Friday, August 31, 2018

MUA – Albo makes the case for coastal shipping

August 29, 2018

LABOR stalwart Anthony Albanese has used the Ports Australia Biennial Conference 2018 in Darwin to issue a rallying cry in support of Australian coastal shipping as well as the need for maritime jobs and an Australian-flagged fleet.

Mr Albanese, the architect of the 2012 laws, spoke with the electricity of a politician who knows an opponent is foundering in the Canberra muck.

“[Labor is] determined to not be a party in destroying a proud Australian industry,” he said during his address.

Coastal shipping reform, he said, was essential for bringing back the maritime jobs that would feed into the upper levels of the profession.

“You need a maritime sector and maritime skills, who’s going to run the ports if you don’t have a maritime sector? Who’s going to be the harbour masters? Vision!” he told Daily Cargo News on the sidelines of the conference.

“It’s a matter of understanding that there’s a national interest,” he said.

“You don’t allow a truck to take goods from Melbourne to Sydney on the Hume Highway, with a Filipino truck, with Filipino standards, with a Filipino driver; why should that be allowed on the blue highway?”

He said other countries around the world had recognised a maritime sector was in their national interest, pointing to the Jones Act in the US.

“In the US – the land of the free market – you can’t take a ship from San Francisco to LA unless it has a US flag on it and US crew,” he said.

While it is safe to say everyone at the Ports Australia Biennial Conference recognised the importance of reforming coastal shipping laws in the country, not all agreed that the answer was along the lines of the Jones Act.

Port Authority of New South Wales CEO and director Grant Gilfillan told DCN that everyone had an interest in seeing any form of shipping being successful.

“We understand the politics of coastal shipping, and the MUA and where the Labor Party sits. But, unfortunately the reality is that this is not going to save coastal shipping from an inevitable demise because it’s so expensive,” he said.

“It’s very hard not to label it as a form of protectionism when we’re in a global economy and every other industry has to compete on the international stage. It would be far better to look at ways to make coastal shipping more effective, because otherwise the investment goes into inland rail routes and roads to move cargo because it’s cheaper than putting it onto coastal ships. The debate still needs to go on.”

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Scumo's Coat of Arms

NSWTF – September 3-9 is the Fair Funding Now! National Week of Action.

Dear Colleague,

September 3-9 is the Fair Funding Now! National Week of Action.

Please visit the campaign website at to see the actions scheduled for each day of the week, and how you can contribute to the campaign to secure fair, needs-based funding for all our schools.

We particularly want to draw your attention to the doorknocking events in targeted parts of NSW which are taking place on Sunday, 9 September.

If you live in or near any of these areas, we invite you to join other teachers and activists in this crucial campaign action to take our message door-to-door.

Use the links below to sign up for an event near you.

Woy Woy:
Yours sincerely,

John Dixon
General Secretary

ACTU – O’Dwyer must resist big business pressure on casuals

30 August 2018

The peak body for working people has called on new Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer to resist big business pressure to intervene in an employer court challenge to a decision that grants so-called “permanent casuals” basic rights to paid leave.

 Yesterday Australian Industry Group head Innes Willox released a list of business demands ahead of a meeting with O’Dwyer.

They included the Minister intervening in an expected High Court challenge by Australia’s largest labour hire firm Workpac against a ruling by a full bench of the Federal Court that they had falsely classified a truck driver who worked a fixed and continuous pattern of work as casual. The court ordered that he be paid accrued annual leave.

AIG’s demands also included fast-tracking laws that would weaken the rights and negotiating position of working people, tipping the balance of IR laws even further in the favour of big business.

The pressure from the business lobby comes at a time when the power imbalance in our workplace laws has already caused record-low wages growth. In a recent ReachTel poll commissioned by the ACTU, four out of five people in paid employment said they hadn’t had a pay rise that keeps up with the cost of living, with nearly half receiving no pay rise at all.

 Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Minister O’Dwyer has been in the job only a few days and big business is already issuing decrees for her to carry out.”
  • “It will be a test of the Minister’s commitment to fairness for working people whether she is able to resist the pressure and demands from the big business lobby and stand up for working people.
  • “Employers are abusing a loophole in our laws to call people who have regular and ongoing work casuals. This denies them rights, leave and pay.
  • “I call on Minister O’Dwyer to change the Fair Work Act so that casual work is properly and fairly defined, to stop the casualisation of the workforce by big business owners.
  • “Casual work is one part of our insecure work crisis – Australia has one of the highest rates of insecure work in the OECD.
  • “The Minister has an opportunity to re-shape the role of Industrial Relations Minister, coming to the position after Michaelia Cash abused state power to pursue working people’s representatives.
“I invite Kelly O’Dwyer to restore fairness to our workplaces so people can get pay rises that keep up with living costs, and the job security they need.”

Nurses – Why climate change is a major health threat

Dr David Pencheon
Health professionals including nurses must view climate change as a major health threat of today in order to improve patient outcomes of tomorrow, according to Dr David Pencheon, Director of the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) for NHS England and Public Health England.

“The main thing is don’t treat climate change as an environmental threat in the future – think of it as a health issue now,” Dr Pencheon says.

“It’s very dangerous if doctors, nurses and other health professionals don’t speak up about it because it gives the public the impression that if it were very important, people like doctors and nurses would speak up about it.”

Dr Pencheon recently visited Australia to speak at a forum in the ACT held by the Australasian College of Health Service Management (ACHSM) and the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA) on the practicalities and challenges of sustainable and resilient healthcare.

He runs the SDU in the UK, established in 2007 with the goal of ensuring the National Health Service operated in an environmentally sustainable way.

The unit began by targeting carbon emissions reductions and helped drive an 11% decrease between 2007 and 2015, which represents billions in savings.

Dr Pencheon lists complying with the UK’s Climate Change Act and internal concern from frontline staff as the chief reasons behind the unit’s evolution.

As the venture got off the ground, he said hospitals steadily improved their efficiencies and systems by learning from others with better practices.

“It started with simple things like much better heating and lighting and power systems, those are efficiency things. The second thing was reducing waste, especially pharmaceutical waste. The third and most important area is much better models of care where we try and treat people at home rather than bring them into hospital.”

Dr Pencheon believes health systems globally face multiple challenges and opportunities involving climate change, new forms of technology and inequity.

He says transitioning towards sustainable and resilient healthcare systems can help improve current health benefits and safeguard the future.

“We’ve concentrated on environmental sustainability, which is broadly making sure that you meet the needs of today and patients today without knowingly prejudicing the chances of people in future because of the side effects in terms of pollution, waste, carbon emissions or air quality reduction from how we do the job today.”

Dr Pencheon says many people fail to understand the impacts of climate change on health and suggests the health and care system holds an important opportunity and responsibility to highlight its risks to both patients and the public.

“Quite often you’ll hear people say ‘Well I knew climate change was an environmental issue but no one told me it was a health issue’.”

Dr Pencheon says nurses especially can play a big role in shaping change.

