Mine job casualisation labelled a ‘detriment’ to Mackay



Mine workers will today plead their case before a Senate Inquiry on proposed workplace law changes which the union has labelled a “detriment” to Mackay and its resources industry.

Tightening the definition of casual employment will be a key aspect of a 27 page submission union representatives will present to the committee, which is sitting in Townsville.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland southwest vice-president Shane Brunker said the casualisation of mine jobs was a “cancer that’s spreading through the industry”.

He said there were thousands of workers across the Bowen Basin, contracted through labour hire companies as a casual employee but working a full-time roster without benefits such as annual or sick leave.

“Once you’re a casual you can’t get home loans, can’t get finance,” he said.

 

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“We understand that there’s peaks and troughs where you need to have extra labour come in … but the amount of casual labour now in the mining industry who are there permanently is just out of control.

“It’s to the detriment of mackay’s economy and to mackay’s workers.”

During his time at one Central Queensland mine Mr Brunker recalled a worker, who had been there for five years on a casual contract.

“(He) couldn’t go away from town for holidays, he was waiting on call all the time for his next shift,” he said.”

(He) couldn’t get a home loan, can’t get a car loan. They’re just strung along.”

The union was pushing to have the definition of a casual worker tightened up.

“A lot of these positions that are in the mines aren’t casual, they’re actually permanent roles, but they’re being abused by this grey area of what the definition of casual is.

“We’re hoping to secure permanent jobs.”

 

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The submission will also focus on union concerns over changes to the making an enterprise agreement process.

“The (Federal) Government’s arguing the process for making an enterprise agreement is complicated and hard, which it isn’t,” Mr Brunker said.

A number of workers will also be there to offer their first hand experience to the committee.

The Queensland Council of Unions, the peak union council representing more than 350,000 workers throughout the state, has lodged a public submission calling for the laws to be totally scrapped. 

The QCU submission argues that the proposed laws will allow employers to take advantage of labour market conditions created by the pandemic.   

“Workers have been the heroes of our nation’s incredible pandemic response but these laws will attack their wages and conditions,” QCU general secretary Michael Clifford said.

The QCU, as well as a number of other unions including the CFMEU, will be appearing before the Senate Inquiry, as well as seeking one-on-one meetings with Senators. 

Today’s hearing will be one of only three hearing days held across the nation on these proposed laws. 

 

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Marvel Stadium turf labelled ‘horrendous’ by Stars Nick Larkin


“Just the knee plugged. The ground’s horrendous, it’s soft, so you’ve got to be a bit more careful than that,” Larkin said.

“I probably should have known better but in the moment you try to make the play. I just went straight through the surface. It’s pretty spongy. You’ll probably see a bit more of that if there’s more games here.

Nick Larkin of the Stars in action at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday night.

Nick Larkin of the Stars in action at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday night.Credit:Getty Images

“I’m still standing, but maybe a heavier guy does a bit more damage to himself. I guess it’s safe enough, but it’s not ideal.”

Larkin posted a half-century but it wasn’t enough as the Stars were stunned by a brilliant 45 not out from Renegades youngster Mackenzie Harvey, who led his side to a five-wicket win with two balls to spare.

“It’s one of the best wins I’ve been a part of. They always seem to happen against the Stars, which is nice. It was just a great win overall in the end,” Harvey said.

“It was nice to get a few out of the middle. It’s just one of those games where everything sort of paid off in the end. It was just our night, in the end.”

The result was the Renegades’ third win of the season, meaning they remain a slim chance to avoid the wooden spoon. The Stars now have little margin for error if they are to qualify for the finals in a tightly-packed ladder.

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Pompeo makes visit to West Bank settlement, says products from there can be labelled ‘Made in Israel’


The US State Department has announced that products from Israeli settlements can be labelled ‘Made in Israel’, breaking with longstanding policy.

The move was announced shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited a settlement in the occupied West Bank, a first by a top US diplomat.

