Monday, August 29, 2011

Liberals say labour laws are adding to the manufacturing sector's dollar woes

LIBERALS have laid the blame for recent manufacturing job losses on Labor and the unions, saying Julia Gillard's re-regulation of the labour market has left the economy unable to cope with emerging challenges.

As the Prime Minister meets with union leaders in Canberra today to discuss the future of manufacturing, Liberal backbenchers seized on calls by Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens for a renewed focus on productivity.

Queensland backbencher Steven Ciobo said Labor had choked labour market flexibility through its Fair Work Act. “The fact is, the proof is in the pudding,” he said. “The re-regulation of the workforce is costing Aussie jobs. As far as I am concerned the 1000 lost jobs at BlueScope last week lie right at the feet of Labor and the unions. “With the high Aussie dollar we need to be even more competitive than our trading partners.”

South Australian backbencher Jamie Briggs said the Australian economy was suffering under the “toxic combination” of a re-regulated labour market and a soaring dollar.

He said Mr Stevens' call for a review of industrial relations laws followed similar advice from the Productivity Commission, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group.

“Every galah in the pet shop is now saying labour market re-regulation is causing damage to the economy,” he said. “Of course, it absolutely has to be. And it is.” “I think we are going to see, unfortunately, sadly, a lot of job losses between now a Christmas.”

The endorsement of Mr Stevens' position came as the nation's most senior unionist lashed the Reserve Bank governor as “misinformed and out of touch with working Australians and the real economy”.

ACTU president Ged Kearney has also attacked the composition of the RBA board, saying it was too narrowly focused on business and “captive to the top end of town”.

The manufacturing sector has been undergoing a painful period of restructuring as the soaring Australian dollar leaves many exporters struggling to compete with offshore rivals.

BlueScope Steel, which announced 1400 job losses in the past fortnight, blamed its plight squarely on the value of the dollar.

Ms Gillard last week said BlueScope was confronting a number of pressures, none of them related to the industrial relations environment. “The Australian steel industry is facing a unique set of challenges, including a high Australian dollar, continued weak domestic demand, higher raw material prices and excess supply in international steel markets,” Ms Gillard said.

But Mr Briggs said the rigid workplace relations environment made it harder for employers to put on staff at the same time as they were hammered by the effects of the two-speed economy.

“You've got this perverse situation where I've got small businesses in my electorate saying `how can you even be thinking about lifting interest rates?' “But the numbers (Glenn Stevens) is looking at are saying he has to start to think about it. And you've got an international environment that's all over the shop.

“The worst thing you could do in that situation is re-regulate the labour market. But of course that's what the Labor Party has done, and they won't listen to anyone.”

The opposition's industrial relations spokesman Eric Abetz recently called for a review of Labor's Fair Work Act to be fast-tracked, after the Productivity Commission urged fresh industrial relations reforms to aid the struggling retail sector.

But Opposition leader Tony Abbott is wary of pushing too hard on the issue, fearing a WorkChoices-style backlash by Labor and the union movement.


Homosexual marriage bad for children

A BIGOT is someone who refuses to see the other point of view. Articles by Peter van Onselen and James Valentine in The Weekend Australian smeared opponents of gay marriage as bigots, yet both men refuse to see the other point of view -- and that means the point of view of the child.

Marriage is fundamentally about the needs of children, writes David Blankenhorn, a supporter of gay rights in the US who nevertheless draws the line at same-sex marriage. Redefining marriage to include gay and lesbian couples would eliminate entirely in law, and weaken still further in culture, the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child.

Here is the heart of opposition to same-sex marriage: that it means same-sex parenting, and same-sex parenting means that a child must miss out on either a mother or a father.

Marriage is a compound right under Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it is not only the right to an exclusive relationship, but the right to form a family. Therefore gay marriage includes the right to form a family by artificial reproduction but any child created within that marriage would have no possibility of being raised by both mother and father.

Obviously there are tragic situations where a child cannot have both a mum and a dad, such as the death or desertion of a parent, but that is not a situation we would ever wish upon a child, and that is not a situation that any government should inflict upon a child.

Yet legalising same-sex marriage will inflict that deprivation on a child. That is why it is wrong, and that is why all laws are wrong that permit single people or same-sex couples to obtain a child by IVF, surrogacy, or adoption.

