Thursday, November 28, 2019

Shock as Hanson and Lambie defeat Morrison union-busting bill

One Nation just voted with Labor, the Greens and Jacqui Lambie to block the Ensuring Integrity bill. It wasn’t a mistake. 
Liberal senators were staring at their phones trying to work out what had happened.
Labor and Greens senators cheered - and one bitter Coalition senator shouted out “thanks Malcolm [Roberts]” across the chamber.
On my way back to the Guardian office I saw a clearly shocked Labor senator Catryna Bilyk profusely thanking Hanson and Roberts. Hanson said that One Nation “votes on merit”.
As we’re not allowed to interview people in the corridor I asked if Hanson would like to invite me into her office to explain. She declined.

Under the proposed government and Centre Alliance changes, a union official who committed breaches of provisions punishable by a total of 180 penalty units would be eligible for disqualification.
Under existing laws, most industrial law breaches, including right of entry and paperwork breaches, carry penalties of 60 penalty units, meaning the new threshold amounts to a three-strikes policy.
More serious breaches such as misrepresentations in union reporting requirements carry penalties of 100 penalty units, with the most serious industrial law breaches attracting penalties of 600 units.
Union officials would also be eligible for disqualification if their union committed breaches punishable by a combined maximum penalty of at least 900 penalty units and the official “failed to take reasonable steps to prevent at least two” of those contraventions.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sydney Light Rail Blowout Shock

The cost to taxpayers of Sydney's troubled light rail line has ballooned to at least $2.9 billion - $1.3 billion above the amount first budgeted for the project.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance released the final bill for the project late on Friday, less than two weeks before trams are due to start carrying passengers between Circular Quay and Randwick.
The remaining $120 million provided for financial support for small businesses disturbed by construction of the light rail line, "activation" measures along the route, safety campaigns and advertisements and extra project staffing costs due to delays.
"No one is denying the light rail project has been a difficult build," Mr Constance said.
"We took the busiest street in the nation and ripped it up to transform it into the open, inviting boulevard it is today."
He said the service would "move 6570 people across both directions during peak times and each 67-metre light rail vehicle will have the same capacity as up to nine standard buses".
But Labor leader Jodi McKay said: “Before Andrew Constance starts popping the champagne there are still a number of outstanding class action claims so the bill is likely to be $3 billion – almost double the original cost."
The light rail project has been a long-running political headache for the Berejiklian government.
Apart from the cost blowouts, it has been frustrated by lengthy delays, legal battles and prolonged disruption to businesses and residents along the route.
A $400 million class action from retailers disrupted by construction remains afoot in the NSW Supreme Court, but Transport for NSW has withdrawn cross claims against ALTRAC and Acciona.
The cost to the government of paying ALTRAC to operate the line for 16 years has previously been put at almost $938 million and is separate to the $2.9 billion capital cost of building the line and buying the trams that will run on it.
Sydneysiders will get a chance to ride on the new light rail line as early as December 7, which is the target date for trams to start carrying passengers between Circular Quay and Randwick.
The government has been reluctant to put a definitive date on the opening of the line because final testing of the trams is still under way.
If authorities decide more testing is required, the start of services will be shifted to the weekend of December 14-15. Trams are not due to begin carrying passengers on a branch line to Kingsford until March 2020.
The government had originally planned to open the line in March this year, shortly before the state election.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Politics in the Pub - There's a War on the Poor Being Waged

Saturday, 23rd November, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm in the
Dining Room of the Family Hotel, 15 Parke St, Katoomba.

