Andrew Robb has an interesting take on the political process.
In his latest effort he likened political activism to erectile disfunction, Nigerian financial shakedowns and dodgy university diplomas.
Emails from citizens contacting their representative politicians are nothing more than "spam" according to the man who lost the "unlosable" federal election in 1993.
He was attacking the new organization GetUp, which Robby claims is a great Labor party conspiracy, with his old boss John Hewson at the head.
Now '93 makes sense for Andrew; John Hewson was a Labor plant ball along.
Mind you, in any other job a stuff up like 1993 would have been the end of you. Luckily Andrew doesn't live in the real world and thankfully the Liberal Party has form in rewarding this sort of incompetence.
In the former Liberal party king-pin's case they left his name on the stationery, and put Jeanette Howard in charge of the 1996 campaign. It wasn't much of a risk. Ivan Milat would have had a good show against Paul Keating in 1996.
Following on from that Robb headed up the extremely successful Yes campaign for a Republic. Without Robb, no one could have succeeded in creating the impression that the Yes camp were a bunch of slick talking lawyer wankers that had never done a days work in their lives.
The Liberal party decided they'd had about as much success as they could stand, so Robb, not having any mates in his home state, moved to Victoria so he could enjoy the experience of not having any mates in a completely new environment, and entered parliament.
With all this campaign genius behind him our Tool Of The Week has now been hand-picked by John Howard as the person to blame when their IR campaign goes pear shaped.
In the mean time he has been given $20 million of your money to keep him amused.
No doubt many are curious as to what strategy Robb will use to take the bad smell emanating from the coalition front bench known as IR reform, and turn it into a sweet smelling perfume.
As a strategy it is brilliant.
Robb will be linking IR Reform to the Australian way of life.
Working sixty hours a week without holidays is the Australian way according to Andrew Robb, who must have popped out for a gin and tonic during the Australian History bit at school.
We can look forward to his revelation that the ethos of mateship is going through people's pockets looking for loose change after you've knocked them over the head with a short piece of pipe.
No wonder he wants to wrap IR reform in the flag. That's the sort of Australia he's been championing for the last twenty years.
In fact, those opposing IR reform are downright un-American in Robb's view.
In fact Andrew will be working further on his brilliant communication strategy in the Tool Shed this week.
Look forward to the announcement that IR Reform will abolish holes in donuts; make the young feel old and the old feel young; cure arthritis, gangrene, baldness and tinea; get clothes whiter than white and keep your lawn fresh and healthy all year round.
Is it possible that Andrew's been having too much of the Peruvian Marching powder while he's been brainstorming this genius with the boys from the ad agency?
Either way, it's a sign of how much trouble the Howard government is in when they are leaving policy in the hands of people who wear ponytails and bow ties, or even worse, Andrew Robb.
If the honourable member for Goldstein can rise to such an exalted position on the back of his previous experience, imagine how far he could go if he actually had any ability!
Imperial Mushrooms, of Londonderry, dumped Carmen Walacz Vel Walewska when she asked why it also paid a rate 40 cents an hour below the award.
"It's put a lot of pressure on me," she said.
"My whole life has been turned upside down since I've been working there."
Walacz Vel Walawska broke down addressing Unions NSW delegates who applauded her courage in coming forward to shine a light on her treatment.
Walacz Vel Walewska said she had been sceptical about the contract, but signed because she was told, if she didn't, she would only work when nobody else was available.
"They wanted me to sign this paper there and then, if I did not I was going to be put on call," she said.
After learning AWA wage rates were also below award standard, Walacz Vel Walewska let co-workers know and approached management for an explanation.
She later received a phone call from her employer, telling her she was sacked because of poor performance, even though she had not received any warnings about her work standards.
Walacz Vel Walewska said it had put strain on her and on her relationships.
AWAs are the Howard Government's preferred form of employment contract. It plans to reduce compliance requirements in a bid for broader take-up.
