alan joyce
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce (Image: AAP/Biance De Marchi)

Qantas’ motives questioned

Qantas is being questioned over its claim that the pandemic drove its decision to sack its 2400 remaining ground workers, after it was discovered the airline developed plans to outsource baggage handling work a decade ago. 

An internal document has revealed the company’s “2020 Vision” strategy to outsource work. Outsourcing Qantas and Jetstar baggage handling, aircraft cleaning and ground crew work to third-party contractors will save the company around $100 million a year.

Australia’s woeful welfare

Australia will have the third-lowest unemployment benefits in the OECD once the coronavirus JobSeeker supplement is reduced to $815 a fortnight from September 25. 

The analysis used to make this claim comes from ANU social security expert Peter Whiteford, and compares how well a person can keep their previous financial commitments when they become unemployed, comparing unemployment and housing benefits with the income a person received in their last job.

In parts of the Northern Territory in June, there were 57 JobSeeker recipients for every position advertised. This number dropped to 10.9 in Sydney, 28.3 in regional NSW, 15.4 in Melbourne and 30.5 in regional Victoria. 

By the numbers

Spain has hit a new milestone, becoming the first country in western Europe to hit half a million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. Madrid accounts from a third of new COVID-19 cases detected in the last week, largely thanks to the city’s cramped layout and holidaymakers returning from regional areas. 

India has recorded the world’s second-highest coronavirus tally, surpassing Brazil, with more than 4.2 million infections. The US still ranks first with more than 6.2 million infections. India has a population of around 1.3 billion, Brazil 210 million and the US 330 million. 

There’s a silver lining for the US, however: New York’s infection rate has been below 1% for 30 straight days. The city has had close to 450,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 30,000 deaths.

The happiest place in the world

Walt Disney Company amusement parks in Florida and California reopened in July, though the company’s testing procedures and contact tracing abilities are in doubt

The California park, which does not have an on-site coronavirus testing facility, has been accused of not telling union representatives and close contacts about positive COVID-19 cases. Workers have also said they’ve been cleared to leave isolation and go back into work just five days after testing positive. 

Contact tracing boost

Silicon Valley will help Victoria boost its contact tracing efforts, with US-based company Salesforce assisting with a data management system to send automated text messages to health officials, infected people and potentially their close contacts about positive tests. 

This technology is already used in Western Australia, South Australia and New Zealand. Both Victoria and the federal government rejected Salesforce’s pitch earlier in the pandemic. 

This morning Victoria recorded 55 new COVID-19 cases — a slight increase from yesterday — and eight deaths.

It comes a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised Victoria’s roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions, saying the state needed to speed up its reopening and improve contact tracing.