As income inequality increases our government's policies offer, not a helping hand up, but shaming, punishment and a push into even deeper poverty.
Calls to #RaiseTheRate of Newstart Allowance from $124/week below the poverty line by at least $75 per week are broadly supported by groups ranging from charities which are increasingly being called on to fill the welfare gaps for basics like adequate food to business groups seeking the economic stimulus of spending in local economies.
The LNP are ideologically opposed to raising the rate of Centrelink payments, particularly Newstart. PM Scott Morrison's use of the slogan "If you have a go, you'll get a go" is not only untrue. It's also a failure - or refusal - to acknowledge the low rate of Newstart is in itself an obstacle to "having a go".
Organisations like the Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre, the community and health sector bodies represented by ACOSS and the Centrelink workers represented by the CPSU are increasingly picking up the pieces, lives decimated by policies of "mutual" obligation, robodebt, the cashless welfare card, and reduced services caused by inadequate Centrelink staffing and privatisation.
This is all down to the Liberal Government absolving themselves of responsibility for public services by cutting and capping the number of staff DHS can employ. Since 2017 the Liberal Government has been privatising vital Centrelink services by outsourcing call centre work to Serco and labour hire companies, where workers have been fired for taking more than 2 days leave due to family deaths, terminal illness diagnosis and unplanned emergencies.
Those who depend on Centrelink services are pushed even further into debt and poverty when forced to wait for services, such as the granting of claims for payment, or even someone to answer the phone when they need to reschedule an interview, declare a change in circumstances, or respond to a request from Centrelink. Punitive responses to alleged mutual obligation requirements, robodebt, paternalistic shaming in the form of the cashless welfare, and other demonising policies compound a raft of financial, social and health problems.
There are solutions which don't necessitate waging a war on the poor.
At Politics in the Pub we discuss to problems - and the solutions.

Pas Forgione.

Pas is the Raise The Rate Campaign Coordinator at ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service), the peak body for the community and health sector, and one of the country's leading voices on tackling poverty and inequality.
He has been with the organisation since February, working closely with people on Newstart and Youth Allowance, and individuals and organisations that support the campaign to raise Allowances by at least $75 a week.Before this, he spent over 5 years coordinating Anti-Poverty Network SA, a grassroots organisation, led by people directly affected by poverty and unemployment, that advocated on a wide range of topics related to social security policy, included the inadequacy of Allowances and Pensions, cashless welfare, robodebt, Job Active, Centrelink call waiting times, and other issues.

Arlia Fleming.

Arlia is the Managing Principal Solicitor at the Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre.
EECLC provides free legal services and education to disadvantaged people of the Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Oberon and Bathurst regions. Arlia has worked in the community legal sector for 14 years, mostly working with women in prison and Aboriginal women who have experienced family violence and/or sexual assault. Arlia is passionate about social justice, human rights, and community legal education.

Katie Higgins and Kate Cooke (replacing Sophie Callard).

Katie Higgins and Kate Cooke work for the Community and Public Sector Union in NSW. Katie is a Field Organiser and represents workers in the Department of Human Services, while Kate is an Industrial Organiser in the Member Service Centre and specialises in representing members with individual issues in the workplace.
The CPSU has been campaigning against the privatisation of Centrelink since 2017, when the LNP Government first began demolishing vital Centrelink services and outsourcing call centre work to Serco and labour hire companies.
In the course of their work, Kate and Katie hear from the community members who have suffered under the unethical Robodebt system, the labour hire workers who struggle with insecure work and limited training and the permanent employees whose ability to provide vital community services has been diminished by a lack of resources. These issues are a direct result of choices made by the Liberal Government to cut funding and limit the number of employees working for Government agencies. The workers represented by the CPSU bear the brunt of public frustration with government policies but are threatened with sanctions or terminations should they speak out publicly in support of their jobs and the Australian people they serve.
Politics in the Pub finishes with a Q&A where speakers respond to questions from the audience.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

ACTU– Westpac accused

Westpac has been accused of breaching the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML-CTF) Act on more than 23 million occasions.

This is the second of the big four banks to be implicated in or found guilty of major criminal wrongdoing in the last two days, and yet there is no suggestion that the Morrison Government is acting urgently to improve regulation, let alone shut down the banks responsible or penalise their directors.

Under the Ensuring Integrity bill, which the government is attempting to force through the Senate, unions representing hundreds of thousands of working people could be shut down for simply submitting paperwork late.

It is clear that under the Morrison Government, there is one rule for banks and big business, and another for working people.  

