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IR power to the feds - will the Australian people still say no?

This piece was originally published on Webdiary in December 2005 as IR power to the feds: the Australian people always say no. The issues that John Miner raised then are even more relevant today.


In 1946, the Chifley Government put four questions to a post-war referendum that envisaged the Commonwealth retaining some of the powers it held temporarily during the war and looked to the future.

One question, on social services, was approved. That constitutional change is the basis of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, family allowances, the Education Act that involves the Commonwealth in higher education – and Commonwealth responsibility for dental care, which the current government refuses to acknowledge.

Another question in that referendum was whether Australians wanted to give the Commonwealth power over "industrial employment". The nation said No. But that was no big deal. Australia had said no to that idea a number of times before. The Constitution has never given that power to the Commonwealth, and the people have rejected every effort by governments of all persuasions to get it.

How the Howard Government thinks it’s going to realise its industrial relations dream without a further referendum is a mystery to me.

There is sense in the idea. The Constitution insists on free trade between the States, and isn’t labour an integral component of that?
In earlier days, when goods travelled by rail, sea and river as well by today’s overwhelming choice, road, there were interminable arguments about the rights of the States to control goods on their railways or in their ports in the face of the free-trade provisions.

Henry Bourne Higgins, Peter Costello’s idol, persuaded the first Australian Parliament to agree to the idea of national industrial relations, but the parliament didn’t have the constitutional power to do anything about it. It still doesn’t.

The question was put to the people in 1911 by Andy Fisher’s Labor Government), in 1919 by the Hughes Nationalist Government (not the Hughes Labor Government) and in 1926 by the Coalition Bruce Government. All of these proposals were rejected by the people.

In the 1911 case, the government asked to extend its powers over corporations, trade and commerce, combinations and monopolies.

In 1919, the government proposed to extend its wartime powers, with a three-year time limit written in – what we would call a sunset clause. On polling day, 13 December, protectionist Victoria voted for the idea and free-trade NSW against. Conservative South Australia was against, as was Tasmania. The case would have passed if five per cent of the NSW voters swapped sides – which means it wasn’t even close.

In 1926, Stanley Bruce’s approach followed the line of 1911 but anticipated the rhetoric, at least, of the Howard Government. It sought to extend the Commonwealth’s power over corporations to cover trusts and combinations in restraint of trade, trade unions, and employer associations.

There was a second motion, the inevitable wedge: to give the Commonwealth some kind of power to prevent interruption to essential services, which usually means strikes, because how do you prevent interruptions like the Esso Longford gas disaster?

On the first question put on 4 September 1926 only NSW and Queensland voted yes, and did so narrowly. The overall national vote was 56.5 per cent against. Even on the wedge question of essential services, an even larger majority - 57.2 per cent – saw through the trick and said No. The big No votes in 1926 were in Labor strongholds.

In 1946 the Chifley Government was almost emulating the 1919 referendum process – putting proposals for a post-war Australia arising out of the wartime experience. This time, a majority of voters supported the proposal – but that, under section 128 of our Constitution, is not good enough. NSW and Victoria supported the change, along with WA. The two most populous States were in. But the reason section 128 of the Constitution was written was to ensure that the big states alone can’t dictate constitutional change.
This time, Labor seats trusted the government and supported the change. But there was a No vote in Queensland, South Australia (of course) and Tasmania. It needed fewer than 2,000 voters in South Australia to change their mind to pass the change, but it wasn’t to be.

It’s still worth noting that this was the fourth government – of different political stripes - that felt obliged to put the question to the people, despite the low percentage of referendums approved in this country.

The current government proposes to avoid that democratic course, relying instead on its numbers in a Senate that gives Tasmania and NSW equal say.

The Yes case in 1946 had a familiar ring to it:

With this power the Commonwealth Parliament, either directly or through a body such as the Arbitration Court, could fix the basic wage or decide what principles should be followed in fixing it. It could lay down a standard working week. It would decide on holidays. It could prescribe better factory conditions—for example in lighting, ventilation, rest-rooms and other amenities. It could introduce new and up-to-date methods of smoothing out difficulties between management and workers. For the first time in Australian history, there would be authority to lay down a common rule for a whole industry.

The people liked it. Just not enough of them. But remarkable in retrospect is the NO case. It should show John Howard, Peter Costello and the narrowly focused Kevin Andrews what they are up against – if they look carefully enough: 


Quite shortly, it means that if the Amendment is carried the Commonwealth Parliament will be able itself to make direct laws about wages and hours. The Arbitration Court will be pushed on one side. The Parliament at Canberra will have full authority to decide not only the standard working week but what the working hours are to be in any industry, great or small, and for any class of employees anywhere in Australia.

The Parliament at Canberra will be authorized not only to fix the basic wage but to fix the wages of any group of employees or of any individual employee anywhere in Australia... This brings us to the really crucial question which you have to answer:


We cannot have a system of industrial justice in which the industrial courts are liable to be overruled at any moment by people at Canberra who know only some of the facts and have for the most part heard none of the arguments.

That was the anti-Labor position.

But the principal lesson we draw from the steam coming out of Archie Cameron’s ears as he penned the No case is that the constitutional power is feared by both side of politics.

When you amend the Constitution you amend it permanently. What one Parliament can do under the power another Parliament can undo.

That’s right. Just as the conservatives of 1946 saw a Communist plot behind the proposal, so the ALP sees a conservative government wishing to smash trade unions and workers’ conditions and rights. And they are both right.

You’d think people as bright as Kevin Andrews would see it, wouldn’t you?
When the wheel turns, as it inevitably will, AWAs will be abolished and collective bargaining will be back at a stroke of the pen. All the employer associations will be lined up against the wall and made illegal, members facing jail if they continue to open their gobs. Every wage application will be granted without reference to any industrial court. Nobody will be able to work without a union ticket.

It’s Kevin Andrews’ nightmare.

I doubt that it will come true in the terms above, but it could – and that’s the reason the Australian people have rejected the change on every occasion it has been put.

When Australians think about work and their job, we think in horizons of 30 or 40 years. We won’t stay in a job that long, but we don’t want the entire system lurching from one extreme to the other on each change of government while we pay off the mortgage and raise the family.

Mortgages and families don’t have three or four-year terms. What Australians have said four times already is that, when it comes to workplace relations, we want the real system of checks and balances comprised of State and Commonwealth powers

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False economy; False employment; False Pride.

Since Howard/Costello changed the method of calculating the unemployment rate by, among other things, reducing the reference weekly hours to one (1) being "employed" - it has become apparent that the "rises in employment" are primarily part-time.

While we are being occasionally informed of more and more businesses using WorkChoices to sack, re-employ or create part-time work from full-time, sometimes in the hundreds - do any of us wonder why the percentage of "un-employed" only changes DOWN?

Can anyone advise me how to raise the "New Order's" figures on "under-employed" or "under-utilised" which should be in their agency the  Australian Bureau of Statistics?

When Men and Women are now working several part-time employment vacancies to "make ends meet" and, possibly in the reference week, does that count as two or three JOBS each?

Without the "dreaded" Unfair Dismissal Laws, can employers employ several unskilled labourers to do the one JOB?

Will the Australian Bureau of Statistics ever recover their credibility and trust?

Isn’t it time that we voted to take back our democracy from a group who have only their power to justify their existence?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a different federal government who could release to us the truth behind the 11 years of lies and deceit that will be the legacy of the Howard “New Order”.



Too many Statistics Hide the Truth.

Since Howard/Costello changed the method of calculating the unemployment rate by, among other things, reducing the reference weekly hours to one (1) being "employed" - it has become apparent that the "rises in employment" are primarily part-time.

While we are being occasionally informed of more and more businesses using WorkChoices to sack, re-employ or create part-time work from full-time, sometimes in the hundreds - do any of us wonder why the percentage of "un-employed" only changes DOWN?

Can anyone advise me how to raise the "New Order's" figures on "under-employed" or "under-utilised" which should be in their agency the  Australian Bureau of Statistics?

When Men and Women are now working several part-time employment vacancies to "make ends meet" and, possibly in the reference week, does that count as two or three JOBS each?

Without the "dreaded" Unfair Dismissal Laws, can employers employ several unskilled labourers to do the one JOB?

Will the Australian Bureau of Statistics ever recover their credibility and trust?

Isn’t it time that we voted to take back our democracy from a group who have only their power to justify their existence?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a different federal government who could release to us the truth behind the 11 years of lies and deceit that will be the legacy of the Howard “New Order”.




