Union progression towards White Australia

Major Karnage notes that "progressives" are taking us back

I recently had a long conversation with a Union representative who was trying to convince me that I was wrong about the Australian Union movement. As I explained, my thoughts are generally that I am theoretically in favour of an organised workforce and I have no qualms with workers coming together to demand certain rights – but this is no longer what the Union movement is (which is the reason I capitalise the “u”).

From my perspective, Australian Unions are mostly opaque, bloated, entrenched organisations that represent a very small portion of the workforce. Their institutionalisation and the extend to which they are favoured by successive Labor governments have given them hubris, to the point where they seem to care more about perpetuating their own existence than actually doing anything in the interest of Australia’s workforce and spend a lot of time playing political games instead of concentrating on their nominal mission.

What bothers me the most is the dogmatic adherence to certain anachronistic principles because these used to be good for “workers”. I see absolutely no self-reflection and no desire to reevaluate the policies of the movement in light of the world that we live in. As I have noted before, this has resulted in Australia having ridiculous penalty rates and bad teachers.

Well here’s yet another example, which follows this post:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard told: migrants or the mine | The Australian.

In an increasingly bitter dispute over the management of the mining boom, ministerial splits are emerging within the Gillard government and unions have started a racist campaign to hound West Australian-based minister Gary Gray from his seat. …

Yesterday, five unions ran a full-page newspaper advertisement in Mr Gray’s seat of Brand, south of Perth, alluding to high levels of indigenous unemployment and accusing the Special Minister of State and former ALP national secretary of not standing up for “Aussie jobs”.

Joe McDonald, the assistant secretary of the West Australian branch of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, accused Mr Gray last night of betraying Australians and vowed to run a union campaign to get rid of him.

“He’s betrayed the people of his constituency,” Mr McDonald told The Weekend Australian. “He’s betrayed them. He should pack up and piss off. If the union movement puts a politician in, they shouldn’t forget where they came from and if they do then we should piss them off and put someone else in.”

Last night Mr Gray, who won his seat with a margin of just 3 per cent in 2010, said EMAs, for which projects with more than $2bn in investment and 1500 jobs are eligible, would create “many, many mining jobs for Australians”.

Note that the story calls the campaign against Gray “racist”. I don’t like when a news story editorialises like this, but in this case I don’t see a lot of other ways to describe it.

The CFMEU is notionally a “progressive” Union, yet its officials are spouting rhetoric that would not have been out of place during the days of the White Australia Policy. I am also disgusted by the way that McDonald is threatening to remove Gray from Parliament if he doesn’t “play ball”.

This is the tragedy of Australia’s major social democrat party being beholden to these groups; it is also a problem that the Union rep in the conversation that I mentioned above did not seem to understand. The current system of preselection means that we get exactly the wrong people into Parliament. A few conversations between key people within the Union movement or the ALP can be enough to get someone a safe seat for life – the process is completely opaque and prone to corruption and abuse. Once there, do/say the wrong thing and upset the wrong people and goodbye – no matter what the public may want. (Incidentally, this is not a partisan issue. Union movement aside, the same principle holds for the Liberal party.)

So now we have a situation where the Government is being pressured from inside to bow to xenophobic demands and prevent people who want to come to Australia and contribute to the country’s economy from doing so. They are also using arguments like this gem from Senator Doug Cameron:

Good jobs for Aussies is not a miner matter | thetelegraph.com.au.

Since when was it unreasonable to expect that highly profitable mining companies should provide Australian workers with the skill upgrading, training, travel support and accommodation to ensure they have genuine access to employment opportunities?

I am constantly amazed by the Union mentality that the way to achieve these demands is for the Government to force mining companies to provide them. What is preventing the Unions from doing something useful like developing their own training programs and apprenticeships, investing in the development of mining towns to allow workers’ families to move there, or forming recruitment initiatives to connect their members with the mining companies to fill employment vacancies? (Note: I’m aware that some do this already, but obviously not very well, or else there wouldn’t be an issue.)

Why do they think that playing the political system to force the mining companies to do it would be a better idea?

I am also shocked by the silence from people I know who are generally pro-immigration and usually speak-out against xenophobic rhetoric like this. Even the Greens are behind the migrant workers idea – and they think that Australia is overpopulated and the world is ending.

Clearly, there is something wrong here. I could go on, but plummeting membership figures speak for themselves.

It is paramount that we introduce stronger requirements for Union transparency and accountability and remove the disgraceful Rudd/Gillard industrial relations reforms that force workers to be represented by organisations that they have no intention of joining. Otherwise, backwards thinking may just win the day yet again.

Major Karnage is a Sydney-based blogger and can be followed onFacebook or Twitter.

