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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Canberra Watch « Previous | |Next »
June 16, 2007

It is winter time in Canberra and it is cold. However, it is less numbing than listening to Joe Hockey, Employment and Workplaces Relations Minister, cram the words 'union thugs' and 'union bosses' in as many times as he can into an interview he's doing. It is no longer fun counting:

Alan Moir

The shock and horror jokes about trade union thugs monstering little old ladies receiving meals on wheels with hammers and sickles, which were designed for the daily TV news battle, did fall flat. Desperate stuff. Unsuprisingly, the jokes about democracy and corporate bosses engaging in paid advertising on industrial relations were few and far between.

The political debate is now pretty deadening, and as we move to closer to the long winter break, we have steady leaks of stories designed to disrupt the media strategies of both political machines; or the economy being seen as a finely tuned F1 machine only Costello and Howard can drive. Economic management is like driving a racing car and you cannot trust an inexperienced, ill-prepared Rudd/Swan team controlled by the unions to run the economy.Thus the politics of fear.

The economic debate is becoming the political debate even though Wayne Swan endeavours to make it a non issues whilst having something to say about the economy. So we have the ALP 's economic narrative about growing inequality and declining productivity needs to be broadened. Productivity underpins Rudd's policies for education expansion, broadband development as these are designed to raise the nation's skills.

Why don't they argue that the F1 analogy highlights the need to make the shift to sustainability and reducing pollution from coal fired power stations? Why not argue that Costello is driving the highly engineered racing car at high speed in the wrong direction? Don't we need a car that is fuel efficient? Non polluting? One that allows us to make our lives better? Do we really need a racing car economy?

How come the ALP, which is bursting with ideas, is not arguing this way? What are the parliamentary tactics of not asking about climate change ("the greatest moral question" of our time) and concentrating on fundraising at Kirribilli House? Trying to reinforce the image of John Howard as arrogant, out of touch, mean and tricky and as a leader "for the rich"?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:18 PM | | Comments (16)


In order 1 to 5 what do You see the main issues that Australians face going into this election?
number 1 being the most important.

These are the policy issues that I consider to be of central concern to the future of Australia, not what the polls say or the political parties.

1.effects of climate change on Australia
2. Industrial relations
3. water
4.economic management+ reform care

Then housing affordability and telecommunications.

Ive asked the same question to 25 oz bloggers....i will get back with the results when they are all in. Seems to take people a while to figure.
mine are
1. economic management
2. workplace agreements
3. interest rates
4. water management( including drought)
5. other environmental issues

I separated interest rates from general management of the economy.

I would be interested to see the list of others that frequent this blog.

why separate interest rates from economic management? Interest rates are set by the Reserve Bank and their rise and fall depends on management of the economy.

I'm thinking about education. Iraq is not a consideration. Maybe it is education rather than health. Somehow people think that the policy shift from public funding to private payment with big personal debts is okay.

The results

1. Economic Management
2. The high cost of Housing
3. Climate change
4. Water
5. Interest rates

The survey was 25 people which is just a small group but I did try to get a good cross section of people.
Bearing in mind that all had internet access and were committed bloggers.
Had I surveyed people on bus stops who did not have internet access I would of expected Jobs to figure more highly.
Jobs scored 0 Health was very low. Education came a close 6th.

My concerns are quite different it would seem.

I think that the issues differ breaks in terms of states. Water would be a higher concern in Adelaide---which run climate change and water together---than say in Sydney; whilst housing affordability would be a higher concern in Sydney than say Adelaide.

They would be prioritized differently in the different marginal seats in each state.

I'm still not persuaded that interest rates are a seperate issue to that of economic management.

Yes Interest rates was a bit of a surprise in that the feedback on it was mainly related to Credit Card rates rather than mortgage rates. I suppose it reflects the amount of debt out there.

no foreign affairs leadership or national security. Big difference to 2004. That questions the Coalition's view that foreign affairs leadership is one of the two key priorities of government along with economic management. It used to be. Not in 2007.

The debt stuff makes sense. I know people who have used up a lot of equity in the house to buy consumer goodies and overseas trips. Others I know have personal loans for the new car as well as having high mortgages.