Everyone Has Their Price?

What is the difference between intentionally misleading statements and intentionally false statements?

I believe that both are only a different way of lying.

For example:

Barbra Bennett, a person with the legal obligation of a Public Servant to be apolitical, is receiving $500,000 per annum of our taxpayer funds to mislead the workers of this nation.  A shame that will follow her where ever she goes after this election.

Like I have said, intentionally misleading is just another form of lying.

Her fascist explanation of WorkChoices is that you cannot be sacked for being pregnant; a Unionist; by religion or race et al, etc.  And, for what it is worth, that is true.  But, under WorkChoices, a reason is not necessary.

However, she knows, as any worker in Howard's Australia today knows, that the employer can dismiss you, at any time of the day or night, by any means, for NO reason at all.

You may be something or have something that the employer doesn't like; you may have an Award entitlement or you may have an independent view of politics - you may have the timerity to complain about unsafe practices - you may want to join or be in a Union - and Barbra Bennett says that you can't be sacked for that and more!

The real truth is that the employer can sack you for any or no reason at all!

I will give just one example - "I am changing my business format".

This is the sort of thing that was used when an employer sacked an employee because he was a Unionist.

In the Court hearing, the Judge decided that, while it was obvious that the person was sacked because of being in a Union, the employer argued other reasons - and - under the WorkChoices laws, the worker was legally sacked.

If, you are female and/or pregnant; black; muslim; Unionist; or for God's sake - ANYTHING the employer doesn't want - you're sacked!

So, as a citizen of Australia, I have nothing but contempt for Barbra Bennett. We should not be paying for the likes of her.

Well might they say - "Everyone has their price".

Save your money Barbra - God willing you and your ilk will lose power at this election.


Federal Govt. action to restrict leave illegal.

"The Government's decision to restrict access to people to take leave was aimed fairly and squarely at union members who wanted to protest against the WorkChoices legislation," he said.

"The court has upheld people's right of employee to be members of a union, to be active and participate in that union and not to be discriminated against in your terms and conditions."

Another example of the Howard government, taking illegal actions to prevent people from protesting against his unfair practise.  We are so lucky that the High court, is still not a tool of the Howard Government. We must be careful, not to give Howard another term or we may not have this protection in the future.

We Should "Never Ever" Trust the Howardists. 2

IMHO Howard is proud of running our country like a Corporation and claims that the "booming economy" is due to that cold-blooded "caveat emptor" attitude.

But at what cost to the public?  Every "New Order" federal department has "outsourced" to Private Enterprise in some way or other.  This puts them out of touch with reality and it shows.

Simon Crean put his plan called "Let Our Rivers Flow" for the Murray-Darling, to Howard's parliament 5 years ago. It was ignored.

The Racing Fraternity have just revealed that they warned the Howard government, also years ago, when Howard's Corporation was reducing the services of the Quarantine system to Private Enterprise.

 This is abandoning the duty of care for which all governments, prior to Howard's, have been aware of as an obligation.

Howard's Corporation "sub-contracts" to the Corporation Union Bosses via WorkChoices, the cheapest labour without any meaningful protection.

Barbra Bennett, who should have been taken to task as a Public Servant advertising for political reasons, has been revealed as receiving a $500-000 annual salary. Some job if you can get it. 

But at what cost to the public?

The independent assessments of WorkChoices have universally found that they do not increase wages nor do they increase jobs.

IF Costello ever gets around to feeding fair dinkum figures to his government's Australian Bureau of Statistics, it will be shown that there is an increase in employment (not jobs) due to the number "under-employed" (part time).  Some Men and Women are working two or three part-time jobs in any one week to make ends meet.

Some people rightly wonder at the ridiculous claim that WorkChoices increases JOBS when, week after week we learn of hundreds losing their JOBS as some employers use the draconian laws to avoid the entitlements of their employees.- Like TRISTAR.

Additionally, due to the various mergers, take-overs and bankruptcies occurring around the nation (the Globalisation funnel) there is a build up of concentrated power for the Corporation Union's Bosses.

I cannot undestand anyone swallowing the constant "UNION thugs" and "UNION power" cries of the multi-national Corporation Union Bosses when their major "New Order” spokesman, Joe Hockey, was outed for raising funds for a Trade Union Delegate!  Liberal of course but, doesn't that give a wake up call to all workers of any persuasion?

Only one way to stop these "back to the 19th Century laws" - don't vote for Howard's "New Order" Liberal/Nationalists.



Beware of Howard's Claims of Mandate. Mk 2.

Society has matured over many thousands of years from the primeval simple family unit, to communities, then city States and then States Federated into Nations.  All for the purpose of mutual support and strength.  United we stand so to speak.

That is three levels of government - as it exists in all countries of the Western world except where they have more.

If an enemy of the Nation wants to introduce an autocratic Fascist regime that cannot be voted out of government, they must first destroy the Federation by eliminating the States.  And then the communities, and the families.

The fallacy of his claims are as obvious as the bedtime story of the individual AWAs.  He claims he wants to supercede some 10,000 Awards across the country with individual AWAs.  Struth.

So, to be tidy, he wants to deal individually with 340,000 (at this time) individual AWAs instead of those troublesome10,000 (or whatever), Awards.

So, he also wants us to believe that it is good for us if he destroys the States in favour of "communities".  Would those communities be in accordance with the federal electorates?

If so, like the individual AWAs, he would replace 8 States/Territories with 151 Communities. But, that destroys their power and an organised alternative view to any dictatorship.

Divide and conquer.  Divide and divide until there is no resistance at all.

IMHO Howard has been repaying his debts to the "Powers that be" by taking us back to those "bad old days".

The paradigm of his corrupt government is to wedge and divide.  At no time has Howard ever bothered to try to unite our people.  Why?

I believe that his constant goal, election by election, and with great deceit and stealth, he has introduced many types of legislation which fall within the category of an autocracy.  Or in my words, fascism.

Just as our societies became stronger as they united, Howard intends for them to distrust each other and lean on the good old rich hand of the little dictator.

If we consider his recent radical moves like intervention into the N.T. Aboriginal settlements and his statement that he is not racist because he will do the same anywhere in Australia, is certainly being considered by him to be a MANDATE.

He has introduced the infamous Menzies' "Onus of Proof" by stealth.  He jumped on Bush's "terrorism" bandwagon, and while doing his best to make us a target, passed those draconian laws as "Anti Terrorism".  Down goes more Human Rights.

To weaken any organised opposition to his fascist policies, he must shatter the bodies of united voices, like the States.

So his government under-funds them bit by bit until they cannot properly provide the services for which they are held responsible.

Then he "intervenes" yet again and "tinkers" with a Hospital or some disenchanted Councils in Queensland, while at the same time ignoring the Equine Flu epidemic for which the"Buck stops at him".

More unholy Mandates should the secrecy and manipulation of the CIA  gets him elected again.

Just all remember that he has to destroy the Federation to remove any power based unity like States and Territories.  Under the State Constitutions and their own flags, they are a power to be dealt with.

My Wife and I watched Jeff McMullen's "Difference of Opinion" on www.abc.net.au/tv/differenceofopinion Thursday last and we enjoyed it immensely.  I quote just one interesting opinion phase:

JEFF McMULLEN: But is there a risk that if you allow any prime minister, from either party, to have so much power at the centre, that there can be an ideological agenda, that you can end up with almost Napoleonic control of issues? Do you see that risk - in cutting the states out to such an extent that you build up a dangerous power in Canberra?

ANNE TWOMEY: Certainly one of the benefits of federalism - and this is why it's adopted in many countries around the world - is it's seen as a check on power. That's one of the primary benefits of federalism. You separate, you divide power, so you stop any prospect of developing dictatorial powers. Imagine yourselves a commonwealth government, control of both houses of parliament, with legislative power to enact any law it likes, because under the Constitution at the moment it can only legislate in relation to certain things. Other things are left to the states and other things you have to co-operate to achieve. But what if it had the power to enact any law on anything? Terrorism, any other subject you can imagine. Does that worry you? The reason that federalism is adopted in many countries in the world is as a way of dividing power. If you don't have a bill of rights, and we don't, what other limits are there on Commonwealth power unless you have a federal system?

JEFF McMULLEN: Greg, how much power is Kevin Rudd seeking then, where he says "We'll try co-operation, we'll put $2 billion into the health system in the states and give them some time, but if co-operation doesn't succeed then we'll go to a plebiscite, we'll ask the nation whether the Federal Government would then take over the entire hospital system." That would indeed be a very big grab for power.

