Misplacing one Australian citizen in detention is unfortunate, losing two is downright careless; but when the said unfortunate ends up in a Filipino hospice the behaviour can only be described as Tool-able.
Amanda Vanstone is one of those Liberals who, I suspect, started off with a good heart, but she is reaping the cost of associating with a gang who are without morals in their pursuit of power. After all, inheriting Phillip Ruddock's portfolio requires inheriting his moral blinkers, so finely honed during the Tampa crisis.
Vanstone is forced to defend the indefensible on an almost daily basis, locking schoolkids in detention, deporting long-term residents and generally filling detention centres with individuals who, in a time when we have a chronic shortage of workers, could clearly be making a more positive contribution to society.
Under the Howard Government the Department for Immigration has become the Department for Someone Else's Problem and the swift deportation of a mentally ill woman after she was in a car accident shows why the policy is so inhumane.
Vivian Young/Solon was an Australian citizen of Filipino extraction who'd been here 20 years after marrying an Australian. She had two sons, sisters, a life. None of this counted for anything when the Deportment of Immigration got their hands on her, shipped her out of the country where she ended up destitute in a hospice for the dying.
That was 2001; by 2003 it appears Immigration realised there had been a stuff-up and they went to some effort to find the woman; although this did not extend to informing her Australian family, including the five-year child who had been left at child care the day she disappeared.
This seems the stuff of comi-tragedy; but it is the real world in Howard's Australia, a mean-sprited, self-focused place where refugee advocates are dismissed as un-patriotic. And when the excesses of this meanness impact on an Australian citizen rather than an 'illegal' - who we are happy to see rot in the Nauru heat, our Minister's send responsibility back down the line with three simple words 'I am advised".
"I am advised" is Australian for arse-covering, basically an admission that an elected official is not prepared to vouch for the truth of the information they are providing the public. It worked a treat in Kids Overboard and now it's back in play with Citizens Adrft.
This is the level of responsibility Vanstone has taken this week , a Minister with no responsibility, just a bureaucracy to over her own political arse. Well, Amanda, all we can say is 'we are advised' you are a Tool.
A dozen motorcycle gang members, some wearing helmets and bandanas, crashed the Kemalex Plastics picket line at Dandenong South on Thursday.
NUW secretary, Martin Pakula, said bikies, escorting tyres into the factory, abused picketing women.
"Our members at this site are mainly migrant women and it seems an extreme over-reaction for nearly a dozen male bikers to escort tyres onto the site," he said.
"The women were so concerned for their safety that they called the local police for assistance."
Fifty five women, paid as little as $12.62 an hour, have been picketing since their boss greeted claims for a new enterprise bargaining agreement with an announcement that all new starters would be contractors, outside the terms of any negotiated agreement.
Kemalex managing director, Richard Colebatch, has already turned 10 existing employees into "contractors".
Company reps have payed late-night visits to the homes of women refusing to become contract to threaten they will be sued.
The NUW says Colebatch's independent contracts are "bogus" and have been instigated to strip away "basic employee rights".
Pakula said Kemalex highlighted the sham independent contracting had become and urged the Howard Government to bring offending companies into line.
"It is farcical that companies can use independent contracting arrangements to shirk all their legal responsibilities, and strip workers of their basic rights," he said.
"Employees are entitled to annual leave, sick leave and long service leave. They are entitled to superannuation contributions and to have their employers take tax out of their wages. None of these rights, though, apply to independent contractors."
He said Kemalex workers met none of the tests traditionally applied to contractors. They only worked for the one company, which set their hours and requirered them to work at its premises.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, visited the Dandenong picketers today and said he feared their treatment was a sign of things to come as the federal government sought to strip away basic rights.
Combet challenged the Workplace Relations Minister to launch an inquiry into Kemalex's use of contracting.
"What we want to know from Kevin Andrews is does he support this disgraceful independent contracting sham or does he oppose it?" Combet said.
Andrews is currently running an inquiry into labour hire and independent contracting.
The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research has warned that the rush to labour hire and contracting is exposing taxpayers to a $14.38 billion annual loss.
Presenting those figures to the contracting inquiry, AMWU secretary Doug Cameron, said $14.38 billion could wipe out the public health crisis by funding 42 new teaching hospitals, or paying for an extra 5.6 million operations.
