Maybe you’ll be old one day too

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“Treasurer Joe Hockey has signaled a further increase in the pension age, more welfare means testing and co-payments for medical services in a speech in Washington delivered as the budget takes shape”.

And it’s not if we didn’t see that one coming.  For quite a while now Hockey has been “priming his audience” with stern lessons about how we must “end the Age of Entitlement”.  Hopefully it’s not just those least able to defend themselves who will be at the top of the Liberal government’s agenda.  To date the cuts already announced, and often surreptitiously, do not instill me with a great deal of confidence; cuts to welfare groups including the PCYC, cuts to legal aid for Aboriginal people and has begun dismantling the GP super clinics, to name but a few.

But surely when Hockey spoke about the ‘Age of Entitlement’ he was referring to the upper income brackets, those with plenty of cash to splash on luxuries such as multiple investment properties and private this and that. . . but perhaps not.

But let’s admit it, we have been forewarned. . .

From April 2012,

Despite an aging population and a higher standard of living than that enjoyed by our children, western democracies in particular have been reluctant to wind back universal access to payments and entitlements from the state.

Quite right and bravo, Joe!  Obviously Hockey was on the cusp of announcing that he didn’t support his boss Credlin, Abbott’s fervent desire to pay ‘women of calibre’ $75,000 for bonding time with bubs.  Or perhaps he was referring to the cancellation of all upper class welfare and other lurks and perks.

But of course not.  These are the same people who add, and substantially to Liberal Party coffers. . . they are therefore a no-go zone.

The Daily Telegraph was clearly stunned to learn:

Senior government sources have confirmed that Australians over the age of 70 are also almost universally securing free or discount medicine ­because they qualify for ­taxpayer-funded concession card schemes.

A stunning 94 per cent of Australians over 70 qualify for either a pensioner concession card or a seniors health care card for self-funded retirees.

The growing number of older Australians claiming discount medicine under the PBS is a challenge for the government because 78 per cent of the cost of scripts claimed at chemists under the PBS is going to concession cardholders.

Hell, we can’t have that!  The luxury, the profligacy – *gasp* discount medicine!  Perhaps we should go back to “the good old days” and have pensioners cut their heart tablets in half to make their prescriptions last that little bit longer.  Pensioners also receive free hearing aids, plus “low cost” batteries, discounts on public transport, plus on electricity.  OMG the world’s gone mad!  It’s all the pensioners’ fault.  We have to stop it now – we simply cannot afford these oldies and their draining the dollars from “hard working Australians”.  How much was that again that Brandis was going to cost us for his new library?  How much was that again that Abbott cost the taxpayer because he didn’t fancy staying the $3,000pw temporary Canberra residence, the house that he had originally chosen?

However, and in the real world, it is important that politicians at least make a semblance of keeping their promises, and it is understandable that at times some do get broken or bent in the process of having to re-jig a government in that particular political party’s own image.  Gillard certainly paid the price for her poorly explained price on carbon, the JuLiar tag being the result.  So I wonder what the public will make of this plethora of broken promises coming from the Liberals?

In a pledge, an absolute guarantee Tony Abbott said on the night before the 2013 election:

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

And election eve pledges are certainly ones which need to be believed as these are the promises on which many people base their voting decision.  To sneak into victory based on a series of known falsehoods is deception at it’s worst.

The GST and other lies

Hockey GST

In 2004, Alan Ramsay wrote:

“Telling a lie is easier than killing it, even for a prime minister. A lie is a lie, and once it is out on the street no amount of passing traffic can ever truly skittle it. John Howard told a lie on May 2, 1995. Then he told more lies to reinforce the first lie. To protect himself from what he judged a serious threat to his last chance to be prime minister, Howard lied and went on lying. Now, three years later, he is telling still more lies to hide that first lie.

Ramsay was of course writing about then Prime Minister John Howard and Howard’s never-ever promise to never-ever introduce the GST.

“Suggestions I have left open the possibility of a GST are completely wrong. A GST or anything resembling it is no longer Coalition policy. Nor will it be policy at any time in the future. It is completely off the political agenda in Australia.”

Amanda Vanstone was somewhat more honest than ‘Honest John’ stating that, “I wouldn’t have tried it from Opposition. You’ve got to wait until you get into Government and sell it there”.

The GST was subsequently introduced by Howard government on the 1st July, 2000 with predictions of how its introduction would hit hardest the poorest in society while at the same time doing little to tackle the cash in hand economy.  On winning the election Howard promptly declared that victory gave him a mandate for the GST.  He however only succeeded in getting it through a hostile Senate after doing a deal with the Australian Democrats to exempt food.

Howard’s sales pitch to the Australian people included:

“This is something the country has needed for more than twenty years and we’re doing it because it is the right thing for the nation.

