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I know, we’ll have a Taskforce

In April 2014, the CFMEU asked then Employment Minister Eric Abetz to start an urgent investigation into the exploitation of 457 visa workers at Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill iron ore project.

A whistleblower said up to 200 white-collar 457 visa workers, about half of whom were Korean nationals aged under 30, many of them female, were clocking up more than 84 hours a week at a pay rate of $16 per hour from contractor Samsung C&T. Many were not working in the occupations approved for their visas – a breach of the sponsoring employer’s obligations, the CFMEU claimed.

Then on 4 May 2015, an investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners program revealed exploitation of certain groups of migrant workers, many on Working Holiday Maker (WHM) (417 and 462) visas, in the meat processing and horticulture industries. Issues included the underpayment of wages, long working hours, and sub-standard living conditions. Unscrupulous labour hire contractors were implicated in many of the instances of non-compliance with Australia’s workplace laws.

This was followed by, on 31 August 2015, a joint investigation by Four Corners and Fairfax Media which revealed the deliberate falsification of employment records by employers (franchisees) and the systemic underpayment of the wages and entitlements of international students working on temporary visas in many 7-Eleven convenience stores across Australia.

In March this year, a Senate committee produced a report titled A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders which examined these, and many more cases, and the implications of the various temporary work visas more broadly.

Mr Peter Mares, Adjunct Fellow at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology, observed at least 2000 people have been in Australia on a temporary visa for at least 10 years and another 18,000 have been in Australia for eight years or more on temporary visas. Mr Mares also noted that about 3000 people who met the eligibility criteria for permanent residency, and who have paid for and had applications for permanent residency lodged for more than five years, are still awaiting a response from the DIBP about their application.

Being indefinitely temporary has consequences in terms of a lack of access to rights and entitlements: They will never vote and they will never run for office. They pay taxes and they do have access to Medicare, but they do not have access to Centrelink, apart from a very limited six-month window after 10 years. They have to pay full up-front fees for their students to go to university and they pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme but they cannot access the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

A host of submissions detailed the exploitation and intimidation of temporary visa workers with many too scared to complain about mistreatment for fear of being deported. The unions supported some of these people in giving evidence to the committee.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) provided evidence about the exploitation of a group of Filipino 457 visa workers in the power industry previously employed by Thiess. The ETU submitted a Thiess contract signed by the Executive General Manager of Thiess Services Pty Ltd which contained a clause stating that if a 457 visa worker engaged in trade union activities, their contract could be terminated. As a consequence of termination, the worker would need to return to the Philippines (with their family) at their own expense. This is, of course, illegal.

The Azarias review found significantly higher levels of non-compliance relating to employers of 457 visa workers in particular industries such as construction, hospitality and retail, and amongst small businesses with nine or less employees.

Mr Edwin De Castro, a Filipino 457 visa worker, worked as a welder and metal fabricator for the Taiwanese company, Chia Tung Development, constructing a feed mill in Narrabri. He was recruited by a labour hire company in the Philippines. Once in Australia, Mr De Castro was required to work ten hours a day for six or seven days a week over a two month period at Narrabri.

Mr De Castro also stated that the working conditions were unsafe: “They forced us to work unsafely because they never provided proper scaffoldings. We used an old harness. We did not have the right to refuse, although we knew it was unsafe”.

Furthermore, the accommodation was substandard, overcrowded, and expensive: “…we were six in one bedroom and another in a shipping container – while they were deducting $250 each week for each of us for our accommodation.”

Mr De Castro explained that Chia Tung ‘never provided pay slips’ and that his salary was remitted in United States (US) dollars from Taiwan to his bank account in the Philippines. Although a food allowance was in the hiring agreement, Mr De Castro stated that Chia Tung did not provide a food allowance.

Mr De Castro also recounted the circumstances in which Chia Tung dismissed the 457 visa workers without notice and evicted them from their accommodation: “During the night they forced us to leave the premises, because we were living on the site. The police said that our contract had been terminated. They did not give any notice to us or inform us. They forced us to leave the premises, otherwise they said they would charge us with trespassing. So we moved to a motel that night. They were planning to ship us out of the country to avoid any troubles, but it was stopped by the union.”

