Tuesday, October 31, 2017

CFMEU – Need for Changes to Biased Productivity Commission

A commitment that a future Labor Government would have the Productivity Commission conduct an economic analysis of all free trade agreements, announced today by Shadow Trade Minister Jason Clare, is a completely inadequate response to the damage these agreements continue to inflict on Australian workers according to the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

The union singled out the nomination of the Productivity Commission as the agency responsible for the analysis, saying the organisation was so ideologically wedded to free trade that the outcomes would be meaningless.

“The Productivity Commission is so blindly pro-free trade that seeking their analysis of whether a trade agreements is in the national interest will be a useless exercise that at best is deeply misguided and at worst will be nothing more than a cruel hoax on the workers and industries that will be left worse off,” CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor said.

“The important work of scrutinising trade agreements should be done by a truly independent body, but Labor’s plan to hand it to the Productivity Commission is nothing short of entrusting Dracula with the keys to the blood bank.

“If Labor presses ahead with implementing this proposal, there is no question that Australian workers will suffer.” The CFMEU, which has a membership of 110,000 blue collar workers, said the policy announcement revealed

Labor still had a lot more work to do on ensuring trade policy served the best interests of the Australian public.

The union committed to campaigning within all Labor Party forums — including the National Conference — to amend the policy to completely remove the influence of the Productivity Commission from all aspects of Australia’s public policy framework, including trade, investment, superannuation and tax.

“The public rightly have no regard for this organisation that is little more than a taxpayer-funded right-wing think tank who time and again maintain their defence of deregulation, privatisation and failed neoliberalism,” Mr O’Connor said.

The CFMEU said that while the Productivity Commission has provided superficial criticism of the preferential nature of recent trade agreements, including that reached with China, these statements simply hid their broader agenda of promoting the unilateral removal of tariff and foreign investment barriers.

Mr O’Connor highlighted efforts by the Productivity Commission during the past decade to push for the dismantling of Australia’s anti-dumping system, with efforts to defend local industries from unfair trade simply attacked as being “protectionist”.

  • “The Productivity Commission is led by free trade extremists, which the Labor party looks to be empowering through a policy that would lazily endorse them for this vital work,” he said.
  • “Labor’s announcement is a tricky attempt to pretend to be doing something about genuine community concerns, when the reality is the continuation of a business as usual approach to trade policy.
  • “More of the same on international trade will simply mean our nation will see more exploited temporary workers, more dangerous imported products, more hollowing out of Australian industry, more risks to our democracy and more pain for workers, their families and their communities.”

AMWU – Members Celebrate Whyalla Win with Community

The next chapter in Whyalla’s rich history in Steelmaking officially started on the 1st September, with the official handover from Mark Mentha (KordaMentha) to Sanjeev Gupta (Liberty House).

The handover was the culmination of 2 long years of negotiations between administrators, unions, and Liberty House – the new owners.

The future is now much brighter for AMWU members and the community of Whyalla. Not only have jobs been saved, but the investment into the plant will hopefully see more jobs created and the opportunity for young people to take on a trade and a secure job in their own community.

The long-awaited day started with formalities at Wilson Park which included State and Federal politicians, the Administrators and the Gupta family, as well as workers and the Whyalla community.

Hundreds of union members, community leaders and the general public marched in unison to Ada Ryan Gardens where Mark Mentha handed over the keys to Sanjeev Gupta.

“The Whyalla plant was marked for closure,” said Mr Gupta.

“It would not have stayed open for long enough to allow us to come and do what we’ve done without the resilience of the community and the workers, and their refusal to give up.

“The will and the desire of the community and the workers to survive and make their business thrive was very strong.” 

Premier Jay Wetherill praised the workers that made the sacrifice of wages and conditions to keep the Steelworkers going through tough times. He thanked them for maintaining productivity and the quality of work which made the business attractive to the new owner - “they are the real heroes.”

AMWU Whyalla Organiser Steven McMillan thanked Mr Gupta for his vision and confidence in the workers and the Whyalla steelworks, and particularly union members who stuck by their union and stuck by the plant. 

“Even after taking a financial hit, union members stood strong to protect Whyalla’s future and the future of South Australia’s Steel Industry. This is their victory.”

If the company meets the vision they have laid out, there will be ongoing employment of the workers at Whyalla as well as growth of more jobs and diversity of work.

His plans are to invest $1 billion into capital works in the short to medium term, this involves co-generation power, and upgrades to current infrastructure and port facilities.

Longer term this will see increasing steel output per anum, from the current 1.2 million tonnes to 4.0 million tonnes per annum. He has also indicated he wants to talk to governments about solar and pumped hydro energy supplies 

The Arrium Business has been rebadged and is now known as Liberty Onesteel.

Steve McMillan said without AMWU members keeping the faith all the way through to the handover, this sale of the complete Arrium Business would never have happened, and many job losses would have occurred.

Members are now looking hopefully towards the future, and to building the community of Whyalla into its next phase of steel production.  

Monday, October 30, 2017


Australian anti-apartheid activists honoured in exhibition in South Africa

Australian anti-apartheid activists being honoured in a new exhibition in South Africa say it is an important reminder of the power of protest.

Meredith Burgmann Anthony Abrahams and Jane Singleton reflect on the anti-Apartheid campaign in Australia.

The most effective of the Australians' protests against Apartheid was the boycott of all-white South African rugby and cricket teams in the early 1970s.

As a student activist, Meredith Burgmann jumped the fence at the Sydney Cricket Ground during the 1971 game between the Wallabies and the racially-selected Springboks.

Meredith Burgmann, Anthony Abrahams and Jane Singleton reflect on the anti-Apartheid campaign in Australia.

"I remember thinking when I got onto the ground ... 'Wow I didn't even think I'd get over the fence,' and then I thought, 'What do I do now?' and we just ran on ..." Dr Burgmann told SBS World News. 

"My sister actually got the ball out of the scrum and kicked it, and The Bulletin called it the best kick of the season, whereas I just lay down in front of the players."

The famous images of her being dragged off the ground by police are part of the exhibition that opens on Thursday at the Johannesburg Supreme Court, where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned.

Also featured in the exhibition is Dr Burgmann's correspondence with Australian cricket legend Don Bradman.

Her polite but firm letters helped convince Bradman to cancel a tour against the South African team, not on safety grounds, but on principle.

"I could tell this was an older man struggling with the whole idea of 'should Australia be playing a racially-selected team?' which was really the issue."

Sport and politics do mix

Anthony Abrahams played 13 matches for the Wallabies but is best known for leading the campaign against the 1971 Springboks tour after seeing the situation in South Africa first hand.

"The whites-only benches around the towns, the separation of toilets, the whole society was a divided society based on race," Abrahams said.

While the tour went ahead - without Mr Abrahams and six other players - it would be the last time Australia met South Africa on the sporting field for more than two decades.

"The lead up to the tour got people in Australia thinking about it and we watched the public opinion polls progressively changed in favour of those who wanted to stop the tour," Abrahams said.

"It was a thought-provoking experience for many people in Australia, not just in the rugby states." 

He dismisses any suggestions that sport and politics don't mix, citing the recent example of NFL players kneeling during the US national anthem.

"It's saying with regards to those that make a stand that are involved in sport, that their obligations and issues as human beings don't stop at the turnstile of a sporting ground."

