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Kaye describes herself as a middle-aged woman in jammies. She knew Tony Abbott when they both attended Sydney University where she studied for a Bachelor of Science. After 20 years teaching mathematics, with the introduction of the GST in 2000, she became a ‘feral accountant’ for the small business that she and her husband own. Kaye uses her research skills “to pass on information, to join the dots, to remember what has been said and done and to remind others, and to do the maths.”

Michaelia is hoping we have short memories

Michaelia Cash must have been hoping that everyone would keep looking at Barnaby when she chose to stick her head up today to spruik her take on the latest labour force survey but, thankfully, some journalists have memories that stretch back further than last week.

QUESTION: Senator Cash, is your office being investigated by the AFP over the media tip off of the AWU raid.


QUESTION: If your office isn’t being investigated why did you claim public interest immunity in Senate committee hearings?

MINISTER CASH: Because as an AFP investigation the AFP itself claimed public interest immunity.

QUESTION: But if your office isn’t being investigated wouldn’t releasing those internal communications demonstrate that you had, and your office had, no role in coordinating the media tip offs about the raids?

MINISTER CASH: Again, I have complied at all times with the law and the procedures of the Senate. We are here though to talk about jobs growth. Would you like to ask a question on jobs growth? Would anyone like to ask a question about jobs growth?

QUESTION: On Mark Lee’s attempt to get a job in your office, why was it inappropriate for him to no longer take that role?

MINISTER CASH: I answered these questions last year. Again, would anyone like to talk about jobs growth?

Well Michaelia, I’ll oblige.

Over the past year, trend employment increased by 394,900 persons while the labour force increased by 376,900 persons.  A reasonable result.  However….

Even though full-time employment increased by 8,800 persons between December 2017 and January 2018, and part-time employment increased by 14,200 persons, the trend estimate of monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased by 1.2 million hours.

Whilst trend employment increased by 3.3 per cent over the past year, monthly hours worked only increased by 2.7 per cent.

In August 2013, the last month Labor was in power, there were 712,400 people unemployed. As of the end of last month, that figure has grown by another 7,800.  When we talk in big numbers that doesn’t sound like a lot unless you are one of the many thousands of families affected.

To show how confusing these figures are, the largest increase in trend employment last month was in New South Wales (up 7,600 persons), but NSW also suffered the largest decrease in seasonally adjusted estimates (down 21,200 persons).

Politicians have no consistency in which figures they quote.  They cherry pick the ones that sound best which, as you can see, vary greatly.

Michaelia chose to single out the wonderful result in Tasmania.

ABS figures show that Tasmania’s trend unemployment estimates remained relatively steady over the last month, dropping from 5.8% in December to 5.7% in January, while seasonally adjusted estimates showed a spectacular result, with December’s estimate of 6.1% unemployment dropping to 5.3% in January.

Pick a number, any number.

So, having discussed jobs growth, why the hell is your department not under investigation when your own staffer admitted to having alerted the press?

Is this another case of “he is no longer my staffer so I did nothing wrong?”

Why are our politicians held to much lower standards than the rest of us?

Why are our politicians held to much lower standards than the rest of us?

In what workplace would the married boss promoting his pregnant girlfriend be acceptable?

In what workplace would there be so little transparency about the employment, duties and remuneration of staff?

In what workplace would it be acceptable to tell blatant lies about the state of the company?

In what workplace would it be acceptable to turn up drunk?

Imagine how it would go down with the ATO if I tried to claim my attendance at a colleague’s wedding as a work expense.  Or if I claimed for publications that have absolutely nothing to do with my work.

And how must FIFO workers feel when they are told that a politician’s job is so onerous that we must pay for their family to join them on their work trip to a resort somewhere nice?

How can anything constructive ever be achieved when management is perpetually locked in an internecine war?

Which shareholders would accept spending hundreds of millions of dollars to keep information secret from them?  Paying for feasibility studies, cost-benefit analyses and modelling which are kept from the rest of the board.  Paying for court cases to fight against having to answer questions about your activities at work.

Which workplace would tolerate leaking damaging stories to the media in order to attack your colleagues and break down trust in the organisation?

Why is there never any mention of productivity gains or efficiency dividends when deciding on politicians’ wage rises or the number of staff they employ?  Perhaps the Deputy Whip of the Nationals doesn’t actually need two media advisers.

What company would pay to fly people all over the country just to be seen?  Celebrities and sports stars get appearance money because they bring a return to their promoters.  Oh wait….

The politicians wonder how they can win back our trust?

Stop behaving like you are teenagers away from home for the first time – no parents, no teachers roaming the halls, living at an on-campus residential college, drinking and rooting and partying too much on your parent’s credit card.  Stop going out every night and start concentrating on your homework.  Stop squabbling amongst yourselves and learn how to work as a team rather than trying to outdo each other in a slanging match.  Stop your appalling behaviour during class – no interrupting, no yelling out, and no name-calling.

And most of all, stop lying to the people who are paying for you to be there.

You may have to reconsider your reality, Scott

When Scott Morrison was asked how he could regain voters’ interest and trust, he replied “Just by being direct and honest about how you see things, not sugar-coat things and just be as real as you can be”.

Well, yes, that would be good, Scott.

But apparently, as “real” as Scott can be, is to cherry-pick figures, give no context, omit any that are unflattering, and to, half way through his second term in government, still blame Labor and especially that “untrustworthy” Bill Shorten.

With the Labor Party focussing on inequality and stagnant wage growth, the Coalition are being forced to start thinking about the workers.

Scott is proud of his slogan, “jobs and growth”, and says they will inevitably deliver wage rises.

“If you think about where is wage growth going to come from, it’s got to come from a growing economy. The money has to be there.  My view is we need the best environment for businesses to grow. That is the best opportunity to ensure wages can lift,” says the Treasurer.

Arguably, that may have been the case in the past, but it is patently not so now.

Our economy has experienced uninterrupted growth for over 26 years.

As reported in WAtoday in November last year, statutory profits for the ASX 50 almost doubled from $61.3 billion in 2015-16 to $120 billion for the year to 30 June 2017, driven by a large surge in profits for the mining sector up $27.7 billion.

The surge was led by Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, whose profits soared fivefold.  The five miners, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, together with West Australian companies  Fortescue, Newcrest Mining and South32, reported a combined 13 per cent increase in revenue and a 426 per cent increase in profits as commodity prices and production picked up.

Imagine if we still had the mining tax.

The energy sector had a stronger year (AGL Energy, APA, Oil Search, Origin Energy, Santos, Caltex Australia, Woodside Petroleum) reporting a 6 per cent increase in revenue and a 127 per cent increase in statutory profit before tax.

Imagine if we hadn’t gone for the short term sugar hit of privatising our electricity generation and network.  It also begs the question as to why we got such a big hike in our power bills.

Overall, according to the ABS, company profits rose by 20% to the year ended 30 September 2017, but the only wages that are going up are the excessive bonuses for CEOs.

The NAB monthly business survey for December said that “Strong business conditions are broad-based across all major industry groups with the exception of retail.”

The business conditions index was unchanged at a strong +13 index points, which is well above the long-run average of +5 index points.

So with business conditions and profits at very high levels, and supposed jobs growth of over 400,000, we should see wages going up.

Except they are not as the following graph shows.


According to Alan Oster, NAB Group Chief Economist, “the NAB Business Survey employment index has not experienced the same wild swings in recent years as the official employment survey from the ABS, and tends to suggest the official figures may be currently ‘overstating’ the degree of job creation. The employment index implies employment growth of a little less than 300K at present, and a slowdown to around 240K per annum over the next 6 months, or a monthly pace of around 20K per month.”

In the past year, real household disposable income fell 1.9%, meaning that the level of income households have at their disposal is lower than it was five years ago.

