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IR Bill: links update #4

National community day of protest

Webdiarist Tony Phillips reports: "At the march the organisers estimated over 150,000. Certainly was at least that since 6 city blocks is usually around 100,000 in Melbourne and the March stretched over at least 8 with people still leaving Fed square after people had been arriving at Exhibition gardens for over 20 minutes. Here are some photos I took." Thanks Tony!

Melb Rally

More photos from Tony, and from Webdiarist Polly Bush below. Make comment on the rallies in your area and send photos to Webdiary.

Thousands protest against IR laws
ABC Online, 15 Nov 2005
Hundreds of thousands of people have joined protests across Australia vowing to fight against new workplace laws.
Police say more than 100,000 people gathered for the main rally in Melbourne, which was broadcast across the country.
Unions expect crowds at rallies in more than 300 cities around the country to reach 500,000. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1506727.htm

Three workers sacked for attending IR rally: union
ABC Online, 15 Nov 2005
A union claims a shipping company has sacked three workers in north Queensland for attending today's rally against the Federal Government's industrial relations changes - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1506775.htm

Hospitality industry welcomes IR changes at inquiry
ABC Online, 15 Nov 2005
Businesses in the hospitality industry have emerged as some of the strongest supporters of the Federal Government's industrial relations changes. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1506747.htm

Public servants warned off mass workers' rally
SMH, November 15, 2005
The Federal Government has warned its workforce of 120,000 not to attend today's mass rallies against its tough industrial relations legislation, circulating memos that public servants will be breaking the law even if they take a day of annual leave to protest. - http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/11/14/1131951098987.html

Union vows legal action against Govt's rally leave advice
ABC Online, 15 Nov 2005
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says it will take legal action against the Federal Government over leave advice for today's rallies. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1506651.htm

PM plan to strip nation bare: Burrow
The Australian, November 15, 2005
AUSTRALIANS would not let the next generation of workers inherit an industrial system stripped bare by the Howard Government, the ACTU has told 50,000 workers rallying in Melbourne.
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said today's national day of action showed workers in every corner of Australia would fight the Howard government's industrial reforms.
They would fight because they knew the changes would rob Australia of its great way of life, she told the cheering crowd. - http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17251703%255E1702,00.html

Sickies banned for IR protest
Courier Mail, November 15, 2005
THE Federal Government has tried to ban employees from protesting against its workplace reforms and is urging department managers to demand medical certificates if employees call in sick.
Several companies have also applied to have protest attendance ruled illegal, enabling them to fine workers or even sue. -http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,17251131%255E421,00.html

Della Bosca likens changes to fascism
The Australian, November 15, 2005, Patricia Karvelas
BUSINESS leaders were simply not interested in the workplace reforms of the Howard Government, NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca claimed yesterday.
Mr Della Bosca told the Senate inquiry into the Work Choices legislation that, contrary to claims of employer representatives, the vast majority of businesses in his state were happy with the current system, describing the Howard Government's plans as "fascistic". - http://origin.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17248746%255E2702,00.html

Blog views

IR Protest
Mi Casio Es Su Casio
Of course, I won't be in the office tomorrow.
On Tuesday 15 November, hundreds of thousands of Australians will gather in capital cities and towns all over the country for the National Day of Community Protest against the government's draconian IR laws. A Sky Channel broadcast of the event will be beamed into hundreds of workplaces and community venues around Australia. Community Protest rallies will be held in all major capital cities and regional centres. - http://mdieter.blogspot.com/2005/11/ir-protest.html

They were there

More photos from Tony Philips

. Melb Rally Melb Rally

Webdiarist Polly Bush was also on the Melbourne streets with her camera.

Melb Rally

Syd Rally

Webdiarist Brian Todd sends these images (the one above and three below) from Sydney. Thanks Brian!

Syd Rally

Syd Rally

Syd Rally

Webdiary photographer Simon Freeman took these shots at the Sydney rally.

photo by Simon Freeman

photo by Simon Freeman

photo by Simon Freeman

photo by Simon Freeman

photo by Simon Freeman

photo by Simon Freeman

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re: IR Bill: links update #4

Don't be too sure Scott, we're talking about the bloke here who dismissed out of hand protests as large (possibly larger) over the war George had to have. I believe the polling was possibly a bit stronger against the government on that issue.