President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which overwhelmingly favoured Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians, would allow Israel to annex up to a third of the West Bank, including all its settlements.

The State Department said the change in the labelling policy is “consistent with our reality-based foreign policy approach”.

The Palestinians and most of the international community view the settlements as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace.

Palestinians protest against Mr Pompeo’s visit to a Jewish settlement near the West Bank city of Al-Bireh.(AP: Majdi Mohammed)

The European Union requires member states to label products originating in the settlements.

US labels boycott movement anti-Semitic

Mr Pompeo said the US will regard the Palestinian-led boycott movement as “anti-Semitic” and cut off Government support for any organisations taking part in it, a step that could deny funding to Palestinian and international human rights groups.

“We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic,” Mr Pompeo said, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

A white wall shows a boycott israel stencil with a red mark over the israeli flag
BDS supporters advocate for an Israeli boycott to protest of the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories.(ABC Religion & Ethics)

“We will immediately take steps to identify organisations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US Government support for such groups,” he said, adding that all nations should “recognise the BDS movement for the cancer that it is”.

In another first, Mr Pompeo said he would visit the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognised internationally.

BDS organisers cast their movement as a non-violent way of protesting Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians modelled on the campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa.

The movement has had some limited success over the years but no impact on the Israeli economy.

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Israel moves to build more housing in Palestinian territory

Israel views BDS as an assault on its very existence, and has seized on statements by some supporters to accuse it of anti-Semitism, allegations denied by organisers.

In a statement, the BDS movement reiterated its rejection of “all forms of racism, including anti-Jewish racism”, and accused the US and Israel of trying to silence advocacy for Palestinian rights.

“The BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, stands with all those struggling for a more dignified, just and beautiful world,” it said.

“With our many partners, we shall resist these McCarthyite attempts to intimidate and bully Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders into accepting Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism as fate.”

Mr Pompeo did not provide additional details about the initiative, and it was unclear what organisations would be at risk of losing funding.

Israelis have accused international groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International of supporting BDS, allegations they deny.

Human Rights Watch, whose researcher was deported from Israel last year for past statements allegedly in support of BDS, does not call for boycotting Israel but urges companies to avoid doing business in West Bank settlements, saying it makes them complicit in human rights abuses.

A Palestinian woman walks in Khirbet Humsah in Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
Human rights activists are critical of Israel’s increasing annexation of the West Bank.(Reuters: Raneen Sawafta)

“The Trump administration is undermining the common fight against the scourge of antisemitism by equating it with peaceful advocacy of boycotts,” Eric Goldstein, acting Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Israel passed a 2017 law that bars entry to foreigners who have called for economic boycotts of Israel or its settlements.

The US House of Representatives passed a resolution opposing the boycott movement last year, and several US states have enacted anti-BDS laws.

Virtually all Palestinian organisations support the boycott movement, but under Mr Trump has already cut off nearly all forms of aid to the Palestinians.

US-Israel ties at ‘unprecedented heights’ under Trump administration

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to restore the aid as part of efforts to revive the peace process.

Mr Pompeo spoke at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said the Israel-US alliance had reached “unprecedented heights” under the Trump administration.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk together
Mr Pompeo’s visit to Israel has been marked by a series of firsts.(AP: Maya Alleruzzo)

Mr Netanyahu thanked the administration for moving its embassy to contested Jerusalem, abandoning the US position that Israeli settlements are contrary to international law, recognising Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and taking a hard line against Iran.

Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 war.

The Palestinians want both territories to be part of their future state and view the settlements as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace — a position endorsed by most of the international community.

“For a long time, the State Department took the wrong view of settlements,” Mr Pompeo said, but it now recognises that “settlements can be done in a way that (is) lawful, appropriate and proper”.

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Israel signs agreements with UAE, Bahrain at White House

Neither Mr Netanyahu nor Mr Pompeo said anything about the US election.

Mr Pompeo, like Mr Trump, has yet to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Mr Netanyahu congratulated Mr Biden and referred to him as the president-elect in an official statement earlier this week.

