Friday, November 30, 2018

Thousands of Aussie kids rally on climate

Despite a serious message, the events were a sea of colour and placards, many of which poked fun at their adult counterparts.

"I'll stop farting if you stop burning coal," one read.
A student at a Sydney event drew cheers for announcing he was "here because we are all from nature and we should all be taking care of it" before playing a clarinet solo.
The stage was set earlier in the week when out of touch Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed the intended action, saying Australia needed "more learning in schools and less activism". Morrison is clearly incapable of learning.
But the comments only seem to have emboldened the students, as just a few of their signs show.

Julian Burnside
#Scomo reckons kids should stay at school learning, rather than protesting climate change. The fact that they are protesting climate change suggests that they have learned things #Scomo hasn’t (or prefers not to)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

ACTU – Commonwealth Bank sponsorship of Australian of the Year completely inappropriate

27 November 2018

Commonwealth Bank sponsorship of Australian of the Year completely inappropriateThe ACTU has called for the Commonwealth Bank, currently at the centre of the banking royal commission and potentially facing thousands of criminal and civil charges as a result, to end its inappropriate sponsorship of the Australian of the Year awards.

Allowing a disgraced bank to use a national institution to repair its image is a disgrace.

Commonwealth Bank has been found to be charging fees to dead people and charging fees for services that were never provided, alongside almost every other type of exploitation and misconduct it is possible for a bank to commit.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly:

  • “Commonwealth Bank has been found to be entirely morally bankrupt – an organisation which has for decades profited by exploiting the trust of the Australian people, enriching itself at the expense of hard-working Australians.
  • “It is hard to imagine an organisation less suitable to sponsor an award which symbolises the best of Australian society.
  • “The banks revelations of the banking royal commission leave no room for doubt. This is an organisation with a sick, rotten leadership culture. It has swindled working people – including its own workers – and destroyed lives.
  • “This disgraced company has no business sponsoring our highest national honour.”

ANMF – Recommendations for greater transparency in aged care a positive first-step

Recommendations for greater transparency in aged care a positive first-step, but more action is needed
Wednesday 28th November, 2018

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), has welcomed many of a Senate Committee’s recommendations aimed at greater transparency for the country’s taxpayer-funded, for-profit aged care providers.

However, ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, says the Senate Economics Reference Committee did not go far enough in making the big for-profit operators more accountable for the $2.17Billion in Government subsidies they receive and ensuring they use it on safe, best practice care for vulnerable nursing home residents.

  • “We believe that many of the recommendations lay the foundations for bringing greater transparency into the financial practices of for-profit providers, but more action is needed for us to have a real chance of fixing the crisis in aged care,” Ms Butler said today.
  • “Looking at all of the evidence that was presented to the Inquiry, the Government and our politicians must realise it’s time to listen to nurses and carers and it’s time to listen to elderly residents and their families – who are concerned that taxpayer funds aren’t being used to provide quality care. And that as a result, far too many nursing home residents are being neglected.
  • “Evidence to the Inquiry raised questions about the financial and tax practices of the for-profit providers, at a time when they are embarking on ‘cost-cutting measures such as employing too few staff and staff with lower levels of qualifications.’
  • “What is clear, highlighted in evidence given by the Tax Justice Network Australia, is that for-profit providers certainly have the capacity to employ more qualified nurses and care staff, but are focused on their bottom-line, with some paying little or no tax through their use of complex corporate structures. As the Committee stated, ‘each dollar that is taken for corporate purposes is a dollar that is not spent on the provision of care.’
  • “So whilst we welcome the Committee’s overall recommendation that for-profit providers be subject to greater transparency and accountability as a positive first step, we don’t believe that politicians should avoid making tough decisions about the practices of for profit aged care providers by deferring the most difficult issues to the Royal Commission.
  • “Every day we wait for the Royal Commission, more qualified nurses and care staff positions are cut and nursing and care hours slashed. That means that vulnerable residents are suffering without enough staff to care for them, as for-profit providers continue to use their Government subsidies to bolster their bottom line. Residents and their families can’t wait for up to two years for a Royal Commission, they need the Government to act now – to stop their suffering.”

ANMF media release authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.

The ANMF, with over 275,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia. ANMF

Forget the wacky theories, the Liberal Party trashed its own brand

Forget the wacky theories, the Liberal Party lost because it trashed its own brand

When the prosperous residents of an electorate like Brighton suddenly vote for anyone but the Liberals in such numbers that for a long moment it appeared a 19-year-old Labor candidate who had spent $1750 on his campaign might become the local member, you can be pretty sure that something has gone seriously tits up.

Forget a lot of the agonised tripe that has been written and said about the reasons for the Liberal Party’s near-death experience at the weekend.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he's pleased Victoria rejected "the negativity, the fear, the spite and that small brand of nasty politics."

Conservative commentators were drowning in alternative realities: Miranda Devine thought it was because Matthew Guy didn’t tackle Safe Schools; Peta Credlin opined, weirdly, that the latest Bourke Street attack had made it hard for the Liberals to campaign on law and order. Sydney’s Alan Jones topped them all by claiming Guy would have done better if he’d had the “courage” to spend time on Sky TV.

Hogwash. It’s a lot simpler than all that.

Feuding Liberals show zero interest in learning lesson of Andrews win

The Liberal Party has trashed its own brand.

And it’s far from limited to Victorian state issues, despite the shambles of a campaign led by the unconvincing Guy whose slogan, “Get Back in Control” gave the game away from the very start.

Premier Daniel Andrews, of course, ran a campaign that showed he and his colleagues were actually in control and prepared to borrow and spend big to keep it that way.

Improved roads and rail, free school lunches, doggie vet subsidies, public IVF treatments and cheap solar panels might have won Labor the state election anyway.

But whatever Labor offered would never have been enough in even halfway conventional circumstances to tempt large numbers of affluent voters in places like Brighton or Hawthorn to abandon the Liberals in the way they did at the weekend.

Those voters, quite obviously, were rejecting a party they felt had rejected them, or at least their idea of what the Liberal Party was supposed to be.

The behaviour of what had been their party at federal level - the flirting with Tony Abbott’s choice of punisher, Peter Dutton, the overthrow of their idea of a leader, Malcolm Turnbull, and the choice of a chancer, Scott Morrison, as a replacement prime minister - had poisoned them.