GREG CRAVEN: It would be if he did that. I think Anne's precisely right. We tend too often to try and think of federalism in purely economic terms. The fundamental argument for federalism is the division of power, power corrupts, power should be divided, power should be accountable, power should be limited. With Kevin Rudd you can say two things. One is it's a threat, but will he actually go ahead and do it? The other is it's an interesting proposition. As I understand it he's saying we'll have a referendum on this, we'll amend the Constitution to give power over health. That's better, I think, than the alternative in two ways. In the first way it means that people get a vote. That the Commonwealth gets to ask the people, "Do you want to give this power to it?" The interesting thing about my colleagues here, what they don't mention is, on almost every occasion there has been an attempt to increase Commonwealth power that people have rejected it at referendum. That's a very inconvenient fact. The other thing, of course, is at least if Kevin Rudd took over the whole of the hospital system you wouldn't be having spot health systems like the Mercy Hospital with the policy chaos. The Commonwealth would put its money and its responsibility, which is something the Commonwealth is not fond of, where its mouth is.

Let's keep our eyes on the ball.


Don't Give Up Your Day Job

 John Pratt - I would like to follow on from what you were saying:

 "Howard's work choices, has pushed wages down, Howard has also taken the sick off welfare, made single mom's look for work, often at the expense of their children's welfare. This is to create an impression of a growing economy. In fact all that has been created is the working poor."

  Adele Horin has an article in the SMH today about Australia and Ireland in relation to the difference of attitudes when dealing with the poor.

 "Unlike Australia, the Irish Government has acknowledged that entrenched poverty can exist in the midst of affluence. No matter how glowing the economic indicators, the Irish understood that a rising tide of prosperity, for one reason or another, failed to lift all boats, and it resolved to tackle the conundrum head-on.

 "If it is possible for Ireland to settle on a definition, then surely Australia can, too. (In Ireland's case "consistent poverty" means falling below 60 per cent of median income and, in addition, being deprived of two or more goods or services considered essential for a basic standard of living, such as a warm coat and two pairs of strong shoes.) If it is possible for Ireland to set targets for poverty reduction and meet them, then surely Australia can, too."

 I have spent a good deal of time in Ireland and not so long back I was considering moving there for good - I have an Irish background. So I have came to know much about how things are going over there - I was impressed. The Irish are very hard working and they believe in hard work too but they also have a brilliant social security net and I saw  first hand how they are lifting people up. One story I would like to relate is of an elderly woman who lived in the next street from my family. The locals called her Dirty Lil - her house was a disgusting mess and she wasn't much better herself. The locals said she had become dulled witted and had descended into her current state. When she didn't appear for a day or so it was found that she over heated next to her heater and passed out, she was then taken to hospital. While she was there the social workers got into her council house and cleaned it up - replacing her fridge, stove and carpet and painted right through. This is just one example of how people are being pulled up, there are countless other examples.

 The other big difference between Australia and Ireland is the attitude of the Irish to culture. They recognised that artists generally received a small income from their creative activities and therefore decided to allow artist to have that part of their income tax free. The Irish are very proud of this policy and I was told many times about it by strangers. Only recently has that changed to a threshold of 250.000eu which was largely due to high income pop groups such as U2.

 The scheme is called the Artists Exemption. The categories are:

 A book or other writing (this does not apply to journalism though, a play a musical composition, a painting or other like picture, and a sculpture. You can qualify for the exemption (and please note this is from the Tax Office in Ireland) if :

 A work has cultural merit if its contemplation enhances the quality of individual or social life by virtue of that work’s intellectual, spiritual or aesthetic form and content.

 A work has artistic merit when its combined form and content enhances or intensifies the aesthetic apprehension of those who experience or contemplate it.

 For the purpose of a determination under Section 195, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 the term “origin and creative” encompasses any unique work which is brought into existence for the first time as an independent entity by the exercise of its creator’s imagination.

 A non-fiction work in category (a), a book or other writing.

 David Throsby has been doing research for years in this country on the state of artist's incomes. An example of his findings is on the Australia Council site. The report is called “Don’t give up your day job: an economic study of professional artist in Australiaby David Throsby and Virginia Hollister.   Here is some of the findings:

·                                  As with other professionals, artists are a highly educated group. Three-quarters have had formal education in a university, College of Advanced Education, teachers college, TAFE or specialist artist training institution. Four out of ten have had private training.

·                                  Almost two-thirds of all artists work at more than one job- 56 per cent hold two jobs and seven per cent hold three jobs. Overall, 43 per cent of artists are engaged in some work in an arts related field, and one-third do some work in an area not related to the arts.

·                                  Artists are versatile across art forms and develop multiple skills for working in areas different from their principal artistic occupation. Many visual artists and actors have been involved in writing; many writers have been involved in acting; many dancers have been involved in acting.

  •  Half of the artists in the survey had an creative income of less than $7,300 in the 2000-01 financial year. (The unusual distribution of artists creative incomes with many low incomes and few high incomes resulted in a mean creative income of just over $17,000.
  •  Performing artists had the highest median 'creative incomes' in the survey: actors and musicians had median 'creative incomes' of $10,500, and dancers had median 'creative incomes' of $12,900. Visual artists had the lowest median 'creative income' of $3,100.
  •  Total median incomes ('arts incomes' plus 'non-arts incomes') in 2000-01 ranged from $35,800 for musicians to $22,600 for both craft practitioners and community cultural development workers. The median income in 2000?01 for all artists in the survey was $30,000.
  •  Only about a quarter of all artists work at their principal artistic occupation as employees on a permanent or casual basis being paid a salary or wages. The remaining three-quarters work as freelancers or as self-employed.

 It wouldn’t be a hard stretch to come to the conclusion that Howard’s WorkChoices would be having a huge negative impact on the arts community. 

Australian Civil War, language takes a holiday.

As with all good wars, language has taken a holiday. Language needs a holiday. It has worked hard over the years. And now that it is on an AWA, it has to refer to its loss of paid overtime as a "glorious contribution to the productivity of this great nation". Its drop in hourly wage rates has magically metamorphosed into a "brilliant improvement in productivity contributing to a low inflationary environment". Its unfair dismissal has become an "unwarranted attack on the rights of hard working employers." So Language, accompanied by the States, decided to go to the High Court over the matter but got a pretty low outcome, much as you would expect from judges who are too busy looking down their legal noses to see that it is on the end of their face next to a little thing called justice. At this point, military hostilities really broke out.

Shock and Bore, the first wave has begun.  

Howard's IR and Welfare policies no help for people in poverty

Anne Turley,chief executive officer of Melbourne Citymission says "Our experience at the coalface indicates that welfare reform, together with industrial relations changes, is funneling young jobseekers from disadvantaged backgrounds into insecure, low-paid casual jobs, with multiple spells returning to income benefits. This is not a sustainable pathway out of poverty or dependency."

Experts in the area of welfare are seeing the results of Howard's IR and welfare policies. We must say no, to the Howard government and look for better ways to help the disadvantaged to share in Australia's wealth. 

Slaves had a job. Today's working poor are modern day slaves.

John Howard says "If we now have an unemployment rate that is 4.3 per cent compared with a rate of 8.5 per cent 11-and-a-half years ago, the logic of that compels you to the view that there is at least some lesser incidence of poverty in our community."

Howard's work choices, has pushed wages down, Howard has also taken the sick off welfare, made single mom's look for work, often at the expense of their children's welfare. This is to create an impression of a growing economy. In fact all that has been created is the working poor

The data reveals a disturbingly high level of financial pressure among ‘working poor’ Australians — families whose main source of income is wages and who are surviving on a gross income, including benefits, of less than $569 a week ($29,600 a year).

The unemployment rate is no indicator of poverty. Slaves had a job!

WorkChoices cannot improve no matter what. Mk 2

The SMH reported 29 August 2007.

THE Philippine Government has called on Australia to modify its 457 skilled visa scheme after the Herald exposed the illegal treatment of immigrants, including two Filipinos who died in workplace accidents.

But the Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, defended the visas yesterday and insisted the workers could freely complain about their employment conditions - a claim directly contradicted by a metal fabricator who came forward to say his boss threatened to break his legs and send him "back to India" when he asked for overtime pay.

Mohammed Nayeem, 45, from Singapore, told the Herald he had been forced to work 50-hour weeks but only paid for 38, and had $100 a week deducted to share a two-bedroom converted office space with five other workers while working at a construction firm in western Sydney.

