Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Progress in the Howard Revolution

John Howard has been determined to change the face of Australian society. Take a look at the evolving control mechanisms and some continuing results:

Silencing critics

The freedom of welfare, aid and environment groups to speak out about government policies has been called into question by a decision of the Australian Taxation Office to strip a voluntary watchdog of its charity status.

The ruling removed Aidwatch's charitable status, and triggered allegations that the Tax Office is being used by the Government to silence its critics.

Working harder and longer for less

An Australian Bureau of Statistics survey reveals the deep incursion work has already made into family and community life.

· The figures show 37 per cent of employees work overtime or extra hours - and about half of them do so for no extra pay.

· Almost a third of Australian employees work unsocial hours - between 7pm and 7am - and even more complain they have no say about when they start or finish.

· The reduced flexibility was felt across the board, but the biggest changes were in construction, entertainment and government employment.

· As for weekends, 16 per cent said they were required to work on Saturdays, and 8.5 per cent on Sundays. One in four were not always allowed to choose when to take their holidays.

Contrasted with:

· Almost two-thirds of managers have some say in precisely when they arrive at work and go home each day.

· Just over half of all managers can take time off when they need it, and make it up by putting in extra hours later.

· Only 10 per cent of managers routinely works shifts.

· Of Australia's 8 million employees, only 3 million, or 38 per cent, were able to arrange working hours to take time off when needed and make it up later.

On housing:

· The average monthly repayment needed to buy a typical first home in Sydney has hit $3000 for the first time.

· This is up $442 on a year ago, and second only to Perth-based first-home buyers who shell out $3009 a month

· Median Sydney first-home price rose 9.6 per cent to $507,400 over the year to March

The $3000-a-month figure is based on repayments required to service a loan worth 80 per cent of the value of the median first home, at the average variable interest rate of 7.5 per cent. It assumes principal repayments are made in excess of interest.

On Vaile

Mark Vaile has foreshadowed a fresh batch of grants to regional areas under a funding program previously attacked as being political pork-barrelling.

The Deputy Prime Minister has also allowed the community-based committees that make recommendations about the grants to keep $1.5 million in one-off funding despite acknowledging they have failed to meet conditions to qualify for the money.

"The Coalition Government has delivered the longest period of economic expansion in Australia's history, but we recognise that the benefits of our strong economy are not distributed evenly across the country," he said.

You get the drift, in the absence of definitive figures on economic impact I am taking a different approach; looking at those areas voters are undeniably hurting. The ‘big picture’ looks rosy, but it isn’t so rosy out in the electorate.


Going broke going for broke

Despite a booming economy and record employment there are further indications of mounting economic stress from the increase in personal bankruptcies.

These have been accelerating at twice the rate they were last year and the latest figures indicate that 30,000 individuals a year are going broke.

The inspector-general of the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia, Terry Gallagher, recently told a Senate committee that bankruptcies had risen 12.5 per cent in the nine months to March.

"You could go back 10 or 15 years, when bankruptcy numbers were 13,000 a year, and now they are 30,000 a year," he said.

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