IR Reforms Show Coalition's True Colours

28 October 2005
The Australian Goverment's proposed industrial relations reforms, which they have called "work choices" (you've got to admire the Orwellian synchrinocity of the moniker) may be one of the worst things to ever happen to the average Australian. Now, I've often labelled things that the Howard government has done as being dreadful for Australia. When they were first elected, shortly before my 17th birthday, I wrote a long, impassioned essay in my diary (no blogger in 1996!) about how dreadful it all was. I debated with myself as to whether I should transcribe that essay here, but decided against it; it's poorly written and rather banal, and in any case, at that age I was capable of only abstract criticism, not cohesive analysis. But I do remember, several months after that election, when our local Medicare office had been closed, massive job cuts had been announced at the ABC, and in the public service, and it generally seemed like Australia was going to hell in a Prada backback (that joke made sense in the mid 1990s, trust me) saying to my mother "Since the Liberals were elected, it seems like things are worse than they've ever been."

If only we knew.

The provisions of the Work Choices legislation - no matter what their website says - mean scary times ahead for the average worker. The main point for me, is that workers, instead of being protected by union awards, will now have to sign "workplace agreements" to negotiate their working conditions. Howard has said no worker can be sacked for refusing to sign an agreement, or refusing to agree to the conditions laid down by their employer...but he's also said that if an employee doesn't like the terms of their agreement, they can always look for another job. (Does anyone else hear the adolescent echoes of "While you're under my roof...and if you don't like it, you can move out"?) Where are we supposed to go?

There was another little detail of Howard's comments I found almost charming, in reassuring us of the 1950s mentality we've come to expect from little Johnny. When an interviewer put it to Howard, that younger employees may be too intimidated to negotiate workplace agreements, Howard said (sic), "There's no reason why the [younger employees] couldn't take a lawyer, or their father, or older brother to the negotiations." (I guess Mum won't cut it, huh John? And notice that he didn't say they might bring a union delegate!)

Of course, we can always rely on Clarke and Dawes, and their segment on Thursday night's
7:30 Report for a spookily accurate light touch on the Government. Here's their take on this legislation...

Well you can read more on these legislative changes if you like (lord knows, I've given enough links). Though I ask you to please sign this to register your disapproval.

But it gets lots worse. The government are also trying to introduce anti-terrorism legislation that includes unprecendented governmental proposals in terms of stop-and-search powers, racial profiling, and even (until it was
blocked by the state premiers a shoot-to-kill provision. Clarke and Dawes, again...

And what's more - what's perhaps the worst - the Government was attempting to introduce these Bills on Melbourne Cup day itself, and the next day.
I weep for the sorry state of the
federal opposition, but they've made a pertinent observation in accusing the government of being drunk with power in attempting to do this, and I have to agree. Since the 2004 election, when they gained control of the senate, there's been no checks or balances on the Government and I think most of us lefties are afraid; afraid of what Howard and his ilk will do, afraid that Labor cannot possibly manage an election win in 2007. John Howard will have to retire eventually, and that will leave us all under the evil empire of the Smirk...

One last thing.
I don't believe in compulsory voting. I believe voting should be voluntary, because let's face it, most people don't know or care much about politics; to them, "politics" means "men in gray suits in parliament house" and not the issues that affect our lives. And I don't believe that the future of our country should be in their hands, because they simply want to avoid the $20 fine for not voting.

Well, if you're now feeling as angry as I am,
go here to punch John Howard!

The Wonder of My Hair

24 October 2005

Well, as I've been describing, I'm growing my hair out (I had waist length hair for about five years, until I had it cut into a short bob in August 2004). This has now reached the "very annoying" stage; my hair is just too short to tie back, and hangs on my neck, getting sweaty and caught in my shirt collars. Also, it looks really shaggy, because it's several different lengths where the layers are growing out. Now the sensible thing to do would be to go to the hairdressers for a trim. But, as I think I may also have mentioned before, I'm terrified of the hairdressers. I'm much too timid to get my point across, so when I get in the chair and the impossibly perky hairdresser says "So, what are we having done today?", I smile nervously and murmur, "Just a trim, thanks."

