Blogs > This Working Life blog > February 2013 > Abbott licking his lips at Newman’s entree
We can learn a great deal about Tony Abbott's 'vision' for Australian public services from Campbell Newman's agenda in Queensland. But workers aren't taking it lying down, with major rallies going ahead across the state tomorrow.
by John Battams
President of the Queensland Council of Unions
QUEENSLAND is currently at the centre of a seismic shift in how governments treat public sector workers and how they deliver services.
On 24 March 2012 the Queensland state election resulted in a landslide victory for Campbell Newman and the Liberal National Party.
Almost immediately the Newman Government declared a “financial crisis” and commissioned former federal Treasurer Peter Costello to produce a now-discredited review of the state’s finances.
The first phase of the Costello Review, unsurprisingly, recommended a major attack on public sector spending to alleviate the debt crisis that Queensland was said to be facing. Further cuts and privatisations are mooted in Costello’s final report.
Costello’s sham review conveniently afforded Newman an excuse to break sincere promises made before the election. Pre-election he pledged public servants had “nothing to fear” from a Newman government. Post-election he announced Queensland had “20,000 too many public servants ” and he would need a “pooper scooper” to clean up.
Pre-election he promised to seek an electoral mandate before privatisations and asset sales. Post-election outsourcing of government services continues apace.
To date the LNP has announced 14,000 public sector redundancies, cuts to community funding and training programs, and removal of job security for public servants. Aged care homes and hospitals are being closed or plumped for sale. With no upper house to dilute any legislative excess, the LNP has used its huge majority to simply trample any opposing voice in Parliament.
Queensland’s union movement is responding to the unprecedented attack served up to public sector workers and services.
A combined union campaign – Stand for Queensland – is standing up against the Newman government.
Union delegates from across Queensland participated in a ground-breaking statewide webcast in August 2012, resolving to fight the Newman government’s agenda to slash jobs and services. Days later, thousands of community members and workers joined together in protest events around the state.
Action continues through numerous community rallies and events, an online campaign to protect and preserve workers’ compensation, legal action against legislation stripping away working rights, as well as submissions to Senate inquiries into industrial relations.
This concerted campaign has impacted on the electoral rating of Newman’s LNP government, with the Premier’s approval rating freefalling to just 38% within months.
This plunge in support corresponds to the state’s unemployment rate, which jumped to more than 6% in the first few months of LNP rule, and has stubbornly remained mainland Australia’s highest jobless rate ever since.
Disturbingly, Newman’s LNP menu of redundancies, service cuts, privatisations and cuts to working rights is the entrée for the main meal Tony Abbott is preparing for the rest of Australia.
He’s salivating at the thought of Newman’s blueprint. In August 2012 he commended Newman’s job cuts and admitted to plans for a “slimmer” federal public sector if he were elected.
It’s clear Queensland is pivotal to September’s federal election, with more than a dozen seats open to change hands.
The ACTU, working with the Queensland Council of Unions and state affiliates, has been active in identifying issues that will resonate with union members and voters in these seats.
There will be much hard work in the coming months to connect Tony Abbott’s ‘vision’ for Australia to the chaotic Newman agenda currently destroying jobs and services in Queensland.
TAKE ACTION: if you're in Queensland, you can show your support for public services and the people who provide them at rallies today. Go here for details.
Posted by ACTUadmin on 26/02/2013 3:37:00 PM
Filed under: jobs, John-Battams, public-sector, public-services, QCU, Queensland, secure-jobs, Tony-Abbott, Campbell-Newman
I wish I could stand with you brothers and sisters. Am sending all my support from Townsville. xoxox. This behavour from Newman is sooooo American I can not believe it. And we all know what a shit country that is for workers to live in.
I wish I could be along side of you also brothers and sisters. We need to get as many people out there tomorrow as possible and show them we all stand for Queensland and NEED our jobs.
WE NEE OUR JOBS AND AGED CARE FACILITIES...
A good friend had cancer surgery followed up with radiation. He was send home from hospital early with many other patients as they have staff cuts.
It is not just the Newman Government that is attacking the public service and state owned assets. It is being aided and abetted in shaping public opinion by the Murdoch media that has a virtual monopoly of the main sources of 'news' in Queensland. It even publishes its own opinion polls that show how well its propaganda machine is doing - and this is confirmed by other 'independent' polls!You cannot read or listen to a single news item without it being editorilised to give an anti Labor or anti union slant with the exception of a couple of items attacking dodgy dealings by a couple of Qld ministers and LNP supporters given cushy government jobs. With a majority the size of Newman's losing a couple of ministers or party hacks from the government isn't going to make an iota of difference but it gives the media the charade of being 'unbiased' while relentessely denegrating federal labor and keeping the Kevin Rudd pot boiling.Even when the Prime Minister was annoucing massively increased federal funding for health and education the media gave prominence to Newman's bleating and crying poor rather than his intransigence in not co-operating with the federal government to enable the benefits to flow through to Queenslanders.The expected flogging of remaining State assets has just been mooted by Costello in his so called 'independant' report and while Newman swears that he will not implement any of this until given the OK at the next State election he is still racing ahead with preparing the ground for a 'smooth transition' from public to private ownership by ruthless 'effeciencies' (read cuts) to those services and the employees providing them.A LNP minister even had the brass front to tell his employees "Either get on board the (reform) train or get run over by it"!! So much for meaningful consultation as required by the workplace relations Act! Newmans 'reforms' are already backed up by vicious anti union legislation that if it is applied will make workchoices look benign. The chances are Newman will be itching to use this to political advantage during the federal election camapign.There is no doubt that what is happening in Queensland today will descend in buckets on the rest of Australia if Abbott and Co are elected in September. And believe me the Media has been working flat out to achieve a Liberal victory with its distortions,selective reporting and snide comments by so called unbiased reporters. The lesson here is that Labor and the Unions CANNOT RELY ON THE MEDIA TO SELL OUR MESSAGE. WE have to go back to one on one talking in the workplace, in clubs and other area of common interaction. Challenge those who say Labor is a poor government. If that opinion is based on what they read or hear in the media show them how little of what we hear and read is honest and 'straight' reporting rather than the opinion of the media owner being imparted by the writer or reporter - who after all needs the job!
Cassandra, you'll be pleased to know that the ACTU is about to change all that. The blog you are now reading has just been relaunched as a standalone website at www.workinglife.org.au. This will become an alternative news site for unions, just as you suggest. It won't be a substitute for going into workplaces and pubs and clubs and talking about our issues, but it is another way to reach out to the community and tell them our positive stories. We hope you'll enjoy it and be just as prolific a commenter on the new site.
The biggest problem Australia has is the negativity in their reporting,it is obvious they put circulation beforethe welfare and prosperity of Australia,at this time we need more than anything, confidence,this will never happen with the media we have,their preoccupation with installing Abbott as Prime Minister is an indication of their motive,heaven help us all.
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