Thursday, January 19, 2017

ACTU – Turnbull backs offshore manufacturing over Australian jobs

The Federal Government has proposed changes to the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic) that would allow businesses that offshore their manufacturing and related services to be subsidised by taxpayer money.

The proposal would allow exporters to access government subsidised loans and insurance, even if none of the manufacturing of the exported product takes place in Australia and the goods are exported from a foreign country.

As such, businesses that will be able to access this funding will not necessarily support a single Australian job.

The ACTU has made a submission to the Turnbull Government stating the need to leave in place the incentives for businesses accessing Efic funding to employ local people on our own shores.

Quotes attributable to Ged Kearney, President, ACTU:

  • “The lack of support for Australian industry from the Turnbull Government is shocking.”
  • “Instead of providing assistance to small and medium Australian export businesses to maintain and create local jobs, the Turnbull Government wants to make taxpayers’ money available to companies that produce and export their product outside Australia.”
  •  “With two million Australians either out of or looking for more work, we should be doing everything we can to save every job we can.”
  • “Supporting local businesses that employ local people and manufacture on our shores should be the priority of this government, not encouraging offshoring.”
  • “This Government simply doesn’t have a plan for jobs in Australia”

Baird Resigns – "Wreck Sydney and Run"

The long expected resignation of NSW Premier Mike Baird has at last happened. He said there would be a Liberal partyroom meeting and a spill of leadership positions next week. He will resign from Parliament, effective immediately, following that meeting.

Though initially popular, there was soon a huge drop in his approval ratings following controversy over his Government's greyhound ban and then backflip, lockout laws and council amalgamations, the WestConnex debacle, interference with NSW ICAAC, his attack on women's refuges, selling of public housing in the Rocks, his reckless destruction of ancient fig trees planted by the WWI Anzacs, his attempt at increasing the GST following a suggestion from short term PM Tony Abbott ... a seemingly endless list of  hubris that today encouraged the weary people of NSW to heave an audible sigh of relief.

The drop in his approval rating late last year was the biggest drop for any Premier in the history of Newspoll.

Baird cops a spray on New South Wales graffiti removal day

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ACTU – Turnbull Government climbs aboard sinking TPP

The Turnbull Government plans to attempt to pass the legislation to ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), a deeply flawed agreement that could cost up to 40,000 Australian jobs.

This agreement has been fatally compromised by President-Elect Donald Trump announcing that dismantling it will be one of his first acts in office.

Despite this, and despite the fact that it will cost tens of thousands of Australian jobs and hand the power to over-ride our laws to multi-national corporations, the Turnbull Government says that ratifying this agreement is one of its legislative priorities for the new year.

Quotes attributable to Ged Kearney, President, ACTU:

  • “Prime Minister Turnbull is finding new and innovative ways to be out of touch – this time moving to ratify a trade agreement which would place the interests of corporations ahead of Australian workers and could see huge numbers of local workers  lose their jobs, their livelihoods and for younger workers a decent future.”
  • “Instead of working on a plan to put an end to rising underemployment and casualisation, or improving wage growth, or even simply trying to prevent Australia slipping into recession, the Turnbull Government is ratifying dead trade agreements.”
  • “This agreement would hand multi-national corporations significant power to challenge Australian laws through an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Clause, which circumvents normal legislative process.”
  • “The TPP would cost 39,000 Australian jobs by 2025 according to a study from Tufts University, why the so called ‘Jobs and Growth’ Turnbull Government would think this is a favorable agreement for Australian workers is baffling.”
  • “The TPP removes labour market testing and commits Australia to accepting unlimited numbers of temporary workers in all 651 occupations under the 457 visa system for six additional countries. We have seen temporary workers exploited on a regular basis and no assessment has been made of the potential negative effects on the Australian labour market.”

Centrelink – What's the Code of Conduct for Bullying ?

Centrelink management has warned staff they may be committing a criminal offence by leaking internal information, as the welfare agency struggles to manage a backlash from staff angered by the Federal Government's debt claw-back project.

7.30 has obtained an internal email from Centrelink's general manager of people services, Adrian Hudson, sent to all staff last night advising them to make disclosures "through the proper channel".

The email, headed "Public interest disclosures and 'leaking' are not the same", warns staff that "there are very limited circumstances where you can make a disclosure externally".

"You'll be protected if you make a disclosure through the proper channel — in the first instance to the department," it said.

"Outside of the [Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013], an employee who makes a disclosure externally will not be protected and may in fact be committing a criminal offence and be in breach of the APS Code of Conduct."

Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen said the department had a responsibility to educate staff about their protections and responsibilities under Commonwealth legislation and the Australian Public Service code of conduct.

"We do this periodically across a range of important issues and will continue to do so to help staff navigate departmental processes and procedures," he told 7.30 in a statement.

Policies that mitigate the stress of poverty would be better than scaring individuals into paying back debts they're unlikely to have, writes Erin Stewart.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has begun holdings meetings with welfare groups as part of its investigation into the project.

On Monday, independent MP Andrew Wilkie wrote to the Ombudsman Colin Neave, offering to put investigators in touch with a former Department of Human Services staff member who has accused Centrelink of bungling the project.

Mr Wilkie said his office has been contacted by several whistleblowers, including some who had left Centrelink "due to the new debt program".

The Department of Human Services has rejected claims that staff dealing with debts have not been properly trained in the system.

Zinn Education – Reconstructing the South

In popular culture, the most memorable depiction of Reconstruction was D.W. Griffith's film, Birth of a Nation. Scalawags and carbetbaggers conspire with newly freed Blacks to ruin the South until the Ku Klux Klan arrives to save the day.

Missing from this racist portrait of Reconstruction ---- and from too many textbooks ----was the extraordinary experiment in grassroots multiracial democracy this period represented ---- land reform, public schools, expanded voting rights, greater equality.

Reconstruction was the key turning point in U.S. history ---- a period of democratic promise like no other. But a promise foreclosed by the terrorism of the defeated white elites seeking to hold on to "their" South.

The Zinn Education Project commemorates the Reconstruction period with new curriculum. We have just posted a new lesson, "Reconstructing the South: A Role Play," written by Zinn Education Project co-director Bill Bigelow. It is accompanied by a chapter on land reform in the post-Civil War South from the American Social History Project's important book, Freedom's Unfinished Revolution.

Download these teaching resources and share them with colleagues. Stay tuned. More to come.