A Faceless Strategy with a Public Face

Ben-Scott For a strategist that prides himself in statistical evidence and research methodology Karl Bitar listened too much to what he wanted to hear rather than what he needed to hear, writes Benjamin Scott.

“Just keep stirring the pot, you never know what will come up”, once quipped American political strategist Lee Atwater. Always a man to listen to the Republican supporter base and add a V8 engine to that research, these techniques delivered more than one American President for the Republican Party.

The Australian Labor Party is currently looking at a once pristine and all-Australian made V8 political machine which has been reduced to a Korean 4-cylinder.

It has been interesting to observe the ramifications of this as state apparatchiks and has-been hacks accuse the state and federal Labor organisations (and each other) of gross campaign incompetence. Much of this has been directed at current National Secretary or ‘Chief ALP faceless man’ Karl Bitar.

Karl Bitar is an interesting individual. An economics and research methodology graduate from the University of Sydney and former statistician at the Department of Education, Employment and Training during the Keating years, he knows plenty about political pain.

It may be surprising but the criticism levelled at him following the 2010 Federal Election surprises me. This is a political animal trained in the most hostile of political environments, with crumbling political power in his home state of NSW to a potentially disastrous scenario playing out in Canberra, yet he sought to ‘sandbag’ electorates and is now widely accused of doing so.  What is the big surprise here?

The big surprise was in the very sub-standard and inadequate results his usually impeccable research has produced for past ALP victories. Specifically for this occasion is the failed research they produced on his target…Tony Abbott.

From day dot, the ALP research and campaign machine sought to portray Tony Abbott as ‘unelectable’. This was a fatal mistake and it was a mistake that was recognised by their political opponents from a very early stage. This seemed to create a permanent ‘feedback loop’ to the remaining research and strategy for the ALP campaign. In political campaign terms, that in itself is like a cancer and is almost just as impossible to stop.

What is currently occurring amongst the ALP structure after this federal election is akin to removing a terminal cancer in a vital organ. If they fail, the ALP is facing a fatal outlook for future state and federal elections.

Perhaps the most ironic part of this clinical assessment is the fact that Karl Bitar is amongst the most intelligent and ruthless strategists the ALP may ever see. So why is he being crucified? The answer lies in research only just delivered to him. That he was listening to people who wanted to win rather than people who were telling him how to win. In other words and in a very crude sense, he listened far too much to ALP supporters rather than those voters in the marginal seats of QLD, NSW and WA that he was seeking to ‘sandbag’.

Of all things spoken about Karl Bitar both past and present, I doubt political commentators will accuse Mr Bitar of listening to the ALP base too much. But in reality, that is exactly what he did.

Benjamin Scott is the Inaugural Vice President of the Young LNP in Queensland, was an LNP campaign strategist in the last election and a former staffer to politicians at all levels of government. He now works as a Government Relations and Communications Manager in the private sector.

ALP’s knight is a thief in rusty armour

Niall Ferguson wrote in The Australian:

 

In the US GFC brings to mind the recipe for deep-fried chicken devised by Colonel Sanders. KFC stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Here, GFC should stand for Gillard's Fraudulent Claim.

The claim in question is that it was the fiscal stimulus injected by the Labor government that saved Australia from much more serious recession. According to one recent election ad, "Labor did what it had to do to avoid recession and protect jobs." The ABC's Kerry O'Brien unthinkingly recycles this line when asking Tony Abbott how he would have saved the 200,000 jobs Labor "created". It must have been music to Julia Gillard's ears when Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz gave her his seal of approval recently. He praised the government's debt splurge as "one of the best-designed Keynesian stimulus packages of any country".

 

He goes on to say:

 

There's no denying the magnitude of the Australian handouts. If you rank developed countries' fiscal packages for the period 2008-2010, Australia's ranks third as a percentage of GDP, behind only the US and South Korea. So why did Australia's stimulus work so much better than America's? Spare us the fable that it was better designed. After the home insulation fiasco and the now-proven waste on new school halls, that can't withstand serious scrutiny.

Which brings me to problem two with the argument Labor saved Oz. Strangely, the professor (Joseph Stiglitz) has overlooked the other, more plausible explanations for Australia's relative outperformance. Step forward five candidates with a better claim to the credit: 1. Lady Luck 2. The Howard government 3. The RBA 4. China 5. The mining industry.

 

And concludes that:

Labor has stimulated the Australian economy, in the same way that Ned Kelly used to stimulate the economy of Victoria.

It's a very interesting article and if you get a chance I'd suggest reading the whole thing at The Australian.

(Posted by Chris Browne)

Greens Policy 101

A Greens balance of power will lead to the Labor Party adopting at least some of their extreme agenda, writes Ron Thatcher.

