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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Statement on the passing of the Hon Tom Uren AC



Statement on the passing of the Hon Tom Uren AC

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Governments can't create community spirit, but they can support inclusion | Anthony Albanese

Governments can't create community spirit, but they can support inclusion | Anthony Albanese

Governments can't create community spirit, but they can support inclusion








Assisting people into work, making cities that are well designed, and
supporting non-government groups and volunteers: that’s what
Australians expect from their governments



sydney



‘A good way to get people to become full participants in what life has
to offer – including the dignity of work – is to help them engage with
their local communities.’
Photograph: flickr


“Just because you’re better than me, doesn’t mean I’m lazy.” So sang a
young Billy Bragg in his song, To Have and To Have Not, in 1983.



The context of the emergence of progressive artists such as Billy
Bragg was a potent reaction to the British government of Margaret
Thatcher.



A few years after Bragg’s song, Thatcher famously declared “there is
no such thing as society”, as she sought to ideologically justify
policies that left people to fend for themselves.



Implicit in Thatcher’s bleak worldview was the idea that if you were
disadvantaged, it was your own fault. That’s heartless and absurd.
Ignoring or marginalising people who are disadvantaged, or even
dysfunctional, will do nothing to improve their circumstances.



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Indeed,
a good way to get people to become full participants in what life has
to offer – including the dignity of work – is to help them engage with
their local communities.



However, I fear that this trend toward pushing people down rather
than lifting them up will escalate in coming months with the appointment
of Scott Morrison as minister for social services.



Assisting people into work is a common objective because we have all
seen the harm welfare dependence can lead to. But the hidden message in
Morrison’s appointment is that he is about to be unleashed on people who
allegedly refuse to work.



Newspapers have been briefed to expect “welfare reform” under
Morrison. Columnists and editors are already using terms like bludgers
and rorters.



In the lead-up to Christmas, the Abbott government has announced
funding cuts to non-government organisations like Shelter Australia,
Blind Citizens Australia, Deaf Australia and Down Syndrome Australia.



Such groups play a vital role in supporting communities. And their success is usually driven in part by community volunteers.


Although there are those in the Abbott government who subscribe to
Thatcher’s doctrine, we’d do well to remind ourselves that it is
completely inconsistent with Australian values.



The values of mainstream Australian are on display right outside your
door right now – out in parks, pubs and churches where people are
coming together to celebrate Christmas.



In
the real world, far away from our nation’s parliaments and tabloid
hotheads, people are giving each other a fair go. They are dropping in
presents to their neighbours. My family looks forward to our next door
neighbour’s annual gift of a homemade ginger bread house.



Right now, people are rejoicing in what unites them. They are
encouraging each other, not blaming each other. They are embracing their
common humanity and trying to develop human interactions in ways that
enrich their lives.



Instead of setting people against each other, governments would achieve more if they did more to nurture communities.


Governments can’t create a community spirit. They can’t make people
be tolerant of each other, except through the personal example of
political leaders. But one thing they can do is deliver a physical
environment that promotes community engagement.



Promotion of inclusion through support of communities is one of the
drivers of federal Labor’s determination to develop comprehensive
policies on our cities. For too long, Australian governments have shown
inadequate interest in urban policy and the way in which well-designed
cities facilitate the human contact that people crave and which enriches
their lives.



We spend so much time designing our buildings that we give inadequate
thought to the spaces between those structures. If properly designed,
these spaces can provide focal points for local communities that
encourage interaction and inclusion.



It might be as simple as providing more shade around buildings and
more parks in our neighbourhoods. Greater use of mixed precincts that
include residential and public or entertainment space would also help
bring people together.



We need more parks, public areas and entertainment options that
deliver the environment in which communities flourish. We need
well-resourced libraries where people can come together to share
interests.



And we need to do all we can to ensure that hubs where people cross
paths most often – like shopping centres and train stations – also
include places where people can interact.



Some dismiss such ideas as not the province of the Commonwealth.
There is a role for commonwealth leadership to assist state and local
government as well as non-government organisations, to make our cities
more productive, sustainable and liveable.



