WHO will be held responsible when VISA Privatisation fails?

Who will be held responsible when visa privatisation fails?

By Guest in Australian budget

December 6, 2019 | 15 comments

Cross-posted from The Conversation:

The Department of Home Affairs has begun taking steps to outsource its visa processing to private service providers. This move has sparked an important national debate on transparency, accountability and profiteering in the immigration system.

The proposed changes will involve private service providers processing certain “low-risk” visas, rather than department staff.

Home Affairs claims privatisation will improve efficiency and reduce costs. But it also comes with major risks, some we’ve seen already play out in the privatisation of immigration control through commercialised immigration detention, such as on Christmas Island.

These risks include corruption, consumer protection issues and damage to the overall integrity the visa system.

Why privatise in the first place?

Today, migration is big business around the world, with private corporations, contracted by governments, increasingly organising and managing migration across different stages.

The US and Germany, for instance, privatise various functions, including administering visa applications, guarding borders, and organising transport and detention.

Australia first attempted to privatise immigration detention centres in 1996 as part of budget discussions, following an international trend towards arm’s-length management of public services. It was seen as a way to boost efficiency in detention services.

Much of the argument for visa privatisation today is based on similar claims of cost savings and efficiency.

In theory, this model promises greater accountability based on clear economic incentives. If performance falls below agreed standards, private firms risk losing their contracts.

But not only is accountability rarely enforced, several mitigating factors enable under performing companies to remain in business.

Preferential treatment

Close ties between private contractors and government decision makers have kept several detention contractors in business globally. This continues even after reported under-performance and human rights breaches.

What’s more, Home Affairs has already come under scrutiny for preferential treatment in considering the company Australian Visa Processing Consortium (AVP) as a potential contractor.

It’s also not clear what measures of oversight and surveillance will be applied to the private corporations. Home Affairs claims visa decision-making will still be centrally controlled, but so far the information released has been scarce.

For an estimated A$1 billion of investment into this visa privatisation project, it’s important the government makes this clear.

Big business risks corruption

So who will be accountable if something goes wrong?

In the case of immigration detention centres, privatisation has meant blame is too often shifted between the government and the private contractors.

And the Migration Institute of Australia has pointed to the possible misuse of a commercialised visa platform – private entities seek to generate multiple revenue streams through add-on and “premium” services, such as accommodation, transportation and deportation.

This, too, has happened with Australia’s commercialised immigration detention centres.

And when these services are run in the interests of profit, rather than border governance – dubbed the “immigration-industrial complex” – corrupt tactics can be used to benefit the providers’ bottom line.

One example of this is the deliberate slowing down of asylum processing, keeping immigration detention centres fuller for longer.

A privatised visa regime would similarly be more susceptible to corruption risks.

Regulating private companies isn’t easy

While close regulation and monitoring might seem like an easy way to keep these risks at bay, effective regulation is not that simple.

Private entities in immigration are not just “economic actors”, but become critical players in agenda setting, negotiation, and enforcement.

This means networks and alliances of giant multinational corporations, such as the Australian Visa Processing Consortium, can influence regulatory frameworks through lobbying, providing technical expertise and consulting on policy.

Such a consolidation of companies monopolises the market and eliminates competition. This in turn makes governments overly dependent on private services.

What’s more, the corporate interests of private companies is to protect and expand their business.

For instance, companies involved in the goverment’s visa modernisation bid include Accenture and Oracle. Both have allegedly been involved in tax evasion activities globally. Yet, they continue to secure government contracts worth millions, because of the continued reliance on their services.

Such contracts also include “commercial-in-confidence” arrangements that conceal information on how taxpayer money is spent, the actual value for money to the public, and whether there are adequate protections against conflicts of interest.

The government also hasn’t been clear about the extent to which the privatisation partnership will be scrutinised under consumer protection provisions or government agencies such as the Ombudsman.

While various stakeholders have been involved in the privatisation consultation process, little attention has been paid to more rigorous governmental inquiry. This would involve, for instance, recommendations from the Productivity Commission or the Australian National Audit Office.

For so much investment, Home Affairs must provide sufficient information to the Australian public on their visa modernisation project, and address the many questions around risk mitigation.

Article by Marina Khan and Shanthi Robertson from Western Sydney University

Guest

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/12/who-will-be-held-responsible-when-visa-privatisation-fails/

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MYTH: The Great Skills Shortage debunked again

The great “skills shortage” myth debunked again

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

December 6, 2019 | 2 comments

Businesses incessant claims about ‘skills shortages’ has been shattered again, with university graduates taking 2.6 years after graduation to land a full-time job, according to a recent report from the Foundation for Young Australians:

The proportion of young Australians in full-time work prior to age 25 has also declined markedly over the past 30 years. In 1980, 53% of 15 to 24 year-olds were in full-time work, compared to only 26% today (Figure 2). Although some of this decline has been driven by young people spending longer in post-school education, many young people would like to work more if they had the opportunity. In other words, young people are underutilised in the labour market.

The underutilisation rate for 15 to 24 year-olds has increased from 19% to 30% over the past decade, well above the forty-year average of 24%. Additionally, young people aged 15 to 24 now comprise 26.6% of the long-term unemployed pool despite only making up 12.8% of the population. For young people in particular, extended periods of underemployment increase the risk of unemployment…

The reality is while nearly 60% of young Australians aged 25 hold a post-school qualification, 50% of them are unable to secure more than 35 hours of work per week…

On average the transition from full-time education to full-time work took the young people in LSAY 2.6 years.

Interestingly, Seek’s latest employment report showed that Engineers, Architects, Accountants and IT are among the least in demand, but curiously remain on the skilled migrant list because of imaginary skills shortages:

That’s right, Australia’s skilled occupation lists have no requirement that an occupation is actually experiencing skills shortages. Therefore, we have a bizarre situation whereby oversupplied areas like engineering, accounting, and IT (among many others) continue to import workers en masse. And the ‘skilled’ visa system is being used by employers to access foreign workers for ulterior motives, such as to undercut local workers and lower wage costs, rather than to overcome genuine skills shortages.

Accordingly, many ‘skilled’ migrants also cannot find work in their nominated field, leaving them either unemployed or underemployed. This has been evidenced by various academic studies, including herehere, and here.

All of which begs the question: why does Australia operate a strong skilled visa program when there are minimal shortages and insufficient jobs? To add to the pool of underemployed and unemployed? To destroy employment opportunities for Australia’s youth? To rob developing nations of their skilled workers? To suppress wages?

Australia’s skilled visa program is one giant con that is failing dismally to meet its original intent, while also crush-loading the major cities and smashing wages. It needs root-and-branch reform.

