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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Open Letter to the corporations and people of the 1% - The AIM Network

Open Letter to the corporations and people of the 1% - The AIM Network

Open Letter to the corporations and people of the 1%

Dear Winners,

Congratulations on all your achievements. You have all played the
game of capitalism like absolute champions, and you are, without doubt,
superlative operatives of the capitalist system. Kudos to you.

Obviously it has taken a huge amount of vision, hard work, guts and
determination to get you to where you are now, and I think every one
agrees you should be duly compensated for all your (and your employees)
efforts; and I am personally relieved to know that you have all been
sufficiently remunerated so as to never want for anything ever again.
Once again, kudos to you.

While I am absolutely dazzled by your stellar successes, there are a
few things about the way you conduct your lives and businesses that I
find quite baffling, and I was hoping you might be able to clear up my

Firstly, I want to share a little something with you that we in here 99% have known for quite some time…


With the richest 85 people in the world now owning the same amount of wealth as the 3.5 billion
who make up the poorer half of the world’s population, there can be no
question, in the game of acquisition you are the undisputed winners. NO

So here’s what puzzles me… Do you not realise the game is over and that you have won?
Because quite honestly the way you are carrying on, it’s like a boxer
relentlessly pummelling an opponent that is passed out on the ropes,
it’s just not sportsmanlike, and really, it’s not making you look good.


In spite of all your wealth and unmitigated successes you continue
slash real wages, cut costs, off shore, out source, trim benefits, buy
off politicians, lobby for favourable legislation, dodge taxes, and
exploit loopholes with a staggering rapacity. In your relentless drive
for profit you mercilessly exploit sub living wages, control the public
discourse through your media domination, and poison and pollute our
world with utter impunity.

poverty 2

So my question is this…. why are you continuing to play hard ball when you have so clearly already won? Surely
at a certain point the figures displayed on your profit statements must
start to seem fairly abstract? What on earth are you hoping to achieve?
Do you really need a better quarterly result? What for? You already
have everything that money could possibly buy you. And quite frankly if
being stupefyingly wealthy hasn’t made you happy yet, it’s bordering on
disillusion to think that a few more zeros on your balance sheet are
going to do the trick.

And if you are truly happy with all you have achieved, then don’t you
think it might be just the teensiest bit psychopathic to keep on
punching when the fight is so clearly over?

While I personally find your unabated appetite for capital
acquisition somewhat unfathomable, it obviously makes perfect sense to
you, (either that or you have never actually sat down to analyse the
broader costs and benefits of your chosen course).

Given the utter pain, despair and deprivation suffered by the worlds poor, (such
as the average Bangladeshi garment worker who works 12 hours a day, 7
days a week in dangerous, overcrowded conditions for a paltry $38 a
, I am sure you must have some very good reasons for your
steadfast persistence in squeezing those at the bottom ever harder.
Although I struggle to understand what those reasons may be I have, in
my speculations, come up with a few possibilities.

1. You are competing amongst and against yourselves.

I suspect there is a fair bit of this going on among you 1% ers’.
It’s not enough that you have well and truly surpassed the 99%, (it
would appear that that victory has long since lost it’s taste); now it’s
just a competition between you 1% er’s to see who’s got the biggest
bank account/company/summer house/yacht.

forbes billionairs

I find it difficult to attach any other motive to the recent attempt
by Rupert Murdoch (one of your most famous poster boys) to acquire Time
Warner. At 85 years of age, the builder and controller of the largest
News Empire on the planet is still playing for more? Doesn’t he realise
that to most people this just looks like the chest beating, ego pumping
manoeuvre of a recently cuckolded old man trying desperately to prove
that he’s still top dog? Kind of tragic really, and a little

The sad fact is this is not a game that can be won, no matter how
much you’ve got you will always want more, it’s a bottomless bucket of

So let me say it once again ; if you in the 1% can not be content
with what you have already achieved, then trust me, one more victory is
not going to help.

2. You are simply acting out of blind habit and you have never bothered to stop and question what you are actually doing?

I am willing to bet that this is bottom line for quite a number of
you. You learnt the rules, and you’ve played the game so hard and so
long that it’s the only game you now know. You live for the sport of it,
the hunt, the chase, the endless craving for that next conquest; the
ruthless reduction of wages, the corporate take over, the quarterly
profit statement, the pumping up of your share price, the tucking of
another politician snuggly into your pocket, this is your heroin.


You are, for want of a better word, addicted to the game. If this
indeed is the case then let me remind you of something I am sure you
already know; addiction is not a road to happiness! It is an itch you
can never scratch in an endless cycle of craving and pain, and it
effects every one around you (and not in good way).

3. You are completely ignorant to the suffering you are causing others?…
This is bit of stretch, but I am prepared to concede that SOME OF YOU
may have spent so little time out in the big, wide, underprivileged
world, have spent your lives so steeped in privilege as to have no idea
of the havoc you are wreaking, the pain you are causing, and the abject
poverty you are creating.

mansionhomeless 1

That said it’s worth remembering that ignorance is no excuse, neither
in the eyes of the law, or in the eyes of those whose necks you are so
gleefully standing on.

