He may like to think of himself as a statesman, but our truth-challenged Prime Minister is increasingly appearing to be Napoleon in a tracksuit. It now appears Howard's opposition to an Australian president is based on his belief that the job of supreme executive leader should fall to himself.
Whether it is racing up the steps of an aeroplane so he can be seen with the slack jawed yokel that's running the US, or ignoring war widows so he can bask in the reflected glory of someone else's sacrifice, the Prime Minister believes he can assume the mantle of head-of-state to suit his own fantasies.
Of course this little tactic might work for a short term gain in the polls, especially if he uses his opportunities to invoke the mantra of mateship like some ocker dalek. But it only works if he believes our constitution (that quaint little British Act of Parliament) is taken as a general set of suggestions. Mind you, it makes sense if he places the credibility of our constitution alongside the Ministerial Code of Conduct, non-core election promises or having to practice real mateship rather than using it as a meaningless platitude.
It's a cunning stunt, but of course it will backfire if it is merely used as a vehicle to get good seats at a sporting contest. Especially if this little coup is carried out by someone as mean, vindictive, shallow and gormless as our incumbent Prime Minister.
Given that Rugby Union is the Liberal party with a football tucked under its arm it should come as no surprise that this wannabe member of the North Shore should cloak himself as the Vodaphone Prime Minister and get his ugly dial alongside as many Wallabies as he possibly can. It's the sort of thing that goes down well at the bar of the Gordon Rugby Club.
But the downside is that we have to put up with this complete non-entity strolling around the world stage like a demented loon, carrying on like a dorky pork chop, and generally making the rest of us cringe.
The man is an embarrassment to himself, his nation and humanity. Exactly what sort of a non-leader Howard is was shown during the Rugby World Cup presentations when he greeted the victorious English players as if they'd just pissed in his beer.
It is about time this bozo had a good hard look at himself. Is this how he wants Australians to carry on, being bad losers as well as bad winners? At the end of the day it is only a game. Then again, this man led us into a war on something even less substantial.
Still, he is a man who is proud to promote another country's corporations and bend over forwards for the US at every opportunity. One could wonder if Howard would show the same petulance he displayed at the Rugby World Cup presentation if the Free Trade negotiations go badly.
Our Tool Of The Week may act like a Head of State, but there's plenty of Australians that think he's a completely different sort of head.
The Immigration Department blew the whistle on IT "visa rorting" when it announced its intention to apply regulations that have lain dormant since 1997, provoking the IT Workers Alliance to warn Aussie job seekers not to get their hopes too high.
Spokesman Michael Gadiel drew attention to published comments from a labour hire spokesman who said DIMIA was not trying to affect "sponsorship by recruiment companies".
"Let's wait and see what DIMIA actually does," Gadiel said. "These regulations have been around for six years but, until now, there has been no suggestion that they would be enforced.
"Instead, the Federal Government has taken a two-pronged approach to the efforts of IT workers to organise themselves. They have encouraged companies to outsource IT functions to India and allowed the wholesale abuse of temporary visas to undermine Australian wages and conditions.
"It has been a covert campaign and the results are obvious. A recent survey by a computing organisation revealed 11.9 percent unemployment amongst Australian IT workers, almost twice the national average.
"The move to enforce the regulation should mean 2000 more jobs but we will have to wait and see."
IT policy, to this point, has run counter to accepted principals of immigration economics.
Instead of using immigration as a way to overcome shortfalls in domestic skills, body hire companies have been encouraged to scour the world for immigrants prepared to take up positions at significantly lower than market rates.
The labour hire outfits, rather than the direct employers, got visas of up to four years duration from DIMIA, then placed the overseas workers with Australian companies.
Countries like Ireland, Britain and the US specifically forbid this practice because they are aware of the scope for abuse by labour hire companies, paid by the body rather than the skilled vacancy filled.
Several Sydney-based IT workers have told Workers Online they have worked alongside "dozens" of Indian immigrant colleagues who had no more than "basic" skills widely available here.
There have also been reports that labour hire companies boost below-standard wages for immigrants by deducting considerably less tax than would be paid by Australian counterparts in an apparent understanding with the ATO.
