Gig economy couriers should be eligible for a pension, says UK regulator


Companies including Deliveroo and Uber urged to recognise food couriers’ employment rights

The head of the UK’s pension regulator has called on gig economy companies to recognise the employment rights of those who work for them and set up workplace pensions.

Charles Counsell, the chief executive of the Pensions Regulator, said the government-backed body was already working closely with Uber on a workplace scheme after a supreme court ruling found the ride-hailing group’s private-hire drivers should be classed as workers, with rights to minimum hourly pay, holiday pay and a pension.

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Elon Musk’s ‘SNL’ Gig Was A Bust For The Billionaire—And Dogecoin—But A Boom For NBC


Elon Musk may have bombed in his stilted attempt at standup on last night’s Saturday Night Live, but the controversial host nailed the landing for NBC. 

Musk’s opening monologue with his mom fell flat, notable mostly for his revelation that he has Asperger’s. His off-the-cuff comments cratered the soaring price of the crypto asset Dogecoin and seemed to send the popular Robinhood trading platform into a temporary coma.

But it seemed it was all anyone could talk about. While ratings for the program won’t be available until tomorrow, social media activity suggests the cofounder and CEO of electric carmaker Tesla

TSLA
delivered some pretty good numbers for the legendary show.

The show was mentioned in 379,317 tweets on Saturday, making it the third-most tweeted about episode of the season, according to social analytics firm ListenFirst. There were 555,100 tweets mentioning Musk, 118% more than the number that mentioned John Mulaney, the second most discussed host this season. SNL added 140,421 new fans of followers on social media channels yesterday, the most the show’s gained in a day since the season premiere.

“The non-traditional booking clearly was a win for show,” says Jonathan Cohen the director of content for ListenFirst.

That’s good news not only for the network and its producer Lorne Michaels, who has been successfully creating buzz around the show for almost five decades, but also the electric vehicles that advertised during the show. Rivals like manufacturer Lucid used the topical host to flood the night with pitches for their own battery-powered cars. 

They will likely fare better than Dogecoin, which was a recurring topic during the 90-minute show and took a blow during a fake news cast that saw Musk agree with Michae Che that the digital coin was a “hustle.” In the week leading up to the episode, Dogecoin’s value more than doubled, with “#dogetothemoon” trending on Twitter and trading platforms like Robinhood drumming up anticipation for Musk’s appearance. 

Within minutes of his opening lines, however, the value of the cryptocurrency began to tumble. In the 24 hours following his performance, Dogecoin’s value fell more than 30% from an all-time high early Saturday morning, what one pundit called an “earnings miss for a new era.”  Then the crash of Robinhood’s crypto-trading platform midway through the episode only made things worse — except for NBC, which livestreamed the show overseas for the first time and will ride the long-ish tail of that buzz as people circulate clips on YouTube and NBC’s website.

“Typically the real-time social media conversation about Saturday Night Live revolves around if the guest host or the sketches are funny,” says Cohen, adding that spectators were glued to the price of Dogecoin. “In the context of Elon Musk’s appearance, that question became almost entirely irrelevant.”



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Pregnant Meghan Markle shows off her baby bump and says her and Harry’s unborn daughter should live in an ‘equitable’ world in VaxLive gig message, while he says science should not be ‘politicized’



Pregnant Meghan Markle has made an appearance during the Vax Live telecast, claiming COVID has wiped out a generation of progress for women of color.  

The Duchess of Sussex made the assertion in a recorded statement, which appeared to be filmed in the backyard of her $14.7 million Montecito mansion. 

‘As campaign chairs of Vax Live, my husband and I believe it’s critical that our recovery prioritizes the health, safety and success of everyone, but particularly women who have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic,’ Meghan stated. 

‘Women, and especially women of color, have seen a generation of economic gain wiped out.’

Cradling her large baby bump in a red floral blouse, Meghan continued: ‘My husband and I are thrilled to soon be welcoming a daughter. It’s a feeling of joy we share with millions of other families around the world. 

