Monday, 28 April 2014

Newman Government continues to privatise health services

Media Release

Shadow Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller said the Newman Government’s plan to privatise Queensland Health was continuing, this time for services planned at the new Queensland Children’s Hospital.

“News today that the Newman Government’s ‘outsourcing’ of health services at the Queensland Children’s Hospital is very disturbing,” Mrs Miller said.
“It could mean 100 more health job cuts under the LNP, as well the deterioriation of workers’ rights and conditions. Its just another example of Campbell Newman’s plan to fully privatise health services in this state.
“You don’t just need doctors and nurses to run our hospitals, even though the Newman Government has relentlessly attacked frontline health staff over the last two years.
“Non-clinical staff like kitchen workers and ward staff are critical to the running of our hospitals. They deserve to be treated a lot better than they are under Campbell Newman.
“By privatising Queensland Health, as this Government seems intent on doing, we put our entire public health system at risk.
“The ‘Americanisation’ of our health system will lead to less services for patients, especially for low income families.
“Whether this example of privatisation is a strategy to slash workers’ pay and conditions by stealth, or an attempt to reduce services altogether, it needs to be immediately reviewed by Queensland Health and the Newman Government.

“The Government also needs to come clean about its privatisation plans and hospitals and health facilities right across the state. Does the government intend outsource every clinical support job across the state? Or just those in new hospitals like the Children's and at the Sunshine Coast?”

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The wages question

Brisbane, February 23, 1895.

Open Column.

For the expression of social and economic
opinions with which the “Worker” does not
necessarily hold itself in complete accord.

Why Wages Fall.

In all the great nations of the earth to-day, widely different though they may be in all political and social conditions, the wages question is the vital question of the hour. Temporarily crushed and repressed by iron laws and ancient customs, the workers everywhere are rising in revolt against a system which condemns the great mass of men and women to a slavery more hopeless and more cruel than the old state of chattel slavery, and the revolt is every day growing more and more gigantic and more and more bitter. And when we consider that by labour, and by labour alone, every class of wealth is produced for man, and then gaze upon the condition of labour in all parts of the earth, who can fail to see reason and right in the widespread feeling of discontent and unrest? For the great majority of workers to-day there is little else but grinding toil and hopeless poverty, and all the trouble, anxiety, envy and misery which spring inevitably out of poverty or the fear of poverty. And that this state of affairs is not the outcome of any local law or want of law is proved by the fact that it exists in countries whose political and social systems are as far different in character as their positions are in geography.

* * *

In England, with a monarchy and a hereditary aristocracy; in America under Republican institutions and democratic rule; in Switzerland, where the referendum is an established fact; in New Zealand, where women exercise the franchise; in New South Wales, where one man one vote is in actual operation; and in Victoria, where they possess the priceless boon of an elective Upper House; in all of these countries the condition of labour, in greater or lesser degree, is not at all what it should be.

* * *

This proves that the cause of the evil must lie deeper then the mere surface, and it also draws us to the conclusion that it must be a cause which exists, not only in one of these countries, but in and through the whole civilised world.

* * *

What is it, then, which is to-day responsible for the steady fall of wages towards a minimum which affords the labourer but a bare subsistence, and which causes the condition of the worker, in spite of the marvellous increase in the productive power of labour, to grow daily more dependent and more miserable?

* * *

The answer is, in the opinion of the writer, that the responsible agent for these evils and anomalies is the unjust and senseless institution of private property in land, or in shorter words still, land monopoly. The wages of labour are regulated by the quality of land which labour can freely exert itself upon, and the more this quality of land is lowered the more wages will sink, despite all superficial and arbitrary attempts to raise them. If Queensland could by any means have all its present population effaced, the first-comer afterwards would be able to settle on the richest land he could find, and keep for himself all he could produce there by his labour. His wages would then be at the highest possible point consistent with his power of production.

* * *

And if he only monopolised as much land as he wished to use, the wages of the next arrivals, so long as there was plenty of land of equal quality available, would be all that they could produce. And if the first man wished to employ the others he would be obliged to pay them practically the same amount as they could produce for themselves, for the man , short of an imbecile, would work for another for less than he could make by working for himself. And if the first settler wished to sell or lease his holding he could only obtain a return for his improvements. Ground rent proper would not yet have arisen.

* * *

But in time, when all this best quality of land was in the hands of private people, population would be forced to settle upon an inferior class. Let us suppose that this land would only produce, with the same amount of labour, half as much as the first grade would. Wages would then at once fall to half their former rate, for the other half would be pocketed as rent by the owners of the best land. These owners could then employ others to labour for them, and pay them by handing back to them half the value of their produce, or they could lease their land for half what the user of it could make upon it, and without exerting an ounce of labour personally, draw as large an income from the labour of that user as he himself could obtain for himself. And as labour was driven farther and farther out on to inferior land, wages would continue to fall in like ratio till at last the utmost the ordinary non-land-owning worker could make would be a bare living.

* * *

To sum up, then, wages fall as the quality of land open to labour without the payment of rent is lowered. Or, to express it in the language of political economy, “Wages fall as the margin of cultivation is lowered.” This is the reason why wages in every civilised land to-day are down almost to the lowest possible limit. This is the reason why, in spite of improvement and discovery, of science and invention, the life of the worker is every day growing harder and yet more hard. It is this monopoly of natural opportunities, this alienation of the nation's heritage, that gives wealth to the idle and power to the worthless. It is this that in England pours £200,000,000 annually into the pockets of useless parasites; that make in America the millionaires and the million paupers; that allow our banks and other financial institutions to pay to absentee directors and shareholders tremendous dividends out of Queensland workers' earnings; that paralysers industry and cripples commerce; and that renders both organised and unorganised labour helpless in the grasp of the privileged few.

* * *

To raise wages in Queensland, or anywhere else where private property in land is in operation, we must necessarily attack this monopoly, and when once it is wholly destroyed, and labour has once more access to natural opportunities, we need have no fear as to the ability of industry and enterprise to provide amply for themselves. When labour is allowed to produce freely, and to posses what it does produce, poverty, distress, and want, if they continue to exist at all, will no longer be confined to the working masses. Instead they will be limited to the individuals who are absolutely too indolent to work at all. For these people, if they will-not repent of their evil ways, there will indeed be starvation, but the absurd anomaly of men, able and anxious to work, starving in the midst of plenty will disappear forever with the final abolition of land monopoly.


Direct Action: Coalition will provide an extra $1bn to emissions reduction fund

Extract from The Guardian

Only 130 Australian companies will have any limits set on their greenhouse pollution.
The Coalition has confirmed it will provide an additional $1bn to its emissions reduction fund but has also revealed that only 130 Australian companies will have any limitations on their greenhouse pollution after the carbon tax is repealed.

