Friday, November 08, 2013

Union gets paid back for its thuggery

Qantas maintenance workers wanted "more":  More pay. When Qantas said no they embarked on a campaign of minor sabotage that had QANTAS planes frequently having to turn around in mid-air -- which was very damaging to the airline.  When the QANTAS boss  grounded the fleet, however, they saw the writing on the wall and all maintenance problems suddenly ceased.  It was too late, however,  QANTAS has now given the lot of them the boot.  Their greed destroyed their jobs.  Reminiscent of Scotland

HUNDREDS of specialised workers are "devastated" at Qantas' decision to close its heavy maintenance facility in Avalon next year.  Qantas will look overseas to maintain its remaining fleet of Boeing 747s after announcing the closure of the facility at the end of March 2014.

The closure of the Avalon base will affect 53 Qantas employees and 246 contractors with Forstaff Aviation.

Domestic chief executive Lyell Strambi said there was not enough work to retain the Avalon base, and the airliner will look offshore to maintain the 14 soon-to-be-retired 747s.  "As well as considering existing facilities, we will also examine specialist 747 maintenance providers including Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK and the US," he said.

"We will continue to do heavy maintenance on around 110 aircraft at our main base in Brisbane."

Qantas staff victims of 747 fade-out

Following an eight-week review, Mr Strambi said there would have been a 22-month gap with no scheduled maintenance over the next four years.

"Qantas is gradually retiring our fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft, which means there is not enough work to keep our Avalon base viable and productive," Mr Strambi said.

Mr Strambi said it was nonsense to say the closure was part of a long-term plan to shift operations to Asia.  "We want to make Brisbane work for us," he said, referring to a $30 million upgrade of the Brisbane facility.

Avalon worker Peter Ryan said he was devastated by the news.

"I'll be moving out of Geelong. We'll all struggle to find work here now," Mr Ryan, 49, said.  "I'm lucky I've worked in other industries but there are a lot of younger blokes who will find it tough.  "It's not our fault, we've done nothing wrong."

After 15 years working at Avalon he said the news was not a surprise but it "still hurt."  He believed work would now be sent offshore to Southeast Asia.

Victorian secretary of the Australian Workers' Union, Ben Davis said Qantas had "broken the hearts of workers". "This is devastating news in a part of Victoria that can't afford any more bad news," Mr Davis said.  "This facility didn't have to close and Qantas should be ashamed of themselves.

Mr Strambi flagged further changes to the Qantas engineering operations, saying modern aircraft needed less maintenance.

"Our fleet is now the youngest it has been in two decades and more modern aircraft have up to half the maintenance needs of older ones," Mr Strambi said.

"This will mean ongoing changes to our engineering operations in order for Qantas to remain competitive."

The Avalon review follows 263 redundancies at the site announced a year ago and the closure of the Tullamarine heavy maintenance facility, which resulted in the loss of 422 jobs.


Razor taken to CSIRO

Global Warmists get the boot.  Their completely unscientific support of global warming dogma has destroyed much of the respect the CSIRO once had

Almost a quarter of scientists, researchers and workers at Australia's premier science institution will lose their jobs under the federal government's present public service jobs freeze.

The blanket staff freeze across the public service threatens the jobs of 1400 "non-ongoing" workers at the CSIRO and could paralyse some of the organisation's premier research projects, with a ban on hiring, extending or renewing short-term contracts effective immediately.

The impact of the freeze on the CSIRO follows fears expressed in the scientific community about the Abbott government's failure to nominate a dedicated science minister out of his cabinet or ministerial team. The concerns have been heightened by subsequent decisions, including the closure of the global warming advisory body the Climate Change Commission, and revelations on Thursday that Australia will not be sending its Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, or any ministerial stand-in to international climate change negotiations starting on Monday in Warsaw.

The freeze is part of the Abbott government's plan to cut 12,000 jobs from the public service.

On Friday, the government will also announce the immediate dismantling of a raft of government advisory bodies, expert panels and national steering committees, covering diverse areas including ageing, legal affairs, ethics and animal welfare. Federal cabinet this week signed off on the changes, which will see a dozen "non-statutory" bodies axed altogether, and several more amalgamated with other bodies or absorbed into existing departmental functions.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott repeatedly promised before the election that a Coalition government would dramatically reduce the size of the bureaucracy and would do away with thousands of regulations said to be clogging the economy.

"There are currently more than 50,000 Acts and legislative instruments, many of which are a handbrake on Australia's ability to get things done," Mr Abbott said.

The bodies scrapped are: Australian Animals Welfare Advisory Committee; Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Committee; International Legal Services Advisory Committee; National Inter-country Adoption Advisory Council; National Steering Committee on Corporate Wrongdoing; Antarctic Animal Ethics Committee; Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula; High Speed Rail Advisory Group; Maritime Workforce Development Forum; Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing; Insurance Reform Advisory Group; and the National Housing Supply Council.