Auto component manufacturers, Tri Star and Spicer Axle, have targeted 800 employees for the dole queue and at least two other manufacturers, employing more than 600 people, say job losses are inevitable.
US-owned Spicer Axel has hit the AMWU with demands for sweeping cuts in order to retain some of its Yennora workforce.
Spicer is demanding 15% clawbacks for existing employees and wants rates for new starters slashed by 20 percent. The company, which manufactures components for Holden, Ford and Aston Martin, employs more than 1000 people around Australia.
AMWU organiser, Martin Shutz, says Spicer's claim would mean weekly wage cuts of between $75 and $150 a week for the families of process workers with dependents of skilled trades people losing up to $250 a week.
Yennora workers have been caught in a John Howard pincer movement. Free trade deals with both China and the US have flooded the market with low cost alternatives.
Spicer has lost its contract to supply Holden and, as a result, will bullet 200 employees from April, next year.
It says Ford is demanding 30 percent price reductions in light of the impending free trade agreement with China.
Marrickville based Tri Star has lost steering and suspension contracts with Mitsubishi, Toyota and Holden. It has started imported product from India and is negotiating to open a plant in China from which it will import components.
Tri Star began shedding staff, last week, and intends closing down within 12 months.
AMWU state secretary, Paul Bastian, said the job losses were the "deliberate and inevitable" result of Howard's push for free trade with China.
"These companies are classic examples of what happens when you sign free trade agreements that aren't underpinned by basic labour or human rights," Bastian said.
"John Howard is telling Australians to compete on labour costs, with an economy where core standards do not apply. There is no level playing field."
Bastian rejected massive wage cuts as a way to protect auto component jobs.
"We don't accept workers should bare the brunt of bad government policy," he said. "Our members won't allow a company to use that situation to start driving down wages and conditions across the board."
Workers Online understands two other major NSW manufacturing operations have approached unions about sweeping job cuts because of the effect of free trade agreements.
One of them is believed to be an innovative operation that spends large sums on research and development.
Angry delegates from the union’s construction and timber divisions mounted a protest outside QBE’s Parramatta offices, last Friday, after learning insurance company-ordered cuts to workers compensation payments had resulted in Isabelita Cruz having her power cut off.
QBE had slashed the former timber worker's weekly entitlement to $89.95 a week, forcing her to seek assistance from the Salvation Army.
Timber Workers' president, Brad Parker, said QBE had also "stood over" a vocational assessment officer to try and have Cruz taken off the books.
After meeting CFMEU protestors, QBE agreed to apologise to the Filipina immigrant, boost her weekly entitlement by around $250 and pay for a long-awaited ankle operation.
"For every Isabelita there are nine other people out there getting done over by insurance companies," Parker said. "They go to extraordinary lengths to deny injured workers their entitlements. It's what insurance companies do.
"Isabelita had been a process worker in a bedding factor for over 16 years. Suddenly, they ruled she was fit enough to do clerical work and, on that basis, chopped her payment to $89.95 a week, the difference between the clerical award and the rate for the job she actually did.
"In the end, it was a great result but no more than Isabelita was entitled to.
"These insurance companies have got to start treating workers properly."
Cruz was forced to quit work after sustaining injuries to her shoulder and ankle.
She had been booked in for ankle surgery but the procedure was cancelled when QBE refused to pay.
When the CFMEU made contact, she was hobbling around and surviving with the help of Savation Army handouts.
Finance Sector Union NSW secretary Geoff Derrick says that under anenterprise agreement with 24,000 workers, NAB is prohibited from reducing jobs without a commensurate reduction in overall workload.
"We will be holding them to that agreement and testing the validity of the removal every single position," Derrick says.
"This means that, unless the bank can demonstrate how overall workloads will be cut, each staff removal will be considered a breach of the agreement."
The business sense behind a strategy that will increase bank queues by 10 per cent is unclear, but Derrick says NAB appears prepared to undermine its long term prospects in order to prop up its ailing share price.
The job cuts come after NAB high fliers lost $2 billion in a bad US deal last year and a further $670 million because they cut out workers responsible for checks and balances in their processes
"Just last week the NAB admitted it had overcharged customers 10 million dollars because their checks and balances did not work," Derrick says. "Given this track record it is hard to see any justification for cutting jobs."
