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Lots of different things

October 6th, 2015

For no particular reason, I’ve been very busy in the past few days, commenting on this and that.

There’s this piece on the recently announced (but still secret) Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Also, this SMH article by Clancy Yeates, citing my criticisms of the Productivity Commission case against penalty rates.

And, Campus Morning Mail links to my criticism of the bodies representing and regulating post-school education.

Categories: Economic policy Tags:
  1. rog
    October 6th, 2015 at 17:28 | #1

    Its a shame that the promoters of the principle of international free trade couldn’t get behind the principle of climate change and emission trading.

  2. Stockingrate
    October 6th, 2015 at 18:02 | #2

    A referendum would fix the TPP.

  3. Salient Green
    October 6th, 2015 at 18:21 | #3

    The last thing the Great Barrier Reef needs is the TPP and it’s economic encouragement for polluting canegrowers.

  4. David Allen
    October 6th, 2015 at 20:49 | #4

    Wouldn’t it be simpler just to sling the cane-growers and rice-growers etc $3000 each and ditch the tpp? We’d maintain a lot of sovereignty. Now there’s an election question: “Are you going to vote for a party that sell’s your sovereignty to the USA? Too late peasant. Also, TERROR!!”

  5. Donald Oats
    October 6th, 2015 at 21:18 | #5

    Ah, but Clancy Yeates missed the most important bit: we want to get rid of Sunday/weekend penalty rates because we want people to work seven days a week! If everyone is working seven days a week, it is stupid to have one day pay more than any of the other equivalent days. In fact, we won’t even need weekdays on the calendar, just a single increasing number. “What day is the meeting, bro? Ans: it’s on 10040083924 day, dude.” [/sarcasm]

  6. Uncle Milton
    October 7th, 2015 at 08:05 | #6

    Why should Sunday penalty rates be more than Saturday penalty rates?

  7. John Quiggin
    October 7th, 2015 at 08:54 | #7

    @Uncle Milton

    I don’t see an immediate reason not to average them out. But no one is proposing this. Are you?

  8. Uncle Milton
    October 7th, 2015 at 09:01 | #8
  9. pablo
    October 7th, 2015 at 09:03 | #9

    ….”I’ve been very busy…commenting on this and that”… means we must countenance the phenomena of ‘quiggin contrary’ or conquigginary… conquiggistare… contraquiggatory… quigginesque?? If sent to moderation, ’tis all in jest John.

  10. Julie Thomas
    October 7th, 2015 at 09:37 | #10

    @Uncle Milton

    Church goers are the reason…. because the lord said that the Sabbath be holy; I’m confused about this because some religions seem to regard Saturday as the Sabbath but others say it is Sunday.

    And Sunday is the day that Mum cooks the roast lamb and the kids and grandkids all come home to catch up and be the sort of family that provides the support that the state has to provide when families turn in individualists who don’t do home for Sunday dinner.

  11. Uncle Milton
    October 7th, 2015 at 10:09 | #11

    @Julie Thomas

    some religions seem to regard Saturday as the Sabbath but others say it is Sunday.

    One religion that is in the news quite a lot regards Friday as the holy day.

  12. Collin Street
    October 7th, 2015 at 11:34 | #12

    > Why should Sunday penalty rates be more than Saturday penalty rates?

    Good and proper reasons. Why do you think they should be merged?

    [the purpose of penalty rates is to impose a regular cycle onto the economy so that people can reliably coordinate and get together for “social activities” that meat-people apparently enjoy. Having graduated penalty-rate bands means that the synchronisation is “softer”: still effective, but with less negative impact. Because the problem penalty rates are set up to avoid is a coordination problem, penalty rates themselves need to be arranged in a coordinated fashion — I presume I don’t need to explain exactly why uncoordinated responses to coordination problems are Just Plain Silly — which means it’s largely in our economy/culture a task for government [because we don’t allow private organisations to develop the authority needed to organise society-wide coordination, for good and proper accountability reasons: again, not something I’d be happy to need to explain].]

    And so forth. From a society-wide perspective, we don’t need two days of sunday-level coordination a week, so there’s no reason to have saturday paid at sunday levels. From a society-wide perspective, two days of saturday-level coordination isn’t enough: having sunday paid at saturday levels would be ineffective in achieving our aims. Probably any intermediate price will get us both problems, costing too much and achieving too little.

  13. Julie Thomas
    October 7th, 2015 at 11:45 | #13

    @Uncle Milton

    Oh really? What religion is that? And do you know much about this religion? The way I understand it if you are referring to the Muslim religion(s) that and every day is actually a holy day requiring prayers and thanks.

