Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘bonking ban’ is a misplaced attack on consensual sex

Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed “bonking ban”, preventing ministers from having sex with their staff, is a panicked and irresponsible reaction to the scandal that has engulfed Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. And it is part of a broader and misplaced crackdown on sex in workplaces that must be checked. The insanity of puritanical attacks on consensual…

Calls for company tax cuts are part of a fabricated productivity crisis

Big business will invoke any spurious economic rationale to prevent an overhaul of workplace laws John Kenneth Galbraith once noted that “trickle-down economics” was not a recent invention but had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s. The brilliant economist explained that it was referred to as “horse and sparrow theory” by…

The ground is shifting under BHP

In a remarkable development late last year, the world’s biggest miner made the momentous declaration that it would quit the World Coal Association, citing “material differences” on climate and energy policy. Following its months-long internal review, BHP also put the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) on notice, declaring that it would no longer tolerate the…

Regulation is back, after years of neoliberal neglect

Government intervention is back in vogue as the problems of the free market start to pile up. When Peter Costello calls for the nationalisation of superannuation, Rupert Murdoch says Google has too much market power and the Commonwealth Bank urges Canberra to intervene to stimulate wage growth, the game has changed. Government intervention is back…

Integrity – it’s all Greek to the hypocrites of the Right

The original Greek word hypokrites, literally translated, means “impersonating from underneath”. Hypokrites was a stage actor who narrated each drama by impersonating its characters underneath masks and costumes. A pretender. By the early 1700s, hypocrisy had evolved to convey what we now understand by the word: “a person who acts in contradiction to his or…

Wage fraud will continue until politicians stop it. They can – but will they?

The lobbying efforts of powerful business interests have held too much sway in our democracy. A comprehensive rewrite of workplace laws is required. Following yet another wage fraud scandal – this time at restaurant chain, Dainty Sichuan – a recent newspaper editorial contended that, “Further layers of workplace regulation are not the solution to wage…

Tough Rules on Unions have Stifled Australian wages

When Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe recently declared a “wages crisis” following a prolonged period of low wages growth, it appears to have caught the federal government on the hop. Quick to respond to crises about border protection, terrorism and rising energy prices, this is one crisis that renders the government mute. There is no…

Our Politicians Show an Alarming Ignorance of the Separation of Powers

Three Turnbull ministers have expressed regret but refused to apologise for their criticism of terror sentencing when hauled before the Victorian supreme court. Robert Mugabe is not an advocate of the rule of law or an independent judiciary. Neither is Vladimir Putin. In his short presidential career, Donald Trump has attacked judges who have upheld…

Private v public: when parental fear comes up against the research

In the anxious race to get our children ahead of others, the local high school is collateral damage. Neoliberalism might be unravelling, but its legacy lives on. What is more important to your child’s educational achievement: keeping your home stocked with books or tipping $250,000 of your after-tax income per child into the coffers of…

A Saintly Affair

On the day the striking chestnut with a giant stride was beaten a neck by Octagonal in the AJC Derby, I stood in the crowded Ballarat TAB and loudly proclaimed, ‘Octagonal will never beat Saintly again.’ TABs are full of unhappy gamblers swearing and moaning through their wallets. In the main, they are not women.…

The year Australia’s newspapers broke me

In 1893, US publisher Sam McClure established McClure’s Magazine, employing a crack team of writers including Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker and Lincoln Steffens. McClure’s Magazine became famous for its in-depth exposés of the dark underbelly of the US during the ‘Gilded Age’. McClure sent his writers on long, well-funded assignments of up to six…

Disabled workers win $100m fair pay case: a 2016 good news story

Despite the government’s extraordinary attempts to defeat it, intellectually disabled workers have won a claim for about $100m in unpaid wages 2016 has been by any standards, an awful year. A volatile and hateful politics swept through the United States and Europe. Neoliberalism fell over and took the left with it. A who’s who of…