On Friday, the head of the advisory panel on positive ageing, Everald Compton, said his group had only six months of important work to go - and was not expensive.

"A few hundred thousand dollars a year, a couple of hundred thousand I think it is," he told ABC Radio. "We run a lean, mean operation. We don't go anywhere that we don't have to. We're not causing a financial disturbance in the government."

Mr Compton said that the group was on brink of presenting government with a blueprint on the legislative and financial changes that were needed over the next 25 years to turn ageing "into an asset rather than a liability".

"I find it a little hard to understand why, when we're so close to finishing something that we've had some years of work in, that it's chopped off and that the Government does not appear to want a report on how ageing is going to hit Australia."

At the CSIRO, staff leaders fronted their bosses on Thursday, demanding answers on the fate of the workers on contracts, which can often last up to 24 months.

CSIRO has an unusually high proportion of “non-ongoings” with 990 “term” workers and about 440 casual staff among its 6500 headcount.

"It's going to be a huge problem," said one staff member, who wanted to remain anonymous.

Staff were told last week of the decision, which will hit the organisation's 11 research divisions and 11 national research flagships, as well as critical support for frontline scientists.

In an email to staff, CSIRO chief executive Megan Clarke said: "I announce an immediate recruitment freeze covering the following: External recruitment; and, entering into any new, or extending existing term or contract employment arrangements."

Catriona Jackson, the chief executive of Science and Technology Australia, the peak lobby for the nation's scientists, said she was "concerned that cuts to the public service may fall disproportionately on scientists".

West Australian federal Liberal Dennis Jensen, himself a former research scientist at CSIRO, said the suggestion that the government had an anti-science bias was incorrect.

But he admitted the failure to have a dedicated science minister worried him.  "That does concern me," he said.

"If somebody wanted to raise a concern from one of the Cooperative Research Centres, often a bridge between academia and industry, then who would they write to? Do they write to the education minister or the industry minister, I think that is the major problem, that the focus and drive of a single minister is lost."

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos told Sky News on Friday that only 500-600 support staff could go at the CSIRO but argued the new government needed to be able to choose where it allocated and prioritised resources.  "The new government has to have a capacity to do that," he said.

A CSIRO spokesman said the number of jobs under threat had been exaggerated by the staff association.  The spokesman said that no more than 550 casual and “term” workers were facing contract renewals this financial year.

CSIRO's executive and senior staff have been frantically seeking explanations from government as to how the edict is to be interpreted.

Labor's spokesman for the environment, climate change and water, Mark Butler, said he wasn't surprised that scientists were being sacked by the government, say Mr Abbott does not respect scientists' work, particulary on climate change.

"And I don't think it's a coincidence that the experts being sacked by this government have previously pointed out the serious flaws in the Coalition's direct action con," Mr Butler said.

"If the government consulted independent scientists and researchers instead of Wikipedia, they would know their direct action policy will do nothing to tackle pollution and will end up costing households more.

"The government is sacking the experts and shutting out anyone who doesn't agree with them. It's a disgraceful act."


Federal government to repeal 'Bolt laws' restricting free speech

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis will fulfil an election promise next week and introduce legislation to repeal a section of Racial Discrimination Act that conservative journalist Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaching.

The repeal of the laws that make it unlawful to offend and insult people because of their race will be the first legislation Senator Brandis will introduce to Parliament, according to The Australian newspaper.

It will change the definition of racial vilification in what the government says is a move towards restoring free speech laws to their full power.

News Corp columnist Bolt was found to have breached the law in 2011 when he penned a column about a group of "light-skinned" indigenous Australians.

The column was found to be in breach of Section 18C, which makes it unlawful to publish material that offends or insults a person or group because "of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the person or of some or all of the people in the group" – the same section Senator Brandis intends to wind back.

Senator Brandis told The Australian that he was certain that the changes to the act would be viewed as the government condoning racial behaviour, but said he believed "you cannot have a situation in a liberal democracy in which the expression of an opinion is rendered unlawful because somebody else ... finds it offensive or insulting".

"The classic liberal democratic rights that in my view are fundamental human rights have been almost pushed to the edge of the debate," he said.

"It is a very important part of my agenda to re-centre that debate so that when people talk about rights, they talk about the great liberal democratic rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of worship and freedom of the press."

Before the federal election, then-attorney-general Mark Dreyfus called on Mr Abbott to back away from a pledge to repeal the laws, and wrote an open letter insisting the Coalition's stance on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was inconsistent with its support for the London Declaration on Combatting Anti-Semitism.

The London Declaration aims to draw international attention to the resurgence of anti-Semitism, and has been signed by politicians around the world, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard signed the declaration in April and Mr Abbott and every other federal Coalition MP also signed up.

