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Michael was first admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2003 and was entered on the Registrar of Practitioners in the High Court of Australia in 2005. Michael practiced as a criminal defence barrister up to 2010.

The Voice: Ignore the misinformation and disinformation

I have been asked to provide some further details regarding the referendum, particularly as it appears a lot of misinformation and disinformation is being fed to people by various forms of media.

Why the Voice

In his evidence submitted to the Joint Select Committee on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum (‘Joint Committee’) the Honourable Ken Wyatt AM said (see page 17) that as the former Minister for Indigenous Australians, he was aware legislation is regularly drafted and passed without significant consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups despite its clear effect on them. Mr Wyatt explained that he had conducted a review of Coalition party room papers to ascertain which entities had been involved in shaping the policy, and outlined his findings. In the period of 2022, the social services legislation amendments certainly had carers in the carers sector but there was no Indigenous representation to that legislation. The amendments to the Religious Discrimination Bill had many, many groups but not Indigenous people whose dreaming is their religion and their faith and their belief of our country and our Nation and our origins. The government amendments to the social security legislation amendments streamlined participation bill have some 20 organisations listed but not one is Indigenous, yet they have profound impacts on Indigenous families and communities.

How on earth is that fair?

The 2020 Productivity Commission report records the terrible disadvantage First Nations still endure in Australia, as does the 2022 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Previous Committees

Mr Wyatt’s evidence before the Joint Committee is also enlightening regarding how previous federal governments have dissolved First Nations committees out of political expediency:

“I would say to you that we have a history across this nation – every time a government changes, Indigenous advisory structures are abolished, and significant national bodies have been abolished when they have given advice that a government hasn’t liked. And our people have always been frustrated by abolition of any advisory mechanism which they see as an opportunity of sitting with governments and putting community perspectives into the mix of thinking. So the reason they want it enshrined is that they want it protected, so that no government can just come in – and I’ve sat on committees, by the way, where I’ve walked into a minister’s room, they’ve thanked us for the work done and they then finished by saying, ‘You’re now terminated as a committee,’ even though we were making improvements in education. This is the frustration that Indigenous Australians have had, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart was about enshrining a voice that would never be taken again.”

Mr Wyatt’s evidence also included his opinion ATSIC was a model which was delivering regional solutions.

Race and Division

Race is no longer recognised by academia: paper prepared by Sarah Pritchard at PDF (page 7 of 14). Sarah Pritchard’s paper is also a useful resource regarding the matters I am to subsequently discuss herein about s.51.xxvi of the Constitution.

It is a vile and misconceived argument about #TheVoice bringing race and division back to our Constitution. It is a vile argument because it is stroking a divisive sentiment which is neither true in its conception nor principled in its intention. It is misconceived because the words of s.51.xxvi of the Constitution already relevantly provide:

“s.51 The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

(xxvi.) The people of any race, (other than the aboriginal race in any State) for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws…”

The text in brackets are the words removed by the amendments made to s.51.xxvi of the Constitution after the successful 1967 referendum so that the Commonwealth could make laws regarding First Nations. Racial division never left the Constitution but it should have. S.51.xxvi is the Commonwealth’s power to make laws about a race even though that term is an anachronism of nineteenth century ideology. As Bret Walker SC has recently stated this an opportunity to fix a social legacy.

Former High Court of Australia Chief Justice Robert French AC has stated this year regarding #TheVoice,

“…it accords with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for which Australia voted in 2009. It is consistent with the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Suggestions that it would contravene that Convention are wrong.”

The Voice is Safe and Provides for Regional Voice

The Voice is safe and supported by:

1. Inquiry into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum, particularly pages 38 to 53 within which retired High Court Justice Kenneth Hayne KC AC, Professor Anne Twomey, Mr Walker, Professor George Williams and French CJ quite emphatically say:

(a) the alleged backlog of judicial review is not only unlikely, but the wording of proposed s.129(iii) makes it clear that would be untenable;

(b) s.129(iii) provides for the regional or local voice because of the parliamentary power over #TheVoice;

(c)the Constitution still provides for race (i.e., s.51.xxvi) and it is an anachronism;

(d) the proposed s.129 is not about race; the proposal is responding to history and entrenched disadvantage;

(e) past High Court decisions have already limited the meaning of the ‘executive government’;

(f) there is no power of veto;

(g) parliament controls how the representations are made;

(h) within the country there are a very substantial cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and persons closely engaged in their communities whose skills, experience with and knowledge of their communities and their challenges can be called upon to compose the Voice and the local, rural and remote bodies from which its members might be drawn;

(i) to say that somebody is empowered to do something and that a facility or mechanism is created by which they can do it does not then engender a whole lot of ancillary implied constitutional obligations;

(j) the Voice does provide us the opportunity for a mechanism that will enable us to develop more coherent and finely tuned policies and practices, as well as laws, in trying to deal with one of the most important and difficult areas of government that we have.

2. ‘Double precaution’: Bret Walker on the Voice referendum wording, The ABC.

3. Former CJ French joins discussion on the Voice, Proctor.

4. Former Australian judges publicly endorse Indigenous Voice to Parliament, The ABC.

5. Law Council backs Voice referendum, Proctor.

6. NSW Bar Association Media Release on the First Nations Voice.

7. Indigenous Voice to parliament: Victorian Bar Council votes Yes, The AFR.

8. Voice to Parliament, Queensland Law Society.

Your Rights

It is perhaps worth considering the misconceived idea that Non-First Nations’ rights are imperilled by #TheVoice or the Uluru Statement from the Heart (‘Uluru Statement’). That deliberate feed of disinformation by any form of communication is wrong, both in law and morally.

Since Mabo v Queensland (No 2) [1992] HCA 23; (1992) 175 CLR 1; (1992) 107 ALR 1 (‘Mabo’) it has been received law Australia did not commence with the First Fleet. However, non-First Nations rights and interests, whether they have recently migrated to Australia or, in the majority of cases, by way of being a descendant from those in whom the colonies and then the Commonwealth originally saw fit to permit them to live here, are protected regarding a valid grant of land to them (Mabo at ALR pages 50 and 51). It was the enlarged version of terra nullius that First Nations were too low in the scale of social organisation to be acknowledged as possessing rights and interests in land (Mabo at ALR 41).

Brennan J (as Sir Gerard then was) expresses (see Mabo at ALR at page 50):

“First Nations were dispossessed of their land parcel by parcel, to make way for expanding colonial settlement. Their dispossession underwrote the development of the nation.”

18 years before the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Captain Cook, Joseph Banks and other members of the Endeavour had established enough contact with First Nations to understand they were a civilisation of continuous possession inhabiting the southern continent; diary of Joseph Banks diary 12 to 19 July 1770 cited at pages 88 to 91 of ‘The Ship, Retracing Cook’s Endeavour Voyage’ by Simon Baker; pages 69, 85, 116 to 125, 130 to 140, 191 of The Ship; ‘James Cook, The Story Behind the Man Who Mapped the World’ by Peter Fitzsimons at pages 278 to 315 and 333 to 365). Indeed, Joseph Banks’ evidence before the House of Commons had been misleading about the numbers of First Nations inhabiting the southern continent (Mabo at ALR 74 per Gaudron and Deane JJ). First Nations had a system of finance and trade with Indonesia and other countries long before Captain Cook declared the misconceived and enlarged terra nullius over Australia.

In Mabo, Gaudron and Deane JJ (see [55] of their joint judgment) considered the erroneous use of the declaration to be:

“Inevitably, one is compelled to acknowledge the role played, in the dispossession and oppression of the Aborigines, by the two propositions that the territory of New South Wales was, in 1788, terra nullius in the sense of unoccupied or uninhabited for legal purposes and that full legal and beneficial ownership of all the lands of the Colony vested in the Crown, unaffected by any claims of the Aboriginal inhabitants. Those propositions provided a legal basis for and justification of the dispossession. They constituted the legal context of the acts done to enforce it and, while accepted, rendered unlawful acts done by the Aboriginal inhabitants to protect traditional occupation or use. The official endorsement, by administrative practice and in judgments of the courts, of those two propositions provided the environment in which the Aboriginal people of the continent came to be treated as a different and lower form of life whose very existence could be ignored for the purpose of determining the legal right to occupy and use their traditional homelands.”

Claims made by the No campaign suggesting some great risk arises from #TheVoice or the Uluru Statement are just plain nonsense, and it ignores the manner in which First Nations were dispossessed of their rights.

Membership of First Nations

Undoubtedly the most egregious form of disinformation being spread by some people regarding #TheVoice, and about First Nations, is the somewhat puerile allegation anybody can claim to belong to First Nations. That is simply untrue. It is a sensitive matter, both for the applicant and the particular First Nations elders considering the ancestral heritage.

Membership of First Nations depends on biological descent from First Nations and on mutual recognition of a particular person’s membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people (Mabo at ALR pages 44 and 51).

The slighting contention anyone could claim to be First Nations is wrong in law, including First Nations law. It is also insulting to First Nations. If you consider you have a First Nations heritage, here is some more information for you to consider:

26 Pages

The 26 pages are a record of the dialogue; they are not the Uluru Statement.

The Sky News presenter Peta Credlin decided to embark upon a freedom of information application for a document already available to the public. This risible notion of there being another 26 pages to the Uluru Statement has been given too much attention by some members of our media. To his credit, the Sky News presenter Chris Kenny has called this nonsense out.

I am currently writing a paper about the United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (‘Convention’). The Convention is 56 pages in length. The background record of dialogue between the member nations before finalising the Convention, the travaux preparatoires (preparatory work), is 246 pages long. The travaux preparatoires does not form part of the Convention. The same is true about the 26 pages of dialogue and the Uluru Statement.

For more information about the 26 pages of dialogue refer to these websites:

The Dialogues

Referendum Council

Uluru Statement from the Heart | The Voice

Pamphlet

By now you should have received in the mail your Australian Electoral Commission (‘AEC’) referendum pamphlet. The AEC is not responsible for factchecking the facts or matters contained within the pamphlet.

The pamphlet contains information contended by the Yes and No campaigns. The Guardian Australia has specifically fact checked the Yes and No arguments contained within the pamphlet. It is apparent the No campaign information contained within the pamphlet is highly misleading:

The yes pamphlet: campaign’s voice to parliament referendum essay – annotated and factchecked | Indigenous voice to parliament, The Guardian.

The no pamphlet: campaign’s voice to parliament referendum essay – annotated and factchecked | Indigenous voice to parliament, The Guardian.

Hopefully, I do not have to repeat these facts and matters again. #TheVoice is a simple amendment.

You’re #TheVoice, Australia. History is waiting. #VoteYesAustralia

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Why I am voting ‘Yes’

8.6.

I shall subsequently return to 8.6 in a moment, but there are some other matters I wish to initially address.

The excerpt (below) from the Sydney Morning Herald journalist David Crowe is putting politics in its place about #TheVoice, particularly Mr Dutton’s ongoing Trump like blast of misinformation.

#TheVoice is not about politics. #TheVoice is about a simple constitutional change, and there is enough judicial and legal opinion to put to bed the argument about legal challenges. As the retired High Court of Australia (‘HCA’) justice Kenneth Hayne KC AC (‘Justice Hayne’) said in June of this year, the words of #TheVoice are spare and lacking in complexity. 12 retired Supreme Court judges from each Australian state have publicly endorsed #TheVoice along with the retired former HCA chief justice Robert French AC (‘French CJ’). The Victorian and New South Wales Bar Associations support #TheVoice, as does the Law Council of Australia. As Justice Hayne also stated, even if there was a future legal challenge to a Commonwealth law it would be only on the grounds of judicial review because #TheVoice representations were excluded, and the HCA would simply say go back and receive the representations. Parliament and the Executive are not bound by the representations. As French CJ also said a few months ago, common sense will prevail.

#TheVoice addresses two issues in the Commonwealth Constitution (‘CC’). The first issue is the recognition of First Nations as the first people of Australia. The second issue is the provision for a First Nations body to make representations to the Parliament and the Executive. #TheVoice does not have any powers of veto over Parliament or the Executive. To quell some of the disinformation on social media, you will not lose your backyards, and First Nations will not hold superior constitutional rights over non-First Nations. S.51xxvi of the CC allows Parliament to make beneficial and detrimental laws specifically about First Nations, therefore it is only fair they have CC recognition of making mere representations about those laws. 1967 did not cure the race problem in the CC regarding s.51xxvi of the CC. 1967 was an amendment to give Parliament legislative supremacy over the state parliaments regarding First Nations, particularly as Queensland and Western Australia would not close their First Nations reservations. First Nations were not even recognised in the Census at that time. However, 1967 did not provide for the necessary CC provision of at the very least representations being received from First Nations when the CC still permitted a special racial legislative power to make laws only about them.

The necessity for such a simple amendment to include #TheVoice in the CC is because federal politicians of all brands have not over the past 56 years either consulted with First Nations properly about the special laws they have made for them, nor have they properly received representations from First Nations about those special laws. This failure also extends to the execution of policy by the Executive (of any political brand).