You still feel genuinely insecure? I realise that most people
wouldn’t suspect it, but there is some research that suggests the richer
you are the more insecure you feel, if this is true then you 1% er’s
must be living in an absolute paranoid lather; worried that people don’t
really care about you and are just drawn to your money, or maybe just
fearful that you might loose your money. Clearly your answer to this is
to get more money (so you will still have some left if and when you
loose a wad) and surround yourselves with other hyper rich people, (who
have enough money not to be eyeing off yours).

fear of poverty

At the risk of repeating myself; if you in the 1% can not feel secure
with what you have already have, then trust me, a bit more money is not
going to help.

You simply don’t care about others?… I admit I find this
highly unlikely. I am sure you love your family and friends, and would
go to great lengths to protect them. What maybe the case however is that
you do not experience yourselves as part of the broader human family;
and thus those that are not known to you personally are too abstract to
you to evoke your natural caring human instincts.

homeless americaplease help

This disconnect is broadly supported by a media narrative that casts
the “have nots” as either lacking in the smarts to get ahead, or as
shiftless lazy leaners trying to gouge a free ride, which makes it much
easier to see them as deserving of their wretched fate, (after all, they
are not hard working, self made actualisers like you and your cohorts).

While I understand you may find this narrative very comforting, and a
perfectly adequate justification for your modus operandi, that doesn’t
make it true. Even here in the west there are plenty of people working
2-3 jobs, 80 hours or more just to subsist, so you could not call them
lazy. And does a person possessed of an average or lower intelligence
really deserve to be denied a decent life just because they were born

You have never read the history of the French Revolution? Perhaps
you are not aware that history is awash with stories where the peasants
decide that quietly starving is not a viable option and have taken up
arms against their wealthy oppressors. And as a general rule when they
get their hands on them, they kill them!

Now I’m not agitating for that, I don’t want to see you, or anyone
else killed; but it’s worth noting that when legislation is passed
making it illegal to feed the homeless, when you cut off the water to supply
to poorest 1/3 of a city, when you squeeze wages and benefits to the
point where employees need to work 3 jobs, never get to see their
children and can barely make rent. When you smash unions, or fail to pay
your taxes so their is no money for social support…. you need to
understand you are creating an environment you may not be able to
control. Keep playing hard ball and eventually THE PITCH FORKS WILL

french revolution

You are genuinely unaware of your power to effect change. With
the stroke of a pen the Walton family could raise tens of millions out
of abject poverty, and it wouldn’t make a whip of difference to them
personally; they wouldn’t have to go without anything. NIKE could raise
the wages of it’s manufacturing staff to a living standard, and all it
would cost them would be one or two less basketball players in an ad.

How is it that you guys are not doing this? Don’t you get it? YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE A BETTER WORLD for millions and millions of people.

Bill Gates it, Oprah gets it, Bob Geldof gets it, Nick Hanauer gets it, Bill Liao gets it, and whether or not you like their choices, they are all out there pitching for a better world.

I realise the system has it’s own momentum, and you are just going
with the flow, but the system is causing insane amounts of grief and
suffering to billions of people.

We have more than enough food to feed the planet, but people are
starving; we have cities full of empty houses and streets full of
homeless people; we have amazing medicines and people dying for lack of
access; there are cities with water supplies denying clean water to
citizens. Does this seem right to you?

What kind of life should a person working full time be able to
afford? Should they be able to afford a house, food and water,
healthcare and an education for their children? I really want to know
your thoughts on this, because it looks to me like you think a living
wage is way too high?

But seriously, would it kill you to pay living wages?

So I am asking you, the 1% er’s, what exactly is your end game?
Pushing billions of people into crushing poverty so you can die with
a bigger bank balance? Is that really what you want for your legacy?
Does that make you happy? Because if not, then maybe it’s time you guys
stirred things up a bit; raised some wages, paid some taxes perhaps, who
knows, maybe working towards a better world for ALL of our human family
will be the trick! It might seem like a crazy idea, but it’s worth a

Like this:

Thursday, 13 November 2014




3 Votes

Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has called on the people of far north
Queensland to send Campbell Newman a message at the next election and
reject his asset sales agenda.

Visiting Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station with Shadow Treasurer and
Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt, Ms Palaszczuk said only Labor would
ensure publicly-owned assets remained publicly owned.

“Labor’s position is crystal clear. Labor won’t sell Queensland’s electricity assets,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We have listened to Queenslanders who have said they don’t want
their assets sold, because it simply leads to more job losses and higher
electricity prices.

“How many jobs will go in this region if the LNP sells-off our
electricity assets? How much harder will it be for families to pay their
power bill? How will the Government build schools and roads without the

“We also know that whether it’s an outright sale or a lease, Queenslanders will never own these assets again.

“The Treasurer admitted last week that the only way Queenslanders
will get these assets back at the end of a 50 or 99 year lease is if
they’re willing to buy them back.

“We don’t want our children and their children having to fork out
tens of billions of dollars to buy back assets they should already own.”

Ms Palaszczuk said publicly owned land associated with Stanwell could be sold off.

“Barron Gorge is a beautiful part of the far north. The parklands
near the power station are actually owned by Stanwell. Will those spaces
be sold off as well?

“The LNP refuses to be upfront with Queenslanders about the details of their asset sell-off.”

Mr Pitt said maintaining public ownership of electricity assets was particularly important in Far North Queensland.

