Wednesday, 24 February 2016

#Ballarat's exploited labour

From The Courier

Ballarat workers paid $6 an hour

Ballarat Trades and Labour Council secretary Brett Edgington.
Ballarat Trades and Labour Council secretary Brett Edgington.

Mr Edgington, the first witness at the Ballarat hearing, said people were badly treated and underpaid across several industries. Ballarat Trades and Labour Council secretary Brett Edgington has used the Victorian government’s labour hire and insecure work inquiry to make explosive claims about the local treatment of workers. 
“You’ve got underpayment, where a worker is paid  cash-in-hand between six and 10 dollars an hour, and there’s no tax, no super,” he said. 
“This is at crisis point and rampant. A very significant number of businesses in hospitality, retail, the domestic building industry (are underpaying workers).”  
 “A lot of the schemes we’ve discovered are not just oversights by the employer.” 
The inquiry, which is visiting regional cities after Melbourne hearings, will continue all day, including workers themselves. 
Mr Edgington said a The Courier article in December had spurred on many young workers to come and see him to raise issues of underpayment and poor treatment, with people coming “almost every day”. 
He also said the problem was “worse” in Ballarat and other regional centres than in Melbourne because employers could blacklist workers from whole industries.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The White Rose Movement and Sophie Scholl in Hitler's Germany

Read more about Sophie Scholl here >>> and the White Rose movement to which she belonged here >>>

Saturday, 13 February 2016

What to do about those catalogues and unsolicited advertising material getting dumped in your mail box.

Above are advertisements for two of the largest catalogue and direct mail corporations in Australia.  If you are sick of junk mail in your letter-box, then the likelihood of it getting to you via these corporations is high.  

However, there are a few things to consider with regard to what is called "junk mail". Check this Australia Post site for information - but this does not tell you everything you need to know. For instance, there are exemptions. This Queensland Government site is helpful - but again there is a major omission. The major omission is electoral material - so come election time and you are getting unwanted material from the political parties and candidates, independent or otherwise, it is stiff cheddar.  This material does not qualify as "junk mail".

In addition, you might find that your neighbours may stick something in the box telling you about their garage sale.  It would be churlish to complain - unless there is another reason.  

My complaint has been about catalogues - love numbers in one single delivery.  Mine are delivered by Salmat.  I live in Ballarat these days - but I used to live in Ringwood in Melbourne and I had dealings with Salmat there.  So I am speaking from experience.  

  1. I have noticed that in my neighbourhood the deliverers are of South Asian appearance so I think - mmm, these sort of people need every bob they can get; they may be discriminated against in employment; or perhaps a stay-at-home mum and the kids have to help out and this is the only way it can be managed.
  2. However, I dismiss this because I live across the road from a number of flats and the big catalogue bundles are collected.  Perhaps because a number of inhabitants seem to be workmen, the bundles are ignored until they are blown around the street - which was the cause of catalogue problems where I lived in Ringwood.
  3. I have found, both at Ringwood and in Ballarat, that the "No Junk Mail" sign is ignored when it is first placed on the letter-box.  Solution: Track down the catalogue supplier. In each case mine was Salmat.  I then rang the national number for Salmat from the Business White Pages. In each case, Salmat sent the relevant local co-ordinator to call on me.  THEN the problem was solved and I haven't had any more problems.
My firmness on this topic is encouraged because all the major retailers who put out promotional sales catalogues have websites.  Most of the population have access to a computer even it is only at the Public Library.  The major retailers place their catalogues on-line and they are easy to read.   My view is that if more people took time to read the catalogues on-line, then the need for printed catalogues could be gradually phased out.  As a fall-back position, the major food corporations have their catalogues in-store for you to read there.  Reading them in-store adds a little extra time to the shopping trip, especially the impulse shopping trip, but it saves a lot of money in other ways especially in local government clean-ups.

I'm sure there are other problems surrounding this topic you would like to discuss. Please use the comment facility to do so.  I don't find the Victorian Government site very helpful.  However, it seems to me that the Queensland Government site is simpler and easier.  Here is what is says about unsolicited advertising material:

Unsolicited advertising material (UAM)

Advertising material (other than newspapers) is unsolicited advertising material if it is not addressed by name to an owner or occupier of the premises, or to a person who is lawfully at the premises from time to time. This includes material addressed ‘to the householder’ or ‘to the occupier’ and is distributed without charge to the intended recipients. There are exceptions that apply to the delivery of newspapers.
Common examples of advertising material include takeaway food vouchers, shop catalogues, magazines or newspapers, leaflets from real estate agents, refrigerator magnets or letters advertising the services of a tradesperson.
Materials that do not contain advertising content for a commercial purpose are not classed as advertising materials. Common examples are letters from neighbourhood watch groups, correspondence advising of lost animals, political campaign material, local government newsletters and infringement notices (e.g. parking fine attached to a vehicle).

