Scott Morrison
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

OH, TO DREAM OF SIMPLER RATES

According to The Australian ($), the Morrison government has flagged three priorities under their industrial relations reform agenda: simplified hospitality and tourism awards, deals preventing legal industrial action for the life of major projects, and, as an olive branch to unions, increasing the ability of casuals to request permanent employment.

As he prepares to begin a three-month negotiation process next week, Christian Porter has told The Age that the Coalition will take legislation to Parliament “one way or the other”, without the requirement for a high level of agreement from the five new working groups.

CAN THE UNION KEEP US STRONG? After Scott Morrison refused to guarantee to AM’s Sabra Lane that no worker would be worse off under the proposed reforms, ACTU Secretary Sally McManus told ABC she would never agree to seeing pay or conditions go backwards.

McManus did, however, empathise with employers over enterprise bargaining complexities, and even wrote in today’s Oz ($), so I guess we really are breaking bread.

$1.2 TRILLION? EU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN

The European Commission has unveiled a €750 billion (A$1.2 trillion) recovery package designed in large part to support pandemic — and before that, austerity — ravaged EU members, Italy and Spain.

CNN reports that the deal, which would require approval from all 27 members, would raise funds on financial markets through its 2021-27 budget. Roughly two-thirds of funds would be distributed via grants with the remainder offered as loans.

ITALY & SPAIN V FRUGAL FOUR: While Germany, France, and a number of other nations support the deal, draft plans were slammed by a bloc known as the “frugal four” — Denmark, Sweden, Austria and, most infamously, the Netherlands — that exclusively wants to stick to loans.

For more on why they oppose plans for “coronabonds” that leverage the union’s shared balance sheet — and why a ‘No’ vote could absolutely mean the end of the EU — check out The Worm’s sister newsletter, Coronavirus Government Global Briefing.

TRUMP IS FINALLY FACT CHECKED

In maybe the first example of fact-checking that’s ever phased him, Donald Trump has lashed out at Twitter for adding “get the facts” links to his demonstrably false allegations that expanding mail-in voting “would be a free-for-all on cheating, forgery and the theft of ballots”.

While Trump accused Twitter of interfering in the 2020 election and made vague threats of regulation and even shutting the social media giant, Reuters/AP reports that he can not unilaterally regulate or close companies, which requires action by Congress or the Federal Communications Commission.

FEARS OF A VOTING POOR: Not only is there no evidence that mail-in voting leads to higher levels of fraud than in-person voting — we do it, along with a bunch of other countries — Trump himself voted by mail earlier this year. He has, however, claimed that expanding the option would hurt the Republican party, which is spending millions in lawsuits this year to combat voting rights.

BAD NEWS DAY

Finally, within weeks of the suspension of 152 regional newspapers and the closure of BuzzFeed Australia and 10Daily, both The Age and The Guardian report that News Corp is poised to cut hundreds of jobs in a shift towards digital-only publishing for local and regionals and increased copy-sharing amongst metros.

PS: Please note the Harvey Norman ads on almost every front page today.

STATE WRAP: WA, NT NAME RECOVERY ADVISORY GROUPS

  • The Western Australian government has established a State Recovery Advisory Group, which includes representatives from business, industry, not-for-profit organisations, UnionsWA, the public sector, local government, Indigenous groups and the community.
  • Similarly, the Northern Territory announced membership of ‘Team Territory’, a group tasked with advising the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission — which we found out earlier this week will be co-chaired by Dow Chemical Chairman Andrew Liveris and former Chief Minister Paul Henderson.
  • Citing Gekko, a business that pivoted from manufacturing mine plant equipment to ventilators amidst the pandemic, the Victorian government has announced a new online accelerator program for Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) businesses.
  • Under South Australia’s previously announced $1.3 billion education capital works program, the government has released new concept designs for two projects worth nearly $75 million.
  • Finally, Tasmania announced the approval of $147 million worth of three year, no interest loans for 20 local government authorities, as well as the first 61 recipients of the state’s arts stimulus package.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[to Attorney-General Christian Porter]: The vast majority of Australians aren’t members of unions, only 14% of people are. In this process, shouldn’t workers be represented by other voices that more likely speak for them?

Leigh Sales

Ahead of industrial relations talks with otherwise highly-representative bodies like the Business Council of Australia and Ai Group, Sales demands the union of non-union workers finally be heard.

CRIKEY RECAP

‘Unfit’, rinse, repeat: how the industrial relations debate ignores the evidence (again)

“So the prime minister, business advocates, the media and the employer lobby group reckon our industrial relations system is not ‘fit for purpose’ and Scott Morrison is cleverly putting aside ideology to engage all parties in an attempt to fix it. Cue comparisons to Bob Hawke and the Accord.

“It would be such a pity if actual evidence intruded on that consensus (speaking of Hawke) about the industrial relations system.”


A question of trust: can unions, the government and business all stay friends?

Scott Morrison’s vision for an economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19 relies on a coming together of unions and employers in Accord-style working groups.

“But Crikey has been speaking to union figures over the past week in anticipation of the government’s industrial relations agenda and they remain sceptical about which path the government and business groups will take.”


This is a chance to remake work and the economy. Will Labor and labour seize it?

“Last week former Labor premier of Victoria Steve Bracks — one-time Daryl Somers body double, now perpetually in waistcoat with pince-nez, looking like he’s out of a BBC adaptation of a Trollope novel — announced that Labor should further distance itself from the trade union movement and regard unions as ‘just another pressure group’.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Labor flags super pledge for work deal ($)

Ahead on penalties: Victoria leads nation on COVID-19 lockdown fines

Coronavirus: Closed Queensland faces a $2bn tourism hit ($)

Australia avoids ‘risky business’ of coronavirus vaccine sweepstakes

Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s FMG in High Court native title legal battle as Roebourne hit by bitter division

Boral hit by shareholder class action despite law change only days ago

South Korea reports biggest spike in coronavirus cases in 49 days

Hong Kong no longer autonomous from China, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says

Boris Johnson urges UK to ‘move on’ from Dominic Cummings scandal

Veteran journalist Tom Krause remembered as ‘force of nature’ by industry peers

THE COMMENTARIAT

Not too hot or cold: PM seeks Goldilocks formulaNiki Savva (The Australian):Morrison’s lack of ideology, his policy flexibility, which at its kind­est interpretation means he can shift position at will and at its unkindes­t means he stands for little, is not shared by sections­ of his party, particularly the capital-C conservatives. So when he reaches the crunch points, he will come under pressure to throw out red meat to satisfy the bloodlust of the base and those who cater for it.”

When the market for news fails…Tom Greenwell (Inside Story): “With Labor and the Greens in lock step with the government’s strategy, there seems little hope that effective support for journalism will be forthcoming any time soon. More newspapers will close, more journalists will lose their jobs, and the desertification of Australia’s news landscape will continue apace. But there is an alternative. Instead of imitating international policy failures, we could instead take inspiration from successful examples of support for the press.”

Can coronavirus help us reshape power?Tim Hollo (Meanjin): “Governments struggling to retain control are responding with a seemingly contradictory tangle of authoritarian over-policing, the biggest boost to social security since post-war reconstruction, and favours to fossil fuels, taking expert advice on the pandemic and continuing to ignore it on ecological destruction.”

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Canberra

  • The Senate select committee on COVID-19 will hear from RBA Governor Philip Lowe, APRA and ASIC. Hearings will separately be held for inquiries into regional Australia and the Australian Federal Police Annual Report 2018–19.