Mr De Castro explained that the CFMEU prevented the workers from being deported and found them new jobs: “The CFMEU secretary and organiser Dave Curtain helped us. They feed us and paid for everything – our stay in the motel in Narrabri for more than a week. They brought us here to Sydney and found us new jobs. We are very lucky that we have one now.”

Chia Tung grossly underpaid the visa workers. According to Mr David Curtain, a CFMEU organiser, the CFMEU has recovered $883 000 for 38 workers who had been employed for between six weeks and four months. Mr Curtain also noted that once the superannuation to which the workers were entitled was paid, the final figure for the underpayments would be in excess of $1 million.

Mr Curtain advised the committee that this sort of exploitation was widespread in the construction industry. He recounted a similar example from Bomaderry where 16 Filipino and 13 Chinese nationals were suffering similar exploitation including overwork, underpayment, safety concerns, and ‘atrocious’ living conditions.

Mr Curtain also explained why migrant workers are unwilling to complain. The reasons include a justifiable fear of being sacked and deported, and also a fear of what might happen to their families back in their home countries: “They were being bullied. They had a foreman down there who had come out on, I think, a 600 class visa. It was well known that his family was involved in the Filipino military. The guys down there understood it and they had expressed to us that they had grave concerns that, if they spoke out and caused trouble, there might very well be trouble back home for their families.”

So what does the government do in light of this weight of evidence of corrupt employer practices, particularly in the construction industry?

They go after the union that tried to protect the workers. They want the CFMEU members to be subject to secret interrogation with no representation that no other citizen endures.

And the employers?

Our Intrepid Minister for Union Bashing has announced a Migrant Workers’ Taskforce.

The Taskforce will run for 18 months and will report on a regular basis to Minister Cash and other relevant Ministers as required.

Its website helpfully informs workers that “The Fair Work Ombudsman can also help if you have a workplace problem.” Likewise, employers are advised “The Fair Work Ombudsman can give you information and advice to help you understand your workplace rights and responsibilities.”

So the unions that help the workers get a draconian new, and very expensive, tough cop on the beat, but any questions about safety concerns or exploitation by employers can just be referred to the existing body who will presumably inform the Taskforce who will inform the Minister who may or may not have another inquiry.

 

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51 comments

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  1. David1

    With so much apathy in this country, Govt knows union bashing is far more popular than prosecuting abuses of 457 visa workers. Most Australians probably don’t have a clue what a 457 is. Best guess, the next train from platfom 2.

  2. Dave

    What a goddam disgrace this country has become!

  3. MichaelW

    I’m almost speechless, I knew things were bad, but not this bad.

    On and on it goes everyday gets worst under this right wing bunch of lunatics, lucky we are in Australia in one respect, any other country in the World there would be blood on the streets.

  4. MichaelW

    I worked in the building industry for most of my working life, self employed and wages, could I tell you some stories about corrupt and crooked builders. large well known companies and small ones. If it hadn’t been for union support I would have been ripped off thousands of dollars. Yet all this toxic government want to do is destroy unions and take us back to the 1940’s.

    And to top it off reduce taxes for companies that pay little or no tax. Lord spare me ( and I’m an atheist.)

  5. Miriam English

    No wonder the government wants to kill off the unions.
    How dare the unions help swindled workers and expose crooked employers!

  6. Alan Baird

    Radio National did a damn good program on the very same subject, detailing exactly the same sorts of abuses. I note that Radio National is to be the recipient of cutbacks. ICAC was fine when it was dealing with the wondrous exploits of Citizen Obeid and all those other ornaments to the Labor Party. They then made some dreadful mistakes in pointing out things that The Other Side did. Someone or other was invited to reapply for her job. One thing is clear. The Liberal Party has FAR more chutzpah in ridding themselves of critics. It does help that our Commercial Media back them up as a default position. They KNOW who the REAL Team Australia is. Now if we can get rid of the ABC we can have a one party state. Haven’t you heard? It’s the latest thing! The people yearn for certainty. The certainty that the Dear Leader is always Right. Putin, Duterte, Erdogan, clutches of East European to Middle Eastern, African to South American despots, many with a cosy state religion to protect (and be protected by). They all share an inability to tolerate an alternative reality to their own. They find elections annoying disruptions. Retirement becomes intensely irritating for them. Unions are REALLY annoying. Mind you, our own unions have lately had a most unwelcome outbreak of entrepreneurial flair that’d make a neocon blush. One things certain. A turn to the RIGHT is ON.