And the poison had seeped all the way down.

It’s how you trash a brand. A batch of frozen berries is tainted in Beijing, causing customers in Melbourne to fall ill, and that brand of berries quickly finds itself with no buyers anywhere.

Andrews and his colleagues recognised this pretty simple equation.

That’s why they erected all those billboards featuring pictures of Matthew Guy surrounded by Dutton, Abbott and Morrison.

They were tainting Guy with federal poison, just to be sure.

And Liberal voters in every corner of Victoria were reminded, wherever they looked, that their old party, its current leaders near and far consumed by a search for some mythical base, had lost its bearings.

Should anyone be surprised that brand Liberal, poisoned from the top - just like brand Labor during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years - had found itself short of buyers at any price?

Of course not.

Those who’ve been watching have already seen the toxin have its way in September, when the Liberal Party lost a NSW state byelection in, of all places, Wagga Wagga, and in October, when the party couldn’t retain Turnbull’s previously unloseable seat of Wentworth.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Labor – Crushing Victory shocks Liberals in Victoria and Nationally

The Liberal Party's disastrous performance in the Victorian election has put the Morrison government on course for a crushing defeat at next year's federal poll, as a brawl breaks out over whether Malcolm Turnbull's demise was to blame for the shock result.

Premier Daniel Andrews easily won Saturday's election following a surge to Labor in a swag of seats across the state, including marginal electorates held by the Liberals.

Victoria election: The blame game begins

As Premier Daniel Andrews and the Labor faithful celebrated their landslide victory in Victoria, recriminations began after the Liberal Party's crushing defeat.While Coalition figures blamed the loss on a poor campaign spearheaded by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, they conceded leadership instability in Canberra was a significant factor with worrying implications for next year's federal election and the NSW election in March.

Party strategists believe the federal seat of Corangamite – the nation's most marginal – is a certain loss for the Coalition, along with Chisholm. Chisholm was the only electorate the Liberal Party won at the 2016 election. The current MP, Julia Banks, is leaving politics after sensationally alleging she was bullied during the Liberal leadership implosion in August.

They are also worried about La Trobe, which is held by 3.5 per cent, Deakin, held by Peter Dutton ally Michael Sukkar on 6.3 per cent, and Casey, held by Speaker Tony Smith on what should be a safe margin of 4.5 per cent.

Dunkley, which was won by the Liberal Party in 2016 but is now notionally Labor after a redistribution, is also vulnerable.

The Morrison government lost its majority after losing last month's Wentworth byelection, and will be swept from office next year even if it lost just one or two seats.

The Victorian Labor Party capitalised on Mr Turnbull's dumping by erecting billboards featuring Mr Guy alongside pictures of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and former prime minister Tony Abbott.

One senior Liberal MP told Fairfax Media that Mr Dutton's claim in January that Victorians were "scared to go out to restaurants" because of "African gang violence" had caused enormous damage in the state.

Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger – who is under pressure to resign over Saturday's outcome – said Mr Turnbull's removal had been "very disorderly" and "obviously the federal issue hasn't helped us".

"We knew we were always up against it here," he said.

Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt said the state defeat would send "shockwaves through Canberra".

Bolt said Mr Guy was a "hopeless campaigner" and in a message to federal Liberals who are preparing next year's campaign strategy, said the party could not rely on "scaring people" to win votes.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

ACTU – Super plan no substitute for paid family domestic violence leave

20 November 2018

The peak body for working people says a Morrison Government plan to allow women escaping violence to dip into their superannuation and take on debt to fund the significant cost of leaving is inadequate.

The ACTU is campaigning for 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave, saying that such leave is necessary on both social and economic grounds for women who want to escape violence.

Today Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer will announce a plan that will see women escaping violence expected to dip into their superannuation and take out micro-finance loans instead of having a guaranteed right to access paid family and domestic violence leave.

Women currently retire with 47 percent less super than men on average, according to the ASU and Per Capita’s Not So Super for Women report.

Paid family and domestic violence leave would cost only five cents per employee per day and has been included in a number of public and private sector industrial agreements, including all NSW Government employee awards.

Both the ALP and the Greens support the ACTU call for 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave.

The ACTU welcomed some other aspects of Ms O’Dwyer’s announcements, including the restoration of the ABS time use survey and changes that will prevent people who have experienced family and domestic violence being cross-examined by their abuser in court.

The changes to paid parental leave are a small step in the right direction. The ACTU has called for the abolition of primary and secondary carers’ leave and for 26 weeks’ leave to be granted to expecting parents to be used however the family chooses.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:  

  • “Women experiencing family and domestic violence need leave to be able to leave. It’s long past time for 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave.
  • “In 2018 women escaping violent relationships should not have to choose between their income and their safety. And they should not have to spend their retirement savings or take on debt.
  • “Our broken system already sees women retire with 47 percent less than men. Forcing women to dip into their super is likely to make worse women’s already inadequate retirement savings.
  • “Paid family and domestic violence leave is vital for women escaping violence. It’s the right thing to do, and every major party except Ms O’Dwyer’s recognises that it’s time to write it into law.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Bill Shorten to adopt Malcolm Turnbull's energy policy

Bill Shorten to adopt Malcolm Turnbull's energy policy, pledges to throw billions at renewables
By political editor Andrew Probyn

Australian households will be offered federal rebates to install solar storage batteries under a federal Labor energy policy that will also direct billions of taxpayer dollars at solar, wind and hydro projects.

Key points:

  • Labor to adopt Malcolm Turnbull's National Energy Guarantee (NEG)
  • Rebates for households and businesses to install batteries if Labor wins election
  • Pledge of $10 billion for Clean Energy Finance Corporation
  • With climate and energy expected to be subjects of fierce battle ahead of the election next year, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will unveil Labor's long-awaited policy on Thursday.

The ABC understands Mr Shorten will formally adopt former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's ill-fated National Energy Guarantee (NEG) as Labor policy.

Though Mr Shorten is likely to frame ALP adoption of the NEG as an attempt to find common ground with the Coalition on energy and climate change, it will also serve to give Labor political cover against Coalition attack.

