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Sally McManus: Speaking words of hope

Of the thousands of words in the hundreds of articles written about Sally McManus none describe her more passionately – or more succinctly – than these offered by Trish Corry:

“Sally McManus is everywhere. Fighting the good fight. Travelling all over Australia. Standing with workers. Speaking words of hope [my emphasis]. Fighting for workers. Standing in Solidarity with the unemployed. Fighting for all of us. Knocking down walls. Smashing the insidious thought that has permeated our culture since Howard, that “Workers will get what they are given.”

Telling us to stand together to not back down. A consistent strong unwavering message of hope and fairness, every, single day. Every, single day.”

These were the words that I carried with me when I was fortunate enough to be invited to hear Sally McManus speak to an enthusiastic crowd at the North East Borders Trades and Labour Council. These words were all I needed to know. Sally McManus filled in the rest.

And I was not disappointed. I was, in fact, inspired; inspired to hear a champion of the people who so clearly and precisely – and with passion – expressed her wish to help bridge the inequality gap in this country.

Ms McManus spoke of many things, but it was the way she expressed her concern for this vital issue that hit home for me, and which I will now focus on:

“Inequality is at a 70 year high, and the question to ask is how did we get here? How did we get to this situation where wage growth is at records lows? Where 40 per cent of working people are in insecure work? How did we get to this situation?”

“We got here because for 30 years federal governments have followed the ideology of neo-liberalism – trickle-down economics: An ideology that we should privatise everything we’ve got and we should attack worker’s rights. We should create a smaller government and we should should give tax cuts to the rich. This ideology follows that we should hand over our money to the wealthy.”

“So what have we now got? A fall in the number of steady jobs. Casualisation of the workforce. Record low wage growth. Inequality.”

“Those at the top now have so much wealth that policies work in their favour. Their money goes overseas and they get tax breaks. In the meantime, worker’s rights are being taken away.”

“There are two ways we can address this: We can make everyone pay their fair share of tax; and we can give workers stronger rights so they can get fair pay rises.”

“Worldwide the ideology of neo-liberalism has failed. And we need to replace it.”

“But who can we rely on to bring on this change? We can’t rely on the government, so who do we rely on? Us. Our parents did it. Our grandparents did it. Now it’s up to us.”

“We need to give people hope that there is a solution. But we need to move public opinion.”

“However, ready to stop us is the right-wing media and the government itself.”

“But people are up to it. We just need to give them hope.”

“We don’t want the next generation after us to have the same problems that neo-liberalism has given us.”

It was a simple message: Without activism now, the next generation will have fewer opportunities and the many benefits of a wealthy society will not trickle-down to them. Instead of their future being one of security; of employment, housing, education … it will be one of continued and ever-increasing inequality.

The reason we have so much inequality is because so many people have so little power. The time has come to change this imbalance. We need to swing the pendulum back.

The growing inequality can no longer be excused away and now is the time to take action.

There are so many people in the community who simply aren’t aware of just how serious is the issue of inequality and its ramifications for the future well-being of our nation. Sally McManus is bringing this awareness to the community, however, in spite of her clear and obvious talent in representing the hopes and dreams of so many, Sally McManus cannot do it alone.

Let’s stand by her.



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  1. Jaquix

    Sally McManus is amazing. As a Toastmaster, I always listen to speeches with a Toastmasters ear, and she passes! Her speech is so simple, so direct. Her delivery not at all sensational, dramatic or theatrical. The speech she gave at the National Press Club way back was truly inspiring, and she answered every question (many barbed, of course) in the same way. Simply, and directly. Couldnt fault her. Her elevation in the ACTU will have an impact on the way the next Federal election pans out.

  2. Hotspringer

    Sally McManus is the only glimmer of hope I see for the future.

