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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‘Booming season’: Tourism bright spot in Mackay Whitsundays


While border shutdowns crippled Queensland’s tourism industry last year, one Eungella operator says business has been booming since the second half of 2020.

Eungella Chalet manager Tess Ford said while the state lockdown in May was tough, things had been looking up for the mist-shrouded tourism hot spot ever since.

“A lot of people during that time were locked down,” Ms Ford said.

“But as Queensland started to open up again, the first weekend that we could actually let people eat in here, we did 300 meals.

“We were having to ask people to leave so we could fill the table again.

“People were so sick of being cooped up that they were like, ‘Oh my god let’s get out’.”

Eungella Chalet. Picture: Melanie Whiting

This trend continued over the Christmas break, with the chalet serving up about 350 meals on a good day.

Ms Ford said international border closures meant tourists from the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane had opted to explore their own backyards rather than go overseas.

And even Mackay visitors – who had previously been difficult to attract to Eungella – had decided to make the drive up, she said.

“I have had people come up to the bar and say ‘I’ve lived in Mackay for 20 years and have never been here’,” Ms Ford said.

“As far as I’m concerned, here at the chalet it’s a holistic approach in that if people walk in the door here, it’s my job to tell them about things to do in Eungella.

“I think last year was a bit of a booming season.”

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The rolling green hills of Eungella. Picture: Mackay Tourism

The rolling green hills of Eungella. Picture: Mackay Tourism

But while Eungella could be considered a bright spot for the region, places like the Whitsundays continue to struggle.

Airlie Beach’s Backpackers by the Bay hostel co-owner Carolyn Upton said “huge numbers” of international tourists were leaving the area because of a lack of jobs.

Mrs Upton said JobKeeper should “absolutely” be extended again.

“Most of the (Whitsunday) businesses had a reasonably good end of year from the September school holidays onwards,” she said.

“But what normally happens during the wet season is visitor numbers drop off again.”

Earlier this week, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it would be a “mistake” for the Federal Government to end JobKeeper before international borders were able to reopen.

“Regions such as Cairns, the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast that rely on tourism will be worst hit,” she said.

“I’m calling on the Prime Minister, as a matter of urgency, to consider extending JobKeeper for the industries doing it tough.”

Meanwhile, Dawson MP George Christensen is continuing his push for not only an extension to the JobKeeper program for struggling tourism operators, but greater access to the Federal Government’s JobMaker program.

He said this would mean tourist operators could hire new employees to further rebuild their industry.

Mr Christensen wrote to the Treasurer two weeks ago outlining the measures he was advocating for Whitsunday tourism operators.

“I’ve been in regular contact with tourism businesses and their representative groups about the devastating effects of border closures, both international and domestic, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Dawson MP said.

“The reality is that many tourism businesses are still struggling financially, and the latest closure to NSW just before Christmas was devastating for them.”

Mr Christensen said his letter to the Treasurer requested two things – a targeted extension of the JobKeeper program for businesses that are still experiencing a 30 per cent downturn or more, and for tourism businesses who have workers on JobKeeper to also have access to JobMaker.

JobMaker is the incentive program to hire young jobseekers aged 16 to 35.

Currently, a business cannot apply for JobMaker while they are on JobKeeper.

Earlier this week, Whitsunday MP Amanda Camm said any further extension of the JobKeeper payment should be targeted to ensure it is channelled to those who need it.

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My Town is about telling the stories of Mackay and surrounds that matter to you.

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Global frozen yoghurt franchise eyes new Mackay market


The world’s largest frozen yoghurt franchise is looking to open in Mackay, and now is your chance to be in on the delicious venture.

Tutti Frutti is searching for a franchisee to open a store in Mackay with the backing of the brand’s marketing team.

“This unique opportunity is located in sunny Mackay, where the climate is warm and the locals love delicious cold treats to cool down,” the listing says.

“This is a perfect simple business model for a franchisee keen to own a rewarding business in Mackay.”

The franchise is on offer for $200,000, and the chain’s established business model operates with low overheads such as staffing levels.

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“Tutti Frutti operates their stores easily and efficiently – no experience is required,” the listing says.

“The business operates with a few staff which reduces wages and has an extremely high margin on yoghurt sales with low to no wastage – a perfect start for someone who is keen to take on a rewarding business and be part of the day-to-day running.

Tutti Frutti frozen yoghurt is looking to move to Mackay. Photo: Supplied

“With an easy to operate business model, you’ll be able to keep a great work-life balance.

“Bring your strong work ethic, hands-on attitude, positive outlook and smile to work, and you’re good to go.”

Tutti Frutti has more than 700 stores worldwide and its range offers more than 80 flavours which is continuously added to as more are created.

The business was established in Los Angeles and the chain first opened in Australia in 2011, and has six stores across Victoria and Queensland.

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“Determined to adapt to local conditions and, therefore, maximise the brand potential in Australia and New Zealand, we have spent countless hours and worked with numerous consultants in areas covering store operations, design and marketing, financial modelling, franchising and property sourcing,” the listing says.