When governments don’t value communities and when they treat people
as little more than economic units, people become alienated. Of course,
better urban design of itself won’t stop welfare dependence. Governments
should seek to encourage people into the workforce by providing
adequate resources for education and training and by eliminating welfare
fraud.



But better urban design will certainly help more than treating welfare recipients like cannon fodder in the political debate.


Thatcher was simply wrong when she said there was no such thing as society.


It’s right outside our door and we are all part of it. If we make our
communities work in positive ways, their power far exceeds that of the
sum of their component parts and can be used to achieve great social
outcomes.



But first we need to reject the idea that anyone on welfare has given
up and does not want to work. As Billy Bragg sang more than 30 years
ago, “Just because you’re going forward, doesn’t mean I’m going
backwards.”

Friday, 5 December 2014

A plan to get into government, but no plan to govern.



ANTHONY ALBANESE THE LABOR RANK AND FILE CHOICE FOR LEADER OF THE LABOR PARTY
YOU CAN TRUST ALBO NOT TO SELL OUT OUR LABOR VALUES

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Fair Pay for the Australian Defence Force - The Today Show



Published on 6 Nov 2014





Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Tony Abbott can't win the battle of ideas with no ideas

Tony Abbott can't win the battle of ideas with no ideas

Tony Abbott can't win the battle of ideas with no ideas







Tony Abbott’s negativity made him a formidable opposition leader, but
the cynical opportunism of that time has held him back as prime
minister










tony abbott

‘The opposition leader who promised so much has morphed into a confused
prime minister – a man rapidly sinking into the quicksand of his own
negativity’ Photograph: AAP



Those
great philosophers, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, wrote and sang in
1965: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Australian voters might be
reminding themselves of this today, as they consider the disappointment
known as the Abbott government.



This is a government defined by disappointment, deceit and incompetence.


The opposition leader who promised so much has morphed into a
confused prime minister – a man rapidly sinking into the quicksand of
his own negativity. The source of this government’s dysfunction is the
cynical opportunism of its period in opposition.



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Most
parties in opposition focus on holding governments to account and on
rebuilding their credibility by developing new ideas. Like Dan Andrews
did in Victoria, they make themselves participants in the battle of
ideas.



When the Abbott government was in opposition its only focus was on
attacking the former Labor government. As opposition leader, the prime
minister built his entire case for power on anti-Labor hatred and
three-word slogans.



Everything was about politics and nothing was about policy.


That is why the Tories have retreated to their comfort zone today.
Without positive ideas they have been forced to lean heavily on Tony
Abbott’s regressive and punitive personal ideology – one that values
individualism ahead of equity and opportunity.



Abbott’s negativity did make him a formidable opposition leader, but
it makes him a pretty bad prime minister. We now see that negativity is
all he ever had. It is his only weapon. He is a one-trick Tony.



You cannot win the battle of ideas if you have no ideas; you cannot
run an economy on three-word slogans; you do not create jobs by saying
“no” to everything; and you do not inspire people by misleading them.



Before the election, the prime minister promised no cuts to health,
education, pensions, the ABC or SBS. He promised no new taxes. In
government, he has cut $80bn from health and education, slashed funding
for the ABC and SBS and created new taxes whenever people visit a GP or
fill up their car at the petrol bowser.



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Rubbing
salt into the wounds, he has since insulted the electorate’s
intelligence with Monty Pythonesque claims that he has not broken any
promises.



The prime minister is on the wrong side of history; his place defined
not by leadership and forward-thinking but by a sad yearning for a less
equal and less progressive past – a place where average Australians pay
a Medicare levy every week only to be told they have to pay again to
visit a doctor; where education is about entrenching privilege, not
spreading opportunity; where climate science is derided; and where a
visiting US president’s praise for the splendour of the Great Barrier
Reef is attacked by those opposite as an affront to our national
sovereignty.



It is a place where our renewable energy target has been so
successful that it has to be scrapped; where we have only one woman in
the cabinet; where radio shock jocks and partisan newspaper columnists
set the government’s political agenda; where bigotry is a right; where
people communicate over ageing copper wire rather than 21st century
fibre; and a place where the long-faded trappings of our colonial past
are revived through the reintroduction of the British honours system.



