Dyson Heydon and Tony Abbott want union officials to be held as accountable as company directors. Personally I would like company directors also held to a higher standard and I would like to see our politicians held to the same transparency and accountability.
After all, what is the difference between a politician claiming entitlements for dubious expenses and a union official, or a party executive, using a credit card for same? What is the difference between a company director lying to shareholders, or a union official lying to members, and a politician lying to the electorate?
Government funds are our money. Citizens are the ones who entrusted their taxes to the government to be spent in our best interests – we are the members.
Abbott talks about deals and kickbacks between unions and employers – how about the deals between politicians and big business?
John Howard misled the parliament over meetings he had held with ethanol producer Manildra’s boss – massive Liberal Party donor Dick Honan. It was eventually proved that the meetings did occur, and three weeks later the government increased trade penalties against a Brazilian ethanol producer.
Peter Costello, the Treasurer, appointed Liberal Party megadonor Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank board despite being told by Mr Gerard that he was involved in a 14-year-long tax evasion dispute with the Australian Taxation Office.
Peter Reith was appointed as a consultant to defence contractor Tenix immediately after resigning as defence minister.
Health minister Michael Wooldridge signed a $5 million building deal for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and days later, after resigning as health minister, was employed by the college as a consultant.
It was the appointment of Alexander Downer as an adviser to Woodside Petroleum in his years after politics that caused a former ASIS operator to blow the whistle on the bugging of the East Timor parliamentary offices. His is one of the passports that has been confiscated by the fearless Brandis and Bishop team who are keeping us safe from terrorism….and scrutiny.
Look at the members of Joe Hockey’s North Sydney Forum and then consider the laws that have been revoked and enacted and proposed since the Coalition came to office.
Today we hear that the government are advertising for new board members for the NDIS.
Laura Tingle, in an article headlined National Disability Insurance Scheme board discovers their jobs are being advertised by reading the newspaper,writes:
“Today’s effort from Tony Abbott is just the latest attempt to erode the voice, advocacy and support for people with disability. Instead of getting on with the rollout of this transformative scheme, Tony Abbott is focussed on getting jobs for his mates in big business.”
When Labor and the unions rightly point out that the China Free Trade Agreement does not explicitly require mandatory labour market testing, they are labelled as racist xenophobes and told to get out of the way, despite both unions and the Labor Party being largely in favour of the agreement. Questions are met with hysterical hyperbole from a government who sees any criticism or concern as an attack that must be shot down along with the questioner.
To be clear here, these are the exact words in the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement that the Coalition government has negotiated. They cover all Chinese nationals in the standard 457 visa program for skilled workers and “installers and servicers” of machinery and equipment on shorter-term 400 visas.
Paragraph 3 of Article 10.4: Grant of Temporary Entry states that Australia shall not:
- a) Impose or maintain any limitations on the total number of visas to be granted to natural persons of the other party: or
- b) Require labour-market testing, economic needs testing or other procedures of similar effect as a condition for temporary entry.
The Age gives a very good explanation of how Andrew Robb is misleading us.
If the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is implemented as it stands, the Australian government will give up the right to require labour-market testing for all Chinese nationals sponsored for standard 457 visas and “installers and servicers” on 400 visas. It will also give up the right to put any cap on the number of 457 or 400 visas.
The government has negotiated two documents: one is the free trade agreement and the other is a memorandum of understanding concerning an Investment Facilitation Agreement (IFA) for infrastructure projects. The latter is not part of the free trade agreement.
The memorandum of understanding includes provisions similar to Labour’s Enterprise Migration Agreements, none of which were ever implemented. Under these provisions employers on mining construction mega-projects could sponsor semi-skilled foreign workers and skilled workers with lower English language than under the regular 457 visa regulations. These “concessional” 457 workers were additional to the standard skilled 457 workers on these projects.
The memorandum on IFAs accompanying the free trade agreement says the Australian government may require labour-market testing by direct employers on the infrastructure projects before hiring these concessional semi-skilled and skilled 457 visa workers.
In late July the government said all direct employers on IFA projects would have to undertake a version of “labour-market testing”, but only for the concessional Chinese 457 visa workers (not mainstream skilled 457s or 400 visa workers).
To reiterate then, under the free trade agreement, labour-market testing will not be required for Chinese nationals sponsored by Chinese or any other enterprise legally established in Australia for all mainstream 457 visas, and all 400 visas used by Chinese “installers and servicers”.
So, the only Chinese workers who would be labour-market tested are the concessional 457 visa workers on the infrastructure projects. This is because the treaty provision takes precedence over Australian legislation.
The IFA also sets a very low bar for Chinese worker access to concessional 457 visas on infrastructure projects. The labour-market testing needed to access these visas is not rigorous, because it will allow employers to hire Chinese semi-skilled 457 workers up to 20 months after they stop advertising the jobs.
It seems to me that it is the unions who are telling us the truth here. The shroud of secrecy surrounding FTAs and the increasingly vitriolic abuse of anyone who dares raise a question indicates the government is the one with something to hide.
The government is the one who told us there would be no cuts to health or education or the ABC. They also said there would be no changes to the GST and that they would deliver the NDIS on schedule and in full.
Abbott is pinning his electioneering on “who do you trust”.
My immediate response is certainly not you!