Date: Wednesday, September 26
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Trades Hall Building, cnr Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton South.
“This protest rally is being organised to draw public attention to the draconian anti-worker legislation that John Howard has put in place to attack workers and their families. It is also aimed at the ALP who have not made a commitment to repeal these unjust laws and shut down the ABCC.”
I think its about time I showed my political opinions. With the election looming, its quite relevant. I’m not a socialist, but I’m definitely on the left as far as Australian Politics go. I believe in our rights.
In Australia, we have a constitution but we do not have a Bill of Rights entrenched within it. This can mean one of two things, either the Founding Fathers believed citizens were subordinate to the state, or they did not believe the government was a threat to the rights of citizens. Currently, we do not have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom from discrimination, freedom of movement, right for a fair trial, freedom to criticize the government.. I think all we do have is the right to vote, which is good but not enough. We have limited privacy laws.
Victoria, where I live, as a state has its own bill of rights, but a federal version has not yet been established. I’m not exactly sure on how much it protects us, without a federal equivalent in use. Or how much weight it holds against persecution. Its still relatively new and I doubt it has been tested against the courts yet.
The Australian constitution is extremely difficult to change. It can only be altered through referendum, which cannot be initiated outside of parliament. The proposal must be passed by an absolute majority in both houses (House of Representatives and House of Senate), followed by a majority of voters nationally, plus a majority in 4/6 states.
Not only is it difficult to change by law, but the Australian public are very conservative and vote against most proposals. By 1993, 42 proposals had been made and only 8 passed. Only one proposal gained an overwhelming majority of votes, which was 62% in the 1977 referendum of simultaneous elections for both houses, however it failed because it only carried 3/6 states. The Australian public has even been known to vote against proposals that can only help them, such as the right to free and democratic elections, extension of trial by jury and a guaranteed freedom of religion.
The ALP, or Australian Labour Party, has initiated all moves into establishing a Bill of Rights, but their main shining light is their move to abolish WorkChoices. WorkChoices is the monster our current Liberal Government brought into being, when they had majority of seats in both the houses. This alone demonstrates the inequality in the system, for a clear passage to pass whatever bills they desire is grossly unfair and unrepresentative of the population. Australia essentially becomes an elected dictatorship.
WorkChoices basically eliminates any rights that Australia as a progressive workers nation worked for years ago. Individual agreements ensure that, should your employer choose to, they may drop your pay, refuse penalty rates and leave, fire you without reason, and punish unions.
However, Labour is softening their stance on WorkChoices to appeal to a wider audience. The only reason John Howard is so unpopular at this point is due to WorkChoices and suddenly they soften their policies against it? Idiocy. It only shows the true side of the ALP, they are practically as right wing as the Liberal Party. Fat cats who want to dominate and suppress the working class. They have completely abandoned their former self, which was a party for Unions and the workers of Australia. They brought in Medicare, free health care for all people.. and so many workers rights. And now look at them.
Is the only hope the Greens Party? I’m unsure. At least they are taking a stand against WorkChoices, and even the ALP. This will be my second rally against the I.R. Laws, since the last one I now feel I have been personally affected.
My mother’s office refused to pay her for a month of work, when she asked if they would be paying her they told her not to come in the next day. On that day they rang her and informed her they would offer her $5 less per hour, along with less tasks to do and only 25 hours a week. If she quits the job she will lose her support from the government. As a single parent with 4 children of her own, and 1 ‘foster child’ under her roof, it is obvious she is struggling. When she told me I was so angry! ‘Its not fair!’ I kept repeating. They have reneged on a verbal agreement they made with her.
And yet, this is only one story showing the horrors of WorkChoices. I’ve heard many more, much worse. Support the ‘Your Rights At Work’ movement and attend the rally.
Your Rights At Work: