Monthly Archives: May 2008

Union Alert

This is a round-up of recent union disputes from the local press and other sources.

While the prospect for worker organisation is limited, however, out of the contradiction of master and servant (boss/worker) comes conflict.

When workers take action to advance their own interests, there is an opportunity to link with other workers engaged in similar industrial disputes.

We argue that as the political nature of workers’ struggle emerges there is a need for new structures or organisation to take workers out of the bureaucratic framework that confines unions today.

A new possibility may be realised — workers’ political organisation.

From After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet ,
Chapter 5: Arise ye workers from ye slumbers — New direction for unions

Teachers Alliance
“New Pay Deal Great or Very Bad?! On Friday, May 2, Teachers Alliance
Councillors voted against calling off the stopwork action and agreeing
to the pay deal …”


VOTE NO to the Proposed EBA

“19 May 2008 … 1. …”
13% over 4 years not 3
clip_image002 “Teachers Alliance No change to conditions –
not good enough. Two key campaign demands were encapsulated in our
campaign slogans …”

Qantas managers step in for striking engineers
Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
“I don’t call anyone a strike-breaker … the union has every right to call a strike. “We have every right to resist it and every right to use everything

Qantas won’t bow to striking engineers
Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
Previous reports that Qantas would bring overseas workers back to Australia in a strike-breaking arrangement would be a “provocation to fair dinkum working

Qantas pleased engineers’ industrial action cancelled
ABC Online – Australia
Both the union and the company appeared deadlocked this morning, with Mr Dixon saying a 5 per cent rise sought by engineers would be too costly.

Boeing strike flies into its third week
The Age – Melbourne,Victoria,Australia
But union officials said that while Australians voted against WorkChoices at last year’s federal election, the legal framework was largely intact.

Qantas baggage staff may continue strike
The Age – Melbourne,Victoria,Australia
The action is linked to workers’ concerns about staffing levels, rosters and old and badly maintained equipment, Transport Workers Union (TWU) federal

Labor maintains spirit of AWAs
The Canberra Times – Canberra,Australian Capital Territory,Australia
Labor also proposes limiting union access to workplaces, limiting the right to strike, the introduction of flexibility arrangements in awards, and allowing

Australian PM marks first 100 days as Murdoch demands “stiff dose
World Socialist Web Site – Oak Park,MI,USA
But the “sacrifices” were extracted from the working class by force, with the trade union bureaucrats acting as industrial policemen, suppressing and

Our Rights at Work Need Fighting For

by Rob Durbridge

It is common ground on all sides of politics that the union campaign against Work Choices played a big part in the defeat of the Howard Government. But the Rudd Government has no intention of returning the favour by restoring the pre-Howard industrial relations system. This is not to underestimate the significance of the abolition of AWAs and the crisis this has caused in the Coalition after it followed extreme anti-union policies promoted by the Right over many years. But it is clear that the campaign to restore rights at work will not occur under the first Rudd government.

Politics and class power are always at the core of industrial relations policy, perhaps more so than in any other area. The Coalition under Howard failed to win public support for a reactionary policy to eliminate unions and the arbitration system, both institutions providing workers with rights and means to enforce them. Now, like the Blair Government, the ALP views unions as legitimate players but as just one player among many; there is little acceptance of the role of the ALP as a partner, political advocate or representative of working people.

Contrast this to the traditional ALP view that unions provide a necessary balance to the power of the employer in the workplace and society, and that the arbitration system exists to give unions rights to represent and organise workers and to make awards to protect rights and standards.

The new government is demonstrably spooked by the media campaign against union influence, but more than that, unions seem to be expected to leave industrial relations to the politicians and confine their activities to the workplace. Contrast Barack Obama’s words in his book “The Audacity of Hope” that he doesn’t feel corrupted that he owes a debt to health care workers and teachers. “I got into politics to fight for these folks, and I’m glad a union is around to remind me of their struggles.” Statements like that would require a “chat” in the ALP leaders’ office today!

Modern Labor seems to regard unions as organisations to be consulted, but not as a partner. Four business groups and the ACTU meet with government in the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council, an initiative of Peter Reith. Despite ACTU attempts to revive the Accord-era Australian Labor Advisory Committee (ALAC) which involved direct meetings between the ACTU and Ministers, this appears to be sidelined or dead. Compared to the Accord era, widely criticised as causing union decline, unions will be more remote from government than they were at that time. This could be a good thing for the union movement if it has the capacity to pursue its objectives and to win gains for members.

The ‘Policy Implementation Plan’ on IR

When the ALP released its Policy Implementation Plan (PIP) in August 2007, it was a signal to business, especially the mining industry, that the ALP was henceforth to take a New Labour approach as in the UK, not that traditionally taken by the ALP or its policies. The PIP

was not the product of an agreement with the ACTU or major unions, neither was it discussed by the ALP Conference. At the time the ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence told unions there was ‘no deal, public or private’ about its content.

