It’s only taken two one-dayers for Ian Chappell’s first angry rant of the summer.
The former Australian captain has unloaded his frustration at batting tactics employed by Glenn Maxwell and David Warner he believes are blatantly unfair.
Maxwell in particular is one of the finest exponents of switch-hitting, where a batsman faces up in his normal position before moving his feet – and sometimes altering his grip – to effectively swap his stance.
Chappell conceded it was “amazingly skilful” but insisted it wasn’t fair on the bowler after two run-fests at the SCG to open the series.
“How can one side of the game, ie. the bowlers, they have to tell the umpire how they’re going to bowl. And yet the batsman, he lines up as a right-hander – I’m the fielding captain, I place the field for the right-hander – and before the ball’s been delivered, the batsman becomes a left-hander,” Chappell told nine.com.au.
“One of the main reasons why he’s becoming a left-hander is so he can take advantage of those field placings. I’d love the administrators who made those laws, I’d love them to explain to me how that’s fair.”
Chappell encouraged India to revolt against the practice by challenging the on-field umpire.
“I just can’t believe the players don’t arc-up about it. If I’m captain, I’m going to take the ball myself and I’m going to tell the umpire I’m bowling right-arm over [the wicket], and then I’m going to run in and bowl around,” he said.
“Obviously the umpire‘s going to complain and I’m going to say, ’Well, you stop him (the batsman) doing something I think is totally unfair and I’ll stop doing something unfair’. If the administrators aren’t smart enough to change it, then my attitude always was, ‘Well, I’ll take the law into my own hands’.”
Chappell suggested a solution to the problem that wouldn’t result in the tactic being completely lost from the game.
“It’s very simple … All you’ve got to say is that if the batsman changes the order of his hands or his feet [as the bowler runs in], then it’s an illegal shot,” Chappell said.
“(But) if the batsman’s right-handed and wants to play switch-hit [in advance of the bowler running in], any bowler worth his salt will say, ‘Go for your life, mate, I’ll take my chances’. But when he completely becomes the opposite-handed batsman to what he faces up as, then it’s not fair.
“If he’s good enough to do it by excellent footwork or whatever other means he can devise, I don’t have a problem with it. But when it’s blatantly unfair, it annoys the hell out of me.”
It isn’t unfair for journalists to ask the tough questions about the state’s COVID-19 response – but there is a problem in the government presenting an unelected public servant as the ultimate word on every policy response, argues Kevin Naughton.
The text message reply from one of Adelaide’s most respected journalists was disconcerting: “No bastard wants to be seen to be attacking Nicola.”
It was a response to my observation that bureaucracies are adept at ring-fencing their mistakes and how sad it was that journalists were being shut down, criticised or ignored when seeking information regarding the pizza-inspired lockdown of the entire state.
The shutdown was based on “the health advice”, the Premier Steven Marshall said, as did the Police Commissioner.
When that advice changed, the media wanted to know when, how, why, who etc.
Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier would not be drawn on whether a mistake had been made in checking the story of a confirmed case who appeared to have been infected via a pizza box. The Premier also avoided the issue of cross-checking, preferring the more dramatic view that he was “fuming” at what he described as a lie told by a pizza shop worker.
That was Friday – one short and very long week ago.
By Monday, the defence of the shutdown was even more strident.
Professor Spurrier did not respond to ABC Radio presenter Ali Clarke’s question about whether or not the pizza story had been cross-checked via receipts, travel records, a second person to verify or mobile phone location services. Instead, she repeated her line that we had averted a second wave.
The Premier stuck to the same message telling national television programs that “you only get one chance to stop a second wave”. Nationally, other infectious disease experts weren’t buying the South Australian line.
The ABC’s Ali Clarke, meanwhile, revealed to listeners she was getting text messages while still on the air, attacking her for asking tough questions of the Chief Public Health Officer. No wonder, because Professor Spurrier was being used daily as the State Government’s reference point of absolute truth and power.
But the media was getting edgy about the infallibility of the State Government’s shield.
What sparked the media curiosity was the revelation last Friday by Police Commissioner Grant Stevens that police had ascertained that the Woodville pizza story didn’t stack up. When a review team was sent to re-interview the man, later revealed as a Spanish national here on a graduates visa, the premise on which the lockdown was based fell apart, he said.