"Someone has made a significant decision that, not only can labour hire firms sponsor temporary workers in defiance of stated policy, but there will also be formal agreements between DIMIA and labour hire companies to allow them to do it bulk," Gadiel said.
"We are entitled to know - who and why?"
Contract call centre operator TeleTech, acted against Jerry Gambacorta who will receive an award for OH&S achievements next week, as employees began campaigning against conditions included in their second generation AWAs (Australian Workplace Agreements).
"TeleTech's approach to the Australian Workplace Agreements has been that it is 'secret HR business'," says delegate James Woodcock. "There has been no consultation process. We were told that human resources had negotiated the AWAs on our behalf. The only consultation has been with the Office of the Employment Advocate."
The AWAs include no pay increases, no penalty rates, no mention of the union in grievance procedures and no duty for TeleTech to consult with employees.
Woodcock says the company has used a number of tricks to try to coerce employees into signing, including one on one meetings and spurious pay offers.
"The whole pay structure is 'off contract' and subject to company policy,' says Woodcock. "People doing the same job can be on dramatically different pay rates, sometimes as much as $10 000 [a year]."
Workers suspect the company is "down-adjusting" pay scales so a pay offer in the contracts are a furphy.
TeleTech staff have been innovative in their use of technology, using email to spread the word and to campaign against the AWAs.
TeleTech's move against Gambacorta saw an immediate response, with an email alerting employees to what had happened to the safety representative circulating within hours of the company's actions.
The company claimed Gambacorta's request for a Risk Assessment of the effects of a new rostering system was inflammatory and malicious and recommended WorkCover prosecute him for WorkCover fraud.
Gambacorta had sought to place his OH&S concerns on the agenda of a safety committee meeting, but his suspension saw him unable to attend the meeting. A management representative heads the safety committee, in contravention of OHS Legislation.
TeleTech expelled a workplace union representative from a disciplinary meeting and refused to allow representation by a union organiser, leaving him to be grilled by three management representatives.
Gambacorta was re-instated after the USU moved swiftly to bring the matter before the Industrial Relations Commission.
"I never cease to be amazed at how bad things are getting in this country," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "It's quite mind boggling that this is going on in Australia, which is supposed to be the country of the fair go and people being able to make informed decisions and I think this is an absolute disgrace."
Labor Council has condemned TeleTech for the methods it has employed to force employees to sign AWAs. If has foreshadowed a broader campaign over TeleTech's treatment of its staff if management victimises workers for speaking about their situations.
TeleTech's anti-worker management style has seen a growing number of their workers sign up to the union.
"Management are slowly learning the message that to touch one is to touch all," Woodcock says.
If you would like to tell TeleTech how you feel about their treatment of their employees you can fax them on 9551 1460 or email one of their human resources managers on [email protected]
Miners have put a national coal strike on hold while the NSW Government considers legislation to thwart the latest manouevre in a three-year Xstrata campaign to keep the deaths from legal scrutiny.
CFMEU Mines division president, Tony Maher, is confident the Government will trump Xstrata's latest move to have 12 charges against Gretley Mine management dismissed because the wrong Minister, allegedly, authorised the prosecutions. It followed the filing of 16 interlocutory injunction in the space of three years.
"We have had useful meetings with the Carr Government and expect retrospective legislation will be introduced, if necessary," Maher said.
"We expect the issue will be resolved justly but the possibility of a stoppage still exists. The problem with these multi-national mining companies, when it comes to any concept of justice, is that their pockets are incredibly deep."
It has been seven years since John Hunter, Damon Murray, Mark Kaiser and Edward Batahan lost their lives at Gretley and a spokesman for then owner, Oakridge Mining, promised to "co-operate fully" with all investigations.
Since Oakridge was taken over by Xstrata, however, families of the miners have been frustrated by one legal manouevre after another in a bid to keep cases from being decided.
The CFMEU estimates the company will have spend $5 million on lawyers by the time the Gretley case ends.
But Maher says Gretley is just one example of safety standards, and accountability levels, miners find unacceptable.