“Tutti Frutti did not happen by chance, it is a brand built on strong fundamentals that we believe are key drivers to the success of the business.”



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Cause of 550+ gastro cases across Mackay, Whitsunday region


Mackay residents were left with queasy stomachs, dashing to the loo and clutching sick bags as 550 cases of gastrointestinal diseases were detected last year.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service has detailed the cause of hundreds of stomach bugs in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region over the past 12 months.

From New Year’s Day to December 20, there were 551 cases of gastrointestinal diseases across the health service, with the two bugs alone the cause of 80 per cent of all cases.

Environmental health team leader Andrew Jones said the two most common foodborne illnesses were campylobacter and salmonella.

Hospital data reported that salmonella infection rates jumped by 20 per cent in 2020, with 185 cases in the health service.

There were 154 cases over the same period in 2019.

The bacterial cause of gastro, campylobacter, was detected 274 times last year.

This was a slight improvement from the gastro rates from the previous year, with 49 fewer people coming down with the stomach bug.

Environmental health team leader Andrew Jones said the two most common foodborne illnesses were campylobacter and salmonella. Picture: Thinkstock.

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Mr Jones urged household chefs to keep themselves and their families safe by cooking food thoroughly.

“Foodborne illnesses vary in severity with people usually experiencing diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or a fever,” Mr Jones said.

“Most people recover within a few days with rest and fluids but food poisoning can make you seriously ill, and can be fatal in some cases.”

He said contamination could also occur when food was handled or processed by people with unclean hands, was processed with equipment that was not clean, or was cross contaminated by other food.

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“Hygiene is important. Thoroughly wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after handling raw poultry,” Mr Jones said.

The hospital data said the rate of disease spread through faecal matter cryptosporidiosis, a disease spread by faecal matter, had almost doubled.

In 2020 there were 66 confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis, which causes watery diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Over the same period in 2019 there were only 29 cases.

Queensland Health said crypto cases were most common with children under 10 years, and were easily transmitted in settings such as day care centres or petting zoos.

Gastrointestinal diseases January 1 to December 20, 2020

Campylobacter: 274

Cryptosporidiosis: 66

Salmonellosis: 185

Shingellosis: 2

Yersiniosis: 22

Shiga toxin-producing E.coli: 2



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Here’s what you can expect with today’s Mackay weather



Moist air with a dew point of 18.8 at 2am today means the temperature will feel like 25.3 degrees making the day slightly humid. The relative humidity is 67 per cent.
The highest expected temperature today is 31, the same as yesterday’s max.
Warmer conditions are expected on four of the next six days, with the mercury climbing above today’s maximum on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The chance of rain today is 50 per cent.
There is a similar chance of showers tomorrow with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a medium (50 per cent) chance of rain.
The UV index is predicted to be 13. There is an extreme risk of harm from sun exposure. Unprotected skin can burn within minutes in today’s conditions. Experts suggest looking for shade and avoiding sun exposure around noon. General advice is to take all precautions such as using eye protection, sunscreen and covering up.
Winds will be south-southeast around 29 km/h in the morning decreasing to south-southeast around 26 km/h in the afternoon.
Details for the next six days:
Sunday, December 13: Mostly sunny. Min – 22. Max – 31.
Monday, December 14: Mostly sunny. Min – 21. Max – 32.
Tuesday, December 15: Mostly sunny. Min – 22. Max – 33.
Wednesday, December 16: Partly cloudy. Min – 23. Max – 32.
Thursday, December 17: Partly cloudy. Min – 23. Max – 33.
Friday, December 18: Partly cloudy. Min – 21. Max – 31.



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FIGURES: True impact of COVID, trade tension on Mackay ports


NEW figures released by North Queensland Bulk Ports have revealed the shocking repercussions COVID-19 and trade tensions with China are having on Mackay ports.

Abbot Point, Mackay, Hay Point and Weipa trading ports, as well as the non-trading port of Maryborough, all come under the care and authority of NQBP.

An NQBP spokeswoman said while the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic had affected global demand, regional trade tensions were having a significant impact up and down the supply chain.

“The impacts are being seen in the trade throughput figures at our ports,” the spokeswoman said.

“Our business performance has seen trade declining by 6 per cent from 177mt to 166mt in the past financial year.

“This was equivalent to the trade six years ago in FY14.

“These numbers were at June 2020. Since then, the economic consequences of COVID-19 continue to reverberate and we have seen ongoing escalation of regional trade tensions.”

Aerial image of the Port of Mackay. Picture: supplied

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She said the authority’s first quarter trading volume was the lowest of the past seven years.

In the quarter from July to September 2020, NQBP exported 31.3Mt of coal compared with 36.9Mt for the same period in 2019.

In October 2020, NQBP exported 9.7Mt of coal compared with 12.4Mt for the month of October 2019.