"Only because of the close links between the NAB, the Business Council of Australia and federal government, can the turkeys in charge of this bank get away with even thinking about this."
The links between NAB and the BCA are deep with both current chair Graeme Kraehe and incoming chair Michael Chaney sitting on the BCA board that famously called for an end to 'fairness' in the workplace earlier this year.
Bishop Christopher Saunders, chairman of the Catholic Social Justice Council, is urging the faithful to consider the position of more than one and a half million Australians, dependent on the minimum wage.
"At a time when wage protection and other aspects of Australia's industrial Relations system are being question, our attention turns to the needs of almost 1.6 million workers on the minimum wage," Bishop Saunders wrote Catholics in a May 1 pastoral letter.
Bishop Saunders said there were three standards in church teaching, relevant to minimum wage debate sparked by Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews.
He said the amounts must ...
- adequately reward working people for their labour
- meet the needs of workers and their families
- must not be allowed to fall below the level of subsistence
Bishop Saunders reminded parishioners that others, including the unemployed and underemployed, also relied on fair minimum payments to protect against poverty.
He said the church had called for a "significant increase" in the minimum wage because, after tax and government benefits, many families still struggled to meet the necessities of life.
"At this time of national prosperity, we should remember the needs of people both in and out of work on the margins of the labour market," Bishop Saunders wrote in a text entitled "The Minimum Wage in an Age of Prosperity and Wealth".
He joined the debate as Andrews and Prime Minister, John Howard, flagged their intention to redesign the minimum wage structure in a bid to hold down increases.
The government wants to take the determination out of the IRC, which hears evidence from affected parties, and move it to a group of hand-picked "experts".
The change would be a victory for its big-business constituency that has aggressively attacked the minimum wage as overly-generous.
Meanwhile, a US minister of religion has set out to answer the century old question - are trade unions instruments of God's will.
The answer, according to Indianapolis-based Darren Cushman Wood, is yes.
Woodman, also a labour studies professor, has just publish a book Blue Collar Jesus: How Christianity Support Workers, Rights' which argues "labour unions are legitimate instruments of God's will for creating a just society".
His surprise entry has attracted the support of Unions NSW, with secretary John Robertson calling on members and affiliates to help evict Brunero's competition.
Robertson stopped at recommending unionists become regular Big Brother viewers, but said it was refreshing to see a young person so passionate about social justice.
"It would be a fantastic outcome if this young man who supports union principles remains in the house to the end."
More than 35,000 auditioned for the 2005 season of Big Brother. Voting will begin within the next two weeks.
Woodside Petroleum, last week, confirmed it wants fabrication on its latest North West Shelf gas processing plant done offshore.
It wants skilled labour on Train Five, as it is known, split between low-wage operations in Indonesia and Thailand. Woodside will then have the plant broken down and shipped to the Burrup Peninsula in kitset form, robbing the state of another thousand construction jobs.
Woodside has already sent the multi-million dollar engineering side of the contract to Reading, England, where nearly 200 people are working on it.
AMWU state secretary, Jock Ferguson, says the "greed" of the energy giant is unacceptable.
"Energy companies are operating as a cartel to deny work and opportunities to Western Australians, and deprive our state of vitally-needed skills," he said.
"The Howard Government doesn't give a damn about local content because it still gets its resource consents.
"But we do give a damn and so do the people of WA. We want a share of the wealth these companies are getting from our natural resources.
"We have told Woodside we are coming after them and we mean it. Our members won't stand by and watch WA being screwed by people who have no loyalty to anything except the bottom line."
The AMWU has established campaign committees in the state's north west, south west, and Perth. Based on delegates, and members, they are building links with local communities.
Industry analysts suggest the export of Train Five fabrication will cost WA more than 2000 direct jobs, most of them for skilled trades people.
Ferguson says the necessary workforce already exists in WA. Train Four, a virtual replica, was brought in on time and budget, by John Holland and CBI.
Ferguson says energy multi-nationals have got their heads together and developed a strategy to cut Australians out of high-value work. They have designated London, Houston and Yokohama as preferred engineering sites; South East Asia for low-cost manual labour; London, Zurich and New York as preferred financial centres.
Woodside says $900 million worth of the $2 billion Train Five project has been ear-marked for local content.
But Ferguson says the claim is misleading as much of that figure will be spent on civil engineering.
"At the moment, you can't import holes in the ground. But, given their track record, it is something they are probably working on as we speak," he said.
