John Rainford

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.

Just DO IT -- make ATO investigate fraud

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) is the second-largest bank in the world.

It operates in most countries, including Switzerland, which has long had a reputation for the secrecy of its finance sector. In 2008, a former HSBC employee gave the French government a list of the names of 261 Australians who held HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland.

In 2010, the year that HSBC’s 25th branch office in Australia was opened in North Sydney by Treasurer Joe Hockey, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) received a copy of the list — a fact it disclosed on February 9.

The best politicians that money can buy

The Australian Electoral Commission data from the declaration of donations to the major parties in 2013-14 was made public in early February.

They show that a total of more than $278 million in speculative political capital was invested in the ALP, Liberals, Nationals, Palmer United Party (PUP) and the Greens.

Time for a crackdown on corporate crime

Phoenix is the name of a mythical bird which, after death, rose from the ashes to live with renewed vigour and start the cycle all over again.

It’s also the name of an illegal activity in Australia where directors wind-up a company and then create a new one while leaving their debts behind.

Workers loose their wages and entitlements, and other creditors are left with no chance of recovering the debts they are owed.

It’s a rort that’s common in the construction industry, and fiddled to the tune of more than $3 billion a year.

The return of WorkChoices? Productivity Commission’s attack on workers’ rights

One of the pre-election promises of Tony Abbott’s government was to initiate an inquiry into workplace relations by the Productivity Commission.

But the spectre of former prime minister John Howard’s WorkChoices, which lost the Coalition the 2007 election and the PM his seat, meant there was no great rush.

The plan was to pave the way for an assault on wages and working conditions by first attacking unions through a Royal Commission specially set-up for the purpose.

Climate warnings coming true in Australia

Planetary boundaries are those considered crucial to maintaining an environment in which humanity can safely exist.

Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, US climatologist James Hansen and Johan Rockstrom from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, developed an analysis of nine of these boundaries some years ago.

Alongside climate change, they include ocean acidification, ozone depletion, fresh water use, change in land use, biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, atmospheric aerosol loading and the nitrogen and phosphorous cycles.

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The politics of Australia’s unemployment

The policy objective of most central banks, including the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), is full employment, even though it continues to be the failed promise of governments at every level.

The federal government pledged to create one million jobs over five years when it was elected in 2013, a rate of more than 16,500 jobs a month. Yet in its first year of office less than 12,000 jobs were created each month as the official unemployment rate went up.

Let’s end this domestic violence epidemic

Every week, on average, in Australia, more than one woman is murdered by her present or former partner. Family violence is now the leading cause of death and injury for women under 45, and a staggering one-in-three women experience violence by a former or present intimate partner.

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 24 last year, Telstra announced the introduction of an employment policy that provides for 10 days paid domestic violence leave each year for its employees.

Welcome to Morrison’s Hobbesian nightmare

In the search for a rationale to justify his assault on pensioners, the poor and the welfare dependent, Scott Morrison has reached back to the 17th century work of the English political theorist and philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes published Leviathan in 1651, a work that gave rise to social contract theory. He was an advocate of strong central government, without which, he maintained, life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

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