Friday, 12 February 2016

In the light of Justin Trudeau and Bernie Sanders - Australia needs a review of what worked well in the latter half of the 20th Century

Australia in the 21st Century needs to look back at its recent past - say from World War 2 forward - to what policies have succeeded, how they emerged, where are they now and 
how we can re-introduce those fallen by the way, and re-fashion those that we have kept
but could work more inclusively and equitably.  

Australia is a nation who likes to keep up with the Joneses - particularly the North American Joneses.  Here is some of that flavour from Canada and

Why grumpy Bernie Sanders is like sunny Justin Trudeau: Walkom

Canada’s prime minister and the would-be U.S. presidential contender 

both want to resurrect the welfare state.

The centerpiece of Bernie Sanders’ platform — a universal, publicly funded health-insurance system — wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in most countries. But it is contentious in the U.S. where, to many, socialized medicine is akin to communism.
All of which makes it more striking that Sanders has done so well, writes Thomas Walkom.
The centerpiece of Bernie Sanders’ platform — a universal, publicly funded health-insurance system — wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in most countries. But it is contentious in the U.S. where, to many, socialized medicine is akin to communism. All of which makes it more striking that Sanders has done so well, writes Thomas Walkom.
On the face of it, Bernie Sanders and Justin Trudeau have little in common.
Sanders is the self-styled democratic socialist who wants to become U.S. president. He is characterized as grumpy.
Trudeau is not grumpy. He smiles a lot. He likes to practise what he calls sunny ways.
At 44, the Canadian Liberal prime minister presents himself as hip and modern. At 74, Sanders, a Vermont Independent, is presented as a throwback to an earlier age.
But in the aftermath of Monday’s Iowa caucus votes, one singular similarity between the two men has emerged.
Both represent the renaissance of a certain kind of centre-left politics in North America — an activist politics that had fallen out of favour in both countries but is now back.
In Canada, Trudeau has defied those who dismissed him as a lightweight to become prime minister.
In the U.S., Sanders has defied those who dismissed him as a no-hoper by almost beating Hillary Clinton, The Democratic party’s heir-apparent, in the Iowa caucuses.
The Iowa caucuses represent the first stage of a drawn-out process that will determine who gets to run for the Democrats in November’s presidential election.
Sanders’ strong showing in Iowa Monday (he lost to Clinton by a whisker) doesn’t mean he will capture his party’s nomination. There are many more contests to come. Clinton is a formidable campaigner.
But it does suggest that his message to bring back the welfare state has gained significant traction since he first announced his candidacy last year.
That this has happened should surprise no one. The U.S. is in trouble. Inequality is up. Wages are only now starting to recover. The outlook for young people is bleak. The outlook for older, laid-off-workers is bleaker.
And Sanders, for all his talk of democratic socialism, is no pie-in-the-sky idealist. He is a practical politician who has been successful as mayor, congressman and senator, in large part because of his ability to get things done.
If anything, he is a New Deal Democrat in the mould of Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. president who guided his country through the worst of the Depression.
Like Roosevelt, Sanders would reform the banking system. Like Roosevelt, he would build public works and pay for that, in part, by taxing the rich.
Like Roosevelt, he would support the creation of labour unions in order to boost wages, as well as use the power of the federal government to put the unemployed back to work.
He would return his country to a time, not that long ago, when public university tuition was free.
The centerpiece of Sanders’ platform — a universal, publicly funded health-insurance system — wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in most countries, including Canada.
But it is contentious in the U.S. where, to many, socialized medicine is akin to communism.
All of which makes it more striking that Sanders has done so well.
And yet he has. Like Barack Obama in 2008, he has scored with young people. Unlike Obama, he has done so by focusing on substantive policy issues rather than rhetorical generalities.
Comparisons between Canada and the U.S. are notoriously dangerous. The two countries have different political cultures.
And yet, there are notable similarities between Trudeau’s and Sanders’ approach to politics.
Like Sanders, Trudeau is harkening back to a time — before Stephen Harper and even before Paul Martin and Jean Chr├ętien — when state action was seen as useful and necessary.
The prime minister likes to present himself as 21st century. But his actual policies are tried and true measures from the 20th century welfare state: making the income tax system more progressive; directing child benefits to the neediest; expanding employment insurance; running fiscal deficits to build public works; boosting old age security.
In Canada, popular dissatisfaction with Stephen Harper’s Conservative government conspired with strategic mistakes by Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats to create winning conditions for the Trudeau Liberals. That was part of the story.
But Trudeau also took advantage of a new mood, the same mood that in the U.S. is swelling the fortunes of another unlikely candidate for high office.
The odds are against Bernie Sanders becoming U.S. president. But then the odds were also against Justin Trudeau.
Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Dale Hess Calendar - Dates for your diary