Ending AWAs and restoring bargaining rights are tremendously important but the political shift the PIP makes away from the ALP’s Conference policy “Forward With Fairness” has profound consequences. As politics it was brilliant. It created a crisis for the Coalition which remains to this day. Allowing the Transition Bill to pass without opposition from the Coalition is a political coup for Minister Gillard which challenges the very identity of the Coalition. The irony is that when Prime Minister Rudd asks, “What does the Coalition stand for?” the question challenges his government as well.

It seems that the Rudd-Gillard team concluded that to win they would need to assure employers that they would have industrial relations policies acceptable to global corporations and which would pose no threat to investment and profits. The total package of measures to be introduced through the Transition Act, National Employment Standards and the substantive Act contain elements of the systems in the US, UK and Europe. It is a policy acceptable to the global market, not the system which distinguished Australian industrial relations for a century.

Rudd and Gillard prior to the election talked about the difficulty of defeating incumbents to justify policy retreats. Now they repeat a mantra of ‘political realities,’ and ‘we cannot recreate the past,’ to justify the shift. Thus far in the early days the strategy has been politically triumphant. Just how it will unfold as unions face the fact that restrictions on bargaining and campaigning, including to the right to strike, remain in place will be interesting. Unlike the U.S., bipartisan politics will not sit as easily in Australia where unions take working class culture and interests more seriously.

How should unions build the campaign for rights at work?

As ever, workplace organisation and campaigning will be decisive. The first priority is to understand the ALP policy. Unions and their members showed rare unity and co-ordination in the campaign to defeat Work Choices. Now we need to assert our rights at work in the development of the new industrial relations system. If the new system does not meet the need for balance, independence and justice in its dealings then it will be rejected and discredited. Rights to organise effectively, to bargain, to make collective agreements, to take industrial action and to have access to an independent tribunal are as strongly held by workers in Australia as they are around the world. If they are not achieved under the first Rudd Government the union movement must pursue them while ensuring that the government is returned. Without a strong union movement not only workers rights are under threat but wider social justice and democracy will also be at risk.

In reforming the industrial relations system Minister Julia Gillard provides clear priorities…to ensure that productivity is enhanced and inflation is controlled while giving unions the ability to bargain collectively above a safety net of national employment standards and modern awards. While this sounds familiar territory, the realities are somewhat different and often hidden in jurisdictional and legislative technicalities. It’s important that the political and industrial essence of this is understood because the changes are coming thick and fast.

The National Employment Standards (NES) were open for submissions until April 4. But some of the National Employment Standards are not standards nor do we know how they will be enforced. A standard requires transparency and measurability. But the Flexible Work NES deliberately does not define the ‘business grounds’ on which an employer can ‘reasonably’ refuse an application for fear of limiting the employers’ options! Neither does it provide recourse in the event of unreasonable refusal. What is the point of a standard if it does not give rise to an entitlement or a right?

One ‘standard’ entitles workers to information about the industrial relations system in general. At best the NES represents a missed opportunity to truly provide a set of minimum standards for all Australian workers, at worst it makes a mockery of the government’s intention to return employment rights removed by ‘Work Choices.’

Flexibility Clauses: Individual Contracts under Common Law

While the ALP has called an end to new AWAs, allowing Transitional Employment Agreements above a safety net to continue until 2013, the pressure for individual employment contracts continues. Owing to pressure from the mining industry, individual common law contracts will be encouraged by requiring all awards and agreements to contain ‘flexibility’ clauses for majority and individual agreements which vary the collective instrument.

Flexibility agreements will be underpinned by a ‘no-disadvantage to the employee’ requirement, but studies of these requirements do not inspire confidence and to be effective require the maintenance of relevant employment standards in awards. At present there are no proposals on the table for the variation of Modern Awards which are created by a request from the Minister. Unless Modern Awards and the National Employment Standards can be varied to improve relevant standards the union bargaining sector will be surrounded non-union employment areas where minimum standards will sink relatively, putting pressure on the organised sector.

Making and maintaining awards at relevant standards is critical. John Buchanan, Director of the Workplace Research Centre at Sydney University told the Senate Inquiry into the Bill,

When you are talking about award modernisation you should be looking at instituting a process that can allow the awards to maintain their relevance to a constantly changing setting. When you read the bill you get a very strong impression that award modernisation is going to be finished by 31 December 2009. I think that is an erroneous way of thinking about the process. What you want to set in train is a process whereby the awards can be streamlined and also a process by which they can be adapted to a rapidly changing labour market.’

‘Modern Awards’

Employers are particularly fighting any return of the conciliation and arbitration system which prevailed in the 20th century and which gave Australian employees more rights and equity than in most comparable countries. That’s why the system became a target for the HR Nicholls society and its ilk. Industrial awards which were made in settlement of industrial disputes gave unions a role as parties which will not be recreated in the new system. In the new system ‘Modern Awards’ will be created and administered by a tribunal established under the Corporations Power of the Constitution, (s xx).

As Professor Ron McCallum has argued, the implications of this are far reaching and that “laws based upon the corporations power (alone) will be centred around corporations to the detriment of flesh and blood persons who interact with corporations.” If allowed to prevail exclusively, employment law based on the Corporations Power, will henceforth revolve around the rights, obligations and interests of corporations rather than the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes involving unions and employers as parties. The motives of employers in wanting to exclude the dispute settlement power S51 (xxxv) is transparent in the light of that view.