Take Penny Wong, for example, as van Onselen did. She is an effective politician, but she can never be a dad to a little boy. She and her partner tell us they have created a baby who will have no father, only a mother and another woman. Their assertion is that a dad does not matter to a child.

As ethicist Margaret Somerville wrote in these pages, such assertions force us to choose between giving priority to children's rights or to homosexual adults' claims. Yet trivial arguments frame the gay marriage debate solely in terms of the emotional needs of adults, ignoring the child's point of view.

Such adult-centred narcissism raises the wider question: if gender no longer matters in marriage, why should number? If marriage is all about adults who love each other, by what rational principle should three adults who love each other not be allowed to marry? Academic defenders of polyamory are asking that question, and no doubt van Onselen will soon be slurring opponents of polyamory as binary bigots.

While warm, fuzzy writers such as Valentine can imagine no possible harm to society from gay marriage, the serious minds behind the movement occasionally let us glimpse their wider purpose. US activist Michelangelo Signorile urges gays to fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely. He sees same-sex marriage as the final tool with which to get education about homosexuality and AIDS into public schools.

Sure enough, we now have empirical evidence that normalising gay marriage means normalising homosexual behaviour for public school children.

Following the November 2003 court decision in Massachusetts to legalise gay marriage, school libraries were required to stock same-sex literature; primary school children were given homosexual fairy stories such as King & King; some high school students were even given an explicit manual of homosexual advocacy entitled The Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century, which the Massachusetts Department of Health helped develop. Education had to comply with the new normal.

Beyond the confusion and corruption of schoolchildren, the cultural consequences of legalising same-sex marriage include the stifling of conscientious freedom. Again in Massachusetts, when adoption agency Catholic Charities was told it would have to place children equally with married homosexuals, it had to close. As Canadian QC and lesbian activist Barbara Findlay said, "The legal struggle for queer rights will one day be a showdown between freedom of religion versus sexual orientation". Blankenhorn warned, "Once this proposed reform became law, even to say the words out loud in public -- every child needs a father and a mother -- would probably be viewed as explicitly divisive and discriminatory, possibly even as hate speech."

Our parliament must say these words out loud, because they are bedrock sanity, and must accept that the deep things of human nature are beyond the authority of any political party to tamper with.

Marriage is not a fad to be cut to shape according to social whim. The father of modern anthropology, Claude Levi-Strauss, called marriage a social institution with a biological foundation. Marriage throughout history is society's effort to reinforce this biological reality: male, female, offspring. All our ceremonies and laws exist to buttress nature helping bind a man to his mate for the sake of the child they might create.

Not all marriages do create children but typically they do, and the institution exists for the typical case of marriage. Homosexual relations cannot create children or provide a child with natural role models; such relations are important to the individuals involved, and demand neighbourly civility, but they do not meet nature's job description for marriage.

As van Onselen notes, homosexual couples now enjoy equality with male-female couples in every way short of marriage. It must stop short of marriage, because the demands of adults must end where the birthright of a child begins. Marriage and family formation are about about something much deeper than civil equality; they are about a natural reality which society did not create and which only a decadent party such as the Greens, so out of touch with nature, would seek to destroy.


Victorian Police have power to demand Muslim women remove face veils

VICTORIAN police have the power to demand that Muslim women remove face veils, the State Government has ruled. And anyone who refuses to show their face can be arrested, a review of the Crimes Act has found.

The Herald Sun revealed in July that the Baillieu Government was seeking legal advice following a move in NSW to introduce special laws which meant people refusing to remove a burqa at police request faced up to a year in jail.

Police Minister Peter Ryan sought advice on the state of the current law from the Victoria Police and Department of Justice - finding police are already empowered to issue the order.

The ruling means Victorian police may make the demand of motorists when checking licences, or of those suspected of crime. There are no exceptions in the law for niqabs or other religious garb, balaclavas or motorcycle helmets.

"The Victorian Government has decided that the current laws are adequate and there is no current need for proposed changes to legislation," spokeswoman Justine Sywak said yesterday. "The Victorian Government will monitor the NSW legislation once it comes into effect."

The review came after a Sydney judge quashed a six-month jail sentence given to a burqa-wearing Sydney mother of seven, Carnita Matthews, who falsely accused a policeman of forcibly trying to remove her headdress.

A summary of the Victorian Government's legal advice, seen by the Herald Sun, shows that the law requires the face to be seen to verify identity.

"Current broad Victorian legislative powers are sufficient to allow police to request a person remove headwear for identification purposes," it says.