Thursday 18 February – Thursday 3 March: Transition Film Festival. The Transitions Film Festival is visionary program dedicated to spotlighting the complex challenges, cutting-edge ideas, creative innovations and mega-trends that are redefining what it means to be human. We present positive, solutions-focused films and showcase cutting-edge ideas from around the world, along with the creative, academic, governmental, community and business leaders who are creating change locally.

Thursday 18 February, 6.30 pm – 8 pm: Market Forces Campaign Launch. Market Forces believes that the banks, superannuation funds and governments that have custody of our money should use it to protect not damage our environment. We're planning to make this year massive. Massive campaigns, resulting in massive change. We have climate change commitments from banks that need to be turned into concrete action that moves finance out of fossil fuels. We want to turn divestment from coal, oil and gas from a steady stream to an unstoppable torrent. And of course, we have new dirty coal proposals here in Australia and overseas that need to be stopped in their tracks.  Venue: Treasury Room, Imperial Hotel, 2 Bourke St, Melbourne (corner Spring Street). Food provided, drinks at bar prices. Free entry but bookings are essential as places are limited. RSVP here. Market Forces is proud to be an affiliate project of Friends of the Earth Australia and a member of the BankTrack international network, connecting us with passionate campaigners, environmental issue experts and advocates of environmentally sustainable behaviour from the finance sector.  

Saturday 20 February, 5.02 pm – 7 pm: Peace, Faith and Solving Conflict. Invited speakers: Prof. Gary Bouma, UNESCO and Rev.Victor Kazanjian, Global Director United Religions Initiative. Venue: Cultural Infusion Centre, 49 Vere Street, Collingwood College Theatre (entrance from Campbell Street). Sponsored by Cultural Infusion and United Religions Initiative. Free event. Refreshments provided. Bookings:

Wednesday, 24 February, 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm: Syrian Conflict Information Evening. The Amnesty International Bayside Team are hosting an information evening on the current Syrian crisis. Presenting an impartial account of the current internal armed conflict in Syria, as well as information about the settlement process for refugees and asylum seekers. From 7.30 pm we will have three speakers, discussing the current Syrian crisis, intake of refugees and settlement services for refugees and asylum seekers here in Australia. Tim Redfern from Amnesty International Bayside, Alanna Attard from AMES and Panos Massouris from AMES will be speaking. Venue: The Sandy Beach Centre - 2 Sims Street Sandringham. Register here.

Saturday 5 March, 9 am – 11.30 am: Oases Breakfast Conversation: Listening to Indigenous Voices. Dr Robert Hoskin will share insights from his listening to his Kimberley friends relevant to relating with land and community. Together we will explore how listening means a change of heart, if not our change in approach to life and relationships, and discuss how  knowledge of the past might save us from endless repetition in the future. $30/$20 Concession. Main Hall, Habitat Centre for Spirituality, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. To book:

Monday 11 April; Sunday and Monday, 24 April and 25 April; Sunday 1 May: Ecological Literacy. Ecological literacy was initially used byDavid W. Orr and physicist Fritjof Capra in the 1990s, to understand the Earth as a living system whose well-being was dependent on our thinking in terms of the interdependence of all living systems. In his Web of Life Capra writes of the emergence of a new paradigm challenging the old mechanistic and linear view of the universe and challenging notions of continuous growth and development and with it consumerism and commodification as the “normal”. Ecological literacy is about using this interdependent view of the world to help address the complex dilemmas around the destructive impact that humans have had on the world bringing us to what is often called the Anthropocene… And together we'll draw on the experiences and wisdom of all participants, and the 'natural world' around us. Cost $800. Further details:

Monday 25 April – Friday 29 April: Living the Peace Testimony with Greg Rolles. Explore the connections between war, militarism, climate change, colonisation of Indigenous peoples, racism – and your own urges to help bring peace. Silver Wattle Quaker Centre, 1063 Lake Road, Bungendore, NSW. Telephone:02 6238 0588

Friday 10 June – Monday 13 June: Indigenous Spirituality and Culture with Karen Kime. Journey into Aboriginal ways of teaching country, kinship and cross-cultural issues in work and community. The workshop will also include examples of other indigenous people. Silver Wattle Quaker Centre, 1063 Lake Road, Bungendore, NSW. Telephone:02 6238 0588

