We can’t afford penalty rates, but you can’t scrimp on destroying the planet

July 8, 2017

Much has been made of the fact that on June 23, the same day the Fair Work Commission slashed penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers, federal politicians were granted yet another pay rise.

But actually, a far better example of the disturbing nature of the status quo is that 700,000 people face a significant pay cut at the same time that the government is likely to grant Adani a $1 billion subsidy to build the Carmichael mega coalmine, which will hugely contribute to runaway global warming and threatens the survival of human civilisation.

This comes on top of the $7.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies already granted annually to the fossil fuel industry.

Times may be so tough that we can’t afford to pay retail workers enough to enable them to pay their rent, but there are some things you don’t scrimp on, like bringing on an ecoholocaust.

These politicians make Heath Ledger’s Joker seem like a well-balanced human being. The Joker may have wanted to just watch the world burn, but at least he didn’t charge the taxpayer ever-rising six-figure annual salaries with gold-plated pensions to do it.

The Carmichael mine will almost certainly condemn the Great Barrier Reef to death. In terms of the economic consequences of this, the reef was recently valued at $56 billion by Deloitte economists.

Now, I get the point here is to emphasise just how many people’s livelihoods are threatened by the destruction of the reef, but I don’t think it’s wise to put dollar signs on anything these days. It just risks giving the bastards ideas and we could soon see the World Heritage site listed on the stock exchange or flogged off wholesale to Goldman Sachs.

That said, it does reveal the hollow nature of the stated justifications for giving destructive industries not just a free reign, but large chunks of taxpayers cash — that is, they are needed for economic growth and jobs.

This commitment to total destruction is almost admirable.

Sure it doesn’t even make short-term economic sense, if we extend our concept of the economy beyond the bank balances of major shareholders in giant corporations, but it is the principle of the thing.

Meanwhile, the signs of worsening disaster keep growing. For instance, a huge chunk of ice larger than Bali, is about to break off one of Antarctica’s largest ice sheets.

Media coverage of this soon to be iceberg “of biblical proportions”, as scientist Mark Drinkwater called it, have run with the quirky label of “Bergxit” to describe the phenomena and hype surrounding it.

Presumably this is because terrifying symptoms of the escalating ecoholocaust destroying the planet’s capacity to sustain life don’t seem so bad if you can give them cute and catchy nicknames.

Meanwhile, presumably because retail giants just haven’t had enough good news, a new government program will force young unemployed people to work as “interns” in the industry, no doubt picking up valuable skills such as “how to stack a shelf” and “floor sweeping”.

Some have complained that this is giving large corporations workers for free, but this just isn’t true. These large companies will actually be paid by the government for taking on free labour.

Vice reported: “All employers who host an intern, meanwhile, receive a nice little upfront payment of $1000 for their troubles. There's a further $10,000 bonus for those who hire interns after their extensive unpaid trial period.”

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but it seems there is a free labour force, delivered by a government determined to help the 1% capture as much wealth as possible before the planet becomes uninhabitable.

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