It comes as Queensland Budget documents revealed COVID-19 had hit state coffers like a wrecking ball, with coal royalties expected to fall 53 per cent this financial year.

Responding to the figures, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told News Corp there were Queensland ships currently stuck off China.

“We would encourage the Federal Government to resume trade relationship talks because what the mining companies are saying to me … the last thing they want to see are mines closed in Queensland that could have an impact on Queensland jobs,” she said.

Ships moored off Hay Point waiting to be loaded with coal.

Ships moored off Hay Point waiting to be loaded with coal.

Dawson MP George Christensen said the Federal Government could not force China to accept Australian exports.

“There is little the Australian Government can do about getting ships of any sort docked in China, apart from trying to mediate,” Mr Christensen said.

“But it seems that the mediation China wants is for Australia to change its domestic policies to suit china before they resume normal trade relationships.

“We can’t do that, we can’t sacrifice our national sovereignty to someone that’s behaving like a bully.”

Mr Christensen said Queensland needed to focus on finding new trading partners.

“We know now that China is risky; we need to hedge our bets with other countries in a bigger way than what we’re doing at the moment,” he said.

“Overall Queensland is very exposed to China, not just in the coal sector, it is actually more exposed in other sectors.”

Dawson MP George Christensen. Picture: Matt Taylor

Dawson MP George Christensen. Picture: Matt Taylor

In the meantime, the NQBP spokeswoman said the port authority was taking action while it awaited economic recovery.

“We are working with stakeholders throughout the supply chain to look at ways to continue to grow trade and support jobs,” she said.

“We are doing our part, for example we are investing $17 million at the Port of Mackay and Hay Point this financial year on a range of projects that will not only boost the ports’ competitiveness, but importantly support local jobs.

“These works are a good example of how we can support the government’s economic recovery plan.”

More than 1000 people work at NQBP ports and a further 28,000 direct trade jobs depend on these ports.

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Crows veteran Mackay set for knee surgery


Adelaide veteran David Mackay will have knee surgery in a bid to be fit for the start of the AFL pre-season.

The 32-year-old, who last week signed a one-year deal to extend his 230-game career, will have arthroscopic surgery to drain a left knee bursa.

Mackay had a similar procedure early last month but suffered swelling in the troublesome knee.

Adelaide’s chief medical officer Marc Cesana expects the latest surgery to allow Mackay to start pre-season training with his teammates in January.

“(We) decided with a small window of opportunity before pre-season starts … a procedure could be performed,” Cesana said in a statement on Tuesday,

Mackay’s rehabilitation was expected to last four to five weeks.

Adelaide’s full squad of players return to training on January 6 while first-to-fourth year players resume from December 7.





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Victorian show workers sent packing over COVID-19 border breach in Mackay


Fourteen Victorian-based show workers have been booted from the Mackay Showgrounds and ordered out of Queensland after entering the state with the wrong border passes.

Police removed the amusement operators from Mackay Showgrounds on Tuesday night after they travelled from Victoria, arriving Monday, and tried to set up rides for the show.

Show organisers called police, who evicted the interlopers from the site and into quarantine at an unidentified location, where they were tested for COVID-19. All returned negative test results, police said, and were heading for the border.

Manager of Mackay’s Showfest, Lance Collyer, told the ABC the workers were not part of his operation that also ran a show in Rockhampton.

“They shouldn’t have been here. As soon as we found out they were on site, we had the police involved,” he said.

“It’s very frustrating because we have been working hard to bring this show here, we’ve all just got to do the right thing.

“Unfortunately some people aren’t willing to do the right thing, so we are having to make them do the right thing.”

Mr Collyer said the rides they attended were not a part of the show and had not travelled with them.

“We had a few rides that weren’t authorised to come on to the showgrounds,” he said.

“The police came down and we’ve been working with the police to escort them off the premises and secure the site.”

Showfest manager Lance Collyer says he notified authorities when show workers arrived and did not have the correct passes.(ABC Tropical North: Ollie Wykeham)

Health Minister Steven Miles said the workers had been ordered back across the border.

“Police have identified a crew of show support staff who travelled from Victoria to Mackay in order to assist with a show there,” he said.

“They were travelling on the wrong border pass and it is now a police matter.

“They have all been tested for COVID and they are negative.”

Show ride reading 'hangover' in light bulbs tops a mechanical arm show ride
The non-approved rides have already been removed from the Mackay Showgrounds.(ABC Tropical North: Ollie Wykeham)

Dr Miles said police were now investigating the workers who applied for a freight permit, which was not the one needed to transport the rides across the border.

“Police quarantined them while they were tested and now they’ve asked them to return outside of Queensland,” he said.

“What it underlines is that our systems are very effective at identifying when people have travelled inappropriately.

“It’s probably the case that if the show had worked with our public health units and within their COVID Safe Plan and demonstrated a need for specialist, essential workers to come from another part of the country, then they could have received an appropriate permit, but in this case it wasn’t the appropriate permit and they’ve been asked to leave Queensland.”



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