And it’s not likely to change any time soon.

As reported by the ABC, Australian workers who have endured record low pay increases over the past couple of years are unlikely to see their incomes rise soon, with miserly wage increases locked into enterprise agreements (EBAs).

So to sum up, Australian businesses have never had it better.  Business conditions and confidence are high, investment and profits are up.  On the other side the equation, job creation figures are dubious, wages are stagnant and disposable income is going backwards.

You may have to reconsider your reality, Scott.

Bonking, nepotism and the trials of being a politician away from home

Whilst Barnaby Joyce may consider his workplace sexual affairs a private matter, they give rise to many questions.

Cathy McGowan is considering introducing a motion to ban politicians from having sex with their staff.  Do they really need legislation to tell them that the boss rooting their staff is inappropriate?

Have they not learned from the resignation of two AFL bosses and the two top guys in Border Force (though Roman is just on a paid holiday to date)?

Did Tony Abbott’s ban on politicians hiring family extend to the person you are having sex with?

As Ted Mack pointed out in his 2013 Henry Parkes oration:

Over the last 30 years politicians’ staff has increased dramatically. At federal level there are now some 17 hundred personal staff to ministers and members. The states probably account for over two thousand more. Add to this the direct political infiltration of federal-state public services and quangos with hundreds more jobs for the boys and girls, there is now a well-established political class.

But it’s not just a political class – it’s blatant nepotism.

In a January 2014 article on Abbott’s ban and how former Coalition MP for Fairfax, Alex Somlyay, allegedly paid his wife almost seventy thousand dollars for the year 2012-13 “for non-existent work in his electorate office,” Jonathon Swan pointed out how common the practice is.

What about Kevin Rudd? Didn’t he employ his son Nicholas as a ”senior adviser” during the election campaign? Well, as it happens, he did. And what about Chris Hayes, Dick Adams, Glenn Sterle, Chris Back, Ian Macdonald and Rowan Ramsey? Haven’t all of these current and former MPs from Labor and the Coalition hired their wives or partners on the public dime?

What about Liberal MP Dennis Jensen (daughter), Liberal Don Randall (daughter), former Labor senator Trish Crossin (daughter), Labor senator Helen Polley (daughter and niece), Labor MP Michael Danby (son), Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker (son), Liberal MP Steve Irons (son), Nationals George Christensen (sister) and Liberal Bob Baldwin (daughter)?

And that’s before one gets to nepotism-once-removed.

A phone call to Senator Farrell elicited a history of employment that included Mrs Farrell not only working for Labor MP Champion but previously for Labor politicians Bob Catley, Michael Atkinson, Annette Hurley and Linda Kirk. All except Catley were affiliated with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association – a trade union of which Senator Farrell is a former national president.

Awkwardly, the man charged with policing Abbott’s new rules banning nepotism – Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson – has been rather nepotistic himself.

”I don’t think it’s any secret I employed my son,” Ronaldson said.

This practice of employing family members (or people you are rooting) makes the political class even more insular.  It can lead to the perception of corruption even if the reality is otherwise.  Your partner or child may very well be eminently qualified, talented and trustworthy, but so are many other people.

Getting back to the philandering, Bob Katter appeared on the Project this evening to express his support for Cathy McGowan’s ban on bonking but, when asked about how it could be policed, he just started giggling and said “you can’t”, before offering the advice that people “should lock the door.”

When asked if there were others misbehaving, he said “Yes, the boys like to have a bit of fun.  So do the girls.”

He then went all serious, as he does, and explained how hard it was to work 22 weeks of the year (in stints of 2 four day weeks at a time with free flights home for the long weekends and paid “family reunions” anywhere in the country if you can’t last).  It’s hard to resist temptation, Bob tells us.

In 2015, Bob Katter showed up to Parliament on 52 days. In 2014 he attended 65 out of 76 sitting days.

If it is understandable, and excusable, for everyone who spends four days in a row away from home to commit adultery, then we may as well abolish marriage altogether.

Turnbull will do anything to keep his job including sacrificing our democracy

Yesterday, George Brandis, in his farewell speech, fired a warning shot at the Liberal Party and, in particular, at Peter Dutton.

Brandis said “powerful elements of right-wing politics” had abandoned the liberal tradition in favour of “a belligerent, intolerant populism which shows no respect for either the rights of individual citizens or the traditional institutions which protect them”.

“I have not disguised my concern at attacks upon the institutions of the law – the courts and those who practice in them,” he said. “To attack those institutions is to attack the rule of law itself.”

It was the attorney-general’s duty to defend the rule of law, Senator Brandis said, “sometimes from political colleagues who fail to understand it, or are impatient of the limitations it may impose upon executive power”.

He also warned that as responsibilities for ASIO are assumed by Mr Dutton in the Home Affairs super-portfolio, the spy agency’s independence from ministers “must remain sacrosanct”.

If this is the opinion of the man who occupies the highest legal position in the country, it begs the question as to why Malcolm Turnbull, with the creation of the Home Affairs portfolio, has given Peter Dutton such individual unfettered power.

In a report by Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project released in May last year, former Fraser-era immigration minister Ian Macphee said he was “disgusted by the power accorded to current ministers regarding the lives of people fleeing persecution”.

“Ministers now exercise power that is mostly beyond the review of judges,” he said. “Such power should be exercised humanely and in accordance with morality, not absolute law.

“The law and its practice is now unjust. It is un-Australian.”

Current powers include various discretions to approve, refuse, or cancel visas, to detain or re-detain an asylum seeker without warning, to send asylum seekers to offshore detention centres and, in some cases, prevent reviews of decisions not to grant protection visas.

The report found the creation and use of discretionary powers, particularly under immigration and national security legislation, had risen over decades, despite warnings from several previous ministers.

The report also pointed to two more Coalition bills that sought to expand them even further under the current minister, Dutton. These powers, the RAP said, would further allow an immigration minister to “play god”.

“Those decisions are not made in a transparent way in accordance with fair processes,” the report said.  “Rather, the minister is empowered to an alarming degree to make decisions based upon his whim, with scant regard for due process.”

The report found that the immigration minister held 47 “public interest” or “national interest” powers that conferred largely undefined ministerial discretion.

“This is an astonishing development of unchecked discretionary power considering that in 1989 there were only three comparable public interest based discretionary powers and, prior to that, there were none whatsoever,” the report said.

Report author Lauren Bull said: “Under Australian law, no other minister – not even the prime minister – is given anywhere near as much unchecked power.  It is fundamentally at odds with basic principles of democracy and the rule of law for one politician to have [that much] personal power to make such important decisions affecting people’s most basic of rights.”

There are also serious concerns about new powers for the incoming Attorney-General, Christian Porter, to compel the national intelligence watchdog to investigate a security matter.

The IGIS scrutinises the activities of ASIO, ASIS, the Office of National Assessments, the Australian Signals Directorate, the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation.

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Margaret Stone told a parliamentary inquiry that new legislation governing her agency following the establishment of the Home Affairs portfolio will undermine her office’s independence and likely open the Attorney-General, who authorises warrants requested by ASIO, to a perceived conflict of interest.

“For instance, could a direction to undertake a particular inquiry be seen to divert the resources of this office from a review of ASIO warrants?” she said.  “The power of the Attorney-General to compel an inquiry would materially detract from the Inspector-General’s ability to assure the public, as well as parliament, that the decision to conduct an inquiry is free from political influence.”

We have already seen how the Coalition have seconded the AFP for political purposes.

Gillian Triggs, in her first public speech after stepping down as president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, attacked Coalition government ministers for interfering with the judicial system and for destroying the integrity of Parliament by peddling “alternative facts”.