    But Friday is not our traditional family day or Saturday – I think that is for Jewish people no? It is Sunday that is special for some people in our society – the churchgoing people that I understand to be the foundation of western civilization – and this is another attack on that way of life.

    I will be sure to make it clear to my reclaim Oz neighbours and facebook friennds that it is this sort of neo-liberalist social engineering that is the real threat to our way of life.

  14. Stockingrate
    October 7th, 2015 at 17:23 | #14

    There is a gap between legislated Sunday rates and actual rates in some and possibly many franchises/small businesses.

  15. rog
    October 8th, 2015 at 06:56 | #15

    @Julie Thomas And for Seventh Day Eventists the sabbath is Saturday.

    Generally Christians believe that Sunday is the day of worship/rest which is against biblical texts proclaiming Saturday as the seventh day and therefore the Sabbath.

    Paying penalty rates in restaurants etc seems silly when they usually take a two day break Monday and Tuesday.

  16. Julie Thomas
    October 8th, 2015 at 07:38 | #16

    @rog

    Seems silly? Lots of things seem silly including Christianity but seeming silly now is not enough to get rid of silly things that are based on a tradition that has a long history as part of our culture or way of life.

    And as I ‘contend’ the unintended effects of getting rid of silly things may be more silly than the original silly thing that you are seeking to do away with.

    You know a lot about Seventh Day Adventists; how interesting and are there any more religions about which you have something to tell?

    The point is that Sunday is our Australian day of rest and if we want people of other religions and those with no religion to fit in here and live our way of life, we need to have some set of cultural behaviours that ‘we’ regard as the default or foundational organisation that provides us with our identity as Australians.

    This identity as Australian seems to be an important thing for the people that you might not know; those sad and angry often regional Australians who feel under attack from Muslims and teh Left but who currently blame Muslims for the loss of their Australia rather than the real culprits.

    Do you know anyone who depends on penalty rates to be earning enough every week to meet the basic requirements of living while trying to get a ‘good job’? Most people, like my son, who work Sundays, only do it because of the extra money and would need to find another day’s work as well to continue to have the same income that provides him with enough income to be able live at home with his mum and run a car that he needs to get to work and to Uni.

    There are many times when as a family we cannot have a weekend lunch because of weekend work and my son’s boss manages to pay the penalty rates and doesn’t starve or whinge.

  17. Uncle Milton
    October 8th, 2015 at 08:36 | #17

    Who said this in 2012?

    “This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.”

    And who said this yesterday?

    “as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it. I don’t have the text, we don’t yet have all the details, I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set … pharmaceutical companies may have gotten more benefits and patients and consumers got fewer”

    The answer to both questions is Hillary Clinton, who is so flexible she could be made of graphene.

  18. Troy Prideaux
    October 8th, 2015 at 09:45 | #18

    @Uncle Milton
    She probably just assumed (like everyone else) they would have just stitched us up again and I suppose who could blame her. Then they probably realised we didn’t really have much left to give up this time other than *more* tax dollars via the PBS.

  19. Julie Thomas
    October 8th, 2015 at 09:47 | #19

    @Uncle Milton

    So what?

    Just because some old men – in spirit if not in chronological age – I think they were called young fogeys by somebody – can’t change their minds even when the facts change is no reason to infer that it is a problem or something dodgy that other more ‘normal’ people can change their minds when the circumstances and the knowledge about the topic changes.

  20. Uncle Milton
    October 8th, 2015 at 10:19 | #20

    @Julie Thomas

    She says that she hasn’t seen the text. So how would she know whether the facts have changed? One thing that has changed though is her circumstances. In 2012 she was Secretary of State, which is as inside as it gets. Now she is running for President as an outsider, which is quite funny since she’s been at or near the apex of power since 1992, but that’s politics.

  21. Troy Prideaux
    October 8th, 2015 at 10:36 | #21

    @Uncle Milton
    I wouldn’t exactly call her an outsider to the process. I’m sure receives lots of correspondence from the corporate lobbyists, many who virtually control these trade deal processes.

  22. rog
    October 8th, 2015 at 17:24 | #22

    @Julie Thomas I remember when you had to take time off to go to the bank or do some shopping because they were only open when you were at work.

    It seems to me that you want to tailor the retail trade to suit your son’s employment prospects which is fine as long as you can fit my requirements in too.

  23. paul walter
    October 8th, 2015 at 17:27 | #23

    I can’t be bothered with Uncle Milton’s mean spirited rubbish, but must thank
    John Quiggin for again doing the rest of msm’s job for it and presenting an educational report to we mushrooms in this cool and dark place where the bs seems to tower over our very heads, blocking out the light of day and plugging our ears that we might not hear only the sounds of silence that brought unexposed truths.