AP



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China trade restrictions on Australia labelled a ‘major miscalculation from Beijing’


China’s targeting of Australian agricultural products with sanctions likely to backfire because “Australians don’t like being bullied”, a defence expert has said.

There are expectations Beijing will slap bans on an extra $6 billion of export commodities, including lobster, timber and wheat, as tensions between Australia and China escalate.

Relations between the two countries have been seen to be souring for years over a series of policy disputes.

This culminated in Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for an inquiry into the origins and early handling of COVID-19.

Michael Shoebridge from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said any further trade bans were unlikely to force a capitulation from Canberra.

According to Mr Shoebridge, China had wrongly assumed Australia would preference its economic interests with China ahead of other considerations, including national security.

China’s trade moves ‘misjudged’

“I think it’s a major miscalculation from Beijing,” Mr Shoebridge.

“My judgment about this is Beijing thinks that by adding some more pressure around trade and having particular interest groups in Australia pressure the Australian government, that will force a 180-degree turn on big issues.

Michael Shoebridge says Australians ‘don’t like being bullied’.(Supplied: Michael Shoebridge)

“But I think that is a fundamental misjudgement because I think what is going to happen instead is that the example of what Beijing is doing in Australia will impact lots of other countries’ assessment of how they can engage with China.

“So, I think they’re likely to cause us to rely less on China economically, and if we rely on China less economically, then their ability to bully and coerce us using economic levers are likely to fall.”

Trade better with politics out

With Australian industry bracing for the touted bans, the country’s grains industry lamented what it said was an overly political relationship between Australia and China.

Grain Trade Australia chief executive Pat O’Shannassy said he did not want to further inflame tensions by blaming one side over the other, but he hoped the Federal Government could help mend ties.

Golden heads of wheat in the foreground on the right of the picture, with cleared fields and a bale of hay on the left
There are fears Australian wheat exports may be targeted(Supplied: Colin Cook)

Mr O’Shannassy said neither side benefitted in a trade war, noting that tariffs on Australian barley would cost the local industry $2.5 billion over five years while depriving Chinese buyers of their preferred product.

He also noted that China accounted for a “significant” 7 per cent share of Australian wheat export on average over the past five years.

Despite this, Mr O’Shannassy said Australian grain producers exported to more than 100 countries and they would “move on with life” regardless of what sanctions Beijing imposed.

Grain growers’ lives will ‘go on’

“It adds uncertainty and it adds risk,” Mr O’Shannassy said.

“And we have seen that risk in the barley situation.

“But the grains industry has been resilient over time and the one thing about our grains exports is we do tend to find our biggest markets in some of the flakier places of the world in terms of stability.

“So, for an industry, it’s not the first time we’ve come across these issues.

“It’s a major issue, but we’ll work through it.”

China boom was only temporary

The comments were echoed by Mr Shoebridge, who said the boom in Australian agricultural exports to China had been a relatively recent phenomenon.

He said Australian producers would remain competitive and profitable on the international market without China.

A red lobster in a crate of other red lobsters
Consignments of Australian lobster exports have been held up in China.(Landline: Glyn Jones)

“Australia’s China market for a whole lot of our commodities and services has had a temporary boom and it’s really only been in the past five years that there’s been a startling boom,” he said.

“Just six years ago, those industries sold a fraction of what they sell into the Chinese market now.

“And yet, we were still quite profitable in those sectors.

“And it’s ended because the terms Australians can access the China market under have changed.”



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Daniel Andrews labelled ‘Dictator’ by Washington Post


The Washington Post’s Tuesday morning print edition featured a photograph of heavily armed Victoria Police officers in riot gear among the fruit and vegetable stalls at the Queen Victoria Market.

The image was accompanied by the headline: “Australia’s virus ‘dictator’ still wins hearts.”

The story appeared online too, calling Victoria’s COVID-19 stay-at-home rules part of a “drastic lockdown” among “the most stringent pandemic control measures on Earth”.