  7. my say

    MichaeIW,If this government keep’s going we are going to have blood in our streets
    This government isn’t fit to govern ,if they don’t agree with anyone they just get rid of them
    everyone knows that this is just union bashing ,there is a great clip on F/B by Jim Stanford from the Australian Institute that really calls out all the lies told by Turnbull and his ABCC bill
    which i hope all senators read before passing his hateful bill

  8. Kaye Lee

    The tangled web gets worse….

    Foreign bribery experts have called for a national corruption watchdog in the wake of more evidence of questionable payments made on behalf of a subsidiary of the Australian construction giant formerly known as Leighton Holdings.

    7.30 has obtained an internal document investigation report into how Syam Reddy — a property developer contracted by Leighton subsidiary Thiess’s Indian venture — helped secure the company a nearly $6 billion coal mine deal in 2010.

    “It is likely Mr Reddy made some form of payment or promise of benefit to a government official in respect of the bid,” the report said.

    “Mr Reddy … made comment to the effect that he had made a commitment to pay someone … approximately $16 million to influence the awarding of the contract,” the report said.

    Former Thiess chief executive Bruce Munro admitted to the investigators he had some idea of what Mr Reddy was doing — making payments on the side.

    “Whether that be a holiday in Singapore or $1 million, I’m not sure,” he told the investigators.

    Corruption law expert Robert Wylde said the case demonstrated the need for a national corruption watchdog, similar to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

    “Labor governments in the past and the current Liberal Government don’t seem to want to put one in place as part of their own policy, which I find very disappointing because to me it demonstrates a lack of political leadership in this area,” he said.

    It was reported a whistleblower contacted Leighton’s ethical committee chair and Thiess advisory board chair Dr Kirstin Ferguson about the payments, but no action was taken

    Instead the whistleblower was dismissed.

    Dr Ferguson now sits on the ABC’s board.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-07/questionable-payments-made-on-behalf-of-thiess-secure-contract/7308980

  9. Andreas Bimba

    A really good article again Kaye.

    The Liberals really are stinking feudal overlords that want wages and working conditions to be as low as possible for workers including white collar workers. They really are just the party for the bosses which is what the old unionists used to say.

    The way illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America are treated in the U.S. is very similar.

    I would like to see the entire Liberal and National front bench as well as our most right wing business leaders to be led to the gallows. They have certainly earned this fate. Disgraceful human beings!

  10. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    How do you produce such excellence? Do you keep copious amounts of notes, spend hours of research, from memory or what?
    Bravo.

  11. Kaye Lee

    I don’t keep any notes Harquebus. I don’t have a record of any websites and I don’t subscribe to any. I don’t keep copies of my articles or anyone else’s. Google is an amazing tool. I will read an article, or comment, or hear a news story, then sit on my verandah looking at the ocean as my mind bounces around. I then start asking questions of google and one thing leads to another. I do have a good memory so that helps but anyone can do it. The info is out there.

    In this case, it was very easy. Start with the Minister for Union Bashing and work backwards. There are an amazing array of government reports that get either cursory or no attention. Senate committees find out a lot of very revealing stuff. They just rarely do anything with it other than form another committee or employ some retired mate to head a commission/taskforce/audit/review/inquiry. Saves having to make tough choices.

  12. Jack Straw

    The Final Solution is almost complete.Destroy Unions.Offshore your labour, 457 the labour by importing foreigners ,Demonise the unemployed.Allow travellers/backpackers to work off the books for low wages.Increase our population by 50000 people each year. Confuse people.Tax breaks for big business.Import all products from countries that have cheap labour costs regardless of their human rights and working conditions.Allow police more powers .Ok so it’s a little hang over from Desert Storm days. Yes this is working beautifully for The Conservatives. Do Australians know they are being screwed up the arse?

    No. As long as they can afford a Slab; everything is going to be OK. Until it’s Not, Then Orwellianize the ABC for team balance and they could introduce the IPA hour. Then they could give Gerard Henderson his own show on the ABC. lets call it :Keep Right at Noon.This would be a perfect time for Gerard as he could be home for dinner at 5 and be in his pyjamas by 6 with a nice glass of warm milk. And you never know Allan Jones could make a come back to the small screen.

