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We can challenge the status quo

In the RBA’s latest quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy, they noted that “Over the course of 2016, employment growth has been concentrated in part-time jobs, while full-time employment has been little changed until very recently”.

This increase in part-time employment reflects a trend which has been underway “over a number of decades” which means part-time employment now accounts for “close to one-third of total employment”, the RBA said.

The bank said business was using part-time workers “in a way that contains costs”.

“In particular, the Bank’s liaison suggests that a broad range of businesses are seeking greater flexibility from employees through the use of part-time or casual work or temporary contracts, to improve productivity and minimise their labour costs.”

As Ged Kearny pointed out, this new workforce did not happen by accident; it happened because of the actions of economically and politically powerful people and institutions that set out to make it happen.

Job insecurity is the consequence of an economy, driven by profit at all cost, that used workplace reforms to take advantage of those who can least afford it.

The great reformers of the Hawke/Keating era and the Kelty Accord did to some extent foresee the probable impact on workers associated with the liberalisation of the market and consciously implemented a social safety net including Medicare, Superannuation and a Skills agenda.

The Howard Government’s total failure to invest and expand the social policy aspects of the 1980s’ reforms, their weakening the safety net along with the implementation of the dangerous WorkChoices industrial relations laws, provided all that employers needed to expand casualisation, sham contracting and other forms of insecure work.

This process was part of a broader project of staunch neoliberalism and free market ideology.

The free trade, deregulation and profit-driven agenda was part of a broader social shift during the early 1990s that resulted in a failure on multiple levels. It was a failure of government, of business and also of civil society, including unions.

An Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia issued its report, Lives on Hold: Unlocking the Potential of Australia’s Workforce, in 2012, making the following findings.

□ Casual employment has been transformed and entrenched in our economy as a tool to minimise costs rather than to deal with temporary or intermittent variations in the patterns of work. Over half of all casuals are “permanent casuals” who have been employed in their current job for over a year, and over 15% of casuals have been in their job for more than five years.

□ Fixed-term employment is being used heavily by employers to avoid the costs associated with standard employment conditions like leave and the notice of termination – particularly in the public sector. Just think of the number of teachers employed today on rolling fixed-term contracts.

□ The growth of the “workforce management industry” and the use of labour hire have created new avenues for cutting costs and transforming permanent jobs into casual positions.

□ Independent contracting is being misused to mask employment relationships.

□ ABS data suggests that around 40% of independent contractors have no authority over their own work, and sham contracting is far too common in some industries such as construction.

□ Insecure work is an issue that permeates throughout the whole economy – but has the starkest impact on the people who can afford it least.

□ Women whose caring needs force them into insecure work because they have no real choice;

□ Migrant workers who experience some of the worst forms of exploitation;

□ Older men who’ve lost their permanent jobs and find themselves stuck in insecure work; and

□ Young people at the beginning of their working lives who are trying to break out of insecure work and start a career.

The Inquiry received over 550 submissions and heard stories from workers who, because of the precarious nature of their employment:

□ Were unable to plan ahead or make time to be with their families

□ Find it impossible to get a car loan or a home loan

□ Were too afraid to speak out at work about issues like health and safety.

It has been three decades since the drastic reforms of the 1980s. We have seen successive governments be drawn in by the idea that profit is king and the road to a strong economy and prosperous community comes from deregulation.

It has been three decades of offshoring, of the myth that productivity comes while workers are fearful, and most of all, it has been three decades of growing insecurity for the workers of Australia. This project has run its course and it has failed.

It’s clear that doing nothing and allowing the current situation to remain will only lead to more of the same; more employers getting rid of workers before they are obliged to provide permanent employment; more workers having to spend nights and early mornings making phone calls to see if they’ve been given a shift; more workers being bounced from one short term work placement to another, never feeling comfortable, always acting as a stop-gap; more Australians being made to feel disposable and not valued, living a half-life, not a full one.

A discussion of the future of work in this country needs to be part of a greater conversation of what role work should play in the makeup of our society. We cannot have a sustainable, cohesive, informed and involved society when people are afraid because of insecure work.