  3. LOVO

    Sally is the light that looms……the dawn on the hilltop……
    Migs said – ” The reason we have so much inequality is because so many people have so little power. The time has come to change this imbalance. We need to swing the pendulum back.” .. Agree!!
    The following is from a 1931 poem from CJ Dennis
    ” Speaking at Wesley Church on Sunday, Mr. Gullett, M.H.R., said that renewed prosperity would follow Australia’s present troubles. The first essential to early recovery was…….”
    Keep on swinging Sally…..we’re with ya.

  4. diannaart

    Sally McManus is one of the bighearted who will reply to tweets – nothing too proud about Sally. She is very people focussed and the most vital person to emerge on the side of workers in, well, in 30+ years.

    One of the most pernicious tricks loved by the “ruling class” is switching topics, asking irrelevancies, casting blame or suspicion on those they hope to derail, AKA filibusters, which is taught by the IPA in “Born-to-rule 101”. I don’t see Sally as easily swept aside. However, I do see vicious attacks on her, after all, she’s a union leader and horror of horrors, a woman.

    Of course we need Sally and she needs us.

    Now where is that Sally McManus T-Shirt?

  5. roma guerin

    I am so pleased to read such beaut supportive comments for Sally on AIMN, I earnestly hope all the indies will do the same, soon, and often. So much rubbish and lies are being repeated and repeated, fortunately a lot of paywalls prevent this cheapskate from reading it, but the headlines are enough. I am holding my breath till the Qld election is over and we will all know if PHON is going to haunt us, The msm is a disgrace when it comes to PH and her rabble, yet the eyecatching, lying headlines are read by the masses on FB and some will be sucked in by them. All power to Sally McManus!

  6. Florence nee Fedup

    Only if we get behind her.

  7. totaram

    She is absolutely right about neoliberalism. However, the moment she talks about reducing inequality, there will be cries of “socialism!”These will be followed by the standard tropes:
    1) socialism has never worked
    2) you will soon run out of other people’s money to spend
    3) we don’t want to become like North Korea
    4) check out Venezuela, Cuba, etc.
    5) We need the wealth creators to invest and create jobs (Adani)
    6) If we tax them they will all run away and go elsewhere

    I am sure you can add a few more of your own.

    The handmaiden of neoliberalism is neoliberal macroeconomic mythology, assiduously cultivated and propagated by “think tanks” like the IPA after they had been given legitimacy by “schools of economics” following on from Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. Both those economists were decorated with the “so-called” Nobel Prize for economics, since it was so important to celebrate their ideas which opposed “communism”. This mythology is actually taught in text-books as “macro-economics” and until we can at least inoculate the general public against this nonsense, Sally McManus’ message will founder (there is no money!).

    What is needed is a grass-roots level information campaign that cuts off these myths at their roots. I don’t know if she and her supporters are aware of this need. Training sessions of one-to two hours for every Union member might be a good start. Just my two bits.

  8. Christian Marx

    Sadly I am not seeing the younger generation getting involved in activism
    or fighting Neoliberalism. I am actively involved in the Melbourne activist scene
    and there is almost no one under the age of 35 involved. Most are aged about 40-65.
    Media is a huge problem, but I also think that the average young person is politically illiterate
    and only cares about consumerism and celebrity culture. I honestly don`t know how to get
    young people involved. They just have no interest at all. Perhaps it will take a catastrophic
    depression to wake them up?!… Sad.

  9. John O'Callaghan

    We are lucky to have someone of the calibre of Sally McManus to represent us,and all power to her!

  10. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    My children are all politically aware and they range between 30-22.

    We have always talked politics in our family and sometimes my innocent children were dragged along to my political ventures.

    Sally McManus is a breath of fresh air. She speaks out against neoliberalism, as the root of our dilemmas.

    I stand with Sally, so we can turn the tide on Neoliberalism and its uglier sibling, Fascism.

    Go The ALLiance of Greens, Left Labor and Progressives!