"The records show that employers pay $88.40 for every miner killed," Maher said. "Our communities and families say coal miners lives are worth a lot more than that."
He based his maths on the fact that there have only been two successful prosecutions, bringing total fines of $221,000, in a state where more than 2000 coal miners have been killed on the job.
NSW and Queensland are both in miners' sights.
The union is demanding better protections in Queensland where mining companies are regularly handed OH&S exemptions and the industry is policed by persons who have to have been mine managers.
Maher says there has never been an OH&S prosecution in Queensland, successful or otherwise, stemming from any of its more than 500 fatalities.
The community workers, amongst the lowest paid in the NSW workforce, have taken offence at suggestions from Employers First that their rally outside its Sussex St headquarters, this Thursday, will be characterised by illegal activities.
"The suggestion is offensive," ASU executive president Sally McManus said. "Community workers have been at the forefront of the argument for non-violent methods of conflict resolution for years."
NSW community workers will get the $17 weekly increase mandated by the IRC full bench, from December 6, after being forced into an expensive legal defence by Employers First action.
The militant employer representatives have indicated they will continue to oppose automatic state wage case flow-ons to community workers unless they are prepared to trade off a range of conditions.
Employers First has already indicated it wants the following clawbacks in the Social and Community Services Award ...
- reduced job security by more use of casual and fixed term contracts
- extended hours on ordinary pay
- reducing penalty payments
- limiting the notice required to change rosters, and
- continuing to oppose living wage adjustments
ASU delegates have responded by setting a goal of having their SACS Award provide equivalent wages and conditions to comparable public sector agreements within five years.
Community sector workers say they will hand out carnations and "small Christmas gifts" to anyone from Employers First who bothers to listen to their arguments when they gather to oppose the organisation's hardline industrial approach on Thursday.
Department of Commerce reasoning that there is insufficient work available flies in the face of an Education Department response to concerted media attacks on standards of public school facilities, which conceded the need for remedial work.
The carpenters seem certain to feature in the NSW Labor Council's ground-breaking Secure Employment Test Case as the Commerce Department employed them for years on short-term, rather than permanent, contracts.
One sacked carpenter had been on the job for seven years and put himself through an adult apprenticeship, upskilling at the cost of approximately half his wages for the three-to-four years of his indenture.
The CFMEU suspects the Department of Education and Training has sacrificed the workers to an ideological desire to privatise school maintenance.
"What we need is for the Department of Education and Training to give the money to Commerce to keep these blokes on so the necessary maintenance can be done," Marshall said.
"It's a strange decision when there has been such a furore over the standard of public school maintenance. It's pretty obvious that the best chance to do that sort of work is probably over the school holidays."
Marshall confirmed the first step in the battle to retain the jobs with a disputes hearing in the NSW IRC on Monday morning.
In a major test of Kofi Annonís Global Compact on corporate responsibility, BHP-Biliton has been told it must enter talks with unions on its Pilbara work practices if it is to meet its obligations under the Compact.
Burrow, Australia's worker representative on the International Labour Organisation, met with Global Compact coordinator George Kell in Geneva on Monday to discuss the ACTU's complaint against BHP-Biliton.
Following the meeting, Kell called on BHP Biliton to consult over its policies and if, it couldn't mediate a resolution itself, seek the assistance of the ILO.
Failure to do so would place BHP-Biliton in breach of the compact, which sets out nine principles of corporate behaviour - including core labour stands to respect the rights of working people and ensure freedom of association.
The ACTCU complaint was based on BHP_Bilition's practice of offerng workers in the Pilbara take-it-or-leave Australian Workplace Agreements - a clear breach of this standard.
Burrow says it's the first time an Australian company has been challenged under the compact.
"This is good news for Australian workers and good news for workers internationally - a clear statement from the UN that companies must treat workers with respect if they want to call themselves global citizens.
"The UN's Global Compact can't be window dressing if companies and individuals are going to participate in a better world where everyone has rights."
The Federal Government attempted to bully the ACT into abandoning the new laws, but community support saw legislation passed with support from minor parties and independents.
