Annerley Branch News – June 2021

Morrison budget has failed Australia

Annerley Labor has strongly criticised the recent 2021 federal budget as a ‘demonstrable failure of the Morrison Coalition government to tackle the biggest issues facing working Australians’.

Citing examples such as insecure and unreliable work, systemic gender inequality and record-low wage growth, as well as failure to address challenges in the areas of health, housing, education, aged care, child care and climate change, the Branch has highlighted the stark deficiencies of this year’s fiscal statement.

Instead of confronting important issues affecting millions of Australians, the Coalition government has handed billions of dollars to big business and private providers with little obligation and no requirements to improve the pay and conditions of their workers or create new, reliable and sustainable jobs. Of deep concern is confirmation that working people are not expected to experience real wages growth until 2024/25.

Key failures of the Morrison Government’s 2021 budget are:

  • failure to establish a national anti-corruption commission before the next election.
  • the forecast of near-stagnant wage growth over the forward estimates.
  • a real wage reduction next year and that determinants of low wages growth, such as precarious work and underemployment, remain unaddressed.
  • there is a disappointing lack of ambition on a clean energy transition, with no commitment to net-zero by 2050 and no investment in real climate solutions like wind, solar and batteries.
  • more than $550 million of public money will be allocated to ‘climate-wrecking’ gas, which will drive up pollution and force fracking on First Nations land and water.
  • reduction in foreign aid by $144m, despite a global pandemic and diplomatic tensions in our region.
  • failure to address the rampant wage theft and exploitation exposed in last year’s Blue Harvest report.
  • no committed targets on the vaccination rollout, nor international border re-openings, which is compounded by a failure to commit to any additional funding to fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities – all costly decisions that will delay the COVID-19 recovery.
  • no commitment to introduce staff ratios in aged care facilities to ensure people receive the care they need and deserve.
  • a lack of transparency and accountability for the billions of dollars of aged care funding, meaning that providers will continue to put profits before care.
  • extension of the racist Cashless Debit Card program until 2023.
  • no assistance for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed people suffering with a JobSeeker rate at half the poverty line.
  • nothing for public housing in the middle of a homelessness crisis.
  • no additional investment for public hospitals in the middle of a pandemic.
  • higher education spending for universities cut by 9% and TAFE funding slashed by 24% over the next four years, with the Coalition instead pouring $500 million into mostly private training providers.
  • failure to deliver the important structural changes needed to improve the lives of Australian women by providing only $1.1 billion for women’s safety over the next four years whilst providing $17.9 billion in tax write-offs for big business.

Annerley Labor supports boycott of ‘apartheid regime’

Recent calls for boycotting the existing Israeli regime, and its corporate supporters, has found strong support in the Annerley Branch.

In a branch resolution adopted at the June general meeting, members re-iterated their strong ‘solidarity with the Palestinian people and their longstanding struggle for justice and liberation from an oppressive regime’. The resolution argues that the Israeli government ‘continues to commit war crimes, violate human rights and impose systemic discrimination, dispossession and displacement of Palestinian people’.

In addition to the call for an immediate end to the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza territory, the Branch is advocating both a boycott of the apartheid regime, and its corporate supporters, as well as the imposition of sanctions against the perpetrators of crimes against the Palestinian people.

The resolution has since been sent to the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Penny Wong for her information.

Support for the resolution is a direct result of the vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing in occupied East Jerusalem, which saw the implementation of a plan to forcibly evict some 2,000 Palestinians from the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Bustan and replace them with Israeli settlers, in direct contravention of international law.

Call to adopt traditional naming

The Annerley Branch has called on the Palaszczuk Government to officially change the name of Fraser Island, North Stradbroke Island, and Moreton Island to their traditional names, of K’gari, Minjerribah, and Mulgumpin respectively.

In supporting the call, branch members acknowledged that the traditional custodians of the islands had known them under these names for over 1000 generations.

The resolution, which has been sent to relevant State Government Ministers, supports the idea that the change will provide an opportunity for people to learn more about Australia’s history and the important place First Nations people have in that history.

Similar to the return to the traditional name of Uluru, the suggestion not only acknowledges the long and ancient history of Australia, but will also attract more international tourists who are keen to experience the one of the oldest continual cultures in the world.

Funding support for local community organisations

The Annerley Branch has donated $1000 across three local community organisations as a sign of support and recognition of their valuable services.

The Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivors Support Centre (BRISSC), a not-for-profit organisation that provides support to women survivors of sexual violence, received $500 as part of the Branch’s Catherine Bermingham Community Benefit Fund.

Receiving $350 for their ‘Home for Good program’, was Micah Projects which is based at West End. The program aims to find sustainable solutions for people who are homeless or for individuals and families who might become homeless without support.  

$150 was also donated to the Women’s Legal Service, located in Annerley, which is a specialist community legal centre providing free legal and social work help to people who live and identify as women in Queensland.

ALP Conference strengthens progressive agenda

The recent Queensland ALP Conference has consolidated Labor’s existing progressive agenda by adopting stronger positions in the areas of social equality, workers rights, the environment, education, health and community support. The annual Party Conference, held in Brisbane, was the first time in almost two years that delegates gathered together to revise and update the state policy platform.

During the conference, attendees heard that the state Labor government were establishing a $1.8 billion Queensland Jobs Fund Flexed that would ‘bring together a range of new and existing programs to make it easier for businesses to get started, to grow, to innovate – and create jobs’.

During the two day conference, delegates heard speeches from the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese (both pictured) and Civic Opposition Leader, Cr Jared Cassidy.

However, the focus of the event was updating the state policy platform. Some of the key changes to the document were:

ENDURING LABOR VALUES

The Conference adopted an important policy amendment to ensure women’s rights were at the core of Labor’s policies and actions in government. This includes committing to reducing economic inequality, closing the gender pay gap, reaching equal representation in public, private and community sector leadership, and improving women’s health and wellbeing.

