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An Open Letter to Bernie Brookes

Dear Bernie Brookes,

I’m sure you can guess why I’m writing you this letter. You’ve no doubt had many similar complaints this week surrounding your comments about the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the effect this policy will have on Myer consumer spending. So here’s another one to add to the pile. Even if you don’t have time to read it, please do me the favour of handing it around your mates, fellow CEOs of big companies who think they’re entitled to an opinion about political policy. These words are for all of you.

First off, let me just say that I am a very grateful person. I am grateful that I live in a society where a brand like Myer exists. But I don’t wake up in the morning and curse that Myer isn’t open yet. I, like all other Australians, don’t need Myer. We don’t rely on Myer providing us with products. This is because nothing your store provides could ever, in anyone’s warped sense of reality constitute a ‘necessity’. Necessities, things needed to live, for lucky Australians like me, include shelter, food, water and healthcare. Everything else is lifestyle. That’s what your store sells isn’t it? Lifestyle choices. As an Australian, I get to enjoy a whole raft of lifestyle choices, Myer being one of them. I get to enjoy so much more than just bare necessities, and that’s why I’m so grateful.

I am also grateful that my life has not been touched by the difficulties of disability. Yet, if I was to find in my future that, for instance, I had a child with a disability, I don’t think my first concern would be that this child might cost me more money, and reduce the amount of cash that I could spend at Myer. Thousands of Australians have been looking after themselves or loved ones who have a disability, buying all the expensive healthcare and equipment needed to give them a life that’s nowhere near as privileged as most of your customers, without the government offering them the support that it has always been able to afford. Hence why Gillard’s Labor Government has introduced the National Disability Insurance scheme. But rather than applaud this social policy, you whinge to your investment banker crowd that the policy is going to hurt your shareholders. How pathetic a human being you are. When I think of your shareholders, somehow I don’t manage to conjure the sort of pity that I have for people who are prisoners in their home due to a disability, or for their carers who have been by their sides their entire lives. Giving up trips to Myer. Giving up everything for their loved one.

It’s clear that you have a predictable view of government spending on social welfare. You don’t like it. You don’t seem to think the government can afford to do anything. Although I didn’t hear you complaining when Rudd’s Labor government stimulated the economy during the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis by giving your consumers money to spend in your stores. Are you grateful at all for that Bernie? That this country didn’t plunge into recession like the US and most of Europe?

When you found your statements about the NDIS had made their way out of your investment banker echo-chamber and into the general populace (your consumers) and you realised your words might affect your shareholders’ income, you issued the most cowardly format for an apology – a press release. And in this release, you stuck by your criticism of the funding model for the NDIS – a minor increase in the Medicare Levy. You said you would prefer the NDIS was funded using ‘existing revenue streams’. Well thanks Bernie. Thanks for this insightful advice. Have you not heard that government revenue isn’t doing so well lately? You are constantly complaining that your retail sector isn’t performing well but do you ever put two and two together? While you and your CEO mates might find the economic conditions difficult, might it also be so that government taxation revenue is also dropping due to large companies like your own not contributing as much in tax revenue? Or is the government meant to be responsible for this as well? Last time I checked, Australia is doing incredibly well economically compared to other developed nations – would you prefer to run a group of department stores in Greece? And while you and your mates are constantly backing Tony Abbott’s catch-phrase that the government MUST be in surplus, how do you expect that government to afford the NDIS, which you now seem to agree we need, without an increase in taxation? What’s this magic pudding you seem to know about that the government doesn’t? Please enlighten us.

Speaking of your buddy Tony Abbott, what are your thoughts on his plans to fund his inequitable-middle-and-upper-class-welfare-election-bribe paid parental leave with a 1.5% increase in the company tax rate? Myer will be paying that I would think. I totally understand big business. I know the cost of this tax increase will be passed onto Myer consumers. Aren’t you concerned that if you charge us more for your lifestyle choices, we might not be able to afford as many lifestyle choices? Or we might give up on your lifestyle choices altogether? Heard of the internet? I’ve only got a rudimentary understanding of economics and supply and demand, but that’s how it works doesn’t it? Prices go up, demand goes down. I would personally agree with you if you were to come out and criticize Abbott’s paid maternity leave policy. I don’t want your prices to go up so Abbott can ensure women who earn way more than the average wage, get paid more than an average salary when they go on maternity leave. I don’t want to see every company in Australia put their prices up so women can pay for expensive lifestyle choices whilst being full-time mums. If the company tax rate was increased for an equitable policy like the NDIS, I would have no complaint.

