HAPPY VALLEY RESIDENTS URGED TO LEAVE
According to the ABC, the Fraser Island bushfire that began burning in mid-October and has blackened more than half the island is just several hundred metres from the township of Happy Valley.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) urged residents to leave immediately yesterday, while Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Services Greg Leach has explained the fire has been particularly difficult to subdue with high temperatures and strong winds.
CLIMATE CORNER: Following Australia’s hottest November on record and a pledge from the British government to increase its 2030 emissions reduction target to 68% on 1990 levels, we have the Morrison government’s most ambitious climate policy yet: a pledge not to cheat with made-up “Kyoto credits” for its relatively-pathetic target of 26% on 2005 levels.
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SOME CASUAL CHANGES
Reforms for casual workers in the Morrison government’s post-lockdown industrial relations package will include an end to so-called “double dipping” of annual leave and casual loading as well as greater rights to convert to permanent employment after one year with an employer.
However, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that ACTU secretary Sally McManus has hit out at both plans to remove employer exposure to backpay claims and a requirement that mandatory offers of permanent employment only be made when “reasonable” or largely in line with a worker’s regular hours.
In other IR news, the AFR ($) reports that the construction wing of the CFMEU has accused the mining division of crafting a secret deal with the Morrison government over demerger legislation, while new National Skills Commission data cited by The Australian ($) identifies Australia’s most resilient occupations and high-demand sectors as healthcare, social assistance, construction, mining, transport, education, and training.
FIGHT AND FLIGHT
According to the ABC, NSW Police have apologised after an officer incorrectly allowed two German nationals — both of whom have thus far tested negative to COVID-19, and will be tested again today — to board a flight to Melbourne without undergoing hotel quarantine in Sydney.
The error was reportedly due to a language barrier, with officers mistakenly believing the pair had an exemption, and was only caught by a security guard offering assistance at Melbourne airport.
The news comes after Dan Andrews announced Victorian households can have up to 30 people per day from today, public and private sector workers can return to their CBD offices from January 11 (25% and 50% per organisation respectively), and masks must still be carried at all times and worn in supermarkets, department stores, indoor markets and on public transport.
Over in South Australia, The Advertiser ($) reports that a tighter medi-hotel scheme will treat all expatriates returning to Adelaide from overseas regarded as COVID-19 positive until testing shows otherwise, while a plan to reopen the Wakefield Hospital as a dedicated facility has been abandoned.
WHAT’S MINE IS ORES
Following a surge in iron ore prices, AAP reports that Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has announced a $2.2 billion budget surplus will be put towards the construction of a long-awaited new maternity hospital in Subiaco.
The announcement comes ahead of the state’s March election, where The West Australian ($) reports that WA Liberals — faced with an incredibly popular premier and a new party leader, Zak Kirkup — will bring a pledge to scrap payroll tax for small businesses paying less than $1.5 million.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn]: China has a 5000 year history of cheating and stealing. Some things will never change…
When the Chinese were forming civilisation, fighting against cheating and stealing, the ancestors of the Americans had not completely got rid of the nature of monkeys. The US is modernised today, but the pity is why this senator’s cognitive level is still as low as a monkey’s.
Hu Xijin, Editor-In-Chief of China’s state-owned ‘Global Times’
When Trump-level nationalism meets Beijing media-level nationalism on Twitter, you are going to get a lot of racism, misogyny (another reporter, Chen Weihua, called Blackburn a “lifetime bitch”), and, occasionally, pretty creative burns.
“Domestic violence rates have soared in Australia amid the pandemic. This week another five women were killed, bringing the total number of deaths this year to 50.
“Support organisations are dealing with increasingly complex cases and higher demand. Despite a $150 million federal package to support domestic violence services across the country during COVID-19, funding has been slow to hit the ground, with states and territories allocating just a fraction of the money they’ve received.”
“We need all the laughs we can get in these trying times, and for Melburnians Andrew Bolt has done his bit with the announcement that the city has done him in and he’s leaving.
“The column in which he announced it was the typical Bolt fantasia for the diminishing but loyal, actual paper-buying readership that he throws red meat to: Melbourne, one of the safest cities in the world, is some sort of Mogadishu East where you take your life in your hands.”
“Psst! Wanna buy a paper? Well, you’re in luck. Looks like News Corp might have a few on the market.
“The Murdochs appear to be looking for a buyer for their chain of metropolitan tabloids like the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail. Only hitch: it doesn’t seem any of them are making much — if any — money.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
‘Militant’ unions are a thing of the past — just like strong wages growth — Gareth Hutchens (ABC): “In 1993, the Keating Labor government passed the Industrial Relations Reform Act which legislated the full introduction of enterprise bargaining, and for the first time in Australia’s history, a limited ‘right to strike’. In the years afterwards, the screws were tightened further with other legislative changes, cumulatively curbing workers’ power. You can see strike activity is practically on life support these days, according to the Bureau of Statistics data released last week.”
Labor and its leader must lift their game — Editorial (The Age): “Such financial insecurity and uncertainty would normally present an opposition party a political opportunity to gain ground on the government. And yet in Canberra, Labor under the leadership of Anthony Albanese appears adrift. At a time when Australia is confronting uncharted waters, Labor is struggling to convey a unified message on a number of issues, not least of all the challenge of energy policy.”
This isn’t progress. It’s a symptom of rot. — Ketan Joshi (Ketan Joshi): “It’s never easy to explain the sheer horror of where Australia’s government sits on climate. We’ve become badly desensitised, but please, let me try. Here’s an example. For several years, Australia has seen a gap between its predicted emissions and the Paris climate targets. The government has attempted to erase that gap by claiming that by exceeding the targets of a previous, unrelated climate agreement, they can ‘transfer’ that ‘overperformance’ and put it towards this new target.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Labor will introduce a bill to provide 10 days of paid domestic violence leave, while the Greens will introduce legislation that would require Parliament, not the prime minister, to authorise any future decision on Australia joining armed conflicts.
ABC Friends will hold a “Stop the Bullying” rally outside Communications Minister Paul Fletcher’s Sydney office after he demanded the ABC explain how Four Corners‘ “Inside the Canberra Bubble” program was in the public interest.
A NSW parliamentary inquiry will continue examining the mass incarceration of Aboriginal people and deaths in custody, while a Black Lives Matter protest will call for an independent body to investigate deaths in custody.
RBA governor Philip Lowe will deliver “Innovation and Regulation in the Australian Payments System” in an online address for the Australian Payments Network.