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

  1. “Yesterday, one of the big four banks admitted to 87 criminal offenses, today another is being implicated in a multi-billion dollar breach of criminal law, yet still the Morrison Government will take no action. Instead, they continue to use Parliament to attack unions and working people.

  • “The Ensuring Integrity bill would mean that if paperwork was submitted a day late three times over ten years, the entire union could be shut down.
  • “It would mean that nurses stopping work to improve patient care could have their union taken away from them.

  • “Unions already face much stiffer penalties than corporations for similar offences.

  • “The Morrison Government is so focused on forcing through its union-busting laws that it is ignoring systemic law-breaking in the banking and financial sector. Australians deserve better.”

23 Fire Chiefs Condemn Attempts to Gag Climate Debates

A coalition of 23 fire and emergency services say the government is trying to gag debate on climate change.

Former fire chiefs from across Australia have accused the government of trying to gag debate on climate change which they say is "supercharging" bushfires. 

A coalition of 23 fire and emergency services leaders from every state and territory gathered in Sydney on Thursday to call for a climate emergency to be declared, insisting that harder-to-control fires have broken out earlier-than-normal across New South Wales and Queensland because of global warming.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to meet with the group called Emergency Leaders for Climate Change and has dodged questions about the link between climate change and the devastating bushfires that broke out on Friday. 

Greg Mullins, a former NSW fire and rescue commissioner, slammed what he said was an unofficial gag order on speaking about climate change.

"This fire season is going to go for months, so do we just simply get gagged? Because I think that's what's happening," he told reporters on Thursday.

"Some people want the debate gagged because they don't have any answers."

Michael McCormack speaks at the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Deployment Centre in Warana.

NSW mayor slams deputy PM’s 'insulting' climate change attack during bushfires He said no time was wasted discussing the causes of other disasters such as the Grenfell fire in London or train crashes. 

"It's okay to say it's arsonists' fault, or that the 'greenies' are stopping hazard reduction burning, which simply isn't true, but you're not allowed to talk about climate change. Well, we are, because we know what's happening." 

The group first requested a meeting with the prime minister in April, and have finally locked in a meeting with Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud. 

"This government fundamentally doesn't like talking about climate change."

Mr Mullins said the delay in securing a meeting was frustrating because they could have warned the government about the need for more resources to prepare for the "horror" fire season. 

"Had we spoken back in April, one of the things we would have said was try to get more aircraft on lease from the northern hemisphere."

A war of words has broken out between politicians on the issue, with the Morrison government insisting it is not the time to talk climate policy while the nation burns.

On Monday, Nationals leader Michael McCormack attacked "raving inner-city lunatics" for linking climate change to the fires.

In return, the Greens labelled the deputy prime minister a "dangerous fool" who was putting lives at risk.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has described it as "inappropriate" to discuss the issue while fires continue to rage but insisted her government has not shied away from the issue and is prepared to discuss it at a later stage.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

AMWU–Paul Bastian's Statement to the Senate Inquiry on the Union Busting Bill

I would like to thank the committee for providing the AMWU with the opportunity to give evidence in relation to this important legislation. The AMWU believes that these are bad laws and I would like to provide a brief historical example to illustrate why we have come to this opinion.

In 2001, James Hardie put $293 million into a trust fund designed to meet all future compensation claims for asbestos victims. They then moved the corporate headquarters to the Netherlands, taking an estimated $1.9 billion dollars in assets with them. They promised the Supreme Court in NSW that this money would be available, should the compensation fund that was established fall short.

However, in 2003, James Hardie severed links with their remaining Australian companies, cutting off any call on those funds now held in the Netherlands. Because Australia did not have the required treaty arrangements in place with the Netherlands, all the assets and incomes of the parent company were out of reach of James Hardie’s Australian victims, despite the assurances they gave to the court.

In early 2004, after years of campaigning by victims’ groups and the AMWU, the NSW government established the Jackson Inquiry to investigate James Hardie’s compensation fund. When the details of their conduct became public there was a public outcry.