The most important part of our society can’t be profit at any cost and it can’t be an IR system where short-term employees and fixed-term workers bear all the risk, and the cost of a drop in sales and orders, or a cash-flow problem.

This casualisation of the workforce, the abuse of fixed-term contracts and the misuse of independent contractors has, at its heart, been about disempowering workers and undermining their ability to organise.

We need to empower these people again, to organise them. We need to argue for a society where workers are secure at work, where they feel safe to speak up and join a union, where they are given the opportunity by employers to take the time to care.

We need to ensure the protections of work-life balance remain intact, protections like penalty rates, overtime and leave entitlements.

We need to start a discussion about the role of government when the market fails, about how a truly strong government has at its heart a well-resourced public service that allows for universal access, delivery according to need, services free at the point of use, and services delivered for the public good rather than for profit.

Individual Australians on their own do not have the power or resources that are available to the corporations. But as union members, tapping into long history of Australians standing up for what’s fair, they can get that power.

What’s made this country great and made our society so strong is that generations of working people decided that the status quo was ripe for improvement. They saw each other as they really were, as people with lives and homes and aspirations for their loved ones, not as consumers or clients or just another cost on the balance sheet.

If we work together we can make security, respect, equality the future of work in Australia. We can adjust our thinking and improve our culture. We can challenge the status quo.

status-quo

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41 comments

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  1. Terry2

    At the very least we have to legislate that part-time and casual work include the benefits of sick leave and and paid holiday leave.

    The insidious and arbitrary practice of employers classing certain employees as ‘independent contractors’ when they continue to do the same job under the same direction has to to be investigated as does the role of ‘Labour Hire’ contractors.

    Kaye thank you you are right to highlight the shams and scams that have been allowed to gain a footing in our society.

  2. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Ain’t gonna happen.

    “As long as we pursue growth, no amount of resources will solve our problems.” — Irv Mills

    Cheers.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Harquebus, you need to get more imaginative. Jobs don’t have to use resources. Aged care, child care, school assistants, hospital assistants, landcare work, social work, program development, home services – so many areas where people could be gainfully employed that would help our society. We all know we are working with finite resources and no doubt things will come to a crunch some time but could we discuss how to improve things rather than just giving up? This is not the thread for discussions about peak resources – you know it aggravates me. Let’s achieve what we can.

    Get rid of labour hire firms and Jobs Australia and reinstate the CES who can hook people up with real employment. Eliminate the middle man. Have a portable entitlements scheme.

  4. Kaye Lee

    From February last year….

    The Federal Government has clawed back more than $41 million worth of false claims by private employment agencies in just the past three years.

    The agencies are contracted by the Government under a privatised welfare-to-work program called Job Services Australia (JSA), a sprawling $1.3 billion-a-year scheme designed to get the unemployed into work.

    A Four Corners investigation has found rorting of the scheme is rampant. Forgery, manipulation of records and the lodgement of inflated claims for fees are widespread.

    One former agency employee said he had seen “thousands” of jobseeker records doctored by his agency to support suspect claims against the taxpayer.

    The managing director of a private employment agency told Four Corners: “There are incentives to be involved in sharp practices from a financial and performance perspective.”

    “We had to do the same thing [because] everyone was doing it,” the source said.

    “The Government does not want to expose the whole industry.”

    …despite a long parade of whistleblowers detailing allegations of the misappropriation of taxpayer funds by some agencies, and highly questionable practices by others, the government has declined to detail instances where it has ever sanctioned any single agency operating under the scheme.

    In one case to be examined on Four Corners, investigators were forced to shelve their inquiries when they discovered a departmental official had explicitly told the agency that it could still collect fees for services the Government knew had never been delivered.

    The program was created 17 years ago, when the Howard government effectively privatised the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES).

    The new policy created a pseudo-marketplace of jobseekers who were forced under Centrelink’s rules to attend private agencies, which would be paid to find them work.

    Since then, more than $18 billion has been spent on the welfare to work program – first labelled Job Network, and now known as Job Services Australia.

    Just three years after Job Network was launched, one prominent job agency was accused of shovelling thousands of people into phoney jobs.

