Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Show me the Money!

Al Gore’s confronting environmental documentary, titled ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ had people all around the world shaking their heads, stomping their feet and clenching their fists with rage at the globes projected environmental future. However, it would seem that these horrific scientific truths have now been conveniently placed at the back of the minds of many, including the Australian Governments.

Mr Hollis, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Lloyd Energy Systems, addressed the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry and Resources on the 9th of August 2007. Having not visited the corridors of Parliament House since a school excursion in 1997, I found the ambiance of the public hearing a rather different experience, however, not dissimilar from those images depicted on television. That aside, during my visit to the nations capital, I became very aware of the governments absolute preoccupation and fascination with money, money, money!

During the hearing, Mr Hollis and Mr Higgs gave a presentation to the House about the benefits associated with solar energy. The presentation consisted of a lot of scientific and political jargon, but their key message was simple, solar energy should be the way of the future in Australia if we want a green environment for generations to come. In summary, their main argument was that solar energy is

‘simple. It is scalable. It is very agricultural. It is environmentally friendly: there are no nasties whatsoever; there are no emissions or anything like that, and graphite, the storage medium, is environmentally benign. It suits remote areas. It suits developing countries. And it is very cost competitive in those sorts of applications ...You are looking at a much lower impact on the countryside.’

Surprisingly, it wasn’t Mr Hollis’ and Mr Higgs use of scientific jargon and their somewhat inarticulate presentation that puzzled me the most. Rather, it was the representative’s fixation on money that really got me worried. Australia’s economy must remain strong, but solar energy is a clean, renewable and relatively cost effective source of energy and an environmental and economic avenue, which should be given more attention. The Australian government should consider the use of solar power as a major source of renewable energy more seriously. By increasing the use of solar power through stations such located in Lake Cargellico and Mt Isa, eventually production costs will ease considerably, further endorsing its viability within the Australian market.

With the election looming and the politicians waving around millions of dollars to various social groups, which carry the highest number of potential associated voters, they should consider;

The point of investing millions into creating a great tourism industry in Australia if there will no be longer a pristine environment to view, due the use of present day non-renewable energy resources?

The point of investing millions into the education system, if the government won’t practice the ‘green’ ways, which they pay teachers millions of dollars to preach to vulnerable students.

Finally, what is the point of resurrecting Australia’s health care system if the number of patients will continue to increase due to poor environmental standards that have resulted from irreversible climate damage?
Viewing a hearing made me hear and see with my own eyes the ludicrous nature of the governments political stance on matters of significant importance and made me ponder why I should be made vote at the next election if politicians won’t listen to the needs of a country on the verge of environmental self destruction!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

AWA = Deception

The newly introduced Australian Workplace Agreement Laws are ridiculous. In a country that has worked so hard for fair working conditions, these laws represent not even one step forward and two steps back, they are simply three huge leaps backwards!

The Liberal Government claims that they have introduced these laws, to sustain Australia’s economic growth and prosperity. Well, if this is the case as they say it is, then why don’t we continue with the same workplace laws that have seen the country become so prosperous in the last 11 years as they claim? There is huge retaliation to these laws, as seen by the Government having to introduce advertising campaigns, which are wasting millions of tax payers dollars and are doing nothing to impress the majority of the public.

I must hand it to the members of the Liberal Party, during question time they don’t stray far from their thoroughly recited talking points, often avoiding the question at hand posed by the opposition in an attempt to avoid the truth, and the truth my friends, is ugly. If I wanted an actor to represent the country and recite to me practised lines that read like an infomercial for Proactiv, then I would have campaigned for Hugh Jackman or Russel Crowe to become a politician, not John Howard or Peter Costello.

So, for those of you reading this that are hard-core liberal supporters, reply to my blog candidly, responding as to how the following scenario is justifiable…

A husband and his wife have two children and live in the inner city and are struggling to afford the increasing rent rises and childcare payments. Too combat this, the husband and father of the two children goes to work, Monday to Friday in the city, whilst the wife/mother stays at home and looks after the children. However, the wage supplied by the husband is not enough for the family to live off. So to combat this problem, the wife goes to work as a waitress on the weekend, earning penalty rates for working on the weekend. All is rosy in their world; they can afford to pay the bills. That is, until the new AWAs are introduced and now the wife is required to work on weekends, without receiving penalty rates. Not only this, but if her boss requires her to work on any day of the week, including weekdays and she can’t because of her childcare commitments, her boss can fire her because a) she’s worked there for less than a year and b) because it’s a small business. Where is the justice in this I ask? We should be encouraging mothers and fathers to stay at home and be with their children when they need to be, not firing them because they can’t meet stringent work requirements on short notice.

Not only am I appalled because workers can be fired under such awful AWA conditions, but also because these new laws seem to have widened the gap between men and women. Recent figures show that under these news laws, women in full-time work are earning $100 less than men a week on average and those who conduct part time and casual work are also disadvantaged (Australian Bureau of Statistics). The government seems to be sponsoring an anti feminism movement with these ludicrous conditions now becoming more legal than ever.

