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Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

UPDATE Dec 5 by Margo: The Government has just announced a crunched, derisory Senate debate on the Welfare to Work package. Speeches will be allowed from 8.30 to 11.30pm tonight. Amendments must be debated, questions asked and votes taken between 7.30 and 11pm tomorrow. You can hear and/or watch the debate here.   



G'day. The House of Reps passed the Welfare to Work legislation at 1 pm. Judi Moylan abstained after advising the Government Whip and the PM's office of her intention not to attend the vote. The first and last time Judi abstained was the vote on Howard's first Tampa bill in 2003. She did so on the basis that Howard had not given her, or any other Coalition MP or Senator, any time at all to read it, let alone consider its terms. The Senate blocked that bill, which would have authorised government officials to kill boat people with immunity from prosecution in Australian Courts. Parliament later passed an amended version of the Tampa bill with Labor support. Howard punched Beazley for Labor's refusal to support the first Tampa bill throughout the 2001 election campaign, claiming he was soft on border protection. 

I asked Judi this evening why she abstained, a decision she did not make until this morning.

"I really found it very difficult to make up my mind on what I would do. It's always very difficult to cross the floor. I supported a substantial part of the package, and part of it I did not support. So I thought the best thing to do was to abstain. And Labor hasn't come with a policy to improve the lot of people on benefits - they're just being reactive."

"If I was in the House and voted for the bill, I'd be saying I supported the whole package. If I crossed the floor I would be saying it was all bad, yet there are good things in it which give attention to giving people positive help to move from welfare to work. I wrestled with my consicence on this because I don't agree with increasing the spiral of poverty among the most disadvantaged people in our community. I argued we should do this in a better way, get people off welfare without driving them into a sprial of poverty.We've missed a golden opportunity here to making good policy."

"If I'd crossed the floor it would not have changed the outcome - the bill would still have passed. If  I'd crossed the floor wihtout achieving a change of policy it would have become a media circus and a pointscoring exercise for the Labor Party without achieving an outcome for people with disabilities and sole parents."

She said she had received some support for colleagues after her abstention, and a few suspected she was right. "However it's not a sexy issue because business and money aren't involved. So few people are prepared to speak out for the underprivileged, and the few groups in Australia who do tend to be put into the 'bleeding heart' category."

"Also the issue is very complicated because it involves people in all sorts of cirmstances, and when  you get down to the detail and the numbers people's eyes glaze."

"To be fair, we have a lot of bills to deal with now, and it's hard to get down to the detail in the circumstances in which we operate."

Ms Moylan, a former minister for family services, said she'd spent six months getting her head around the Government's policy and speaking to people on disability benefits and groups including the Catholic Welfare Agency, which analysed the effects of Bill Clinton's Welfare to Work policy in the US, and the National Council of Single Mothers and their Chidren. She'd also read the NATSEM research commissioned by the Natonal Foundation of Women. "The women's groups made a serious contribution to the public debate," she said. "The government should be taking more notice of people at the coalface."

Ms Moylan is scheduled to pappear on Lateline tonight.

For more information on 'crossing the floor' see the Parliamentary Library's brief Crossing the floor in the federal Parliament 1950 to August 2004:

Since 1 July 2005 the Howard Government has had control of the Senate and the balance of power in this chamber has, in effect, shifted to individual members of the Coalition. The media have speculated that this power could result in members of the Coalition crossing the floor over a range of issues including the sale of Telstra, industrial relations and voluntary student unionism.

Crossing the floor is a major decision because party unity, reinforced by party discipline, is highly valued by the political parties. Political scientist John Warhurst has noted that careers are not made by criticising the leader or by crossing the floor? Although former senator and Liberal minister Fred Chaney believed that crossing the floor was 'not all that principled', he also said that 'crossing the floor is the stuff of which parliamentary heroes are made'.

This research note presents the preliminary results of a study by the authors of instances of crossing the floor in the Federal Parliament from 1950 to August 2004. For the purposes of the study crossing the floor is defined as an action unique to Westminster style parliaments where a Government or Opposition member of parliament refuses to vote with his or her own party in a particular division and crosses the floor of the parliamentary chamber.



G'day. Liberal MP Judi Moylan told Parliament this morning during the Welfare to Work legislation debate that she could not accept that people would be moved to Newstart Allowance on a lower benefit under her Government's Welfare to Work package. Although she has not yet decided if she will take the lonely walk, which would be a first for her, Ms Moylan was disapponted that she received no reply from the PM to a letter she wrote him asking why this was so. I understand no-one else in the Libs is prepared to take a stand on the matter. Judi last took a stand when she was part of the successful Rebel 4 attempt to reform mandatory detention (see Webdiary's May 2005 archive). Webdiary's Welfare to Work archive is here. See Marie Coleman on getting traction in the Welfare to Work debate, Julie Perry details the Government's Welfare to Work plan, Rural communities at risk over Welfare to Work policies, Our Prime Minister's next exciting adventure and Welfare to Work: creating the economically disabled? Thank you to Marie Coleman for her great work for Webdiary on this issue.


Mrs MOYLAN (Pearce) (9.49 am) - The intent of this legislation is without question supportable. A place in the paid work force has the potential to provide an income stream that leads to financial independence. Other benefits flow from being employed and financially independent. Being engaged in the work force is for most people a source of social contact and ensures engagement with the community. The government's efforts to build a strong economy and to provide jobs, education and training opportunities have had a positive effect on the lives of many Australians. We are now in a situation where many jobs cannot be filled, yet we still have 2.6 million people of working age on some form of income support. According to Workforce tomorrow: adapting to a more diverse Australian labour market, by the Centre for Policy Studies, Monash University, Australia faces an estimated potential work force shortfall over the next five years of 195,000 workers. It is also evident that the best way out of the poverty trap is to have access to a job in the paid work force. But these propositions are not in dispute, and the additional support to assist people into work is very welcome. I commend the minister and those who have worked on that aspect of this policy.

However, I would like to highlight a few problems. The Smith Family's 2001 report, by Ann Harding of the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, found that only three per cent of households with a wage earner were in poverty, compared to 31 per cent those relying on welfare. In Australia today there are 700,000 children growing up in a household where no adult of working age has a job. Two-thirds of these households are headed up by single parents. A recent book published by Professor Stanley et al, Children of the Lucky Country? How Australian Society has Turned its Back on Children and Why Children Matter, states:

Of all cases of abuse and neglect in Western Australia and Queensland in 2001-2002, 40 per cent occurred in single parent families headed up by mothers.

It further elaborates that there are a large number of factors that put children at risk of abuse and neglect, but many of the risk factors occur more frequently in those families who are the most disadvantaged, including those with low education, social isolation, low income, poor housing, poor neighbourhoods and a lack of community resources, amongst others. This concerns me deeply because, although the central feature of this Welfare to Work policy is about helping people access employment, reducing reliance on welfare and supplying the labour market with an additional pool of workers, one question remains unanswered: why are we including in this policy disincentives to work and cuts in income support which can only drive some of the more vulnerable people and families in our community deeper into poverty?