The Abbott government has misread the egalitarian nature of
Australian culture. Australians care about the fair go. Australians
support measures to improve the budget, but they are not stupid.



They know that when a single income family on $65,000 a year will be
$6,000 a year worse off every year, while corporate tax cheats are a
protected species, that budget repair is being used as a cover for an
ideological agenda. The 2014 budget was not a plan for the future but an
attack on the gains of the past. Australians know it is unfair and they
are demanding better.



In my own area of infrastructure, the prime minister has treated his election promises like plates at a Greek wedding.


The government said it would preserve the independence of
Infrastructure Australia. What they have done is try to remove that
independence through legislation – an attempt abandoned only after
pressure from Labor and business groups, including the Business Council
of Australia, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and, indeed,
Infrastructure Australia itself.



The government said they would reappoint Sir Rod Eddington as the
chairman of Infrastructure Australia but they appointed a former Liberal
party minister instead. They said they would not invest in
infrastructure without cost-benefit analysis to ensure value for money.
Then they took money from Infrastructure Australia priority projects
that had had cost-benefit analysis done and reallocated it to the East
West Link, Westconnex and a Perth freight link.



The government said there would be cranes and bulldozers at work on
new projects within 12 months of their election. But there are no
bulldozers, just bull dust.



They said they would pay money to states for infrastructure projects
in stages, based on the achievement of milestones. Then they gave the
Victorian government a $1.5bn advance payment for the East West Link, a
project that has not commenced construction.



They pretend they are investing in new infrastructure, but they
continue to travel the nation on a magical infrastructure
re-announcement tour, seeking ownership of existing projects funded by
the previous Labor government.



Worst of all, the few new road projects in the budget are being
funded by cuts to all Commonwealth investment in public transport
projects not under construction.



The prime minister, in his manifesto Battlelines, wrote:


Mostly there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a
particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to
justify any vehicle larger than a car and cars need roads.



That is an absurd proposition for any national leader to make in 2014.


I do not remember a more cringeworthy moment than when he had an
opportunity to speak to the world’s leaders about a vision for the
future at the recent G20 meeting in Brisbane. Abbott’s contribution
involved whinging about Australians not supporting his GP tax and
proudly declaring he had removed a price on carbon.



There is no issue too big for Abbott to show how small he is. Serious
world leaders want to act on climate change and envy our system of
universal health care.



The problem is not that Abbott is stuck in the past. It is that he
wants the rest of Australia to go back there and keep him company.



Australians are sick of the negativity this government has brought to national political debate.


They want a government to focus on what really matters: them, jobs,
access to health care, equity of opportunity through access to
education; cities that are productive, sustainable and liveable; healthy
communities that value diversity; and an integrated transport system
that includes both public transport and roads.



Above all, Australians want a government that governs in accordance with Australian values, like that of the fair go.




Albanese Brands 'Negative Abbott' A 'One Trick Tony' In Stinging Parliamentary Attack | newmatilda.com

Albanese Brands 'Negative Abbott' A 'One Trick Tony' In Stinging Parliamentary Attack | newmatilda.com

Albanese Brands 'Negative Abbott' A 'One Trick Tony' In Stinging Parliamentary Attack



By Chris Graham





If
you like passionate politics and zinging one-liners, then Anthony
Albanese's speech in parliament today won’t disappoint. Chris Graham
reports.




Labor
heavyweight Anthony Albanese has delivered a stinging rebuke of the
Abbott Government in parliament today, describing the Prime Minister as
‘one-trick Tony’, courtesy of his incessant negativity in opposition and
government.



Speaking to an almost empty parliamentary committee room, the
Opposition spokesman on Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism delivered a
speech that was clearly pitched at the party faithful. Although this is
one of those occasions where you can actually pick your party – both
Labor and Liberal appear to be heartily sick of Abbott.



As all good ageing hippies should, Albanese began his speech with a reference to the Rolling Stones.


