Labor Council's Unions 2000 coordinator Chris Christodouolou says some McDonalds workers will be up to 40 per cent worse off than other workers, after the global giant used its status as an Olympics sponsor to avoid the award.
Christodoulou says McDonalds is insisting on keeping workers on junior rates of pay and is not paying the benchmark attendance bonus of $1.50 per hour.
This means a McDonalds workers aged over 21 will receive $13.89 as opposed to the $16.60 rate for all other Games workers over the age of 18. And for younger workers the disparity is greater. If you work for McDonalds you'll receive just $9.72 per hour if you are 18, $11.11 if you are 19 and $12.49 if you are 20.
Likewise, younger workers with Maccas will be penalized receiving just $5.55 per hour at 15 years of age, $6.94 at 16 and $8.33 at 17. All other workers under 18 at the Games are entitled to a rate of $9.80 per hour.
Christodoulou says the pay discrepancies highlights difference that the unions have made in setting minimum rates and conditions for Games' workers as distinct from those employers who go it alone.
"We think it's unfortunate that a Games sponsor can be allowed to stand outside the Olympics award. It's as if they've been able to pay their way out of being a responsible employer," he says.
"When people buy their food at the Olympics, they should remember who the McMeanies are!"
Chase Manhattan was targeted by several hundred supporters of the workers who have been locked out by Joy Manufacturing - for offering financial support to the company.
Joy workers say Chase Manhattan has provided $750 million to the American multinational corporation Harnischfeger Industries, who wholly owns Joy.
"This American company has come to this country to bust the union," the AMWU's John Parkin said.
Amongst the workers enjoying a sausage sizzle were a number of strangely out of place suits, later identified as members of the law firm Middletons, Moore and Bevin.
One young suit, taking photos of speakers, identified himself as working for 'Honi Soit' the University of Sydney's student newspaper. When challenged later, he admitted he was lawyer named 'Chris'.
The heavy-handed tactics follow moves by Joy's lawyers to personally sue university students and union officials Andrew Ferguson and Arthur Rorris for supporting the Moss Vale workers.
South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the rally "would send a message that we are keeping an eye on those who are propping up thugs like Joy."
by Andrew Casey
The trade union movement in Fiji has organised a nationwide protest to demonstrate their deep concern about the current crisis.
" We have got agreement from all civic groups to back the national closure of the country, under the broad theme that this is a Day for Peace and Democracy.
" I hope that unions in Australia, New Zealand, and around the world, can creatively use Wednesday as a day to demonstrate their support and solidarity with the workers of my country," Mr Anthony said.
The civic groups are campaigning for the restoration of the Constitution and a restoration of Law and Order.
Private Sector Backs Protest
Key private sector employers have decided to support the union demonstrations.
The demonstrations are also being backed by about a dozen civic groups including the powerful Methodist Church, the Citizens Constitutional Forum and important women's and social welfare organisations.
The decision to go ahead with the nationwide protests was confirmed this afternoon by Felix Anthony after meetings in the national capital Suva.
Tension is very high in Fiji- especially in Suva - following the arrest of most of the leaders of the terrorist gang who forced out the Labour-led democratically elected government of Fiji.
" The capital is very quiet. The town seems almost deserted as people are holding their breath fearful of what might happen now that the Speight group have been arrested by the military," Mr Anthony said after the meeting of the civic groups.
The Fiji military are now holding more than 300 people associated with the George Speight gang after beginning arrests late on Wednesday night.
The Interim Finance Minister Ratu Jone Kubuabola released a mini-budget today in which he projected a negative economic growth of 15 per cent this year.
Throughout today there have been reports of pro-Speight uprisings and hostage taking - with rumours of a march by Speight supporters
During the day, in Labasa, - the main city on the second largest island of Fiji - the rebels had taken hold of the army barracks and for a short while rounded up Indo-Fijians and detained them in the camp.
While the Western half of the main island of Fiji still seems to be peaceful most of the capital shut down today because of fears of violence and terror.
Civic Groups Meet
Despite the danger civic groups met in Suva today to confirm they are committed to next week's democracy protests, campaigning for the return of law and order based on the 1997 Constitution.
A plan for a march has now been shelved because of the current political tensions.
But workers and employers have been asked to stay at home for the day and show their solidarity at a local level with the aims of the civic groups.
Fiji Chamber of Commerce president Joe Singh told Fiji media that the national protest will close down all activities including the shutting down of all business, schools, governments and statutory offices.
The Chamber of Commerce is working with the TUC to try to come to an agreement about what further 'smart' sanctions could be supported.
These would particularly target the terrorist group leader George Speight and his supporters - rather than the broader community.
" We want to work together to find ways we can target, with smart sanctions, the business houses and the personalities who have conspicuously supported the terrorists, and worked to undermine Fiji's constitution and democratic institutions," Mr Anthony of the TUC said.
Mr Singh of the Chamber of Commerce said these actions are necessary and vitally important.
Mr Singh said he wanted to prevent the re-imposition of general trade bans that the TUC and its overseas union counterparts had threatened to re-introduce.
"I need not stress the very serious consequences both commercial and social that will arise for the people of Fiji should general trade union bans be re-introduced," Mr Singh told local media.
A joint agreement by the TUC and the private sector leadership was reached on Wednesday with the following proposals:
· A meeting to be held with the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo to outline and emphasise the need to deal with the current crisis within the framework of the 1997 constitution;
· Express to Ratu Iloilo the very deep concern of the total breakdown of law and order and the lack of ability and will, determination and commitment in the maintenance of law and order by the police and military authorities.
· Further express the concern of the apparent breakdown of the functions of the judicial system particularly by the discharge of an insurgent on grounds of alleged amnesty;
The signatories of the agreement are still waiting to meet with Ratu Iloilo to discuss these issues.
Offer Your Support
E-mail messages of solidarity and support should be sent for next Wednesday's Day of Protest to:
1) The Fiji TUC at mailto:[email protected]
2) One of the biggest private sector unions the Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union at mailto:[email protected]
3) The main public sector union the Fiji PSA at mailto:[email protected]
Send copies of your union solidairty messages to one of the major Fiji media outlets The Fiji Post/fijilivewebsite at mailto:[email protected]
by Andrew Casey
" They were having trouble attracting workers on weekends," Tim Ferrari, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) Assistant National Secretary, said today.
" So the Casino plumped for a return to penalty rates after five years of a scheme in which all workers got a loaded rate - no matter what their roster.
The Casino is not just returning to the old penalty rates scheme - they have decided that penalty rates will now kick in earlier than ever - starting Friday evenings, rather than Saturday mornings.
" The initiative to reintroduce the penalty rates came from Star City Casino management . There was debate among our members as to whether we should agree," Tim Ferrari, of the Casino Union, said.
" There has been a campaign by many employers - egged on by Peter Reith - to rubbish penalty rates as a bad Australian union tradition.
" Star City was one of the hospitality organisations who joined the campaign to get rid of penalty rates.
" At the time our members questioned the validity of this, but we eventually agreed when the company offered a 20 per cent loading to buy out the penalty rates.
" The union warned management that this change could mean they would find it hard to attract staff on weekends and now, five years later, we have been proved correct," Mr Ferrari said.
The reintroduction of penalty rates is part of a new enterprise agreement negotiated by the LHMU and endorsed by a two-third majority of staff in a ballot this week.
The new penalty rate structure at Star City Casino will provide a 50 per cent loading for workers starting at 7pm on Friday - with loadings throughout the rest of the weekend.
The 3000 workers at Star City will also receive base pay rises of 4 per cent a year - but the reintroduction of penalty rates will mean most workers can expect pay gains of between 5 per cent and 8 per cent in the first year and a further 4 per cent increase 12 months later.
As part of this agreement the LHMU has negotiated a $50 a day Olympic bonus.
by Mary Yaager
AWU State Secretary Russ Collison and his dynamic new team are "trying to make a difference in the bush for rural workers and their families".
Collison says "the new AWU team is committed to helping rural workers through listening to locals about their concerns and making a difference in their everyday working lives."
"One issue clearly identified by rural workers is the poor standard of accommodation and amenities on rural properties" Collison says.
During the last week the AWU has inspected a number of local properties.
"While some station owners are doing the right thing, others are not providing adequate amenities".
Rural women are especially affected and there is a significant lack of female toilets and washroom facilities on many properties.
"We are not asking station owners to provide elaborate or expensive facilities. We are only asking for the basics such as toilets and washrooms" Collison says.
AWU rural organiser Terry O'Connor inspected several shearing sheds this week, issuing a number of shed reports.
"90% of employers thank the AWU for providing them with a guide to preventing workplace risks and improving safety", says O'Connor, a former Australian shearing champion and shearing contractor.
"We are getting out and inspecting workplaces to ensure they are safe", Mr O'Connor said.
Rural accommodation and amenities are not the only issue that the union will "Push For The Bush".
Mr Collison said "workplace safety, job security and health issues are also of concern".
"Latest workplace statistics indicate that Australians working in agriculture are more likely to die on the job than those in most other industries", Mr Collison said.
According to Farmsafe two workers die each week on Australian farms and two children die every month as innocent bystanders of farm accidents.
"This is absolutely tragic and unnecessary", Mr Collison said.
The AWU, is seeking to turn these shocking statistics around by working with the State Government on a rural safety campaign.
The union has also initiated a number of rural safety forums throughout regional New South Wales in August and September. A rural workers safety hotline was jointly launched last week by the AWU, Country Labor, NSW Farmers' Federation and WorkCover NSW.
Another part of the strategy is getting out and inspecting workplaces to ensure they are safe.
The AWU will take these issues to the Country Labor Conference in November this year.
"We feel confident the AWU can get the Carr Government to introduce a code of practice on accommodation and amenities for rural workers through Country Labor", Mr Collison said.
by Scott Connolly
Taking submissions from drivers their partners other family members the inquiry has heard details on the incidence of drug use, speeding and declining safety standards in the industry.
Concerned Families of Australian Truckies' chairperson, Judith Penton told the inquiry of the terrifying details of truckers families being pushed over the edge and being forced to live with trauma and constant fear of losing loved ones on the road.
The inquiry has also heard from a number of employer's and industry associations involved in the industry, including submissions today from the Transport Worker's Union.
Despite the horror stories, the constant thread running through all the submission has been the level of competition in the industry and the pressures and demands that are being placed on drivers and companies in the industry that are forcing drivers over the edge.
Visiting American Academic, a former Teamster and author of "Sweetshops on Wheels", Dr Michael Belzer reinforced this point in his submission to the inquiry identifying the source of competition in the industry as the pressures and demands being forced on companies and drivers by clients wanting better transport services and continually cheaper prices.
Identifying a potential solution to problems in the industry. TWU State Secretary Tony Sheldon said, "Clients of the transport industry have to accept that there is a lot more to getting their groceries on the shelves than just 'out sourcing' to a transport company. Until these people are forced to accept responsibility for the movement of their freight on the nations highways the grim realities of the long distance trucking industry only going to get worse."
Chaired by Professor Michael Quinlan from the School of Industrial Relations and Organisational Behaviour at the University of NSW the inquiry will hold hearings in Canberra next week. It will be visiting other major transport hubs in the weeks to come, including sites in Melbourne and Brisbane.
by Noel Hester
On the eve of the Labor Party conference a large contingent- mainly from the manufacturing and construction sectors - served up notice outside Bob Carr's office on Wednesday that they, and their message, aren't going away.
Addressing the 2000 strong crowd, State Secretary of the AMWU, Paul Bastian, made it clear manufacturing workers are ready for robust debate - and action.