This bloke doesn't care. He relies on the fact that – by and large – the electorate has the attention span of five or seven year old. Hopefully our arrogant, ideologically driven and dismissive PM has picked (or will do) an issue of "play station" importance to the electorate.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

What a demonstration of how democracy should be - and why the Howard Government's desire to ban such protests are insidious in it's consideration. This should be the slap on the face for Howard to realise all is not well in his ideological utopia.

Seeing everyone gather around Fed Square, Melbourne, in unison of a common goal gave me a little thrill, and, if I was not so busy at work, would have gladly joined the thronging masses.

Here's to a major blow to Howards way, and a sign that the fight will be taken right up to him.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Here's an interesting thing. At the Belmore Park rally in Sydney, there was strong and loud applause for Bob Brown when he spoke on the broadcast, and when Beazley spoke there was silence - absolute silence, not even a clap. Belmore Park rally was real heartland-blue collar to the max. Go figure.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

I was there for the Brisbane rally, and it just demonstrated to me that the union movement couldn't organise its way out of the flimsiest of paper bags. 20,000 Australians get together for a protest, and what do they do? They mildly watch TV for a bit, then go for a bit of a walk.

A screen was set up in a spot hardly anyone could see. One or two nearest the front might have been able to hear the speakers via the Acme speakers ($50 model) set up there, but otherwise it was just mime with a backdrop of echoes. When I did get to a point where I could see the screen, I realised to my horror they were mainly showing ads. Greg Combet (an accountants-unionist if ever there was one) gave his best shot at a speech to CEO's at one of the less gripping company AGM's. Grace Grace was the only mildly successful rabble rouser.

Throughout there was the odd "The workerth united will never be defeated" from the MWU amongst others, but it was all pretty forlorn. At the forefront of collective consciousness, it was obvious that at least here in Brisbane, The Workers would not be united under any banner that didn't mention an inalienable right to house renovations and cheap petrol.

During the march itself, communication problems made it hard for the marchers to know what was going on enough to act as a body. Apparently we were ending at the Nat Party HQ, but no-one really seemed sure when we had got there. There were speeches transmitted by another set of Acme speakers ($10 model). The cops looked mildly interested but no-one else could hear.

As the crowd dispersed, a gang of tattooed, ZZToppy-bearded hardknuckle blue-collar union guys headed straight for a pub, and sat at outdoor tables ogling and yelling at every not-visibly-disabled under-60 female pedestrian within sight. I thought for a moment (a new thought to me), yes, sad though it it, the union movement has truly had its day, and that day's gone.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Colleen, what's your point? If you think the largely blue/pink collar attendees at Belmore Park, (over 20,000) were all gays and lesbians, you either weren't there and you are speaking through your posterior, or you need to get out more.

Jay, the majority of blue collar and pink collar workers in the state of Tasmania and elsewhere are not members of the timber workers division of the CFMEU. And it's just as well since that Division has seen the destruction of their jobs by the Timber industry for the last twenty years, and have absolutely no strategy at all to rescue the situation, other than to keep to supporting the Gunns company, who in turn support their officials. That division of the CFMEU in Tasmania represents blue collar workers the same way Howard is the best friend that workers in this country ever had.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Michael Park: "Beg to differ there Jay. It has everything to do with where "Lock down the suburb Beazley" is headed: the mini-skip of political irrelevance".

I doubt that Michael. It more than likely is due to the fact the place was filled with leftist teachers, other assorted public servents and uni students.

No Howard voters amongst that lot and is hardly going to cause the man any lack of sleep. When the laws come into effect and people get used to them they will be wondering what the fuss was about. In fact Labor may be cornering themselves into being called economic vandals by wishing to return to the old system.

I expect the new system to be a big benefit to both employers, employees and Australia as a whole.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

No-one is commenting on the make-up of people at these protests. In the Sydney one I encountered people of all ages and from absolutely all walks of life and occupations. That tells me everything I need to know about how unpopular this IR legislation will be.

What a funny situation we have here: the PM and every employer - on radio today - was telling the world how wonderful these changes will be for working people yet those people don't want the changes. They used the same words like a mantra - flexibility - the new weasil word for hire and fire at will.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Barry Rutherford: "Me thinks the disruption to the inner city would have been too great and had a negative effect."

