Google+ Followers

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