Now I shall return to 8.6. The federal legislative and administrative history regarding the treatment of First Nations in Australia has still been unsatisfactory since 1967. That is why we have an average life expectancy for non-First Nations exceeding the life expectancy of First Nations in the case of males by 8.6 years and females by 7.8 years. #TheVoice is a positive step forward to cure the CC and socioeconomic disadvantages First Nations face. A legislative voice alone can be easily torn down by the vicissitudes of either opportunistic or knee jerk politics. The former Howard Government Indigenous Affairs Minister Amanda Vanstone has admitted it was a mistake to have abolished the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (‘ATSIC’) in its entirety (source The Australian). Notwithstanding any internal administrative problems with ATSIC, it was delivering regional solutions for First Nations disadvantage. The tearing down of ATSIC sufficiently illustrates the inadequacy of there being only a legislative voice.

When I read the data about life expectancy alone, I know there is a federal legislative and administrative problem.

#TheVoice is a positive step forward for Australia, and #TheVoice unifies us a nation. #TheVoice is a small step for non-First Nations Australians, but it is a major step for the hearts of First Nations.

8.6. That is why I am voting #Yes.

 

 

 

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The reasons why for you to vote Yes

The 1967 referendum bill was passed by Parliament because the international community were taking a dim view of Australia’s treatment of First Nations. First Nations were being excluded as people to count in the census, and those same international observers were cognisant of Queensland and Western Australia resisting pressure to close down the dreadful First Nation reserves.

S.127 of the Constitution was struck out entirely by the successful yes vote in 1967 so First Nations would from then on be counted in the census. Paragraph xxvi of s.51 was amended to remove the works “except for aboriginal….” so that the Cth could rely upon that racially divisive power (originally included in 1901 so that the White Australia policy could be passed) to take away the State’s powers over First Nations including, inter alia, keeping them on dreadful reserves and housed within unhygienic institutions like the institution at Cherbourg. 1967 did not acknowledge First Nations in the Constitution, and the power to make discriminatory special laws under paragraph xxvi of s51 was subsequently used by the Cth to make beneficial and detriment laws for First Nations based on their specific race.

S.25 of the Constitution was not changed and to this very day that constitutional provision permits the States to make laws based on race to exclude people from voting for the selection of members to the lower house. Race and division did not leave the Constitution in 1967 and it remains there to this day.

When paragraph xxvi of s. 51 of the Cth Constitution provides the principle of special power to Parliament to make benevolent and detrimental laws about First Nations, then as a matter of constitutional principle the proposed s.129(2) should be included to at least ensure First Nations ‘may’ make ‘representations’ about laws that affect them. That is the highest and best case- it only provides for #TheVoice ‘may’ make ‘representations’ about laws that affect First Nations. The Voice is of little moment in our Constitution as it does not provide a right to veto legislation or Executive decisions. It does provide a proper recognition of First Nations being the traditional custodians of the land. But once again there is no power of veto and Parliament controls #TheVoice under s.129(3).

Then if it is of little moment why should the Voice be included? Firstly, there needs to be constitutional recognition of First Nations as the traditional custodians of Australia. Secondly, regarding #TheVoice its insertion will then be a constitutional provision which provides for a democratically elected body of First Nations, controlled by Parliament but it ‘may’ make ‘representations’ to Parliament and the Executive about laws that affect First Nations. Given the fact the Constitution already has devisive discriminatory constitutional power principle within paragraph xxvi in s.51 (and for that matter, s.25) it is only fair First Nations be able to make representations about special laws enacted for them which affect them. The representations may be made to the Executive, which is sensible as the Executive is the administrative functions of government so this is a critical reason for allowing representations to be made because the Executive government is where policy is made.

The constitutional provision should stop the broken promises or the backsliding on promises being made to First Nations by any government of any political persuasion, like both sides (Labor and Liberal) have previously done. #TheVoice should also close the gap by proper representations being made about policy which affects First Nations. However, Parliament controls the Voice so you are safe in your homes, the system of government won’t collapse and as for the courts, well, so what. Why should we fear our courts? The challenge would only be one of judicial review, an administrative action our courts regularly decide and guess what? The world did not come crashing down when the first writ for judicial review was issued, nor has it crumbled with the subsequent writs being issued.

The no campaign people don’t want the Voice for a variety of spurious and unfounded reasons all based on fears of uncertainty or entrenchment. What they don’t tell you is the uncertainty claim would be dealt with in short shrift by the High Court. The fear of the entrenchment argument is woefully misconceived. The words of the proposed s.129 are spare and lacking in complexity.

Successive Liberal and Labor governments have failed First Nations since the 1967 referendum. Senator Hanson has not provided a sensible argument to explain why she says no, nor has Senator Price. Dutton is trying to use the dark arts of destruction to try to improve his public image and save his job; the only place Dutton may gain power is Antartica and even then he has an uphill battle to defeat a penguin. As for Mr Mundine, well let me just say he has a bit too much poison on his liver to be considered an impartial commentator.

So that is why we need s129 to be inserted, because the Constitution still permits divisive law making by race. Poor old Mr Dutton obviously forgot to read the Constitution before that fateful day he made that dreadful speech in the Parliament, but then again, when has he ever made a good speech?

#TheVoice means so much to First Nations. They cannot control legislative powers of Parliament or the administrative powers of the Executive, but they may make representations which Parliament may consider, just like the Executive may consider and those representations will enlighten our federal system of government and help close the gap. #VoteYesAustralia

 

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Yes is inclusive, No is divisive

The words speak for themselves, but I shall return to them briefly at a later stage.

Firstly, may I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land to which I am writing from today, and I pay my respects to Elders past and present.

In his meticulous biography of Dr Samuel Johnson’s life, his friend James Boswell records this discussion he had with the great scholar and lexicographer, ‘Patriotism having become one of our topics, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apothegm, at which many will start: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.’ Dr Johnson’s observations about one emotional issue politicians deploy to manipulate public opinion are as apt today in modern society as they were in the eighteenth century.

The problem about politicians manipulating social or moral issues is that it invariably makes good people speak, write and act in a manner which is contrary to their otherwise good intentions in life, all because of partisan attachments to their political proclivities. Neither side of the Australian political spectrum has had a clean slate on addressing social or moral issues. Indeed, lest we forget during the 1977 Federal Election it is reported some Labor members of both state and federal parliaments were espousing their opinions about the legitimacy of some Vietnamese boat refugees as not being in keeping with the humanitarian queue, a political commentary we have subsequently witnessed play out about refugee policy from the Tampa onwards regarding supposed ‘queue jumping’.

Political support sometimes gets lost in the abyss of emotion and it is from these overtly biased feelings we must stand back to observe the socio-political ramifications of our political discourse.

This week we witnessed in Parliament an unelectable opposition leader turning up the volume on an unsavoury argument not befitting of the office of a parliamentarian. To argue that an amendment to the Commonwealth Constitution to include a First Nations voice to make representations to Parliament will somehow ‘re-racialize’ our country is the epitome of banal asininity of Pauline Hanson’s reverse-racism argument circa 1996.

Dutton’s speech in Parliament this week was risible in its abstruseness and just plainly a deliberate last gasp leap to base manipulation of race before Liberal Party moderates such as Ms Archer jettison him into political oblivion. It is just another primeval bellow from the bowels of Dutton’s zealotry, a bellow which highlights he has not learnt from his disgraceful display when he walked out of Parliament as the Stolen Generations were receiving their long overdue apology. Indeed, Dutton has not learnt from his racializing of First Nations people last month when he ‘appeared’ at Alice Springs, a town he had shown scarce interest in whilst in government.

Dutton is a repository of the Ugly Australian we have strived to shed from our national image. After delivering his disinformation and misinformation in Parliament this week Dutton fled from the chamber; his pusillanimity is just as repulsive as his zealotry. Sir Robert Menzies, Harold Holt, John Gorton, Sir William McMahon and Malcolm Fraser would all be ashamed of Dutton resorting to racializing an important step on the path to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island members of the community.

Sadly, racism has played out too much in the public domain in recent times in Australia. We recently witnessed on our television screens just how devastating and destructive racism can be, as we watched the senior journalist Stan Grant announce he would be standing down from hosting the ABC television program ’Q & A’ after he had been subjected to a tirade of online racial vilification and threats to his safety, and that of his family, by people proclaiming to be monarchists.

What did Mr Grant do to be subjected to this deprivation of his mental wellbeing? He told the truth. He told the truth. Let those words ruminate in your thoughts and settle in your minds. Mr Grant’s candour about how damaging the Crown has been for the welfare, community and culture of First Nations was truth telling. Mr Grant’s veracity about our history since 1788 was a timely reminder in truth telling. Mr Grant should not have been subjected to the disgraceful abuse online, and in the media.

Yesterday, on National Sorry Day, I read online further disgraceful commentary containing blatant racial abuse of First Nations by the vacuous souls participating in our political discourse, people who have been regrettably manipulated by Dutton to believe in his misconceived notions of division. Acknowledging the past acts of our ancestors’ treatment of First Nations being wrong is precisely the element of resipiscence we must embrace. First Nations offer love to every member of Australian society, even the likes of Dutton. National Sorry Day is a reminder for every Australian that we cannot be complacent about reconciliation, there are further steps we must take which include enshrining #TheVoice in our Constitution.

First Nations people are the only members of society Parliament makes special laws about, so it is only appropriate and fair for the voice to be heard about these matters of legislation. The proposed words for #TheVoice to be enshrined in the Constitution are spare and lacking in complexity. #TheVoice is the principle. Parliament will then legislate the machinery.

#TheVoice being enshrined in our Constitution is a bona fide representation to First Nations we are listening to them, but it does not mean Parliament is bound by #TheVoice. Listening to First Nations will hopefully prevent their artworks of 40,000+ years in antiquity being so casually destroyed by the Pleonexia of mining companies. Listening to First Nations will assist us in understanding the vicissitudes of our environment, which had we been listening to approximately 200 years we would have disabused ourselves from the selection of a flood plain upon which to build a major capital city.

We will learn more from saying #YES than we will from saying no. We will grow as a nation by saying #YES, whereas we wilt if we say no. All that you stand to lose by saying #YES is your guilt and anger about the past; saying no will only exacerbate the injuries we inflicted on First Nations in the past so that their pain will remain for decades to come.

Yes is inclusive. No is divisive. First Nations have stepped up to make a bona fide offer of love, peace and healing on the road to reconciliation. It is time we accepted the offer and embrace social harmony.

 

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Why wouldn’t you vote Yes?

Firstly, may I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land to which I am writing from today, and I pay my respects to Elders past and present.

The words in the headline of my article are not mine, but I do embrace them from both the social and legal context in which they were spoken. I shall return to these words at the conclusion of this article, as they continue to resonate in my mind with clarity and conviction.

My opinion so scribed today is not emanating from the province of politics, which regrettably seems to be playing out in all forms of media about the proposed referendum to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia (‘Constitution’) “to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice” (‘Voice’). The pollution of politics regarding the assessment of any legal implications of the Voice are too parochial in their scope. Regrettably the modern Australian media as always miss the answer to the question of any legal implication of an amendment to the Constitution, even if the answer was tattooed on the rear end of a 100-foot-high vehicle. Also, my words do not carry with them the imprimatur of the Bar Association of Queensland, rather they are my own.

So that those of you who are reading this article understand the words of the proposed amendment, I set out immediately below the link to the Voice:

Further, so that you may consider the various arguments being agitated by either side of those campaigning for or against the Voice, I set out immediately below the links to the websites for the proponents of the yes vote and no vote:

Vote Yes for the Voice

First Nation’s Voice to Parliament: The Argument for Voting NO

I am voting yes. I do not profess to be an expert, as such, in constitutional law, but I do rely upon the erudite analysis of the Voice by the Hon Mr. Kenneth Hayne AC KC (‘Justice Hayne’) as he is a jurist in whom I do hold my confidence regarding an analysis of any supposed legal implication. That is not because Justice Hayne aligns with my views about the Voice, rather it is because after having read his judgments for the past 20 or so years I have always considered his reasons regarding constitutional law to be those of pure theory of ‘what is the law’ as opposed to ‘what the law or ought to be’.

Last Monday evening, 15 May 2023, I attended a seminar organised by the Australian Institute of Administrative Law- Queensland Chapter, and Justice Hayne presented his spoken analysis about the Voice, during which he opined:

  1. at the commencement of his speech there is no legitimate fear or concern for implementing the Voice into the Constitution.
  2. the central words of the proposed subsection 129(2) notably state “may make representations”; those words are just that, representations, and they only provide for speaking to, not speaking in, Parliament.
  3. the provisions could not be understood to mean any changes to the Parliamentary or Executive powers. The words are spare and lacking in complexity.
  4. there is no power of veto, nor is there a power to interrupt or delay the Parliamentary or Executive powers.
  5. the words do not require the Executive or Parliament to seek out the Voice, because it is entirely up to the Parliament or the Executive to take into the account the Voice.
  6. if Parliament did legislate to take into account the Voice, it would only be a matter of judicial review to challenge a law which is no more than the normal application of the rule of law. If there was a ground of judicial review all that would be required of the Parliament or Executive is to take into account the representation, but they are not bound by it.
  7. regarding the two points frequently being raised by some people the High Court may draw inferences from the Voice or the Voice may entrench division, Justice Hayne said regarding:

(a) legal implications, what would be implied? How could any implication be made? The words could not be construed to interrupt, hinder or prevent the ordinary working of government. The statement “the courts are coming”, are we to fear the courts doing their work? It is an ill based contention.