  24. John Turner
    October 8th, 2015 at 18:21 | #24

    @Julie Thomas
    I don’t think that the fact changed in this case, only her political circumstances

  25. John Turner
    October 8th, 2015 at 18:48 | #25

    Ok as someone who manages a large General medical practice let me enlighten you about the realities of running a business when it comes to penalty rates. I am sure that most people would like access to their general medical practice during holidays and weekends.

    At a weekend, in the rural area that our clinic is situated, there is a need to provide a service over the weekend and at holiday times. The demand for these services would equate to two doctors on a Saturday and one on a Sunday. It is difficult to run an appropriate service without the support of at least one nurse and preferably a nurse and receptionist. We are require to pay the time and a half for the first two hours on Saturday and double time thereafter and double time and on Sunday’s. A doctor seeing 4 patients an hour on a Sunday would generate around $240 an hour of which they receive $156 and the practice $84 the nurse costs around $92/hr inclusive of wage on costs. The practice is therefore losing around $7/hr even without a receptionist and it has’t covered its overheads costs or the payroll tax on the doctors pay if they are an employee, nor made any return on its investment.

    Patients in our area either won’t pay or cannot afford to pay a significant gap payment (difference between the Medicare rebate and the doctor’s fee). So Guess what, we don’t open on a Sunday or a public holiday.

    There are however nurses and receptionists who would welcome the opportunity to work only on a Saturday or Sunday to fit in with their other commitments and would do so at something close to the normal rate. So why can’t we employ them on that basis?

  26. Julie Thomas
    October 8th, 2015 at 19:09 | #26

    @Uncle Milton

    I still say So What? The circumstances have changed as you note so why is it ‘wrong’ or how is it worthy of your disdain or something? Not understanding what the problem is except that it is politics and you don’t like the politics that is happening now.

    Have you heard of motivated cognition? If you look up some info on this concept you might realise that you are mistakenly thinking that you are able to judge others from an objective point of view.

  27. Julie Thomas
    October 8th, 2015 at 19:37 | #27

    @rog

    You may think that I’m making this argument for that reason but you are probably wrong. It is a petty and stupid thing to say but whatever, I guess you got a right to reply to me.

    My son’s circumstances are a passing phase for him and his employers would pay him the same rate even if he didn’t have to. His bosses are a small business and are Labor voters; I am happy to know that people like them do exist.

    I can clearly see the advantages for business. I don’t understand why you assume that I would be ignorant of this part of the argument. Oh that’s right you assume this because you are not a nice person and have some sort of problem that means you have to raise objections to my argument. And the objections show that you didn’t even understand the argument. oh well

    Many people will be affected by this change and it is another win for the economy and a loss for the society that doesn’t exist – but which we need – and for families and the individuals who do exist. that was one part of my argument in case you missed it.

    Do you have an argument for getting rid of the symbolism that come with the idea of Sunday as a day of rest for all?

    And you know what? Banks still are not open on Sunday are they? Maybe when banks open on Sunday then we can pretend that Sunday is no different from other days.

  28. Julie Thomas
    October 8th, 2015 at 19:46 | #28

    @John Turner

    I am quite sure that you could not ever enlighten me.

    “There are however nurses and receptionists who would welcome the opportunity to work only on a Saturday or Sunday to fit in with their other commitments and would do so at something close to the normal rate. So why can’t we employ them on that basis?”

    Because you are taking advantage of them, I’d say.

    I live in a rural area in a town with no doctor and at least 20 minutes drive to the nearest clinic and hospital. Why do you need to open on the weekend? My family doctor does not because he needs to be with his kids on the weekend. People go to the hospital after hours or the emergency doctor who is rostered on.

    The way I hear it, only the neo-liberal rip off clinic opens on the weekend; everyone knows that. Is that the sort of clinic you want to have?

  29. Collin Street
    October 8th, 2015 at 22:00 | #29

    Maybe when banks open on Sunday then we can pretend that Sunday is no different from other days.

    Is the IPA open on sunday?

    [but seriously. There’s unmet demand on sunday precisely because of the economic coordination effect of penalty rates: “if our net were made of solid steel, we’d catch even the smallest fish!”]

  30. Ikonoclast
    October 9th, 2015 at 10:00 | #30

    As soon as one subscribes to the theory that the market is the answer to every social question, then one has adopted a basic fallacy. The market is one tool or one process among a multitude of possibilities. It is suitable for solving some problems and not suitable for solving other problems.

    People seem to love simplism; the reduction of a problem to a false simplicity by ignoring complicating factors. Society is a complex problem. Rather, running it anywhere near efficiently, fairly and safely is a complex problem; indeed it is a “wicked problem”. The idea that free markets will solve everything is much akin to the notion that the magic fairy will solve everything.