The AWA Walacz Vel Walewska signed rolled the following award entitlements into a $15.80 hourly rate - holiday pay, holiday loading, long service leave, sick pay, penalty rates, meal allowance, travel allowance, parental leave, bereavement leave, redundancy and severance entitlements.
It required her to "remain flexible at all times" and to be available to "work in other areas".
The Australian Workers Union's Bill Shorten said the situation exposed the truth on AWAs.
"The Howard Government likes to tell us workers are better off on individual contracts - try telling that to Carmen who now has to fight for her job because she dared to stand up for herself and her fellow workers," Shorten said.
The AWU will hold a rally outside Imperial Mushrooms next week to push for Walacz Vel Walewska's reinstatement.
The CPSU has filed Federal Court papers against Centrelink, alleging it blocked a $1000 wage increase for Adelaide call centre staffer, Paul Willson, because he defended a workmate and forwarded an “all-staff” email to the union for advice.
Centrelink ticked off on Willson's work performance but rejected a salary advance after its local manager claimed his actions, on behalf of workmates, lacked integrity.
CPSU spokesperson, Paul Ingwersen, said the agency's attempt to determine what a delegate could and couldn't do was "worrying".
"Paul provides information, advice and support to workmates who ask," Ingwersen said. "He does it in his own time because he cares.
"Union delegates, like volunteer firefighters, lifesavers and charity workers should be celebrated, not penalised.
"Paul has worked there for five years and his work record is beyond reproach but management won't pay his increase because of his union activity.
"Centrelink's action gives us an insight into what all workplace will be like under the Government's hard-line industrial laws.'
The action against Willson came as Centrelink joined the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations in forcing new starters onto AWAs.
Centrelink has been holding out on a new enterprise bargaining for months, while using AWAs to strip conditions that are part of its agreement with the CPSU.
Last month, for the first time, Centrelink advertised positions on the basis of staff having to sign AWAs.
The aggressive use of secret, individual contracts comes as the Prime Minister and Workplace Relations Minister continue to insist, publicly, that they are a matter of choice.
Tourism and Transport Forum chief, Christopher Brown, said Kevin Andrews' threat to halve guaranteed annual leave entitlements could decimate domestic tourism.
Industry leaders expressed their concerns to federal Tourism Minister, Fran Bailey, last week.
Brown said Andrews' plan to allow two weeks of annual leave to be cashed out would see workers taking fewer holidays.
He said it would take Australia one undesirable step closer to the US situation.
"We don't want to end up like the Yanks, with only two weeks holiday," Brown said.
At the same time, Sydney University history teacher, Richard White, argued it could split Australian society between the haves and the have-nots.
Near-universal access to paid family holidays, he said, had been a defining characteristic of Australianness, different from the experiences of other Anglo-Celtic societies.
"One scenario, if we keep on going down this line, is that we'd get to a situation which is a bit like it was back in the 18th Century," White told Workers Online.
"(Where) you had a sort of class that could afford leisure and sufficient income - unearned income from investment and inheritance - that that class didn't need to work and they could enjoy quite a lot of leisure.
"On the other hand, the majority of people had less and less leisure available to them."
The Australian reported, last week, that there was widespread tourism industry support for Brown's warning about economic damage.
It quoted voyages Hotels and Resorts boss, Grant Hunt, warning staff would 'burn out' because economics would dictate they should take the money.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council head Daniel Gschwind called the proposal a "bad move".
State Transit and Waverley Council signed off on a bus lane at the new Bondi Junction shopping centre without consulting bus drivers, who realised it would lead to lengthy delays and endanger pedestrians.
Drivers pointed out that the new stopping bays were too narrow and mixed pedestrians and buses on the busiest bus corridor in Australia.
"This came about because there was no consultation with the bus drivers,' says Wendy Wirth, a driver from Waverley Bus Depot. "We knew it just wouldn't work.