(b) racial implications, it has been received law since Mabo this land did not start with the arrival of the First Fleet. It was not terra nullius. Approximately 65,000 years of custom were not extinguished. We cannot ignore the early settlers took the land without consent. As Sir Gerard Brennan said in Mabo about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, “their dispossession underwrote the country.” The legal and historical facts explain the disadvantage to First Nations. Further, regarding the equality argument the law has always strived to like cases to cases and to distinguish cases from cases; the appeal to twentieth century Europe is without foundation as the equality contention adopts an argument of race and there is no discernible content of any utility.

  1. the Voice does not take away any right, and it does not hinder Parliament. To ameliorate the torment of powerlessness the Voice seeks reform to empower. Rejecting the call would further injure First Nations for decades.

Justice Hayne’s analysis is not one of politics. Justice Hayne’s analysis is in my opinion pure theory of what is the law of the Voice. Justice Hayne’s analysis informs the scope of the Voice, and his analysis is not posited from a place of fear or emotion.

I now turn to the words contained within the headline to my article, as they are not my words but those of Justice Crowley who also spoke during the seminar last Monday night. Justice Crowley is the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in Australia to be appointed as a Supreme Court justice. His Honour is an impressive person, not only because he displays erudition, but there is also a dignity to his manner which emanates from a place of compassion which is untrammeled by any matters of the racism he endured during his early life. As I stated at the outset of this article, Justice Crowley so eloquently stated last Monday evening, “Why wouldn’t you vote yes.” It is a yes from me, as I hope it is from all of you.

 

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We’re the Voice

Later this year there will be referendum held for the nation to vote on a simple constitutional amendment, namely should there be a First Nations voice in Federal Parliament regarding legislation which affects them (‘the Voice’)?

I will be voting yes for the Voice. I implore all Australians to also vote yes so that we, as one country, can start chartering a final course into the future of proper reconciliation with First Nations Australians; a reconciliation our descendants may subsequently look back upon with pride in 100- or 200-years’ time to say “2023 is truly a year when our ancestors came together to put in place the first foundation stone of the Uluru Statement from the Heart (‘the Uluru Statement’).” The referendum will be a moment in time in which we, as a society from many different lands, may take responsibility as one people to make amends for the past acts of our ancestors for imposing a foreign system of law upon a 65,000-year-old society of people that was based on the pretence of a legal fiction these lands in 1788 were terra nullius.

Before embarking upon a short examination of our past history which informs the need for us vote yes at the referendum later this year, may I address a point of legal fiction that some the people in the dissent to the Voice continue to raise, namely the misconceived ‘Third Chamber’ argument. The ’Third Chamber’ argument has been previously dismissed by the erudite Professor Anne Twomey in 2019, as the Voice would have no power to initiate, pass or reject bills.

Professor Twomey quite properly refers to other bodies which already inform Parliament, that include the Productivity Commission, the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Auditor-General. These bodies are not a ‘Third-Chamber’, and the Voice’s role would be no different to these other bodies. I shall return to Professor Twomey’s article at a later stage of my discussion herein regarding the reasons why the Voice must be enshrined in the Commonwealth Constitution.

The High Court of Australia (‘the High Court’) in 1992 handed down its judgment in Mabo and Others v Queensland (No. 2) [1992] HCA 23; (1992) 175 CLR 1 (‘Mabo’). The High Court’s reasons for judgment in Mabo awakened the nation’s mind from its slumber in relation to how European settlement of this country had not only dispossessed First Nations people from the use of their lands, but also imposing upon First Nations people the common law which so materially changed their lives.

I do not wish to address the land law components of the High Court’s reasons for its judgment in Mabo, as it would essentially require an essay to be drafted on my behalf which would be an unnecessary distraction from the subject under consideration. I do, however, wish to focus your minds on the passages of Mabo written by Brennan J (as His Honour Sir Gerard Brennan then was (and for the purposes of this article I shall, out of immense respect, refer to the late former Chief Justice of the High Court by his title of Sir Gerard Brennan)) and the joint judgments of Gaudron and Deane JJ.

In his elegantly written reasons for judgment Sir Gerard Brennan relevantly identified the injustice First Nations Australians suffered under the common law, namely at:

1) paragraph 28 in which His Honour stated, “According to the cases, the common law itself took from indigenous inhabitants any right to occupy their traditional land, exposed them to deprivation of the religious, cultural and economic sustenance which the land provides, vested the land effectively in the control of the Imperial authorities without any right to compensation and made the indigenous inhabitants intruders in their own homes and mendicants for a place to live. Judged by any civilized standard, such a law is unjust and its claim to be part of the common law to be applied in contemporary Australia must be questioned.”

2) paragraphs 36, 39 and 42 Sir Gerard Brennan explained the injustice of the early settlers of this nation relying upon on the legal principle of terra nullius to acquire these lands and impose the common law upon First Nations people:

a. “[36] The view was taken that, when sovereignty of a territory could be acquired under the enlarged notion of terra nullius, for the purposes of the municipal law that territory (though inhabited) could be treated as a “desert uninhabited” country. The hypothesis being that there was no local law already in existence in the territory … Thus the theory which underpins the application of English law to the Colony of New South Wales is that English settlers brought with them the law of England and that, as the indigenous inhabitants were regarded as barbarous or unsettled and without a settled law, the law of England including the common law became the law of the Colony (so far as it was locally applicable) as though New South Wales were “an uninhabited country … discovered and planted by English subjects.” (Abridged)

b. “[39] As the indigenous inhabitants of a settled colony were regarded as “low in the scale of social organization”, they and their occupancy of colonial land were ignored in considering the title to land in a settled colony. Ignoring those rights and interests, the Crown’s sovereignty over a territory which had been acquired under the enlarged notion of terra nullius was equated with Crown ownership of the lands therein, because, as Stephen C.J. said, there was “no other proprietor of such lands”… The theory that the indigenous inhabitants of a “settled” colony had no proprietary interest in the land thus depended on a discriminatory denigration of indigenous inhabitants, their social organization and customs.” (Abridged)

c. [42]… The common law does not necessarily conform with international law, but international law is a legitimate and important influence on the development of the common law, especially when international law declares the existence of universal human rights. A common law doctrine founded on unjust discrimination in the enjoyment of civil and political rights demands reconsideration.” (Abridged)

The passages of Sir Gerard Brennan’s reasons for judgment in Mabo informs the nature of the injustice of the imposition of the common law on First Nations Australians. Indeed, the whole notion of our ancestors’ discriminatory denigration of First Nations Australians, their social organisation and customs to thereby impose the common law upon them is a factual matter of European settlement (and other cultures) since 1788 we cannot ignore when it comes to our contemplation as fair-minded people of affording First Nations Australians a proper voice to be heard regarding laws which affect them. Nevertheless, in Mabo the injustice of the imposition of the common law on First Nations Australians are also further informed by the joint judgment of Gaudron and Deane JJ, in which their Honours said at paragraph:

1) “[37]As has been said, it is clear that the numbers of Aboriginal inhabitants far exceeded the expectations of the settlers. The range of current estimates for the whole continent is between three hundred thousand and a million or even more. Under the laws or customs of the relevant locality, particular tribes or clans were, either on their own or with others, custodians of the areas of land from which they derived their sustenance and from which they often took their tribal names. Their laws or customs were elaborate and obligatory. The boundaries of their traditional lands were likely to be long-standing and defined.” (Abridged)

2) “[55] Inevitably, one is compelled to acknowledge the role played, in the dispossession and oppression of the Aborigines, by the two propositions that the territory of New South Wales was, in 1788, terra nullius in the sense of unoccupied or uninhabited for legal purposes and that full legal and beneficial ownership of all the lands of the Colony vested in the Crown, unaffected by any claims of the Aboriginal inhabitants. Those propositions provided a legal basis for and justification of the dispossession…” (Abridged)

3) “[56] As has been seen, the two propositions in question provided the legal basis for the dispossession of the Aboriginal peoples of most of their traditional lands. The acts and events by which that dispossession in legal theory was carried into practical effect constitute the darkest aspect of the history of this nation. The nation as a whole must remain diminished unless and until there is an acknowledgment of, and retreat from, those past injustices. In these circumstances, the Court is under a clear duty to re-examine the two propositions. For the reasons which we have explained, that re-examination compels their rejection. The lands of this continent were not terra nullius or “practically unoccupied” in 1788. The Crown’s property in the lands of the Colony of New South Wales was, under the common law which became applicable upon the establishment of the Colony in 1788, reduced or qualified by the burden of the common law native title of the Aboriginal tribes and clans to the particular areas of land on which they lived or which they used for traditional purposes.” (Abridged).

For the avoidance of doubt or opprobrium from those with mendacious intent towards the Voice (or indeed, me), their Honours Gaudron and Deane JJ did say within paragraph 78 of their joint judgment their use of emotive language was not for the purpose of trespassing into attribution of moral guilt, nor is that my intent in quoting the various reasons for judgment of Sir Gerard Brennan and Justices Gaudron and Deane. My purpose for raising these passages of the reasons for judgment in Mabo is to reawaken the collective conscious of this nation as to the injustice of the imposition of 234 years of common law on First Nations Australians when for almost 65,000 years they had developed their own system of law, a law which was relied upon as long ago as 1841:

 

Was Australia invaded or settled?

 

In 1967 the Holt Government commenced the first steps for righting the wrongs of the past by succeeding with a referendum which included, inter alia, including First Nations Australians in the census. In 1975 the Whitlam Government enacted the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (‘the 1975 Act’), that not only provided redress for present abuses and past injustices, but also, as Mr Whitlam so put it “to build a climate of maturity, of goodwill, of cooperation and understanding at all levels of society”. The role of the 1975 Act in underpinning native title was confirmed in Mabo. However, the 1975 Act remains vulnerable to the whim of the Federal Parliament:

The High Court’s judgment in Mabo awakened the Australian public’s collective social conscious from its slumber, that we, as settlers from 1788 and the years which then followed, had unjustly imposed upon a civilised society of 65,000 years in the making the common law which so adversely impacted their lives thereafter. Subsequently Paul Keating’s ‘Redfern Speech’ stirred the nation’s emotions to embark upon the necessary steps of our journey towards proper reconciliation with First Nations Australians, and in 2008 we as a united country said sorry to the Stolen Generations of First Nations Australians.

Now we venture forward on our next step towards proper reconciliation with First Nations Australians, namely building a bridge between the common law and the 65,000 years of First Nations’ law and custom, by enshrining in the Commonwealth Constitution the Voice. Those politicians who have uttered their dissent, either expressly or by implication to the Voice thus far have not conveyed any compelling reasons for not voting yes. Those politicians uttering their dissent are various members of the federal opposition.

Senator Price has provided two reasons for not voting yes which are counterintuitive or incompatible with the step of ameliorating the legal injustice of the imposition of the common law upon First Nations Australians since 1788. Senator Price’s first argument is the Voice will not address the economic indifference in society between First Nations Australians and those Australians who have settled here. The argument is incompatible with the historical facts of Mabo referred to herein, as it was the unjust imposition of the common law on First Nations Australians which has led to the current economic disparity in our society between First Nations people and settlers from 1788 and thereafter. Notwithstanding any federal or state laws which have been passed since the 1967 referendum, we as a nation have not properly recognised the laws and customs of First Nations Australians which existed up to 26 January 1788, and it is the constitutional consultation with First Nations Australians by virtue of the legal recognition of the Voice in the Commonwealth Constitution which then consequently leads to the restoration of legal, cultural and economic equanimity for First Nations Australians. The restoration of economic equanimity for First Nations Australians is not to be judged on European standards alone, as First Nations law and custom had a far more refined and civilised measure of achieving economic equanimity which included, inter alia, an environmentally friendly use of resources.

Senator Price has subsequently adopted a different argument in opposing the Voice, namely that it may create a division in society, an argument which quite rightly attracted the appropriate response of rejection from Noel Pearson. Mr Pearson is one of the drafters of the Uluru Statement. Senator Price’s argument the Voice is divisive is, as Mr Pearson so precisely stated, the same divisive rhetoric previously resorted to by Senator Hanson. I shall add my two bob’s worth to Mr Pearson’s sound response, namely it is misconceived logic for Senator Price to argue the equanimity of constitutional consultation which the Voice achieves as being a source of social division. Senator Price’s resort to the extremist argument of ‘division’ is simply a hollow argument of last resort and it deserved the appropriate words of rejection Mr Pearson spoke in response.

The Federal National Party’s premature and poorly thought through opposition to the Voice is now their own self-inflicted political wound. No more needs to be said about that erroneous decision. However, I note the approach by some members of the Liberal Party to the Voice appears to be one of passive opposition, which is implied by their conduct. On 28 December 2022, the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Julian Leeser MP, requested the machinations of the Voice be discussed first, which in logic is putting the cart before the horse. It is in my view an exercise in obfuscation of the referendum issue by Mr Leeser and the Liberal Party, because the issue is simple- 65,000 years of First Nations society deserves to be properly heard about the common law imposed upon them for the past 234 years. In any event, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP, has subsequently dismissed Mr Leecher’s comments, and she has likened the referendum to government “effectively asking do we need a bridge to cross the Sydney harbour: yes or no”; with legislation to follow amounting to the parliament deciding “how many lanes on that bridge”.