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/12/the-great-skills-shortage-myth-debunked-again/

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LABOR must Slash Immigration to Save Wages and …

Labor must slash immigration to save wages (and itself)

By Unconventional Economist in Australian EconomyAustralian Politics

December 6, 2019 | 15 comments

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers will urge the federal government to address issues such as low wages growth, underemployment and falling productivity in its mid-year economic outlook. He will tell a Chifley Research Centre conference that the economy is not working for ordinary Australians, while warning of the dangers associated with the rise of populism. From The Australian:

“Wages growth has been so persistently low under the Liberals that last week the Reserve Bank said it was the ‘new normal’,” he will say.

“Most Australians would consider this to be an appalling outcome that the government should be ashamed about. But the Liberals think it is a triumph. For them, it’s mission accomplished.
“This is why suburbs and towns feel cut off from prosperity and opportunity and why populism has flourished.

“It’s why people feel like no matter how hard they work they just can’t get ahead, that the system is busted, or rigged. The economy’s not working for ordinary Australians.”

Chalmers’ sentiments are correct. But to truly make a difference to wages, Labor must abandon its globalist ‘open borders’ dogma in favour of deep cuts to immigration.

A key reason why Australian wage growth remains in the gutter is because labour supply via immigration is running well beyond labour demand. This has kept Australia’s unemployment and underemployment rates elevated (despite strong jobs growth), reduced worker bargaining power, and removed the need for employers to lift wages to attract talent.

Indeed, a recent paper by Melbourne University Professor, Peter McDonald, found that around three quarters of employment growth in Australia between 2011 and 2016 was attributed to immigration:

The permanent and temporary skilled migration policies established by the Australian Government from 1995 played an important role in meeting that labour demand, especially in the boom years of the first decade of the 21st century…

From July 2011 to July 2016, employment in Australia increased by 738,800. Immigrants accounted for 613,400 of the total increase…

Migration has had a very large effect on the age structure of employment with most new immigrant workers (595,300) being under 55 years.

Therefore, the ongoing supply shock from immigration is the primary reason why labour supply continues to outrun demand and why wage growth remains anaemic.

Of course, the systemic wage theft from ballooning numbers of temporary migrants has also become entrenched across the entire Australian economy:

Entire industries have become heavily reliant on migrant workers to perform low-skilled work in the labour market for below award rates, which is unambiguously undercutting local workers and lowering overall wage growth.

Therefore, if Labor genuinely wants to ‘solve’ Australia’s low wage growth, as well as maximise its chances of winning the next federal election, it must halve immigration.

Not only does this policy make perfect sense economically, but it would be very popular politically, given most opinion polls show a strong preference for lower levels of immigration and a stabilising population.

All Labor needs to argue is that it will slash immigration because:

  1. an excessive flow of migrant workers are displacing locals, reducing employment opportunities and lowering wage growth;
  2. excessive immigration is driving up demand for housing, pushing prices beyond the reach of locals, especially in Sydney and Melbourne; and
  3. excessive immigration is overrunning infrastructure and water supplies, reducing amenity and liveability, and pushing up the cost of living.

Most Australians know these to be true and would resonate with these common-sense arguments.

Moreover, Labor could argue that it is merely seeking to lower immigration back toward the historical (pre-2003) average, and that the new lower intake would still be at the higher end of developed nations:

If Labor wants to have any chance of winning the next election, it must return to its working class roots and represent the interests of regular Australians over inner-city progressives.

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/12/labor-must-slash-immigration-to-save-wages-and-itself/

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Great Firewall of China arrives Downunder

Great Firewall of China arrives Downunder

By Houses and Holes in Australian PoliticsChina American Cold War

December 6, 2019 | 30 comments

A new probe, via Reuters:

Australia on Thursday established an investigation into potential foreign political interference through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WeChat.

The review comes amid heightened Australian concerns that China is seeking to interfere in Canberra’s affairs, and after U.S. intelligence analysts found Russia had used social media to try and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The bipartisan parliamentary Senate select committee was established after the ruling coalition government backed the opposition Labor Party’s proposal.

“The rise of ‘fake news’ and misinformation campaigns present a very real and present danger to democracy not only in Australia, but across the globe,” Labor lawmaker Penny Wong said.

“We must protect our democracy from malicious foreign actors.”

The investigation will need to report its findings by May 2022, around the time Australia will hold its next general election.

This about WeChat of course. It’s censorhsip is well known and is spreading, via the Canadian National Post:

As publisher of one of Canada’s few Chinese-language newspapers that dares to cover Beijing critically, Jack Jia feels he has a duty to give his readers balanced, skeptical reporting.

To that end, he tries to spread the reach of Chinese News by posting its articles on WeChat, the ubiquitous Chinese communications app used extensively by the diaspora here.

But that practice hit a sudden obstacle last month, when WeChat began restricting his use of the site, blocking access to his account and delivering an ominous message. Jia had been reported for “multiple instances of non-compliance,” it said.

He has been blocked three more times in recent weeks — the latest incident this past Sunday — but that was not all.

For six months, messages Jia posts in group chats have been invisible to users in China. And articles and other posts he puts on his WeChat Moments page, similar to a Facebook timeline, have been inaccessible even to people in Canada and the United States, he says.

WeChat’s censorship in China itself — a private-sector brick in the Great Firewall around the internet there — has been well-documented, but the publisher says he was stunned to find the app is now extending its tight control over content to this country, too.

His experience is not unique. Two other Chinese Canadians told the National Post of facing similar restrictions from WeChat, though none were told exactly why. An American activist began a White House petition calling for government help to counter the technology giant’s controls.

“I want to stop WeChat from brainwashing us,” said Jia. “I learned from Canadians, if you don’t like something, change it. It’s time for our lawmakers to change the law, so we can counter propaganda.”

It’s all part of the plan, via Mercator Institute of China Studies:

Although Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked in China, Chinese party-state media have built very active presences on these platforms. Lately, Chinese ambassadors around the world have been opening Twitter accounts to feed their government’s positions into global debates on China. Even though the propaganda may seem crude and inefficient at first sight, its long-term effects should not be underestimated.

The Chinese ambassadors to the United Kingdom, the United States, Austria and South Africa have all started using their new Twitter accounts this year. It is just the latest manifestation of a long-term project. Chinese party-state media have been actively using Western social media platforms since 2009, the year the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced a major investment to boost the global presence of its media. The CCP’s aim was, and remains, to change global debates about China – and any other topic the Party cares about – to bring them closer in line with its own position. Its intention is to gradually change the conversation and increase the Party’s “discourse power” (话语权).