“They control things like pharmaceutical wastage. They control the heating, the lighting, and all sorts of things. They have a much keener eye [than doctors] do on things like patient comfort or energy use or wastage or sorting out clinical and non-clinical waste.”

Since the SDU’s establishment, Dr Pencheon says the biggest shift has seen sustainability considered a dimension of quality measured and reported on and central to a quality health service.

He acknowledged Australia has greater climate change and health scientists than the UK but said the country’s health system is less integrated, making it difficult to implement changes.

“Nowhere is doing it consistently across the whole of the health and care system and I think it would be dangerous to declare victory yet because there are still a lot of clinicians who say ‘Well we’re too busy saving patients to save the planet’, forgetting of course that those two things are completely interrelated.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

MUA – The Hungry Miles – Part 2

Deadly love song could be the answer to our cane toad woes

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

It’s the beat that could help beat the spread of cane toads.

James Cook University (JCU) researchers say they’ve found the perfect toad tune that could help sound the death knell for the pests.

JCU’s Ben Muller placed cane toad ‘audio traps’ with differing characteristics at various sites in the Townsville region.

The team was particularly interested in attracting reproductive female toads carrying eggs.

“A female cane toad can lay upwards of 20,000 eggs per clutch so removing a single female with eggs from the population is more effective for control than removing a single male,” said Mr Muller.

The lower and louder the frequency and the higher the pulse, the better. The scientists found that around nine in ten of the females trapped using a loud, low frequency tone with a high pulse rate were reproductive.

  • “We think that low frequency calls indicate to female toads that they are hearing a large-bodied male and the high pulse rate means the male making the call has high energy reserves,” said Mr Muller.
  • “These things combine to make them believe they have found a good breeding partner.”

Mr Muller said the finding may help suppress toad numbers, but it was not a silver bullet.

  • “Large-scale eradication of cane toads from mainland Australia using traps is probably not possible,” he said.
  • “However, eradication of island populations could be achievable if the trapping regime was correctly designed and implemented.”

The research will be used by Animal Control Technologies Australia to help create a commercial trap.

Monday, August 27, 2018

ACTU – QANTAS workers united in opposition to latest ‘bonus’ offer

27 August 2018

QANTAS workers united in opposition to latest ‘bonus’ offer

In the wake of its recently announced $1.6 billion record profit, Qantas’ attempt to link the payment of a $2000 ‘bonus’ to workers to the signing of new enterprise agreements has fallen flat across the Qantas workforce.

A meeting of Qantas unions convened by the ACTU in Sydney today has heard of widespread anger amongst workers who have slammed this latest offer that would see the payment made only after the first post-wage freeze agreement is signed off. Under these arrangements many workers could wait for years to receive the payment.

Thousands of Qantas workers endured a pay freeze that was imposed by the company across successive enterprise agreements dating back to 2014. Since then, the company’s profitability has soared to last week’s record levels. Senior executive salary packages have also grown; the 2017 annual report putting the value of senior executive packages at $53 million.   

In light of these latest developments the Qantas Unions will be consulting closely with their members about the next steps and ACTU will be writing to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce setting out workers’ concerns and urging a rethink this announcement.   

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • ‘It is only through the dedication and effort of the Qantas workforce that we have seen the airline lift its financial performance. Qantas had an opportunity to recognise these efforts and the sacrifices that their workers have made. Instead it chose to make the payment depend on workers signing up to workplace agreements years down the track.
  • ‘Workers are asking if this is a real bonus for past performance or just another tactic designed to influence future bargaining outcomes.’ 
  • ‘When companies perform well, workers deserve their fair share.’
  • ‘We need a fairer bargaining system that delivers for working people.’
  • ‘Australia needs a pay rise. Qantas workers need a pay rise.’ 

CPSU – Morrisons Finance Combination a Danger

AUG 27, 2018

The CPSU has warned of dire consequences if the Coalition Government’s new ministerial structure signals further cuts to the Australian Public Service.

The Public Service has been elevated to a Cabinet position in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new Ministry, but in a combined portfolio with Finance for Minister Mathias Cormann.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “Three Liberal Prime Ministers in less than three years is obviously unhelpful for the Australian Public Service and its critical role providing essential public services and frank and fearless policy advice, just as this level of instability is bad news for the entire community.”

  • “Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s new Ministry gives us little reassurance that he will abandon the disastrous policies that led to Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott’s downfalls. The real problem is not the Coalition’s leadership but its destructive ideology, which has driven disastrous cuts to public sector jobs, capacity, public services, wages and working rights.”
  • “Elevating the Public Service to Cabinet is a good decision, given that a strong Public Service is at the heart of good government, but it’s deeply worrying to see the APS in a combined portfolio with Finance, the ministry charged with finding cuts and savings. Minister Mathias Cormann must focus on public services and policy capacity rather than further hamstringing the Government with yet more short-sighted cuts or further privatisation and outsourcing.”
  • “Minister Cormann’s predecessor in the role, Kelly O’Dwyer, has now taken on Jobs and Industrial Relations. Both ministers would do well to sit down and consider the disastrous impact the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has had on public service jobs and industrial relations through their own actions, setting a terrible example for the rest of the country and causing real harm to public sector workers and the agencies they work for.”
  • “It is positive to see Minister Peter Dutton relieved of some of his responsibilities as Home Affairs and Immigration are split back into two portfolios, given the deep problems in the Department of Home Affairs at the previous combination of enforcement, facilitation and policy under one mega-ministry.”
  • “We believe this is a strong opportunity to change not just perceptions but policy, starting with ditching the Government’s disastrous plan to sell off our visa processing system to corporations. Immigration should be a portfolio to promote the critical role of multiculturalism in Australia’s economic and cultural development, rather than being used as a dog whistle for prejudice as has often been the case under this Government.”

The Great Strike of 1917 – 7 pm 12 & 13 September 2018

Saturday, August 25, 2018

ACTU – Scott Morrison is Australia’s biggest fan of failed trickle-down economics.

Statement from ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

Scott Morrison is Australia’s biggest fan of failed trickle-down economics.

As Treasurer he presided over record low wage growth, saw inequality go to 70-year highs and watched on as 40 percent of Australians were pushed into insecure work.

He was behind the failed corporate tax handout that sought to take billions from pensions, hospitals and schools to feed big business greed.

He voted eight times to cuts to penalty rates, he slashed funding to schools and hospitals, and he voted to establish the politicised ABCC and ROC to harass and pursue working people’s representatives.

Working people will defeat Prime Minister Morrison and his failed government at the next election.

Workers in the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s racially discriminatory Community Development Program (CDP) will mark the anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off by continuing their struggle against the same denial of basic work rights and pay which Indigenous workers were protesting 52 years ago.

The historic walk off by the Gurindji led by Vincent Lingiari was a powerful stand for equal pay and equal rights.

The CDP will ensure that the legacy of this government will be denying pay and basic workplace and human rights to Indigenous workers in this country.