    In what has become a pattern, a subsequent inquiry cleared the agency of fraud but demanded the repayment of thousands of dollars.

    “The department was more interested in getting its money back [than sanctioning agencies] … it’s very politically-driven,” the former investigator said.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-23/government-recovers-millions-after-rorting-of-jobs-scheme/6193022

  5. Michael Taylor

    “Ain’t gonna happen”.

    But it CAN happen. And it SHOULD be happening. And we can MAKE it happen.

    We’re trying to change the world, one word at a time.

  6. Matters Not

    Speaking of rorts, when have private schools ever been routinely audited re claimed enrollment numbers. The only one I can think of was a school in North Queensland where fraud on a significant scale was ongoing. It involved large numbers of Aboriginal students

    State schools are monitored on an ongoing basis and where enrollment declines, as it does throughout the year, adjustments are made. Always amused that the enrollment of private schools remained constant throughout the year. Lots of ‘ghosts’ in the numbers.

  7. Ricardo29

    So pessimistic harquebus, so perspicacious Kaye Lee. Even with the best will in the world we know these changes won’t happen under an LNP government, and Labor would/will need to be dragged kicking and screaming to make the necessary legislative changes, when it gets into power !! As a retired man, but father of a son who works on contract, i am distressed at his chances of taking out a home loan. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the moribund and rent seeking Business Council would think of promoting better employment practices, like getting a social conscience? Good on oiu Kaye Lee

  8. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Without productive workers producing surpluses with their labour and resources, service sector jobs can not be sustained.
    Things have already come to a crunch. This is it.
    I am not giving up. I’m still here ain’t I?
    I know you dislike me hijacking your articles so, I will not persist. I’ve had my say and am grateful.
    Thanks.

    Michael
    Saving our world comes first. Then we can worry about changing it.

    Cheers.

    “Now more than ever, Gaea wants for us to cut the bullshit and speak out as if our lives depend on it. Because they do.” — Deb Ozarko

  9. Wayne Turner

    Us workers need to fight to get our rights back.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Harquebus, I too am concerned about the environment but I prefer ideas on how to improve rather than just waiting for our demise. Matters Not often reminds us of the Gish Gallop – so much shit, so little time – and I am certainly suffering from feeling like I am spinning my way to China with so many important issues to address. But we have to keep trying.

  11. Keith

    A positive story in the Fairfax press and Guardian states that Abbott has expressed his wish to be Prime Minister again when visiting Britain.

    With Turnbull’s image dropping in the electorate it becomes possible that Abbott might try a leadership spill.

    The good news being it would tear the Federal Liberal Party to pieces through lack of support in the electorate, and they would need to repiece the Party back together in Opposition.

    http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/dare-to-dream-tony-abbott-tells-uk-tories-he-believes-he-can-be-pm-again-20161004-grutrv.html

  12. guest

    The number and nature of the revelations of Coalition incompetence and shonkiness is staggering. I remember a list compiled by Sally McManus against Tony Abbott which contained the date (if applicable) the idiocy occurred and a brief description. Every now and then an update was published. It became a substantial list.

    I find there are so many governmental horror events I lose track of them in the 24/7 news cycle. It is amazing how so many people do not know about some of these things, or forget, as I do. A reminder from time to time would be useful. Such reminders would reveal trends, the involvement of certain people and connections between events and their consequences.

    The MSM is not doing it. Thank goodness AIMN is providing the materials.

    What an amazing resource AIMN is.

    We need more publications as counterpoint to the puff-piece of autobiography of the Chris Mitchell kind or the useless hagiography of the Howard Menzies kind.

    Let the whistle-blowers spill the beans more widely.

  13. Wayne Turner

    Indeed Guest – Of course all of the MSM is a large part of the problem.The MSM = The promotional wing of the Libs & Nats.

    Plus,for anything to have any chance of changing,the LNP need to be voted out,and a stay in opposition for a long time.Since they love the current state for so many workers.Then of course we MUST demand a Labor government to make changes.

  14. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    There are too many consumers with even more who want to be.