A spokesman for Mr Abbott said the Coalition would repeal section 18C because "it enables the censorship of free speech".


ASIO report says there are great dangers from radical Islamists

Andrew Bolt

ASIO's report to Parliament last week exploded some sweet lies we've been told about our immigration program.  Here's one: immigration brings only good things, like falafel.  Here's another: there's still only a "tiny, unrepresentative minority" of Muslim extremists here. A "handful".

Handful? Check the ASIO report: "This year ASIO . . . investigated several hundred mostly Australia-based individuals who are advocates of a violent Islamist ideology."

In fact, we already have 20 Muslims jailed for terrorism-related offences and ASIO fears more may come: "There has been an increase in Australians travelling overseas to participate in terrorist training or engage in foreign disputes - Syria is the primary destination.

"The concern is . . . the likelihood of radicalised Australians returning home with an increased commitment and capability to pursue violent acts on our shores."

Indeed, the Syrian civil war has already "created domestic tensions . . . partly because of deep familial ties to Lebanon that exist here", with "sporadic incidents of small-scale communal violence in Australia".

Nor is the danger just from the 80 or so Australian Muslims fighting in Syria, or others who've trained or fought in Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. There are also the ticking bombs at home, fired up by messages pumped into their homes over the internet.

"The threat of homegrown terrorism is of significant concern," says ASIO, citing the Boston Marathon bombings and the London jihadists who slaughtered a British soldier. "In Australia, there are individuals and small groups who believe an attack here is justified."

"Issues such as Australia's military deployments over the last decade, the Syrian conflict, or a belief that the ideals of Australia are in direct conflict with their extreme interpretation of Islam, fuel the radical views of this cohort."

We are thankfully past the low point when Muslim groups elected as Grand Mufti of Australia the extremist Taj el-Din al-Hilali, who hailed the September 11 attacks as "God's work against oppressors".

ASIO says more moderate leaders have helped keep down tensions, especially over Syria. But Sheik Hilali still preaches at Lakemba Mosque - our biggest - and young radical preachers now whip up potentially lethal resentments, particularly when Australian soldiers are fighting jihadists overseas, or when police arrest them at home.

When five Muslims were jailed in Sydney for a terrorist plot, 30 Muslim "community leaders" and imams signed a statement at the Lakemba Mosque, claiming "the reason for the arrests and convictions is that these young men expressed or hold opinions that contradict Australia's foreign policy towards majority Muslim countries".

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which gets some 500 people to its conferences, later damned even Anzac Day as the celebration of "a disbelieving people, of events involving wars against the legitimate Muslim authority of the time".

ASIO's report didn't cover other evidence that a significant minority of some Muslim groups have struggled to integrate. For instance, those of Lebanese descent have high rates of unemployment, welfare dependency and imprisonment, and high rates of bikie gang membership.

Add also this danger sign: Of the 18 terrorist groups banned in Australia, 17 are Islamist. Even the exception, the Stalinist PKK, is from the Middle East.

Given all that, our immigration policies have been incredibly reckless, thanks to politicians more concerned with seeming good than achieving security.

We have been bringing in more than 10,000 refugees a year from Muslim lands - especially ones in which jihadism is worst. Many have little English and few skills. Not surprisingly, just 9 per cent of Afghan adults find work here even five years after arriving. Yet just last month, the Abbott Government said it would accept another 500 refugees from Syria's war between jihadists and the Assad regime.

Few would be any better equipped to integrate than were the refugees we took in from Lebanon's civil war and who formed a community which now makes up a quarter of our Muslim population - but which has produced nearly two thirds of those charged with terrorism offences.

Then there was Labor's astonishing decision in 2008 to scrap our tough border laws in a fit of "compassion", thus luring in 50,000 boat people, mostly Muslims. Already ASIO has deemed 58 a security risk.

Yes, the Abbott Government has now slashed the refugee intake from Labor's 20,000 a year to 13,500 and has sharply slowed the boats, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott is still too coy to publicly discuss the problem ASIO has labelled.

I asked him about the difficulty we had of integrating some migrants.

Abbott's response? To avoid even any mention of the word "Muslim".

Abbott: One of the great things about Australia is that we encourage people, indeed we expect people, who come to this country to leave their ethnic animosities behind them.

Bolt: But they are failing to in some cases.

Abbott: We encouraged the English and the Irish to leave their sectarian and other animosities behind them . . .

Bolt: But they didn't have suicide bombers.

Abbott: ... and we largely succeeded.

When I pointed out that Muslims alone had been jailed here for terrorism-related offences - 20 so far - Abbott explained why he wouldn't say more. "Yeah, but it would be a big mistake for anyone in authority in Australia to suggest that people might be citizens second and adherents of a particular faith first, because nothing could be more guaranteed to hinder the integration and ultimately the assimilation of such people."

