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Weekend reflections

June 7th, 2007

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. Hermit
    June 7th, 2007 at 20:21 | #1

    I’m fairly sure I recall Costello saying as an aside in his earlier press conference this week http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,21859065-31037,00.html that inflation is running at 2%. Howzat? I reckon it’s at least double that unless I’m unlucky enough to live the only place that petrol, council rates, fruit&veg, meat and dairy have all gone up strongly this year, in some cases by 20%. Perhaps the weighting factors had to be revised downwards because people need package holidays more than food these days. Recalling earlier discussions here it’s not as though the government would ever fudge the figures on foreign aid, unemployment or Kyoto targets.

  2. June 8th, 2007 at 01:18 | #2

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline
    Masterclass: Paul Keating does it again!

    Where are the gutsy politicians of our age? The only gutsy ones we’ve got have the gut of Shrek!

    And how right he was too, especially on the crappy job unions are doing and their non-existing leadership: Check Mate. Useless leadership and totally gutless!

    His suggestions on the real strategic issues regarding the economy and the incoherent bullshit Costello regurgitates about his “great management� of it, spot on!

    His criticism of Rudd and Gillard: with precision and devastating insight. Hope they were taking notes!

    (and to think I used to hate this guy! he even made me vote for the other mob, in a totally irrelevant electorate but it was still a protest vote directed against him and the rest of the ALP machine… BTW, all criticism still valid.)

  3. June 8th, 2007 at 11:12 | #3

    Finally, here is the transcript:
    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2007/s1945485.htm

    And here the video:
    http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/lateline/av/podcast/20070607-late-keatingiv_video4.m4v

    Totally worth watching, and you can see how lame and useless Tony Jones was, trying to ask hard questions that were totally irrelevant…

    Almost as irrelevant as most union bosses! Just going through the motions.

    Plus the best bit is the advice to the ALP, were the criticism was very specific and spot on!: crap advisers, crap talent, message: keep it simple, and now since the IR Federal takeover… well we must use it!

  4. observa
    June 8th, 2007 at 12:33 | #4

    The older we get the better we were eh Carlos? Keating lost to Howard and sqibbed at introducing a VAT tax you might recall. So much for all those Beazley/Rudd loser advisors that shouldn’t be listened to and all the balls he supposedly had. What’s more did he ever clean up the waterfront or the building industry? He needs to lunch with Fraser a lot more.

  5. June 8th, 2007 at 16:29 | #5

    Observa,

    The GST is crap: only useful tho get more money to the Feds to play election-politics and play the states against each other. A totally regressive tax from the highest taxing Oz government ever!

    How can it be a productive reform with all its bureaucratic paperwork and consuming of productive resources?, a killer for all small and medium organisations.

    Until the WORKCHOICES legislation the taxation code and GST was the largest and most complex piece of legislation in Oz history.

    PK said it: Businesses will rue the day they ever heard of WORKCHOICES!

    I’m no ALP or PK apologist. Most criticisms of PK are still very relevant, in fact now more than ever. You need the humility to build consensus and through leadership guide the public to face the things we don’t want to.

    He still does not any of that, and the vision thing is useless unless you can put it to practice, like he did with super, the accord, central bank, etc.

    Crikey’s Kerr puts it a bit too harshly but hits the target well by comparing PK to Clinton and advising him to roll up his sleeves and get busy:

    By all means if you want some reforms, let’s have a debate about that and the consensus to build that reform into a sustainable piece, a building block for Australia’s future.

    But instead with hoWARd all we get is extremist ideological attacks and deceptive pork barreling for his mates and electoral base.

  6. June 8th, 2007 at 16:53 | #6

    Woops!

    Here’s the proper quote:
    http://www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20070608-Get-a-job-Therapy-for-Paul-Keating-.html

    Crikey’s Kerr puts it a bit too harshly but hits the target well by comparing PK to Clinton and advising him to roll up his sleeves and get busy:

    Put the words into action. Do what Bill Clinton’s doing in Africa. Hit the ground. Put your way with words and your head for business to work to better the lot of Indigenous Australians. Go bush. Hit the town camps. Go to Wadeye. Don’t be a hater. Be a campaigner, a worker, a do-er.

    Clinton had it much worse than you ever did. He got impeached by his political enemies — yet he was prepared to jump on a jet with Dubya’s dad to go and raise funds for humanitarian relief. He’s as bad as Bono. He’ll talk to anyone.