The reach of Chinese party state media on Western social media has expanded significantly since 2009. The first accounts were focused on English and Chinese language content – and these remain the principal languages used today. But since 2015 CCP media have been pursuing a strategy of media localization (媒体本土化), offering content in more languages and targeted at specific countries. Xinhua started a German language Twitter account, @XHdeutsch, as well as its country-specific Romanian and Italian Twitter channels (@XinhuaItalia and @XHRomania) in 2015. In the same year, Xinhua and the China Daily newspaper started using automatic geolocation to redirect the user to a specific language version of their page on Facebook.

Today, all major Chinese media targeted at foreign audiences around the world, as well as at overseas Chinese, have one or multiple presences on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Though people often speak of “state media”, Chinese media are all under the control of the party (see the infographic for affiliations of central media).

Social Media

Click bait and propaganda

The content posted and promoted by party-state media on Western channels varies from fluff to polemical attacks, but most is subtle and aimed at building Chinese media’s brands.

Much of the content consists of regular news stories that are similar to those reported by western news outlets, although it differs from these in that there is more “positive news” and “success stories” about China, such as development achievements in minority areas like Tibet and Xinjiang. On Twitter, the #Tibet and #Xinjiang hashtags are filled with images of animals and landscapes by party-state media. Attractive visuals and curious content or human-interest stories are used by most CCP media to draw in users, featuring cuddly pandas, other baby animals, impressive landscapes, and China’s technological achievements.

Mixed into this is content that is overtly political, such as posts promoting the Chinese political system or justifying directly China’s repressive policies in its minority areas. For instance, Chinese party-state media have highlighted supposed praise by foreign diplomats for the CCP’s policies in Xinjiang, where an estimated one million people have been interned in camps and many more are affected by the Party’s repressive policies. Some of the tweets posted by Chinese party-state media have been highly misleading, such as presenting protests in Hong Kong against the government as pro-government protests. In other cases, Xinhua used its Facebook account to dehumanize Hong Kong protesters by depicting them as cockroaches.

Some editors of party-state media are also quite active on platforms such as Twitter, like Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the English-language newspaper Global Times, who has over 100,000 followers, and the China Daily’s Europe bureau chief Chen Weihua. They frequently weigh in on hot topics like the Hong Kong protests, Huawei, the West’s supposed lack of freedom of speech, and “Western hypocrisy” towards China.

How successful these are is hard to gauge. The high number of followers suggest (though do not prove) that Chinese party-state media may have artificially inflated their followers and likes: On Facebook, China’s international news channel CGTN has 87 million likes, Xinhua has 67 million, and the People’s Daily has 70 million. By contrast, CNN “only” has 31 million and the BBC has 49 million. On Twitter, the English language version of Xinhua’s principal news account @XHNews has 12 million followers, and the People’s Daily has over 5.5 million.

A partial pushback from social media platforms

Up until recently, the Chinese party-state has been able to exploit the asymmetry in the information environment created by China’s internet censorship machine, colloquially known as the Great Firewall. Just a month after it started using social media platforms in the West in 2009, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were blocked in China. Now, however, there appears to be a pushback. All the major CCP media had been making heavy use of the option to pay for promoted content, but very recently Twitter has stopped accepting paid content from party media as part of tightened rules on political and state-sponsored content. And responding to the larger debate in Western countries about “fake news” and political manipulation, Facebook has introduced an Ad Library to improve transparency around political advertising. This Ad Archive provides basic information on ads that are no longer active, such as how much was paid for the post and who the target audience was. Twitter also has an Ad Transparency platform, but only offers limited information on ads run over the past seven days.

Nevertheless, Chinese paid online commentators seem to have increased their activity on social media: In August, Twitter and Facebook announced that they had taken down accounts that had engaged in disinformation on the protests in Hong Kong. The same day, Twitter also announced that it would no longer allow most state media to promote tweets.

China targets multiple audiences

It is not possible to get a complete picture of who the ads were targeted at. Some information is available on Facebook, where ads are still permitted, but is not provided for ads that are still active. From the limited information we have, most of the discontinued ads on Facebook were targeted at the Global South. In these cases, CCP media appeared to be using displays of European support for China and its policies as a legitimizing force. For example, CGTN promoted an article on Angela Merkel stating that she wanted to strengthen multilateralism with China, and an article on an Asia-Europe meeting to promote the message that Europe recognizes China as a reliable partner. However, it is not just the Global South that has been targeted in this way. One ad targeted at the Balkans used the “success story” of Chinese investment in Africa rather than speaking about Chinese investment in the region directly.

While China experts may find much of this propaganda crude, it is clear that these people are not the target audience. As Liz Carter, a former translator at China Digital Times, said recently: “The point is not to convince everyone, but to convince enough people to win a public opinion war and drown out voices of reason. This is an often-overlooked aspect of CCP strategy, because those who know enough to care about it are the least likely to be affected by it, and the most likely to underestimate its harmful impact.”

Success of China’s strategy is difficult to assess

Looking at only the official accounts gives limited information on the resources the Chinese party-state can draw on to promote its messages through Western social media. Party-state media’s accounts on Western social media are just one part of the CCP’s attempts to gain more influence over global public opinion, and they are part of a long-term initiative to change how people globally talk about China.

It is difficult to draw conclusions about the success, or otherwise, of these media in influencing public opinion outside China. However, it is clear that they add to the overall asymmetry in the information environment, where Chinese media can spread their messages while western media are cut off from access to Chinese audiences. In order to ensure that this access is not used to systematically spread misleading news, a higher degree of transparency and more systematic investigation into communication patterns of the party-state’s media are required.

As we all read comments on this site it is obvious that there is a very steady flow of CCP astroturfers at work. If it is happening at MB then it is happening everywhere.

Houses And Holes

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/12/great-firewall-of-china-arrives-downunder/

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Grill'd burger chain accused of keeping young workers in underpaid roles through traineeships

SO, what is happening …


underpaying workers aka WAGE THEFT!
-treating workers as individual contractors, and not meeting employment obligations
-not paying employee entitlements like superannuation
-engaging employees on contracts to limit employment opportunities and obligations
-increasing the use of labour hire instead of employing people
-increasing the use of casual employment

AND


Still companies are found to have not met their obligations but …


-are not dealt with as criminal matters whilst theft from an employer is! *


-penalties are imposed, but so often are not that significant given the extent of these thefts

IN the meantime


-Phoenixing of firms continues
-sham employment arrangements continue
-so-called ‘internships’ remain unregulated and facilitate exploitation of employees

the exploitation of visa workers and undermining award wages and conditions is being challenged by Union Secretary Sally McManus and Australian Unions

AND Shadow Employment Minister Brendan O’Connor  

THE BEST DEFENCE AGAINST WAGE THEFT IS UNION MEMBERSHIP

Grill’d burger chain accused of keeping young workers in underpaid roles through traineeships

Updated Sat 7 DECEMBER 2019

Patrick Stephenson, a man in black, stands in front of a Grill'd burger store.