The NEG, which was enthusiastically backed by then-energy minister and current Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, was twice supported by the Liberal party room but was dropped in August after some Coalition conservatives continued agitating against the policy.

Mr Shorten will recommit a Labor Government to a 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

He will promise massive spending on renewable energy projects, with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to have its funding topped up to $10 billion.

Extra rebates will be offered to households and businesses installing batteries to store solar energy, with Mr Shorten expected to argue that increased battery storage will improve reliability of the electricity grid.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Hands Off ABC – Then As NOW – from 1976

Reflection on Referendums

Reflection on Referendums
May 27th, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum.
Most Australians think this Referendum gave Aboriginal Australians the right to vote.  That is not so.  Aboriginal people had the right to vote in all Australian elections well before the referendum of 1967.
The questions posed to the Australian people in the 1967 Referendum were about changing two sections of the Constitution, one which excluded Commonwealth government involvement in the welfare of Aboriginal people, and another which prevented Aboriginal people from being included in Commonwealth censuses.  90.77% of Australian people voted in favour of the changes proposed in the referendum.
Successful referenda are hard come by in Australia.  The overwhelming result of the 1967 Referendum came after decades of campaigning by Aboriginal people that they have the same rights as other Australians. There is no doubt the result had great symbolic meaning for Aboriginal people who saw it as ensuring the rights and protections of Australian citizenship were available to all Australians.
So how much has changed for Aboriginal people in the 50 years since the 1967 referendum?
Given the disparity that still exists between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians on every major social and economic measure, the anniversary of the Referendum gives us another opportunity to highlight that much still needs to be done to ensure every Australian has by right, a living standard commensurate with citizenship in a developed country.
Presently work is being undertaken on the wording of another referendum question about the place of Aboriginal people in the Constitution and soon it will be put to the Australian people.  As it is presently worded, the Constitution reads as if Australia’s national story began with the arrival of the British colonists. Its wording also allows the Commonwealth government to discriminate against people on the basis of their race. The new referendum aims at making changes in both these areas.
When the wording of the questions to be put in this next referendum are agreed, and assuming it is passed by the Australian people, (wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a similar positive response to that achieved in 1967) we cannot assume that there is nothing more in relation to Aboriginal people we as a nation need to address.
There is still the issue that there has never been any agreement between the descendants of the Australia’s First People and the descendants of those who have come later as to how we will share the rights, responsibilities and resources of this land. Two states, Victoria and South Australia, have begun conversations with their Aboriginal people about what a shared sovereignty in their states might look like.
The rest of the nation would do well to consider doing the same.
Laraine Crowe rsj

Monday, November 19, 2018

Joseph Stigliitz Backs Union Demands

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has backed unions on penalty rates, saying cuts to Sunday rates in Australia are an indication that workers’ power has been eroded.

"The economy is supposed to be helping increase people's living standards - and part of living standards is enjoying leisure," Professor Stiglitz said.

"If you have to work on a Sunday, you should get compensated ... And the background of this [is that] the bargaining power of workers has been eviscerated. They would want to say 'I don't want to work on a Sunday' - but they can't say that."

Joseph Stiglitz, economics professor at Columbia University, says governments must act to address inequality.

The respected American economist and Columbia University professor, who is in Australia to accept the Sydney Peace Prize, also supports the Australian Council of Trade Unions' demand for industry-wide bargaining, which he sees as necessary to address weak wage growth.

"When you don't have any collective voice for workers, obviously workers are not going to do as well," he said.

It comes as the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that hourly pay rates increased 2.3 per cent nationally over the past 12 months, marking the highest annual growth rate in three years.

Unions argue the increase, which came after the Fair Work Commission raised the minimum wage by 3.5 per cent, is insufficient to offset the rising cost of living.

In a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, Professor Stiglitz called on governments to address inequality and warned that doing so was crucial to a well-performing economy.

He urged Australia to learn from the mistakes of the United States, where he said worker rights had been eroded through a series of policy failures based on trickle-down economics.

"It used to be that we thought that you could only get more equality by sacrificing economic growth," he said.

"That view is no longer accepted ... Having a progressive agenda with greater equality leads to higher economic growth and that higher economic growth then generates more tax revenue-  and that more tax revenue gives you a source of funding for more progressive reforms that can make a more inclusive society."

Labour, competition and taxation laws had been restructured in a way that led to "slower economic growth and more inequality", he said, adding: "What paltry economic growth has occurred, the benefits have all gone to the top."

Professor Stiglitz said large segments of the population had been locked out of the middle class as corporations increased their profit margins while refusing to pass on productivity gains to workers.

He said penalty rates should not be eroded, and that governments must act to protect workers.

"Having a life where you don't get the same time off that everyone else does is really interfering with your wellbeing," he said.

"That's why there's a really important role for a government to set hours and overtime standards."

The Fair Work Commission decided to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for full-time and part-time workers in February.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has promised to reverse penalty rate cuts within 100 days of a Labor government being elected.

Mr Shorten has also said he will consider the ACTU's industry wide bargaining proposal, which would empower workers to strike across industries.

Unions lost a bid to overturn the commission's penalty rates decision in the Federal Court last month.

Hospitality workers' Sunday rates were cut from 175 per cent of their standard wage to 150 per cent; in the retail sector, the drop was from 200 per cent to 150 per cent.

ACTU – Casuals robbed nationwide by broken work laws

19 November 2018

Casuals around Australia and across a wide variety of industries and occupations are being ripped off, in some cases being paid even less than permanent staff.

A paper released today by the peak body for working people has blown apart the myth perpetrated by the business lobby that casuals are paid a significant premium for the loss of leave rights and job security.