“The far north is a beautiful place, but as we all know it’s often
hammered by cyclones and extreme weather. That unfortunately means
blackouts and major damage to power lines and other infrastructure,” he

“Our Ergon workers do a great job rapidly restoring electricity in
times of need, and rebuilding vital infrastructure in the weeks and
months after major weather events.

“That’s because at the moment, service is the number one priority,
not profits. Selling these assets to the private sector will mean
profits come first.

“I’m urging all Queenslanders, including those in the far north, to
send a message to Campbell Newman at the next election. Queenslanders
don’t want their assets sold, because they don’t want more job cuts from
the LNP, and they don’t want even higher power prices.”

Curtis Pitt and Anastacia Palazcuk

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Capitalism’s Victims | Jacobin

Capitalism’s Victims | Jacobin

Capitalism’s Victims

Increasingly dehumanizing work has caused an epidemic of suicides in France.

Katy Warner / Flickr
Katy Warner / Flickr

Earlier this year, a female manager in
her fifties who worked for France’s postal service was found hanging in
her office building in Seine-Saint-Denis,
just northeast of Paris. Although no suicide note was found, the death
has been linked to the company’s announcement two days earlier of
“Horizon 2020,” the latest in a series of restructuring plans that
will transform the status of workers in the company.

Far from being an isolated incident, the tragedy is part of a suicide
epidemic at a whole range of large French companies. One
such company is French telecommunications giant, France Télécom
(rebranded as Orange in 2013), whose especially acute “suicide waves”
have coincided with the privatization and restructuring of the company.

Twelve France Télécom employees took their own life in 2008, nineteen
in 2009, twenty-seven in 2010, and six in 2011. Despite a new agreement
on workplace conditions negotiated with the trade unions, there has
been a renewal of suicides recently with eleven cases in 2013 and ten
suicides since the beginning of 2014.

Work-related suicides are an international phenomenon, as evidenced by the spate of suicides at Foxconn’s production sites in southern China in 2010 or the phenomenon of karoshior
death by overwork, in Japan. Yet France stands apart for the sheer
number of work-related suicides, the media coverage of these suicides,
and the intense legal and political debates that have followed. (With a suicide rate
of 14.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, France also has one of the highest
rates of suicide in Europe and one that is double that of the UK and
three times that of Spain and Italy.)

The connection between an act of suicide and workplace conditions is
extremely difficult to establish and is often an outcome of lengthy
legal proceedings taken by the family of a victim against a company. But
at France Télécom, some individuals left letters that were published in
the French press that explicitly blamed their work. Bosses reacted by
trying to individualize the causes of suicide, attributing it to a
mental or emotional flaw in the person and disassociating it from any
links to the workplace.

Critical to the recognition of workplace suicides as a social
phenomenon in France has been the role of a new syndicalist structure
created in 2007, the Observatory of Stress and Forced Mobility (L’Observatoire du stress et des mobilités forcées).
In the face of intense hostility by company bosses and mainstream trade
unions, the Observatory succeeded in bringing suicides to public
attention, attracting widespread media coverage and pursuing France
Télécom bosses before the courts.

Sarah Waters recently spoke with Patrick Ackermann, trade union
leader within the leftist Solidaires Unitaires Démocratiques (SUD) and
one of the founders of the Observatory.

You started working at France Télécom nearly thirty years ago. Can
you tell me a little about what it has been like working for this

When I joined France Télécom in 1987 as a supervisor on the telephone
lines, it was a cutting-edge, dynamic company with a young workforce
who were driven by a sense of public service. We believed that we were
part of a grand project to deliver fair and equal access to telephone
services across the country.

As a public-sector company, we shared a distinctive working culture
based on a sense of universal mission, of the general interest, and of
egalitarianism. There was a sense of pride and patriotism in what we did
and the workforce was marked by a strong sense of solidarity.

Like other telecommunications companies, we faced pressures from the
European Union during the 1990s to privatize and open up our capital to
financial markets. Because trade unions were very strong at France
Télécom and because they resisted privatization, the French government
delayed this process until much later than in other European countries.

The privatization of France Télécom began in 1996 when shares were
placed on financial markets, although the state retained majority
ownership until much later. Employees accepted this partial
privatization on the grounds that they would retain their public service
status as fonctionnaires, which meant they could keep certain benefits, including job security, and that they couldn’t be legally fired.

After privatization, company bosses engaged in a frenzied acquisition
of telecommunications companies outside of France and as a result, the
company accumulated massive debts. The dotcom crash led to a dramatic
collapse in the value of its shares and created further financial woes
for the company.

By 2001, France Télécom was designated as the most indebted company
in the world, and Moody’s downgraded its shares to the status of junk
bonds. This meant that when Didier Lombard took over as CEO in 2005, he
had one overriding objective: to slash costs through massive lay-offs.

Twenty-two thousand jobs were to be shed in two years. Since 80 percent of workers were fonctionnaires and
therefore unsackable, management resorted to more insidious
psychological tactics to force them to leave the company. They engaged
in what might be described as terror tactics that targeted individuals
by every means possible.

Some employees received a barrage of e-mails from managers exhorting
them to find work elsewhere. Others were forced to change jobs or move
to new cities on a continuous basis as managers sought to destabilize
their working life. Others were subject to interviews where they were
criticized and humiliated in front of others.

