Monday, April 26, 2010

Olympic Dam's faulty expansion

The Olympic Dam uranium and copper mine at Roxby Downs is susceptible to seismic activity that could result in the release of radioactive tailings into ground and surface waters, together with the dispersal of radioactive gases and particles in to the atmosphere.

The mine is currently operated underground, but is due to be expanded into the world’s largest open cut uranium mine by owners BHP-Billiton with the active support of the South Australian state Labor government.

A 35 kilometre long Mashers Fault line runs through the centre of the ore body and the proposed open pit.

Natural seismic activity, and changes in groundwater pressures caused by the massive pumping of artesian water supply by the mine, could equally result in a radioactive event.

Seismic activity is common throughout parts of South Australia.

The suburbs of the capital city of Adelaide sit astride several major fault lines. The most notable earthquakes have been in 1954 (magnitude 5.5) and 2010 (magnitude 3.8). Earthquakes in SA regional centres have included Beachport (1897 mag. 6.5) and Warooka (1902, mag. 6.0).

The most active area for earthquakes in SA is the Flinders Ranges (see here) where the Chinese-backed Marathon Resources hopes to tunnel into a wilderness sanctuary to mine uranium.

But it is the potential for disturbance at Olympic Dam that has excited recent comment. Edward Cranswick, a retired geophysicist, has been warning of the dangers of expanding the Olympic Dam into one of the world’s largest open pit mines.

These details are taken from the Coober Pedy Regional Times:

OLYMPIC DAM: Mashers Fault

Mashers Fault and the Seismicity Anticipated to be Stimulated by the Proposed Open Pit Mine at Olympic DamBy: Edward Cranswick (30DEC2009) REVISED* Public Seismic Network (Geophysicist, US Geological Survey, resigned)

(Figure 1 Mashers Fault schematic SSE-NNW cross-section through the Olympic Dam ore body, no vertical exaggeration )

Abstract: The proposed excavation at Olympic Dam of one of the largest open pit mines on Earth, 4.1 km long, 3.5 km wide, 1 km deep, at a bend in the steeply dipping, 35-km-long Mashers Fault, and the associated perturbation of the local groundwater pore pressures in a region of horizontal compressive stress would most likely stimulate local seismicity.

(Figure 2 Map of Olympic Dam showing existing underground mine and outline of the proposed open pit in bold black, the potentiometric contours (labeled by elevation, m, above sea-level) in blue, and the trace of the NE-SW Mashers Fault in yellow (the eastern-most 5 km have been truncated). Black arrows indicate the principal horizontal stress direction (Bunger et al. 2008)

Faulting, perhaps related to variations of pore pressure, has occurred intermittently on structures in Australia that are difficult to recognise, and open pit mines have caused earthquakes in other countries.

Removing 1 km of rock at Olympic Dam would reduce the vertical stress by ~25 MPa, increase the deviatoric stress and facilitate thrust-type faulting in the vicinity of the open pit, and possibly stimulate strike-slip failure on the Mashers Fault, triggered by the extensive pumping and disposal of ground water.

["potentiometric contours" in Figure 2 refers to contours of water table with respect to sea level]
Relatively small (magnitude <6), href=""> )

Introduction: Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP Billiton) currently owns and operates the existing underground copper-uranium-gold-silver Olympic Dam mine (coordinates: –30.44°, +136.87°) 10 km north of Roxby Downs in South Australia.

The company has proposed in their Olympic Dam Expansion Draft Environmental Impact Statement 2009 (ODXdEIS; BHP Billiton 2009) to expand the mining operation over a period of 40 years and create an open pit mine 4.1 km long, 3.5 km wide, 1 km deep – making it one of the largest open pit mines on Earth.

The Olympic Dam ore body is a hematite breccia within the basement of Palaeoproterozoic and Mesoproterozoic crystalline rocks that are unconformably overlain by ~300 m of Neoproterozoic to Cambrian age, flat-lying sedimentary rocks of the Stuart Shelf and a veneer of surficial deposits on the eastern margin of the Gawler Craton (Reynolds 2001). The mined ore is ground into particles and treated with acid to dissolve and remove copper, uranium, gold and silver, and the resulting tailings are a slurry that is pumped to the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF). There the tailings solids are allowed to settle and the liquid component is removed by evaporation and seepage into the surficial layer of sands and clays (~3 m thick) and the underlying shallow aquifer of the Andamooka Limestone, and some excess liquid drains into evaporation ponds (ODXdEIS).

