification of unemployed people

The Australian Council of Social Service today is calling for an end to media attacks on people who are unemployed, releasing a short Social Security Snapshot dispelling the myth that we have a ‘welfare blowout’ and that people unemployed are the cause of it.  

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, says it is time for the Federal Government to tell the Australian community the real story about social security in Australia and prepare a Federal Budget that genuinely helps lift people out of poverty, rather than disadvantage them even further.

  • “It is cruel for people affected by unemployment and low incomes to repeatedly wake up to sensational media headlines which accuses them of being ‘dole bludgers, ‘layabouts’, ‘welfare cheats’ or 'welfare addicts.'’ The vast majority of people are doing everything they can to survive and improve their lives under extremely stressful, difficult circumstances.” said Dr Goldie.
  • “We’re seeing repeated mean-spirited attempts to vilify and demonise people who are locked out of paid work, mostly through no fault of their own.
  • “This appears to be a deliberate government strategy to pave the way for further budget cuts on the backs of people doing it toughest in our community.
  • “Why isn’t the Federal Government talking about the real problems facing people who are unemployed, including the lack of employment opportunities and effective support to get paid work, and the alarming rise in long term unemployment post the GFC?
  • “Right now there is just one job available for every 10 people who are either locked of employment or need more paid work. Since the Global Financial Crisis, the number of people receiving an unemployment payment climbed from 400,000 to 730,000 (in 2016).

“People affected by the impacts of the GFC, and changes in the economy, are doing it extremely tough. People who are unemployed or underemployed face poverty and desperation. As the Brotherhood of St Laurence said earlier this week, young people are job hunters, not dole bludgers. People receiving income support are parents, carers, people with disabilities, older workers and people of diverse backgrounds, facing major barriers to competing in the open labour market.

“Despite the lack of jobs, governments have relentlessly targeted social security for cuts. Billions have been slashed, including by pushing about 100,000 single parents and people with disability onto the much lower Newstart Allowance.

"At the same time, people on these woefully slow social security payments can’t afford to even house themselves. Last week, Anglicare Australia found that just 21 rental properties were affordable for a single person relying on Newstart and not many more for a single parent.

“The Social Security Snapshot we are releasing today is compulsory reading for anyone who wants to talk about social security spending and policy in Australia. It dispels the great myth that there is anything resembling a ‘welfare blowout’ and that people receiving income support are “welfare addicts.”

"People affected by unemployment and low incomes, now more than ever, need a Federal Government that gives them hope, cares about their wellbeing, and takes seriously the challenges they face."

Social Security Snapshot Overview

  • Almost 3 million people, including over 730 00 children live in poverty, comprising 13.3% of the population.
  • Inequality in Australia is the highest it has been since the 1950s. 
  • Long-term unemployment has almost tripled since the Global Financial Crisis. Seventy percent of people on Newstart have been unemployed for more than 12 months..
  • There is only one job available for every ten people locked out of paid work or who want more. 
  • Spending on the Age Pension remains the largest area of social security expenditure, quadrupling that spent on unemployment payments ($44b versus $11b in 15/16).
  • Despite the disturbing rise in the number of people long term unemployed since the GFC, overall spending on unemployment payments has flat-lined, rising slower than GDP.
  • Our rates of social security payments are well below the poverty line and some $176 per week below the pension.
  • Australia has the most targeted system of income support in the OECD, with people in the bottom 20% receiving 12 times that of people in the top 20% (2014)
  • People who are unemployed are subjected to one of the more onerous job search regimes in the OECD to get a payment
  • Research from the International Monetary Fund finds that lifting up living standards of people on low and middle incomes is the most important way to increase growth.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

NSW – Indigenous Australians now make up 65 per cent of prison population

Indigenous Australians now make up 65 per cent of NSW prison population

NSW prisons are bursting at the seams with the number of adults behind bars reaching its highest level in 20 years, with Indigenous Australians massively over represented.