Anthony Abrahams refused to play against the racially-selected Springboks.

Inspiring future generations

Former chair of the African National Congress support group, Jane Singleton, says that is one of many lessons from the campaign. 

She organised Mr Mandela's visit to Australia in 1990 before he became president.

"Even in 1990 the then-premier of New South Wales would not meet Nelson Mandela publicly, so it was a 20-year campaign, but it changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of South Africans," Ms Singleton said.

She says today's long-running campaigns often struggle to gain the same traction.

"People have been concerned about a number of issues [like] the big debate now about same-sex marriage. How do you actually make the protest effect a change? I think that's what the exhibition shows us."

The activist trio will fly to South Africa for the exhibition opening.

"It'll really hit us for the first time how important the international struggle was for the end of apartheid. It is really the great international campaign of the 60s and 70s because it actually worked, we actually did stop sporting tours, we actually did start the isolation of South Africa and the eventual end of apartheid," Dr Burgmann said.

Unions Call for Streets Free Summer!

Unions are calling on every Australian to stand up for fairness and commit to a Streets-Free Summer.

Streets Ice-Cream management have hit the nuclear option and applied to terminate the collective agreement negotiated by workers and their union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. This would leave Streets' employees facing a devastating 46% pay cut.

These workers need your support. We know that the only way we can make this company listen is to hit them where it hurts and boycott their products.

Products to avoid are Magnum, Golden Gaytime, Paddle Pop, Cornetto, Splice, Calippo, Bubble O'Bill, Blue Ribbon, and Vienetta.

This is bigger than just Streets. This is about standing up to corporations intent on destroying Australian workers’ pay, conditions and job security. This is about working people saying enough is enough.

The CUB dispute showed us that when we are strong, bosses cannot walk all over us. This summer we need to pick a side: supporting workers in struggle or standing by and letting corporate greed run unchecked.

Let’s all have a #streetsfreesummer.

In solidarity,

Australian Unions Team

http://www.australianunions.org.au/ - Australian Unions
- L4 365 Queen St, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia

Barrier Reef–Trans-Shipping Banned !

Trans-shipping is the transfer of bulk materials like coal, sugar or petroleum from one vessel to another at sea.

We are absolutely thrilled the government has followed through on this crucial ban. Our precious Reef is already under severe threat from climate change, fueled by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gas. The risk of contaminating waters from accidental coal and oil shipment spills would have been too reckless for our Reef.

It is a huge relief. Now we need to  show our gratitude to those who act to protect our beloved Great Barrier Reef.

Thank Minister Miles for showing leadership

With the Queensland Election just four weeks away, our voice for the Reef will be more important than ever. This shows how powerful we can be when we speak up for our Reef. 

Thank you for fighting for our Reef.
Imogen Zethoven With Lissa, David, Sandra, Shannon and Tony

Your Fight For Our Reef campaign team

The Michaelia Cash Case–Stranger Still

Mark Lee works as a media adviser to the Fair Work Ombudsman but also does work for the Registered Organisations Commission - the Turnbull government body which ordered police raids on the AWU over 10-year-old donations to activist group GetUp!

Senator Cash's media adviser, David De Garis, resigned last week after admitting he tipped off the media the raids were about to happen.

The admission came after Senator Cash repeatedly told a Senate committee - under oath - that her office had not been involved in the leak. Labor has called for her to resign for misleading Parliament but she says Mr De Garis misled her.

Mr De Garis has not revealed where he got the information and now Australian Federal Police are investigating the source of the leak.

Now it has emerged that Mr Lee - who knew about the raids several hours before they occurred - was due to replace Mr De Garis in the media role in the coming weeks, as he moved to a different job in the office. Given the controversy, those plans have now been cancelled.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James told a Senate estimates hearing last week Mr Lee had no contact with anyone outside the agency before the raids started, denying he was the source of the leak that sparked the whole embarrassing episode.

But ACTU secretary Sally McManus has written to Ms James demanding answers, saying there remains widespread suspicion about his involvement.

  • "Can the FWO explain how Mr Lee avoided the conflict of interest between his current employer and his prospective employer, Minister Cash, when he had access to highly politically-sensitive material last week?" Ms McManus wrote in the letter.
  • "If a widespread and understandable suspicion exists that Mr Lee was colluding with Senator Cash's office why would the FWO consider it appropriate to retain Mr Lee as a media adviser?"

Ms McManus also asks how unions can have faith in the ombudsman when Mr Lee had plans to "work for the very minister responsible for launching political attacks on trade unions".

"Can you explain why when you appeared before Senate estimates last week you did not see fit to reveal this highly relevant piece of information regarding Mr Lee's career plans?"

Mr Lee has not commented publicly on his involvement, but an FWO spokesperson said it was his decision not to take up the job.

"Mr Lee will continue to carry out his normal duties as media director at the Fair Work Ombudsman.

"It is common for departmental or agency staff to be engaged in Parliamentary offices."

Mr Lee is also friends with another of Senator Cash's media advisers, and they worked together in the office of former Victorian premier Denis Napthine.

AEU–Celebrating World Teachers’ Day

Celebrating World Teachers’ Day

On Friday 27 October, Australia celebrates World Teachers’ Day . The day provides an opportunity to celebrate our teachers, and to recognise the challenges they face working in a pressured and underfunded school system.

On a recent visit to Australia, the head of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Andreas Schleicher, talked about the challenges facing Australia’s education system, and the role of teachers in boosting student achievement.

He said high-performing school systems, ‘…provide intelligent pathways for teachers to grow in their careers. High-performing countries also have moved on from bureaucratic control and accountability to professional forms of work organisation. They encourage their teachers to make innovations in pedagogy, to improve their own performance and that of their colleagues, and to pursue professional development that leads to stronger education practice. He added that ‘nowhere does the quality of a school system exceed the quality of its teachers’.

The OECD recently found that Australian teachers are working harder, as investment in education is lags.

In Australia, the professional role of teachers is being undermined by funding cuts. The shift to high stakes standardised testing ignores the fact that teachers are best placed to assess their students on an ongoing basis and to respond to their learning needs. Teachers and students need a well-resourced and supportive system that the OECD acknowledges has a significant impact on learning outcomes.

This week, UNESCO also released its Global Education Monitoring report, which warned against blaming our hard-working teachers for resourcing and other challenges that are beyond their control.

On World Teachers’ Day, it’s important to support and celebrate teachers and to appreciate the serious challenges they face in working in an underfunded school system.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

ITUC–Police Raid on Union Offices a Media Stunt

Australia: Police Raid on Union Offices a Media Stunt
24 October 2017

The ITUC has described raids by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on offices of the Australian Workers’ Union as a shocking act by a supposedly democratic government.

“Media outlets were given advance warning of the raids, presumably by the government, to maximise publicity. The raids are apparently about allegations that the union gave financial support to a progressive community group ‘Get Up’ along with political candidates more than a decade ago. This is an abuse of power by a government that is behind in the polls and is turning to union bashing to try to bolster its flagging fortunes. We are used to seeing these kind of tactics in dictatorships, not democracies,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Sally McManus, Secretary of the ITUC’s Australian affiliate, the ACTU, described the raids as “an outrageous abuse of power”.