I return to Professor Twomey, and I shall allow her astute words to speak for themselves:

“But it must be remembered that it is already the case that Indigenous Australians form the only racial groups about which special laws are made. This is because they are the only racial groups that lived in Australia prior to European settlement and accordingly have continuing legal rights, such as native title rights. Their continuing cultural heritage is also entitled to special legal protection and sustenance, as part of Australia’s national heritage. If they are the only racial groups subject to special laws, then it seems reasonable and fair that they should at the very least have a voice that can influence the body that makes those laws.”

As I stated herein, I will be voting yes for the Voice.

The Voice is an essential step in enshrining under the protective branch of the Commonwealth Constitution a First Nations Australians’ right to be consulted about legislation that affects them. The Voice is not just a constitutional step for First Nations people, it is one of the steps for Australia to also implement the Uluru Statement so that a genuine offer of reconciliation by First Nations Australians is embraced by us all, so that the words to the song “we are one, but we are many” may finally come true. How we proceed forward by voting yes to the Voice will positively define us in the history books. We’re the Voice, so please vote yes.

 

 

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The Voice

Regrettably there has been some disingenuous commentary today in the media emanating from the mouths of some members of the Federal opposition about the proposed referendum to amend the constitution, so that there is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament (the Voice) enshrined within the Commonwealth Constitution. It is disingenuous commentary because not only are the questions for the referendum which have been posed by the Prime Minister plain and simple to understand, but also because the Federal opposition when they were members of the former Morrison Government received in July 2021 the detailed 272 page report from the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process (the Report).

The Federal opposition also have access to the Voice Co-Design Process website, a website they also had access to whilst they were members of the Morrison Government.

Chapter 1 of the Report explains how the Voice will work in the context of legislative consultation, including the details regarding dispute resolution between local and regional members to the Voice as well as with governments. Chapter 2 of the Report records the details of the membership of the Voice, including the selection process.

Some of the commentary in the media today also suggested there had been a lack of consultation about the Voice. That suggestion is ludicrous, as there has been substantial consultation throughout the community via submissions being tendered to the Voice Co-Design Process, webinars, community group consultations, social media and other forms of consultation. Chapter 3 of the Report which commences at page 187 of the documents sets out within the 24 pages of that chapter the extent of the substantial consultation which has taken place. Comments in the media regarding an alleged lack of consultation is just misleading the Australian public, and is simply untrue given the extent of the consultation around Australia.

So, in summary regarding the commentary in the media (both mainstream and social media) by some members of the Federal opposition, and other people in the community, alleging a lack of detail and lack of consultation about the Voice is not just misleading, but it also appears to be an attempt to create division and confusion about a simple constitutional amendment to cause the referendum to fail.

The implementation of the Voice to be a constitutionally enshrined right for Aboriginal and Torres Strait members of our society is one of the necessary steps we need to undertake in this nation. It is not a third chamber of Parliament; the Voice is a respectful consultation process about legislation which affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. As the Prime Minister Mr Albanese said yesterday, “If not now, when?

 

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The symptoms of mental illness are not the “plan of Satan”, Mr Morrison

I have refrained from writing this post for four days, as it is my apperception (the mental process by which a person makes sense of an idea by assimilating it to the body of ideas they already possess) I have gained from considering the erudite wisdom of Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning‘, an empirical resource of psychiatric and psychological study, in which he reasons that between the action and reaction there is a void in which we have a choice to make in how we react in life to the action. We may either react in an impetuous and emotional manner in which unknown consequences flow from such behaviour, or we may sit back, and in a measured, thoughtful and rational response set out our thoughts. I have not chosen the path of impetuosity, as I consider the words I am about to write below should be set out in a context of personal experience, and hopefully, therapeutic value for people living with a mental illness.

As you may gather from the headline to my post, I am obviously responding to Mr. Morrison’s words spoken last Sunday at a Pentecostal Church established in Perth by the former Australian tennis player, Margaret Court. May I indicate at the outset of this post, I do not intend to display any impiety towards the Pentecostal religion; people are entitled to believe in any form of religion they so choose to believe in; just as I or any other person may abjure any form of religious belief.

My apostasy for religion does not influence my thoughts about Mr. Morrison’s words spoken during his sermon last Sunday about mental illness. As I explained herein my words are derived from personal experience. Many of you may be already aware of this fact, but for those of you who are unaware I have almost recovered from a mental health breakdown in March 2021, a breakdown which culminated from both the post traumatic shock I suffered of seeing my deceased mother on the floor of her apartment approximately 14 hours after she had passed away, as well as almost 43 years of undiagnosed mental illnesses. My mental illnesses had been undiagnosed for such a lengthy period of time because of my shame to admit to my thoughts, and it is the issue of shame which motivates my reaction to Mr. Morrison’s words.

If you are also unaware of what Mr. Morrison said during his sermon (his words decrying government and the United Nations have been more than adequately addressed by the Prime Minister Mr. Albanese) about mental illness, it is reported in the Murdoch media (don’t get too excited, Uncle Rupert, I am still unhappy with you and Lachlan) that:

“While he noted there were “biological issues” or “brain chemistry” that resulted in clinical disorders, he sought to link the everyday anxieties to a spiritual deficit. Mr. Morrison declared that if people gave into their worries, they were giving into “Satan’s plan”.

The symptoms of mental illness, including worry and anxiety are not part of “Satan’s plan”. Mr. Morrison’s words are reckless, and they are also indicative of the anachronistic mindset of a medieval cleric manipulating the benighted minds of the parishioners during the Dark Ages. To link such symptoms to “Satan” or evil, only increases the risk of propagating thoughts of shame amongst the two million or so people suffering from a mental illness in this country.

It is shame which causes many people suffering from mental illness coming forward to seek help. Without displaying too much impiety at this juncture, for Mr. Morrison to link the symptoms of mental illness to “Satan’s plan” is just a product of dissolute pious mumbo jumbo of the greatest degree, and it has no place in psychiatric medicine or psychology. I know, because I have been now undergoing psychiatric treatment and psychological counselling for 16 months, and Lucifer plays no part in either field of treatment.

So I strongly reject Mr. Morrison’s misconceived words about mental illness, but if you think I may have be prone to displaying emotive language in this post, you should have been at my house on Monday when I initially read the above-mentioned article.

I would also like to share with you now the importance of candour and advocacy in normalising mental illness in our society. I have openly shared my mental health journey on Facebook and Twitter since about April 2021. The genesis of my online advocacy about the journey of my mental health treatment and recovery, and the need to normalise the condition in society, arises from the shame I had about my various mental illness thoughts which consumed my mind since 1979.

Whilst I was hospitalised during my first admission to hospital in March 2021, I heard many of my fellow inpatients express the feelings of shame they held about their mental illnesses, and how they were too ashamed to allow the illness to be known in their individual communities.

It became apparent to me, being the outspoken person that I am, society needed to have an open discussion about mental illness, so that more people would come forward to admit to their suffering, and to seek treatment. I have received a number of social media messages from various people since April last year in which they thank me for my advocacy, but this week I received a message from one of my 23, 700 followers on Twitter which best encapsulates the need for an open discussion about mental health in this country. The message I received from this person (for their privacy they shall remain anonymous) read as follows:

“Hi Michael – we have never met but wanted to thank you for your up front and honest tweets in relation your mental health condition. I suffer from anxiety which has re-emerged after 20 years of control. Bit of a dark place now but reading your words provides confidence and reassurance that there is a future and a path forward. Thanks again.”

I do not derive any narcissistic pleasure from this message, but it does give me comfort that by being candid and discussing online my journey back to a healthy state of mind I have given this person hope they will do the same.

Stay well, my friends.

 

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Hang on, help is on its way

If you are a 1970s music fan like me, you would remember these famous words from the chorus of the Little River Band (LRB) song.

Goodness knows how many times I have heard the above-mentioned LRB song, but with all the commentary taking place in the mainstream and social media outlets today about extending Covid payments to people who don’t have sick leave, and also about PM Albanese’s work travel, the chorus to the LRB song is ringing in my ears at 10.21pm tonight as I commence drafting my post.

Let me if I may dispose of this ridiculous sniping about Mr. Albanese’s travel, which save for France and Indonesia probably would have been the former PM Morrison’s travel schedule as well had he won the election.

The Quad Meeting had been scheduled to be held in Japan for the week immediately after the day of the election long before election day. Mr. Albanese’s next trip to Indonesia was essential for two reasons. Not only was the trip to conduct the usual diplomacy of a new Australian PM visiting our important northern neighbour, but also it was required to smooth over relations with Indonesia which the Morrison government had strained with them because of their failure to consult with them over the AUKUS pact.

Indeed, it was also because of the shambles Mr. Morrison had personally caused in the breakdown of relations with France (by the way, France are our most important Northern Hemisphere ally when it comes to the Pacific as it holds three territories in the South Pacific which are New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and French Polynesia and those countries account for about one third of the Pacific Islands’ combined exclusive economic zone) that Mr. Albanese had to travel to that country after the NATO meeting (the first invitation ever extended to an Australian PM) to smooth over the relationship with President Macron before his secret trip into Ukraine.

The improvement of relations with France has further assisted Australia by regenerating the free trade deal with the European Union which had “essentially stalled” amid the tensions with France and international criticism of Australia’s climate change stance. Finally, the Pacific Nations forum had to be attended at by our PM, particularly in circumstances whereby China is expanding its influence in the region. By attending the Pacific Nations meeting Mr. Albanese was able to secure the Solomon Island’s agreement they would not allow China to establish a military base there, and that Australia remained their country of choice for security matters.

The urgent resetting of these afore-mentioned international relations were essential domestic issues for this country, as these relationships affect our trade and security. Even relations with China have thawed to a degree, and all this foreign affairs urgent work has been performed within seven weeks of the new Albanese government being sworn in. So when a half-smart journalist like Samantha Maiden makes some side of mouth comment about the PM wearing his floral shirt this week, send a note back to Sam on social media to say that it was for work and not for a secret holiday in Hawaii (and by the way, you can quote me if you like).

Now I move onto the more complex issue of extending Covid leave pay entitlements for people without sick leave. This problem is not easily resolved by signing a cheque, as our economic position is far worse than what we were told before the 2022 Federal Election was called.

First of all, the budget was not in the state the former treasurer Mr. Frydenberg had told us it was in on the night of the budget. Not long after the Federal Election, indeed on 25 May 2022 the treasurer Dr. Chalmers met with Treasury officials. What Dr. Chalmers discovered is the Albanese government has inherited a “dire” budget situation with a deficit that could blow out further due to soaring inflation, and Dr. Chalmers accused the Coalition of not disclosing pressures on the budget, revealed in Treasury briefings since Labor’s election win on Saturday, 21 May 2022. Dr. Chalmers told reporters on 25 May 2022 that:

“The defining challenges in our economy are skyrocketing inflation, rising interest rates, a fall in real wages and not having anywhere near enough to show for a budget which is absolutely heaving with a trillion dollars in Liberal party debt.”

The next issue about the large national debt the Morrison government has left behind raises the economic issue of concern of crowding. In 2018 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) working paper outlined the critical factors determining a country’s maximum sustainable debt level is the difference between its future nominal interest rate and its growth in economic activity. When the growth in cost of servicing debt (i.e. the interest) is higher than the rate of economic growth, then the debt will not be sustainable, as the economy is not growing faster than the debt servicing costs.

The RBA in May 2021 said about its 2021-22 and 2022-23 forecasts economic growth would be 4% in 2021-22 and 3% in the 2022-23. The RBA forecast in 2021 was that inflation would remain subdued in the medium term (Source: Australian Parliament House (APH) paper ‘Commonwealth debt’, written by Rob Dossor). I can hear the bells ringing on the famous gameshow as I type away here, “Knoll Knoll”. Forecasts by the RBA in May 2021 about economic growth in 2021-22 (4%) and 2022-23 (3%) were also wrong. In its February 2022 economic update the RBA stated:

“GDP is forecast to have grown by 5 per cent over 2021, and to grow by around 4¼ per cent over 2022 and 2 per cent over 2023. The unemployment rate is forecast to decline gradually over the forecast period, to 3¾ per cent by the end of 2023 (Table 5.1). Inflation picked up in the second half of 2021, by more than expected at the time of the November Statement (you’re not kidding), and the outlook for inflation has been revised higher. Consumer price inflation in the December quarter was 1.3 per cent and 3½ per cent over the year, led by increases in the prices of new dwellings, durable goods and fuel. Underlying inflation has also picked up in recent quarters and is forecast to increase further to 3¼ per cent in mid-2022, largely reflecting upstream cost pressures amid strong demand in housing construction and the durables goods sector. Further out, the drivers of inflation are anticipated to shift, with a steady pick-up in labour costs in response to strong labour market conditions forecast to sustain inflation in the top half of the 2 to 3 per cent target range.”