The sure and steady Commissioner appeared none-too-impressed with the health blunder, but he didn’t seek to throw direct blame, instead assembling a taskforce to examine what went wrong.
That same day, when journalists started questioning Professor Spurrier about the possibility of a blunder they were redirected to the heroic story of a young doctor who had taken a respiratory swab from a patient and discovered the first case in the Parafield cluster. The same doctor was made available to The Advertiser and then morning radio. Not so, however, the contact tracer who missed a key part of the pizza worker’s movements. That part of the story is likely to be sealed and put away and the worker never mentioned.
The Premier did, however, find time again to say he was “fuming” at the deceit of the pizza worker. The classic political strategy of “sharing the rage” was in full view as the pizza shop and its employee became villains.
Yet there remain a lot of unanswered questions and it is the media’s role to continue to seek answers, even if they are targeted for daring to query the person promoted by the State Government as its source of unquestioned advice – a bureaucratic saint.
It is still not clear why a shutdown was ordered based on one piece of data that was not tested or cross-checked. Did the Police Commissioner, the next day, consider that story didn’t stack up, and send an officer to re-interview the pizza worker? Is there a conflict between two of the three key decision-makers?
What was the basis for Professor Spurrier indicating that this cluster is from a particularly “sneaky: strain of COVID-19, a claim dismissed by a prominent senior medical specialist interstate? Is this statement now wrong? If so, has it been corrected?
Why did SA Health believe – at least for a time – that the virus survived and travelled on a pizza box when such a view is contrary to medical evidence from around the world? Exactly what steps will be taken in the future to cross-check unusual propositions such as the pizza contamination assumption?
Will anyone put their hand up to say “we made a mistake” and apologise? That alone might take the heat out of this story and counter the now widespread confusion in the community.
But correcting mistakes doesn’t appear to be high on the priority list in the management of this pandemic.
Remember the baggage handlers’ outbreak at Adelaide Airport?
We were told to clean our luggage and Qantas and the Airport were put in the frame for their hygiene practices.
An SA Health source told me that the outbreak was later traced to an infected and symptomatic worker going to work and passing it on the other workers – not from contaminated luggage or any other source.
Does SA Health need to make an adjustment to that part of the story?
And then there was the Tanunda cluster – what happened with the disappearing USA touring couple? How did they skip quarantine?
By Monday last week, the Premier’s Liberal Party colleague Nick McBride MP was on the attack, unwilling to play the game of convincing us that we had just avoided a calamity. He said a mistake had been made.
By Monday, the Premier had conceded that the Parafield cluster was contained with every case tracked to a known source.
Yet also on Monday, Professor Spurrier was still adamant that there had been no time to pause and check the pizza concept and there were no regrets. Businesses and stood-down workers, however, had plenty of regrets. The doubt now underpins widespread falls in business activity.
And also last week, questions were being asked interstate that need to be answered by SA Health, given that the “evidence was slim for the theories used to initially justify an unprecedented lockdown”.
Four days later, a new case connected to the same pizza bar was met by a different response. Again, the Premier and his government deferred to “the health advice”.
That advice comes via a Chief Public Health Officer promoted by government PR machines as saintly.
They have ridden on the back of Professor Spurrier’s flawless reputation, based on her clarity of communication, dedication to public health and extreme work ethic. It’s a reputation well-deserved. But a health officer cannot carry the burden of broad social and economic outcomes. That is the job of an elected Premier, his Health Minister and Cabinet members.
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It’s also an unfair burden for Nicola Spurrier that she is promoted as perfect and bestowed quasi-sainthood.
It’s time the Premier took the front stage and the responsibility and Professor Spurrier resumed the role of adviser to government. It’s the model used by every other state Premier, based on the concept that they are elected by the people and are responsible to the parliament.
The fact that some of our top journalists are being targeted for asking questions that are fair, reasonable and necessary is not a healthy sign.
There is never any reason to fear the truth, because cover-ups never end well.
Don’t assume that any bureaucrat is a saint and cannot be questioned; nor should we assume that anyone is immune from error.