The government will start auctions under its “direct action” climate policy later this year, paying companies or organisations that volunteer to reduce emissions until Australia reaches its emissions reduction target of 5% by 2020.
But a “safeguards” mechanism to impose some upper limit on emissions across the board – including on companies or sectors not bidding in the auction – has been pared back and will now apply only to 130 companies that emit 100,000 tonnes of CO2 or more a year.
The penalties applying if those companies exceed their highest emission levels over the past five years remain unclear. The white paper says “the government will work with business to establish a flexible framework for complying with the safeguard in the unlikely event of baselines being exceeded”.
Releasing the final white paper design of the “direct action” climate policy on Thursday, the environment minister, Greg Hunt, said the government was not concerned that the emissions reductions it secured through its fund would be wiped out by higher emissions elsewhere in the economy because “we have presumed the highest emissions growth … We have taken the worst case scenario in terms of our emissions.”
Hunt’s hand-picked advisory group warned him he would need to offer 15-year contracts to companies bidding to reduce emissions to get the kind of big projects that could effectively reduce greenhouse emissions.
Danny Price, the economist who co-chaired the advisory group, told Guardian Australia the Coalition’s five years was “way too short” and that “contracts will need to be 15 years at least to attract the major capital-intensive projects with lifetimes of well over a decade”.
He said the issue was “one of the biggest threats” to the effectiveness of Direct Action.
The “white paper” said the government still preferred five-year contracts but would undertake “market testing” of longer contracts before the first auction. It also proposes that very large projects delivering reductions of more than 250,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, could enter into “out-of-auction contracts”. Hunt said he still believed there was “real potential” for big contracts to deliver emission reductions within a five-year contract.
And he said was absolutely confident the “direct action” scheme would achieve the 5% target, and that the new policy would become law, despite the fact that it is unlikely to win support from the new Senate, which sits from July. Hunt said the $2.55bn for the first four years of the emissions reduction fund would be included in the budget, and the rest of the scheme would be presented as legislation, but strongly hinted it could be implemented through regulation if blocked by Labor, the Greens and the crossbench senators.
Clive Palmer vowed this week that his four-vote bloc in the Senate would vote against “direct action” because the money would be better spent on pensions. Hunt said he had “just casually bumped into Mr Palmer” and was “hopeful” they could have “constructive discussions”.
The original “direct action” policy, released in early 2010 after Tony Abbott deposed Malcolm Turnbull as leader vowing to oppose Labor’s proposed emissions trading scheme, promised $300m, $500m and $750m over the first three years and $1bn a year after that. But the Coalition had only budgeted the first three years. Hunt confirmed another $1bn would be included in the fourth year of the budget estimates and said the fund had easily enough money to achieve its aims.
Many critics, including Turnbull, have insisted direct action cannot be “scaled up” to deliver bigger emission reductions in the future, but Hunt insisted it would “last the test of time” and that it would be affordable in the long term.
Turnbull explained in 2011 that continuing to use a big taxpayer-funded scheme to reduce emissions in the long term would “become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead”.
Two independent modelling exercises found “direct action” allocated too little money to achieve even a 5% target.
Modelling by Reputex climate analytics, commissioned by the environment group WWF-Australia, found that the money set aside by the Coalition to buy abatement was likely to fall short by $5.9bn a year between 2015 and 2020, or between $20bn and $35bn in total. Modelling by Sinclair Knight Merz/MMA and Monash University's centre of policy studies, commissioned by the Climate Institute, which used assumptions more generous to the Coalition, found the Coalition would have to find at least another $4bn for its climate policy, or break its pledge to cut emissions by 5% by 2020 and instead allow them to increase by 9%.
The Australian Conservation Foundation said the white paper “does not give us confidence Direct Action could cut emissions by even 5 per cent, let alone higher targets recommended by scientists”.
“It would be a disaster to get rid of a carbon price that is working and replace it with a scheme that gives no certainty it will reduce emissions,” the foundation said. “The new Senate will need to stand up for the public interest by insisting on an effective alternative climate change policy before scrapping the one we have.”
And the Australian Industry group, while welcoming many of the policy decisions in the white paper, repeated its call for the government to abandon its objection to buying greenhouse abatement on the international carbon market.
“The best way to guarantee that the emissions reduction fund can meet the target, stay within its budget and avoid imposing new red tape would be to expand the policy to include low-cost international carbon credits,” its chief executive, Innes Willox, said.
“Passing the legislation needed to underpin Direct Action may not be easy. The government … should set aside a part of the emissions reduction fund to guarantee achievement of the target through purchase of international emissions reductions. We estimate this would cost only 4% of the funding committed today. The fund will be more likely to attract domestic participation if the government is open to longer-term contracts and manages the risk of under-delivery itself.”
The Climate Institute's Erwin Jackson said: "The government's own projections show emissions will grow by 30% by 2030. To meet anything like a credible emission reduction target by then we need to find 5 billion tonnes in emission reductions. A $2.5bn fund and a toothless-tiger compliance mechanism hasn't got a hope of achieving that."
The acting Greens leader, Adam Bandt, said: "The Greens have said from the start that Direct Action is a dud. There’s nothing in the white paper’s few paragraphs of new detail that makes us change our minds, and if Clive Palmer's senators maintain their resolve, this piece of greenwashing will never become a reality."
The Business Council of Australia also called for the government to consider buying permits overseas.
“In its ongoing discussions the BCA will continue to advocate for access to a credible international permits system as it is the lowest cost option to meet the bipartisan commitment of reducing Australia’s emissions to at least 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020," chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
But she said the BCA's first priority was removing the carbon tax.

Coalition’s renewable energy review an ‘unprecedented scam’, industry says

Extract from The Guardian

Review assumes fossil fuel investors won’t need to factor in any risk due to climate policies for decades.
The renewable energy industry has labelled a controversial Abbott government review an “unprecedented scam” and a “stitch-up” after learning that it was conducting electricity industry modelling on the assumption there would be no risk or cost to investments in coal-fired power stations in the next few decades.

The review of the renewable energy target – headed by veteran businessman and self-professed climate sceptic Dick Warburton – and its modellers from ACIL Allen consulting held a workshop with industry participants on Wednesday at which they revealed the modelling would assume investors in fossil fuel generation would not need to factor in any risk due to climate policies for decades – neither a carbon price, nor a requirement to invest in emission-reducing technologies, nor any cost from any other government policy or regulation.
Many of the 50 participants said this assumption was entirely unrealistic.
John Grimes, chief executive of the Australian Solar Council, said it made the whole review a farce.
“This is an absolute stitch-up. They are predetermining the outcome of this modelling by the assumptions they are making … it is an unprecedented scam in policy-making and it needs to be called for what it is,” Grimes told Guardian Australia.
“It is clear that the RET review report will protect the vested interests in the current electricity market.”
Grimes said that any model that ignored international action on climate change and failed to consider a carbon price up to 2030 “lacks any credibility”.
Ric Brazzale, managing director of Green Energy Trading, said it was “ridiculous to assume you can increase greenhouse emissions for decades with no kind of cost or risk at all”.
“They are not going to come up with a fair outcome if they assume there is no carbon price and no kind of carbon constraint at all,” Brazzale said.
It is understood the workshop was also told the review had not considered the government’s election promise to provide subsidies to put solar panels on another one million roofs because there was as yet no policy detail behind it.
Dick Warburton, a veteran industrialist and current chairman of the Westfield Retail Trust, described his views on climate science in a 2011 interview on ABC.
“Well I am a sceptic. I’ve never moved away from that. I’ve always believed sceptical,’’ he said. “But a sceptic is a different person than a denier. I say the science is not settled. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’ve never said it’s wrong, but I don’t believe it’s settled.”
He is joined on the review panel by the former executive director of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Brian Fisher, director of Asciano Limited and the CSIRO, Shirley In't Veld and the managing director of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Matt Zema.
The review is charged with looking at “the economic, environmental and social impacts of the RET scheme, in particular the impacts on electricity prices, energy markets, the renewable energy sector, the manufacturing sector and Australian households” and with assessing how it fits with the government’s aim of “reducing business costs”. It has asked for submissions on whether the RET should be “abolished, reduced or increased”.
The target – introduced by the Howard government and expanded by the Rudd government – now requires that 41,000 gigawatt hours of energy be sourced from renewables by 2020.
At the time it was enacted that represented 20% of the market, but due to falling electricity demand, it will now be well over 20% – which has prompted calls for the target date to be pushed out or the target reduced, including a plan privately floated by the environment minister, Greg Hunt, for it to become a 25% by 2025 target.
But others, including the government’s top business adviser, Maurice Newman, want the RET scrapped altogether.
Newman, the former chairman of the ABC and the ASX, has said persisting with government subsidies for renewable energy represented a “crime against the people” because higher energy costs hit poorer households the hardest and there was no longer any logical reason to have them.
In setting up its own RET review, the government bypassed the Climate Change Authority – which it wants to abolish – but which is required by legislation to undertake regular reviews of the RET.