In finding the Work Choices laws unconstitutional in his dissenting judgement in the states’ challenge case, Justice Kirby in the High Court said of the conciliation and arbitration power:

The applicable grant of power imported a safeguard, restriction or qualification protective of all those involved in collective industrial bargaining: employer and worker alike. It provided an ultimate constitutional guarantee of fairness and reasonableness in the operation of the federal law with respect to industrial disputes, including for the economically weak and vulnerable. It afforded machinery that was specific to the concerns of the parties, relatively decentralised in operation and focused on the public interest in a way that laws with respect to constitutional corporations made in the Federal Parliament need not be. These values profoundly influenced the nature and aspirations of Australian society, deriving as they did from a deep-seated constitutional prescription. They should not be swept aside lightly by this Court. Doing so would renounce an important part of the nation’s institutional history and the egalitarian and idealistic values that such history has reinforced in the field of industrial disputes and employment standards because of the constitutional prescription. (p 207 of the High Court judgement in Work Choices, November 2006.)

The Federal ALP appears determined to enact the substantive reform bill on the basis of the Corporations Power…whether exclusively or not remains to be seen, but the ‘applicable grant of power’ to which Justice Kirby refers is evidently to be sidelined.

‘Corporations’ was also the power which the High Court found could give the Work Choices laws supremacy over state industrial authorities in the corporate sector. Unless Fair Work Australia is established under legislation which gives it independence and the capacity to determine disputes on the basis of merit it will be a political construct which will be short-lived in the future should the Federal government change. The Federal government should base the new laws on comprehensive powers which will ensure that ILO conventions are reflected and which ensure and independent tribunal to deal with disputes by conciliation and arbitration.

The conciliation and arbitration system which was introduced in 1904 and lasted until the end of the century was a product of Labor policy and the need to regulate employment in the interests of society. It was an ‘historic compromise’ in which unions were subjected to laws requiring rules of behaviour in return for a place in the system to ensure equitable and fair standards of employment. The system was not perfect and always operated in tandem with the labour market and the determination and campaigning of the parties to disputes. Unions could win new standards and conditions; employers could win where unions were reliant on the system rather than rank and file action.

But the new ALP policy means that unions will not regain the capacity to organise which they had pre-Howard. Union right of entry to workplaces will still be restricted and restrictions on industrial action will remain. In the building and construction industry draconian laws remain until 2010 and may be continued longer. Industry-wide campaigns remain a key target for employers in drafting the new laws…unions are expected to bargain individually with multiple employers who work together against unions through industry associations. The ALP has promised to ensure that bargaining will not occur across industries. But industry campaigns have been a key organising principle of union since day one; restrictions on industrial action and the content of agreements are designed to limit union organising.

Whether the ‘national system’ which the Rudd-Gillard government wants to create will go beyond the private sector depends on agreement with state governments. This looks difficult as the Federal Minister resists any agreement on referral of state powers as recommended by Professor George Williams in a report to the NSW government. Should referral occur on a general basis, as happened in Victoria, the state systems of industrial relations will be abolished. A number of state industrial systems currently provide rights to workers and unions which are superior to those proposed for the national system, so difficult negotiations or a stand-off are likely.

published in the
journal Australian Options no 53 2008.

Subs are $20 per year.PO Box 431 SA 5034.

Protest Rally against the proposed Traveston Dam

Don't Murray the Mary ITS TIME TO RALLY!!

Why is a Protest Rally against the proposed Traveston Dam desperately important RIGHT NOW?

· The Federal Govt is about to receive the Qld Govt’s Environmental Impact Statement for its review under the EPBC Act.

· The Qld Labor Party is holding its State Convention at the Gold Coast Convention Centre on June 21,22. Kevin “I’m here to help” Rudd will be there.

We will assemble at Cascade Gardens Broadbeach to march at 11.00am

Don’t Murray the Mary!!

Have picnic in the park, or hit Jupiters afterwards!!!

Make it a day out with friends – our bus or your own carload!!

Further details ring Rally Organisers John Porter … 54855255, 0427476488, Lyndall Ensbey 54843697, 0427167329, Kent Hutton 54828830, 0409064885, or Kandanga Info Centre 54884800.



  1. Brisbane and SEQ want (and are entitled to) the cheapest source of 100% reliable water.
  2. The politicians must provide it in a way that is environmentally and economically responsible.
  3. There is an overwhelming body of evidence that, along with present storages, the demand for water can be met from non-rainfall dependent methods such as desalination using renewable energy sources, combined with water saving methods such as storm water harvesting, recycling of waste water, responsible water usage from household and industry, and installation of water saving devices.

A dam approved at Traveston Crossing, even with conditions, however strictly phrased or enforced, fails these requirements. It destroys productive farmland, unique animal species, fisheries, AND COSTS MORE!

Just one desalination plant can provide the water that the Qld Govt say they will take from the Mary. It will cost less, it will be 100% reliable, and it will pose no threat to the Lungfish, Mary River Turtle, or to the rare and endangered species of the Great Sandy Straits.