It noted that Melbourne’s five million residents have been “confined indoors for 115 days, longer than the 92-day lockdown in Manila, 76 days in Wuhan, China, 58 days in Italy and 33 days across New Zealand”.

“In Melbourne, public life has essentially come to a halt. Schools are shuttered. Roads are empty,” the article read. “The only shops open are gas stations, supermarkets and drugstores.”

The last part is not strictly accurate. Cafes and restaurants remain open for takeaway, as do smaller milk bars and convenience stores.

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But the gist of the story is that Victorians are being subjected to conditions unlike anywhere else in the world.

It mentions that Premier Dan Andrews, who on Thursday saw daily COVID-19 cases drop to their lowest number in 13 weeks, “stoically explains his position and reasoning every day in news conferences that have become surprise television ratings hits”.

The world is watching as Mr Andrews fights off attempts to bring him down. The Victorian Opposition filed a no confidence motion in the Premier on Thursday, but early signs are that a vote next month will back the Premier, who already holds a clear majority in the Lower House.

In recent weeks, articles have been written about Victoria’s approach by CNN, The New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg, NBC and by smaller publications like the Las Vegas Sun.

The BBC this week focused on the protests that saw police clash with members of the public for a second weekend running.

“While the entire state of Victoria has been in lockdown since early July, Melbourne – the state’s capital – has been under tighter restrictions,” the BBC wrote.

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“Last weekend, coronavirus conspiracy theorists held “Freedom Day” events across Australia to protest against what they labelled the country’s “overblown” response to the pandemic.

Bloomberg looked into the “jobless surge” in Victoria as workers were driven from workplaces by the shuttering of several industries.

“Victorian household spending is now down 30 per cent year-to-date, from flat mid-July, even as Australia-wide it has declined 3 per cent” Bloomberg wrote.

NBC reported on the “surreal” nature of military members being tasked with knocking on Melburnians’ doors during lockdown.

“They are living under some of the most draconian lockdown restrictions in the world,” NBC wrote.

“And any hope people had of returning to something like normality has been abandoned.”

The New York Times explored the deepening of “hotspot contact tracing”.

“The Victoria outbreak – it now accounts for about 75 per cent of Australia’s nearly 26,400 cases and 90 per cent of its 770 deaths – has brought the most visible rift between a state government and Australia’s Federal Government over the country’s handling of the pandemic, which has included an emergency Cabinet of leaders from both levels of government,” the Times article read.

CNN wrote that Melbourne would “remain locked down” despite a drop in cases.

“The Australian city of Melbourne will remain on a strict “stage 4” lockdown until at least September 28, despite the daily average number of new COVID-19 cases dropping into double-digits,” the story read.

And the Las Vegas Sun wrote that Melbourne’s lockdown was causing a rift between police and the public.

“The Melbourne restrictions, including a night curfew, were put in place in an attempt to reduce a huge spike in infections and deaths.”

As Victoria recorded just 28 new cases on Thursday, marking the lowest daily increase in COVID-19 cases since June 24, the Premier thanked the people.

“This strategy is working, these numbers are falling and this is exactly what we have to do, stay the course, get these numbers low, keep them low,” he told reporters on Thursday morning.

“The trend is with us.”



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Relative of youth detention worker with coronavirus says she was unfairly labelled ‘irresponsible’


An immediate family member says the youth detention supervisor who tested positive to COVID-19 this week has been “dehumanised” politically for the sake of a few sound bites.

Speaking exclusively to ABC News, he defended her actions in turning up to work while infectious.

The 77-year-old woman from Ipswich was criticised by the Queensland Premier and Chief Health Officer for working five shifts at the Wacol Youth Detention Centre in Brisbane while she was sick, forcing the centre into lockdown.

The close family member, who did not want to be identified, said the experienced supervisor had no reason to believe she was infectious.

“She had a headache on the second-to-last day she worked, and a headache and a bit of a sore ear on the last day.

“It seems that it’s been pretty much portrayed as someone who’s been quite irresponsible and has knowingly gone to work symptomatic and infectious and risked other people’s lives.”

The woman worked five shifts at the detention centre not knowing she had COVID-19.(ABC News: Joshua Robertson)

Source of infection remains a mystery

The man said he had been in frequent contact with the woman, who remained in hospital as more than 500 of her colleagues underwent testing.

“She seems to think that she’s on the other side of it but you know, we’re not really sure,” he said.

How the woman contracted the virus remains a mystery to health authorities and the family.

“She hasn’t been out and about in the community in any great way, pretty much just in and out of work,” the family member added.

The ABC understands Queensland Health is awaiting genomic testing to see whether the woman’s case is linked to the two Logan women who returned from Victoria last month.

two women in scrubs and PPE holding test tubes surrounded by cars
Testing is yet to determine the source of the woman’s COVID-19 infection.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

So far, 56 inmates at the youth detention centre have been tested and have shown no signs of infection.

“That’s the only thing that we can logically think that it could be related to because she works in an environment where there is quite a high representation of detainees from that Logan area and staff as well,” the woman’s relative said.

He said while the family was not looking for an apology from authorities, they felt it important the Government remembered each case was more than a statistic.

“Don’t forget, don’t dehumanise people and forget that they are victims now themselves and they need our care and consideration right now,” he said.

‘I don’t blame this person’

Griffith University virologist Nigel McMillan said he felt for the woman and that it made sense she was not showing signs of illness.

“Around 80 per cent of people who have this virus are asymptomatic, so they don’t even think they need to get tested,” Professor McMillan said.

A man sitting in an office with a computer showing an illustration of the COVID-19 virus
Queensland virologist Nigel McMillan says 80 per cent of people with COVID-19 have no symptoms.(ABC News: Liz Pickering)

“It’s no surprise that people don’t realise they have the virus or have such mild symptoms they think going to work is not a problem, so I don’t blame this person in any way.

“It’s quite surprising in the case of the young ladies from Logan that they were out in the community for eight days and we saw limited transmission of the virus — that has not been the case in Victoria.”

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has said it could take up to a week for genome testing results to determine whether the woman got the virus from a known cluster or an unknown source.

Professor McMillan said genome testing was “pretty advanced technology”.

“It takes that long [a week] to process the sample and get the sequence out,” he said.

“The genome testing is a more forensic detective tool that Victoria has used to track back their current outbreak to a couple of incidents in a quarantine hotel.”

He said sequencing the genome of the virus delivered a fingerprint that could be tracked back to a primary case.

“We have not done much genomic testing in Queensland before, but in Victoria, it has been an important tool to trace their outbreaks to hotel quarantine breaches.”



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Kanye West labelled ‘most kind, loving human being’ by Caitlyn Jenner | Ents & Arts News


Kanye West is the “most kind, loving human being”, according to reality star Caitlyn Jenner.

Jenner’s comments come after West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, opened up about his bipolar diagnosis during an apparent campaign to become US president.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Jenner said that West had been “supportive” of her over the last few years.







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“I hope for the best for him, he’s a really good guy,” she added.

“He has been the most kind, loving human being and so good to me throughout the years and especially going through everything I have been through in the last five years.

“He has been such a good friend.”

Jenner was previously married to Kardashian West’s mother, Kris Jenner.

The I’m A Celebrity star added that she had not seen West for a while as he spends most of his time at his ranch in Wyoming.

West launched his presidential campaign last month with an emotional speech in North Carolina, where he set out his views on abortion and slavery.

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In the days after, West claimed he had been trying to divorce his wife for several years, causing Kardashian West to defend him on Instagram, asking fans and the media to give him space.

West later apologised to his wife, following a visit from singer Justin Bieber.

Jenner also revealed that she was developing her own YouTube channel, where she will look at transgender issues and discuss her hobbies.



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