Dozens of AFP officers were involved in the raids, which came immediately after the government cut the AFP budget by AUD 184 million, leading to expected cuts in enforcement on organised crime, corruption, narcotics and child exploitation. The raids were initiated by the government’s “Registered Organisation Commission”, a supposedly neutral regulator of unions and employer organisations, created six months ago.

The head of another anti-union government body, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), was forced to resign last month after misrepresenting labour laws in briefings to employers and ordered to pay a fine to the CFMEU union. The Deputy Head of the ABCC resigned, just weeks after his appointment in August, to disassociate himself from the conduct of the Commission’s head. One of the more notorious acts of the ABCC was to threaten to ban construction companies that allowed union flags to fly on building sites from access to government contracts. Unions have criticised the ABCC as having a “disastrous impact” on safety in the industry.

Australia’s conservative government is currently eight per cent behind the opposition Labor Party in opinion polls, having trailed the opposition in the last 20 polls.

“The ITUC’s annual global rights index shows that more than 50 countries are guilty of restricting democratic space including the right to freedom of association and of speech for civil society. It would be a tragic indictment of the state of affairs in Australia if it has to be added to that list,” said Burrow.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit

BREXIT disputes should be addressed through negotiations and a vote in Parliament, rather than a second referendum, Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday.

The Labour leader was on a radio show with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who had suggested on Monday that a second public vote could be required if MPs reject the final deal reached with the other 27 European Union member states.

Mr Corbyn also restated his support for unilaterally protecting the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and defended his efforts in backing the Remain side during last year’s referendum campaign.

On LBC Radio, he was asked whether he would support a second referendum to give the public a final say on the Brexit deal if Labour was in office.

He said: “What I want to do is negotiate tariff-free trade access to European markets and protection of all the regulations we have gained from Europe in relation to workers, consumers and the environment.

“The idea of a second referendum is something that many people want, but many are very concerned about because they don’t think it would actually solve the issue.

“I think that the issue has to be dealt with by negotiation and by a meaningful vote in Parliament on what it is.”

MUA Condemns Turnbull Government Failure On Constitutional Recognition

Posted by Mua communications on October 27, 2017

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has condemned the Turnbull Government announcement that it would reject a key recommendation from its own Referendum Council to set up an Indigenous advisory body to the Federal Parliament.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has condemned the Turnbull Government announcement that it would reject a key recommendation from its own Referendum Council to set up an Indigenous advisory body to the Federal Parliament.

The Referendum Council had found that a referendum should be held to provide in the Australian Constitution for a representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday that a referendum to establish a new Indigenous advisory body was neither “desirable nor capable of winning acceptance” and would be “seen as a third chamber of Parliament”.

The decision has been met by anger among Indigenous people from across the country who had endorsed the landmark Uluru Statement from the Heart five months ago at a historic constitutional summit in Central Australia.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the Turnbull Government had failed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The MUA condemns the decision to reject the collective proposal from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is yet another example of a failure of leadership from a fatally flawed prime minister,” Crumlin said.

MUA Northern Territory Branch Secretary  Thomas Mayor who attended the Uluru Convention said he was extremely disappointed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had been let down yet again

  • “It is disgraceful that again an Australian Government has smashed the hopes of those from Australia’s First Nations,” Mayor said.
  • “After this historic policy failure, it is clear that what Australia really needs is a new Government, one that listens to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • “Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement is clearly a slap in the face to a people who are already suffering from the effects of policy failure, such as the inequality of the Community Development Program (CDP). 
  • “For this Government to take the hard work that was put in to Indigenous consensus, and then to spit it back in their face, is unforgivable.”

Nurses – Carnell Report: All talk, no action on safe staffing levels

Thursday 26th October, 2017

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is disappointed that the Carnell Report acknowledges that inadequate staffing levels are compromising the care being provided to elderly nursing home residents, yet fails to deliver any real workforce solutions to fix the crisis in aged care.

ANMF Assistant Federal Secretary Annie Butler said although the Report includes some useful recommendations for improvements in the aged care sector, it simply does not go far enough in addressing the urgent need for mandated, safe staffing levels and skill mix in Australian nursing homes.

“Yet again, it’s all talk, no action,” Ms Butler said today.

  • “The Report acknowledges that the ‘lack of staff in nursing homes was a major contributor to the number of complaints around quality of care’ and that nurses and carers are overworked and suffering from low morale, with ‘strong support for mandatory staff ratios’.
  • “What’s disappointing is that despite all the evidence in front of it, the Report makes no recommendations on the urgent need for mandated staffing levels, and the importance of safe staffing levels in the provision of quality care for residents and their aged care experience.
  • “We know across the country, Australia’s aged care residents receive far less care than they should, on average – each resident is getting 90 minutes less care per day than they need. And the reason they are not getting the care they need is simply because there are not enough staff, there are not enough nurses and there are not enough carers.
  • “With no mandatory minimum staffing levels in aged care, it’s up to providers to determine what ‘adequate’ staffing levels are, and as we’ve seen, more and more operators aren’t choosing to employ enough staff.  At the same time, increasing fees are going to aged care providers directly from the pockets of elderly residents, which is why the ANMF insists that any new funding to the sector is tied to the provision of personal, nursing and clinical care. We do not support additional funding without accountability.
  • “We find it ironic that on the day the Carnell Report was released, almost 400 aged care nurses and carers from Victorian Bupa facilities attended the first statewide private rally against a for-profit aged care employer in Victoria, following an unprecedented 23 days of protected industrial action against the provider for not committing to safe staffing levels.
  • “From the ANMF’s perspective, the remedy for aged care is simple - the Government must introduce safe staffing legislation that guarantees that providers must use taxpayers’ money to provide proper, safe care for elderly residents by employing enough staff, rather than boosting their bottom line.

“No more talk, it’s time to act.”

Turnbull – NBN Driver

Geoff Pryor – Saturday Paper Oct 28 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Turnbull Government Rejects Indiginous Proposals

Indigenous leaders have criticised a government decision not to establish an official "voice" to parliament representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.

The government rejected the proposal for a constitutionally enshrined advisory body on Thursday.
Indigenous leaders had proposed the idea following a landmark summit.

The decision not to adopt the central recommendation is a blow to indigenous Australians, several leaders have said.

"Malcolm Turnbull has broken the First Nations hearts of this country," indigenous leader and activist Noel Pearson told the ABC.

The government argued that an indigenous-only representative body "would inevitably become seen as a third chamber of parliament" in addition to the House of Representatives and Senate.

Most Australians would not support the body in a national referendum because the idea was "inconsistent" with the principle of equal civic rights, it said.

A historic summit was held in May

Mr Pearson said there was "no reconciliation and recognition under this prime minister".
Jackie Huggins, from the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, said it had sent "shockwaves" through communities around the country.

"People are disappointed that the Prime Minister and Cabinet has not heard the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country," she said.

Barnaby Joyce is ineligible to sit in the Australian Parliament

Just now, the High Court of Australia ruled that Barnaby Joyce is ineligible to sit in the Australian Parliament.

The Coalition are desperately trying to hold onto their one-seat majority.

While New England is a safe National Party electorate, now is the time for us to send Mr Turnbull and the Liberals and Nationals a message – that Australia won’t be taken for granted any longer.