  11. Freetasman

    Not only the young generation Christian, a large percentage of people that have mortgaged their freedom in the name of materialism and consumerism without see the consequences of their acts. Thery are the ones that do not want to have nothing to do with unions or even defending their rights because they are not prepared to lose their possessions.
    During the 80’s I was very active and involved with the Union movement and even back then there was a large percentage of people that did not want or like to lose one single day of work for the 35 hour campaign.
    When we won the 37 hours they were the first to take every second Monday off but still blaming the ones that got that benefit for them.
    Sally has a big battle to win and only pain and suffer by the working class will work in her favor.

  12. Photontrace

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith, that last sentence resonates. Alliance. Respecting each other’s difference of approach to the problems we have to solve, to give the oncoming generations a future worth having. We need to allow each other’s way of approaching things from a different angle, that way the neo-liberals and conservatives will find themselves surrounded on all sides and will find it hard to split a united movement. The perfectly clear and just message that Sally McManus offers us, is a good starting point for the unity and activism of those of us who care about the future.

  13. johnlord2013

    Agree with Jaquix.

  14. Carol Taylor

    Jaquix, that’s exactly how I would describe Sally..a very natural lady plus all class the exact opposite of the “union thug” some in the msm tried to characterise her as. Clearly those who support Pauline Hanson because “she speaks for me” should listen to someone who really does speak for them.

  15. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    At least, you Photontrace and I, can see the wood for the trees!

  16. Phil

    Yes, Sally McManus has all the markings of an influential leader – no doubt about it. Sally has identifed a central problem – neoliberalism – but she has not as far as what I am reading in her public speaking, demonstrated that she sees any alternative to the system that we all agree, is broken. Yes, inequality is the scourge of the times – yes, the one percent have made a killing and our jobs and enterprises are undergoing the transition to insecurity and low pay.

    This is what Sally says: “There are two ways we can address this: We can make everyone pay their fair share of tax; and we can give workers stronger rights so they can get fair pay rises.”

    “Worldwide the ideology of neo-liberalism has failed. And we need to replace it.”

    I admire and respect Sally but I do not accept that her solutions to addressing the issues have any genuine application. Yes, she is correct to argue that we need to replace neoliberalism but that is where she stops – and I know why – none of us have any idea as to what should replace it – the risk then is that we fight the system only to create a vacuum that is instantly filled by the very forces we just defeated – assuming we win that is.

    There is no going back to some mythical past – no sane person believes this possible. There will never be a unionism of the forties and fifties again. Enterprises are shifting sands – they won’t exist in a decade from now. We cannot bargain with something that no longer exists.

    I just spent 15 mins absorbing the intriguing report below – it is not altogether new material to my reading but it takes what I previously understood about energy and systems to new levels of possibility and reasoning.

    I sincerely hope Sally McManus has read this article because it carries the seeds of the solutions she and the ACTU seek to sow.

    It is titled “Inside the new economic science of capitalism’s slow-burn energy collapse and why the struggle for a new economic paradigm is about to get real – By Nafeez Ahmed

  17. Susan

    Sally gives me hope??
    Christian the youth I speak to are keen but said they feel they are not being heard and are continually seeing politicians break every rule with no repercussions.

  18. Lilly

    The wealthiest person in our little street came over for a few beers this arvo and he is finding it hard to keep treading his head above the water. No wonder the rest of us feel less hope. No wage growth but around 15% increase in the likes of rates and keeping the car on the road and nearer to 20% increase for the luxury of insurance. I could go on but I just want to bury my head in the sand or better yet, migrate to NZ or anywhere else that is better!

  19. Trish Corry

    Thx Michael. The WordPress like button won’t load for me on chrome or Safari.

  20. Michael Taylor

    It’s been playing up since the update, Trish. I’m still waiting for them to fix the bug.

  21. Harry

    I am in agreement with Totaram in relation to reducing inequality.

    This will inevitably require both a lot more (Federal) government spending to restore public programs and services that have been hard hit by neoliberalism. This leads to the very real danger that the ordinary voter will be spooked with questions “who will pay”, “where’s the money going to come from”, “class warfare!!!” as well as the other ridiculous comparisons to countries such as Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

    We have seen such scaremongering under Abbott and how effective it can be as by and large people unquestioningly accept the notion that the Federal government needs our taxes in order to spend- plus some borrowing- which must be carefully limited else the country will go down the gurgler.

