Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘ALP

Liberals are at it again

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This report is actually quite interesting on several fronts.  First is the backpeddling.  Didn’t Abbott vow not to fiddle with industrial relations law because business needed a break from change?

Second is the actual fiddling being considered.  Total revamp of unfair dismissal laws.  Having been an manager responsible for hiring and firing I know that in the past trying to remove an unsatisfactory employee from one’s employment was expensive and difficult.  I don’t know the details right now as these days I’m a very happy technocrat and can happily leave that to others to worry about.

The question of dismissal from employment is always a double edged sword.  Both sides have rights, even if those rights are not reflected in any legislation current at any given time.  I phrase it that way simply because the goal posts keep shifting. 

Surely any employer has a right to decide who should and should not be a member of staff?  On the other hand, employees are entitled to protection against unethical and/or immoral treatment by employers.  How do we balance the needs of both groups and not set up the sort of litigious environment that is depicted by Ms Collier in the article?

We have all heard of situations where employees are terminated a week before their three month trial period ends.  Some employers do this routinely: nothing to do with the actual employee’s merit or lack thereof.  Women terminated or made redundant just because they became pregnant (yes, it still happens).  Fred fired simply because of interpersonal friction. 

Actually, the last is a valid reason, in my personal view.  However, assuming there are not other reasons to terminate Fred, the employer should at least act responsibly and ensure Fred is not impacted negatively (i.e. about to become long-term unemployed).  One thing a workplace needs to be is a pleasant place to spend eight plus hours a day.  We don’t have to love our fellow employees, but at least we should be able to get along with them.  If there is one employee who just doesn’t “fit” and that impacts the whole team or work environment, then it is logical that the employer should be able to resolve that situation with impunity.   And, I venture to suggest, responsibility toward the employee.  After all, the employer made the hiring decision – if the employer got that wrong, that is not the employee’s fault.

If the figures in the article are accurate, I do have to wonder about a 63% increase in unfair dismissal applications.  It indicates something is slightly amiss somewhere.  Or is it a case of something was amiss and correcting that has lead to the increase?  I don’t know the answer, but I agree that as a nation we need to know the answer.

I am not too keen on the “fire at will” principle.  We see it at work in the USA and it doesn’t work too well over there.  Why would it work well here?  A modified version with adequate safeguards might, but what do those safeguards need to be?

This is not something that should be subject to the party line.  There should be a bi-partisan approach to this so Australia can get some industrial relations laws in place that  can stay in place and not change every time there is an election.  We need to stop shifting the goal posts every five minutes.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

No news coverage?

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I stumbled across a bit of legislation yesterday which I haven’t noticed any media coverage of.  When I looked, I managed to find one article, telling me the amendment passed the lower house in May. This surprises me, because the legislation in question gives quite amazing powers to the Minister of the department.  The then minister, Chris Evans, gives assurances in the artcle that he would use the powers judiciously.  He might – what of his successors? Who knows?

Admittedly, this particular department is rather close to my heart at the moment, but what worries me about this is the precedent it sets.  One minute we give such powers to one minister and the next will be?  The Tax Man, perhaps?  The Health Minister?

The actual wording of the amendment also worries me.  Thankfully Protection Visas seem to be excluded from the worst of the provisions, however it would seem that Partner Visas and Family Sponsored visas are not.  I find this totally unacceptable.

Then there is the power for the minister to simply cancel applications.  The effect will be as if the application was never made.  I take this to mean that people can apply under prevailing conditions in good faith, then simply be told, “Sorry, you actually never applied”. 

To start thinking about what other legislation such an approach could be applied to is frightening. 

Where was the media when this was originally being read in the lower house?  Why was there not more coverage? 

1984, here we come.

Yes, we have to manage immigration.  After all, this wide brown land is mostly desert.  It is big, but vast tracts are not exactly inhabitable.  It isn’t managing immigration that bothers me here – it is managing our politicians and how much unfettered power we allow them.