The Myth of the Casual Wage Premium paper found:

  • Australia has the highest proportion of temporary labour in the OECD at one in four
  • Most casuals are not paid 25 percent more than permanent workers in the same job
  • The longer someone works in a casual position the more likely they are to be paid less than permanent staff
  • About half of all casuals say they would prefer permanent employment with paid leave rights and job security

In most industries and occupations examined, the casual wage premium was five percent or less. For several, including sports and fitness workers, clerks, and packers and product assemblers, the “premium” was actually negative.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:  

  • “This research shows what people who are being ripped off in casual work already knew – that our work rules are unfair and we need to change them.  
  • “Casual pay on average is actually around two to five percent more in similar occupations, and many people get paid less than permanent staff, particularly in lower-paid work – not the supposed 25 percent premium.
  • “Casual work should be exactly that – work where shifts can vary and there is no legitimate expectation of ongoing work.
  • “While some people do choose casual work because they need flexibility, many would prefer the paid leave and security that comes with permanent work.  
  • “People who are engaged as genuine casuals should receive a genuine premium for the lack of paid leave and job security.
  • “Big business has been rorting our system, using loopholes and underhanded arrangements to pay some casuals even less than permanent workers doing the same job.
  • “This is another reason for the gender pay gap, as women are more likely to be working as casuals.
  • “This is unfair and it needs to stop. We need to change the rules so that working people – no matter how they’re engaged – have fair pay and more secure jobs.”

Saturday, November 17, 2018

ACOSS – Newstart Support

Friday November 16, 2018

From Kerryn to Derryn, Bob to Bandt – entire lower house crossbench and key senate crossbenchers support increase to Newstart

ACOSS can confirm that all of the crossbenchers of the Lower House of federal Parliament and key Senate crossbenchers now support an increase to Newstart.

“When Adam Bandt, Cathy McGowan, Kerryn Phelps, Andrew Wilkie, Rebekha Sharkie, and Bob Katter all agree, it’s time to stop talking and act,” said ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie.

“The diverse crossbench’s unity on increasing Newstart confirms just how out of touch the major parties are on this issue, as does polling which finds 68% of the community agrees we must increase Newstart.

“Most people receiving Newstart live below the poverty line. It is very difficult to look for a job when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from or how to put food on the table for your kids. For years, people have been telling their story, trying to get the Federal Government to hear them.

“It’s time for the Coalition Government to listen, and most importantly to act now to increase Newstart by $75 per week. 

“The rate of Newstart has not been increased in real terms for 24 years, and since 2014, the Coalition Government has been trying to cut the payment even further. While the Labor Opposition has promised a review of Newstart should it win government, people cannot afford to keep waiting in poverty for politicians to finally act.

“We strongly call on the major parties to work together to urgently steer bipartisan legislation to raise the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance through the Australian Parliament before the holiday season.

“It’s time politicians righted this long-standing wrong and delivered social justice to people on the very lowest incomes in our wealthy country.

“There is broad agreement across the community, from business groups, the union movement and a growing number of politicians including the Greens, Labor Chief Ministers, independents and Mayors, as well as John Howard and John Hewson, that we must finally lift the rate of Newstart after 24 years.

“Many of us are a job loss or a relationship break down away from relying on our social security safety net. We can afford a decent social security safety net and universal access to services by ensuring that businesses and individuals contribute their fair share of tax.

“We are, at our heart, a compassionate country and we want to be proud of who we are.”

Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Snob Song – Then as Now

A Snob Song! (1922)
(By Jean Bell.)

Though there has been no straight out declaration on the part of Capitalist candidates for the Provinces in favor of the  imposition of University fees, there have been some guarded references to "discrimination" in the matter of selecting students.

The Labor candidates believe in discrimination as it applies to an entrant's personal fitness or character, but strongly object to the "discrimination" which, would take cognisance only of the wealth and social standing of the student's parents, to the exclusion of the children of working classes. They would not, for instance, be guilty of singing the following snob song-

'Twould surely be a howling joke,
A farce to tickle all creation,
To educate the common folk
Above their station !

High fees will stop our kin and kith
From being with Bill Bowyangs handed,
Our sons and daughters mixing with
The hornyhanded !

The poor man at the poll--oh yes !--
May mingle with the moneyed voter;
In Halls of Learning--no"--unless
He owns a motor !

His entry is the tradesmen's door--
The front to him must show defiance--
Imagine him a Bachelor
Of Arts or Science !

Without high fees a worker's brat
Might soon attain a scholar's station--
He might--Gadsooks !--be honored at
A Graduation !

The toil-stained serf who humps a hod
Might wear a "mortarboard" in season ;
He might become a classic god ;

So, for that reason,
We'll have to make the entrance stiff,
To stifle that absurd ambition,
Which urges him to seek a different position.

The higher steeps of learning's joys.
The college honors and the passes,
Were never meant for girls and boys
Of working classes.

To working girls we'll close the door,
And bar their brains, and wilt their wishes--
Enough that they should scrub the floor
And wash the dishes !

No boy who owns a working dad
May venture 'cross our boodled borders--
The cheek and impudence of (Gad !)
The lower orders !

'Twould he a sacriligious sin,
A crime beyond all knowledge mortal.
Should e'er this rabble enter in
Our Sacred Portal !

High Fees must be our Sentries bold
To keep our Walls against the spoilers,
To guard the Privilege of Gold
Against the Toilers !


From the West Australian Newspaper The Westralian Worker 19 May 1922 p. 3.

The end of the Great War saw a period of hope that the old ways might change lives for the better and the growing labour movement demanding better conditions and rights for workers.

CFMEU – The Rules Are Broken

MEAA – Save Sydney’s historic Theatre Royal.

A campaign featuring some of Sydney’s best-known actors and leading theatre producers has been launched to save Sydney’s historic Theatre Royal.

A deal done nearly 40 years ago to ensure the theatre had a permanent home is being ignored by the current owners. The Theatre Royal has operated from its current site since 1875.

Live Performance Australia’s President, Andrew Kay AM, said the live theatre industry isn’t going to sit idly by while over a century of history is destroyed so a property developer can make a few extra dollars.

“Sydney is already desperately short of capacity and needs 3000 to 4000 additional seats to avoid losing more and more shows interstate. The permanent loss of the Theatre Royal would be a serious blow to the viability of live theatre and a blot against the good name of Sydney as a truly international city.”

In 1972, faced with demolition by the developer of the MLC Centre, Sydneysiders rallied to save the Theatre, with thousands attending protest meetings at Sydney’s Town Hall. Sydney’s leading actors, politicians, combined with trade unions to force the developer to change their plans.