Under French law, these methods are defined as harcèlement moral, or psychological harassment.

Can you tell me about the circumstances in which the Observatory was created?

We were aware by this time of a widespread unease and despair amongst
many workers across the company. Then the first suicides took place in
2008. The suicide victims came from all echelons and included managers,
technicians, call-center operators, and administrators. They included
some members of our union.

We appealed to management to respond and to investigate the situation
further, but they refused to do so. Most other unions were reluctant to
intervene on the question of suicides. We had the idea of setting up a
new type of trade-union structure that would monitor suicides, provide
clear evidence of what was happening, and use this to confront

It was a struggle to get things off the ground — we were isolated,
had no resources, and faced huge hostility. Other trade unions thought
that it was inappropriate or even crass of us to want to record worker
suicides. I think that they completely underestimated the scale of the

At SUD we formed links with another union, CFE-CGC, which is a union
for managers and which unusually has a left-wing leaning at France
Télécom. We consulted researchers, occupational therapists,
psychologists, and sociologists, some of whom joined the Observatory as
part of its “scientific council.” We needed independent experts to back
up our claims if we wanted to be taken seriously.

Our concern from the outset was not to focus on individual suicide
cases, but to look at the underlying causes and to treat this as a
generalized social phenomenon.

What did the Observatory do to address the suicide crisis?

We wanted to investigate the causes of the suicides, to accumulate
evidence, and to publicize our findings. One of our first initiatives
was to launch an online questionnaire to all France Télécom employees
that was intended to gauge levels of stress in the workplace.

I called the director of human resources to let him know what we were
doing and to ask for his support. Within an hour of this call, the link
to the questionnaire on the company’s website was shut down. We then
asked employees to complete the questionnaire privately using their own
computers at home.

The results were astonishing and gave evidence of dangerous levels of
stress amongst employees at France Télécom. Two out of three employees
suffered from work-related stress and one out of two wished to leave the
company. Of course, management rejected this evidence, arguing that the
results were unscientific and they referred us to an earlier staff
questionnaire that they had conducted themselves, even though its
results were never made publicly available.

But weren’t you also able to use the media and public opinion as a tool in your campaign?

Yes, for every suicide that took place, we contacted the press. At first, it was only tabloids such as Le Parisien or right-wing newspapers such as Le Figaro that were interested. Le Parisien
did a two-page feature on one suicide case. They liked the
sensationalist aspect of what was going on and took full advantage of
this. However, soon the mainstream press and television began to take

In July 2009, there was a well-publicized case of suicide by a
fifty-one-year-old, Marseille-based engineer who left a letter that was
published in detail in the French press. He was a high-achieving and
committed engineer whose working life was rendered dysfunctional by
incessant restructuring.

His letter explicitly blamed work as the cause of his actions,
stating, “I am killing myself because of my work at France Télécom. It
is the sole cause.” He also referred to a “management by terror” and to
constant stress in the workplace. The suicide triggered a petition
movement and a demonstration by employees in Marseille where he worked.
This was followed by a mobilization at national level.

A series of television programmes also covered the suicides, and the
French government began to get worried. The minister for work at the
time, Xavier Darcos, asked Didier Lombard, CEO of France Télécom, to
organize a press conference in a bid to put across the company’s side of
the story and to help calm the situation.

It was during this press conference that Lombard made a huge blunder
declaring, “This suicide fashion must stop.” Many people were shocked by
his insensitivity. He later tried to make out in a rather contrived way
that he had used the English word “mode” and not the French word “la mode,” meaning “fashion.”

Why do you think other trade unions found it so difficult to deal with workplace suicides?

The Observatory succeeded in articulating an immense human suffering
in the workplace that isn’t necessarily linked to material or physical
conditions but to a more deeply-rooted sense of distress. This stemmed
from forms of management that subjected the individual to psychological
pressures and destroyed his or her relationship to the workplace and to

Drudgery is now much more psychological as workers are exhorted to
engage their whole selves in the economic goals of the company. Unions
found it difficult to address this form of suffering because it is
unseen and intangible.

It is difficult to represent this within the conventional language
and symbolism of trade-union militancy, which often draws on images of
physical strength and masculinity. Some saw the suicides as an
individual and medical problem that had nothing to do with union

It is interesting that at France Télécom, many suicide victims had a
similar profile: most were male technicians in their fifties who had
worked at France Télécom for over thirty years and had been pressured by
management to join the “front line” of the company, selling products
and services in a call center.

Technicians who had accumulated long years of experience and who held
a distinct sense of professional identity were forced to recite words
from a script over the phone and to push customers to buy products. In
call centers, they were subject to intense surveillance, were punished
if they arrived to work a few minutes late, and had to ask permission to
use the toilet.

These technicians lost all sense of self-worth, autonomy, and
professionalism. Instead of trying to draw on their professional
experience, the company sought to erase this and reduce them to talking

To what extent are these suicides a new and extreme form of
protest that reflects a collapse of traditional forms of collective

At France Télécom, trade unions were considerably weakened during the
period of privatization. Management sought to break existing forms of
worker solidarity including union membership. Such solidarity was at
odds with the company’s vision of becoming a global player with a
workforce attuned to changed economic conditions of speed, flexibility,
and mobility.