  31. John Turner
    October 9th, 2015 at 11:12 | #31

    @Julie Thomas
    Your comment ” The way I hear it only a neo liberal rip off clinic opens on the weekend” demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the health access needs of communities such as ours and a lack of understanding of the term Neo-liberal, which certainly does not apply in this case.

    Firstly, being located close to the coast we have a four fold increase in population during the summer months. To suggest that anyone wanting to see a doctor after hours should be seen by the emergency department at the small local hospital is quite ridiculous, they have their hands full dealing with real emergencies (triage categories 1 to 3). If you have a sick child even if it does not appear serious it is advisable to have the child checked out in case it is the precursor to a more serious situation. I suggest that To be able to provide properly supported clinics at the weekend particularly in the peak period of the year would be a good thing.

    How is it taking advantage when in our area there is considerable unemployment and we would be able to employ more people rather than the situation now which is to remain closed after 1.00pm on Saturday employing nobody. Typically in rural areas there is a considerable wait to get to see a doctor so any improvement in access is surely to be welcomed.

    We are not a typical metro practice practicing 5 min medicine, bulk billing and referring anything complex to a specialist. We are a rural practice that provides quality services, we have GP-Obstetricians, GP-Anaesthetists and look after patients admitted to the hospital. Visiting specialists come here because we provide the post operative care for their patients. Our doctors provide a 24/7 on call service, and it is precisely because we see a need for something more that we consider opening on Sunday would be beneficial. Particularly in the Summer period.

    We are not as you suggest Neo-liberal, we do not believe that the market should determine everything. In fact I have recently written a piece in the local newspaper attacking the use of consumerist language in health and welfare.

    However I do believe that there are other approaches to the issue of income dependence on penalty rates. I also happen to believe that our tax system is not nearly as progressive as it should be, that we spend far too little on the provision of public services, that we should not only increase marginal tax rates but should have a wealth tax and financial services taxes that put a brakes on financial market speculation. Hardly the views of a Neo Liberal. I would regard myself as a social democrat in the European tradition with a Keynesian outlook when it comes to economics.

  32. John Turner
    October 9th, 2015 at 11:36 | #32

    @Julie Thomas
    Why exactly should church goers require special consideration?
    In our house cooking is assigned on a gender basis, in fact on balance I probably do more of it. Your comments suggest an outlook rooted in the 1950s rather than the 21st century. This is further illustrated in another comment to Uncle Milton when you refer to ” church going people ….as the foundation of western civilisation” an indefensible statement if ever there was one. What proportion of Australians even attend church today? I would hardly call them the foundation of Western Civilisation.

    Most young people I know are atheist, agnostic of have never thought about it. Even among my (older) peer group most do not attend church so why should our society be organised around some antiquated notions based in fairy tales.

  33. John Turner
    October 9th, 2015 at 11:40 | #33

    @John Turner
    Should have read not assigned on a gender basis

  34. Collin Street
    October 9th, 2015 at 15:13 | #34

    How is it taking advantage when in our area there is considerable unemployment and we would be able to employ more people rather than the situation now which is to remain closed after 1.00pm on Saturday employing nobody.

    Because you’re not the only actor in the economy. In terms of your individual actions, the rest of the economy is so vast that you can regard it as infinite, treat your business as an open system, but when we’re talking about policy, society-wide, decisions the effects of the closed nature of the economy become important. From your individual perspective it’d be awesome if you could get the benefit of the sunday trade without having to contribute to driving the concentration of work, but that’s no way to run economic policy.

    Now. Read my post #12: sunday is special because penalty rates keep it special. The high cost of employing people on sunday shifts employment away from sunday; free time is concentrated. If you abolish penalty rates then you can serve the sunday traffic cheaper… but there’s no special sunday traffic to handle. You lose more than you gain.

    It looks like a free lunch, but it’s just the nature of coordination problems to look like that. Or network effects; free time can become more valuable if it can be shared, and that’s the surplus that pays for the penalty rates. Specialisation… actually kinda works: having some days specialised for doing stuff and other days specialised towards having fun is better than averaging things out.

    [the russians actually tried running a seven-day-a-week economy, rostering people’s holidays evenly rather than concentrating them. It didn’t work, partially because of the reasons I set out here and in in #12 but also for another reason: the lack of synchronised downtime in factories and etc caused maintenance problems. Again, synchronisation and specialisation.]

  35. John Quiggin
    October 9th, 2015 at 17:29 | #35

    @John Turner

    A few comments on this.

    First, you ought to think about the difference between marginal and average costs. Your overheads and capital employed are the same whether you open on Sundays or not.

    Second, a loss of $7/hour doesn’t seem like so big a deal. Rather than complaining about how much you have to pay the nurse, why not see if the doctor would take $149 so you could provide the service and still break even?