A wave of national protests took place on 15 September 2004. Tens of thousands of workers across the country walked off the job and joined protests to demand that victims be treated with dignity and respect. In Sydney, workers from across the city left work and marched to the James Hardie shareholder briefing in Darling Harbour with the simple demand “Make James Hardie Pay”

The following week, the report of the Jackson Inquiry laid bare the malicious conduct of James Hardie executives and their cruel decision to short-change the compensation fund by between $1.5 and $2.24 billion dollars. Negotiations between James Hardie and the unions on how to ensure compensation was paid began the next week.

On 21 December, after a concerted campaign, James Hardie finally reached heads of agreement with the ACTU, Unions NSW, victims’ groups, represented by the tireless Bernie Banton, and the NSW Government.

We had secured uncapped compensation for victims of asbestos diseases and a commitment to contribute $4.5 billion into the compensation fund that was originally given only $293 million.

We achieved justice because unions and victims’ groups engaged in an escalating series of protests, work stoppages, work bans, boycotts, matches, investor activism and intense political lobbying.

It is beyond question that this campaign for sufferers of asbestos disease made Australia a better, safer and more just place. Many of the campaign activities which I have outlined to you today would now constitute illegal industrial activity.

Under this legislation, those of us who organised this campaign – a campaign that secured justice for people suffering from these horrific illnesses and untimely death – would be banned from the leadership of our union.

Under this legislation, our union, which stood up – not just for our members, but for their families and for victims across Australia – would be at risk of deregistration.

I know I speak for every AMWU member, delegate and official when I say that if personal bans and union deregistration was the price we needed to pay for the justice that we secured, we would pay it 100 times over.

If we were faced with the same choice again tomorrow, I have no doubt that we would do the same thing – and we would be right to do so.

But the legislation before you is even more insidious than that. It doesn’t just punish unions for fighting against corporate interests, it gives those same corporate interests even more tools to prevent us from winning our fights in the first place.

Given the billions of dollars that our successful campaign cost James Hardie, does anyone here think that they wouldn’t – as an interested party under the Act – seek to use these laws to have our officials removed from office during the campaign?

Does anyone think that a company that intentionally delayed legal proceedings to deny sufferers compensation before their illness finally took their lives wouldn’t seek to use every avenue of delay and bog unions and victims’ groups in endless vexatious and costly litigation to frustrate out ability to organise against them?

It is easy to say now that no judge would ban a delegate, prevent protest action or deregister a union because they were fighting for the rights of the sick and dying, but the fight was not always a popular one. We fought long and hard to get this issue onto the political agenda.

For a long time, the AMWU and victims’ groups fought a lonely fight against a well-resourced and ruthless opponent. With these new powers, the likes of James Hardie may well have been able to swamp this campaign before it gained the momentum and attention it needed to achieve success.

These laws are unjust. They go too far and give too many rights to employers to interfere with the work that we do to improve the lives of our members, their families and their communities.

It is lucky that the last James Hardie didn’t have these laws to prevent their victims from achieving justice.

Senators, you are the only ones who can prevent the next Jamie Hardie from using them.

I encourage you to reject the legislation.

NSWTF– Union's bright future

Young union members proved to be the embodiment of the theme for this year’s World Teachers' Day — Young teachers: The future of the profession — at a recent conference.
“I am proud to be a teacher because it gives me the chance to change someone else’s life every day,” a Women’s Contact on the Central Coast, Rebecca, wrote in evaluation of the New Educators Network.
“Being in Federation means I am part of a collective voice fighting for educational, political and social changes that will positively impact public education and the children that are our future.” 
World Teachers' Day, 25 October, is celebrated as an opportunity for everyone to recognise and appreciate teachers and the important role they play in shaping the next generation. 
Organisers of the day believe this year’s theme provided “the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, to take stock of achievements, and to address some of the issues central for attracting and keeping the brightest minds and young talents in the profession”.
Celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide, World Teachers’ Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1994 to recognise the role of teachers in society. 
This year, UNESCO’s theme for World Teachers’ Day was, “Young Teachers: The future of the profession.”
The New Educators Network was held at Federation House, Surry Hills, on Thursday and Friday, 17 and 18 October, and was followed by the New Activist Conference on the Saturday. 
Ryan, a Goulburn teacher, wrote that the best thing about being a teacher was being part of his students’ educational journey. “I know we make an impact,” he said. “Everyone has/had a favourite teacher when they think about their time at school.”
— Scott Coomber