"It would have caused massive delays and cancellation of trips as there was no room for busses to go past a bus stopped in front."
Drivers from Waverley Depot overwhelmingly supported a ban on the new bus stops when they were constructed last year.
The bans prompted Westfield to launch a campaign against the drivers, advertising in local papers claiming they were inconveniencing the elderly.
The bussies hit back with a concerted community campaign to inform the public, winning widespread support through leafleting Bondi Junction interchange and providing information to passengers on the dangers of the new stopping bays.
"Neither the public nor the union will accept a reduction in public transport facilities," says Raul Boanza from the RTBU.
The successful campaign brought the driver's union, the RTBU, the council, State Transit and Westfield to the table early this year, where the developer agreed to foot the bill for a rebuild of the bus stops.
"We heard a lot from Westfield about the inconvenience to the public during the campaign," says Boanza. "We've had an agreement for eight months. The ball is in their court. We've heard nothing from them about inconveniencing the public since they agreed to fix the problem.
"At this rate they will miss the Christmas sales."
The bill for fixing widening the bus stops is already over $100,000 and rising, and Boanza says that bus drivers simply want the faulty design fixed quickly.
"We just want to hear the sound of jackhammers, not excuses."
The possibility of a five-fold increase in the projected cost came after big business insisted it move to counter public opposition.
Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, is drawing up new workplace laws based on wish lists submitted by the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
At their heart are secret individual contracts that will be used to undermine negotiated collective contracts. Other key elements include green-lighting unfair dismissals, eliminating guaranteed access to a range of entitlements, and a hostile takeover of state IR systems
Spooked business spokespeople demanded that the government raid taxpayers' funds, after its announcement, by the Prime Minister, sparked a public backlash.
Andrews initially resisted, saying an advertising blitz could wait until the legislation was drafted.
But, after successive polls revealed big slumps in government popularity, the Prime Minister returned from holidays and fast-forwarded the "information campaign".
Analysts expected taxpayers to foot a bill of between $20 million and $25 million for glossy brochures, newspaper, television and radio advertising.
But the head of the government taskforce charged with selling the agenda, revealed last week, the bill could be much larger.
Former Liberal Party president, Andrew Robb, told Melbourne's Age newspaper that workplace advertising could match the controversial GST spend.
"I expect it to be consistent with similar other major policy changes like the GST," Robb said.
GST advertising costs have been put at more than $100 million.
ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, said leaks of the advertising specs proved the government was out to "con" Australians.
Inspired by the United States organization, moveon.org, GetUp, will use the internet to bring pressure on Coalition senators from hundreds of thousands of Australians.
Founded by Jeremy Heimans and David Madden, who have worked in online organising and campaigning in the US, GetUp is promoting a new grass roots political movement with a series of television ads starting from this week.
Dotcom millionaire Evan Thornley, union leader Bill Shorten and Green activist Cate Faehrmann have joined Hewson, the architect of the Liberal Party's Fightback policy, on the board of of GetUp.
Liberal backbencher, Andrew Robb, accused GetUp of being a Labor Party front on the ABC's 7.30 report, despite the varied political backgrounds of its board.
Heiman and Madden were motivated to form GetUp as a result of the coalition gaining Control of the Senate. They have told media that they believe they can build a membership of hundreds of thousands of Australians and that their campaign will hold the government to account on a range of issues, including treatment of refugees, media ownership as well as industrial rlations.
Unions NSW is one of a number of organizations and individuals supporting GetUp, who have raised $1.5million so far to help build their campaign.
"GetUp brings together like-minded people who want to bring participation back into our democracy," Says its website.
The GetUp website can be visited at http://www.getup.org.au/
Andrews ducked those questions at last Thursday's meeting with state and territory IR Ministers, setting the scene for a legal showdown over his radical agenda.
NSW Minister, John Della Bosca, said "on the evidence available" a joint High Court challenge to the Commonwealth's use of Corporations powers seemed inevitable.