  13. Adrianne Haddow

    At the beginning of this fascist government’s tenure, I saw a report (ABC or Youtube) where Gina Rinehart had gone to a security worker’s trade fair in America to hire security for her mines. Those offering their services were ex-US military. Whether she secured security guards or not, I bet it fits with the 457 visa swindle, although I’m sure they wouldn’t be exploited with poverty wages as her other workers are.
    At the time, I thought what a dangerous precedent this was setting.

    In the North Dakota Oil Pipeline brutality, similar private security forces and local police armed with ex- military weapons are opening fire on the water protectors (peaceful protesters) with water cannons, tear gas, mace, rubber bullets, bean bag launchers and attack dogs. A huge escalation occurred last Sunday where people were soaked with water cannons and mace in freezing weather. A twenty one year old woman had her arm blown to sheds as security were launching their concussion(?) devices at lower limbs, another young man was shot point blank in the face with rubber bullets. 160 people were treated for hypothermia, heart attacks and seizures.
    The MSM in the US have not sent media to the site, instead issuing reports from ‘authorities’ aka the local ‘bought’ sheriff and the Energy Transfer partners business who are building the pipeline. This pipeline will cross the Missouri River, which is the water source for 17 million people in that area. Police are being bussed in from neighbouring states to support local ‘law’ enforcement, under a ‘state of emergency declared by the governor of North Dakota.
    The only reports, and filming, are coming from the alternative media.

    I wonder if that scenario is planned for us in Australia, if we dare to object to big business plans. We are heading in that direction with Mike Baird’s legislation to prevent public protest, and an increase in fines for protesters which far exceed the fines for companies despoiling our land and water.

    As Jack Straw says the Final Solution is almost complete. They just haven’t armed our/their police forces with military grade weapons yet.

  14. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Thank you for that. Your methodology occupies perhaps 10 to 15 percent of my information gathering time. Most comes from news, science and economic aggregators and I do keep notes and links to webpages. This submission has made my distribution list and has been saved for future reference.
    Cheers.

  15. Harquebus

    Jack Straw
    A lot that I know, after a hard days work, would much rather forget about the pain in their arse and down a few in front of the telly. Especially if there is footy or cricket to watch which, there usually is. They do not want to break the habit. I think that our pollies are fine with this.

    Adrianne Haddow
    Some others also share your concerns. A few comments on the NDOP have been made here:

    Further illegal logging exposed in Tantawangalo State Forest

    Cheers.

  16. Kaye Lee

    I think when things come to you, you can be steered in a certain direction. I prefer to go to the information. That way I never quite know where it may lead, and what I might learn.

  17. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    It depends where one goes to for information and as you have stated before, requires a certain amount of skepticism.

    Something that I saved recently:
    “I don’t think many people need to have this explained to them, that when you type something into the Google search box, it’s Google that decides what you get back.”
    http://theantimedia.org/snowden-facebook-control-news/

    Cheers.

  18. Terry2

    Kaye

    You have awesome research skills : if only we could encourage main stream journalists to use the tools at their disposal, principally the internet, and have the wisdom to know which search results are factual and which are false or biased.

    The current war on guest worker taxation has become a contest between government funded media managers intent on putting forward a message favourable to the government and those who deal in facts and truth. Sadly, the former are in greater numbers and have better access to the media. In many cases commercial media outlets have given up all together and would rather report on a “schoolie” who bought some crushed up paracetemol in Bali instead of whatever junk he was after.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Credibility of source is very important so where possible, as in this case, I go to the original source document which was the Senate committee report. Skim reading is a very useful skill to then find the bits I want. Scientific reports have abstracts and summaries. Most reports have executive summaries and you and you can just look up the bits you want more details on.

    I do understand the dangers of google in both the search results and the ads. I remember discussing the sexual exploitation of Asian children by Western tourists and recommending the book by Somaly Mam – Road to Lost Innocence. All of a sudden I was getting ads asking me did I want to hook up with young Asian girls. Google got the wrong impression.

  20. Kronomex

    I’m going to read the article later but wanted to comment anyway. After looking at the photo of Cash and Turnbull at the top of the page all I can say is that she gives hyenas a bad name. They probably look at her and wonder which part of the family tree she comes from and should they consider removing her from the hyena gene pool.
    Agh! One of the family cats, Miranda, is on top of my computer having a wash and fluffing. Jeez, I’d like to know what she’s been eating.

