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(Image: AAP/Paul Miller)

NTEU DITCHES ‘TAKE OUR WAGES’ TACTIC

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the National Tertiary Education Union has largely abandoned its proposed National Jobs Protection Framework — a plan to save 12,000 university jobs in the face of more than $4.5 billion in revenue shortfalls.

The national proposal — which would see laid-off workers receive 30-50% of their pay in exchange for a general fall to 90-95% — was rejected by 17 vice-chancellors and accepted by just three.

While NTEU national president Dr Alison Barnes laid the blame squarely at those VCs, the framework was also rejected by at least 1300 rank and file members decrying what they saw as union-backed wage cuts with negligible protection against redundancies.

PS: With JobKeeper still restricted to private universities, UNSW has told parents it will close one childcare centre by the end of this year and is potentially looking to privatise the remaining three.

SALLY FORTH

Both The Australian ($) and Sydney Morning Herald report that Scott Morrison will bring ACTU secretary Sally McManus on board a group of business representatives from next week, as part of a forum series designed to create a new workplace relations deal by September.

The government, which has ditched the union-busting Ensuring Integrity Bill as a peace offering to the unions, will also bring in the Business Council of Australia, Master Builders Aust­ralia, Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other smaller organisations ahead of determining five workplace reform working groups.

POVERTY NOT POPULAR: While this is all very lovely, it’s worth pointing out that yesterday Morrison confirmed he would not extend JobKeeper or JobSeeker, even if, according to a new ABC/Vox Pop Labs poll, most Australians support maintaining the latter’s not-poverty rates.

DAN’S BAD DAY

In a double-whammy for Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, The Age reports that the Victorian government did not consult with DFAT before signing off on an infrastructure deal under China’s Belt and Road Initiative last October.

Secondly, and relatedly, the paper reports that a five year review by the Victorian Information Commissioner demonstrates a steady year-on-year decline in the release of freedom of information requests by state departments and agencies.

THE SHIPPING NEWS

On the other side of the country, the ABC reports that six crew members of a livestock carrier docked in Fremantle have tested positive for COVID-19.

While confirming the remaining, quarantined 42 crew members are “currently well”, WA Premier Mark McGowan has accused Border Force of allowing the ship Al Kuwait to berth for a week despite health concerns from as early as May 22.

SHIP SHAPE: In a reminder of just how potent these clusters can be, Nine reports that a Queensland woman linked to the Ruby Princess likely carried a “dormant” version of the virus for 10 weeks before falling ill.

RIO TINTO DESTROYS 46,000 YEAR OLD INDIGENOUS SITE

Right on National Sorry Day 2020, WAToday and the ABC report that Rio Tinto destroyed a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site in WA’s Pilbara region in a mine blast over the weekend.

While Rio Tinto received ministerial consent to turn Juukan Gorge into an iron ore mine in 2013, subsequent archaeological digs found artefacts in rock shelters including:

  • a 28,000-year-old tool made from bone;
  • the earliest known use of grindstone technology in Australia; and
  • a 4000-year-old plaited hair belt with DNA linked to today’s Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.

John Ashburton, chair of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama Land Committee, has expressed frustration over the lack of regulatory flexibility to account for new information, an issue Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt says will be covered by new state heritage legislation this year.

STATE WRAP

  • Ahead of National Reconciliation Week starting today, WA launched a NRW 2020 website to encourage digital commemoration.
  • Victoria launched grants of up to $500,000 for multicultural media outlets to continue delivering news, entertainment and information, and has extended the deadline to register pools and spas from June to November 1, 2020.
  • NSW will match federal government funding and invest $12.8 million in frontline support for survivors of domestic violence during the crisis.
  • The ACT government announced a series of in-depth guidelines for sector recovery from 11:59pm Friday 29 May, including a scalable, 20-to-150+ patron framework for the hospitality sector.
    • ACT also launched a “one stop shop” for cultural events throughout the crisis, RISE Canberra, which will also facilitate the creation of the two-month, $240,000 Where You Are Festival, to launch July 10, 2020.
  • The Queensland Government announced a further $500,000 to support stART, a new quick turnaround grant program for the state’s independent creative artists, producers, designers, technicians and arts workers.
  • The NT government announced that former Dow Chemical Chairman and CEO, Andrew Liveris, and former Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, have been appointed as co-chairs of the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission.
    • Check out Crikey’s profile on Liveris for how the business oligarch-turned-Trump cheerleader got the gig.
  • Finally, the Tasmanian government will extend the temporary arrangements for cashless buses and the bus fare amnesty for all public school bus and general access services until Sunday July 5, 2020.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Our capital stock hasn’t been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises.