2020: The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

The World Health Organization has announced that 2020 will be the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. For the first time in history, countries around the world will celebrate the contribution of nursing and midwifery. This will also serve to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, one of the founders of modern nursing.
“The 20 million nurses around the world will be thrilled to see their profession recognised in this way. I would like to congratulate WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for his farsightedness and wisdom in seeing the benefit of highlighting the contribution of nurses to healthcare, and the WHA members for making his vision become a reality,” said Annette Kennedy, President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
Lord Nigel Crisp, co-Chair of the Nursing Now campaign said:
“The WHO has provided a unique opportunity both for countries to demonstrate how much they appreciate their nurses and midwives, and to showcase what more nurses and midwives can achieve if given the support to do so. Investing in nursing and midwifery will make an enormous contribution to the rapid, cost-effective and high quality scaling up of universal health care.
‘This is a once in a generation opportunity for governments to really show nurses and midwives how much they are valued, not by empty words, but by effective, decisive action to give us the human and physical resources needed to get the job done.”
In order to promote international support of young nurses and midwives, Nursing Now has launched the Nightingale Challenge 2020. This Challenge calls for every health care employer to provide leadership and development training for 20 young nurses and midwives throughout 2020. The aim is to have at least 20,000 young nurses and midwives benefiting from leadership training, as well as to act as a catalyst for worldwide investment into the next generation of nurses and midwives, to allow them to reach their full potential. 
The Nightingale Challenge will be launched at the ICN Congress in Singapore in June 2019. Join us there to hear more about this exciting initiative and to help us plan for 2020. Register here.
Read the official press release here: ICN & Nursing Now press release: 2020 Year of Nurse and Midwife.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Youth Unemployment Surges Under Morrison's Plan

Youth Unemployment Surges

Earlier this week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a 0.6 per cent increase in youth unemployment rate in October to an 18 month high of 12.4 per cent.
Youth Unemployment
It's more than double the overall jobless rate, of 5.3 per cent.
Forty-one per cent of young unemployed Australians don't have a drivers licence according to the community organisation, the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
Youth unemployment in Australia has risen to an 18 month high, so what can be done about it?
Having the ability to drive a vehicle reduces one barrier to enter the workforce, but PwC chief economist, Jeremy Thorpe said there are many others.
"Young mothers, because they struggle to balance looking after children and work, people from social disadvantage, who have low numeracy and literacy skills.
"The third group is, Indigenous and we see that as aligned with the other two groups at times."
Mr Thorpe said supporting early employment is critical and that businesses can play a part.
"Employers need to find new avenues to bring young people into the workplace, new apprenticeship models are emerging, they provide opportunities for their business to find talent, but also for people to gain those skills which will set them up for life," he said.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Victorian Trades Hall Council Climate Report


The Victorian Trades Hall Council and its affiliates are committed to leading the construction of a new economy that is environmentally sustainable, economically and socially just, and democratic.

This is why we are proud to support this report, and why we will campaign to ensure its ideas and strategies for a just transition and for a new offshore wind industry with good terms and conditions of employment are implemented.

For over 150 years the Victorian union movement has led efforts to improve the lives of working people. Our campaigns for industrial rights have been matched by a commitment
to broader social, political and economic rights. 

We know that the threat of climate change is best met in ways that
are deeply engrained in our movement – solidarity, collective action, respect for workers, a commitment to decent jobs and economic and social justice.

We know, too, that unions must lead in the restructuring of the Australian and global economies that is necessary if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. 

As unionists we know only too well what happens when economic restructuring occurs without unions to represent the interests of workers. 

