Monday, January 29, 2018

Australia’s Workplace Relations System is Broken

Australia’s workplace relations system is broken — it is not optimally serving the interests of employees, employers, the public or our national economy.

The rail dispute in Sydney this week is an example of just one small part of the broader problem with a system that is no longer fit for purpose.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers initiated the legal case on Tuesday afternoon to stop the industrial action as we were concerned that no one else had, and time was running out. The Government joined in on Wednesday.

We, at Harmers Workplace Lawyers, took this legal action because we believe the industrial action by the unions was not in the public interest and was excessive. The community should not be exposed to enormous disruption and economic loss simply because two warring parties cannot agree.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers had legal standing in this dispute as, under the legislation, it was heavily impacted by the industrial action. More than 50% of our staff rely on trains to get to work. There would have been a considerable loss of revenue, cash flow and productivity to the firm if the strike went ahead.

We were justifiably concerned for the impact on many commuters and that many businesses across the State would be similarly affected to ours. We also genuinely apprehended that the industrial action was not legally protected, and that even the overtime bans would expose rail employees and their unions to class action style litigation for tens of millions of dollars. As concerned citizens we felt it incumbent upon us to attempt to stop all of those outcomes.

Rail unions and their members had been provoked by their employer and had legitimate bargaining issues to pursue. The only effective bargaining leverage the current system gave them was to threaten — and take — disruptive industrial action.

The implementation of overtime bans and the threat of a whole-day strike achieved its intended aim of prompting a better offer from the NSW Government. But the overtime ban caused misery for hundreds of thousands of Sydneysiders on Thursday. Monday’s strike would have caused too much harm to innocent bystanders and the economy. So the only option left was to seek legal orders stopping the industrial action.

An enterprise bargaining system reliant on such industrial action leverage is old-fashioned and inefficient.
The strike was not in the public interest.

Millions of workers do not have any such leverage — they have bills to pay, families to feed and skyrocketing expenses. They resolve their disputes directly with their employers without having the ability to disrupt the lives of millions. So, effective leverage is missing for employees at either end of the spectrum. Employers also crave a fair go in a system which lacks adequate flexibility.

There is a need for a reformed system which respects workplace rights, and the need for flexibility for workers, business and the public. That system should be built totally on the Australian notion of the fair go all round.

Such a system should redress the imbalance between employees and employers via an improved system of good faith bargaining, conciliation and fair-go-all-round arbitration — without flow on abuses and the excesses of the past.

We currently have totally different modes of legislation to address each of workplace relations, human rights and workplace health and safety — these should be streamlined into one integrated system.

We need to breathe new life into employee and employer representation — for without it access to justice in our country is an expensive farce.

The major political parties have got to stop playing politically-expedient football with the system — kicking partisan, outmoded models back and forth across the political spectrum.

There is a need for genuine national consultation on a middle path for our workplace relations system — which is currently in a politically frozen abyss.

That new system should provide a principled mooring respecting the rights and responsibilities of workers, business and the public interest and should not be built on political expediency.

I write these comments as we celebrate the Australia Day weekend as part of a genuine call for reform, and in an entirely personal capacity.


David Leyonhjelm attacks cultural awareness training as ‘racism’

Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm has accused the federal government of racism after the staff of all federal politicians were offered special “cultural awareness” training to help them interact with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Ministerial and parliamentary services employees were offered two hours’ training designed to provide “a better understanding of indigenous Australians in your workplace, social environments and the community in which you live and work”.

“Whether you are delivering services specifically to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, working with indigenous colleagues, working with the general public or you just want to increase your understanding about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people you live with, this course is of benefit to you,” an email to staff said.

The course includes an overview of indigenous Australian history; the modern impact; understanding common terms and indigenous culture; protocols, including awareness of sensitive issues affecting indigenous people, and indigenous people in today’s workplace.

Senator Leyonhjelm said although the training was not compulsory, he was opposed to the use of taxpayers’ money to deliver it. “It’s racist because it favours a particular race (indigenous Australians) over another race (all other Australian races),” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“It infers other Australians require training to become culturally aware of indigenous Australians, whereas we don’t require training to be aware of other cultures (Swedish barons, for example).”

He said such training was “misguided”. “I went to school with Aborigines and we mostly got on fine,” he said. “When people choose to be racists, cultural training won’t help.”

Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi said: “This kind of tokenistic fawning is symptomatic of the growing malaise relentlessly foisted upon us by the politically correct mafia.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the training was not compulsory.


Not sure whether the Senator referred to a Swedish barony above or whether a journalist inserted it. Leyonhjelm (Lion helmet) is a Swedish baronial title and the senator is of that ilk

Another contribution to Australia from China

Mathematical Excellence Recognised in Australia Day Honours

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) congratulates Eddie Woo, its members and supporters of the mathematical sciences community on their inclusion in the 2018 Australia Day Honours.

Professor Prince said it was gratifying to see members of the mathematical community acknowledged in this way.

“Policy shapers, innovators and role-models, these are individuals whose passion and leadership are causing ripples of change across the Australian mathematical pipeline,” he said.