    Third, the core of the problem seems to be the fact that you only have enough demand to put on one doctor, but still need to pay for a nurse. Maybe you could arrange to do alternate Sundays with another practice.

  36. John Turner
    October 9th, 2015 at 18:52 | #36

    I agree that $7/hr doesn’t seem a big deal but this loss is purely taking into account the wages costs. I am well aware of the difference between marginal costs and average costs and as a senior executive in the international motor industry I did many a deal on the basis of the marginal profit derived from it rather than a fully accounted profit. Yes there are overheads that are fixed, there are also others that are variable such as energy costs, medical supplies and repairs and maintenance that are use related.

    Unfortunately, there is little hope that a doctor would be prepared to receive less on a weekend than they do during the week particularly when they can if they choose, do a locum shift somewhere else and earn $2000/day.

    As far as arranging alternate Sundays is concerned, we do indeed have another practice in the town. They what I regard as parasitic, they refuse to be involved in providig 24/7 coverage to the hospital or to provide after hours services to patients, they are largely staffed with overseas trained registrar doctors, fully bulk-bill, refer anything that may be a bit more complex to specialists and are intent only in pushing numbers of patients through as fas as possible. A typical urban type medical bulk billing practice. Their’s is truly the “Business of Medicine”.

    By comparison, we actually try to provide a quality service and do bulk bill under the Meeidcare plus scheme. We have a new premises which represents a $5m investment in the provision of these quality services.

    While I can understand paying penalty rates to persons who work in excess of a standard 38 hr week I do not undertstand a system that prevents me from employing someone on a rate that is far from exploitative, someone who wants the job and in a town that needs employment. What makes Sundays in the 21st century different from any other day of the week?

    I can understand the concern about the removal of penalty rates for people to whom it represents a massive difference in income at relatively low income levels. What is needed here surely is a signifcant lift in their incomes every day of week. In any case I do not believe that nurses in our practice are low paid – $75,000 a year, 18 weeks long service leave, 12 weeks paid maternity, leave, 5 weeks annual leave, 21 days sick leave a year, 5 days study leave, and a job whose hours are between 8.30am and 6.00pm, with an occasional Saturday morning paid at penalty rates.

    We are fixated on penalty rates when surely we should be more concerned about getting higher ordinary rates, increasing marginal tax rates on the high income earners and redistributing it through public provision to the those on lower incomes.

  37. jrkrideau
    October 10th, 2015 at 00:44 | #37

    @Uncle Milton
    Or perhaps When the facts change, I change my mind as Keynes reputably said.

  38. Collin Street
    October 10th, 2015 at 05:58 | #38

    We are fixated on penalty rates when surely we should be more concerned about getting higher ordinary rates, increasing marginal tax rates on the high income earners and redistributing it through public provision to the those on lower incomes.

    As I have set out at tedious length, the differential between weekend and weekday rates is needed to shift employment out of the weekends and enable people to coordinate their recreational activities, thus increasing — through network effects — the value of their free time. To get this synchronisation you need wage differentials, regardless of the current wage rates.

    High normal-time rates and penalty rates serve different economic purposes and the one is not a reasonable substitute for the other. It is an error, reflective of deep misunderstandings, to conflate or confuse the two.

  39. Julie Thomas
    October 10th, 2015 at 06:37 | #39

    @Collin Street

    Yes, It’s so obvious that if we want people to behave well – that is, behave in a way that fits in with our much vaunted Christian civilized way of life – we need to create an ‘attractor state’ – a set of behaviours or ‘laws’ or norms toward which people are attracted.

    A stable society does need a default ‘way of life’ around which all Australians can organise their own personal behaviours so as to ‘fit in’ and contribute in whatever way we can. The Judeo- Christian way of life is a set of rules on which our society was founded and at it’s best – minus the tribal crap violence in the old testament – does provide the foundation for a decent society in which people respect each other and the fact that there are different ways of living well.

    There are many people who claim to be Christians; they need to be encouraged to behave like Christians and then our way of life and freedom to be ourselves and contribute in our own ways, would be safe from teh Muslims and the neo-liberal culture vandals and the angry white people who are panicking about the end of western civilization.

    We certainly should be more concerned with our way of life than with the need for a few money grubbing people who pretend they want to open clinics on Sunday for the benefit of others like the poor nurses who so need to work on Sunday.

    “I do not undertstand a system that prevents me from employing someone on a rate that is far from exploitative, someone who wants the job and in a town that needs employment. What makes Sundays in the 21st century different from any other day of the week?”

    Yes it is obvious that you do not understand. Try motivated cognition for an explanation of why intelligent people are sometimes unable to understand logical thinking.