That is one of the possibilities I was worried about, and I suspect that that is indeed why the Brisbane union people chose to keep their protest out of the centre. Once upon a time we'd just call that gutless. What's the logical conclusion of the thinking Barry? To have our 'protest' out of town, where noone will be disrupted; where noone will see.

If you're gonna walk off the job, if you're gonna have a bloody march - and this is one of the most important issues to face workers for a helluva long time - can't we just do it? Don't we WANT to be seen by as many as possible? Hell, don't we WANT to disrupt the bloody city? Call our fellow-workers out to join us? Maybe not. Maybe we've already lost, and don't want too many people to notice. Or maybe we're afraid of being jeered at by the public.

Sorry, the idea that having a protest march in the city would have a negative effect gets up my bloody nose. It smacks of defeatism.

On the other hand, respect to ya Barry, and to the 20,000 who showed up, and it is good to hear that your experience of the sound was better than mine. I did try four different spots.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

The pictures shown here simply do not do any sort of justice to the size of the crowd in Melbourne. It was very big and very good natured. The organisation was very good with extra screens and PA. I was standing outside of Young & Jacksons. Right across the Flinders/Swanston streets intersection and right across Fed Square was simply a sea of people. The crowd stretched back up Swanston St to at least Lonsdale St and, I believe, a fair way along St Kilda Rd toward the Gallery.

The march back up Swanston St to the Carlton Gardens was quiet and, again, good-natured. The view from the top of Swanston St showed both Swanston St and La Trobe St down to Exhibition St jammed full of people. A pretty impressive turnout.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jane Doe, the cheering for Bob Brown must have come from the Gay's and Lesbians.

I mean nobody takes the man seriously on the political front.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

"The majority of Union members cheering Bob Brown says more about where the Union is headed than anything I could think of..."

Beg to differ there Jay. It has everything to do with where "Lock down the suburb Beazley" is headed: the mini-skip of political irrelevance.

One of CP's more useless "suited blimps."

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Hamish, the Iraq War protest was held at the weekend. Me thinks the disruption to the inner city would have been too great and had a negative effect. Even though lots of us believe the IR issue is vital to everyone's future.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Crispin Bennett, it was pretty much the same here in Sydney - a bit of a flop really.

It was more of an appeal by Burrows and Combet to save their union jobs. It really looks as though we are watching the death throes of an organisation that has had it's day.

The funniest thing was to see Kim Beazley saying that if he elected he would tear up the IR legislation on the steps of Parliament House. Does he not have to have control of the Senate to do that, and the people would never give Labor that sort of power.

To see actors and churchmen meddling in political things is a joke. Both these groups of people live in a land of make-believe, their whole lives revolve around works of fiction.

Still they all had the day off, I suppose most of them will have to be retrained on Wednesday.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

My experience of the Brisbane rally was much better. I heard the speeches clearly even though I was at least 300 metres from the stage near the bridge. I thought the union volunteers did a great job. I spoke to a few of them who were handing out cards and brochures. I thought the march was well organised and the directions clear. I could not think of anything more the union movement could have done.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jane Doe: "Here's an interesting thing. At the Belmore Park rally in Sydney, there was strong and loud applause for Bob Brown when he spoke on the broadcast, and when Beazley spoke there was silence - absolute silence, not even a clap. Belmore Park rally was real heartland-blue collar to the max. Go figure".

I guess Bob is lucky that he did not have to address the real blue collar union workers (timber) in his own State?

The majority of Union members cheering Bob Brown says more about where the Union is headed than anything I could think of. I think it is now time for the union movement to seriously address where they wish to be in the future.

The Union movement will look a lot different in ten years time to the one we are all see now. Whether the one we see in future is relevant is all in their hands at this point in time.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Crispin Bennett, well thanks for the very negative report of the Brisbane rally. I was there too, and I wish I could disagree with you. I must say 20,000 isn't too bad a turn-out though what?

But yep, let's call it for what it was. The setup and the sound were terrible. Even when I managed to get pretty close to the screen, I couldn't hear anything except echoes. Webdiarists, I wish I could report on what was said.

Note for the future I'd say: don't use South Bank as a rallying point. What's wrong with the Roma Street forum, which was used for the anti-war march and many others beside, and has an ampitheatre? Honestly, I'm curious as to the makings of the decision to change the usual venue. Anyone?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

The SMH says "He [The PM] denied that federal department workers had been directed not to take part in today's demonstrations."

