Julia Gillard spent time yesterday with the Committee on Industrial Legislation (COIL) made up of legal experts on nominated business and unions. The Coil has been “locked up” since last Tuesday, and remain so for the rest of this week, to provide feedback on the Substantive Bill to replace WorkChoices. That’s right, two weeks to read the new laws. Word is that the moniker WorkChoices Lite is way off the mark. This is going to be WorkChoices super strength.

The biggest criticism of WorkChoices when it was introduced was its size and complexity. It was rightly described as uber regulation. The new improved version will be even bigger, taking it into the realm of hyper regulation. The larger size is caused by Labor’s intent on fiddling with the current bad law rather than throwing it out and starting from scratch. Whatever the debate about the fairness of the legislation turns up,and that’s if there will be time for such a debate, it is patently unfair to lumber business, large and small, with workplace laws that are more complicated than the tax act.

Malcom Turnbull is going to announce today that the government should guarantee all unlisted property trusts, forward interest rate swaps, share warrants and contracts for difference. This will be funded by a future fund leveraged investment in River Murray Water Extraction Entitlements repurchased from farmers.

Telstra and Nokia are having a spat over the Nokia E71 phone, regarded as one of the best phones on the market. The Blackberry Bold equivalent will not be sold at Telstra, despite being hugely popular with customers of Optus, Vodafone and their resellers. Telstra already has the weakest range of phones, undermining their claim to be the industry leader. Telstra tested the phone on their 3G network and approved it for sale, and dealers were expecting it this week. Nokia is now telling dealers it will not be sold through Telstra.

Cash Strapped public hospitals getting angry with Medicare non-compliance. DIAC (Immigration dept) provide letters authorising work rights and Medicare to people who have a Permanent Visa pending. However although Medicare has been granted, Medicare refuse to honour and the hospitals are having to carry the cost burden. In some cases parents have Medicare and their babies do not leaving them without medical care and immunisations. The Medicare shemozzle needs fixing.

What has happened to the once great SMH business section? Once the cutting edge of breaking biz and court news, it has become a boring, straight company result dominated section and, apart from Ian Verrender’s column, uninsightful compared with the expanded Australian biz section which is top of all aspects of the finance meltdown, draws from the Wall St Journal and has a variety of opinions on market developments. Have staff cutbacks been too severe? I think so. I have switched to The Oz.

As the TV cameras roamed over the crowd on the final day of the First Test between Australia and India yesterday, they picked up Rodney Cavalier, chairman of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Trust. The cricket tragic and former NSW education minister will no doubt be conducting an on-the-ground investigation into the provision of grandstand seating, crowd control and associated issues during his visit to the sub-continent.

Peter Fray

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