The latest Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research statistics show a 13 per cent increase in NSW's jails over the past two years, with 12,995 prisoners recorded as of March this year - and that doesn't include those held in police cells.

The state's Indigenous population continues to have a disproportionate number of prisoners, with 8486 behind bars as of March this year, bureau director Don Weatherburn told AAP.

Calls to grant prisoner full pardon after 25 years in gaol

A rally in Rockhampton has called for the immediate release of an Aboriginal man who says he's been wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years.

That figure makes up 65.3 per cent of the total number of prisoners in NSW Jails.

The number of Indigenous defendants on remand grew by 11.4 per cent over the last 12 months. The number of sentenced Indigenous prisoners actually fell by 0.10 per cent over the same time period.

Mr Weatherburn said Indigenous people were usually the first to feel the effects of a tougher criminal justice system.

However, as of March, there were 281 juveniles overall behind bars - a 9.4 per cent decrease over the past 12 months.

"Juveniles aren't offending as much as they used to," Mr Weatherburn said.

While the reasons for this drop were unclear, Mr Weatherburn said the end of the heroin epidemic played a part.

Although high, the growth in adult prisoners has slowed, but it was unclear if the numbers would steady off or increase again.

"Do they (police, courts) continue getting tougher?" he said.

"Or, now that we have a large prison population, do we use prison more sparingly?"

Most of the increase has come from prisoners who've been refused bail, according to the figures released on Monday.

The main reasons for the spike have been changes in the bail act, congestion in the district criminal court and increases in arrests, Mr Weatherburn says.

The ITF has weighed into the Patrick's dispute

Posted by Mua communications on May 01, 2017

The ITF has weighed into the Patrick's dispute. Please read ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton's statement below.

International Transport Workers’ Federation General Secretary Steve Cotton has written to the management of Patrick Stevedores urging them to negotiate in good faith with their workforce amid the ongoing dispute at Port Botany. 

“The ITF has become aware of a number of disputes in your Port Botany terminal, including outsourcing rail work, and the decision by Patrick Stevedores to sub lease an area inside the terminal to their owners Qube-Brookfield to carry out work performed traditionally by Australian wharfies, this includes forklift, reachstacker, clerical, and foreman duties,” the letter says.

"This decision is not supported by the ACTU and we support the Maritime Union of Australia in their struggle in support of wharfies and maritime workers.

The ITF Executive shows its support for Patrick’s Dockers

  • "We are reminded of the 1998 dispute during the national lockout of MUA workers from the Australian waterfront by Patrick, and a return to their anti-union crusade.
  • "The ITF condemns these decisions in the strongest possible terms and recognise our solidarity with the Maritime Union of Australia and their fight for justice on the Sydney waterfront.
  • "We are aware of attempts by the MUA Sydney Branch to negotiate a resolution of the disputes, and we urge you in the strongest possible terms to resolve the disputes so as to avoid protracted industrial disputation which is not in the interest of Patrick, but more importantly the wharfies you employ.
  • "We look forward to you resolving this dispute as soon as possible with the Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch."

Jeremy Corbyn will block almost £3bn of planned “tax breaks for the rich”

Jeremy Corbyn will pledge to block almost £3bn of planned “tax breaks for the rich” in order to pay for 10,000 new community police officers in England and Wales.

The Labour leader believes money saved from scrapping a Conservative plan to lower capital gains tax will easily cover the cost of his pledge and enable him to guarantee current funding levels for 43 police forces.  

Writing exclusively for The Independent, shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott accused the Conservatives of having failed people from less well-off, ethnic and other minority backgrounds who are more likely to fall victim to crime, claiming “few of us live in gated communities with their own private security firms”.

Labour pledges landlord crackdown to ensure homes are fit to live in

Mr Corbyn will claim the move to put a beat bobby in “every electoral ward” is needed due to recent rises in some types of crime and deep cuts to police funding which have seen officer numbers drop 20,000 under Conservative administrations.