Mr Andrews, responding to the Herald's investigation into the deaths of three 457 workers this year, said in a statement: "Claims that 457 workers are vulnerable if they complain about their employer or conditions of employment are incorrect. Every 457 worker has the same rights and protections as any other Australian worker."

But the Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes, said: "It is inevitable that people on 457 visas are more vulnerable. I'm not suggesting that the Government is according them lesser status, but the reality is that they are unaware of their rights and it is hard for them to complain about their employer if the employer is then able to have their visa terminated." (continues)

So much for the "Corporate morality" that Howard said could not be legislated!


At Last - the Unfair Dismissals are Acknowledged.

One of the best mediators for industrial disputes was ex-Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

His methods were both fair and forthright and NO ONE got the better of the other.  They were dealt with by the law first and then the most practical of resolutions would meet the problems of both parties.

The Howard method of wedging and dividing the nation in every way possible is shown clearly by his servility to the U.S. and the Corporations for whom he governs Australia.

My immediate reaction to the Kevin Rudd/Julia Gillard Industrial Relations policy was one of "don't back off from the predatory Corporations".  However, my experience during Bob Hawke's era made me consider caution and a fair outcome for the "Howard/Hockey/Andrews's, very messy, WorkChoices.

And what about those already in the Corporation's trap?

"But Mr Howard said it would be 'chaotic' and 'not realistic' to recover pay and conditions for any workers dudded under his original laws - up to 45 per cent of those on the 340,000 Australian Workplace Agreements lodged under WorkChoices."

Source:  The Age 5 May 2007, by Misha Schubert & Ben Doherty.

JOE HOCKEY, WORKPLACE RELATIONS MINISTER: Does anyone seriously believe that with this smokescreen today Kevin Rudd is going to stand up to the 70 per cent of his own front bench who are union officials and would make up his cabinet in government?

Misha Schubert in The Age today has revealed that the Union hater, Joe Hockey, raised funds for a Unionist, Mr. Robinson of the Electrical Trades Union to stand for the LIBERALS in Parramatta Sydney.

And guess what - I have no problem with that since during my 22 years as an elected unpaid Union Delegate, a lot of our members were Liberal voters and spoke up about it.  They had the same workplace problems as the rest and the Corporation Unions which Hockey represents have MORE Unions than the ACTU.

But - they will not go into politics - oh no - their Unions become cartels and they can achieve a stranglehold on the Australian workplace in this Nation, provided - there is no Union OF the workers to PROTECT the workers.

I do not believe that anyone is unaware that Joe Hockey is just another "New Order" millionaire hypocrite.

HAYDEN COOPER: Labor's promise to scrap Australian Workplace Agreements wouldn't be fulfilled until 2012, although business would be prevented from signing workers to new agreements. Instead, they could use a new transitional contract for the next two years.

KEVIN RUDD: It's difficult to fix the problems of Mr Howard's industrial relations system overnight.

KEVIN REYNOLDS, CONSTRUCTION WORKERS UNION: Well our expectation was that AWAs would be gone lock stock and barrel. As I said, we're going to rip them up. Well, you know, they've torn a corner off them and that's about all.

At least there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Silencing the workers will not bring industrial peace - only industrial slavery.

HAYDEN COOPER: But even that is going too far for the mining industry.

STEVE KNOTT: It's still very much anti-business, it's a transition to the past, and it hands power back to the trade union movement.

This Corporation Union thug was on Jeff McMullen's ABC show, "Difference of Opinion" some weeks ago.  If you watched it - I rest my case.

HAYDEN COOPER: So, in trying to please business and the unions, Kevin Rudd has in reality achieved neither. Instead Labor's policy is copping flack from all sides. But that's just proof, according to Julia Gillard, that the plan has the balance right.

JULIA GILLARD, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: We want that balance in the dead centre. That means no one gets 100 per cent of what they wanted.

KEVIN REYNOLDS: They're not a Labor government's bootlace. We're very disappointed with what we've got. I think there's a lot of people who've voted for Rudd to get the leadership who are now scratching their head and saying, why didn't we stick with Beazley?

HAYDEN COOPER: Unions are happy to see the return of unfair dismissal laws for small business. But the Prime Minister is calling the policy a recipe for economic disaster.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: There's no hope for small business in it, because if they're going to bring back the dreaded unfair dismissal laws that will provide higher unemployment in the future.

That is a good example of what Mr. Howard really thinks of "fairness" in his "WorkChoices"!  The DREADED UNFAIR DISMISSAL LAWS! Struth.

Those are the laws which prevented workers from UNFAIRLY being sacked at any time, and anywhere for no reason at all.  A worker was sacked for being in a Union and the employer won in the Court under WorkChoices.

It should "never ever" be forgotten that Howard started with small business being 10 employees and under.  When just about every person thought that was probably not too much, he changed it to 20 employees.  And then with Barnaby Joyce and the rest of the "New Order" Senate, he made it 100 employees. 

This of course made it universal since the large Corporations can  merely change their structure to form "Patricks" divisions of less than 100.

Well may Howard/Hockey say the "Dreaded Unfair Dismissal Laws".

HAYDEN COOPER: Kevin Rudd's in a hurry to get rid of WorkChoices. If he becomes Prime Minister, he wants legislation passed before year's end. Not that a Coalition-controlled Senate would care much for that deadline.

Hayden Cooper, Lateline.

We must ask ourselves - what IS wrong with being protected from unfair dismissal?

Wouldn't the absence of such a law be "open slather" for all Employer Unions to exploit?

As one of our WD contributors once opined: "We work to live - not live to work".

Howard would have it otherwise!


Don't mention the 'P' word

John Pratt says:

While Howard says he is not responsible for the housing crisis, what about the huge surge in immigration, that has been allowed under his government.

Some twat from the real estate industry was on Seven's 'Sunrise' pseudo-news programme this morning with Melissa Doyle and the egregious Kochie 'explaining' that housing prices are huge now because of the Australian public's 'increased expectations' and that we should all be prepared to settle for less.

Maybe further reduce housing lot-sizes from their new Sydney average of 500 square metres down from 700 square metres a few years ago? To what? Maybe 400 square metres? He didn't exactly say.

Also, he argued that we should have a bigger floor-space-to-lot ratio. He would, since it would suit him just fine to squeeze a few more million dollars out of every hectare of land on the Cumberland plain before retiring to the Amalfi Coast or Rio or wherever with his ill-gotten gains.

He also argued the housing affordability crisis is 'because' of increased demand on building materials which has pushed up costs.

As if 'increased demand on building materials' was some wholly cthonic or ex nihlo outcome entirely inaccessible to human comprehension and certainly not at all related to a housing market artificially inflated by government population policy or the marketing objectives of property developers or some such mundane thing.

How his 'explanation' accounts for how a house in Adelaide or Hobart is, ceteris paribus and mutatis mutandis, but a tiny little fraction of what an identical house will cost in Melbourne or Sydney was left entirely unsaid.

He also threw into the mix 'state government charges', themselves entirely a function of house prices and the greedy public's demand for hot tubs and similar McMansion accessories.

Last night it was announced quite grandly on the very same network's 'Hot Properties' program, for example, that housing prices in Canberra's Red Hill neighbourhood will rise by over 50 per cent in the next few years - and what a wonderful thing this was.

Then, if it's merely state government taxes and hot tubs causing this, why won't the same thing happen in Marble Bar or Ooodnadatta?

Hardly anyone not already set to inherit mum or dad's house after they have gone face-down into the living-room shag-pile with a myocardial infarction has any hope in hell of owning anything to live in and most, I am sure, would settle for anything reasonable.

The reason Sydney's and Melbourne's housing prices are up so high is because there's a 100,000 plus new settlers each year in those cities above the natural population growth rate, and for similar reasons Perth and Canberra can expect huge increases.


150,000 new Australians, but who is building the new houses.

THIS year Australia has granted almost 150,000 permanent migration visas, two-thirds of which were for skilled migrants. While the numbers of those with skills sounds impressive, statistics only tell part of the story. Our failure to address serious problems in our settlement policies of mainly skilled migrants means that this quick grab for skills has the potential to bring us unstuck when the economic boom ends.

While Howard says he is not responsible for the housing crisis, what about the huge surge in immigration, that has been allowed under his government. All of these new Australians will need a home and demand  water, hospitals and all the other infrastructure of a modern life .
No wonder the price of housing is soaring across the country. The federal government has been very quiet on immigration, we need a debate on how many people we can accommodate on this very dry continent. No wonder the states are under pressure to keep up with infrastructure demands. This is like adding a city the size of Cairns to Australia every year.

