||Issue No. 287||28 October 2005|
A Sick Set of Laws
Interview: Under Fire
Politics: And the Winners Are ...
Economics: The Common Wealth
History: Walking for Justice
International: Deja Vu
Legal: The Rights Stuff
Review: That Cinderella Fella
Poetry: Is Howard Kidding?
The Locker Room
PM's Fatal Flush
Sign of the Times
Labor's Love Lost
A Sick Set of Laws
That's right - after much debate about how the changes will affect the Australian way of life; concerns have now been raised that they will be a threat to Australian life itself.
Drawing on the field of social epidemiology - that is the study of how social conditions affect public health - ACIRRT has painted a picture of a society where the gap between the life expectancy of the rich and the poor will widen.
At the heart of the analysis is research showing that it is income distribution and not national wealth that determines a nation's material well-being - which explains why the wealthiest nation on Earth, the USA, ranks just 26th in life expectancy.
The key is what Sir Michael Marmot, a world renowned Australian scientist - has called the social gradient; a calculation of public health based on occupational and social hierarchy.
What ACIRRT concludes is that, under the federal government's industrial relations, changes will increase the social gradient - that is, the gap between the haves and have-nots; with a huge pool of low-cost labour in insecure, unskilled jobs with few work rights.
While there has been much debate of the social cost of this push down the American road, the threats to weekends, annual leave, secure work and the impact of on family and community life, the Marmot analysis is something else again.
What this research says is that labour market deregulation will have a profound impact on the national health in ways we haven't even begun talking about.
These are big issues based on rigorous science that will be easy for the government to trivialise and dismiss.
But, at the very least, it shows why there needs to be genuine community debate about these changes, not just a one week power play, a bodgy Senate Inquiry and a government waiting to rubber stamp major changes to our society.
The Senator, who would come into play if Barnaby Joyce gets an attack of political consciousness before it's too late, Steve Fielding, has been rebuffed in his call for a Family Impact Statement.
That work is now being undertaken by Dr Don Edgar, foundation director of the National Institute of Family Studies, who Unions NSW has commissioned to produce his own analysis.
Both Dr Edgar's work and ACIRRT's report are important research, not just in the current political debate, but in placing on record the damage to Australian society that is about to be done.
The polls say the Australian community does not support these changes and targeted research shows they are deeply confused and sceptical - and the expenditure of $40 million in taxpayer funded advertising has only deepened their trepidation.
What Marmot's research tells us is that the fears are probably even more justified than people realise.
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