Thursday, April 06, 2023

Labor backs CPI-linked wage rises for low-paid

Leftist policies often sound fair and reasonable to start with. But then the adverse results of them start coming in. And the idea of a big wage rise for the lowest paid seems wonderful at first. And puts the government in a very good light as "caring".

But the idea is in fact a policy to throw many poor people out of a job. People who are very low paid are low paid for a reason. Their services are seen as worth only a minimum. And in many cases that will be a bare minimum. Raise what you have to pay them and that pay will exceed the value of what their services are worth. So they will be fired. Employing them will have become a losing proposition and no longer be seen as worthwhile. Not all of the low paid will be laid off but many will be. Not so much of a warm glow in that

Hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers should receive ­inflation-linked pay rises, the ­Albanese government has urged, as business warns the economy risks being plunged into recession if unions succeed in their push for a 7 per cent increase for 2.6 million workers.

Urging the Fair Work Commission to ensure the real wages of the lowest paid “do not go backwards”, the government submission to the annual wage review will seek to limit the inflation-linked rises to workers on the national minimum wage and lowest award rates.

Employer groups said granting the ACTU’s “economically reckless” claim for a $57-a-week increase would add $12.6bn a year to employer costs.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will urge the commission to limit the pay rise to 3.5 per cent, which at $28 a week would represent a real pay cut but be the highest ever proposed by the employer group.

In a joint statement, Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke said economic conditions remained challenging, with Australians facing high inflation due to supply-chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine.

“While nominal wages growth has lifted, high inflation has seen real wages fall behind,” they said.

“This is having the greatest ­impact on Australia’s low-paid workers and their families – many of whom don’t have the savings to fall back on or wages that cover the rise in living costs.

“These workers are more likely to be women, under 30 years of age and employed as casuals. The government does not want to see them go backwards.”

Labor’s stand in support of low-paid workers came as the government appointed five people with union backgrounds to the commission, declaring it wanted to fix the Coalition’s “shameless stack” of the tribunal with ­appointees from employer ­backgrounds


Liberal party will not support Albanese's "Voice"

This means that the referendum will be lost. Referenda in Australia always are if there is substantial opposition to them

Mr Dutton revealed on Wednesday the Liberal Party would oppose Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's policy in its current form - a decision the PM described as a significant blow in the lead up to the referendum.

Mr Albanese said he was disappointed but not surprised by the Liberals' decision and took aim at Peter Dutton's suggestion the party would support symbolic constitutional recognition for Indigenous people without the element of the Voice.

'It appears some people don't want a Voice; they'd rather have a whisper,' Mr Albanese said, noting it is a blow not to have bipartisan support on the matter and it would make it more difficult for the referendum to succeed.

The Liberal Party room voted on Wednesday to reject the government's proposed model for an indigenous body, known as the Voice, which would be formally recognised in the constitution and give advice on any proposed laws which affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait people.

The Liberals will now campaign against the Voice in the upcoming referendum and would instead propose local and regional Voices which would be legislated but not embedded in the Constitution.

But Mr Pearson argued the Coalition had 11 years in power to enact a 'proper proposal for recognition'.

'I see the leader of the Liberal Party Peter Dutton as an undertaker, preparing the grave to bury Uluru and I think that that is a very sad day for Australia that we can't have bi-partisanship in this important national enterprise.

Mr Albanese spoke further to the decision on Thursday morning, accusing Mr Dutton and his party of 'taking the low road'.

'This pretence of ''we are up for discussion'' whereas everyone knows that from day one, Peter Dutton, the person who walked out on the apology to Stolen Generations... is now walking away from his responsibilities.

'He is defined by what he is against, not what he is for. He has not learned or heard any of the messages that were given in May last year or in Aston on Saturday. He is determined to just be negative.'

Key moderates Andrew Bragg and Bridget Archer were quick to break ranks to signal their support for the Voice after their party room agreed to allow backbenchers a conscience vote on the matter.

Ms Archer almost immediately confirmed she would defy the party line and campaign for a 'yes' vote and said the Liberals' verdict on the Voice was the latest in a series of decisions which had tested her faith in the party.

The outspoken Tasmanian backbencher, who has crossed the floor to vote with Labor in the past, told the ABC after the party room meeting that she thought the Voice was worth fighting for and there was a 'moral imperative' to back the proposal.


When "petrochemicals" is a naughty word

When the federal government confirmed a $1.5 billion funding commitment for a new industrial hub near Darwin Harbour late last year, it was hailed as a "pathway towards decarbonisation".

But the promise of renewable hydrogen, critical minerals and carbon capture and storage also included another industry — petrochemicals.

So after green groups mounted a campaign against the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct, the NT government hatched its own strategic response.

It removed the term "petrochemicals" from official websites about the project, as reported by the ABC last year.

At the time, it was not known which department was involved in the decision to scrub out the term, nor what was being said internally about the deletion.

But emails obtained by the ABC have confirmed staff in the Department of Chief Minister and Cabinet were tasked with removing the references from more than a dozen government websites.