Next to the ore body, the most prominent geological structure at Olympic Dam is the 35-km-long Mashers Fault that passes through the middle of the ore body and the proposed pit. The excavation of the open pit mine and the associated perturbation of the local groundwater pore pressures would most likely stimulate some level of seismicity in the vicinity of the mine, and possibly slip on the Masher Fault itself. I use the term “stimulate” as defined by McGarr et al. (2002):

‘“induced” describes seismicity resulting from an activity that is comparable in magnitude to the ambient shear stress acting on a fault to cause slip, whereas “triggered” is used if the stress change is only a small fraction of the ambient level … By “stimulated” we refer generally to seismicity either triggered or induced by human activities.’
To continue: Included at the following link is a recent peer-reviewed scientific paper, “Mashers Fault and the Seismicity Anticipated to be Stimulated by the Proposed Open Pit Mine at Olympic Dam” by Edward Cranswick, presented at the annual meeting of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society held in Newcastle, NSW, in December 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake (in January 1990.

Mr. Cranswick participated in the tail-end of the then on-going aftershock investigation of the Newcastle earthquake). His presentation slides from the annual meeting of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society held in Newcastle, NSW can be found at this website:

Further Seismic information by this author is included here as a submission on the application licenses for a National Radioactive Waste Repository (at Woomera)
13 Nov 2003
Edward Cranswick

The Project Management Officer
PO Box 655

RE: Public Submission on the application licenses for a National Radioactive Waste Repository Edward Cranswick

I am opposed to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency’s (ARPANSA) granting of a license for the construction and operation of the National Radioactive Waste Repository (NRWR) at Site 40a in South Australia (SA). There remain serious unresolved issues regarding the impact to the health and safety of people and the environment by the proposed shallow burial of radioactive waste near Woomera. In particular, I am concerned about the inadequate analysis of seismic hazard in the NRWR Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

I recently retired from the US Geological Survey where I worked as a geophysicist for 22 years and investigated the strong ground motions produced by earthquakes.

The whole discussion of seismic hazard is limited to less than one page in the Main Report of the EIS (Environment Assessment, Chapter 8, Physical Environment, 8.1.3 Seismicity, p. 157), the text of which is reproduced in its entirety below:

The level of seismic activity in Australia is generally considered to be low when compared to the seismically active areas of the world.

The most seismically active areas of South Australia are associated with the Adelaide Geosyncline in an area extending from the Flinders Ranges in the north to Kangaroo Island in the south; the eastern portion of Eyre Peninsula; and the southeastern region of the state around Mt Gambier.

The area between Quorn and Leigh Creek has the highest number of seismic events (considered to be related to zones of crustal weakness), with several earthquakes ranging in magnitude from Richter Local Magnitude (ML) 4.5 to 5.7 between 1939 and 1983. Activity west of the Torrens Hinge Zone, in the areas of the proposed repository, range from ML 1 to 2 (with ML 2 being the lowest magnitude able to be felt). Discussion with the South Australian Office of Minerals and Energy Resources has indicated that the cluster of predominantly ML 1 recordings are likely to be related to blasting activities associated with mining at Olympic Dam and Mt Gunson.

In Eyre Peninsula the earthquakes appear to be associated with the Lincoln Fault Zone, the highest recording being the 1959 Mambin earthquake of magnitude ML 4.9. In the South East, seismicity is related to the western margin of the Otway Basin and an onshore volcanic belt. The highest recorded earthquakes are the 1897 Beachport–Kingston earthquake of magnitude ML 6.5 and the 1948 Robe earthquake of magnitude ML 5.6.

The Standards Association of Australia AS 1170.4-1993, Minimum Design Loads on Structures, Part 4 Earthquake Loads indicates that a ground acceleration coefficient of 0.08 would be appropriate for Site 52a, and between 0.085 and 0.09 for the eastern sites. There is a 10% probability that the aboveground acceleration levels would be exceeded in a 50-year period.
The repository and buildings would be designed in accordance with AS 1170.4-1993.