"Alarmingly," Della Bosca said, Andrews had also refused to commit to circulating specifics of his workplace rewrite before it was tabled in Parliament.
Della Bosca called the federal IR approach an "arrogant abuse of power".
"The Commonwealth Government failed to give any assurances that its industrial relations changes would not reduce the wages, entitlements or lifestyles of Australian workers and their families," he said.
State and Territory Ministers said they refused Andrews' bid to hand over their IR systems after considering modelling showing families stood to lose thousands of dollars from the proposed changes.
They went into the meeting brandishing claims that the difference between existing entitlements and the Commonwealth's proposed minimum standards could see ..
- nurses lose up to $18,688 a year
- restaurant workers down by more than $700
- cleners lose up to $966 per annum
Andrews refused to provide the following requested assurances ..
- that there would be no hostile takeover of state systems
- that AWAs would not offer less take home pay than received under federal or state awards
- that a fair minimum wage would be set by a truly independent authority
- that there would be a comprehensive safety net
- that there would be an independent umpire with dispute settling powers
- that there would be special protections for vulnerable workers, including contractors
Della Bosca the requests were based on evidence that removal of minimum standards such as leave loading, penalties and allowances would "devastate" family budgets.
Independent figures show that union backed industry superannuation delivered double-digit returns last year.
Nine of the top 10 superannuation funds over the last five years were industry funds, according to the latest figures from independent analyst SuperRatings.
It is a figure backed up by rival researcher, Rainmaker Information. Its research shows that seven of the top 10 funds were not-for-profit industry plans.
The Financial Review described the not-for-profit industry funds as "stars of the show".
Michael Rice from independent actuary Rice Walker told the Fin: "It is remarkable how industry funds, statistically, have always been good performers since they started in 1985.
"When the stockmarket has been down, they have tended not to have very big downturns. They have also been prepared to take punts like reducing exposure to international shares. And so far they have been pretty right. I think, given the record, you'd have to say that it is good management rather than luck."
Rice says industry funds can charge fees that are as much as one per cent a year lower than commercial rivals.
Industry funds now control $104 billion of the nation's retirement savings.
The government's "super choice" campaign allows employers to shift their employees' superannuation into the fund of the bosses' choice unless workers specify otherwise.
More than 17,000 small businesses diddled employees of their superannuation last financial year, the Australian Taxation Office reported, last week.
One of the key reasons the federal government has advanced for sweeping workplace change is to limit the rules small business has to abide by.
A CPSU telephone poll of members in the Melbourne electorate of Menzies uncovered deep concern over what their local member was up to.
The telephone survey revealed 91 percent of respondents were "concerned" at the treatment of Andrews' own staff, who are being denied access to the independent umpire.
Ninety two percent expressed concern at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations policy of forcing new starters onto Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs).
Eighty three percent said they were "not confident" Andrews' radical rewrite of workplace rules would deliver fair workplaces.
The results came as frustrated CPSU members in the department launched another round of strikes against stone-walling on their enterprise bargaining agreement.
Staff have been involved in negotiations with the agency for 12 months. During that time, DEWR has adopted a policy forcing new starters onto secret individual contracts, outside the collective agreement.
The CPSU says the last round of negotiations brought an improved pay offer but members are opposed to management's insistence that they ditch their right to take workplace disputes before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
"On May 26, the Prime Min8ister told Parliament the future focus of the AIRC would be on resolving disputes. We can't understand why his Minister is trying to deny that to his own staff.
"If DEWR was fair dinkum about reaching an agreement, it could happen immediately," CPSU spokesperson, Lisa Newman, said.
The engineering company has gone to the Philippines to look for 10 welders, claiming they cannot find the workers in Australia.
But the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union's Peter Lees has revealed this is because they are paying $19.20 per hour, while other companies in more convenient locations are paying between $20.50 and $22 per hour.