The proof that these laws just aren’t valid in a democratic nation, continue to come to the forefront. In 2006 employees at Cowra’s Abattoir in the N.S.W’s central west, were unjustifiably fired and then in the coming weeks, their positions readvertised, but this time, employees would be offered much less money for the same amount of work. How is this fair? Its not and that’s why the fairness test had to be developed.

I don’t know a great deal about politics, but I do know this. The Howard government can apply as much spin to these AWA laws as they like, saying that the laws decrease unemployment rates, see more job opportunities and flexibility in the workplace, but I won’t be agreeing with them. At the end of the day, as an employee myself, I don’t care if there is apparently ‘more flexibility’ in the workplace, what I want is to be assured is that I will still have a job next week if I call in sick today.
Without doubt, I say bring on Rudd and all that he stands for in relation to the AWA at the next election, at least then we can be sure that these crazy new AWAs will be replaced with much more diplomatic Forward with Fairness plans.

Housing Affordability not so affordable

In the C21st housing affordability is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Buying a house in a major capital city is unimaginable for a considerable percentage of the Australian population and, as reported in the media today, rent is skyrocketing all around the country, especially in Perth and Sydney.

With the election drawing nearer, it’s quite entertaining to watch the two major parties, Labour and Liberal, playing the blame game during question time.

In the Blue Corner, we have Mr. Howard and he’s party informing us all, that since they have been in office, unemployment rates are at the lowest they’ve been in 30 years, which greatly assists the majority of Australians with housing affordability. Without employment, Liberal states that individuals cannot be granted a mortgage. The Liberal government basis its main argument for housing affordability on the lowered inflation, interest and unemployment rates that have come into play since Liberals have been in office. The Government believes that housing affordability is a chain reaction; as additional people are earning wages through increased employment, the economy becomes stronger, which results in supply and demand pressures increasing raw housing prices, which the Government believes to be unfortunate but also unavoidable due to Labours present stance. During question time, Costello likes to play the blame game when asked about housing affordability and supply and demand pressures. Costello insists that (specifically in the state of N.S.W) it is not the fault of the federal government of the day that supply pressures have increased, but rather the consequence of the Labour State Government, who refuse to release extra land, to help ease increasing house prices.

Now lets focus our attention on the Red Corner, with the Labour Government up in arms about the state of housing affordability in Australia, believing that it is a very prominent issue in the minds of many Australians. The Labour Party proposes to do much more than the present government when it comes to housing affordability, promising that if they are elected, they will introduce a Housing Affordability Fund, which will assist up to 50, 000 new home buyers over the next five years.

From my perspective, wouldn’t it be a fabulous idea (and perhaps it is a somewhat idealistic view) to combine these two parties proposals. Whoever the next Government of the day is, should make a conscience and continued effort to keep inflation, interest and unemployment rates down, but also consider releasing some extra state owned land to accommodate the supply and demand pressures and the current housing boom. Additionally, to implement Labours Housing Affordability Fund would greatly assist many Australians get the head start that so many of them need to initially break into the market. To do this would certainly ease the financial pressures of many Australian families, who are currently on average spending $1 out of every $3 earned on mortgage repayments. Finally, any policies introduced by the government that would help to decrease the huge rising rent costs around the country, which have come as a result of Generation Y growing up and wanting to spread their wings in the inner city rental market instead of owning a home in the suburbs, would be of huge benefit to the entire nations economy!

It is my hope, that regardless of which party is elected in the coming months, red or blue, Labour or Liberal, that we don’t see the great Australian Home Owning Dream diminish, due to clumsy housing affordability policies.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Questionable question time!

As a relative new comer to the world of federal politics, I was amazed at the barbaric behaviour, which our state and federal politicians continually display during Question Time. I find it ironic that the way in which these representatives conduct themselves in full view of the public is acceptable, when such behaviour would not and should not be tolerated by any primary school teacher within the confines of their classroom.

Question time is, if I’m lead to believe correctly, an opportunity for the government of the day to be held accountable for the state of the nation and also an opportunity for them to showcase those policies, which have contributed to the positive development of the country. Again, I find question time to be a state of contradictions, as how can we trust these representatives, to represent our best interests and govern our individual rights, if opposing parties cannot refrain from making derogatory, inappropriate and sometimes irrelevant personal remarks to one another during a time of supposed work?

Question Time should serve as an opportunity for the public to witness Federal politics in its natural form, unaffected by journalists’ political bias, in an attempt to make the government more transparent and certainly more accountable for those decisions, which directly affect the state of our nation. However, I think that the true essence of Question Time is being lost in the (predominantly testosterone driven) personal banter, which serves no real purpose, except for perhaps making the proceedings slightly more enjoyable for the concerned stakeholders and viewing publics. That aside, if I wanted an entertaining program to subject myself to, I’d go the movies or socialise with friends, so polies, let’s just keep question time for politics and banter for the local hotel or even media conferences.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A whole new beginning!

Hi All,

Welcome to a page filled with all my tantalising thoughts on titilating and topical Public Relations occurences. I'm new to all this, so please, bare with me while I find my way around this world of ( in my experience, chaotic and potentially catastrophic) digital technology!

Cheers, Heels