If journalists are asking difficult questions, it’s because the integrity of our health system could be at stake.
Don’t ask, don’t discover.
Kevin Naughton is a former senior journalist and broadcaster. He was a political adviser to Martin Hamilton-Smith as Liberal leader and as a minister in the Weatherill Cabinet, as well as Labor leader Peter Malinauskas.
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Families of stolen wages victims in North Queensland have waited decades for their entitlements, but have been left devastated by the payouts and are questioning how they were calculated.
Recipients of stolen wage entitlements from the Queensland Government say the payments are grossly unfair
Administrators say a methodology that relied on anthropological evidence was used to determine the amounts
Men received greater entitlements than women as they were more affected by stolen wage practices
The Queensland Government settled a long-running stolen wages case for $190 million in 2019.
The entitlements are being distributed to more than 10,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for wages earned between 1939 and 1972.
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains images of people who have died.
Among the recipients is the mother of Francine George, an elder of the Kukatj tribe in Normanton.
Ms George’s mother died in 2017 at the age of 88.
She said her mother only received an entitlement of $12,000 for more than 40 years’ work on cattle stations in various domestic roles.
“They were not given any monies; they were not told how much monies they have made during that time,” Ms George said.
“They come into Normanton from those cattle properties and they were given, what we would refer to as a purchase order these days, to go to the shop and get supplies.
“During those times, they only ever came to town on special occasions like the Normanton races … and all the other times they worked.”
Ms George said the government had the means to calculate the hours her mother worked, but her entitlement was a lot less than expected.
“There are records within Queensland Government for a lot of people [who] worked during that era. How did they come to that calculation?” she said.
Townsville resident Hans Pearson led the class action.
Grant Thornton Australia was appointed as the administrator of the Stolen Wages Settlement Distribution Scheme.
The firm’s lawyer, Anthony Beven, said due to the lack of evidence and records of earnings, time passed and the death of many claimants, a methodology relying on anthropological evidence was used to determine the entitlements.
“The court said that the only way to do this in a fair way was to group people based on their age, whether they were Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, male, whether they were still living or deceased,” Mr Beven said.
“It was never intended to be a precise calculation of how many years people worked, how much their savings and wages had not been properly paid to them because that was just too difficult to prove.”
Men compensated more
Ms George said she was concerned that men who were part of the class action received more money than women.
“It just doesn’t add up.”
Mr Beven said men were compensated more than women because they suffered greater deductions and withholdings, according to the evidence put before the court.
“The anthropological evidence, the historical records have indicated that men in particular were more heavily affected by the stolen wages practices,” he said.
“They [men] had more in terms of wages and savings withheld from them.
“It’s the best possible methodology that’s been developed over many years.”
The $190 million settlement was Australia’s fifth-largest class action settlement and the largest-ever settlement involving Indigenous people outside native title claims.
But Ms George said claimants’ entitlements were chewed up by the $53 million in litigation costs.
“The buckets of money have dropped considerably,” she said.
“It’s not $190 million that the people are sharing in, it’s more like $120 million or even less and that’s going out to 11,000 to 20,000 people.”
The class action was funded by litigation funder Litigation Lending Services, which was entitled to a slice of the settlement under the Federal Court ruling.
Legal fees associated with the Stolen Wages Settlement Distribution Scheme were also deducted from the settlement amount.
Grandchildren were not eligible to register for the scheme because it fell outside of the requirement of a “direct family connection”.
Ms George said it had left many descendants still questioning the whereabouts of their grandparents’ stolen wages.
“I know a lot of people are not happy, around the Gulf and down in Mount Isa and over in Cairns, with how it’s been rolled out.”
A staff member for Senator Jacqui Lambie has told a court that workers felt like they were “bullied”, “manipulated” and “mentally abused” by the senator’s former chief of staff and office manager, who are claiming unfair dismissal.
Rob and Fern Messenger first lodged their unfair dismissal claim three years ago
The pair earlier gave evidence about Senator Lambie’s “vile” language and “abuse”
A current staff member says staff felt “ignored” and “bullied” by the Messengers
Rob and Fern Messenger’s hearing before Federal Court Judge John Snaden is now well into its second week.