Let us take the case study outlined by Catholic Welfare Australia which clearly illustrates the lack of incentive for people to move from welfare to work under aspects of this policy. Let us take a single parent with one child and call her Jenny. Under the current system if Jenny takes up work of 15 hours a week at $13.30 an hour and is a recipient of a parenting payment single her disposable income will increase by $146. If she takes up the same work for the same wage under the proposed system, this system, and is a Newstart recipient her disposable income will increase by only $83. She earns less not more. That question has not been answered.

The argument that there needs to be incentives and disincentives in policy so as to encourage people back to work is accepted. However, there is already one major incentive for people to comply with the new system. That is they will lose their entire income support for a period of eight weeks if they fail to comply. That is a very large disincentive, particularly for a family with children. It is therefore difficult to understand why we would want to shift people onto Newstart and a lower base support payment, plus all the additional losses that come from the stacking effect produced by shifting people assessed of being capable of 15 to 30 hours of work a week onto Newstart.

It has been argued that shifting people onto Newstart is equitable because unemployed people will then all be on the same payment. Well, Newstart was never intended as medium to long-term income support for unemployed people with a disability and/or parents with the sole responsibility for raising children. The impact of the changes produces some extremely adverse results for some of the most vulnerable groups in our community. These groups include those with a disability and sole parents. The first group includes people with a variety of disabilities who, although are technically capable of work-and most want to work-are too often faced with difficult or insurmountable systemic problems that prevent them from finding part-time, let alone full-time, jobs.

The most vulnerable of these groups, in my opinion, are people with a mental disability or mental impairment. Over 36 per cent of those currently claiming the disability support pension have psychiatric problems and intellectual and learning disabilities. There has been a great deal of public discussion about the plight of people with mental disorders in our community which has highlighted the failure of all governments to adequately support people in our community with a mental illness or mental impairment. Many of these people are living on the street or in squats. Many are to be found in jails around the country. Most go without appropriate treatment or community support.

Further, a recent study by Professor Vaughan Carr into mental illness and employment surveyed businesses and found that around 77 per cent of employers were reluctant to employ people with a mental disorder. We are also informed of similar disadvantages experienced by people who have epileptic seizures. The government has attempted to provide incentives to employers to employ people with a disability and that is commendable. As part of this policy-part of the policy that I can support-it has established an employer roundtable to advise the government on ways to increase the work force participation of people with a disability. In part, this roundtable though has been established because, despite generous government funding and incentives in the past, the take-up rate of assistance by business has been extremely disappointing.

Under this legislation many people with episodic illnesses will be placed onto the lower Newstart payment while they look for work, prepare for work or work 15 to 30 hours a week, and failure to comply may result in the withdrawal of income support for eight weeks. This legislation will add to the considerable hardship already faced by many people with a disability. The legislation offers reduced income support to people with a disability and individuals with the sole responsibility for rearing children. When these individuals do find a job they will be able to earn half of what they could under the current arrangements before the taper begins to diminish the income support. That is, they can currently earn $64 a week before they begin to lose their government income support at a rate of 40c in the dollar. Under the new proposal, under this legislation, an individual can earn less than half of that, or $31 per week, before the taper cuts in and they lose 50c in the dollar of income support. Once an individual has earnings of over $125 per week the taper clawback is 60c in the dollar.

These figures and others that are quoted in this paper today are the result of the work of Professor Ann Harding et al from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling in a report prepared for the National Foundation for Australian Women. I want people to understand that the National Foundation for Australian Women represents more than 60 national women's organisations representing some three million women from all walks of life. They had this report commissioned from their own funding-raised their own money-because they were concerned about the impact of aspects of this legislation on the lives of women in particular, around this country, and their children.

Take the example of Jason who currently earns $150 a week in the present system and is on a disability support pension. His disposable income, with income support, is currently $369 a week but under the new system his friend Donna, earning the same private income plus the support income will have a disposable income of $91 per week less than Jason due to shift to Newstart. Jason's effective marginal rate of tax under the current system is 55c in the dollar while Donna's, under the new system, is 75c in the dollar. The combined effect of moving people onto Newstart is that they will pay effective marginal rates of tax of between 65 and 75c in the dollar when they achieve relatively modest earnings. This is, in part, due to the less favourable tax offset under the new arrangements. This needs to be considered in the light of the typical two-parent family with an income of $125,000 per annum who would typically pay an effective marginal rate of tax of about 48.5c in the dollar for this next tax year, 2006-07.

There are further layering or stacking effects as a result of moving to Newstart that impair the disposable income of both categories of recipients. Depending on the level of earned income, those include the possible loss of housing rent rebates of 25c for each dollar earned, the loss of the pensioner education supplement of $31.20 per week and a lower threshold before people lose access to the health care card and the pensioner concession card with a whole lot of flow-on ramifications from that.

The overall effect of this legislation is reduced income support for people with a disability and for sole parents while they are looking for work, preparing for work, or working the 15 or 20 hours per week. In fact, Catholic Welfare's paper make the point that, under this legislation, a sole parent with one child will lose 43 per cent of their net disposable income and a single person with a disability will lose 40 per cent of their net disposable income. The overall effect is reduced income.

In the sole parent group, women are disproportionately affected as 83 per cent of sole parents are women. My major concern in relation to this group is the dependent children. It is already well documented that some of the poorest, most disadvantaged people in our community are sole parent families. The task of raising children in these circumstances is often exacerbated by affordable accommodation being only available in outlying neighbourhoods or country towns and the concomitant loss of support by other significant adults. Sole parents are often both time and income poor. Many sole parents want to work, but the reality is that, even if they get part-time work, under this new legislation they will be exposed to similar disadvantages as outlined above for people with a disability-that is, the combined impact of the lower threshold of earned income before the taper claws back 50 to 60 per cent of that earned income and the increased taper rates under Newstart. Then there is the higher effective marginal rate of tax and the loss of other benefits available under the parenting payment and the disability support payment.

Unlike the disability support payment and the parenting payment, Newstart allowances are indexed to CPI instead of average male weekly earnings. So, by 2009-10, NATSEM estimate that a further erosion of income support will amount to around a $22 per week additional cut in income, with the gap between pension and Newstart allowance continuing to grow apace. Additional concerns include restrictions under Newstart for those who wish to undertake full-time education and training while receiving income support as provided for now. This will seriously limit the option for many talented and capable people, especially women, whom, as I have said, represent 83 per cent of sole parent carers, to improve their income potential and job satisfaction. These people may well be able to totally support their dependent children, provide for their own retirement and make a greater contribution to the workplace, if they were given the opportunity of two- to-three years of full-time education and training.

Take the case of Maria who presented herself in this place as an example. She has seven children. Her husband left when the last child was born. She has taken herself off to university and is six months off getting a teaching degree. She can, then, fully support her children and superannuate herself for her retirement. Mutual obligation in any welfare program is not unreasonable, and the additional assistance the government is offering to help people prepare for work and get access to paid employment are exceptionally good aspects of this policy, and they are totally supportable.

Since the policy was first announced, a number of exemptions have been provided for sole parents with children, and some parents with children who have a disability will now qualify for the carer pension. I especially welcome the government changes in that regard. In general, I do not have a particular concern about requiring parents to participate in the work force when their youngest child turns eight or even six or four, or about the mutual obligation placed on welfare recipients in general. However, I am deeply concerned about the cut in income support. As I said, Catholic Welfare have indicated a 43 per cent reduction in net disposable income for a sole parent with one child and a 40 per cent cut for a single person with a disability. I am deeply concerned about the effects this change might have on children. I am very concerned about the systemic problems, which were outlined very clearly in the McClure report, that are preventing people from accessing jobs. I do not see any indication that the majority of these systemic problems are being addressed.

I am concerned about the lack of mental health services because, in a full employment environment, many people who cannot get jobs currently are those who do have significant mental health problems, and there is a lack of services available to these people to support them. I am concerned about the lack of housing affordability, which often drives sole parent families and people with a disability out into the outer suburbs and rural areas where, again, there is a lack of support services available to them. And I am concerned generally about a lack of support services, particularly care services, for people who have a physical disability and who need assistance to become ready in the morning for a job.

Furthermore, I represent an electorate that is suburban, regional and rural based, and I understand the difficulties of many families and those with a disability when it comes to the links between transport, job opportunity and affordable housing. This policy would have been improved if the mutual obligation test were applied without removing access to sole parent payment and the disability support payment-that is, do not move people onto Newstart but apply the mutual obligation. I have no problem with that. I have no problem with assessing people as being capable of contributing to the work force and earning an income in the paid work force. I have no trouble with that at all. I do not understand why this policy has been damaged, in my view, by moving these categories of people onto Newstart.

The minister recently highlighted the government's success in getting more welfare recipients into the workplace-prior to this legislation-as a result of greater support and incentives to employers. Undoubtedly, with further attention to some of the systemic problems, as outlined in McClure, that keep people from the workplace and with the package of programs under this new legislation, the aim of getting people from welfare into work could have been achieved without cutting income support.

In my view, we have lost a golden opportunity to reform welfare in a meaningful way and put in place a package of measures that would strongly support not just the incentives for employers but true and real incentives for employees with additional caring responsibilities and disabilities to be supported in their efforts to access the workplace. I find this cut in income support really very disturbing the eve of the delivery of tax cuts for families earning more than $1,200 a week. We will all be the poorer if this legislation goes through. In my view, that part of the legislation which cuts income support and imposes disincentives and high effective or marginal rates of tax on some of the most vulnerable groups in our community does not deserve the support of this parliament. As I said, we have missed a golden opportunity.

I am disappointed by the short time the government has allowed for the Senate inquiry into this Welfare to Work policy. It has such wide and deep ramifications that it deserved a very thorough examination. I am disappointed that the recommendations of the Senate inquiry have not gone far enough. I hope that the few recommendations that have been made - I think there are six - are reasonably sensible; and I hope that, at the very least, the ministers involved will encourage a thorough review to be conducted within 12 months of the implementation of the legislation so that unintended consequences of this bill can be identified and managed early.


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re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Moylan says: "I hope that, at the very least, the ministers involved will encourage a thorough review to be conducted within 12 months of the implementation of the legislation so that unintended consequences of this bill can be identified and managed early."

I don't think for a moment that the effects are unintended - that is why we all need to look closely at who is driving this agenda, besides Hendy and the like. It is mean minded and nasty legislation, ill-spirited and cruel.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

The following from the Breaking News Section, The Advertiser.

"Liberal backbencher Stewart McArthur argued the changes were necessary because of a significant number of people rorting the system.

He said some of the almost 250,000 working age Australians on disability pensions because of a bad back were also working for cash.

"The bad back is a difficult problem for policy makers to address as the complaint is hard to analyse, to prove or disprove," Mr McArthur said.

"Many of the so-called bad back cases have had no trouble going to the beach, playing games with their children and doing a few odd jobs for cash."


I am one of these bad back people, supposedly "Rorting" the System.

The Backbencher concerned, has no idea what he is talking about, after 4 Op's, including 2 Fusions, I can tell you now that unless he has ever suffered chronic pain of the Back, then he has no idea how debilitating it can be.

Coupled with the Osteo-Arthritis in my Right Foot, 6 ops over 2 years, Gout in my left big toe, (I am neither a drinker nor red meat eater), Carpel Tunnel surgery, and Left Ulna nerve decompression, who, with these changes to welfare, is going to employ me?

No-one, that is who.

This is nothing more than Grubby Ideology, by people who have no real job themselves and whose sole purpose in life is to make all others miserable and suicidal.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Russell, you are quite right of course. All of Howard's big ticket legislation is part of his "vision" for us. The Free Trade bullshit was the foundation for all the rest. There are no unintended consequences of the draft legislation, only undiscovered as yet consequences.

John, I too have been on disability, fortunately only briefly,and agree with you. To be in pain and unable to work is not a choice we make and to be targeted as frauds is truly the bottom of a deep barrel. I hope your back improves mate or at least gives you some relief from time to time.

It's people like Stewart McArthur who keep pushing the barrow of frauds dominating in a system. Of course there are frauds but it is largely existant because of Howard's deliberate understaffing of Centrelink and other Agencies that allow the frauds to get away with it. Blind Freddy could submit a number of claims and have them processed with little effort, as we've seen regularly in the media and court reports. So they assume everyone is a fraud.

To be blunt I believe the worst frauds are sitting on their backsides in the air conditioning of Parliament House, waiting for the free grub and grog after hours. If they wait that long that is. I mean, what sort of effort do they have to put in? All they do is put up their hands when they are told to do so. Simon says!

I am getting truly sick of Coalition MPs and Senators playing their bloody violins to the media and continuing to vote for the legislation they wail
about. Don't mention Labor.

I think it's time they all shut up or put up as they are playing with the lives of many people with their Barnaby impressions. Stand up and be counted for once, in Parliament where it counts, not at the back door.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

I do not think any of these changes will work. There will be chaos with the so-called "welfare to work" changes and the new IR legislation. Unless the majority of Australian workers really want to see a gradual decrease in their standard of living. The DHSS is simply not going to be able to effectively implement these new rules. However, obviously many people will be hurt in the process. It will be no different than the phony "work for the dole" programs which are only aimed at a small number of people but produce no positive effects for most on the programs. They merely give a "feel good" feeling to the majority of those who believe the system is rife with "bludgers" and placate their misplaced envy. These really are more outdated and hopeless changes being given to us by an idealogical obsessed government who are incapable of understanding the problems all western countries will be faced with in the next few years.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

I take my cue from Chippendale. If/when some of these Lib backbenchers that Margo keeps trotting out within these columns finally start crossing the floor, THEN I will start taking all the violin stuff a bit seriously.

Same with those in Labor who also wail and beat their breasts but then vote with the government when it puts its rotten legislation up, despite all the bleating beforehand.