“A culture of post-truth has allowed politicians and Parliament to reject evidence based reports by credible agencies in favour of populist decision-making that denies the truth and responds to fear,” she told UNSW’s Power to Persuade symposium.  “This is particularly the case in relation to refugees, asylum seekers, terrorism, and conflict matters in general.”

Professor Triggs also referred to the Turnbull government’s “extraordinary and unprecedented growth in executive decision-making contrary to the principles of the separation of powers”.

“We have ministers now with non-compellable and non-reviewable purposes that are not subject to review by the courts,” she said. “We have seen a corresponding diminution in the role of the courts, as a lawyer that is something that I am especially concerned about.”

With all of these organisations and experienced office-holders, and many more, warning against the unprecedented rise of ministerial power with no oversight, the politicisation of security forces, the undermining of the independence of statutory bodies, and the contemptuous attacks on the judiciary, Malcolm Turnbull’s meek acquiescence to the empire building aspirations of Peter Dutton and Mike Pezzullo is exposed for the cowardly self-preservation that it so obviously is.

Turnbull, in choosing Dutton in the first place and then expanding his power, shows no judgement of ability and no regard for the best interests of the country, the rights of individuals, or the separation of powers.

He will gladly sacrifice our democracy in order to maintain his position.

He is a self-serving coward.

Australia’s social harmony comes from its diversity

Sensible discussion about immigration levels is hard to have without it degenerating into xenophobic rants from people looking for someone to blame for their own circumstances, inadequate government, or people who just don’t like others who look, speak, dress or worship differently.

But it is a discussion we should have.

In the year from 30 June 2016 to 30 June 2017, estimated resident population (ERP) of Australia increased by 388,100 people.

This figure is slightly misleading in that it includes “usual residents”.  A person is regarded as a usual resident if they have been (or expect to be) residing in Australia for a period of 12 months or more. This 12-month period does not have to be continuous and is measured over a 16-month period.

But ignoring that for the moment, the ABS provides the following information.

Natural increase accounted for 142,700 people, 7.5% lower than the previous year.  Births decreased by 8,700 and deaths increased by 2,900.

Net overseas migration (NOM) accounted for 245,400 people, 27.1% higher than the previous year.

According to the yet again rebadged Department of Home Affairs, the total permanent migration programme outcome for 2016–17 was 183,608 places.  The breakdown was:  123,567 places in the Skill stream; 56,220 places in the Family stream; 421 places in the Special Eligibility stream; and 3,400 child visa places.

The major source countries in the migration programme were India (21.2 percent), China (15.4 percent) and the United Kingdom (9.3 percent). (They don’t count New Zealand)

Overall, our population growth rate of 1.6% was above that of the world at 1.1%.  It is higher than our close neighbours and other major OECD countries, except for Papua New Guinea (2.1 %). The Philippines and Singapore were the next fastest growing countries at 1.5%, followed by Malaysia (1.4%) and South Africa (1.3%).  The populations of Greece, Italy and Japan actually reduced.

According to figures from the United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs, Australia’s population (24,598,900) ranked 53rd highest in the world in 2017 and is projected to rise to 38 million by 2050 ranking it 56th. By 2050, India is projected to have displaced China as the most populous country with 1.7 billion people compared with 1.4 billion in China.

So what do all these numbers mean for us?

Half of the population of Australia was either born overseas or had one or both parents born overseas.  Far from creating social division, this has given us a special kind of harmony that comes from diversity.

When people speak of Australian values, they usually list the things that any free society aspires to.  They might add ‘mateship’ and ‘a fair go’ though, with some of the racist rhetoric that has re-emerged with the rise of Hanson and Dutton, and the deliberate demonisation of welfare recipients, asylum seekers, environmentalists, unionists, same-sex parents, Muslims, Aboriginals, feminists, Asians, Africans (the list is long) – those attributes are not always apparent.

There is no question that immigration has been of economic benefit to the nation but there are legitimate discussions to be had about the level and composition of the programme.  Not in the dog-whistling, ham-fisted way that some of our politicians approach it, but on how it can be most beneficial.

The 457 visa program is a good idea if it was used properly but it is not.

Bringing in skilled workers to fill shortages in specific areas sounds fine.  You get the benefit of a skilled worker without the cost of educating and training them and it boosts the number of working age people to help support our aging population.

But the system is being exploited by unscrupulous employers with insufficient oversight.  People are being brought in and then asked to do long hours in entirely different work for little pay.  The requirement to first seek local employees is basically ignored.

We should also be doing some future planning, incentivising training for our own kids and unemployed to fill anticipated skills shortages.

Student visas provide income for universities, help strengthen ties with other countries and help to improve their standard of living.  Backpackers bring tourist dollars and provide a temporary itinerant workforce.

But both groups are being taken advantage of, often working for very low wages, shutting out locals who expect a fair day’s pay.

This obviously contributes to wage stagnation, un/underemployment, the loss of part-time entry-level jobs, and the undermining of workplace entitlements.

There is also significant concern about the integrity of the Significant Investor Visa Scheme.  Australia is one of the most sought-after destinations for corrupt Chinese officials.

Under the rules of SIV, applicants should first have the means to deposit $5 million into approved investments for a period of 4 years prior to submitting an application for permanent residency. Meanwhile, under the premium investor visa, with a minimum investment of $15 million, this is narrowed down to only one year.

Put $15 million into government bonds for 1 year – earn interest and residency.

In 2015–16, the Humanitarian Programme was set at 13,750 places. A total of 13,765 visas were granted under the annual Humanitarian Programme, of which 11,762 visas were granted under the offshore component and 2003 visas were granted under the onshore component.

In addition, 3790 humanitarian visas were granted in 2015–16 under the Government’s commitment to provide, an additional 12,000 visa places for people displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq. This brought the total number of Humanitarian visas granted in 2015–16 to 17,555 (15,552 offshore).

This program could, and should, be increased as it represents the area of greatest need.  We could easily accommodate more refugees, if necessary, by reducing other areas of migration.

The key to doing this successfully is to assist with resettlement.  Aside from government and NGO assistance, there is an increasing group of social entrepreneurs, refuges helping others in their situation to settle in and to find meaningful work commensurate with their expertise and experience.

One of the genuine concerns is the stress placed on inadequate infrastructure by the overcrowding of our cities and the ever-expanding urban sprawl.  This is not a problem caused by migrants but rather a lack of planning and foresight.

It would be far more beneficial to build a high-speed passenger rail linking Melbourne to Brisbane than to build Barnaby’s inland freight rail.  It would allow people to find affordable accommodation in regional areas but still commute to where the work is.  It could reinvigorate the bush and help them provide/maintain essential services.

The conversation about immigration should be couched in terms of how we can do it more successfully rather than in who we want to keep out or who we want blame for crime, unemployment, housing prices and waiting times.

But what are the chances of that with Oberführer Dutton competing with Pauline Hanson to unleash the hounds?

Like bees to a honey pot, foreign defence manufacturers flock to Australia

When the government announced that it would spend $400 billion over the next twenty years on defence materiel and that it would, in opposition to its supposed commitment to free trade, adopt a protectionist requirement for local content, foreign defence manufacturers flocked like bees to a honey pot.

  • Lockheed Martin opened a new R&D centre in Melbourne in August 2016.
  • Rheinmetall Defence Australia signed a Global Supply Chain Agreement (GSCA) with the government in October 2016. There have also been extensions of existing agreements recently with Lockheed Martin, Thales and Raytheon.
  • US technology accelerator fund Techstars opened an office in Adelaide in January 2017.
  • Boeing Australia opened a new office in the Adelaide CBD in April 2017, and Northrop Grumman announced that it would invest $50 million in the establishment of an Electronic Sustainment Centre of Excellence at Badgerys Creek in May 2017.
  • DCNS, Austal and Lürssen have established or expanded their Australian offices in Adelaide, and Huntington Ingalls Industries has also established an Australian subsidiary.

