archive: August 2021

24 August 2021

Tim Dunlop: “There is a good case to be made, in fact, that Morrison has tied the idea of opening up with his re-election strategy, playing on our exhaustion with lockdowns and other restrictions to conjure a light at the end of tunnel that he will deliver with fudged figures on overall vaccinations rates. Under this scenario, an adult vaccination rate of around 70% will be held up as a threshold, restrictions will be eased, and in that moment of sunshine, an election will be called. If he wins, he wins, mission accomplished. If he loses, Labor will be left to clean up the mess. Cynical? Not even a little bit. Let us never forget that what has driven us into the mess we are currently in is not incompetence by the Morrison Government, but actual decisions they have made to handle things the way they have, aided and abetted by the NSW Government in particular. It wasn’t an accident vaccination rates were so slow, it was decision. It wasn’t an accident that financial support for those affected was cut when it was and not reintroduced, it was decision. It wasn’t an accident that Morrison held up NSW as the gold standard and tipped a bucket on Victoria while we dealt with that second wave, it was decision. It wasn’t an accident that Morrison praised Berejiklian for not locking down at the start of the current Delta outbreak, it was a decision. At every point, Morrison (and Berejiklian) have made bad decisions, and the idea that their ideas about opening up might prevail is terrifying.” Tim argues that we should be opening up carefully and gradually — and not with election day as a deadline.

7 August 2021

ACOSS’s Cassandra Goldie: “We now have both major parties supporting the slashing of income tax, which overwhelmingly will benefit higher-income earners and especially men. We are in the extraordinary position of the Coalition promising a policy they never really believed they would be in government to deliver — and the Labor Party deciding to support it, too. The dog has caught the car, twice. The price we will all pay for these tax cuts is staggering. … The OECD ranks Australia sixth-lowest in our spending on social benefits and the ninth-lowest in our overall tax base, collecting less tax revenue than most of the 37 other OECD nations. This lack of investment in our social benefits is the key reason we have a persistently high proportion of our community living in poverty, including more than 40 per cent of children in single-parent families, and more than three million people overall. The Intergenerational Report makes it clear: if we do not stop cutting taxes and do not start talking about raising revenue fairly, we will continue to have older people neglected, people with disability waiting for support, parents unable to get childcare, children going hungry, and millions going without the basics, sleeping in cars or living with the lights turned off. We are also hampering our ability to invest in the jobs-rich industries of the future, including new technologies and renewable energies. As the wealthiest country in the world, we need to collect more in the interest of doing better. We have shown what we are capable of doing in a crisis. We now need to show what we are capable of doing for the longer haul.”

4 August 2021

Labour hire companies doing what labour hire companies are designed to do [$]: ”Railtrain Group had a contract to supply about 50 train crew to Roy Hill through a subsidiary, TRRC. After Roy Hill indicated it would offer Railtrain a new four-year contract provided there was an enterprise agreement in place for the life of the contract, Railtrain created an entity, Karijini, and employed two staff to make a new enterprise agreement. The duo, who were on probation and still in training, voted up the new agreement, the TRRC workers were transferred to Karijini, and a new contract was reached with Roy Hill. A FWC full bench found Railtrain’s strategy was designed to avoid having to negotiate a new agreement with the TRRC workforce and their likely bargaining representative, the CFMEU.“ This kind of corporate shell game is par for the course these days — but this time, the company screwed up by telling the two hand-picked newbies that they would be covered by the rail industry award. In reality, the contract undercut the mining award that the workforce was actually covered by. As a consequence, the FWC found the company had “engaged in an exercise of corporate manipulation”: “We find that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the agreement of those two employees did not constitute properly informed consent, and lacked the moral authority required for genuine agreement.” But the loophole that allows more careful companies to pull this stunt needs to be closed.

An excellent move, about twenty years too late: “Anyone can now make a free call, or an SMS, from a Telstra payphone, to a standard fixed line or to an Australian mobile… Telstra expects to forgo about $5 million annually, from about 11 million calls. RMIT University associate dean of marketing Con Stavros said this was a relatively small amount for the telecommunications giant to give up in return for a potentially large public relations benefit. Telstra chief executive Andy Penn said the decision to allow free calls was made to help people. He said payphones could be a vital lifeline ‘especially for those vulnerable, including the homeless, people who are isolated or someone escaping an unsafe situation. That’s why I have taken this decision to make national calls from payphones free, because they play such a critical role in our community, particularly in times of need and for those in need.’ Mr Penn said with family violence cases, ‘it’s not always easy for people in these situations to use a home phone or their mobile to get help, so I hope making payphone calls free might play a small part in helping them get the assistance they need’.” (The value of payphones as billboards is worth a lot more to Telstra than the cost of the free calls.)