‘When we think of her, we think of all the young women and girls around the globe who must be given the ability and support to lead us forward.’

The Vax Live concert took place at Los Angeles’ Lo-Fi stadium this past Sunday. Prince Harry appeared in person, but Meghan reportedly pulled out at the last minute.  

However, her brief recorded statement aired at the conclusion of the concert’s telecast – which was aired across multiple TV channels in the US on Saturday night. 

It was the Duchess’s first appearance on American television since her and Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah back in March.  

Meghan also wielded out a series of stats during her 2-minute statement, saying: ‘Since the pandemic began, nearly 5.5 million women have lost work  in the U.S., and 47 million more women around the world are expected to slip into extreme poverty.’

She also stated that the the ‘future leadership’ of young women ‘depends on the decisions we make and the actions we take now’.  

‘We want to make sure that as we recover, we recover stronger; that as we rebuild, we rebuild together,’ the Duchess declared. 

It’s unclear when Meghan’s statement was recorded. However, she sported a softer and more maternal look than she did during her Oprah interview. 

The Duchess opted for a bright and loose-fitting button down adorned with flowers. She left her long locks free-flowing and styled them in loose curls. 

Meanwhile, Prince Harry warned against the ‘politicization’ of COVID-19 vaccines in a video which was recorded backstage at the Vax Live concert. 

‘I think the most worrying thing for me and my wife [Meghan].. is science being politicized,’ Harry stated in the black and white clip, posted to Twitter on Saturday. 

‘When we’re talking about life and death, which we’re talking about now, vaccines cannot be politicized’.

The Duke of Sussex further declared: ‘We must ensure that everyone around the world has equal access to the vaccine, otherwise none of this works.’   

Harry and Meghan have backed US President Joe Biden’s move to waive vaccine patents for poorer countries. 

That decision – which was announced earlier this week – caused shares for vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna to tumble on Thursday. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla described support of the waivers as ‘so wrong’, 

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Just Eat to offer 1,500 Liverpool couriers minimum hourly rate and sick pay | Gig economy

Just Eat is to offer 1,500 takeaway couriers in Liverpool minimum pay, sick pay and holiday pay by the end of the year as it shifts away from using independent contractors.

The food delivery group, which recently began building its own courier network in the UK alongside putting customers in touch with takeaways that carry out their own delivery, said it would expand a worker model for couriers that it was already operating in London and Birmingham, where 2,000 riders had signed up.

The latest expansion comes after the Just Eat boss, Jitse Groen, said he wanted to end gig-working across Europe at his company. Like rivals including Deliveroo, most of the takeaways delivered via Just Eat are transported by self-employed contractors without guaranteed pay or paid sick leave. Some are under direct contracts and some work via courier firms such as Stuart.

The group’s new model stops short of giving riders full benefits enjoyed by employees, but as “workers” – employed via the independent Randstad agency which Just Eat’s parent company uses across Europe – they are entitled to more than the legal minimum in hourly pay, pension contributions and benefits including holiday pay and sick pay.

Riders also work set shifts, are provided with e-bikes or e-mopeds, which are maintained by the company, and will have the option to operate from a central hub, where they can pick up equipment and take breaks. They can no longer work for several other apps at the same time as delivering for Just Eat.

Andrew Kenny, the UK managing director of Just Eat, said: “We recognise our responsibility to provide couriers with the best possible opportunities and we’re delighted that almost 2,000 jobs have already been created as part of our worker model. We’ve reached this milestone significantly ahead of schedule and following a positive response in London and Birmingham, we’re excited to roll this out to Liverpool, creating 1,500 more roles this year.

“We believe giving couriers access to the benefits and security associated with a model like this is the right thing to do and we’re hugely ambitious to grow this further out across the UK.”

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain said Just Eat’s new model was “a step in the right direction but still not where it should be to offer a sustainable job that people can build a life around”.