The aim of the policy of forced mobility was not only to push
individuals to leave the company, but also to disrupt existing forms of
collective relationship. The message was that each worker was alone in
the face of management and had to bear personal responsibility for the
economic successes or failures of the company. The old culture of
solidarity and collective representation had to be done away with.

Suicides often have a social dimension seeking to achieve strategic
ends beyond a person’s death. Letters left by individuals may denounce
workplace conditions, point the finger at bosses, or appeal for broad
social change. In some cases a detailed portfolio of documents has been
left to allow others to mount a legal suit against the company. These
are objectives more readily associated with social protest.

Did the Observatory succeed in changing things within France Télécom and also on a broader political level?

Yes, in 2010 trade unions and management took part in a series of
negotiations to set up a new agreement on working conditions. It was the
French government itself that insisted that France Télécom executives
engage in these negotiations.

The new working agreement set out principles designed to protect the
individual from excessive stress and workplace pressures. These
principles were in theory very admirable, but in practice the agreement
was never implemented and led to very little by way of concrete changes.

At the national level, the government helped to set up in 2013 a new
National Observatory for Suicide, which monitors suicide levels across
the country and provides policy recommendations to government.

One of our key successes was to pursue France Télécom bosses before
the justice system. At the end of 2009, we made an official complaint
against France Télécom and initiated legal action against the company.

As a result Didier Lombard was placed under judicial investigation in
relation to eighty suicides and attempted suicides at the company
during his period as CEO. Lombard’s deputy and his human relations
manager are also in the dock. We will find out what the ruling is on the
case next year.

In March 2014, the Observatory placed France Télécom on
“serious alert” following ten suicides at the company since the
beginning of the year. How do you explain this renewed wave of suicides?

It is important to note first of all that not all of these suicides
have been linked to workplace conditions. I would also add that some
improvements in the workplace have been made.

Management no longer uses psychological tactics that target the
individual. The company now records each case of suicide and
communicates it to us after refusing for many years to acknowledge that
workplace suicides were taking place at all.

Yet, the company is still pursuing a policy of massive staff cuts
that causes despair amongst workers. It is carrying out the largest job
cuts by any French company in the last two decades. Economic objectives
are still being pursued at the cost of human lives.

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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Journalists have questions to answer - The AIM Network

Journalists have questions to answer - The AIM Network

Journalists have questions to answer

Look at this photo of Julia Gillard. Does this look like an
innocent person – someone who has just been vindicated by a Judge as
having played no part in any criminality in relation to a union slush
fund 20 years ago? Or does it look like someone guilty, with questions
to answer, being rushed away from cameras, refusing to make eye contact
with her accusers? This is the image that the Sydney Morning Herald used
to accompany a headline
which you would think would be good news for Julia Gillard, and bad
news for the media who relentlessly pursed this story to no end:

‘Royal commission on union corruption told Julia Gillard should be cleared of any crime’

The article moved quickly from reporting that The Royal Commission
into Union Governance and Corruption found Gillard innocent, to report
that her ex-boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, and his colleague Ralph Blewitt
should face criminal charges. Kathy Jackson is also recommended for
criminal charges. Remember Blewitt and Jackson and their work to bring
down the previous Labor government? No? Don’t remember these links? Why
am I not surprised?

To the average media consumer, who doesn’t follow independent journalism,
who relies on their news from mainstream journalists such as those at
Fairfax, you would never know that Ralph Blewitt’s accusations towards
Julia Gillard were used relentlessly by right-wing-nut-job-chief Larry Pickering (you know the guy – he likes to draw politicians with huge penises) to push the media to keep saying that Gillard had ‘questions to answer’.
You might wonder why the media would follow the lead of the un-hinged
Pickering and the word of Blewitt, who was blaming Gillard for something
he himself was being accused of doing in a bid for immunity.
You might also not realise that Kathy Jackson was the very same Kathy
Jackson who ‘blew the whistle’ on Craig Thomson’s misuse of union funds,
who is also partner of Tony Abbott’s good friend Michael Lawler
and a favourite guest of the right wing extremist HR Nicholls Society,
and was misusing union funds herself at many tens of times worse than
Craig Thomson. This article quotes the misuse for personal expenses at $660,000. But this link between right wingers and criminality in unions is never mentioned is it? This link to a 2012 article where Tony Abbott is praising Kathy Jackson as heroic
is never mentioned. These people with vested interest in bringing down
Labor politicians, who are accused of doing the exact same things as
they are accusing Labor politicians of doing, who have links to right
wing politicians and media identities
are never properly investigated because no journalist wants to make the
link between stories they’ve been writing, and the obvious campaign by
Abbott to not just destabilise Gillard’s minority government, but to
smash unions and workers’ rights with them. Remember Ashby versus Slipper, another campaign orchestrated by Abbott’s Opposition to try to bring down the Gillard government? Remember how Michelle Grattan used Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper as reasoning as to why Julia Gillard should resign?