Business is doing well, with this new labour source, but what about the rest of us?

We Should "Never Ever" Trust the Howardists.

While we absorb the almost obscene profits being enjoyed by the Corporations, let's consider where we, the public, fit into that picture.

We lose incomes at work and services in every Federal area of responsibility.

Howard's "New Order" has the objective of continually reducing the rights and security of the Blue and White collar workers - "to compete with China and India".  Fair dinkum.

Have we considered that while the China/India skyrocketing economy MAY increase their workers' wages, Howard intends to reduce our INCOMES so that the Corporations can compete.

But compete in what?

Certainly NOT in natural resources?  Certainly NOT with our excessive taxes?  Nor "De States" De States" terrible managements which continue to employ the numbers that Howard boasts about?

No, while they have increased taxes and reduced spending on services - they now intend to stagnate worker's INCOMES so as the Corporations "can compete" with the "Dark Coolies" of Asia and Afro-Asia by producing - "White Coolies".

No wonder the young in Europe consistently demonstrate against Globalisation.

Consider the exhorbitant wealth that Howard/Costello have to play with.  Where does the benefits of that flow to the Australian people?

In marginal Liberal/Nationalist federal seats - a Hospital take-over - and some millions for the removal of Aboriginal rights which took many years to be legally observed.

And for what - foreign Corporations' uranium mining and a radioactive nuclear waste dump!

They do not, nor will they, when it is intended by the "New Order" to continue their direction for a Fascist "One State".

My analyses must sometimes seem strange to the better educated.

However, I still see a big picture of the Globalisation of our nation being like a large funnel, into which the Corporations; small businesses and the Australian workers would be fed.

Voluntary or by Statutory force - like the Statutory Contracts called individual AWAs.

This makes it necessary for businesses, large and small, to amalgamate, be bought out or to be condensed into the smallest cost effective groups, to become one large Confederacy of fewer industries to compete on the world stage.

Domestically under this plan - all workers in all industries will have to be on the "job-sharing" that the Howard/Hockey statistics so unfairly portray.

This gives the false impression of JOBS when, in fact, it is job sharing. The figures on this continue to increase and the "New Order" claims that WorkChoices has done it.  Fair dinkum.

I have no idea what we can do about the Big 8 and Globalisation, but one thing I have learned is that, things are "not so bad" when you have an alternative.

We will have one in the Federal Election, after the Howardists have cheated in every possible way.

Let's not waste it by voting for the Liberals or Nationalists.




Fifth term for Howard could see the end of unions and labor.

A fifth term for the Government would deliver one of the key objectives of WorkChoices, which is to flatten the union movement. Three more years of WorkChoices should see most unions crippled to the point of near-closure, with collective agreements being overtaken by Australian Workplace Agreements and the gradual demise of what passes for the award safety net.

The inevitable corollary of that would be the significant weakening of the Labor Party, which relies on the unions to provide the basis of its funding. Indeed, if the effects of WorkChoices are taken to their logical conclusion, it's hard to see how the ALP could continue in its present form. The financial and political pressures for Labor to reorganise itself if union membership across the workforce was to drop to, say, 10 per cent, which is quite possible, would be immense. But few powerful figures within the ALP ever have an appetite for reform; it means they might have to surrender some power. And the existential angst that goes with such a process could paralyse Labor for years.

A terrible thought: if Howard was to win a fifth term it would most likely see the end of unions in Australia and possibly the end of the Labor Party. This would mean the Liberals would  be in power for years to come. If the freedoms and rights we have lost over the last few years were to continue decline at the same rate, we would have a very frightening future, at the mercy of big business and US Presidents.

Tenants told to vacate because landlord goes broke.

TENANTS are increasingly falling victim to their landlord's mortgage problems, and some are being given as little as 30 minutes to vacate properties repossessed by home loan providers.

The Western Sydney Tenants' Service says it has seen a fivefold increase in renters receiving possession notices over the past three months.

"It's massive. It's basically a daily thing that we are hearing about," the service's Patrick Ewin said.

This is as "good as it gets" in Howard's world. Landlords go broke because of Howard's high interest rates. Tenants who cannot afford a mortgage and are forced to rent are thrown out on to the streets, through no fault of their own. This is happening at the height of the boom: what will it be like when the bubble bursts?

Any Doubts about the Corporation's WorkChoices?

Surely not?


Week after week we are allowed to know some of the adverse effects of these draconian laws.


The latest is the trouble with the workers of Venture automotive parts who claim that they cannot guarantee the employee's rights to their accrued entitlements.


The media has varied the reporting of this problem so that we are not really sure what is happening, except that they are on strike due to the supposed lack of funds by the employer to honour their obligations.


People already know that employer's can sack as many people as they like if they consider that their funds are unable to sustain their business.


However, Venture has such a rich market that thousands of employees with Ford have to be stood down immediately they go on strike.  And yet, they are too broke to service their responsibilities!  Struth.


Have they done a "Patrick’s" and intentionally reduced their bank balance by creating another company?


Or are they, like almost all employers of various sizes, applying the principle of the WorkChoices law that the employee has no grounds to complain if, their employer cannot pay them their entitlements?


Now that's reasonable isn't it?


The media says that we have "A Right to Know" and of course, we all agree.


However, in spite of the restrictions on freedoms of all kinds that have been placed in law by the Howard "New Order" - the same media gives them maximum "free" exposure.


If these laws are limiting the amount of truth that the media believes we are "entitled to know", then why does the media continue to give Howard those privileges?


But then they don't believe in industrial action do they?


IMHO the media in this country have created this little monster and they must carry the burden of responsibility.


Indeed, we have The Right to Know.


There is no truth - only the powers that be.




fiona vs. ern: 1-all

 Subtitle: mineral rights.


This might be "the mother lode" [see extract below].

Fiona is partly correct: "title to minerals is a State (or Territory) matter."

Ern (g'day) is partly correct: "Since the Howard government collects the taxes on mining, why don't they pay for the necessary infrastructure?"

Start with this:

«The Opposition argues that the Government is still awash with money from the mining boom, and the problem is it's not spending that money in the right places.»

[AusBC/Budget surplus bigger than expected]

The Federal govt. collects 30% of any 'profits,' after all (however generous - or crooked - IMHO) expenses, and any other accountancy (residency?) finagles.

I have been unable to find out how much (if any) royalties are paid, and to whom.

I do know, that there is a resource-rent tax of 40% on some oil,

 ... that some other hydrocarbons pay the WA govt a 5% royalty,

 ... that the Xstrata McArthur River mine was set up to pay no royalty, possibly until some future point (which may never arrive.)

«MURRAY MCGLAUGHLIN: The CLP Government in the Northern Territory oversaw the hasty approvals process for the McArthur River mine in the early 1990s. Development at any cost seemed the prevailing policy. Then Chief Minister Marshall Perron said in 1993: "We believe having a marginal mine paying no royalty is preferable to no mine at all."»

[7_30 Environmentalists warn against McArthur River diversion]

Supposition: the paucity of information is indicative.


PS Note the uranium exception in the .pdf quote.


«2.1 The Australian system: public ownership
In Australia ownership of mineral resources generally lies with the Crown (in practice State/Territory and Commonwealth governments), regardless of who owns the land on the surface.
This seems to reflect a widely held belief that mineral deposits are a fortuitous `gift of nature' and that any net benefits flowing from their exploitation should accrue to the community as a whole rather than to whoever happens to own the surface rights.
For completeness, it should be recognised that there are some isolated exceptions to public ownership of mineral resources. In NSW, Aboriginal Land Councils have been granted title over minerals (with the important exceptions of gold, silver, coal, and petroleum) on their land. In addition a few mining leases granted before 1899 (eg the Hampton Plains Estate in the Coolgardie - Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia), are still operational, and provide for private ownership of minerals except for the `royal' minerals of gold and silver. This reflects the fact that in the early years of settlement, British common law applied - `Cujus est solum ejus est usque as coleum, et ad inferos' (whosoever has the soil, also owns to the heavens above and to the centre beneath). Thus under common law, all minerals (except for gold and silver) belonged to the landowner.
Governments in Australia have gradually reversed the common law position by progressively adopting a practice of reserving minerals from land grants - this now applies to all minerals. In addition, most States have legislated to resume privately held rights to minerals remaining from early land grants.
The Australian pattern of public ownership of mineral resources and separation of mineral rights from surface land rights is not a universal one. For example, significant private ownership of minerals occurs in other countries such as the USA, the UK, Canada and South Africa.