Faced with a huge backlash from Sydneysiders, the development company Lend Lease agreed to change their designs for the future MLC Centre to include a new purpose built 1200 seat theatre to replace the old Theatre Royal. In exchange for saving the theatre, Lend Lease was given up to 8000 square metres of extra commercial office space or close to six additional floors as compensation. The value of this ‘deal’ provides to the owners and shareholders an additional $9-11 million of commercial office rent per year or when capitalised adds over $200m to the building’s value.

However, the new owners DEXUS/GPT are now reneging on this deal and the theatre has been closed for over two years.

“We are turning away shows every month due to a lack of suitable venues in Sydney in which to show them. This building needs to be retained as a theatre contributing to the culture of Sydney, not yet another high end retail outlet,” said Kay.

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance Chief Executive, Paul Murphy, said the shortage of theatre space in Sydney is currently costing hundreds of jobs for performers, creatives and crew every year.

“Scores of great Australian artists have performed at the Royal over the years and it is part of the theatrical history of this city. We urge the developers to rethink their plans and encourage all performers, crew and other theatre workers to join this campaign to retain a jewel in Sydney’s theatrical scene.”

An online petition calling on the owners to reopen the Theatre has been launched today.

“Unless someone intervenes, Sydney is about to sacrifice yet another great venue to the altar of developer greed,” Andrew Kay AM, LPA President said.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

ACTU – FWO report barely scratches the surface of wage theft

8 November 2018

A report released today by the office of the Fair Work Ombudsman reveals the very limited extent to which FWO and the Morrison government are dealing with wage theft as a business model in Australia.

More than one in three business previously caught breaking laws, including stealing wages, were still doing so when the FWO audited them through a desktop process of emails and phone calls.

Despite 184 businesses being found to be breaking the law a second time, only two were prosecuted, with the FWO preferring the softer options of cautions and notices for 92% of these second breaches.

One of the prosecutions commenced six years after FWO first became aware of the employer’s behaviour, in 2012.

The net amount recovered by the FWO from the 184 multiple-offending employers was just $244 246, or $1300 per repeat-offending business.

The peak body for working people has repeatedly called for changes to workplace laws to simplify investigation and enforcement processes so that unions can tackle wage theft head-on.

Proposed changes include simpler avenues to recover wages and superannuation for the thousands of workers in Australia who are being regularly and systematically underpaid.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “People should go to work confident of getting paid what they’re owed, including super.
  • “But for a huge number of working people in Australia, that confidence is betrayed, and their wages are stolen by corporations.
  • “The Fair Work Ombudsman can’t meaningfully address this issue and the Morrison government doesn’t care.
  • “There are around 200 FWO inspectors charged with enforcing our workplace laws for more than 12 million workers.
  • “Meanwhile thousands of workers’ representatives are sitting on the sidelines unable to stop wage theft because our broken laws prevent them from effectively doing so.
  • “Putting workers reps back on the wage theft beat would significantly increase the number of people stopping wage theft at no cost to the taxpayer.”
  • “We need to change the rules so that working people who are underpaid can have fast, efficient access to justice and get their money back.”

USA – How the House Fell: Republican Chaos and Democratic Focus

The message from Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, was urgent and unsparing. In a meeting with Republican lawmakers before they left Washington for the August congressional recess, Mr. McCarthy warned that time was running short: Unless they intensified their campaign efforts and forcefully delivered a coherent message, he said, Republicans would suffer grievous losses in November.

Instead of arresting their political decline, House Republicans proved unable at every turn to stay ahead of their troubles — including many of their own making.

By Labor Day, Republicans were fatally unprepared for an onslaught of Democratic campaign spending that overwhelmed their candidates from South Florida to Seattle. Party leaders on Capitol Hill and in the White House soon turned on one another and against their candidates with growing intensity. Two key groups — the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s campaign arm in the House, and the Congressional Leadership Fund, a powerful Republican super PAC — plunged into all but open warfare over messaging and money.

Democrats, in turn, delivered a message about health care with the repetitive force of a jackhammer. They cracked congressional maps drawn to favor Republicans and seized an array of open seats, while also felling longtime incumbents who had grown complacent.

And in the end, President Trump may have delivered the final blow to his party across the diverse and growing metropolitan communities that decided control of the House. In the last weeks of the campaign, Mr. Trump cast aside a positive Republican message about economic prosperity in favor of stoking racial panic about immigration — with appeals that veered into overt racism, alienating moderate swing voters and further enraging Democrats.

Republicans lost control of the House Tuesday night after eight years in power, with Democrats picking up seats in several suburban districts where the party traditionally did well. But if House Republicans were badly shaken by their defeat, few party leaders were genuinely surprised at the nature of their losses. In interviews with dozens of lawmakers, campaign strategists, activists and donors in both parties, a clear consensus emerged about the arc of the 2018 election.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

USA – Trump Trumped

The Democratic Party has reclaimed control of the House during the historic 2018 midterm elections, as the Republicans held onto their majority in the US Senate.

Tuesday night’s election results sent shock waves across the nation as voters flocked to the polls for the first time since Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

In many ways, the midterms were seen as a referendum on his presidency — and with the Democratic Party’s victory comes numerous obstacles his administration will now face in attempting to push forward his conservative “America First” agenda.

Democrats flipped a slate of seats held by Republican incumbents in battleground states like Florida, Georgia and Texas, securing a significant majority that allows them to begin holding White House administration officials accountable, including the president.

Ted Cruz defeats Beto O’Rourke in historic Senate race
Already, several Democrats have expressed an intention to demand the president’s tax returns, which Mr Trump refused to disclose during the 2016 general election.

The political and practical stakes were sky-high this year, as numerous Republicans faced a wave of progressive Democrats with bold agendas for their respective districts.

Tuesday’s elections also tested the strength of a Trump-era political realignment defined by evolving divisions among voters by race, gender, and especially education.

Monday, November 05, 2018

ACTU – Morrison announces wasteful and ineffective apprentice scheme

2 November 2018

The peak body for working people condemns the Morrison Government’s so called ‘bush wage’ – a hugely wasteful and ineffective band aid over the massive funding cuts made by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government to apprenticeships and vocational education and training.

If rolled out nationally the new program is projected to cost $11 billion over four years with the aim of placing just 1630 apprentices.

Between Sep 2013 and Sept 2017 apprentice and trainee numbers dropped by a staggering 150,000. A 37% drop over the life of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government.