“Those great philosophers Jagger and Richards wrote and sang in 1965
‘I can’t get no satisfaction’. Australian voters might be reminding
themselves of this today as they consider the disappointment known as
the Abbott Government,” Albanese said.



And then he got nasty.


“This is a government defined by disappointment, deceit and
incompetence. The opposition leader who promised so much has morphed
into a confused Prime Minister, a man rapidly sinking into the quicksand
of his own negativity.



“Not only can he not lead the nation, he cannot even lead his own
government, which is desperately split on policy and political direction
and crippled by internal power struggles.



“The source of this government’s dysfunction is the cynical opportunism of its period in opposition.


“Most parties in opposition focus on holding governments to account
and rebuilding their credibility by developing new ideas. That’s what
Dan Andrews did in Victoria in the past few years. He made himself a
participant in the battle of ideas and now he is Premier of Victoria.



“When the Abbott Government was in opposition its only focus was attacking the former Labor government.


“As Opposition Leader the Prime Minister transformed the Coalition
into the Noalition, building his entire case for power on anti-Labor
hatred and three word slogans.



“Everything about politics, and nothing about policy.


“That’s why the Tories have retreated to their comfort zone today.
Without positive ideas, they’ve been forced to lean heavily on Tony
Abbott’s regressive and punitive personal ideology, one that values
individualism ahead of equity and opportunity.



“The Prime Minister’s negativity did make him a formidable opposition leader, but they make him a pretty bad Prime Minister.


“We now see that negativity is all he ever had. It is his only weapon. He is a one trick Tony.”


And you’ll note Albanese hasn’t even got to the part about Abbott’s broken promises yet. Or the budget.


“You can’t win the battle of ideas if you have no ideas. You can’t
run an economy on three word slogans. You don’t create jobs by saying no
to everything. And you don’t inspire people by misleading them.



“Before the election, the Prime Minister promised no cuts to health,
education, pensions, the ABC or SBS. He promised no new taxes.



“In government he has cut $80 billion from health and education,
slashed funding for the ABC and SBS and created new taxes, whenever
people visit a GP or fill up their car at the petrol bowser.



“Rubbing salt into the wounds, he has since insulted the electorates’
intelligence with Monty Python-esque claims that he hasn’t broken any
promises.”




And at this point, Albanese really got started, zeroing in on the
Coalition’s real weak spot – virtually everything it’s done since it got
in office.



“The Prime Minister is on the wrong side of history, his place
defined not by leadership and forward thinking but by a sad yearning for
a less equal and less progressive past. A place where average
Australians pay a Medicare levy every week, only to be told they have to
pay again to visit a doctor. A place where education is about
entrenching privilege not spreading opportunity. Where climate science
is derided and where a visiting US president’s praise for the splendor
of the Great Barrier Reef is attacked by those opposite as an affront to
our national sovereignty.



“It’s a place where our renewal energy target has been so successful
that it has to be scrapped, where we have only one woman in the cabinet,
where radio shock jocks and partisan newspaper columnists set the
government’s political agenda, where bigotry is a right, where people
communicate over ageing copper wire rather than 21st century fibre, a
place where the long-faded trappings of our colonial past are revived
through the re-introduction of the British honours system.



“The Abbott Government has misread the egalitarian nature of
Australian culture. Australians care about the fair go. Part of what
defines us is a generosity of spirit, one that embraces a sense of
community and common interest.”



Which is all, of course, true.


But you might equally argue that the parliamentary wing of the
Australian Labor Party has misread the electorate too, by installing
Bill Shorten to the leadership position, rather than Albanese.



You might also wonder why this sort of parliamentary theatre is delivered to an empty committee room.


Either way, Albanese’s stirring speech suggests that Labor senses
there’s more than a few drops of Prime Ministerial blood in the water,
and they intend to finally start turning up the heat.



It’s the final sitting week of parliament for 2014… expect things to descend from here.


You can watch the full 10 minute speech on Albanese’s Facebook page here. Albanese moves onto transport and infrastructure, and a brief tirade on the G20.