    If doctors want to provide an ‘essential’ service and over-service people who could wait until Monday, and who don’t go home for Sunday roast, they should pay for this need they have to help others on Sundays out of their own earnings. That is what Jesus would have done. Other wise it is money grubbing.

    In our small country towns, we do not need this sort of socially exploitative employment; we need a whole new way of doing business that is socially beneficial and not individually beneficial.

  40. Salient Green
    October 10th, 2015 at 07:03 | #40

    @John Turner
    So a GP locum can earn up to $2300 a day, plus travel and accommodation, weekdays, yet not a peep out of you on that score but an awful lot of postulation about how the $400/Sunday plebs should have their lives run for them.

  41. Collin Street
    October 10th, 2015 at 07:39 | #41

    I do not undertstand a system that prevents me from employing someone on a rate that is far from exploitative, someone who wants the job and in a town that needs employment.

    In general, incomprehension happens as a result of error or misunderstanding on your part.

    Your own errors are invisible to you [if you could see them, you wouldn’t have made them], which means that things that happen as a result of your own errors appear to be causeless and thus “incomprehensible”. Errors made by other people show up to you at the normal rate, and the consequences of the errors of others thus have largely-visible causes.

  42. rog
    October 10th, 2015 at 17:41 | #42

    @Julie Thomas

    You may think that I’m making this argument for that reason but you are probably wrong. It is a petty and stupid thing to say but whatever, I guess you got a right to reply to me.

    The Queen of verbals.

  43. Donald Oats
    October 11th, 2015 at 16:17 | #43

    Global Warming doesn’t care what you are paid on a given day of the week. In the long run, AGW is going to have a much bigger effect on people’s income than penalty rates on arbitrary days of the week. The current set of emission cuts on the table are so laughably low, we look like sailing well past a 2C increase. The best way to maintain a reasonable working wage is to demand much bigger cuts to GHG emissions, and sooner the better.

  44. rog
    October 11th, 2015 at 17:28 | #44

    In the face of collapsing commodity prices Glencore gives the govt sound advice

    Bringing on additional tonnes with the aid of taxpayer money would materially increase the risk to existing coal operations,” Peter Freyberg, the head of the group’s coal division, said.

    “We are strong believers that if a project can’t get away on its economic merits, it shouldn’t be developed”

  45. Julie Thomas
    October 11th, 2015 at 17:32 | #45

    @rog

    Queen huh? lol

    You disrespect me in a patronising way by saying you think that I am motivated to argue against the removal of penalty rates just because I have a family member who currently needs penalty rates and you think that I should have replied to you with some empathy and understanding?

  46. Donald Oats
    October 11th, 2015 at 18:18 | #46

    I’ve had a discussion or two with some small businesses which do the cafe thing. The way they look at the penalty rate days is that it feels riskier (in terms of breaking even), because the wage costs are a big overhead. Even so, it is clear enough that most Sundays are high demand times, so if the business gets the balance right, they can be quite profitable on those days, and more so for some public holidays.

    For small businesses, I suspect it isn’t just the extra cost that weighs on the owner(s), but it is also their perception of the increased riskiness in terms of breaking even, even though the Sundays and public holidays can be their biggest scoring days of business. Perceived risk of losing is possibly asymmetric to the perceived chances of winning big enough. No one likes losing after a hard day’s work, when the do nothing option gives them a day off and a fixed known loss for that day (rent, power, water costs).

    I reckon the psychology of wins and losses is playing around with the minds of the small business owners here. Large businesses would simply grind through the numbers and use their size and multiple locations to determine the best statistical play, and if opening on Sundays and/or public holidays is a statistical winner, then that’s what they’ll do.

    Small businesses also have to factor in what the impact to their business is if a big business in their market is open on those penalty rate days, near their location. Whether it is synergistic or parasitic to their market would be a pretty important issue, but not necessarily easy to establish.

    None of this is to favour or disfavour penalty rates: I’m just wondering out loud (well, the typing equivalent of “out loud”) as to what a small business operator needs to contemplate in making the decision to be open or not on the days/times for which penalty rates apply.

  47. John Quiggin
    October 11th, 2015 at 21:14 | #47

    Rog and Julie, please stop. Remember that I do this for free and don’t have time to sort out fights.

  48. Moz of Yarramulla
    October 12th, 2015 at 09:05 | #48

    I’d like industry leaders to lead by example here. When I see the proponents of “no special rates” working 7 days a week for minimum wage I’ll be much more inclined to accept that special pleading should be disregarded and everyone should get the same wage all the time, regardless of when-how-what-why they work.

    I’m also surprised that no-one has mentioned the health sector unions as a reason that this “debate” doesn’t involve health workers.

