Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ethnic strife

This is a joke but there is more point to it than you might think

Noel Cleal flies to Kabul to watch a young Afghan star in a local game of rugby played with an inflated goat''s bladder. He is suitably impressed, gets on the phone to Des Hasler, signs the boy for the Bulldogs on the spot and arranges for him to come over to Sydney.

Two weeks later The Doggies are 12 - 0 down to The Sea Eagles at home with only 20 minutes left - it?s been a hard day at the office. Hasler gives the young Afghani winger the nod, and on he goes.

The lad is a sensation, playing an absolute blinder. He scores 3 tries in 20 minutes, converts all of them himself from out wide and wins the game for Canterbury . The Belmore Oval fans are delighted, the players and the coach are delighted and the media love the new star of Rugby League.

When the player comes off the ground he phones his mum to tell her about his first day in the NRL.

'Hello mum, guess what?' he says 'I played for 20 minutes today, we were 12 - 0 down but I scored 3 tries - they call it a hat-trick - and we won. Everybody loves me, the fans, the press, they all love me - I'm so happy.'

'Just wonderful,' says his mum, 'Let me tell you about my day ?

.... Your father got shot in the street, your sister and I were ambushed and assaulted - she would have been raped but for a passing police vehicle. Your brother has joined a local gang of looters and set fire to some buildings and all while you tell me that you were having a great time!!'

The young lad is very upset. 'What can I say mum, but I'm really sorry.'

'Sorry?!!! Sorry?!!!' says his mum,

'It's your bloody fault we came to Bankstown in the first place!'

Qld.: Unions ready for war with Premier Campbell Newman over fair pay

I'm looking forward to it.  They'll find that they've got another Sir Joh on their hands -- and Sir Joh creamed them

UNIONS are preparing to go to war against Campbell Newman over fair pay, with multiple industrial battles brewing following the Premier's hardline stance.

Teachers are set to rally outside State Parliament today, core public servants are threatening to strike and firefighters have lodged notice of industrial action from August 1.

But in a strong indication the State Government may ditch its election promise not to force redundancies, Mr Newman yesterday said Labor had hired 20,000 too many public servants and they could no longer be afforded.

"We're not saying they're going to go, but when unions start to make pay cases and say they want more, well I'm afraid that makes it even harder to save those jobs," he said.

As the State Opposition accused the Government of throwing workers into uncertainty by muddling its job cuts figures, Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams warned slashing 20,000 public sector jobs would strip millions of dollars from already struggling regional economies.

The Government this week angered core public service workers with a 2.2 per cent pay offer without incremental increases - its lowest deal yet.

Together union secretary Alex Scott yesterday said its members would be better off not signing the agreement at all, saying they would effectively take a 1 to 2 per cent pay cut.

He said staff may take industrial action from August, while the United Firefighters' Union of Queensland has lodged notice of industrial action from August 1, angered by the proposed buyout of their allowances and overtime in return for a 2.7 per cent pay rise.

It came as some public servants set to lose their jobs on June 30 raised concerns huge chunks of their severance payments could be forfeited to the taxman because the State has refused to process payouts before July 1.

Thousands of Queensland bureaucrats employed for years on so-called "temporary contracts" are set for unemployment under a contract extension freeze.  Axed workers are entitled to two weeks' pay per year of service, capped at 52 weeks.

From July 1, federal tax changes mean workers whose overall income including payouts exceeds $180,000 will lose 45c of every dollar earned over that cap to the Commonwealth.

"Genuine redundancy" payments are excluded from the cap, so workers facing layoffs - such as Fairfax staff - would only pay tax rates of 15 per cent (for over-55s) or 30 per cent (for under-55s) on payouts of up to $175,000.  Their income would not be taken into account.

It is understood that expired contracts of Queensland's temporary employees would not be eligible for that exemption because their job losses are not considered redundancies.

Treasury was last night unable to say how many people would be affected or how much the payouts would cost the Government. One accountant, who is handling the finances of several public servants but did not wish to be named, said the Government was unfairly penalising workers by refusing to transfer cash before June 30.

"It's just lousy that they won't process the payments in double-quick time," he said.