Wootube founder and Head of Maths at Cherrybrook Technology High School, Eddie Woo, received the 2018 Australian Local Hero Award for his application of modern technology approaches in the classroom. The 2016 AMSI Choose Maths Excellence Award winner also delivered this year’s NSW Australia Day address.

Perhaps one of Australia’s most famous mathematics teachers, Woo is a true pioneer whose creativity and passion in the classroom has transformed student engagement and achievement. With over 160,000 followers, the impact of his work is felt globally.

“An outstanding educator and mathematics advocate, Eddie has made an indelible impact on Australian mathematics and is richly deserving of this recognition and the platform it provides to further their work,” he said.

Media release from

Canada wine war launched through WTO

The idea of Canadian wine does seem faintly amusing. One would think that Canada would be too cold for the growing of wine grapes.  But they do in fact grow 40% of their own wine consumption.  Their cold climate appears to have enabled them to grow one highly praised wine -- Eiswein (ice wine). Germany was for a long time the only supplier. 

Australia has launched formal ­action with the World Trade ­Organisation targeting Canada over a trade dispute involving Australian wine products, two months after Justin Trudeau snubbed Malcolm Turnbull and world leaders during crucial negotiations on a new Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

In a rare move, the Turnbull government initiated WTO ­dispute-settlement action against Canada following representations from Australian winemakers concerned about “protectionist” measures that threatened their ­lucrative export market.

The Australian can reveal that Trade Minister Steve Ciobo initiated the WTO proceedings after bilateral discussions with Canada broke down.

Australian wine sales to Canada, valued at almost $200 million, make it the fourth biggest market for the domestic export industry after China, the US and Britain.

Mr Ciobo said the Australian wine industry was a “big export earner” and “job creator”.

He ­described Canadian measures as discriminatory. “I want to make sure we stand up for our producers and not allow other countries to discriminate against us, costing us export income and ­potentially jobs,” he said. “Australia has requested formal WTO consultations on measures discriminating against Australian wine imports that we consider to be clearly inconsistent with Canada’s WTO commitments. Canada’s inconsistent measures include extra taxes, fees and mark-ups on imported wine, separate distribution channels reserved for Canadian wine and restricting sale of imported wine in grocery stores to a ‘store within a store’.”

Australia previously launched action with the WTO in 2003, successfully arguing that the ­EU had breached international trade rules. Mr Ciobo said WTO action ­ensured that the Australian wine industry would be protected.

“Canada’s wine market is worth approximately $7 billion,” he said. “These measures are ­impacting on Australia’s ability to better access this market.”

The Turnbull government’s pursuit of Canada through the WTO follows a souring in relations after Mr Trudeau was accused of derailing the rejuvenated TPP11 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Vietnam in November.

Mr Trudeau failed to attend a crucial leaders’ meeting despite an earlier agreement struck by the TPP11 trade ministers, including Canada’s representative, that settled on a “substantial conclusion”.

Following the snub, Australian officials described Mr Trudeau’s absence at the meeting as “shocking” and that the Canadians had “screwed everybody”. Winemakers Federation of Australia chief executive Tony Battaglene said Canada’s restrictions were having an impact on Australian exports.

Canadian provinces have adopted non-tariff measures with respect to the sale and marketing of wine that discriminate in favour of locally produced wines.

Mr Battaglene said there had been long-running issues over equal access to the Canadian ­market but the level of protections had “ramped up” over the past two years.

Mr Battaglene said there had been a lot of concern from producers that this would have an impact, “and we have started to see that. Having said that, we are seeing the Canadian market start to grow so we want to make sure we don’t stymie that growth by having these measures which will prevent our product growing.

“If it was just one or two things you wouldn’t be concerned but when there is a pattern that comes right across the country from the different provinces, it starts to paint a picture of how we can be severely impeded so we want to get on top of it before it becomes a real issue.”

Mr Battaglene said the most significant access issues involved banning foreign wine from being sold at grocery stores in British Columbia and extra sales taxes.

The Australian government yesterday reiterated that it supported a multilateral trading ­system and that WTO members should fully comply with their commitments. If the stand-off with Canada can’t be resolved through WTO consultations (the first stage in dispute settlement actions), Australia could request a WTO panel.

Canada last week launched separate WTO proceedings against the US as negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement continue to stall.

Mr Battaglene said the ­Australian government’s action with the WTO was critical amid those Canada-US trade ­negotiations.

“The US initiated World Trade Organisation action last year and as part of that they are also negotiating a settlement to NAFTA, and we were very concerned that they would get the same preferential access that Canadian producers did and that would be to the severe detriment of Australian producers,” Mr Battaglene said.

“Now we are launching our own action, we don’t have to worry about the US getting preferential access over us because we are actually in the box seat to ensure whatever comes out of it we get the best option.”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

We get hit up for race-baiti....I mean Cultural sensitivity training here. I refused to do it until all the Indigenous employees were made to do sexual diversity training. Needless to say, I've since been left alone. Sometimes you can have some fun with your persecuted minority card.