Local defence industry is dominated by a handful of local subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies – Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing (US), BAE (UK), EADS (Europe), Thales and DCNS (France), Broadspectrum (Spain), SAAB (Sweden) being some of the largest.  Only one of the firms—the government-owned ASC Pty Ltd—is Australian owned and controlled.

When the government says we need a domestic arms industry to boost our national security, they seem to ignore this vulnerability as pointed out by ASPI.

Because foreign-owned Australian primes account for very small proportions of parent company revenue, they’re unlikely to command priority if a commercial or strategic conflict of interest arises. For example, if a foreign parent must choose between supplying Australia or its home country with munitions in a crisis, there’s no question about what would happen.

It’s all about the jobs and growth, they cry.

Well not really.

Defence industry accounts for 0.24% of jobs in Australia, and 2.9% of jobs in the manufacturing sector. In terms of annual revenue, defence industry accounts for 0.22% of Australian industry and 1.7% of the manufacturing sector. It represents only a trifling fraction of the overall Australian economy.

Remembering that ASPI is the institution funded by government (and increasingly the defence industry) to give policy advice, their latest report was rather sceptical about Malcolm and Christopher’s big announcement.

“according to the government’s own figures, there’s only around 25,000 people employed in the sector, representing 0.25% of the ten-million strong Australian workforce. Even the $90 billion naval construction program is promised to deliver only 5,800 jobs—a drop in the ocean. Given the government’s emphasis on the jobs and growth impact of defence production, you’d think that the government’s decisions on defence acquisitions were being informed by rigorous economic analysis. Yet…the best that the Defence and minister’s staff could come up with were misleading figures taken out of context from the national accounts. It must be asked; is the economic analysis underpinning the looming wave of ‘nation building’ defence mega-projects any better?

…even if 10,000 jobs are eventually created because of the Government’s preference to build major defence platforms in-country—which is more jobs than Defence has announced during 2016-17—that will still only amount to less than 0.1% (or one-thousandth) of the Australian workforce.

But that’s the political economy of naval shipbuilding in a nutshell: investment decisions are driven by a small number of vested interests who gain a lot, and costs are spread across millions of taxpayers who each pay a little.”

Net defence funding, excluding capital and materiel acquisitions, housing and superannuation costs, is over $95 million per day and is slated for substantial increase.

Add in a warchest of $400 billion to spend on things that go bang, and a government-protected defence industry, and it’s no wonder the sharks are circling.

Why Labor needs the Greens

I can hear the howls provoked by that headline already but hear me out.

History shows us that the Greens often drag Labor, kicking and screaming, to where they need to be.

Take marriage equality.

This had been a Greens policy for years but, as recently as 2012, a private members bill from a Labor backbencher got only 28% approval in the lower house with both Gillard and Swan voting against it, though I believe Shorten voted yes.

Or a federal anti-corruption watchdog.

In February 2017, at the second reading of the National Integrity Commission Bill 2013, Senator Scott Ludlam gave the following speech:

In 2010, Greens Senator Bob Brown introduced the National Integrity Commissioner Bill. In 2012 our member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, introduced a similar bill into the House of Representatives. In 2013 Senator Christine Milne introduced a National Integrity Commission Bill. In 2015 Senator Rhiannon introduced a motion calling for a national anti-corruption body and political donations reform. I can remember sitting here on the crossbench and having that motion voted down by the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. If my memory serves me, a substantial number of crossbenchers supported the Greens and of course the major parties did not. In 2016 Senator Rhiannon reintroduced the National Integrity Commission Bill. How long is this debate going to need to run for?

Labor Senator Jacinta Collins said they were still thinking about it.

“Labor is open to the idea that a dedicated federal anticorruption body may be required but, at this stage, a case for one has not been made and it definitely has not been made through the discussions on this bill.”

Yesterday’s National Press Club Address revealed that, finally, Bill has come to the party.

Dying with dignity is another long-held Greens policy.

In August 2013, SBS reported “The Labor Party says euthanasia is a sensitive and complex issue and that members of the community have strong concerns about dying with dignity, compassion and with minimal pain. Labor won’t amend existing Commonwealth laws or seek changes to State and Territory laws at this time which state that euthanasia is illegal in Australia.”

But now the Victorian Labor government has passed the bill, similar legislation was defeated by one vote in Tasmania, South Australia and NSW, and the Queensland government is under pressure to join the debate.

The Greens have an optimistic renewable energy goal of 90% by 2030.

The former Labor government set a target of 20% by 2020.  Bill Shorten has announced a goal of 50 per cent of our electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030.

Other countries are more ambitious, like New Zealand whose goal is 90% by 2025 or Denmark who are aiming for 50% by 2020.

Asylum seekers is one area where Labor won’t budge, still licking their wounds from the Stop the Boats campaign.

But they must have a strategy for dealing with the refugees on Manus and Nauru if the Coalition fail to find them homes before the election.

And they must have a policy that reflects the obligation to provide safe haven for people fleeing war and oppression rather than demonising them for their manner of arrival.  The best way to put people smugglers out of business is to give asylum seekers ways to get here legitimately.  If we reduced the 457 visa rorting, we could accommodate a larger humanitarian intake and employ people to assist them to settle in, perhaps initially, for some, in regional communities who express a willingness and have the capacity to help.

The Greens cop a lot of flak as being job-destroying populist loonies, but it’s informative that, over time, others come to agree with what they have been proposing all along.

I do understand the bad blood that campaigning for the same cohort of votes has given rise to.  Die-hard Labor members do not want the Greens to compete for the progressive vote and resent them fielding candidates in Labor-held seats.  They also accuse them of scurrilous tactics, but I am yet to see a campaign from any party free from the mud-slinging, misrepresentation and dirty tricks that sadly now typify every election.

I don’t expect, or even want, any formal coalition but it would be useful on a policy front if Labor recognised that, in many areas, the Greens actually represent the direction in which community expectations are, or should be, moving.

Government for people or profit?

There are many promises made in the lead up to an election.  Figures are thrown around, consequences of future actions are debated, dirt is thrown at opponents.

It’s all speculation.  So much depends on what assumptions are made or what terms of reference are set for reviews.  Everyone can produce a report supporting their view.

But since no-one can predict the future, let alone trust the things we are being told are based on any sort of evidence or will actually ever happen, it is perhaps more informative to compare past performance when in government than listen to empty promises/guesses for the future.

When Labor came to power, they were immediately hit with the global financial crisis.  Treasury advice was spend big and spend fast.  The aim was to keep people employed.

The first step provided $10.4 billion to help support millions of Australians.

  • $4.8b down payment to pensioners, payable in December.

  • $3.9b in support payments for families.

  • $1.5b for first home buyers.

  • $187m to create new training positions

In a plan designed to support activity in the housing sector, the Government tripled to $21,000 the previous $7,000 first-home buyers grant for people buying a newly constructed home. Those first-home buyers moving into existing properties received a doubling of the allowance to $14,000.

A second economic stimulus package worth $42 billion was announced in February 2009. It consisted of an infrastructure program worth $26 billion, $2.7 billion in small business tax breaks, and $12.7 billion for cash bonuses, including $950 for every Australian taxpayer who earned less than $80,000 during the 2007-8 financial year.

And it worked.  Sure there were some problems, but nothing like what the rest of the world faced.

After almost six years in government, Labor left a net debt of $161,253 million at 31 August 2013.

After a bit over four years of Coalition government, net debt had risen to $350,578 million by the end of November 2017 without the excuse of the GFC.