* New Matilda is an independent Australian media outlet that relies almost entirely on reader subscriptions for its survival. You can help fund New Matilda here. 


Monday, 1 December 2014

Anthony Albanese on ALP Party Reform - ABC24 Afternoon Live



ALBO OUR NEXT PRIME MINISTER
SOME THINGS DO NOT CHANGE.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

 
ALBO , OUR TRUE LEADER
Anthony Albanese MP
Campaigning against the closure of the Medicare office in Marrickville, 1996.
SHARE if you're against Tony Abbott's GP Tax.
 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Where is Labor? - The AIM Network

Where is Labor? - The AIM Network



Where is Labor?














The despair at the inaction of Labor is growing louder. The groups
they are supposed to represent are under attack and all we hear is
endless support for Tony Abbott’s warmongering.



Labor have been gifted a first year of Abbott government that has
been so bad that they should be seizing the opportunity to reshape
themselves as a viable alternative but all we hear is “our policies will
be revealed in good time before the next election and they will be
fully costed” or “we aren’t the government”.



A quick look at the last few days news stories provide endless
material that, for some unknown reason, Labor seems too ineffective to
capitalise on.



Our Prime Minister for Women has delivered a budget which modelling shows that the worst hit – by far – will be women in low-income households.


Just as Tony Abbott releases one of his ‘earnest and sincere’ videos
saying that his government’s main motivations in future will be
“protecting the vulnerable”, it might be opportune to point out that
analysis, conducted by the Australia Institute, shows women in the
poorest 20 per cent of households will be $2566 worse off in 2017 as a
result of the budget.  Women in the wealthiest 20 per cent of households
will be only $77 worse off on average in 2017.



Or perhaps, as our Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs jets off on
his long-awaited trip to Arnhem Land, it might be worth mentioning the
report in the SMH saying



Tony Abbott’s takeover of indigenous affairs is in “disarray“,
public service insiders allege, with hundreds of specialist public
servants retrenched, funding and programs stalled and staff morale in
the “doldrums”.



Senior leaders in the Prime Minister and Cabinet department’s
Indigenous Affairs Group have based themselves in Canberra’s dress
circle, nearly 10 kilometres away from their rank-and-file workers, who
are still reeling after repeated restructures to their workplaces.”

Now would be a good time to remind people of how much Tony Abbott has
cut from the Indigenous Affairs budget and how many services are
closing.



“For decades the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) has been providing legal aid
in the remote town of Nhulunbuy, on the northern tip of Arnhem Land, as
well as in the nearby community of Yirrkala and surrounding
outstations.



But the agency is set to close its doors in Nhulunbuy at the end of
the year, in anticipation of severe budget cuts, and is seeking a
meeting with the Prime Minister during his visit.”

With the revelations from ICAC proving just how endemic corruption is
in our political system, now would be a good time to push for a Federal
ICAC.



As Errol Brandt points out at nofibs


“there is a deafening roar from social media calling for
the establishment of a federal ICAC. Not because the public wants cheap
entertainment, but because the revelations in NSW confirm what many have
long suspected: entrenched unethical and illegal behaviour is festering
in our the nation’s political shadowlands.”

Does anyone believe Bill Shorten when he says


“I think we’ve all been shocked at the revelations that
have come out in NSW ICAC… I don’t believe the same case has yet existed
to demonstrate these problems are prevalent in the national political
debate in Australia.”

Rob Oakeshott certainly thinks otherwise as he calls for reform in the area of political donations.


“THE rules are simple: fight the bastards, bankroll the
other side of politics, cause them damage until they learn to ignore
treasury and finance advice and start listening instead to that grubby
leveller in politics – money.



Whether it’s tax or carbon or gaming, this is the policy inertia of
Australia today. Money is beating our long-term standard of living to
death. It has sent many necessary policy reforms to the doghouse, and it
keeps many others on the short chain.



Our key decisions for the future of Australia are now being
outsourced at a level never before seen. Parliamentary democracy is
going through its own sort of privatisation….”