PHOTO: Grill’d worker Patrick Stephenson said he had struggled to pay rent while working for the burger chain. (ABC News: Jedda Costa)

Australian burger chain Grill’d has been accused of using government-subsidised traineeships to keep its young workers on low wages, despite nearly all the employees saying the training is not worthwhile.

Key points:

  • Grill’d employee Patrick Stephenson said it appeared the traineeship scheme was designed to keep wages low
  • The Young Workers Centre said the traineeships, which are legal under the company’s enterprise agreement, could drag on for years
  • A 2018 survey found 92.4 per cent of Grill’d employees did not find the traineeship worthwhile

The company is worth about $370 million and has outlets around the country.

Worker Patrick Stephenson, who said he had been a Grill’d employee for nearly two years, said he had been paid a “pitiful wage” while on a hospitality traineeship through one of the chain’s Melbourne outlets.

“I haven’t progressed through the traineeship, as much as I’ve tried to,” he said.

“To me, after the two years and after the progress that I’ve made, it became clear to me that Grill’d was just keeping me on the traineeship so that they didn’t have to pay me the minimum award wage.”

Under the company’s 2015 enterprise agreement (EA), a full-time or part-time employee aged 21 or over is paid $21.75 per hour.

However, the United Workers Union (UWU), Young Workers Centre (YWC) and Grill’d employees alleged many of the workers were pressured into signing onto traineeships that cut their rate of pay by more than $3 per hour.

A school leaver on a hospitality traineeship would be paid $14.50 per hour, a rate that is bumped up to $18.50 for those on traineeships who have been out of school for three or more years.

YWC director Felicity Sowerbutts said the traineeships were “designed to keep young workers in low pay”.

A group of young people wearing black hold red signs saying 'Grill'd unhealthy wages'.

PHOTO: Members of the Hospo Voice union demonstrated outside the Grill’d on Melbourne’s Lygon Street. (ABC News: Jedda Costa)

A Grill’d spokeswoman said the company was “proud of our traineeship program and that our team members continually win nationally recognised customer service accolades as a result of their training”.

“Our traineeship program has provided qualifications and a pathway for thousands of Australians across hospitality and other industries,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

“Over 750 employees have completed their qualifications in the last 12 months and only 31 per cent of Grill’d employees are currently trainees.”

The EA was signed off by the Fair Work Commission in 2015, and the traineeship scheme is entirely legal and is used in a number of other industries.

But advocates alleged the traineeships — a Certificate III in hospitality in most states and territories — dragged on for months or even years without being completed.

The unions pointed to a 2018 survey of 370 Grill’d workers in which 92.4 per cent of those surveyed said the traineeship had not been worthwhile for them.

Mr Stephenson, who is paid the flat rate of $18.50 on weekends and public holidays, said the traineeship had only taught him basic skills he had already learnt on the job.

“We all hate it. We don’t want to be on the traineeship, it’s not worth anything to us. I haven’t learnt anything and we really want to come off it,” he said.

Workers not given time to complete study, survey finds

The rules of the government-subsidised traineeship state the employees must spend 20 per cent of their working hours in approved training, but the 2018 survey found about 70 per cent of workers had spent none of their working hours in official training.

The survey, done by Australian National University student group Canberra Students For Fair Wages, also workers were paid a traineeship wage for a period in 2015 when the company had no traineeship provider.

“Grill’d workers are telling us that they are not getting enough time on paid hours to complete the traineeship. They’re simply being stuck on them for months and years on end,” Ms Sowerbutts said.

“They need to move off these traineeships to move onto a proper living wage.”

Overworked? Underpaid?

Overworked? Underpaid?

Here’s how to get what you’re owed if you’re worried you’re not being paid correctly.

Under the Fast Food Award — which is superseded by the Grill’d EA — a 21-year-old worker on a full-time or part-time contract would be paid $21.41 per hour and would be eligible for penalty rates in evenings and on weekends.

But Grill’d employees do not receive penalty rates, which Mr Stephenson said meant he sometimes had to borrow money from friends to pay rent.

“Sometimes it gets really hard,” Mr Stephenson said.

“I love the work and I love who I work with. I don’t want to leave my job, I’d rather just get paid fairly for it and be able to survive on the wage that I get.”

The 2018 ANU research found 90 per cent of students surveyed said that receiving no penalty rates made it harder for them to get by.

The UWU said although the EA had been signed off by Fair Work, it would be “highly unlikely” it would pass the “better off overall test”, a new benchmark used to ensure agreements are on par with industry awards.

“Grill’d’s 2015 Enterprise Agreement is approved by the Fair Work Commission and is lawful, valid and compliant and was approved by 95 per cent of staff who voted and indicated they wanted greater working flexibility,” the Grill’d spokeswoman said in a statement.

The 2015 agreement comes to an end later this month.

A spokeswoman for the Fair Work Ombudsman confirmed the watchdog was conducting enquiries in relation to Grill’d.

“As these enquiries are ongoing, it is not appropriate for us to comment further. Any workers with concerns should contact us directly,” the spokeswoman said.

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-07/grilld-burger-chain-accused-of-using-traineeships-to-underpay/11776696

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To restore public confidence in apartments, rewrite Australia’s building codes

SOME DEVELOPERS are already delivering well-designed apartment buildings that are durable and fit for purpose. They are to be commended. The problem for buyers is identifying these amid a sea of dross!

The NSW GOVERNMENT would do well to heed the advice from Geoff Hanmer to Fix Australia’s Building Codes!

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To restore public confidence in apartments, rewrite Australia’s building codes

Swimming pools can be seen as a magnificent entertainment option, but also a money pit and potential death trap. Photo: iStock

To restore public confidence in apartments, rewrite Australia’s building codes

GEOFF HANMER DEC 8, 2019

Compliance with the National Construction Code provides no guarantee that an apartment won’t leak.
Shutterstock

Geoff HanmerUNSW

A prestige apartment building in Sydney built by a well-known developer is undergoing a second replacement of a terrace waterproof membrane five years after replacement of the first one, which had leaked from completion.

*The second membrane almost certainly complied with the National Construction Code (NCC) and was certified as compliant; the first one might also have complied. Yet, for 15 years, owners and tenants living under the terraces have put up with mouldy walls, carpets and ceilings because the code does not adequately control waterproofing materials and methods.

A key assumption made by governments and regulators has been that confidence will return to the market if apartments are built to meet National Construction Code requirements.

As the story above shows, complying with the code alone will not be enough to fix many common defects. Public confidence will still be lacking.

Read more:
Lack of information on apartment defects leaves whole market on shaky footings

In 2017, the Building Ministers’ Forum, the group of federal, state and territory ministers responsible for building regulation in Australia, commissioned a report from Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir.