The First Nations Workers Alliance is campaigning for the same basic rights that the Gurindji fought for decades ago and does so with the support of the entire Australian union movement which has a proud record of standing with Indigenous people in their struggle for rights.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Indigenous Officer Lara Watson:
  • “It’s an appalling shame that CDP workers mark the 52nd anniversary of the Wave Hill Walk Off by continuing to fight for the most basic rights of Indigenous workers under this racially discriminatory program.
  • “The Turnbull government must act to ensure that Indigenous workers have the same rights as non-Indigenous workers, by abolishing this program.
  • “The union movement stood with the Gurindji in 1966, and is proud to stand with CDP workers now through the FNWA.”

Drag Posters to Download 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

ACTU – Vale Laurie Carmichael

18 August 2018

The Australian union movement is saddened by the passing today of former ACTU Assistant Secretary Laurie Carmichael.

Laurie dedicated his life to improving the living standards of working people and he shall be remembered as a giant of the Australian union movement.

After serving in World War II, in the fight to keep Australia free from fascism and Nazism, Laurie joined the Amalgamated Engineers Union (a forerunner to today’s Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, AMWU) while working on the Williamstown naval dockyards.

In 1958 Laurie became the state Secretary of the Amalgamated Engineers Union and in 1972 he became Assistant National Secretary of the Amalgamated Engineers Union.

In what would prove to be a boon for the working people of Australia Laurie was elected to the position of ACTU Assistant Secretary in 1987.

Working closely with ACTU Secretary Bill Kelty, Laurie was a pivotal part of the team that developed accord era improvements for working people.

Laurie shaped and advocated for universal superannuation, Medicare and the 38 hour working week.

His was a life of unrelenting advocacy which, coupled with his visionary and strategic mind, played a key role in some of the most pivotal economic and industrial reforms in Australian history.

The deepest sympathies and gratitude of the entire Australian union movement are extended to the Carmichael family, his son Laurie Carmichael Jnr and his step daughter Kerry.

Friday, August 17, 2018

MUA – Melbourne Port Operator ICTSI Must Be Investigated

Melbourne Port Operator ICTSI Must Be Investigated By State And Federal Authorities
Thursday August 16, 2018

The Construction Forestry Mining Maritime Energy Union is calling for the contract won by ICTSI in 2014 to operate the third container terminal at the Port of Melbourne to be investigated by both the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments.

Construction Forestry Mining Maritime Energy Union International President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said there were serious questions that needed to be answered about the probity and governance of the awarding of the contract to ICTSI.

Crumlin was speaking at the launch of the report ICTSI Exposed, produced by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) at Parliament House, Canberra.

  • “Today we are launching a report which examines the global practices of ICTSI who won a contract to operate the third terminal at the Port of Melbourne in 2014,” Crumlin said.
  • "It is a fact that at the time the contract was awarded ICTSI was in business with the Government of Sudan - while both the United Nations and United States had placed sanctions on doing business with the regime.
  • “The President of Sudan was then - and still is today - wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
  • “A few months before they won the Port of Melbourne deal in 2014 they entered into a contract with the Sudanese government for management of two container terminals.
  • “ICTSI then last month won a 20 year deal with the Sudanese Government for the South Port.
  • “At the time the then Liberal Victorian Government awarded the contract active international criminal charges had been laid against the President of Sudan.
  • “Just as troubling is the financial relationship between ICTSI and the Government of Sudan who are listed by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism.
  • “Why would you hand over a sensitive and critical piece of infrastructure as a port terminal to a company with financial ties to a Government listed as a state sponsor of terrorism?”

This raises many important questions that must be investigated including:

Was the Sudan deal disclosed to the Victorian Government as part of the tender process?
Did the Victorian Government consult with relevant Commonwealth security agencies considering the financial relationship between ICTSI and the Government of Sudan?

Was a probity and governance advisor appointed for the transaction and if they were has their report been released publicly?

Construction Forestry Mining Maritime Energy Union National Secretary Michael O’Connor said it was time for both levels of Government to commence an immediate inquiry into the ICTSI contract at the Port of Melbourne.

“If you operate a sensitive and critical piece of economic infrastructure such as a port you must be held to the highest standards yet ICTSI has a long history of dealing with some of the worst and most dangerous governments in the world, including Sudan, Syria and Congo,” O’Connor said.

“The minimum a responsible government should do is investigate these matters to reassure the public the operation of the terminal at the Port of Melbourne does not compromise our international obligations and meets the strictest of security standards.”

You can find out more at ICTSI Exposed and sign our petition calling on Federal and State Government to investigate ICTSI. 


16 AUG 2018

The Full Federal Court has today upheld a decision that casual workers are entitled to paid leave if they work in on-going, regular arrangements.

This is a major victory over rampant misuse of casual labour hire workers in coal mining and the broader workforce.

The decision to uphold the court’s 2016 Skene v Federal Circuit Court judgment means that workers described as casuals by labour hire companies may not meet the definition of a casual worker under the Fair Work Act and may therefore be eligible for annual leave and other entitlements.

The 2016 case involved CFMEU member Paul Skene, a fly in fly out haul truck operator employed as a casual by labour hire company Workpac in two Central Queensland coal mines for two and a half years. The Federal Court found that Mr Skene could not properly be considered a casual under the Fair Work Act due to the regular and continuous nature of his work on a fixed roster. The court decided Mr Skene was therefore entitled to receive accrued annual pay on termination of his employment.

The labour hire industry has thrown substantial resources at overturning this decision because it employs many thousands of workers as casuals in the coal mining industry under similar circumstances to Mr Skene.

CFMEU National President Tony Maher said the case would cause alarm in the mining industry, where use of casual labour hire workers is out of control.

  • “Labour hire employees are now a significant proportion of the workforce at most coal mines, with the vast majority employed casually.
  • “In many cases they are casual in name only, working side by side with permanent employees on the same rosters over extended periods, but with no job security.
  • “This decision challenges a flawed business model based on driving down costs by casualising large portions of the workforce. It means the end of the so-called ‘permanent casual’, which was always a contradiction in terms and a rort.
  • “The labour hire industry will cry foul over this decision – the answer for them is to employ people on proper arrangements that reflect the real nature of their work.”

The CFMEU will continue to fight against the casualisation of our industries and for workers’ rights to secure employment.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Premier Andrews – Energy privatisation "has not worked"

Energy privatisation has failed Victorians and the sector must be reset "back in favour of the consumer" not billion-dollar corporations, says Premier Daniel Andrews.

In a State of the State address drawing the election battlelines 100 days out from the November poll, Mr Andrews will argue "privatisation and deregulation has gone too far".

In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne on Wednesday, the incumbent leader will argue against austerity, for building a modern Victoria and push the case for renewable energy.

  • "We were promised that a privatised electricity market would lower prices," he says in the speech previewed by AAP.
  • "Wrong. Privatisation has not worked, it's only made things harder for families."
Victoria led the way in power privatisation under Jeff Kennett in the 1990s, but on Wednesday Mr Andrews will point to household energy bills rising by 20 per cent in the last year, while "AGL pocketed $1 billion" and Energy Australia's tripled profits.
  • "Something has to change and that will take some big ideas, too," he says.
  • "Because the scales need re-setting, privatisation and de-regulation has gone too far.
  • "We will tip things back in favour of the consumer, not the corporation."
Mr Andrews' comments come a day after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull got his contentious National Energy Guarantee through the federal government party room - but Victoria says it will be going through it to see what concessions the prime minister made for climate change sceptics.