Where Labor ran up a debt to keep people in Australia employed, the Coalition are borrowing to spend $400 billion on their defence white paper acquisitions – submarines, patrol boats, frigates, jet fighters, helicopters, missiles – you name it, we are getting the biggest and the…oh wait.

Then today, Malcolm Turnbull, announced we are going into the death trade.  Labor spent money on foreign aid.  The Coalition would rather sell them bombs.

Turnbull has unveiled a new “defence export strategy” to make Australia one of the world’s top 10 weapons exporters within the next decade.

It will set up a new Defence Export Office and a new Australian Defence Export Advocate position.  A $3.8bn Defence Export Facility, to be administered by the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, will provide the finance local companies need to help them sell their defence equipment overseas.

Why on earth would you refuse to subsidise the renewable energy industry and car manufacturing yet be prepared to spend billions on subsidising an armaments industry and fossil fuels?

When Labor was in government, they raised the tax free threshold from $6,000 to $18,200.  This saved many part-time workers from having to fill in a tax return not to mention saving the lowest income earners up to $1,830 in tax.

When the Coalition formed government, they imposed a temporary levy on the highest income earners which they could and did promise to remove in the lead up to the next election.  They wanted credit for removing a tax they imposed which cost a few people 2c in the dollar for a few years (if their accountants weren’t creative enough).

[A bit like the Chinese who, in the middle of the free trade negotiations, slapped a new tariff on our coal.  Andrew Robb could then proudly claim to have negotiated for that tariff to be removed, no doubt costing a few more concessions on our part.]

The Coalition also raised the threshold for the second highest tax bracket meaning everyone earning over $87,000 saved $2,590 in tax.

When Labor was in government, they legislated for the superannuation guarantee to gradually increase from 9 to 12%.  It only got to 9.5% before the Coalition put a temporary freeze on it which seems to have turned into permafrost.

Labor began the rollout of a nationwide broadband network that would have seen 93% of properties with a fibre connection.  The Coalition’s change of plan has created a digital divide in the country with some properties able to access increased speeds while others are limited by last century infrastructure.

It really doesn’t matter which area of government you look at.  Labor care about the people.  The Coalition care about wealth, profit, and courting favour.

Speck, plank Malcolm

I’m not sure what to call Malcolm Turnbull’s latest spray at the Labor Party – projection, cognitive dissonance, gaslighting?

Malcolm Turnbull said Labor was in disarray, focusing on its ­internal problems rather than sensible economic reforms.

“They’ve not only got backroom buffoonery, they’ve got front-of-stage economic idiocy from their leader,” the Prime Minister said.

This from the man who knifed a sitting Prime Minister and who has been fighting a rear-guard action ever since.

This from the man who has allowed a fractured junior Coalition partner to take over, dictating policy and terms.

This from the man who hid the report saying Labor’s policy on negative gearing and capital gains tax would not cause great disruption to the property market but would slow the increase in housing prices and free up investment for more productive enterprises.

This from the man who set the Chief Scientist the task of solving our energy problems and then, not only ignored his recommendation for a Clean Energy Target, but exiled science from the Ministry.

This from the man whose Treasurer sees no point in economic modelling.

This from the man who has saddled us with a broadband that third world countries laugh at.

This from the man who, only a few years ago, decried the deteriorating political discourse and spoke of the urgent need for honesty.

An opinionated columnist costs less than a team of news reporters. It is so much easier to put one slanted opinion up against another than to investigate and objectively report on the facts of the matter.

Increasingly too the journalists who cover politics are drawn into the game – often praising politicians for their skilful use of spin, their cunning ability to avoid a difficult question or their brutal ability to misrepresent and destroy their opponent‟s arguments. Commenting on the play takes a lot less time than painstakingly pointing out where the spin has misrepresented an issue.

Malcolm Turnbull came to power saying Australians needed a “style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence.”

It is obvious we are not going to get it from him.

Note:  The title refers to Matthew 7:3-5


Andrew Laming’s $20,000 family holiday at your expense – value for money?

It wouldn’t be Australia Day without a story about Andrew Laming, the federal member for the seat of Bowman, located in the eastern suburbs of Brisbane, who spends the day crashing parties with a tray of lamingtons and skolling beers whilst doing a handstand in an effort to impress and engage with young people.

Yup, our Andrew is a crazy kinda guy, but he has worked out very well how to have a good time at others’ expense.

On June 30 last year, he and his family set off on an eight day … ummmm … work trip to the Northern Territory and Western Australia.  The justification given was that Mr Laming wanted to visit Kununurra for NAIDOC Week, to meet indigenous leaders and health, education and social service providers.

One would be justified in asking why he didn’t want to spend it with indigenous people in his electorate, or even his state.  Surely there are communities in Queensland who would have been eagre to speak to an MP about their concerns.

There is also the rather telling fact that Mr Laming does not appear to have claimed any travel allowance for accommodation or meals which, had he been on legitimate parliamentary business, he would have been entitled to do.

On June 30, Andrew was in Cairns and his wife and two children were in Brisbane.  Rather than flying separately, they met in Townsville ($360.60 + $534.32×3).  From there they flew to Darwin ($769.74×4).  Another $192.47 for cabs, comcar and unexplained small charges were claimed for that day.

They overnighted in Darwin before setting out for Kununurra by car ($1,370.88).  On the way they spent a night in Katherine and another in Timber Creek before arriving for four nights in Kununurra.

Apparently (according to Laming), their return flight via Darwin on July 7 was cancelled so they had to come home via Perth ($963.01×4 Kunumurra to Perth + $2,290.64×4 Perth to Brisbane).

It would have been a shit load cheaper to stay an extra night rather than spend $3253.65 per person to come the long way home but I guess when you aren’t the one who is paying, those things don’t occur to you.

All up, the trip cost us $19,619.87.

According to the new “Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority”, any claim for expenses must be “for the dominant purpose of parliamentary business”, it must represent “value for money”, and parliamentarians must be “prepared to publicly justify their use of public resources in conducting their parliamentary business.”

‘Parliamentary business’ includes activities that fall within four streams:

  • parliamentary duties: covers activities of the Parliamentarian that relate directly to the parliamentarian’s role as a member of Parliament
  • electorate duties: activities of the Parliamentarian that support or serve their constituents
  • party political duties: activities of the Parliamentarian that are connected with both their political party and their membership of the Parliament
  • official duties: activities that relate to the Parliamentarian’s role as an office holder or Minister.

In limited circumstances, a Senator or Member is entitled to ‘family reunion travel’ to enable his or her spouse or nominee, dependent children and designated person(s) to accompany or join the Senator or Member on travel within Australia, at Commonwealth expense, on parliamentary, electorate or official business.

As Laming holds no office, and was many thousands of kilometres from his electorate, it would be interesting to hear what parliamentary duties he performed to give us value for our $20,000.

Then again, the same question could be asked of Malcolm Turnbull who charged us over $150,000 for his week away in Germany, France and the UK on “official business”.


Accommodation and meals $67,852.83

Ground transport $23,099.72

Minor official expense advance $378.00

Related travel expenses $33,864.08

Travel advance $243.53

Employee Overseas Costs $28,781.06


Perhaps if politicians were obliged to publish the purpose of their trip, a travel diary showing who they met with, when and where, and a report detailing conclusions/recommendations/achievements, along with receipts showing a bit more detail than “related travel expense”, we would be in a better position to judge if we are getting “value for money”.

When your Treasurer ignores factual analysis, doesn’t believe in econometric modelling, and wants to keep deals a secret, that is a real worry

“I tell you what, if you go down the pub and you talk to small business people, they’re not talking about econometric models,” said our Treasurer Scott Morrison when asked about modelling to justify his legislated and proposed tax cuts.

He may well be right, but, personally, I would prefer our economic policy to be informed by evidence and evaluated by experts rather than the guys in the public bar.