At which stage the hairdresser usually looks personally wounded at this insult to his craft. "My darling," he says, with accompanying hand gestures, "I don't do trims. You wouldn't ask Peter Costello to do the school tuckshop budget, would you? I have a vision for you. You will look gorgeous."

Then comes the scariest bit of all. He smiles and says, "Trust me.".

And all I can do is nod and then slam my eyes shut against the fear.

Moments later, I hear furious slicing, chopping and otherwise mangling of my poor hair, which never hurt anybody and certainly doesn't deserve this. On and on it goes, until finally the stylist steps back, beaming, and I gingerly put my glasses on, to view my almost-bald visage in the mirror.

"There you go dear!" exclaims the stylist. "Or do you want it a bit longer?"
I feel like crying and screaming. If I had any nerve at all, I'd leap to my feet, turn over my chair, and yell, "Yes I want it longer! But it's a bit late now! I look like an eight year old boy! YOU IMBECILE!!!.

But I'm gutless, so what I do say is, "Um, that's great, thanks very much" and pay meekly. Usually I even leave a tip.

Of course, I have had hairdressing disasters that were not due to poor communication or over-zealousness. You know you're in trouble if, towards the end of your haircut, the stylist stands back and mutters, "Oh...damn. know, I think you've got the kind of face that would look great in hats!"

So, forgive me if I look a bit scruffy for awhile longer.

Working Hard, Or Hardly Working?

20 October 2005
Yes, I'm still busy at work.

Which is why I'm within a hair-trigger of walking into the boss's office, screaming "I QUIT!", and storming out.

As you may know, I'm employed on a permanent part time basis. But lately, I've been working full time hours. I'm on a salary, so I don't get any overtime. What is supposed to happen, is that I get days off work in lieu. But everytime I try to take a day off, I get phoned at 7:30am and told "We really need you into work!" so I go.
You may ask why the company doesn't employ me as an official full time employee. Well that's because our parent company is about to be fully privatised (you've figured out where I work, haven't you?) and there's a hiring freeze. Actually, several people in our office have been made redundant, and I'm now employed part-time to do the job that two full time employees used to do.

Anyway. You can understand that I'm poor, and I'm bitter; I am sick of working so hard, and ending up financially little better off than I would be on unemployment. I'm normally a pretty timid person, happy to work extra without complaining, but this is really reaching "last straw" status. I'm contemplating going back to uni (though can I live on student money at my age? Anyway, everyone hates mature-age students, I know I did when I was 20) and wondering whether I should just have a summer of leisure in the meantime. Lord knows, Xander would be happy. He's never grown out of being upset when I leave in the mornings - and he's nearly three now, hard as that is to believe (those of you who've been following the blog from its early days will remember when he was a tiny little kitten!). He sees me taking my keys off the key rack and putting my coat on, so he knows I'm about to go; some mornings he wraps himself around my ankles, sometimes he blocks the front door with his body, sometimes he just wails pathetically, but his message is the same "Mum, the office can go hang. You should stay here." And he is right.

Because this is ridiculous.

That's my rant done with!

Quote of the Day

19 October 2005
"Different politicians handle you in different ways, but [Tony] Abbott has always handled us the worst.
He tries to ignore you, which is fantastic. First, it makes him look petty - which isn't that hard, let's be honest - and second, it gives you a free go at him.

Sometimes, you feel sorry for politicians when you ambush them. With Tony Abbot, you never, ever feel anything but fantastic. Being an a***hole to that man makes you feel like a wonderful human being."

-Chas Licciardello, from The Chaser. No wonder I love those guys.

For more on Tony Abbott, see here at Cotard's blog (language warning - but utterly justified, and utterly hilarious).

