Interview: Head On
Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
Industrial: Vital Signs
Economics: Taxing Times
Environment: It Ainít Necessarily So
History: Melbourneís Hours
Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
Review: Pollie Fiction
Poetry: The Cabal
The Locker Room
The Cowra Clause
Belly Spreads The Word
Lying Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
The Westie Wing
The Premier, Morris Iemma is settling into his new role in the Parliament. The Premier has been giving some solid answers in the 'Bear Pit' and he's warming to the task.
The Opposition still appears to be incapable of providing alternative policy or even get its teeth into some of the hard issues.
Some of the more interesting goings on include a reference to the Social Issues Committee.
As a member of that committee, I'm really looking forward to hearing from people during the recently announced inquiry into the impact of the Federal IR laws on the NSW community.
The terms of reference require the committee to look into and report on the ability of workers to genuinely bargain, focusing on groups such as women, youth and casual employees and the impact upon wages, conditions and security of employment.
The inquiry will assess the impact on rural communities, on gender equity including pay gaps, on injured workers. It will look at the balance between work and family responsibilities.
Importantly we will also look into the impact on employers, especially small business.
I can't canvass more than that at this stage.
I encourage interested people and organisations to make written submissions to the Committee Secretariat. The closing date is 26th May.
There was also a debate on Trade Unionism in the Upper House where the Opposition advocated for individual agreements yet again, whilst they themselves still cling whenever and wherever possible to any benefits the collective offers them.
I couldn't resist a go at them and their Federal colleagues. There are representatives from Employers First, the Retail Traders' Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Master Builders Association, the Bar Association, the Australian Medical Association, Queensland Canegrowers and the Institute of Public Affairs to name but a few of the 50 to 60 employer unions represented by members of the Federal Cabinet. The list goes on and on.
This group supposedly champions individual bargaining. These people say they are all individuals, but their tactics and actions betray them. History does not demonstrate that this Federal Cabinet, or any previous Federal Conservative Cabinet, is anything but collectivist.
There is however, an exception for those who deem themselves born to rule - the Federal Government does not want workers to act collectively. It wants workers, employees, people with the least bargaining power, the most vulnerable in the community, to be individuals.
But Members of the Federal Cabinet go out of their way to ensure that whatever they do, wherever they do it, they do it in a collective fashion.
The WorkChoices legislation was passed in the two Houses of Federal Parliament by people who are members of an organisation that goes to the very heart of collectivism.
The issue of the NSW Government Procurement Policy has also been canvassed. It's a thorny issue but it's not too hard and it can work for everyone when it's done right. The Government Cleaning Contract issue is a case in point.
When the Minister John Della Bosca announced agreement had been reached with the Union on the 2005 School Cleaning contract he said, ""Where site areas increase through additional facilities the contractors will be required to employ additional hours on the site, not simply load up cleaners with more duties..."
And later "These arrangements and the Government's determination to improve the OH&S performance will be welcomed by the cleaners."
Governments can't divorce themselves from their industrial relations responsibilities. Governments who are responsible for producing the tender documents, accepting the tender and paying the price are responsible for the actions of the Contractors.
For me, taking employees out of the industrial equation is like trying to take pregnancy out of the maternity ward.
We know the Federal Government nevers shirks from dictating terms to any organisation it employs or contracts. The "no AWA, no contract" clause in their Federal Budgets is just one example.
I'm also keen to keep hearing from people in relation to the Hillsong issue. Thank you for your support, information and enquiries.
I have recently added 'vote on an issue' and 'blog' facilities to my website. I'm hopeful that this technology's possibilities and capabilities will be of some benefit in eliciting views, feedback, information and ideas.
The address is www.ianwestmlc.com.au - so let me know what you think. Your encouragement and criticism are equally valued.
If you require assistance accessing information from a NSW Government Department or a Minister, or have feedback and ideas for speeches, or if you believe you know an issue that should be looked at by one of the Parliamentary committees, contact me at Parliament House on (02) 9230 2052 or email [email protected]
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