Industrial relations are once again in the spotlight, with the mining industry and Qantas joining the Coalition in their attacks on the Labor government’s proposed legislation which will help to increase wages, reduce the gender pay gap, encouraging flexible working arrangements and allow workers from different companies to collectively negotiate pay rises.
And the big sticking points for these large companies is that issue of workers from different companies collectively negotiating pay rises – but this is the reason why the Labor party exists: to improve working conditions and increase wages for workers, and strike a balance between the needs of workers and the needs of business.
But it seems the business sector just wants everything on its own terms.
The Hancock Corporation – the company owned by Gina Rinehart – has argued that it wants to be excluded from collective negotiations for wage increases, but the profits for Hancock in 2021 were $7.3 billion; for BHP, it was $15.5 billion; and for Fortescue Metals – owned by Andrew Forrest – their profit was $14.3 billion. Qantas has reported that its profit for the first half of the 2023 year is going to be around $1.4 billion – so these are high profits and record profits for the mining industry and large businesses, at a time of stagnant wage growth.
It’s hard for these companies to argue against wage growth for workers, when they’re achieving sky high profits.
It’s the weekend of the Victoria election – and it’s one of the most important state elections for some time – not so much about the result, but the behaviour of the Liberal Party and the mainstream media. Looking back at the 2018 Victoria election – it was almost the same behaviour – The Age and the Herald Sun were most vocal in their opposition to the Victoria Labor government. The Liberal Party – supported by their federal counterparts – brought up the issues of terrorism and race baiting – claiming that African gangs were taking over the city of Melbourne and hardline Islam had terrorist cells operating in the western suburbs.
For all these efforts by the Liberal Party and the media in 2018, the Victoria Labor Government increased their majority, and had a 5.3 per cent swing towards them – and African gangs seemed to disappear after that, and were never talked about again.
Not to be outdone, the media has gone even harder this around, with a three-year anti-Daniel Andrews campaign that commenced during the pandemic: anti-lockdown stories, interviews with café owners, gym owners and pub owners about how unfair and terrible the Andrews government has been, and now filling the current campaign with as much hate and bile as possible.
Members of parliament have openly called for the execution of Daniel Andrews, and a wide range of QAnon extremists and neo-Nazis have been encouraged by the Liberal Party and the media – we’ve just never seen anything like this in an election campaign before.
Whistleblower charges need to be dropped
David McBride is being prosecuted over releasing details of war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan, and Richard Boyle is being prosecuted for releasing details about the aggressive and illegal debt collection practices of the Australian Taxation Office.
And it’s interesting to note that the only people who have been charged in these circumstances are the whistleblowers, not the perpetrators of original crimes.
The cases against McBride and Boyle commenced some time ago under the Coalition government, but the new Attorney–General Mark Dreyfus, said a Labor government would review these cases – the Attorney–General did drop the charges against Bernard Colleary in the East Timor spying case, but these two cases are still ongoing.
What’s not understood is that the two most powerful politicians in Australia are the Home Affairs minister and the Attorney–General – they’ve got more discretionary powers than even the prime minister – and the Attorney–General could use the powers contained within the Judiciary Act to stop these cases – in the same way that he dropped the case against Colleary. There might be all sorts of matters related to precedents or unintended legal consequences that the Attorney–General wants to avoid – but both of these cases have been going on for too many years. Dreyfus could drop these charges today if he wanted to – as he did in the case against Bernard Colleary – and that’s exactly what he should do now.
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