It will give us a fairer taxation system.

It will cut our income tax.

It will strengthen us in the world.

It will guarantee the revenue we need to support the health, education, police and other services so important for a fair society.

The new tax system is designed to reward Australians and their families with lower income tax and increased family benefits”.

Has the GST ever lived up to what was promised?

KERRY O’BRIEN: Pensioners are emerging as the latest bloc of voters to test the Howard Government’s promise to listen to their problems- in this case, over the GST.

They were due to receive a 4 per cent increase to their pensions today in line with the cost of living.

But they only received 2 per cent…

KERRY O’BRIEN: Edith Morgan of Pensioners and Superannuants Federation. . . says that pensioners are coming to her saying, “We have paid our own way all our lives. Suddenly, after the GST, we’re going to have to go to charities and collect food parcels to live on.”

KERRY O’BRIEN: The peak lobby group for the welfare sector, ACOSS, says that the compensation package was always inadequate.

They said that before it came in. They say the facts have now borne that out.

They say that in particular as people, pensioners, the disadvantaged, are experiencing the full cost. That’s being passed on to them by retailers.

Also, and from 2012:

TAX dodgers are cheating the country of up to $100 billion a year in undeclared income through the cash economy more than a decade after the introduction of the GST.

“It was said the GST would put an end to the cash economy but that was always a flawed argument,” he (Taxpayers Association spokesperson Roger Timms) said.

“Clearly it hasn’t reduced since the GST, in some ways it has promoted the cash economy. If a householder pays a tradesman in cash the householder saves on GST.”

Since it’s inception the spectre of raising the GST has been used as a stick with which members of both parties have used to try to beat their opposite numbers.  The slightest hint or a leak from an ‘unnamed source’ would have leaders and treasurers and their equivalent opposition spokespeople scurrying into a series of denials.

April 22, 2008: ‘It is very important that Mr Rudd guarantee Australians there will be no increase in the GST’, Brendan Nelson

May 18, 2013:  ‘Abbott plans to raise GST’, claims Bill Shorten.

 Peter Martin recently wrote, “Hockey and Abbott spent the entire election campaign never entirely ruling out an expanded GST, as they shouldn’t have“.

The Abbott government is now of course in a complete state of denial that they ever countenanced such an opinion.

The Abbott government has dismissed calls from Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson to consider raising taxes to get the budget out of trouble, including lifting the rate of the GST.

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s office on Thursday rejected the suggestion that the government would raise the GST to plug holes in the budget.

According to all economists, there as likely to be some massive ones..holes in the budget.

“A broader GST covering currently exempt services such as private health and private education would fix a hole in the tax system and get serious money from Australians with serious money”.

However, it is unsurprising that Hockey has rejected all worthy suggestions, even suggestions that the GST is something which we should be talking about, especially given that this would mean tackling the ‘serious money’. . . and anyway:

Joe Hockey criticises Treasury as not trustworthy….

2013 ELECTION Shadow treasurer will not produce final forecast of deficit or surplus because Treasury projections are ‘not credible’…  The Coalition is refusing to commit to a final budget bottom line when it releases policy costings because it does not believe the Treasury figures…

So there you are, once again nothing will be done, the Abbott government clearly incapable of playing hard ball with a difficult opponent (such as private health or private education), and any GST would doubtless instead of tacking private and wealthy institutions would instead be looking at bread rolls and goat’s milk.  Given that those looking to take the majority of the hits, the least powerful, those on welfare, are going to be hit big time in the forthcoming budget, any attempt to add further to this pain would be equivalent of hitting someone over the head while simultaneously stabbing them in the back.  Clearly Hockey’s current priority is to tackle welfare, and any further forays into real reform will have to wait until – next time.

 

 

Palmer pursued. . .

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Why did they bring this up this week?” Mr Palmer said. “Why is the government, ministers and the departments handing stuff to Rupert Murdoch?”

Quite right Mr Palmer, why is the Abbott government handing “stuff” to Rupert Murdoch?

“The Clean Energy Regulator is currently investigating whether Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd has made any payments towards the debt in the last 24 hours,” a spokeswoman for the Clean Energy Regulator said.

“We have no record of payment having been received at this stage”.

Already well and truly on the public record is Clive Palmer’s objection to the carbon tax with Palmer stating in November last year that, “the Abbott government should sue him if they want to get the $6.17m in carbon tax owed by his company Queensland Nickel“.

However to Clive Palmer’s credit,

Palmer United Party federal leader and Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer will abstain on voting on the Abbott government’s carbon tax repeal legislation package despite the party’s opposition to the carbon tax…

“I’m applying company director standards and stepping out of this debate as there’s currently a potential conflict of interest,” Mr Palmer said.