    Problem is its not true. The Federal government spends money into existence every day, by marking up balances in bank accounts, and can no more run out money than a scorekeeper can run out of points. When we pay income tax, GST or Capital Gains tax, it is not accumulated in to some mythical “coffers” waiting to be spent; the money is destroyed! This reality is very much obscured by smokescreens and plausible lies such the score-keeping role of the Federal budget. The idea that the government must “borrow” to “fund” any so-called shortfall between tax receipts and spending is another such obfuscation. Why would a government that creates money need to “borrow” it from others? Its actually an interest rate maintenance operation but it serves the purpose of maintaining the illusion that the “borrowing” needs to be paid back and be a burden on future generations.

    There is no free lunch, that is true. Whilst the Federal government has no financial limits but spending involves the use of real resources in our economy and should always be for the public purpose. It can add to inflationary pressures in the economy, so must be limited in scale and carefully budgeted for. Moreover, enough taxes must be collected to keep a lid on inflation, dependent on the level of government and non-government spending, relative to our productive capacity as a nation.

    So the real reason for federal taxes has nothing to do with spending: its to ensure that total spending does not exceed the economy’s productive capacity and stoke inflation. And that’s why we need to tax the rich the most heavily- to take away some of their ability to spend, but not to give it to others!

  22. totaram

    Phil: the article by Nafeez Ahmed has many good points, but I will just point out that the concept of EROEI has been discussed to death by Harquebus in this forum. Nafeez only considers the diminishing EROEI of fossil fuels, and omits any mention of “renewables”.
    In the comments on that article, someone else mentioned MMT, but no one else in that thread seemed to “get it” at all.

    What I found most relevant is the following:

    “Axiom: Complex civilizations tend to accelerate the use of resources, while diminishing the quantity of resources available for the civilization’s continued expansion — because they are continually being invested in solving the new problems generated by increasing complexity.”

    This is just a sophisticated version of what I call the “Peter’s Principle for Civilisations”. The corollary to this is that the rich and powerful find it increasingly easy to bamboozle and obfuscate and hold on to their power. Just think of energy policy and the buzzwords like: base load power, synchronous generation, intermittent generation, dispatchable generation, reliable power etc. which are bandied about without anyone having the faintest idea what these are all about. Heaven help us if we get to “reactive power”.

  23. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks Harry for explaining how the real macro-economy works.

    It also provides even more incentive to go hard against Big Biz, multi-national tax cheats.

  24. Harry

    Totaram: I agree that union members would benefit from an education in the real facts of life as could Labor and Greens politicians. But it will be like pushing sh*t uphill for a while. You are no doubt aware that Steven Hail conducted such a session on modern money and the “budget emergency” in 2014.The Greens audience did not seem to “get it” and I don’t blame them as the facts of economic life seem counter-intuitive to most of us: “that can’t be right, everybody knows the government needs our taxes, where else does it get its money from?”

  25. totaram

    Harry: The Steven Hail session should be a lesson to us with the following two take-aways:
    1) The whole concept of MMT is too-much-too soon for almost anyone brought up on a lifelong diet of neoliberal mumbo jumbo.
    2) People in “leadership positions” in politics are too busy and possibly too arrogant and opinionated to accept counter-intuitive ideas easily.

    For point 1, I would suggest we concentrate on the 3 sectors financial identity. This is completely uncontroversial financial arithmetic. However, its implications are quite radical, which is why you never hear it discussed in the MSM or anywhere else. Once this simple identity is explained and its irrefutable conclusion pointed out, the listener is ready for more. The irrefutable consequence of this identity is of course that govt. surpluses only lead to increasing private sector debt, unless the country has a large export surplus. And private sector debt leads to financial crises (GFC etc.). So we debunk the “balanced budgets” hysteria used by the neoliberal brigade.