    “Earth is being run dry; non-reusable resources are being depleted at a previously unconceivable rate; and many reusable resources are being used at a faster rate than they naturally can replenish themselves.”
    “The global crises such as pollution, water shortages, desertification, rising sea levels, global warming, animal species extinction, and economic failures and recessions are reactive issues precipitating from overpopulation itself.”
    “Nobody’s working on a real solution. No one has the courage. Not U.N. leaders, scientists or billionaires. No one. It’s taboo. All part of a conspiracy of silence. But denial is killing us. The human race is in a suicidal run to self-destruction.”
    http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/09/overpopulation-the-root-of-many-global-crisis/

    “If we don’t halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity – and will leave a ravaged world.” — Dr. Henry W. Kendall

    Seeyatermorra.
    Cheers.

  15. Gangey1959

    Another good one KayeLee.
    Just a thought but if the mad monk tries to become pm again I reckon we will end up with ms bitchop as our illustrious dealer. Hmmmm.
    As a (very) occasional contract casual, and speaking here for those I work with, at this point in time we would rather get work than fight for better working conditions, so ”they ” have us just where they want us. (The last place I had work had 5 full time permanents, 15 full time casuals, and another 27 part timer casuals. They run a single 18 hr shift, and last year they made an additional 720 grand. They told us)
    Who is to blame ? Friggin’ EVERYONE !!!!!!!
    ALL of us have to take the responsibility for the mess Australia is now in, and I think we older folks are just going to have to accept that if our kids are going to have half a chance, WE are going to have to fight for them.
    Right now, I’ve got literally nothing. Except a $47000 debt and a VT wagon. I’ve got nothing much to lose really, so I might as well go down swinging. I just hope I get someone fun standing in the way.

  16. kerri

    Maybe tradesmen should start their work by asking the client if they voted LNP before they agree to work for them?

  17. Kaye Lee

    Perhaps we should start boycotting businesses that don’t pay their tax.

  18. jimhaz

    Until the general population wisens up to the FACT that high immigration has too many negative affects, we will just continue to promote more dog eat dog industrial relations standards. There will be more regressions from what unions achieved in the 70-90’s, even though productivity should should really mean improvements in standards of living.

    Excessive immigration is like the difference between using fossil fuels and renewables – business will utilise the cheapest resource regardless of the cost to the environment (which in immigration terms is the social environment), unless forced not to. They now treat traditional Australia labour values (such has employing young, older people) as if they were the much maligned renewables – the price has to come down to the fossil fuel price before we will use you.

    “Since 2012-13, per capita income has declined in three consecutive years which has not been experienced in the five and half decades since 1960”.

  19. kizhmet

    I have been working on contract since July 2013 with no paid annual leave, public holidays or sick leave and virtually no prospects of permanent work. I am 57. I rent. My superannuation is enough to pay4 years’ rent (just rent!). Hallelujah – not. Looks like my contract will be extended for another two years. At 59 what will be my chances of permanent employment?

    Human Resources needs to be renamed Corporate Resources as they no longer represent workers’ interests. Requisite skills are centred around corporate law, not human sciences. The slow inexorable morph slipped past most of us unnoticed.

    I work in a government agency. Despite being on contract, I am paid significantly less (measured in multiple tens of thousands of dollars) than full time counterparts. My entire team will be outsourced to a private enterprise contract in 2018. Across the greater division of 43 staff (not including senior managers), the majority are agency hire like me. Recent proposed changes include “rebranding” Senior Project Manager as Project Managers. It isn’t just blue collar workers with targets painted on their backs. It is everyone below senior management level. Despite only being on contract I joined a Union for the first time in decades. Standing up requires support, the union provides strength in numbers. Successive governments have effectively, and intentionally, emasculated (and demonised) unions. Is it mere coincidence workers’ rights deteriorated as union membership declined?

  20. Kaye Lee

    Between 2009-13, 837 workers in the industries investigated by the Royal Commissioner died doing their job.

    The Royal Commission went back 30 years, spent $80M taxpayers’ money, examined 505 witnesses and found only a handful of matters to prosecute.

    There has been only one conviction, resulting in a suspended sentence, while five other union officials have either had their charges dropped, or were found not guilty.

    Kathy Jackson remains at large.