Voters will go to the polls on November 24 and Mr Andrews' "positive plan for Victoria" pitch comes amid a police fraud squad investigation into his party's election campaign efforts in 2014.

ACTU – Wages going backwards for Australian workers

Wages going backwards for Australian workers
15 August 2018

Wages are not growing for any Australian workers and are going backwards for those in the private sector according to figures released this morning by the ABS.

The figures show that wage growth is now 2.1%, completely erased by CPI which sits at 2.1%. Under the Turnbull Government wages are no longer growing for Australian workers.

Recent polling conducted by ReachTel for the ACTU showed that 80% of Australian workers either hadn’t had an increase in pay in the last 12 months or had received an increase so small it had not covered the increases in the cost of living.

The latest Household Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) survey showed Australia hadn’t had a pay rise since 2009. The median disposable income for an entire household adjusted for inflation was $79,160 in 2016 dollars. In 2016, it was $79,244.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

  • “Australian workers need a pay rise, and these figures prove we need to change the rules to make this happen.
  • “Wages are not growing. The Turnbull Government is failing working people.
  • “When the system is out of balance, this is what happens. Employers and the big end of town have too much power, and working people are going backwards.
  • “Working people need to be given the tools and the power to win pay rises. Enterprise level bargaining is failing and working people need to be able to band together in larger groups and negotiate across industries and sectors."

CFMEU – Wind Up Political Attack Dog, the ABCC

The CFMEU has called for Malcolm Turnbull’s industrial political attack dog, the ABCC, to be wound up after a judge criticised a case as “a completely unnecessarily waste of public money”.

  • “Last financial year the Turnbull government spent more than 10 million dollars in its attack on construction workers," said John Setka, Victorian Secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division. “Again and again the Liberal Party’s ABCC is caught out blowing their budget and overreaching in their ideological war against unions.”
  • "This latest attack saw four AFP officers called to a building site under the direction of the ABCC and two workers charged for simply having a cup of tea and talking about four wheel driving. The judge rightfully described the case as a ‘storm in a tea cup’."
  • "The ABCC does nothing about wage theft, sham contracting and safety short cuts that kill workers, that’s left to us, the CFMEU. Then they waste more money attacking us for doing our job.”
  • “Australian taxpayers are sick of paying for Malcolm Turnbull’s political agenda, it’s time to abolish the ABCC and for the Liberal Party to fund their own political campaigns."
  • "Union members, workers, the whole labour movement is united to ‘Change the Rules’ and stop this shameless waste."

Acoss – Senate must reject cashless debit card legislation

Thursday 16 August 2018
With no credible evidence available showing an improvement in people’s lives, ACOSS calls on the Senate to reject the expansion of the cashless debit card policy listed for debate today.

The cashless debit card restricts 80 percent of a person’s income so that it cannot be spent on alcohol, gambling and drugs. However, the card applies to anyone in the target regions on income support payments of a certain age, even if they don’t use alcohol, drugs or gamble.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS says:

  • “The government must not expand a policy that humiliates people, and invades a person’s basic privacy, without any credible evidence that such restriction is justified. 
  • "The cashless debit card is paternalistic, intrusive and punitive, and is being expanded without any clear evidence it helps people.
  • “The cashless debit policy only serves to discriminate against people on low incomes.”
  • “The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)’s recent review of the government’s evaluation of the current cashless debit trials in Ceduna SA and Kununurra WA found there is inadequate evidence to determine whether the program has reduced social harm.
  • “We call on the Senate to oppose the expansion of the cashless debit card.
  • “People are on unemployment and other payments because they are looking for paid work or caring for children. There is only one paid position available for every 8 applicants and restricting access to cash is not going to change this.
  • “The Parliament should instead focus on improving employment outcomes and opportunities for people across Australia, rather than punishing people for being on a low income.”

Monday, August 13, 2018

ACTU gathers stories of workers hit hardest by lack of pay rises

13 August 2018

Australian unions will be collecting stories from people whose wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, starting today, 13 August.

The latest polling conducted by ReachTel for the ACTU showed four out of five people either didn’t receive a pay rise in the past year, or any wage increase they did get failed to keep up with the rising cost of living.

The poll of 2,453 people found 82 percent believed low wage growth in this country is an important, or the most important issue when deciding their vote at the next election.

Recent research from the Centre for Future Work has shown that the share of wealth in Australia that goes to working people has rarely been lower.

All people contacting the ACTU to share their story will have the option of confidentiality.

From 13-18 August, people can share their stories by calling 1300 486 466, or visiting:

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “Australia needs a pay rise. Too many people are struggling to keep their head above water.
  • “The cost of living is going up and people are struggling. The voices of many of the people who are struggling with the cost of living aren’t being heard.
  • “We are gathering the stories of people – both union members and non-members – who are being hurt by the broken rules that are preventing people winning fair pay rises.
  • “We need to change the rules so that all working people can secure pay rises that meet the rising cost of living.
  • “Our system is out of balance: big business has too much power and employers can just say no to fair pay rises.
  • “Our current rules are clearly failing the vast majority of working people who report either no increase or inadequate increases in their pay in the last year.
  • “Working people are worried about their wages, meanwhile the Turnbull Government is handing $17 billion to the big four banks. This polling shows how out of touch this government is with ordinary people and the issues that matter.”

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Sing It! Say It! Change the Rules! 

Prize money has been increased
thanks to our sponsors, to a total of 

Unions NSW prize: $500
Public Service Association NSW prize: $300
Blue Mountains Unions & Community prize: $200


Blue Mountains Unions & Community want to support your fight for fairness, so this competition is open to Blue Mountains residents aged 18 - 30 years old.


Perform your original spoken or sung work about what's wrong with the rules and how to change them. 


The audience also gets a say in who wins, so bring your friends!

Have any questions? Email



Backing music from the house band will be provided if needed.


Hosted by Blue Mountains Unions & Community

Open jam after the competition.

It's only possible for entrants in the competition to win a prize but everyone can jam, just for the fun!

There’s not many jobs available for young people. Youth unemployment is through the roof. And if you do find a job you could be ripped off by your boss, as many young workers have been.

For many big businesses wage theft is becoming a business model.
We’ve also seen people’s pay cut with the slashing of penalty rates in retail, pharmacy, hospitality and fast food. Now, the Government is replacing proper jobs with $4 an hour positions.

As the cost of everything is getting more expensive, people’s wages aren’t keeping up. 

The rules at work are broken for young people.

Only by being a member of your union can we change the rules, so all young people have better pay and their rights at work protected.

If you want to join a union but you're not sure which to join, you can leave your details with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and they'll help you join the right union for you.

If you aren't working, you can join the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union for free but they appreciate donations too.

Competition entrants can also choose to join Blue Mountains Unions & Community for $1 (normally $5 unwaged and $20 waged).