Alex Marshall, the president of the union, which represents gig-economy workers, said riders were paid little more than the legal minimum wage per hour. He added that gig-economy riders working for the likes of the courier firm Stuart, which had been previously delivering takeaways ordered via Just Eat in many UK cities, were not being offered first choice of the new roles.

“It would be good if they spoke to workers about what they want rather than a PR stunt,” he said.

Just Eat said that its new worker roles were “open to anyone that wants to apply to them and [current] riders are not discouraged from applying”.

The changes in the UK come after the £6.2bn merger of Just Eat with the Dutch business Takeaway.com, which was finalised earlier this year as well as a shift in sentiment towards the employment of independent contractors, who are not entitled to sick pay, holiday pay or the minimum wage.

Gig economy companies are having to consider change after Uber was forced to pay its UK private hire drivers minimum wage and holiday pay when the UK supreme court backed a 2016 employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers.

The takeaway courier business Deliveroo’s stock market debut was hit by concerns about the employment status of its workers after it emerged that the company had set aside £112m to cover potential legal costs relating to efforts to improve their rights.

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Mapatazi band members rocking out in their first gig.




Mapatazi band members rocking out in the final stages of their first gig.

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New research finds nearly half of Australia’s migrant gig economy workers don’t know they’re not insured


Nearly half of Australia’s rideshare and food delivery workers have said they were unaware they were not entitled to workers’ compensation insurance upon resuming their jobs, according to new research.

Despite the spotlight on the gig economy following five deaths among food delivery riders last year, the survey of 250 rideshare and food delivery workers found 45 per cent of migrant workers were in the dark about their lack of insurance rights, compared with 28 per cent of Australian workers.

The research was conducted by Kantar Australia on behalf of Slater and Gordon between 6 January and 3 February 2021 and involved 170 food delivery riders and 80 rideshare drivers. 

Slater and Gordon Practice Group Leader Jasmina Mackovic said injured gig economy workers were being left out in the cold because they are considered contractors and not employees, meaning they are unable to access workers’ compensation.

“For these workers, not having workers’ compensation means you are not guaranteed loss of wages payments, medical payments or a lump sum for impairment suffered if injured or ill and you cannot work,” Ms Mackovic said.

“I think there needs to be a lot more education around what it means to be a gig economy worker, especially for migrant workers who are particularly vulnerable.”

Advocates and unions have consistently raised concerns over the conditions faced by workers in the industry and have repeatedly called for the gig economy to be better regulated.

Around 45 per cent of migrant workers surveyed were in the dark about their lack of insurance rights, compared with 28 per cent of Australian workers.

AAP

In Australia, most gig economy workers are classified as independent contractors, not as employees, meaning they are not entitled to benefits such as minimum wages, superannuation and workers compensation. 

While some delivery companies do offer a level of cover, there is no legal requirement for businesses to do so.

Former Uber rideshare driver, Ghalia Bazerji, told SBS News she found herself unable to work, without an income and facing out-of-pocket medical expenses after she was hit by another vehicle while on her way to pick up a passenger in August 2018.  

The mother-of-four was left with a fractured left middle finger, injuries to her hands, neck, chest and back, as well as breast, abdominal and pelvic pain, after the other driver ran a red light and ploughed into her.

“It was a really bad accident and I was in shock,” she said.

“I had no idea about the protections which were or were not available to me.

“I had insurance on the car I was driving, but never thought about getting insurance for myself because I am new to the country and I just didn’t know.”

Ms Bazerji, who migrated from Syria in 2014, said she tried to continue as an Uber driver five months later but was unable to resume work after suffering a psychological injury due to the accident. She found new work where she could better manage her injuries.

Ms Mackovic said while Ms Bazerji was lucky enough to receive some benefits under the CTP scheme due to the serious nature of her injuries, not everyone was so lucky.

“Because they are considered contractors, they are not automatically given paid time off work to recover from injury or illness either and they are not automatically paid superannuation by their employer.”

In February, the NSW government released new draft guidelines to better protect food delivery riders. The draft guidelines were developed by the Gig Economy Joint Taskforce, which was established in November last year to investigate food delivery fatalities.