The Messengers claim they were unfairly dismissed by Senator Lambie in May 2017 after complaints about workplace health and safety.
Senator Lambie’s electoral officer Tammy Tyrrell was called as a witness by the Messengers on Wednesday, but much of her evidence has related to the behaviour of the Messengers themselves, with Judge Snaden at one point cautioning them that the questions they were asking were damaging their own case.
On that day, under questioning from the Messengers, Ms Tyrrell revealed Mr Messenger “could be overpowering and intimidating” and once asked her to hang up on “a gentleman who was suicidal”.
When cross-examined on Thursday by Senator Lambie’s lawyer Nick Harrington, Ms Tyrrell said she and another staff member first raised concerns about the Messengers with the senator while on a road trip in Tasmania.
“We were waiting for the right opportunity to speak to Jacqui,” she said.
“Prior to that date, Jacqui was still very bound by Rob and Fern — what they said, how they instructed, where she should go, what she should do.
“We felt that if we hadn’t waited for the right time it’d probably blow up in our faces in that we’d be performance managed.”
Ms Tyrrell told the court she started off by saying, “you’re not going to like this, but I’m going to have to tell you something that the staff are feeling”.
Ms Tyrrell clarified that she herself had no problem with Ms Messenger and considered her a friend but other staff members did have issues.
She said Senator Lambie was shocked to hear their concerns and asked them why they hadn’t come to her earlier.
“She said, ‘You’re shittin’ me?’ She had a look of amazement on her face and then she started asking us questions,” Ms Tyrell said.
Staff asked to ‘spy’ on senator
Ms Tyrrell also told the court staff had been asked to report back “any meetings, conversations that Jacqui had that would or could be perceived as off the radar or where they [the Messengers] weren’t present”.
“We felt like we were spying on her and doing something wrong,” she said.
“They felt like they were lying to her. They didn’t want to do it.”
The definition of spy had earlier been challenged by the Messengers, who read out a definition they had found on Google.
The question was rejected by Judge Snaden and dismissed as “nonsense” by the counsel for Senator Lambie.
On two occasions, across her two days of evidence, Mr Messenger asked Ms Tyrrell to “take her glasses off” under the assumption she was reading her evidence.
The Messengers also produced three birthday cards as evidence of Ms Tyrell’s good relationship with them prior to their dismissal.
The cards included affectionate messages, such as “happy birthday sweetness you’ve become an important part of my world, my life” to Ms Messenger.
Mr Messenger then questioned how she could send him a nice “monkey birthday card” when at the same time she was looking into complaints about him.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, through its chairman Rod Sims, has expressed its intention to take a tougher stance against unfair contract terms that affect small businesses.
In a recent address to the National Press Club, Sims called on the Federal Government to make such contract terms between big and small businesses illegal and subject to harsh penalties.
And the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has thrown her support behind the Commission’s tougher stance.
“It’s hard to believe that in 2020 it is still not illegal for a big business to impose unfair contract terms on a small business,” Carnell said. “Small businesses has been waiting for changes to level the playing field for too long.
“In November 2016, Treasury legislation amendment (Small Business and Unfair Contract Terms) Act 2015 took effect, that legislation was reviewed in 2018 and here we are, another two years on and small businesses continue to be adversely impacted by big businesses with legal impunity,” Carnell added.
“It’s clear that change is long overdue. My office has been advocating for unfair contract terms legislation to be strengthened for a considerable time now, most recently in our COVID-19 Recovery Plan and our comprehensive submission to Treasury’s Review of Unfair Contract Term Protections for Small Business, in March this year.”
The ASBFEO has recommended that:
Unfair Contract Terms be made illegal.
Significant penalties and infringement notices to apply to breaches.
Enforcement capabilities of regulators enhanced to determine if terms are unfair.
Legislation extended to cover all contracts valued up to $5 million.
Definition of a small business be changed to those with less than $10 million turnover.
“Currently where a standard form contract contains an unfair contract term, the only way for a small business to take action is through the court system. And even if the term is proven to be unfair, there is no penalty to the big business,” Carnell said.
The ASBFEO noted that Phase I of the Access to Justice Inquiry found small businesses are unlikely to take action when faced with an unfair contract term in their standard form contract.