This plant can be powered from renewable energy sources. WA currently has a desal plant powered by a wind farm.

Otherwise Qld converts this beautiful productive working river into the mess that is the Murray.

This alternative is unthinkable. Why would you do it when it is not even necessary?

If a forward thinking Govt, Federal or State, reviews Peter Beattie’s hasty decision they will reverse it!

Don’t Murray the Mary!

Prime Minister Rudd must help Qld out here. Let’s tell him at the Labor Convention.

Stand with the Save the Mary River Coordinating Group on June 21. …

The empire’s new clothes — CD Launch


You are cordially invited to the launch of Phil Monsour’s new album the empire’s new clothes .

7.00 pm

Saturday, 24 May 2008

AHIMSA HOUSE, West End (near the West End Primary School)

All proceeds go to the besieged Gaza strip through Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA’s Gaza Emergency Appeal

In the spirit of the songs on the CD the launch will be a fund raising dinner for Union Aid Abroad APHEDA to assist people in the besieged Gaza strip.

Information about the new CD and the launch is available at You can listen to edited extracts of the songs and also purchase the CD online if you are unable to make it to the event.

The musicians who performed on the recording will also be playing on the night.

Please join us for a night of music and solidarity.

Bookings are essential as seats are limited please contact Jeff on 0421637172

Phil Monsour



Launch of the new CD “the empire’s new clothes” from Phil Monsour and fund raiser to break the siege of gaza.

CD launch and Dinner Fundraiser

Union Report from Fremantle

Joe’s back in the spotlight

Joe McDonald storming building siteMeeting in Fremantle of unionists went well. Ten people there. I’ll be able to tell you more when I get a chance to look at my notes.

Essentially, the focus should be on the ABCC and explaining why this is a civil rights issue to the wider community i.e. it’s rather secret police powers.

I don’t see how Labor is going to be axing the ABCC until 2010 and in fact, they’ve increased its budget…see the recent budget statement.

Julia Gillard is responsible for appointing the head of the ABCC; but appointments are for five years and the last appointment was in 2005.

So, you’ve got a Howard cronie in there, policing workers with an increased budget.

We need to put public pressure on MPs, asking them how they stand on the abuses of power exercised by the ABCC, then publicise their answers or non answers vis a vis support for the ABCC.

FW from the ETU spoke of how much more difficult it is now dealing with employers.

Seems that they’re playing by the rules more than before…kind of ‘work to rule’ in reverse, causing union delegates lots of lost time.

The employing class has also been coming up with some sneaky ways of reformulating ‘work choices’ by having workers sign something called, “green…blah, blah” agreements.

Once signed, this keeps union organizers legally out of the work place.

More later…


Joe’s back in the spotlight
Article from: AAP Billy Rule
May 17, 2008 05:00pm,21598,23715245-5017005,00.html

THIS is the footage Joe McDonald wants people to see as proof he is still at large.

And to match the pictures of him illegally storming a Perth building site, the renegade unionist also verbals the Labor Government, accusing Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard of selling out the unions to win power.

He then baits the Prime Minister by saying:

“I don’t even think about him, but he must go to bed thinking about me sometimes.”

The defiant footage of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union assistant secretary will be screened tonight on 60 Minutes in an interview with former The Sunday Times columnist Liam Bartlett .

But The Sunday Times can reveal that Mr McDonald may be in more trouble, because the builder he berates, Gerry Hanssen, has lodged a complaint of trespass against Mr McDonald and his union colleagues to the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Mr McDonald lost his state and federal permits several years ago for inappropriate behaviour, which included bullying and aggression. His actions gained further notoriety last year after video footage surfaced of him calling a builder a “thieving, parasite dog”.

The ABCC wants him banned for a further three years and tonight’s images on Channel 9 are sure to draw more anger from the powerful industry watchdog.

When asked about his tactics of storming building sites, Mr McDonald said

“bad laws should be broken”. “I’m definitely not going to hang my head in shame and if the biggest crime I commit is to walk through the gates of a building site to better the lot of the people I represent I’m going to continue to do it,” he said. But some of his most vitriolic comments are aimed at the Federal Government and his expulsion from the Labor Party by Mr Rudd.

When asked if he thinks Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard have sold him out, he replies:

“Absolutely, absolutely. “They would have done anything to get where they are and … I mean the magnitude of the treachery still stuns me.”

60 Minutes executive producer Hamish Thompson believes viewers will be split when it comes to judging Mr McDonald’s motives.

“The opinions of people in here who have seen the screenings so far have been split 50-50,” he said. “Some have said `he may be a ratbag, but good on him … at least he’s standing up for workers’.”

The Fight for Aboriginal Self-determination

pearson leaflet1

Why aren’t we letting skilled asylum seekers work?

Margaret Simons writes:

Amid all the hoopla about the skilled migration program and the Budget, another significant story has been buried.

The Rudd Government has delivered on its promise to abolish the Temporary Protection Visa system, under which asylum seekers found to be refugees were denied access to unemployment benefits, pensions and English lessons.