  21. diannaart

    Kizmet

    Is it mere coincidence workers’ rights deteriorated as union membership declined?

    No. All part of a deliberate strategy to benefit shareholders, strategies which include such double-speak terms as ‘human resources’, ‘contract worker’, ‘flexibility’, ‘merit’. Have people noticed the trend to use terms that are/were part of environmental care? Such as ‘sustainable’? For example, “the business has to ‘restructure’ (sack staff) to ramp up ‘sustainability’ (increase profits)”.

    Nothing can be taken at face value any more, if ever, the age of lies is well and truly entrenched – whether Trump wins or loses, lying is now considered acceptable if the liar is permitted to get away with it. Our MSM, political leaders and corporate heads are tacitly endorsing the art of fraud.

    The scary part is that the frauds Kaye Lee has worked hard to uncover, are just the tip of an Everest of corruption.

  22. Kaye Lee

    I think Ged Kearny made a great point when she brought up how short-term employees and fixed-term workers bear all the risk, and the cost of a drop in sales and orders, or a cash-flow problem. The business owner can reduce costs any time by sacking people (making remaining workers very maleable) – it is the workers who weather the storm.

  23. townsvilleblog

    Kaye your boycott idea is one we can all participate in, hurt the bastards in the hip pocket nerve as Arthur Caldwell used to say. The only problem there is that there are so many companies on the list of non-tax payers, at least 579 and more than likely covering every aspect of our lives, but, we have to try something, the global 1% owned 50% of the global economy in February 2016 so 8 months on and they have increased that by —- how much?

    We need a Labor government with enough guts to cut the loop holes from the corporate taxation laws and force them to pay their fair share as the Nordic countries do. Trouble is when you mention democratic socialism as practiced in the Nordic countries Aussies have been conditioned to fear the word socialism.

  24. Judith W

    Why has so much of the service industry been turned into volunteer positions? If we recreated paid positions in so many of these roles, instead of placing them into the “work-for-the-dole” pigeonholes, job security would increase (because wftd positions have none), unemployment would go down as would welfare costs…
    I wonder if maybe I’m missing something …

  25. Christian Marx

    Great article. Unfortunately corporate owned media will propagate Neoliberal extremism and continue to scapegoat minorities,
    in order to divide the populace. For the system to drastically change, not only does government and big business have to be challenged en mass, their corrupt media apparatus has to be bypassed altogether. Currently the less intelligent are being poisoned to vote against their best economic and social interests.

  26. Kaye Lee

    If you are going to liberalise the market then the government is duty bound to legislate to protect workers from corporate greed. Instead, our government chooses to protect businesses and actively undermine unions. Just take a look at Malcolm’s Innovation Plan and see if you can find anything for workers.

    “Businesses will be given the freedom to fail and get back up on their feet quickly under new US-style bankruptcy laws announced as part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation statement.

    The changes will allow businesses to trade while insolvent and cut the period in which bankrupts cannot run other businesses to just one year.

    At the moment most bankruptcies last three years, in which time the directors are unable to start another company. Directors are at present personally liable for insolvent trading. The new law would allow trading while insolvent where the business appoints a restructuring adviser to work on a turnaround plan.

    The laws will also relax the “same business test” that denies tax losses if a company changes its business activities, introducing a more flexible “predominantly similar business test”.

    New laws, which came into force on July 1, will provide a 20 per cent non-refundable tax offset worth up to $200,000 for investors in startup businesses plus a 10-year exemption from capital gains tax if they hold shares in the company for three years.

    The government will also loosen the restrictions on tax breaks for so-called early stage venture capital limited partnerships, allowing investments of up to $200 million rather than $100 million and no longer requiring investors to sell when the company’s value exceeds $250 million.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/free-to-fail-in-new-11-billion-innovation-plan-20151206-glgzll.html

    In other words, businesses can claim tax exemptions, default on their creditors and workers’ entitlements, change their name, and start again with investors protected and rewarded with more tax exemptions…all with Malcolm’s blessing and our tax dollar support.

  27. wammm

    bout time we got humour into this media.