The TAFE sector lost one-sixth of its financing in 2016, with operating revenues falling 16.8 per cent to $8.14 billion.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government refuses to invest in apprenticeship programs that we know work and instead continue to give handouts to big business.
  • “We have seen through the PaTH program, through CDP, and now this thought bubble, that this Prime Minister and his Government do not care about working people or developing skills, they simply want to funnel public money into private business.
  • “This program provides a perverse incentive to employers to stop and restart apprentices in order to get the subsidy. This program, like all other employment and skills programs created by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government, treats workers as disposable.
  • “We need to change the rules to make sure young people get proper skills training which will set them up for a good steady job, not sell them out to big business to be churned through meaningless programs.
  • “The Morrison Government is demonstrating yet again that it will always side with business over ordinary working Australians.”

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Family members of aviation pioneer have citizenship challenged – Border Farce

By Nick O’Malley

Nancy-Bird Walton's younger brother John was just 15 when the merchant ship he served on in World War II was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-180 off the New South Wales coast. He was one of 19 survivors rescued by the USS Patterson and is the last of them still alive.

Ms Walton went on to become one of Australia's most celebrated pilots, an Officer of the Order of Australia, and her name would one day appear upon Qantas's flagship A380 aircraft.

Pilot Nancy-Bird Walton died in 2009. She was named a National Living Treasure in 1997.

By war’s end John Bird had been awarded honours by both Australia and the United States, having served in the merchant navies of both nations. He moved for a time to the Australian protectorate that is now Papua New Guinea, where he married his Papuan wife and had five children before returning to Australia.

Each of the children were immediately registered and granted Australian citizenship, and when they turned six they were packed off to boarding school in Sydney. There they spent their weekends and holidays with their aunt, Nancy-Bird. One of John’s daughters is Mary-Anne, who at 64 remains an active member of the Australian Army Reserve, which she has now served for 29 years.

So it has been a shock to the whole family that the Department of Home Affairs is now challenging the citizenship of all the children. Mary-Anne has been forced onto a bridging visa which will expire in the new year.

Mary-Anne Bird was denied a new passport and had her citizenship challenged, despite serving in the Army Reserve for 29 years.

Another daughter, Cathy, went on the run after a Border Force officer told her she might be arrested and detained at any time pending her deportation to Port Moresby. Donald Bird is currently teaching English in Thailand and may have trouble returning should his passport expire.

"The immigration department positively hounded them" John Bird said of his children's treatment.
John Bird, now 91, is worried for his children and furious at the family’s treatment.

“I was bloody devastated. They are Australian. I am Australian. I have been a member of the RSL for 50 years and I get a veteran’s pension. The immigration department positively hounded them,” he said.

Cathy first discovered that her citizenship was being questioned by the Department in 2016 when she went to renew her passport. A couple of days after submitting her fee and the appropriate forms she received a call from the department saying that it did not consider her to be a citizen and demanding she apply for a Returning Resident visa.

Cathy Bird, niece of Nancy-Bird Walton, went into hiding after her bridging visa expired.
“I told them, ‘I can’t, I haven’t returned from anywhere, I’m here, I’ve always been here,” she says. "It is just being told you that you don’t belong that hurts the most."

Later she was informed that according to the Department she had been issued a visa in 1994 that expired in 2006 and she needed to sort out her status. She says she has no idea what the Department is talking about, that during that period she lived in Australia, holding an Australian passport, and that the Department has refused to show her the visa it is referring to.

Finally in September she was contacted by a case officer in Cairns and instructed to apply for a bridging visa. She claims her case officer bullied and intimidated her in a meeting, telling her that he could - and would - remove her from her flat at any time.

She was granted a one-month bridging visa which expired on October 31. Last week she locked up her Cairns apartment, had Mary-Anne drive her to the airport and went into hiding in rural NSW.

PNG-born Mary-Anne Bird was denied an Australian visa after her fourth Australian passport.

Fairfax Media understands that since media made enquiries to the Department on Thursday morning, the bridging visa was extended.

Mary-Anne Bird with her Papuan mother Mary. The interpretation of regulations have been changed in relation to the citizenship of Australians born to mixed marriages in PNG.

Mary-Anne’s battle with the department began later when she sought to have her own passport renewed. Like Cathy, she does not know why her citizenship is being questioned. “I am serving in the Australian Army. I have had my security check. You can’t serve in the Army if you are not a citizen,” she says.

Like Cathy, she has been forced onto a bridging visa, though she was given three months rather than one.

In recent days Cathy confessed to a friend that she had for a time considered suicide. "It was just so disheartening. I thought, 'How can I keep this fight up? How can I live like this?'"

Dan O’Brien, the secretary of US Army Small Ships Association, a group founded to assist Australian veterans, said over recent days members of the group, along with the Maritime Union of Australia, the Merchant Navy Association of NSW and the American Legion had raised money to help the Birds pay for legal assistance.

He said it was his understanding that when the Department of Immigration combined with other Australian government arms, including Border Force, to become the Department of Home Affairs, regulations - or the interpretation of regulations - about the citizenship of Australians born to mixed marriages in Papua New Guinea changed.

If this was the case, he says, those affected by the changes should have been notified and assisted rather than threatened with deportation.

“This is not how you treat a family that has given so much to this country,” he said.

Asked why the Birds’ citizenship had been challenged and how many people might be affected by changes to regulations, a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs declined to comment on individual cases due to privacy concerns.

After hearing Cathy's bridging visa was extended, Mr O’Brien, called on the government to apologise to the Bird family and settle the question of their citizenship conclusively.

MUA – Uluru Statement From The Heart: Week of Action Starts Sunday November 4

Posted by Mua communications on November 02, 2018

MUA NT Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor is leading a week of action for all supporters of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The week of action begins on Sunday November 4 and is focused on calling for the Voice to Parliament proposal to be put to the Australian people in a referendum.

The week is all about individuals and organisations taking self-initiative to contribute to a groundswell of support for the Voice to Parliament proposal. The timing is targeted at the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition, due to report on 30 November, and the Labor Party National Conference in mid-December.

Branches can join the week of action in many different ways:

Videos of members about why a First Nations' Voice should be put to the people via referendum (be sure to print and use our poster!)