A spokesperson from food delivery giant Uber Eats said: “In Australia, Uber Eats provides delivery people and driver partners with a support package, which includes insurance should an accident or injury occur while they’re on trip.

“We have also recommended that governments consider introducing a mandatory requirement for all platform businesses to introduce a minimum insurance package on behalf of independent workers, so they are protected regardless of which app they are using.”

A spokesperson from food delivery company Deliveroo said: “Deliveroo provides every rider with personal injury and income protection insurance free of charge and this is communicated clearly at the commencement of their contract with Deliveroo.

“We also provide this information on the Deliveroo Rider site, in English, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish.

“Deliveroo riders repeatedly tell us that, above all else, they want to set their own work patterns and decide when, where and whether to work. This degree of flexibility is only compatible with self-employment, so riders can fit this work around their other commitments such as study or caring responsibilities.”

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the hard road to safety in the gig economy


As the federal government prepares to unveil its industrial relations omnibus legislation next week, ACTU secretary Sally McManus said a key lesson of the coronavirus pandemic was the need to confront the insecurity of casualised and precarious work. “We need to finally confront our biggest weakness – the fact we have far too many insecure, casualised, labour hire, gig jobs that have no security and few rights,” she said.

For Bruna, who arrived in Sydney in February, the pandemic created a huge demand for home delivery and it seemed a decent job option until the accident.

On May 8, the 26-year-old was riding through Chatswood delivering Asian takeaway when she was hit by an opening car door, throwing her off her rented bicycle. She had two surgeries to insert, then remove, a steel plate. Her arm was in plaster for six weeks before the bandages finally came off this week.

The accident meant she could not work until September, but she was one of the lucky ones: the car insurance covered her medical bills and provided her with about $170 in weekly payments to cover lost wages. Uber Eats had signed her up for a Chubb insurance policy that provided her with a lump sum of about $5000 in compensation.

“Sydney is unsafe for cyclists,” she says. “There are not enough cycleways and the city can be confusing.”

SafeWork NSW has so far reported 65 dangerous safety incidents involving food delivery riders since January this year. They include injuries and deaths.

A Deliveroo rider.Credit:Jason South

But who will take responsibility for providing a solution in what is a notoriously unregulated industry? As independent contract workers, food delivery riders have no employment rights under the Commonwealth Fair Work Act to legal minimum rates of pay, sick leave, superannuation or unfair dismissal protection. The federal government shows no sign of wanting to regulate the gig economy. Its industrial relations changes next week are not expected to include any proposals to change the work rights of gig workers.

In response to the recent spate of deaths, it says it will make rider safety a priority agenda item for the next meeting of national work health and safety ministers.

The NSW government has launched a SafeWork investigation into the deaths to inform a taskforce that will consider “potential avenues for regulatory reform to improve safety”.

NSW Labor, the Greens and peak body Unions NSW have all urged the state government to expand the coverage of the workers’ compensation scheme to cover food delivery riders and to boost the enforcement of occupational health and safety rules. Unions NSW general secretary Mark Morey, who has worked with Airtasker to introduce minimum pay rates for workers, says “all work, regardless of the employment definition, should attract a minimum wage, leave loadings, superannuation and injury insurance”.

Tim Fung, Airtasker co-founder and chief executive officer, says it promotes public liability insurance for job taskers and optional accident protection insurance.

“When we spoke with Unions NSW, we realised our interests were aligned,” he says. “We want people to get paid fair wages. We want people to be able to work in a safe and trusted environment and we want people to have real opportunity to progress their careers.”

Federal Labor has floated the idea of extending the Fair Work Commission’s powers to regulate the gig economy and deal with vulnerable workers in “employee-like” circumstances.

“The claim that a visa worker whose only asset is a second-hand bike is somehow an empowered independent contractor is ridiculous and dangerous,” Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke says.

A spokeswoman for Uber Eats declined to comment on individual cases, but said it covered road and bike safety in online education modules and an annual cycling safety test. She says the company was always looking for ways to improve safety.