'There should be a freeze on tariff reductions until there is a social audit on the effects of free trade,' he said.
'We're going to continue to hold politicians accountable for their ineptitude on industry policies.'
Bastian also returned the flak the AMWU has received from some sections of the ALP. 'The ALP hasn't lost the arrogance that coughed us up to Reith and his like,' he said.
While complimenting the Carr Government for increasing expenditure on infrastructure in a post-Olympics world Bastian said they could do a lot more and blasted the lost opportunities and the secrecy surrounding the Olympics.
'We've seen the rorts coming out of SOCOG and the Olympics. The loss of jobs in the textile industry as clothing contracts go offshore. The printing of tickets went to the USA.. 95% of the musicians at the Olympics will come from overseas.'
Fronting up for the ACTU, new President Sharan Burrows threw her weight behind the fair trade campaign.
'It's a noble cause. We want to put people back into economic planning throughout the world. We want industry planning and community planning. We want fair trade in a world where people matter.'
by Andrew Casey
Accor runs some of the signature Olympic hotels in this city - out at Homebush, at Darling Harbour, the Menzies hotel in the CBD and hotels at Brighton Beach and Wollongong - , and all they were prepared to offer their employees is an extra $2 per hour.
" This is an insulting figure in light of the deals already made in the hospitality sector such as that from the Starwood Hotels group which provides an equivalent of $7.25 an hour.
" When we told Accor management that we couldn't take the $2 an hour offer back to members they cheekily increased the offer to $3 an hour," Mark Boyd said.
The Hotel Union - the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union - has begun informing members of their employers cheeky offer and an industrial campaign has started to put more pressure onto management.
Accor hotels in Sydney include the All Seasons Premier Menzies, the Novotel Darling Harbour and the Novotel Homebush at the Olympics venue site.
" Accor claims that they made $666 million in profits - but it seems those profits are just not enough to give our members a decent wage rate.
" Accor's Asia Pacific manager, Clive Scott, tried to justify the low offer by telling us that offers from Starwood and Star City could not be applied to their company because Accor did not operate in the high end of the hospitality market and that Accord " wasn't making enough money".
" The fact that Accor's income is measured in the billions of dollars makes it hard to accept that they cannot afford an extra payment of about $550 per worker for the Olympics," Mark Boyd said.
The amazing management strategy came to light during the successful claim by Effie Pyliotis against June Anne Manufacturing.
In its decision the Industrial Relations Commission found Pyliotis was sacked because she failed to apologise for her low productivity on a particular day. The IRC said this was not a valid reason for termination.
The Employer gave evidence that he had given notice of termination to the employee on 12 separate occasions for alleged bad performance but on each occasion before the notice expired her performance had improved an employment continued.
The Employer told the Commission he had given another employee notice of termination 27 times over a ten year period without actually sacking her.
The following is taken from transcript:
Commissioner: "[Your supervisor] says you used to give motivation speeches and part of that speech was if it's unsatisfactory you will be sacked, instant dismissal ...?
Employer: "That was group therapy".
Commissioner" "Yes, it's strange group therapy ... What I want to know is this, you said at one stage that you thought that terminating them was a bit of a prod to keep their production us. Is that correct?"
Employer" "Yes, I think that it's the sort of situation of using a word that not probably appropriate by using the word prod. It's a motivator."
The Commissioner said in its decision that except for the stautory cap of 26 weeks the employee would have received even more!
by Andrew Casey
Financial ARM members may:
* Vote for their national and state or territory representatives
* Nominate other ARM members for the above positions
* Stand as a candidate for the above positions
The ARM election timetable is as follows:
8 Aug - rolls close
11 Aug - nominations close
28 Aug - 1 Sep - conduct ballot
4 Sep - results declared
You may join or renew your ARM membership at http://www.republic.org.au/involvement/join.htm
What is the introductory training for?
You will be introduced to the core skills required to support to those who grieve the loss of a work colleague, employee, friend or family member through a work-related death.
This one hour presentation will introduce participants to the full twelve-hour "Grief Support for Work Related Deaths" training and the "Work Related Death Support Group".
Who can enrol?
The training program is open to work-mates, managers, family members, union delegates and affiliates of people who have died in work-related incidents or from occupational diseases. It is also open to those who are employed or seek to support trauma victims from work-related death or serious injury.
Who is the program leader?
Patty Lee who is a Psychologist, Counsellor & Workshop facilitator will lead the training program. Patty has led workshops with parents grieving losses in the family. She has also worked with families & individuals experiencing grief & trauma. Guest speaker, Mary Yaager, OH&S Coordinator, from the Labor Council of NSW will be a guest speaker on legal issues at the
What is Unifam?
Unifam Counselling & Mediation Service has provided services to the NSW community since 1977. Our aim is to prevent problems before they become too serious and to reduce and resolve conflict when it occurs, by assisting in providing early intervention programs. "Partners in Grief" is part of the Men's Matters program.
Our vision is to enhance the quality of life for children, adults and families by improving and strengthening their relationships.
There is no COST for this training
When & where?
The introductory presentation will be held at the NSW Labor Council building on:
Tuesday, 5th September,
Level 9, Executive Board Room,
Labor Council Building
377 Sussex St. Sydney
Centenary of Federation organizer Shani Wood says she's looking to trade unions to help her find 100 working people to march under the banner amongst 6,500 participants in the event.
The Sydney march will be held at 4pm on New Years Day - exactly 100 years after a similar march marked Federation. It will be televised nationally.
Unions wanting to participate should contact Cathy Farquhar on mailto:[email protected]
What a Gem!
Jones is all Ears!
Can I make a trunk call?
Mr. Stephen Jones, National Assistant Secretary, of the Communications and Public Sector Union, is asking the public to make known their opinion to Telstra re:
The service provided to all stakeholders from it Call Center Staff, through the monitoring of the sometimes mediocre customer service. *(aap)
Well Mr. Jones! I am communicating! Are you Listening?
Your fears could and should be well founded. If complaints are made about the usual, and at best indifferent service, what better method of investigation than, "Check The Tapes", and if the "Customer Service Representative ", is not capable of performing the function they are being paid for, or more probably unwilling to provide - Should they not be dismissed?
This ridiculous "Red Herring", of privacy is just another soggy straw onto which Incompetent Unions desperately claw , as they sink into the "Sea of Industrial Irrelevance."
To answer your Question, Mr. Jones, I am delighted that Telstra has decided to monitor all customer calls. Perhaps now, our level on service won't depend on a bad hair day, and Telstra will find it unnecessary to re-locate these call Centers to New Delhi, Bombay, or perhaps even Fiji to obtain a reasonable level of customer service.
This "Customer Service" is something Australians appear unwilling to provide at any price.
It would appear the only qualifications needed for Australian Style Customer Service being a degree in proctology.
Globalisation too often means the transfer of jobs from societies that have good standards of wages, work safety, workers' rights and environmental protection to countries where these fundamental human rights are poorer. This is resulting in an erosion in living standards in Australia without improving the lot of people in the countries to which our jobs are transferred. The final outcome will be a world where standards are set by the poorest country, rather than one where the lives of the world's poor are bettered.
The solution does not lie in the "old fashioned" methods of tariff protection where a fixed percentage duty is applied to all foreign goods. Such a tax merely rewards businesses that further cut wages and conditions in foreign countries while propping up inefficient procedures in our country.
I propose a tariff based on calculating the value of a good if it was produced at the Australian award rate of pay, with all workers' rights, health and safety regulations, and environmental protection laws. Such a tariff would be reduced as the foreign producer met the rules that would be imposed if the good was produced here. In other words, it would not force living standards down in the other country, but reward it as these standards were improved.
I further propose that all funds raised by such a tariff, after administrative costs, be allocated to foreign aid projects. This would ensure that Australia would not be seen to be profiting from the tariff or using it to subsidise local inefficiencies.
You forgot one category - the Rock Dinosaur Superannuation reunion/tour a la Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, Yes, Hawkwind, Led Zeppelin et al.
by Peter Lewis
What will you bring to the ALP Presidency if, as expected, you are voted in next week?
Well, there is a long way to go and I am a candidate, and I suppose I'm the favourite at this stage but I think the President of the Labor Party has a number of roles to play. They need to be some person that's positive so I think it is preferable if they have good management skills and an understanding of a broad range of the Labor movement, whether it be business, the trade union movement or a political party. I think that I probably have experience in all of those areas.
My focus will be - as the whole of the Party's focus should be in the next period of time - on winning government. I think I have played a reasonable role in Victoria helping the Victorian branch of the Labor Party overcome Jeff Kennett. I played a management role throughout the past seven years in Victoria helping to bring about that result, so I think I can make a positive contribution to the Party at a national level in the strategy and campaigning details and into management generally.
Speaking of Victoria, what do you see as the similarities between the situation that Labor's facing nationally now and that which faced Bracks 12 months ago?
I think they are entirely different. I think that the Labor Party in Victoria since '93 - certainly in '93 was really discredited publicly and it had to fight its way back from a really very, very difficult position.
Labor nationally is certainly not in that position. I think Labor nationally has a very strong, positive image, and the polling says that Labor nationally has a real chance of winning the next election.
Before John Della Bosca withdrew from the race the talk was that he would play a very hands on role during the election campaign and that would be the focus of the Federal President's job. Do you see that as a role that you will now step into?
I probably wouldn't put it that way. I think John Della Bosca has got an extremely important, continuing role to play. He has a great grasp and sense of campaigning and strategies and I would think that the Labor Party would want to continue to have John make a contribution, so I think that will continue.
I think that if the President of the Party has those additional skills it helps. I mean, I have got some of those skills, but I think that we would want to continue to use John as well.
Do you think that his comments on the GST has made it harder for Labor to win the next election?
I don't think that is an area that I would like to comment on. I think all that has been said about that has been said and I think that it is better for the matter to be put behind us.
Since your name has been raised, the mass media has run a lot of rhetoric from Reith and Howard about union hacks running the ALP. What is your take on the relationship between unions and the ALP in the 21st Century?
I think of the labour movement really as a family that has two parts, which is the Labor Party (the political party) and the trade union movement. If we just think about it historically the trade union movement recognised a long, long time ago that there were certain things that could be achieved by industrial action and campaigning with the employer, either at a local level or at a general level, but that if you really wanted to make fundamental changes and make laws regarding the social objectives of the trade union movement, i.e. into the economy, education, health, equity, and all the social issues, then trade unions decided a long time ago that you had to actually win government to do some of those things.
The relationship between the trade union movement and the Labor Party is always one that is like a family and that is where blood is thicker than water. But from time to time there will be disagreements that occur. The most important thing about the relationship is not necessarily that you have disagreements, but that you have the capacity to work them out, and I think that is the track record of the labour movement. I think at the moment the relationship between the Party and the trade union movement is a good one.
No one is really talking about an Accord in government, but would you say that looking back the eighties, that the relationship is either closer or more distant than back then?
I think it is different but I think that the Accord was the appropriate thing to do at an appropriate time in history. People will argue about what its benefits were or weren't but my feeling is that the Accord was something that worked well for working people.
The circumstances are different. I think an Accord isn't something that is necessarily called for at the moment. I think the relationship between the industrial wing and the political wing of the movement is probably a little more sophisticated, and I don't think anyone on either side particularly wants to have a formal document recording the relationship, but the relationship is a good one and I think we work things through together well.
Do you think the continuing slide in percentage union membership in the country affects that relationship at all?
I don't think it has. I think that this is an issue for the trade union movement really that it has to address - and I know is addressing, and we have done a lot of work to identify precisely what are our problems and what we need to do to overcome them. And there is a report that the trade union movement put together and has issued: "Unions at Work" and we are all now busily trying to implement the recommendations and the strategies which come out of that.