  21. Jack Straw

    The Liberals have also played The Racist Card when Labor have previously complained about the overuse of 457 Visa use. The stench from the shit on their boots is all plain to see maybe they see it themselves or maybe they are yet play that pathetic and laughable card.

  22. Ray

    Michaelia loves power she gets off on it.And she would do anything to please thee.

  23. Kyran

    My Say @ 10.42, Jim Stanford was interviewed on The World Today yesterday. As an aside, he was introduced as being from ‘the left wing think tank, The Australia Institute’. I don’t recall such caveat’s being inserted when introducing speakers from the IPA, although I have a few suggestions for the ABC. However, I digress.
    The ABC no longer provide transcripts. He was less than complimentary about the economic arguments used by the coalition in support of their legislation.
    “Prime Minister Turnbull blamed construction workers and their union for the high cost of housing, when he re-introduced the ABCC bill in Parliament last month, claiming the bill would help “young Australian couples that can’t afford to buy a house because their costs are being pushed up by union thuggery.””
    “The suggestion that restricting union activity in construction can somehow deflate the great Australian property bubble reveals a critical misunderstanding of the Australian housing market.”
    Mr Stanford goes on to use these things called ‘facts’ and ‘figures’ to destroy the governments arguments. What a nerve he has!
    “Construction wages have grown more slowly than the Australian average over the last five years.
    Real wage gains in construction have been slower than real productivity growth, and hence real unit labour costs in construction have declined.
    Construction labour accounts for only 17-22 percent of the total costs of new building.
    Construction costs, in turn, account for less than half the market value of residential property.
    Construction labour costs correspond to less than 10 percent of housing prices (and even less than that in Australia’s biggest cities).
    Construction labour accounts for about the same proportion of a house purchase as real estate commissions and stamp duty.”

    The report appeared on the Institute website this morning and is well worth a read.

    http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/Beyond_Belief_Final.pdf

    With regard to your last paragraph (safety concerns), the construction industry is the third most dangerous industry. From ‘Safe Work Australia’s’ website, there were 29 fatalities in the construction industry last year and, to date, 25 this year. As far as I can tell, there are no frameworks that allow for the criminal prosecution of company directors for breaches of work place safety. We can fine them, though.
    Thank you Ms Lee, and commenters. Take care.
    PS that last photo was uncalled for. Just tossed my cookies.

  24. David1

    Harquebus…I concur with your comment re Kaye Lee completely. I have said before and it is worth repeating often, the group is extremely fortunate to have a researcher/writer of her caliber. It is not often I do not learn from her articles. Long may we continue to be so well served.
    I have posted ‘I know, we’ll have a Taskforce’ to Twitter, copied to the Labor Party

  25. Kaye Lee

    A 2010 Griffith university paper concluded: “If there have been any savings made through higher productivity in the commercial sector, they have not been passed on into lower relative costs, which would suggest that they have been taken as higher profits rather than lower prices. Much more likely, however, is the likelihood that there are no productivity gains attributable to the ABCC, just as there are no savings in relative costs.”

    One of its authors, Professor David Peetz, added in a January 2014 submission on the ABCC that Econtech’s $5.5bn saving claim had “no solid basis” as it had cherry-picked data and erroneously assumed productivity increases were caused by the ABCC.

    “Alleged economic benefits, used to justify denial of basic rights to employees in the industry – rights which everybody else is, at least at present, entitled to enjoy – are based on discredited cost data. In short, there do not appear to be any significant economic benefits that warrant the loss of rights involved in recent arrangements. ”

    http://www98.griffith.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/handle/10072/27312/56097_1.pdf?sequence=1

  26. Kaye Lee

    I learn just as much from the comments here as you ever learn from me. It is your discussion that usually inspires the stories in the first place and allows them to grow through your thoughful contibutions

    So thanks to the AIMN family

    And I apologise for that last photo

  27. Ray

    Jack Straw :Right at Noon with Gerard Henderson on the ABC. Lol Don’t give them any ideas. They may take you seriously.

  28. Kronomex

    Ah, the old taskforce trick. Waste a lot of taxpayers money and give mates jobs with great bonuses and pay packets. Spend 18 months “looking” into the matter and ultimately try and find ways to blame Labor and the unions rather than make any concrete proposals to combat the rorting by, mostly, big business.