Joe Hockey warns aged pension is in the sights of budget razor gang

Extract from The Guardian

Bill Shorten accuses the government of 'cynically trying to soften the ground for massive cuts to pensions'
Joe Hockey is warning Australians to brace themselves for a new era in which government services they have taken for granted will require a co-payment or be means-tested or provided by the private sector.

In a speech ahead of next week’s release of the commission of audit’s 86 recommendations for reining in government expenditure, the treasurer has made it clear that the $40bn a year the government spends on the aged pension is squarely in the budget razor gang’s sights.
The government has already flagged raising the pension age, over time, to 70, but in the speech to the Spectator magazine in Sydney on Wednesday night, Hockey signalled the changes might be broader, possibly targeting the large number of people on part-pensions or receiving government health concession cards.
“The $40bn we spend on income support through the age pension is much more than we spend on defence, or hospitals or schools each year. It is our single biggest spending program,” he said, pointing out that between 2010 and 2050 the number of people age 65 to 84 is expected to quadruple.
And the vast majority of over-65s receive some form of government payment.
“Of Australians over the age of 65, four out of five receive a full or part pension. If we also take into account the concessionary health card, then only 14% of older Australians receive no government payments,” Hockey said.
“And the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is the tenth largest category of spending. Nearly 80% of the scheme’s expenditure is attributable to concessional recipients.”
The seniors health card is available to pensioner couples with an income $80,000 a year or singles with an income of $50,000 but has no assets test.
But prime minister Tony Abbott is also insisting that the government will keep its election promises, one of which was “no changes to pensions”.
“We will keep our commitments, because the point I keep making, if there is one thing that we learnt from the fate of the former government, you cannot say one thing before an election and do the opposite immediately afterwards,” Abbott said when asked about mooted budget cuts Wednesday.
The government appears intent on resolving the apparent contradiction between Hockey’s signals and Abbott’s promises by phasing in the budget cuts over time.
“There will be numerous cases where our policy principles can only be implemented over time,” Hockey said in his speech.
The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, accused the government of “cynically trying to soften the ground for massive cuts to pensions” but predicted “pensioners will see through their weasel words”.
“The Abbott government created their own budget emergency, and now they are telling pensioners to pay for it. If the prime minister is so desperate to cut, he should leave pensioners alone and start with his extravagant paid parental leave scheme,” Shorten said.
Hockey also suggested the long term changes could be significant and would be spread across households, the public service – where sweeping cuts are planned – and the private sector.
“Means testing must become an even more important part of Australia’s transfer system to ensure the sustainability of our income support payments. Support must be targeted to those in most need,” he said.
“More use of co-payments should be made to encourage some moderation in demand for government-provided goods and services. Nothing is free. Someone always pays. It is appropriate that those who use government services should contribute towards their cost.
“On unemployment benefits, government should provide assistance that helps the jobless move into employment, rather than a system that traps them.
“The difficult decisions that will underpin our movement to a new age of responsibility must also include the corporate sector. Too many taxpayers' dollars have been spent on corporate welfare and too often previous governments have been drawn into areas that are better left to the private sector,” he said.
But he insisted that the government would not be cutting back on its generous and much-criticised paid parental leave scheme, offering women six months leave on up to $75,000, and the budget will contain an increase in infrastructure spending, with the government saying both measures are important to increasing productivity and economic growth.
Assuming personal income tax cuts to return “bracket creep” as taxpayers enter higher tax brackets, the commission of audit says that without a major shift in government spending Australia will still have a deficit of around 1.5% of GDP by 2024.
The government announced the commission of audit last October, headed by the president of the Business Council of Australia, Tony Shepherd, with the broad brief of “assessing the role and scope of government, as well as ensuring taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and in an efficient manner”. Also on the commission were former Liberal adviser and departmental head Peter Boxall, former public servants Tony Cole and Robert Fisher and former Howard government minister Amanda Vanstone.
The Labor party says the commission’s make-up means the government has effectively “outsourced the responsibilities of government to big business”.
Among budget savings widely discussed are a $6 co-payment for bulk-billed visits to the doctor, reducing or abolishing the Medicare Locals system, raising over time the eligibility age for the pension to 70 and changing its indexation to a less generous formula.

Joe Hockey's budget cuts a tough sell when held against paid parental leave

Extract from The guardian

The treasurer's intransigence on the leave policy will make it harder to convince people the pain is being spread fairly.
The extent to which Australians cop the “heavy lifting” in Joe Hockey’s first budget will depend entirely on whether they think the effort is fairly spread around.
But a table in the middle of the treasurer’s latest softening-up speech clearly displayed a policy that is going to make it much harder for the Coalition to convince voters there really has been an equitable distribution of budget pain.
Explaining the structural problems with the budget, Hockey detailed how the 15 largest areas of government spending are also the fastest growing.
The fastest of all, measured in average annual growth over the next 10 years is the national disability insurance scheme, a new scheme starting the decade with almost no expenditure at all.
The second fastest is not the aged pension, or hospitals, or any of the sectors usually nominated as unsustainable, but a category called “childcare and paid parental leave” which increases on average by 11.5% over the decade.
Despite this rapid growth in expenditure, clearly fuelled by the Coalition’s generous expansion of the paid parental leave scheme, later in the speech Hockey insisted it was one thing the Coalition would definitely not be cutting, on the grounds it “will help women to remain engaged with their employer [and] lift female workforce participation”.
This directly contradicts the productivity commission’s finding that schemes such as the Coalition’s that promise “full replacement wages for highly educated, well-paid women, would be very costly for taxpayers and, given their high level of attachment to the labour force and a high level of private provision of paid parental leave, would have few incremental labour supply benefits”.
And in the everyday world, the idea that already well-off women can get $75,000 for six months at home with their baby will be the fairness benchmark against which every other budget cut is compared.
The budget debate will be all about choices – about who bears the pain and who is spared. It will also be about promises. Tony Abbott explicitly ruled out cuts to pensions, education, health, education and unexpected changes to superannuation – although it may well turn out some of those promises had a previously-unclear restricted timeframe.
But the expensive paid parental leave promise, which the government seems so determined to keep, is set to make so many of its other choices more difficult to explain

Green groups to wage legal war against Tony Abbott's pro-development agenda

Extract from The Guardian

Conservationists will move away from lobbying in favour of legal confrontation with a government they see as anti-environment
Environmental groups are preparing to launch a series of court cases to frustrate the Abbott government’s agenda, targeting its plans to ditch the carbon tax and devolve approvals for new coal mines to the states.