“We will continue to advocate for minimum insurance standards across platforms to ensure all those earning through independent work have access to insurance regardless of which app they are using,” she added.

Employment law experts and unions have long argued that food delivery riders are not truly independent contractors and should be deemed as employees because of the control technology companies exercise over their pay rates and conditions.

University of Technology Sydney Professor of Law, Joellen Riley Munton.

University of Technology Sydney Professor of Law, Joellen Riley Munton.Credit:Edwina Pickles

Law professor Joellen Riley Munton from the University of Technology Sydney and Transport Workers’ Union national secretary Michael Kaine support a pragmatic approach to providing gig workers with some rights, if they do not qualify for full employment rights.

In late 2018, the TWU won an unfair dismissal case in the Fair Work Commission on behalf of Foodora delivery rider Josh Kluger by proving he was an employee and not an independent contractor. But that decision only applies to him. Other workers would need to make an argument on a case-by-case basis.

While gig platforms including Uber have proven that they might lose occasional battles in courts and tribunals over the legal status of drivers and delivery riders, they are still winning the war against being bound by legal definitions.

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Last month, California voters supported Uber, Lyft and delivery service Doordash by rejecting a 2018 State Supreme Court ruling, enshrined in a 2019 state law, that said workers who were controlled by the companies and did not operate their own business were deemed employees.

The companies reportedly spent more than $200 million (A$270 million) on a campaign to convince Californians to approve a ballot measure known as Proposition 22 which exempted gig workers from state laws. This meant the gig economy companies could continue to treat their workers as independent contractors.

Kaine says that decision demonstrates how hard gig companies are prepared to fight against any attempt to squeeze them into the legal definition of an employee.

“If you just deem everyone to be employees, you get the type of nuclear response we had from California. That is not in anyone’s interest,” he says.

Kaine favours extending protections provided to independent owner-drivers to bicycle delivery workers. NSW, Victoria and Western Australia have laws that allow them to regulate the working conditions of transport workers.

Professor Riley Munton says Chapter 6 of the NSW Industrial Relations Act could be extended to food delivery cyclists among other transport workers. Chapter 6 provides owner drivers’ rights to collectively bargain over minimum rates of pay and basic working conditions. Improved pay and conditions would help reduce the imperative to rush jobs to improve poor earnings and avoid being blocked from job apps.

Workers’ compensation legislation could also be amended to deem delivery cyclists to be “workers”, and the platform companies to be their employers. Because safety training for the cyclists “will never be enough while their work is poorly paid and precarious”.

Law firm Slater and Gordon has lodged a workers’ compensation claim on behalf of Lihong Wei whose husband, Xiaojun Chen, was killed in September while working for food delivery company Hungry Panda in Sydney.

Lihong Wei holds a portrait of her husband, Xiaojun Chen, who was killed while working for a delivery company in Sydney.

Lihong Wei holds a portrait of her husband, Xiaojun Chen, who was killed while working for a delivery company in Sydney.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Practice group leader Jasmina Mackovic says it was not clear whether government insurer EML would recognise Chen as a “worker”, entitling his wife to claim death benefits. “At the moment, it is a grey area,” she says.

Australian lawyer Sheryn Omeri, who practises as a barrister in Britain, said legislation was needed to hold food delivery operators responsible for the safety of their riders.

Omeri successfully argued in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal that London Uber drivers are “workers”. In the UK, a “worker” has basic employment rights including to the legal minimum wage and holiday pay, but not to the full range of protections, such as against unfair dismissal. The Supreme Court recently heard a final appeal but is yet to hand down a decision.

In March, France’s highest court for civil matters, the Court of Cassation, determined that Uber drivers are employees rather than independent contractors.

“In France, as in Australia, the intermediate category of “worker” which was created in England to extend some employment protections to those who have some independence but are essentially dependent on the supply of work by another, does not exist. The choice for the French court was accordingly, a stark one,” Omeri says.

Australian solicitor Sheryn Omeri is working as a barrister in the UK on a case against Uber.