You can also join the grassroots campaign, organised by Australian Unions and powered by people to 


Competition commences 15th September. Places are limited so act fast!

PSA – "The Cruelest Cut of All"

The Public Service Association of NSW
Published on 7 Aug 2018

PSA President Kylie McKelvie talks about why the privatisation of disability services is “the cruellest cut of all”.  

There is one day left to make your submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the NDIS:

CPSU – Corporate Profits And Liberal Spin Won’t Fix Centrelink Service Standards

AUG 08, 2018

The CPSU says profit-hungry corporations providing low wages and insecure work are not the answer to Centrelink’s declining service standards.

The Turnbull Government has today announced further privately operated call centres to deal with complex and sensitive Centrelink cases.

The announcement means the Government will be giving an estimated $200 million per year to multinational corporations Stellar, Datacom, Concentrix and Serco to profit from Centrelink services.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “Let’s make no bones about it. These call centres are being set up to generate fat profits for these multinational corporations, not help ordinary Australians struggling with declining Centrelink services standards. Centrelink desperately needs more well trained permanent staff, but is instead being forced to cannibalise its own workforce and resources to pay for this ideological folly.”

“Minister Michael Keenan is trying to pretend private call centres are the quickest and easiest way to improve Centrelink services. But this costly process has taken months while there are empty desks in Centrelink offices around the country that could be filled almost immediately to provide the quality services that come with decent pay and comprehensive training.”

“Family support and the other cases that Centrelink workers deal with are extremely complex and sensitive, and staff have detailed knowledge of the relevant legislation to provide genuine help. The community expects to deal with professionals, not get shunted around private call centres staffed by people being paid thousands of dollars less, with massive staff turnover. Often these wasted hours on the phone only end when clients are transferred to a direct Centrelink employee who knows what they’re talking about.”

“The clear indications are that these privately employed call centre workers will not be the much needed additional capacity that Centrelink needs. The Turnbull Government’s already slashed more than 5,000 permanent jobs from the Department of Human Services and it appears the cost of these new private contracts will come out of DHS’s existing Budget.”

“The Turnbull Government is selling off Centrelink piece by piece, proving once again that it cares only about its corporate mates. That’s terrible news for Centrelink and the thousands of families and vulnerable Australians who interact with this agency. Minister Michael Keenan’s smoke and mirrors doesn’t change the fact that Centrelink staff numbers have gone down as corporate operations ramp up.”

“These four companies, Serco, Stellar, Datacom and Concentrix don’t care about Centrelink clients or their employees working hard to help people. These corporations will be subjecting their workforce to barely liveable wages, insecure work and dodgy working conditions. The Government will be paying millions while a company like Serco pays its workers just $20.90 an hour. It’s repulsive and we deserve better from our Government.”

ACTU – Tour of Arnhem Land Communities and Schools

FNWA joins AEUNT for tour of Arnhem Land communities and schools
8 August 2018

Representatives from the Australian Education Union Northern Territory branch (AEUNT) and the First Nations Worker Alliance (FNWA) will tour remote communities in the Northern Territory this week to talk about improving the working conditions, housing and employment opportunities for people in schools and remote areas.

Organisers from the AUENT and the FNWA will travel to Alyangula, Angurugu, Numbulwar, Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala, Elcho Island, Lake Evella, Milingimbi, Ramingining and Maningrida School between tomorrow and the 16th of August.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Indigenous Officer Lara Watson:

  • “The FNWA is the only organisation supporting workers in the Turnbull Government’s racially discriminatory CDP program.
  •  “All workers should have the basic rights which come with a real, paid job. CDP workers have no rights and no pay, this program must end and communities must be given economic autonomy.
  • “This tour is a great example of the work the FNWA and the union movement are doing. We are in communities, organising and supporting workers under this program.
  • “CDP workers, with the backing of the entire Australian Union movement, are campaigning to end this program. We need to change the rules for workers in remote communities.”

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

NATO Is a Goldmine for the US/Military Industrial Complex

By Brian Cloughley August 07, 2018

Countries of the NATO military alliance have been ordered by President Trump to increase their spending on weapons, and the reasons for his insistence they do so are becoming clearer. It’s got nothing to do with any defense rationale, because the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, has admitted that “we don’t see any imminent threat against any NATO ally” and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) recorded in its 2018 World Report that “Russia’s military spending in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than in 2016.”

Even Radio Free Europe, the US government’s official broadcaster, acknowledged that “Russia, one of the world’s top military spenders, reduced its defense budget by 20 percent in 2016-2017 to $55.3 billion” compared, for example, to the $56.3 billion of France. As SIPRI records, “together, the European NATO members spent over 4 times more on the military in 2017 than Russia,” and NATO Watch summed it up by pointing out that the 29 US-NATO countries “collectively spent over 12 times more on the military in 2016 than Russia.”

There is demonstrably no threat whatever to any NATO country by Russia, but this is considered irrelevant in the context of US arms’ sales, which are flourishing and being encouraged to increase and multiply as a result of Congressional and Pentagon scare-mongering.

On July 12, the second and final day of the recent US-NATO pantomime gathering, Reuters reported Trump as saying that “the United States makes by far the best military equipment in the world: the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns, the best everything.” He went on “to list the top US arms makers, Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp. by name.”

On July 11 the NASDAQ Stock Exchange listed the stock price of Boeing at $340.50. The day after Trump’s speech, it increased to $350.79.

On July 11 the New York Stock Exchange listed the stock price of Northrop Grumman at $311.71. The day after Trump’s speech, it increased to $321.73.

To further boost this bonanza, the State Department did its best to make US arms sales even easier by enabling weapons manufacturers to avoid the well-constructed checks and balances formerly in place to ensure that at least a few legal, moral and economic constraints would be observed when various disreputable regimes anted up for American weapons.

But these regulations no longer apply, because on July 13 the State Department announced new measures to “fast-track government approval of proposals from defense and aerospace companies” which action was warmly welcomed by the President of the US Defense and Aerospace Export Council, Keith Webster, who is “looking forward to continued collaboration with the White House on initiatives that further expand international opportunities for the defense and aerospace industries.”

There was yet more boosting by Lt-General Charles Hooper, Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, who declared on July 18 that “Defense exports are good for our national security, they’re good for our foreign policy. And they’re good for our economic security.” He then proposed that his agency cut the transportation fee charged to foreign military sales clients, which would be a major stimulant for sales of “the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns” so valued by Mr. Trump. Then the General went on to remind the media that “as the administration and our leadership has said, economic security is national security.” This man might go places in Trump World.

But he won’t go as far as the arms manufacturers, whose future growth and profits are assured under Trump and the Washington Deep State, which is defined as “military, intelligence and government officials who try to secretly manipulate government policy.” US weapons producers have realized, as said so presciently two thousand years ago by the Roman statesman, Cicero, that “the sinews of war are infinite money,” and their satisfaction will continue to grow in synchrony with their financial dividends.

