Inside the system

Mothers could lose $12,000 in Turnbull’s parental leave cuts

New mothers could still be $11,800 worse off under Turnbull’s regressive changes to paid parental leave (PPL) announced in late December.

Research by the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney found that working mothers on low incomes would be hit, in particular nurses, retail workers and teachers. Yet the government claimed that these parents are somehow rorters who are “double-dipping”.

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey tried to prevent parents from accessing both government and employer leave schemes, but failed to convince the Senate. Right now the government offers 18 weeks of parental leave funded at the minimum wage regardless of how many weeks a woman’s employer provides. By combining employer and government schemes mothers can get a bit closer to the recommended 26 weeks of leave.

Turnbull has taken up Abbott’s cuts, but instead of denying government support after the dollar amount of 18 weeks’ leave at the minimum wage is reached, will allow new mothers to keep claiming from the government until 18 weeks, if their employer-provided leave runs out before then.

According to the modelling used in the study these changes would leave a retail worker in Tasmania around $4330 worse off. An ambulance driver in Queensland would stand to lose $11,800.

Millers Point relocation team wins Award

The Millers Point Relocation Team was responsible for trying to drive 400 public housing tenants out of the suburb, which is on prime real-estate adjacent to The Rocks in Sydney. Now they have won the NSW Government Customer Service Team Excellence Award 2015. The prize was awarded by the Baird Government’s Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).

Vacated housing at Millers Point is to be sold off to the highest bidder, netting the government proceeds expected to exceed $500 million. Millers Point resident Barney Gardner says “there’s been a lot of pressure and intimidation” to move. Houses were deliberately run down so tenants, many of them elderly, would be encouraged to relocate. In March 2015 Gardner told a rally outside the NSW Parliament that one resident was so distressed he committed suicide. The FACS website says the awards, “celebrate the contributions of FACS employees working to break the cycle of disadvantage through outstanding client service.” But it’s clear the only service they are providing is to the top end of town.

CEOs rake in multi-million dollar perks

New details have emerged of how Australian CEOs are super-sizing their already huge salaries with massive non-monetary benefits.

Rio Tinto CEO Alfredo Barrios pocketed almost $2 million in non-monetary benefits when he relocated from Spain to Canada to take the top job at the Australian mining company. Westpac boss Brian Hartzer got $1.02 million in benefits on top of his $5.7 million salary when he left the Royal Bank of Scotland to take the position. TPG Telecom CEO David Teoh took home $570,000 in benefits over the last financial year.

Virgin and Qantas execs get free business class travel for personal use and Westfield has two private aircraft for their executives. The greed is shameless, and worse, it’s on display as Turnbull and the bosses call for workers’ penalty rates to be cut.

Julie Bishop spends $1700 on three beanbags

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has spent over $1700 of taxpayers’ money on three beanbags for a government initiative called “innovationXchange”. They came at a price of $590 each.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop described her pet initiative as a “gorgeous little funky, hipster, Googly, Facebooky-type place” when questioned about the purchase. The program is supposed to encourage more “innovation” and “creativity” in the development of foreign aid programs and will receive $140 million funding over four years. Staff have also been provided with a special tennis table that can be transformed into a conference table for meetings.

62 people own same wealth as half of humanity

A new report by Oxfam titled An Economy for the 1 per cent has found 62 people now own as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity—3.6 billion people. Inequality is snowballing. This is down from the 85 people who held as much wealth as the poorest half of the world two years ago.

The report says “The big winners in our global economy are those at the top. Our economic system is heavily skewed in their favour. Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate”.

Apologists for the system often point to the fact that between 1990 and 2010 the number of people living below the extreme poverty line has halved. But they are not the main people benefiting. As the report points out, “had inequality within countries not grown during that period, an extra 200 million people would have escaped poverty. That could have risen to 700 million had poor people benefited more than the rich from economic growth”.

Turnbull to spend $28m to advertise innovation

The Turnbull government has found tens of millions of dollars to advertise its so-called “innovation” agenda. According to Innovation Minister Christopher Pyne the $28 million, tax-payer funded campaign will “help inspire the entrepreneurs of the future”. The campaign’s big price tag will enable the government to bombard us with hollow slogans about “entrepreneurship”, “risk taking” and “innovation” through a range of mediums from TV, to print to digital and social media. Published government tender documents show Orima Research will enjoy a $455,290 contract to conduct market research for the costly dose of election year spin.

Research and writing by Adam Adelpour. Send suggestions for Inside The System to solidarity [at] solidarity.net.au

Things they say

We need help from men in powerful positions who appreciate that promoting women and paying them what they deserve is good for profits.
Carla Zampatti, executive chair of Carla Zampatti Ltd, outlining her views on quotas for women corporate boards.

He appears from what people are saying to be quite bitter, quite resentful, in fact I think it’s got worse.
Liberal powerbroker on Tony Abbott’s desire to return as Prime Minister

It’s what one bloke thought he was saying to another bloke
Barnaby Joyce defends Dutton’s sexist text message meant for Jamie Briggs

We do not intend to be in Iraq forever.
Malcolm Turnbull wishing the Iraq catastrophe was over

Sell everything except high quality bonds. This is about return of capital, not return on capital. In a crowded hall, exit doors are small
Royal Bank of Scotland’s credit team urges panic at the freefall on global stockmarkets

I have to say what I have to say. And you know what I have to say? There’s a problem. We have to find out what the problem is.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defends his call for a ban on Muslims entering the US

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