Sunday, July 21, 2013


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is mocking Rudd's asylum seeker brainwave.

Kevin Rudd's plan to send boat people to the third world

ASYLUM seekers trying to get to Australia could be stopped at the door and permanently resettled in developing countries under a secret deal being negotiated to ease the regional refugee crisis mounting on our shores.

The Daily Telegraph understands high-level discussions have been held between Australia, Indonesia and PNG for a radical new plan for Australia to continue to process boat arrivals but resettle legitimate refugees in other countries.

The Daily Telegraph understands the plan to resettle will form the major plank of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's response to the failed border protection policy to reduce the intake of asylum seekers to Australia, expected to be announced within days.

Discussions are believed to have also been held with the US and Canada - which, like Australia, are a destination country for economic refugees - about the broader global problem and the need to share the burden to other countries.

Speculation has centred on the possible expansion of processing facilities in PNG.  However, The Telegraph understands the deal being negotiated would mean asylum seekers would  not only be processed in other countries - they would then be settled there as permanent refugees.

The significant breakthrough on a regional solution is believed to have the backing of Indonesia and could significantly cut the intake of asylum seekers to Australia.

It would also serve as a major disincentive for asylum seekers taking the journey to Australia in the first place, as they could find themselves settled in other countries in the region if their claims to refugee status are successful.

It is understood the plan had been discussed on Mr Rudd's recent visits to Indonesia and PNG. He is expected to announce his border protection plan within days.

Meanwhile, ABC reported last night Indonesia had made it harder for people from Iran to enter the country, a move which could slow the flow of people on their way to seeking asylum in Australia.

Indonesia's Justice and Human Rights Department has confirmed the country would stop people from Iran obtaining a visa on arrival.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would not comment on the specific option, instead saying he planned to "wait and see what the Government comes up with".   "I think the public are entitled to be very skeptical of Mr Rudd when it comes to these policy issues," he said in Bundaberg this morning.

"Let's face it, Mr Rudd put the people smugglers back into business back in August of 2008 when the government he then led abolished the Howard Government's successful Pacific Solution."

When asked whether the Coalition had ever considered a similar option, Mr Abbott pointed to temporary protection visas and offshore processing as options.


Australians want opportunity, not equality

In an article about Labor MP Andrew Leigh's latest book, Battlers and Billionaires, economics editor of The Sydney Morning Herald Ross Gittins claims that Australian egalitarianism has become a 'fa├žade.'

According to Gittins, evidence of increasing income inequality shows that Australia is slipping from its egalitarian moorings. Since the late 1970s, the share of income going to the top 1% of earners has increased from 5% to approximately 9%, while Australia now has the 9th highest level of inequality among 34 leading industrialised nations.

Leigh's stories of Australian streets where the typical house sells for more than $7 million and a Porsche 911 or a Maserati Quattroporte is de rigueur are certainly powerful fodder for class warriors.

However, concerns about rising income inequality are misplaced.

At the heart of Australian egalitarianism is the ideal of a fair go for all: Everyone should have the opportunity to improve their position in society with the right combination of ambition and natural ability.

This ideal stretches back to the anti-authoritarian and egalitarian ethos of Henry Lawson's Australia. And with 91% of us saying that it is a fundamental Australian value, it still defines the way we see the relationship between society and the individual.

But guaranteeing what Gittins calls a 'reasonably equal distribution between households' is not a fair go; it is equality of outcomes.

Rather than ensuring that everyone has the tools to play the game of life to the best of their abilities, equality of outcomes effectively means rigging the game so that everyone ends up with the same results.

Not surprisingly, this ersatz version of Australian egalitarianism is out of step with community attitudes. An overwhelming majority (85%) of Australians think that a person's income 'should depend on how hard they work and how talented they are.'

A focus on equality of outcomes is not just at odds with Australian values; it also distracts us from what we should really be concerned about.

The average number of European sports cars in garages in Vaucluse, Toorak and Peppermint Grove has little bearing on whether Australia lives up to the ideal of a fair go.

As the late, great Helen Hughes stressed, the real test of whether Australia can 'hold its head up as a country that has a fair-go for all' is whether the most disadvantaged Australians can escape poverty and unemployment and take advantage of the abundant economic opportunities enjoyed by most Australians.