Yesterday the ABC reported that leave has been refused for public servants. I also read a report (yesterday?) of an email threatening action against public servants who attend IR protests (can't remember which of the SMH or ABC).

Does anyone have copies of memos or emails from government departments threatening action? If so, can they please post copies or scans here (or on Wikinews)?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Kevin Andrews as reported by the Age:

The federal Workplace Relations Minister has described the hundreds of thousands of Australian workers who rallied today against proposed new federal industrial relations laws as 'predictable'.


"Union and Labor leaders had falsely compared the new legislation to fascism and terrorism", Mr Andrews said.

"It is totally over the top, equating IR changes with terrorism, saying that this is going to lead eventually to riots in the streets of Australia like we have seen in Paris, to be saying women and children will be killed.

"That really set the tenor of the entire approach, the entire campaign that the unions have been running.

"I believe it has been irresponsible, it has certainly been hysterical and Australians will ultimately judge it that way."

Funny I didn't hear any of that being said at the rally. The closest I heard was the singer from the band Cry Freedom announce he was willing to be joined in the cells by the rest of us for sedition. Which was met with applause etc. I wonder how much of the what the speakers actually said will get into the media, as opposed to ministerial rewrites and slanders such as this one.

There was however a good line (I think by Sharon Burroughs?) about "not wanting our children to grow up into worse working conditions than we did" that met with a strong response. I suspect it resonates with a population that already sees its children growing up in a greenhouse world of un-affordable housing. Children for whom the future may not necessarily be better than it was for their parents. Thus the line was an appeal to real family values if you will.

Overall it seems it's more this lightweight minister Andrews who's predictable, with his slurring, misrepresentation and sneering.

For that matter what sort of state is it where the Federal Government bans its employees from even using an annual leave day to attend a protest meeting. That does look authoritarian and anti liberal democratic in any light. If employers attempt to control the right of their employees to act as citizens we have an issue. If it is the government pursuing this course it's a very serious issue indeed.

Then there's the question Andrews raises of irresponsibility and hysteria - this from the government that brought you kids overboard and weapons of mass destruction.

The best part of being at today's rally, as it was when I went to protest rallies in Eastern Europe, in the Soviet Union and in Russia, was the simple importance of being there together. All types of people, of all ages, almost all good natured and all seeming to get a natural high from being part of a massive group of people who shared their views and concerns. Not a mob but a citizenry. It gave a feeling of strength but also a sense of a different reality. We are not alone, there are lots of people like us, with whom we can have common ground and with whom we can forge better outcomes than the militant and punitive approach of the Liberals. Looking around at the sea of people one could not help but remember Howard won by a majority of around 4% last time and he's busy pissing all over some of that 4% with this legislation. The power of the rally was that it demonstrated that a great many people are more than ok, and the road to a Liberal oblivion is not so far as it sometimes feels in a media mediated world.

Howard may yet regret deciding to be the last class warrior. In many ways his reactionary Bolshevism is calling the unions back from the brink and into the centre of civic action, and doing so almost entirely for ideological and political reasons. Hubris, just hubris, or as Christian Kerr said so recently, the best slogan for the ALP at the next election, "this other mob think they can't lose."

This IR policy can also be understood within the pattern of Howard's inbuilt hypocrisy, whereby he often says the opposite of what he means to do, in this case his solemn vow to be humble in his new majority. This has already gone the way of ministerial accountability and governing for all Australians.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jane Doe, I don't wonder. I was at the Cairns rally this morning and I couldn't help but feel a bit cynical towards the (state) Labor members who were there.

Their angle was basically to implore everyone to vote for Labor next election so we could get rid of these new laws.

Can't help but remember that Keating started all this in the first place and ever since Labor has moved further to the right.

After failing us all for the best part of the last 10 years they now want us to support them to get rid of Howard. Question is, is Beazley a viable alternative?

I'll never forget going to speak to our Labor member at the time about the nuclear tests in the Pacific. Next morning I got hauled in to see the boss. Appeared dear old Pete had dobbed me in to my employer.

Labor in Govt was just as arrogant as Howard, and now they have been in the wilderness for almost 10 years they have suddenly remembered we exist again.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

I checked out the Martin Place /City rally in Sydney and it was about 90% trade unionists.

