By Denis Bright
Despite the formation of a majority Labor Government, the rebuilding of the labour movement is a work in progress. Popular leaders in both SA and WA have given great momentum to this renewal. The trade union movement also enjoys a lot of goodwill in opposing the LNP’s rejection of a full cost of living adjustment for workers on minimum wages.
Trade union organizers are entitled to visit work sites which offer the potential of new membership. Regrettably, trade union membership has declined from 40 per cent of the workforce to 14 per cent since 1992 according to the latest ABS data from December 2020. Having to respond from the growing post-1975 class divide in Australia should be one of the noblest objectives of the contemporary Labor Movement.
Labor achieved some good swings in outer metropolitan and coastal resort centres in South East Queensland but still not enough to rattle hardline LNP federal members in any federal seat.
In Fairfax on the Northern Sunshine Coast and its hinterlands, Labor endorsed an outstanding candidate in Sue Ferguson. The sitting LNP member still has a nine per cent buffer after preferences.
Ironically, Labor achieved good results in some comfortably off polling booth catchments like Peregian Springs and Coolum Beach. The flow of preferences from far-right minor parties protected the LNP in more disadvantaged booths.
In Yandina, One Nation, the UAP, the Informed Medical Options Party and the Great Australia Party captured a combined 25 per cent of the primary vote. There are two low cost caravan parks in this polling booth catchment. Many residents are simply not enrolled to vote or welcome the rhetoric from the far-right parties and vote accordingly. But even in more advantaged areas, the effects of creeping poverty are obvious but seldom featured in eyewitness news coverage.
The weekly food distribution by Community Friends Ltd in West End Brisbane receives long lines of applicants. It is linked to distress in families of all age groups as wages as well as social security payments lag behind cost of living increases.
For self-refunded retirees who reply on accumulated superannuation, there is very limited cash flow from older retirement accounts. A teacher for example with a superannuation payout of eight years salary in 1998 has a superannuation nest-egg based on a gross salary of around $50,000.
As cash dividends from superannuation funds diminish for retirees in that decade of the LNPs low interest rate regime since 2013, actual short-term performance levels of the various funds are increasingly difficult to find. Energy Super with its close association with the Q Super Fund is more forthright than most funds.
Australian shares are currently offering a 3.4 per cent return since 1 July 2021. This is still a high risk investment option in view of the volatile nature of both Australian and overseas financial markets. The Australian share market was down by 6.8 per cent in the six months to 10 June 2022.
New Zealand maintains a better pension support schemes that relies on the actual income generated by family assets. Here, the LNP encouraged families to set up family trusts for asset and income minimization which some families regard as an unethical practice.
Our neoliberal society does offer some little social market perks but they are quite trivial compared with the support available to families in New Zealand.
In the midst of this cash flow malaise, Queensland has sponsored recycling firm Tomra can assist providing spare change for discarded cans and drink bottles. The sustainability of recycling is increased for people who live near the Tomra plants or who use a bicycle to travel from more distant suburbs.
For ardent recyclers, there are new opportunities to buy additional household appliances or to have money for those extras like gifts to children or more extended travel. With a rack and strong bungee cord, recyclers can used the plastic bags provided by Tomra to keep their neighbourhoods clean.
This is a great bonding exercises between parents and their children. Children can develop pride in their circumstances and work co-operatively to minimize financial hardship at home.
The social market systems provided by Tomra can be broadened by reporting lost trolleys and use of loyalty reward cards for household purchases.
I have had a number of overseas trips paid for by reward points obtained through the combined use of supermarket reward cards and credit card points accumulations. The role played by Woolworths in turning Tomra recycling dockets into cash or offsets on household purchases at supermarkets is greatly appreciated.
The air fares for my two family household tickets to Italy are entirely paid for by earnings from Tomra dockets. Travelling by bicycle keeps me fit and in contact with story lines that come to my notice as a citizen journalist. I also avoid the need to sell a modest riverside holiday house at the Sunshine Coast which my parents bought long before the days of the property boom.
I would not be aware of issues like the extent of electronic surveillance of customers at shopping centres or unethical shopping centre management practices if I relied on the Murdoch press for my information base. I see these problems on my daily adventures and interactions.
These issues were covered in a more recent article for The AIM Network (Will the LNP Policy Hegemony Recede Soon? -1 June 2022). I covered the absence of bulk-billing for diagnostic services at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis (The AIM Network, Rising Health Costs 7 March 2020, and again on 3 July 2021).
Some multinational companies like Sonic Healthcare and their derivatives which also maintain diagnostic and pathology services in the USA. These firms would not respond to requests to provide comparative billing rates in a country which fails to maintain a worthwhile national health scheme but parades as the world’s greatest democracy in movie stereotypes.
Readers can undertake their own research on the minimal levels of taxation which are paid by the McDonald’s Corporation globally. This is not corporate fraud but legalized tax minimization.
There are no problems with the taxation accountability of the Norwegian firm Tomra which operates ethical recycling operations across Australia with full details in its latest Annual Reports available to 2021. Tomra pays tax at a rate of 25.7 per cent and achieves a reasonable dividend for investors.
“TOMRA SYSTEMS ASA Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) are developed in Norway and mainly produced by third parties in Poland and at the wholly owned subsidiary Tomra Production AS in Norway. The machines are sold via the parent company to subsidiaries and distributors, primarily in Europe, North America, and Australia.”
Multinational corporations increasing intrude into the delivery of essential government services. The LNP’s Brisbane City Council Citycat services are now in the hands of the British multinational Sealink. Sealink operates car and passenger ferry services in literally dozens of countries on every continent.
The Translink ticketing system across South East Queensland is owned and managed by the US military and transportation company Cubic Transportation Systems. Readers might check out the web site of this company which is well rewarded by our loss making private and public transportation systems which rely on government subsidies. Cubic is increasingly involved in road transport management and defence training in Australia.
In a more independent Australia, governments should want to take back these services and earn income from overseas exports of these services.
So, until our governments reappraise their inherited neoliberal services, its cheers to the social market to deliver capitalism with a human face through firms like Tomra and Woolworths until Australians become more politically aware of more Win-Win Alternatives. This will never come through the antics of those far-right minor parties which are legal entities without substantial grassroot networks in disadvantaged regional towns and outer suburbs. Such organizations operate in the Yes Minister Traditions of political parties with uncritical members and those hospitals without patients as in the traditions of the BBC series.
Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.
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