This being a most refreshing attitude coming from the right of politics where conscience and money are never normally an issue.

The fact Clean Energy Regulators is/was “currently investigating” came as a huge shock. . .  just to know that the CER is still with us.

New prime minister Tony Abbott wasted little time after the swearing-in of his conservative Liberal National Party coalition, delivering immediately on his promise to repeal or dismantle all institutions and policy measures involving climate change and clean energy.

Therefore even more of a shock is Tony Abbott’s statement of yesterday that Clive Palmer should forthwith pay his taxes, taxes which are a direct result of the price on carbon.  Surely there should be some sympathy given Abbott’s endless rants against the carbon tax, including that Whyalla would be wiped off the map.  So incensed was Tony Abbott that he called on Labor and the Greens to “repent”.  However, not to get between a politician, some pre-election rhetoric and a dollar, Abbott has now insisted that Clive cough up.  **Apparently Mr Palmer has paid, but that wasn’t going to stop The Australian running the story anyway.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has insisted that Mr Palmer should respect the law and that his company should pay its outstanding taxes.

But I thought that Tony Abbott was so vehemently against the price on carbon that he will call a double dissolution election should he fail to get a repeal through the Senate.

“. . .if an incoming Coalition government can’t get its carbon tax repeal legislation through the Senate, well, we will not hesitate to go to a double dissolution.”

I would say, bring it on Tony.  If your grandstanding about Palmer not having paid a bill which he has in fact paid is the best that you can currently dredge up, I would suggest that you go back to your knights and dames.

Tony Abbott is a modest man…and forever on the spin cycle

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In September last year Paul Kelly, Editor at large at The Australian gushed effusively, and in hindsight disastrously over-optimistically, concerning the Big Picture of Tony Abbott, Prime Minister.

Quoting Abbott himself (no doubt sourced from ‘the usual’, a Liberal Party Press Release), Kelly effused:

TONY Abbott has signalled a new style of Coalition government based on collaborative ties with business, a clearer set of priorities, less frenetic, more predictable and geared to stability, not fashion.

Kelly also unambiguously  predicted:

Announcing his ministry, Abbott said the people wanted a government that was “upfront, speaks plainly and does the essentials well”.

Decoded, this means cutting the spin, delivering his promises and getting the economy ticking in the teeth of rising unemployment.

Kelly then followed with a character evaluation of The Great Man himself.  According to Paul Kelly, Abbott:

  • Is a modest man but he must deliver more than modest government.  This one has at least been successful, there has been no modesty about this government whatsoever.
  • He hates embroidery, loathes long ministerial titles.. Gosh, it’s no wonder the msm ridiculed Julia for knitting when Abbott hates embroidery!  Yes indeed, Abbott’s loathing for long titles (doubt no due to a limited attention span), has cost the government (aka us) millions in now defunct stationery.
  • He won’t be talking to the media unless he has something to say..  Hence the Cone of Silence which quickly enveloped this government, Abbott clearly has nothing to say.
  • (Is a) conservative warrior and the anarchic modern media with its thirst for drama and obsession with gesture. So it’s *us* the citizen journalists with the thirst for drama and the obsession with gesture? … ahh, the nobility of it all, the warrior versus anarchy..that’s *us* again.
  • He believes the public is tired of Labor’s egoism, boasting and endless self-obsessions.
  • Abbott said the people wanted a government that was “upfront, speaks plainly and does the essentials well”.
  • Abbott should have promoted another woman into his cabinet where Julie Bishop is the only female in 19 ministers. A very slight rap on the knuckles, but hell, what do you expect, Abbott is a man’s man and this just reveals “a stubborness to do things his way”.
  • The heart of this government is its economic team. Abbott is convinced Labor stumbled because of its obstructionist attitude towards big, small and resources-based business.
  • This is an economic team that is close to Abbott. Its values are pro-market, deregulatory reform and cutting Labor’s red and green tape.

One of the main gripes from the alternative media to mainstream is the often complete lack of scrutiny of statements which emanate straight from the Liberal Party, now government.  Especially when in opposition, all one-liners, the trite phrases were treated as god’s own gospel.  Perhaps this is one of the mainstream media’s problems, that anyone with a computer and who knows how to “Google” can check claims emanating from the prime ministerial office.  Just because Peta Credlin says it, doesn’t make it so.  And just because one or several journalists from the mainstream media repeat the quote verbatim, does not make it so.

No wonder the frustration from the Australian public, no wonder paywalls are a capital F for fail.

Just for the fun of it, let’s just check a couple of Kelly’s statements, and let’s start with #7. Labor stumbled because of its obstructionist attitude towards big, small and resources-based business.