Monday 11 July; Sunday and Monday, 31 July and 1 August; Saturday 10 September: Recreating our Organisations. We live in a world of organisations, educational, familial, work…each with its own culture and processes and each creating its own set of experiences for those who interact with it. Whilst we cannot escape from the reality of organizations in our lives, we can learn to better understand, work with and change (for the better) the organizations in which we play a part…In this unit then our central question addresses the possibilities of recreating or re-imagining the way we organise that would create more soulful, meaningful, value based,  collaborative and generative organisations that are relevant for 21st century sustainable and socially just organisations. Cost $800. Further details:

Tuesday, 9 February 2016




Tuesday, 9 February 2016
Labor is deeply alarmed at the Turnbull Liberals’ plan to sell off Medicare services which could jeopardise the patient data of every Australian and the jobs of 1400 staff at centres all around the country.
“First the Liberals tried to kill Medicare, now they’re trying to sell it,” said Shadow Health Minister Catherine King.
“We are hugely concerned the Government has highly progressed plans to privatise the delivery of vital government services like Medicare.
“This idea, from the failed Commission of Audit Report, would mean that these important functions would be being delivered for profit, not with the best interests of patients in mind.”
Shadow Minister for Human Services Doug Cameron said its critical private health details stay in Australia.
“This is a disgrace. This is lazy policy from the Liberals. Nowhere else in the world are these services privatised.
“We have seen the results of government incompetence on call wait times and its lax approach to Medicare fraud.”
“Once again the government see the services most important to Australians are just a source for savings.
“Human Services Minister Stuart Robert has been too busy looking after himself and his mates.
“We need a new Minister for Human Services who’s focused on his day job, not looking after Liberal Party donors, to clean up this mess.”
So far, the Abbott-Turnbull Government has failed to ensure that the Department of Human Services recommendations of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report into the integrity of Medicare Customer Data. If the Medicare payments processing arm of DHS is sold off to multinational corporations, the integrity of patient data and personal records is under further threat.

(DHS) has complied with all
Recent revelations that the Australian Tax Office has been sending work to The Philippines has also rung alarms that private data is at risk.
Answers to Senate estimates questions reveal that as well as risking citizens’ data, hundreds of jobs could be sent off shore.
There are 15 key locations that undertake Medicare payment processing. The closure of these offices would have adverse consequences on the local communities. Labor opposes the sell-off of Medicare, beginning with the sell-off of the Medicare payments system.

Monday, 8 February 2016


Sunday, 7 February 2016


WHY SHOULD AUSTRALIA LOSE MARKETS, EVENTS, FETES AND FESTIVALS?These are photos from Markets and events from all over...

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Exploited Labour: no accurate time sheets: no award rate of payment: no penalty rates: no union membership: not a thing to build a life on

I am listening to Kelly O'Dwyer rabbiting on at the National Press Club of Australia. She paints an economic wonderland of retirement income products, taxation incentives so that people with work.... All very well, but I wonder when I will hear an NPCA host a speaker on exploited labour in Australia. There is a wide range of labour exploitation in Australia and yet it seems to be treated as an occasional aberration. And it is happening in all sorts of ways to all sorts of people. One of the largest sectors of exploitation is based on gender. Women with low skills, women being discriminated against, women getting fewer promotions, women getting lower wages and salaries and.... And then there is the class/education divide and the multitude of people in lower-skilled jobs such as cleaners and look at what MYER has done with them ... and they are not the only employer into sham contracting. I have a friend whom I would describe as middle-class but she has been forced into sham contracting at an administrative level. She is in her middle years and because of age discrimination and age/gender discrimination, the likelihood of finding appropriately paid alternative work is unlikely. And please note that all this is before we get on to the topic of migrant labor, seasonal labor, very low-skilled labour, shonky labour hire companies and the similarly shonky labour hire companies who have a veneer of class and respectability. And so on. And this is before we get to foreign owned businesses, companies, and corporations bringing in their own labour or exploitation Australian labour. And then there are the industries where rip-offs are part of the culture. Top of that list in my experience are the service industries - tourism, hospitality, retail. Flat hourly rate payments abound. The biggest push for the abolition of penalty rates comes from this sector. There is a large sector of female employment, often at low skill levels. There is a large sector of casualisation - often teens and twenties people and again a significant cohort of females. And all this before I mention fruit-picking and horticultural and agricultural employment. I am an old union official who has worked across a wide range of industries and the employment of cheap foreign labour. I am happy to receive personal stories. I publish stuff on this topic on this blog.  
If you have first person stories you can email me at 

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