From what I can see it's all about inside/outside. Those "inside" (employed and other union members or with union protected conditions) hate the reforms as they threaten their security. Those "outside" - business owners, non-union and non union-protected employees, unemployed or underemployed people don't seem that well represented and we haven't heard all that much from them in the media unless I'm missing something.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

I don't think that the protests in Sydney were a flop - not at all. There were tens of thousands of good natured indviduals from all backgrounds there, united by a common purpose.

Anyone who wants to can characterise the people there as 'assorted leftists' but really that's rubbish. There seemed to be plenty of 'Howard's battlers' there to me.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Anne Brookes, who knows when they see the possible future tax cuts and other assorted benefits they may well change their minds.

Interest rates are still nowhere near what they were in Labor's day, now are they?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jane Doe, what is a pink collar worker?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jay White: "No Howard voters amongst that lot and is hardly going to cause the man any lack of sleep."

How typical of you to make a statement that. Are you trying to convince us or yourself?

I would say there were probably many people at the rallies who voted for Howard last election - after all he didn't say anything pre-election about this latest piece of fascism did he?

I'm equally confident that they won't make the same mistake again. After all, if they lose their homes because of Howard's IR Laws, it won't be any different than if the interest rates went up.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

David Eastwood, you say, "From what I can see it's all about inside/outside". What is it that you 'see' that leads you to that conclusion? That most of the rallyers are union members? I doubt I really need to point out the flaw in that.

What is it you 'see' that overrides everything that is being said by IR "reform" opponents? Do you think all the talk about justice, a fair go, etc, is all just a smokescreen for self-interest? The passion so evident in much of the union movement makes that pretty implausible. Accuse them of delusion if you believe in corporate power, by all means; but let's drop the ad hominem nonsense.

Tony Phillips, I take your 'being there together' point. It can be important for those marginalised by the current extremist right-wing orthodoxy to get a sense that we're a part of something larger. I got that sense at the pre-Iraq war rallies. Somehow I didn't today. Partly it was a technical thing - today's Brisbane rally being over at Southbank made it feel self-marginalising as Hamish said. But more than that, the whole union movement feels tired and defeated to me. Yet it's the only force that can orchestrate any form of protest in this particular cause. I get no sense that it really believes it can win (and it probably can't).

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Crispin Bennett, the rally in Melbourne today indicated anything but a tired and defeated union movement. That hundreds of thousands of people would show up (not just at Fed Square, but along Swanston St almost to RMIT, part of Flinders St and down past Southbank) on a weekday, in some instances risking their job to be there, would indicate there is very strong feeling about this. Remember the anti-war rallies were held on the weekend. I think there is easily as much opposition to this legislation, and certainly more direct personal and social implications attached to it for many Australians.

Jay White, I dare say you'd enjoy reading Emile Zola's Germinal.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

David Eastwood: well it can't be 'naked' self interest, can it, as it is being phrased in terms of justice etc? (You're reminding me of people who say things like, "Oh my God, I like literally died!")

So all the talk of justice and fairness is just lies, is that it? Are you sure?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

David Eastwood, you say, "non-union and non union-protected employees, unemployed or underemployed people don't seem that well represented". I think we could call these people the "silent majority" in this battle and the nature of their employment would have made it difficult for them to join in. However I wouldn't underestimate the support they would have for these rallies. I still claim, Howard is in for a hiding with this issue.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jay White, can we maintain at least some semblance of debate by dropping the old interest rate comparison bollocks? Interest rates have dropped world-wide, regardless of government stripe, and have little to do with Howard and Costello.

I was in Thatcher's impeccably economic-fundamentalist Britain when mortgage rates were 20% and more. Now they are lower, just as they are everywhere else, in that case under a Labour(ish) government.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Crispin Bennett: "What is it you 'see' that overrides everything that is being said by IR "reform" opponents? Do you think all the talk about justice, a fair go, etc, is all just a smokescreen for self-interest?"

Yes, though I don't see it as a smoke screen at all. It's naked self-interest speaking, and in saying that I'm not being critical. It's normal and human to protect one's self-interest.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Crispin Bennett, sorry the rally in Brisbane doesn't seem to have been so inspiring, at least for you. I must say I started in Melbourne with a more negative mood, same old speeches, same old pollies I thought. However this didn't last. It wasn't just the exuberance of the marshals, or the sheer diversity, or the outbursts of various groups of youth. It was the old solidarity, being part of a people with a serious purpose. Also the rally had a well organised end in beautiful gardens in the union precinct, with lots of music, including Paul Kelly and some good ska stuff as well.