So I think that the union movement's future is in its own hands - and I'm talking as a trade unionist. We have to deliver the goods and we have to turn things around. I think our problem will be that if we don't do that - our future is as much about the relationship with the ALP but if we slide to a percentage level that for example exists in the United States or some of the other countries, then we'll have problems with being taken credibly in the community in general.
I guess conversely the other question is, do you think the ALP needs a strong union movement to keep its bearings?
I have always been, and am still, a strong supporter of the relationship between the trade union movement and the ALP and I think it is a beneficial one both ways.
Finally, it is a week before Conference at the moment. If things go smoothly, what do you hope to see at the end of next week?
The ALP National Conference is a unique meeting. It provides a bit of transparency about the way in which the Labor Party develops its policy and debates it and makes decisions. The Liberal Party doesn't have such a showcase.
But when you hold a conference which is public and transparent, there is always the opportunity for arguments to be held publicly. I think what everybody will hope for from this conference is that the platform that will be endorsed will be a positive one - and that the experience of the conference will be a positive one and will form another plank or another foundation for the Party to go forward to the next election.
by Noel Hester
The survey results are a sobering reminder that beneath the glitzy façade of this new, hyped, hi tech industry there are serious human problems that are being neglected by statistics-obsessed management.
Over half of respondents reported they were very stressed. A third took ten or more days off per year due to work related stress. 87% said stress was a workplace issue and 40% said they suffered from work related health problems such as headaches and eyestrain.
Stress came from a myriad of factors including oppressive call monitoring, equipment breakdown, and unsupportive managers. Phone rage was also a serious problem for workers who had to cop the flak for poor decisions made by company executives.
Employees had their own ideas about how call centres could be improved: managers listening to workers ideas and suggestions, a decreasing emphasis on statistics, a better management attitude and more support and training.
The survey covered workers in 658 union and non-union call centres. It was analysed by Monash University's Key Centre for Industrial Relations.
The survey results were announced as call centre workers from around Australia gathered in Melbourne this week to launch a campaign for a new national award.
The campaign was launched by new ACTU President Sharan Burrows. Sharan's involvement underlines the importance the new ACTU leadership gives to building union organisation in the new hi tech areas of the economy.
Australia has more than 4000 call centres employing about 160,000 workers. Industry forecasts predict the sector will grow by 25% per year.
ASU National Call Centre Coordinator Colin Lynch says the ASU campaign for a new award covers all states and focusses on contract call centres.
'Call centre employees are crying out for unions and for more rights for workers. They have a right to an award like anyone else. At the moment there are no minimum conditions for many workers in this growing industry,' he said.
Despite the serious problems in the industry employees maintain a bright attitude towards their careers. They see themselves as customer service professionals and expected to be treated as such.
Fiona, an employee for one of Australia's major call centre operators says call centres would be good places to work if they were unionised, conditions were improved and the oppressive environment was changed.
'If a good call centre can set up a career path and management treated call centre agents with respect and gave them direction there would be reason to be positive about the job. You wouldn't be thinking 'I've got to go to work and face these hundreds of calls,' she says.
'Unionising call centres is critical to achieve this. Now I can't talk freely. I can't stand up at work and say - 'these problems need to be sorted out.'
'Stress, call monitoring, the pressures of 7 day a week, 24 hour rosters, career paths and flexiblity for families are issues the industry has to face up to,' says Colin Lynch.
'A national award would go some way to addressing these issues for employees in a fair way.'
'Our survey reveals a high level of dissatisfaction with management among employees. This is reflected in the high turnover rate of staff. This is bad for employees and employers. Industry research has revealed each employee that leaves costs the industry $11,000.'
'An award gives minimum conditions for employees. Employers will no longer be competing on wages. An award will also give recognition to the skills required in a call centre.'
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said call centre management put workers under extraordinary pressure.
'Instead of focussing on the needs of staff and customers, call centre employers have a big brother obsession with call volumes, monitoring and statistics,' she said.
"AND THE WINNER IS ....SYDNEY" were the words spoken by International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch when Sydney successfully won its bid to host the Olympic Games in the year 2000. It is less than a year before we let the games begin on 15 September, 2000. There is great anticipation (as well as much construction activity) in Sydney as we close in on the first significant world event of the new millennium.
But what will the Olympics do for Australia apart from providing one big party in Sydney for two weeks? Well, it has already provided a significant boost to construction activity, particularly in New South Wales and has been part of an improved level of confidence in the Australian economy. It is also likely to bring technology and knowledge to Australia that will remain with us after the big event is over. According to a study by Arthur Anderson and the Centre for Regional Economic Analysis (CREA) the Olympics will contribute an additional $6.5 billion to Australia's GDP for the twelve year period 1994-95 to 2005-06 (Arthur Anderson/CREA,1999, p2). In short, Australia has a lot to look forward to in 2000 and beyond in addition to some fine athletic performances at the Games themselves.
The economic benefits of the 2000 Olympics can be classified as direct and indirect. Direct benefits include the impact of the Olympics on exports, investment and employment.
In terms of exports, the main impact will be inbound tourism, sponsorship fees, media broadcast rights, and ticket sales.
The staging of the Olympics will encourage more international tourists to visit Australia. According to the Tourism Forecasting Council 1.5 million additional international tourists are expected to visit Australia over 1994-95 to 2005-06 because of the staging of the Olympics. This is estimated to generate an additional $ 2.7 billion in tourism exports (see Arthur Anderson/CREA,1999, p 2).
Sponsorship fees received from international sources will be strong leading up to the Olympics and according to the Reserve Bank of Australia, broadcast rights (approximately
$ 1 billion in value) will be recorded as exports in September quarter 2000. Ticket sales sold to overseas visitors (of up to $100 million in value) will also be recorded in the September quarter. The RBA estimates that the overall boost to export receipts will be equivalent to around 1 % of GDP in the September quarter of 2000. (See RBA, 1999, p27). Similarly, the Arthur Anderson/CREA study (p2) estimates a positive impact on the balance of trade from the Olympics of $0.8 billion in 2000 and $ 0.2 billion in the post- games period of 2001-02 to 2005-06.
In terms of investment infrastructure projects have greatly boosted domestic economic activity, particularly in New South Wales. The total value of Sydney's construction project is $ 3.3 billion of which $1.1 billion is funded by the private sector ( Olympic Co-ordination Authority (OCA), June 1999, p5.) According to the RBA this construction activity has already assisted the economy by contributing a little over half of one percent of annual Australian GDP over the five years beginning in 1995/96The largest stimulus to growth probably occurred in 1996/97 (RBA, 1999, p26).
The infrastructure spending not only includes spending on Olympic facilities such as Stadium Australia but also to upgrades to Sydney airport, roads and railway related investment. These improvements will benefit both local resident and overseas and interstate visitors to Sydney well after the Olympics as well as during the event.
The Olympics has provided an important boost to employment. The OCA estimates that more than 35,000 people have worked on OCA construction sites since the first project at Homebush Bay was started. It is estimated that since the OCA was formed in 1995, over 12.5 million hours have been worked on Olympic related projects. There will also be multiplier effects. According to the OCA, every job created on a construction site will create two more off site for suppliers, material producers and transport workers. (OCA,1999, p5.)
The Olympics are expected to boost NSW employment by 5,300 in an average year of the 12 years representing the Olympic period. In addition 2,200 jobs are expected to be created outside NSW over the same period (Arthur Anderson/CREA, 1999, p3).
It is also important to highlight the indirect benefits that the Olympics will bring. Certain export sectors will enjoy more profile and opportunity. The obvious one is tourism with an associated boost to the transport and hospitality industries. For instance, in aviation, the staging of the Olympics will bring significant benefits for Ansett and Qantas in terms of increased traffic, earnings growth and brand awareness (see Morrison, 1999). The Olympics will also opportunity for sports exporters . According to Australia Sport International (ASI), Australia exported $363 million worth of sporting goods in 1998 and is expected to increase its exports to Asia, North America and Europe with the help of the staging of the Sydney Olympics (see ASI, 1999).
Indirect benefits will also come from increased exposure to Australia as host of the millennium Olympic Games. Austrade is driving the Government's Australia Open for Business campaign which takes advantage of the heightened global interest in Australia at the time of the Olympics. A global promotion for Australia as a prime business destination is supported by a number of new business programs which capture new interest to turn it into export and investment revenue. The key program under Australia Open for Business is Business Club Australia. Also, managed by Austrade, Business Club Australia connects Australian exporters with overseas buyers and investors through a global networking club which also shares the excitement of the 2000 Games (see www.australiaforbusiness.com).
As well as the networking opportunities provided at the Olympics, Australia will benefit from the transfer of technology and knowledge as host of the Olympics. As a world class and internationally visible event, the Olympic Games have attracted innovation as countries try to better each other in terms of technology and technique. The Olympics is not just a competition of the athletes of nations but is as much a battle of the scientists, architects, engineers and artists of those nations as well. It is a 'knowledge Olympics' as well as an athletic Olympics. For example the Homebush Bay site and associated venues are examples of design excellence produced by Australian architects. Australia will benefit as many of these great ideas of the new millennium will be put into practice on our own soil in 2000. There will be a vast array of talented people in Sydney in 2000, which Australia can learn from. This will assist us greatly as Australia competes globally in the information age where knowledge and innovation are at a premium.
The hosting of the Sydney Olympics has already brought significant benefits to Australia in terms of environmental technology. For example Olympic Village has been designed to be a net contributor to local power generation in western Sydney. Similarly, the water retilication system has been developed to ensure an ecologically sustainable and economically efficient outcome from the Olympics. The environmental impact of the games are an important indirect benefit to Australia's stock of 'green' capital which will be crucial to future economic performance.
Of course, a note of caution should always be included. Some economists have warned the Australian public not to exaggerate the benefits of the Olympics because of past experience (See Dabkowski and Ketchell,1999 Gittins, 1999 and Mules, 1999). However, many poor results in the past occurred because of poor financing, unexpected geo-political events and a prior record of uneven economic development. The OCA and SOCOG are well structured so that the financing of the Sydney Olympics is shared between the private and public sector. Australia is an open economy currently experiencing good economic performance despite adverse international conditions. It is a stable, pluralist, multicultural country with a highly educated and skilled population. Accordingly, Sydney is well placed to avoid some of the pitfalls that affected host nations of the past.
In summary, the preparations for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 have already provided significant economic benefit for Australia in terms of export promotion, investment, economic growth and jobs. There will be big boost to Australia's trade performance, tourism and the economy overall in 2000 because of the event itself. Importantly, the benefits will continue well into the new millennium as Australia gets more international exposure for its exports and gains from the transfer of technology and knowledge from the world's best. Opportunity beckons for the athletes, for exporters, for artists, for scientists and for the whole Australian community.
Austrade's Australia Open for Business web site details how Australia is staging the 2000 Games, and specific business initiatives - http://www.australiaforbusiness.com.
Morocco's delaying tactics and the UN's inability to put due pressure on the occupying power have once again prevented the organization of the referendum. Kamal Fadel, the Australian representative of the Western Sahara independence movement the Polisario Front, fears this may lead to a resumption of hostilities, "We believe that if Morocco continues in its current irresponsible and provocative attitude a return to war is inevitable."
The referendum was originally to be organised in 1992 but has been delayed many times due to Morocco's fear of losing the referendum.
Despite the UN's efforts and the cooperation of Polisario Front, Morocco continues to sabotage the referendum under the pretext that thousands of Moroccan citizens are entitled to take part in the vote.
