The Guardian 27 July, 2005

Dingo bytes

Workplace Relations Minister has contradicted himself again on the government’s new industrial relations laws, stating last week that "awards will be adjusted to the fair pay and conditions standard". This can only mean that conditions greater than the new standards would go, such as penalty rates and leave entitlements (see page 12 in last week’s Guardian). Yet Andrews still insists that workers on awards will keep all their entitlements. His problem is that he is trying to sell the public a vial of poison by putting it in a Champaigne bottle but the stink of the stuff keeps escaping past the cork.

Formerly an Australian colony, Papua New Guinea has long been considered to be a part of Australia’s sphere of influence. But after years of post-independence bullying by Australia, PNG has had enough and is looking elsewhere for trade and investment opportunities. China, for example, which is interested in investing in PNG’s natural resources, among other things. The Howard government has been pushing for PNG to change its constitution to give legal immunity to Australian police who are there as part of an Australian "assistance package" (read interference in PNG’s internal affairs). PNG PM Michael Somare stated last week, "We would like to remove the umbilical cord of depending on Australia and diversify our relations with the region and the world". On the legal immunity, he was equally blunt, "The constitutional arrangement as proposed by Australia questions the sovereignty of PNG."

In NSW, failure by the Carr government to follow through on a guarantee to end broadscale land clearing in the state and introduce tighter regulations is an invitation to illegal operators to continue their activities. The NSW Greens say that last week’s enormous clearing of native vegetation in Boyne State Forest, near Bateman’s Bay — a 15-kilometre corridor — is an example of the damage done by illegal clearing. "The Premier has yet to deliver on a promise he made back in 1995 to end broadscale land clearing", said Greens MP Lee Rhiannon.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran. Transnational agribusiness and agricultural producers and processors, mostly based in the USA, are flooding the Australian market with produce, much of it labelled in such a way as to give the impression it is home grown. The flood is set to increase to a tidal wave under the free trade agreement with the US. A recent report by the capitalist think tank the Organisation for Cooperation and Economic Development found that government assistance to Australian farmers is worth an annual average of four percent of gross farm receipts. Compare that with 20 percent in the US and Australia’s farmers are facing an uphill battle. McGauran’s only response to the whole question is to have "clear and unambiguous" labelling on products and to order an inquiry into the sale of imported foods in supermarkets.

Back to index page