There are also small increases in humanitarian refugee intake quotas – an extra 500 paces for Iraqis in 2008/09 and 750 extra general humanitarian places in 2009-2010. See the budget figuring and explanations here.

Refugee advocate groups are applauding these changes – but otherwise remain p-ssed off with the new Government for failing to give asylum seekers the right to work while their applications are processed.

Research published last year suggests that seven out of ten asylum seekers who are already here have skills on the Government’s most wanted list – yet they are denied the right to work while awaiting the processing of their applications. Meanwhile, the Budget allocates $1.3 million to bringing an extra 37,500 skilled migrants into the country.

The research, by Melbourne University doctoral candidate Gwilym Croucher and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre co-ordinator Sophie Dutertre, involved a survey of 211 work rights and Medicare ineligible asylum seekers in NSW and Victoria in 2005.

The survey found that three quarters had occupations on the list for the General Skilled Migration Program. They included engineers, teachers, tailors, social workers, computer programmers and agricultural scientists. 45% of those with occupations on the list had skills in high demand. They included accountants, chefs, electricians, hairdressers, nurses and dentists.

43% of those surveyed had professional qualifications, and 27% were in the process of getting a Bachelor degree or higher. A third held trade qualifications. Most of those surveyed said they were willing to work in rural and regional areas.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre estimates that up to 3,000 adult work-age asylum seekers are presently prohibited from working. If the surveyed group is representative, Croucher calculates that asylum seekers presently dependent on charity for basic support could add a potential $188 million to the economy.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis has described the result as “absurd”.

The reason, historically, is part of the package of legislation aimed at deterrence of unauthorised arrivals, together with quieting fears that refugees might take jobs from Australians.

On the other hand, other recent research by Monash University demographer Bob Birrell has suggested that skilled migrants don’t land jobs that match their qualifications because of their poor English.

Just a few weeks ago, Birrell called on the government to halt the skilled migration program and to focus on spending to give migrants already in Australia the language skills they need to impress employers.

Doubtless the same concerns would apply to skilled asylum seekers, which means it may be doubly good that TPV holders will now be able to access English lessons.

But the two sets of research together do seem to raise some questions about why the overall program is being managed as it is.

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Pamela Curr
Campaign Coordinator
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre ASRC
12 Batman St
West Melbourne 3003
ph 03 93266066 fax 03 93265199

Fix our Refugee System
•	End Temporary Protection Visas
•	Right to Work for All
•	End Mandatory Detention

NOT so Clean Energy Act

Neanderthal Solar Policy in Sunshine State

NOT so Clean Energy Act –

Why the Solar Bonus Scheme will not work and Solutions

At 10pm on 14 May, 2008, after the Queensland Government gagged debate, the “Clean Energy Act” was passed in State Parliament. Part of this act was a scheme to introduce a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) systems mounted on homes and businesses. The scheme’s goals are described in the Department of Mines and Energy (DME) ‘Solar Bonus Scheme’ brochure as:

· To make solar power more affordable for Queenslanders

· To stimulate the solar power industry

Under this scheme, homes or businesses who install a solar electric system would be paid for power exported (fed to) the electricity grid during the day when the output of their solar system exceeds the power demand in their home or business. The payment rate is 44cents per kilowatt.hour (a unit of electrical energy written kWh). This rate is about 3 times the rated home owners and commerce purchase electricity at. So the scheme appeared attractive. This is called an import–export FiT

However, a group of sustainable energy industry experts and researchers had demonstrated in a meeting with the Department of Mines and Energy Minister, Hon. Geoff Wilson, that the goals of the scheme would not be achieved with the current import–export FiT arrangement.

We had requested in this meeting that the State Government implement a Sunshine State Gross FiT that would provide a strong financial incentive to encourage investment in PV systems. The Sunshine State Gross FiT should be:

· Based on metering that metering that allows both household demand and PV generation to be fully measured.

· Paid at 60c/kWh for all PV generation to give a low payback period.

· Valid for 20 years.

· Indexed for inflation.

· Available to all electricity customers.

We outlined that the FiT amount must reflect the true value of PV generation to the electricity network and to society in general for the following reasons:

· No polluting emissions during generation, including greenhouse gas emissions.

· No water required for generation.

· Power produced at peak demand times of the day, hence offsetting expensive power generation whose full costs of supply exceed $1/kWh 20% of peak periods (mostly mid-afternoon now).

· Does not attract trading and network charges for energy retailers.

· Saves infrastructure upgrade costs for the electricity industry such as local transmissions wires and transformers.

· Reduces energy transmission losses by producing power locally.

· Stimulates the solar PV industry and creates jobs.

· Saves land / infrastructure costs as it uses existing roof space / infrastructure wires etc

· Provides inflation free, stable power price into the future.

The importexport FiT scheme as passed in the Act has the following limitations:

· It will deliver no financial benefits to the vast majority of home owners because it is only paid on electricity that goes to the grid (generation minus consumption). Our computer modelling shows that the average household power consumption during the daytime (based on DME Solar Bonus Scheme Brochure – 27.4 kWh/day) is more than the PV power output. Hence the average household will receive no payment under the import–export FiT scheme (see Figure 1) at the rate of 44c/kWh. They typically would only save about $230 per year off their electricity bill because they only receive payment for the energy saved at the rate of 15.5c/kWh.