I guess it all comes down to priorities, doesn’t it Bernie. My priority is the poorest and most disadvantaged in society. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to contribute from my taxable income, to ensure disabled Australians are better supported with their challenges in life. Your priority is your shareholders. How’s that working out for you this week Bernie? Are your shareholders impressed with your public relations disaster?


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  1. helenmarg

    Could not have been a better article Victoria. Thank you again .What is wrong with the MSMwith their shallow articles not Journalism .I am in my 70s and I am learning so much from reading Australian Independant Media.

  2. rosellajam

    Brilliant! Simply brilliant!

  3. rossleighbrisbane

    I think you’re being very short-sighted here, Victoria. I am forming a party which will abolish the Medicare Levy entirely, and with the extra money spent at Myer the GST alone will enable us to eliminate all tax, including the GST. I am basing it on the Reagonomics trickle-down idea, because that completely eliminated poverty amongst billionaires in the USA.

  4. samdrs kranz

    Very impress with the words put in the open letter explains with honesty and home truths.Myers CEO needs to be trained with people skills regardless of his political leanings his job was not l am sure to voice his opinions for l am sure some board members would not share

  5. Otter Chaos (@Ylf_Aneko)

    I almost wish I were a consumer of their dowdy overpriced tat, so I could boycott it.

  6. Denise

    Excellent letter Vic…..God I hope Brooks reads it ….but doubt it….he will be in his counting house counting all his money…..Oh if only parents of disabled children had $1.8m a year for which to care for their disabled child with…maybe Brooks could donate some….but that I doubt too….

  7. J.Fraser

    I read this article in Myers …. waiting forlornly for a shop assistant to approach

    Apparently I have to wait until school is out before one is likely to appear.

    A few 457 workers wouldn’t go astray, they could explain how their Grandparents made the garments for 75 cents.

    Wonder why they don’t have poker machines in Myers ? … surely it would be a social thing … isn’t Myers community conscious ?

    Great photo of “Slick” Abbott … wonder if I should write to him about the pokies ?

  8. Michael Taylor

    I read this article in Myers

    That’s gold.

    Just like this post.

  9. Jade W

    helenmarg, you are an inspiration. It must be so frustrating for you with so many people in your age group absorbing Murdoch media and having it twist their minds for really bad outcomes for your age group. The first thing the LNP did is Qld is boot the seniors out of nursing homes for a buck. Hate to think what is going to happen to aged pensions and super in September. I’m 40 but severely disabled and get just as worried.

  10. Fed up

    I find it very easy to boycott Myers. Cannot afford to shop there.

  11. old_stoagy

    onya Rolly… I love the “CEOs of big companies who think they’re entitled to an opinion about political policy” slant. They’re such a greedy mob and so full of themselves that they truly believe the rot they spew. Nothing like crawling over the less fortunate to make your fortune there BB

  12. Berny

    They’ll simply sack a few more employees. It’s what they do best!

  13. Ken Brown

    More music to our ears Victoria!

  14. Katman

    Thank you Victoria. I doubt, however it will reach the intended people, they will be cocooned in the ivory towers.

    As the father of my 39 year old son who has been disabled since birth it it music to my ears. I know what a struggle it is day in, day out. We support our son at home.

    You have to give up having any semblance of a normal life. Something as simple as going out to dinner or a party is a major operation in arranging respite, or in home care.

    My blood boils when clowns like Bernie shoot their mouth off. I would like him to spend a week in my shoes, then he will know what life is really about

  15. JC Lloyd-Southwell d'Anvers

    Dear Ms Rollison,

    You have expressed the voice and sentiment of many of us on this lamentable and disgraceful example of an overpaid and overrated CEO; and of corporate culture and our political leaders in Australia (the latter also terribly overpaid and overrated!) and, for that, I applaud you with all my gratitude!