Oakeshott points out the undue influence that wealthy people exert on
political decisions which are no longer made in the best interests of
the people. This is underlined by Gina Rinehart’s latest call for assistance
as iron ore prices fall.  Rather than facing business risk like the
rest of us, she wants the government to change the rules to increase her
profits.



“Mrs Rinehart singled out red tape, approvals and burdens as addressable bureaucratic policies.


“Each one of these adds costs and makes it harder to compete
successfully, risking Australian jobs and revenue,” Mrs Rinehart told
The Australian.  “The government needs to better recognise this and
world conditions, including various falling commodity prices and the
contraction in jobs in Australia’s ­mining and related industries – and
urgently cut bureaucratic ­burdens.”



The government needs to act to help reduce the costs placed on
Australian miners, who are disadvantaged against international
competition, Mrs Rinehart said.



Mrs Rinehart has previously warned that Africa is a much cheaper
investment option, with workers willing to take jobs for $2 per day.



It was estimated at the time that while Mrs Rinehart was talking
about pay rates for African workers, she was earning $600 a second.”

Andrew Wilkie is also angry at the influence of vested interests with Barnaby Joyce promoting the interests of his mates.


“The Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is reportedly set
to exempt Saudi Arabia from the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System,
which would be the first step in undoing the modest animal welfare reforms of the last parliament.



“This is the government saying loud and clear to overseas markets:
`we don’t care how you slaughter our animals’,’’ Mr Wilkie said. “This
will have horrendous consequences for Australian animals that will be
sent overseas to cruel and shocking deaths with the blessing of the
Australian Government.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the
Australian Government is a pack of sadists who seem to get some sort of
unholy thrill out of knowingly promoting animal cruelty.



Barnaby Joyce in particular is beholden to money and his mates in
that tiny part of the red-meat industry which exports livestock. But
even there he is incompetent because the only way to ensure the red-meat
industry is commercially sustainable over the long term, and have broad
public support, is to end the cruelty.”

As Tony Abbott woos the Chinese in search of a Free Trade Agreement,
someone should warn him that they are likely to impose tariffs on our
exports as they move to an ETS.



“Just two months after Australia trashed its carbon price
because it was “too high” and would “trash the economy”, China has
flagged that its planned carbon trading scheme will cover 40 per cent of
its economy and be worth up to $65 billion.”

Tony Abbott keeps telling us that repealing taxes will create jobs
but, on so many fronts, his actions show little regard for creating
employment.



The main public sector union is demanding urgent talks with the Australian Taxation Office over a proposal to move outsourced backroom functions to Asia.


The CPSU says it is “deeply concerned” after revelations that a giant
multinational contractor wants to take ATO work to the Philippines and
that Health Department work has been going to India for years.



Support for mining and agriculture will do little to help as, at its
peak, the mining sector employed less than 2 per cent of the workforce,
and agriculture, forestry and fishing employs about 3 per cent.



Withdrawing support for the car industry will see a huge number of
job losses with even more for South Australia if the government chooses
to buy Japanese submarines to replace the Collins class fleet.



But at present, the only policy the government has to tackle
unemployment is lowering wage rates by, for example, getting rid of
penalty rates and introducing low junior wages.



As Paul Malone points out


“The conventional response that our tradeable services
will compete successfully on the world stage, significantly adding to
our export income and keeping large numbers of our population employed,
is laughable. If we can sell architecture services via the net, so can
lower paid Indians.



The currently much vaunted sale of education services is in reality
an immigration marketing program, where many students study here in the
hope that they can win the right to live and work here.”

While our students become increasingly concerned about changes that will see them saddled with huge debts, Scott Morrison is busy announcing a new type of visa
that will allow foreign students to come and study diploma courses at
private colleges like the one Frances Abbott attends which has benefited
from a great deal of favourable government legislation since they gave
her a scholarship.



‘The number of international students seeking to study in
Australia continues to rebound positively, with an increase of over 27%
in the number of visas granted to offshore applicants in the 2013/2014
programme year,’ he pointed out.



‘Extending SVP arrangements will help capitalise on these trends,
reducing red tape and helping to attract further students from
overseas,’ he added.