The Voice of America joined the chorus of reportage on July 12 and observed that “with Thursday’s renewed pledge by NATO countries to meet defense spending goals, some of the biggest beneficiaries could be US weapons manufacturers, which annually already export billions of dollars worth of arms across the globe.”

Within European NATO, the biggest spenders on US arms, thus far, are Poland, Romania, Britain and Greece, and the amounts involved are colossal. Poland, whose economy is booming, has signed an agreement to buy Patriot missile systems for $4.75 billion, adding to the purchase of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles for $200 million, Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, costing $250 million, and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems for the same amount. Delivery of its 48 F-16 multi-role strike aircraft ($4.7 billion) began in 2006, and Warsaw has proved a loyal customer ever since. Who knows what exotic new pieces of US hardware will be ordered as a result of Mr. Trump’s encouragement?

Romania, a country with only 750 kilometers of motorway (tiny Belgium has 1,700 km), has been seeking World Bank assistance for its road projects but is unlikely to benefit because it is so gravely corrupt. This has not stopped it purchasing US artillery rocket systems for $1.25 billion and Patriot missiles for a colossal $3.9 billion, following-on from construction in May 2016 of a US Aegis missile station, at Washington’s expense. It forms part of the US-NATO encirclement of Russia, and its missiles are to be operational this year.

The message for European NATO is that the US is pulling out all stops to sell weapons, and that although, for example, “about 84% of the UK’s total arms imports come from the United States”, there is room for improvement. Slovakia is buying $150 millions’ worth of helicopters and paying a satisfying $2.91 billion for F-16 fighters, although most other NATO countries appear to have been less disposed, so far, to purchase more of “the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns” that Mr. Trump has on offer.

The mine of NATO gold is there for exploitation, and following Trump’s enthusiastic encouragement of his arms’ manufacturers it seems that extraction will be effective. The US Military-Industrial Complex stands to gain handsomely from its President’s campaign to boost the quantities of weapons in the world.

Patrick Dispute 1998 – Solidarity Forever

NSWTF – Education Week 2018 - Reflecting on the past to shape the future

August 06, 2018

by Maurie Mulheron, President

August 6-10 2018 is Education Week, a time to reflect on the achievements and impact of public education in our society – and, as Federation celebrates its centenary this year, to also consider the history of this great institution.

Recently, the Public Education Foundation released a series of videos featuring prominent Australians – Michael Kirby, Larissa Behrendt, and Craig Reucassel – whose public education played a role in their personal success. Their stories are indicative of the millions of lives improved by public education over the years.

At the heart of the success of public education is the fact that it is an education system that accepts all children from all families from all walks of life, and strives to provide them with the same high quality education, no matter their circumstances.

Public school teachers do more than educate an individual child; we accept children from a range of diverse backgrounds and create community. But we do more than even this. Our teachers strengthen the social, economic and cultural fabric of our nation - every day, in every public school.

Indeed, public education represents a deep and fundamental value that guides what we should want for all our children. The founder of public education in NSW, Sir Henry Parkes, summed it up in a simple yet profound phrase when he said that a public school allows all children, regardless of faith, to sit side by side.

For Education Week in 1957, Federation produced a poster which claimed that every school ‘should be a beautiful place, surrounded by spacious grounds, equipped with every facility and with adequate staffing’. The poster also called on everyone to ‘do all in your power’ to help realise this dream.

That this poster, 61 years later, still resonates with the issues facing public education today highlights the ongoing nature of the struggle to ensure that all children, from every walk of life, have their needs met by the quality of the public education made available to them.

However, for example, while 83% of students with disability attend a public school, the Federal Government has cut targeted funding to support their education. Where the original Gonski review found that a minimum schooling resource standard (SRS) was needed to life achievement of all students, with additional funding targeted to areas of need, the Federal Government has instead committed to providing 80% of the SRS to already-advantaged private schools, while only providing 20% for the education of public school students.

The campaigns in support of public education will continue, to ensure all students have access to the highest quality education regardless of their needs or background. As in 1957, the solution remains the same; we need you to ‘do all in your power’ and speak up on behalf of public education and the important role it plays in the lives of millions of children across Australia.

You can help by joining the campaign at

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Richard Flanagan – The world is being undone before us

The world is being undone before us. If we do not reimagine Australia, we will be undone too
Richard Flanagan

In the full transcript of his speech to the Garma festival, the author says the country can make itself stronger by saying yes to the Uluru statementSun 5 Aug 2018 08.00 AEST Last modified on Sun 5 Aug 2018 11.15 AEST

‘We are now entwined peoples; by custom, by humour, by friendship, by love, by work and by sport, in art, in music, in words, and through the land; in all these ways we have over 200 years found ourselves in each other.’

When my father died at the age of 98 he had largely divested himself of possessions. Among what little remained was an old desk in which he had collected various writings precious to him over the years: poems, sayings, quotes, a few pieces he had written, some correspondence. Among them my elder sister found a letter written by one of my father’s cousins many years before. In it she told my father that his mother, my grandmother, was of Aboriginal descent, and that in her family she had been brought up to never mention this fact outside of the home.

My father loved discussing interesting letters with his family. He never discussed this letter. Yet he kept it. The story of covering up Indigenous pasts was a common one in Tasmania, where such behaviour was for some a form of survival. There is no documentation to prove my father’s cousin’s story is true, but that doesn’t make it untrue. It leaves the story as an unanswerable question mark over my family.

The theme of this year’s Garma festival is truth telling. My father’s story is about the questions truth raises, and where the truth takes us. I don’t tell this story to claim I am an Indigenous. I have too much respect for Indigenous people to make such a claim.

And yet, if it were correct, it would explain so much that is inexplicable about my father. It would make sense of his beliefs in reincarnation as wombats and wallabies, beliefs strangely at odds with those of an ostensible Catholic born in 1914, as were his strong, almost obsessive feeling for his ancestors and for the land of the island’s north-east.

It would make some sense of my father’s odd, wry acceptance of the two times he suffered the indignity of being refused service in bars as a “half-caste” when we went on a family camping trip to Western Australia in the 70s. It was, I later learned, not the first time. In a PoW camp in Japan an English PoW refused to work with him on the grounds he would not lower himself to work with a “half breed”.

Our family, like so many other Australian families, has numerous Indigenous connections. I have Indigenous cousins. My brother’s first grandson is Indigenous. But the questions remain hanging over us, as they remain over all Australians.

Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?

I have flown the great length of our vast nation to speak to you, from the snow and rainforest and rivers of the island of the Palawa in the far south, to here, the country of the Yolngu in the far north-east, a country almost mythical for its music, its art, its leadership. Five thousand kilometres I travelled, twice the distance of London to Moscow.

And as I boarded flight after flight, making my way slowly northwards, I wondered what joins us over such a vast expanse, what connects wintry worlds with tropical? What finally joins us as people into this idea that we call Australia?

And the answer is story. The story of us as a nation. The story of us as Australia and as being Australian.