The Woodside project is being viewed as a testing ground because other mineral and petroleum operations, including BHP, have similarly large-scale projects on their drawing boards.
The minerals lobby is a key backer of the Howard Government, especially its radical industrial relations agenda.
Woodside Offshore Petroleum is a conglomerate of Mitsubishi Mitsui, Shell, Chevron Texaco, BP, BHP Billiton and WA-based Woodside - some of whom are players in the aggressively anti-worker Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WACCI).
When CFMEU organiser, Alan Blevin, arrived at the extension project in response to OH&S inquiries, he was denied access by a Patrick security guard briefed on federal government proposals to run trade unionists off building sites.
"The guard knew all about the new legislation," CFMEU assistant secretary, Brian Parker, said.
"When I asked him what it said about safety, he said 'nothing'. I told him to go to the top of the class because it doesn't.
"He wouldn't accept Alan had right of entry under NSW law."
When CFMEU officials eventually got through the gate, they alerted Workcover to concrete slabs all over the site that hadn't been tested for contaminants, and found plant and machinery that didn't meet licensing regulations or comply with manufacturers' standards.
Testing of the concrete, at a Petersham recycling yard, revealed it had been contaminated with asbestos.
Parker said there was also asbestos in pipes found across the extension.
Workcover, today, slapped exclusion zones on over half the site in a bid to protect workers, and others, from deadly asbestos fibres.
Parker said it was "disappointing" that Chris Corrigan-owned Patrick was still prepared to be used as federal government "attack dog".
"Patrick has been in bed with the federal government for years on its agenda to roll back workers' rights," Parker said. "You would have thought they would have learned their lesson years ago, but here they are ignoring our legal rights to protect the health and safety of members."
More than $24 million will be spent on secretly taping workers, suspending their right to silence and taking away their rights to hold industrial or political meetings.
CFMEU construction division national secretary John Sutton said the Building IndustryTaskforce budget has blown out from $9 million last year to $23 million for 05/06.
And the Government has allocated an additional $24.13 million to set up a new body, the Australian Building and Construction Commission to deny building workers the civil rights enjoyed by other Australians.
Sutton says the Government is prepared to waste $40 million over the next year on these organisations to rob building workers of their rights - and warns it will become the model for anti-union workplace laws across the nation.
"Already we have seen the Building Industry Taskforce run a series of discredited court cases, drawing judicial censure at their heavy handed tactics, including the secret taping of workers and employers," Sutton says.
"The Howard Government has already made it clear it considers the building industry a laboratory for the rest of the Australian workforce. The irony is that it is our tax dollars that are now paying for this dangerous social experiment."
Taking With One Hand
Meanwhile, unions with members who may look like budget 'winners', should not to be taken in by the fistful of dollars.
"Our preliminary analysis shows that all of the value of the $6 tax cuts will be eroded by continuing bracket creep by the time of the next election," Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten says.
"If the Budget had followed the AWU's policy, then it would have provided far greater investment in public health, education and infrastructure, especially for regional and rural Australia."
Shorten says tinkering at the edges of a rotten system is no substitute for the comprehensive reforms required to build fairness, incentive, and competitiveness into to our tax system for the long term.
"We've got the highest taxing government in Australian history - they've taxed us an extra $24 billion more this year than when Mr Howard first came to office in 1996," Shorten says.
"Despite having the best trade advantage for 50 years, we still have record foreign debt. This budget is adding to Australia's problems by fuelling further consumption instead of savings and therefore reliance on overseas debt."
Read the Fine Print
And aged care operators are ripping the heart out of aged care by up to $21.6 million a year - according to an extraordinary revelation buried inside this year's Federal Budget.
The federal government's under resourced auditing of aged care homes will claw back $63.5 million a year over the next three years.
LHMU Aged Care Union National Secretary, Jeff Lawrence, says the Federal Government will only provide enough money for most homes to be checked only every second year.
" If the government can claw back $63.5 million from shonky operators by casual irregular spot-checks imagine what they could collect if they audited care providers more frequently," Lawrence says.
The LHMU wants the Australian Government to increase the accountability of aged care providers, after all taxpayers are the primary source of income for these homes.
" It's time we got to the bottom of what is the real cost of delivering a determined benchmark of care, Lawrence says.