    For too long we consumers have just followed the colworth lead and bought imported tinned beans from italy. Milk bulk bought at usurers prices and labelled as ‘home’. Vegetables and fruit trucked from interstate and we drive past self serve stalls by the side of the road. We have vilification of the whole unemployed if someone next door seems to use a loophole to get a quid out of centrelink and we accept, nay revere, packer trump rupert using loopholes to pay no tax, no levies no gst.

    We declare our individuality as Australians unless the Australians are Aborigines, muslim or Chinese but only if the Aborigines have ;appearance’ then it doesn’t matter if they are or not they become Aboriginal and individuality disappears.
    Ask yourself about the basics/cashless card!
    sad that labor, bleating about $100000 degrees let the rabbot off the hook in 2014 over the VET/TAFE fee help of $96000 ie the clever protected for $4000 more than the other 80%? But birmingham has gone from $96000 to as low as $5000.
    Surprise surprise the scheme is blamed on gillard not the greedy vice chancellors nor the inept rabbott and callous libs.
    Billy and Tanya you have had 3 years to attack but you are just slack and deserve all the blame you are going to get..
    ps
    ‘The program was created 17 years ago, when the Howard government effectively privatised the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES).’
    I have a letter from my podiatrist telling me they will no longer bulk bill nor charge the gap because they will not deal with centrelink.
    I pay full price then go to madicare ie centrelink and wait till they put some cash back.
    How do Aborigines in ceduna pay??
    pps
    had a game of golf today with a mechanic who 25 tears ago walked into a shop in Anmatyerre country and fell in love and married the shop assistant. She was an ex-student and a fabulous painter. Sadly, she died in August, just after her 60th birthday. Because he has money and friends in Darwin, She had a church send off here the flown to Alice and driven up to Stirling station for burial.
    Her nephew was not so lucky and stayed in the ‘esky’ for 9 months before enough money was raised to bury him.
    tip of the iceberg labor
    go go go billy et al
    ‘mea culpa
    mea culpa
    mea maxima culpa

  28. helvityni

    ’bout time we got humour into this media.’

    Couldn’t agree with you more, wammm, a bit of humour has never harmed anyone…in these depressing times we need some cheering up…

  29. Ken Butler

    Has any research been done on the demographics of the suicide rate in Australia?
    My hypothesis is that the is a strong collection between the financial serfdom of the underemployed and the peak suicidal population.

  30. Ken Butler

    “Correlation” !!!

  31. Ken Butler

    Has any research been done on the demographics of the suicide rate in Australia?
    My hypothesis is that the is a strong collection between the financial serfdom of the underemployed and the peak suicidal population. The

  32. Kaye Lee

    ken, there has been a lot of study done on suicide.

    In 2015, 75.6% of people who died by suicide were male.

    In 2015, suicide was the leading cause of death among all people 15-44 years of age, and the second leading cause of death among those 45-54 years of age.

    The highest proportion of suicide deaths of males occurs among those 40-44 years of age, while for females it is the 45-49 age group

    The age-specific death rate is highest among males 85 years and over.

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2015~Main%20Features~Intentional%20self-harm:%20key%20characteristics~8

  33. Matters Not

    Ken Butler, there’s plenty of evidence that in times of economic downturn, the suicide rate rises significantly.

    One of the criticisms (in the political sense) I had of the Rudd government was his clear failure (not) to use those statistics to justify his very wise decision to provide economic stimulus. While he copped heaps re ‘pink bats’, there was no recognition that he ‘saved’ many lives by his actions in preventing a recession.

    He had a very, very good case, but he didn’t make it. (I suspect historians will evaluate Rudd – not in terms of his actions – but his failure to till the ground and explain the why of his actions.) He wasn’t a good politician – not that there’s anything wrong with that from a moral perspective.

  34. Wayne

    Excellent article. Part-time work might initially have been about the worker, but business has pressured successive governments, including the Hawke/Keating government, to progressively dismantle worker rights. I fear that we have now come too far – even a change of government would offer little, because as the workers have lost their full-time meaningful jobs in the hundreds of thousands, so the captains of industry have gained greater power and influence over our lawmakers.