In the following submission, I will review this text.
(Fig. 4. Earthquake hazard map of Australia. The numbers, e.g., "greater than 0.10”, refer to the ground acceleration (measured as a fraction of the Earth’s gravitational acceleration, g, i.e., 1.0 g = 9.8 m/s2) with a 10% probability of being exceeded in 50 years (Geoscience Australia).

Site 40a is approximately 20 km east of Woomera. Instead of being located within one of the least seismically hazardous zones of Australia, the site is adjacent to the one of the most hazardous zones, that which encompasses the Flinders Ranges (Figs. 4 and 5).

Indeed, the Federal Member for the South Australian electorate of Mayo and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, recently said, “There have been more moderate-sized earthquakes near Adelaide over the last 50 years than anywhere else in Australia” (Geoscience Australia, 2003a).

(Figure 5 – Earthquake hazard map of Australia. The numbers, e.g., “greater than 0.10”, refer to the ground acceleration (measured as a fraction of the Earth’s gravitational acceleration, g, i.e., 1.0 g = 9.8 m/s2) with a 10% probability of being exceeded in 50 years (Geoscience Australia, 2003b).

SA earthquake hazard map of region surrounding location marked by the black square. The yellow, brown, and red dots represent earthquakes (Geoscience Australia).

Figure 5 – Earthquake hazard map of region surrounding Site 40a whose location is marked by the black square. The yellow, brown, and red dots represent earthquakes (Geoscience Australia, 2003b).

The PIRSA earthquake maps (PIRSA, 2003) for years 2000 and 2001 show events to the west of Lake Torrens, and the EIS states “Activity west of the Torrens Hinge Zone, in the areas of the proposed repository … are likely to be related to blasting activities associated with mining at Olympic Dam and Mt Gunson” (my italics). However, I note the following: 1) not all these events are located at either Olympic Dam or Mt Gunson; 2) whether all these events are explosions should be explicitly determined by consulting the records of the respective licensed blasters; 3) mining activities can trigger seismic events; 4) Olympic Dam has a sophisticated seismic array to monitor earth movements at the mine (S. Eldridge, 2003, personal communication), and data from this array can be used to constrain the nature of local seismic sources, i.e., those within a hundred km.

Because of the historical paucity of seismograph stations, the occurrence and exact locations of earthquakes and their corresponding wave propagation characteristics in northern SA are not well known, and an intensive field campaign of earthquake monitoring has recently commenced “to improve estimates of seismic hazard in the region” (Geoscience Australia, 2003c).

In addition to the hazard posed by the known sources of seismic activity in the Flinders, there is the hazard posed by large intraplate earthquakes that could occur anywhere throughout the Australian craton, such as the 1987-1988 Tennant Creek earthquake sequence that included three magnitude 6+ events: “The Tennant Creek area had no history of earthquake activity before 1987.” (Seismology Research Centre, 1998). Cummins et al. (2003) argue that there are “large uncertainties … regarding an earthquake hazard map for Australia in which we can have complete confidence”, and they conclude, “Recent neotectonic investigations in areas of low topographic relief, for example, indicate that seismicity must be transitory in both space and time over large parts of Australia.”

Not only strong ground shaking, but also faulting and ground rupture can pose a significant hazard to the NRWR. Ground rupture such as that which damaged the gas pipeline during the earthquakes at Tennant Creek can damage waste containment structures. The 1992 ML 5.6-5.8 Little Skull Mountain Earthquake, whose epicenter is within 20 km of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, USA, a potential high-level NRWR, is the largest tectonic event that has occurred within 50 km of the site in historic time, and it has raised concerns about “coupled processes that may lead to the future release of radioactive material to the accessible environment.

A few examples of tectonically coupled processes are: co-seismic changes in the water table; changes in infiltration rates due to changes in fracture characteristics … ” (Whitney and Keefer, 2000). Similar abrupt changes in the water table were observed after the 1998 magnitude 5.3 Pymatuning earthquake in Pennsylvania, USA, and Fleeger et al. (1999) argued that these changes could be explained by faulting that fractured the aquitard and drained the aquifer. Faulting plays an important role in the natural occurrence of mound springs in the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) 200 km to the north (James Cook University, 2000).

