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John Passant

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January 2014



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Can we cull the business sharks who kill building workers?

In Western Australia the Liberal government of Colin Barnett is going to cull sharks near WA beaches becuase there have been 2 fatal shark attacks there recently. It is in fact much more dangerous to drive to the beach than swim in it but Barnett wants to build up hysteria about a non-threat and be seen to be doing something, anything, ‘tough’.

A few people have been king hit and died recently too. In response we got hysteria and tough talk from many politicians including Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Compare those responses to that of Labor and Liberal governments across Australia to deaths on building sites. The average is one building worker a week sacrificied on the altar of profit.

When the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union organised a safety picket of the Myer Emporium Grocon site the state Liberal government organised up to 1000 police to smash the action.

When the Howard Government introduced the Australian Building and Construction Commission in 2005 deaths on building sites went up in the years after.

According to the building union, the CFMEU:

Deaths in the construction industry increased, from 3.14 per 100,000 workers in 2004 [before the ABCC was set up] to 3.86 in 2005, 5.6 in 2006, 4.48 in 2007 and 4.27 in 2008.

Workers were unable to walk off unsafe building sites. If they did draconian laws could see them jailed for 6 months for refusing to answer questions about the ‘illegal’ strike action.

The Labor government eventually toned down the ABCC by moving it into Fair Work but kept much of its draconian powers. The Abbott government has as one of its main priorities the restoration of the ABCC to its former ‘glory’, to cower building workers and smash the idea of militancy still alive in the unions there.

The re-introduction of the ABCC will see deaths on building sites grow.

Australia already has a death rate on building sites greater than the UK. In 2012 construction company Leighton Holdings said that the death toll on building sites was trending up. The death rate in the UK, Leighton pointed out, was half that in Australia because there they have a safety code and it is enforced.

In 2012 Lynelle Briggs’ Getting Home Safely report on ACT building worker deaths was blunt. She said:

The industry itself is surprisingly accepting of workplace injuries with health and safety sometimes regarded as an add-on cost in a competitive industry where there is enormous pressure to complete work according to the program quickly, on time and on budget.

Briggs identified the real problem when she said that profit cannot come before safety on building sites any more. However proft does come first, and will continue to come before safety. That is what the ABCC is about. It is what smashing union industrial campaigns for safety on site are about.

Can we cull the business sharks who kill building workers? The best way to ensure there is safety on building sites is to give the workers power to cut off the flow of profits to the bosses, without loss of pay, when sites are unsafe, or for workers to take that power.



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