  49. October 12th, 2015 at 12:47 | #49

    Re your article on the TPP, you may find this interesting if you haven’t seen it already
    https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/nafta-investor-state-claims-against-canada-are-out-control-study
    Over the last two decades, Canada has been sued more times than either Mexico or the U.S. under NAFTA’s controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, and the problem is getting worse. – See more at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/nafta-investor-state-claims-against-canada-are-out-control-study#sthash.agyv1y12.9CVokxHi.dpuf

    Sixty three per cent of claims against Canada involve challenges to environmental protection or resource management measures.

  50. October 12th, 2015 at 12:52 | #50

    Accidentally put two links in my previous comment on the TPP, thus going into mod. Trying again:
    JQ – re your article on the TPP, you may find this interesting if you haven’t seen it already:
    Over the last two decades, Canada has been sued more times than either Mexico or the U.S. under NAFTA’s controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, and the problem is getting worse

    Sixty three per cent of claims against Canada involve challenges to environmental protection or resource management measures

    https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/nafta-investor-state-claims-against-canada-are-out-control-study

    Also supports your remarks (that I think you made earlier?) about the US not caring about ISDS because they aren’t made against US or aren’t successful if made.

  51. October 12th, 2015 at 18:46 | #51

    My son went to emergency on a recent long weekend because of appendicitis. The appendix was duly removed, and all is well. I noted a couple of things.

    Firstly, there were lots of nurses on duty. And that would be because Sunday and public holiday rates make it attractive for them to work. Good – that part of the system works.

    Secondly, there were not so many doctors. We had to wait quite a long time for a doctor to make some fairly trivial decisions about pain relief after the operation. I’m guessing that doctors don’t have penalty rates. And even if they did, their rate of pay is such that, unlike the nurses, they don’t *need* the money – at least not enough to forgo a weekend in the Margaret River holiday house.

    Thirdly, the medical system is unnecessarily rigid, seemingly modelled on the army. I knew what post operative treatment should have been given. I’m fairly sure the nurses knew, but they didn’t say. The junior doctor seemed to know but left one decision to the more senior doctor – I’ve no idea why. In the end, it all happened as I expected it to, just with hours of unnecessary waiting.

    This happened again when it was time for discharge. Much waiting until a senior doctor said we could go – which is what the nurses told us would happen when the senior doctor got around to it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got enormous respect for doctors and nurses – I could not handle the stress of being a doctor (or a nurse, probably). But the system is so archaic and dodgy, that I can’t help but feel there are a lot of vested interests being protected.

  52. Ikonoclast
    October 12th, 2015 at 19:38 | #52

    @John Brookes

    An interesting point to note is that quite a bit of waiting in hospitals, after being admitted via Emergency/Casualty, and being initially seen to, is related to observation requirements. The staff often don’t make this clear but you are often waiting because they want an observation period to elapse to see how you progess / relapse etc. So they will come back from time to time and observe and take readings. When they are satisfied you are properly treated and safely stabilised they will let you go.

    Procedures and protocols are in place to reduce mistakes and to cover off liability. There is nothing wrong with protecting patient safety and vested interests at the same time. I’d rather my taxes (to use that worn out old phrase) are used for procedures and protocols to make hospitals safer places and not to fund the legal department to fight more malpractice cases because the place is trying fast-track people out the door with undue haste. Having said the above I have seen them take a long time and still miss important things with family members I have taken to hospital.

    I always believe that “Realistic Expectations”, “Patience” and “Politeness” are your friends in places that. Of course, if things go horribly wrong through incompetence or malpractice then of course it’s “no more Mr. Nice Guy.”

  53. Donald Oats
    October 12th, 2015 at 19:51 | #53

    @Ikonoclast
    I agree with your last paragraph’s first sentence. I had to wait for several hours at the ED on a week day, in pain and discomfort, before being treated. The reason was simple: people with chest pain were taking priority when they were first admitted, and so they should. Sometimes you just gotta take the rough with the smooth. Being intemperate and surly helps no-one, and just makes the staff’s working conditions worse for no good reason.

  54. October 13th, 2015 at 20:53 | #54

    I went in to emergency with a broken thumb once. I fell of my bicycle and knew the thumb was broken. But I still went to the the coffee shop for breakfast before heading off to emergency. I got the feeling they liked me because my complaint was bleeding obvious and required no judgement on their part.

  55. Ikonoclast
    October 14th, 2015 at 09:49 | #55

    This is me getting off-topic but why isn’t knocking someone unconscious considered grievous bodily harm? People who follow Brisbane media will know which case I am referring to and that this case only made it to the Magistrate’s Court, which seems odd to me. I believe the case should have been in the District Criminal Court. A while back I was on a jury for a trial which involved a compound fracture to the appellant’s ankle from a drunken fight with a mate. (They were clearly no longer mates.) The appellant with the help of the police was making an attempt in a criminal case to establish GBH.

