Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pauline updated

Pauline Hanson is an Australian conservative politician who has always spoken freely about race. She has as a result been disowned by the mainstream conservatives and has no political power. She does however have influence in that lots of Australians agree with much of what she says. Illegal immigration is a red-hot political issue in Australia and she has been an immigration critic for a long time

IT WAS once the most famous fish and chip shop in Queensland.   Behind the counter was one of Australia's most divisive political figures - a woman regularly accused of racism and xenophobia.

Today, it is a migrant success story, run by a Vietnamese couple who came to this country 20 years ago. Pauline Hanson says she hopes to pop in one day, say hello and pick up a few dollars' worth of chips. It's a scene few would have imagined in 1996.

Almost 17 years ago, the newly elected member for Oxley used her maiden speech to launch a fierce and polarising attack on Asian immigration and multiculturalism. She told the nation it was "in danger of being swamped by Asians" and that "they have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate".

Controversial and unapologetic, Ms Hanson found her short stint in federal politics often drew shouts of rage and cheers of support alike.

"I don't dwell on that, I know who I am as a person," she said.  "To call me a racist is just ridiculous. To be a patriotic Australian and care about the country, that's not racism. That's patriotism."

Today, Thanh Huong Huynh and her husband Huong Van Nguyen quietly smile as they take orders for crumbed cod and prawn cutlets from many of the same people who helped Ms Hanson storm to power in the '90s.

The couple say they bought the Ipswich business, which has changed hands several times, two years ago.  They also say they know little about the One Nation founder, other than that she was "very famous".

Locals are still prickly about their former local member - who is currently running for a NSW Senate seat - and are reluctant to put their name to any description of her, positive or negative.  Many businesses fear alienating the migrant community, as well as those still wary of multiculturalism.

One exception is David Banfield, who has owned the nearby dental clinic for five years.  "Things have changed mate - for the better," said Mr Banfield, who noted that his wife was Vietnamese.

While he disagreed with Ms Hanson's "anti-immigration stance" at the time, he said she "seemed to be the person that would get things done".

Ms Hanson said she wished the new owners of her old shop "all the best".  "I think it's wonderful - good luck to them," she said.  "That's what Australia's all about - is to come here and make a life for yourself and become Australian and start up your own business."

She adds that she hopes to meet them.  "If I'm up there in the area again I'll call in and get some fish and chips off them," she said.

But Ms Hanson is still reluctant to back down from one of her more recent controversial comments.  "Yes, I did say that I wouldn't sell my house to Muslims," she said.

"And I have grave concerns and I see what's happened in other countries around the world and I, like a lot of other Australians, do not want to see our culture changed, I do not want to see the introduction of Sharia law."


Education union militant and out of step, so I quit

This week, I took a step I couldn't have imagined a year ago: I resigned my trade union membership.

This was a monumental step for me. I have belonged to various unions over the past 40 years - starting with the shop assistants back in 1972. I grew up in a family proud of a great, great grand uncle, a journalist on the Lithgow Mercury, who, in the 1890s, served on the Eight Hour committee that won the right to a 40-hour working week.

I resigned from the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) because I realised that the old-fashioned kind of industrial militancy the NTEU is presently pursuing is entirely unhelpful to the interests of the hard-working people in the tertiary education sector.

Universities face particularly challenging times. They rely largely on student fees (either directly, or indirectly though HECS) to fund their work in advancing community knowledge. Students can only afford to pay so much for an education. Although all universities are regulated federally and are susceptible to federal funding decisions (like the misconceived decision to remove full tax deductibility for self-education expenses), governments in recent decades have set us up as competitors with each other.

Competition to recruit the best students is fierce. The Fair Work system supports that vision of a competitive market for tertiary education services by requiring that we bargain at enterprise level for pay and conditions. University vice chancellors are mindful of their capacity to attract and retain the best staff, so my employer - the University of Sydney - pays the highest salaries in the sector. We enjoy working conditions that are a legacy of our public service history. In my time consulting as an employment lawyer, I have never seen any other enterprise bargain allowing for 50 days a year for personal leave.

Yet the NTEU has been running a destructive industrial campaign at the University of Sydney - five days of strikes in first semester, and now a threat of demonstrations at our Open Day on August 31 - in pursuit of a pay claim primarily aimed at setting a standard for other universities in our sector.

I hear colleagues saying they are ready to sign an agreement. The union negotiations so far have secured the conditions that staff value, and many are ready to accept the modest but realistic pay offer of 2.9 per cent a year for four years.

Student representatives tried to put a motion at Academic Board, pleading for peace so they could pursue their studies without the distress of crossing picket lines. But the union is determined to press on in the interests of its national campaign.

The University of Sydney has a commendable history for welcoming unions at the bargaining table, even under the old Workplace Relations Act, when the federal government of the day was keen to exclude unions from campuses. It has often been the flagship for the NTEU's national campaign for pay increases across the sector.

This year the union seems to be prepared to scupper our ship, in a possibly futile attempt to gain pay increases at regional universities. The scuffles on picket lines, the police presence on campus, the half-truths on handbills, and now the Open Day protests, can only help our rivals in their student recruitment campaigns. How can staff at Sydney possibly benefit from such actions?

I fear the NTEU has formed an unholy alliance with the Greens. I was aggrieved to learn of NTEU plans to spend $1 million on a campaign to encourage people to vote Green. This news followed a story in The Sun-Herald, in June, in which Senator Lee Rhiannon pilloried the University of Sydney for poor results in a staff engagement survey, and tied those comments to the university's alleged disregard for staff interests in its current bargaining round. It isn't too hard to join the dots in this pattern of reporting.

What is the solution, for someone like me, who is deeply committed to the interests of working people, and believes firmly in the right to bargain in a collective voice for a fair share of the fruits of one's own labour? How to do this without killing off the tree that feeds us all?

Perhaps it is time for university staff to set up independent associations to bargain with management directly. The Fair Work Act permits employees to nominate their own bargaining representatives. Bargaining needs to be managed by staff who will be directly affected by the consequences of their actions rather than by a remote organisation with its own political agenda. This would be the natural evolution of a single enterprise bargaining based system of industrial relations.


Fans may be the losers in scalper hunt

As ever

A NSW government crackdown on scalpers will stop people reselling tickets when they cannot attend an event, says consumer watchdog Choice.

Matt Levey, the Choice director of campaigns and communications, said the government intervention infringed on basic consumer rights, and proposed laws could lead to major event promoters cancelling resold tickets.

"Our concerns are not around needing to do something about scalping," Mr Levey said.

"Our concern is the plan is weighting the balance too much in favour of the owners of events who will be allowed to legally enforce the terms and conditions of selling tickets. This is a slippery slope which could infringe on consumer rights under the law."

The online industry believes sporting codes including the National Rugby League and Australian Rugby Union are pushing for the anti-scalping laws to control the secondary market for tickets. It is estimated sporting codes generate more than $1 billion a year in primary ticket sales, merchandise and television rights.

Online selling markets including eBay have obtained reports under freedom of information laws which show the government has little evidence to support the need for its intervention.

Official figures show that of 44,016 complaints NSW Fair Trading received last year, only one was related to the on-selling or resale of tickets or ticket scalping.

An email from Rod Stowe, Commissioner for Fair Trading on October 11, 2011, said there had been ongoing examinations of government responses to scalping dating back to before the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"The view, to date, has been that there has not been a sufficient market failure to justify regulatory intervention," he said.

The opposition spokeswoman on fair trade, Tanya Mihaliuk, will question the government about its proposed law at a parliamentary hearing on Monday.

"This legislation does not appear to be driven by the Department of Fair Trading or consumer groups," she said. "The government should consult more widely to find a broader solution."

Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said he wanted to give "fans a fair go at buying tickets, while also protecting fans from rip-offs and fraud. In no way does any proposal seek to prohibit or restrict the sale of tickets on a secondary market," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Roberts said there had been 128 complaints about scalped tickets made to Fair Trading this year. He said the Football Federation of Australia had complained that up to 300 tickets for the July Manchester United versus A-League All Stars match were scalped on eBay.

"In one of the worst cases, two tickets with a face value of $100 each were being touted online for $840," he said.