BTW, whatever happened to the People's hero, Barnaby Joyce?

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

I agree with John, Ross and others here. These changes are small minded and mean spirited. Sure some people rort the system but they are in the minority. Most people when given a choice want to work . But they want to work a meaningful job not just be factory fodder and slave labor for corporate greed.

As for those who are disabled, "mature age" etc who is going to employ them? Where are these job supposed to be found? My brother was retrenched from his job about 5 years ago and he was 54 at the time. Too young for age pension, not able to touch his super (which isnt enough to live on anyway) he has been hounded by centrelink ever since. He is sent to job interviews, made to do useless courses all because he is told he must work. He has tried but who is going to employ him now at 59 with back and neck problems and other genuine health problems?

No one.

As for sole parents, well I have been there and done that. My children are grown now but it was a struggle having to work full time, study and raise children. Sole parents deserve our support as do the disabled. What kind of society do we want in Australia in 2005? One where everyone is given a fair go and treated decently or JWH's one where the weak, poor and disadvantaged are pushed around, hounded and driven to despair? I know which one I prefer.

Good on Judi Moylan for speaking out. Pity her colleagues don't have the same amount of courage. And that goes for the ALP too. A pox on all their houses!

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Paul, Barnaby Joyce, for all his procrastinating, was never going to be more than a mannequin paraded out by the National Party on occasions where it wants the people to believe they care before accepting legislation on a promise of changes being made.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Barnaby Joyce demonstrated what he always was with his caving in on the IR legislation. A Trojan Horse and a non-entity unable to handle the pressure.

He stated that one man can only do so much. One man could do everything he wanted if he genuinely believed he could make a change for the better. Many of his Nat mates will pay a price at election time for his foolishness.

It's all about timing from now on. How long before the nasties begin to bite under the new laws? If the Coaltion can coast for 2 years and a compliant media keeps a lid on the awful affects this will have on lower margin workers - and the middle class remain cosetted-until the changes begin to bite them - maybe we will have a one-party government. Particularly once the Dictator's Charter so-called "terrorism" laws are used. This coup could succeed.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

All the Judi Moylans and the Barnaby Joyces in the world won’t save Christmas 2005 from the HyperGrinch roaming the grounds of Kirribilli House.

The giggling HyperGrinch knows he’s at long last cut the guts from single parent and disability pensions.

And cut himself a big thwack! to ordinary Australian WorkChumps’ pay-packets too.

Plus he’s put a $1M Liberal Party mate with dodgy form on the board of the Reserve Bank.

Happy Xmas, HyperGrinch, if it’s not seditious to say so.

But they’re comin’ to get you, so keep hidin’. Or go runnin’ to big Georgie with ya pantaloons flapping.

It’s every move you make, HyperGrinch.

You is never ever safe, if it’s not seditious to say so.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Speaking of Christmas cheer…

"And I fail to see how $100 million could turn into $1 billion," declared Jamie Packer at the One-Tel show (“Packer hoped for $100m pay day” SMH, 1/12).

Not more tears, lad? Now you’re for it.

Cripes, Jamie, $100 million would buy youse a seat on the Reserve Bank board, mate.

And any idiot could see you’ve got the judgement for it.

Show those pointy head pricks how to really handle real money.

Or, Jamie, youse could pick up some nice little, um, FAI-type insurance thingies in the Antilles with that sorta dough. Then save ya self a bundle on tax.

You might have to scrub it if ya wanta go on the Board, though.

Keep an eye on ya diary, but, and ya can make it cut both ways.

Double ya money, year in, year out. No sweat. That billion would soon roll over. Lachie will be as green and envious as a cat.

It isn’t seditious to speak such of the ruling classes, is it?

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

When I was younger, I saved up for the airfare and had a working backpacker holiday in the UK. I was shocked, back then, at the amount of beggars there, notably London /the Tube etc. I thought, OMG the UK is 'Third World'! I was so proud of Australia and so glad to get home.

I cannot tell you how gutted I feel that this law has passed. Sorry Judi Moylan but we need someone to make a stand, and abstaining is a bit like being an 'accessory after the fact' in my opinion.

I am now expecting that begging will become the norm here too. 'Cry, the beloved country.'

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Michael de Angelos, all the IR legislation is going to do is curb the power of the unions, and as they only represent about 15% of the workforce it is not going to matter.

You have lived through the last nine years without a viable Labor Party you will survive the next nine years.

You call Barnaby Joyce a non-entity. What about Beazley, Lawrence and co. Over the last few days, their performance was pathetic.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Peter (insert-latest-amusing-pseudo-middle-name-here) Woodforde, whatever you are on I want some of it, though not too much. I don't always know what the f... you are talking about, but I always like reading your amusing and sometimes even insightful posts. Today's 1:35:56 PM post is particularly good. "The giggling HyperGrinch...". Now that is funny.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Sorry Alan Curran, but phrases like 'there will always be beggars' and 'the poor are always with us' (a Biblical phrase usually quoted out of context) is just denial of the issue, to make it easier to treat people like non-persons. It's just disgusting to treat fellow Australians in this way and shows a hard-heartedness I never thought I would see.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Alan Curran, how old are you, to feel able to make a comment like that, that "there has always been beggars"? Like Mardi, I was shocked to see European beggars.

There were no "beggars" in Australia, then (or the UK, as far as I know). An aged, bent and withered woman in Sydney was as notorious as Bea Miles, for her habit of wandering restaurants et al, flogging an ancient dead posy, and people virtually paid her to go away...she was the closest.

I had certainly witnessed ultra poverty in Aust, but if one discounts itinerant swaggies there was NO BEGGING. It is a new phenomenon...well, say, new in the last 20-25 years.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Mardi Black, get real, there has always been beggars and there always will be no matter what political party is in power.

Except now there will be two more in the form of Burrows and Combet, nah! they will be offered safe Labor seats so that they can sit in the House alongside Macklin and Gillard and do nothing. That should suit them, they have been trained for it.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Mardi Black, I lived in the UK from the Harold Wilson days to mid-Maggie Thatcher and you are correct. There were no beggars and no homeless in the UK. Every local council must by law house the homeless in their area but the problem which began as Thatcher's decimation of British industry began to bite, has now overwhelmed them.

Blair's "New Labour" is just a continuation of Thatcherism and is more extreme and homelessness has skyrocketed under New Labour. At least Maggie didn't demonise the unemployed or fiddle with SS benefits. That's a fad of Bush, Blair and Howard as they make their sanctimonious mutterings about giving everyone a job. The cost of those jobs will be at the cost of everyone's wages as their bargaining powers wind down.

I don't understand why you look forward to the loss of unions Allan Curran. Even the most ignorant of twentieth century history in the west must realise the only reason people throughout Europe, the USA and Australia now have a relatively good standard of living is because unions have fought tooth and nail for every benefit against recalcitrant big business. If their power goes every working person must eventually lose out.