These amendments are seen by many in the Party as part of a much larger fight for women’s rights to be safe, respected and equal – at work, at home and in the community.

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

Key policy changes included:
• enhancing the bargaining power of workers in the public sector by removing arbitrary Government policies that set down pre-determined wage positions;
• declaring our intention to work with Federal Labor to end the privatisation of social security by reinstating the previously abolished Commonwealth Employment Service; and,
• enhancing the safety of workers in the mining and quarrying industries by removing legislative barriers that stop Union officials from doing their job and keeping all workers safe on site.

LEARNING FOR LIFE

Key policy changes included:
• establishing an independent manufacturing skills organisation to drive the procurement and delivery of world class skills and training to support, develop and grow our manufacturing industry;
• improving the recognition of support staff in schools; and
• calling on both State and Federal governments to provide more support for vulnerable children at school.

HEALTHY LIVING

Key policy changes included:
• recognising the importance of public oral health services as a critical component of holistic patient care and wellbeing;
• providing more support for breast cancer patients, including the expansion of diagnostic services to improve early detection;
• requiring mandatory palliative care education for all Queensland Ambulance service paramedics;
• recognising the life-saving advancements made in HIV management, and ensuring Queensland continues to appropriately manage the medical and social impacts that can be felt by people living with HIV; and
• recognising problem gambling as a health issue.

CONNECTED COMMUNITIES

Delegates voted to address homelessness and housing support for at-risk groups and ensure that the government improves standards, increase stock, and improve investment in social housing – including a commitment that social housing includes renewable energy sources.

The Conference also supported important changes to local government, including ensuring greater transparency and integrity in local government elections, and better public access to Council proceedings.

REGIONAL AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES

Delegates supported a commitment to investigate a new cross border commissioner to better support our border communities, a firm commitment to better protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural sites to avoid destruction like that seen at Juukan Gorge in WA, and supporting regional Queenslanders to access post-Secondary education by promoting TAFE and training.

Importantly, the Conference adopted commitments to ensure mining in Queensland meets world’s best practice in relation to planning, workplace health and safety, environmental management and rehabilitation. The platform also now includes a new commitment to support regional voices within our party and our parliamentary caucus.

OUR ENVIRONMENT OUR FUTURE

This year’s Conference supported a number of changes to ensure all Queenslanders have reliable access to clean, safe drinking water, including a commitment to investigate additional water storage and supply networks, and ensuring our urban water supply is resilient to increasing demand and the impacts of climate change including drought.

The Platform also includes important reforms to make sure we more effectively offset carbon emissions through environmental assessment processes, and boost community resilience and reduce flooding impacts by revegetating waterways and upper catchments.

A STRONG ECONOMY

Key policy changes included:
• preventing privatisation by stealth, by ensuring Queensland Rail workers continue to play an important role in repairing and maintaining Queensland’s train fleet;
• supporting an independent scientific body to review, examine and investigate resource industries at every stage of operation;
• supporting local jobs by ensuring local businesses and workers are in a strong position to benefit from Queensland’s infrastructure boom through the ‘Buy Queensland’ procurement policy; and
• ensuring public sector wage growth sets the standard across all industries and maintains pace with rising cost of living pressures as a minimum.

CARING AND SECURE COMMUNITIES

Key policy changes included:
• exploring the extension of support for kids who have been in care until they’re 26 to give them the best start in life;
• improving the proposed words on legislating the decriminalisation of sex work and supporting sex workers by working with police to ease discrimination and unfair practices;
• improving and strengthening the ALP’s commitment to voluntary assisted dying;
• strengthening responses to domestic and family violence through targeted responses to animal cruelty as a form of coercive control and violence;
• enhancing how welcome zones for refugees are initiated by government services to support refugees seeking asylum,
• improving police responses to domestic and family violence by establishing ‘family hubs’ for reporting domestic and family violence; and
• working towards drug law reform legislation by implementing the recommendations of the Queensland Productivity Commission Report.

CONFERENCE RESOLUTIONS

In addition to the Platform amendments, the Conference adopted several key resolutions covering a range of important issues. On the first day of the conference this included increasing protections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage, ensuring Queensland’s water security, and protecting Queensland jobs by preventing privatisation by stealth.

The second day of the Conference saw some very passionate debate from delegates on a number of issues, with the following adopted:

Voluntary Assisted Dying: acknowledging the hard work done to date to see Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation introduced to Parliament, and calling on all Labor MPs to vote in favour of the bill.

Supporting a Strong Public Service: calling on the Queensland government to stop the practice of independent contracting in the public sector and lift the staffing cap.

Low Carbon Economy Plan: calling on the State Labor Government to continue creating good, secure jobs, protecting the environment, and investing in publicly owned assets. The resolution acknowledges that a ‘low carbon’ future of our energy and resources industries requires us to work with those communities most affected.

Channel Country Protection: calling for the protection of this precious landscape from shale gas exploration, including by consulting with local communities and Traditional Owners, and calling on the government to legislate protections.

Palestine: congratulating the Federal ALP for reaffirming their commitment to recognising Palestine, and condemning Israel’s ongoing annexation and occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Aged Care: calling for action, by implementing safe staff to resident ratios and bringing down the residential aged care waiting list.

Racial Vilification: commending Attorney-General, Shannon Fentiman, for the work that she is doing to strengthen Queensland’s racial vilification laws.

Sex Work Decriminalisation: commending Attorney-General, Shannon Fentiman, on referring sex work decriminalisation to the Queensland Law Reform Commission, and recognising that there is still work to do.

The next Queensland ALP State Conference is expected to be held by August 2022.