"Bradken has admitted to the AMWU during wage negotiations it is seeking a competitive advantage over other companies through these reduced wage rates," says the AMWU's Peter Lees.
"There are plenty of Australian tradespeople who would work for Bradken if it paid market rates.
"Only this week the AMWU learnt of a young Ipswich welder who applied for a job at Bradken about a month ago, but has not even received a response from the company."
Employees at the Ipswich site are threatening to walk out if they bring in foreign labour at reduced rates.
Lees said Bradken only had itself to blame.
"They've benefited from the resource boom but want to maintain the rates they paid before the boom," Lees said.
Despite constant Government assurances that individual contracts would be a matter choice, the aerospace company refuses to negotiate a collective agreement with more than 40 Williamstown tradesmen who maintain and service RAAF fighter jets.
The AWU claims the federal government has waived severe contractual penalties that should have been imposed on the company to encourage it to lead the fight against collective agreements.
AWU members at Williamstown have been locked out, or on strike, now for nine weeks in a bid to overturn the individual contracts.
"The Boeing dispute is about the right of these workers to choose a union negotiated agreement over unfair individual contracts," AWU state secretary, Russ Collison said.
"The contracts contain a 40-hour week, no allowances, and no overtime rates with the effect of workers being at least $12,000 a year worse off than those on union-negotiated agreements."
Collison said the wage differential came from a direct comparison with workers doing the same jobs for Hawker de Havilland at Bankstown.
Boeing bases its individual contracts on minimum rates in the metal trades award. It then adds a calculation to come up with a gross salary, supposedly covering overtime and all other entitlements.
AMWU sources, with members at several aerospace companies, say the gross amount is "about right" for fulltime employees but that Boeing operates a standard 43 hour week, against the 38 in the award, and that workers lose five hours worth of overtime payments every week.
They also point out that, contrary to the award and law, Boeing only pays super on its base figure, rather than full earnings. The difference can
Last week, another two scabs being flown in from Boeing's Queensland operation, quit Williamstown.
The number of Queensland strike breakers has now fallen from 26 to nine.
An Amberley worker told Workers Online that the original crew flown to NSW did not even know it was landing in the middle of an industrial dispute.
Boeing says employees have been "frustrated" by poor communications from management.
Last year, according to its annual report, Boeing recorded a profit of $52 billion.
The Prime Minister surprised Canberra watchers by ditching revamped building industry legislation in favour of the hardline 2003 package that had been rejected by the votes of crossbench Senators.
The original bill, based on recommendations of the discredited Cole Commission and drafted by Liberal Party headkicker, Tony Abbott, will greet the new Senate in its first week.
The changes curtail building workers' bargaining rights, strip back awards, place severe limitations on the ability of unions to visit worksites.
"There is nothing moderate or reasonable about it," CFMEU assistant national secretary, Dave Noonan, said.
"We will now see whether new Senators are serious about making sure ordinary Australians aren't trampled on, or whether they will just let this legislation sail through.
The bill comes hard on the heels of legislation that gives government officials the right to compel building workers to submit to interrogations about industrial issues or face prison.
The Government's Building Industry Taskforce, a special organisation set up to harass workers and their unions, has secretely recorded workers on a number of occasions.
Noonan said the anti-building worker laws were a warning of what was coming for all employees.
"This government will go to any lengths to destroy Australian trade unions and these laws are the bottom line in its anti-worker approach," Noonan said.
Disabled residents from Ferguson Lodge are fearful of plans to force them into group homes with lower levels of medical care after they discovered that the owners, ParaQuad, wanted to sell to major developers.
The move would see the residents split up into group homes around Sydney with substantially fewer carers.
The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union took the decision to place an interim green ban on the demolition of their home after being contacted by representatives of the Ferguson Lodge Action Committee.