“Understandably, they are reluctant to damage commercial relationships and lack the resources and time to pursue litigation,” Carnell said. “By making unfair contract terms illegal, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would be able to penalise big businesses. The sooner unfair contract terms between big businesses and small businesses is made both illegal and subject to big-stick penalties, the better.”
FILE PHOTO: Workers sort international parcels at a cross-border e-commerce industrial park ahead of the Singles Day online shopping festival in Hefei, Anhui province, China November 2, 2019. Picture taken November 2, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
October 24, 2020
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s market regulator and other government departments have launched an exercise focused on e-commerce, with plans to crack down on areas such as unfair competition and the illegal trading of counterfeits or wildlife, state news agency Xinhua said.
The operation will run until December and will also look into areas such as livestreaming, which has in the past two years become a popular sales channel in China, Xinhua said on Saturday, referring to a recently issued notice from the State Administration of Market Supervision and other departments.
The exercise aims to ensure e-commerce platforms are fulfilling their responsibilities to protect the legitimate rights of consumers and operators as well as to maintain a fair and orderly market environment, it added.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Lincoln Feat.)
A growing number of grandparents care full time for their grandchildren in Australia, without receiving the financial support they need, writes Lisa Ikin.
WHEN YOU HOLD your grandchild for the first time it all comes rushing back — the tiny hands, the downy head and the rolls of baby flesh. It takes you right back to being a parent.
A growing number of grandparents don’t get to hand their grandchildren straight back to their parents. They are left holding the baby for the rest of their lives. Drug abuse and mental health issues are a major contributing factor.
Sue Erben and Vievian Lawrence are grandparents. They care full time for their grandchildren without receiving the financial support they need. Informal kinship or grandparent carers do not have formal custody of their grandchildren. This means they don’t have a state or territory Children’s Court, Youth Court or Magistrates’ Court order in place.
These ageing carers are not eligible for the same allowances that formal carers receive. Along with tens of thousands of people in the same situation, they are demanding change.
Sue Erben, 53 of Victoria, has been lobbying for change through her Facebook group, Kinship carers Australia. The group, formed by Sue in 2017, has about 2,500 followers. At 53, Sue refers to herself as “a young spring chicken” compared to some carers in the group — most members are over 60. However, some are in their 80s and care for up to five grandchildren.
Some of the grandparent carers marched on Canberra in 2018.
There is a lot of conjecture about who takes responsibility for kinship carers, Sue tells Independent Australia:
“If you approach state government, they say it’s a federal matter and federal politicians will say it’s a state matter. Well, it has to be someone!”
Seven years ago, Sue’s daughter suffered from postnatal depression and self-medicated with illicit drugs. She could not care for her child. A newborn baby to care for meant Sue and her husband had to move to a larger house and access their superannuation.
When her granddaughter was 12 months old, Sue Erben reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Victoria. However, once DHHS saw that Sue’s granddaughter was safe, the department closed her case and Sue was not eligible for an allowance.
“It’s not all that different today, you might find one or two services around the states that will help informal carers, but not a lot.”
And whether the kids are in a formal or informal arrangement, Sue maintains, it makes no difference because:
“You still have to provide love, support and shelter.”
At 59, Vievian Lawrence and husband Ian relocated from New South Wales to Queensland to care for their newborn grandson. Their grandson’s four siblings had been exposed to drug abuse and physical violence prior to being placed with family members.
Vievian tells IA that she and her husband didn’t want their grandson to be placed in foster care:
“I don’t believe they [grandchildren] should go through the court system — they are blood!”
Ian is an interstate truck driver and Vievian had plans to travel with him in his truck.
Vievian admits to feeling angry that she had to care for a newborn:
“I was really pissed off at her [daughter] that she took that [travel] away from me, but now in hindsight, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”
All carers, formal and informal, are eligible for the Commonwealth’s Family Tax Benefit and up to 100 hours of subsidised childcare. By way of comparison, formal carers also receive state or territory government allowances with additional subsidies for education, special needs and remote allowances. There are variances in payment types and allowances across the country.
Psychologist and academic Dr Meredith Kiraly has over 30 years specialising in child and family welfare, with expertise in kinship care.