The Coalition is going out all guns blazing this year to spruik their economic credentials and to push for further tax cuts but there are some things the guys in the pub should be made aware of.

Since the Coalition won government in September 2013, there are 8,600 more people unemployed and those that are employed are working, on average, 1.34 hours less a month.

Whilst tax cuts for small businesses may have been politically more palatable than for the top end of town, there is absolutely no evidence that it will deliver any benefit for the $24 billion loss in revenue.

Small businesses, those with fewer than 20 employees, account for about 45 per cent of the private sector workforce but generated just 5.2 per cent of the increase in job growth in the five years to June 2015, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

By comparison, large businesses —those with 200 or more employees — account for 32 per cent of the private sector workforce but generated 66 per cent of the increase in job growth for the same period.

Whilst that may sound like an argument to cut taxes for large corporations, the reality indicates otherwise.

The 2017 financial year saw a 21% increase in corporate profits, reaching an all-time high of 82147 AUD Million in the first quarter of 2017, whilst wage growth declined to record lows.







Scott Morrison, the man who doesn’t like modelling, also seems adverse to looking beyond headline figures.  He tells us that our corporate tax rate of 30% makes us uncompetitive, completely ignoring the franking credits that shareholders receive and the generous deductions that our system allows for things like accelerated depreciation and cross-financing which actually reduced our average corporate tax rate in 2012 to 17% and, more importantly, an effective tax rate of 10.4%.

This ignoring of the facts to promote political goals does not auger well for the new but very secret TPP11.

Steve Ciobo told Radio National the deal would increase access to Japan for Australian beef producers.  I thought that’s what we just did when we signed the free-trade agreement with them a couple of years ago.

Presumably, it also increases access to Japan for Canadian beef producers.

In April 2017, Farm Weekly reported that, despite having signed a free trade agreement with Korea in December 2014, volumes of Australian beef exports to Korea “reduced significantly with the US competition an increasing challenge.”

Most concerningly, the High Commission for Canada in Australia says on their website that “Australia’s overly cautionary-cum-protectionist quarantine measures can effectively limit agricultural imports.”

I sincerely hope Barnaby hasn’t insisted that we relax biosecurity though, with his cavalier attitude to climate change, water security and animal welfare, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Labor has called for independent appraisal of the proposed TPP before we formally agree but the government is refusing.

Someone who can truly assess the effect on local industry and jobs, not just talk to one or two niche exporters and industry lobbyists, needs to look at the wider consequences before we sign on the dotted line.

When your Treasurer ignores factual analysis, doesn’t believe in econometric modelling,  and wants to keep deals a secret, that is a real worry.

If ever there was a time when we needed strong unions, it’s now

Michaelia Cash used to be called the Minister for Employment.  She is now known as the Minister for Jobs and Innovation.  Regardless of the sign on the door, she, and her Coalition colleagues, have been demonising unions and promoting businesses since they came into office.

Perhaps they need to have a look at who the real villains are.

Skim the following list to get an idea.

Truckies get $374,000 back-pay 
17 Jan 2018

Ten truck drivers who worked for an Adelaide transport company have been back-paid a total of $374,000 following successful legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Chocolate café manager penalised $27,000 for exploiting overseas workers
16 Jan 2018

The former manager of an Oliver Brown chocolate café outlet on the Gold Coast who was ‘seeing what he could get away with’ when he exploited overseas workers has been penalised $27,200.

$50,000 back-paid to workers in Melbourne’s south east
12 Jan 2018

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently assisted workers at four businesses in suburbs south east of Melbourne to recover almost $50,000 in unpaid wages and entitlements.

Judge imposes $85,000 penalty as “sharp lesson” for repeat-offender childcare operator
9 Jan 2018

A Judge has penalised a repeat-offender Melbourne childcare operator $85,000 for her latest staff underpayments, saying she required a “sharp lesson” to make her appreciate her legal obligations.

Employer faces court for alleged underpayment of medical first aid responders
20 Dec 2017

The owner of a Melbourne health services company is facing court for allegedly short-changing medical first aid responders working at public events more than $13,000 and using false pay records.

Legal action after 71yo worker allegedly underpaid at Queensland fast food outlet
15 Dec 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the former operator of a fast food outlet in northern Queensland for the alleged underpayment of a 71-year-old employee.

Rogue operator penalised for exploiting overseas backpackers on NT mango farms
14 Dec 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a $25,412 penalty in Court against a rogue operator who exploited overseas workers on mango farms near Darwin.

Political party leader who short-changed workers criticised for “arrogant” attitude
13 Dec 2017

A political party leader who promised to pay workers $30 an hour to hand out how-to-vote cards but paid them nothing has been penalised in Court and criticised by a Judge for his “arrogant” attitude and lack of remorse.

Melbourne cleaning operator allegedly ignored warnings, exploited overseas workers
12 Dec 2017

A contract cleaning operator in Melbourne is facing the Federal Circuit Court for allegedly exploiting three overseas workers, despite having been put on notice to pay employees’ lawful minimum entitlements.

Sushi operator allegedly underpaid vulnerable workers in Canberra
8 Dec 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operator of a chain of sushi outlets for allegedly exploiting overseas workers in Canberra.

Caltex franchisee allegedly falsified records of wage rates paid to overseas workers
7 Dec 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against a Caltex franchisee in Sydney for allegedly falsifying records of the wage rates it paid to overseas workers.

Record WA penalties of more than $500,000 for systematic exploitation of overseas workers
5 Dec 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a total of $510,840 in penalties against rogue cleaning operators in Perth, with a Judge slamming them for their “deliberate”, “repeated” and “systematic” exploitation of vulnerable overseas workers.

Melbourne CBD outlets facing court for allegedly exploiting overseas workers
28 Nov 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operators of a café and a retail outlet in the Melbourne CBD for allegedly paying three overseas workers as little as $11 an hour, resulting in almost $45,000 in underpayments.

FWO secures first accessorial liability penalties against an accounting firm
18 Nov 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has for the first time used accessorial liability laws to obtain penalties against a professional services firm for knowingly helping one of its clients exploit a vulnerable worker.

HR manager among those penalised almost $400,000 for “systematic” exploitation at restaurant
17 Nov 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured almost $400,000 in penalties against a company and three individuals – including an HR manager – for systematically exploiting overseas workers at a Chinese restaurant in NSW and fabricating records to try to cover it up.

Hobart restaurant operator allegedly underpaid vulnerable international students
15 Nov 2017

The former operator of a Tasmanian restaurant is facing Court for allegedly underpaying vulnerable workers, despite having been put on notice to pay minimum wage rates.

More than $150,000 in penalties for “deliberate” underpayment of café and deli staff
15 Nov 2017

The former operators of a café and a delicatessen in Western Australia’s South-West have been penalised more than $150,000 for deliberately underpaying employees, after eight workers were found to have been short-changed a total of $20,036.

Sham contracting arrangement results in penalty for Melbourne bike courier service
14 Nov 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a total of $72,000 in penalties against two companies after deliberate sham contracting activity resulted in a bicycle courier in Melbourne being underpaid more than $7000.

Higher compliance rates but still cause for concern in Healthcare sector
10 Nov 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s National Healthcare and Social Assistance campaign has recovered more than $100,000 for 193 workers across the industry.

Gippsland workers back-paid more than $21,000
8 Nov 2017

Twenty one workers across Victoria’s Gippsland region have been back-paid more than $21,000 in wages and entitlements after intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Multi-tasking backpacker back-paid more than $18,800
6 Nov 2017

A backpacker who worked as a restaurant manager, chef, waiter and bookkeeper at a restaurant in Hobart has been back-paid $18,812 in outstanding wages and entitlements.