Their report said there was “… diminishing public confidence that the building and construction industry can deliver compliant, safe buildings which will perform to the expected standards over the long term”.

Since then, the high-profile structural failure and evacuation of Opal Tower on Christmas Eve 2018, the cladding fire at Neo200 in February 2019 and the structural failure and evacuation of Mascot Towers in June 2019 have kept this issue in the media spotlight.

If anything, the public crisis of confidence has deepened.




Read more:
Housing with buyer protection and no serious faults – is that too much to ask of builders and regulators?


Part of the problem is the code itself

*The National Construction Code originated as a minimum standard to deliver structural integrity and fire safety. It was never intended to provide effective control over all the aspects of building work that make houses or apartments liveable and durable.

This might come as a surprise to many people, including those in government, but it is inherent to the “minimum standard” approach that underpins the structure and objectives of the code.

The objectives on page 9 of volume 1 of the code, which covers apartments, are instructive:

1) ensure requirements have a rigorously tested rationale; and

2) effectively and proportionally address applicable issues; and

3) create benefits to society that outweigh costs; and

4) consider non-regulatory alternatives; and

5) consider the competitive effects of regulation; and

6) not be unnecessarily restrictive.

In attempting to consider “competitive effects”, avoid being “restrictive” and by encouraging “non-regulatory alternatives”, including self-certification and self-regulation, the code has opened the door to an “anything goes” mentality on many fronts.

*Waterproofing requirements for houses and apartments under section F of the code are clearly ineffective, for a start.

The relevant Australian Standards, AS 4654.1 and AS 4654.2, were written with a lot of input from the building materials supply industry.

*The standards permit the use of unsuitable waterproofing membranes in many situations, particularly where ceramic tiles are directly bonded to an inappropriate liquid-applied membrane. As the example at the start of this article shows, this solution rarely lasts longer than four or five years and considerably less in some cases.

Rectification is expensive and inconvenient. It involves hacking up and replacing all the tiles.

*In addition, every apartment building built without a step in the slab at the junction between walls and floors will probably develop leaks within a similar timeframe.

These practices are driven by the desire to save a few dollars in construction cost, not by a commitment to deliver a required standard of durability. Durability is not part of the code objectives.




Read more:
Would you buy a new apartment? Building confidence depends on ending the blame game


How can the code be fixed?

We could improve the code in a number of simple ways:

  1. Class 1 (houses) and class 2 (apartments) buildings should both be in volume 2, which would be dedicated to housing intended for sale. Houses and apartments should be required to be “fit for purpose” with a clearly stated objective to provide protection to the buyer. These should include a mandatory minimum statutory warranty of seven to ten years, backed by government.
  2. The required durability of waterproofing membranes and details for all housing, and class 2 apartments in particular, must be clearly stated. Waterproofing should be required to last at least 25 years without significant maintenance, and perhaps 40 years for buildings where access to the waterproofing element requires demolition or is fundamentally difficult. Details that are not durable, including slabs without steps at wall junctions, or terrace and balcony tiles directly bonded to liquid-applied waterproof membranes, should be banned.
  3. The structure of an apartment should be required to last with no substantial maintenance for at least 50 to 60 years. The minimum expectation for durability for any envelope component and associated finishes on buildings over three storeys should be 25 years, and perhaps 40 years for taller buildings.
    1. The “performance requirements” of section F of the code, “Health and Amenity”, should be expanded to ensure apartments are comfortable, economical to maintain and sustainable.



Read more:
Australia has a new National Construction Code, but it’s still not good enough

*Some developers are already delivering well-designed apartment buildings that are durable and fit for purpose. They are to be commended. The problem for buyers is identifying these amid a sea of dross.

For new houses and apartments, we need to ensure the National Construction Code matches community expectations on fitness for purpose and durability. This requires a return to more active and interventionist regulatory framework, including putting independent “eyes on the site” to inspect work during construction.

Geoff Hanmer, Adjunct Lecturer in Architecture, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

No photo description available.

Photo: an inner Sydney apartment development with water issues; photo supplied

SOURCE: https://www.domain.com.au/news/to-restore-public-confidence-in-apartments-rewrite-australias-building-codes-916572/?utm_campaign=featured-masthead&utm_source=smh&utm_medium=link

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HERITAGE LISTING will reduce house prices: Does Not Check Out!

ASK what lies behind the objections to Heritage Listing …. and one ought question the veracity of the Anti-Heritage Policy advocateson the eve of the Medium Density Housing Code coming into force

AS Mayor Jerome Laxale pointed out Ryde Council’s move to change its Heritage Listing will affect:

less than 1 per cent of properties identified for heritage listing

a review recommended the listing of 44 “items” of historic significance including properties, public parks and street trees and six new heritage conservation areas

only 173 heritage items in Ryde

OBVIOUSLY as National Trust NSW Director Graham Quint said ” … heritage listing can increase the value of properties.”

A Heritage home owner can always sell their home to another seeking a Heritage property to purchase any myriad of two-storey homes

‘Stress and anxiety’: homeowners claim heritage listing will reduce house prices

Andrew Taylor
By Andrew Taylor

December 8, 2019

Property owners say new heritage rules proposed by City of Ryde council will dramatically reduce house prices in the area.

The council will meet on December 10 to decide whether to heritage list a number of properties without the consent of owners.

Scott Mackenzie (right) said the heritage listing of his 100-year-old house could reduce its value by up to $300,000.
Scott Mackenzie (right) said the heritage listing of his 100-year-old house could reduce its value by up to $300,000.CREDIT:KATE GERAGHTY

Jerome Laxale, the Labor mayor of Ryde, said less than 1 per cent of properties within the council had been identified for heritage listing.

“If Council chooses to leave all of these dwellings unprotected, they will eventually be lost forever,” he said.

“With pro-development state planning laws, and on the eve of the medium density housing code coming into force, now is the time to preserve what history Ryde has left.”

But Liberal councillor Jordan Lane said the changes were a “Band-Aid solution” to concerns about overdevelopment.

“There has been enormous opposition to this scheme which arbitrarily imposes heritage conditions on properties, often exhibiting little or no heritage value, without the owners’ consent,” he said.

The council’s move to change heritage rules followed a review that recommended the listing of 44 “items” of historic significance including properties, public parks and street trees and six new heritage conservation areas.

There are only 173 heritage items in Ryde – far less than neighbouring councils such as Parramatta (751), Hunters Hill (515) and Canada Bay (545).

Ryde also has fewer heritage conservation areas than other councils.

A council spokesman said the previous practice of heritage listing properties only with the consent of owners had been superseded – a view disputed by opponents of the proposed changes.