    Oh yes, saw some photos of that grinning loon Nigel Farage and had the horrifying thought of Cash and Farage together (shivers). I don’t feel well now and the cat has decided that my mouse pad is a good place sit on and have a wash.

  29. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Apologies for digressing. I did not want to distract from JL’s Day to Day Politics.
    I have read the link that you posted. Some I disagreed with and some was conjecture. To have any hope of discussing it, I will have to reread it and that will have to be another time.

    Here is something that I read only a few days ago and which, you might find interesting. You may have gathered, I read a lot. It is not heavy and not too long.

    “For all peasants, life was “nasty, brutish and short.””

    The Lifestyle of Medieval Peasants

    Cheers.

  30. Michael Taylor

    Kaye Lee, never underestimate your own contribution. I learn more off you than you’ll ever know.

  31. jimhaz

    I often have a go at Kaye – it’s because I respect her. She is not a closed book. I know she will have a decent or good argument for her position (or at least one that is more humane than mine, thus more desirous in an ideal world).

    Unfortunately it is awkward commenting when one primarily agrees, so the focus of any political discussion will be negative.

    When responding to a informational comment made, I’d prefer to never address it to the person and often don’t use the @ XXX on purpose. I’m interested in the war of ideas, not a war of ego’s or status.

  32. Kaye Lee

    I would like to thank everyone for their encouragement and confess to being somewhat embarrassed.

    I agree with jimhaz that we often comment more on things with which we disagree. If we can do this civilly, it can be instructive for all. If my info is wrong, I want to know it. If there are problems with my ideas, I want to know that too. If there are issues I haven’t thought of or alternative ideas, I want to hear them.

    I want fact checking. I want not only problems identified but suggestions on how to address them. I don’t need agreement. I need honest debate.

    We will never have a perfect society and the problems we face will change but I truly believe that we can improve things if we are willing.

  33. Terry2

    Just on the ABCC legislation which may or may not go before the Senate next week ( the last week of sitting before the long Christmas break). Both Hinch and Xenophon and I think One Nation have tacked on their demand that this legislation will only pass if there is a strong regime put in place protecting sub-contractors in the event of financial collapse of a principal.

    Evidently this progressive move by the Senate is meeting massive resistance from the big end of town so it remains to be seen if this Bill gets before the Senate this year after all.

    In the US it is quite common for government legislation to have tags put on it by the equivalent of our cross benches and some of this tag-on legislation is quite progressive as in the case of the ABCC and sub-contractors guarantees : not, of course, particularly popular with the government of the day and only possible with minority governments.

  34. Kaye Lee

    Also in breaking news, the truth about the stoush between Brandis and Gleeson. Apparently Hockey and Brandis made some secret deal with the WA govt to allow the WA govt insurer to leapfrog other creditors in dividing up the assets of Alan Bond’s failed Bell Group. But one of said creditors was the ATO who went to Gleeson for advice. The secret deal was ruled against 7-0 in court and now there is hell to pay because their wink wink nod nod deals got overruled by the law thanks to a man of integrity.

    https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/33318001/1-billion-bell-group-bombshell/#page1

  35. Kyran

    With respect, Ms Lee, having reread the article and the comments, the only cause for embarrassment that I can see is that bloody photograph. What has been seen, can’t be unseen.

    “I want fact checking. I want not only problems identified but suggestions on how to address them. I don’t need agreement. I need honest debate.
    We will never have a perfect society and the problems we face will change but I truly believe that we can improve things if we are willing.”

    Imagine, if you can, just for a second, that our politicians had the same standards. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
    Take care. Sláinte mhaith.

  36. Matters Not

    Mr Gleeson was approached for comment but was prevented from talking by his obligations of legal professional privilege owed to the Government

    .
    This is where it could become even more interesting. Gleeson was, and continues to be, the ‘professional’. He’s had his say as much as he is able – legal professional privilege gives him legitimate grounds to remain silent.

    It’s now over to Brandis to deny or confirm the ‘substance’, provided the journalists work out what questions to ask. And there’s one week of the Senate to go. All questions to be directed to Brandis.

  37. Kaye Lee

    The news just gets crazier every minute. First there is a GetUp video of Karl Stefanovic crucifying Peter Dutton. Then there is a story about Dutton considering himself the heir apparent to the right faction after the dumping of the traitor Morrison and before the grooming of Porter matures.

    http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2016/11/23/peter-dutton-far-right/

  38. Matters Not

    support for Mr Dutton as an alternative prime minister.