In its May 2002 economic update the RBA made the following statement about economic growth and inflation:

“A strong expansion in the Australian economy is underway. This is expected to continue over the forecast period, despite the slowdown in global growth. The domestic outlook is supported by the substantial boost to national income from high commodity prices and growth in private consumption and investment. After slowing in the March quarter in response to the Omicron outbreak, activity is forecast to regain momentum over 2022 as saving and spending patterns continue to normalise and a further tightening in the labour market supports real household income. Growth is then forecast to moderate in 2023 as extraordinary policy support is withdrawn, rising prices weigh on real income and consumption growth slows to more typical rates. GDP is forecast to grow by 4¼ per cent over 2022, and by 2 per cent over 2023. Consumer price inflation in Australia has picked up markedly since the middle of 2021 and the outlook for inflation has again been revised higher. Headline inflation is forecast to peak around 6 per cent in the second half of this year.

Underlying inflation has also risen strongly and is forecast to increase further to 4¾ per cent in the second half of 2022, largely reflecting further pass-through of upstream cost pressures. As some of the current cost pressures reflect supply bottlenecks domestically and abroad and are likely to moderate over time, headline and underlying inflation are forecast to return to the top of the 2 to 3 per cent target range by the end of the forecast period. Higher labour costs in response to a tight labour market are expected to become the primary driver of inflation outcomes later in the forecast period (which is up to June 2024). Key sources of uncertainty for the domestic outlook include the future evolution of COVID-19, changes in price- and wage-setting behaviour at historically low levels of unemployment, and the response of households, firms and asset prices to higher inflation and interest rates.”

Since getting inflation so horribly wrong, the RBA have gone to the no-no closet of economic management and pulled out its big bludgeoning and blunt monetary sword used to increase interest rates, quite escalated rises after almost a decade of dormant interest rates. Monetary policy should not be resorted to at the best of times, let alone when Australia, indeed much of the world, is facing supply side economic inflation. I wrote about our inflation problems in ‘The inflation we did not need to have‘, in which I not only identified how Australia’s inflation problems were foreseeable, but also how this inflation should be addressed.

Former IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld worries central banks are playing catch-up after delaying rate rises too long. The aggressive but uncoordinated action by central banks worries former IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld, who says there is a real risk that they take rates too high while trying to fight inflation. He warns excessively fast rate rises across the globe could trigger a major economic downturn like that seen in the 1980s:

“You’ve got a real cocktail of global monetary contraction that could go a bit too far because each central bank is looking only at its own domestic situation and not thinking about the global effects.”

Professor Obstfeld, who teaches economics at the University of California Berkeley, told the ABC’s The Business program:

“The dollar appreciated to stratospheric heights [and] depreciations that US trade partners experienced hampered their efforts to disinflation, so they raised interest rates probably more than they would have otherwise. And so we got a very deep global recession which spilled over to emerging markets in the form of the debt crisis of the 1980s and I think there is a risk of something similar now.” He believes central banks waited too long to lift interest rates and are now panicking, trying to catch up. “They have egg on their face from having been behind the curve, and there is a little bit of a sense of panic in the air,” he said. “A great example is your RBA: two back-to-back 50-basis-point increases when inflation is between 5 and 6 per cent. “Now, governor [Philip] Lowe is predicting that inflation, notwithstanding those rate increases, will reach the 7 per cent level. [Federal Reserve chair] Jay Powell would be very happy to have 7 per cent at this point.”

So that leads us all the way back to crowding caused by the cost of interest payments on national debt pushing out of the way other government funded schemes, such as Medicare. Indeed, Dr. Chalmers warned the country the immensely high national debt of $1T could result in crowding where interest rate payments would usurp the costs of Medicare. Now we are witnessing escalating inflation around the world, and declining GDP. An economic recession because of central banks trying to save face over the escalating inflation by increasing interest rates too much and too quickly may well pull the world into an economic recession, and if doesn’t economic growth may well decline considerably everywhere, including Australia.

The threat of Australia’s national debt (where did that money go to, Scott, Josh, Angus, Peter and Barnaby?) interest payments crowding out other government schemes like Medicare or even aged care are a risk the new Albanese government has to consider after it has just paid out further disaster relief compensation. Indeed, regarding the impact of the economic cost of climate change on Australia, the potential damages at current global emissions patterns are conservatively quantified as $584.5B by 2030. (Source: Melbourne University, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and Australian National University paper May 2021, ‘Australia’s Clean Economy Future: Costs and Benefits). So the bad news is between now and 2030 a conservative figure of $70B a year may be needed to be spent by our Federal Government in climate change compensation payments, and there still are the costs of the additional infrastructure to change to a clean economy.

So with all these economic pressures to contend with, you could forgive the Albanese government for wishing to restrain our national debt, fix the budget, and carefully consider the extension of the Covid leave payments. The Albanese government did not create these difficult economic challenges, and great care must be taken to improve our financial position as a country whilst we still look to restore funding to aged care, the NDIS, tertiary education, Medicare and the ABC. National Cabinet is meeting on 16 July 2022. What can be done will be done regarding leave payments. The mainstream and social media commentators just need to allow a government of seven weeks since being sworn in time to examine the big picture of all of Australia’s needs.

 

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Stop the culture wars, Senator Hughes

I cannot bite my tongue anymore about the egregious disrespect Senator Hollie Hughes is displaying to the Australian teaching profession.

Previously Senator Hughes remarkably claimed the Coalition lost the Federal Election because of the lessons being taught to school children by ‘Marxist teachers.’ Senator Hughes then doubled down today claiming the ‘Marxist teachers’ had been teaching school children the economic theory of John Maynard Keynes, and by virtue of the erroneous Marxist labelling of teachers the senator was also by way of a strong inference also labelling Keynes as a Marxist. There are a number of issues arising out of this unwarranted disrespect, and ignorance, of Senator Hughes embracing culture wars which I wish to personally call-out.

Let me first address the inference of linking Keynes to Marxism, as that is the height of economic and political ignorance I have not heard a politician express before, and I can easily dispose of the slur against Keynes (my apologies to Marxists, but I do not accept Marxism as a viable economic theory). Keynes did not study Marx, and he did not feel the need for doing so because he identified Marx’s theories with those of the classicists, therefore rejecting both Marxism and classicists. Notwithstanding any criticisms either Keynes or Marx raised about laissez-faire capitalist ideology, Marx focused on the failure within production whereas Keynes focused on investment. Keynesian and Marxist theories are as different as chalk and cheese.

Now I wish to discuss the slur Senator Hughes is making against the profession of schoolteachers. It is both an objective and personal matter I wish to discuss:

1 At the objective level I was educated at both the primary and secondary level by both the private and public sectors of the teaching profession (the secondary level was because I repeated Year 12 after my first occasion was a misguided ‘gap’ year, if I may describe my recalcitrance in that manner). What I can objectively say is schoolteachers in either sector of education work very hard, including a lot of afterhours unpaid work. In either system of education I wasn’t taught to be a Marxist, but the theory was taught to me in economic history classes in both sectors of secondary education.

My private school education occurred at a school in which the majority of students’ parents voted for the Liberal Party, a fact I was personally able to assess as I drew the ire of my fellow students whenever I extolled the virtues of my allegiance to the Labor Party. However, in Year 12 Modern History lessons at that private school we had First Nations representatives come in to speak to us about the racism and other terrible acts they had, and still were (and still are), subjected to. Ponder over that fact for a moment Senator Hughes.

2 On the personal level both my late mum and my stepdad were schoolteachers in the public system of education. I witnessed firsthand how hard they both worked to deliver quality secondary education services in two of the most impoverished suburbs in Brisbane during the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was an extremely difficult time for teachers in the public sector of education, but notwithstanding the challenges both my late mum and stepdad assiduously worked away to deliver a quality service of education for those school students. My late mum and stepdad weren’t/ aren’t Marxists, and they certainly weren’t teaching their students to be Marxists.

I now watch my daughter being educated in the public sector of primary education, and the commitment of her teachers to deliver quality education is simply superb. Today during the school holidays I continued my desire to teach Shakespeare to my daughter (what a fun dad I am). I turned to the sonnets section of my ‘Works of Shakespeare’ book, and as I started to teach my daughter what a sonnet is, she stopped me in my tracks to tell me she had already been taught iambic pentameter in Year 2. My daughter is certainly not being taught by ‘Marxist’ teachers.

Senator Hughes’ disgraceful attacks on the teaching profession in this country by labelling them Marxist is divisive and insulting to teachers. Her ignorance about Keynes and Marx is very concerning. Senator Hughes’ behaviour is the worst level of American style cultural war to try to agitate in this country. Senator Hughes should be reprimanded by her leader Peter Dutton, but I suspect there is a greater chance Shakespeare himself will be teaching next term at my daughter’s school than Ms Hughes being pulled into line.

 

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The day after, and the days ahead

A few matters to say the day after the 2022 Federal Election.

Firstly, from the aspect of my Federal seat of Ryan whilst the AEC has not declared it (I have to say the AEC must have continued counting during the night, as the results are different to the ABC’s data at 12.30am) it appears the Greens’ candidate Ms Watson-Brown will be declared the new member for Ryan, so my wholehearted congratulations are extended to her and the Greens. However, whilst it was not to be his night I wish to say how proud I am of my friend Peter Cossar – Labor for Ryan. Peter has worked hard in Ryan for many years, and if you wish to know where the battle to end the Climate Wars began, it started with Peter bravely knocking doors about 5 years in Ryan, speaking to virtues of climate policy. Well done, Peter; you honourably discharged your duty as a Labor candidate, and I still believe you will one day serve in our Parliament. I should also thank all of the branch members who assisted Peter.

Secondly, I am so heartened by the Uluṟu Statement from the Heart will be implemented in full, including the referendum for a First Nations voice to Parliament. That referendum will be held in the next few months, and, just like 1967 when a referendum was passed to allow First Nations to vote, I implore every Australian to vote yes for a First Nations voice to Parliament. It’s not a third chamber; the First Nations voice to Parliament provides a necessary legislative step to recognise the standing and wisdom of the oldest culture on Earth – over 60,000 years of knowledge being generously extended to all our national interests.

I am heartened by the Climate Wars ending in this country. It should never have started back in 2009-10. Powering Australia is the necessary policy to immediately undertake rewiring of the energy grid, restoring manufacturing so that we become a renewable energy superpower, which with our reserves of mineral resources we will be such an international power, and finally achieving net zero by 2050.

This is a dawn of a new, wonderful and inclusive age for Australia, where people don’t get left, but aspiration is rewarded. There are economic issues Labor must immediately get working on, not just in examining how and where so much of our national debt went to, but also addressing inflation, wages, cost of housing and the cost of living. The economics portfolio of treasury will be a powerhouse of economic intellect, with Dr Chalmers as Treasurer and Dr Leigh as Assistant Treasurer.

Important socio-economic reforms for women will be implemented, including important safety legislation and social housing. The NDIS will be fixed, along with aged care and Medicare. Our ABC will also be fixed, not just restoring its funding, but also ensuring it maintains its function as an independent national broadcaster. In that respect, I look forward to a judicial inquiry which will not only examine the concentration of media ownership in Australia, but also the quality of the news being delivered.

A national integrity commission, or Federal ICAC, will be established this year. The integrity commission will have retrospective investigative powers, and it shall be free from any parliamentary influence. Over the last 9 years we have slipped to 18th position on the international transparency and corruption index. The national integrity commission will restore our place in the world regarding this important international index.

Finally, I just wanted to address a remark made by Simon Birmingham on the ABC at about midnight which was not only an ungracious remark to be made in the context of what has occurred regarding the Liberal Party’s (not the National Party) night, it was also extremely misleading about our democratic voting system. Birmingham made a comment about Labor’s primary vote which was disinformation in relation to our voting system as a preferential system, not a first past the post system. Yes, the percentage of primary votes fell for both major parties, but when you take out the National Party component of the primary vote the Liberal Party’s primary vote is very low. Remember the Coalition is actually on most occasions a minority government of Liberal and Nation Party members which cannot form government without each other. On the TPP the AEC recorded this morning Labor being ahead of the Coalition by 400,000 votes on the TPP. Labor has won Government not just on seats won, but also on the TPP.

So now we look forward to a bright future for this country which will bring us together, not divide us. The LGBTQIA community can look forward to a future free from discrimination. So many vital socio- economic reforms need to be implemented to address the economic and social problems in this country which need to be fixed. Australia can always still be a great country, but at the same time striving to do better, and that started last night when a person born into poverty and brought up in a housing commission flat can by talent and hard work rise to the very top to become our Prime Minister- it is a story which not only restores confidence in our system of government, it also is a wonderful reason to make us appreciate and love being Australians.

Have a nice day.

 

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Why I’m voting for Labor

Undoubtedly for some of you out there in this endless universe of social media you may well have still not made up your minds who you are going to vote for on 21 May 2022, or you perhaps you have an idea, but you are still considering your decision. I don’t blame you as it has been a long election and with all the various policy announcements, advertisements and regrettably even some members of the mainstream media shouting their opinions at you. All these factors may create some confusion.

Obviously by the title you can see I am writing this article to explain to you the reasons why you should vote Labor, so that on Sunday 22 May 2022 we know we shall be looking forward to a brighter future under an Albanese Labor Government. I shall also explain to you why we have vote out this corrupt Morrison Government. So please for the sake of our future, and the future of the generations of your family to come, take a few short moments to consider this article.