"The CFMEU does not take this Green Ban lightly," says CFMEU NSW President Peter McClelland. "We are committed to preventing a situation where these residents are forced to leave Ferguson Lodge against their will and contrary to previous undertakings, for the sake of selling this 7 hectare parcel of land for redevelopment.
"Many of the residents have lived at Ferguson Lodge for more than 20 years, they are active members of the local community, and they are reliant on the 24 hour care provided by the team of devoted and professional staff.
"Splitting them up, moving them out of the area, and restricting them to group homes which only have carers for 37 hours a week is a recipe for disaster, and in a worst case situation may result in the death of one of these residents unless the Government steps in."
The CFMEU said the green ban was designed to encourage ParaQuad to fully consult with the residents and to urge the Minister for Disability Service John Della Bosca to step in to guarantee none of the residents will be evicted.
WHY THE STATE IR SYSTEMS MATTER
In response to the Howard government's proposed dismantling of the State industrial relations systems, the Business and Labour History Group at the university of Sydney is organisinga one-day symposium on the industrial, social and economic significance of the State systems since their foundation over a century ago. The symposium, entitled The State Systems of Industrial Relations: Past, Present and Future, is to be held on Friday 26 August at the Women's College, University of Sydney. Speakers include Justices Wright and Walton from the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW, as well as a number of academic researchers and labour lawyers. Full program details, as well as an on-line registration facility, are available at http://blhg.econ.usyd.edu.au.
CUP OF TEA?
a new black comedy about politicians, sex, murder, sex, big business, the media... and sex. It opens August 8 at the Newtown Theatre and is a witty, cynical look at modern political life, written and directed by (Dr) Patricia Petersen - who is probably the most photogenic 'human headline' writing for the stage in Australia
ran against Tony Abbott in the last federal election;
has taught politics and political philosophy in various Australian universities;
has written a number of plays, produced and directed several others and acted in many more;
recently starred in and directed The Vagina Monologues at the Seymour Centre and NIDA;
She lives and writes in Sydney.
It appears to me that the greed and idiocy of todays conservitive polititions have but one goal.The return to an age where only those with money have a right to any type of quality in life.One might say a demented divine right of capitol based on the old divine right of kings creed.
There is no understanding in their minds of the fact that it is the ordinary workers of this world on whose backs their wealth has been built.
People like Wee Mary.
We Mary was a simple soul,
To live her life her only goal.
To feed her kids and pay the rent,
Her life in hardship gladly spent.
Aye,in labour's toil on factory floor,
She kept the hunger from her door
Then every Sunday off to pray.
Her only light that holly day.
Well Mary lived and Mary died,
And few they knew and few they cried.
Now shes forgotten for all time,
Except,in this wee sad sad rhyme.
Written by John Mc Shane.
There has been some discussion recently in the WoL letters page about the US AFL-CIO split. But one good thing that came out of that convention is a resolution supporting „rapid withdrawal‰ of the US from Iraq.
David Bacon is a well known US unionist & journalist involved in reporting on and supporting Iraqi unions. His article „AFL-CIO CONVENTION CALLS FOR TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ‰ makes for interesting reading (see the link below).
Some may ask what has this to do with Aussie unions. The Aus union movement has a position against the war in Iraq. It is an important issue to keep up with given this country‚s recently increased commitment to troops to Iraq.
Iraqi unions, banned during Saddam's regime, are trying to survive and grow in a harsh environment attacked by the islamic fundamentalists and Ba‚athists in the 'armed resistance', the US occupation forces and the interim government.
In the US a widely supported grass roots movement 'US Labor Against the War' (USLAW) has done a lot to support Iraqi unions by promoting speaking tours from Iraq and raising money for Iraqi unions. The UK Trade Union Congress gives a lot of support to the Iraqi unions including a "donate here" button on their web site.