And yet, in recent years, that story has grown increasingly threadbare as the poverty of its original conception has been revealed as too thin to hold, as the warp and weft of our national myths have under strain torn apart, only to be covered up with rougher patches crudely stitched into the growing holes: war memorials, Captain Cook statues. It was, as they say, a bad day when the first blackfella discovered Captain Cook.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest  A member of the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu people from north-eastern Arnhem Land prepares for the Bunggul traditional dance at the Garma festival on Friday.

Australia has achieved many great things as a state. But it will fail as a nation if it cannot find a way of admitting our Indigenous people, and with them, our continent’s extraordinary patrimony: 60,000 years of civilisation. When the first corals began to form of what we now know as the Great Barrier Reef that civilisation was already 50,000 years old. They had known unimaginable changes of climate, ecology and zoology. We stand as the inheritors of a people whose languages, cultures and Dreamings are founded in that experience of deep time unknown to humanity anywhere else in the world.

And yet we turn away from it all, and, with a growing hysteria, feverishly return to our crumbling myths, seeking to build new statues and new memorials to collapsing fictions.

Among the audience here are some of the most powerful people in Australia: leading politicians, senior bureaucrats, heads and executives of some of our biggest corporations.

I bring you a warning.

The world is being undone before us. History is once more moving, and it is moving to fragmentation on the basis of concocted differences, toward the destruction of democracy using not coups and guns to entrench autocracies and dictators, but the ballot box and social media.

 The bonfire of our vanities is fully loaded with the fuel of growing inequality, fear, and division
We see gay and transgender people being once more scapegoated, and we see race and religion used to divide. We see truth everywhere denied. Duterte. Orbán. Erdoğan. Putin. Democracy is withering in Poland. Slovakia. Cambodia. Once great nations are lost in division that with each passing day grows more intractable. The chaos of Brexit. The catastrophe of Trump’s white nationalism.

My warning is this: if we here in Australia do not reimagine ourselves we will be undone too.

Other nations did not foresee the moment of their undoing; they had perhaps not the materials and tools at hand to fashion defences, to reimagine their democracies.

Our bewilderment with the greater world we live in is buttressed by our determined ignorance of our own country. If Australia chooses to remain cloistered in that ignorance at this time of dissolution, it is no less pregnant with catastrophe than anywhere else. The bonfire of our vanities is fully loaded with the fuel of growing inequality, fear and division.

And yet, it is at this moment of peril that we have been presented with an extraordinary opportunity rarely given to nations, a way of reinventing our country in a way that makes us stronger, more democratic and more inclusive.

And that opportunity is the Uluru statement.

The Uluru statement of the Heart.

At a time when the common consensus was that the worst was in the ascendant it was an appeal to what was best. It was a great achievement of our democracy that those who, from the beginning of our nation, have been locked out, would now, for the first time of which I am aware, accept the sovereignty of the commonwealth in return for a recognition of their sovereignty within that commonwealth.

That it was done with dignity and with a generosity wholly out of character with the humiliation and hate that has been visited on Indigenous people for 200 years gave the Uluru proposals a majestic grace.

The Uluru statement was modest in its proposals but it demands a radical recognition of who we are. We are not a nation, we are state divided by race and a refusal to acknowledge history.

Race, of course, is not a personal or scientific distinction; it is a political distinction. Race, with its ideas of Indigenous Australia as a problem, can only be maintained through power, and it can only be undone and unmade by power.

At the heart of the Uluru statement is a single terrible, haunting sentence, which reads, “This is the torment of our powerlessness.” To end that terrible torment there is finally only one remedy: it is to accord Indigenous Australia a measure of power through constitutional recognition of its sovereignty.

A government that claims to be of good heart to Indigenous Australia humiliated a generation of great black leaders

The great question of Indigenous sovereignty has been repeatedly acknowledged as a fundamental problem of the Australian state by successive national leaders. White Australia could not solve that problem. In a democracy that has constantly denied them, it was Indigenous Australia which, in a democratic process, came up with a solution.

But the historic magnitude of the Uluru statement was matched only by the smallness of the government’s response, which was akin to watching circus clowns standing on a wet soap bar.

It was always going to end pathetically, and so it did, with a shameful lie the government knew was a lie, pretending a moment of democratic history was an attack on our democracy, the lie of the third house of parliament promulgated by a man who would go on to blame his newborn child for his many problems, a calumny sadly repeated by the prime minister.

I don’t doubt that, for the government, the constitutional and legal questions are complex, that the politics are pregnant with the possibility of failure. The Indigenous community is also of many minds on many aspects of these various issues. Yet in spite of these difficulties, in spite of labyrinthine politics, the Indigenous community managed to find common cause, and with one voice say what it wanted.

And one might have thought that our government would listen and emulate the hard graft, the gritty politics, the trust in democracy, and aspire, at the very least, to the same hard-won achievement.

But a government that boasts of its determination to fight hard for company tax cuts ran from the fight for democracy. A government with the stamina to resist the overriding public mood for a royal commission into the banks for four years washed its hands of the Uluru statement in as many weeks.

And a government that claims to be of good heart to Indigenous Australia publicly humiliated a generation of great black leaders. All that the government has achieved in so doing is to lay a fertile ground for proponents of extremism and violence to preach to the next generation of black leaders who will rightly think Australian democracy is a sham that excludes them.

The effort it demanded of Canberra was perhaps too large; it demanded it imagine the country anew, stronger, richer. It required people who knew a life of the mind and a life of the soul, a largeness and generosity of spirit, and all these things are not just absent in the Turnbull government but consistently attacked and destroyed by them whenever they appear in Australian life.

Perhaps they knew themselves it was a task beyond their desiccated souls. The Uluru statement was a historic moment for our nation and, by refusing it, the Turnbull government chose to write itself out of history. Of them, only shame will endure.

Most Australians would be horrified to learn the full extent of the massacres

But if Canberra needs Australia, Australia does not need Canberra. By framing the Uluru statement as a political request that awaited a political response, by thinking it was about Canberra and not Australia, what has been forgotten is the immense power of the story Indigenous Australia is seeking to tell to all Australians.

And it is this which I think forms the heart of what Galarrwuy Yunupingu has characterised as a great gift to Australia.

The Makarrata – the less-discussed aspect of the Uluru statement – calls for a commission charged with two tasks: seeking agreements at various levels of government with Indigenous people and with truth telling about the past.

Indigenous Australians know the truth of us as a people for they have lived the lie of the white explorer and the white pastoralist who brought not freedom but chains, not food but poison, not home but dispossession, not law and order, but massacre, murder, rape and the stealing of children.

But most Australians do not. Most Australians would be horrified to learn the full extent of the massacres, of the fireside killings, of the wars of extermination, of the rapes, of the destruction and desecration of sacred sites, of the children taken, of the countless lives allowed to continue life without living. It is a terrible story, a story of shame, but it is my story as much as it is your story, and it must be told, and it must be learnt, because freedom exists in the space of memory, and only by walking back into the shadows is it possible for us all to finally be free.

I hope one day someone finds an Indigenous word to describe the unique nature of this enduring tragedy, this eternity of crimes, crimes that continue and that continue to deform us all, black and white, a word particular to our national tragedy’s own epic lineaments of suffering, resistance and endurance, a word such as the Holocaust is to the Jewish tragedy, as the Holodomor is to the Ukrainian tragedy.