You’ll notice that most of the stories that I’ve linked to in the
above paragraph were written by journalists at Fairfax. I use Fairfax in
this case purposely. I could have used News Ltd, but no one takes News
Ltd seriously as they don’t actually employ journalists and prefer to
work at being grubby partisan hacks so there’s no point reminding everyone why we don’t read News Ltd. I could have used the ABC, who went with this very ABC-like headline to report the news of Gillard’s vindication in the slush fund affair:

‘Trade union royal commission submissions question Julia Gillard’s professional conduct but clears her of any crime’

Of course the ‘questions’ had to be right up there front and centre,
and the vindication the afterthought, added later. The ABC is terrified
of Abbott and people like Chris Kenny who accuse them of left-wing bias
so they prefer to let Murdoch set the agenda than to actually do any
journalistic work themselves for the good of the public who fund them.

I actually used Fairfax not because they are the worst case of bad,
on non-existent journalism in Australia. There is some investigative
journalism happening at Fairfax, which the stories about Jackson, and
Ashby and Michael Smith prove. But what frustrates me, and should
frustrate the public at large, is the apparent inability for these
journalists to pull bit-piece stories together to tell a wider story,
which no media outlet in the county has had the courage to tell. Simply,
the media went after Prime Minister Gillard ferociously over Thomson,
Slipper and the AWU slush fund affair. The media mauled Gillard’s
leadership over these ‘scandals’, running with a fixed narrative of
Labor chaos, Labor dysfunction, Labor failure, Labor leadership
tensions. This fixed narrative refused to join the dots between the
Thomson, Slipper and AWU affair and the Liberal Opposition – who through
Jackson, through Blewitt, through Larry Pickering, through Pyne’s deep
involvement in the Ashby plot, were the ones goading the media on to
destroy their political opponents. This fixed narrative also seemingly
didn’t notice, or chose not to see, that the Gillard government was the most productive government this country has ever had. Where are the facts Fairfax? Buried in a political smear campaign?

In Kate McClymont’s 2014 Andrew Olle Media Lecture on investigative journalism, she said:

‘But as journalists we should have the courage to act for
more than the lofty notion of freedom of speech. We have a duty to be
the voice of the powerless in our society, to stand up for them.’

Were Fairfax Media journalists standing up for the powerless in our
society when they were complicit in a campaign to wrongly accuse Julia
Gillard of criminality in relation to the AWU slush fund affair? It’s
too late to go back and apologise for this error – the damage to
Gillard’s political career and her progressive policy platform is
already done. But what about Jackson and Ashby? Are Fairfax journalists
standing up for truth, for the powerless voters who knew nothing of what
was happening in the Thomson and Slipper affairs when Fairfax
journalists refused to join the dots between these Labor ‘scandals’ and a
campaign by Abbott’s opposition to destabilise the Labor government?
And what about union members, whose working conditions, wages and rights
will be damaged by Abbott’s campaign to destroy unions? Where are the
journalists speaking truth to power on behalf of the Australian public,
instead of on behalf of the Abbott opposition, and now Abbott

I note that Fairfax reported, but never mounted media campaigns that
culminated in suggesting the Prime Minister resign, stories about Abbott’s rorting of tax-payers funds for private travel, his daughter’s secret $60,000 scholarship, his own involvement in a slush fund to destroy Pauline Hanson’s electoral fortunes
(this was much more recent than 20 years ago). Is Fairfax saying that
they’re only interested in following stories that can damage Labor
governments? And if so, can they please explain how this represents
their role of standing up for the powerless in society? I think it’s
time that journalists realise that they have their own questions to
answer. And until they satisfactorily answer them, the powerless in
society should continue to distrust them.

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The Liberal's attack on Whitlam & Gillard: An attack on progress

The Liberal's attack on Whitlam & Gillard: An attack on progress

The Liberal’s attack on Whitlam and Gillard 38 years apart: An attack on progressive ideas & a return to mediocrity

Originally published on

Despite the IPA’s urgency for “Abbott to be more like Whitlam”
because Whitlam ‘changed Australia, more than any other Prime Minister
ever has,’ the IPA’s agenda for Abbott is very different.

In the 1970’s Gough Whitlam was seen as the first progressive Prime
Minister, who stood for the people. He stood for workers, battlers,
migrants, everyone. He wanted to shift Australia to a more inclusive and
progressive society.

Gough shifted Australia from a stagnant, mediocre nation, to a nation of ideas, progress and voices.

For so many years, the voices of the worker, the battlers and
migrants had been silenced, by the collective group of individuals who
could manage just fine on their own; whether that be through the
privilege of money, position in society, family heritage or education,
is neither here nor there. The crux of the what Gough Whitlam did, was
to bring more people into this exclusive collective by opening up
opportunities, thought a hand up, a fair go for all. Gough’s vision was
to propel the nation forward, through ensuring that individual
Australians could achieve enormous success; even if they were in a
previously ‘excluded group’ under the Liberals. He wanted every single
Australian, to be the best that they could be.