Then why as per the Reserve Bank and Remarks to the Bloomberg Australia Economic Summit 2013 Sydney – 10 April 2013:

Business investment in Australia is higher now as a share of GDP than at any other time over the past 60 years

Why the anomaly, the difference between the factual evidence and the illusion?  Why lie?  Surely senior journalists cannot be ignorant of factual evidence?  If Labor was so obstructionist then why the outstanding results?

The Murdoch media looms large where very little uncensored information penetrates out onto the Australian public, and certainly very little positive which might be contra to the current line which the spin maesters have deemed the *moment* to promote.

On all of the above, one can go no further for the ever insightful Ross Gittins who commences his article of today with:

The world of politicians gets deeper and deeper into spin, and so far no production of the Abbott government rates higher on the spin cycle than last week’s Repeal Day.

This statement from Gittins deserves capitals, and bold:

But the most objectionable feature of the whole red tape Repeal Day charade is the way it has been used as cover for rent-seeking by the Coalition’s industry backers.

It’s an open secret the protections for investors provided by the Future of Financial Advice legislation are being watered down at the behest of the big banks, which want to be freer to incentivise unqualified sales people to sell inappropriate investment products to mug punters.

With the comparison being the Charities Commission abolished, “….despite the objections of most charities, presumably because the Catholic Church doesn’t like it”.

Watch this space for further developments on what the Church likes and doesn’t like, what the Big Banks like and do not like.

Then there is #6.  Abbott said, the people wanted a government that was “upfront, speaks plainly and does the essentials well“.  Spin, spin and spin.

Abbott’s agenda

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Tony Abbott campaigned extensively on “restoring trust” and “no surprises”.

We will be a no surprises, no excuses government, because you are sick of nasty surprises and lame excuses from people that you have trusted with your future”, he said.

It is fair and reasonable that any government might find the need to refine or to reassess with changing circumstances.  The Abbott government has no such excuse.  Arriving to power with the expectation that a steady hand would be running the country, the promise was an almost immediate return to Howard’s “Golden Age”.

”There will be 2 million more jobs, in manufacturing as well as in agriculture, services, education and a still-buoyant resources sector”.

Tony Abbott did however suffer an awkward moment after a video posted on YouTube about how he’s “delivered on his promise” was taken down for being ‘deceptive content‘.  YouTube then suspended Tony Abbott’s entire account.  Is it any wonder that Abbott detests the alternative media, it’s where his bullsh*t is called to account.

I note that the Abbott government is just about over any pretext of running this country in any way, shape or form in a method resembling their pre-election promises, that is with the notable exception of job losses from the public sector . . . we are seeing plenty of those, and more to come in the near future.

I remember that prior to the election a somewhat wry comment which has become a self-fulfilling prophesy, that why would Abbott need public servants when he has no policies to implement?  And true enough, with all the programs which he has already cut to the bare bone, and no new programs emanating from this Do-Nothing government, you do not need anywhere as many staff to implement The Nothing as would have been needed if you had intended to be actually doing *something*.

Written early December 10, 2013:

In the 84 days since Abbott and his cabinet were sworn in, they have struggled to find a positive vision for the nation, let alone explain it.

. . . And nothing has changed in the ensuing 100 days, except for the worse.  Some clues however might be determined from the “tweeking” performed by the Abbott government, much of it reported on as nothing more than an aside from a clearly bored and jaded mainstream media.

Tony Abbott has signalled that personal benefits could be scaled back in the May budget by declaring that, “everyone” had to live within their means . . .

By “everyone”, I am assuming that excluded will be Tony’s “women of calibre” who are clearly worth every penny of their estimated $75,000 handouts.  After all it’s “all about” encouraging women of “calibre” to have children, thus said Tony Abbott, and goodness knows, women of calibre need loads of encouragement to have babies . . . and more money will clearly do the trick.

Abbott himself of course will be leading by example (sarcasm alert) on Australia’s road to future austerity:

Luxury renovations for Prime Minister Tony Abbott at Kirribilli House.  TONY Abbott has spent more than $120,000 overhauling Kirribilli House since winning the election – including $13,000 on a family room rug.

Well perhaps not leading by example, but at least with a smidgeon of empathy? . . . well perhaps not again, as who could forget Abbott’s year long funk after losing a portion of his salary.

Said Tony Abbott,

“What’s it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, i.e. former Howard government ministers!” he (Tony Abbott) said at the time.

“You don’t just lose power … you certainly lose income as well, and if you are reliant on your parliamentary salary for your daily living, obviously it makes a big difference.”

Clearly the mortgage in question was causing Tony Abbott so much stress, that promptly forgot about it . . .

LABOR has questioned whether Tony Abbott could manage the Australian economy after he failed to declare a $710,000 mortgage on his family home.