What fantasy world do supporters of these changes live in? Do they believe they are cacooned from other workers? Do they really think the combined forces of business will do the right thing for their workers? Which part of capitalism do they need explaining about? The first rule of a business is to maximise profits anyway legal way they can. For the first time in over 100 years they now have a new way to do it, by cutting wages without restraint and stripping back benefits to the minimum by telling workers what they will get.

Forget "negotiating" and forget Barnaby, he's history. And if you think 15% of workers who will be worse off don't matter you are sadly mistaken. Make that 20% in a year, 25% in 2 years. Tell us what your job is Allan and I guarantee I can give you a potted history of your future. If you ain't Robert Gerard or so self sufficient you don't ever need to work again, look forward to hard times my friend. If you are young, I pity you. If you have children, weep for them.

Margo: Hi Michael. Alan runs his own computer maintenance business.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

S. Kirby: ”Woodforde, whatever you are on I want some of it, though not too much.”

I’d pass on a list, but I think I left it in my pjarmies, or the Big Nurse is tooken it.

And what’s “too much” when it’s at home?

They just jam it into me, bottle after bottle, though real big needles, under orders from the Combine. As my punishment for sedition.

Of which you can’t have too much.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Michael de Angelos, yes it was early 1990s. I was in the UK, which is post-Thatcher. I recall mostly young people begging and congregating in tunnel walkways to sleep (often in groups). I was also appalled to find out that the unscrupulous landlord of the dump we were renting at exorbitant cost (2 share bathrooms for 15 scummy, tiny bedsits - it was a sub-divided large house in Chiswick Park) had turfed out the previous tenants for no good reason. Hence 'third world'. JH has gone from 'Fistful of dollars' to 'Iron fist'.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Alan Curran, your contempt towards those who share neither your views or your values is quite clear. It is also clear that those who support the government's laws and policies towards those who have less market power than members of the government and their supporters, also share your contempt. Social contempt is usually hidden in Australia the more to pretend it does not actually exist. The only good thing about the laws and the policies supported by this government, is that the absolute contempt for Australian citizens, and the values and institutions which express our particular ethos is 'out there' for all to see and ponder.

Like you, the government and its supporters can hardly contain their general disdain for the values and institutions that have made this country more egalitarian than those to whom we usually compare ourselves on the economic league tables. The evidence given by some employers to the Senate Inquiry as to the future envisaged by some was instructive in this regard.

I can assure you that outside the think tanks and boardroooms and the pages of the financial press, the views that shaped the IR laws and the Welfare to Work measures are not widely held in the community, and the view that this country can do better than these clumsy, incompetent and regressive legislative schemes is deeply held.

The 'slow burn' as the full meaning of these measures sinks in over the next year or so, will create interesting conversations about the future of this country and who gets to decide how we will all live and work in the 21st century. It is a conversation which will not be welcomed by Peter Hendy and his ilk, because it will reveal just how narrow, how brittle and how fragile the support is for the political and social project undertaken by the mad market mullahs who are running around reengineering this country under the cover of 'No-one told me' John Howard.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

The interesting thing is that the biggest growth industry now in welfare is within the working community who cannot live on the low wages and raise their kids.

The other growth industry is with the wealthy mums staying at home and getting paid for it while they try and send single mums out to jobs that are not there.

Then we have the baby bonus where mums are paid to have a bloody baby for god's sake. People want to have a baby of their own free will or not. Why do they have to be paid for it?

Because of middle class welfare ballooning the government has to punish the poor.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Alan Curran: “Get real, there has always been beggars and there always will be no matter what political party is in power.”

Just because we have homeless people now and will probably continue to do so in future does not make it right and it certainly shouldn’t make it an acceptable situation to anyone. No-one in Australia (or anywhere) should be in a situation where they don't have a roof over their head at night and are unable to provide themselves with food.

The fact that the government are bringing in laws which will almost certainly ensure that the number of homeless grows is disgraceful. The MPs that voted in favour of this should be ashamed of themselves but it would seem they don’t care, after all their salary and their hefty pension are not at risk here.

As for your comment, “all the IR legislation is going to do is curb the power of the unions, and as they only represent about 15% of the workforce it is not going to matter,” yes there may only be about 15% of workers that are union members, however when unions fight for improved wages and conditions and then win them, the effects flow through to all workers, they aren’t just restricted to union members, so anyone that isn’t a union member will also be significantly affected by the curbing of unions’ power.

The IR legislation will also ensure that, due to circumstance, many people in unfortunate situations will be forced to take lower wages just so they can get a job.

How many of the 678,000 Australian children already belonging to a family at risk of financial disadvantage (Smith Family figures) will this affect, either through what their parents are able to provide for them due to limited finances, or through time away from their parents because they are working two jobs just to put food on the table and pay the bills?

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Michael de Angelos, please give me “a potted history of my future."
Margo has told you what my job is, so go for it.

However please spare me the rubbish sprouted by Burrows, Combet and Sen Wong, I am tired of the repetitive rubbish they have been sprouting.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Alan, I was wondering if you could help me understand what the benefits of the IR changes are going to be?

Seriously, I haven't heard or seen anything to date which details how workers are going to benefit but I've certainly seen plenty about how business owners may, depending on their attitude to staff and profit.

Just as a small aside, who is going to cover the cost of maintaining a complete set of conditons for each individual? Maintaining such data is complex and expensive with staff being defined by employment groups (awards). How can small business afford the extra maintenance and processing that will be needed?

Clearly if you only have a couple of staff then that's not an issue but it is another small area not mentioned to date.

I've seen broad statements like:

"A healthy economy is good for jobs"; and

"Any job is better than no job"; and

"It's good for the economy": and many similar words which are not specific.

I accept of course that workers with in demand skills etc will benefit, at least initially until someone as good undercuts them that is. I also accept fully the need for businesses to make profit. There would be no point otherwise would there? Those that run businesses purely for social reasons quickly find themselves at Centrelink.

Are you able to demonstrate where the benefits will be, what section of the community will benefit and in what ways?

I'd really like something concrete as to date it is all pie in the sky promises, a politician's speciality. Some facts, some evidence of success for this system in other countries or States. I believe WA and NZ have had these systems with WA at least dropping it quite quickly.

I am open to evidence and would be thrilled to see and believe the benefits as at the moment I fear my 11 year old may end up down the mines in the near future. After all those skilled mine workers will too be undercut won't they?

Or, Alan, is it simply all about "making Australia competetive"? Which I understand to mean reduction in staff costs, either through lower incomes or replacing them with people located in other countries.

I'm not having a go at anyone, I'm just so frustrated that there are no specifics, even in the government's own propaganda.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Michael and Mardi, I worked and lived in London during the mid-1980's and certainly recall seeing beggars as I hopped off the tube. I also saw them in Belfast and throughout the continent.

Then off course there are the Gitanes and Romans who have been begging professionally for centuries.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Congratulations Marilyn, you hit the nail on the head concerning the dirty truth of the Howard government. Its welfare policies show clearly that far from being interested in work as a salvic value for all, it believes that handouts should be given to those who are already well off, and a kick in the backside to those who are not.