This country has a bad track record when it comes to industry restructuring, with many instances of workers just being given help to write CVs and no effort put into the development of new employment opportunities. 

The privatisation of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria shows what happens when industries are profoundly restructured without proper consideration of workers’ interests – whole communities are affected for decades.

This is why the proposals put forward in this report are so important. 

Using the prospect of the Star of the South project in Gippsland to develop a framework for the creation of an Australian offshore wind industry, the document focuses on ensuring that benefits flow to local communities and workers, while not ignoring the opportunities for Victoria and the nation more generally.

The scale of the Star of the South project is impressive. It should help in the transition when brown coal companies make decisions that affect the Latrobe Valley without consulting workers. 

It would deliver major benefits to Gippsland, a region that has powered our State for generations. But those benefits will only be fully realised if the Victorian government can undertake the comprehensive planning needed to ensure that workers and unions are placed front and centre so that the potential jobs are maximised and a just transition is prioritised
sustainable economy is possible.
ctorian Trades Hall Council November 2019

NSW TF Saves Jobs

Federation Representative at Broken Hill High School Jason Bradley has witnessed first hand the benefits of the staffing moratorium negotiated by Federation 
The staffing moratorium has resulted in several teachers remaining in the isolated community rather than becoming nominated transfers. 
Broken Hill, more than 1000km north-west of Sydney, is one of a number of schools seeing the benefits of the important policy initiative in the midst of the drought. 
“We are extremely grateful,” Mr Bradley said. 
“We have experienced a reduction in student numbers that, prior to the moratorium, would have no doubt resulted in staff being nominated for transfer.” 
Mr Bradley explained that the teachers remaining in the town has eased the pressures and stress that a reduction in staffing entitlements brings.
  • “These teachers now get to stay in town and contribute to the local economy. They get to continue teaching the cohort of students they have been working with — that’s really great for the kids as well.” 
  • As well as remaining in the town, Mr Bradley pointed out that these teachers also remained members of the local Teachers Association. 
  • With support of local members, the Barrier Teachers Association has recently moved to establish a social club with the goal of increasing local activism and meeting new members in a social environment.
  • “I think one of the other great things about it [the social club] is that it also allows us to build a really strong support network and solidarity among members working out here. Parts of the community are doing it tough because of the drought and it’s important for us to look after each other as best we can.” 
  • Water and the drought continue to be a hot topic of conversation in Broken Hill with the State Government recently completing construction of a 250km underground pipe pumping water from the Murray River at Wentworth. The pipeline supplies 37.4 megalitres of raw water per day and contributes to a 720 megalitre bulk storage tank just outside the town.
  • “We have water to drink, but we still desperately need rain,” Mr Bradley said.

ACTU The RBA has downgraded its expectations for GDP growth to 2.3

The RBA has downgraded its expectations for GDP growth to 2.3 per cent this year and 2.6 per cent in the year to June next year. That is down from 2.4 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively.
Household consumption has also slowed, as working people head into the seventh consecutive year of record low wage growth and are increasingly raiding any savings they may have to pay for essential items.
Household consumption grew by 0.4 per cent in the June quarter and by 1.4 per cent over the year. Growth for all consumption categories except health slowed relative to the previous year, although the slowdown was more noticeable for discretionary components like furnishings and motor vehicles.
The RBA statement on Monetary Policy released today also stated “wages growth is low and shows little sign of picking up”.
The Australian economy is faltering. We have the slowest economic growth since the GFC, a wages crisis, households being forced to dip into their savings, low consumption and retail trade has had its worst result since the 1990s recession.
Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
  • “The legacy of the Morrison Government will be an historic period of low wage growth which has driven down living standards for millions of working Australians and stalled economic growth.
  • “Wage growth is now going backwards in new private sector agreements, the Morrison Government has no plan to fix the crisis in wage growth crisis, only more attacks on working people and unions.
  • “Working people create economic growth through spending, but the Morrison Government has implemented a deliberate plan to stop wage growth, and the result of that is lower spending, and slowing growth.
  • “The Morrison Government is so committed to trickle-down economics that even as the RBA downgrades economic growth, they are preparing to bring the Ensuring Integrity Bill to the Senate, a Bill which will make it harder for all Australian workers to get a pay rise.
  • “The Morrison Government is the source of this problem. It has driven down wages and all Australian workers are being forced to pay the price.”