Statement from Sally McManus, Secretary, ACTU:
The ACTU has urged voters in the electorate of New England to be aware that Barnaby Joyce has put the interests of big business over the jobs, pay and conditions of people in rural Australia.

The number one issue in regional Australia is jobs.

  • The National Party have sat on its hands while entry level jobs for young people have been taken by temporary visa holders, issued by their government.
  • Deputy Prime Minister Joyce has championed the live beef export industry, which has cost Australian workers jobs processing meat.
  • The Government has replaced real jobs with $4 per hour wages, cut penalty rates, forced people into compulsory work for the dole programs, and cut taxes for big business.
  • These policies take money out of regional communities and put it in the pockets of big businesses, headquartered in Melbourne and Sydney, and their offshore shareholders.
  • Mr Joyce has supported privatisation and stood for the interests of big power companies who are making eye-watering profits off the back of regional Australians who are paying inflated power bills.
  • At the last election, Mr Joyce proudly turned the sod and heralded the benefits of a new wind farm in his electorate, which created local jobs. Since then, he’s denied other communities the opportunity, backing comments that attack renewable energy.
  • It’s no wonder that wages are at record low, big business’ profits are booming, and regional communities are finding it hard to get a secure job or a pay rise, when people like Mr Joyce continue to advocate the interests of multinational business at the expense of his constituents.
  • Unions are fighting for jobs and jobs security for Australian workers every day, too bad Barnaby Joyce doesn’t do the same.

Dutton Unlawful Detention Class Action Launched

A new class action has been launched against the department of immigration and its minister, Peter Dutton, alleging unlawful detention of asylum seekers, including a four-year-old born in Darwin.
It’s expected thousands could join the case, lodged on Thursday in the federal court, seeking damages for unlawful detention resulting from a failure of the department to act on complaints cases.
The four-year-old boy, who is the lead plaintiff in the case by the Maurice Blackburn law firm, was born to his asylum seeker parents at Royal Darwin hospital in September 2013, and spent 480 days in detention.
His lawyers said when the department eventually “put their mind” to the case, it took just two days to approve and issue a bridging visa, in January 2015, demonstrating the alleged unnecessary and unlawful lengthy detention.
“For the bulk of the time he was in detention, our claim is there was no proper purpose for him to be in detention,” said lawyer Jennifer Kanis.
The statement of claim cited a October 2014 letter from the department to Maurice Blackburn stating it was “currently not reasonably practicable” to take the family to a regional processing centre on Nauru or Manus.
“He and his family were never going to be removed to Nauru because the policy was that children would not be removed to Nauru,” said Kanis. “The family was effectively detained for no purpose.”
Kanis said there were no security concerns about the family, and their refugee claims – which remain unprocessed – had not been rejected.
“We know how important the first couple of years of a child’s life are and for a child to be in detention, for their family to be in detention, must have a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of the child,” she said. “That to me is unnecessarily cruel.”
The case is open to immigration detainees who were in detention for more than two days in an Australian facility, provided they were not detained for a cancelled visa, did not return voluntarily or involuntarily to their country of origin, were an unauthorised maritime arrival, or had at any time been subject to an adverse security assessment.
The plaintiffs will ask the court to rule their detention was unlawful, and to award damages for deprivation of liberty.
There have been several lawsuits against the immigration department relating to the detention of asylum seekers but few have been successful.
In June the federal government and offshore contractors agreed to pay $70m in compensation, plus legal costs, to nearly 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers over their illegal detention and treatment on Manus Island.
The payment was part of a settlement agreement, and involved no admission of liability for the government, which said it made assessments about litigation on a case by case basis.
The settlement prevented a six-month trial on a case which had already involved 200 witness statements, 200,000 documents, and more than 50 court dates.
That same month the government also settled out of court with the family of a five-year-old Iranian girl for “negligence” in her treatment while detained on Nauru.

What a fine piece of work is Michaelia

Cathy Wilcox Cartoon
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash's senior media adviser has resigned for tipping off the media off that police were about to swarm on AWU offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

Senator Cash has been under pressure to resign too because she repeatedly told Senate Estimates her office did not leak, but later corrected the record when her staff member confessed.

It is not yet clear who told the media adviser that the raids would happen.

Labor senators had hoped to ask more questions during an Estimates hearing in Canberra today, including to find the original source of the leak.

But as soon as the committee started, Attorney-General George Brandis said the AFP was now inquiring into the leak.

The Australian Workers Union offices have been raided in a donations investigation. Here's what they're being accused of.

Yesterday, Senator Cash told the committee she had written to the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) which originally asked police to conduct the raids, suggesting it request an investigation into the leak.

The committee is sitting for an extra day today because of the controversy over the raids and the leak but Senator Cash is not appearing.

She has returned to her home state of Western Australia because she said she had longstanding commitments in Perth today.

Senator Brandis is appearing instead.

This morning he told the committee that the AFP told Senator Cash's office last night that "as the matter is under investigation, it would not be appropriate to discuss the matter further".

He said that meant neither he, nor others would accept questions about the matter today "at the request of the Australian Federal Police".

Meanwhile, the union has launched a Federal Court bid to have the raids declared invalid.

But a hearing scheduled for today was adjourned after the parties agreed to a timetable, with a full hearing likely in December.

It means any AWU documents seized by the AFP will not be handed over to the ROC before the December hearing.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

ACTU – Your Rights At Work Campaign

The People Who Power GetUP !



Immigration Minister Peter Dutton lashed out at the journalists who revealed they had been briefed by Senator Cash's staff.
"There are a few people who are happy to take leaks because that helps them in their job as a journalist and then they turn around and bite the hand that feeds them," he told radio host Ray Hadley.
"There's not a lot of purity in some of these journalists."
Louisa Macphillamy and David De Garis from Senator Cash's office.
Cathy Wilcox Cartoon 26 Oct 2017

AWU 125 Years Stronger Together

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Michaelia Cash – Five Denials !!!!!

Michaelia Cash's Office Tipped-Off Media About AFP Raids, And A Staffer Has Now Resigned
Cash repeatedly denied that her office called journalists an hour before the raids, but a staffer has now admitted to tipping off media.

A staff member in the office of employment minister Michaelia Cash has resigned after BuzzFeed News revealed journalists from two news outlets received a tip-off from Cash's office ahead of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on the Australian Workers' Union (AWU).

Cash told Senate Estimates on Wednesday evening she had been advised that "without my knowledge" a single staff member in her office found out from a "media source" about the raid, and then told journalists.

The minister said she was not aware of the information until the raids took place. The staffer is "very distressed", Cash said, and has now resigned.

The late admission was in contradiction to earlier statements from Cash, who had denied throughout the day that anyone in her office leaked the information. She later said she was not informed about it at the time.

The AWU Sydney and Melbourne offices were raided on Tuesday afternoon in relation to donations made by the union over a decade ago when it was led by current Labor leader Bill Shorten.

AWU secretary Daniel Walton told Sky News the media arrived outside both AWU offices 15 minutes before the AWU received a phone call advising it that a warrant had been issued. Walton said that when asked, members of the media told AWU staff they were there to cover the raid.

Cash denied five times her office leaked the information, telling Senate Estimates her office was not informed about the raids until they had begun.

"I found out as it unfolded on the television after I returned from a meeting yesterday about 4.45pm on the ABC," Cash said on Wednesday morning.

"My understanding was that a phone call was made to my office once the search warrant was issued just before I saw it on the television ... 4.30, 4.45pm," she said.

When asked if she or her office advised any other person about the raid, Cash said: "No, as I said I literally watched it on the television unfold myself".

When asked again if anyone in her office had tipped-off the media, Cash said: "I said my office received a phone call from the Registered Organisation Commission notifying them that search warrants were being executed as the phone call was being made."

When asked a third time, Cash said her office fielded media calls for her to respond after the raids, but denied it had tipped-off the media.

"I have full faith in my staff," she said.

When asked a fourth time, Cash said she could "assure" senators that her office "did not find out about the raids until after they were being conducted".

DOUG CAMERON: Can you assure the Senate that no-one in your office called any media outlets about 3.30 yesterday?

MICHAELIA CASH: Yes I can and quite frankly I am offended on behalf of my staff as to those allegations. They are very serious allegations.

CAMERON: They are questions.

CASH: They are very serious allegations and I refute them.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull later told Question Time: "The minister for employment has assured me that she did not advise any journalists about the raid ... she is in estimates, I believe, this afternoon, and will no doubt have the opportunity to go into this in great detail."

BuzzFeed News has spoken to journalists who claim they received a phone call from Cash's office an hour before the raids, to make sure there would be cameras outside the AWU offices in Melbourne and Sydney.

The journalists say Cash's office phoned them around 3.30pm on Tuesday with the location and time of the raid, emphasising that it would take place at a union office.

The staffer pointed out the union in question, the AWU, used to be run by Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Labor has backed independent senator Nick Xenophon’s call for an independent inquiry to establish who tipped-off the media prior to the AFP raids.

"If Turnbull and his Liberals have nothing to hide, then they must support this inquiry," MP Brendan O'Connor said. "Turnbull and his Liberals need to immediately answer what they knew, when they knew it and who they told."

A Day Later ...

What was supposed to be a short, sharp, stage-managed morality play about Bill Shorten having “questions to answer” from his days as a trade union official has now blown up, politically, in the Turnbull government’s face.

After telling a Senate committee for much of the day that neither she, nor her office, tipped off the media about controversial police raids on the Australian Workers’ Union, the employment minister Michaelia Cash, has now had to correct the public record, and cop the resignation of a senior member of her staff.

“How can we actually believe anything you say,” the Labor senator Doug Cameron asked of the besieged minister on Wednesday night after a day which had lurched between paint-stripping hyper-partisan aggression and high farce.

Given Cash had told the committee five times throughout the course of Wednesday that neither she, nor her office, had assisted in putting cameras on the scene of the raids before the police turned up at AWU offices, the plausibility question from Cameron seemed entirely reasonable.

Cash, for her part, insisted that she had come forward with the relevant information as soon as was practicable. The rogue staffer (a recurring trope in politics) had only come forward and ‘fessed up to his conduct in the dinner break, and the correction of the public record had followed shortly after.

Yeah, nah, was the collective response of the Labor folks across the estimates table, who had been objecting to a government filibuster in the estimates committee, which had been very obviously in play for a couple of hours, to push past the television news bulletins.

Cameron warned Labor would continue to pursue the issue for as long as it took for Cash to take responsibility, as ministers are supposed to do in the Westminster system.

This was the beginning, not the end, of questions about this imbroglio, was Cameron’s clear implication. So, Michaelia, settle in, how long have you got?

The government has mired itself in its own mess, not only by enabling media coverage of the police raids, but by its decision to send off the reference for this particular investigation to the Registered Organisations Commission.

While no participant in the political process gets a free pass, while it is perfectly appropriate and valid that any participant in the political process answer questions about their conduct, whether it happened five minutes ago, or 10 years ago – the government also has to deal with how things look, with voter perceptions of its conduct and motives.

It’s self-evident that voters want everyone in the system to play by the rules.

But through its own overegging, and misguided stage management, and it’s too obvious desire to apply the blowtorch to inconvenient institutional foes, the government has opened itself up to commentary that this whole process is less about serving the public interest and more about indulging obsessive witch-hunts against political opponents.

ACTU – Yesterday Australian Politics Reached New Low

Yesterday Australian politics reached a new low.

The Turnbull Government used the Federal Police to raid a union office over a donation to an NGO.

It is an outrageous abuse of power.

It’s an attack on democracy. 

And it’s a waste of taxpayers money.

It is meant to intimidate us. But they have another thing coming. We will not be intimidated or stopped for standing up for what’s right and standing up to the powerful. We will continue to call them out and fight for a better deal – better and stronger rights for working people. Will you stand with us?

Big business and the Turnbull Government have too much power.

Yesterday they again showed they're prepared to misuse their power.

When the big banks were found to have allowed terrorists and drug dealers to launder money, they did nothing. This authoritarian behaviour is what you'd expect from a dictatorship.

This is exactly what they did at the end of the Howard government. And we stood up to them then. And we won.

And what worked then, is what will work now - people power.

And we’re going to stop them, but we need your help.

We won't be distracted, we are focused on building our movement to change the rules for working people.

We’re fighting for more secure jobs, pay rises and to make the big end of town pay their tax.

Yesterday showed how far the pendulum has swung in the wrong direction.

With your help we can swing it back.

We need you to chip in. To help get our message out on the airwaves, we’ve tested a few radio ads we know are effective, and we want to run them where it will hurt the Turnbull government the most.

Chip in to put them on the air.


That's how we fight back. We organise and we focus on what working people need, like penalty rates, and we win.

We’re working people. We don’t give up.

In unity,

Sally McManus

ACTU Secretary


Adam Bandt – Dark Day for Democracy

This is a dark day for democracy and the rule of law. When there are claims that 7/11 were stealing money from their workers, the government didn’t lift a finger, when there’s claims that casino bosses are rigging machines and breaking the law, the government doesn’t lift a finger. 

But when a union donates money to a citizens’ group, to speak up and hold the government to account, the government sends in the police in the full view of the nightly news.

This isn’t to do with the AFP, the AFP were doing the job that was asked of them.

This is squarely at the foot of the government, who established a little while ago, the Registered Organisations Commission, an organisation people may not have heard of, but is turning out to be for unions what the ABCC was for the construction industry.

The ROC has shown it is not a watch dog, it is an attack dog. And it beggars belief, it beggars belief that the first port of call when you want to get documents from someone in a case that is before the court, is to send in the police. 

This organisation, well, let’s look at the chronology–the government said ‘let’s look at the organisations commission, we want you to start an investigation into a union and a claims it might have given money to a political organisation, a campaigning organisation called GetUp’, the next thing we know, they start that investigation and before they even ask the union to hand over the documents, they send in the police.

Now, I don’t have any particular with the AWU, the AWU have publicly criticised the Greens for moving too quickly towards renewables. 

But that is not the point, that is not the point. In Australia, you don’t send in the police against your political opponents. You don’t have raids on organisations for documents, that they would have been willing to hand over, and indeed, properly did hand over, in the royal commission a couple of years ago.