Senior White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett

In reducing human lives to corporate assets, advocates for reopening America technically improve slightly on their ‘we’re all going to die anyway’ line of attack.

CRIKEY RECAP

Revealed: how class action warrior Christian Porter fudges the facts to create a legal crisis

“Over a three-part series Inq reveals there are powerful friends of the government — including the banks, mining companies, car manufacturers and special friends such as Crown Resorts — who have increasingly been the target of class actions enabled by litigation funders and prosecuted by Labor-aligned plaintiff law firms.

“Crucially our investigation reveals that Porter has moved in lockstep — including using the misleading Huon example — with high-powered US business lobby group US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).”


How class actions went from David v Goliath to big business

“It’s important to note that most litigation funding doesn’t go to class actions at all, but to conventional commercial litigation cases; a distinction the government has chosen to ignore.

“The Labor Party has aligned itself just as strongly as the Coalition, but on the opposite side. Perhaps that’s a purely principled stance, but the party’s deep links to certain plaintiff law firms makes it difficult to be sure.”


Who is Morrison kidding? The economy has been on government life support for a decade

“While the prime minister offers another economic vision today to the press gallery in Canberra, there’s a broader context for one of the themes of his speech (at least as reported ahead of delivery), that the economy has to be weaned ‘off the medication’ of support ‘before it becomes too accustomed to it’.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Boris Johnson sees junior minister resign over defence of top adviser’s coronavirus lockdown travel

Health Minister orders probe into use of counterfeit masks in hospitals

Premier set to fast-track easing of restrictions but stands firm on border ($)

Long-term unemployment set to explode without education funding boost

Coronavirus: We have defeated COVID-19, says NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant ($)

Alleged paedophile Malka Leifer mentally fit to be extradited to Australia, Israeli court rules

Pauline Hanson imposes ‘deadline’ of Thursday to reopen Queensland borders

Finder.com.au chief Fred Schebesta joins AAP suitors line-up ($)

China will step up preparedness for armed combat amid coronavirus pandemic

Brazil warned against reopening as it records more coronavirus deaths in 24 hours than the United States

THE COMMENTARIAT

Scott Morrison has thrown out the industrial relations rulebook, but can old enemies work together?Greg Jennett (ABC): “Locking people indoors together. Forcing them to deal with others they might not normally choose to — for months on end. It’s not hard to discern how the mind of Scott Morrison ticks these days: if mandated consensus roughly worked out OK for many household relations over the past three months, then why not give it a go on industrial relations, seems to be his figuring.”

Albanese and Chalmers must fix Labor’s poor reputation for fiscal skill ($) — Graham Richardson (The Australian): “To win government, Labor must cast off this reputation of financial incompetence and look like it can govern and spend wisely. Therein lies one big problem: you cannot convince people that you have learned your lessons about the evils of big spending without revealing large chunks of your program.”

Don’t fall into the faux-progress trap: Australia still loves coalKetan Joshi (RenewEconomy): “Every single time Australia’s government discards an idea they never should have adopted in the first place, accolades come pouring in. ‘They’ve taken a step forward’, was the cry, when Australia went from planning to use an accounting trick to reduce its 2030 Paris ambitions by half, to simply saying they’ll use them if they need to (this is like saying a pass mark on a test is 50%, unless you get 25% or above, in which case it’s now 25% — it defeats the point of the pass mark to add in the option of failure). Despite this blatant ruse, the change in wording was seen as progress.”

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The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Parliamentary inquiries will examine the 2019-20 bushfire season, 2018-19 ‘Defence Major Projects and Future Submarine Project’ reports, and Australia’s Family Law System.

  • Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro will address the National Press Club.

Perth

  • Amnesty Australia will launch a report on raising the age of criminal responsibility above at least 14.

Australia

  • Greens leader Adam Bandt will discuss ‘Renewing Australia with a Green New Deal’ in conversation with economist Richard Denniss as part of The Australia Institute’s ‘Economics of a Pandemic’ web series.

  • Lowy Institute Executive Director Dr Michael Fullilove will speak in conversation with former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt on the state of the European Union after Brexit and COVID-19, Sweden’s controversial approach to controlling the pandemic, and the transatlantic alliance as America’s presidential election approaches and Angela Merkel’s term draws to a close.