Vote for Labor

A vote for Labor will ensure:

1. Scott Morrison is NO LONGER our Prime Minister. There is a reason why Morrison hasn’t until this week visited many electorates, and that is because the Liberal Party did not want him to because he is so disliked by most Australians. In 2019 Morrison snuck off to Hawaii whilst Australia was going up in flames. That was the measure of care he had, an absolute zero level of care whilst almost 50 people died and so many people also lost their houses. “I don’t hold a hose mate” was his weak excuse. When he eventually returned to Australia, he tried to make disappointed firefighters and people who were disappointed with him to shake his hand.

Meanwhile we were discovering there was systemic rorting within his government, wasting billions of dollars of our money. Morrison then failed us at the start of the pandemic regarding The Ruby Princess docking in Sydney, the delay with Covid vaccines after telling us a lie we were at the front of the queue and then of course failing with aged care, both before and during this pandemic.

Morrison has also demonstrated on many occasions he has no understanding of women, indeed many women in Australia have a multitude of reasons why they dislike Morrison. He lies repeatedly (including to our allies France and the USA), bulldozes, doesn’t take responsibility and has not one single plan for the future, other than ensuring he remains Prime Minister.

Even his preselection for the seat of Cook in 2007 carries with it the foul smell of accusations of resorting to racism, and other odious acts. That is quite a list, and there are more reasons, but be sure of this, if he does get re-elected his behaviour will only get worse regarding discrimination, protecting his own interests and misusing our money. I have previously written about Morrison’s lies and character flaws in this two part article published by The Australian Independent Media Network.

 

Scott Morrison’s Lies, Character and Incompetence

Scott Morrison’s Lies, Character and Incompetence (part 2)

 

2. Your costs of living will become affordable. Labor’s five-point Economic Plan is calibrated to reduce the costs of living; drive productivity growth and expand the capacity of the economy to alleviate supply side pressures; get wages growing so that Australians aren’t held back or left behind; and invest public money in a way that delivers genuine economic value for Australians. Labor supports a 5.1% raise to the minimum wage.

Empirical economic research proves this will be good for our economy. You have for almost 9 years now suffered under a series of Liberal governments from wage suppression as the cost of living has increased, because the Australian Bureau of Statistics (‘ABS’) excludes many items from its CPI calculation, such as fruit, vegetables and fuel.

3. You have access to an affordable home as a first homebuyer. The Liberals last minute brain explosion will only make housing more out of reach for you as a first home buyer; economists don’t support the idea and agree it will make housing even more unaffordable. An Albanese Labor Government will help more people buy a home sooner by cutting the cost of buying a home by up to 40 per cent. It will restore the Great Australian Dream, and it is a sensible plan which won’t cause housing to become even more unaffordable.

4. Women’s Interests will be better protected. Australian women want, indeed deserve equality. A Labor Government will address the gender gap at work with a national drive to close the gender pay gap; provide the national leadership and investment needed to end family, domestic and sexual violence; take real action to stop sexual harassment at work by implementing all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work report; Labor will also deliver more safe and affordable housing, helping women and children fleeing violence, and, Labor will work with states and territories to strengthen and harmonise laws relating to sexual assault and consent.

Under the Morrison Government, women are being left behind. We’ve plummeted down the global gender gap rankings since 2013 to our worst ever result of 50th place worldwide.

5. Establish a National Ant-Corruption Commission. An Albanese Labor Government will legislate a powerful, transparent and independent National Anti-Corruption Commission (‘NAC’) by the end of 2022. Labor’s NAC will have a broad jurisdiction to investigate Commonwealth ministers, public servants, statutory office holders, government agencies, parliamentarians, and personal staff of politicians. Labor’s NAC will carry out its functions independently of government and it will have the power to investigate allegations of serious and systemic corruption that occurred before or after its establishment. Morrison failed to deliver his 2019 Election promise of establishing a Federal ICAC. (Click this link for further information about the NAC).

6. Powering Australia. Creating jobs, cutting power bills and reducing emissions by boosting renewable energy are at the centre of Labor’s Powering Australia plan. A Labor Government will close the yawning gap between our current Federal Government and our business community, agricultural sector and state governments when it comes to investing in the renewables that will power our future. Powering Australia will create 604,000 jobs, with 5 out of 6 new jobs to be created in the regions and it will spur $76 billion of investment.

Alongside the economic benefits, our plan will reduce Australia’s emissions by 43% by 2030 – which will become Australia’s target under the Paris Agreement, keeping us on track for net zero by 2050.

Under Powering Australia, Labor will start restoring manufacturing in this country; it makes no economic sense that we send the primary materials overseas to be manufactured at the secondary level of economic function, to only then buy those same primary materials back as finished goods in the tertiary level of the economy. The Morrison Government won’t reach net zero, indeed there is fighting in their ranks about doing anything at all.

7. Aged Care. Older Australians helped build this country. They worked hard, paid their taxes and raised their families. An Albanese Government will ensure every aged care facility will be required to have a registered, qualified nurse on site, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Labor will raise the standard of aged care across the board – by ensuring there are more carers, who have more time to care.

Labor will back a real pay rise for aged care workers. Labor will ensure that there is better food for residents of aged care homes. Labor will make residential care providers report – in public and in detail – what they are spending money on. Aged care is in crisis under the Morrison Government, but Labor will fix aged care in this country.

8. First Nations. Starting with its commitment to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full, an Albanese Labor Government will renew our national commitment to Reconciliation and work in genuine partnership with First Nations people for better outcomes.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart was generous offer of a genuine partnership, and a real chance for us to create a reconciled Australia. It calls for Voice, Treaty and Truth. Labor is the only party to support it in full. Labor will progress a referendum to constitutionally enshrine a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution as a matter of priority. Labor will also establish a Makarrata Commission to work with the Voice to Parliament on a national process for Treaty and Truth-telling. (Fore more information about Labor’s First Nations policy, click this link).

Labor has an extensive portfolio of policies to fund education, restore funding to the ABC, saving Medicare by restoring funding, fix the NDIS, fixing the NBN, a superior approach to National Security, as well as environmental protection and watering proofing Australia (to name a few).

Morrison Must Go

The last 9 years of Liberal governments have only caused most Australians heartache and pain. In Morrison as Prime Minister we have the most divisive Prime Minister in our history who has overseen the most incompetent corrupt government since our Federation. I have previously written an article published by The AIMN about how much pain we have endured over the past 3 years:

 

Are YOU Really Arguing We Can’t Feed and Care for Our Grandparents?

 

If you vote for the Coalition tomorrow (whether that be for the Liberal or National Parties), you will continue to suffer:

1. Three more years of Morrison, Joyce and Dutton. I have already addressed herein just some of the many character flaws and incompetence of Morrison. However, with Morrison we have to also endure the embarrassment of Joyce as Deputy Prime Minister, as well as Peter Dutton who can only be described as a mean hearted person. Morrison and Dutton have destroyed our relationship with our allies, like breaking the submarine contract with France, causing us to incur $5.5Billion in damages- that is right we must pay with our money. Joyce does not have any sensible plans for regional Australia, and he can’t even control Canavan. Morrison, Dutton and Joyce are literally the ‘Three Stooges’ of Australian politics.

2. No Federal ICAC. I have for the main part addressed this issue above regarding Labor’s NAC. Morrison broke his 2019 Election promise. He even had the temerity to try and smear the New South Wales ICAC, only to have Dominic Perrotett publicly disagree with him. This has been the worst government since federation regarding misuse of our funds, rorts, integrity and transparency. Australia now has its worst ever international Corruptions Perceptions Index score, ranking Australia in 18th place. It is an international embarrassment for us, and only Labor’s NAC will fix this problem.

3. Poor treatment of Women. You would have had to be marooned on Pluto, and even then without a working radio, if you did not hear about the Morrison Government’s treatment of women. For legal reasons I won’t refer to one example, but there has been right from the outset of this Federal Election the issue about the treatment of Rachelle Miller. Ms Miller had been involved in an affair with Tudge, in which she claims she was also subjected to physical violence.

According to Morrison, Tudge had stepped down from the ministry, but at the start of this campaign Ms Miller bravely brought to the nation’s attention Tudge was still a member of cabinet. Tudge went missing for most of this election, and as Labor’s Jason Clare commented, even Scoobie Doo couldn’t find Tudge. When Tudge did come out of hiding, both he and Morrison confirmed he would be returning to a ministerial portfolio, even though we have paid Ms Miller $500,000.00 in damages regarding her claim against the Morrison Government. Ms Miller wanted to tell the country her story, but Morrison would not put in place the measures to let her do so.

The poor treatment of women by the Morrison Government is not limited to Ms Miller, we know that Julia Banks, Concetta Fieravanti-Wells, Jacquie Lambie and Pauline Hanson have complained about either being bullied by Morrison, or commented upon his terrible character flaws, not to mention the former CEO of Australia Post. The Morrison Government has not even put in a place a plan to protect the interests of women like Labor has.

As reported on 10 News at 6.00pm on 18 May 2022, 10 News conducted a social media poll on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram targeted only at women asking the question, “who do you believe will better protect women’s interests, Labor or Liberal?” The results of the polls were 71%, 90% and 95% in favour of Labor. I don’t believe the Coalition have quite turned their minds to how much women dislike Morrison, Joyce and Dutton.

4. A poor economy. Notwithstanding the way Morrison and Frydenberg like to talk themselves up as economic managers, they have delivered the only recession this century. The Morrison Government has failed to address inflation in this country, an issue which they should have been aware of at the start of the pandemic. The costs of living are becoming unbearable for many Australians. Wages have not kept up with inflation, and in its submission to the Fair Work Commission (‘FWC’) about the minimum wage a whole chapter is devoted to the misconceived advantages of keeping wages low. Indeed, Morrison is so mean about wages he even argued against the extra 38 cents raise to the minimum wage which the unions are arguing for above the 62 cents argued for by business in the FWC.

There is a plethora of empirical economic research from around the world which proves raising wages is good for an economy. When the Coalition came to power in 2013, Labor handed over the number 1 economy in the world, including that we had not slipped into recession during the GFC and only $186Billion in national debt. It was rude, misleading and laughable for Morrison to make claims about Labor managing money when Morrison doubled the national debt before the pandemic, then he pushed the national debt up to about $1Trillion including paying $20Billion in JobKeeper payments to undeserving companies who the money can’t be recovered from, causing $5.5Billion in debt because of breaking the submarine contract with France, using $1Billion of our money for the government’s own advertising and then finally all of the Rorts.

Since coming to power the Coalition have erased 55,000 manufacturing jobs. The difference between the two budgets is Labor are providing cheaper child care, investing in cleaner energy which will create 604,000 new jobs, including about 80% of those jobs being in the regions, and finally investing in necessary training and education. These investments will result in economic growth. We have no tangible benefits arising from Morrison and Frydenberg causing our national debt to reach $1Trillion, we only have the largest ever trail of waste.

5. Climate Change The simple answer to this question is the Morrison Government doesn’t have a credible climate change policy. Their 2030 target of a 26% to 28% reduction in emissions does not meet international standards and the Morrison Government will not meet net zero emissions by 2050.

The Coalition is even in internal dispute about reaching net zero, with people like Canavan coming out and saying they will not support it. At the 2019 Federal Election Morrison lied to the nation about electric cars, when he claimed they would ruin the weekend. Australians have endured 9 years of climate inaction from the Coalition Government, and the Morrison Government is still wishing to resort to fossil fuels to power our nation, rather than renewable energy in which we hold the necessary mineral resources to build renewable energy products, including electric cars. The only way we will reach net zero by 2050 is by voting out the Morrison Government.

6. Scandals and Rorts. I have addressed a fair component of this reason to vote out the Morrison Government under Labor’s NCA plan, as well as Morrison breaking his promise about implementing a Federal ICAC. After 9 years of Coalition governments, in which we have witnessed 3 different Prime Ministers at the helm, Morrison has simply turned his back on integrity in government, he does not care. Look at the alleged way he even came to be the candidate for the seat of Cook in 2007; Ms Fieravanti-Wells was right that night when she said Morrison does not have a moral compass. With that lack of care comes poor standards of conduct within the Morrison Government, and this in turn has diminished people’s faith in government. This abuse of the First and Second Estates of our democracy has to end on 21 May 2022 by voting out of office the Morrison Government.

7. National Security and Foreign Affairs. I don’t know how many times we have seen a government since our federation conduct the complete opposite of what they screech about regarding national security. Morrison and Dutton like to comment about the threat of China, but when he was treasurer Morrison allowed the 99-year lease of the Port of Darwin to go ahead with a Chinese company which is linked to the Chinese Communist Government. The debacle of the Solomon Islands was 9 years in the making of poor treatment of our Pacific friends, which has resulted in the Solomon Islands forming closer ties with China.

Even when the mention of the Solomon Islands looking to China for relations was first broken in the media here, the Morrison Government did not do anything about the issue until it was too late. The United States believes the Morrison Government dropped the ball regarding the Solomon Islands, and they are right. Then we have the AUKUS debacle, which not only includes nuclear submarines we won’t have delivered until 2040, but also the misleading representation the Morrison Government made to the Biden Administration that there was bipartisan support, when the Morrison Government had not briefed the opposition about AUKUS. Throw in offending France again, including Morrison leaking to the press an email from a foreign leader which was sent under the cover of privacy, and you have the worst government on record since federation regarding national security and foreign affairs.

