The Guardian 19 October, 2005
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As simple as GST
I pricked my ears with alarm when I heard little Johnnie telling us the new WorkChoice system of industrial relations would be simpler. Not the first time he has made something "simpler".
He simplified awards by simply gutting the contents and leaving workers with 20 "allowable" matters.
He introduced a simpler tax system which landed workers with a 10 percent GST on almost everything they purchase. Small businesses are still reeling with all the extra mountains of paperwork — that is those that have not keeled over already because they could not afford a full-time accountant.
So, here we go again, Howard is set to simplify the whole industrial relations system and it takes 78 pages to explain it. I went to the trouble of taking it down from the internet. You can ring up and get copies sent out — I tried that too, but not sure how long it will take for them to turn up.
I tried reading the thing. It is full of wonderful statements and examples of how I am going to be better off. I will have choice, family friendly flexibility, my employer will negotiate an individual contract with me and take into consideration my individual needs, my award conditions will be protected, and there will be more choice. I will be protected from those inflexible trade unions of the past who will be kept out of the workplace if none of us join them. Instead I can look after myself and there will be a government OWS to protect my employer from me and me from my employer.
There was a lot of other detail in between the guarantees — things about rationalising, reviewing, family security, reliable employment, more jobs, simplifying things, different sorts of agreements and what overrides what. Not easy reading for a mere worker. I’m not an academic or lawyer, just a worker on an enterprise agreement putting in 45 hours per week at a medium sized business. That reminds me, I must check if it has more than 100 employees, I think that might be important.
All I can say is "Thank God we have The Guardian". I know it will translate the lot into plain English and tell me what it means for me.
Surry Hills, NSW
I’m wondering whether other readers managed to catch the SBS documentary The Big Chill tonight? (Sunday 16 October). I’d read of the "big chill theory" before, and after seeing the review in The Guardian last week and thought I’d check it out.
The documentary was investigating the theory that the global warming now taking place may in fact result in a new ice-age across Europe.
Well, friends, it was a life-changing hour for me.
I tried to include a few statistics in this letter, but the task overwhelmed me. The statistics are absolutely shocking.
The changes already under way are massive and undeniable.
George W Bush justifies his "oil-companies-first" environmental policies by saying global warming is still a theory. He’s lying. We know it. He knows it.
But here’s what’s always puzzled me: I believe that one of the main reasons the earth never underwent a nuclear holocaust during the years of the Cold War is because the world leaders realised they would extinguish themselves as well in the process.
So why are we plunging headlong towards an equally destructive environmental holocaust?
For a start, the destruction of the earth as we know it will not be instant. That removes about 95 percent of the fear factor.
But also because perhaps the rich — the corporate CEOs, the world leaders — believe that it won’t affect them.
That is, to the extent that if we privatise the world’s water resources, then they will be able to buy up water for their personal use in drought zones.
They will be able to buy up the highest ground to live on in flood zones. They will be able to afford the strongest houses in cyclone zones.
And should they decide to stay in Europe they will be able to afford the heating to see them through the new arctic winters and have personal supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables flown in from wherever it is in the world they now grow.
And they will continue to prosper — as their companies rake in profits from soaring insurance premiums, developing drought-resistant genetically-modified crops, building dykes and dams, and even rebuilding whole cities.
New Orleans is only a microcosm of the new world economy that will develop from a global catastrophe.
Global warming to the ruling class is in fact nothing more than a new opportunity for massive profits.
Needless to say I wish I’d recorded the show, so I’ll now be writing to SBS to ask for an encore viewing. I’m going to throw a dinner party that night and invite all my friends around.
I’m going to sit them in front of the television, make them watch The Big Chill and watch as their jaws hit the floor.
And then afterwards I’m going to say: "Now, what are WE going to do about it?"