Friday, February 29, 2008

Don't Rann-Sack WorkCover

The State Labor Government has introduced legislation to cut the WorkCover entitlements of South Australian workers. The proposed cuts will increase the burden on families who are already struggling due to low wages and the high costs of housing and essential services.

CFMEU Secretary Martin O'Malley speaking to the ABC:

"It's hard enough today struggling with the sort of income they get and then to then be told they're going to be punished so the profits of the employers can go up," he said.

"What sort of bloody system are we running, what sort of person is Mike Rann to allow that to happen?"

Much has been made of WorkCover's 'unfunded liability' which is said to be close to $1 billion. However, this is not an amount that needs to be paid out at any particular point in time as it is only an estimate of the ongoing costs into the future. As it stands at the moment WorkCover is more than able to cover it's current costs. There has been little mention of the fact that WorkCover's assets are nearly double that of the so-called 'unfunded liability'.

Rather than acting to preserve the rights of working people, which is supposedly a core value of the ALP, Mike Rann and his cronies would prefer to cut entitlements to workers in order to appease their bean counters and the business community.

This position of the State Government will no doubt force workers to return to work before making a full recovery or force them to return to workplaces where conditions are unsafe. Clearly this is not desirable for the worker, the employer or the long-term performance of the WorkCover scheme.

The CPA condemns this attack on working people and invites you to sign our petition in defence of the rights of injured workers.

Click here to sign the petition

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Adelaide’s Walled "defence" Precinct

Residents of Port Adelaide are reeling at the number and scale of plans for their district being made way above their heads by governments and corporations. The Port Waterfront Redevelopment is starting to dominate the inner harbour; presenting a concrete wall of high-priced apartments to other inhabitants of the still mostly working class suburbs nearby. And now comes the news that an eight metre-high "acoustic barrier" is to be erected, removing about four kilometres of public waterfront access and fortifying a precinct for strategic waterfront "defence" (war) industries.

The Northern Lefevre Peninsula Draft Masterplan has been wheeled out at a number of consultation sessions. As is usual in these processes, interested groups and individuals are invited to comment or object to certain proposals. But as the Port Adelaide Branch of the National Trust of South Australia noted late last year, "although consultation has been fairly intense, the scope of that which is subject to consultation is very limited. Many critical issues and major elements have been deemed ‘non negotiable’ in this process and we wish to protest this as inadequate as a consultation process."

The letter was addressed to DefenceSA — a state government body that leads the government of South Australia’s defence industry efforts. It offers "focussed and responsive services to Defence and defence industry to drive the sector’s growth in South Australia and to support the delivery of key defence projects and facilities such as Techport Australia." []

Techport will be located behind the eight metre-high concrete barrier. It will be as high as the distinctive Stobie poles that carry electricity cables in the older parts of the city. According to the agency’s website, Techport will feature:

  • World-class common user shipbuilding infrastructure — including a wharf, runway, dry berth and Australia’s largest shiplift.
  • A 35+ hectare, fully integrated industrial precinct for suppliers.
  • An onsite Maritime Skills Centre - delivering trade and technical skills for a job-ready workforce; a purpose-built, state-of-the-art Air Warfare Destroyer Systems Centre.
  • Access to the national transport network including heavy/wide load roads, a rail spur and deep channel international port.
  • An optical fibre network link to major research, defence and education sites across Australia

With state and federal government sweeteners to industry, the precinct hopes to attract:

  • Civil or military shipbuilding
  • Ship repair and maintenance
  • Systems design and integration
  • Metal fabrication and module construction
  • Blast and paint
  • Warehousing and logistics
  • Precision manufacturing
  • Electronic component supply

"The combination of location, facilities and billion dollar contracts already in place make Techport Australia the prime destination for any business involved in naval and defence-related industries," the website continues. The state government has invested over $400 million so far on the facilities which will host the construction of the Royal Australian Navy’s Air Warfare Destroyers. The money would have been better spent on neglected schools and other crumbling infrastructure. The government is justifying the conversion of SA into an even bigger focus of military industries and activities with the promise of $12 billion worth of military contracts and more than 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The figures seem impressive at first sight but the results are by no means in the bag. Jobs in the hub will not make up for the devastating losses in local manufacturing industry in recent years. Mitsubishi is to stop vehicle production at the end of March with the direct loss of 930 jobs and several hundred more at component supplying companies.Each Techport job being anticipated will have cost $3 million worth of "investment" to get started without considering the state government’s outlays. There are many more economical and socially useful way to create jobs.

DefenceSA claims the unusually high fence was imposed on developers by the Environment Protection Agency, which has a reputation in the Port Adelaide area as the most toothless of tigers when it comes to the many environmental challenges facing residents. The National Trust was told that acoustic engineers — who supposedly endorsed the DefenceSA concrete wall — are under contract and would not be authorised to discuss their findings.

The loss of open space for recreation and habitat for local species inflicted by the Pelican Point power station and the Flinders Ports’ facility is to be compounded by the loss of a large chunk of coastline to war industries. Access to the river for fishing and to see the Port River dolphins are to make way for Techport. The Port Adelaide Sailing Club — relocated to make way for luxury portside units — will suffer from is proximity to the strategic industries hub.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Adelaide turns out to hear 'sorry'

Thousands of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people crowded into Elder Park in Adelaide yesterday to hear the Federal Government's long-overdue apology to the stolen generations.

For the Communist Party of Australia SA State Committee's response to the apology and Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson's appalling reply, go to the media release listed on the "widget" to the right of this post.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

'Sorry' Event in Adelaide...

Go to our widget on the right to download details of Reconciliation SA's big day at Elder Park on Wednesday the 13th - the day the nation apologises.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mitsubishi Pulls the Pin on Adelaide Workers...

After years of threatening to close their manufacturing operation in Adelaide, Mitsubishi has pulled the rug out from under the nearly 1000 workers, some of whom have given more than 40 years of their working lives to the Japanese owned company.

Go to our widget on the right to download the Party's statement on the closure.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

21st CPA State Conference

The CPA held it's 21st State Conference at the Semaphore Workers Club this afternoon. The Conference was well attended by members of the Party and also by guests at the after Conference event. Nominations to the State Committee were voted on resulting in the election of eight members, making the new committee the largest and most representative of all SA branches for some time.

The Conference also considered and accepted a range of political resolutions which can be viewed in detail by downloading the document in the box widget to your right.

It is customary for a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party to attend Party State Conferences and this year we were fortunate enough to host CC Member Rob Gowland. Rob's main contribution was a report on the International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties, which, until this year, has been regularly hosted by the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) in Athens. This year the meeting was moved to Minsk, Belarus, one of a growing number of countries in the former Soviet Union which has reverted to a socialist economy.

Rob's report was supported by a visual presentation which will be available for download soon.

Other guest speakers included Martin O'Malley from the CFMEU, Jamie Newlyn from the MUA and local Aboriginal activist John Hartley who spoke about the upcoming National Convergence on Parliament House in Canberra to protest against the continuation of the intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

Thanks to all guests of the CPA for joining us in celebrating our 21st!

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