    In the Queensland Criminal Code we can note that;

    “(1) Any person who unlawfully does grievous bodily harm to another is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.”

    We can further note in definitions;

    “grievous bodily harm means—

    (a) the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
    (b) serious disfigurement; or
    (c) any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health;

    whether or not treatment is or could have been available. ”

    Given all that we now know about the dangers of concussions, (including king hit punches and especially those which result in a “dead-fall” to the pavement), it would seem eminently supportable to me that a knock-out punch leading to a “dead-fall” to the pavement (as this case did) that this would be;

    (c) … bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health;

    Health professionals would want to ambulance to hospital and then treat and observe such a person precisely because they apprehended a real concern that such a double-concussive injury would be “likely to cause permanent injury to health” if left untreated.

    These king-hit cases should be going straight to the Criminal Court IMO. As a side note, the Magistrate apparently made statements which clearly showed he(?) does not know how to admit and balance all relevant evidence (again IMO). The Magistrate’s Court is not competent IMO opinion to hear such cases. As for the Magistrate, I had better say no more.

  56. John Turner
    October 14th, 2015 at 13:05 | #56

    @John Brookes
    “I am guessing that doctors don’t have penalty rates…..”

    It depends on the hospital and the state. ED doctors in a fully funded base hospital will probably be on salary and will be paid penalty or shift rates. They are most often junior doctors (interns and first or second year registrars and many would be overseas trained.

    A small rural hospital may be staffed by GPs on a roster. These GPs will be working on a fee for service basis from the hospital or will be charging the patient who claims a Medicare rebate.

    In the first situation the junior doctors will not be highly remunerated. In the second situation that of the GP they would be earning more but are also likely to be on call after hours for a pittance. In the practice I manage, the doctors receive approximately $12/hr for being on call then fee for service when they actually treat someone. After hours this could mean no one to treat – there is no consistency on how busy after hours can be. The doctor has to be available, some of our doctors are on call for 200+ hours a month in addition to normal clinic hours.

    As far as waiting is concerned,Ikonoclast comments are correct. Patients will be triaged into one of five categories this in the higher categories -1 being the highest will be treated first, admission if required may not be immediate bu observation preferred. There are many unnecessary attendances at ED – toothache or earache for example that could just as easily be treated by a GP or home medicated if a GP was not immediately available.

  57. Nick
    October 15th, 2015 at 01:51 | #57

    @John Turner

    “In the second situation that of the GP they would be earning more but are also likely to be on call after hours for a pittance. In the practice I manage, the doctors receive approximately $12/hr for being on call then fee for service when they actually treat someone.”

    “The doctor has to be available, some of our doctors are on call for 200+ hours a month in addition to normal clinic hours.”

    An extra $2400+ month for doing nothing except being available/on call isn’t a pittance. It’s pretty much the minimum wage in this country. ie. not much less than what 1.8 million Australians earn for working 40hrs a week.

  58. John Turner
    October 15th, 2015 at 11:46 | #58

    @Nick

    Perhaps you can point me to professional or a tradesman who is prepared to be on call after hours for 200 hrs in a month, meaning they have to be within 15mins of the hospital. It completely disrupts their family and social life.

    Also during that time taking phone calls at any time of the day or night from hospital nurses and providing advice in relation to patients for which they are not paid. Frankly I would not do it even for twice the amount.

  59. zoot
    October 15th, 2015 at 12:56 | #59

    Apropos of nothing in particular, the only person I have ever met who owned a Ferrari (it was his second) was a GP in rural practice.

  60. Nick
    October 15th, 2015 at 15:05 | #60

    Hi John.

    I didn’t say that amount of money is unreasonable. I said that amount of money is not a “pittance”. Anyone who considers that amount of money (~$30k a year) a “pittance” is clearly not hard done by in life.

    To answer your question, a good friend of mine is an engineer at Boeing. He is on call 24/7 and has exactly the same kind of restrictions on his movements as a result. He gets zero base rate for being on call, and no overtime on the many occasions a month he is called in.

    The team of engineers he supervises are a bit different. They have the choice of accepting a flat rate (~$5-6/hr) for every hour they’re on call (which is not 24/7), and no overtime when they’re called in. Or, no flat rate, and double time when they’re called in.

  61. Collin Street
    October 15th, 2015 at 15:25 | #61

    Perhaps you can point me to professional or a tradesman who is prepared to be on call after hours for 200 hrs in a month, meaning they have to be within 15mins of the hospital. It completely disrupts their family and social life.

    Sez the bloke what reckons that penalty rates are evil.

    It’s almost as if

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