So which of us is likely to be the “everyone” who Abbott says must live within their means?  Who says it better than Mungo MacCallum, with below from his blog, The View From Billinudgel: So which bits is Abbott going to cut?

Well, obviously not parental leave – in fact Tony Abbott’s pet scheme is set to add a few extra billions to the bill. And the government has already promised to scrap the means test on the health insurance rebate, which gives it another hefty boost.

But perhaps we could start with some of the hand outs of the Howard years, the family tax benefits that go mainly to those who don’t really need them, the archetypal middle class welfare? No, perhaps we couldn’t, because that would make an awful of Coalition supporters very unhappy indeed.

So we’ll turn to the pensioners. The obvious targets are the aged pensioners, who cost as much as the rest of them put together. But they are a strong voice, and what’s more they overwhelmingly vote for the Coalition.

So we’ll move on to the powerless, the disabled and the unemployed. Surely they could do more to pull their weight. We can’t actually reduce their pensions, particularly not  for the unemployed (who now include single mothers); they are already scraping along on the poverty line.

But we can make it harder for them to get anything at all.

And the disabled – well, some of them are only a bit disabled.

Does all this have some sort of wry irony?  While Abbott spends, spends and spends and the latest is the cost of the orange lifeboats which now have apparently topped the $7.5 million dollar mark, not to mention Tony’s boys own adventure of $3 billion for drones.  Then there is the $4.3 million worth of research contracts commissions to scrutinise Twitter, Facebook and blogs . . . and all the while pensioners are threatened with having to belt-tighten.

An odd distortion of priorities is something which is coming to epitomise the Abbott government.

Work is killing our weekend or . . . Women and kids kill jobs

big_girl2_pp_pe_peAustralians ranks amongst the hardest working in the first world, ranking fourth for long hours worked among 34 OECD nations.

Turkey ranked No. 1, with almost half its population working more than 50 hours a week. Mexico and Israel followed. The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Russia had the best work-life balance with only 1 or 2 per cent of employees working very long hours.

And that’s just the blokes, with one in 5 men working more than 50 hours per week.  At least Aussie sheilas are doing it better; or at least better than Turkey or Mexico . . . or are we?

TAKE a bow, ladies – Australian women are among the world’s hardest-working on the home front.

A report has found that of females in 29 countries, Australians rank fifth in the number of hours each day spent doing unpaid work.

Although this article from the Herald Sun treats the issue somewhat flippantly, unpaid work does mean one hell of a lot more than running the vac’ around the lounge room, it’s the carers, the volunteers without whom organisations could not exist . . . you know who you are.

Australian women also have the least time to follow leisure pursuits.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that “WORK is killing off the great Australian weekend and starving kids of family time.”.  Below of course pertains not just to the traditional family, mum, dad and kids but to all working people who are socially deprived due to the impossibility of anything resembling a life/work balance.

Australians are now three times more likely to work weekends than they were 20 years ago – one in three workers now spends Saturday or Sunday on the job.

New research exposes the true cost of weekend work, as it steals leisure time with friends and family all week long.

When fathers work weekends, mothers get less quality leisure time with their children as they catch up on chores.

But when women work Saturdays, the blokes spend more time with their mates.

Weekend work has nearly trebled over the past 20 years, from 12 per cent of workers in 1993 to 33 per cent today, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

Half of all business owners, 42 per cent of contractors and 30 per cent of employees now spend their weekends in the workplace, rather than the backyard or beach.

And one in four workers is on call or on standby, as technology contaminates leisure time with messages and emails from the boss.

The Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW has calculated the “knock-on” impact of weekend work on leisure time, by analysing ABS data sourced from time-use diaries filled in by more than 4000 workers.

When men work weekends, the researchers found, “this comes at the cost of mother-child leisure time”.

The study’s lead author, Associate Professor Lyn Craig, said weekend work was bad for family bonding, friendship and community ties.

More people are working shifts because lots of jobs are becoming 24/7, like retail,” she said yesterday.

“And workers are having their weekends encroached upon more and more by technology, so it seems harder to have a boundary between work and home.

“It’s not good for family bonding, to not have parents available to their kids when their kids are available.”

The research shows both parents spend less quality time with their kids if either mum or dad works weekends.

The above article is from new.com, and published in August last year.

This is the reality of working Australia.  Also to be kept in mind is that according to the ABS,One quarter of all employees earned $588.00 or less“.

More female employees were employed part-time (52.3%) than full-time (47.7%). Average weekly total cash earnings were $1,278.40 for full-time females and $562.40 for part-time females.

Eric Abetz:  “We risk seeing something akin to the wages explosion of the pre-accord era when unsustainable wage growth simply pushed thousands of Australians out of work.”

