John Rainford

NSW taxpayers funding James Hardie’s asbestos debts

Mesothelioma is a particularly virulent form of lung cancer. From the date of diagnosis the average life expectancy of a person with the disease is just 155 days.

There is only one way a person can contact mesothelioma: by exposure to the fine particles of asbestos dust that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

The latent period from exposure to diagnosis can be many decades. So the first battle for sufferers seeking compensation was overcoming the legal hurdle in Commonwealth and state jurisdictions known as the statute of limitations.

The economy bubbling along?

When neoliberal economics was being established as a hegemonic position in Australia in the late 1980s, 1.2 million workers were employed in the manufacturing industry — 15% of the workforce.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) latest employment analysis shows that 25,000 jobs were lost in manufacturing last year, bringing the total employed down to 920,000 — 7.8% of the workforce.

It is a trend that will only continue with the winding-down of the vehicle production industry and its related vehicle components sector.

The corporate culture of the University of Wollongong

The motto of the University of Wollongong (UOW) promises “Personalised Experiences: World Class Results”. It would do well to tell the public which persons in the institution availed themselves of the experience of authorising political donations of $26,175 in the last four years, and what world class results they expected.

The signature on contribution donations in 2009 was the university’s director of government relations, Canio Fierravanti, brother of Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Coincidentally, 82% of the donations since late-2010 have gone to the Liberal Party.

Reports show damn lies and statistics

This month two reports were released in Canberra.

The first was an important analysis of economic data, the 2014 national accounts issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

What Australia’s national accounts show is an economy in deep trouble. As David Harvey reminds us, to function satisfactorily it is necessary for capitalist economies to achieve a minimum 3% compound growth forever.

Climate change calls for non-profit insurance

In This Changes Everything, author Naomi Klein raises the question of how capitalist societies will “adapt” to the people made homeless and jobless by increasingly intense and frequent natural disasters.

One of the issues she focuses on is the reaction of insurance companies, pointing out that the chief executive officer of Swiss Re America admits that climate change is “what keeps us up at night”.

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The cost of cost-cutting statistics


The ABS's steam-powered computer systems are too outdated to run a census.

The various agencies of Australian governments have a capacity to access data generated by individuals that is unprecedented — one of the “benefits” of the communications revolution that we are living through.

Warmongering musings of mad monk Tony Abbott

In August last year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott thought it would be a good idea to send 1000 Australian soldiers to Ukraine. Their intended purpose was to guard the crash site of the Malaysian Airlines plane that was shot down there killing 38 Australian citizens.

The proposal was quietly dropped after military planners advised that, as none of the troops could speak either Ukrainian or Russian, and would not be able to tell the difference between the militias of either country, it was not such a great idea after all.

The cost of cost-cutting statistics


The ABS's steam-powered computer systems are too outdated to run a census.

The various agencies of Australian governments have a capacity to access data generated by individuals that is unprecedented — one of the “benefits” of the communications revolution that we are living through.

South Coast union leader takes on ALP

Secretary of the South Coast Labour Council Arthur Rorris has stepped down from his union position to stand as an independent for the seat of Wollongong in the NSW State election on March 28. The seat is held by ALP right-wing factional leader Noreen Hay.

Rorris lives in the electorate and has been a member of a local ALP branch for many years. Yet when he and other long-time local ALP members attended the Wollongong preselection ballot in December, they were not only denied a vote but physically escorted from the premises where the ballot was taking place.

Hockey fiddles while the economy burns

At the G20 meeting held in Brisbane last December, Treasurer Joe Hockey unveiled his blueprint for the Australian economy. It came in the form of a document grandiosely titled The Comprehensive Growth Strategy.

This was Australia’s contribution to the G20’s strategy to raise their overall economic output by 2% over the next five years.

So it must have come as a surprise to cigar-smoking Joe that when the IMF and OECD looked at the fine print of his document and reached for the abacus they concluded that it would, if implemented, add only 1.2% to economic output.

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