BTW, union membership in this country is actually 24%, not 15%, representing over 1.5 million people directly and around 4 million people who are family members. Slightly more representative I would have thought, than the roll call of the rich and powerful who have urged these regressive laws on a responsive and willing government.

The union movement (among other things) ensures that the productivity gains made by the economy through the efforts of all are shared more widely than they would otherwise be if the movement did not exist. It is precisely this aspect of the work of the movement that so enrages Howard's supporters in the boardrooms. It enrages them because they have a sense of entitlement that knows no bounds. That sense of entitlement is expresed in the belief that it is they, and they alone, who should decide what we get paid, how we will be treated when under their authority at the workplace and whether in fact we deserve to be paid at all!

We have now become a polity where matters that were enjoyed as of right, have been reduced to things that may be conferred upon the will of another, as a matter of charity or condescension.

It is that simple really.

A giant sense of social entitlement and right that will tolerate no debate or argument that others have a legitimate interest in the conduct of the economic affairs of this polity is the single characteristic of these forces. They are truly breathtaking in their arrogance and profoundly anti-democratic in their impulses.

And that truth is finally being exposed for all to see. They and their type will rue the day they decided to make it 'winner take all' and trash the basis of the Australian settlement that has irked them for as long as it has existed. The Chicago School of economics boys who now run everything in this country might like to reflect that it is often just when you feel you have finally achieved everything you ever wanted that the rot has in fact already begun.

Their failure to persuade the Australian people of their nostrums through the normal course of democratic debate and parliamentary scrutiny, should not go unremarked. This is par for the course, since this school of economics has a track record in every part of the world where it has roosted, in trashing democratic rights the better to secure the economic entitlements of those whose interests it is designed to serve.

Make no mistake, Australia has just been subjected to the 'treatment' meted out to many others across the world, in the name of a very old fashioned and discredited set of policies.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Michael de Angelos, what happened to “potted history of your future”?

I have spent most of today listening to the Senate, and one after the other all the Labor Senators have been sprouting the same scare tactics. It appears that they are all reading from the same sheet, I would have thought that some of them could have come up with something original. Their standard of debate is abysmal, no wonder they are in opposition.

I suppose it is the same with you regarding my “potted history”.
Phil Moffat, no I have never cheated on my tax, so you can tell that to your friends at the ATO. I have no need to cheat on my tax.
By the way you ought to see some of the “erroneous claims” some of my workers put in after a business trip away.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Regarding small business. I have yet to see a small business report their actual earnings to the ATO. Not only that, I have yet to see a small business not make erroneous claims for expenses. In otherwords the greater majority of small businesses are tax cheats and I doubt that anyone would argue with that.

What about you Allan Curran ever cheated the ATO and your fellow Australians? My friends at the ATO would be interested to hear what you have to say.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Unfortunately I agree with "the rubbish" spouted by Burrows, Combet etc Allan Curran, so what I say will be meaningless to you. But as you are a small businessman you must be thinking this legislation will be to your advantage. Pity you think that 15% of Australians being adversely affected is of little importance. That attitude about sums up the Howard government's thinking.

A shame so many unions busted their guts so Aussies could get to the point of being able to purchase your products, or do you think that happened all by itself?

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

For a long while I was bewildered by what the government was doing. In an earnest and now I understand laughable fashion I would write to newspapers explaining the unintended consequences of implementing the welfare to work laws and the industrial relations laws. I would point to my experience and relate how I had once been on the single parents pension but had gone to uni and was now earning bulk dollars and paying bulk tax. I wrote of my pride in being a member of civil society. I wrote of how both society and I had benefitted from a non punitive welfare scheme. I did not get published.

Well no more the bunny me. I have a duty to stand up and fight for all of the single mothers who come after me, all of the unemployed who deserve a fair and decent job.

At the recent rally against the IR legislation I was among about 20,000 people in Adelaide who came to make their voices heard. Importantly, not only me, but my daughter, my grandson, my son in law, his parents, their friends from the bowls club and my partner, who had been threatened via departmental email the day before, all attended- and let me tell you these are people who never attend demonstrations.

This government does not know what it is in for.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

I am a business owner not a union member but I believe there is an important role for unions in our society and there needs to be a fair balance between workers and owners. There also needs to be a fair balance between work and family.

None of these have been achieved with this latest IR laws. On the contrary, Australia will become a less fairer society and a country of working poor.

In less than 10 years the Howard Government has been able to destroy all iconic Australian values that we hold dear - a fair go, a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and the Aussie mateship accepting of all people no matter what their race, religion, background or income.

The people who elected this Government and that includes a lot of workers, need to think long and hard about the consequences of their actions.

Maybe this Government and the IR and Terror laws are the high price we have to pay if we don't value and cherish our freedoms enough.

If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance then the relaxed Aussie attitude in regards to politics has well and truly been used and abused.

In the end you get the Government you deserve.
Even so, what terrible things must we have done in our previous lives to deserve this mean and nasty regime?

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Raul Carlton, some posts down the page I asked Alan if he could detail how workers would be better off. No reply as yet, perhaps he is still writing.

However, as you are both small business owners and you have opposing views, would you be able to tell me what the effects on workers are likely to be, from the owner's point of view?

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

No, Ross Chippendale, I was not still writing. I was in my office clearing up after a very busy week, I have to have the place ready for Monday morning when my workers get here. I will probably still be here at 8pm, and of course I have to come on Sunday morning as we are having some electrical circuits installed.

I can only speak for my workers regarding this IR legislation, they will not even be aware of it because their conditions will not change.

There is not one union member on my staff, and that is their own choice.
In my business there is a fair balance between work and family.

My workers have to be flexible regarding hours, because that is the nature of my business. Computer systems go down at all sort of hours, and they have to be fixed.

If I did not own the business, I would love to work here.

I know there are unscrupulous employers out there who will take advantage of workers, but I do not believe it is as wide spread as the unions are trying to tell us. Instead of believing the propaganda being put out by the ACTU, why not wait and see what happens, the workers cannot be worse off than when Labor were last in power.

I also know that if I was an ordinary worker I would hate to have the Labor Party in power - their only allegiance is to the unions who put them there.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

My prediction of your future Alan Curran is that you will undoubtedly do well under this legislation. You are the one that said it - 15% of people who belong to unions do not count. That's a pretty dire attitude to have. That percentage will grow as an underclass. Once wage rises are held back, as they will be if there is a new class of cheaper worker small employers will take advantage. Why wouldn't they?

I don't understand your antipathy to unions but it seems very strong. Why so? Does that include the professional organisations of manufacturers and business groups that are now running their own adverts supporting these changes which are unions for another class? Or is it only unions representing workers you dislike?

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Not one of the respondents on this page, who support these changes or are employers themselves, have stated how any person on a DSP, with Neurological, Musco-Skeletal or Psychiatric conditions, is going to achieve a job through their or any other business, and would they or any other business person, so in favour of these changes, employ someone who is taking prescribed Narcotic Painkillers (Tramal Hydrochloride, Morphine), Powerful Psychotropic Medication (Alanzopine, Zoloft, Lithium).