Gough Whitlam propelled this country forward, and these changes became the status-quo we all accepted and still do:

  • Access for all to Higher Education
  • Needs based funding for schools
  • The beginning of what we know today as Medicare – Medibank
  • National funding of hospitals and community health centres
  • The creation of the single mother’s pension (now parenting payment-single)
  • The handicapped children’s allowance (now known as carer’s payment).
  • Funding community grassroots social welfare organisations and
    volunteer organisations (now collectively known as ‘the community
    sector’) who served a need to assist individuals in their communities.
  • Enacted the Social Housing Act for States, which has housed so many Australians from low income/disadvantaged households
  • Outlawed discrimination against Indigenous people
  • Handed back land to Indigenous people
  • Funded legal services for Indigenous people
  • Enacted Human Rights protection through International Acts
  • Funded urban transport projects
  • and connected homes to sewerage – the beginning of the end of the thunderbox

It is well known that Gough Whitlam’s legacy is very vast, therefore, I have only chosen a few for example. To read more go to: The Whitlam Government’s achievements

In the 1970’s, the Liberals, not happy at all with such
changes to our society, sought a means to attack this progress and
‘return Australia to its Status Quo – to the mediocre way Australians
had lived before under the Liberals.” Through political mechanisms
within our system, the LNP stamped their feet and got their own way.

The reason why I have highlighted the above is to me, the correlation
between the attack on Julia Gillard and Gough Whitlam. Why do I see
this as a correlation between the two? Because both have the underlying
construct of:

Shifting the status-quo to exclusion of groups, the
notion that only ‘those who try succeed’, that everyone is equal, and
the disadvantaged and unemployed are the burden of society’

In ways that Gough Whitlam shaped Australia, Julia Gillard was also
attempting to do so. Policy highlights such as Gonski reforms (needs
based funding for education), NDIS (Peace of mind for every Australian,
for anyone who has, or might acquire, a disability), A price on Carbon
(a leader ahead of many other western countries, now adopting a price on
carbon), the Royal Commission into Child Abuse, an attack on Work
Choices and the introduction of Fair Work Australia and Modern Awards,
the National Broadband Network (which would give fast internet
nationwide, including regional & rural), Plain packaging for
cigarettes (a leader ahead of other nations wanting to adopt the same)
and an apology to all persons affected by forced adoption practices, to
name a few.

In fact, the IPA, the right wing think tank of Australia, found Prime
Minister Gillard’s progress for Australians, so threatening to the
Liberal way of life, they have issued a list to Abbott in 2011, to which he has agreed to implement.

The threat to the Liberal’s right-wing side of politics, that these
progressive changes of the Gillard Government would become norm and
adopted as the status quo amongst Australians, was a serious concern and
action needed to be taken.

Indeed action was taken. The Liberals did not hold the balance of
power in the senate, as they did in 1975, so they needed to adopt ways
and means of bringing down a progressive and effective Government. They
needed to ensure that the Liberals gained power. To do this, they needed
to taint the left as corrupt, a shambles and not to be trusted.

The onslaught on Julia Gillard during her Prime Ministership was relentless, astounding, hateful and most of all untruthful.

The right, did not care if Prime Minister Gillard was not a criminal.
The fact of the matter is, they had to paint her as a criminal to bring
her down. Once the trust of the electorates where broken, through this
tactic, they were home and hosed.

The idea behind the IPA’s list of ideas to Abbott is so that reforms
could be torn down, as quickly as possible and that a push to the right
through Liberal policy can shift the status quo to the hard right. The
reasoning behind this, is once this becomes status quo, it will be
extremely hard for any left Government in power to shift policy back to
the progressive left.

This is summarized in this quote below from John Roskam, James Paterson and Chris Berg of the IPA:

Only radical change that shifts the entire political
spectrum, like Gough Whitlam did, has any chance of effecting lasting
change. Of course, you don’t have to be from the left of politics to
leave lasting change on the political spectrum.

Essentially, the IPA has requested Abbott push the country as far
right as possible, so it then becomes adopted by the public as the
status quo and becomes normal over time. This is the impetus behind the
relentless attacks on the Prime Minister Gillard and her Government.

Now we have a situation where the former Prime Minister,
Julia Gillard has been cleared of all criminal activity. The question
is, how did this play in the minds of voters at the election in 2013?
How did this sway the votes to the ‘trusted right?’ The question we need
to ask ourselves now and in the future, is now we understand the true
agenda of the Liberal party, do we vote again in 2016/17 for a
progressive Australia, or the Liberals return to mediocrity?

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

This is the dawning of the Age of Consultancy - The AIM Network

This is the dawning of the Age of Consultancy - The AIM Network

This is the dawning of the Age of Consultancy

Before the election the Coalition announced a series of inquiries, reviews and white papers that it would instigate if it were elected.  They included:

  1. Commission of Audit
  2. Inquiry into the Financial Sector
  3. Review of Competition Policy
  4. Judicial Inquiry – Home Insulation Programme
  5. Review of the Department of Defence
  6. Coal Seam Gas Management and Wind Farms
  7. Inquiries into the National Broadband Network – The Coalition will
    conduct three inquiries as part of its “Plan for a Better NBN”.
  8. Inquiry into the Australian Tax Office

Productivity Commission Inquiries and Reviews

  1. Inquiry into Child Care Funding
  2. Review of Industrial Relations
  3. Review of the Automotive Industry

White Papers

The Coalition will produce White Papers on the following:

  1. Tax Reform
  2. Direct Action Plan
  3. Federal-State Relations
  4. Defence
  5. Development of Northern Australia
  6. Resources and Energy

Since the election, that list has grown.