Australian solicitor Sheryn Omeri is working as a barrister in the UK on a case against Uber.

University of Adelaide professor of law Andrew Stewart says there is a strong argument that food delivery riders should be treated as employees “and if not, at least be given rights as employees for many purposes, particularly to workers’ compensation”. He described the California decision on Proposition 22 as an “outlier”, saying Australians had a stronger affinity with labour rights and the concept of a ‘fair go’ at work than Americans.

Labor Senator and former TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon says that extending employee definitions “is not without merit, but it’s last century”, and the issue of rights for contract workers needs to be dealt with more urgently.

Most gig workers including freelancers on Airtasker who serve clients around the world are among gig workers who could not reasonably argue they should be treated as employees. But Professor Stewart says they should still be able to argue for some protections as workers. He warned that an emerging, and potentially bigger concern, was the rapid growth of online job platforms in the community service sector.

The federal government, through the Department of Health and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, has promoted online platforms including Mable which faced criticism in the aged care royal commission for not providing enough adequately trained workers to facilities including Newmarch House in Sydney at the height of the pandemic.

Mable chief executive officer and co-founder Peter Scutt says it connects independent contract workers with people seeking support services, but does not set prices, schedules or conditions. He says his platform provides online safety training and arranges insurance cover on behalf of workers who pay the premiums. The platform checks references and qualifications and vets police and working with children checks. Scutt says complaints from Anglicare related to early “teething problems”.

“We take our responsibilities really seriously, we are very thorough in our vetting,” Scutt says.

“Once people are approved on the platform the people that are looking to engage the services contact the workers and choose who is right for them.

“The parties when they come to Mable engage directly and agree all aspects of their service arrangement with each other.”

Australian Services Union NSW/ACT branch secretary Natalie Lang says thousands of registered disability service providers that employed skilled and experienced workers were overlooked at the height of the coronavirus pandemic when the federal government promoted 15 gig platform providers including Mable.

“The implication of that is to drive down working conditions in an essential service industry which is a really big problem for the quality of service,” she said.

Brett Holmes, the general secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, says the online job-matching platforms did preliminary checks on the qualifications of people using their platform.

“They take no responsibility for their vetting of staff and there are no employment responsibilities undertaken by these platforms,” he says. “A preliminary scan confirming their registration and whether they have a police record is about as far as these organisations go in determining the suitability of the nurse for the client and there is no responsibility around work health and safety.

“All those responsibilities are transferred to the contracting nurse.”

Andrew Richardson is the chief executive officer of Aruma, one of Australia’s largest registered disability service providers. He says that while the NDIS was a great social reform and some gig platforms had a good business model, he was concerned that the federal government and the National Disability Insurance Agency was trying to drive down labour costs by “applying low-cost business models in inappropriate settings, at the expense of service quality and employee and client wellbeing”.

“It’s false economy to say cheapest is always best,” he says. “The federal government needs to set a playing field that works and they aren’t doing a very good job of that. We won’t have a workforce if it’s all piece rate.”

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A well-trained workforce was needed to safely support people with disabilities and “ultimately you need a workforce willing to work, be trained and make disability support their career”.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck says he considered a range of options and determined the Mable platform “offered a scalable, national platform to provide initial workforce surge to Commonwealth funded aged care providers, particularly during the height of the second wave of COVID-19 infections across Victoria”.

“The department is continuing to refine and explore additional workforce supports to complement existing arrangements,” he says. “The Commonwealth contractual arrangement with Mable ceased on 30 September 2020.”

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Ashley-Cooper approached for commentary gig as Nine eye off big names


The Herald understands respected commentator Sean Maloney, who was let go by FoxSports in 2019, is the frontrunner to be the premier caller for Nine and Stan Sport.

One name firming up for a expert comments role is Ashley-Cooper, the former Wallabies great who scored 39 tries in 121 Tests from 2005 to 2019.

Sources close to Ashley-Cooper say the 36-year-old, who appeared at a fourth Rugby World Cup in Japan last year, has been approached by Nine.