Malcolm Turnbull is becoming more like Donald Trump every day. We are back now in the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era, where if you dare to speak up in this country, the government will crack down on you. We are seeing it with environmental groups and we are seeing it with unions–if you’ve got a white collar, the government turns a blind eye, but if you have a blue collar, the government throws the book at you.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

AFP Raid AWU Offices in Melbourne and Sydney

Statement from ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

The ACTU condemns the nakedly political use of the AFP in today’s action against working people and their representatives.

Using the police in such a way, while refusing to do anything to prevent money laundering by terrorists and drug dealers by the big banks, demonstrates the government’s appalling priorities.

This is the sort of action you would expect to see by an authoritarian dictator, and it has no place in Australia. All Australians should be disgusted.

Malcolm Turnbull’s grubby political tactics and abuse of power to attack those who oppose his anti-worker policies is a new low. 


The Australian Federal Police has raided the headquarters of the Australian Workers’ Union in Melbourne and Sydney.

The raids, which began shortly after 4pm, were ordered in relation to a Registered Organisations Commission investigation.

Plain-clothed AFP officers arrived at the union’s West Melbourne offices on Spencer St about 4.45pm and remain inside.

AWU Victoria branch secretary Ben Davis said he was disappointed with the decision to raid the building.

“The AFP have turned up unannounced with a search warrant looking for various documents pertaining to an investigation by the Registered Organisations Commission,” he said.

“This is a shameful abuse of process which both the ROC and the Federal Government should be ashamed of themselves.

“We have always provided any document that the Trade Union Royal commission and the ROC have always requested.

“Had we been asked in the last 96 hours for these documents we would have done so and instead they have gone for the circus of involving the AFP.

“This is an abuse of power, it is an abuse of process (and) you have not heard the end of this.”

Victorian AWU branch secretary Ben Davis says the federal police raids are “an abuse of power”. Picture: Jason Edwards AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said the raids were an “extraordinary abuse of police resources and taxpayer funds by a desperate government”.

“It is clear the ROC has been established not to promote good governance, but to use taxpayer and police resources to muckrake through historic documents in an attempt to find anything that might smear a future Labor PM,” Mr Walton said.

“This is a shameful new low for a government already scraping the bottom of the political barrel.”

Labor workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the raids were “an alarming misuse of ministerial power”.
  • “Turnbull and his Government openly directed the Commission to start this witch hunt,” he said.
  • “The Liberals have already wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars on their witch hunt into unions.”
  • “They will stop at nothing to attack workers and their representatives.”
  • “This is the NBN raids during the election campaign all over again. Australians will see this for the desperate tactic that it is.”
Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Luke Hilakari said the raids were a “disgrace”.

“ROC inappropriately using AFP resources. Turnbull is trying to destroy the voices of Aust workers,” he tweeted.

Labor MP Stephen Jones told the ABC it was “quite clear a request has come down from the Minister’s office to chase this down”.

AFP Raid on Sydney AWU Office
The investigation is probing the Victorian AWU and national branches over whether donations made to activist GetUp! in 2006 were approved under the union’s rules.

At the time Oppositions Leader Bill Shorten was the head of the AWU and the investigation is expected to probe whether these donations were made within the unions rules and regulations.

MEAA – Members Lobby Politicians to Support the Industry’s Future.

Members from MEAA’s Equity and Entertainment, Crew & Sports sections have led a high-profile group of TV and industry workers to Canberra to directly lobby politicians to support the industry’s future.

Actors Bryan Brown, Sigrid Thornton, Sean Keenan, and Matt Day, actor-director-writer Leah Purcell, special effects guru Dan Oliver, Oscar-winning sound technician Ben Osmo and production designer Fiona Donovan were part of the delegation that visited Parliament House on Wednesday, October 18.

Others in the group included directors Gillian Armstrong and Peter Duncan, writer Katherine Thomson, Oscar-winning cinematographer John Seale, producers Penny Chapman and Michael Tear, and film composers.

The Canberra visit was the next step in the Make It Australian campaign, which has been put together to push for reforms to ensure Australia has a sustainable screen industry well into the future.

The campaign has brought together the Australian Directors’ Guild, Australian Writers’ Guild, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and Screen Producers Australia as well as members of the Australian Screen Industry Group to push for reforms and government support to ensure the sector’s sustainability into the future. It was launched nationally last month and nearly a thousand Australians attended launch events in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart.

The four organisations have combined forces to fight for:

  • reform of local content rules to include the burgeoning digital platforms, including streaming video on demand;
  • the restoration of funding to public broadcasters and Screen Australia, who commission a significant proportion of local comedy and drama; and
  • the modernisation of our production incentives to make them globally competitive at all levels.

The four groups are also determined to fight any attempts by free–to-air commercial networks to reduce drama production and walk away from original children’s programming altogether.

The new campaign comes as the House of Representatives and the Department of Communications, Screen Australia and the Australian Communications and Media Authority are conducting reviews which could have far-reaching implications for the industry.

“The aim of today’s delegation is for politicians to hear directly from people working in film and television about the importance of supporting an industry that is of immeasurable cultural significance,” said Paul Murphy, chief executive officer of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, the union which represents performers and screen crew.

“Without real leadership from government to recognise how viewing patterns are changing and to properly support local production, our screens, both big and small, are in danger of being flooded with voices in American and British accents.”

The group met with the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Mitch Fifield, Opposition leader Bill Shorten and members of his front bench, the Greens and several cross-bench Senators, and also hosted a function in Parliament House to which all MPs were invited.

Each MP who was visited was presented with a large copy of a poster containing hundreds of selfies contributed by campaign supporters since the launch in September.

Monday, October 23, 2017

NSWTF – NAPLAN online testing cannot proceed

NAPLAN online testing cannot proceed: Maurie Mulheron President

The teaching profession is indicating that the NSW public education system is far from being ready to offer NAPLAN testing online.

Those closest to the conduct of the Department’s NAPLAN Online Readiness Trial — teachers and principals — recently shared their experiences with Federation’s NAPLAN Hotline.

The union has conducted a qualitative evaluation of the many hundreds of responses, revealing that while a small minority of respondents reported the trial went well, overwhelmingly, teachers had poor experiences.

NAPLAN Hotline responses revealed that preparing for the trial represented a significant demand on schools’ time, money and resources from the outset.

The initial response of the profession reveals:

Prior to and during the testing, significant and widespread disruption to the normal functioning of schools was reported.

Principals and teachers in executive positions commonly remarked on the reality of the trial being conducted on the backs of school budgets and many were not pleased to note the passing on of these costs to schools. The figure for teacher relief costs borne by the school communities were commonly in a range from $1200 to $4000 per school. No offers were made from authorities or the private company behind the trial to meet the relief costs of schools.

In addition, schools were often required to use their own funds to purchase hardware items and peripherals to allow the assessment to be conducted.

Very often, schools were compelled to buy large numbers of headphones for their students and system support materials.

Feedback from the teaching profession identified a vast range of logistical problems and issues arising from the conduct of the test (see box, below).

These issues were reported from every part of NSW, in primary and secondary school sectors and across categories of schools and socioeconomic backgrounds. The pattern of responses was consistent, overwhelming and widespread.

The vast majority of respondents felt their school was not ready to deliver NAPLAN Online.

Teachers also expressed concern that such testing cannot mutate into a de facto assessment of digital literacy, social background or resourcing but should be true to its original and stated diagnostic purpose.