· It is inequitable because people who live and work at home during the day will have a higher daylight electricity demand and use a large proportion, if not all, of the energy produced by their PV system. Only those who leave their home daily and do not use the energy produced by their PV system will be credited with a FiT payment. Accordingly, households that have made equal investments in PV systems will be rewarded differently, depending on their living circumstances.

· It is only paid on electricity that goes to the grid (generation minus consumption). This does not recognise that all electricity generated by PV systems contributes to the grid by removing the need to generate and transmit power from other sources. Every kilowatt.hour (kWh) of PV generation delivers identical benefits, whether that power is consumed by the household generating the power or by another household in the electricity grid (see Figure 2).

· The Solar Bonus Scheme requires import–export metering. Under this scheme, the generation from the PV system and consumption by the household will not be be individually metered unless expensive new digital meters that can measure all three power flows are installed. If inappropriate metering is installed, the Queensland Government will not be able to determine the greenhouse gas reductions from PV generation or from energy efficiency measures in the home that contribute towards Australia meeting its Kyoto target (see Figure 3a and 3b).

· The proposed metering scheme may no longer give home owners feedback on their own consumption or on the performance of their PV system, depending on the metering arrangement and information to home owners on their bills. This will discourage energy saving measures and not allow home owners to check their PV systems operation.

· The scheme is limited to domestic and other small energy customers who ‘consume no more than 100 megawatt.hours (MWh) of electricity a year’. This limits the potential of the scheme to stimulate the solar power industry. All customers should be given the opportunity to invest in PV generation.

A FiT is a financial tool to encourage investment in PV systems. A FiT on gross PV system output would provide considerably greater benefits by paying on all generated power. This greatly reduces the payback time when combined with the current Federal Government rebate scheme. This will encourage investment in the installation of more PV systems (see Figure 4). The experience from Germany and other countries, with schemes similar to those suggested above, shows this to be the case.

The recent overwhelming public interest in the Solar Homes Program to install 1000 solar systems on Queensland homes confirms the public is enthusiastic to be involved in such initiatives. We believe that a Sunshine State Gross FiT, as propose by our group, would be more successful in making ‘solar power more affordable for Queenslanders and stimulate the solar power industry’.

Stephen Bower Consulting Electrical Engineer

Trevor Berrill Sustainable Energy Systems Consultant

David Keenan PV System Designer / Installer

Figure 1 – Average Hourly Power Output of 1kW PV System VS Demand for Average SEQ Home (10MWh/yr – DME Solar Bonus Scheme Brochure)


Notes: Average home electrical energy demand has increased by 50% in the past 10 years.

Factors which have caused this are:

  • Houses are getting bigger but families are getting smaller (average 2.7 persons per home)
  • 50% of homes have some type of air conditioning
  • Many homes have pools
  • QH down-lights have been used prolifically and promoted as energy efficient when they are not efficient.
  • The average home now has a lot of electrical appliances, many of which are left partially ‘on’ or ‘on’ standby during the day.
  • More people are working part-time or from home.

Figure 2 – Structure and Costs along the Electricity System


Notes: The diagram shows the structure of the electricity system and typical costs for based load generation (left side), transmission during peak periods and retail prices (right side). Generation costs vary throughout the day as supply and demand vary and the mix of generating sources changes. Base load coal is the cheapest source if one excluded environmental and social costs of this power source. If these costs are included, the cost for so called ‘clean’ coal or gas is about the same as renewable energy sources at around 10c/kWh.

Energy losses on the electrical system increase dramatically at peak times as wires and transformers run hotter. This is due to the huge amounts of power that need to be transmitted at peak periods such as very hot or very cold days. In Queensland, air conditioning now is the dominant load that caused peak demand at about 2pm most days.

The price home owners pay for electricity does not reflect accurately the cost of generation and supply throughout the day. It does not include the full environmental and social costs of pollution and health from burning fossil fuels.

Figure 3 – PV Metering Schemes

Description of Metering schemes; Metering of embedded generators in Australia by David Roche, Australian Greenhouse Office, 2001


Figure 3a

Imports and exports are separately metered by two unidirectional meters (AGO Metering scheme 2) Metering scheme proposed for the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme.


Figure 3b

Gross generation and gross consumption are separately metered by two unidirectional meters (AGO Metering scheme 3) Existing metering scheme used by ENERGEX.

Figure 4 – Simple Payback Period for PV Systems of various sizes (in Watts) with various Feed-in Tariffs based on average Origin Energy Installed System Costs.


Notes: The simple payback comparison above is based on Origin Energy Prices for 1, 1.5 and 2 kilowatt solar electric systems (May 2008). It shows that the Solar Bonus Scheme as enacted will give long payback periods in excess of 20 years for the average home. Only a FiT based on gross output gives a reasonable payback time.