Steven Walters, a chief economist with JP Morgan, says “. . .wages growth is the lowest it has ever been.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is under pressure from his backbench to address ”job-killing” weekend and holiday penalty rates, with 10 Coalition MPs telling Fairfax Media the controversial issue cannot be ignored.

Does this make any sort of sense?  Since the Murdoch media installed Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, Abbott’s Mr. No persona has been reinvented as Mr. Slash and Burn with thousands of jobs thrown in the dust bin in pursuit of Abbott’s ideologies. Who exactly is the job-killer Tony?

Yet according to Abbott and Abetz it’s the kids, the women trying to support themselves and their families . . .and who are prepared to work weekends and holidays, and while knowing that they must sacrifice valuable family time in order to achieve this; it’s they who are in the “job-killing” business.

Yes you have it, according to the Liberals, Australians who work some of the longest hours of all OECD countries, and with the worst life/work balance, especially pertaining to women who seem to have ZERO time to do anything else except work . . . paid and unpaid; these same hard-working Aussies according to Abbott and Abetz are “in the job-killing business”.  Clearly the solution is to pay them less.

Abbott’s green army: it’s time to enlist

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Are you an Aborigine?  Are you disabled?  Are you a young person currently unemployed, or even enjoying their Gap Year?  Then Tony has the job for you!

You might be paid only half the minimum wage and not be covered by Commonwealth workplace laws but (and this is especially for the Gap Year kids), you might like to consider it as akin to working on a kibbutz . . . it’s all about the experience isn’t it?

Only Tony Abbott could create a ‘workforce’ where the workers aren’t legally workers and have no workplace rights“: Adam Bandt.

Clearly the intent of this ‘initiative’ is all about killing several birds with one stone, with Tony Abbott clearly expecting to be able to claim that he’s tackling the ‘absolute crap’ of climate change (his promised Green Army) while simultanously artificially bringing down the numbers of youth unemployment; while undercutting the rights of the young employed, and undermining the minimum wage.  And perhaps those Graduates and Aborigines might be the same people whose jobs he cut.

Women, junior workers, graduates and indigenous people will bear the brunt of a federal government order to cut 14,000 temporary workers, an analysis of government workplace statistics shows.

Graduate and indigenous recruitment will be slashed, hiring will be frozen across the bureaucracy and lead science organisation CSIRO will be among the the agencies hardest hit with the jobs of up to 1400 scientists and researchers threatened.

Does anyone else see something quite Dickensian about the vision of ‘an army of’ people with disabilities ‘enlisted’ to do “. . .manual labour, including clearing local creeks and waterways, fencing and tree planting“.  Perhaps it hasn’t entered the minds of Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt that many people with disabilities might struggle to perform tasks such as fencing and clearing local creeks of rubbish, and especially for a compulsory 30 hours per week.

Surely it cannot be possible that a person with a disability such as Downs Syndrome might be shifted onto the lower allowance of NewStart should they prove themselve capable of “manual labour”?

As suspected, Abbott’s so-called Green Army is nothing more than a Work for the Dole scheme which will primarily focus on cleaning up rubbish.  After all it was one of Tony Abbott’s more memorable predictions, that Aborigines should be grateful for what ever job they could get, even if it’s just “picking up rubbish around the community”.  Brilliant in it’s inception, Aborigines get to clean up rubbish alongside those other “dregs of society”, the disabled.  It should be quite an adventure for those graduates and Gap Year kids expecting an environmental, kibbutz-style experience.

Having clearly given up on the pretext that Abbott’s Green Army has anything whatsoever to do with Climate Change action, the real crux of the matter has now finally been admitted – it’s all about tidying up those messy unemployment and Disability Support Pension figures.

From the Daily Telegraph:

JOB snobs who refuse work because it’s too far to travel are in the federal government’s sights under reforms that would also collapse the disability support pension and unemployment benefits into a single universal welfare payment.

(Kevin Andrews is). . . determined to remove the “perverse incentive’’ to claim the disability pension because it is worth an extra $250 a fortnight compared to Newstart. . .

Worst government in history

Photo: Drink Tank

Photo: Drink Tank

As noted by contributor Möbius Echo,

They are racking up the worsts, this government.

Worst PM ever;
Worst FM;
Worst Immigration Minister;
Worst Eleventy Minister;

. . . and all their other ministers, everyone the worst performers in their portfolios;
the worst Speaker ever by a long shot, was also the worst Minister in all the portfolios she was bounced around, like her Health Ministership where she supported tobacco advertising;

. . . and the worst government ever in the shortest time ever.

By the way what is it with the Liberals and their support for the tobacco industry. They go on with faux concern about asylum seekers drowning but have no problems supporting an industry that kills tens of thousands of Australians each year. Bloody murderers.