I would have put work/family issues in the top 5. It's the barbecue stopper under the radar screen.

yes Nan it is very different to 2004. I was surprised that work place stuff didn't get a bigger mention. But perhaps computer users regard themselves as more skilled and therefore less likely to be treated badly in contracts.
2 people mentioned foreign issues.

perfomance based AWA's work well for me, but then I have highly specialized skills that are in demand, and so I am in a good position to negotiate in a growth industry.

Those with less skills working in an industry under stress are not in this position. The AWA's are often used to cut 30% of their wage. Sometimes this kind of cut is supplemented with performance based targets ---eg., Telstra's call centres as explained on tonights Four Corners on the ABC.The corporate aim is to cut costs and squeeze jobs

This enterprise culture assumes that people can become little entrepreneurs aspiring to be part of the Macquarie millionare factory, or work for private equity firms.

Yes I saw that 4 corners last night. Depression is a terrible thing. Stay away from stressful jobs if you have it. Call centres would be a big No No.
If an employer cuts a persons wage by 30% they would be doing an illegal thing under the new 75,000 deal.
The government will use this to counteract negative labor ads about Mr or Mrs Joe blow getting shafted. It was a smart move by them.

not if they were offered "compensation" by way of bonuses for achieving performance targets, even if they were difficult to achieve.

I saw the 4 Corners programme too.

It was the difficult of meeting the targets + the nastiness of the work culture that had such a negative effect in people. It made the supervisors inhuman in the enterprise culture; and made the workers feel bad about themselves because they were always falling short of what was required.

They felt like resources being exploited by management to increase profits.

Yes I did feel last nights 4 corners was a bit unfair on telstra in that lots of other jobs are just as stressful as call centres. Taxi drivers, police,teachers, console operators and many other occupations are stressful.
But on reflection today I can see that it is the sometimes unrealistic targets that employers put on staff that would tip someone over the edge.
I am inclined to think that this is one factor in call centres being moved off shore.

Telstra is changing its corporate culture to a lean and mean corporate machine.It has to survive. The surveillance re time and words seemed a bit rough ---it shows the way the call centre has changed, even if the management structure looks like old modern and not new 21st century based around knowledge-based work.

It's Taylorization F.W. Taylor's scientific management remodelled in an IT world that results in employees' demotivation and resistance.

It looked very American--U.S. management school--to me as the emphasis is on maximizing economic extraction at the expense of sociocultural (economic dominates social), with the rhetoric (persuasion) being that management is enlightened.This management speak stands for greater worker autonomy, increased wages and job enrichment etc etc (eg., high-tech, filled with skilled, co-operative and sophisticated people)

The reality is using technology to enable narrow, highly scripted and monitored, work. The mass production model has persisted – though adapted and “improved” – in the service industry. The work is work is ceaseless, repetitive, and endless. Work is closely monitored, there is continuous pressure for improved performance. We must whilst the opportunities for social interaction are even lesser than those found in the traditional industrial work.

what a mouthful!

Les, I wish you could have been a bit more honest about what Telstra was about. Most People these days can't pick and choose. NO ONE has the right to exploit others the way Telstra management does its workers, at least morally.
The US business class loathes Australian egalitarianism, and eagerly seeks to undermine this aspect of Australian culture because it is a bad example to the rest of the world. That's why we had the AUSFTA, including the obnoxious cultural provisions imposed on us, incidentally.
Keating's warnings about "Banana republics" were prescient, because the Americans,with their notorious record of neo colonialism, accept the unimaginative brutality of feudalism, out of their own sheer laziness.
Once Australians have had their wills broken, they too will be "Stepforded" into becoming mindless, dispirited serfs.
Perhaps this is what Hayek (like another notorious Austrian) was thinking when he wrote of "The Road to Serfdom"!
On another subject, the abandonment of the cfmeu's Joe Macdonald (no, am NOT fond of cfmeu; at least Tasmanian forestry division.
What exactly happened.
A trade union official attended a site on union business. He was abused and hectored by management and and MaCarthyist stooges of Abbott, and verbally retaliated in that robust forthright way that characterises Australian labour relations over a century.
And for all this provocation, HE is the one who has been vilified!
Not only that, a gormless DLP leader disowns the victim from the labor party.
Union "thugs"?
Come off it; am sitting here remembering "4 Corners" and who the REAL thugs in the current industrial landscape are.