    What is worse, business has now enlisted the middle class to participate in its frenzy of consumer-driven greed. Many in the middle class now blindly accept that those on the dole are bludgers; that those on disability benefits are malingerers; that the indigenous get billions of dollars of benefits not available to other Australians and that their taxes should not fund the social safety net.

    Once our manufacturing is gone from this country, we can’t get it back and we will always be at the mercy of those countries that effectively stole a massive number of jobs.

    We are headed towards a jobs Armageddon, where comparatively few will have full-time well paid jobs and the rest of us will be hustling our way through life as mini-entrepreneurs, making their coffees, cleaning their houses, mowing their lawns and walking their dogs.

    The explosion in “contractors” could easily be reversed, but that require the ATO having greater resources to investigate bogus contractor arrangements and possibly even for more clear tax legislation that is easier to enforce. In theory, an individual working as a contractor and not providing their own tools of trade is effectively an “employee” for super guarantee purposes, but the ATO simply does not have the staff to find and attack these wanton breaches of the law. This has been rife in the building industry for decades, but it points to a broader malaise and that comes back to an orchestrated, deliberate attack on worker rights and working conditions.

    I could not put it better than John Halfpenny (about 25 years ago now if I recall) who, when told that business needed a more flexible workforce retorted that what business meant was “flexibility downwards” and in essence that mean workers having fewer and fewer rights and being ever more at risk of being exploited – welcome to the future – it’s here.

  35. townsvilleblog

    ’bout time we got humour into this media.’ can anyone tell me what is humorous about living below the poverty line and suicide, someone has better come up with something because a lot of you will be joining me and 3 million other Aussies before teir next 3 years is over, and on that I’d bet my house, if I were a betting man.

  36. townsvilleblog

    Wayne, why don’t Labor politicians simply tell the truth, that the workers pay tax and small business pays some tax, but the corporations owned by the 1% of the global population (mostly yank) own 50% plus of the global economy and make billions out of Australians each and every year, but at least 579 of them pay nothing in income tax, that is where they should be directing their anger, at the corporations.

    And reserve some anger for the politicians who do not abolish the taxation loop holes that allow these parasites to continue to do it!

  37. Kyran

    “It has been three decades since the drastic reforms of the 1980s.”
    The ‘drastic reforms’ of the 80’s, whilst ‘drastic’, were not ‘reforms’. They were an attempt to return to ‘pre 70’s values’.
    The 70’s were a time where Australians got ‘things’ like universal health care, universal education, universal societal protections of minimum standards. Protection of those basic standards was ensured by safety nets, such as minimum wages, unemployment benefits, age pensions, etcetera.
    The 80’s were the advent of ‘weasel words’, the greatest exponent of which was described as a ‘lying rodent’ by his bestest friend ever, Brandis, who appears to be yet another lying little rodent.
    Imagine, if you can, a politician who says ‘we are going to destroy any notion of ‘universal’ protections’. They would know, as soon as the words were uttered, their political future was doomed. Instead, it is death by a thousand cuts.
    Pick a portfolio, any portfolio at all. (Other than defence.)
    “We can’t afford this.” “We need to make this more efficient.” “We need to privatise this.”

    “ABS data suggests that around 40% of independent contractors have no authority over their own work, and sham contracting is far too common in some industries such as construction.”

    Off the ATO website;
    https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjX6IuAhcXPAhWp5IMKHXRLDN4QFgg1MAM&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ato.gov.au%2FBusiness%2FEmployee-or-contractor%2FHow-to-determine-if-workers-are-employees-or-contractors%2FDifference-between-employees-and-contractors%2F&usg=AFQjCNEm6DlexdWvsFytS9vntY7VtMsnXg

    It’s a sham. As Wayne pointed out, a sham that won’t be investigated because the ATO has been gutted. The rule about predominant earnings (can’t find a link) from the ATO suggests that, if you earn more than 60% of your income from one source, you are an employee. Therefore your employer is required to pay basic entitlements (leave, superannuation) and deduct PAYE tax (including medicare). The ABN business system is a monumental rort. Check out the 7/11/taxi/security rorts.
    “This casualisation of the workforce, the abuse of fixed-term contracts and the misuse of independent contractors has, at its heart, been about disempowering workers and undermining their ability to organise.”
    One of the few strengths of the union movement, of recent years, has been their industry super schemes. Australian super schemes have something like $2trillion in their care.
    “Australian banks have assets of more than $4.1 trillion, compared with the national GDP, which is just over $1.6 trillion.”