"It's time aged care providers became accountable for the tax payer funds they receive, it's time the Australian government starts to shine the light on aged care.
ACTU secretary Greg Comber says the commissions are a major threat to industry super funds, as they refuse to pay planners for bringing them in business.
"The ACTU is worried that when the new 'superannuation choice' laws take effect from after 1 July unscrupulous financial planners will move their clients super from one fund to another -- in processes known as mis-selling and churning -- to gain more commissions and fees," Combet says.
"Higher fees will eat into employees super accounts and ultimately leave them worse off when they retire.
"The Federal Government should move to prohibit commissions on super guarantee contributions. This will remove the incentive for unscrupulous financial planners and ensure super fund members know how and what they are paying for. "
The ACTU is concerned that the way the Government's superannuation choice system is being implemented is deeply flawed and believes that problems that need fixing include a poor fee disclosure regime and inducement for employers to shift funds to a retail fund.
Current rules mean super funds only need to disclose the first year of fees. This will lead to "honeymoon rates" like those that credit card companies advertise. We all know that in the long-term customers ending up paying more. It is ridiculous that a 40 year investment can be sold on the basis of a one-year honeymoon rate. Instead there should be a requirement for clear fee disclosure. All super funds should disclose their fees over a minimum five-year period and explain the effect of fees over the long term.
Inducements for employers. In effect the choice legislation will be choice for employers not employees, with banks and financial planners able to offer employers inducements such as payroll or advice services to make their fund the default fund for employees. Also, employers may be offered reduced interest on their business loans or better credit arrangements & APRA will have difficulty regulating these practices even though offering such inducements is not lawful.
Combet says one solution is to properly resource APRA to monitor the commercial relationships between banks, financial planners and the small minority of unscrupulous employers who might use their employees super as leverage to lower their own business banking costs.
"Lack of knowledge among many workers will prevent people from making an informed choice," he says. "Many will be driven by what the default fund is at their workplace or perhaps rely on advice from their financial planner or accountant whose advice may then be driven by which fund pays the highest commission.
"The Government should invest in a long-term education campaign directed at super fund members. The current proposals are insufficient with the Taskforce established to run the education campaign estimating it will take ten years to get through to most people.
"The main goal must be to ensure that working Australians have access to low cost superannuation that enables them to retire with dignity and in comfort rather than be forced to work until they drop.
"Unions are proud of the fact they worked with the Labor Government to introduce universal superannuation in 1985. At that time only 39% of employees had super, now 97% of the workforce has super."
But the LHMU is already preparing to rein in employers using the rises as an excuse to unfairly increase fees.
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission this week approved pay rises of between $6 and $146 per week for the15,000-odd childcare workers, whose current qualified pay rate is just $14 an hour.
LHMU assistant national secretary Joanne Schofield said the increases should cost parents a maximum of $2 extra per child per day but warned families to be on guard for centres attempting to cash in.
"The rises should not cost more than the $2 figure including the cost on the living age increase but we have even seen fees going up in states where no pay rises have even been granted."
The union will establish a 'fee watch' facility on the LHMU website to expose unscrupulous child care centre operators who hit parents up for more.
Schofield said the pay rise was made possible by the involvement of childcare workers who had waged a three year grassroots campaign and actively participated in the wage case. She also thanked parents for their support.
"It had got to the stage where employees were only staying at work because of their passion for the industry. Meanwhile their families were suffering as a result of the low wages.
"It puts it in perspective that one woman with more than 10 years experience was earning less than her daughter who had just started out in retail.
"Finally child care workers have achieved professional recognition for their work and will no longer be made to subsidise this important community service."
The increase is payable from 1 July, with applications also filed in Qld, NSW and SA.
More than 10,000 Australians will be eligible each year for the visas which take out age and length of stay barriers and provide partners with the opportunity to work overseas as well.
Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists, and Managers, Australia chief executive John Vines said Australian companies were already having problems attracting engineering and science graduates and the new visa could now siphon top professionals as well.
"By failing to implement adequate recruitment and retention strategies for industries most impacted by the brain drain, the Federal Government leaves the country vulnerable, particularly as Australian professionals are now much sort after."