Ashley-Cooper is a good judge of the game and while he has not previously worked in TV, many believe Ashley-Cooper has the charisma to be suited to a commentary role.

There are other factors at play for Ashley-Cooper, however, given he is still exploring his on-field options.

The Herald reported in June that Ashley-Cooper was poised to take up a deal with the LA Giltinis in USA’s Major League Rugby.

While no deal has been formally signed yet, Ashley-Cooper is still on track to take up the contract. It has also been reported that another Wallabies stalwart, Matt Giteau, is set to join Ashley-Cooper at LA.

The sticking point with Nine would be how much use they could get out of Ashley-Cooper if he were to be overseas for the first half of the year.

The Wallabies tackle France in July next year but with the MLR season finishing on August 1, Ashley-Cooper could come on board with Nine for remaining matches in the year, including the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.

Maloney worked as a secondary caller to Greg Clark at Fox Sports for many years, and has been a regular on the World Sevens circuit. As the lead caller for the World Rugby feed at the Rugby World Cup last year, Maloney called the final between South Africa and England.

Former FoxSports presenter Nick McArdle has also been linked with a role, while dual international Sonny Bill Williams is also in discussions with the network for a cross-code commentary gig.

Sources say two-time World Cup winner Tim Horan, who has been a mainstay of FoxSports’s rugby coverage for years, is in the box seat to land a gig on the free-to-air network. All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens is also in the mix as well, and Drew Mitchell has been approached.

Rugby Australia officials held a long meeting late this week with Nine and Stan executives to discuss how the coverage will look moving forward.

RA has put forward suggestions of commentators it would like to see appear on the box but ultimately Nine has the final decision, many of which will be made in coming weeks.

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One Super Rugby AU match a week will be shown on free-to-air on Saturday evenings, while the other Friday fixture will be aired on Stan Sport.

The first match of the year kicks off on February 19, with the Queensland Reds squaring off against the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.

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Basil and Barra firm for MMM Breakfast gig as radio stalwart exits 94.5


6PR’s refreshed 2021 line-up will feature current Mornings host Gareth Parker replacing Mills and Zempilas in the Breakfast slot, Mills shifting to Afternoons, where he would take the chair of Simon Beaumont, who moves to a new weekend program, while 60 Minutes reporter Liam Bartlett would take over Mornings.

Friday’s on-air announcement by Clairs caught his co-hosts off guard.

“After 20 years with Mix 94.5, the time has come to move on to other adventures – both professionally, and with my wife Lori and all of our adult kids,” he said.

“If the next chapter brings with it half the fun I’ve had in my time with Mix 94.5, I’ll be more than happy.

“How lucky have I been – a radio fan boy since I started media studies at Greenwood High in 1981, who got to live his dream of working on radio in his hometown.

“I’d like to thank my many workmates past and present, including my most recent on-air teammates, Kymba and Matt, for some amazing radio and off-air memories.

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“And to the amazing listeners who have ever tuned in, called the station or said hello around Perth, I can’t thank you enough for helping my radio dreams come true.”

Clairs’ tenure coincided with a remarkable run of success in the radio ratings, including 100 concurrent surveys as Perth’s number one station from December 1999 to June 2012.

Mix 94.5 head of content Erica McGee said Clairs was one of Perth’s radio icons.

“His contribution to our company and our industry cannot be easily rivalled. We will celebrate him over the coming weeks and farewell him in style on December 11, but our friendship will endure,” she said.

Hit 92.9 Breakfast host Pete Curulli, who is no stranger to Perth audiences, would step in for Clairs and join Kymba and Matt on the new Hit 94.5 from January 11.

“I’m very excited to return to Mix 94.5, but this moment isn’t about me. I want to take this opportunity to say thanks so much to a radio legend for what he’s given to Perth over the last 30 years,” he said.

“If I can have half the career he’s achieved, I’ll be extremely happy.”

Friday was the final day of the last radio ratings survey of the year, with results released on December 8.

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