Here in the West, the major parties and their respective leaders are promising to fix anything and everything that’s wrong with Western Australia and Pauline, the Liberal’s new best friend, is saying what Liberals don’t want to be seen saying, spraying venom against anyone she doesn’t perceive as being “Astrayan”. I’d like to raise both the tone of the debate and the plight of many people working in our state.
The cost of living has been spiralling out of control for several years, day to day costs are genuinely horrendous, most families could not get by without two incomes. Just the other day, would be replacement Premier, Liza Harvey, tweeted that the Liberals had kept the power going, neglecting to mention that under her party’s stewardship, the cost of power has become so expensive for families, power bills are now sent monthly with reminder messages to consumers that their bill is due in “three days” etc.
Meanwhile, real wages have been dropping dramatically over the last 18 months and available work is increasingly part time or casual. Many jobs are being converted to casual, as a method of circumventing holiday and sick pay requirements. Indeed, in reversal of past practice, casual rates are now often less than full time rates of pay – the carrot being, “If you work for us for a period of months, we might offer you full time employment at a higher rate of pay!” If you look up from your screen, you may well see a sounder of swine flying by.
As I write this, at a mining camp in WA, I’m watching a group of workers, who’ve just been given the news, the sub-contractor company they work for, through no fault of that company, has lost the job to the main contractor. To add insult to injury, they are being asked to train their replacements, who are coming in to do the same job for almost exactly half the rate of pay – from $36.00 per hour down to $18.00ph. These guys, who were already working casually, albeit with continual work, will all be unemployed by the end of next week. The shareholders of the European based company will no doubt be ecstatic at this year’s AGM, with the cost reduction achieved.
All of these guys have kids, mortgages and bills to pay. At this stage, they don’t care about balancing budgets, burqas, Roe 8, Elizabeth Quay, or Metronet, they want a secure job, so they can pay their bills and look after their families, but nobody seems to care. And if anyone thinks this is an isolated incident, it has become the norm.
I’m going to say that I care, that’s why I’ve made the decision to stand for Midland – somebody has to fight for ordinary working people and their families.
Candidate for Midland
Julie Matheson for Western Australia Party