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Issue #1686      May 27, 2015


Joe Hockey is calling on all Australians to go out and “pend, spend, spend” It may work well in those public relations get-togethers where they try to think of more slogans to “sell” the latest budget. In the real world everybody knows how tight family budgets are and how difficult it is to survive on an ever-decreasing income. Pay rises are at 12-year low. The Australian Institute of Management surveyed 557 organisations employing 25,000 workers and found that average wage increase would fall to 3.2 percent in 2016. Workers in utilities are forecast to suffer the sharpest slowdown, from 4.88 percent in 2014 to 3.59 percent. On the other hand, we are all delighted to know that Macquarie Group chief Nicolas Moore’s pay for the year ended March 31 jumped 26 percent to $16.5 million.

The government will spend nearly $27 million over four years to return radioactive waste which has been treated in Britain. The radioactive waste material will be stored in a temporary storage facility at Lucas Heights. The second batch of nuclear material was sent to France for treatment. The government is conducting a search for a place to set up a national radioactive waste dump which will take in nuclear material from other countries. Environmental and Indigenous groups in South Australia expressed their concern and objections to a nuclear dump in that state. Iron ore company Gindalbie Metals has proposed a section of land it owns in Western Australia as a potential site for a national nuclear waste facility. While Australian Conservation Foundation stated that “the waste coming back to Lucas Heights is the least worst way to manage it”, the proposed national nuclear waste dump is highly controversial, especially if it involves other countries dumping their nuclear waste here.

The Abbott government is very quick to accuse unions of all the sins under the sun. However, it is not as quick to respond to allegations that large companies are using migrant workers as slave labour, making them sign contracts that could see the workers sacked and deported if they join unions. There will be a Senate inquiry into the controversial 457 visa scheme into exploitation of foreign workers. Infrastructure giant Thiess employed migrant workers on contracts which threatened termination for engaging in “trade union activities”. The Electrical Trades Union claims the contracts amount to the “most flagrant violation of international labour rights we have ever encountered”. The union’s state secretary Troy Gray said: “The terrifying part is, if these threats can be made in writing to migrant workers by an iconic Australian construction conglomerate, what’s happening everywhere else?”

Next article – Region briefs

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