Given the Labor Green preference alliance that could hand the Greens the balance of power in the Senate after the next election, I took some time to have a look at the Greens website, where I stumbled across their policy document.

It makes for interesting reading and should give rise to some serious questions by anyone considering voting or the Greens.

The Greens have already committed to supporting any scheme put forward in the next Parliament that puts a price on carbon. This in itself is astounding given they repeatedly voted against Labor's great green tax – the CPRS.

The Greens also have a policy of lifting the company tax rate to 33% and reducing tax concessions for companies. They want to lift the rate of tax on superannuation and establish a 50% top personal income tax rate. 

In a green world there would be a tax on family trusts and no concessional treatment of long term capital gains.

They also want to impose an 'estate tax' which is basically another name for death duties. 

Of course, this high taxing agenda would sit very well with Labor's own commitments to increase the cost of passports, alcohol, cigarettes, health insurance and mining. 

There might even be some agreement on what the extra revenue will be spent on.

The Greens for instance, want free gender reassignment surgery for those born with an 'intersex condition' even though 'intersex' would be recognised as a formal gender under green law.

They also want to prescribe heroin to registered users in line with the proposed 1996 ACT government heroin trial and introduce the regulated use of cannabis.

Now these are just some of their own policy initiatives that determine how taxpayers money should be best spent. 

In most other areas they are happy to outsource decision making to the United Nations. Yes, that's the unelected and hopelessly inefficient body that is dominated by the agenda of tinpot dictatorships.

The greens manifesto commits Australia to signing up to every protocol, agenda and agreement that this dysfunctional body cooks up – even the optional ones!

I noticed that Bob Brown's press release calling for a register of all businesses owned by citizens who subscribe to particular religious beliefs has been convientently greenwashed from the site. 

It makes you wonder how many other extreme green policies have been sanitised for this election campaign.

Handing the greens the balance of power would cost us all dearly and take Australia back to an age of socialism and extremism that the world had left behind decades ago.

Read more of their policy manifesto here.

Ron Thatcher is an engineer from Queensland.

Abbott lauds cheaper broadband plan

The Coalition announced its new broadband plan yesterday as an alternative to the governments $43 billion NBN. The ABC reports:

Broadband represents a major point of difference between the two major parties in the election campaign, with the Opposition today saying it would scrap Labor's $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) if elected.

The Coalition says it would instead spend $6 billion to encourage the private sector to expand internet services across the country.

While admitting his lack of "technical competence", Mr Abbott spruiked his party's plan on ABC1's 7:30 Report.

"I accept that not everyone is going to like our system," he said.

"But I just don't believe you can trust this Government to roll out a $43 billion bit of infrastructure.

"I think we can do something that will be good for a lot less.

"Our system is going to cost vastly less, but it will be there quicker than Labor's system and it doesn't put all Australia's eggs in the basket of one particular technology."

Mr Abbott says the NBN is part of one of Labor's "big bang spending sprees".

"You can't trust the Government that couldn't deliver school halls and couldn't get pink batts into roofs to deliver this highly sophisticated national network," he said.

"This Government hasn't got anything else right. Why do we say they're going to get this right?"

Under the Coalition's plan, 97 per cent of homes would have access to networks which would deliver broadband at speeds of between 12 Mega bits per second (Mbps) and 100Mbps by 2016 through a combination of technologies.

The Government's fibre-optic network would offer speeds of 100Mbps to much of the country and is due to be completed by 2018.

via www.abc.net.au

It's all a little bit over my head, but $43 billion is a massive government investment to be making when we're borrowing the amount of money we are at the moment. And forgive my glass-half-full approach to this, but the NBN won't be delivered for eight years. Eight years ago I had dial-up internet and was using floppy disks. It's anyone's guess where global communications technology will be in 2018. Is the massively expensive NBN really an investment in the future, or is it an investment in today's technology that won't be delivered until tomorrow?

I'm no tech expert, so I'm interested in your thoughts comparing the two plans economically and technically in the comments section below.

Cash for Clunkers Lunacy: UK Edition


David_archer
The UK example should be enough for the ALP to realise that its Cash for Clunkers policy is an expensive mistake, writes David Archer.

I was pleased to read Tim Andrew’s demolition of the arguments in favour of Cash for Clunkers just as I was dismayed to hear that the Australian government has made an election pledge to introduce a version of it.

The idea for a ‘Cash for Clunkers’ government programme originated in Germany, the land of famous automobile marques and industry giants such as Volkwagen, Bayerische Motoren Werke, Daimler AG et al. Such giants come with gigantic lobbying arms, and here perhaps the rational subtext to the programme’s conception and promotion can be deduced.