Queensland nurses and midwives are also voting on a 3 per cent pay offer made before an interim audit report last Friday dramatically downgraded the state's financial position, but Nurses Union secretary Beth Mohle would not rule out future industrial action.

The Queensland Teachers Union is disputing a 2.7 per cent pay rise tied to changes in working conditions, which president Kevin Bates said "threatens the future of education in Queensland".


Qld. government renames and amends Civil Partnerships Act in parliament

SAME-sex couples will no longer be able to enter into a "civil union" in Queensland - they will be known officially as registered relationships.

Under a further change to the previous government's controversial law, the Newman Government will rename the Civil Partnerships Act, the Registered Relationships Act.

The amended, and renamed Act, which was introduced to State Parliament tonight, does away with state-sanctioned ceremonies for people entering into registered relationships.

It also makes it easier for couples to "de-register" their relationship by removing the requirement they go through the District Court, and instead can apply to Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Despite outrage over the proposed scrapping of state-endorsed ceremonies, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie insisted that the amendments did not "prohibit a couple from holding a private ceremony".  "The ceremony does not affect the legality of the registration process," he said.

Mr Bleijie told Parliament that the changes will see the process become "simplified" and "less onerous", and will "more accurately reflect the purpose and objectives of the act".

Premier Campbell Newman revealed last week that the changes were made to appease Christian churches who were "offended" by a marriage-type ceremony for same-sex couples.

The civil unions issue is believed to have divided the LNP after the party spoke of possibly repealing the legislation during the election campaign.

On Monday, Deputy Speaker Mark Robinson told ABC Radio he personally believed the LNP should have repealed Labor's law to reflect the concerns "of the large majority of Queenslanders".

Gay rights groups have expressed relief the Government did not overturn the legislation but criticised the abolition of state-sanctioned ceremonies.

Some turned to Twitter to suggest the watering down of the laws have made the process akin to registering a pet dog.  "I marry (or wed) my beloved. I register my dog," one wrote.  "Registered relationships ... next you get a little plastic tag to wear and an ear tattoo," wrote another.

Labor MP Jackie Trad used Twitter to describe Mr Bleijie's stance as "just unbelievably heartless".


Qld. govt.  planning to change union donation laws

The Labor Party's campaign in next year's federal election has been dealt a serious financial blow in Queensland.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is changing electoral donation laws so that unions will no longer be able to give money to political parties unless the donation is approved by a secret ballot of members.

Mr Newman says he decided to act after he saw a media report that the ALP was considering increasing its union affiliation fees by 40 per cent.

"At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, we think it is terrible that hard-working union members should have to be hit by a large increase in union fees to go to a particular political party," he said.

"What we are proposing is an arrangement where once a year they would put their proposals for the next 12 months to the membership, have a democratic secret ballot and to get that signed off by the members.  "Surely that is fair and reasonable?"

But the proposal has outraged Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and the state secretary Anthony Chisholm, who says there are more than 20 affiliated unions.

"Sure, we mightn't have the money, but we'll have the people power on the ground, which is the traditional strength of the Labor Party," Mr Chisholm said.

"If you are going to go down this track you have to have a real good look at whether companies, without reference to their shareholders, should be able to donate money to political parties," he said.  "We need a level playing field."

Mr Newman acknowledged the argument.  "I think that's a fair point but all I say is that corporations do have to answer to shareholders at annual general meetings," he said.

"Frankly, what the unions are saying is a bit disingenuous and self-serving.  "We've seen terrible, terrible things going on, it is alleged, in the Health Services Union where money has been totally spent on all sorts of spurious things.  "I don't think the unions have a leg to stand on in making that comment."

Labor was considering increasing the affiliation fees as a way to raise funds ahead of next year's federal election, which will be fiercely contested in Queensland.

But Mr Newman says that was not his concern.  "This is not about the federal election or the next state election or council elections," he said.  "This is about the democratic rights of union members to actually have a say where their money is going and to not just automatically support a political party."

The Coalition government in New South Wales recently enacted donation laws which forbid unions and corporations from making any political donations, and only allow individuals to contribute a maximum of $2,000 a year.

Mr Newman would not reveal if he had plans to follow suit.  "I'm certainly not ruling out other reform to election funding arrangements in Queensland," he said.


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