And that word would also perhaps include the way in which this tragedy was also other things, how those who murdered also made love, how those who orphaned also had children, how those who derided and persecuted the Indigenous also took on Indigenous ways, thinking and dreams.

I have spoken elsewhere of the extraordinary extent to which early Tasmanian settlers took on Palawa ways of shelter, diet, clothing and lifestyle. But consider another example from the Kimberley: when the colonial police were hunting down the great Bunuba resistance fighter Jandamarra, they came to believe that he was, as the Bunuba said, a magic man.

Many white settlers came to believe Jandamarra could fly and even police reports described bullets passing through his body. The Bunuba believed that a magic man could only be killed by another magic man, and so police brought one down from the territory and it was he who killed Jandamarra.

But who really won?

To defeat the Bunuba the whites had to enter their Dreaming, and accept their beliefs as the truth of the Kimberley. And in this way the story of the frontier is a story of birth as well as of killing, of values and mentalities changing as much as it is also of segregation, oppression and violence.

Though the Uluru statement has been denied, it is not dead

If we can as a nation learn and understand some of these things we can also appreciate the second story which is as transcendent as the first is tragic, and that is a different story of the past, a story of glory. It is the 60,000-year story that manifests itself here at Garma.

It is in the Indigenous languages I hear all around me here, each a different way of divining the universe, unique and irreplaceable. It is in the cosmology and wisdom of traditional communities; it remains artfully written over much of our landscape in the fire-shaped patterning of bush, scrub and grassland; it stares back at us from the great rock paintings of the past and the extraordinary Indigenous art of today, from the films of Warwick Thornton to the paintings of Emily Kame Kngwarreye to the dance of Stephen Page, to the exquisite beauty of Michael Long holding the ball out to Carlton in the 1993 grand final, daring anyone to be better, as a grand final became wholly about his time, and his place, and his magnificent wonder.

And in that strange frozen moment of pure motion, as Australia thrilled as a man seemed to move at once backward and forward in time in defiance of time and space, it is possible to see also that our great struggle as a nation has always been to find ourselves in each other – the white in the black, the black in the white.

That is why though the Uluru statement has been denied, it is not dead.

I do not think that the majority of Australians have even started thinking about it. I do not believe that presented with the great drama of our nation going back into deep time that they will not be moved; that in being shown the vast tragedy of invasion that they will not understand the enormity of the crime; that in being shown the great wealth and diversity of Indigenous culture they would not feel an immense, shared pride.

And I think that they will come to the view that in denying black Australia that they have finally denied themselves, that this denial damages us all, and that they accept that it must now end.

If Australians can understand these stories as the mighty stones on which their nation could rest, I believe we could then combat the forces of racism, of hate, of fear, that are presently destroying other nations. We might even finally become a truly independent nation, knowing our strength resides not in obsequious alliances with power elsewhere, but within the marvel of our own people.

But for these things to happen the truth must be heard.

I began writing this speech at my place on Bruny Island. Opposite my writing room across D’Entrecasteaux Channel is Oyster Cove, where, in a remote outstation, the 47 spirit-shocked survivors of the Tasmanian genocide were dumped by the colonial authorities. After hearing of their story – he called it a “war of extermination waged by European immigrants” – HG Wells wrote The War of the Worlds in which Martian colonists exterminate Europeans.

Tonight I am here in Garma, a guest of the Yolngu people, and I realise that war never ended. Not the trauma, not the pain, not the damage, not the ongoing injustices, not the cruelties, nor yet the humiliations, not the torment of powerlessness.

In Yolngu the word for selfish is gurrutumiriw, which translates as lacking in kin, or acting as if one has no kin.

And Australia as a nation, after 200 years, is faced with a fundamental truth. We are now entwined peoples; by custom, by humour, by friendship, by love, by work and by sport, in art, in music, in words, and through the land; in all these ways we have over 200 years found ourselves in each other.

Black and white, we have become kin. We cannot be selfish.

And because we are kin it is not possible for white Australia to pretend that it is not damaged by the war that so damages black Australia, that it is not crippled by the same wounds, that it too is not rendered oddly mute by the same silence.

We should aspire as a nation to the hard-won knowledge that a war that began over 200 years ago can now be ended, and with it the crimes, the violence, the massacres, the murders, the rapes, the stolen children, the smashed Dreamings, all this can finally become history rather than an enduring present.

 It doesn’t take 20 years or 50 years or forever to get there. It takes political courage
We can belong here if we choose to anchor our identity in Indigenous Australia’s history, a history that must include the cost of the invasion – and the path to that new identity is saying yes to the Uluru statement.

Indigenous Australia is offering the possibility of completing our commonwealth of Australia, a commonwealth brutally deformed at its birth by its exclusion of its First Nations.

Commonwealth is an old middle English word that derives from an older word, commonweal, which was understood as a general good that was shared, a common well-being. It suggests a mutuality and shared strength. It evokes relationships, the idea of a common inheritance. It is, you could argue, the counterpoint to the Yolngu word for selfishness, for lack of kinship. Commonwealth is kinship.

It is to a completed commonwealth that I wish to belong. A commonwealth not just of states but more fundamentally a commonwealth of kin, a commonwealth of the Dreaming, of 60,000 years of civilisation. That’s the land I want to walk to, and it’s time we began the journey along the path Indigenous Australia has with grace shown us. To tomorrow. To hope.

It doesn’t take 20 years or 50 years or forever to get there. It takes political courage. And it is we who must give our politicians the courage they lack.

For too long we have confused civilisation and our European heritage as the same thing. We have been blind to the sources of freedom and hope that were uniquely our own, the vitality and antiquity that were uniquely our own, the complexity and the beauty that were uniquely our own and always there just in front of us.

But, like Burke and Wills, dying of a hunger created by their illusions in a land of plenty, we couldn’t see the food that was there in front of us. We only had to ask and it would have been given. But for over 200 years we turned our backs and our souls withered.

“At Uluru we started a fire,” Galarrwuy Yunupingu has said, “a fire that we hope burns bright for Australia.”

I began with a warning. I spoke of how our story as Australia is no longer holding. We have before us the chance other nations do not. If white can find themselves in black, as black Australia has through the Uluru statement sought to find itself in white, we can begin a new story – a better, richer, more sustaining and more hopeful story.

To do that though we must choose to become history’s actors, all of us, because no one else will change these things for us.

For Australia lies before us, waiting to be written into the Dreaming and the Dreaming into it. It is far from easy, but I believe that if the Uluru statement is taken to Australia, rather than to Canberra, that Australians are ready for this new story, that there has never been a better time, and that we must dare everything in our telling.

Yothu yindi. Garma. Makarrata. Yolgnu words that mean: coming together. Working together. Making peace together. This is our indispensable task as a nation and we cannot shirk it one more day. It is our time. Let us begin our country, as nobly as we are able, with kindness, with courage, with the love of brother and sister for brother and sister. Let us seize the fire.