For any actions undertaken, supporters are asked to post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtags: #FirstNationsVoice and #UluruStatement.

This is important to track the support and amplify the support.

Morrison Laps Up Alan Jones Shock Jock Spray

Of all the choices Scott Morrison could take, the decision to sink the boot into Malcolm Turnbull for telling the truth was not the wisest.

A few facts:

Morrison, the new Prime Minister, chose to send Malcolm Turnbull, the leader he replaced, to a conference in Indonesia because he couldn’t go himself, and he wanted “to ensure that we had very senior-level representation.”

In fact, Morrison could hardly attend, having just announced, apropos of nothing but panic at the byelection in Turnbull’s former seat of Wentworth, that he was thinking about moving Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Anyone who thought about it for more than a second knew such a thought-bubble was guaranteed to inflame relations with Australia’s nearest large neighbour. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world.

Sure enough, within hours, Indonesia started threatening the trade relationship with Australia.
Meanwhile, Morrison’s ham-fisted attempt to win over Jewish voters in Wentworth turned out to be worthless: the conservatives lost the seat for the first time in 117 years.

In sending Turnbull to Indonesia for talks with the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, did Morrison imagine the subjects of Jerusalem and trade wouldn’t get a solid workout?

Well then. Surprise, surprise.

Turnbull, asked about the out-of-the-blue Jerusalem proposal, declared "there is no question, were that move to occur, it would be met with a very negative reaction in Indonesia."

The only controversial aspect of that comment is that it is the plain truth.
It’s a truth, of course, that the new PM couldn’t stomach. It showed him up as an amateur in international affairs and an opportunist in domestic politics.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken a swipe at his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, saying he should stay out of politics on Alan Jones' show on Thursday. Audio source: 2GB
Still, it is hardly unusual for political leaders to find themselves chewing on unpalatable facts. The more sensible of them swallow uncomfortably and move on.

Morrison, instead, doubled down by going on Alan Jones’s regularly hyper-hysterical Sydney radio program to declare (a) that Turnbull won’t be representing his government overseas again, and (b) that Turnbull had overstepped what he was authorised to discuss.

"The issue of trade and other things was not really part of his brief,” said Morrison.

Once Turnbull had calmed enough to use his tweeting thumb, he let fly, essentially accusing Morrison of lying.

"A few facts," Turnbull tapped. "Scott Morrison asked me to discuss trade and the embassy issue in Bali and we had a call before I left to confirm his messages which I duly relayed to [President Widodo].

“There was a detailed paper on the issue in my official brief as well."

Oh, dear. A detailed paper.

That sounded very ominous indeed. It's known in the legal trade as a smoking gun.

Morrison, in short, turned a boneheaded idea, first championed by Donald Trump, into proof that just when he needs political momentum, he is capable of transforming a minor embarrassment into a full-blown shambles.

Shortly after Turnbull's fact-dealing tweet, Morrison rushed out an egg-on-face statement admitting that he had over-egged his confection.

"As head of delegation, he [Turnbull] was briefed on appropriate responses on other issues that could be raised in any direct discussions with the President, in his role as head of delegation," panted Morrison, clearly having lost his nerve at the whiff of smoking gun.

"Accordingly there were briefings dealing with the issues he has referred to."

Yes, indeed. A shambles of the first order.

Morrison announces wasteful and ineffective apprentice scheme

2 November 2018

The peak body for working people condemns the Morrison Government’s so called ‘bush wage’ – a hugely wasteful and ineffective band aid over the massive funding cuts made by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government to apprenticeships and vocational education and training.

If rolled out nationally the new program is projected to cost $11 billion over four years with the aim of placing just 1630 apprentices.

Between Sep 2013 and Sept 2017 apprentice and trainee numbers dropped by a staggering 150,000. A 37% drop over the life of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government.

The TAFE sector lost one-sixth of its financing in 2016, with operating revenues falling 16.8 per cent to $8.14 billion.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

  • “The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government refuses to invest in apprenticeship programs that we know work and instead continue to give handouts to big business.
  • “We have seen through the PaTH program, through CDP, and now this thought bubble, that this Prime Minister and his Government do not care about working people or developing skills, they simply want to funnel public money into private business.
  • “This program provides a perverse incentive to employers to stop and restart apprentices in order to get the subsidy. This program, like all other employment and skills programs created by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government, treats workers as disposable.
  • “We need to change the rules to make sure young people get proper skills training which will set them up for a good steady job, not sell them out to big business to be churned through meaningless programs.
  • “The Morrison Government is demonstrating yet again that it will always side with business over ordinary working Australians.”

Anzac Spending Spree and the Denial of Frontier Violence

A few years ago the Australian historian and novelist Peter Cochrane wrote: “Drape ‘Anzac’ over an argument and, like a magic cloak, the argument is sacrosanct.”

And so it is, apparently, with the decision to spend $498m on an upgrade of the Australian War Memorial, Australia’s secular shrine for the worship of all things Anzac.

Where was the political argument about spending such an enormous amount of money on a public establishment whose budgetary treatment would appear favourable to that afforded other national cultural institutions that are buckling under constant pressure of doing less with more?

Missing in action – that’s where. Missing in action because the (political) fix has been in on this decision since April when war memorial director and former defence minister, Brendan Nelson, foreshadowed the spend in an ABC story that, from his point of view, couldn’t have gone more swimmingly.

Instructive in that story were the director’s comments that, “As a nation we have a responsibility perhaps to do better and in this regard we have received very strong support from our government, supported by our opposition.”

On the potential cost of the venture, he said, “Whatever the cost is, as one man said to me, ‘We’ve already paid. We’ve paid in blood, and whatever the government spends on the Australian War Memorial ... will never be enough’.”

Paid in blood ... really?

It seemed unusual at the time that such an expensive project would be foreshadowed by an institution director rather than the relevant minister or, indeed, the prime minister. But that is the political power and, perhaps, the cultural potency of Anzac in 2018 Australia whose narrative has, especially during the past four years of the centenary of the first world war, become ever-increasingly militarised.