Constitutional division of powers
An important feature of the Australian system of Crown ownership is that the national level of government is not the principal holder of mineral rights. Since mining is not explicitly mentioned in the Australian Constitution, ownership of minerals found onshore or offshore within the three (nautical) mile territorial limit defaults to the relevant State/Territory government. Minerals found beyond the three mile limit or in external territories are the property of the Commonwealth. This division is one which evolved historically rather than one based on underlying principles of equity (are citizens of a resource-rich State any more deserving than those of less well-endowed States?).

There are exceptions, however, to this general division of property rights between the State and Commonwealth Governments. The most important of these occurs in the Northern Territory where the Commonwealth Government retained property rights over uranium and other substances prescribed in the Atomic Energy Act 1953, following the granting of self-government to the Territory.

Other aspects of the Australian Constitution also serve to blur the division of mineral rights between the State/Territory and Commonwealth levels of government. Commonwealth power over matters such as international trade, taxation, defence, people of any race, and external affairs (including World Heritage listings etc) can be exercised in some cases to severely restrict the rights of the various State/Territory governments to use as they see fit the resources over which they have claim. For example, the rights of the Queensland Government to use the resources it owns on Fraser Island were constrained by the Commonwealth Government's imposition of export controls over mineral sand products. Several participants (eg the Trades and Labour Council of Western Australia sub. 39, p.33) noted that in recent times the Commonwealth has increased its involvement in resource development via such indirect means.

How do States/Territories exercise their mineral rights? The above qualifications aside, it is generally State/Territory governments which own and control mineral resources on behalf of the people they represent. ...»


So Coppabella Mines are Sacking 120 Workers?

They claim that the infrastructure is insufficient for their over production. Sad, isn't it?

When people buy land they are required to give mineral rights to the Federal Government – yes?

Therefore the Federal Government is responsible for mining – yes?

It seems pretty crook when the Feds have all the control of the assets being plundered but the States have to provide the infrastructure.

This matter arose recently in Newcastle NSW:

But… Mine job cuts a result of ship queue, new quota system:

Almost 80 jobs are to be cut at a NSW coal mine because of problems linked to the ship queue off the Newcastle coast. It is estimated the queue of more than 70 ships is costing mining companies around $4 for every tonne of coal they produce, because they have to pay demurrage fees to their customers for any delays. A quota system now in place puts limits on the amount of coal companies can export. The losses are also being compounded by the rising Australian dollar, as export contracts are negotiated in US currency. And meanwhile … The coal miners' union says it is a joke that local mining jobs are being cut during an international minerals boom. Union president Tony Maher [your bloke, Akka?] says problems at the port could have been avoided and the miners would still have their jobs. "It could have been avoided by a greater determination to expand the Newcastle Port facilities much earlier," he said. "We've been campaigning for a third coal loader for some years now and we were getting resistance from the coal companies. The shame is that they've got a vested interest in keeping Port Waratah to capacity because they own the thing."

(I believe that I found that quote in Webdiary written by Frère Jihad Jacques OAM née Woodforde. Fiona: you are quite right, Ern: here is the link.).

So, with the complicity of the Howard government, the miners are overproducing intentionally to overload the infrastructure. They then, in both of these cases, sack a significant number of miners so as "not to waste their money".

Having reduced production, or even temporarily shut down, they then re-employ many fewer than those who have been sacked, and on individual AWAs. Why? Because they can.

Now Howard/Hockey didn't mention that under WorkChoices, ad hoc sackings are okay when the workers have worked too hard, did they?

I have been informed, by a "reliable source" (like Glen Milne), that more mines in Queensland are overproducing for the same scam, which of course, is legal under WorkChoices.

This practice is particularly annoying because:

  • Would a normal business expect the State to provide transport for its goods to the place of sale? And bare the costs?
  • Since the Howard government collects the taxes on mining, why don't they pay for the necessary infrastructure?
  • After supporting Patricks in betraying the Australian people in the wharfies fiasco in Sydney, why don't they take-over the wharves?
  • Why didn't Howard/Abbott buy the Tasmanian hospital for $1?

Well might the ultra-rich mining corporations spend millions to save their corporation government.


Fiona: Ummmm, Ern, last time I looked, title to minerals is a State (or Territory) matter. You may need to reconsider some aspects of your argument.

Thank you Fiona.

I stand corrected. However, I did pose the question because I was unsure whether it was State or Federal.

Nevertheless I don't believe that it made any real difference to my point viz:

"It seems pretty crook when the Feds have all control of the assets being plundered, but the States have to provide the infrastructure".

Since we have been told that a significant part of the Feds surplus is due to the commodities boom (mining) then it would be fair to say that my point was reasonably made?

Cheers Ern G.


Ernest William: "After supporting Patricks in betraying the Australian people in the wharfies fiasco…"

At least it got the lazy buggers on the wharves to do a decent days work moving containers. As for the loss of jobs at the mine, it will get even worse if Labor gets elected. Can you imagine what it will be like having Rudd as PM, a man who cannot remember things?

Costello has a Record Surplus? At what cost?

Howard/Costello blame the States as part of their blame game for the nine consecutive interest rate rises since 2002. On their watch? Fair dinkum!

It seems a little disingenuous since they have been reducing the States’ GST in real terms, while blackmailing them for not doing what they can't afford.

Same with education; health; Murray-Darling; climate change; etc., "We will cut back your funds" they say.

A reality check on that from ABC’s Lateline in June 2006:

Commonwealth squeezing state coffers: research

Reporter: Phillip Lasker

ROS CHILDS: Treasurer Peter Costello has been chiding state governments for what he sees as irresponsible borrowing and spending. But a Macquarie Bank research note says Canberra has been squeezing the states, while at the same time taking more tax than any other government for decades. And the research note says the Federal Government's claims to the contrary are wrong and misleading.

PHILLIP LASKER: With the numbers falling the Government's way, times have well and truly changed.

ALP ELECTION AD, 1987: Mr Howard, me and my family would like to ask you some real simple questions about your free-money-for-nothing promises. Where is your $8 billion tax cut money really coming from?

PHILLIP LASKER: Those questions are no longer being asked of our well-heeled Federal Government.

RORY ROBERTSON, MACQUARIE BANK: The lift in the company tax take has made this Federal Government the highest-taxing Federal Government for several decades.

PHILLIP LASKER: It's a label the Government disputes, but Macquarie Bank's Rory Robertson says the official data confirms it. He's sifted through the numbers, untangled the complex arrangements between Federal and state governments and discovered that Federal Government taxes are a record 20.5 per cent of GDP. The budget numbers produced by the Government are falling because it leaves out the GST, calling it a state tax, yet in the pre-GST period, it includes the taxes the consumption tax replaced. One of the country's leading tax experts says the Federal Government's treatment of the GST is wrong.

NEIL WARREN, AUSTRALIAN TAX STUDIES, UNSW: It's not a tax which the states have direct discretion or legislation over, it's essentially a Commonwealth tax.

RORY ROBERTSON, MACQUARIE BANK: The way the Federal Government publishes their budget history is unreasonably misleading.

PHILLIP LASKER: It's a different story for state governments, which have received a steady share of taxes for the past decade. According to Rory Robertson, the so-called GST bonanza is a gross exaggeration. This financial year, the states combined receive an extra $1.2 billion, while the Federal Government receives $25 billion.(Emphasis added)

RORY ROBERTSON, MACQUARIE BANK: That's in an economy that's 1,000 billion in size, so the 'GST bonanza' to the states is 0.1 of 1 per cent of GDP. Its essentially a rounding error in the federal budget.

PHILLIP LASKER: The GST could well prove an inadequate source of funding for state governments if it is not increased.

NEIL WARREN, AUSTRALIAN TAX STUDIES, UNSW: A GST in itself is not a substantial growth tax. What it is is a very stable robust source of revenue, which in the long term is probably going to be declining as a share of GDP, as people's consumption pattern change. The problem for state governments is that they have responsibility for a range of expenditures which will be an increasing proportion of GDP going forward.

PHILLIP LASKER: But that's not a problem for a Federal Government with access to the money tap called income tax.

Thereby hangs a tale?


What an over-reaction, Paul Morella!

Since FDR introduced it, the USA has had elements of socialism but pretended otherwise, from corporate welfare, farm subsidies, social housing, good unemployment benefits, food stamps – socialism under a variety of different names.