    And so should you. You were right last night. Politics is full of gray men and faceless bureaucrats…

  7. June 8th, 2007 at 17:37 | #7

    What’s more did he ever clean up the waterfront or the building industry?

    Pleeeaaase, O, that’s just a straw man.

    Like I said before, by all means if you want some reforms, let’s have a debate about that and the consensus to build that reform into a sustainable piece, a building block for Australia’s future. NOT the typical hoWARdista rant about some left wing evils.

    These are very tough questions about real reform, that we should indeed be addressing. Other key areas like those you mention are infrastructure and sustainable transport solutions (ie: public trains!), health (incl. dental) reform, continuing adult-ed, technical education and TAFE’s real role in it.

    Underpinning most of these areas is the most key reform of all: how to change the fed/state blame games without centralising power away even more into less and less unrepresentative hands. I see a key role there for empowered local government, increasing “real” proportional representation, etc.

    A Rudd gov, may or may not be brave enough to tackle any of these. But it will be a government that has a good relationship with the states and one that can listen to alternative views to build consensus. Definitely NOT hoWARd’s. Maybe Costello’s?

    But instead with hoWARd all we get is extremist ideological attacks and deceptive pork barreling for his mates and electoral base.

    Just like hoWARd’s water and greenhouse late catch-ups, all his reforms are more about picking winners and more privatising, so the profits go to their mates at Macq bank, etc.

  8. Jill Rush
    June 8th, 2007 at 21:39 | #8

    Last weekend a report was released by the National Foundation for Australian Women entitled “What Women Want”.It focuses on women’s responses to the Workchoices legislation.

    The findings resulted from a round of consultations with 60 women’s organisations and will be followed later in the year by a more comprehensive report.

    The consultations focussed on how the Workchoices legislation has affected women workers in particular.

    Joe Hockey has recently suggested that women have never had it so good and that wages for women have risen as a result of the Workchoices legislation. The statement by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in July 2006 also stated that the wage gap between men and women is at an all time low.

    The study questions both of those point of views.These views can only be seen as true if most women workers are left out of the equation.

    It is argued that women are most reliant on award wages and therefore most vulnerable to a loss of access to awards through the introduction of AWAs.

    It quotes a number of sources such as:

    “A survey by the Sydney based Youth Action and Policy Association of 400 young workers, 206 of whom were young women showed that:
     Prior to Work Choices, the majority of young women were happy with their pay and conditions;
     The majority of young women thought they would be better off under an award (52%);
     Less than one in five young women thought they would be better off negotiating their own pay and conditions (17%);
     The majority of young women are not confident to negotiate their own pay and conditions (37% confident, compared to 63% not confident or
    neutral);
     That young women are more likely to put up with poor pay and conditions than to simply quit and look for another job (80% compared
    to 20% who would just quit); and
     Over 40% of young people under 18 were unsure about the conditions
    of both the award system and individual negotiation.”

    These findings were not atypical. Women forced onto AWAs such as indigenous women felt that they were at a disadvantage in AWA negotiations.

    Women noted that there was increasing wage inequity as had already occurred in NZ. There are no protections from inequitable pay through the EEO legislation.

    The pay differential was most noted in the Parttime and casual work areas where women are clustered.

    In WA which has the largest number of AWAs women receive on average 75 cents for every dollar a male earns.

    Disabled women and those coming off welfare – single mothers whose youngest child has turned 6, have no protections with their work conditions and are most unlikely to have penalty pay to reduce the likelihood that they will be asked to work when their children require attention.

    The lack of a universal maternity leave scheme was seen as a negative.

    The case against Workchoices for women is very strong. It is no wonder that glib statements are made about how good it is for the economy. The same cannot be said about it in relation to families or the all important work /life balance.

    The Report did not just identify problems however but identified ways to address the issues. See the recommendations below:

    1. The Commonwealth government should monitor and publish annual reports on gender pay equity including workplace audits, in consultation with employers.
    2. The Commonwealth Government should include in the industrial relations framework a mechanism for test cases and equal value cases at an institutional, rather than individual level, in order to provide an important safeguard for wage equity and adequate employment conditions in Australia.
    3. The Commonwealth Government should clarify the legislative responsibilities of the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC),
    guaranteeing the mandate and power to ensure equal remuneration for equal work.
    4. The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments should clarify the relationship between industrial and anti-discrimination law.
    5. The Australian Fair Pay Commission should publish annual wage scale guidelines for all industry sectors.
    6. The Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments to develop new and enhanced processes to produce greater awareness of rights in
    the workplace, and in particular to develop programs to enhance skills
    and confidence for young women in negotiating.
    7. The Office of the Employment Advocate (however named) should be
    required to monitor and to report six-monthly (by industry and gender)
    on the conditions being removed under AWAs and pay outcomes. They should also monitor unfair dismissals (by industry and gender), and the complaints being made to other organisations, including the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), about outcomes, particularly equity, in wages and conditions. These audits should not only provide simple gender analysis, they should
    disaggregate data to show the effect on disadvantaged and
    marginalised groups.
    8. Removal of penalty rates, meal breaks and compensation for working
    on public holidays demonstrably results in poorer working conditions and deteriorating quality of work-life balance for women. These
    entitlements should be reinstated.
    9. The Government should provide supplementary funding to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to enhance their collections in line with
    relevant recommendations of the WESKI Report and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women released in 2006.
    10. Changes should be made to the industrial relations legislation and framework to provide accessible remedies for unfair and unlawful
    dismissal for all employees, with appropriate information and support for employees and employers to minimise potential abuses of the
    system.
    11. Paid maternity leave is critical to women’s participation in the workforce, but is in danger of being traded off against other terms and
    conditions enjoyed by men. These trade-offs are also in contravention of international human rights obligations. Introduction of a national
    system that values paid maternity and parental leave must be a priority for the Commonwealth Government.

  9. crispinb
    June 9th, 2007 at 12:04 | #9

    When I first read some of the PNAC documents, in late 2001 or early 2002, it seemed likely to me that, if the neocons’ influence prevailed, America would invade a major Middle-Eastern nation, most likely Iraq, soon enough.

    Now that the US is admitting that it wants to establish permanent military bases in Iraq (PNAC’s argument for the invasion), it is circumstantially clear that WMD, eliminating Saddam etc, was no more than a pretext (of course opinions are probably set firm about this by now, but that’s how it seems to me).

    Does anyone know or remember if there were many people, in academia or the literate MSM, back in 2001/2 discussing the likelihood of US invading the M-E to firmly establish its military there? I’m wondering about the culpability of the media etc in not really digging at this, because I don’t remember much talk about it. Or was it that they did dig, and were ignored?

  10. Paulkelly
    June 10th, 2007 at 16:25 | #10

    The appalling bum-kissing Head of PM & C, Dr Peter Shergold, has presented the PM with a letter stating that use of Kirribilli House for Liberal fundraising is ok.

    Presumably he dragged him in to work on a Sundy to get it.

    I know public servants are supposed to serve the government of the day, but this is ridiculous.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200706/s1947165.htm

  11. observa
    June 10th, 2007 at 22:28 | #11

    “The GST is crap”
    Carlos, the GST was the most sensible reform of the ubiquitous WST you could think of. It added to equity by taxing services and allowed exporters to nett out any indirect tax burden, thereby making them more competitive internationally. As for administration, it finally encouraged all businesses to keep up to date with their bookkeping, particularly with computerised accounts. They had to do this anyway, but many left it for end of year, with a loss of fiscal control. The GST is calced at the press of a button, quarterly for most small businesses now. The only way to make it simpler was no exemptions whatsoever, but blame the usual suspects for that. And don’t mention Rollback in polite company again. It’s like mentioning the war.

    I agree on the problem of the overall level of tax churning and the major benefit of Workchoices was for the unemployed via unfair dismissals reform. The rest was political crap and countercrap, to the detriment of our increasingly educated, globalised marketplace, which ultimately requires no interference whatsoever from third parties. Some of us just need the govt/union dummy a lot longer than others, that’s all. It’s a growing up thingy.

  12. Paulkelly
    June 11th, 2007 at 09:32 | #12

    As Keating said, the GST doesn’t change our behaviour. Well, it was supposed to encourage saving and discourage spending, but nowadays we don’t hear that, and anyway spending like there’s no tomorrow is way cool, if it weren’t they’d jack up interest rates.

    I suppose fresh food begin GST-free, not quite the nightmare on main street a certain treasurer warned us it would be, encourages us to cook at home rather than get takeaway. But in a miniscule way.

    I’m sure Dr Shergold can write a report explaining how Australia’s GST saved the country, and the planet, ended the Cold War and will do the same for Global Warming.

    He is a fine public servant; if only there were more like him.

  13. Paulkelly
    June 11th, 2007 at 17:50 | #13

    If Tom Switzer didn’t write this cringingly juvenile editorial, I’ll eat my pork pie hat http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21882476-7583,00.html

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