"For a Federal Government that has paid so much attention to the building industry it's astounding that when an opportunity comes along to do something about workers safety, they drop the bundle," says Andrew Ferguson, NSW Secretary of the CFMEU. "This result in the ACT is an important victory in our national campaign for tougher safety laws and more vigilant compliance.
"We will be continuing our campaign in NSW with fresh resolve."
ACT Industrial Relations Minister Katy Gallagher says the legislation sends strong signals to workers and employers.
"When a worker dies at work, and it's someone else's fault, it's a crime," says Gallagher. "We're supporting workers by placing a value on their safety."
Gallagher said critics who say the legislation does nothing for OHS are wrong, as her office had been inundated with industry attempting to get its workplaces up to scratch.
"We've had OH&S Legislation for 14 years but it's only with the passage of this Bill that some areas of industry are now getting up to standard," says Gallagher.
Gallagher noted that industries with good OH&S systems had nothing to fear from the new laws.
Exner's Mates Confront PM
Family and friends of Joel Exner, the 16-year-old killed on a Sydney building site last month, lobbied members of the ACT Assembly, helping ensure passage of the bill.
"It's something I'll never forget,' Gallagher said. She said the involvement of Joel's mother, Sue, had put a human face to the issue. "I'm sure it was painful for Joel's family to hear people say this legislation was draconian and unnecessary. It was just insulting.
"I'm sure it helped the Liberals to behave themselves."
"After the bill was passed one 16 year old boy from Doonside came up and didn't say anything, he just shook my hand."
"It was really powerful."
Exner's family and friends confronted the Prime Minister at Parliament House. Howard attempted to deflect the issue, saying it was the State's problem, but the friends persisted, asking what the Prime Minister was doing personally to address the issue.
The Prime Minister failed to respond, with one observer saying he "ran away".
Joy Buckland has proposed a new formula for executive pay that was based not just on share price, but also genuine benchmarks of customer, staff and community satisfaction levels.
"I would argue that executives should have the same sorts of performance criteria that they apply to their staff," Buckland says. "That is their ability to deliver services that customers want, rather than purely focussing on short-term returns for the market.
The campaign for the ANZ Board is gathering momentum, with the Finance Sector Union briefing major fund managers on the reasons behind the bid, including the performance of current chair Charles Goode and the banks' refusal to negotiate a collective agreement with its staff.
It is understood a number of industry super funds have already voted their proxies in favour of Buckland, while others are recommending a vote against Goode.
Buckland says revelations that the executives of Australia's four major banks will take home salaries, shares and options worth $25 million in 2003-04 are further evidence that executive pay is out of control.
Buckland says research conducted by the University of Sydney earlier this year showed that there was no link between high executive salaries and company performance. Indeed, the more an executive is paid, the worse the company tends to perform.
"Until banks realise they have a responsibility to the community, they will continue to be held in low public regard, which means they must spend more on advertising and marketing to soften their image," she says.
"It would be far more cost-effective to invest in staff and branches and win the good will of the public through providing a well-resourced branch network."
The late August meeting at Kempsey was conducted under controversial circumstances with jockeys concerned about a section of the track. The course curator admitted there was a problem and offered to move the running rail to avoid the affected area.
Despite the jockey's concerns stewards rejected the curator's offer.
In the first race a horse stumbled at the affected area but stewards decided to continue with the meeting. Disaster struck in the second race when two horses went down leaving apprentice Bo Ackland unconscious and long standing regional jockey, Barry Courtney, with broken ribs and crushed vertebrae.
In a blow to country racing Courtney will never ride again.
The Australian Workers Union (AWU) sought to prosecute the race club and the stewards under OHS legislation but was told by WorkCover it did not consider a race meeting a workplace, but rather a sporting event similar to a rugby league game.
"We're not very happy to say the least," says AWU Industrial Officer Matt Thistlewaite. "The people involved did not exercise the required level of skill and caution and that resulted in an injury that could have been avoided."
"We're getting legal advice and hopefully we will be able to prosecute the stewards and the race club."
The Thoroughbred Racing Board is also conducting a inquiry into the stewards actions, the results of which are yet to be handed down.