    He’s got my vote. And it looks like he’s already planning and plotting. Go the Honourable Peter Dutton. He’ll make a very fine leader indeed. The Libs would be mad not to advance him.

  39. Kaye Lee

    On Tuesday Turnbull smiled directly into the void of his own leadership, because publicly condemning Dutton – the most powerful conservative figure in the government – isn’t a viable option, not unless you want to go to war, not unless you have the appetite to play for keeps.

    And unfortunately for Turnbull, it is not only the immovable object of Dutton, and Dutton’s acolytes and boosters, and that irreconcilable ideological fault line that runs down the centre of this government, triggering internal convulsion after internal convulsion – there’s the long shadow of Trumpism, and Hansonism, which is emboldening negativity, and truthiness, and intolerance, and encouraging Australian politicians to dust off their worst, most calculated instincts, and share them as a cynical “empathy” gesture with voters.

    The immigration minister is prosecuting a low-grade culture war against a community which is dealing with a radicalisation problem. A real problem, not an abstract one.

    Radicalisation is a problem that requires trust, cooperation and clear lines of communication to be able to manage.

    Cheap political points don’t deliver anything – except more alienation, more anger, more division, more suspicion – and that dynamic solves nothing, helps nothing, and no one.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/nov/22/malcolm-turnbull-smiles-into-the-void-of-his-own-leadership-in-dutton-row

  40. Matters Not

    and that dynamic solves nothing, helps nothing, and no one.

    The Guardian has it wrong. It helps Peter Dutton. Why even PHON will invite him to the Xmas celebrations. He’s on a winner.

    He’ll promise to bring back Andrews, Erica – the whole old guard.

    Seriously, he is still a QLD mug copper at heart.

  41. Terry2

    It gets worse for Brandis :

    “The Commonwealth and the states reportedly struck a deal allowing Western Australia to claw back $1 billion from Alan Bond’s collapsed Bell Group this year.

    But the arrangement was torpedoed in the High Court following submissions by Mr Gleeson on behalf of the Australian Taxation Office, in defiance of a direct order from Senator Brandis, The West Australian reported today. Senator Brandis had reportedly instructed Mr Gleeson not to run a certain constitutional argument against WA but when the ATO later approached the solicitor-general he provided it to them.

    Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said if correct, it was “as clear a case of corruption as one could imagine”.

    “It’s attempting to favour the West Australian Liberals over the interests of the Commonwealth,” he told Sky News.

    “That’s the one thing that no commonwealth attorney-general should even countenance doing and that’s why this story is so disturbing.”

    Brandis is refusing to comment but Turnbull cannot let this through to the keeper : he must sack Brandis.

  42. Kaye Lee

    And then we have Infrastructure Australia unveiling a plan to charge people by the km they drive, so if you move out to those suburbs where housing is affordable but there is no public transport, expect to be paying a motza to get anywhere.

    The Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher (how many ministers do we actually have?) said one of the main issues was fairness of the current system.

    “If you’re driving a 10-year-old Commodore, you’re paying through the fuel excise system the equivalent of 4.5¢ a kilometre, if you’re driving a Prius it’s about 1.5¢ a kilometre, if you’re driving a completely electric Tesla you’re not paying anything,” Mr Fletcher said.

    I thought that was the whole point? Apparently his idea of fairness is to penalise people living in outer suburbs with no PT.

    https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/33317734/turnbull-backs-plan-to-charge-road-users-for-every-km-they-drive/?cmp=st#page1

  43. Kyran

    (how many ministers do we actually have?)
    Having thought this week’s legacy would be the implosion of one notion, there is likely a better legacy. How many PM’s till Christmas?
    As best as I can figure;
    In the inner ministry, we have 23 ministers covering 29 ministries.
    In the outer ministry, we have 7 ministers covering 11 ministries.
    We have parliamentary secretaries as well.
    Here’s the thing. With respect to Ms English and acknowledging my ineptitude with a computer that really doesn’t like me, google (or duckduckgo) ‘current ministry list parliament of australia’.
    Now have a look down the list. The replacement for talcum is in there. It is hilarious, if only it wasn’t so serious.
    Take care

  44. David1

    This latest catastrophe involving Brandis will ensure Lord Downer of Dullsville should prepare to vacate his plush surroundings in London as High Commissioner for a flight home to Oz, as his early successor the disgraced Brandis will soon be arriving, thus escaping the turmoil he and the rabble Govt are involved in.
    No doubt we will hear the same Schultz plea from the puppet PM Turnbill ‘I know nothing’.

