According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Morrison government’s omnibus industrial relations bill will see overtime payments cut for part-timers in retail, accommodation and food who take on on extra hours. Additionally, wage theft will be criminalised, with exceptions for small businesses that get “bad employment advice.”
The news comes as the ACTU fosters a Senate campaign built around increased protections for casuals and, according to The Australian ($), the federal ALP shadow cabinet agrees in principle to support the Coalition’s separate union demerger bill. Which, if passed, is expected to lead to the mining/energy and manufacturing divisions splitting from the CFMEU.
And in more economic fallout from the pandemic, the ABC explains that both NSW and Victoria have had their triple A credit ratings downgraded, while the Oz ($) reports Qantas’ outsourcing blitz will claim 50 workers from the airline’s crew and customer bus service at Sydney Airport.
PS: Just four days after reporting that blueberry farmers paid workers as little as $3 an hour, the ABC has breathlessly reported persistent-but-unsubstantiated claims farm worker shortages can be linked to the (now below-poverty) JobSeeker rate.
The two German passengers who flew to Melbourne instead of going into hotel quarantine in New South Wales have returned a second negative result for COVID-19, in news the ABC reports has freed more than 170 close contacts from isolation.
But in a fresh scare, a crew member on board a ship at Kwinana port in Perth’s south has reported some symptoms, and will be transported for testing ahead of the ship’s scheduled departure time tonight.
Elsewhere, The Age reports that GPs working at some of Victoria’s quarantine hotels — which took first arrivals yesterday — have opposed giving up other work commitments, after some were not offered full-time work and the Andrews government pledged employees would not work in other workplaces where they could spread the virus.
The Morrison government’s bill to make the cashless welfare card permanent at four trial sites has passed the House of Representatives and will today come down to the Senate crossbench.
The proposed legislation, which would also expand the card in the Northern Territory, would require the support of either Jacqui Lambie, Centre Alliance’s Stirling Griff, or Rex Patrick, the latter of whom has told the ABC he has “lost sleep” ahead of the vote and will push for amendments if he backs it.
Note that the bill only passed 62-61 yesterday, meaning that while Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer was applauded last week — including, sadly, by the Crikey Worm — for slamming the program as “punitive” and “inciting shame and guilt” on vulnerable groups, her decision to abstain from voting instead of voting against allowed the bill to pass.
Finally, the AFR ($) reports the NSW resources regulator will prosecute Whitehaven Coal for failing to rehabilitate land, drilling water bores, and clearing land without authorisation at its Narrabri coal mine, after rejecting a proposed settlement offer that would have included $50,000 for the NSW Minerals Council “to fund further guidance on leading practice in exploration”.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[Richard Marles]: I refer to the prime minister’s September announcement where he promised to bring all stranded Australians home by Christmas. Why have Tony Abbott and Alexander Downer been able to leave and re-enter Australia multiple times this year when there are thousands of vulnerable, stranded Australians who haven’t been able to get home once?
I thank the member for his question. And why he would want to bring personalities into this, Mr Speaker, given that Mr Rudd has done the same thing?
Shockingly, hours after wrongfully accusing Kevin Rudd of gaining COVID-era travel exemptions, the prime minister corrects the record and apologises. Now do Save the Children, sports rorts, and electric cars!
“An inquest into the circumstances leading up to the death of David Harris, who died shortly after his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding was cut off, will be launched following an investigation by Inq.
“Harris lived with paranoid schizophrenia and diabetes in community housing in Sydney’s west. The 55-year-old had complex needs with care provided by community mental health teams for most of his life.”
“While it went down a treat with the press gallery and right-wing media at the time, Scott Morrison’s hasty and furious response to the trolling of a junior Chinese official last week now seems increasingly ill-judged. Even extreme reactionaries in News Corp have begun questioning whether Morrison has any plan for the escalating dispute with China.”
“From shares to property to art, markets are booming. But at the same time big and small companies have collapsed, many more are on the verge of bankruptcy, and banks warn of dire times ahead. Unemployment remains high, the rest of the world is still in the grip of a pandemic, and a vaccine is still months away.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Labor at ‘tipping point’ as Right bids to drive agenda ($) — Troy Bramston (The Australian): “As the year draws to a close, the mood within Labor is exceedingly despondent. It is not that most MPs, opposition spokespeople, union leaders, party officials and staff members realise that Anthony Albanese’s leadership is uninspiring and unimaginative. That has long been understood. The next level of despair is recognising that it won’t get any better. It should not be a surprise that Labor’s Right faction is reasserting itself on policy and strategy.”
Victorian government must ensure its proposed healthcare database has iron-clad security and privacy — Rick Sarre (The Conversation): “Known as clinical information sharing (CIS), the plan allows the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to gather and collate every patient’s medical records. The records will be stored on a government database and made available to clinicians as required. The database will include information such as clinical details, demographics, attendance information, medications, allergies and adverse reactions, discharge summaries and test results.”
Debate on transgender ‘issue’ has one thing missing — Dr Yves Rees (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Before cisgender people offer their two cents on Elliot Page coming out as transgender, you might want to consider whether your voice is needed here. Because cisgender folks have already been a little too vocal this year over an issue that’s not actually about them.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio will discuss the state’s 2050 target of net zero emissions at the Melbourne Press Club.
The Wheeler Centre will host a digital launch for Fire Flood Plague, an anthology of Guardian essays on 2020.
Bronwyn Lea and David Malouf will launch Meanjin’s 80th edition at Avid Reader.