Edit December 5th: It appears the passage of  this piece of legislation got derailed due to the election.  It is hopeful that it is will stay derailed.  However, that does not change my underlying concerns.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 4, 2010 at 8:06 am

Laws or no laws, the numbers are bad

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Children.  Vulnerable, dependant, lovable, cute: they can also be little horrors as any parent knows.  Adults of this world are responsible for ensuring the safety and upbringing of our children.

Today’s edition of The Age carried a story that should make all of us stop and think, irrespective of our voting preferences.  I’m happy to let the politicians argue over our laws: what we do or don’t have and is it enough.  What I DO know is that the numbers in the article are not what we should expect from a civilised country.  “… more than 1000 incidents in 2009-10 that were classified category 1 ...” and “More than 21,100 category 2 incidents were reported – events that seriously threaten clients or staff.”

Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1996 and to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The latter specifically states:

Article 19

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

Australia (not just Victoria) has had some really horrendous cases of child abuse lately.  The field of child protection cannot be an easy field to work in: I expect the stress levels would be quite high.  Clearly from the article in The Age, the staff turnover is very high.

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, Hilary Clinton made famous a Nigerian proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. 

On the numbers given, this village, our village, is clearly failing a great many children.  While we can attempt to protect the children most at risk, to me this is a reactive process.  We have to find a proactive approach at look for the sources of the problems.  Why are so many people placing children in these situations?  What can we do to minimise, if not prevent, this happening?

A while ago I wrote about “Moving Forward” and covered several aspects of the state’s “rules” relating to protecting children and how there seemed on the face of it to be considerable contradiction when looking at the larger picture.  My comments there are also applicable to this entry today.

The best most of us can do is NOT turn a blind eye.  We are members of the village.  It takes a village to raise a child.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 24, 2010 at 10:49 am

We are being profiled?

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Poll Source: The Age http://www.theage.com.au

OK, so it was a busy day for me and I only just got to glance at the paper now – after 1am in the morning.  What am I greeted with?  The news that the two main political parties are profiling voters.  Here is a snippet of the article.

It shows how Labor campaign workers have access to details of private lives of voters, including information people may have intended to share only with the offices of local MPs. Database entries seen by The Age include details of a family’s concern about an East Malvern man’s prostate cancer, a man’s financial problems after he purchased a gaming agency, a Brighton family’s complaint about superannuation payments, and details of a woman’s victims of crime compensation claim.

The major parties have different versions of the software – Electrac for the ALP and Feedback for the Liberals – enabling the creation of detailed, cross-referenced files on constituents.

Now, while I know public servants have access to a lot of personal information: The Health Department knows what operations I’ve had and when I go to the Doctor, the Tax Department knows how much I earn, what I do and where I work (and have worked in the past), the Immigration Department currently know more about me than any government department should know: the list goes on.  The article indicates that the information is not coming from government departments – let us all hope that is definitely the case.

I do not expect that information about me from any source that I have not personally authorised will be available to political party campaigners or to candidates that have not yet been elected.  Even elected ones should not have access to private information in this way.   What is going on here?  The article goes on to quote a constituent:

Sam Waszaj, of Travancore, near Flemington, expressed dismay that his correspondence with a federal minister about Medicare funding for late abortions led to a database entry.

”The minister wrote back to me and said Labor was happy to hear my concerns. But they never said to me, ‘Oh, by the way, we will store this on a big database’,” Mr Waszaj said.

This is what the KGB used to do. Who has access to this information? How will it be used in the future?”

Sam asks some very good questions.  I’d like to know the answers too, as I am sure would a lot of other people.  The poll above indicates 91% of those choosing to participate in the poll did not approve.

On my Personal Site I asked were we really “Moving Forward” to 1984.   After reading this article, I’m seeing us get closer to 1984 every day!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 23, 2010 at 1:37 am