  16. Diana Lea

    I live less than 2 kms from Myers but have only set foot in there 3 times in the past 15 years. Why? Because I can get everything that they sell (or that I need) elsewhere at considerably less cost, and because the staff leave you waiting while they stand and gossip. Perhaps these are the reasons you might lose business Bernie whatever your name is! Not because people are going to have to pay an extra dollar a day to look after disadvantaged people who are long overdue for some extra care and attention! Thankyou Victoria for voicing it so perfectly!

  17. Andrew

    Bam! Beautifully written piece! What a shame he’ll probably never lift his head out of the corporate feed trough for long enough to read it! Thanks!

  18. Rob

    Geeezuz Bernie, the NDIS has the capacity to liberate almost a quarter of a million people. If I were you I’d open a new floor and start putting bling on wheel chairs.

  19. Dave Emerton

    I remember another Bernie that Abbott wasn’t so ready to meet. Now he has been dragged by his ears by the best PM Australia has ever had. About time we shamed more of these people who think they were born to rule and who don’t give a toss for the average Australian, let alone the less fortunate in our community. What a great letter to a weak, insensitive and greedy man. People with disabilities and their carers deserve our support. Once again, it is those who receive the most who think they have some right to deny those who have the least. This man deserves our condemnation. I have never bought anything in Myer and never will.

  20. Michael Kerr

    I suggest Mr Brookes fixes up the real problems with Myers which in the case of their Wollongong store is lack of service. Who needs to wait in a queue for 15 minutes just to enquire about the differences between products. Mr Brooke’s seems to have a bad habit of “shooting himself in the foot” when a few years ago he said “weekends do not exist anymore” so why pay penalty rates”. I hope he mentions this gaffe when he does his annual appraisal with his HR about how he can help his company grow “Yeah keep my big mouth shut.”

  21. Joy Cooper

    Fantastic article, Victoria. You do have a great gift for sniffing out hypocrisy.

    Hmm, Tones does like mixing with HIS sort of people, doesn’t he? Although, he still has that forced painted-on smile even with his arm wrapped around the comely Jennifer Hawkins.

    People with a complete lack of empathy for those less fortunate than themselves, such as Bernie Brookes, make my head hurt

  22. Chris Hales

    It just says it all doesn’t it. The people backing and financing and pushing and praying for Tony Abbott to become leader of this country are full of people like Bernie Brookes. This is the kind of people TA and the Liberal party work for and who’s interests they protect. I hear that while MSM continue to claim Liberals a certainty in the election (I believe their lying) I also hear that SOCIAL MEDIA predicts otherwise and TA has no chance. So we must keep sharing, posting, tweeting, commenting and keep up the fight to stop Murdochs and CEO’s and Rinehart’s MSM misleading the public.

  23. VoterBentleigh

    Bernie Brookes has supported the Texas Pacific Group’s Private Equity ownership structure, even though the Australian Tax Office claimed that this structure was used to take profits out of Australia without paying tax. The ATO attempted to get back over $450m owing in taxes. Brookes also criticised the Australian Government’s attempts to protect penalty rates for workers. So one could expect this sort of response on the NDIS or anything else which might require any consideration of other Australians.

    Still, this is the sort of business person who supports the Conservative Opposition (once known as the Liberal Party).

  24. Ricky (Tory Torcher)

    Priceless… love it well done

  25. Joy Cooper

    VoterBentleigh., that is absolutely typical, of the companies who won’t play fair with the Australian people by paying taxes here due to their “structure”. Unfortunately, there are a few of them. Imagine the country’s tax receipts available for the good of Australia & its people, if they paid their fair share.

    Brookes will most definitely be supporting Abbott & the LNP. Wonder if he will allow Myer staff, who work on Saturdays, the time off to vote as they are supposed to be given?

  26. Steve Putnam

    Keep throwing ’em Vic!! (xxx)

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