The list is endless regarding how appalling the Morrison Government has been, indeed how bad 9 years of Coalition governments have been from Abbott through to Morrison. Voting for a further 3 years of the Morrison Government will only lead to more misery, more waste, more scandals, more rorts, more incompetence and less equality. The Morrison Government has to end on 21 May 2022 Australia.

Tomorrow when you go to vote, my fellow Australians, join me and #Vote1Labor for a brighter future.

 

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Your super under attack

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has described the Liberal party’s policy to allow people to access superannuation to obtain housing deposits as “another frontal assault by the Liberal Party on the Superannuation system”. I agree with Mr Keating.

In a statement today, 15 May 2022, Mr Keating, who was the architect of the superannuation scheme, says the policy is an attack on the role of government in public life. Further, Mr Keating said:

“The Liberals hate the Superannuation system – they object to working Australians having wealth in retirement independent of the government.

The Libs believe ordinary bods should be happy with the Age Pension. Let them know their place.

The Superannuation taxation concessions exist solely to produce a retirement income for people. Its key is preservation. Accumulated funds preserved to age 60 so working people secure the power and benefit of compounding.

Preserved, Superannuation savings, double roughly every eight years. Over a 40-year working life, at 12% contributions, savings should accumulate to approximately $2million in today’s dollars.

Too good for them, says the Liberal Party. We’ll let them pilfer it away in the supposed good cause of housing deposits. Next it will be aged care or longevity or paying out HECS debt – anything to puncture the pool of money they do fervently hate.
If the public needs yet another idea to put this intellectually corrupt government to death, this is an important offence – and with the government, its unprincipled Prime Minister.”

I concur again with Mr Keating. The Morrison Government have failed in their economic management overall, including housing, as they have allowed prices to surge and there is now a lack of supply of affordable housing, which has resulted in the cost of housing reaching a level that now places owning a first home out of reach for many young families. Indeed, it’s highly unlikely many first home buyers would have enough super to make a deposit on a home, but in any event accessing superannuation is killing two elements of the economy with the one stone.

The proposed housing solution policy being put forward by Anthony Albanese and the Australian Labor Party is the only sensible solution to the housing crisis.

 

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An important message for the Australian Hindu community

Dear Hindu Council of Australia (@HinduCouncilAu) and Australian Hindu Media (@austhindu), Australian Federal Elections are always keenly contested, but yesterday the behaviour of Morrison crossed the line from keenly contesting to just an outright lie to the Australian Indian community, a lie which was made about a former Australian Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd:

 

 

Notwithstanding Mr Rudd calling Morrison’s lie out, Morrison has not demonstrated any remorse or guilt for not only making a slur against Mr Rudd’s name, but also failing to apologise to the Australian Indian community which was very misleading and untrue about Mr Rudd.

You can’t trust Morrison.

My stepfather, Mr Joshi, comes from Dharmsala, he’s of Brahmin caste and he doesn’t trust or like Morrison. He was educated in India and Australia, obtaining degrees at the University of Queensland, including economics. Most importantly, when I was 8 he came into my life and treated me like his own son.

My stepfather’s @HinduCouncilAu and @austhindu father was Dr Trilok Joshi, a very fine surgeon. One of my stepfather’s extended family was a general in the Indian army. His name escapes me. My stepfather would want you to know the Liberal Party are destroying Australia.

Finally, @HinduCouncilAu and @austhindu my stepfather is 85; he has been very ill but I’ m happy to announce that he is recovering. He would want all the Indian community living in Australia to know that only the Labor Party has a true plan which will be beneficial for all of Australia, including Australians of Indian origin.

 

 

 

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My 38 cent’s worth

I never thought it could happen in Australia, but Morrison with his temerarious judgment has decided to pick a fight about a $1 rise to the minimum wage, which is 38 cents more than the rise the business community has made in its submission to the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

Take that fact in for as many minutes as you need to; a Prime Minister who has legislated for very generous tax cuts for high income earners, who has accrued about $1Trillion in debt which there are not any long term national benefits for such borrowing, is saying the lowest paid wage earners, the people who will spend every single cent of those 38 cents, should not receive a pay increase in line with CPI inflation for which they hold no blame for it occurring (I refer you, the reader, to my previous article regarding why Australia should not be suffering this inflationary pressure).

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor has not said the increase in inflation has been caused by wage growth, which makes our inflationary pressure different to the rest of the world. People’s wages in Australia have been essentially suppressed to 2013 rates (see Crikey review below). Morrison is saying these lowest paid workers should receive a pay cut.

To make matters even more ridiculous, Morrison is claiming the 38-cent increase beyond what business has submitted will crush the economy.’ This is the same economy which Morrison was claiming after the Federal Budget is a strong economy. Morrison initially said Labor could not change wages; now like a weathervane moving in the wind Morrison is claiming Labor will change the minimum wage. What? Even worse, Ms Hume says Labor’s intervention is unusual, unprecedented, which is once again incorrect. It is not improper for government to intervene in the FWC by making a submission about an actual figure, indeed the Howard Government did so. What is also rare is for the national minimum wage to increase by less than the rate of inflation.

Notwithstanding the factual matters referred to above, Morrison is still bludgeoning away as he has by his own fault wedged himself on the issue of the measly 38 cent increase above the 62 cents which business has submitted to the FWC as a pay increase for the minimum wage earner in Australia. It is absolute nonsense the 38-cent increase will “crush” the Australian economy and set out below are the facts and empirical research which support my opinion.

Crikey’s Opinion

I am indebted to Rod Welford, the former Queensland Attorney-General during the Beattie Government’s time in power here in Queensland, for posting this selected component of Mr Bernard Keane’s (@BernardKeane) of Crikey’s article on Thursday, 12 May 2021:

“Morrison says that there’s no magic wand to lift wages, and that businesses raise wages, not government (ignoring that he’s the biggest employer in the country, and was told by Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe to ditch his public sector wage cap to help wages growth).

But the history of the past decade is Australian businesses don’t lift wages. What they do is use multi-year enterprise agreements to lock workers into lower wages growth, demand increases in immigration to put downward pressure on wages, rely on the Coalition stacking the Fair Work Commission with employer group representatives and Coalition mates, and engage in economy-wide wage theft that has left workers out of pocket by billions.

And all along profits rose at the expense of wages, with the profit share of income surging from 2015 at the expense of the labour share – it currently stands near the all-time high level of 2020 – with real unit labour costs falling 9% between 2015 and 2021. Employers have banked all that, while ordinary households were stuck with real wages at 2013 levels.”

I concur with Mr Keane’s opinion regarding the parlous state household wages are left in after nine years of regressive Neoliberal economic theory being unleased on the Australian public.

However, the issue of economic theory is the subject which I wish to share with you today readers, as there is now taking place across the divide of the social sciences a new empirical approach to analysing data, including economic data relating to wages.

Harvard University

On 12 January 2020 Ms Natalia Emanuel and Ms Emma Harrington of the Harvard University School of Economics published a research paper titled “The Payoffs of Higher Pay” (Harvard article). Ironically, the subject matter of their study involved a pay rise of only $1.00. Surely somebody in either the Morrison Government or Department of Treasury (Treasury) should know about this research paper, and if they don’t, then a broom needs to be taken to Treasury, as well of course the Morrison Government.

The Harvard article confirmed what I had known for years from being educated in economics by my stepfather Mr Baldev Joshi (who was the top of his class in economics at the University of Queensland), but it was nice to see the economic theory being confirmed in writing in the United States, as unfortunately that is where this horrible 20th Century Friedman exercise of market economics was first postulated. The Harvard paper in its opening introduction of ‘Abstract’ reports as follows:

Page 1:‘We document finite wage elasticities of turnover (between −3.0 and −4.5) and recruitment (between 3.2 and 4.2), which suggest the firm has some wage-setting power. Yet, on the margin, raising wages by $1 increases productivity by more than $1, giving the firm an incentive to pay more, even if they could pay lower wages.’

Page 3: “We estimate that the increase in productivity caused by raising wages fully pays for itself. This contributes to the important literature on efficiency wages, which has hypothesized about the effect of higher pay on productivity, but has struggled to quantify the elasticity of productivity with respect to pay Our findings echo the analysis of Ford Motor Company where high wages reduced turnover rates and elicited greater effort from workers (Raff and Summers, 1987) and Cappelli and Chauvin (1991), who find that higher relative pay in a multi-plant firm reduced disciplinary infractions as well as Cohn et al. (2014) who find a 25 percent pay cut reduces productivity by 15 percent among sales associates, and Hesford et al.…”

Page 5: Our estimates reveal that women’s turnover is less responsive to pay then that of men in customer service, which would be consistent with a 6-cent pay gap. ” Importantly, we find that women’s productivity response to higher pay is substantially larger than men’s, suggesting a force that would push female wages higher than male wages. Together, these estimates underscore the importance of including productivity responses in addition to turnover responses when considering how worker responses to pay may affect firms’ pay-setting.”

The Harvard paper then proceeds to address in greater detail the summation of the findings set out in the Abstract, by making these observations or findings in chapter 1, Conceptual Framework:

Page 7: “Intuitively, if workers are unwilling to come to work except at high wages, or are willing to leave at lower wages, wages will be driven upward. The expression also shows that if productivity is increasing in wages, then wages will also be larger. Several explanations are plausible: If ability and reservation wages are positively correlated, then higher pay enhances the selection of workers (Weiss, 1980). Alternatively, if the job is more valuable, higher wages deter shirking (Shapiro and Stiglitz, 1984). Finally, if workers are more likely to feel that they are being paid fairly, they may respond with greater effort in a sort of gift exchange (Akerlof and Yellen, 1990).”

Page 7: “We estimate p(w), the worker output, based on what the firm had previously been paying for a given level of output, inclusive of taxes. Implicit in this usage is the assumption that any misoptimization in the payment is of second order. This means that when we arrive at a cost-benefit calculation, the concerns about taxes appear both on the cost-side and on the benefit-side, effectively cancelling out.”

At chapter 2, the Harvard paper reports its data is obtained from two Fortune 500 firms, however the second firm is critically important as the: “second source of data is the segment of a large staffing agency that provides temporary staffing for production and warehouse companies.”

Chapter 3 of the Harvard paper then proceeds to address productivity response to higher pay, and the following passages are relevant to the matters at hand regarding the value to businesses from the measly sum of a $1.00 increase in minimum pay:

Page 11: “We find that in both the retailer’s warehouse and among their on-site customer service agents, productivity increases when pay, or relative pay, increases. In the warehouse, when pay increases the number of boxes moved per hour by 7 percent (0.325/4.92 boxes per hour), reflecting an elasticity of 1.2. Among customer service representatives, paying $1/hour more than the local outside option increases calls taken per day by 7 percent, reflecting an elasticity of 1.12.”

Page 13: “… in the three months following the pay jump at the warehouse, boxes moved per hour increased by 0.328 off a base of 4.92 boxes moved per hour, an increase in productivity of 7 percent. This corresponds to an elasticity of 1.2. Our metric of boxes moved per moving hour is 0.316, an increase of 4 percent. Finally, we find an increase of 0.018 in the ratio of moving to total hours, which corresponds to an increase of 8.6 minutes of moving per person per day.”

Page 15: (the retailer data) “There is no statistically significant change in the share of absences that are unapproved by a manager in advance and thus difficult for the retailer to respond to.”

The Harvard paper at chapter 4 then examines the costly question of turnover elasticity, and in particular:

Page 16: “According to both estimates provided by the retailer and analysis of both warehouse and call-centre data, turnover is costly, even for workers in jobs that are relatively routine and do not require an advanced degree…(retailer data) Given the trajectory of learning, a higher rate of churn means that at any given time more workers will be new to the firm and have developed less skill in answering calls. This dynamic also suggests that retention of senior customer service representatives is more valuable than retention of junior ones because they will walk away with more human capital accumulated in the firm.…”

Page 16: “Using the same pay jump used to estimate the effect of pay on productivity in the warehouse context, we estimate the effects.”

Page 17: “In the three months before the pay increase, out of every 100 workers in the warehouse, on average 13.4 would be leave per month – a monthly retention rate of 86.6 percent. Paying an additional $1/hour decreases turnover by 2.5 individuals – a decrease in attrition of 18.7 percent, and an increase in retention of 2.8 percent. Since our point estimate captures the effect of a $1/hour increase off of $16.20/hour, our point estimate reflects an elasticity of turnover of 3.03… Since two of the three of these warehouses are within a 13-minute drive of the treated warehouse, if there were a shock to the local labour market for warehouse workers that were driving the decreased turnover, one would expect to see it decrease turnover in these warehouses as well. However, as Table B.9 shows, there is no decrease in turnover in other in-state warehouses.”

Page 17: “We likewise explore whether higher relative pay is associated with reduced turnover among customer service representatives. As in Section 3, we use the retailer’s sticky wages alongside changes in the local pay for customer service representatives as in Equation 3 to assess the value of an additional dollar in relative pay to reach these estimates.”