    Default superannuation funds are meant to be the best of the best. As far as I know, there are about 100 of them, mostly industry (union)based.

    “To broaden the earnings base, they have launched themselves into insurance and wealth management and are now fighting a pitched battle for a foothold into default superannuation funds, which have been dominated by not-for-profit Industry Funds.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-03/the-next-big-banking-crisis/7896664

    This bloke Verrender is becoming the exception that proves the rule. The article is well worth a read. He works for the ABC, yet write’s frankly and fearlessly. It’s not like his name is Nick Ross!
    Seems to me, the 70’s tried to define (and enshrine) basic standards. The 80’s merely asked ‘What is this worth?
    Going once, going twice, gone. To the highest bidder.
    Ged Kearny V Kate Carnell.
    70’s V 80’s.
    Going once, going twice, gone.
    Thank you, Ms Lee (and commenters). Take care.

  38. guest

    If we are going to talk about jobs as we must (Ford car production closing, etc) we need to talk about a declining coal industry and the possible growth of jobs in the renewable energy sector (if the Coalition will allow it).

    I did not realise we have the huge number of electrical engineers and wind turbine experts and renewable energy gurus in this country jostling for positions for and against wind turbines. Our PM is of course one of the most knowledgeable contestants.

    We only have to look at comments on the blackout in SA to see how contested is the expertise on renewable energy.

    And in the Senate we have one questioner reminding us of the deleterious health effects of windfarms (a claim debunked but still rampant among anti-turbine “experts”).

    Then we have the claim that we do not have a steady increase in renewable energy use. Why is that? Because states digging up coal have not invested so much in wind turbines. Surprise, surprise.

    And it has been pointed out that wind farms in SA which produce some 40% of the states power are not able to sustain it when 22 power lines go down in high winds and the power from the interconnectors ceases. Surprise, surprise. So they blame the turbines.

    And of course the cost of electricity is questioned. Never mind that electricity in SA was privatised some time ago by the Liberals. Profit is guaranteed.

    There have been blackouts in coal country, too, but no great kerfuffle? Because coal is “cheap and reliable”. No need to worry about carbon emissions because the Coalition has been to Paris and all is well with Direct Action to fix everything.

    The way debate is fudged in this country is remarkable. It is impossible to get a clear report in the MSM to any event. Everything is refracted through the prism of political ideology and a big dollop of ignorance. But there are sites which debunk the anti-wind/solar propaganda, if only they had as much influence as the this-is-what-I-think brigade.

    I cannot understand how the Coalition can speak of “jobs and growth”. They are behind in everything. Carbon tax now in Canada; wind turbines everywhere in the world; even India developing solar.

    What is it with all the “genius” power in Oz that we lag so far behind?

  39. Kaye Lee

    The genius power is alive and well in Oz but the politicians get their advice from Maurice Newman and Kate Carnell and Gina Rinehart and Cardinal Pell.

  40. Kyran

    United we stand, divided we fall.
    That was Aesop, wasn’t it? Somewhere between 620 and 564 BC. The ‘Brotherhood of Man’ made a song out of it.

    http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwig1P24usXPAhWl0YMKHRdvB7kQFggxMAY&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brainyquote.com%2Fquotes%2Fauthors%2Fa%2Faesop.html&usg=AFQjCNFWATwSzzogGUiMoRjG3HcaxSasuQ

    So many platitude’s. So many nicety’s. So many millennia. Yet, we learn nothing.
    I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knee’s.
    “What is it with all the “genius” power in Oz that we lag so far behind?”
    You’ve nailed it, guest.
    We used to invest in our future, We, once, were warriors. Now we wish to divest our past, at the highest possible price (in a coalapsing economy), in the hope it may ensure our future. As Ms Lee pointed out, they get their advice from the likes of Newman, Carnell, Pell, Rinehart. Et al.
    I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knee’s.
    Take care

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