The Aus union movement is a bit behind this level of awareness of the issues facing the emerging democratic union movement in Iraq. In the view of many unionists this movement is one of the few sources for hope in Iraq. In Sydney and in Perth there are a couple of small groups of unionists supporting Iraqi unions. Maybe it is time for the Œofficial‚ union movement to take a greater interest.
For more info go to:
NSW Public Service Association Central Councillor
Let's be honest. Politics is about getting your way whilst letting everyone else think they got theirs. And John Howard is an expert. He is able to do this better than any politician in memory. He is about to do to industrial Relations, what he has wanted to do for many years. Give the power back to the employer.
Mr Howard has put forward a raft of changes that to most reasonable people look to be overstepping the mark and will create a system where families and the average worker will be penalised. Less leave, stricter unfair dismissal rites, no public holidays, no minimum wage and individual agreements for workers. Sounds horific doesn't it!!
Well, it's just a bargaining tool. And this is where we and our Unions have to be very, very careful. You see, both the Government and the Unions are embarking on an expensive campaign of advertising to get their point across to the community.
This does two things, firstly it erodes the financial assets of the Unions so they cannot fight as hard later on when they have to got to court. Solicitors cost money and if you don't have money you don't get your day, or weeks, or years as the case will be, in court. Triumph, Just ask the Victorian SPSF who went bankrupt under the Kennet regime in the 90's. The CPSU gave the members a lifeline, but he broke their back using every means he could, including costly legal battles.
Secondly, It gives him negotiation power. His campaign will convince a large number of people that it will happen anyway, and that some of his ideas are good for our community and Australia. I've already heard normal workers like me talking this way. So when he comes out and announces that he has negotiated with the unions and employers and here are the new laws that he wants to put forward, everyone will say "ALL HAIL JOHNNY, HE LISTENED TO THE PEOPLE". What he will have done, is implemented what he wanted in the first place. He's just thrown us a curve ball to start with, the same as our UNIONS have done with employers for many years. Don't ever think that John Winston Howard isn't clever, He has learnt from us and is trying to destroy us with our own tactics.
Be afraid, be very afraid.
Australians want certainty in the work place.
It is interesting to see how the Howard government is well aware of framing and how far behind our side in federal politics really is.
An example of this can be seen in Howard's gutting of our Industrial relations tribunal and replacing it with what they have called (not be accident) the "Australian Fair Pay Commission". The language is not neutral, it is framed, and loaded. It also doesnt help when the media and the opposition start using that language.
Peter Beattie on the other hand is a smart politician who knows how to frame. In an appearance on lateline a few weeks back, he talked about Howard's changes using the following frame:
"these changes will bring uncertainty to the workplace. Australians want certainty in their work place".
The term 'change' and 'uncertainty' are not put in the same sentence by accident. People naturally fear change, and so combining it with the term 'uncertainty' reinforces that. He repeated these terms several times. Unfortunately the federal party has been all over the place - not using a frame, and simply relying on one off attacks. The attacks should remain, but they should be talked about in terms of a larger frame - change and uncertainty.
Another frame the federal opposition would benefit from would involve reminding people what the Howard government has become - arrogant and out of touch.
Now that the federal government has the Senate, they have signalled their intentions to force through their extremist positions, regardless of what people want. Whether the issue be abolishing protection from unfair dismissal or Telstra privatision (which polls shows most people do not want), and many, many others, the federal opposition has the opportunity to frame these extreme changes as "arrogant and out of touch". The fact that they will eb acting in an arrogant way will reinforce the message in peoples minds.
Arrogance is something that Australians hate seeing. You can see it in Jeff Kennett being kicked out, you can see it Howard and Beattie being ultra-careful not to appear triumphant or overly triumphant. Premier Beattie almost looked dissapointed when he won his third landslide victory!
For more info on how our side can frame and get back in the game, visit http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/projects/strategic/simple_framing/view
There is nothing like a bit of first hand experience to understand the implications of the upcoming changes. Mr Iemma seems to have it.