In a significant hardening of its approach to a government it views as instinctively anti-environment, the conservation movement has signalled it will move away from lobbying in favour of legal confrontation.
The Environment Defenders Office, a legal network which had its public funding removed by the Coalition in December, has reported a surge in private donations, which it will use to take on the government over climate change, environmental regulation and community health issues.
The Victorian office of the network is to rebrand as Environmental Justice Australia, using a crowdfunding model in place of government support.
Meanwhile, Earth Justice, a long-established litigation group from the US, visited Australia last week to advise the Wilderness Society on legal tactics.
It is understood partnerships with environmental groups in the US and UK will be forged to help facilitate challenges to the Coalition’s agenda.
“Talking niceties has got us nowhere with this government,” said Brendan Sydes, chief executive of the new Environmental Justice Australia office. “Business as usual isn’t satisfactory, so we’ve got to look outside the box, including legal action and divestment campaigns against fossil fuels.
“We will be looking at legal avenues to challenging the dismantling of the clean energy package without having any credible alternative. We’ll also be looking carefully at the one-stop environmental shops. The government is going completely in the wrong direction.”
Environmental groups have voiced dismay at the government’s approach, including the attempted repeal of the carbon price in favour of its “direct action” policy, the bid to delist parts of Tasmania’s forest from World Heritage protection and the handover of development approvals to state governments.
The shark cull in Western Australia, approved without an assessment by Greg Hunt, the environment minister, and Tony Abbott’s comments last month that there are too many trees “locked up” in national parks have also caused widespread green chagrin.
Lyndon Schneiders, national director of the Wilderness Society, said the group was looking to challenge a raft of coal and gas projects it sees as being “disastrous for the global climate” if they go ahead.
“For the government to wash its hands of these responsibilities and hand over power to blatantly pro-development state governments is set to have significant legal implications,” he said. “We’re getting advice on that now.
“We need to use the courts to pull the political leaders into line when they overstep the boundaries. The government seems to think they have a mandate to strip away 30 years of hard-fought environmental protections. We still want to engage with them, but I think Abbott’s [forestry] speech made their philosophy crystal clear.”
Kelly O'Shanassy, the new chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the group would be targeting voters in marginal electorates to encourage MPs to take climate change seriously.
“We will be doing more work out in the communities, in electorates in places such as western Sydney, to say ‘here is how climate change impacts you’,” she said. “We need to focus on areas where politicians work the hardest for votes.
“We won’t ever tell people which party to vote for, but at the moment it’s a race to the bottom for environmental policy and we want to create a race to the top. We want parties to have to take climate change seriously in order to get elected.”
O’Shanassy said she wanted to double the ACF’s current membership base to 400,000 people by recruiting activists to hold community meetings and door knocking rounds in key marginals.
“We’ll be asking more people to do more things to make climate change a critical issue,” she said.
“Commentary by the prime minister saying that we have too many trees really disturbs me. Nature provides products and services we need, but once we get into an exploitative relationship with nature she will kick our butt.”

Friday, 25 April 2014


Media Release

Catherine King MP.
Shadow Minister for Health

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Australians cannot afford to foot the bill for Prime Minister's broken promises on health.
Before the election, Tony Abbott promised no new taxes, no surprises and no broken promises – but that's exactly what his new GP Tax is.
The Prime Minister's GP Tax is a clear breach of trust with the Australian people, and represents the dismantling of universal healthcare as we know it in this country.

Labor believes all Australians should get the healthcare they need – not just the healthcare they can afford.
The GP Tax will mean parents will be out of pocket when they take their sick kids to the doctor, or families just won't get the right medical care.
The Prime Minister's new GP Tax is just one example of his twisted priorities when it comes to this Budget.
The Abbott Government has already cut three GP Super Clinics, and further health funding is on the Prime Minister's chopping block.
They have already cut $560 million from public hospitals and more than $260 million from medical research.
And it's now clear Tony Abbott is getting ready to break his promise on Medicare Locals.
Just 10 days before the last election the Prime Minister solemnly promised:

We're not shutting any Medicare Locals.”
[People's forum 28 August 2013]

Medicare Locals employ thousands of frontline health workers that improve caccination rates,
co-ordinate after-hours access tp Gp's, prevent hospitalisations as well as deliver mental health services. They are keeping people out of hospital and providing better local care for patients.
Cuts to Medicare Locals, cuts to GP Super Clinics and new GP Tax will all make it harder for people to get the healthcare they need.
Australians shouldn't have to pay more to see their doctor, just so the Prime Minister can give $75,000 to millionaires to have a baby.

They shouldn't have to foot the bill for Tony Abbott's twisted priorities.   


Media Release

Mark Butler MP

Shadow Minister for Environment
 Climate Change and Water

Date:  24 April 2014

The Abbott Government has cynically released its so called Emissions Reduction White Paper on the eve of a long weekend in a desperate attempt to hide the lack of detail and commitment to tackling climate change, Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler said.
More than four years in the making, the White Paper has revealed what economists and scientists have long suspected – that the centrepiece of the Abbott Government’s Direct Action plan is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, and yet more unanswered questions around how the scheme will operate.
“Cynically announced the afternoon before the Anzac Day long weekend, there is no detail, no leadership, no concrete commitment, no incentives for polluters to change their behaviour, and no certainty for our future,” Mr Butler said.
With a price tag of $2.55 billion at a time when the Government is telling pensioners they are costing too much, they will pay polluters to keep polluting without any clear plan on how it will reduce emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.
“This a policy con that isn’t about long-term behavioural change. This is a one-off deal offering taxpayer dollars with no incentive for long term change.
“This week, we’ve seen a so-called budget emergency requiring cuts to pensions and health, yet Tony Abbott can find an extra $2.6 billion to pump into a dud policy that no one says will work – talk about twisted priorities.”
The ERF offers no funding certainty beyond four years – grossly inadequate if it is to attract any major abatement projects.
“Greg Hunt says that ‘additional funding will be considered in future budgets’ – these are hardly words of certainty, or of a government of ‘no surprises’.  This is policy fraud – an expensive con that will do nothing to tackle climate change.”
“Despite constantly bleating that Labor’s policy hasn’t worked, Greg Hunt today said that a recent report showed that Labor’s policy is set to exceed emissions reductions beyond our Kyoto target.
“Greg Hunt’s response is to do less and take Australia backwards, with no plan for reducing emissions beyond 2020.
“Under Labor Australia was a world leader on tackling climate change. Under Direct Action we will fall behind and fail to act in the interest of future generations.”
Significant details that were absent in the White Paper – unacceptable for a policy that Mr Abbott took to the 2010 election and which has already been the subject of a Green Paper:
  • Penalties that would apply to over-polluters: Mr Hunt said he’ll wait and see if industry over-pollutes and then there “may be cause for discussion or activity”. This is a cop out that confirms what the Coalition’s policy is all about – paying big polluters to keep polluting.
  • Still no detail on the Abbott Government’s so-called “safeguard mechanism”: Mr Hunt confirmed today that he will think about that between now and 2015.
  • Contracts allocated under the ERF will typically be for a five year period, according to the White Paper: It doesn’t explain how he would do that on a 4-year funding base.
  • Crediting periods under the ERF are stated between 3-15 years: Yet the only financial commitment is for four years.
  • Mr Hunt couldn’t explain how Australia could meet its target without applying a cap on pollution.
  • Mr Hunt couldn’t explain why business would participate when there are insufficient incentives and no indication of what the benchmark auction price will be. 