Page 18: “We find that higher pay is particularly effective at retaining representatives who start in the top third of daily call volume in their first month, as shown in Table B.6, Panel B. Each $1/hr of additional relative pay reduces turnover by 44% for initial top performers, implying a turnover elasticity of 6.6. …also find that in response to a commission adjustment that effectively lowers wages, high-performing call-centre workers are more likely to leave the company than low-performing workers.”

The Harvard paper also considers the impact on recruitment when the employer is paying $1 more an hour than a competitor:

Pages 18-19: “We find that when the retailer’s advertised wages are $1/hour higher than the local outside option, they recruit 23 to 30 percent more employees in the MSA, reflecting a recruitment elasticity between 3.2 and 4.2. Likewise $1/hour higher wages are associated with a 5 percent increase in the likelihood of employing a worker rated as excellent by their manager.”

Page 19: “We find that the retailer hires throughout the country and higher relative pay increases recruitment in MSAs throughout the country.”

Page 20: “As shown in Table 4, Panel A, every additional dollar the retailer pays above the average, local entry-level rate is associated with between 0.17 and 0.22 more customer service recruits in the MSA off of an average of 0.73. This translates into an elasticity of recruitment with respect to the wage of between 3.2 and 4.2.30 When customer service representatives are considering different options at the recruitment stage, their decision-making seems heavily swayed by relative pay.”

At chapter 6 the Harvard paper then examines the issue of the return to higher pay, and it opines:

Page 20: “We find that in both the warehouse context, where estimates arise from a deliberate increase in pay, and the customer service setting, where estimates arise from keeping pay constant, productivity shifts are instrumental in offsetting the costs of higher wages.”

Page 21: “We find that an increase of $1/hour means the warehouse has 2.5 fewer workers per hundred employees leave each month, yielding a savings of (2.5 fewer turnovers x $1849) $4623 per month… The gross returns of increased productivity in the warehouse are $1.44. Based on hourly pay in the treated warehouse, in the quarter before the pay jump, the firm was spending $4.27 per box moved ($16.20 in hourly wages * 1.30 in taxes / 4.92 boxes moved per person-hour). Since the higher pay increased the warehouse level productivity by 0.336 boxes per person-hour, the gross return on a $1 pay increase, which costs the firm $1.30/hour, is $1.44.”

Page 21: “Among customer service representatives at this retailer, the gross return on a $1/hour increase in the relative wage is also positive… Among customer service representatives, we find moderately small decreases in turnover from increasing relative pay. We estimate the cost of replacing a customer service representative to be $2,100, consisting of $1800 over the course of their 3-week training and $300 in badges and other administrative costs. According to these estimates, increased retention would thus reflect a savings of $2,730… A higher wage increases call volume by 1.90 calls per day, so the return on an $8/day in wages ($10.40 in total costs to the firm) in higher wages is $12.48 ($6.57 x 1.90) – or $1.56 on the $1/hour investment.”

To be thorough, the Harvard paper at chapter 7 examines the mechanisms of selection at behavioural responses, and it draws these interesting findings from the data:

Page 22: “To understand what share of the effects come from the same worker facing different wages and adjusting their behaviour accordingly, we leverage data from a staffing agency. While the dataset is distinct from the retailer data, the staffing agency places many workers in similar warehouse jobs, allowing us to consider the effects of pay on this occupation. Because we observe the same worker in multiple, comparable jobs with different pay, we can see what percent of the reduced form relationship is present when the same worker faces different pay rates. We find that over half of the turnover reduction and productivity increase arises from behavioural responses of the same worker facing different wages.”

Page 23: “Our estimates are thus identified off of variation in hourly pay across firms and workers in the same local labour market and industry… We find that an additional dollar of pay increases job completion by 2.6 percentage points, off a base of 40 percent completion. This is equivalent to an elasticity of 0.72. We estimate that 83 percent of that effect arises within the same worker… In this case, we find that 50% of the increase associated with higher pay arises within the same worker.”

At chapter 9 the Harvard paper then takes the reader to the important issue of benchmarking:

Page 26: “We find that higher relative pay increases job completion rates by 1.2 percentage points of a baseline completion rate of 83 percent… We estimate that an extra dollar in relative pay is associated with an 8 percent decrease in quits (-0.48 percentage points off of a base quit rate of 5.9 percent). We see no change in the evaluations proffer by on-site managers… Of the 8,477 temporary assignments that the shipper secures through the staffing agency, 75% are retained in our sample. To construct the outside option, we include all other warehouse jobs begun in the same season and in the same commuting zone filled through the staffing agency.”

Page 27: “We estimate that an additional dollar in relative hourly pay means the shipper is 6.7 percent (0.87 percentage points off a base of 13 percent) more likely to have a worker to is predicted to be reviewed excellently and 2 percent (0.75 percentage points off a base of 39 percent) less likely to have a new worker. There is no statistically significant difference in workers who are predicted to be poor.”

Page 28: “When the shipper is hiring at all, quits at rival firms increase by 12.4 percentage points off a base of 28 percent. An additional dollar of pay over the outside option is associated with a 1.45 percentage point increase in quits. We also assess bad endings– namely when workers be terminated for performance or attendance, or to receive a “Poor” Evaluation. When the shipper is hiring, bad endings at rival firms increase by 8 percentage points, off a base of 24 percent.”

The Harvard paper then delivers its overall opinion at chapter 10 under the heading of “Conclusion”, reporting these findings:

Page 28: “In this paper we present evidence that warehouse workers and customer service representatives are responsive to wages, not only with regard to recruitment and turnover, but also with regard to their on-the-job productivity. We estimate recruitment elasticities in excess of 3, turnover elasticities between -3 and -4.5, as well as productivity elasticities in excess of one. The productivity response to higher pay yields a net positive return. We estimate that 80 percent of the improvement in turnover arises from workers’ behavioural responses to higher pay… This paper also estimates gender differences in these elasticities. We find that while women’s labour supply is slightly less elastic than men’s, women increase their productivity in response to higher pay more than do men. The gender difference in labour supply elasticity is important because it suggests that when the concentration of firms is used as a measure of monopsony power, we may underestimate firms’ power to set female wages. The productivity response is particularly intriguing because it suggests that if wage discrimination were not illegal, women should be paid more than men in this context.”

Page 29: “Increases in the minimum wage will increase wages without decreasing employment. To the extent that our results are often measuring the difference between a firm’s pay and workers’ outside options, minimum wage changes change the outside option. If a minimum wage increase compresses the wage distribution, workers who were paid above the minimum wage will have less difference between their wages and their outside options. Our results suggest that firms can capture lower turnover and higher productivity by raising wages. Thus our paper suggests that in the wake of a minimum wage change, firms may seek to raise wages even for workers who were not paid the minimum wage.”

I have been meticulous as I can be with the content of the Harvard paper so that you the reader can understand the benefits the writers of the Harvard article found in increasing wages by only $1.00. Here in Australia, it is a measly 38 cents which Morrison is trying to run a scare campaign on. I just hope all the staff and students at the Harvard University School of Economics, when they eventually stop laughing about Morrison’s scare campaign, understand that his view does not conform with the views of most of the Australian public. One final comment, notwithstanding the pandemic, and the current inflationary pressures in the United States, this paper has not been changed in any respect to reflect a different finding, and therefore it remains an invaluable empirical resource to consider the question at hand. I have set out here the webpage address if you may wish to read this paper yourselves:

The 2021 Nobel Laureate Economics Prize

There can be no finer piece of empirical resource to resolve the 38 cents debate than the 2021 Nobel Laureate Economics Prize, which to describe the observations in the summation:

“This year’s Laureates – David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens – have shown that natural experiments can be used to answer central questions for society, such as how minimum wages and immigration affect the labour market. They have also clarified exactly which conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn using this research approach. Together, they have revolutionised empirical research in the economic sciences.” I have set out below the webpage address for you to examine the summation, if you may so desire to do:

What this opening to the summation conveys for the benefit of the dilettante (the uninitiated) of social sciences is that Mr Card, Mr Angrist and Mr Imbens have now revolutionised the approach for analysing data, particularly in economics. Their studies include how minimum wages affect the labour market. The summation refers to the following key points for the matter under consideration in this article:

  1. One way of establishing causality is to use randomised experiments, where researchers allocate individuals to treatment groups by a random draw. This method is used to investigate the efficacy of new medicines, among other things, but is not suitable for investigating many societal issues – for example, we cannot have a randomised experiment determining who gets to attend upper-secondary school and who does not.
  2. The Laureates have demonstrated that many of society’s big questions can be answered. Their solution is to use natural experiments – situations arising in real life that resemble randomised experiments. These natural experiments may be due to natural random variations, institutional rules or policy changes. In pioneering work from the early 1990s, David Card analysed some central questions in labour economics – such as the effects of a minimum wage, immigration and education – using this approach. The results of these studies challenged conventional wisdom and led to new research, to which Card has continued to make important contributions. Overall, we now have a considerably better understanding of how the labour market operates than we did 30 years ago.
  3. In an innovative study from 1994, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens showed what conclusions about causation can be drawn from natural experiments in which people cannot be forced to participate in the programme being studied (nor forbidden from doing so). The framework they created has radically changed how researchers approach empirical questions using data from natural experiments or randomised field experiments.
  4. In the early 1990s, the conventional wisdom among economists was that higher minimum wages lead to lower employment because they increase wage costs for businesses. However, the evidence supporting this conclusion was not fully convincing; there were indeed many studies that indicated a negative correlation between minimum wages and employment, but did this really mean that higher minimum wages led to higher unemployment? Reverse causation could even be the issue: when unemployment rises, employers can set lower wages which, in turn, may lead to demands to increase the minimum wage.
  5. To investigate how increased minimum wages affect employment, Card and Krueger used a natural experiment. In the early 1990s, the minimum hourly wage in New Jersey was raised from 4.25 dollars to 5.05 dollars. Just studying what happened in New Jersey after this increase does not give a reliable answer to the question, as numerous other factors can influence how employment levels change over time. As with randomised experiments, a control group was needed, i.e., a group where wages didn’t change but all the other factors were the same.
  6. Card and Krueger noted that there was no increase in neighbouring Pennsylvania. Of course, there were differences between the two states, but it is likely that the labour markets would evolve similarly close to the border. So, they studied the effects on employment in two neighbouring areas – New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania – which have a similar labour market, but where the minimum wage was increased on one side of the border but not the other.
  7. Card and Krueger focused on employment in fast-food restaurants, an industry where pay is low and minimum wages matter. Contrary to previous research, they found that an increase in the minimum wage had no effect on the number of employees.
  8. The overall conclusion is that the negative effects of increasing the minimum wage are small, and significantly smaller than was believed 30 years ago.
  9. The Laureates’ contributions from the early 1990s demonstrate that it is possible to answer important questions about cause and effect using natural experiments. Their contributions complement and strengthen one another: Angrist and Imbens’ methodological insights about natural experiments and Card’s applications of this approach to important questions led the way for other researchers. We now have a coherent framework which, among other things, means that we know how the results of such studies should be interpreted. The work of the Laureates has revolutionised empirical research in the social sciences and significantly improved the ability of the research community to answer questions of great importance to us all.

I implore you the reader to take in the Laureates findings, consider them carefully, and then ask yourselves why 38 cents an hour on top of what business is arguing for as a minimum wage increase could possibly crush the economy as Morrison so inelegantly claims? The answer is it won’t, it will just assist the lowest paid workers in Australia to keep up with CPI in relation to their ever day costs of living expenses.

So why are we here?

To the educated mind the natural response would be “beats the living daylights out of me.” For everyday Australians earning the minimum wage it means a lot, as they struggle to pay their rent and other daily living costs.

For Morrison it is a poorly considered political tactic in an already sinking ship, and his whole approach to political life has been one of trying to manipulate the various Australian communities’ fears or passions, rather than doing what he should be, namely governing in the best interests of the nation. We have seen this week Morrison has had no moral compass when it comes to trying to manipulate social issues by supporting Ms Deves repulsive remarks, all in the name of trying to secure votes by trying to divide the nation. Morrison is not an economist, nor does he have a future vision for Australia, rather he tries to survive day by day by seeking opportunities for political expediency.

On this occasion Morrison jumped too soon, he did not consider the empirical research over the past 30 years, and now he has nothing but a ludicrous scare tactic which once again demonstrates he does not care if he causes harm to any people or group in Australian society. Indeed, his submission to the FWC has a whole chapter devoted to how keeping people below the poverty is good for the economy, which it isn’t.

The sought after 38 cents which means a $1.00 an hour increase to the minimum wage will not crush our economy, as it will just help the lowest paid workers keep up with the costs of living, and every single cent they receive will in any event be spent to keep the cycle of the economy running. However, what Morrison’s scare campaign does is it highlights his propensity to lie or be a hypocrite, not only for all the reasons stated herein, but also because he started this campaign by spruiking how strong the Australian economy is. Once again, Morrison’s dreadful character flaws are displayed.

Our lowest paid workers deserve that extra 38 cents. There is no sensible reason to militate against this happening.

Australia deserves a better future under an Albanese Government. On Saturday, 21 May 2022 vote 1 Labor, for a government which will govern for every Australian.

 

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