Federation’s initial evaluation of responses from the profession show schools have vastly different capacities to conduct such high-stakes testing and there is nothing approximating equality of opportunity for students to do NAPLAN Online. Some of these problems arise from the conceptualisation of NAPLAN Online while other hurdles exist because of endemic inequalities in educational, socioeconomic and geographical circumstance.

Proceeding with NAPLAN Online would vastly exacerbate educational inequality in NSW. Responsible authorities need to commence real analysis of the needs of students from lower socioeconomic status areas, students with disabilities and students in regional NSW to identify and address the huge issues of inequality this evaluation has identified.

Federation’s final evaluation will be made public in Term 4.

The initial findings of Federation’s evaluation are consistent with the NSW Auditor-General’s recent Performance Audit Report on information and communication technology (ICT) in schools for teaching and learning:

The average age of devices in NSW schools is more than four years. Older devices are less reliable, require greater maintenance and support and cannot run demanding applications.
Many school wireless networks are beyond the end of their useful life and this limits the number of teachers and students who can access online content at the same time.

There is a growing gap in the provision of contemporary ICT between schools caused by differential access to funding sources.

NAPLAN Online already has huge and innate problems, including the spectre of introducing robot marking to extend student writing.

The Term 3 trial establishes that there are urgent problems in its logistical, technical and ethical framework, rendering it unfit for implementation in the foreseeable future.

Some of the difficulties arising during the testing process

  • Browser software problems
  • Inability to conduct bandwidth tests
  • Logging-on is slow and complex
  • Screen size varying between devices causing uneven legibility
  • Frozen screens
  • Inadequate regard for the specific needs of students with disabilities
  • Differential testing time caused by delays and technical failures
  • Constant dropouts
  • Limited school Wi Fi capacity
  • Students focussing on keyboard skill performance rather than the best answers
  • Disruptions to the test
  • Need to supply headphones to students
  • Lost earbuds
  • Use of different devices within and between schools causing great inequality of opportunity
  • Clatter of typing in the room was disruptive to some students
  • Widespread compatibility issues for technology
  • Disadvantaging of students without keyboard skills
  • Inadequacy of the ACARA server
  • Students going “off-task” when dropouts and problems arose
  • Difficulty in maintaining test authenticity as student attention could wander and confidentiality of responses was jeopardised
  • Significant safety issues as electrical cords often criss-crossed the testing spaces
  • Disparate technology
  • Failure of audio files

ACTU – Private sector wages hit new low due to outdated bargaining system

23 October 2017

Wage growth has hit a 26 year low in the private sector, and the number of approved agreements has collapsed to the lowest in 22 years, according to data from the Department of Employment.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Australian workers are suffering record low wage growth, and working families living standards are going backwards.
  • “The figures demonstrate that our system of bargaining is out of date and that our system does not give workers the power they need to make bargaining fair.
  • “Our laws are meant to balance the power of employers and employees, they are failing in this task and need an overhaul."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

ANMF– Show compassion & courage in supporting Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill

Thursday 19th October, 2017

Nurses and midwives are urging Victorian MPs to show “compassion and courage” in supporting the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, which will reform current State laws for assisted dying for the terminally-ill.

Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the Federal ANMF, in collaboration with the ANMF Victoria Branch, had long campaigned for an overhaul of the laws, to ensure that “no one is left to die in intolerable pain, any longer.”

  • “Our members witness the physical and emotional suffering that terminally-ill people, their families and loved ones are forced to endure because current Victorian laws don’t allow them to die with dignity,” Ms Thomas said.
  • “The ANMF and our members are supporting the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, as it empowers people suffering from terminal and incurable illnesses, giving them a choice about the timing and manner of their death.
  • “The proposed changes to the current Victorian law are based on recommendations from a panel of health experts - safe, ethical and humane and importantly containing strict safeguards.
  • “The ANMF is now urging MPs in the Lower House to display compassion and courage in supporting these long-overdue Legislative changes.
  • “As a humane, civilized society, we need to ensure that the terminally-ill will are not forced to suffer beyond their wishes.”

The ANMF, with 270,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia

ANMF media inquiries: 0411 254 390

ACTU – National Disgrace: LNP force Holden to close after 150 years

20 October 2017
Workers special ceremony as the last car rolled off the production line (Photo: AMWU)
Today, Australia’s last major car manufacturing plant closes its doors – putting the final nail in the coffin of an industry that has employed hundreds of thousands of Australians.
Holden began in Adelaide over 150 years ago, and is an Australian institution that has employed thousands of workers, yet it is also part of an industry that successive coalition governments chose to walk away from.

The decision to abandon an industry which was a source of good, steady jobs for generations, is devastating.

For a sitting Government to allow the collapse and closure of an industry that has formed part of the backbone of our nation is a slight against not only industry workers, but all Australian working people.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

  • “Today is a sad day for the workers of Holden’s Elizabeth factory. These workers have been abandoned by a Government clinging to broken neo-liberal ideology.”
  • “Holden and the car industry have been a major part of Australian culture, providing jobs and skills to hundreds of thousands of working Australians for generations.”
  • “Workers in our automotive manufacturing sector have been abandoned by successive coalition governments. The way they have been treated is cruel and negligent.”
  • “The Turnbull Government’s decision to desert our car industry takes our entire country backwards. The loss of jobs and industry is devastating to our country and our economy.”
  • “We stand with all the workers facing an uncertain future. We will support them, help them retrain, and become reemployed. We will not abandon these hard working Australians.”
  • “The Turnbull Government urgently needs to come up with a proper plan to support the future of manufacturing and working people in Australia.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Brussels – Jeremy Corbyn Met With Standing Ovation

Jeremy Corbyn was met with a standing ovation by Europe’s centre-left parties as he addressed delegates at the Europe Together conference, just hours before prime minister Theresa May was scheduled to meet her EU counterparts at a European leaders’ summit.
  • “We’re here to make sure that negotiations get on track, that we defend jobs in Britain, and that we make sure there is trade access to Europe in the future,” said Mr Corbyn, who was introduced as Britain’s “future prime minister” as Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime” played in the background.

  • “The prime minister seems to have managed to upset just about everybody and have a warring cabinet around her. It’s up to her to get the negotiations back on track,” said Mr Corbyn. The Labour leader, who was a fierce critic of the EU during his decades as a backbench MP, said the possibility of a “no deal” would be “catastrophic” for the UK economy. 

  • “We cannot countenance the idea that we rush headlong into a no deal with Europe. No deal would be very dangerous for employment and jobs in Britain,” he said. “We are clear in our priorities: a jobs-first Brexit which maintains free access to the single market.”
Mr Corbyn met Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, and the prime ministers of Portugal, Italy and Sweden on Thursday in Brussels.

Mr Corbyn’s popularity among young voters makes him an exception in Europe. Socialist parties in Germany, France and the Netherlands have all suffered historic defeats this year.

The Labour leader told his European allies that they needed to come up with “radical alternatives” for Europeans after years of austerity, rising job insecurity and falling living standards. 

“The neoliberal economic model is broken. It doesn’t work for most people,” he said, adding: “Our broken system has provided fertile ground for the growth of nationalist and xenophobic politics.”