RELATED ARTICLE

Sonja Morgan said she was faced with a 100 per cent hike in her insurance premium when her home was heritage listed.
HERITAGE

‘It was outrageous’: Sonja’s insurance premium doubled when her home was heritage-listed

“Since 2010, Council has resolved to protect a number of items of heritage significance at risk of demolition via Interim Heritage Orders and subsequent listings without the consent of the owners,” the spokesman said.

However, the proposed changes have angered residents who said in a letter to Planning Minister Rob Stokes it had caused “significant stress and anxiety”.

“Residents are insulted that we are referred to as ‘greedy developers’,” the letter said. “We are ordinary hardworking families who don’t want to lose the value of our primary asset, ‘our home’.”

CAAN: VIEW to learn what happened at the Ryde Council Meetingamong the Anti-Heritage Policy supporters were Gung Zhi, Wei Wei Wang, Guanjing Ruan, Silvestor Lauria and Pei Cheng and dozens more!

‘Clashes and Eviction at Ryde Council’

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/12/06/19988/?fbclid=IwAR0a8iEFk77c_DcZVkbVM9SU6F0qMTvo0mW-ua4cWjjtT5nlqMqyuHdiHFU

Scott Mackenzie said the value of his four-bedroom house in Gladesville could drop by up to $300,000 if it is given a heritage listing.

Mr Mackenzie’s house is 100 years old but he said it had been extensively renovated twice in the past 20 years.

Mr Mackenzie said a heritage listing would prevent him building a second storey and add to the cost of maintaining his home.

“Heritage is restricting the ability to do what I need to do with my property, to make our living arrangements the best they can be,” he said. “Other residents are afforded this flexibility – why should owners of older properties be restricted?”

The issue of heritage has also divided councillors, with police twice called to fiery council meetings amid allegations a councillor was assaulted.

Independent councillor Roy Maggio said the changes would discriminate against the owners of older homes.

RELATED ARTICLE

Elizabeth Hetherington said the value of her property had been dramatically reduced after Ku-ring-gai Council listed it as a heritage item.
HERITAGE

‘I’ve been put in prison here’: How a Sydney council cost this homeowner $700k

CAAN: Perhaps the price tag of $2M for this Ku-ring-gai property is more about developers landbanking to make a motzer with higher density … they can afford to make such an offer

“What gives a council the right to diminish the value of a person’s biggest primary asset?” he said. “The residents are relying on their home as part of their superannuation plan or to fund nursing home costs later in life.”

But Graham Quint, the director of conservation at the National Trust (NSW), said the listing of heritage buildings and conservation areas enriched communities and was not anti-development.

“In our experience heritage listing can increase the value of properties,” he said.

Tom Forrest, the chief executive of the developer’s lobby group Urban Taskforce, said the the preservation of heritage should not outweigh other consideration such as housing supply.

“Heritage listings should not be a block to progress and also not be used to frustrate efforts to house the growing population of Sydney,” he said.

CAAN: In Sydney we are living with the awful consequences of the Liberal Coalition Housing Supply that was not able to meet the ‘foreign demand’! To lose lovely Californian Bungalows, Federation, and Mid-Century Homes and gardens for the fast-tracked higher density development now replacing them!

Image may contain: 1 person

Photo: new owner sought to demolish soonafter purchase to redevelop

Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor is a Senior Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

SOURCE: https://www.theage.com.au/national/nsw/stress-and-anxiety-homeowners-claim-heritage-listing-will-reduce-house-prices-20191205-p53hat.html

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KEN HENRY: AUSTRALIAs Economy Cant be Fixed by STIMULUS Alone!

IT is slowly getting out there … despite the best efforts in:


-distractions
-denials
-disowning truths

AND there has been a compliant media …

BUT People are more and more aware of the real picture

Australia’s economy can’t be fixed by stimulus alone, says former Treasury boss Ken Henry

By business reporter Michael Janda

6 DECEMBER 2019

Former Treasury secretary Ken Henry, sitting, semi-profile during an interview.

PHOTO: Former Treasury secretary Ken Henry fears the current economic slowdown may be a long-term one. (ABC News: John Gunn

)RELATED STORY: If you’re saving like Gretta, you could be accidentally hurting the economy

RELATED STORY: Consumers and businesses are on strike and that’s dragging the economy down

RELATED STORY: ‘Deeply sorry’: NAB bosses resign, admitting the bank failed customers

Former Treasury boss Ken Henry says “something is desperately wrong” with Australia’s economy, which is beset by “structural deficiencies” that cannot be fixed by interest rate cuts or government largesse.

Key points:

  • Ken Henry conducted the last major tax review in 2008-09; he went on to be NAB chairman but resigned in the wake of the banking royal commission
  • Dr Henry says Australia’s economy appears to face structural problems that can only be addressed through major reforms
  • He says key reforms include a carbon price, company tax cut and changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax *

CAAN: We add there has to be a STOP to Black Money …

In the Four Corners program ‘Project Dragon’ Neil Jeans said:

‘I think t’s been well understood for a number years that Australia has been a target location for hot money, particularly coming out of China. We’ve seen that activity increase exponentially over the last number of years. And that creates a problem for Australia which is that:

* hot money is transitory, it will be here today and potentially gone tomorrow, and that then creates dislocations in the legitimate economy.‘ *

VIEW:

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/02/18/four-corners-project-dragon-the-mission-is-a-recovery-of-funds-that-have-been-filtered-from-china-to-australia/

Brendan O’Connor, Shadow Minister for Employment and Industry wants action on phoenixing in the Building Industry’

VIEW:

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AND … Visa workers … the consequences are high youth unemployment and underemployment and more!

‘Hamish Macdonald interviews Shadow Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations, Brendan O’Connor Labour Hire, Casualisation and Temporary Work Visas’

VIEW:

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/03/23/9555/

The latest official economic growth figures, released by the ABS earlier this week, show Australia’s economy continues to languish at some of its slowest growth rates since it narrowly avoided recession in the wake of the global financial crisis a decade ago.

However, in an exclusive interview with ABC TV’s The Business program, Dr Henry said the nation’s current economic weakness was potentially far more concerning because it appears to be driven by long-term “secular” problems, not a one-off shock.

“We’re not in the situation that we were in in the global financial crisis when there was a big negative shock hitting the Australian economy, I think it’s time to start asking ourselves the question whether this is a mere cyclical slowdown, or whether there’s not a secular problem,” he said.

“I fear that it’s more than cyclical, that we need to find a way of getting ourselves out of this hole.”

A key long-term problem, according to Dr Henry, is a slowdown, and now decline, in productivity.

This economic figure measures how much output Australia produces for the amount of inputs used in the production process.

Labour productivity — the amount of output produced per hour worked — fell 0.2 per cent last financial year, the first annual decline since the ABS began measuring it in the mid-1990s.

