Marriage and mental health

Richard Cobden writes: Re. “At-risk LGBTI people don’t need marriage, they need mental health care” (yesterday). Those of us in our sixties fought hard 40-30 years ago for law reform, for anti-vilification, for equal age of consent, and for relationship law reform. We do not necessarily have time to spare. Speaking for myself I am not inclined to be lectured by teenagers, or people in their twenties and thirties, that same sex marriage can just wait three years, or more, because of frankly wet reasons against it (Death! Destruction!). I might be dead before three years are up. Moreover no one can say it will only be three years.

Shorten and Xenophon should negotiate, dare I say it, for the “sensible centre”. A plebiscite on the following conditions should be accepted: 1. the result is binding (how that is achieved involves a lot of dull legalese but I will share it on demand), 2. there is no funding for a No case and therefore also not for a Yes case, 3. the prime minister agrees to campaign vigorously for a Yes vote and 4. the federal government commits in advance to enforcing violations of vilification speech laws. Realpolitik folks. Stop the Puritanism.

Now unions are crushing the little guys

Don Wormald writes: Re. “SDA has betrayed workers, union movement, Australia” (Friday). Guy Rundle on Friday referenced the SDA’s sell-out on penalty rates with Coles whereby the union signed off on an enterprise agreement providing much lower pay rates for workers on Sundays and public holidays. Guy, as a Sydney Morning Herald investigation back in May reported, the SDA’s deals aren’t just with Coles. Try also Woolworths (and I have confirmed this one myself), Maccas and other national retailers.  These companies are paying somewhere between 25 and 40% less per hour on those days than the Fair Work Australia retail awards applicable to the rest of us.

I can’t blame the big retailers for wanting to reduce ridiculously high penalty rates in what is a seven day trading environment.  I have seen my own penalty rates rise from time and a quarter to double time and it is almost impossible to make money at those rates.

I can, however, blame the SDA for the breathtaking hypocrisy it has displayed in doing quiet deals with the largest and wealthiest retailers in the land whilst at the same time maintaining a posture against all the smaller retailers telling them they have to pay full whack.  The big boys buy their stock at massive discounts to the prices paid by the rest of us and to give them a further massive wages advantage is just plain wrong.  If you want only two retailers in this country, that’s a good way to do it.

34 years ago I had the eminence grise of the SDA, Joe de Bruyn, as a guest speaker at a rally of small retailers. He promised to look after our interests against the big retailers. Hollow words, Joe.