  45. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I would like an inner band of parliamentarians with social justice aspirations to form parliamentary enquiries into the procedural abuses being implemented by especially the LNP Degenerates. That’s where making friends with other Progressives is very handy.

    Cleaning up the delaying tactics being used by Malevolent Micky Cash and her ilk, would be a great precedent for cleaning up parliamentary practices which conveniently default to yet another ‘taskforce’, ‘review’ and other bullshit, which waste time instead of instigating and implementing ready powers to purge offenders and bad practices, and improve bad situations quickly.

  46. Kaye Lee

    As Derryn Hinch and Nick Xenephon sit there thinking they have won some sort of whisleblower protection in return for selling out unions, the reality is somewhat different.

    They secured amendments to protect and compensate union whistleblowers while also obtaining an undertaking from the government to extend the same protections – or stronger ones – to whistleblowers in the corporate and public sectors.

    A parliamentary inquiry will examine the whistleblower protections in the legislation and if it recommends a stronger regime for corporate and public sector whistleblowers, the government will establish an expert advisory panel to draft legislation to implement those reforms.

    http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/11/21/12/08/one-nation-links-union-laws-to-clinton#gJv8bwJE1QdSMKif.99

  47. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Ok I’ll show my ignorance.

    What is wrong with a corporate whistleblower or public sector whistleblower having the same protections as a union whistleblower?

    Whistleblowers need protecting no matter what sector they represent.

  48. Kaye Lee

    Yes they do Jennifer but all the government has agreed to do, if you read my previous post, is to have an inquiry and IF that inquiry recommends stronger protections they will form an advisory panel. These are the delaying tactics that this article is about. They don’t want protection for whstleblowers – they just want Hinch and NXT votes (which they got) so to pander to them they will have….an inquiry.

  49. Matters Not

    So Xenophon and other members of his ‘union’ are on strike.

    Nick Xenophon says he will not deal with any government legislation in the final week of the parliament until the dispute over water allocations in the Murray Darling Basin plan are resolved.

    … “We need to sort out this water mess before we sort out any other pieces of legislation the government is interested in,” Xenophon said. “I think that sends a pretty clear signal all round.”

    He said he had discussed the water issue with his colleagues, Mayo MP, Rebekha Sharkie, as well as senators Skye Kakoschke-Moore and Stirling Griff and the three came to the unanimous position. He said the party was committed to resolving the water allocations for the health of the Murray and for South Australia – the most vulnerable state in the river system.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/nov/25/nick-xenophon-wont-deal-with-any-legislation-until-murray-darling-issues-resolved

    Another example of union thugs defying the wishes of a duly elected government. (Bikies?) And sure to be described that way by The Bruised Tomato himself. But maybe not.

  50. Wayne Turner

    The LNP LOVE workers being exploited – The more,the better for their BIG BUSINESS BRIBERS.Plus they are the one’s that introduced new age slave labour ie: “slave for the dole” aka “work for the dole” – That undermine workers pay and conditions,and take away real jobs.

    Also,you notice when exploitive bosses compete fraud ie: 7-11.NOT one boss has been charged with fraud,and NONE gaol.It’s one rule for workers and unions.Then another for dodgy bosses. I know the Libs/Nat’s wouldn’t change this.But where’s Labor and the Greens?

    Workers that vote Libs,Nat’s or other ultra right winger’s are their own worst enemy,and traitors to the working class.

  51. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Wayne Turner,

    congrats for asking the tough questions.

    Both the Greens and Labor have no time to navel-gaze over the meaning of life. Time to react with precision and promise for exploited workers. Time also to act for the unemployed and under-employed who have been forgotten by neoliberalist agendas.

    I should be able to expect better from the LNP Government but we are all agreed they never intended to work for us. i DO expect better from Labor which is generally anticipated to be the alternative government. However, that equation is not so clear cut these days. The Greens admittedly need to be continually shown to be proactive of meaningful employment prospects.

    My recommendation is that the Greens and Labor band together to form a working party alliance intending a workable set of solutions that ordinary people can access.

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