The last sentence of the “Seismicity” section of the EIS is, “The repository and buildings would be designed in accordance with AS 1170.4-1993.” However, the abstract of the AS 1170.4-1993 states (Standards Australia, 2003):

Sets out data and procedures for determining minimum earthquake loads on structures and their components, and also minimum detailing requirements for structures. It does not consider related phenomena such as settlement, slides, subsidence, liquefaction or faulting in the immediate vicinity of a structure. It does not include nuclear reactors, dams, transmission towers, bridges, piers and wharves, which may require special consideration. The Standard is in limit states format. New earthquake maps are defined in terms of an acceleration coefficient instead of the zoning system used in the previous Standard AS 2121. Domestic structures are now included.

Therefore, AS 1170.4-1993 is essentially irrelevant to the design of the repository because the repository would clearly be one of those structures which “require special consideration.” The title, “Seismicity”, of this section about seismic hazard is itself a misnomer because the term seismicity refers to the temporal, spatial, and magnitude distribution of earthquakes but does not directly refer to their damaging effects.

Site 40a is not a site of minimal earthquake hazard. There is much uncertainty at present about the seismic hazard in the region, and much of the information that is available has not been included in the EIS. Furthermore, it is premature to attempt to evaluate the earthquake hazard until results are obtained from the recently commenced tectonic and seismic studies of the Flinders Ranges.

Most critically, the misunderstanding concerning AS 1170.4-1993 indicates that the EIS Study Team is not competent to evaluate seismic risk. The EIS Study Team did not include any geophysicists – it is essential that the EIS be approved by seismologists, and my Australian colleagues who are familiar with the Australian land are the ones to do that. In conclusion, as characterized by the Draft EIS, ARPANSA should not grant a license for the construction and operation of the NRWR at Site 40a.
Edward Cranswick

(for bibliography, see Coober Pedy Regional Times link above).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aboriginal Customary Law and Culture Movement

Aboriginal community leaders have announced the launch of a weekly television program, which can be seen on this website:

The program is hosted by John Hartley and David Salomon. In the first episode, David intrerviews John about the background to the Ampilatwtja walkoff and the construction of the protest house which was aided by the CFMEU and other unions.

During the show, John sings two of his songs, Poison in the Water, and Let it Shine.

The "4 days in July" taken for the name of the website refers to a historic national convergence of Aboriginal leaders which will take place in Alice Springs from July 6 - 9 2010 to condemn the racist Northern Territory Intervention and to demand the unconditional restoration of the suspended Racial Discrimination Act.

For further information on the Ampilatwatja issue, scroll down to page 12 on the following link:

An anti-revisionist people's rally in Luoyang, Henan, China

(The following item and the translation accompanying it was circulated in an International League for Peoples Struggle distribution list - Mike)
An anti-revisionist people's rally commemorating and calling for continuing Mao Zedong's struggle against revisionism, in Luoyang City, Henan Province.

A rough translation of the speech is here below

A Memorial for Chairman Mao and Other Martyrs - Luoyang City, Henan ProvincePosted by Utopia ( on April 14, 2010 people

The banner says: A Rally by Luoyang People to Pay Tribute to Chairman Mao and Other Martyrs

The Speech (translated into English) is as follows:

Chairman Mao worked hard his entire life to win the revolution and to establish a new China. Anyone who has a conscience will always be grateful to him. We can say with certainty that without Chairman Mao there could not have been a new China.

Chairman Mao often reminded us that we should always remember the revolutionary martyrs for the contributions they made, and we should understand why they sacrificed their lives to fight for the cause. Chairman Mao once asked us whether we remember the many martyrs who died in the revolution. He said that he thought about them often. He said they sacrificed their lives, because they wanted to build a new China - a new China where there would be no class exploitation or class repression, a new China where the people would become the master of the country. Those revolutionary martyrs wanted to build a new China where foreign and domestic reactionaries could no longer oppress our working people.