As to whether this battle can be won...? Well in a sense hasn't the battle always been in progress, whether for liberty, freedom of association, workers rights, freedom from discrimination, and so forth. The battle is always in flux. Terrain and tactics change and every now and then it feels like we've ratcheted up social progress a notch or two. But the society we live in is one of constant change, technologically and socially. You can go backwards as well as forwards. And it is also a society where power remains uneven in many spheres of life, and we spend a lot of time trying to balance it out and create justice in spite of the imbalance.

Can this battle be won? Darn right it can be, maybe not by simply legislating a return to the old system, maybe not by allowing cosy union apparatchiks to slip back into their cosseted holes. But a new and better policy of justice can be found: for the poorly paid, and those the market discards. A policy that finds a way of working better, but also evening out the power and distribution of wealth in the country.

Maybe this travesty of policy called "workchoices" will have to be chopped up slowly, ironically by introducing real choices into it. Like a right to collective bargaining. Or maybe there will be a massive backlash and employers will find the pendulum swinging wildly the other way. What happens is for us to work out and fight for. It would be nice to just have a rest, but earlier generations didn't get one, why should we?

And on the issue of it being mostly being unionised people at the rallies (something not that evident in Melbourne but apparently elsewhere). Well surprise, surprise, union people had the clout and the nous to be able to attend. What a shame fear of the boss undoubtedly stopped many of the poorer paid and the casually employed, and the tightly squeezed self-employed, from attending. Not to mention the many who work in a small business and feel a sense of solidarity with their boss and don't want to let her/him down. It's a very long bow to say these people don't care, or that they support the legislation.

That's the whole fantastical thing about this IR change, it's not actually employers or employees who are wanting this class war. They actually get on in ways perhaps better than they ever have, and in a manner envied by many in the world. Rather it's ideologues in think tanks and business councils, and a politically driven PM and his henchmen who are going for the king hit. Go figure, but also resolve to fight them, for their bloody-mindness and stiff necked arrogance if nothing else.

And Crispin, to support and escalate your chiding of right wing disinformation, interest rates have been considerably higher in Australia under the Howard government than they have been in either the USA or Europe. Sometimes around three times higher.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

For those of you bored with "The workers, united, will never be defeated", I've been humming this one all day:

The Union forever defending our rights,
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite,
With our brothers and our sisters from many far off lands,
There is power in a Union.

WORDS AND MUSIC: Billy Bragg (1988)
Adapted from The Battle Cry Of Freedom by George F Root.

Do yourselves a favour, as Molly used to say.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jay White, here is a little snippet of information you may not be privy to, in the last decade while interest rates have halved home loan sizes have doubled. This means that the debt servicing ratio has actually remained almost static.

According to the ANZ Bank Economic Update February 18, 2005 (pdf) the debt servicing ratio is the highest since 1991 at 9.5% (of disposable income) or the equivalent of 17% interest rates.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Crispin Bennett, no, putting everything down regarding interest rates to world factors is economic nonsense. The surrounding world is just one factor amongst many.

I have had this argument with a number of contributors here and it seems that it has yet to sink in. Have you noticed by any chance that there has been two American rate rises without a rise in Australia?

Interest rate rises mostly come about to control inflation. The best way to cause inflation is out of control Government spending such as was the case with the Keating Government. How many budget surpluses did they have?

The Keating Government was a poor economic manager and the interest rates reflected this. This present Government is a good economic manager and interest rates under it will never rise to the Keating levels.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jay White, a pink collar worker is a white collar worker who accidently washed their shirts with a red towel.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

I attended the Melbourne rally and march up to Carlton Gardens and it was absolutely awesome!! There were such a diversity of people including many women like me, who were marching for the sake of their children's future and the peaceful and good natured community spirit and mood was present all throughout the rally and the march.

I was impressed with the organisation of the activities and thought Greg Combet's speech was inspiring. I am glad I braved the fickled Melbourne weather to attend and feel more optimistic after today, that there are many people like me who are disgusted with Howard's agenda for Australia!!

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Sydney Rally and March Pictures

Here are a few pictures from today's rally in Sydney.