Only if the home owner reduces demand greatly (eg. by 70%) will the Solar Bonus Scheme provide an incentive. This is unlikely to happen without each home and business undertaking an energy audit to identify energy efficiency measures and savings. While this is essential and achieveable to tackle climate change, typically the home owner would need to:

Install a solar hot water system $2000 to $3000

Install energy efficiency lights throughout

Install ceiling insulation and external shading of east and west facing windows

Replace old appliances with 5star ones

Resist buying every new electrical product that comes on the market regularly

The Great Solar Bonus Scheme Swindle


Dear Member of Parliament

RE: Solar Bonus Scheme

The proposed Solar Bonus Scheme as outlined in the Premier’s speech in Hansard (11 March 2008 ) gave the community and the sustainable energy industry great hope that the government was genuine about supporting renewable energy.

The Department of Mines and Energy (DME) Solar Bonus Scheme brochure states that the goals are:

  • To make solar power more affordable for Queenslanders
  • To stimulate the solar power industry

These goals will not be achieved with the proposed scheme.

The proposed import–export FiT will deliver no financial benefits to the vast majority of home owners because it is only paid on electricity that goes to the grid (generation minus consumption). Computer modelling shows that the average household power consumption (10MWh/year, Solar Bonus Scheme brochure, DME) is more than the PV power output throughout the day for the most commonly sold system. Hence the average household will receive no payment under the import–export FiT scheme, as shown in the graph below.

PV Graph

Some would argue that this is an encouragement for households to become more energy efficient and reduce the gap between PV generation and demand. It can be seen from the graph above that to achieve this, the average household would have to reduce their demand by at least 50%. While this is achievable and essential, energy efficiency measures would require an additional financial investment from the same household that has already invested approximately $5000 for the PV system. Computer modelling shows that the payback time for the PV system will be more than 20 years.

In addition to this, there are other limitations of the proposed Solar Bonus Scheme with import–export FiT which are fully described in a deputation made to the government on 27 April 2008. This document is attached.

Recently the Victorian government implemented a similarly flawed scheme which has attracted considerable criticism from the community and the media for the same reasons as described above.

I urge you to encourage the government to implement a Sunshine State Gross FiT which, unlike the proposed scheme, will achieve the stated DME goals by:

  • making payment on the gross output of PV systems of at least 44c/kWh and
  • implementing a gross metering scheme for measurement of PV generation and household demand.

I request that you study the above and the attached supporting document and conclude that the only effective scheme for Queensland is a Sunshine State Gross FiT.

Yours faithfully

Trevor Berrill,
Sustainable Energy Systems Consultant and Educator,
29 Burnett St.,Wellington Point,Q 4160
Ph 07 3207 5077

Email addresses of Members of Parliament:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

1998 MUA ‘Here to Stay’ – 10th Anniversary in Brisbane

image 12th May 2008: Union Members are advised that the Maritime Union of Australia will be holding a gathering

at the Wynnum-Manly Vikings Football Club

on Saturday 24th May

between 10:00am and 3:00pm

to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 1998 Patrick’s dispute.

MUA 'victory' on May Day in 1998

MUA National Secretary Mr. Paddy Crumlin will be a special guest speaker at the event, and there’ll also be rides and entertainment for children, a BBQ and refreshments on hand, as well as DVDs recording the highlights of possibly the most momentous union dispute of recent history.

Qld power industry day of action

Qld power industry day of action on Wednesday 14th May 2008

with thanks to ASU-Queensland Services Branch

Power Workers RallyMembers employed by Ergon, Energex and Powerlink will be holding a 24-hour strike from 6:00am this coming Wednesday 14th May 2008 to 6:00am the next morning.

The purpose of the strike was to alert the power companies and the State Government (their owner) that their current offer of a 4.3% wage increase is unacceptable (the State’s own CPI is 4.8%!) and that attempts to reduce safety are equally unacceptable.

Rallies were held at a number of key locations around Queensland during the strike, and you can obtain a brochure outlining when and where these rallies will be held by clicking here.

Further up to date information can be found at the ASU Queensland Services Branch website or by contacting the Branch direct (see below).

Contact Details

Name : Jennifer Earl
Telephone : 07 3844 5300

WorkLife Public Forum

Call Centre Flyer small1

ABCC vs unionists

pastedGraphic1 By Viola Wilkins

As well as Dave Kerin being hassled by the Workplace Ombudsman’s Office inquisition there are ongoing ABCC prosecutions.



Earlier this month (May) In Brisbane Queensland unionists from AWU, AMWU, ETU, Plumbers, CFMEU Qld CTU, Unions NSW, Vic THC & ACTU gathered; 50+ delegates in all discussed Australian Building Construction Commission and launched a campaign to abolish ABCC.

In Brisbane 20,000 trade unionists marched on May Day/Labour Day Holiday on Monday May 5th followed union floats through streets to Showgrounds where Unions had stalls; with drinks & bbqs and rides for kids.

Murrie – indigenous – workers and supporters called for their Stolen Wages.