When labour productivity is falling, it not only hurts economic growth, but also tends to put downward pressure on wages, a phenomenon that has been apparent in Australia for several years.

Why is wage growth so low?

Why is wage growth so low?

Why is Australia experiencing its slowest wages growth since World War Two? There are countless theories, but many come back to a shift in power between workers and employers.

But not only are Australians working less efficiently, we are also not working harder, despite a record proportion of the population being in work or looking for it.

“The decline in average hours of work — increased part-time and underemployment — fully offsets the increase in workforce participation,” Dr Henry said.

“In fact it’s stark — if you calculate how many hours are worked in a week by the average person of working age, across males and females, it’s no different today than it was 40 years ago, despite the fact that female workforce participation has increased by 45 per cent.”

Rate cuts and tax cuts ‘cannot overcome’ problems

The man who guided the Australian Government’s economic policies for about a decade after the turn of the century said current policymakers needed to question whether their present course of interest rate cuts and tax reductions could do anything to boost the economy given these more fundamental problems.

Major moment in financial history

Major moment in financial history

With lenders now paying borrowers for the privilege of loaning them trillions of dollars, the world financial system is in totally uncharted waters.

“Whether what we’re seeing in terms of workforce productivity and workforce participation — particularly if you look at hours of work — whether this isn’t pointing to some structural deficiencies in the Australian economy and something that cannot be overcome or be addressed by either monetary policy or fiscal policy,” he said.

Dr Henry argued the main reason productivity was declining was a lack of business investment in new technology and equipment that increased the efficiency of their workforce.

Business investment today as a proportion of gross domestic product is almost as low as it was in the depths of the early-90s recession,” he said.

“The reason why Australia celebrates a current account surplus today is because business investment is so weak, we should not be celebrating this, this is sending us a signal that there is something desperately wrong in Australia.”

However, he added that the nation’s economic problems were not terminal.

“The longer term prospects are extraordinarily bright,” he said.

“There is a need to construct an optimistic narrative for all Australians about Australia’s long-term future, and then to back that narrative up with serious policy action.”

VIDEO: Extended interview with Ken Henry (The Business)

Dr Henry said policy action needed to include major tax reforms on several fronts.

A key move would be the introduction of an emissions trading scheme to put a price on carbon dioxide and to give energy and high-emitting companies the certainty to make new investments in low-carbon technologies.

Another would be a reduction in company tax for all firms, not just small and medium-sized businesses — a move the current Federal Government attempted, but that was blocked by the Senate.

Strange modelling to sell cuts

Strange modelling to sell cuts

Treasury uses assumptions divorced from reality to try and find the benefits from a company tax cut, writes Stephen Long.

*A third would be changes to the taxation of investments, largely to reduce the bias towards residential real estate. *

While Dr Henry suggested a different change in his tax review a decade ago, he said Labor’s policies to restrict negative gearing and reduce the capital gains tax discount, taken to the last federal election, were “better than the present system”. *

Dr Henry also said that, while the federal and state governments had increased infrastructure spending, it could be boosted further, particularly in regional areas.

“If you look at publicly funded construction activity in Australia today, as a proportion of GDP, it’s not above historical averages,” he said.

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-06/ken-henry-australian-economy-will-not-be-fixed-by-stimulus-alone/11773832

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Inside the public service shakeup: what it really says about Morrisons Government

THIS is so true … we have heard them …their fellow travellers talk of …

The bias of the ABC – that’s code for I hate the ABC because:

.they seek the truth
.they ask difficult questions

We have heard them talk with hatred in their voice about:


-the bureaucracy
-bureaucrats
-Regulations, and of course, the good old reliable animosity to
.Red Tape

These antagonists are typified by:

-more than a passing interest in the share market
-property ownership(plural)

IT is all about self-interest … on and on they bark about how the system is all wrong, their entitlements etc, etc …

.ALL must be swept aside unless it’s about making money and personal gain

Scott Morrison is seen from a low angle while he is speaking.

ANALYSIS

Inside the public service shakeup: what it really says about Morrison’s Government

7 DECEMBER 2019

By Laura Tingle

PHOTO: It is important to go beyond just the symbolism of what the Prime Minister announced this week. (ABC News: Marco Catalano)

RELATED STORY: The overhauled public service may be more efficient, but at what cost to good government?

RELATED STORY: For Morrison, electoral triumph has brought a weirdly shrunken field of vision

RELATED STORY: PM to sack top bureaucrats and dismantle departments in public sector overhaul

RELATED STORY: Scott Morrison intervenes to prevent staff relocating to Deputy PM’s department

Shortly after the federal election, I had a conversation with a figure at the very centre of the Government.

As we raked over where the election had left the political conversation, I noted the Prime Minister’s repeated emphasis on getting on with delivering services to Australians in his public statements.

Did this suggest that a politician so driven by marketing memes had detected a weariness with the ideological wars of politics among disconnected voters, and recognised political self-interest in shaping both the Government’s message, and its agenda, around the basics of government service delivery?

Did this mean the Government might abandon some of its ideological warfare against institutions?

“Don’t be ridiculous,” this person snorted. “If anything, this Government is more ideologically driven than Abbott.

They want to win the culture wars they see in education, in the public service, in all of our institutions, and they’ll come for the ABC too, of course. There will be a big cleanout at the top of the public service, but Morrison will wait for a while to do that. They believe the Left has been winning the war for the last 20 years and are determined to turn the tables.

Morrison will just be craftier about the way he goes about it.

Go beyond the symbolism

There have been many occasions to remember this conversation — and its rather extraordinary reflection on who seems to have been winning the ideological battle — over the intervening six months.

For Morrison, electoral triumph has brought a shrunken field of vision
Scott Morrison has been in the historically unusual position, as leader of the Liberal Party, of being able to confidently order his stationery in bulk. And it’s helped him deliver in spades.

No more so than amid the anger expressed about the Government’s move on Thursday to slash the number of government departments and sack five departmental secretaries.

The arts community, in particular, are angry and alarmed that there won’t be a department with “arts” in the title.

But it is important to go beyond just the symbolism of what the Prime Minister announced this week, and also to put it in the context of the contempt for accountability that he and his ministers have shown since their re-election, particularly in the Angus Taylor affair.

The public service is being sidelined

First, a bit of boring old process. The Government commissioned a comprehensive review of the public service last year, headed by former Telstra boss David Thodey.

The Government received the review’s final report in September. It hasn’t yet gone to Cabinet.

Yet, this week, the Government embarked on a major overhaul of the structure, personnel and purpose of the public service which it says “hits the theme” of the review. No, no-one mentioned the vibe of the thing.

Politicians keep shifting the goal posts
A question for students of bad bits of history has always been: how did people let such a thing happen? Now it feels like we are getting a very real answer in the way the world is moving.