 But that is the political power and, perhaps, the cultural potency of Anzac in 2018 Australia
Did federal cabinet even debate it? Or did it just get the rubber stamp because of the magic Anzac cloak? What about the federal opposition: has it held – or will it hold – the proposal up to the budgetary light and scrutinise the sums, as it would, on far smaller infrastructure spends?

But questions need to be asked about the profligacy of this spending on more Anzac commemoration. This is especially so because $498m commitment comes after the $600m-plus of (mostly) government spending on (what I believe to be the over-the-top) four year commemoration of Australia’s involvement in the first world war.

Australia’s spending on commemoration during Anzac 100 has dwarfed that of other participant nations in the first world war, even though other countries experienced many more combatant and civilian deaths. Indeed, Australia has spent the equivalent of almost $9,000 for every soldier killed, compared with the United Kingdom ($110m, or $109 on each of its 1.01 million dead), New Zealand ($31m, or $1,713 on each of its 18,100 soldiers killed) and Germany (2.8 million fatalities, $6m total, $2 on each).

Add that to the cost of the memorial expansion and you get $1.1bn. That’s an awful lot of Australian war commemoration, money that might be better spent on the living.

The expansion is expected to effectively double the display areas of the memorial so that more military hardware such as helicopters can be displayed. This bucks the modern museological trend whereby institutions are doing more with less space and “democratising” collections by spending on digitisation to enhance online access.

Under the planned expansion visitors to the memorial would apparently be able to watch soldiers at work in real time. Quite how this fits the memorial’s mandate of helping Australians “remember, interpret and understand” their country’s war experience is quite unclear, especially as it’s only with the benefit of hindsight, due analysis and scholarship that a war can be properly interpreted.

Just on Wednesday I visited in Sydney a memorial to the first world war soldiers built by Indigenous man Douglas Grant, who fought in the first world war and was captured and imprisoned in Germany. I’ve written extensively about Grant before, including here and here. The life of Grant – who became an advocate for the Indigenous victims of mass killings on the Australian colonial and postcolonial frontier after the 1928 Coniston massacre, ironically, perhaps, perpetrated by an Anzac – is emblematic in some ways of the tensions at the heart of Australia’s modern foundation narrative.

A massacre survivor himself, he was stolen from the Queensland rainforest by white invaders, raised in Sydney by a non-Aboriginal family, fought for the empire and his country (in both the Indigenous spiritual and nation-state sense) and became a fierce advocate for Indigenous human rights.

The war memorial clings to the “black digger” (that is, soldier of the Empire) trope that attaches limpet-like to Grant (even claiming he was orphaned due to tribal violence), though it will not tell the stories of the Black warriors who defended their continent from the invaders.

Peter Cochrane’s “magic cloak” of Anzac denies oxygen to the true foundation story of colonial and federated Australia: the frontier violence that spread like wildfire across the continent post-1788 after Indigenous people resisted the red coats, “settlers”, raiding parties and militias.

In Canberra, a city of monuments supposedly serving national memory, there is still no official memorial to the Indigenous dead of the frontier wars, who numbered, by credible estimation, up to 60,000 in Queensland alone – the same as Australian personnel killed in the first world war.

Meanwhile, Douglas Grant’s little memorial in front of the old Callan Park mental hospital at Rozelle, where he lived on and off while coping with his shell shock, is rusting and its concrete foundation decaying. Its little wishing well centrepiece is filled with fetid water.

How appropriate it would have been to spend a few thousand dollars of all that Anzac centenary money on this modest memorial that can evoke such truth about Australia’s alternative, real foundation story. Better still – how about a little bit of the $498m about to be so profligately blown on the Australian War Memorial?

Friday, November 02, 2018

The Future "America" Then as Now

The Future "America"

My country, 'tis of thee,
Land of lost Liberty,
Of thee we sing.
Land which the millionaires,
Who govern our affairs,
Own for themselves and heirs--
Hail to my king.

Land once of noble braves,
But now of wretched slaves--
Alas ! too late
We saw sweet Freedom die,
From letting bribers high
Our unprized suffrage buy ;
And mourn thy fate.

Land where the wealthy few
Can make the many do
Their royal will,
And tax for selfish greed
Thy toilers till they bleed,
And those not yet weak-kneed
Crush down and kill.

Land where a rogue is raised
On high and loudly praised
For worst of crimes.
Of which the end must be
A bell of cruelty,
As proved by history
Of ancient times.

My country, 'tis of thee,
Betrayed by bribery,
Of thee we sing.
We might have saved thee long
Had we, when proud and strong,
Put down the cursed wrong
That makes thy king.


From the Queensland Newspaper The Darling Downs Gazette 18 May 1889 p. 6.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Bill Shorten pays tribute to Turnbull

Bill Shorten paid tribute on Saturday to Turnbull’s service to the country and offered congratulations to Morrison for his elevation to the top job.

“For all the fierce words of disagreement, I do not doubt for one second that Mr Turnbull was a loyal servant of Australia,” Shorten told reporters at a Melbourne market.

The real problem the government has is they’re still selling the same product.

But he pulled no punches over the government’s disarray, likening it to “shifting deckchairs on the Titanic”.

“I think what they’ve done is they’ve sacked a more popular salesman for a less popular salesman. But the real problem the government has is they’re still selling the same product,” he said.

“They’ve got a new fella called Scott Morrison who half of Australia hasn’t heard of.”

The political instability could damage Australia’s standing on the world stage, Shorten warned.

“It doesn’t sit easily I think with the Australian people – this knowledge that internationally they look at us and [think] there is no point in a world leader wanting to get to know a prime minister because there will be someone new here next week,” Shorten said. “People think that’s really disturbing.”

Shorten accused the new prime minister of trying to “airbrush history”, labelling Morrison the “architect, the author, and the creator” of bad policies such as the corporate tax cuts.

“We’ve got a situation right now in Australia where everything’s going up except people’s wages, and that’s Mr Morrison’s fault,” Shorten said.

“It’s not the leaders who need to change, it’s the policies.”

He called for a swift election. “I think the sooner the people get a say, the better for Australia,” he said.

“Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton are not going away. The hatred, the bitterness, the backstabbing is not going away.”

Shorten saidLabor had learnt its lessons from its own round of prime ministerial musical chairs.

“What I want to promise Australians is that the Labor party is united and we are stable.”