This conflict over voting entitlements is at the core of the disagreement. After a gruelling five-year identification process the UN published lists of those entitled to vote in the referendum in January of this year. Morocco has rejected the results of the voter identification process leading to an indefinite delay in the referendum process.
Former US Secretary of State James Baker III, has been working to break the stalemate in the UN peace plan. In May and June of this year he chaired talks between both parties in London. So far the talks have failed to produce any positive results.
On 20 and 21 July 2000, talks between delegations representing Morocco and the Polisario Front were held in Geneva under UN auspices, to attempt to resolve technical issues related to the referendum process.
Once again Morocco demonstrated its bad faith by refusing to seriously discuss these issues and on the second day refusing to attend the meetings.
Mr Fadel said, "Without the backing of the international community, the referendum is unlikely to go ahead. We call on the international community to put due pressure on Morocco in order to avoid a UN failure in Western Sahara and a return to hostilities."
by Musical Traditions by Margaret Walters
Walter Pardon (1914-96) was a quiet, thoughtful, unassuming man who lived all his life in the village of Knapton in Norfolk working as a carpenter, and singing songs he'd learned from his Uncle's knee. He was a craftsman in a family that had been farm workers for many generations. He was an only child and remained a bachelor all his life. His mother's side of the family had a rich store of old songs, particularly her brother, Billy Gee who lived in the Pardon house for many years. The Depression threw Walter and Uncle together in a way, which ensured that he thoroughly learned all the family songs of the previous century. But there was no pub in the village and the tradition of singing the old songs died out in the immediate area, and was ridiculed. So - for twenty years Walter rarely sang outside the family home, treasuring these songs and singing them around the house and garden and keeping them alive in almost total isolation until his "discovery" by the English folk scene.
Stand Up Ye Men of Labour : The Socio-Political Songs of Walter Pardon was the title of an article by Mike Yates that leapt from the screen at the Musical Traditions web site and this piece draws from Yates' writing and from other articles about Walter (full details below). The songs and the stories Walter told to place them in context offer insights into aspects of nineteenth century social unrest and conflict.
Themes touched on include the effects of the Corn Laws, migration, child labour, resentment of farm owners who liked their workers to "show their obedience". The tenor of the songs is lifted with the growth of the union movement. Several members of Walter's family, including his father and Uncle Billy, joined the Trunch branch of the Union. Here are excerpts from two songs Walter sang (they appeared in an undated song book, 'National Agricultural Labourers' and Rural Workers' Union Song Book',which his Uncle owned.)
We Meet Today in Freedom's Cause
We meet today in freedom's cause
And raise our voices high.
We join our hands in Union song
To battle or to die.
Hold the fort, we are coming
Union men be strong
Side by side, keep pressing onward
Victory will come
An Old Man's Advice
My grandfather worked when he was very young
And his parents felt grieved that he should.
To be forced in the fields to scare away the crows
To earn himself a bit of food.
The days they were long and his wages were but small
And to do his best he always tried.
But times are better for us all
Since the old man died.
For the Union is started, unite, unite.
Cheer up faint-hearted, unite, unite.
The works begun, never to stop again
Since the old man died.
Needless to say, the farm owners had little time for union activity. Uncle Billy sang this verse to the tune of The Farmer's Boy:
I'll have no Union rascal, mind,
I've just sent them adrift.
And if the Union you're in league
I'll send you off as swift.
If you will work, do as you're told,
Nor use your tongue awry.
You can plough and sow, and reap and mow,
And be a farmer's boy, and be a farmer's boy.
It is interesting to note that most of the Union songs use hymn tunes - a fact in part confirming the thesis first proposed by the French historian Elie Halevy, namely that the growth of Methodism - in this case, by the use of Christian hymn tunes as settings for songs calling for social upheaval - had prevented an English revolution in the early 19th century. If so, then the Halevy thesis may be extended to the latter half of the 19th century as well.
The study of worker's music has been held back by the way in which middle-class Edwardian folksong collectors misinterpreted the beliefs and feelings of the people from whom they collected songs. Take for example the song 'We're All Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough', which is, on the surface, a simple enough song in praise of farm labour. In the mid-70's, while collecting in Sussex, two independent singers told Yates that they would sing this song at harvest suppers. It would be not only for the benefit of local dignitaries and guests of honour, but also for their fellow workers who were well aware that the song was not about a carefree country existence, but a medium for expressing all that was wrong in society. Despite what the farm owners might think, their workers were not jolly fellows. They did not enjoy rising at dawn to work all day in a wet plough field, and they were not happy about their employer's paternalism.
Most of Walter Pardon's socio-political songs are living proof of the tenacity, determination and creativity of the working class. They will probably not appeal to those folklorists whose outmoded, and basically bourgeois, conceptions cannot come to terms with that which is actually being sung by the working class. And yet, if we do have to use this terminology, there is little doubt that these songs are indeed real folksongs.
Recordings exist for much of Walter's repertoire. A double CD set (49 tracks), titled "Put a Bit of Powder on it, Father", and released recently, contains the union-related songs mentioned in this article. The set is available from: Topic Records by Credit Card for 15.72stg, inc. View and print the Ex-VAT Order Form at: www.mustrad.org.uk/top_ord2.htm and post it to Topic in London. Or phone them on: +44 20 7281 3465 and ask for Mail Orders.
Musical Traditions is an electronic magazine (http://www.musictrad.com.uk) that has three lengthy articles about the songs of Walter Pardon - and this article has drawn on them heavily with the editor's permission. Visit the site and seek on the Articles page the following: Stand Up Ye Men of Labour : The Socio-Political Songs of Walter Pardon by Mike Yates; Walter Pardon : Put a Bit of Powder on it, Father by Rod Stradling and Mike Yates - a transcript of the comprehensive booklet accompanying the CD; and a review of these two CDs by Roly Brown. There is a wealth of information about Walter's earlier recordings and details of his life and character.
Margaret Walters is a Sydney folk singer heavily influenced by Britishtraditional singing styles. She performs with song-writer, John Warner and together they have a vast repertoire of songs about history, industry andthe environment.
Albums and enquiries:mailto:[email protected]
Margaret also works as an Editorial Assistant for the journal, LabourHistory.
by Tony Moore
The ABC is a case in point. Putting aside the ravages being perpetrated by the Coalition -Labor must ask is the ABC as an institution fulfilling its charter, and, if we are serious about being a knowledge nation ,what might be a better vision for public broadcasting in the future. Many younger program makers who have worked at the ABC were opposed to the creatively stifling Hill/Johns corporation and are clamouring for changes to block the bureaucratic constipation of the ABC so that it might better reflect 21st century Australia and draw on the talent of its citizens.
So many Australian stories are not being told in this important public space. When I criticise the ABC, especially television it is as a friend - someone who sat on the ABC advisory council and had the privilege of working in the ABC as a doco maker for nine years and of agitating through my union for internal reform.
While the neo-liberal right, the Coalition, and indeed sections of the Labor Party have run an often dogmatic privatisation agenda, the left side of politics has taken on the role of conservative, fighting a rearguard action to 'conserve' vital public institutions from being sold to shareholders. But in the process we abdicate the reform agenda to people who believe market forces are the universal panacea. While the left correctly saw that there are areas of service and production that are simply unsuitable for market control, the campaign has too often become a sentimental defence of quangos, corporations, boards and commissions that are in fact in dire need of reform. In opposition the ALP has tended to succumb to nostalgia about public institutions - defending them against the ravages of the coalition without questioning if they are still delivering.
It is because public institutions have often treated their consumers and workers in a shabby fashion - both the CES and Telstra come to mind -that the privatisation rhetoric gets a toehold with the public. Organisations can become bureaucratic and lose sight of their reason for being. A particular group may capture an organisation and use it for sectional ends. The social conditions in which public services were established have undergone rapid change. Reform is an ongoing process if institutions are to continue to fulfil their charters. Labor - because it cares about public institutions - should be interested in how they can be improved to better achieve social democratic goals such as equity in health, education, justice, information and creativity for all citizens in our changed times. This is the radical alternative to the crude dualism of market forces or a sentimental clinging to the status quo.
Thinking about our public institutions has a fine lineage on our side of politics. A century ago pioneers of public service and the welfare state like Sidney and Beatrice Webb, GDH Cole and William Morris who during the hight of the indutrial age wrestled with how to balance the interests of producers and consumers and whether state ownership in itself was enough to best deliver the good society. The challenge for us today is rethinking the public sector from the midst of the information revolution. Industrial age corporations entering a new century have to change the way they have traditionally controlled their assets, to move away from top down coercion. They must find personalities who can manage these businesses without stifling their potential. That's the challenge for the broader cultural industry as well: moving away from a control model. The state funded culture 'industries', particularly the ABC are still operating with out-of-date industrial models.
The industrial era was very much about hierarchies within hierarchies. There would be elite and popular broadcasting, there would be broadsheets and tabloids,. It was just assumed that one was better than the other. A cultural divide was institutionalised that was inherently anti-democratic, but it was also the enemy of real excellence. 'Quality' became just a matter of class prejudice, rather than something that had to be tested.
In the case of the ABC Labor has so far failed to articulate an alternative vision of how public media might operate for a changed Australia in which diversity is the central fact of life. We are entering the post-broadcast age where broad- casting to mass audiences is being replaced by narrow casting to niche interests. In the post-broadcast world, the coerced majorities of broadcasting break up and fragment. The industrial model with its two standard products, 'high' versus 'low', is already starting to split up. What you now get is cultural multiplicity. Technological developments make narrow casting whether digitally, through cable, the airwaves or the internet both possible and affordable, but it is the diversity of audiences which is driving the process.
Simultaneously new technologies reduce the costs of creative production and make obsolete both the factory systems and the corporate hierarchies that characterised television production -both private and public -in the second half of the twentieth century.
While rightly defending the principle of public broadcasting in the face of the Coalition's attacks the ALP fails to notice how even under the last Labor government the ABC was far from living up to what should be principles for a social democratic vision for public media.
So from the inside what did Labor do with the ABC
The ALP in government has often run a warmed over version of the right's privatisation agenda - either selling off the public's assets outright, or imposing 'managerialism' on public utilities such as the ABC, a kind of internal privatisation that combined fake market forces and costs savings with a top down restructure that gives all power to the bean counters. Rather than producing lean, mean machines responsive to consumers the result has been an intensification of old fashioned civil service hierarchy under the new corporatism but with the quality of service and public accountability often reduced.
Under Labor the ABC was subjected to just such a managerial make-over, bureaucracy and central control was strengthened and the organisations capacity to encourage creativity and reflect a changing Australian society greatly weakened. The growth in bureaucracy and management control over product was disguised by David Hill's energetic maintenance of funding under Labor. Keating's; dissatisfaction with Hill's ABC was seen in Creative Nation, which directed new funds for innovation to SBS where the money was less likely to fall victim to bureaucratic inertia. ABC radio, while not immune to managerialism, was immune, though the hands-on and immediate nature of its medium, from the worst excesses. But in television the combination of an old style public service nomen clatura with managerialism's elevation of the accountants produced a mule not unlike the Soviet Union in its dying days.
If Hill was an autocrat instilling paranoia Brian Johns was the well meaning Gorbachev. Despite the wiff of glasnost on his ascension Johns proved unable to starve off the Howard government's massive cuts to ABC funding and political attacks alleging anti-coalition bias and immoral material offensive to mainstream Australia. ABC management's response - an unprecedented downsizing of production staff in tandem with a "One ABC" re-structure that actually increased the number of senior and middle management; intensification of management's control over production; and a conservative programming and commissioning policy that provoked a flight of younger programme makers amid an orgy of British costume and police drama, hight arts and rural escapism to the delight of the good burgers of Mosman and their middle brow comrades in Balmain.