So having spent a great deal of experts’ time, and taxpayer money, the Government announces huge changes in the public service without linking them directly to recommendations from the body it established itself.

Oh, except, sorry, it was the same Government that started the review but, you guessed it, a different prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Among the many contributions made to, and by, the Thodey review was a paper on the relationship between the public service and ministers and their advisers.

And while people have talked about the growing role of ministerial offices and advisers for decades, this week’s announcement really crystallises a trend to the sidelining of the public service as a frontline provider of policy advice.

Are ‘silos’ in the ‘Canberra bubble’ really the problem?

Listen to the language of Scott Morrison from Thursday’s press conference.

The Prime Minister reflected on how he had told public servants soon after the election “about having a very strong focus on the delivery of services because that’s what Government is there to do”.

I want a public service that’s very much focussed on implementation….Whether… they’re preparing research, the policy they’re developing, services they’re delivering on the ground and ensuring that could be done efficiently and keep Australians connected to them in the work they do each day.”

VIDEO: PM announces changes to public service departments (ABC News)

Now, there are references to the development of policy in his words. But the clear message was really about improving the way services are delivered to the public.

This is an admirable goal. And, of itself, merging different parts of the bureaucracy isn’t a bad idea.

But it is really unclear that “silos” in the “Canberra bubble” are necessarily the real issue here.

And the fact that the number of departments was slashed from 18 to 14, with five department heads losing their jobs while the number of ministers remains unchanged is very telling, and not just because of the bad optics.

How do we know who’s making the decisions?

The underlying message from the Prime Minister is really a reflection of the fact that policy is largely driven by ministers and their offices these days, rather than a clear line of process that involves public servants, and/or the people who have been commissioned by the Government itself to advise it. The Thodey Review itself is a stunning example of this.

The determination to protect Angus Taylor defies self-interest
Scott Morrison has spent the week defending the indefensible behaviour of his minister. So much political capital expended and so little return, writes Laura Tingle.

Once things are decided in a minister’s office, the scope for even the parliament to find out what has happened is immediately constrained, particularly in an administration that thinks it is okay for one minister to decline to be interviewed by the police, or for another minister to retain his job while unable to explain how he appears to have spectacularly misled parliament, and is subject to a police investigation into forged documents.

Or for the role of ministerial advisers in various scandals to remain unclear, while they hold on to their jobs.

If these new changes mean even less policy flows out of the public service, what hope have we of knowing who is making the decisions, and on what rationale, in areas that the Government doesn’t feel like talking about or prioritising, like the arts? It is hard to see any discussion coming up in Estimates, for starters.

Public servants are now supposed to be the facilitators of policy rather than its authors, but, in fact, particularly under Coalition governments, they have often become little more than post boxes for the outsourcing of contracts to the private sector.

There’s too little transparency

But think of all the bad contractual arrangements that have been exposed just this year — from the Paladin contracts in Papua New Guinea to (yet another) case of a minister distributing regional grants out of their office, outside the guidelines of the grants program — and how little transparency there is about what goes on.

A telling remark from an unnamed “senior government source” in The Australian on Friday was that “there is also a big wake-up call coming for the IT and tech public servants who have spent 20 years making contractors and IT companies rich by signing up for fragmented, sub-scale tech systems”.

A man frowns in front of a tree

PHOTO: The institutional memory of how systems had previously been set up to try to do exactly what the Prime Minister says he wants the public service to do has never recovered. (ABC News: Mark Moore)

For those of us with any memory, it’s hard not to laugh out loud here.

It was the Howard government who oversaw the disastrous outsourcing of the government’s IT program — which was scathingly reviewed by the Auditor-General.

The institutional memory of how systems had previously been set up to try to do exactly what the Prime Minister says he wants the public service to do has never recovered.

Thank goodness there is the public service to blame for this, rather than actually considering what impact slogan-driven policy, lacking in any real idea or interest in how to run a government, may be playing.

Laura Tingle is 7.30’s chief political correspondent.

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-06/close-up-of-scott-morrison-announcing-his-new-ministry-on-sunda/11775334

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TEMPORARY MIGRANT VISAS ISSUED FOR 2.2 MILLION: GREAT CONCERN

RELATED ARTICLE:

LABOR: Temporary Visa Tsunami is Crushing WAGES!

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2019/11/30/labor-temporary-visa-tsunami-is-crushing-wages/

Temporary migrant visas issued for 2.2 million

Labor employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the ‘increased overreliance’ on temporary visas to supply labour was of great concern. Picture: AAP
Labor employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the ‘increased overreliance’ on temporary visas to supply labour was of great concern. Picture: AAP

Labor has called for an urgent examination of the temporary visa regime following new ­analysis that reveals the number of ­migrants on the visas has jumped from 1.8 million to 2.2 million in the past four years.

According to a report from the Australian Population Research Institute, almost a fifth of the ­nation’s cleaners, store packers, and food and hospitality workers are on temporary migrant visas.

Labor employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the “increased overreliance” on temporary visas to supply labour was of great concern when there was nearly two million Australians unemployed or underemployed.

“The government should ­urgently examine the current temporary visa regime with a view to identifying the extent of the misuse and overuse of such visas. Our first employment priority as a nation must be to provide employment opportunities to local workers,” he said.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the government was committed to ensuring Australians had priority for jobs and overseas workers were only recruited to fill genuine shortages.

The report’s authors, Bob Birrell and David McCloskey, warned the Coalition’s “jobs and growth” strategy was likely to see Australia continue to “limp down the low-productivity pathway” it was already on.

“While this labour supply abundance persists, employers do not have to raise wage rates nor do they need to invest in labour-saving equipment,” the report says.

Senator Cash said the temporary skill shortage visa introduced by the Coalition in March last year included more rigorous ­labour market testing and market salary assessment requirements than the 457 visa it replaced.

“Under labour market testing, employers must advertise the position within Australia to ­ensure Australians are given first priority. Employers can only seek overseas workers if they can demonstrate Australian workers are not available,” she said.

“We make no apologies for trying to get Australians into high-skilled, high-paying jobs.”

Jenny Lambert, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and ­Industry’s director of employment, education and training, said Australia was aiming to be a high-skilled, knowledge economy and many of the low and semi-skilled roles were not ­attractive career options. “The biggest reason for the growth in our NOM (net overseas migration) is international students, something to be celebrated.”

ROSIE LEWIS

REPORTER Rosie Lewis is a federal political reporter with The Australian based in the Canberra press gallery. She began her career at the paper in 2011 as a video producer and has worked across digital and print platforms … Read more

SOURCE: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/temporary-migrant-visas-issued-for-22-million/news-story/501420cdbba50c18ffef8dea430e2af6

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