John Rainford

Dyson Heydon has shown his political bias

Dyson Heydon will not step down as commissioner investigating corruption in trade unions, having decided to ignore the widespread perception of his political bias.

Whatever else he might be, Heydon is no fool. When he accepted the job as royal commissioner he knew what was expected of him.

The commission was set up as a political witch-hunt into unions, designed to give the Coalition government an issue which it thought it could win the next election with.
Heydon was happy to oblige and has been handsomely paid for doing so.

Is this the end of Australia's steel industry?

BlueScope Steel announced a full-year profit of $136.3 million on August 24. This is an improvement on last year’s loss of $83 million, but not by much compared to past profits.

The results were released on the day that the Australian share market suffered its worst fall since the global financial crisis, yet BlueScope’s share price went up by almost 9%.

Trouble coming? If China sneezes, the world gets Asian flu

The one thing neoliberal touts want us to forget is that the effects of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 have never been overcome – and are still felt today.

There is no such thing as everlasting “natural growth” in the world economy. As John Maynard Keynes long ago pointed out, capitalism “seems capable of remaining in a chronic condition of sub-normal activity for a considerable period without any marked tendency towards recovery or complete collapse”.

July 2015 was warmest month ever recorded

Despite the overwhelming evidence, the federal government does not believe that climate change is real.

The Climate Council recommended a reduction of 45% to 65% of Australia’s 2005 carbon emission levels as the minimum that would be required to prevent runaway climate change.

Cuts to paid parental leave will widen gender pay gap

After his resounding success in the immigration portfolio — in which international treaty obligations were trashed, human rights trammelled, and asylum seekers fleeing from persecution were greeted with perverse punishment — Scott Morrison was promoted to minister for social services where he wasted no time attacking the unemployed, the disabled and aged pensioners.

It seemed impossible to go any lower. But if anyone was going to manage it, it was the minister whose arrogance is outweighed only by his ambition to be prime minister.

Now it is expectant mothers he is trying to vilify.

How troubled Chinese capitalism is exposed by Tianjin, rising debt


Tianjin residents protest, August 20.

Capitalism with Chinese characteristics is in some strife. This is largely because the government’s attempt to keep growth at an unsustainable 7% a year is fuelled by equally unsustainable debt.

Corporate and local government debt has grown by 50% since 2009, and total debt, which includes household debt, is now close to 187% of GDP.

Kathy Jackson ordered to pay back $1.4 million

The financial scandal in the Health Services Union (HSU) involving its national president Michael Williamson and former national secretary Craig Thompson ended in the courts when both of them were convicted for fraud and theft offences.

It became the trigger for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to announce on February 10 last year that he was setting up a Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption headed by former High Court judge Dyson Heydon.

Dyson Heydon has form

Why was John Dyson Heydon QC liberal prime minister Tony Abbott’s “captain's pick” to run the royal commission into the trade unions?

It could be from the shared solidarity that you’d expect of Rhodes scholars. Or perhaps it was just innocent association from the time former Prime Minister John Howard appointed Dyson Heydon to the High Court in 2003, a position he retired from under the compulsory age rule of 70 in 2013.

Government inaction spurs 20-year unemployment rate record

It is now more difficult for unemployed people to find a job than it has been for 20 years. Official youth unemployment is 12% and the official national jobless rate has risen to a 13-year high of 6.3%.

The last time employment prospects were so depressed was in the 1990s when the national unemployment rate was 8%. In South Australia, the official unemployment rate is now 7.9%, with employment growth a negligible 0.3%.

The real reason for the Productivity Commission

When Tony Abbott’s government asked the Productivity Commission to review Australia’s “workplace relations framework” it was for the sole purpose of providing it with cover for more attacks on workers’ pay and conditions.

One of its terms of reference was to examine the ability that employers had to “flexibly” manage and engage with their employees.

Flexibility is a word that once commonly conveyed a positive sense of resourcefulness and adaptability. But the notion of flexibility that the Productivity Commission refers to is one shaped by employers.

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