Invitations to participate will be sent to eligible providers in the
second half of 2014. The government proposes to implement this extension
by early 2015, under the stewardship of Michaelia Cash, Assistant
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.”

Even though small business
is a huge employer, they too have been attacked by the Abbott budget. 
It seems only billionaires and global corporations rate a mention
nowadays.



“The Coalition has scrapped the tax concessions linked to
the mining tax, including the company loss carry-back provision, which
allowed loss-making businesses to claim back tax they’d paid in previous
profitable years. Also cut were accelerated depreciation allowances or
asset write-offs.



“The Coalition have said that they would be small business-friendly,
they understand we are the backbone of the economy, that we employ a lot
of people – all those sorts of things – and they would do anything they
could to make sure our lives were easy enough so we could run our
business, and they’ve done the opposite with this decision,” said Peter
Strong, the executive director of the Council of Small Business of
Australia (COSBOA).”

While Abbott talks of growth, he seems to have little idea of how to
achieve it and is actually working against measures to reduce inequality.



“The federal budget took active steps towards increasing
inequality and that sits in stark contrast to the discussions held at
the G20 and now the L20 meetings. Youth unemployment is a critical issue
for the Australian economy but has largely been ignored in favour of a
crackdown on ‘dole bludgers’ and ‘welfare queens’.



There is a clear disconnect between our federal government and the
L20, who are promoting a return to more inclusive growth, which benefits
workers across the income distribution. The L20’s focus is long overdue
— the national income share from wages has been declining for decades —
but it’s a message that has clearly fallen on deaf ears in Australia.”

Abbott tells us that we must be innovative but at the same time cuts
funding to research and ignores the advice of scientists, much to the
chagrine of our chief scientist Ian Chubb.



“In the space of a fortnight we were encouraged to be
advocates for science and then rebuked for “whinging” by a minister who
in the same breath claimed to be on our side. That came as something of a
shock.



Much has been said and written about how Australia punches above our
weight in research and innovation in the past and present. We have in no
way reached our capacity. We need long-term research funding, clear
translational mechanisms and strong links with business. We need more
blue sky research, not less, and we need to figure out smarter ways of
funding and translating it.



Most of all, scientists need allies in parliament, and increasingly
it appears we have none. Acknowledging that isn’t being a “precious
petal”, and it’s not whingeing. These are big-picture issues, these are
long-term issues, these are dreams and ideas about what we think our
country can do and how we can bring it into the future.”

These are just a few of the stories from the last few days yet the
nation, including the Labor Party, have been mesmerised by talk of
terrorism even though there is no discernible threat other than “tens”
of angry young men who our police force already seem to be watching.



If Shorten cannot man up and start presenting some credible
alternatives to the disaster that is our current government then I am
very fearful for our future.







Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Kiss the 'fair go' goodbye: Tony Abbott gives individualism absolute priority


The government is attempting to spark a shift in our national culture – but Australians cannot and won’t be convinced to care less for each other





Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott Photograph: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Through its policies, budget and rhetoric, the government is attempting to spark a shift in our national culture – one that gives the concept of individualism absolute priority, to the exclusion of any concept of collective interest.
I’ve always been cautious about flag-waving politicians who seek to ascribe to all Australians a common set of values, but there is something very real and unique in the concept of the Fair Go that the current government doesn’t seem to recognise.
There is a generosity of spirit within Australian culture – one that embraces a sense of community and common interest. Australians respect success at the individual level, but they also believe that our society is only as good as the way we treat our most disadvantaged members.
We believe every Australian has a right to health care, equal access to education and a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. We don’t let our pursuit of individual success come at the cost of fairness.
This is the mindset that Abbott and treasurer Joe Hockey challenge with their budget attacks on the disadvantaged and their insistence that people are either “lifters or leaners’’.
At one level, Abbott’s approach is unsurprising because it has failed before. Former prime minister John Howard thought he could change attitudes when he introduced the unfair Work Choices laws industrial relations laws, which emphasised individual workplace bargaining. But by rejecting Work Choices and tossing Howard out of office, Australians voted for a Fair Go.
The surprise in 2014 is that Abbott seeks to extend this creed well beyond industrial relations and into the full range of government activity. The budget undermines policies which enhance equity, presumably on the basis that the government believes Australians can be convinced to care less for others and more for themselves.
For example, while Labor created Medicare as a universal health system, Abbott seeks to undermine it with his new GP tax. While Labor lifted education funding and created the access to tertiary education based upon merit rather than capacity to pay, Abbott has cut spending and wants to make university degrees more expensive by deregulating the sector. Rather than supporting the Fair Go, such reforms entrench privilege.
Labor supports proper indexation of pensions but the government wants to cut pensions. Labor invests in public transport. But Abbott has withdrawn all public transport funding. In his book Battlelines, he wrote that there was no need for any vehicle larger than a car.
Labor believes in helping the jobless with income support and training, while Abbott and his ministers vilify the unemployed and expect jobless school leavers to live on nothing.
Another great example of the lack of generosity is the current campaign to end weekend penalty rates in industries like retailing and hospitality. Unsurprisingly, the vested interests that funded Abbott’s election campaign argue that they are bad for business – but most Australians know that penalties are built into the wage structure of weekend workers. If penalties were removed, hospitality workers would be denied a living wage. Like their American counterparts they would have to rely on tips to get by.
Abolishing penalty rates would also send the worst-possible message to the community about the value we place on the dignity of labour. To me, there is dignity in all work. If we scrap weekend penalty rates, the message we send is that even though shop assistants or hospitality workers are prepared to work hard, they don’t deserve the living wage that we pay to people in other jobs.
If Abbott and his colleagues think that’s fair, they really don’t understand their fellow Australians.
This is an edited extract of a speech Anthony Albanese delivered this week to the national conference of the United Voice union on the Gold Coast

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Labor would give rail its proper place: Albanese

Labor would give rail its proper place: Albanese


Labor would give rail its proper place: Albanese





Shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese is already mapping out policy for a future Labor government, challenging…












Anthony Albanese says a returned Labor government would invest in urban rail.
AAP/Daniel Munoz






Shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese is
already mapping out policy for a future Labor government, challenging in
particular the priority Tony Abbott has given to roads and stipulating
greater collaboration between levels of government.




He says in a speech to an infrastructure conference in Melbourne
today that a returned Labor government would invest in urban rail to
ensure cities have better public transport. This would drive
productivity.




Abbott has scrapped billions of dollars of investment in urban rail
projects including the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail
project and his preference for roads was also causing states to think
less about rail, Albanese says.




“If the Commonwealth is offering grants for roads but not rail,
there’s a direct incentive to take the money for roads. Premiers with
the good sense to want to invest in rail will get no help from Canberra.
Labor believes in investing in roads and rail.




“We need an integrated system that serves our community and our
economy, not a poll-driven approach that serves the electoral interests
of the government of the day.”




He says an integrated approach needs co-operation between all levels
of government, with the Commonwealth giving leadership to the other
levels in urban policy.




The pressure on cities will increase in coming years with
technological, demographic and workplace changes. “We need to look at
planning, housing affordability, population density, utilities, social
mobility, public housing, recreation and a range of other issues that
bear on the health of our cities.”




Governments should involve stakeholders in infrastructure planning to
harness all available intellectual capacity, Albanese says.
“Regrettably, the Abbott government sees consultation as talking to big
business only.




“Big businessmen have useful contributions to make about
infrastructure, but in many cases they also have financial stakes in the
outcome of deliberations. Labor also wants input from experts in
planning and design, financing and other areas.”




He says also to the forefront in his policy thinking for a possible
second chance at the portfolio is that Australian governments need to do
more to build communities.




“When delivering infrastructure we need to think more about the way that our built environment supports the community.



“In particular, we need to consider how changes bearing down upon us,
including the effects of an ageing population, will affect the way our
communities work.




“We have to guard against social isolation of the elderly, for instance.



“We need to ensure our changing communities have public space and
recreational areas; safe and effective links for pedestrians and
cyclists and mixed-use precincts that include a range of uses that
contribute to the way people experience their lives.”














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