Media Release

Mark Butler MP

Shadow Minister for Environment
Climate Change and Water

          Date: 24 April 2014
What’s the collective noun for a group of climate deniers? Coalition Caucus.
Liberal Member for Dawson George Christensen has today spilled the beans on the Coalition’s real view on climate change, saying “a number” of Liberals disagree that climate change is real.
Mr Christensen also backed the views of Tony Abbott’s chief business adviser, Maurice Newman, who this week disagreed with 97 per cent of the world’s scientists, telling the ABC that there is no evidence of man-made climate change or any climate change at all.
The Age revealed today that Tony Abbott’s Commission of Audit hasn’t even considered the Coalition’s Direct Action policy saying, “The Commission of Audit couldn’t really look at it because we didn’t have a policy to look at.”
The fact that the Commission of Audit hasn’t assessed the Liberals Direct Action policy speaks volumes about what a sham of a policy this really is.
Direct Action will pay big polluters to pollute, and cost Australian taxpayers more – talk about twisted priorities.
Australia can’t afford to do nothing on pollution – but that’s exactly what Tony Abbott is doing.
The Abbott Government has the wrong priorities and is not taking any meaningful action against climate change. In Tony Abbott’s own words - climate change is "absolute crap".
Australia needs an effective system in place to reduce pollution and address climate change.


Media Release

Jenny Macklin MP

Shadow Minister for Families and Payments
Shadow Minister for Disability Reform

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Kevin Andrews’ ‘simplification’ of Australia’s welfare system into a UK-style single payment may not be as simple as it sounds, with the UK single payment plagued by delays and cost blowouts.

In fact, the British Conservative Government’s prized simplification of welfare payments into one ‘Universal Credit’ could be abandoned if it doesn’t start meeting its targets.

Yet Kevin Andrews has today suggested the government was looking at a similar single payment, in apparent ignorance of the many issues that the program has experienced since it was announced.  

Labor is not against simplifying the system, but the devil, as always, is in the detail, and in the UK it has been a complete shambles.
Kevin Andrews needs to ensure these issues are not repeated here.

In September 2013, the UK National Audit Office released a report on the implementation process. It was scathing, finding that ‘it is unlikely the Universal Credit will be as simple or cheap to administer as originally intended. Delays to rollout will reduce the expected benefits of reform’.

In February of this year, the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions released a report showing that only 3,200 people had been moved on to the simplified welfare payment since it was announced in November 2011, significantly below the Government’s target of 1 million by April 2014.

A February report in the Guardian newspaper also revealed the staggering cost of the scheme - which has blown out to £612m ($1.1b) – the equivalent of  £225,000 per person or close to AUD $420,000.

Although the plan was for every welfare recipient to be moved onto the new payment by 2017, the British Financial Times quotes a senior British public servant saying the welfare reforms:

“must start delivering results by the next election or risk being drastically scaled back or even abandoned”

[Financial Times 18th February 2014]

If Kevin Andrews and Tony Abbott plan to follow the conservative playbook on welfare reform, Australian taxpayers will need some concrete assurances that the scheme is actually going to work.

It doesn’t seem to be working in the UK. 

The Abbott Government needs to come clean with the Australian people about exactly what they are planning, who will be affected, and how much it is going to cost. 


Media Release

Jenny Macklin MP
Shadow Minister for Families and Payments 
Shadow Minister for Disability Reform

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed that Tony Abbott will break his pre-election promise that there would be no changes to the Age Pension. 
Appearing on the ABC’s AM program this morning, the Treasurer said that an increase in the pension age is ‘inevitable’.
This is a complete betrayal of the 2.3 million age pensioners who placed their trust in Tony Abbott on election day, not to mention senior Australians who are on the cusp of retirement.
Tony Abbott’s promise was crystal clear:
“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

Unless Tony Abbott rules out changes to the pension, it is clear that he cannot be taken at his word.
And in a further example of the government’s twisted priorities, Joe Hockey has also defended the Government’s rolled-gold Paid Parental Leave Scheme, which will see wealthy women paid $75,000 to have a baby.
What Tony Abbott is telling Australian pensioners is that they will have their standard of living cut in order to give millionaire mums a $75,000 bonus. It’s outrageous. 

Newman Government backflips over axed housing advice

Media Release

Shadow Housing Minister Jo-Ann Miller says the Newman Government’s announcement of funds for a housing advice service proves yet again that the LNP has slashed frontline services without regard to the impact on people’s lives.
“Housing Minister Tim Mander recently announced funds for a free advice service to assist the 60,000 Queenslanders living in retirement village units and manufactured homes,” Mrs Miller said.
“The new service will be offered through the Caxton Legal Service, but it would have saved a lot of anguish if the LNP had not withdrawn funding to the Caravan and Manufactured Home Resident Association (CAMRA)."
“One of the Newman Government’s first acts as part of its senseless and illogical slash-and-burn attack on frontline services was to stop funding the CAMRA."
“Labor warned at the time that the LNP’s frenzied and indiscriminate cutbacks would severely disadvantage the thousands of Queenslanders who relied on CAMRA for advice."
“It has taken two years for the message to get through to the Housing Minister and even now he has not restored funding to CAMRA or the Tenants’ Union of Queensland, the bodies which both have a long track record in this complex field."
“In making the announcement, Mr Mander admits that the laws around retirement and manufactured home living can be complex and difficult to understand."
“He also agrees that, because many residents are retired and may not be in a strong financial position, the last thing they need is to be involved in expensive and protracted disputes."
“It is a shame the LNP did not think about that when it axed CAMRA’s funding to provide free advice and assistance. Why has it taken so long for the LNP to confess that it cut too fast and too deep?"
“I am sure the Caxton Legal Service will provide sound advice, but right now we do not know if the new arrangement will ensure the same level of service to the same number of people."
“It may well be too little, too late."
“Mr Mander now claims that the commitment to fund Caxton Legal Centre to provide the service will ‘fulfil the LNP’s election promise to revitalise frontline service’ but at best he has restored what had been provided under Labor for many years and which was take away by the LNP in such an indiscriminate way,” she said.