Jury Duty

11 October 2005
Well my little chicks, you may be wishing me goodbye for a while. I'm not going to be at work...I've been called up for jury duty. A few weeks ago, I got the letter telling me I was on the jury roll this year, but I was quite surprised to, a few days later, receive the letter telling me that I'd been empanelled.

Of course, it's easy to get out of jury duty; the fact that I haven't tried will tell you something about the dullness of my job, insofar as that jury duty seems a preferable option. And I say this, in light of the unpleasant experience I've had at the Newcastle Court house...not as a defendant (I was always too smart to get caught, haha) but as a member of the public. When I was doing Legal Studies for HSC, we went on a class trip to the courts; intending to witness minor matters, but ended up at the scetencing hearing, of a woman charged with murder after throwing her baby at a wall. Well, you can imagine the effect that that had on a group of 17-year-olds...all of the girls were crying, and a lot of the guys looked close to tears, too. Anyway, citing what he called "a life of extreme privation", the judge scentenced her to three years, so counting time served, she would have been released by 1998. It sickened me then, and looking back, sickens me more now.

But I won't be facing anything like that this time. For a start, it's highly unlikely I'll actually be selected for duty; since I've known I was up, whenever I mention to people that I've got jury duty, they always remark how they've been up, but never empanelled. Also, I think that the defence selectors will pick up on my extreme prejudice against, well, absolutely everyone, and knock me off. (I suppose I could get out of it by wrapping my head in aluminium foil and, when questioned, say it's to stop the aliens from stealing my thoughts). But if I do get selected, so what? I'm actually hoping I am; I'm looking forward to it. It's only District Court, so it will only be a fairly moderate matter (I just hope it's not a drugs trial, I think I've heard a case of that nature is coming up in the court soon, and I may well know the people involved) and in any case (pun intended!) I'm always looking for new experiences to write about. Nico, ace court reporter, coming soon!

All The Trouble In The World

06 October 2005
The latest Bali bombings have really hit home. Most of the Australian victims are from Xander and Nico's own home town, Newcastle. There was a large group that travelled together, organised through a local college which my 16 year old step-sister Leasa attends. I went to my father's house for dinner on Monday night; the people from Newcastle killed are the parents of her friends; and she was very, distressed. I might ask if she wants to go to the service for the victims tonight.

I've heard it repeatedly said on the news that Newcastle is a "city in mourning". Well, yes and no. People are keenly aware of it, but no one talks about it; it's as if it's just too much to bear.

It was eerie watching the footage of the victims arriving
home in Newcastle, because the scene is so familiar. There they were, being wheeled on stretchers through the same ambulance bay as I was myself last May following my fall. When the TV showed one horribly injured man raising his bandaged arms to applaud his carers as he entered the hospital I cried and cried (and am still crying now).

It makes me sad to think of the younger people I know (and the ones I don't) growing up in a world where terrorism fears are considered a normal part of life. They no nothing else but the terror level alert. But maybe it was like this at the height of the Cold War, with fear of the A-Bomb. I don't know. Maybe then, it seemed like that was how the world was always going to be - how could it ever change? But the Cold War
did end, and we can only hope that one day there is no more terror threat either. Yes, I am aware that the politico-economic circumstances of the Cold War are entirely different to those of the War on Terror. But that's not the point I'm trying to make; just that I wish that I could say to the people who think that we've always been afraid, that the world wasn't always like this, and we must pray (in whatever way we can) that one day we will all feel safe again.


There's more to the Bali connection for me, even than that.

Friends of mine were planning to go to Bali. It was only after
Shappelle Corby was convicted that they decided to go to Queensland instead (there was nothing Xenophobic about it - all of my friends are pretty left-leaning open minded people - they were just too afraid of what might happen to them). So if it wasn't for that, they would have been in Bali on Saturday night. Forgive me, I can't write too much about how that would have been; I can't even think about it.

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