Bill Clinton did most to dismantle this but Bush has given it a mighty kick along, all except for corporate welfare which, as in Australia and the UK, continues unabated. As the arch-conservative Republican Pat Buchanan put it, the Iraq War is the greatest transfer of public monies into private hands ever witnessed – all done under the banner of corporate "subsidies". Theft is probably a better word for it.

I don't see how you can discount socialism as being in conflict with the "principles" the USA was founded on, one principle basically being a desire to stop paying taxes to Britain, another being that "all men are created equal" – socialist words if I ever heard them. Not that the USA has always followed that particular one.

But US government has adopted many principals of socialism that are not in conflict with capitalism – anti-trust and monopoly laws, strict controls on corporate excesses – all currently being dismantled under Bush. The USA doesn't even have capitalism any more, with the current right wing Republicans being the most anti-capitalist bunch ever witnessed who are like a throw back to the great robber barons who brought on the Great Depression.

And I wouldn't write off socialism so quickly – the democratically elected Chavez seems to be bringing it back in a big way in Venezuela, and much of South America looks set to follow suit. Most Arab countries with oil wealth are socialist. Despite the tosh written about Saddam's Iraq, the vast majority of Iraqis shared in the oil wealth and lived a reasonable life-style, certainly better than they do now. Stalin and Saddam aren't representative of a state system; rather, they were tyrants of the worse kind. As is George W. Bush.

The European Union is one giant socialist experiment but, as usual, the devil is in the detail. Money doesn't necessarily reach the right people or is it distributed fairly. Cronyism and corruption abound which doesn't mean the system is wrong.

Nor did Communism "destroy itself"; rather, certain people destroyed Communism, a whole different ballgame and similar to how capitalism is being destroyed by ideologues in the USA and the UK (under the guise of "New" Labour).

Authoritarianism is all the go now, just as the corporate mentality of the early 1900's wanted it to be.

And if you pay tax you already participating in socialism – but hating socialism is so yesterday.

The New Deal Bad Dream

Michael de Angelos

As they love to ride on the tailcoats of all that is American-the government should have looked back to the USA's greatest period of economic history which really made it the world power it is today. It was FDR who introduced part socialism to the US-which included massive corporate welfare, with his New Deal. What followed was an economic miracle which made the US the greatest world economic power ever seen.

The New Deal was the biggest mistake the United States of America ever made. A direct slap in the face to the principles the USA was founded on. A direct reason for the constant world conflicts the USA constantly finds itself involved in. It was the cause of a bloated welfare, and crony corporatist system that still persists to this very day. A bloated welfare, and crony corporatist system that's attempted export (through military adventures amongst other things) persists to this very day. More than one "socialist" corporate welfare bomb has been delivered atop a nation or two containing the tag made in the USA.

The "greatest world economic power" status has less to do with socialism, and more to do with the fact most of the world through two world wars, and a ludicrous communist experiment destroyed itself. Socialism does not work, and it has never worked. All western governments are now in the process of dismantling this repugnant system of illiberal thinking. That would include any possible choice of government in Australia. 


Employee Unions Necessary for Economy

Howard has committed some ghastly mistakes (apart from a murderous Iraq invasion) with the economy. Some are complex but put simply-paying off government debt by selling off the farm is the greatest false achievement and Australia's level of personal debt is the most serious in the Western world.

The man must be removed from office along with his hopeless sidekick Costello.

As they love to ride on the tailcoats of all that is American-the government should have looked back to the USA's greatest period of economic history which really made it the world power it is today. It was FDR who introduced part socialism to the US-which included massive corporate welfare, with his New Deal. What followed was an economic miracle which made the US the greatest world economic power ever seen.

Roosevelt's peers never forgave him and viewed him as a class traitor but only for ideological reasons-the idea of the working man having any power was an anathema.

 US unions grew to great power and  constant bargaining strength only added to a successful business ventures-not as the Howard government would have it-that unions somehow re-strict business. This is one of the great furphys of all time along with the re-writing of Aboriginal history which is being done yet again.

And he can't even remain constant with true Liberal Party values which has always supported State rights. Howard is one of the greatest opportunists ever voted to office and that will be his legacy.

Millions of tax payers money wasted.

The Federal Government's latest workplace relations advertising campaign has backfired, a new survey has found. The Roy Morgan survey, commissioned by political activist group GetUp!, has found 45 per cent of Australians feel less positive towards the Government's laws as a result of the multi-million dollar campaign.

Only 23 per cent said it has made them feel better about the laws.

Of the remainder, 24 per cent said the ads have mot made them feel differently about the laws, while eight per cent said they were not sure.

"Australians know bad policy when they see it," said GetUp! Executive Director Brett Solomon.

"And wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money on trying to convince them otherwise has only backfired badly on this Government."

Howard and his mates have wasted millions of dollars trying to convince us that Work No Choices is good for us. Most Australians are not buying it. Howard has lost our trust. The money wasted could have been spent on hospitals and schools.

The unWorkable WorkChoices.

Many eminent people have long ago stated that these WorkChoices will not be sustainable into the future and, that they increase the profits of the Corporations while our natural resources are pillaged for foreign profit.

In The Age 5 May 2007 Misha Schubert and Ben Doherty wrote the following:

Mr. Howard said he had listened to people's concerns and acted on them. "I am a strong believer in this reform but I am not a zealot" he told 3AW.

But Mr Howard said it would be "chaotic" and "not realistic" to recover pay and conditions for any workers dudded under his original laws - up to 45 per cent of those on the 340,000 Australian Workplace Agreements lodged under WorkChoices.

[Did that disclose his knowledge that the workers would suffer?]

A new "fairness test" will be applied to ensure that workers who sign away penalty rates, meal breaks, leave loadings and allowances are compensated. Workers could be offered a car park, mobile phone or a gym membership in lieu of hard cash, and would not be protected if hired by a business facing "serious and significant financial hardship".

Undoubtedly two things caused Howard to bring forward his intentions to turn Australia into a fascist State.

His megalomania and his control of the Senate. No checks and balances. Just absolute power.

He felt that the US and their CIA, accompanied by the Murdoch media, would protect him from any backlash from the Australian people.

He has ruled with deceit, financial punishment and complete dishonesty for 11 years – and yet, he still survives.

Worse still, the powers that be, the schoolyard bullies, will still protect the corrupt and spiteful little schoolboy.


the losers...

Unionism and youth

When you have got alternative rock and Rn'B bands campaigning on workers' rights then you've more or less got the youth market sewn up. Here I am trying to join the young Liberals (without success). Indeed there is nothing more boring than politics and no party more tedious than the ALP and the union movement. Sharan Burrow is mildly better than Greg Combet but it is still all very hammer and sickle, 19th century kind of trash. Admittedly the ALP also has a rock star in its ranks but Peter Garrett is the most tedious and boring of all rock stars.

I will listen to the arguments like any other conscientious citizen, but my God the ALP is not going to take up a whisper of my precious time, let alone exploit my latent youthful creativity. I would rather nail timber to my skull.

Prior to doing precisely the same thing in the state election, I argued that the ALP should use trusted professions like nursing, etc, to campaign against WorkChoices. The trick is to try and make people view this collectively rather than individually. People are not afraid for themselves but it would be easy to convince them to fear for others, most of all their children. The solution to this problem, for the Liberal party, similarly, is to invert this process and argue the case for why this is good and necessary for other people, even though it might make no difference to you personally.

If Kevin Rudd and Tony Jones swapped places, who would honestly notice? Kevin Rudd would be better off reading the weather. Heck, nowadays with all this climate change obsession, even the weather has dark and sinister connotations. Tim Bailley beware.

I must say that Jeff McMullen leaves Tony Jones for dead. He has the kind of television expertise that Channel Nine used to be known for, before it became indistinguishable from a broadcast by Kent Brockman.

I think the youth need less politicking and more actual rock and roll, with its self-destruction, hedonism and nihilism, instead of this kind of institutionalised, sanitised version of protest. Rock against tedium! I mean my God, one of our most successful alternative (meaning pop instead of ultra-pop) acts is called The Whitlams. It is beyond tragic. Please, don't waste your youth! Go kiss someone or something.

John Faulkner's Speech on Wed 15 August

Labor Senator John Faulkner made an excellent speech in the Senate last Wednesday. In that speech he catalogued the use of taxpayers’ funds in order to misinform the Australian public about the Howard Government's industrial relations laws since 2005. The cost of the various advertising campaigns to promote these laws, commencing with the infamous saturation level AU$55million "WorkChoices" advertising blitz of 2005 now stands at "AU$120million and counting". Prime Minister John Howard has failed to give a total of the cost of all of his Government's self-promotion advertising since it's re-election in 2004, but Faulkner estimates it to be between AU$800milion and AU$1billion.