[Editor’s note: ABCC = Australian Building and Construction Commission was introduced prior to WorkChoices legislation to target the building unions. The Rudd Labor government is retaining this commission. See below]

pastedGraphic2 The Cole Royal Commission into the building industry during 2002 was set up by Howard Government to investigate & bust the construction unions. The recommendation set up ABCC with extreme powers using Federal Police like anti-terrorist Laws…; eg require anyone they name to attend compulsory interrogation; failure to attend 6 months jail.
Failure to answer questions at the inquisition; 6 months jail. Speaking to the media about prosecution; 6 months jail.


Basically you can be interrogated about a union meeting and jailed for not giving evidence!

In 2006 107 construction workers from the Perth to Mandurah rail project were the first Australian workers to face prosecution under the Howard Government’s new IR laws and face fines of up to $28,000 each. Their “crime” ? – solidarity – supporting a sacked shop steward.

See also:

Enterprise Bargaining Agreements have to meet ABCC code.

See also:

ALP election platform used community concern at the ABCC and AWAs/individual contracts…since getting elected the ALP has said.

Under attack is right to organise, right of entry for Union officials, right to stop work over health & safety concerns etc
Basically this represses your right to free association which the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights states:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. …

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and
association. …”


“The workers engaged in unlawful industrial action because they failed to attend the site for work on 8 July 2005.
The Commissioner observed that:

“I expect the report, coupled with condemnation of ‘blue flu’ practices will send a strong message that the orchestrated abuse of sick leave entitlements for industrial purposes is unjustifiable and unlawful.”

4 unionists working on a building site stopped work as site unsafe, inspected and work in other safe areas until made safe. Bovis Lend Lease sent their names to ABCC…more examples see

Qld meeting agreed to Focus on:

* Industrial – at workplaces

* Political – lobby politicians eg letters to each and all to state
their position on ABCC and thus will they campaign to abolish ABCC and
image Unions to affiliate & donate to ALP and members to locally vote for
them ?

* Education to community eg Media campaign which unions fund like
anti-Howard regime’s AWAs “Your Rights At Work” campaign

CFMEU leaflet: CFMEU official Noel Washington has declined to be interviewed by ABCC.
The ABCC has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to put Noel in court.


* Education * Organisation * EMANCIPATION


Other References:

Union Solidarity threatened

Union SolidarityPetition


Defend Dave Kerin!

Don’t put this man in jail

Union Solidarity Coordinator Dave Kerin is now facing up to 6 months jail for supporting striking workers at Boeing.

The Australian Workplace Ombudsman has issued Dave with a “Notice to produce documents” in relation to the recent strike at Boeing.

Dave Dave Kerin at the Boeing Assemblyis being asked to supply a government agency with all information and documents concerning Union Solidarity, the AMWU and rank & file members by May 8. Basically Dave is being asked to “rat”, he wont.
Union Solidarity will not comply with laws and government agencies whose sole purpose is to prevent workers having the ability to strike and organise.

In the last election the Australian people voted overwhelming to get rid of anti-union laws, Union Solidarity operates within the spirit of that intention!

We are asking you to indicate your public support for Dave Kerin and Union Solidarity.
Please provide comments of support in the space below.
Defend Dave Kerin, P.O.Box 285 Carlton South 3053

Messages of support can be sent to:

or fill out the petition on the Union Solidarity Website:

Working Womens’ Centres

Heard about our Working Women’s Centres in South Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory being defunded by the Rudd Labor Government?

Not sure who we are and what we do?

Have a look at this.

Kevin Rudd said in his Australia 2020 address that:

‘We are committed to the protection of the family by advancing family friendly workplaces and better work-life balance.’

Also that:

‘We are committed to a principle of social solidarity that extends beyond private philanthropy to a public responsibility to protect the most vulnerable through a humane safety net for all Australians.’

A safety net on its own is not enough. Women require information, support and advocacy to address issues like sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, workplace bullying and exploitation and to advance work-life balance. This is what Working Women’s Centres do.

Thank you to everyone who has already leant their support.

Keep the pressure on – email the Prime Minister via his site:

and the Deputy Prime Minister at

and tell them you want to see real commitment to working women not just words.

Speak out for a free Palestine


4pm Thursday May 15


River end of Mall next to city library

15 May 2008 is the 60th anniversary of Al-Nakba (the Catastrophe) – the day of the mass expulsion and the dispossession of the Palestinian people during the war which had broken out in Palestine.

A newly-created Israel forcibly seized around 675 villages and towns in historic Palestine.

Of these, 476 villages were totally destroyed and ethnically cleansed of their Palestinian inhabitants.

A Palestinian population of almost 1.5 million people ? the majority in their country ? was effectively reduced by an estimated 85 percent.

The USA and UK backed the Zionists in the creation of the State of Israel and the subsequent actions of that state because it suited their interests in the Middle East – to ensure security of oil supplies and to create a loyal ally which acted as a watchdog for their interests in the region.

Today, Western governments, including the Australian government continue their support for Israel despite the fact it is an apartheid state; despite the continuing land grabs and despite the ongoing violent repression of the Palestinian people.

The key has become a symbol of the hope of return. Many Palestinian refugees still have the keys to the homes they and their families were forced from 60 years ago.

Information Stalls * Street Theatre * Speakers * Organised by Fair Go for Palestine, Qld Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Collective.