Graham Matthews

The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) released by the federal Treasury on November 2 is upbeat. Revising the May budget’s projections for the Australian economy, it predicted unemployment will peak lower, growth will be higher and inflation will be under control.
NSW Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers have continued their industrial campaign against an unfair award imposed by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC), which would have TAFE teachers work an additional five hours a week, and teach an additional 36 hours a year, with no right to refuse.
It seems like only yesterday we were being exhorted to spend. Pensioners, parents, homebuyers and workers were plied with “free” money from the Labor government and asked to go and spend it to save the economy.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) — the new name for the Howard government-established Workplace Ombudsman – has launched its first prosecution against a union for “unlawful” industrial action.
The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) — a right-wing economic think tank — released its What’s Next for Welfare-to-Work? report on October 15. As part of a strategy to push more people off welfare, the report called for a fall in the minimum wage and a tightening of eligibility rules for the Disability Support Pension (DSP).
In May last year, federal Treasurer Wayne Swan announced the formation of the Australia’s Future Tax System Review, to be run by Treasury secretary Ken Henry. When the Henry review reports to government in December, its recommendations are likely to leave the wealthy smiling and the rest of us grinding our teeth.
One hundred people gathered at Parramatta ferry wharf on October 9 to call on the NSW government to abandon plans to privatise Sydney Ferries. The protest was organised by Save Our Sydney Ferries, a coalition of unions and public transport support groups.
On October 6, the Reserve Bank of Australia lifted the official interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 3.25%. Explaining the bank’s decision, RBA governor Glenn Stevens said “the risk of serious economic contraction in Australia” had now “passed”.
As the Australian economy begins its “recovery”, economic and social indicators show the recession has disproportionately affected working people and the poor. The rich are just getting richer.
The problem is obvious to anyone who uses public transport — in Sydney or any other major city in Australia. Public transport networks, designed in the 1940s, are straining to service growing cities.

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