For further information visit candobetter.org/node/152 which is linked to from candobetter.org/dontgetfooledagain

Must see: Jtv Hack's on Australian Unionism and Young people!

Check this out:

Excellent insights into unionism and young people, includes new ACTU head, Unite campaigning in McDonalds, Vox Pops and surveys.

PLEASE EMAIL IT to friends!

Lots more could be said and done of course, but it's a great start especially into modern industries like young professionals, ICT and contracting ...

Time to wake up old unionists!

Let's bring in some fresh blood, new thinking and ideas!

Download the video by dragging/cut-pasting this address into iTunes to get the podcast:


(try this 4 window$ Media: http://www.abc.net.au/jtv/vodcast/vodcastWmv.xml )

Or to view online:


Cheers!  :-)

Employer Unions v Employee Unions.

Watching www.abc.net.au/tv/differenceofopinion on Thursday 16 August, I felt somewhat assured after the audience clearly agreed that employer unions were equally important as employer unions.

Without the expertise and abilities of their own unions, workers are at an impossible disadvantage and are denied the basic human rights.

Mitch Hooke, the mineral union's representative, made typical unsubstantiated statements which were not missed by the audience or the Presenter Jeff McMullen.

These types of classic "New Order" lies and obfuscations are the Howard trade mark in all matters now, especially the WorkChoices.

Jeff McMullen mentioned that the OECD classified Australia as 18th out of 23 developed nations with respect to productivity.

I thought that the statement by Mordy Bromberg (President, Australian Institute Employment Rights) put most of the issues in perspective:

No, I don't think that's right at all. I agree with Paul on a lot of things but I didn't agree with him on those comments. Can I just take John up on one matter that he raised just now. He said we're better educated. Well, I doubt that we're better educated than the Danes who have 80% union density. I doubt that we're better educated than the Finnish who have, I think, 85% union membership. The difference is not about better education, it's not about different aspirations. It's not about different choices. What it is about is that when you go to a country like Finland - and let me say one thing about Finland, it is regarded by the World Economic Forum as the most competitive nation on earth at the moment. Now, despite being the most competitive nation on earth at the moment, it has 85% union density. It has high levels of worker rights, it has a highly egalitarian society. And you know the difference? The difference between here and there is cultural. There they talk about and live by a social compact. There they run their economy on the basis of tripartisan relations - employers, workers, government, working together.

Subsequent to the show, the station held a poll and the result was:

Do unions have a place in the workplace?

Yes  89.64%.

No  10.36%.

Any wonder that the Howard corporation and the corporation union don't want them there?


The Howard/Costello Debt-laden False Economy.

For years now, some of us have been aware that the prosperity commenced by the Hawke/Keating Australian Labor Government has been propped up by the Howard/Costello “New Order” with massive unserviceable debts.

This of course, was a guaranteed product of Howard’s de-regulation of business, a major concern in the depression of the early 1930’s.

Over the last year and a half, I have consistently warned that the debt-laden economy could not be sustained – and that from a person who has no qualifications in finance.

It is just a matter of logic and reasoning. If your income is not more than, or equal to, the debts that you must service, you will continually increase the amount of debt you face. If you can service the interest you can put your debts in neutral – forever?

In the US there are millions of people who have been ensnared into this Pinocchio trap to a point where it is accepted by all and sundry that they will never get out of debt.

The Howard Pinocchio trap was, as always, aimed at the back-pocket nerve of the Australian people – the one nerve on which he has banked his eleven years of deceit and lack of duty of care. It is also an insult to the intelligence of our people, but it worked.

Even though this situation has existed partially ever since Howard took office, it increased markedly with his first home buyer’s enticement.

The denigrating effect this had on the trapped people was compounded by the WorkChoices legislation where they needed to have multiple jobs for both partners to have a chance of meeting their commitments.

So it is without a doubt that the unregulated sub-prime lending practices of the banks and other financial institutions created our very own inevitable mortgage collapse at least a year before the US

Add to that the damn cheek of Howard and Costello in claiming that it would have been worse under Labor! Fair dinkum.

The Howard “New Order” has covered up their mismanagement of the economy with reduced services to the public and increased taxes.

Now that they have had their housing balloon burst with its resultant bankruptcies and foreclosures they are facing the same thing happening in the US.

And this will worsen the already tragic situation in Australia.

Mark Latham said it all: “How does Howard get away with it?”

Queensland Pride and Independence

I believe that the outstanding characteristics of Queenslanders have always been their fierce independence and pride in their State. Don’t let Howard change that into Queensland pride and prejudice.

Those truths badly need the support of all Queenslanders against the attack by the Federal government on both their independence re the council amalgamations.

Let’s have a reality check:

warts and all, the government of queensland is the only government that only Queenslanders can elect and should be supported by the citizens against any and all interference, as indeed, should all State and Territory voters.

With the Howard “New Order” again using taxpayer funds to override an elected state government, there is “never ever” going to be a democratic AEC plebiscite since the other States and Territories are paying for it; and yet they have no say whatsoever.

Since all of these radical and unlawful acts of the Howard Liberals are being set up as precedents should they be re-elected, Queenslanders and Tasmanians are being used as political pawns in Howard’s trashing of the Constitution.

These precedents, if allowed to happen, will also disenfranchise the voters of every state and territory and make the only protection Australians have against this fascist federal government – the Australian Constitution – a paper tiger.

When you consider that all Howard is really about is a vote against his federal Opposition, then all Queenslanders should be insulted and indignant at the manipulation of democracy which has already suffered so badly under Howard and his robots.

Don’t let Howard use your votes as political weapons which cannot change the decision of the government elected by you.

Your attitude could be exploited by Howard as he is so doing in Tasmania. This time you really do have a choice.

The Lines are Well and Truly Drawn. Mk. 2.

The lies and obfuscation of the Howard "New Order's" WorkChoices continue unabated.

The claim by the Howard Government was that the individual AWAs would displace thousands of awards and agreements. So, he says that (at that time) 350,000 individual contracts will be easier to handle rather than some few thousand awards and agreements.

This is just another con since most of the individual AWAs are identical, so ask yourself why they can't be bargained together? Because that would be collective bargaining and would protect the rights of the workers.

Then, the Minister for WorkChoices, Joe Hockey, having been exposed as a liar about the rights of workers protected by law, came out with his return of the fairness test.

This was apparently a smash in case of emergency suggestion by the droll and unimaginative Kevin Andrews.

At the time, some of us wrote that the administration of that con, on top of a con, would be a nightmare to administer - if fair dinkum!

So, if Hockey had readily found the enormous number of temporary workers to do the leg-work, as we predicted, his false employment numbers would have been exposed.

Then enter the backpackers. With six days of lessons on the 1400 pages of the WorkChoices legislation, Hockey tells us that they will tidy up the loose ends of that huge bureaucratic bungle.

Simply put, it won't work, but it must appear to be working so that the unsubstantiated claims made by Howard, through Hockey, will be hidden by this latest scam.

Some things are clearly evident:

  • The scam on increased jobs has been exposed as false by the significant increase in part-time employment. Nearly one -third of the 10 million odd work-force according to the ABS.
  • With the removal of the unfair dismissal laws, there is no such thing as full-time employment since anyone can be sacked for any or no reason, at any time of day or night.
  • Wage amounts per se are now conveniently deceptive since the consistent removal of benefits seriously reduces the incomes of those under AWAs.
  • Employers are using the anti-worker laws to increase profits, not for the employment of more
  • You cannot be in, or intend to be in, a union of employees. This previous Howard lie was exposed in the Federal Court when a judge decided that a sacked employee was primarily dismissed for his involvement in a union but, under the WorkChoices, the employer had the right to sack him.

The employer unions, led by Peter Reith's side-kick Peter Hendy of the Chamber of Commerce, are now campaigning for John Howard's "New Order" using WorkChoices as a cover for their anti-union stance.

Why is it okay for the employers to have unions and not the workers?

Yes, the lines are well and truly drawn, now that the corporations see the possibility of their corporation government losing the power that they, the employers, need to globalise a working poor like the US.

With the Howard "New Order" changing legislation as though the Constitution doesn't exist, do we really think that they won't continue their fascist aims should they be re-elected?

Remember that, with the Senate in their pockets, the Howard mob of robots have no checks and balances at all.


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