He planned to say: “Cutting police numbers especially when there is more crime to deal with is unacceptable.

“That’s why Labour will put 10,000 new police officers on our streets. The safety of our communities is vital to us all.

“Community policing means uniformed officers being visible, local and accessible. They engage with the public, have a detailed local knowledge and build a network of relationships.”

In the 2016 Budget it was announced that the higher rate of capital gains tax will be cut from 28 per cent to 20 per cent and the basic rate from 18 per cent to 10 per cent, costing the public purse £2.75bn over the next five years.

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics suggested that in the year ending 2016 there were “genuine increases” in some “high harm category” offences, including knife crime and homicide, while Home Office data shows the number of police officers plummeting from around 142,000 in 2010 to 122,000 last year.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “Labour will reverse the Tories’ tax breaks for the rich, providing new money that can be used to put a bobby on the beat in every electoral ward in the country.” 

In her article for The Independent, she went on: “Crime affects all of us. But very few of us live in gated communities with their own private security firms.

Jeremy Corbyn slams Conservative and Ukip leaders in passionate speech

“It is ordinary people who suffer most from crime, and women, people from ethnic minorities, religious communities and the LGBT community who are all more likely to be victims of crime. On this, as with its entire policy, Labour stands for the many, not the few.”

Corbyn and frozen expat pensions

Half a million expats living on frozen state pensions could get a 2.5 per cent hike in payouts like other retirees from April, if a Labour-backed attempt to lift the block succeeds in Parliament.

State pensions become fixed when you first retire or move abroad if you decide to live in certain countries, including Canada, India and Australia, but not in others - forcing many to struggle with the cost of living or give up and return home.

Jeremy Corbyn has now thrown his weight behind moves to overturn longstanding regulations preserving the status quo, which are effectively rubberstamped each year without formal debate by MPs.

As Leader of the Opposition, Corbyn is likely to force discussions and a vote onto the parliamentary timetable this time.

The news has delighted pensioner campaigners, who welcomed Corbyn's support for ending what they dubbed 'this historic but entrenched injustice', and ignited hopes that a coalition of Labour, rebel Tory and other MPs would win any potential vote.

The current policy means some expats who retired when the basic rate was £67.50 a week in 2000 still get that, rather than the £122.30 which will be received by others who retired that year from April 6.

Corbyn said: 'This is a chance to make an historic change to our pension system and end the arbitrary discrimination against some British pensioners living overseas. 

'It is contrary to natural justice for some pensioners living abroad to be left behind while others have their pensions increased in line with inflation.

ACTU – $14 billion could go from wages if penalty rate cuts spread

2 May 2017

Penalty rates for weekend work add over $14 billion to the incomes of Australian workers each year, new analysis from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute confirms.
The new paper, Tip of the Iceberg: Weekend Work and Penalty Pay in 108 Australian Industries, shows how important weekend penalty rates are for workers across the economy.

The modelling confirms that if the penalty rate cuts spread to other sectors the economic impacts for working people will be severe.

After retail and hospitality, the hospital, aged care and medical services workers do the most weekend work, making them extremely vulnerable to potential future cuts.

Legal advice obtained by the ACTU earlier this year highlighted the potential for the Fair Work Commission’s ruling to spill into other sectors – and some employers in other industries are already demanding that their penalty rates be cut, too.  If these cuts spread, the impact on workers’ incomes will be enormous.

Employers have long tried to abolish the principle of higher pay for working anti-social hours, and the Turnbull Government’s support for the penalty rate cuts shores it up for them.

Read the full report:

Key Findings from the CFW Report:

  • 27.6% of Australian employees are on the job on any typical weekend (and more than that work occasional weekends).That is roughly 2.75 million people on the job on any weekend, in industries as diverse as construction, transportation, public services, residential care and hospitals.
  • Paying higher wages for work on Saturdays and Sundays generates at least $14 billion per year in additional wages.
  • Weekends are still incredibly important to Australians, and weekend work is associated with significant social, personal and health costs.
  • Extra pay for working on Saturdays and Sundays makes up over 2.5% of the total wages paid to employees in Australia.
  • It would take five years of annual wage gains (at current growth rates) to make up for the loss of Saturday and Sunday penalties.