With the Coalition in power a not unreasonable desire by Johns and Mansfield to open the ABC's doors to the wider outside creative community as had been happening for years with the independent documentary makers became an ideologically driven obsession by management to outsource programme making to the big commercial players even less in touch with Australian creativity than the ABC. When the rushed and secret Mansfield inquiry failed to uphold the allegations of bias or argue for commercialisation the Coalition contented itself with natural attrition on the board and the end of John's term .Now with Shier at the helm there appears to be an agenda to dumb down ABC TV even further, to make it more like commercial television
Today I'm less concerned about what the Coalition is doing to the ABC than about the long term structural problems that allows a public asset to be so easily destroyed, and about how the ALP might re-imagine public media
Benchmarks for Labor should be:
- fair dinkum reflection of Australia's cultural diversity - in terms of class, generations, regions, aesthetics, ideas and especially ethnicity in both programming and recruitment; and
- real openness to and support for creativity and innovation, from both in house staff and from the wider community in order to enhance our creativity of our culture.
-training and nurturing of new talent and experimentation in technology and craft skills.
- accountability of cultural producers to taxpayers who fund it and consume it in their diversity. Measurements a bit better than a subjective idea about 'quality' or crude bums on seats -the ratings.
-internal work place democracy
The basic problem with the ABC for a social democratic party is that its corporate structure leaves it struggling to be creative and to respond to the diversity that now lies at the heart of Australia's social reality.
The ABC remains a fairly monocultural, upper middle class, ango-celtic institution. As well as contravening the ABC charter, this narrowness stultifies our public culture. The ABC can never be all things to all people, but it can be the means by which different Australians talk to each other. At the moment its the channel through which one section of Australia talks to itself- while a tremendous creative energy in our community -one that will always be ignored by the commercial sector - remains disenfranchised.
In practice the ABC charter and those of many other public cultural bodies is usually ignored for a sectoral appeal to the Anglo-Celtic upper middle class. The problem occurs when terms like 'public interest' or 'quality' or 'non-commercial' are masks for personal taste or class prejudices or outmoded aesthetics. Tax payers and consumers have a right to a say in how their cultural dollars are spent. Currently these institutions are run as if they are the property of the nomenclature who are in fact our servants. It is a far cry from the sort of cultural democracy that we should be promoting.
Even if many of its stars and managers are fashionably republican the ABC remains the great defender of British culture in Australia and persists in maintaining a colonial deference to the BBC as the benchmark for quality. More generally ABC culture adheres to a an old idea of Australian nationalism, where white Australians speak for the nation, and migrants and 'ethnic' Australians speak for their own groups and usually only about migrant and 'multicultural' issues. The opposing view argues that Australia is now ethnically diverse at its core, and the idea of what is the national culture is being contested - an unfolding story that ABC television ignores in favour of the usual suspects. This monoculturalism flows in part from the staff make up, the result not just of incumbency, but from a far from transparent recruitment process that continues to favour Anglo Australians and British immigrants.
The ABC's class bias towards the private schooled educated is shared with other private media industries, but they are not the concern of a social democratic government. The ABC is good at exhibiting working class individuals and communities as subjects with problems to be diagnosed or eccentricities to be celebrated, but always they are presented as 'the other' to an assumed middle class audience. As I was told on starting work at the ABC in 1988 on a doco called Nobody's Children :
"remember mate, your making films to titillate Pymble."
In Sydney it is rare for the ABC to consider the audience in the western suburbs where most of the population live. Or as Mike Carlton reported on taking the job as announcer on 2BL - "my manger told me to imagine I was talking to my neighbour over the fence in Epping." I don't recall, a member of the production staff or management that lived in western Sydney and anthropological trips 'out their' were generally the subject of snobby jokes - as was my own origins in Wollongong.
Ironically, though, the ABC is also loosing the younger middle class who live the inner cities whose tastes might be described as lowbrow/high brow Apart from 2JJJ, and radio National the ABC is too literal, pompous and well, middle brow and lacking in irony and sense of humour. The ABC has long suffered from a generational constipation that has seen younger programme makers within and outside the ABC either ignored or ghettoised in so-called youth programmes while an aging cohort continue to control 'serious' programmes in current affairs, the arts and drama.
The Gangland thesis has been well debated, but it remains true that the 60s generation who pioneered current affairs television have been loath to allow subsequent generations to meddle with the formulae or try new aesthetics or ideas with glorious exceptions like Beat Box. In fact the same people who invented cheeky, maverick programs like TDT have used their used managerial incumbency to enforce their revolutionary experiments as rigid dogma - so shows like the Simpsons now have more to tell us about our changing world than Four Corners.
What I mean is that ABC docs and current affairs continue to generalise about simplistic trends learned from 70s sociology - running trains down well worn tracks when many of us want to explore the interesting tangle of back lanes and clear new trails. This generational myopia extends to the choice of 'talking heads' where television,(unlike radio) persist in ignoring the diversity of new commentators who have been educated in our universities over the past twenty years- it's as if the world stopped in 1975.
The ABC has always played an important incubator role in discovering and fostering new talent, but it is hopeless at looking after that talent and allowing it to mature within the ABC's mainstream, which remains enslaved to old ideas of 'quality'. So the problem is not with youth programming, but in allowing a diversity of adult programming. Meanwhile the creative energies of several generations of talented Australians talks to itself in ejournals, independent and scholarly publications or beats a path to Foxtel or Channel 10 where younger ideas and aesthetics are appreciated. Public institutions have been blind to cultural change before -one only has to think of fate of the Angry Penguins modernists in the 40s- but Labor need not accept this conservative tendency.
Real porosity with the diversity of our creative community and audiences is not necessarily easy. Everyone supports innovation, but real innovation often offends or angers or leaves one underwelmed. Similarly with 'quality' - one person's quality may makes no sense to another person - appreciation may take particular cultural literacies which now days are not shared by a community criss crossed by aesthetic and attitudinal divides . This is the real challenge of multi-culturalism - and indeed a long lived population - that Australia is still to deal with.
The trouble for the left is that the ABC gives most of us what we love - sober, abstract discussion of public affairs, dramatisation of classic literature, truly intellectual radio programmes, the occasisonal sassy inner city comedy and bucolic soaps that buy into our child hood memories. But for us - unlike the Liberals - it is important to think about our fellow citizens left cold by this model of broadcasting. Surely its not postmodern wankery to suggest we see beyond our own personal interests and take into account other Australians with different tastes, icons, knowledge, humour, dreaming. Public broadcasting has always sought to identify the tastes of the tertiary educated upper middle class with a universal notion of 'quality'. A diverse society with many different ways of seeing de-stabilises this once sacrosanct notion of 'quality', throwing open the parameters to a wider, not narrower range of ideas, aesthetics, personalities and stories. Labor activists engaged in the debate about the ABC need to be culturally sensitive to the different tastes and positions in the community , and mindful about enthroning their own tastes as inherently superior.
The reform of a public asset like the ABC is too important to be left to the whims of this or that managing director .Perhaps Labor should look to another Dix style inquiry I don't claim to have all the answers but some issues to consider are:
o why should either the government of the day or a managing director and an appointed board be able to so wilfully toy with a basic public asset - surely this is a matter for Parliament or a proper public inquiry where the ABC's stake holders - the public can debate the issues. Despite Alan Ashbolt's description of the MD as a king, the MD is simply administering the ABC in trust for the future. A transparent process of perhaps 10 yearly public inquiry should be written into the relevant legislation and the powers of the MD decisively curbed.
oflatten management and re-invest in creative and production staff.
oABC management must stop over controlling both from senior and middle management. The ABC spends a lot of money making its TV boring, chopping, changing, recutting, rejecting TV is not a hospital - no one will die. Radio is again a case in point where the nature of the medium - low tech and immediate - escapes meddling and the results are good.
onarrow-casting - perceive audience in its diversity - a guiding principle should be understanding that ethnic diversity is not a side order tabouli salad, but the key unfolding story of contemporary Australia .
omulti-channel environment There are 5 radio networks. ABC TV cannot serve Australia's diversity with only one TV channel. Labor is right to champion the ABC as a player in the multichannel digital environment.
oOutsourcing needs to be governed by legislated rules and benchmarks and be transparent to the public and parliament. It matters less where and how programs are made than that this public commissioning is spread equitably and those taking the money are accountable.
Intersection with outside community is a good thing, but with the cottage industry and not just with the commercial sector. These days the cultural energy is in the cottage industry -this is where the indie docos are made and the explosion in short films, zines and web sites has come from. In the information age this growing area of cultural enterprise is re-making the conservative model of a small business.
-the ABC should range outside TV industry as well - Australian writers, film makers, performers, internet writers and designers.
oABC online - the public newspaper we always wanted - defend it at all costs
omeaningful indicators to measure the ABC success with different audiences rather than Executive's instincts or crude ratings designed for advertisers.
Rather than use ratings as absolute numbers as a benchmark for the ABC, it would be far better to use the spread of demographics as a measure of its success or failure. Something for the old, something for women, something for the country, something for Perth
orecruitment -much ABC employment is through a contract system where diversity principles and advertising requirements are ignored in favour of a 'mates' system that limits the gene pool. The so-called shadow army is a privileged group that hampers ABC ability to reflect Australia.
oThe current system of internal accounting is inimicable to the reality that the best TV and radio is created by teams that work well together. Bureaucratic convenience and accounting dogma mean that ABC TV employs an assembly line mentality that gets in the way of creativity. The rigidity of the in-house system has meant that working outside as an independent is the only way to get together an appropriate team. Can the ABC harmonise fiscal responsibility while allowing producers to assemble teams around projects as the do outside. About autonomy for programme
Structural change does matter. Under the Whitlam government ABC radio embarked on a radical experiment to to create a contemporary music station for young people. The station was to give space to overseas, and especially Australian music not given air play by commercial radio locked into top 40 play lists and advertising. The station sought to recognise diversity among young people, and to intersect with the mushrooming independent music sector. It is now a matter of record that 2JJ was at least mid wife to the vibrant Australian music scene of the 80s and 90s, and was an agent of cultural renewal for generations of Sydney-siders in the areas of comedy, art and politics as well as music. 2JJ succeeded largely because it was given autonomy from ABC management, to do its own thing. What we would now call teams - at the time they were collectives- for a time ran the station almost independently of the ABC, and while management ultimately re-imposed authority, the 2JJJ retains a measure of freedom within the ABC Corporate structure.
ois a board of government appointees the best way to run a public corporation? Are there supplemenrreay ways of involving a diverse community in the decsion making and not least commissioning process. I was involved in consultation with young people for the ABC National Advisory Coucil and it at least endorsed the policie sthen being pushed by some left fioeld maveriks in the place. How can the current advisory council sytem - themselves appointed- be democratised and expanded as a public voice within the ABC and a checkon the board?.
At the time of writing Johnathon Shier has made some right noises - encouraging creativity to break through the bureaucracy; bringing an increased audience to the ABC as 'light' consumers rather than playing to a dedicatedupper middle class club- but he has taken the wrong actions :
trashing the only TV program devoted to ideas and debate and employing old fashioned commercial producers and executives steeped in corporate hierarchy. The craven hierarchical structure that makes the ABC a plaything for who ever sits as Managing Director is itself the problem. Simply changing the people who wield control in a top heavy corporate hierarchy will not change things, especially when these personalities are 'veterans' of 70s and 80s commercial TV - the high watermark of formulaic 'mass taste'.