Global SIM card provider back in Court after alleged failure to get message
3 Nov 2017

The Australian arm of a global mobile SIM card provider that was penalised $59,400 for exploiting migrant workers is again facing legal action after the alleged underpayment of an employee at its NSW headquarters in Parramatta.

Brisbane burger outlet operators allegedly exploited young overseas workers
1 Nov 2017

The operators of two Miel Container gourmet burger outlets in Brisbane are facing the Federal Circuit Court after 11 overseas workers were allegedly paid flat rates as low as $10 an hour, resulting in more than $155,000 in underpayments.

Melbourne manufacturing company commits to change after underpaying steelworkers $100K
31 Oct 2017

Seven Melbourne workers will be repaid more than $100,000 after the Fair Work Ombudsman executed an enforceable undertaking with an Altona-based manufacturing company.

$306,000 penalty for Perth cleaning operators who underpaid overseas workers
30 Oct 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured near-record WA penalties of $306,000 against a cleaning company that failed to pay a number of young overseas workers anything for work at a Perth hotel.

$70,000 in penalties after overseas workers’ vulnerability deliberately exploited
23 Oct 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured more than $70,000 in penalties against the former operators of a hair products retailing business for ignoring prior warnings and deliberately exploiting vulnerable overseas workers in Melbourne.

$284,000 in penalties after “heinous” conduct at Gold Coast restaurant
19 Oct 2017

The operators of a Gold Coast restaurant have been penalised more than $284,000 and criticised by a Judge for their “heinous” conduct after paying overseas workers as little as $8 an hour and using false records to try to cover it up.

7-Eleven franchisee in court after allegedly dismissing worker who refused cash-back 
18 Oct 2017

A 7-Eleven Franchisee in Brisbane is facing court for allegedly dismissing a worker by removing him from the roster after he refused his employer’s request to repay an amount he had been paid.

Young workers, visa holders back-paid more than $70,000 by Brisbane businesses
13 Oct 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has assisted 22 workers employed by businesses in Brisbane to recover $73,279 in unpaid wages and entitlements.

Great Ocean Road workers back-paid $64,000
5 Oct 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $64,334 for 36 workers employed at various locations along the Great Ocean Road and Otway region of Victoria.

Goulburn Valley workers back-paid more than $34,000
4 Oct 2017

Twenty three workers in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region have been back-paid more than $34,000 in wages and entitlements after seeking assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Young Lake Macquarie labourer back-paid $25,000
28 Sep 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has assisted three workers employed by businesses in the Newcastle/Hunter region of NSW to recover $38,000 in unpaid wages and entitlements.

Backpackers snap-up back-pay from far north Queensland croc farm
13 Sep 2017

Two overseas backpackers who were paid low, flat rates while working at a crocodile farm in far north Queensland have been back-paid more than $13,000, following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Perth curry house operator faces Court over alleged unlawful cash-back exploitation
6 Sep 2017

A former Perth restaurant operator is facing Court for allegedly requiring a Bangladeshi worker to repay thousands of dollars of his wages – and then dismissing him because he lodged a workers’ compensation claim after injuring his back at work.

Maximum penalty and CDPP referral for labour-hire operator’s “appalling” treatment of visa holder
4 Sep 2017

A Melbourne labour-hire operator who paid an apprentice overseas mechanic nothing for almost three months work has been hit with maximum penalties and referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

$37,000 pay day for Melbourne workers
30 Aug 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has assisted two workers in suburbs north of Melbourne to recover more than $37,000 in unpaid wages and entitlements after they contacted the agency for assistance.

Franchisee from popular Perth restaurant chain faces Court
24 Aug 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced another legal action relating to a franchisee of the Han’s Café chain in Perth, alleging staff at an outlet in the city’s south-east were underpaid more than $67,000.

Gold Coast workers back-paid $50,000
23 Aug 2017

Three workers in Queensland’s Gold Coast region have been back-paid more than $50,000 in owed wages and entitlements after seeking assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Meatball and Wine Bar faces court for allegedly underpaying 26 workers, including visa holders
22 Aug 2017

A Melbourne restaurateur will face court after his company allegedly underpaid 26 workers including visa holders across three of his restaurants, despite having received professional advice on its wage obligations.

Farming waste company promises compliance step-up after underpaying workers nearly $94,000
18 Aug 2017

A farming waste company in regional NSW that underpaid 16 truck drivers nearly $94,000 is back-paying the workers and overhauling its workplace practices, following intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Workplace audits indicate room for improvement for small businesses in the Kimberley
17 Aug 2017

Spot checks of several small businesses in Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley region have recovered $8643 in owed wages for local workers.

Pizza Hut franchisee underpaid staff almost $20,000
11 Aug 2017

The franchisee of a Pizza Hut outlet at Newcastle, in NSW, underpaid 24 employees a total of almost $20,000, an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman has found.

Court action after young journalists allegedly underpaid more than $300,000
4 Aug 2017

A company that operates news websites covering regional Queensland is facing the Federal Circuit Court for allegedly underpaying 23 young journalists more than $300,000 over a period of less than 18 months.

Record penalty of $660,000 for fruit market operator after refugee goes without pay for weeks
2 Aug 2017

Record penalties of more than $660,000 have been awarded against the former owner of a Melbourne fruit market and his company which deliberately ignored warnings about required pay rates and did not pay a refugee worker any wages for weeks.

Sushi operator allegedly underpaid vulnerable workers in regional NSW
1 Aug 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operators of three ‘Tokyo Sushi’ outlets in NSW for allegedly underpaying workers more than $70,000.

Labour-hire operator penalised for flouting laws relating to overseas workers on Queensland farms
26 Jul 2017

A Queensland labour-hire company and its manager have been penalised a total of more than $84,000 after flouting record-keeping and pay slip laws relating to vulnerable foreign workers, despite having previously been cautioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

More than $100,000 in unpaid wages and entitlements recovered for Perth workers
26 Jul 2017

Intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman to assist employees and employers to resolve workplace disputes has resulted in more than $100,000 back-pay for 41 workers across Perth.

Deliberate and systemic underpayments lead to penalties against a former 7-Eleven operator
25 Jul 2017

A former Brisbane 7-Eleven operator has been hit with $168,000 in penalties for short-changing workers and falsifying records to conceal the underpayments.

Not for profit back-pays $370,000 to workers after disability classification mistake
21 Jul 2017

A not-for-profit business in northern NSW inadvertently underpaid 18 employees a total of more than $370,000 after incorrectly classifying each of them as an ‘employee with a disability’, an audit by the Fair Work Ombudsman has found.

Melbourne travel agency lands in court for alleged cashback schemes, underpayments and false records
20 Jul 2017

A Melbourne travel agency and one of its directors are facing court for allegedly requiring an overseas worker to pay back more than $20,000 of her wages and for proposing to enter into a similar cashback scheme with a second worker.

Joint operation uncovers alleged exploitation of overseas workers at Melbourne restaurants
17 Jul 2017

The operator of two popular Melbourne restaurants is facing Court after a raid conducted as part of a joint-operation allegedly discovered employees had been underpaid almost $31,000 over a period of just two weeks.

Townsville café operator faces legal action over failure to pay compensation
14 Jul 2017

The former operator of a café at Townsville in regional Queensland is facing court for allegedly ignoring a Fair Work Commission order to compensate an employee who was unfairly dismissed.

More than $140,000 recovered for local workers in Far North Queensland campaign
13 Jul 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has released the findings of its recent campaign targeting businesses in Cairns, Innisfail, Mission Beach and surrounding areas.

No VIP treatment for guards allegedly dismissed, underpaid by Gold Coast company 
12 Jul 2017

A Gold Coast security company owner is facing the Federal Circuit Court after allegedly threatening to send staff “straight to the dole queue” if they spoke to Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors.