All of these drugs in some way affect the body, whether it be drowsiness with the narcotics or mood altering with the psychotropics, used mainly for Bi=Polar Disorder and Schizophrenia.

Withdrawing people from these drugs will, revert the persons manic state or make the pain of their disability intolerable, and we must remember, that those with Muscular skeletal disability, in the majority of cases suffer a Psychotic Disorder, usually depression associated with Pain.

These welfare policies of the coalition are not aimed at getting DSP Recipients into work, they are about punishment for being different, and before the pro-change lobby starts berating the comments I have made, people born with disabilities - ie, Downs Syndrome, Spina Bifida, etc - learn from an early age how to deal with a disability and they cope accordingly, however, when they enter the workforce it is usually through sheltered workshops, which are set up specifically for their employment. Very few are employed outside of these establishments.

The 40 and 50 age group, who have developed a disability through Injury, either a workplace accident or some other accident, are not catered for at all, this group is lumped into the bludger category by Business and Government and are penalised at every turn, when it has come to the two savings bonuses and the one of payment to aged pensioners. Disability recipients were specifically ignored by the Howard Government, even though, the cost of living with a disability, with medications and alternate treatments is commonly higher than an aged pensioner. Is this fair?

No employer is going to employ a disabled worker if they believe their costs, such as insurance, is going to rise, or should we move the welfare factor from the disabled to the employer to pay such cost's? All that would do is further demonise the disabled.

These measures are not meant to get the disabled into employment. They are meant as punishment for being disabled.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Alan Curran, I apologise if I sounded somewhat provocative (it's the Scottish blood) but in reality I personally have no problem with small business making their own "arrangements" and I'll try to explain why.

I happen to sympathise with Judi Moylan’s concerns regarding these new laws. Many already disadvantaged people will be even more disadvantaged but in a rather ironic way it is really the small business people who save many of these unfortunate human beings from total destitution.

Anyone who has ever had to survive on a pension or benefit will be able to tell you it is almost impossible to survive on their benefits alone. An unexpected expense, a parking fine or dental problem or accident can be a disaster.

So what do they do? They work (if they can). They work for small and micro businesses that play them cash. Without that cash (supplied only by small business) then Australia would have literally thousands more families living on the streets or relying on charity.

Of course this is totally illegal and all things considered both parties would have a lot of explaining to do to a number of government departments if they we caught. The person receiving the cash may end up in gaol and the employer would most likely have to pay fines and penalties for all sorts of compliance “oversights”.

Yet without this cash economy many of those people on government benefits would surely perish.

Now let’s look at big business, the corporations. They would never dream of paying cash. That’s dishonest and illegal. No corporations have all those other sophisticated ways of avoiding tax not easily available to the ordinary punter, we hear about this type of stuff every day. Ask Peter Costello. The unemployed just have to take what they can get and the reality is that in many cases it is/will be small business, not corporations that provide the true safety net for many of our poor.

How many of us know someone, maybe a single mum working a few hours at the local coffee shop for that little bit of cash that will make all the difference. It is not Coles or Maccas that will pay you cash it will be a small business person. Probably someone working their guts out, running a huge overdraft and RBA (account) at the ATO and wondering how they can raise enough money to cover the next mortgage payment. In many ways a stressed out human being a lot like youself

If these small guys didn’t decide to break all the rules then hell, that’s it for thousands and thousands of families, destitution, a bush shelter, maybe a cardboard box in Belmore Park. More like America.

You see as long as these big corporations corrupt our democracy the ordinary person will never have a chance. All legislation will be in their interests, after all they paid for it and the worker will be just that, a worker.

The sad thing is we could simply change the law and abolish a lot of this low level dishonesty if say the tax breaks were a little fairer. Let’s say for example a single Mum with two kids could distribute her income to the family and enjoy three tax free thresholds, you know like a family trust. That would be fair would it not? Employers do this all the time.

Anyway that’s enough from me, sometimes I’m just a cranky old Scotsman who has become somewhat disgusted with the behaviour and bullshit of those people we employ to look after OUR bloody interests and not their greedy mates.

Moral of the story? That's up to you but the Scotsman in me says a wee bit of petty crime is far more honourable (and socially beneficial) than being just plain greedy (and socially destructive).

I enjoy working in and with small business and my friends at the ATO know exactly how I feel. Most agree.

I also keep an impeccable set of books.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Thank you Alan. No offence intended mate. I am honestly puzzled at what the so called benefits will be.

Your workplace sounds great and I too would like to work in a friendly cooperative environment. That makes sense for both employer and employee and should naturally result in higher productivity and deication to the job(s). I truly wish you and your company all the best and hope you flourish.

I guess where I stop following the intent of the legislation is where you say your staff won't even notice it. That is excellent as I have said but if that is the case why is there a need for change? Your business doesn't need it, why others?

What changes are going to help workers? It's easy to see the benefits for employers as ther balance of power in the employer/employee relationship will be all one way. Excepting those work areas where skills are in high demand.

As an example, say your business was doing quite well and you had 10 staff. Say they advised you that they had a better offer. Would you match them, providing the increase still allowed your business to operate at a profit? How high would you go? Would you pick and choose who to keep? All rhetorical questions really and I don't wish to waste your time.

What if another employer told you he had 10 staff who would work for half the salary you offer and they are bloody good workers? You see what I'm saying Alan? We can all be good people and want the best work environment but when does the profit overtake the cooperation?

No criticism of you intended at all, I simply want to understand what it is that Howard and the business side see as good. Given that you can do what pleases both your company and staff without that legislation.

I hope you follow my logic, if you can call it that. I just don't see the new laws being used except as cost cutting which usually means staff and their conditions. Do you think that too, for other companies or those employers who operate in a negative manner? Sorry, clearly it would benefit CEO's even though they gave carte blanche already.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

John, there is no argument mate. Employers are actually not really interested in employing anyone over 40 without adding in complications for them.

You know it's wrong, so do I.

Your statement that "These welfare policies of the coalition are not aimed at getting DSP Recipients into work" is exactly right. It is simply about trying to take people off benefits by punishment. What they don't understand is the problems people with disabilities already have to deal with, just to survive on the Disability Support benefit.

It's not exactly luxury is it mate? Wouldn't you like to see our PM survive on that amount for a year with no help from anyone? Yeah right! They spend the weeky benefit on lunch and then it's taxpayers $, not theirs.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Look, could someone (Heffernan, perhaps) take JWH quietly aside and say, “Maaaate, you’re not Neptune (Poseidon).” That is, JWH doesn’t actually hafta go out there with his wee trident (IR, woefare-wark, tanti-terrorism) and take on the whol’ world. I mean, like, NOBODY on Mount Olympus ever took any notice of Poseidon/Neptune anyway. In the triumvirate of Rulers, man, he of all was the also-ran.

So, hey, let’s get hep, man (to revert, I believe, to outré lingo that JWH might jus’ possibly be across, man….). Whaddabout being cool, hangin’ loose … sit back ‘n’ relax ‘n’ take it as it come…. Who nose, we might even be a whole lot happier, hipper, and…even…maybe…more productive? (No, not on anything tonight – not even cough medicine (tho should be).)