Newman’s asset sales without a mandate hit $11 billion

Media Release

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the LNP’s latest asset sale, this time the sell-off of the Brisbane toll road network, meant that the Newman Government had sold off $11 billion worth of state assets since their election.
“Campbell Newman promised Queenslanders he’d seek a mandate to sell off state assets,” Mr Pitt said.
“The sell-off of Queensland Motorways Limited into the private sector was not put to voters at the last election.
“It’s another broken promise from the Premier, who said he had a plan to pay off debt without having to sell assets.
“Yet once he came to power, he’s sold off $11 billion worth of state assets, including schools, hospitals, Aurizon shares and Government buildings.
“At this very time, the LNP is wasting $6 million on a taxpayer funded advertising campaign to convince Queenslanders to support asset sales. It talks about choices – raising taxes, cutting services or selling assets.
“The sale of QML proves this Government is selling assets already, just as families are already paying $1,000 extra tax per family, and services across the state have been axed.
“You simply can’t believe Campbell Newman when he says that tolls will not be impacted in the future after his litany of failed cost of living promises. In 2004 the Premier claimed these toll roads would be delivered for a $2 toll and wouldn’t cost ratepayers a cent.”
“Now after $1 billion of ratepayer’s money has been sunk on the Legacy Way tunnel, $770 million on the Clem 7 tunnel and $370 million on the Go-Between Bridge it will be the private sector who will profit from these failed projects into the future.
“Queenslanders have made their views on asset sales clear. They want a long-term asset retention plan, not a mass fire-sale that lines the pockets of global investment banks.
“The Premier and Treasurers’ fingerprints are all over the bail-out of failed Brisbane City Council toll roads by QIC and the subsequent mass fire-sale of Brisbane’s toll road network.
“The Premier when Mayor of Brisbane City Council said that he was going to talk to QIC about a ‘vision for an integrated motorway network across the greater Brisbane area’.
“The Treasurer’s diary obtained under right to information details that he held a meeting in late 2012 to start the process of QIC purchasing failed Brisbane City Council toll roads ahead of a fire-sale of an integrated toll road network. (See background information below)
“Worse still the Premier’s vision also involved the toll road network having distance-based charging with the Premier describing this as a ‘National Broadband Network for roads’. (See background information below)
“Queenslanders simply can’t believe this Premier when he says he has nothing to do with the largest asset sale in the country.
“The successful buyer Transurban has already rolled out distance based charging on part of its Sydney toll road network and their CEO has called for distance based charging to be rolled out across the country.
“The CEO of QIC has said that this sale of tolling rights to 2051 ‘is expected to be one of the biggest infrastructure transactions in Australia for several years’. (See background information below)
“Queenslanders have no choices when it comes to asset sales and the LNP.
“Only Labor has listened to that message. Under the LNP, Queenslanders assets will be sold. Under Labor, they won’t. It’s that simple,” Mr Pitt said.
Background information:
Tim Nicholls Diary 20 November 2012:
Tim Nicholls Diary 20 November 2012

Campbell Newman 30 November 2010 (Source –
“We are going to talk to [the QIC] about it now, because we still have a vision for an integrated motorway network across the greater Brisbane area,” he said.
“We think it is in the public’s interest. We think it is in the interests of motorists. We think there are many things that can come together to provide synergies and efficiencies that will ultimately provide better solutions on our roads.”
Campbell Newman 7 December 2010 (Source –
Plans for flexible tolling, described as a ‘National Broadband Network for roads’, will step up another gear with high level meetings planned between Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and the Queensland Investment Corporation.
Damien Frawley CEO of QIC (Source –
“This is expected to be one of the biggest infrastructure transactions in Australia for several years”

Treasurer refuses to change misleading website campaign

Media Release

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said Tim Nicholls has fully committed to his inaccurate and misleading asset sales website funded by taxpayers as part of a wasteful $6 million political advertising campaign.
“The Treasurer knows he is misleading Queenslanders and using millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to do it,” Mr Pitt said.
“He was given an opportunity to fix his mistakes, but he’s refused.
“It just shows that it was the Treasurer’s plan all along to push a taxpayer funded lie that serves his political interests.
“Many Queenslanders will be wondering how much lower the LNP can stoop if they’re willing to waste $6 million of taxpayer money on a misleading PR campaign.
“If this was a health promotion campaign and it contained factually incorrect material, it would be pulled immediately.
“But because it’s the LNP’s taxpayer funded political ad campaign, the Treasurer sweeps it under the carpet and is happy to pull the wool over Queenslanders’ eyes.
“The arrogance of the Treasurer and the Newman LNP Government never ceases to amaze.
“The Treasurer has claimed that I don’t understand the State’s finances in a desperate attempt to cover up the fact that his website is factually misleading as part of a pathetic attempt to con Queenslanders into supporting asset sales.
“Despite the Treasurer’s claims, nowhere on the website does it talk about transferring the existing debt of Energex, Ergon and Powerlink to the private sector.
“Even if the government did this, it would still not provide the $28 billion or more Tim Nicholls and his misleading website claim can go towards the repayment of existing debt.
“Today it has been revealed in the Australian Financial Review that investment banks are demanding placements on the boards of the electricity network companies if they are to take on existing debt.
“If this is the Treasurer’s proposal than it will involve a divestment of Energex, Ergon and Powerlink’s existing assets as collateral”.
The Premier said in Parliament in April last year: “So let me be absolutely clear today that we decided to not consider divestment of Energex, Ergon or Powerlink to pay down the debt that was accrued by the former financially inept government and we certainly will not be seeking any mandate to undertake a sale of those assets at the next election.”
In November 2012 the Premier said: “The poles and wires transmission stuff, I believe, should be owned by the people because they are natural monopolies.”
“A divestment of Energex, Ergon and Powerlink with partial control of these companies handed to the private sector is privatisation. To say otherwise is a blatant deception”, Mr Pitt said.
“The Treasurer has long been on the record about his support for selling the poles and the wires and last year endorsed a report calling for a fire-sale of every electricity asset in Queensland.
“The only choice for Queenslanders will be at the next election. The LNP will sell your assets, Labor won’t.”

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Media Release

Jenny Macklin MP.
Shadow Minister for Families and Payments
Shadow Minister for Disability Reform

Monday, 21 April 2014

Tony Abbott should cut his unfair and unaffordable Paid Parental Leave Scheme, rather than rip money away from pensioners.

Reports in today’s Australian indicate the Prime Minister is stubbornly refusing to reign in his exorbitant paid parental leave scheme, despite the Commission of Audit recommending it be cut.

This is the clearest display yet of this Prime Minister’s twisted priorities.

Just yesterday, the Government announced it will be making savage cuts to support for people on the Disability Support Pension in this May’s budget.

For weeks, the Government has been preparing the ground for cuts to the Age Pension.

Both these changes will leave millions of vulnerable Australians worse off.   

And all because Tony Abbott refuses to make changes to his signature scheme, which will pay $75,000 to millionaire women to have a baby.

Australians should be very concerned about this Prime Minister’s priorities.

Why should Australia’s most vulnerable people be expected to pay for Tony Abbott’s $5.5 billion cash splash for wealthy women?

If Tony Abbott is so determined to cut, he should start with his paid parental leave scheme, and leave age and disability support pensioners alone.  


Media Release

Jenny Macklin MP.
Shadow Minister for Families and Payments
Shadow Minister for Disability Reform

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Abbott Government is preparing to slash support for thousands of people with disability, which could leave some of our most vulnerable Australians at risk of poverty. 

Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, told Fairfax today that these changes would punish “some of our most vulnerable people in society”.

The Abbott Government’s claims of a welfare spending ‘crisis’ are complete rubbish – and represent the same old, tired Coalition tactic: manufacture a false sense of crisis, victimise vulnerable people, then cut their support.