Subway franchisee faces Court over alleged deliberate underpayment of Chinese worker
7 Jul 2017

The franchisee of two Subway outlets in Sydney is facing Court for allegedly short-changing a Chinese worker more than $16,000.

Fruit farmer allegedly underpaid Malaysian workers and used false records
5 Jul 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against a fruit farmer in northern Victoria for allegedly underpaying two Malaysian fruit pickers more than $13,000 and providing false and misleading records to Fair Work inspectors.

Penalty over failure to back-pay Indian workers
4 Jul 2017

A Fair Work Ombudsman legal action has secured a penalty against the former operator of an Indian restaurant in suburban Melbourne for failing to back-pay two underpaid Indian workers.

Melbourne cafe operator back in Court after 54 employees allegedly underpaid $73,000
3 Jul 2017

The operator of a 24-hour café in Melbourne’s Crown Casino precinct is facing Court for allegedly undercutting minimum wage and penalty rates despite having been put on notice, resulting in 54 employees being underpaid more than $70,000.

And that’s just the last six months.  If you can take any more, consult the Fair Work Ombudsman’s site.

The overwhelming message is that many employees, particularly those on visas, are being exploited, underpaid, and denied entitlements.  No wonder young Aussies can’t get jobs.

If ever there was a time when we needed strong unions, it’s now.

Fiddling the figures while the planet burns – Fact-checking Frydenberg

In an interview on ABC radio last Thursday, Josh Frydenberg was eventually forced to admit that emissions rose again last year as they have every year since the repeal of the carbon price.

He then went on his usual obfuscation rant of cherry picking data and making dubious claims.

“If you look at the last quarter [emissions] went down, if you look at the trend it is improving”.

Actually, whilst the seasonally adjusted emissions decreased 0.6% in the June quarter 2017, trend emissions increased 0.3% when compared to the March quarter 2017.

Annual emissions increased 0.7%.  If you include Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), emissions rose 1.3% over the year.

Mr Frydenberg then stated that emissions on a per capita and GDP basis were at “their lowest in 28 years”.

Whilst these may be useful comparative measurements, they make absolutely no sense in the grand scheme of things because the atmosphere doesn’t really care how many of us there are.  It is our absolute emissions that make the difference, not any per capita or GDP comparisons.

“What you need to focus on here is what is happening in different aspects of the economy as a result of policies we are putting in place,” he said. “What we are seeing is real improvements in various aspects of the economy.”

Mr Frydenberg pointed to the national energy productivity plan (NEEP) which aims to boost energy efficiency in the built environment by 40 per cent by 2030.

Except when you read the NEEP annual report it says “2015–16 saw Australia’s primary energy consumption increase sharply, slowing the rate of improvement in energy productivity to 0.4 per cent (compared to a 15-year average of 1.7 per cent a year).”

Frydenberg also referred to the emissions reduction fund, focused on agriculture and the land sector, which he claimed has abated up to 190 million tonnes of carbon dioxide at an average cost of $12 a tonne.

Except it hasn’t yet and probably won’t.

Some of the contracts last to 2025, the money is all but spent, and no new funds have been allocated.  The government’s own goal is a “projected abatement estimate for the Emissions Reduction Fund to 2020 of 92 Mt CO2-e”.

A well-researched, well-sourced paper released in December shows how dubious the process for verifying and certifying emissions reductions under the ERF is, how it has led to “rent-seeking” from existing projects, and how the accounting is being fudged.

“Government claims regarding abatement of greenhouse gas emissions so far achieved under the scheme should be discounted.  We are counting as new benefit steps that have either never occurred, or that happened in the past.”

According to the government’s latest quarterly update, in 2016-17, Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions were “0.8% below emissions in 2000 and 9.1% below emissions in 2005”.

Except the emissions projection report states the following emissions by year (Table 3 p12):

2000                       551

2005                       597

2017                       554

2020                       551

2030                       570

We committed to a 5% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020 yet the projections are for no decrease at all.  We then dodgily changed the base year and committed to a 26-28% decrease on 2005 levels by 2030 but the projections instead show a 4.5% decrease (or a 3.4% increase on 2000 levels).

The projections report states that “The 2030 target will require between 868 and 934 Mt CO2-e in cumulative emissions reductions between 2021 and 2030 to meet the 26 per cent and 28 per cent targets respectively.”

Not to worry.

Reminiscent of Nero, this government will continue to fiddle the figures while the planet burns, pretending they are doing something other than commissioning and ignoring reports.

Sixteen years later and the contemptuous Peter Dutton is still making the same speech

It was only seven months ago that Greg Hunt, Michael Sukkar and Alan Tudge, under threat of contempt of court charges, made an unconditional apology to Victoria’s Supreme Court for comments critical of terrorism sentencing.

In comments that were published in The Australian newspaper, Mr Hunt accused the Victorian legal system of becoming a forum for “ideological experiments”, Mr Sukkar said the judiciary should focus more on victims and less on terrorists’ rights, while Mr Tudge said some judges were “divorced from reality”.

Chief Justice Warren said the court was “gravely concerned” there was a prima facie case that the ministers and The Australian had committed contempt.

“There is one matter we emphasise,” she said.

“The court has accepted in this instance the apologies and retractions proffered. It should not have come to this, namely two court hearings.

“But for the apologies and retractions we would have referred the groups, namely the ministers and The Australian … for prosecution for contempt of Court.”

So how come Peter Dutton is not facing similar censure for saying there was a “problem with some of the judges and magistrates that Daniel Andrews has appointed” who were wrongly allowing bail and imposing “very soft sentences” in the name of political correctness.

And this is not the first time he has made such comments.

When Dutton gave his first speech in parliament on 13th February 2002, he expressed similar disdain for the judiciary and for civil rights in general.

“as a police officer…. I have seen the sickening behaviour displayed by people who, frankly, barely justify their existence in our sometimes over tolerant society.

In society today we are experiencing unacceptable crime rates, causing older Australians to barricade themselves in their homes, all in the name of safety.

The fight for a better place in which to live is today made even more difficult for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the boisterous minority and the politically correct seem to have a disproportionate say in public debate today.  Australians are fed up with the Civil Liberties Council-otherwise known as the criminal lawyers media operative -who appear obsessed with the rights of criminals yet do not utter a word of understanding or compassion for the victims of crime. Their motives are questionable and their hypocrisy breathtaking.

As leaders and representatives of this country, we must facilitate and inform debate, and not be deterred by those who would seek to drive their own hidden agendas.

The terrorist attacks and the attacks on our day-today lives by criminals who have complete disregard for common decency must be dealt with in a measured way. At this point in time it is stating the obvious that in my opinion the courts are not representing the views in the large of the broader community.

Time after time we see grossly inadequate sentences being delivered to criminals whose civil rights have far exceeded those of the victim and others in our society. This imbalance must be addressed, and for the sake of living standards and reasonable expectations for all Australians must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The Age reported the reaction of the legal fraternity to Dutton’s latest outburst.

The Law Institute of Victoria said it was “extremely concerned by the ongoing political attacks on Victorian judges, magistrates and the legal profession”.

“There is no place for political attacks on the judiciary and undermining the independence of our judges and magistrates,” the institute said.

The Judicial Conference of Australia also raised concerns about “repeated personal attacks on judges and magistrates”.

Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula said: “While Peter Dutton may enjoy going on Adelaide radio to take ill-informed pot shots at Victoria he has clearly not been paying attention. No Victorian government in recent memory has appointed more prosecutors and ex-prosecutors to our courts than this government.”

Obviously Turnbull is incapable of imposing any sort of discipline on this contemptuous creep.

Will the courts demand an apology?

Will they refer him for prosecution for holding them in contempt?

Does anyone still have the power to rein this man in?



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