This was despite the fact the government continues to seek approval from the NT Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA) for "low emission petrochemicals" to be among the mix of industries at Middle Arm.


To abolish racism, fix the constitution

It remains puzzling and baffling in the extreme that well-intentioned and intelligent people go on insisting that the proposed Indigenous Voice to parliament is not racist. One writer in the Australian (unnamed here to protect the guilty) doggedly wrote that the Voice is not a racist proposal, it just singles out Indigenous people because of ‘their descent from the earliest inhabitants’. Eh? Doesn’t ‘descent’ equal ‘race’? My ‘race’ is the forebears I am descended from.

When otherwise thoughtful defenders of the Voice resort to such thimble-and-pea tricks with language it is time to be blunt about racism.

They keep insisting it’s not racist to insert a provision into our constitution that provides both ‘recognition’ and ‘consultation’ (Prime Minister Albanese’s words) to some Australians based on their race (their ‘descent’), and denies similar ‘recognition’ and ‘consultation’ to other citizens on the basis that they are descended from the wrong sort of people.

And why is this not racist? Because they are the good guys, and they oppose racism. They aim, they tell us, at ending systemic racism in Australia. Racism is the black cloud hanging over this nation, and it must be driven away. That’s their mantra.

Since they keep telling us it’s racism they oppose, let’s take them at their word. Let’s take them seriously, and offer them an end to all possibility of racism under the federal government.

How would the Voice cheer squad cope if we proposed a referendum to insert into the Australian constitution a blanket ban on racism? How could they possibly object to that? Especially as the anthem they constantly sing is about ‘bringing us all together’ and ‘uniting Australians’. What could be more uniting than outlawing racism?

Section 51 (xxvi) of the constitution currently allows the Commonwealth to make laws concerning the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws. So, let’s replace those words with: ‘The Commonwealth shall make no laws with respect to the race of persons, and it shall be illegal to specify race in any laws or regulations.’

That’s a fairly comprehensive rejection of racism, isn’t it?

Isn’t that what they say they want? An end to all racism in Australia?

Whenever we complain that inserting the Indigenous Voice into the constitution will make the constitution racist they claim it already is – and point to Section 51 (xxvi). Well, if that’s the problem, then that’s the bit that should be changed.

We are often told that law has an ‘educative effect’. When a law is changed it signals to the population that this value (embodied in the law, whatever it may be) matters to our society. So, if racism is the problem, let’s embody a ban on racism in our constitution and send the most powerful signal possible to all Australians that racism is totally unacceptable.

Recently the ACT Human Rights Commission released the results of a survey of more than 2,000 young people (aged up to 24) on the subject of racism. The report says that racism and discrimination are rife. Well, let’s use the ‘educative power’ of a small but significant change to our constitution to say that racism does not belong in Australia.

Of course, a constitutional rejection of racism would change the way the Commonwealth government operates.

For instance, the National Indigenous Australians Agency would have to become the National Isolated Australians Agency. It would have to care for people on the basis of need not race. It would provide welfare and life improvement for people in remote and isolated Australia on the basis of their need, not their race.

And Native Land Councils around Australia would have to become Community Land Councils – representing everyone who lives on their land regardless of race.

In a number of policy areas this change to the constitution to comprehensively banish racism may mean a bit of shake-up.

But such a constitutional change would embody the opposition to racism spelled out by Martin Luther King in his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on 28 August, 1963 in Washington DC. The proposed amendment to the Australian constitution would capture Dr King’s famous vision: ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.’

The change to Section 51 (xxxvi) would make it impossible for the Commonwealth to ever judge anyone ‘by the colour of their skin’. That would bring a steel shutter down on racism once and for all.

The key to getting a majority of states and a majority of citizens to vote in favour of outlawing racism in the constitution would be to make the underlying principle clear – namely, that race does not matter.

This may make the wildly woke purveyors of identity politics curl up in the foetal position and start sucking their thumbs. To them race is all-important. They claim you are defined by your race. How you feel, how you are treated, how you are regarded, is all based on your race. It is, they say, your key defining characteristic.

However, those of us who stand with Martin Luther King get his message – race does not matter. The ‘content of your character’ matters, not ‘the colour of your skin’.

The Australian constitution needs to be changed to reflect how trivial and unimportant race is.

To biologists your race is almost invisible. Science tells us that genetic differences between races occupy a mere seven per cent of human DNA. In other words, people of different races share 93 per cent of their humanity.

The illusion that race matters is the result of an unfortunate coincidence – the skin is the part of the body that is seen by other people. So, the mistake made by racism is to regard skin colour as a central, defining characteristic of a human being. The 7 per cent of difference DNA makes between races is entirely superficial. It changes nothing important. Race is literally skin-deep.

Racism ignores the 93 per cent of shared humanity. The X-ray vision of the molecular geneticist reveals the unity of our species. Race does not matter.

The science of genetics says race is unimportant. Logic and common sense say race is unimportant. So, let’s embody that in the Australian constitution by changing the wording of Section 51 (xxvi) outlawing racism completely and forever.

That will really bring Australians together!




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