He said likely impacts included:
- Experts in some of Australia's most important fields could now choose to spend the remainder of their careers in America, enjoying the higher wages that they and their spouses could earn there
- Removing length of stay limits meant recent graduates wanting to gain experience in America could now remain there permanently
- Providing 10,500 of these work visas to Australians every year instead of requiring every country to compete on an equal footing meant the long term impact could be devastating for some of the most vulnerable industries
- Allowing spouses to work overseas meant professionals could be less likely to want to uproot their families a second time and return.
Vines said federal Trade Minister Mark Vaile's assertion that he did not believe the new visa would have a negative impact on the nation's brain drain, was plainly wrong.
"A government that puts its head in the sand when it does not want to face up to reality will always have a hard time implementing the necessary policies to deal with issues like the brain drain," he said.
"America has a plan for attracting our skilled professionals. What we need right now is a strategy backed by sufficient support and resources to ensure that remuneration levels in Australia are competitive in terms of our ability to make sure their skills are not lost forever from Australia."
APESMA represents more than 25,000 professionals throughout Australia.
In a missive sent this week, Lee writes:
"48 hours ago we asked you to send off messages in support of imprisoned trade union leaders in Eritrea.
"Your response has been fantastic. Thousands of messages have been pouring in -- at one point, we were hitting 200 messages per hour.
"Many of those messages have been re-sent by fax to Eritrean embassies around the world, prompting one official in the Oslo embassy to phone up LabourStart and demand that we stop sending them.
"What do you think? Should we leave these poor government officials
alone? I don't think so. I think we should turn up the pressure!
"Let's flood them with thousands more messages and keep up the pressure until Ghebremedhin, Andezion and Weldemicael are released."
To add your weight to the protest go to: http://www.labourstart.org/eritrea
After the Treasurer's dream budget and Labor's muddle-headed response we have the depressing prospect of a prolonged battle over tax cuts as a low-rent substitute for genuine economic debate.
Yes, the economy is going well; yes there is a healthy surplus, and both Liberal and the former Labor governments can take some credit; and, yes, we will all take a tax cut if it is on offer.
But there's something missing in this budget; and it's something that has been missing from our political debate for some time - an economic plan.
A plan to deal with a health system fraying at the edges, that can not deal with the demands at present, let alone the rising pressures of an aging population.
A plan for more money for schools so that all young Australians have a chance in life and alleviate the skills crisis.
And a plan for the great national building projects that would give our economy the ability to break the tyranny of distance; a plan to support the manufacturing industries that would allow us to be more than an extractive economy.
There's no plan in this budget; just a fistful of dollars - targeted at middle and high income earners over the battlers; and the promise of industrial relations reforms that will make their wages and conditions all the more tenuous in the months to come.
To his credit, Kim Beazley made some of these points in his budget reply - but it all got drowned out when he was coaxed into Costello's tax cut corner.
A regular finding of our polling of working people is that money isn't everything - if they had the choice of better conditions, more interesting work, greater respect over a pay rise, they'd take the intangibles.
But - and here is the sting in the tail that Howard and Costello are tapping into - absent any faith that these things will be forthcoming, they'll take the dollars.
By destroying faith in the political system, the Howard Government has succeeded in making personal recompense the only test of government.
It has been the Howard approach for the past nine years - deliver personal dollars to targeted groups, rather than supporting broader initiatives that deliver more, though less tangibly, for all.
It is depressing, it is draining of the spirit and it represents a fundamental challenge to progressive parties, whose whole agenda relies on a public striving for better.
But we have to accept this is where we are at right now and the question is where can Labor take it from here?
Kim Beazley is right to expose the tax cuts as being skewed to the haves over the have-nots, but he is wrong to make it his battleground.
The debate around economics should not be about who can manage the economy - any half competent government can do that.
It should be about who the economy is delivering for - and this entails more than just reeling off the indicators, saying the word 'economy' three times a day and expecting that this will position you as the better manager.
In this frame it is Howard who gets wedged - because he is managing the economy for the top end of town - look at the growing gap between wage and profit share; look at the largesse the managers extract from the system; look at the looming attacks on rights of working people.
There is a story to be written by the ALP, but it requires the courage to move off the government's playing field - let the tax cuts through, but explain why they are a short-term fix and a squandering of the hard yards of economic reform.
And start doing it now; because when John Howard controls the Senate it will only be the skill of the Opposition's politics that will have any impact on the shape of policy over the next three years. If the past week is anything to go by, we should be very, very afraid.