In 1974 Mao wrote a poem as a memorial to the martyrs for their accomplishments. He said the revolutionaries were very courageous, and that they dared to challenge the sun and the moon in order to change our destiny. Chairman Mao repeatedly reminded us that we must not betray the road our martyrs traveled, and we must not betray the high ideals these martyrs held. Chairman Mao said that so many people sacrificed their lives in order to build a prosperous China, so that Chinese people could enjoy better lives. They wanted to build a strong China that could stand proudly among the world's other peoples and nations. Many revolutionaries died on the battleground fighting against the enemies or were executed by the enemies. They died without any regrets but with smiles on their faces. They shouted with their last breath: "Long live the Communist Party! Long live Chairman Mao!".

Chairman Mao said even when he was still alive they [the revisionists] could not accept what he said. Our Chairman said that he was not thinking of himself but of our country and our people. He did his best he could to assure our country would not change colors and that socialism would prevail. He said that even when he was alive, they [the revisionists] were already doing what they wanted to do. If they could accomplish what they wanted, then the blood shed by our martyrs would be in vain and people would have to suffer all over again. Chairman Mao continued to say that he knew the Chinese people wanted socialism and how he worried the Chinese people would suffer if China should abandon socialism. Therefore, he relied on the masses and refused to retreat.

Why did Chairman Mao work so hard for us and worry so much about us? What were his worries? Wasn't he worried that our country might change colors and that the blood of our martyrs would be for nothing? Wasn't he worried that our country would revert to barbarism and slavery? What would our martyrs have thought, if they had known that the socialist values and morals of our society have been so totally corrupted, and that our peoples' lives again have fallen into such deep water? Isn't it true that all Mao's worries have become reality?

We gather here today not just to show our deep appreciation to Chairman Mao and our martyrs. We gather here to assert that our martyrs did not sacrifice their lives for nothing. If we still have our consciences we cannot forget what the Communist Party had struggled for. Today we have things to tell our Chairman and martyrs. We want to tell you with shame and regret that we lost what you left for us - the right to be the masters of our country and the beautiful future of socialism. It was our fault but now people have awakened. We know the revisionists have seized power. We, the proletariat are united with our determination and our fearless spirit. We are singing our battle song - the Internationale. We do not rely on any savior, nor do we rely on any gods or emperors. We rely only on ourselves. This is our last struggle and we are united for tomorrow's final victory. This country is our country and the people are our people. The battle drums have been sounded. We are marching forward to fight the reactionaries and to smash the bourgeoisie into pieces once for all. We want to make sure that the generations after us will not suffer again. We are going to once again hold up the flag of Mao Zedong Thought on this land. We will fight to restore true socialism.

Long Live the Great and Invincible Mao Zedong Thought!!

Long Live the Great Proletarian Class!!

(Translator note: This is not an exact translation word for word. The sound quality of the video was not good. Some words were lost. However, under the circumstances the translation has captured the important meaning of the speech, the expressions of the speaker and his choice of words and phrases.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Gillard and the reinvention of Margaret Thatcher

Michael Roux made an observation on-line at Business Spectator (6 April 2010) that perfectly explains the need that the ruling class has for social democracy.

Social democracy is the advocacy of social reform measures within the confines of a parliamentary institution. The Australian Labor Party is the Australian representative of social democracy.

Roux wrote: “'Only Nixon could go to China' is the counter-intuitive rule of modern politics that says that hard but necessary decisions often (and often must) emerge from the opposite end of the political spectrum.”

“Richard Nixon went to China in the middle of the Cold War, the theory goes, because only a communist-bashing conservative US President could possibly negotiate with Chairman Mao without coming across to voters as a weak-kneed appeaser.”

Now, Nixon was no social democrat, but Roux expanded: “A good example last week was President Obama's decision to approve offshore oil drilling; another was free-market reforms overseen by Labor governments in Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s.”

To these examples we might add Julia Gillard’s emerging record on industrial relations.

The conservative Liberal government of Australia had sought through its Work Choices legislation to weaken the collective bargaining rights of workers and to coerce employees into entering into individual contracts (Australian Workplace Agreements or AWAs) with their bosses.

They had also attacked the most militant section of the working class – construction workers – by setting up a special industry police force, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) with powers to rival those embedded in anti-terrorist legislation.

Workers gave overwhelming support to a Your Rights at Work campaign in the run-up to the election which saw the Liberals thrown out and Labor elected.

Gillard was a major beneficiary, coming in as Deputy Prime Minister with portfolio responsibility for education and industrial affairs.