Strewth! Aussie workers told to cut the slang

I am more concerned about it dying out.  A lot of colourful expressions are seldom heard now.  Do young people today know the difference between a galah and a drongo, for instance?

AUSSIE workers have been urged to soften their strine and avoid traditional slang, in a Federal Government push to make workplaces more migrant friendly.

Bosses should stop calling migrants "ethnic" because it might be discriminatory - and instead use the politically correct term "CALD", or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse.

Casual swearing should also be avoided, as it may appear provocative or aggressive.

Despite Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's penchant for obscure Aussie colloquialisms, the Immigration Department is frowning upon strine and slang in the workplace, in a new guide for employers.

Business groups have criticised the advice, one policy analyst dismissing it as political correctness "writ large" that would achieve nothing.

The official document warns the Australian accent can baffle even English-speaking migrants, and tells bosses and workmates to speak slowly, clearly and simply.

"Remember some people, including native English speakers ... may have trouble understanding the Australian accent," the guide says.

"Keep in mind common Australian expressions may be misunderstood, for example, 'bring a plate', 'this machine is cactus' and 'he really spat the dummy that time'.

"For some people, casual swearing may also be seen as aggressive or provocative and new employees may not be sure how to respond.

"If it appears your new employee is baffled by the sense of humour and the jokes of your other employees, have someone help them out."

The guide is accompanied by taxpayer-funded fact sheets on "Harmony in the Workplace", prepared by the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia.

Despite using "ethnic" in its own title, FECCA says the word is "an illogical term with negative and potentially discriminatory connotations" when used to describe individuals.

It says migrants should not be referred to as "ethnic", but as Culturally and Linguistically Diverse or CALD.

"Referring to someone as an 'ethnic' is not acceptable, given its assumptions and stereotypes, and connotations between the term and other racial slurs such as 'wog', 'chink' and other discriminatory labels," its fact sheet states.

Centre for Independent Studies policy analyst Alexander Philipatos, who has a Greek background, said the guide appeared to be a well-intentioned waste of money.

"My initial reaction is it is political correctness writ large," he said.

"I think it's well intentioned, but personally I don't think it's going to do anything and is probably a bit of a waste of money."

FECCA president Pino Migliorino questioned the Prime Minister's use of obscure slang, such as "fair shake of the sauce bottle".

"I think the Prime Minister is very interesting in his use of slang," he said. "It doesn't make it right."

Mr Migliorino said the guide was "not trying to be politically correct, but to give a sense of what's meaningful".

The Harmony in the Workplace guide says Australian culture can seem "alien" to migrants - including "Edna Everidge, pavlova, fish and chips, Australian Rules football, the summer barbecue and drinks after work".

It tells bosses that migrants are "entitled to wear religious dress at work unless it creates a safety hazard".

"If items of clothing cover the face you can ask an employee to show their face for reasonable identification purposes," it states.

ACCI director of employment Jenny Lambert said bosses were entitled to set dress standards and make staff wear uniforms.

"There is no doubt employees can have uniform codes, although many workers may also wear a turban if the employer says it's OK," she said.

The Harmony in the Workplace guide also explains that some migrant workers will need time off work for prayer.

"Some cultures prioritise family commitments that may, at times, conflict with work commitments," it says.

Australian Industry Group spokesman Mark Goodsell said employers had to juggle giving special treatment to some workers while being fair to everyone.

"All cultures will say they prioritise family commitments, people with young families prioritise kids," he said.

"At what point does recognising an individual's needs create problems with the workers you're not recognising?"

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said employees who asked for time off for non-Christian religious festivals should not be paid penalty rates for working through Easter or Christmas.

"There's got to be give and take," he said.

Mr Zimmerman said retailers had the right to insist on a certain "look" or dress code from shop assistants, so long as the clothing was provided free.

Brisbane businessman David Goodwin, who chairs the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry productivity board, said workers would "struggle to get jobs" if they did not try to fit into a workplace.

"You can't run your business accommodating every single staff member's specific needs," he said.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Kate Lundy launched the "harmony" guide and fact sheets last week.

One in four Australian workers was born overseas, and 17 per cent hail from non-English speaking countries.


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