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Fiona's comment really begs the question. What exactly is this grudge Howard and many of his "mates" have against other people; ordinary Australians?

Certain Webdiarists noted a while back a possible similarity between Howard and another mean, aging mongrel, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. How is that sight of other people suffering is of such delight to a certain, grisly mindset?

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Paul Walter I expect an A for writing this.

There are 4 basic ideological ways of viewing social issues. These are Conservative, Liberal, Social Democratic, and Structuralist.

These are not political, but ideological labels.

Conservatives believe that social problems are caused by individual malfunction. Governments are there to coerce.

Liberals believe society is well meaning and problems are caused by stuffups. Governments should manage better.

Social Democrats believe that groups compete with each other for resources and governments arbitrate their demands. Unions and Employers in industrial courts are a good example.

Structuralists belive it's all wrong. They usually have ...isms attached to their labels such as feminism, commumism, greenyism (I made that one up, but greens are members anyway).

So Howard is a conservative. This is his world view. That world view means he wants to punish those who don't fit in to his ideals.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

David Candy, thanks for explication. As I get older I find self doing similar to yourself. Every so often a small, soft voice from within will tells me to rethink a particular issue I have had hard and fast views previously on, as well.

Just finished a degree as a manured age student, and your comments tempt me to have a look at social work, myself, particular as an old mate I've run across follows it as a vocation also. Times are uncertain at this time, though- government is a definite loose cannon, unless one is one of their cronies.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Paul Walter

My training is as a welfare worker. One needs to know ideologolgy of one's employer so one can work in the way they want one too.

So once long ago I had to think about ideological approaches (and our exams required apply solutions to social problems from various ideological viewpoints).

Consevatism is deeply ingrained in every human. Especially if one is personally affected by the situation. This can be seen in the assigning of personal characttistics to people like John Howard, ie he has a grudge againt most of us rather than he is trying to make the world in his image of what is a right and proper world.

Depending on the exact issue I can flop between all four positions.

On methodone issues I am a conservative (though I try to tell my intellect to take charge). On industrial matters I am a social democrat. On education I am a liberal.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

David Candy, I will award you a "B" on acount of your strenuous efforts.

Jane Doe gave a useful, detailed account of your position earlier in the thread, I've just noticed.

But if John Howard, like "flogging parson" Samuel Marsden, is a person who patently enjoys working himself into a panting sweaty lather dementedly belting people, was the electorate merely masochist last election, or totally brain dead?

I begin to see the appeal of conservatism, in a perverse sort of way, come to think of it!

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Mardi Black, hush yo' mouth, woman! Don't want to give any of them folks in de big House under de Hill more of those seditious - oh, 'pologies - good ideas!

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

It's back to deserving and undeserving poor all round. Now I must 'prove' I am trying my hardest to conform to someone else's idea of what a dutiful parent is which apparently is one that neglects their children to work some scummy job and have most of the wages removed. No money, no status, now no dignity.

And yes folks, there's more - next they will be saying that you are a bad parent because you can't afford to feed and clothe them properly! Why don't we just give those poor unfortunate kiddies to someone who can look after them Properly.

When will the judgmental attitude end? Oh that's right, I am nobody important. May as well remove the franchise too.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

Alan Curran, you said: "I know there are unscrupulous employers out there who will take advantage of workers, but I do not believe it is as wide spread as the unions are trying to tell us. Instead of believing the propaganda being put out by the ACTU, why not wait and see what happens, the workers cannot be worse off than when Labor were last in power."

First, it sounds like you have an excellent work environment, though to get both sides of the story I'd like to hear what your employees say also.

However, you really didn't tell us how workers (and I am one) wil actually benefit from the new laws.

Your workplace will remain the same you say.

My workplace changed (after in-depth talks with the on-side? lawyers) before the new laws, and there are now certain rules stating whether or not we will be privileged to receive profit share, for instance, which due to reasonably low wages, many count on to meet their annual bills.

The workers here have an amazingly good attitude to work. I would say each puts in 110%. So why did we need a change in rules and for it to be written into our agreements?

Obviously the lawyers understood what was coming down through the system when conspiring to bring in these new enforceable laws.

Some workers have refused to sign the form. However, they will eventually, as this as another instance which will cause them to lose their profit share, as specified in our new set of rules. A Catch-22 really.

So I would be extremely interested to hear your views on actual improvements in the workplace now the laws have been passed.

And do remember, and of course people say I'm being extreme here, that it was unions who fought for children to be taken out of mines not so long ago, who gave us a working week which allowed us some recreation, and enforced safety standards on, well, far too many not so decent employers.

Or have our moral standards changed for the better in the last hundred or so years?

Some unions have become too powerful. I believe these leaders are working hand in glove with equally corrupt employers. However, many are still there to ensure that workers' conditions are fair and reasonable.

I think it is pretty obvious that employees without high qualifications can look forward to reduced pay and poorer conditions in the near future as we are informed we must complete with China and India.

I can't see it working the other way for awhile yet. Raising workers' living standards is probably not on these countries' agendas quite yet.

We should be very careful that the baby is not thrown out with the dishwater here.

re: Judi Moylan says no on welfare to work

I am on the Democrats' email list. This just came in and is relevant:

* * * * * * *

Work Choices Passage Start of Erosion of Protections

The passage of the WorkChoices Bill through the Senate today marks the beginning of the erosion of protection for workers.

Australian Democrats Workplace Relations spokesperson, Senator Andrew Murray said "This Bill is historical for all the wrong reasons. We have seen for the first time in the history of Federation a hostile take over of the state system. We have seen the dismantling of the industrial safety net, and a raft of provisions that will give employers unprecedented bargaining power.

"The changes will not be immediate, which suits the Government's agenda but, over time, the Bill will lead to the eroding of pay and conditions for millions of Australians.

"The greatest failure of the Governments Bill is that to this day they have still failed to provide any empirical economic justification for these changes proof that this Bill is nothing more than faith based - an obsession, which will unfortunately hurt many Australians."

Democrats leader Senator Lyn Allison said "Despite calls from the Democrats, ALP, Greens, the unions, the churches, academics, lawyers and HREOC to provide genuine choice and fairness, the Government's amendments to their Bill tinkered around the edges, leaving the Bill still fundamentally flawed.

"In the end, this Bill is not about productivity improvements; it is designed to enable the exploitation of vulnerable members of Australian society, in exchange for greater company profit.

"Nonetheless many employers will not be happy with the Bill as it will create uncertainty and it will force better employers to bring down their wages to compete with less scrupulous employers.

"The Prime Minister refuses to give a guarantee that no worker will be worse off because he knows that poor disadvantaged or powerless workers will be worse off.

"This is a sad day for progressive democracy in Australia. The Government have been able to shove through radical changes which will have a detrimental impact on society and work arrangement and which might never be undone," said Senator Allison.

See here for the media release.

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