Unlike the Coalition’s failed policies in government, Labor actually made the right decisions to get people off the DSP and into work.

Following Labor’s 2011 reforms to the Disability Support Pension, between 2012 and 2013 the number of people on the DSP fell for the first time in 30 years.

Under Labor, the rate at which people were granted the DSP fell by 22 percentage points – the grant rate went up under the previous Coalition Government.

Australia is one of the lowest spenders on welfare in the OECD.

The Abbott Government can’t tell the Australian people what their plan to get people into work is, because they don’t have one – they just have a plan for cuts.

The upcoming Budget is about priorities. Cuts to vulnerable Australians so Tony Abbott can pay $75,000 to millionaires to have a baby will reveal just how twisted Tony Abbott’s priorities are.  


Media Release

Jenny Macklin MP.
Shadow Minister for Families and Payments
Shadow Minister for Disability Reform

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Reports in today’s Australian confirm that the government is progressing with its plans to lift the retirement age and cut the rate of indexation of the Age Pension.

It is quite clear that the Prime Minister cannot be taken at his word when it comes to the Age Pension.

Earlier this week the Prime Minister said that he would keep the commitment he made to 2.3 million Australian pensioners that there would be no cuts to pensions, and no changes to pensions. 

But today’s reports confirm that the razor gang has its sights set directly on the standard of living of age pensioners.

When Tony Abbott promised pensioners the day before the election that he wouldn’t change the pension – they took his word for it.
No amount of weasel words can change the fact that the Prime Minister is planning to break the solemn promise he made to Australian pensioners on the eve of the election, and pensioners have every right to be furious.

Why should Age Pensioners, those who can least afford it, have to pay for Tony Abbott’s $5.5 billion Paid Parental Leave scheme?

The priorities of this government are completely twisted.


Media Release

Shadow Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller has today demanded the Premier intervene in his Federal colleague’s disastrous plan to introduce an additional tax on GP visits which will see demand on Emergency Departments skyrocket.
Mrs Miller said the Abbott Government had today foreshadowed the $6 co-payment for bulk-billed visits to GPs which will see the average Queenslander slugged more than $70 a year for merely seeking medical treatment from their local doctor.
“For more than two years now Campbell Newman and the Health Minister Lawrence Springborg have ruthlessly attacked our public health system and now they will stand by while their mates in Canberra launch a further attack,” Mrs Miller said.
“This Tony Abbott GP tax on everyone for simply visiting the local doctor not only targets families already struggling with the cost of living, it attacks our Emergency Departments."
“It will force low income families away from their local GP and into already clogged-up Emergency Departments."
“What additional costs will Queenslanders face under the Newman Government’s Americanised hospital system once services are sold off to private providers?"
“Has Campbell Newman discussed this with Tony Abbott?"
“What plans does he have to combat the influx of patients into hospital EDs?"
“Will he stand up for Queenslanders and publicly tell Tony Abbott he is rejecting this tax?”
Mrs Miller also called on the Premier to intervene in the Federal Government’s plan to close down Medicare Locals.
“It’s no secret that the Abbott Government plans to scrap the local health bodies in the pending budget."
“This program is barely two years old and is showing results but the Newman and Abbott Government are determined that our public health system will be more difficult to access and they are determined that the 3,000 people employed by Medicare Locals will be the latest health workers in Queensland to lose their jobs.”

Website blunder means LNP must can $6 million asset sales PR campaign

Media Release

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the LNP’s $6 million taxpayer-funded asset sales campaign should be scrapped immediately because it has a $28 billion “black hole” that is intentionally deceiving Queenslanders.
“The mean and tricky Newman Government is wasting taxpayers’ funds on a campaign that misleads those same taxpayers because of a major flaw that makes any public submissions meaningless,” Mr Pitt said.
“The website tells Queenslanders they can pay off $28 billion worth of debt through the private sector financing of electricity assets."
“That $28 billion is future investment that doesn’t yet exist. Those funds are proposed to be invested in the network in the future and as such will never be available to repay debt."
“That means Tim Nicholls’s $6 million website and saturation advertising campaign is fatally flawed. The Treasurer is wasting $6 million of taxpayer money to mislead Queenslanders."
“This website has been revealed for what it really is: taxpayer-funded push polling that intentionally deceives Queenslanders with inaccurate information."
“The Treasurer’s dodgy website says if you undertake private sector financing of electricity assets you can reduce Queensland’s $80 billion debt position to just over $51.6 billion."
“Whichever way Tim Nicholls tries to spin it, it is patently and deliberately false."
“Selling off the rights to future electricity infrastructure investment, along with the profits that infrastructure would return, will do nothing to pay back debt currently held as the website says it would."
“Given its been paid for by taxpayers as part of the LNP’s politically motivated $6 million PR campaign, the website should be completely abolished, and the LNP should repay the costs incurred so far because it is a blatantly political ad campaign.”
Mr Pitt said the Treasurer was arrogantly pointing people to this website knowing it had a serious mistake that helped him make asset sales look more attractive.
“I don’t believe this was a mistake. Tim Nicholls is Australia’s trickiest Treasurer, but this time he’s been too tricky for his own good,” he said.
“The campaign has also been developed with the support of the private PR ‘spin doctors’ engaged by the government at up to $20,000 a month.”
The Treasurer should immediately remove the website from the internet, Mr Pitt said.
“Taxpayer funds should not continue to be wasted on a false advertising campaign that does nothing but promotes the LNP’s political priorities."
“The website should be cancelled immediately and the LNP should use their own political funds to pay back taxpayers for this blatant waste of their money.”

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Letters to Editor February: 23, 1895.

Brisbane, February 23, 1895.

Mail Bag.

WANTED - ( to prepare way for Socialism in our Time):
One Adult One Vote.

Land Tax.
Income Tax.
State Bank.
Shop and factories Act.
Eight hours day where practicable.
Referendum and Initiative.
Taxation of every person according to ability to pay.
The State to find work for unemployed.
The State to fix a minimum wage.
Free Railways. Free administration of Justice.

The WORKER does not hold itself responsible for the opinions of its correspondents.

T. - Inspired.
W.G. - Next week.
BARCALDINE – Had to alter slightly.
A.Vin – Glad to hear from you frequently.
Yannawada – Put the letter under the front door. We are sure to receive it.
B12 – The WORKER is not aware that Mr. J. Lloyd Jones, of Barcaldine, has a particular claim to be regarded as a friend of the Labour movement.
J.W. - I, Don't feel inclined to publish your letter. There's no use in stirring up strife! The minutes were revised by a committee prior to publication. We had nothing to do with them.
CRICKETER – The WORKER cannot definitely say whether Francis has received an offer from Staddart to play in England. His rumerous family ties may prevent him accepting any offer, however favourable.

ED. WORKER – The difficulty experienced by certain persons in getting their names on the electoral rolls, may be judged from the following: John – a man resident in this district in one place
for three years, but whose daily avocation rendered him unable to sign his claim for election qualification before a local J.P., signed before a well known resident and requested him to have same attested before a J.P. The gentleman in question proceeded to the office of J. Lloyd Jones, who refused point blank to attest the claim, although the person in-trusted with the form told him he would make an affirmation on the party's behalf that the claimant signed in his presence . Still Jones would not attest the claim. - B12, Barcaldine.