But what has she done with these responsibilities?

On the positive side, she has put a stop to any new AWAs. She has introduced legislation (the Fair Work Act 2009) that restores and protects collective bargaining. There is some recognition of union rights to enter work sites to engage with members. There is better protection for low-paid workers.

However, AWAs that existed prior to the election or which were written before the passage of the Fair Work Act were not rescinded. Unions are assumed to be the bargaining agents for their members, but members can nominate other bargaining agents (including their employer!), and non-members may nominate the union (getting the advantage of membership without paying for it) or someone else.

Industrial action during a bargaining period is “protected” so long as it is not recommended or ordered by an industrial court that it cease in favour of arbitration before the court. Industrial action taken outside of a bargaining period is not protected and such action is deemed to be illegal and subject to heavy fines and possible jail sentences for union members and their officials.
The hated ABCC remains. It makes second-class citizens of construction workers. A South Australian rigger, Ark Tribe, faces 6 months jail for refusing to answer ABCC interrogators about union intervention over a worksite that government safety inspectors subsequently found to be in breach of regulations. Construction workers have been compelled to work under the supervision of the ABCC for a longer period of time under Gillard than they did under the Liberals.

The coal miner/cop/security guard’s daughter who once dreamed of becoming a teacher has left open an unspecified threat against the nation’s education workers who want her to legislate to prevent the publication of school league tables.

Asked on January 29 2010 whether she would “bring in outsiders” to do the tests that teachers are threatening to boycott she said “I’m not going to speculate but my determination is absolutely clear. The tests will go ahead.” Two days earlier she said she would not “rule anything in or anything out” when asked whether she was “talking about strikebreakers”. Three days before that she had stated she was not ruling “anything or anything out about individual actions to ensure we deliver national testing”, thus indicating that individual teachers engaging in the boycott could well be targeted. On January 19 she stated “action that’s taken not within the context of bargaining is unprotected and there are sanctions and penalties under the workplace relations law to deal with unprotected industrial action.” Once again, she was “ruling nothing in and nothing out”. On January 20, asked whether teachers could have their pay docked”, she was “not ruling anything in or anything out”.

What “unprotected” industrial action means for workers was clearly displayed during Gillard’s response to strike action by workers at Woodside Petroleum’s Pluto gasfield on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia (see strike vote photo below). The workers had been housed in “dongas”, transportable homes in which they could store personal property during their “off” times (this is a remote area and workers are flown in and out on a roster basis). The company sought to reduce costs by “motelling” the workers, which meant a downgrade in their accommodation and inconvenience in relation to personal items left at the workplace during “off” time.

The traditional response to bosses trying to attack conditions is to have a blue, but the Pluto workers found that under the new Fair Work Act, this was illegal. This is how Gillard dealt with Woodside’s attacks on workers’ accommodation entitlements in a radio interview in Perth on 28 January:

STEVE CANNANE: Julia Gillard, good morning.

JULIA GILLARD: Good morning.

STEVE CANNANE: How do you respond to Mr Masson’s and Woodside’s observation that they need you to come out and say you strongly support the rule of law, that you have to be tough here and if anything force these workers to arbitration?

JULIA GILLARD: I did that yesterday so I agree with Mr Masson. That’s exactly what we should be doing as a government and I did that yesterday in a public statement, I’ve done it on AM which you’ve just played and I am happy to do it again.

STEVE CANNANE: But when we say there is a difference between you saying ‘I don’t approve of the behaviour’ but are you able to force this to arbitration? Are you able to take a big stick to this issue?

JULIA GILLARD: The industrial umpire has to deal with it and Mr Masson made that point himself, what he’s asking the Federal Government to do is to clearly say to the workers involved that they must obey the rule of law and they must respect and obey the orders of the industrial umpire, Fair Work Australia.

I said that yesterday, I’ve said it publically this morning and I am happy to say it again as Deputy Prime Minister, as a representative of the Rudd Government, we have no tolerance at all for breaching industrial laws and breaching orders of Fair Work Australia. This industrial action that is being taken now is not lawful, the people involved are exposing themselves to thousands of dollars of fines and penalties, they need to sit down, have a think and get back to work.

