Thursday, August 08, 2013

Labor's illegal immigrant message is working, says minister

PEOPLE are getting the message about Labor's tougher stance on boat arrivals, Immigration Minister Tony Burke says

He says he's received reports from Indonesia that there are widespread demands from potential asylum seekers wanting their money back from people smugglers.

Mr Burke says they are realising they would be buying a ticket to Papua New Guinea or Nauru not to Australia.

"When I say the demands for money back are widespread, they are absolutely widespread," Mr Burke told reporters in Sydney.

"They realise that what they have paid for is no longer available to them."

"There is no doubt that the message is getting through."

Mr Burke said the only way to stop people smugglers was to take their product and customers away, and that was starting to happen.

He also said a "very significant number" of people who had been transferred to PNG's Manus Island were now in talks with internationals organisation of migration organising their transfers back home.

He said that could be done fairly quickly if they still had their identity documents with them.


Torres Strait Islanders win High Court bid for native title commercial fishing rights

A group of Torres Strait Islanders has won a bid to secure commercial fishing rights under native title.

The group wants to build an economic base from commercial fishing in a vast area of sea between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The case was strongly opposed by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments, and the fishing industry.

No one contested that the Islanders held native title over the 40,000 square kilometres of sea, but it was argued those rights no longer extended to the commercial trade of marine resources such as fish.

The Queensland Government argued native title rights over the area had been extinguished by a law that controls commercial fishing.

But the full bench of the High Court found those commercial rights still exist and have not been extinguished by Commonwealth and state laws.

The commercial native title rights are still subject to the commercial fishing licensing regime.

The native title claim was first lodged in 2001 and today's ruling is the final legal step.


Small differences in workplace policies

Labor had hoped to resuscitate the spectre of the Coalition's unpopular WorkChoices policy that cost it government in 2007.

But, since the opposition outlined its modest workplace policy in May, it has got little traction in the community. The debate has moved on to other areas such as education and immigration.

That careful policy, launched by Mr Abbott and workplace spokesman Eric Abetz, disappointed the business community, which is in the mood for radical reform.

In their 38-page policy document, Mr Abbott and Mr Abetz promised no major changes to Labor's Fair Work Act.

This meant no changes to unfair dismissal laws, penalty rates and other contentious areas until after the 2016 election. In the meantime, Mr Abbott says, workplace laws will be subject to a Productivity Commission review.

Professor Andrew Stewart, an industrial relations expert at the University of Adelaide, says an Abbott government "would see very little change" for employers and employees in the private sector.

"Most of the relatively limited policies that the Coalition has announced are heavily directed towards a handful of militant unions," he says.

These include the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Maritime Union of Australia, he says. "So the great majority of employees and businesses would see very little change," Professor Stewart says.

The Coalition's more generous parental leave plans will be a key difference, Professor Stewart says. "But as I read it, Tony Abbott's way of dealing with the massive internal criticism of this policy is to put off legislating it as long as possible," he says.

Retailers in particular had wanted Mr Abbott to do much more to reduce penalty rates, on Sundays in particular.

In changes made to the Fair Work Act this year, Labor entrenched penalty rates for unsociable hours in modern awards. It also expanded the right to request flexible work hours, and required employers to consult on roster changes.

In return, employer groups attacked Labor for giving too many advantages to unions, at the cost of employers' needs.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman says a Coalition victory would be preferable for his members. But it, too, has gone nowhere near far enough for his members' liking, he says. "We really need to have some serious discussion about penalty rates on weekends," Mr Zimmerman says.

Retailers are among several industries - hospitality is another - calling for penalty rates to be all but abolished. But an Abbott government has promised only to review the penalties system, not change it.

Retail employs about 10 per cent of Australia's workforce, second only to healthcare and social assistance.


Election outcome boils down to who can be taken on trust

Paul Sheehan

The next 30 days will have the political class providing an ever-replenished smorgasbord of vote-buying, policy debates, policy analysis, gotcha moments, opinion polls, opinion poll analysis, betting odds, personality scrutiny, personality disorders, spats, tiffs, stand-offs, trolling, conspiracy theories, character assassination and micro-dissections, little of which will decide the election.

It rarely does. The political class, the group who care most about politics, do not decide elections. Elections are determined by the vast majority who feel either indifferent or uncomfortable with active politics. Even though there will be more analysis than ever before, more tools, more polls and more technology, the election will be decided by taking the measure of the credibility of the two main alternatives. What decides the election can be described by a single word.


Kevin Rudd got it right when, announcing the election on Sunday, he said: "This election will be about who the Australian people trust to best lead them through the difficult new economic challenges which now lie ahead."

He was right, too, in choosing to fight a presidential campaign. Tony Abbott should be chastened by Rudd's improbable resurgence since he deposed the women who deposed him. The electorate lacked faith in Julia Gillard's robotic performance and was going to throw her out, but the polls reveal the electorate has never warmed to Abbott. He, too, has been suffering from the same robotic condition that afflicted Gillard.

If the election is about trust can the electorate trust Rudd? It disapproved of his political assassination. It approved of his political redemption. But how is it going to react to his narcissism? It was evident from the opening seconds - not even minutes - of the formal 2013 election campaign, after the flight path of his aircraft was tracked on Sky News (more dissection, more tools, more micro-analysis) on its way to Canberra before Rudd disembarked and announced the election date.

In his opening statement of campaign Rudd, he said he would offer "a positive vision" for Australia. That promise lasted about 15 seconds before he said: "Tony Abbott has a different approach. He'll bang on with the same negativity that we're all sick of. He's only got three-word slogans because he doesn't have the ticker to debate his real agenda."

His opponent has no guts, he bangs on, he only offers three-word slogans, whereas Rudd offers, "A New Way".

Casting himself as an underdog, Rudd then offered this: "Mr Abbott's advertising campaign will be massive, funded by the massive war chest he's amassed from a whole range of vested interests in industry, not least the tobacco companies."

If the Coalition had a "massive" campaign war chest, what would Rudd call the $30 million the federal government is spending at his behest on a national advertising campaign warning that anyone who arrives in Australia by boat and without a visa will never be settled in Australia?

This is the greatest moral contortion, the most cynical piece of election-eve expediency, the brutalisation of vulnerable asylum seekers, threatening to consign them to a row of tents on a malarial island off the coast of a failed state. It was Mr Positive who created this mess, this worst-of-both-worlds debacle, a $10 billion hole in the budget. When Rudd first came to office he made a great show of claiming the moral high ground and removing what he called the "stain" of offshore processing of asylum seekers. What was a stain has now become a necessity. It can't work, but Rudd will clean up the mess after the election.

Rudd has lied. I use the term "lie" as in lie, as in knowingly saying something that he knows not to be true. After shadow treasurer Joe Hockey stated the obvious, that the decision by the Reserve Bank to reduce interest rates to their lowest level in 53 years was a response to a softening economy and rising unemployment, Rudd claimed Hockey, and the opposition, wanted families to pay higher interest rates.

The Prime Minister is throwing dust and debris into the eyes of the debate. He is running against "vested interests". He is running against "big tobacco". He is claiming credit for a AAA credit rating he inherited. He is running against Rupert Murdoch who, suddenly, is Tony Abbott's "mate". As if the pounding the News Corporation newspapers have given his government had nothing to do with policy debacles.

What Rudd is not doing is running on his record. He can't. The blow-out in boat arrivals, in the deficit, in the federal debt, in the cost of energy, ensure that if ran on his record instead of running a campaign of distortion and deflection he would lose, and lose badly.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"Mr Burke said the only way to stop people smugglers was to take their product and customers away"

So why did it take the fear of an electoral rout to make them do something? Was the compromise of Australia's sovereignty just not quite enough?