The weather was with us, and police and crowd marshals kept the converging groups from Martin Place and from Belmore Park moving slowly but smoothly.

Official estimates for the Sydney crowd were between 30,000 and 45,000. Our estimates over a post-rally sausage sandwich were greater. Someone I spoke to had been setting up at one of the SkyChannel venues and said there were at least 100 people there.

On the long trek back after the rally, mutterings were heard that this was only the start. A march on Canberra is definitely in the wind.

If someone can put a surname to the TVNZ reporter I photographed (nice bloke!) I would be glad to know. The rally received good support and coverage over the pond.

If anyone has had reports of workers being intimidated into staying away, perhaps the names of the organisations concerned should be posted here. After all if the legislation is so wonderful, why do employers have to bully their workers?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jay White, even most right-wing economists think Keating was a good "economic manager" (I'd challenge the concept, but that's another story), if a lousy PM on their terms.

Interest rates for OECD countries shadow each other over the medium term, with only small fluctuations due to local factors. I'm not an economist, but economists argue fiercely over macroeconomics. A quick glance at any economics journal will make an easy correlation of interest rates with government spending look grossly simple-minded. How about current UK rates with a far more indebted government than we've had here for many years?

Finally, read John Quiggin on the issue.

Let's not hijack this thread any further on this marginally-relevant issue. I'll let you have the last say if you wish, then let's drop it.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Michael, I believe you are speaking for a majority that isn't at all proven. I'm happy to accept their existence with proof, but you're playing the Douglas Adams cqrd (or whoever it was) that God didn't want to prove his existence because with proof there is no faith and without faith he is nothing.

Show me some evidence as to the existence of this "silent minority" - which is actually an overwhelming majority if you do the numbers. Last I heard Unions represented about 20% of the workforce.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

The Beaz buzz was worse than silence from where I stood in Belmore Park. There was one rather loud "Thanks for nothin' Beaz..." amid the wind through the trees, doubtless in reference to Beazley's general malfeasance and acquiescence to Howard's terrorise-us laws.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

The ABC On-Line News headline as I write is: "Howard brushes off IR rallies". Does anyone else have déjà vu from his reaction to the protests against our involvement in the Iraq war?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

I attended the hook-up in rural N.S.W. It was truly heartening to see 90 plus people attend our local R.S.L. in a community that is mostly farming and private forestry with a population of less than 2000. Yes, there were the usual union members, but there were also people like myself who felt that Howard is trying to undermine a system that has served us very well in the past, that our forefathers fought hard for, and will now return us to the 'ruling classes' versus the 'peasants'.

And just as an aside, what the hell have interest rates to do with any of this?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Dear, dear, what a lot of rot you are all talking. Yes, even you Hamish. You all seem to miss the point.

Whether the experience of being there was good, bad or indifferent isn't the issue. Nor was who cheered who or what was said. It doesn't have to be a let's bash the police and complain about their response issue and the fact that it appears to have been peaceful indicates the calmness and surety of those people.

Remember this is just the first shot and those who weren't game to go today will be there next time. JWH knows that and will be desperately scheming right now.

What it demonstrated is that there are many people willing to turn up as a show of support for the anti IR change views.

Whether you think there were 100,000 or half a million doesn't matter. It's the demonstration of being able to meet together to make a point. The speeches were irrelevant. It's the first time Australians have got off their arses as a group and stood up for what they refuse to accept, Howard's world.

Do you think JWH will care what was said? No, he'll simply be looking at the numbers and wondering if this is the best time for him to call an election.

He can you know and he knows that Beazley is dead in the water so he would probably still win while the big B is squatting on top of Hupty Dumpty's wall.

So stop crying in your beer and enjoy the demonstration that you are not alone. There are voices which have been found today and change will be needed. Trembling back benchers in marginal seats will start to read their email, meet in dark rooms and only invite tall people and so on.

Forget Jay's whining. Forget Crispin's obsession with appearance. At least there weren't Alsations and balaclavas to hide faces were there? Oops. time warp, Reith/Howard all the same. Maybe they were hidden from view or scared of the numbers?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jay White, interest rates will not rise to the same high as they hit under Keating because Howard will never risk his political neck to set our stonkering current account deficit back in black, he's too gutless. Raising interest rates may not be the solution, but he's sure as hell neglecting Australia's future prosperity. We cannot sustain this kind of debt in the long term, but long term is not what John's about. He'll possibly be dead and buried in 15 years, so why spoil his glory days with depressing talk of national debt?