And now to add to the “worst” list . . .

An organisation that has been advising Australian governments on alcohol and drug policy for almost half a century shut its doors on Friday.

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, which has operated since 1966, was placed in voluntary administration in November after Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash decided it would receive no further funding.

Would this be on a par with closing down the Healthy food star ratings website?  And yes it seems that it was Nash herself who was in the thick of it.

The senior government bureaucrat in charge of the new healthy food star ratings has been stripped of responsibility for the program.

The change comes after the healthy food star rating website was published and then quickly taken down at the insistence of federal Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash and her chief of staff.

No accidents there, and although Alastair Furnival became the fall guy, it was Nash herself; with Furnival clearly having her full support.

A powerful food industry lobby group says it contacted Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash to raise concerns about a Government food star rating website the same day it was pulled down.

Mike Daube, spokesman on alcohol, Public Health Association of Australia: ”It just beggars belief that a minister responsible for alcohol seems to be taking policy decisions without talking with any of the key groups,”.

Does it beggar belief?  Or rather is this decision somewhat aligned to Nash’s decision to take down the healthy food star rating website?

Mr Furnival resigned two weeks ago following revelations about his role in taking down a healthy food rating website and his co-ownership of a company that had lobbied for the junk food industry. The company had also performed work for the liquor industry as recently as 2012.

Therefore not content with trashing and the intended trashing of the working conditions and wages of all of us:  Today (19th February), data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show annual wage growth is at the lowest level since records started in 1997 – even lower than during the depths of the Global Financial Crisis. . . wage growth is so weak, it has fallen below inflation meaning we now have real wage deflation – and clearly the health and wellbeing of Australians is of insignificant concern to this government compared with $s from those with vested interests – plus trashing Australia’s reputation on climate change, and that is aside from our reputation on the treatment of asylum seekers, there are the other issues which will only serve to reduce the quality of life plus the living standards of all Australians.

The Australian government is insulting the sovereignty of other countries with plans to dismantle its climate change policies. . .

Lord Deben, head of the UK Committee on Climate Change told RTCC that Australia’s attitude to reducing its carbon emissions was “very sad” and “something I feel very personally about.”

“It lets down the whole British tradition that a country should have become so selfish about this issue that it’s prepared to spoil the efforts of others and to foil what very much less rich countries are doing,” he said.

Worst government in history?  This is not only the direction in which we are heading, but we’ve arrived.

Health and education, when less is more

Photo:  The Daily Telegraph

Photo: The Daily Telegraph

The prime minister said,  “. . . the rate of spending growth in the longer term had to be reduced if good schools and hospitals were to be sustainable“.

What is it that Tony Abbott attempting to state?  An interpretation might be that in order for the quality of schools and hospitals to be maintained, that they need less money spent and that this in turn will enable schools and hospitals to become “sustainable”.  Hell!  It must be time to cut funding to the wealthiest of the private schools; consider the *outstanding* education that they will be able to provide once they’re given less money.

From one blogger over on the ABC:

vanessa56

2:04 PM on 25/02/2014

There appears to be huge gap between the government’s understanding of the health and education experiences of ordinary people and what the government thinks is happening.

“There is too much education spending”. Real experience: my granddaughter’s teacher brings his coffee machine to school and sells coffee to the other teachers to raise money for equipment for his special needs classroom.

“There is too much health spending”. Real experience; there is a two YEAR wait to see a back specialist in the public health system, there is a $25 gap to see a GP, there is a $200 gap to get a simple knee scan at the local, privately owned medical imaging place because the government has privatised the rural medical imaging in South Australia. It costs $900 to get a child diagnosed with autism because the WCH cannot cope with the need for diagnosis in SA.

“Wages are too costly” Real experience; there are thousands of people who are not getting fair wages, let alone raises, there are thousands who are not getting holiday, sick pay or getting their superannuation paid on time.There are thousands of young people doing unpaid internships that last months and months without any wages at all.

“People need to work longer” Real experience: we want to work longer, we are fit as fiddles at 70 but NOBODY wants to employ us. Are you listening Mr Abbott?

ABC’s Insiders program: ”I want to give people this absolute assurance: no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to pensions and no changes to the GST.”, so said Tony Abbott on the 1st September, 2013.

Naturally the Liberals will deny that there is no lie at all as they are not actually going cut funding to health and education, just reduce it.  Weasel words.