What I find even more impressive is his willingness to humanise the struggle. Mr Iemma said:
"I remember with some bitterness the time I spent with my father who lost his job during the recession of the early 1980s," he said.
"Twenty years of hard work with one company and no payout, no redundancy and no care for what will happen to him or his family.
"My understanding of the devastation brought on people who are badly treated in the workplace is formed by own experience.
"These changes threaten the livelihood of many and coming from the background that I do, I am duty bound to oppose them."
Early days yet, but he's got my support if he keeps this up.
Am I just a "Grumpy Old Man" expressing a justified cynicism, or are there other citizens in this state, who in the light of current inquiries such as " Orange Gate" and after reading this effort at poetry by Frank Sartor , the new Minister for Planning in the Iemma Labor State Government , are also profoundly concerned as to the direction our once great sate is headed?
Ode to a Developer
It's gotta be tall or it won't stack up
We'll use an architect who will only say yup
Keep it simple, keep it cheap
Paint a picture, get an approval,
Always a doodle
If some council gives you nought,
Don't get angry, go to court
Little prospects, trouble lotsa?
Sell the approval and make a motza.
Would it be possible to start some sort of forum within the Workers Online website? This could be a great way to for people to share experiences and ideas. It is also a great way of encouraging people to get active and allowing them to have their say outside the narrow limitations of a letter to the editor i.e more opportunity for responses and further elaboration.
While the commentariat debates whether this is a necessary spring clean or the baling out of a sinking ship - what is certain is that the effectiveness of the new Premier will have a concrete impact on the living standards of NSW workers.
We know the scenario. Morris Iemma comes to the leadership at a time when NSW workers face a hostile takeover of its industrial relations system; a play that would put basic rights such as weekend penalties and annual leave up for grabs.
The outgoing Premier took a strong line against these changes; giving a guarantee that he would hold onto the state system, challenge the federal laws in the High Court and campaign on the issue all the way to the next state election.
His successor's challenge is to seize both the moral and political challenge of turning the protection of workers rights into one of the foundation stones of his Premiership.
Looking at Morris Iemma's background gives some grounds for confidence.
He began his career as an industrial officer with the Commonwealth Bank Officers' Association, dealing with the daily issues working people face.
As a Minister he may have had a low public profile, but he has gone the extra mile for workers - bringing in a ground-breaking procurement policy as Minister for Public Works that required firms to meet basic labour standards before they could win government contracts.
While this use of purchasing policy is merely applying the same standards the Howard Government has been using to bust unions, it took significant drive to get it through a habitually cautious Cabinet.
But while the new Premier has some runs on the board there are also concerns.
Already we have seen the new leadership team fall into the ritual of 'discovering' a massive budget hole - opening the down for big cuts to public spending even as taxes for property speculation are cut.
And while we love Michael Costa dearly, the idea of him calling the economic shots in the State fills many with trepidation; after all, this is the guy who has turned economic rationalism into a fetish.
The government's broader policy challenges are about its failure to invest in public services in a bid to pay off debt that could have easily been serviced.
He needs to free up funds to improve public services; most critically in transport.
While vows to maintain the policy of no forced redundancies in the public sector are welcome, there are genuine concerns about where the new premier goes with this.
If he falls into the trap of playing to the financial markets by privatising public assets and cutting public service jobs, we could find the cure could be worse than the malady.
As for valedictories - Bob Carr can proudly point to the 1996 NSW Industrial Relations Act, the leadership role he played during the MUA dispute, the strong stand he took against James Hardies.
Some of us may never forget the workers compensation blockade of State Parliament and the two-fingered salute as he used police horses against workers, but it would be wrong to see this as the whole story.
What we shouldn't forget is that Bob Carr came to power as the only Labor Premier, and left power with all states and territories under Labor rule.
As Morris Iemma is about to discover, every Labor leader is a product of their times; with the capacity to shape the future for working people. It is a heady responsibility.