Beazely's emphasis on the knowledge nation makes getting public media right in our own policy a priority. While a reform agenda for the ABC may not seem like a vote winner, once we return to government the vandalism of the Howard years will make rebuilding the ABC a national priority. As we rebuild its best we look forward rather than backwards.
This paper was presented at this week's Unchain My Mind forum in Melbourne
by Lee Rhiannon
Members of both the big parties have gone to the last three state elections on a transport platform of more motorways. We were promised that the M4, M5 and M2 would accelerate us into the era of fast moving, modern transport.
But within a few short years gridlock has grabbed the motorways. Those strips of tar and cement, that bring such pleasure to RTA officers and state cabinet members alike, are now clogged with cars.
Now that the image of the motorway as a parking lot is becoming a symbol of Sydney, politicians from the major parties are desperate to show they have answers.
The people of Sydney are being told that with a couple of extra lanes, a few more kilometres and a toll free regime those trusty motorways will have us all whizzing along at optimum speeds again.
Once more the big party politicians have missed the point. Motorways attract more cars into our crowded city. Far from being the solution to our traffic woes, motorways are a large part of the problem.
Experience with motorways around the world tells the same story: when you increase the capacity of one part of the network more people want to use it. This means more vehicles on feeder networks and eventually on the motorways themselves.
The M5 East, the latest offering from our own Minister for Motorways Mr Carl Scully, is being promoted as the solution to traffic jams in south west Sydney. With a $1 billion price tag to the people of NSW you would think that the Minister and his RTA mates would be able to get it right.
But motorways have the perverse effect of increasing congestion, not solving it. The complaints about the M4, M5 and M2 are endemic to motorways in Australia and round the world. And this time the congestion has kicked in even earlier than the critics of motorway madness had expected.
Other countries have already travelled down the same dead-end highway and started to turn back. England, for example, has cancelled much of its motorway plans. The Carr government was well aware of the weight of international experience when it approved the M5 East and the Eastern Distributor. Obviously the pressure from its mates in the construction industry and their lackeys in the RTA was just too great.
If the NSW government would break with their fast-lane obsession, billions of dollars would be freed up for public transport.
Only a publicly owned and operated mass transport system integrated with community based transport and cycleways can meet everyone's needs, while doing minimal environmental damage.
If the Carr government doesn't abandon its motorway based transport policy, the Australian crawl * driving at about walking pace * could well become its swansong.
Lee Rhiannon is a Greens member of the NSW parliament
by The Chaser
The Clontarf Nuggets, currently leading the league table by 9 points, look set to take yet another pennant this year, despite being dogged by injuries and allegations of steroid use by key goal attack, Jenny Reid.
The club has seen its share price depressed over the past 6 months despite strong growth in its merchandising and promotion budgets and the proposed launch of a website used to reach Nuggets supporters throughout the world.
'There's a lot of interest in the area, driven by the need to develop pay TV subscriber numbers in key markets such Abbey Street, Regent Street and Clontarf Road,' noted Macquarie Bank analyst, Gregory Simons. 'The Nuggets are a key asset in securing those customers.
News has chosen a clever time to strike, because the share price is flat because the market fears a likely slowdown in growing subscriber numbers outside its traditional suburban areas of Clontarf Junction and the three blocks west of North Sydney station. It's a classic Murdoch play.'
There was celebration last night at Clontarf Public School Hall where many initial investors have seen their stock rise from a pre-listing subscription price of 20 cents to over $6,000 since listing on the ASX. 'We're over the moon', said one shareholder, who preferred not to be identified. 'When we were deciding how to raise capital for the new uniforms, it was either the public float or a lucky dip. All I can say is, the investment bankers got it right. Woo Hoo!'
Not all shareholders are pleased at the prospect of a takeover by Murdoch. The Nuggets Supporters Association, formed at a rally today, dedicated itself to challenging this 'cynical attempt by an American billionaire to commercialise a grand Australian tradition.'
The NSA argues that, in any event, the offer grossly undervalues the stock. 'The poor showing in first quarter earnings was driven by poor sausage sizzle figures, on the back of poor spring weather', argues Brendan Thompson, 31, of Clontarf. 'The share price is temporarily depressed. With the approach of summer, we should expect to see an upward trend in sales of core service offerings, such as sausage-in-a-bun and cordial.' Parties opposed to the bid also point to current plans to move into high-margin e.commerce delivery systems, driving down production costs and raising revenue. Thompson described under-7's netball teams as having 'natural synergies' with the development of on-line services. 'With the Internet, we can cut out the middleman entirely. We expect savings to account for up to 30% of current costs. That's like 19 cents off every chocolate crackle sold on-line, instead of at the cake stall.'
Team manager, Hurbert Hurbert, was refusing to comment on the bid last night, preferring instead to focus on the last four games remaining this season. 'My players are concentrating on fitness, and ensuring that everyone remembers to bring their mouthguards on Saturday morning' said Hurbert. 'We're not interested in the stock-market bid, although lots of the parents are shareholders. We just want to get on and play netball.'
by Peter Lewis
Under the guise of 'Astro Tabasco', the seven-piece instrumental outfit has just completed an album that puts the OP back into sophistication.
While they insist that 'this is not lounge music' - their polished sound fuses jazz and swing with just the slight hint of kitsch of the martini sound.
But it goes way beyond a sixties spy film soundtrack - breaking into some seriously contemporary beats when you would be expecting more cheese.
The overall experience is a bit like watching a re-run of James Bond movie - the sounds are sixties but the context is so now. It's the shift in time that gives it the resonance, the ironic self-distance that makes it work.
Highlights of the album include such evocatively titled tracks as: The Streets of San Souci, Sanatana Lives in Surry Hills and Gringo Starr.
The band is no stranger to the union movement, having played earlier this year at the Radio free East Timor gig. They've supported us, so give them a listen.
'Espionage a Tois' is to be launched at The Metro on Saturday July 30.
Education in Australia is dominated by a contradiction. As a nation, it is our most important issue - the key to mastering the new economy and forging a good society. Yet as a public issue, it suffers from a paucity of new thinking and policy ideas.
The old politics is bogged down in a struggle between the public and private funding of education. One side believes that education can only be funded from government sources: more money for the traditional institutions of learning - schools, colleges, and universities. The other side believes that the new funding needs to come from private sources and the policies of deregulation.
Yet, if one accepts the logic of lifelong learning, more resources need to be mobilised from all parts of society - governments, corporations, households and communities. Education policy should not be cast as a zero-sum game, an ideological struggle between public and private money. It needs to leverage new learning opportunities and resources all round, especially within civil society.
Lifelong learning needs to flourish in the civic institutions of everyday life: in homes, in workplaces, in clubs, in shopping centres, in libraries, in the places where people commonly come together. This is what the British author, Tom Bentley, calls "learning beyond the classroom". It is the big idea in education policy.
As the term implies, a learning society relies on innovation and creative forms of public policy. The highest use of knowledge is to turn it into new ideas and social progress. There is no use in Labor talking about the virtues of knowledge unless we are willing to adopt this ethos in our own policy work.
Until now, we have judged equity issues in education solely through the prism of government institutions - the struggle between regulation and deregulation. In practice, however, this is a false horizon. The greatest barrier to educational equity in Australia is the paucity of learning resources. Without a huge increase in the nation's commitment to education, it will not be possible to meet the needs of middle and low income families. For the ALP, which has always relied on the primacy of government funding, this is an imposing policy challenge.
Whether we like it or not, the days of tax and spend policies have ended. The appropriate role for government now lies in the creative use of its scarce resources. It needs to facilitate or leverage learning resources from all parts of society. The demands of lifelong learning are enormous. They can not be met by government alone. They can only be satisfied by government acting in partnership with other institutions.
A Learning Society
The creation of a learning society requires much more than a focus on the traditional institutions of education. It means going beyond the incremental reform of schools, TAFE and higher education policy. It demands something more substantial than fiddling with institutional structures and shuffling resources between the public and private sectors.
The key to a learning society is to make good use of the learning potential of everyday situations. The learning process can take place at any time, in any circumstances. This necessitates a fundamental shift in the public culture of education. It means harnessing more resources of all kinds, government and non-government, to the mammoth task of lifelong learning.
Australia cannot afford to be left behind in this global race for skills and innovation. Our political system needs to look beyond its conventional wisdom and think openly about the purpose of lifelong learning. Left-of-centre politics has usually asked itself, "how can we shift more public money into government education institutions?" Right-wing politics has taken a separate tack: "how can we introduce market forces and increase the level of private investment in education?"
Australia's policy agenda needs to move past this age-old contest between governments and markets and answer two fundamentally different questions. First, "how can we extend the reach of learning beyond the classroom and into every life, in every part of society?" And secondly, "how can we mobilise more resources from all sections of society so that the potential of these new learning relationships is realised?" This is the challenge of the education revolution.
This paper sets out proposals for adoption by the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. They aim to leverage additional learning resources from non-government sources. They foster a partnership funding model, in which all parts of society are expected to contribute to the education process. Further policies are advanced in my forthcoming book, What Did You Learn Today? Policies for an Education Revolution. It should serve as a template for the knowledge nation.
Lifelong Learning Accounts
Under the Howard Government education and the importance of learning investments have been under-valued. This is reminiscent of Australia's complacency in the 1960s about the future of our primary and secondary industries. We desperately need national leadership and policies which generate a new culture of learning.
One of my most valuable experiences in education was a visit last year to the Raffles Girls School in Singapore. The school principal said something which has stayed in my mind since. She explained how, "in Singapore we are told from a young age that our only resource is our people. This is why parents emphasise education, no matter which school their children attend. They are always putting money aside for their children's education".
Out of economic necessity, Singapore has developed a learning culture. Education is highly valued, with an expectation that all sections of society will contribute to the costs of lifelong learning. The United States has a similar culture. Most parents start saving for their children's college education from an early age. Learning has become a lifelong enterprise.
In Australia, however, we tend to dismiss these expectations. It is argued that private contributions are inherently inequitable. The ideals of free, universal education are promoted as a superior model. In practice, however, most of the trends in education policy are undermining this approach. The demands of lifelong learning have out-grown the public sector.
Publicly funded education is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of a learning society. In most countries, the private sector already spends more on research and training than governments. Australia needs to mobilise learning resources of this kind. Public policy needs to find clever ways of drawing education funding out of the private sector.
This is where the concept of learning accounts can be particularly useful. Contributions are drawn from a number of sources to build up a bank of education resources. These funds can then be accessed to cover a range of learning needs and purposes. As with Australia's superannuation scheme, the aim is to build up a savings pool which benefits from investment strategies and compound interest. In the proposal below, individuals and families would be able to open learning accounts as a subset of their superannuation arrangements.
Learning accounts provide a financial buffer against changes in life's circumstances, such as workplace restructuring. This type of flexibility is essential in the new economy. It allows account holders to access funding to meet particular needs and priorities.
If designed effectively, the accounts would leverage additional private resources into the education system. Thus they would serve as a supplement to public sector funding, not as a substitute for it. This point should be emphasised: my proposal is an add-on to the existing funding system.
I envisage a national system of Lifelong Learning Accounts (LLAs) based on the following principles:
1. Individuals and families would be able to open LLAs as sub-accounts to their superannuation. The super funds would simply treat LLAs as a particular type of account, under the same trusteeship and investment plans as their primary schemes. For people without superannuation, fresh accounts would need to be established.