Under the Crimes Act, if a person is suspected of committing a crime, police may ask for name and address details. In order to be able to identify the person at a subsequent court appearance, the police officer needs to see the person's face once.

"This would therefore require a person to remove their headwear," the summary says. "If a person refuses to reveal their face, the police currently arrest the person until they can prove their identity."

The same rule applies to motorists. "Police must establish that the person whose name and image appear on the licence is in fact the person holding the licence," the summary says.


Leftist antisemites meet opposition

PEOPLE brave enough to venture out into the wet at Brisbane's South Bank yesterday found themselves caught in the crossfire of very abusive protesters.

What started out as a protest against chocolate store Max Brenner turned into a heated face-off with those who turned out to support the company.

Pitted against each other outside the chocolate shop, the two opposing groups screamed at each other for 45 minutes before police moved one of the groups on.

The aim of the protesters, made up of the Socialist Alternative and the Justice for Palestine groups, was to highlight the support of Max Brenner's parent company, the Strauss Group, for the Israeli military and its sale of provisions to it.

Chanting "Max Brenner, come off it; there's blood in your chocolate", the group held up placards accusing Max Brenner of supporting apartheid.

The counter-protesters, made up of students, Israeli community members and politicians, screamed at their opponents: "Go home, Nazis!"

Logan City councillor Hajnal Black was repeatedly restrained by police as she pushed through the barricade line yelling: "We don't want Nazis in this country!"

There was a big police presence at the protest yesterday after a demonstration outside a Max Brenner store in Melbourne last month led to 19 arrests and three police officers being injured.

A law student, Danielle Keys, organised the student contingent of counter-protesters on Facebook after seeing footage of the Melbourne protest.

"I don't have a particularly strong opinion either way on Israel or Palestine. What's more important is dealing with freedom of enterprise and freedom of association and freedom of religion in this country," Ms Keys said.

"This is really about the innate anti-Semitic attitudes of extremist groups like the Socialist Alternative. We're all turning up to say, 'No, in Australia we support tolerance.' "

The Queensland Liberal National Party senator, Ron Boswell, said Max Brenner was a popular and "legitimate business" that should not be targeted in this way. "I think it's absolutely outrageous," he said. "I don't mind if people don't want to buy Max Brenner chocolates, but there shouldn't be pickets and intimidation and rallies to stop people.

"I think people that are trying to hit it with a boycott and picketing it, particularly a Jewish business, reminds me of some of the things that happened in the early 1930s."

The Socialist Alternative website says protesters will target Max Brenner Chocolates because it is owned by the Israeli-based Strauss Group.

It says the corporate responsibility section of Strauss Group's website – since amended – pledged the company's support to the Israeli army, including providing soldiers with food for training and missions.

The Socialist Alternative says the company has supported a platoon "infamous for its involvement in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon and other atrocities".

Senator Boswell, who spoke about the boycotts issue in Federal Parliament last week, said the protest was driven by the "super-left".

He said anyone wishing to protest on the issue should do so outside the Israeli embassy. "But don't pick on someone that comes to a chocolate shop; seriously, that's petty," he said.



Paul said...

I'm not supposed to politically I'm sure, but I'm with the issue on the issue of marriage and parenting. I know Gay couples who have raised children with greater or lesser degrees of success, and I think there's a case to be made where a stable Gay household is better then some alternatives, but a mother and a father in a sworn relationship as ever remains the only serious and preferred option for child rearing. When I realized I was "Gay" (bloody euphemisms!) myself I never really entertained the idea of being a father, because I instinctively felt that it wasn't really going to be relevant to my life. I don't know how many homosexuals actually want to be parents but I suspect its less than we are led to believe. personally, I'm glad I didn't have Gay parents.

Paul said...

BTW you'll like this. We were accosted on the entry to our work at the crisis-ridden Cairns Base Hospital by Health Promotion officers with trays of donuts or "Healthy Choices" of fruit all supplied by the long-suffering taxpayer as a weird promotion of "Healthy Eating Choices". Our Intensivist told them to f**k off and stop pissing money up the wall while he was fighting for enough money to maintain his ten beds in the face of demands to close one for "savings". (We're funded for ten, but usually run twelve because of demand and bed-block on the wards, meaning we can't discharge patients when we should)

Overpaid, frumpy health promotion Femmi-Nazis love the word "choices". It's code for us doing what they tell us to do.