What is more interesting to ponder is how such dodgy government ‘stimulus’ ideas come to be spread around the globe. More than a dozen countries have launched their versions along the same general principles.  In between the US experience with Cash for Clunkers and the proposed Australian initiative came the UK’s experience with its ‘Scrappage Scheme.’

While the UK scheme was in full swing in the winter and spring before the May election, my friend Charlie informed me that he had used it to purchase a brand new car. In exchange for a very old, battered VW Passat that had been used as a farm vehicle, he received a wodge of taxpayer money (1000GBP/1700AUD) and a wodge of the same amount from the car industry. This was to subsidise his purchase of a gleaming new VW Golf. The stated intention of the government subsidy was to stimulate the domestic car industry (not one of Charlie’s new Golf’s parts was manufactured in the UK), and to promote greener engines to lower carbon emissions (lowering carbon emissions is rapidly becoming a justifying mantra for almost any kind of government intervention).

Of course, if you really wanted to reduce the burning of petrol, a simpler method would be to tax it more at the pump, although, in fairness, this is probably political suicide in the UK where drivers already pay roughly three times more than their US counterparts, and twice what Australians pay (2010 average prices). Naturally, ever since he got his shiny new motor to enjoy, Charlie has driven a lot more miles than he did previously.

No-one in the then UK government seems to have considered the unspoken environmental cost of an unnaturally large influx of cars to scrap yards. Under natural conditions, defunct motors are cannibalised for parts in highly efficient recycling, but under the scrappage scheme it’s likely that yards were swamped and vast numbers of useful parts were destroyed, although yard owners wouldn’t complain because of the boon to their income straight from the pockets of the already indebted tax payer. 

Suppose we calculate that if each of the 300,000 scrapped cars had a notional value of 2000GBP. Then the UK government spent 300 million taxpayer pounds destroying 600 million GBP of economic value: I.e. over a billion Australian dollars were wiped out of the economy at enormous further expense. An army of bureaucrats was employed to administer the scheme, which naturally happened inefficiently.  

Another consequence of this daft business is that the second hand car markets subsequently had a paucity of cheap vehicles for sale. Poor people, so often the victims of government’s good intentions, are now less likely to be able to find an affordable ride. Once again, Labour and the left are killing social mobility. 

David Archer is a business risk analyst and a public affairs consultant.

Would the Real Julia Gillard Please Move Forward

Cory-Bernardi

If we haven't been seeing the 'real' Julia Gillard then who is running the country, asks Senator Cory Bernardi.

This week Ms Gillard has stated that she will be taking control of her own election campaign, conceding voters had only caught a 'glimpse' of who she truly was.

Excuse my cynicism but this smells like more spin and fakery from the new Queen of Sussex Street politics.

After all, Ms Gillard has spent twelve years in Parliament, spent years as one of the bosses at the Socialist Forum (that's where the former communists went to continue their radical agenda), and a few years with Slater and Gordon pushing Labor’s pro-union industrial relations agenda.
Her entree into politics brought some policy gems like 'Medicare Gold' and the failed border protection laws that have seen people smugglers make record profits trafficking their human cargo.

As Minister, she has presided over the greatest ever waste of taxpayers money, squandering an estimated $8 billion building overpriced tuck shops and toilets. It has been reported that she sent a junior adviser to represent her at meetings of the National Security Committee of Cabinet, breaching cabinet protocol and vacating her national responsibility. 

Ms Gillard has also remained tight lipped about her bloody betrayal of Kevin Rudd and how she broke the deal they had agreed to. Of course, since that day, Ms Gillard has continued with her less than credible policy development work, failing to reach even the lowest of expectations.

First there was the refugee centre to be built in East Timor – despite the trifling matter that East Timor's Parliament has unanimously rejected such an idea. The fact that this policy was announced without prior reference to the East Timorese Prime Minister demonstrates what a pathetic attempt at spin this really was.

Next we had her new approach to 'the greatest moral issue of our time' – climate change. Rather than make a decision, Ms Gillard has outsourced her government policy to her own mini 2020 summit of 150 'ordinary' Australians. An amazing vacuum of leadership from someone looking to be elected Prime Minister.

And then we have Ms Gillard's rejection of a 'big Australia'. Despite her defence of the big Aussie vision only weeks prior, she now expects us to believe that population has nothing to do with immigration – even though it makes up two thirds of our annual population growth!

So if we haven't yet seen the real Julia Gillard, what sort of impostor have we seen over the years? Based on her track record, clearly someone whose commitment to principle and conscience is as transient as a summer cloud on a windy day.

So this week we will see another incarnation of Julia Gillard. It will be the latest attempt to hoodwink Australians that the woman in charge of our country had nothing to do with the failings and mismanagement of the past three years.

Australians deserve better from even an unelected Prime Minister.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. This article is courtesy of his personal blog which can be found at http://www.corybernardi.com.