Sussan Ley was up and running, commissioning a report from
PriceWaterhouseCoopers into child care funding.  Apparently she couldn’t
wait for the results from the inquiry that the Productivity Commission
was already conducting

Coincidentally, the North Sydney Forum,
a campaign fundraising body for Joe Hockey whose $22,000 annual
membership fee is rewarded with “VIP” meetings with Mr Hockey, was
established in 2009, shortly after Joe became shadow treasurer, by
Joseph Carrozzi, managing partner at professional services firm

Mr Carrozzi is also chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and
Industry in Australia and was a board member of the organisation when
Nick Di Girolamo was its chairman.

Members of the forum include National Australia Bank as well as the
influential Financial Services Council, whose chief executive is former
NSW Liberal leader John Brogden.

The FSC’s members, including financial advice and funds management
firms, stand to benefit from the changes to the Future of Financial
Advice (FOFA) laws. The National Australia Bank would also benefit from
the changes.

The chairman of the North Sydney Forum is John Hart, who is also the
chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia – a hospitality
industry lobby group whose members stand to benefit from a
government-ordered Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act
that is expected to examine the issue of penalty rates.

Mr Hart also sits on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council.

The National Commission of Audit
was officially announced by Treasurer Joe Hockey, and Finance Minister
Senator Mathias Cormann, on October 22, 2013, to be led by Tony
Shepherd, former Business Council of Australia president and chairman of
Transfield Services.

Mr Shepherd’s appointment was seen as being particularly controversial because as head of the BCA he had been critical of the previous Labor government policies such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Gonski schools funding reforms.

His appointment was also questioned because of his links to companies that had benefited from government contracts.

Mr Shepherd stepped down as chairman of Transfield Services upon his
elevation to the Commission of Audit. Transfield, a construction and
services firm, won a string of contracts in recent years worth hundreds
of millions of dollars, including the contract for maintenance and
support services at the Nauru detention centre.

The other commissioners are former senator and minister in the Howard
government, Amanda Vanstone, and former senior public servants Peter
Boxall, Tony Cole and Robert Fisher.

The coalition predicted in its midyear Budget update that the
commission would spend about $1 million but figures show it cost
taxpayers about $2.5 million to produce the audit.  That’s a 150% budget blowout from the panel advising us how to “live within our means”.

It cost $1.9 million for expert staff drafted in from the departments
of Finance, Treasury and the Prime Minister and Cabinet to work on the

The head of the commission’s secretariat, Peter Crone, was paid
$157,000 to oversee the probe, while the commissioners were paid $85,000
each for their five months work.

Consultants Boston Consulting Group were paid $50,000.

And then there’s the NBN.

As the rollout of superfast broadband slows down across the country,
consultants have been the biggest winners, pocketing millions of dollars
from numerous reviews and cost-benefit analyses.

A Question on Notice tabled in Federal Parliament revealed the
external consulting cost for the NBN was $10.1 million. The cost of
implementing the recommendations was not included, the 2016 deadline has
been abandoned, and the new agreement with Telstra is yet to be

Boston Consulting Group, KordaMentha and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
received the biggest financial boon from the government-commissioned

Then there are the Royal Commissions.

The Government will provide $53.3 million over two years (including $5.3 million in capital funding) to conduct the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

The cost of this measure will be offset by redirecting funding from
the Employment, Industry and Infrastructure and Regional Development

Even though there have been coronial enquiries, inquests,
administrative investigations and a full government audit report into
the Home Insulation Programme’s problems, Abbott found another $25 million for a Royal Commission.

We then have the Warburton led review into the Renewable Energy Target
The Climate Change Authority was legislated to conduct this review,
which they will still do to “keep them occupied” according to Greg
Hunt.  To get the results he wanted, he chose to conduct his own review
led by climate change sceptic Dick Warburton and representatives of
fossil fuel producers and users.

A Senate Committee was told the total cost of the review was
$587,329. That figure does not include the salaries of the staff on the
secretariat or overheads such as IT and accommodation.

Mr Warburton received fees in the order of $73,000; Mr Fisher $39,900; Ms In’t Veld, $43,900; and Mr Zema, $29,700.

Clean energy representatives were shocked by the panel’s appointment
as chief advisor and modeller of ACIL Allen, a consultancy seen as close
to the fossil fuel industry, and whose highly contested research formed
the basis of the coal industry’s attempts to dismantle the RET in 2012.

They refused to include in their modelling the benefits of renewable
energy – including the health benefits, job benefits, and the network
benefits – which the panel dismissed as “too hard to model” and little
more than a “transfer of wealth”, presumably away from the coal
generators and network providers.

ACIL Allen were paid $287,468 for their modelling

We also have seen Christopher Pyne’s National Curriculum Review
which cost $283,157 to tell us we need less Indigenous focus and more
Judeo-Christian, less creativity and more rote learning, and less about
progressive reform and more about business.

Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire appointed 16 external experts to
make contributions, including Barry Spurr, each of whom were paid $8250
for their reports.

This government’s intentions are clear. They have bypassed government
departments and statuatory bodies, ignored expert advice and the
results of previous reviews, to pay hundreds of millions to consultants,
vested interests, and party hacks to produce the results that endorse
their stated policies or that damage the previous government.

This is indeed the Age of Consultancy.

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