The AWU is concerned that the loophole will leave jockeys who work in Australia's third largest industry unprotected.
"This is arguably one of the most dangerous areas of employment in Australia,' says Thistlewaite. "Frankly, for WorkCover to claim that a sporting event is not a workplace is to abandon their responsibilities."
Thistlewaite said the AWU will be seeking to get WorkCover's policy changed and was seeking legal advice regarding OHS prosecution of the race club and the Thoroughbred Racing Board who employ the stewards.
They are also exploring other legal options to seek recourse for affected jockeys.
The subbies have joined the CEPU and ETU and more than 90 voted to resist efforts to cut wages and conditions, stemming from Telstra's decision to drive down costs in new arrangements with multi-nationals Siemens-Theiss and ABB.
Workers Online understands resistance has moved to NSW where dozens of independent contractors working on Foxtel-Telstra contracts this week also elected to sign-up with unions.
CEPU spokesman, Len Cooper, said the pressure on wages, conditions and safety standards was "typical" of Telstra's contracting arrangements.
"They let contracts on the basis of cost and wash their hands of the results," he said. "Telstra uses this ploy to remain at arms-length from the contractors and avoid the associated employment costs and responsibility for occupational health and safety issues.
"These sub-contractors have said - enough. They won't sign contracts with Theiss or ABB until they get improvements they are entitled to."
Amongst claims served on the companies are a fair price for materials, penal rates for Sundays and an agreed grievance handling procedure.
Top of the list, though, Cooper said, was overall rates for work completed. He estimated that initial offers by the new contractors would leave the subbies down by between 10 and 15 percent on previous years' earnings.
"Their most important action so far has been to demonstrate that they are united," Cooper said. "There will be a report back on Monday and the sub-contractors have indicated that they will not be signing contracts until their demands are met."
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union says its members have become the 'meat in the sandwich' in a long-running dispute between Pacific National and the Carr Government.
"We have told the company we are prepared to trial Driver Only - Mainline in accordance with the safety requirements of the rail regulator," RTBU national president Bob Hayden says.
"But the rail regulator has advised both the company and the union that he does not want to allow a trial until the Waterfall Inquiry is complete," Hayden says.
NSW Government figures show 90 per cent of all breakdown delays on the State Rail network are caused by Pacific National trains. "
Pacific National is also spending less time and resources on keeping their trains safely maintained.
"By linking pay outcomes to the decision of the independent rail regulator, Pacific National is making RTBU members the meat in the sandwich in its quarrel with the NSW Government," Hayden says.
"Given this attitude, our members will meet early next week to consider their options."
The action comes as pressure grows on the Federal Government to abandon plans to hold university funding hostage to radical workplace reforms. Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson has insisted that universities offer Australian Workplace Agreements to staff.
"This strike has a lot of support says Mike Thompson, president of the Sydney University Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). "Our boss is using the federal Government as an excuse to hide and run away."
"The Nelson agenda is a full on ideological attack. We want to keep higher education accessible to all."
Sydney University management was set to sign off on a new agreement months ago but reneged at the eleventh hour, leaving university staff "frustrated" by the intransigence at Australia's oldest tertiary institution.
Thomson thanked other unionists for their support of previous actions by the NTEU and asked for unionists to support Wednesday's action.
The Labor Council is supporting the action by the NTEU.
Call For Senators To Reject "Radical" Reforms
Meanwhile the NTEU has stepped up pressure on cross bench senators, calling upon them to reject the Nelson reforms.
A package agreed on by the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee and Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson maintains the radical industrial relations component.
"The Government wants to tell universities how they should employ their staff and on what conditions," says NTEU National President Dr Carolyn Allport. "This is in direct contravention of the institutional autonomy of universities and continues to be the strongest example of excessive Government interference. AWAs do not give choice to staff, they undermine their core employment conditions. The only reason for insisting on AWAs is to offer salaries and conditions below existing standards in our collective agreements"
"The Independent Senators should reject these measures and support the inclusion of institutional autonomy and academic freedom as core objects of any new Act".