Mr Corbyn’s enthusiastic reception was in stark contrast to Mrs May’s arrival in Brussels on Thursday. The UK prime minister was rebuffed from attending a meeting of Britain’s traditional European allies — including the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic countries — on the sidelines of the summit.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, was invited to that meeting, said: “We are all small northern European states with open trading economies, similarly values, very similar economies. That is going to be particularly important when we lose our biggest traditional ally, Britain, in a year or two.”

Thursday, October 19, 2017

NZ – Jacinda Ardern to become Prime Minister

Jacinda Ardern will become the country's third female prime minister, after New Zealand First leader Winston Peters threw his support behind Labour to form a coalition government and end nearly a decade of National rule.

It comes nearly a month after an inconclusive election result left both National and Labour courting his nationalist party to form a governing coalition.

"We had a choice to make … for a modified status quo or for change," Mr Peters told reporters in Wellington, ending nearly a month of political uncertainty.

"That's why in the end, we chose a coalition government of New Zealand First with the New Zealand Labour Party."

New Zealand First holds the balance of power with nine seats, a Labour-Green bloc controls 54 seats, and the National Party 56 seats.

The announcement means Ms Ardern, 37 and the youngest-ever leader of New Zealand's Labour Party, will oust incumbent Bill English as prime minister.

During the campaign she said she wanted to build thousands of affordable homes to combat runaway house prices, spend more money on health care and education, and clean up polluted waterways.

Mr Peters said his party's negotiations were heavily influenced by changing the way capitalism was perceived in the country.

"Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today's capitalism not as their friend but as their foe, and they are not all wrong," he said.

Earlier in the day Mr Peters told reporters that making a decision had been "seriously difficult".

Michaelia Cash – Senate say No to Anti Union Laws

Michaelia Cash has been unable to get enough support from the Senate crossbench to pass her “Ensuring Integrity” anti-worker bill this week. Cash thought these laws would sail through, but she didn’t factor in the thousands of people like you that stood up and said “No way!” to the crossbench Senators.

But she won’t give up. The Senate is back in three weeks. So we need to keep the pressure on. You can contact your Senate crossbencher here and tell them to hold the line, no more anti-democratic, anti-union laws. No more union bashing.

Some union members even travelled all the way to Canberra to meet with Senators directly. They are the people who would be immediately affected by these laws as they volunteer to run their unions like Kerrie who is an early childhood educator and Nguyet who is an outworker in the textile industry. They took the time off work to be our voice in Canberra.

You were our voice on social media, via email and direct phone calls to Senators offices. This is how our movement wins, when we all pitch in there is strength in numbers.

We will need another big team effort very soon, they have more anti-worker laws lined up, I’ll be in touch.

Yours in union,

Sally McManus

Australian Unions Team

Senate kills Dutton "White Australia" Citizen Test

Peter Dutton’s controversial citizenship bill has failed to pass the Senate, leaving the package dead in its current form.

The Turnbull government will now be forced to make significant amendments to the bill before restarting negotiations, after the immigration minister failed to meet a Senate-imposed deadline on Wednesday to bring the bill on for debate.

Nick McKim, the Greens’ citizenship spokesman, hailed the bill’s failure as a major win.

“Today, the people of Australia have shown what we can achieve when we stand together,” McKim said on Wednesday. “People who are working, studying and raising families in Australia can now get on with their lives and make choices about their future, after they were so unfairly put on hold for months.”

Dutton told the Australian that the government remained committed to its citizenship package but he would not say when it intended to try to get an overhauled package through parliament.

After it became clear last month that Dutton’s bill could not get through parliament as it stood, a majority of senators voted to give him until Wednesday to bring his citizenship package on for debate in the Senate. The Greens, whose motion it was, said they were tired of Dutton telling voters how crucial his bill was while simultaneously withholding it from the Senate so it couldn’t be debated.

The bill did not make it to the Senate on Wednesday in time for debate, so was discharged from the notice paper.

Dutton conceded to his colleagues on Tuesday, in the Coalition party room, that he would now be willing to reduce the bill’s English language test from level six (university standard) to level five.

Guardian Australia also understands his office has raised the prospect with crossbenchers of amending the retrospective elements of his bill that have caused consternation.

Dutton’s office has approached key members of the NXT in the past few days to talk about possible amendments to his bill but it appears he has left it too late.

The component in the bill that gives Dutton the power to overrule decisions by the AAT does not appear to have figured in discussions with crossbenchers about possible amendments.

With the citizenship bill struck from the Senate notice paper, the government will have to move a motion to restore the bill to the notice paper, but the Senate will not support that. It means the Dutton will either have to dump his package completely or make substantial changes to get his bill through parliament again.

The bill, as it stood, would increase the waiting times for permanent residents before they could apply for citizenship (from one year to four years) and force new applicants to complete a tougher English-language test (and achieve a pass mark of 75%) equivalent to level six of the international English language testing system (IELTS).

It would also give Dutton the power to overrule decisions on citizenship applications by the AAT if he did not think the decisions were in the national interest, and give him power to decide whether or not the applicant had integrated into the Australian community.

“A number of the witnesses during the inquiry pretty much suggested the legislation was all about One Nation, about the Liberals cosying up to One Nation,” Griff said last month.

The Greens had not been contacted by Dutton’s office in the past week. They expected the bill to be struck from the Senate notice paper on Wednesday evening.

Indonesia – US Supported 1965 Killing Fields

DECLASSIFIED files have exposed just how much the US knew about and supported the massacre of millions of Indonesians in the 1965 anti-communist purges.

Kennedy and Suharto
Suharto and Nixon
The non-governmental National Security Archive research group published 39 documents on Tuesday, out of thousands of pages of newly declassified files from the US embassy in Jakarta.
They cover the period from 1963-66, documenting official knowledge and approval of the army’s death-squad operations to wipe out the three million-strong Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and its supporters.

Up to three million people were rounded up across the country, executed and dumped in mass graves. The files show that the US provided the Indonesian army with lists of senior communist party officials, equipment and money during the massacres.

The purges led to the overthrow of communist-backed nationalist president Sukarno and the 31-year dictatorship of General Suharto.

The documents show US officials had credible evidence that contradicting the army’s claim about a supposed September 30 1965 bid by junior officers was ordered by the PKI — used as justification for the massacres.

A December 21 1965 diplomatic cable from the embassy’s first secretary Mary Vance Trent to Washington noted the “fantastic switch which has occurred over 10 short weeks.” Ms Trent estimated 100,000 had been slaughtered by then.

A previously released April 1966 embassy cable said: “We frankly do not know whether the real figure is closer to 100,000 or 1,000,000” — and even the Indonesian government had only a “vague idea.”

A report covering November 1965 by embassy political affairs officer Edward Masters addressed the “problem” of holding and feeding suspected PKI prisoners.

“Many provinces appear to be successfully meeting this problem by executing their PKI prisoners, or killing them before they are captured, a task in which Moslem  youth groups are providing assistance,” he wrote.

A month later the US consulate in Indonesia’s capital Medan wrote that imams from the Muhammadiyah Muslim organisation were preaching that all communists should be killed, calling them the “lowest order of infidel, the shedding of whose blood is comparable to killing chicken.”

Britain and Australia also supported the massacres, documented by the historian Mark Curtis. Anti-communism appears to be on the rise in Indonesia, with rightwingers trying to shut down a meeting on the massacres just last month.