2. The design and use of the accounts would be covered by Federal Government regulation. Participation in the scheme would be voluntary. However, given the financial incentives on offer, a high take-up rate could be expected.
3. The accounts would be financed from a variety of sources:
a) Federal Government seed funding as the accounts are opened (subject to means testing).
b) Resources drawn forward from superannuation funds (subject to prudential guidelines). This recognises that people who invest in education throughout their working lives are likely to earn higher incomes and enjoy more prosperous retirement years. This is one of the realities of the new economy.
c) Employer and/or employee contributions determined in enterprise bargaining agreements. This would give the trade union movement an outstanding opportunity to assist the lifelong learning of its members.
d) Funds drawn from existing social security benefits. Parents might decide, for instance, to dedicate a proportion of their Family Allowance payments to the accounts.
e) Other contributions at the discretion of account holders. Educational institutions and companies, for instance, might choose to pay their scholarship funds into the accounts. This practice might even extend to financial transactions, such as credit card points.
4. The accounts would be tax-free at the point of contribution. As with superannuation, they would benefit from funds management strategies. At the point of withdrawal, a concessional rate of tax would apply (with the benefits of this concession skewed towards low and middle income earners).
5. The accounts would be available to cover the costs of lifelong learning. Withdrawals could only be made for specific educational purposes, as outlined in the government regulation of the scheme. These would include preschool and school fees, home learning equipment (such as computers and Internet connections), post-secondary costs, student income support and community learning programs.
The prospect of most Australians managing learning accounts would add powerfully to the creation of a learning society. It would factor education into the everyday life of the nation. It would position learning at the centre of family budgets and household decision making. Australians would need to calculate, on a regular basis, the best way of investing in their own skills. This is the most effective way of building a culture of learning in this country.
2. Learning Communities
Learning is a complex process which cannot be understood simply in terms of formal education and training. Most people go about their daily lives committed to self-improvement and informal ways of learning. They develop new insights and skills from practical experiences and the challenge of changed circumstances. Indeed, one of society's trends is towards informal modes of learning. Under the time pressures of modern work and home life, people are looking for more flexible and casual ways of improving their skills.
1. Many of these learning opportunities can be delivered on-line through interactive education packages. The Federal Government has a role to play in sponsoring the development of sophisticated software, plus a network of electronic learning facilities. The resources of municipal libraries, post offices, schools and other public buildings should be used to create a national grid of computer and Internet access points. The growth of digital television also needs to be fostered as a way of carrying these learning opportunities into Australian homes.
2. Despite the advantages of on-line learning, most community-based education will continue to be provided on a face-to-face basis. In this respect, Australia has much to learn from the Scandinavian program of Learning Circles. This involves meetings of small groups of people, often in homes and community centres, to discuss a range of civic issues - such as local governance, crime prevention and environmental management. These are self-managed organisations, where people can join and participate on their own terms and at their own level.
3. Learning accounts can also play a role in reintroducing people to the benefits and habits of learning. Currently, one in four Australian adults do not return to any form of education after leaving school. Blue-collar males are over-represented in this group. This reflects a problem of attitudinal resistance, plus a number of practical obstacles to learning. As the ANTA report found, "one in seven Australians said that life is just too short to waste time studying, with a significant majority of them from Queensland".
4. Other forms of funding leverage should also be exercised in education. Each year governments provide large amounts of public money for the benefit of the corporate sector. It is not unreasonable to demand good corporate citizenship in return, especially in the establishment of sound learning practices. In Britain, for instance, the supermarket chain Tesco has formed a partnership with the public sector to provide learning centres on-site, for the benefit of shoppers and their children. Corporate responsibility and collaboration of this kind need to become a regular part of Australian public life. Businesses need to be seen as places of learning, not just commerce.
5. These standards should also apply to professional sport which, more than ever, has joined the world of commerce. In return for the huge public investment in sport, governments should require a commitment to learning practices. Again, Britain is showing the way forward. The Gillingham Football Club, south of London, has written into its team contracts a requirement for players to teach at least three hours per week in local schools. The players fulfil a valuable function as role models and mentors, while the club benefits from some good public relations. Other British clubs have established school homework centres at their training grounds. Australia would gain significantly from this type of sports citizenship.
3. Parents as Educators
The first and most enduring teachers in life are a child's parents. The two most influential places for educating children are in the home and at school. It is, therefore, surprising that education policy has not developed close links between the home and school learning environments. This is one of the worst failings of the silo structure of education. Schools have functioned as stand-alone institutions, disconnected from learning resources and issues in the home.
The role of parents as educators is vital to the success of a learning society. Parenting skills can add powerfully to educational opportunities, plus the mobilisation of learning resources. An effective homework plan, for instance, adds the equivalent of an extra day to the school week. In the United States, it has been estimated that the national investment in infant education would be doubled if every parent spent five hours a week on reading and homework assistance.
The most basic responsibility of parents is to be effective educators in the home. They need to be skilled in all aspects of parenting practice, especially play activities, reading and homework assistance. These skills are important for every family, but more so in breaking the cycle of long term poverty. For families dependant on welfare support, there should be no excuse for poor parenting. This should be a leading part of the Federal Government's program of mutual responsibility. Just as parents have a right to income support and other family services, they have a responsibility to be good educators and role models for their children.
Their responsibilities would include:
¨ Offering prenatal and postnatal support, in collaboration with local health authorities. Parenting programs should commence during the pregnancy period.
¨ Acting as resource centres for child development information, homework advice and school liaison. They would also assist other community organisations - such as sport clubs, libraries, women's shelters and shopping centres - with the development of parenting information and programs.
¨ Identifying families at-risk of bad parenting and providing early intervention support. These services would include training programs, home visits and regular monitoring of parental progress.
¨ Mobilising local volunteers, especially retired teachers, to act as mentors for disadvantaged families. This would include assistance in the home, such as guidance on homework and curriculum requirements.
¨ Acting as brokers for adult and community education courses, especially for parents with literacy and numeracy problems. Lifelong Learning Accounts would be available to cover course costs.
¨ Ensuring that every family has decent learning materials in the home. Low-cost computer leases and Internet connections should be arranged for disadvantaged families. Again, the LLAs would assist.
¨ Organising workshops and support groups within which parents can share experiences and assist each other. The best way of coping with the time pressures of modern work and home life is through collaboration among families. The centres would act as brokers for car pools, child minding, homework facilities and out-of-school activities.
¨ Organising school-related activities to assist time-pressured families. Breakfast clubs, after-school programs and homework centres are particularly useful for two-income families.
¨ And finally, acting as training centres for parents and other volunteers who wish to serve as teacher aides.
4. Vocational Education
Public policy also needs to leverage extra training resources from the private sector. Economic theory maintains that companies under-invest in training due to the incidence of staff mobility. Firms face a deadweight cost if, having increased their training investments, their staff move on to other companies. This problem is particularly severe among poorly skilled workers. In the face of technological change and workplace restructuring, firms usually decide to hire new staff, rather than upgrade the skills of their existing employees.
Since 1979 the Singaporean Government has required employers to pay a training levy, calculated as a proportion of wages for low-income employees. Firms then tender back for these funds through the preparation of training plans for their low-skill/low-income workers. In this fashion, they are not disadvantaged by the imposition of the business levy. In most cases, they regain their contributions and put them to sound use in reskilling their employees.
The SDF is a win-win program. It forces companies to take proper responsibility for staff training, while also upgrading the skills of the workforce. The national interest is well served by this stronger training effort, targeted at those workers most vulnerable to economic restructuring and redundancy.
In Australia, the scheme would apply to the bottom quarter of the workforce. A levy of five percent on adult workers earning less than $21,000 per annum would raise an average of $700 in training funds for each employee. This program would more than double the commitment of corporate Australia to training its low-skill/low-income workers. A smaller levy would still achieve significant gains.
5. Higher Education
Education of every kind, particularly higher education, now functions in an international setting. New learning technologies such as the Internet have increased the pace and reach of knowledge exchange. This has intensified the race for quality research and teaching. The competition between nations is becoming a competition between their university systems. Australia desperately needs a group of universities with an international reputation for excellence.
This competition is not only between universities; it is crossing institutional boundaries. A greater share of society's knowledge is being generated outside the institutions of government-sponsored education. The mass transfer of information is fostering new centres of learning, such as corporate research, educational service companies, interactive television and creative social entrepreneurs. Universities have lost their 900 year old monopoly on the generation and distribution of advanced learning.
For a small population Australia has a large number of universities. Given the size and diversity of our country, however, one would normally expect such a sector to be alive with creativity. Instead, our universities are distinctive for their conformity. Variations between them are usually on the basis of status and resource capacity. In their missions, programs and courses, they are remarkably uniform.
Higher education policy should be based on a mixed system of regulation and funding. As a first step, the Federal Government would develop a national policy framework, setting out its educational objectives and funding quantum. The framework would deal with issues of equity and access, international competitiveness, teaching standards and regional development.
The universities would then lodge expressions of intent, outlining their aspirations and preferred funding systems. This matches the principles of self-determination. A new body, the Australian Universities Commission (AUC), would negotiate these matters with each university. Its role would be to fit the various institutional missions into the national framework, plus settle the distribution of government funding. Finally, the AUC would monitor the performance of the sector, providing accountability for the use of public resources.
This process would enhance the vibrancy and quality of Australian higher education. Universities would be able to self-direct their missions and self-govern their programs. They would be encouraged to focus on the things they do well, creating excellence across the sector. In practical terms, it is possible to envisage six different types of university:
1. A group of free public universities, strongly focussed on regional development and equity programs.
2. A group of specialist universities, focussing on certain disciplines and course.
3. A group of universities determined to maintain their current features: comprehensive course offerings and mixed public/private funding (including HECS)
4. A group of internationally focussed universities, reliant on deregulated fees and private revenue sources
5. A group of research universities working in partnership with clusters of advanced industry. .
6. And finally, a group of private universities focussing on the flexible delivery of corporate education and other special purposes (such as the Catholic Universities).
A mixed system satisfies a range of policy goals. It would correct each of the weaknesses in Australian higher education. Most notably, the international competitiveness of the sector would be enhanced. The institutional freedom available in groups four and five would give Australia its best chance of developing a university of genuine international standing. This is not likely to happen under the current system. Our best universities operate with recurrent budgets just one-third the size of the top institutions in the United States, Japan and Europe.
It is possible for Labor to craft a new agenda in education:
¨ one which embraces the concept of learning beyond the classroom
¨ one which mobilises learning resources from all part of society.
These themes need to be reflected in our National Platform. Next week's Conference needs to go beyond the old institutional format and forge a new approach. As a party, we must support Kim Beazley's promise to deliver the greatest skills modernisation program in the nation's history. This is the best way of securing government for Labor and a knowledge nation for Australia.
This is an edited version of a paper presented to this week's Unchain My Mind forum
The footy season draws to a premature close due to the bloody Olympics. Not that I mind the Olympics but it's going to make the off season awfully long. There again it may be enough to expunge the season from my mind. The trouble is that it may still be a memorable season. My team, (the Sydney Swans, for those that have come in late), have a vague chance of making the finals. It will take a miracle, but it could happen and hope springs where ever it will. It's the stuff that dreams are made of, and that's probably why sport is the opiate of the masses. You can dream about winning the lottery, and you can dream your team will defy logic and make your year.
The trouble is that you look back through the year and you analyze your team's performance and know that it's impossible. We lost so many games that we should have won. We lost so many games by less than a kick - or two. They built up our hopes only to get flogged by a team-that-we-should-have-beaten. I particularly remember that kick by Collingwood's Anthony Rocca. It was a kick for goal from the center of the ground, well nearly anyway. And it won them the game. What really galls is that not long ago he was our star recruit, albeit a most reluctant one, and the bastard sank us. And didn't he enjoy it.