The NTEU says that the package should also be rejected because it fails to provide sustainable funding for universities in the future.
Dr Allport called for further amendments to prevent HECS fee increases and to remove the contentious student learning entitlement.
"I have been encouraged by the level of interest that the Independent Senators have on these matters and urge them to have further discussions next week with all stakeholders in the sector before making any final decisions," says Dr Allport.
A policeman who's developed a safer way to deal with knives, a worker on the largest demolition job in the southern hemisphere and a call centre operator suspended for speaking out are among 30 workers in line for the second annual Safety Achievement Awards.
Following on from the successful first ever Safety Awards held last year, this year's awards are expected to be bigger and better and are being held as part of the 2nd Annual Safety Delegates Conference.
The NSW premier, Bob Carr, will be on hand and UnionSafe will also be launching its A-Z Guide for Hazards in the Workplace .
The conference will be jam packed with information for safety representatives and activists with talks on new WorkCover reporting requirements, OHS Consultation and the role of unions in OHS and Workers compensation.
The NSW Labor Council will also be launching its drug and alcohol policy.
The UnionSafe 2nd Annual Safety Delegates Conference will be being held at the Tumbalong Auditorium, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour from 9am, Friday December 5.
To attend the conference of for more information email Heather Freeburn on [email protected]
Australian Writers' Muster Update
Less than a month to go until The Australian Writers' Muster in Sydney on
Check out the latest additions to our illustrious list of speakers and
SUE WOOLFE author of the enthusiastically reviewed "The Secret Cure" (and
previously "Leaning Towards Infinity") is joining PETER GOLDSWORTHY on the
Arts & Science = Great Leaps of the Imagination panel.
TONY McNAMARA playwright ("The Virgin Mim", "The Unlikely Prospect of
Happiness" which is in the 2004 STC Season) and screenwriter ("The Rage in
Placid Lake") is taking the Playwrights' Master class and is a panelist on
the Global/Local discussion.
TIM PYE Deputy Commissioning Editor ABC TV Drama 1999-2001, Executive
Producer "Changi" and whose credits include "White Collar Blue", "Water
Rats", "Wildside", "Seachange" to name a few and winner of a handful of AFI,
AWGIE and LOGIE awards joins the Pushing the Envelope panel.
Actor AARON PEDERSEN (Water Rats, Wildside, Floodhouse) who has played an
active role in pushing writers and producers to create story-lines that more
accurately reflect our times (especially issues of urban aborigines) also
joins the Pushing the Envelope panel.
Due to the length of the film 'MASTER AND COMMANDER - The Far Side of the
World' this session will now start at 6.30pm which means the previous
session 'Billy Sind - a Week on West Wing' will now start 30 minutes earlier
at 4.30pm Saturday, 6 December.
There are a number of really terrific writers still to be confirmed in the
next few days, so WATCH THIS SPACE!
AND DON'T FORGET TO KEEP CHECKING THE WEB-SITE: MUSTER PROGRAM UPDATED
To register go to www.awg.com.au to download a brochure or call us at the national office on (02) 9281 1554.
ARM CHRISTMAS DRINKS
With Special Guest Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Australian Democrats'
Spokesperson on the Republic
Date: Friday 12 December 2003
Venue: The Glover Cottages
Address: 124 Kent Street Sydney
Tickets: $15 / $10 concession (finger food provided; drinks to be purchased
RSVP: Friday 5 December 2003
Further details and booking form at Christmas drinks
Unionsafe's second annual safety delegate's conference will provide valuable information and education on how we can make our workplaces safer for everyone. It is being pitched at official safety delegates and other union members interested in the topic.
A feature of this year's conference will be the presentation of awards to safety activists around the state who have made a difference.
The conference is being staged at the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre, Tumbalong Auditorium, Darling Harbour, on Friday, December 5.