STEVE CANNANE: Those workers are listening to you this morning and particularly phrases like no tolerance of such thing; we could argue that it’s easy to use tough rhetoric about language here, but beyond that sort of general statement go back to work or you could face problems, it seems that people are asking more of you. Can you do more?

JULIA GILLARD: This is a matter for the independent industrial umpire. The independent industrial umpire has issued orders to get people back to work, if they breach those orders then that is a matter that gets dealt with by the Federal Court. Obviously the Federal Court is independent of government and an independent judge will deal with the issue.
STEVE CANNANE: But it’s also a test of Fair Work Australia because the employers are saying that if those workers continue to defy the order of Fair Work Australia well then it sort of begs the question how relevant and affective is this independent umpire if its findings are ignored?
JULIA GILLARD: Well with respect, if we look back on industrial relations history in this country, we’ve seen these issues from time to time, this has happened before. Obviously Fair Work Australia as the independent umpire issues orders and if orders are breached, then people can be fined. That’s the system and my message to employees engaged in this conduct is they must get back to work.

STEVE CANNANE: We’ve spoken to some of those workers, in fact they were ringing us this morning and have asked you to come and talk to them. They said they voted for you and Mr Rudd and they won’t be voting for you again. They feel unsupported. Do you have any interest in going and talking to them?

JULIA GILLARD: Look, I’m happy to say to anyone via your program, in person, in writing, any other way; no tolerance for unprotected industrial action. This industrial action is not in accordance with the law. People have an obligation to go to work, to do the right thing, to do all of the things that their job requires of them and these individuals need to go and do just that.

STEVE CANNANE: Is there a real possibility that some of these workers could go to jail? I know that’s always the threat and that always seems the threat of somewhere down the line, but is it possible they could?

JULIA GILLARD: The industrial system obviously works on orders and getting people to abide by those orders. The principal sanction if someone breaches an order is that they face penalties and fines, that is they will be very, very, very substantially out of pocket.

STEVE CANNANE: Does it pose a risk to our reputation internationally and risk the reputation of our resources sector if it continues for more than a few days?

JULIA GILLARD: What we’ve got here obviously is an industrial dispute. We’ve got an industrial dispute where our industrial umpire is there dealing with it, issuing orders, the system is working, the matter can now go to the Federal Court in terms of fines and penalties so that’s the system for dealing with and managing disputes.

Gillard’s stance on right of entry also exposes the service that social democracy offers to the ruling class. When the National Union of Workers and New South Wales’s Dunlop Foams reached agreement on a relatively favourable approach to the union’s right of entry, the manufacturing employers’ “union” the Australian Industry Group demanded action from Gillard. The deputy PM has a particularly close relationship with this group and sprang into action on their behalf by personally intervening to block the NUW-Dunlop agreement. Heaven forbid that a precedent be set that might flow on to the advantage of other unions and their members!

Interviewed again on Perth radio on 29 March, there was this exchange:

GEOFF HUTCHISON: You were at a breakfast speaking this morning and talking about industrial relations and I know recently you’ve been trying to make clear to the union movement that they won’t have easy access to work sites. What did you say this morning?

JULIA GILLARD: Well this morning I made it very clear that the rules are the rules. We put the Fair Work system into place because we think it gets the balance right. The Australian community didn’t want Work Choices. It had gone too far. Mr Abbott is obviously out there, very much enamoured with Work Choices and still arguing for it. I think the Australia community will reject it again.

But having got the system right with the Fair Work Act, they are the rules. And there are some individuals in this state, I believe, aren’t respecting the Fair Work Act and aren’t respecting the rules. We believe in tough compliance. Everybody has to respect the rules. Rights come with responsibilities and if you don’t acquit your responsibilities, then you should expect to feel the full force of the law.
The attacks on working people’s rights enshrined within social democratic nonsense about “getting the balance right” are as bad as anything that her Liberal predecessors served up.

There was some pulling back from the precipice, but because the Liberals were on the nose, the social democrats had to be given the task of breaking the resistance of the workers and bringing them back under the “full force” of ruling class “law”.

“Tough compliance” indeed, when you go around the country threatening to fine and jail workers with legitimate grievances and legitimate causes for action!

Only Nixon could go to China, and Gillard and Labor had to be brought in to continue what the Liberals had begun.