The following quotes are attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “Penalty pay for weekend work adds $14 billion per year to the pay packets of Australian workers.  By deeply cutting that income, the Fair Work Commission will create real hardship for many workers -- and there’s no evidence of any upside in job-creation.”
  • “By refusing to stop the cuts, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has waged a war with workers and we will stop at nothing to ensure their pay packets are protected.”
  • “The potential for penalty rate cuts to spread to other sectors is real and is already happening.”
  • “Even workers who are covered by enterprise agreements are at risk of wage cuts because of the penalty rates cuts to Award wages.”
  • “The report states people covered by enterprise agreements benefit when Award penalty rates are higher and this decision will create downward pressure on agreement wages.”
  •  “We are deeply concerned that unless the penalty rates cuts are stopped they will spread to other industries in other sectors. This modeling shows that this would be disastrous for Australians workers.”

Jeremy Corbyn – Labour is "brave enough" to tackle a £3 billion hole in school budgets

LABOUR is "brave enough" to tackle a £3 billion hole in school budgets, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

A government led by him will give education the "priority it deserves", the Labour party leader said.

Details of the party's plans for school funding will be set out in its manifesto, Mr Corbyn told the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) conference in Telford.

Schools in England will need to make £3bn of savings by 2019/20 according to government estimates, the National Audit Office has said.

West Sussex headteacher John Gadd asked Mr Corbyn if he was "brave enough" to fully reverse these cuts.

"I believe we are brave enough to do it because I see education as a complete priority and that is what I want to achieve, because it unlocks the potential of children," Mr Corbyn told the conference.

"And if you look at it an economic level further down the line, we have a skills shortage across the whole country, we have a lack of investment in skills training for post school and that means we've got to look again at the spending we put into schools.

"If every school is now faced with a funding crisis, or the vast majority of them, that is not a good way forward and I'm determined to lead a government that will give the priority it deserves to education not the blame culture of headteachers and teachers in under-funded schools.

"I'm determined to change it."

Ministers have previously said that school funding is at record levels, and this will increase further over the next two years as pupil numbers rise.

In a speech to the delegates, Mr Corbyn hinted that money may be found for schools through a corporation tax.

"While funding to our children's education is cut, multinational corporations have received multibillion-pound tax giveaways," he said.

"How can it be right that money is being siphoned straight out of our children's schools and directly into the pockets of the super-rich?

"We have to be clear, once and for all, that enough is enough.

"Throughout this General Election campaign, we will be making absolutely clear our commitment to build a country for the many, and not just the few.

"A vital part of that will be creating an education system that provides for every child regardless of their background, or their parents' income."

Mr Corbyn described the estimated £3bn shortfall in school budgets as "the first real terms cut in education budgets for a generation".

"This is an absolutely staggering figure and shows the need for a complete change of direction in how this government and any government treats our schools," he said.

The Labour leader went on to say: "Why are our children's schools not getting the funding that they deserve? This is a choice. And it is the wrong choice.

"To cut school funding is in breach of the manifesto on which this government was elected when they said they were going to protect school funding.

"Labour will ensure schools have the resources they need.

"I cannot give you a sneak preview of the full manifesto today, it's not even in my pocket, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for that.

"But be assured if it's a choice between a tax giveaway to the largest corporations paying the lowest rates of tax in the developed world, or funding for our schools, our choice will be very, very different from the choice that's been made up to now."

Monday, May 01, 2017

Unions NSW – May Day 2017 Promotional Video

Join in solidarity with workers and march through Sydney to support fair wages, fair work, and equal rights. 

Meet up in Hyde Park North at 12 Noon on May 7th as we march to Victoria park for a day of family fun and food!