On underemployment

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “What is underemployment? And who is most affected by it?” (Wednesday)

One addition should be added to the story. The ABS states that if you are in a job 36 hours a week or more that is a full time job. Under 36 hours per week is a part time job. You cannot be in a full time job and claim to be underemployed.

Alas there is no category of being overemployed or working in a full time job but want to work less hours. Currently, and my figures are rounded, 12 million Australians work, of which 3 million work part time, of which 1 million want more hours. 

On the closure of Hazelwood

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re.”On lazy energy policy reporting” (Thursday)

 I am confused by John Richardson’s comments as they relate to me. We are both aiming for the same outcome.  It is hardly fashioning a position for Labor to point out that an emissions trading scheme was good policy shot down by the media which continues to damn both sides of politics for a failure on energy policy.

Pricing carbon is now widely seen as a more viable approach to achieving an effective energy policy. 

David Edmunds writes:  Re. “On lazy energy policy reporting” (Thursday)

In reply to John Richardson’s reply to my reply, and so on, concerning the Hazelwood shutdown, I think he may have misunderstood the point I was making. I pointed out that we needed all of the possible strategies to reduce our carbon footprint, specifically including efficiencies, that is demand reduction, and household solar and hot water.  The point of Labor’s carbon price is that it drives all strategies to reduce our carbon footprint.

I did not defend the existence of aluminium smelters but pointed out the ridiculous strategy of using them as a work-around to support a more or less constant coal-fired supply in an environment of widely varying demand. I think Mr Richardson and I are generally in furious agreement.

On penalty rates

Geoff Heard writes: Why I changed my mind on penalty rates” (Thursday)

Hey wait a minute, Hinch — you were going to school at THREE??? But a good story and yes, we had Golden Syrup here too — treacle light you might call it. Sometimes we  had it on our bread and dripping when we got home from school as a change from salt and pepper.

But on to penalty rates. What is continually missing from the debate is the fact that these penalty rates were negotiated and agreed upon as part of a total wage package. Sure, the “penalty” part of the package was linked to certain circumstances, but it was still seen at the time it was negotiated as contributing to a total wage, not just as being attached to a particular day or event.

When it comes to employers and their shills today, though, they slice off the penalty and attack it in isolation. Sunday rates? Yes, it is true that when I was a lad, a very large proportion of people went to church on Sundays and it had significance. Today they do not. But that does not mean that Sundays have lost their importance in people’s lives — and most importantly, in people’s lives as part of a community. The fact is that if you are working on weekends today, you still suffer a penalty because that’s when lots of social life goes on; that’s when most other people are not working. And for my money, Sunday is still bigger than Saturday in this respect.

Employers and others of that ilk might argue otherwise. Okay, friends, put your money where your mouth is. Go on the basic wage, then let’s see you working full time every Sunday until you retire at 65 with no special rate for the day. So good on you Derryn and the others who voted to retain the Sunday penalty rate as special. Sunday still is a special day and those who work it suffer a penalty and should be adequately compensated.

Peter Fray

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