Abbott is right to a point. Even writing this threatens to do more harm than good. It could simply license racists and make our very many law-abiding Muslims here feel threatened and insulted.

But for years journalists kept diplomatically quiet about these problems and that didn't help either


PM brings diggers home with honour

AUSTRALIANS troops are preparing to bring home their battle flags from Afghanistan, a withdrawal with honour after an engagement that became our longest war.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott captured the mixed sentiment in his sensitive address to the troops at Tarin Kot in Uruzgan province when he said: “This is a bittersweet moment for Australia.

“Sweet, because hundreds of soldiers will be home by Christmas.

“Bitter, because not all Australian families have had their sons, fathers and partners return.

“Sweet, because our soldiers have given a magnificent account of themselves.

“Bitter, because Afghanistan remains a dangerous place despite all that has been done.”

The emotion captured in his words was heartfelt.

Twelve long years ago, on October 7, almost a month to the day after the murderous September 11 aerial terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre Towers and the Pentagon, former Prime Minister John Howard committed Australia to assist in the global hunt for Osama bin Laden and to purging the al Qaeda from its strongholds in Afghanistan in a multination force engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The mission mutated over the years but the goals were always based on the values that enlighten the free world - freedom, education, the rule of law.

There is no doubt that al Qaeda in Afghanistan was crippled but there can also be little doubt that the hate-filled fundamentalists of the Taliban have regrouped and are waiting to descend once the multinational troops are finally withdrawn.

The Australian forces, while still hunting the murderers trying to enforce their medieval codes on men and women anxious to join the modern world, engaged in nation building exercises which they had earlier practised in East Timor, the Solomons and Iraq.

Our forces have trained and mentored Afghan troops as well as given support to programs aimed at educating girls - an advance particularly hated by the Islamists.

Abbott had visited Tarin Kot three times as Opposition leader, though he had to endure political harassment from the Labor government and its claque of media groupies when he did so.

On his fourth visit he was able to invite Opposition leader Bill Shorten to accompany him in a show of bipartisanship that placed the years of Labor provocation he had endured in their true shameful context.

“It seemed to me that it would be wrong to go too far into a Prime Ministership and not pay my respects to the men and women in uniform and out of uniform who have done so much for our country, have done so much for the people of Afghanistan and so much for the wider world,” he told the men and women at the Australian base.

“You have done good work here in Uruzgan. As the (Afghan) Interior Minister and the Governor pointed out, there is education, there is health; and it’s not just education and health for some people, as far as it can be in a rugged and difficult country, it’s education and health for everyone including the women of Uruzgan province.

“So you have done good work. You have done your work remarkably well with an extraordinary degree of professionalism and whether it’s the different elements of the army, whether it’s the police, the civilians, ASIS, all of the various Australian units that have come together to make this work, you have done it with extraordinary professionalism.

“We heard the Minister for the Interior say before the representatives of America, Holland, Britain, Singapore and others, that we were the best. That was a big call! Those of you who have worked with our American and British colleagues know that they are very good. Those of you who worked with the Dutch know that they did incredibly good work and whenever I ask about the Singaporean forces training in Australia, I am told we don’t want to get them unhappy because they pack a punch. So it’s great to know that the work that we have done here is respected and admired by our peers right around the world.”

And he told them their efforts had not been wasted.

“I want to say that it has been worth it. This has been a very difficult commitment. People have paid a high price. We’ve lost 40 of our best. We mourn them. We remember them. We honour them. We want to work with their families. We will never forget them. Some 260 have been wounded, many, very seriously. Then there are all of those who will carry mental and physical scars with them for the rest of their lives.

“Still, to be able to help our allies, to defend our interests and uphold our values is just about the best thing that any Australian can do and as I look around at all of you in uniform and out of uniform I am tremendously honoured to be in your presence. I am in awe of your professionalism. I respect what you have done and along with every other Australian, I honour you. I honour you and I pay tribute to you and I am confident that you will never be forgotten here in this part of Uruzgan.”

Canberra singer and diplomat Fred Smith’s haunting song Dust of Uruzgan is already the anthem for those who served in Afghanistan.

With its poignant lyrics, it encapsulates our engagement in that conflict as John Schumann captured the sentiments of many Australian troops toward Vietnam in his classic I Was Only 19.

Reprehensibly, some of those who returned from Vietnam were appallingly treated by some extremists opposed to that war and were let down by the bureaucracy.

Fortunately, we have matured as a nation. Those who have served deserve our gratitude and we should honour them as they return from Afghanistan as we honour those who came home from Iraq, and continue to honour those who defend with their lives the values we cherish and enjoy.


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