Still, the dream lives. You take apart the remaining rounds and work out what needs to happen. It's a week by week proposition. If something doesn't go right you go through it again and see if there is still a hope. The batteries in the calculator need to be replaced in order to complete the complex mathematical computations. You start putting in your tipping comp predictions to fit in with what you want to happen, (your hopes of winning the damned thing are finished, mainly because you've faithfully tipped your team all year, and maybe it will win you the jackpot). All the while you are hoping that your team does the right thing by themselves. And you.
Then reality strikes. It can't happen. You know this to be true. But then you look back and think, hey, I didn't dream that I would see Paul Kelly playing again this year, let alone taking a possible Mark Of The Year in his first game back. He should win it on the sympathy vote alone, if nothing else.
When I sat down and wrote my predictions for the year I didn't dream that Essendon would enter round twenty-one undefeated and looking undefeatable. I said Carlton wanted to prove that making last year's Grand Final wasn't a fluke and now they're running a clear second on the ladder. As I wipe the egg off my face, (naturally enough I had the Swans winning the flag), I start to build other dreams. No more realistic, but dreams never the less.
The new dream has Essendon going through the home and away season without losing a game. At least they won't be the first to do it. The despicable Collingwood did it about seventy years ago, I think. I dream that the Bummers, ( the Bombers for the more polite among us), will lose the preliminary final by a point. This repeating of history appeals to me. Essendon, by the way, lost the corresponding game last year by that margin (to Carlton) and to the Swans in '96. Then the hopeless romantic takes over. The team that beats the Bombers is the Swans, and, of course, we go on to win the Big One.
So, back to reality. But don't expect me to stay there. OK, last week we had a magnificent win over another mortal enemy - North Melbourne, or the Kangaroos, if you insist. We still have a few scores to settle and last week was a great start to achieving the satisfaction of vengeance.
Along the way I wanted to see Wayne Carey humiliated. He may have got four goals, but he was well beaten on the night. And the chant of "Carey's a Wanker" rang around the ground. I don't know if it embarrassed Carey, but it did seem to upset Ron Barassi. According to the press reports he said the behavior of the crowd made him feel like crawling under a rock. My thoughts, upon reading that were, perhaps, that in spite of the fact that he coached the Swans through their darkest hours, he doesn't really understand the dynamics of footy in this town. The Swans are, for the moment at least, our "Rules" team. Since then there has been a press release, (which, as far as I know hasn't been taken up by the rags that ran the story), stating that Ron was badly misquoted and what he did say was reportedly taken totally out of context. I hope so.
Rarely ever has "Cheer, Cheer' the Red and the White" been sung with so much vigor. And joy. There was another song, "There's Only One Team In Sydney." I suspect the significance will not be lost on the would be interlopers. Maybe there is room for a second team in this town but, at this stage at least, it's obviously not North. So, that got week one out of the way.
In reality all teams are our mortal enemies. And your next opponent is the highest on the hate list. . Now for Richmond. The mongrels beat us in our first encounter of the premiership season and shouldn't have been allowed to do so. Their season had seemed to be falling apart at the seams, but they seem to think that they have got back on track, if we can help to put the finishing touches to ruining their dreams it would give a great sense of satisfaction. There's more than one Tigers fan to whom I can give a smug nod of sympathy to in recognition of another season of hope headed for the gurgler. Footy's a cruel game, and it's fans even more so.
Next comes Geelong. Now I'm thinking of a good reason to hate the Cats - other than the obvious fact that they are the opposition and they stand in the way of us and a spot in the finals - but the fact that they beat us a couple of months ago is as good a starting point as any. Besides, I want to play them in the Grand Final. After all, there's the old joke - who's going to win the GF? Dunno, who ever plays Geelong. Mind you I would hate to be the ones to lose to them and spoil the joke. OK, our part of the deal's been taken care of, and we are relying on the others to do their bit. Come on, this is a dream! Well, I'm allowed to, aren't I?
I'll dream on.
b>The Spreading Net: Age and Gender in the Process of Casualisation in Australia
The number of employees classified as casual in their main job has tripled between 1982 and 1999 and 26.4% of the workforce are now casual employees. Campbell gives a cross-national perspective on casualisation, distinguishes between real casual and long-term casual employees. He looks at the arguments presented by some who try to justify the increase in casualisation by saying it is the preference of certain groups of employees. These groups include social security recipients, women with small children or who are seeking to re-enter the labour force, and students.
Campbell finds that whilst these groups do have a certain preference for casual employment, they do not account for over 50% of the growth in the casual labour market, and they don't explain the large and increasing numbers of "casuals' who work long hours on a regular basis. Employer preference for workers with fewer rights would seem to be the key.
(Journal of Australian Political Economy; no. 45, June 2000)
Casual SA Clerks Win the Right to be Permanent
The South Australian Industrial Relations Commission (SAIRC) has ruled that casual clerks employed under the Clerks (SA) Award can choose to become permanent after a year of ongoing and regular employment. The Commission also granted the ASU application to extend the maximum weekly hours allowed for part-timers under the award to 37.5 from 30 hours.
Clerks (SA) Award  SAIRComm 41. July 20, 2000
Manufacturing Industry in the Australian Economy: its role and significance
A powerful argument for the importance of manufacturing industry to income levels for all, and the significance of investment and productivity growth in manufacturing for all other sectors of the economy. Employment growth has been in leisure, tourism and other service sector industries. Manufacturing's share of GDP had declined. The result has been a slump in terms of trade and real income per capita.
Exponents of the knowledge economy should not the strong connections between a large successful manufacturing sector and innovation, research and development expenditure, high living standards, terms of trade and service industries. Promoting the new economy, the post-industrial economy or whatever you wish to call it, and implicitly or explicitly writing off the manufacturing sector, is not a strategy for improvements in living standards in Australia or elsewhere.
(Journal of Australian Political Economy; no. 45, June 2000)
The High Road and the Low Road to International Trade: Emerging Exporters revisited.
The experience of the firms recognised as "emerging Exporters" in the McKinsey & Co report of that name in 1992 is analysed to show that the 'high road' to industrial development is open to Australia, as long as it is recognised that interventionist industry policy decisions are made. The low road is that of offering cheap labour and access to resources to companies. The high road is a path based on productivity growth, technological sophistication and product innovation. It seeks to build prosperity through co-operation and high wages. The low road relies on conflict and insecurity, control and harsh worker punishments, and often features declining real wages. Both roads may work, as lower unit costs are seen as the key to production advantages. Australia should realise that there is a choice, and the low road is not some natural outcome of economics.
(Journal of Australian Political Economy; no. 45, June 2000)
Victorian Industrial Relations Taskforce
Terry Lane talks to Ron McCallum about the taskforce he is heading and the sorts of problems Victorian workers have faced since the Kennett removed many of their statutory protections in 1992. He also covers the general transition of the Australian industrial relations system since the early 1980s which has seen the removal or downgrading of many rights for workers, to the extent where they are the least protected workers in the OECD.
Women's Wages and Labour Market Deregulation
Kathryn Heiler questioned the the Employment Advocate's views on women's wages at the Women, Management and IR conference in Sydney. Hamberger claimed wages had increased under deregulation, but Heiler said the data was not good enough to show what was really happening because of lack of standardisation and inadequate categorisation of statistics.
The statistics that enable comparison between AWAs, non-union enterprise agreements and union collective agreements show that in every category AWAs, followed by non-union agreements were more likely to have:
· more than 38 hours a week as standard
· single rate overtime
· time off in lieu at ordinary time
· averaged hours (with averaging over unreasonable time periods)
· ordinary hours seven days per week
· more than 12 hours ordinary time per week
AWAs often had no provision for wage rises, and more likely to have clusters of low wage agreements. Women were often concentrated in areas were low wage agreements operated and in these agreements conditions were often traded away for a minimum of gain.
Forget Evidence: the demise of research involvement by NOHSC since 1996
Since 1996 there has been a substantial and sustained decline in research actively undertaken directly or indirectly (through grant funding) by the National occupational health and Safety Commission (NOHSC). This decline has reached to the point that the NOHSC arguably has no capacity left to undertake meaningful research. Quinlan traces the decline and tries to identify some of the implications for OHS research generally that flow from this. A strategy to assert the NOHSC research leadership role is presented.
(Journal of Occupational Health and Safety Australia and New Zealand; vol. 16, no. 3, June 2000)
Workplace Safety - a union organiser's view
Unions have been around for a long time and their presence on worksites are a distinct advantage when it comes to workers getting home in one piece. They are the key to preventing injuries at work and improving OHS performance.
(Australian OHS (CCH); June/July 2000)
Facing Up to Footwear
Safety footwear seems at the bottom of the list of safety concerns, but should be a higher priority.
(Australian OHS (CCH); June/July 2000)
by Caroline Block in Melbourne
Victor, the State Liberal MP for Doncaster, after being passed over by Kennett for a Ministerial position for seven years was forced to use his website to keep himself occupied and promote himself. But Victor's online bombastic self-flattery makes one wonder about the state of his palms.
While you may be excused for thinking "why bother if he's so pathetic?", Victor invites the scrutiny by promoting his website at every possible opportunity. He refers to himself as a "WEO" - Wired Elected Official. Whoever can think of the most creative alternative for the acronym WEO wins a free set of steak knives.
A dripping wet, small 'L' Liberal, Victor's preaches tolerance through his website while at the same time insulting working class families with contemptible putdowns about their level of intelligence and ability to raise children.
Last week at Brimbank Council in suburban Melbourne - which represents the working class suburb of St Albans - Councillors passed a unanimous resolution condemning Victor for the following comments in a speech he posted on his website:
"There are lots of highly intelligent children in St Albans, Cabramatta, or Toowomba, but whose development and capacity to end up coming to your attention is held back because their schools don't have the money for the technology, or don't have the teachers who are adept at utilizing cheaper forms of technology. Or even worse, whose parents have no interest and gain their cultural fulfilment from General Hospital, Days of Our Lives, Midday and Neighbours."
Councillors wrote to Victor and to the Speaker of the Victorian Parliament (Alex Adrianopolous) voicing their outrage at the comment, which they felt was insensitive and offensive. The Speaker's reaction will be interesting considering he was a former Member for St.Albans.
The Internet is Victor's weapon of choice. How appropriate then, that it has been the vehicle for exposing his shame.
He was recently embarrassed in Victoria by being caught out nominating himself for a British New Statesman Media Award for his own website. Needless to say, it did not win.
In May the Victorian Parliament heard how Victor had written online of his adventures in Singapore, where he imbibed in a local aphrodisiac, "deer penis wine". The bizarre substance was immediately dubbed "Victor's Viagra" in the media.
But I think it's this speech he delivered at an ANZAC Day ceremony in his electorate in 1998 which reveals what a complete Tool Victor really is.
Remember, this is a speech - to Diggers - on ANZAC Day:
"American Film Director James Cameron, in his acceptance speech for the 1998 Academy Award for the best picture, said "the message of 'Titanic' of course is that if the great ship can sink, the unthinkable can happen, the future is unknowable." The only thing that we truly own is today. Life is precious, so during these few seconds, I'd like you to also listen to the beating of your own heart, which is the most precious thing in the world. Let us take a moment to imagine the beating of the hearts of the young men 83 years ago, as they waited on their ships to mount the beaches of Gallipoli."
I don't know about the heart, but something else sure is beating hard in Doncaster.
Check out Victor's website:
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005