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Atlasian Founder Refutes Morrison Proposals

Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged last Friday to develop a "series of mechanisms" to outlaw protests that boycott companies because of their support for a resources project or other venture.

Labor has described the plan as a "thought bubble" and the Law Council has expressed concern about the danger to freedom of speech, but Mr Morrison told a resources industry event last Friday that his government would not allow the boycotts to go unchecked.

Mr Cannon-Brookes, worth $13.5 billion in The Australian Financial Review's Young Rich list issued this month, is an investor in renewable energy projects and an advocate for deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

"The government can't legislate to stop the decline of coal and the rise of solar and wind. Shutting down debate is a strike against our democracy," he said.

"Instead of attacking people who just want good policy, we should look at the upside - Australia can be a winner in a carbon-constrained world.”

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Morrison's Bubbles Threaten Free Speech

Scott Morrison assembled 700 of the nation’s top public servants in the Great Hall of the federal Parliament to put them on notice: He’s the boss who knows what the quiet Australians want – and they had better get used to it.
Along the way, the Prime Minister defined these quiet Australians as middle Australia who have a “trust deficit” of government and the services it provides.
Mr Morrison said there is a perception that politics “is very responsive to those at the top and those at the bottom, but not so much to those in the middle”.
“This will not be the case under my government,” he said.
“Middle Australia needs to know that the government, including the public service, is on their side.”
Left outside the Morrison bubble are the 700,000 languishing on the Newstart unemployment benefit or the 4.5 million receiving government pensions and allowances.
They are among the 44 million missed telephone calls to the government’s main service delivery agency, Centrelink.
Mr Morrison said – without blushing – “we need interactions with government to be simpler, more human and less bureaucratic”.
And this year has rejected calls to scrap robo-debt collection that has seen thousands of people hit with mistaken overpayment demands.
Mr Morrison certainly means business because he says he and his ministers are the ones who have to face the voters.
It is what his old rugby coach called the “bacon and eggs principle, the chicken is involved, but the pig is absolutely committed to the task”.
In the metaphor, the politicians are the pigs who have no intention of becoming the bacon and will continue blaming the chicken for the problems their policies have created.
Labor’s public service shadow minister Katy Gallagher says “it’s a bit rich for Scott Morrison to simply say do better when he and his colleagues have ripped money out of departments, cut thousands of jobs from front-line services like call centres, and outsourced government work to big consulting firms at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year”.
Senator Gallagher, who represents the Australian Capital Territory, says 65 per cent of the nation’s 240,000 public servants live and work outside of Canberra.
The prime minister is urging they “look beyond the bubble” and take more notice of the “vast majority of Australians” rather than the vested interests that “parade through this place”.
“Physician heal thyself”, as the Good Book says.
Pacific Island leaders have been forthright in their condemnation of the Australian government looking after the vested interests of billionaire coal miners rather than commit to meaningful emissions reductions and a faster transition to renewables.
This projection onto others, the consequences of its own policies, is particularly apparent in light of the China panic currently gripping the country.
Here our universities are the victim with their growing dependence on full-fee-paying overseas students to stay operational.
They are being accused of being soft on foreign interference and free speech on their campuses.
The 700,000 foreign students in Australia account for the $17 billion education export sector.
Two of our biggest universities, Sydney and New South Wales, have more than 70 per cent of this revenue coming from Chinese students.
In April last year, Labor’s Tanya Plibersek warned treasurer Morrison’s $2.2 billion of cuts would see the number of Australian students studying “at uni or TAFE plummet by about 490,000 over the next 15 years”.
There’s plenty of blame to go around inside the prime minister’s bubble.