John Rainford

The NSW government owns about 277,400 properties. Their combined commercial worth, according to finance minister Dominic Perrottet is $60 billion.

Most of the property is commercial, built up over many decades by successive Labor and Coalition governments, and financed by NSW taxpayers, on behalf of whom the present NSW government holds them in trust.

But the Mike Baird government doesn’t get this “holding in trust” thing. They believe the assets are theirs to sell; and this is precisely what Perrottet intends to do.

The historian Geoffrey Blainey recently addressed staff at BHP headquarters in Melbourne on the 130th anniversary of the forming of Broken Hill Propriety Company Limited in 1885.

Blainey told the assembled audience “there is no commercial institution in Australia that has contributed so much to the nation’s history”.

To set the historical record straight, he should have added that there is no commercial institution that has fought so hard against the workers whose surplus value it expropriated than BHP.

When donations to political parties from property developers in NSW were prohibited by then-NSW Labor premier Nathan Rees in November 2009 the decision was not well received by significant groupings in the state Labor and Liberal parties.

The ban followed an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into Wollongong City Council which, in 2008, found that local developers had received favourable treatment from elected councillors and staff.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Paris between November 30 and December 11. By the time it starts, 2015 is almost certain to have beaten last year as the warmest year ever.

This August has now been confirmed as the hottest August since records began in 1880. Other months this year that broke records were February, March, May, June and July.

Every year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sends a group of economists to Australia to survey the domestic economy, comment on the effects of government policy and make some suggestions as to what might best be done in the coming year. It is known as an “article IV consultation”.

The IMF executive board’s latest report was publicly released in early October. After commending Australia’s economic performance during the past two decades, the report noted some challenges ahead. Chief among them is the prospect of “slow growth” in the coming year.

Enterprise bargaining is the only way that workers and their unions can legally seek wage increases. Since the system was first introduced by a federal Labor government in 1993, it has achieved its deliberate, but unstated, aim of lowering aggregate wages and increasing profits.

The onset of the Global Financial Crisis can be dated to July 2007, when two Bear Stearns hedge funds holding almost US$10 billion in mortgage-backed securities collapsed. That same month, bankers at Lehman Brothers paid themselves $US5.7 billion in bonuses.

Little more than a year later, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy with debts of $US613 billion. It was the largest bankruptcy in history.

The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated in 2011 that carbon dioxide emissions had to be limited to 1000 gigatons to have a two-thirds chance of keeping global warming below 2°C.

By mid-October, there were more than 100,000 fires raging in the Indonesian provinces of Sumatra and Kalimantan that had released an estimated 995 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the past four months. This is just short of 1 gigaton.

BlueScope's October 26 announcement that the Port Kembla steelworks would be saved from closure came as an obvious relief for the workforce, who had agreed to 500 job losses to save 4500 jobs, together with a three-year pay freeze and foregone bonuses for the next 12 months.

These union concessions are reportedly worth $40 million to BlueScope. The New South Wales government agreed to defer $60 million in payroll tax payments over the next three years, and the company will save a further $100 million through “worker flexibility”.

The Central Intelligence Agency was set up in 1947 as the key agency for US Cold War operations. From its inception, it intervened in the trade union movement and workers' political parties throughout much of the world, including Australia.

One of the first post-World War II US policy objectives was to counter the newly-formed World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) to which the Australian union movement was affiliated through the ACTU.


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