On hospitals, and the report below is dated 14th February this year:

  • A NEW report card on public hospitals shows just 68 per cent of urgent, emergency department patients are being seen within the recommended 30 minutes.
  • It also shows the average wait time for elective surgery has not improved since 2010/11, and still sits at about 36 days.
  • The report was released by the The Australian Medical Association, which says more money must be pumped into public hospitals failing to meet key targets on patient care.
  • The report reflects data gathered in the 2012/13 financial year.
  • AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton says the true picture on elective surgery could be far worse, because the official data only captures those who are on waiting lists.
  • Many others were still waiting to see specialists and they weren’t reflected in the figures.
  • The report card also showed there are just 2.6 public hospital beds for every 1000 people — a 43 per cent drop in 10 years.
  • Dr Hambleton said the report showed how vital it was for the federal government to boost hospital funding and abandon $400 million in cuts planned over the next three years.

It’s very disturbing that we’ve got these figures showing our hospitals are under pressure and yet the funding may not be there,’’ Dr Hambleton said.

This is not the time to cut funding.’’

Unlike former prime minister Kevin Rudd, he (Tony Abbott) wouldn’t say the buck stopped with him when it came to making sure health infrastructure was properly funded.

It depends on the particular issue where the particular buck stops,’’ Mr Abbott said.

Did I mention the phrase weasel words?

WorkChoices, you asked for it

In August 2012, former Prime Minister John Howard called for a  to return to individual employment contracts, however then Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott was quick to end speculation saying, “there will be no going back to the past”.

”If Mr Howard, who was a Liberal prime minister for 12 years, is talking about bringing back WorkChoices, then you can bet your bottom dollar that Mr Abbott is bringing back WorkChoices,” he (Wayne Swan) told reporters in Canberra.

But Mr Abbott said the Coalition would not seek to be ideological in the industrial relations arena.

But perhaps, and in order to find out what Tony Abbott’s honest answer is, then we need to go back to Abbott in Opposition:

  • New federal Liberal leader Tony Abbott has not to ruled out changes to Australia’s industrial relations landscape if he wins power next election.
  • When asked if new Liberal policy would include seeking to re-introduce aspects of the previous Howard government’s WorkChoices regime, which has been rolled back by the Kevin Rudd government, Mr Abbott said Australia needed a “free and flexible economy”.
  • FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wants to scrap penalty rates — to protect the Australian weekend.
  • Retailers and hospitality employers are planning a post-election push for a relaxation of penalty rates after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott signalled potential support for such cases in the workplace tribunal.
  • PETER Reith will demand today that business aggressively pressure Tony Abbott to introduce more radical workplace policy changes if he wins the election, while stepping up his attack on the Coalition’s paid parental leave policy as unaffordable and “wrong in principle”.In a rallying call to resource sector employers in Melbourne, the Howard government workplace relations minister will urge employers to start campaigning in October for substantial changes if Mr Abbott wins the September 14 election.
  • Business says that an Abbott government should go further than what it says in its policy. Unions say that an Abbott government will go further than what it says in its policy. We just can’t know for sure what those further changes will be. But whatever they are, it is unlikely that they would boost productivity, either.

Announced today:

The federal government is finalising plans for a sweeping review of the nation’s workplace laws, and could hand-pick an industrial relations expert from outside the Productivity Commission to help lead it.

Before the election, the government promised a ”genuine and independent review” of the Fair Work laws by the economically dry commission, to consider their impact on productivity, the economy and jobs, with a view to raising flexibility in the workplace.

The review comes as Employment Minister Eric Abetz revealed plans to introduce new laws next week that would allow workers to trade off conditions such as penalty rates in return for more flexible hours.

So what happened to the “review”?  Preempting any “sweeping review” by either the Productivity Commission or Abetz’ and Abbott’s “hand-picked” apologist expert, Abetz and Abbott have announced that Australian workers are going to be permitted to trade away their penalty rates in exchange for . . . whose flexibility?

Senator Abetz confirmed, when asked about the changes, that they would allow workers to trade off penalty rates for family time.

He stressed it would be employees who decided if this trade-off suited them, and not employers dictating that penalty rates be signed away.

I wonder in what reality Senator Abetz lives?  An imaginary place where the lass at the checkout or the young bloke on the factory floor has the ability to say to the big boss, “No sorry, I would rather get paid overtime rather than leave work at lunchtime.”.  “Don’t come in Monday, we don’t need you until later in the week” is already the reality for many of Australia’s workforce, but it is now obvious that in the guise of Abbott being “the best friend the Australian worker ever had” . . . look, think of it this way, you may not be able to pay the bills or put food on the table, but at least you’ll be getting quality time with the family . . . that this is the first step of an ongoing campaign.

From ACTU president Ged Kearney:  ”This is a blatant attempt to cut pay and conditions … despite all the pre-election promises,” she said. ”Minister Abetz talks about imaginary workers that want to give up penalty rates for nothing. We’re yet to find a worker that thinks this is a good deal.”

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