Workplace rights taken to the extreme

When the Fair Work Act was unveiled it took a while for the effects of the new general protections provisions to become known. Passed with the best of intentions, Labor's general protections provisions were intended to ensure that employers did not violate the rights of their employees, or punish them for enforcing their rights.  

Unfortunately the provisions have created a lawyer's picnic in the workplace. Take radio presenter Mel Greig's case against Southern Cross Austereo, owner of 2day FM, where Greig is employed.

Greig, along with her co-host Michael Christian, were responsible for the prank call made to a London Hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for morning sickness in December last year. Three days later, Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse that spoke to Greig and Christian, committed suicide, citing the Melbourne DJs in her decision to end her own life.

Greig has now filed a general protections claim alleging her employer failed to provide a safe workplace. Meanwhile, her co-host has since returned to work and received the station's 'Next Top Jock' award.  

While we should have sympathy for Greig, who has received counselling and remains on paid sick leave, it doesn't necessarily follow that she ought to receive compensation.

General protections laws prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against the employee where the employee is enforcing a 'workplace right.' An obvious example would be where a worker is demoted for becoming a union member. 

But recently we've seen a steady increase in the scope of claims for employee protections, each of which increase business costs and create workplaces fraught with legal complexities.

Thanks to the poor construction of the laws, general protections claims can be difficult for employers to defend. They carry a reverse onus of proof, meaning that once the employee has established an action and can point to a workplace right, the employer must prove that their actions were not for a 'prohibited' reason. Normally the employee would need to demonstrate this link.  

As the old adage goes, hard cases make bad law. With the new bullying legislation soon to be introduced, the balance of workplace protections could become unworkable. 


Complaints aside, ICT graduates in demand, say teachers

(ICT = Information and Communications Technology)

While ICT workers rail against employers offshoring work and using overseas staff on 457 visas for destroying opportunities in the sector, academics insist their graduates are finding jobs as easily as ever.

Leon Sterling, dean of the ICT faculty at Swinburne University and head of the Australian Council of Deans of ICT, said debate about the issue was "distorted by a small minority of loud voices".

Professor Sterling said outsourcing did not spell bad news for new starters but instead led to the creation of additional opportunities.

"Far from removing jobs, there are more jobs," he said. "People may be nervous, as a result of getting the message that there are no jobs in ICT, but it’s not true."

His comments follow the release last week of the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency’s ICT Workforce Study, which called for more young people to be funnelled into the sector to avoid a major skills shortage.

AWPA chief executive Robin Shreeve said use of more overseas workers on 457 visas was likely if the sector did not receive a big influx of new blood. The number of ICT workers holding 457 visas rose from 5327 to 9271 in the past two years. The number of tertiary ICT graduates dropped from 9093 in 2003 to 4547 in 2012, despite concerted efforts by academia and industry bodies to talk up the advantages of a technology career to school leavers.

About 90 per cent of Swinburne’s 2012 graduates had found employment in the sector, Professor Sterling said.

It’s a similar story at the University of Queensland, according to Paul Strooper, the head of the IT and electrical engineering school.

"There will always be offshoring of jobs but they’re not the sort of jobs we train people for here," Professor Strooper said. Most UQ students had jobs before graduation, he said, with companies wanting to employ graduates often arriving too late.

University of Wollongong bachelor of IT graduate Mark Darragh went from university to a full-time job last July.

Employed as a systems engineer at Suncorp in Sydney, he undertook a final year internship with the bank, which led to the offer of a graduate role.

Being open to all possibilities within the sector was the key to success, Mr Darragh said.

“You don’t want to have a silo approach…come in open minded, you have more opportunities,” he said. “IT is a very broad field.”

Another Wollongong 2012 alumnus said her path to employment had been less smooth. She obtained her current IT support officer role after two months of searching but said the position was not secure.

“I’m currently in the process of looking for another job but have been finding it difficult,” she said.

“I am concerned as I hear in the news about so many IT positions being off-shored to other countries when there are people like me who are more than capable of carrying out the duties.”

Other classmates were still job hunting, the graduate added.


1 comment:

system failure due to insufficient evolution? said...

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