ED. WORKER – There is in our town a most remarkable dispenser of “Law an' order.” In '91 he was agent of the Pastoralist's Association, confidential bosom friend of the late Sydney Sharwood, J.M. Niall, and all squatters, a reliable informant of Tozer's, also of Messrs. Rankin and Morris, Tozer's special agents. This J.P. (Oh! ah!) always took a prominent part in escorting blacklegs, blackleg carriers, their goods, &c., from the railway station to outside this township, his services, valuable as they were, being afterwards paid by retrenchment. His private letter-book contains many an astounding revelation written to prominent squatters. A copy shown me reads: “When will this tyranny of Labour against Capitalism cease? If I had my way I would let these unionists taste some of the gatling guns; or these revolvers Newton, of Brisbane, sent up.” He had then a case of them. - Old “Oh Ah.”

ED. WORKER – In a recent issue you published the following paragraph:
A striking example of how the public is fleeced is shown by the Sydney Telegraph thus: “ The amount of duty paid last year for imported sugar was £544,233. The total value of all the sugar grown in the colony during the same period is roughly put at about £300,000 which mates it appear as if the public were subscribing annually about one-third of a million of money for the privilege of owning a few acres of sugar cane, and a quarter of a million for providing dividends for one monopolistic refining company. With a free port for sugar as the present moment the finest sugar could be procured at about one-half of what is now paid by retailers. In the English counties the artisan can purchase his pound of sugar at one penny.
If you will kindly look up the revenue returns you will find that the N.S.W. sugar duty to which the Telegraph alludes yielded £144,000 not £544,000. The other statements are mostly based on the £544,000 estimate and are therefore equally erroneous. The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) is the most unreliable authority in this country in the matter of facts and figures. The same paper recently pointed a Free trade moral with the statement that oats couldn't be grown in Victoria, and when a correspondent pointed out that Victoria, not only supplied herself with oats but had a balance over for exportation, the latter was quietly suppressed. - J. CANE, Marrickville, Sydney.

ED. WORKER – I send you an extract from a letter of a friend of mine who attended the last Warwick show. He says: “The other day I saw a batch of unemployed camped near the show grounds, without tents or scarcely a moral of tucker. A more dilapidated, ragged and forlorn lot of men I have never seen in my life. I entered into conversation with them, and without a doubt I listened to some woeful tales of distress. Having given them all the tobacco and matches in my possession I left them and allowed my thoughts to wander to M'Ilwraith doing the grand on his homeward trip to England. I asked myself why should such things be. And echo answered 'Why?” How comes it in a land teeming with wealth, men willing and able to work are hungry ragged and homeless? There must be something wrong in your mode of Government. 'There must be something wrong in the state of Denmark.! Tell us what it is; tell us what is wrong in the colony of Queensland.” 'This is something like what I saw in “Erin of the streams” some 40 years ago. The dark shadow of the landlord's notice was ever on our cabin floors; we never knew we should reap the crops we sowed.

I dig and plough, but I never know
If my hands shall gather the crops I sow;
And the crop I gather, though good it be,
Brings never plenty or peace to me.

I pour my sweat on the soil like rain,
I coin my blood – for another's gain;
The more I add to the land's rich bloom,
The nearer bring I my threatened doom.

                                                           DENIS LINEHAN.

ED. WORKER – In your issue of the 2nd instant I read a letter signed “John C.,” in which the writer attempts to adversely criticise a letter of mine which appeared in the WORKER a few weeks ago, and comes to the conclusion (without the least particle of reason) that I must have had the word”scab” applied to me or to some particular friend of mine, otherwise I would not advocate the suppression of the expression. WORKER readers will remember that I suggested propagandist lectures for the education (in union matters) of workers generally, and in doing so I thought I was furthering the interests of the A.W.U. But “John C.” in trying to prove the absurdity of such a thing as instructors for workers inadvertently shows that it is just the thing that's wanted. He says that 95 per cent of the non-unionists of '94 were staunch unionists in '91, also that 30 per cent of them were delegates at one time or other. All this is gospel, according to John. However, we will accept it as such, including the percentage of delegates. Now, why did this 95 per cent of last year's non-unionists “turn dog” on their union? There is only one of two answers to that question. Either the union is a delusion and a snare, or the workers are not educated and organised sufficiently. I think all sensible unionists will agree with me when I say that the latter is the correct answer to that question, and such being the case I was not very wrong in advocating instructors or lecturers – whichever name you like the best – for the edification of such as “John C.” Now John says I should not speak slightingly of larrikins, “who,” he says, “have too much respect for the opinion of white men to be 'scabs.'” Now this larrikin element in union camps is a matter which should be looked to by all honest-thinking unionists.
Wherever there is a prospect of a bush strike those training ship boys, jockey boys, beer-aparrers, &c., flock into union camps from the large cities and towns, as they know that the camps are as good as a benevolent asylum for them, and they will not be so much harassed by the police as when in their “native haunts.” They come and eat our tucker, towards which they never contributed, and never intend to contribute, a single shilling. They never assist us in any way while the strike is on, and when declared off “der push” paddles its own canoe back to their old haunts, and leave us “alone in our glory.” A truly beautiful class, of which anybody of John C.”s way of thinking would, or at least should, feel deeply indebted to them for being allowed the honour of championing their cause. When John C. says that the term scab must have been applied to me or to some particular friend of mine he is just about as correct as when he prescribes hell fire in preference to moral suasion as the panacea for “scabbing.” I may as well inform “John C.” that, whoever he is, I am as old a unionist as he is, I am as good a unionist, and I can produce as clean a union sheet as he can. - CARRIK HONEY, EULO.

ED. WORKER – Captain Downes seems to have a very good opinion of lascar crews, and a very poor one of the British sailor. This gentleman is the first sailor man whom I have ever heard say that sailor man whom I have ever heard say that lascars were any good in cold weather, and I have had nearly 20 years experience at sea. Downes says he has never known them fail. If so, how is it that so many captains and mates are hauled before the “beaks” in London for ill-using them? And the answer is always; “They will not budge off the deck in cold weather to take in sail.” Lascars may do right enough in their own country ships, but in cold weather they are useless, and it only stands to reason that they should be, through climatic effects. At least that is my experience of them, and I think it is as good as Captain Downes's. - TASMAN.

ED. WORKER – After a careful perusal of Labour Member Cross's meeting at Clermont, as reported in the Rockhampton Bulletin. I have become more than ever decided that his views on “financial reform” are just the correct thing; that his Mortgage Limitation Bill” would of necessity relieve the money market to that extent which perforce would free the medium of exchange, because of the fact that all security beyond original contract would be beyond the power of money-lender or mortgagee. His ideas also regarding a State bank are the most practical I have seen laid before the people of these colonies. His idea of Government issuing notes upon values is the same as the banks do at present. There is not the slightest danger to be apprehended by the issue of paper money under the scheme set forth by him. There is no wild indiscriminate and foolish issue of paper money as some imagine even set forth. I should liked to have seed the WORKER made a point of this important scheme of financial reform. It is a credit to the party that a man in their ranks who can grapple intellectually with financial matters. Mr. Cross has shown his ability to do so, and his fellows should stand by him and master the views he has so well set forth. – JOHN CLAY.