    For point 2 I would suggest explaining the identity to rank and file union members, who are much more likely to learn, especially just a simple financial identity, in the first instance. When large numbers of rank and file members come to accept something, leaders are more likely to pay attention, or so I would like to believe!

    If someone can organise a one hour session on this identity with enough listeners, I would be quite happy to be the “lecturer” on a pro-bono basis. If that is successful, I will be happy to repeat as often as required. Unlike Steven Hail, who has other duties, I’m retired.

  26. Harry

    Totaram: Excellent suggestion to start with the 3 sector financial identity. Ideally a YouTube video could be made and perhaps linked to on this site. AIMN may even be happy to host the video?

  27. totaram

    For a video, I’m sure Steven Hail will oblige. If we need to show this around and need someone to run a “tutorial” using it, I am ready to help.
    I used to be an “academic”.

  28. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I like that idea. I also think interested people should be able to supply questions that need addressing – no matter how basic they might be – so they can visualise or conceptualise in their own minds, in responses that make sense to them personally, what MMT is actually explaining.

  29. Kyran

    At the risk of sounding contrary, inequality is the symptom, not the disease. The iniquity leading to the inequity is the main culprit. We have two legal systems, two sets of rules. One for the elite, the privileged, the ‘well connected’, and another for the rest of us.
    Compare and contrast, if you will, the treatment meted out to trade unions as opposed to employers through various agencies, including the ROC. One group is often pursued through criminal law, the other through civil law. One group is frequently featured on the nightly news suffering raids for outdated allegations, the other groups transgressions frequently dismissed with a promise they will simply try to do better.
    There was an article over the weekend about the ‘Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG)’. I’ll get back to that. The scheme, however, had its genesis in 2000.

    “FIONA REYNOLDS: It was the Prime Minister who proudly announced that the cash-strapped National Textiles’ workers would receive their full entitlements. It was the Prime Minister who said they would be the first to recover wages, leave and a redundancy payout under a new National scheme and it was the Prime Minister who urged the creditors to accept a Deed of Arrangement so that the $6 million in State and Federal funds would flow.

    Today the Australian newspaper claimed that acceptance of the scheme would prevent an inquiry into National Textiles’ management and Directors, of which Mr Howard’s brother, Stan, is one. The editorial was scathing, raising questions about the government’s probity and calling the taxpayer funded bail-out improper, and policy on the run.”

    That ‘new National scheme’ is all grown up now and called the FEG. It is now subject to some enquiry, albeit muted.

    “The employment department is refusing to reveal the identities of the directors who contributed to a total unpaid wage bill of $1.6bn over 10 years, which was left to taxpayers to pick up.”

    “In its decision, the employment department concluded it would “unreasonably affect the business or professional affairs” to reveal the names of the 1,322 directors.
    “This information is not publicly available, and its release would likely cause unfair public scrutiny of those directors, or negative inferences in respect of their behaviour, in circumstances where this would be unreasonable,” it said.”

    Hmmmm. A director of a company should not be named after the company receives a taxpayer funded bailout as it may cause unfair public scrutiny. A union official however, should be filmed whilst the police arrive at and search a premise before even contemplating any charges whatsoever.
    That’s before we get into the whole process of pursuing recoveries. Try a ‘compare and contrast’ exercise there and it becomes a study on the difference between night and day.
    Whilst I’m a fan of Ms McManus (and, for that matter, Justin Gleeson, Gillian Triggs, Ged Kearney and so many others), and fully acknowledge they all advocate for an ICAC in some form or another, inequality is merely the symptom. Until there is popular support for a level playing field, this will be a futile discussion.
    “There are so many people in the community who simply aren’t aware of just how serious is the issue of inequality and its ramifications for the future well-being of our nation.”
    Target the disease.
    Thank you Mr Taylor and commenters. Take care

  30. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    As usual Kyran,

    brilliantly and beautifully argued.

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