Instead, let's just keep admiring that budget surplus... and keep buying imported goods on credit. It's a FREE market, dammit. Let's import some more oranges.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

David Eastwood, I agree the anti-IR side can't claim the alleigance those who aren't speaking for themselves. Neither can the big employers and the government do so (and they have been in spades today, with the ACCI hilariously claiming some significance in the fact that 95% of employees 'ignored' the ACTU's call to action).

People can speak for themselves. It's a pity the government and employers are too frightened or arrogant to let them do so.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

OK Crispin, if you want to be pedantic it's cloaked self-interest.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Tony Phillips, the battle's winnable, of course. But Howard's divide-and-rule tactics are formidable. There seem to be very large numbers of people who either are personally ahead now, or believe in the promissory notes, and go along with David Eastwood's vaunting of self-interest.

Ross Chippendale, of course "whether the experience of being there was good, bad or indifferent isn't the issue". I initially posted a reaction, as just that. I'm not a journalist (luckily, as gonzo would have to be my style, probably an unfortunate combination of the professional rectitude of Hunter S.Thompson and the humour of George Monbiot). On thinking about today's demo, it came across to me as a sad affair because of what it seemed unlikely to achieve.

I don't think the people of this country are truly behind the unions with any strength of feeling. I assume the 'obsession with appearances' comment is referring to my gang of tatooed folk. Well, the sexist behaviour was really what stood out, and it symbolises in part what many people find so hard to take seriously about the union movement. It seems sometimes to come from another culture, speaking largely to the past.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Hey Crispin, sorry mate. It just struck me that commenting on such behaviour was rather petty given the usual goings on at demonstrations. Of course that doesn't excuse them but it happens and seems to be fairly standard behaviour for many today.

It also struck a chord with me you see as my appearance would lead you to believe I am rather threatening to some when in fact I'm a pussycat. I have often been referred to as a bikie when I am not but I have certainly been both. It's actually quite handy given I do not condone violence.

Re journalists, not me either mate.

Re unions being in a sorry state, couldn't agree more. I resigned many years ago when they had nothing to offer and were using members funds to further certain people's political aspirations.

I also shudder at the possibilty of a Beazley led government. With Rudd and Swan behind him, knives at the ready again. No, not Kim please. This is the real dilemma for so many of us. We seemingly have to choose either Labor or Coalition when neither are worthy of any employment above coat rack.

JWH has indeed done more for the union movement than anything else in the last twenty years. He's thrown them a lifeline and they know it's now or they are gone.

The only way I can choose if we have KB vs JWH is to just vote the government out as they have become too secure. I'd rather go incompetent than vicious anyday if forced to choose. The longer a government stays in power the more corruption and contempt for the voters there will be.

re: IR Bill: links update #4

David Eastwood, you cannot possibly believe it is pedantry to call you on the issue of whether or not the anti-IR 'reform' forces in this country are simply lying when they invoke notions of justice and fairness.

Whether or not you accept the other side's good faith in their claimed positions is philosophically central to the whole notion of discussion amongst the citizenry.

On the substantive issue: the concepts of social justice and fairness are woven so deeply into unionist, socialist and social-democratic discouse and history, that it would require quite a desparate act of the imagination to suspect it all of being lies in the service of self-interest. If you believe it to be so, what's your reasoning?

re: IR Bill: links update #4

Jay White, looking at absolute interest rate levels is silly and a strawman argument and I am probably not the first one to point out that it is the trend that matters. The Hawke government inherited an economy heading for oblivion and left an econmoy trending well. The only thing that Howard has done positive for the economy is stand out of the way and let it happen. The reason we aren't putting up interest rates at the moment is because the Reserve Bank didn't (rightly) put the interest rates down as low as the other OECD countries. However, I am sure that Howard would have liked to have them reduced further.

Another observation. I think that JH is in more trouble than he thinks. Looking at comments at non-political forums and blogs, I get the impression that Mr Henderson was wrong - a sizable amount of people voted Liberal not because they liked refugees locked up, not because the believe in the Iraq war but because of the economy. Now that JH is finally doing things to these voters as far as their rights are concerned the tide has turned and discussions that used to be 50/50 are, except for the die-hards, unaminous against John.

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