To attend the conference, or get additional information, contact Heather Freeburn on [email protected]
Workers Online # 204 said that one of the few good aims of Medicare Blast was the increase in the number of doctors and nurses. Hem, well don't you wish, but Revved Abbott knows it ain't necessarily so. He implies that the 1600 practice nurses (who will assist gps who aren't there) will increase the number of nurses in the system. Nonsense! Think about it, what GP would employ a nurse who didn't know exactly what they were doing, when it might increase the practice's legal risk. So these nurses are going to be in the health system already, and will be pulled from it to be GP assistants or adjuncts.
Of course, if a number of allied health people were able to charge with medicare, then the costs would drop astronomically, like nurses, physios, psychologists, social workers ... .
But the revved Abbott is hell-bent ignoring that we are going to be DOWN 31000 nurses by 2006. It will be interesting to speculate on what impact this will have on Australia's healthcare. Downright scary for those likely to be sick. They are sinking Medicare. We have to stop them, in the name of the people.
I would like to respond to Public Transport a bit Rich by Jason D in this edition.
Yes Jason, Public Transport is a bit rich, particularly in Sydney , where a day ticket costs around $20 compared to Victoria where a day ticket (Zone 1) is just over $5.
I was recently in Sydney for a conference and was appalled at not only the high cost of public transport, $1.80 from central station to circular quay, and the fact that I could only use the ticket once for that trip. It took my ticket at the end of the 3 station ride.
In Melbourne around $2.30 will buy me a 2 hour ticket for zone 1 ( a large area) to use on trams, buses and trains. If you validate it after the hour, say 3:05 pm you will get 3 hours use and after 6 pm, you get travel until 2 am. Melbourne also has a free tram that travels around the City.
The best transport system, I have seen in terms of cost is Perth and Fremantle. There is a FREE BUS that travels around Perth and one around Fremantle. The Perth City Council contributes part of its parking fines
towards the free bus service, that is provided by the state government. The best news is - for $1.70 bus ride, you can travel from the Perth Airport into down town Perth.
Get with - it NSW and give the public transport travellers a break from exorbitant travel costs.
While I am on about Sydney , Museum and St James stations are creepy and scary - all of those stairs and dark corners - how on earth do disabled people get up to street level????
I was carrying suitcase recently up all the stairs at St JAMES station (I was attending a conference) and trying to climb all of those stairs, while looking behind me to check I was not getting mugged, was a real nightmare. Come on Mr Carr, clean up the stations!!!!
Victorian, who used to live in Sydney and was working in Perth for a while.
In a Sydney call centre a safety representative is frog-marched off the premises for assessing the impact of long shifts on worker fatigue.
In South Australia a lone meatworker is locked out of his job for 10 weeks because he refuses to sign an individual contract.
In the Hunter Valley, armed security guards hired by an American multinational threaten violence against locked out workers fighting for their right to collective bargain.
Across the nation the recipe for the majority is longer hours at work, fewer permanent jobs, spiralling health care costs and a mean-spiritedness driven by the suspicion that someone else just might be getting a better deal than they are.
This is John Howard's Australia, a retro land where the employer is a master and the worker is a unit of labour, a number on a balance sheet, something less than human.
Beneath the cloak of terror, racism, sycophancy and social divisiveness that drives Howard's politics of the wedge, lies a hidden, more cynical attack on workers' rights.
Under the fist of Reith and Abbott, this government has embarked on an orgy of union-busting that has one simple objective - to drive labour costs down to maximise profits for the one stakeholder in our society that still has clout - the market.
Whoever takes the reins of the federal ALP after Tuesday's ballot must do so recognising that this is the security that most Australians crave - not security from a few boatloads of desperate refugees, but security from the cynical short-termism of global capital.
Workers are not calling for revolution, but they are calling for a leader who will blow full-time on what increasingly seems like a race to the bottom.
They want a government that protects our national borders without giving up our cultural sovereignty to another country.
They want a government that supports public health and education because they believe in the idea that we all have equal rights, rather than because they fear a public backlash if they hand it over to the corporates.
And they want a government that knows that if we are to have a cohesive society we need to respect each other, and that this begins with fair laws governing the workplace.
It's hardly a manifesto, just government for the people - and its about 180 degrees form what Howard has got away with serving up these past seven years.
It's not the Australian Labor Party that needs a fresh beginning, it's the people of Australia.