Dr Kiraly told Independent Australia that she has spent time studying up-to-date census data. Her proxy figures estimate there are 60,000 kinship care households in Australia and that 80 to 90 per cent of all kinship care is informal. Of that number, there are an estimated 24,000 informal grandparent households. Dr Kiraly explained that there are no official numbers “as the census does not yet have a suitable question about family constellations and relationships”.
Dr Kiraly believes Australia should look to New Zealand, where parity was established in 2009. (All formal and informal kinship and foster carers, who meet the criteria, receive an equivalent allowance to the foster carer allowance.)
Senator Jacqui Lambie’s former chief of staff has told a court staff members were subject to “profane and vulgar language” on a daily basis and feared for their safety after a well-publicised terrorist threat.
Rob Messenger and his wife Fern claim they were unfairly dismissed by Jacqui Lambie in May 2017
Mr Messenger alleges Senator Lambie subjected office staff to ‘gross’ sexual comments
He said a staff member had opened a death threat meant for Senator Lambie
Rob Messenger, and his wife Fern, who was Ms Lambie’s office manager, claim they were unfairly dismissed by the senator in May 2017 following complaints about workplace health and safety.
Mr Messenger, a former Queensland state MP for the National Party, first met Senator Lambie in 2013 when she was running for the Senate as a member of Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party.
He and his wife Fern joined Senator Lambie when she was elected to parliament and stayed with her as she broke away from Mr Palmer’s party to become an independent — at which point Mr Messenger said the workload significantly increased.
They worked with Senator Lambie until they were dismissed in 2017.
The cause of that dismissal is the subject of a Fair Work complaint dating back to that year.
Three years later, the case is now before Justice John Snaden in the Federal Court, where the Messengers are representing themselves.
Court told of ‘vile, profane, vulgar language’ in workplace
In his evidence, Mr Messenger told the court a number of staff had complained to him about Senator Lambie’s language.
“It became wearing. Many of the comments had sexual connotations, were inappropriate and gross.”
He said that during a meeting with the senator he told her she was being inappropriate.
“I said, ‘Jac, the staff have complained to us … there are certain swear words you used that could be sexual harassment if a complaint was made,'” he said.
Mr Messenger detailed a time when Senator Lambie “made sensational comments” on radio about “her sex life and her personal hygiene”.
“As a result of that radio interview, the office then became the focal point for a lot of angry community feedback,” he said.
He said he complained to her about the phone calls and abuse the office was dealing with.
“[I told her] the best way to mitigate her public reputation was to issue an apology,” he said.
Mr Messenger also said he’d spoken to the senator about discussing her sex life in the office.
“‘I said, ‘Jacqui, you can’t come into the workplace being grumpy and then announcing to all the staff that you haven’t got laid in a long time,'” he said.
“You can’t come into the workplace saying, ‘I desperately need a root.'”
Staff member found death threat, court told
Mr Messenger said at times he felt like he was Senator Lambie’s personal bodyguard, particularly during an interaction with “angry” high school students in which he feared for both his and the senator’s safety.
He told the court he had raised the issue of a lack of personal protection on a regular basis.
He also told the court he and other staff would work extremely long hours, saying they averaged 100 hours per week.
“We were expected to work during our time off. There wasn’t a time we had recreational leave during [our] time with [Senator] Lambie that we didn’t work,” he said.
He also alleged Senator Lambie had excessively bullied a staff member, who he claimed resigned, citing mental health.
Mr Messenger said this same staff member had opened a death threat meant for Senator Lambie.
He told the court the letter said that if Senator Lambie did not convert to sharia law, the authors would attack her office when she least expected it and behead her.
Mr Messenger took the complaint to Senator Lambie and the office was temporarily closed until Tasmanian police arrived.
Mr Messenger said staff wanted to keep the office closed, but Senator Lambie insisted on reopening it.
He also claimed Senator Lambie refused to take steps to upgrade security at the electoral office despite the threat and complaints.
Mr Messenger’s evidence to the hearing was regularly interrupted by both Nick Harrington, the counsel for Ms Lambie, and Judge Snaden.
Both called him out for entering irrelevant evidence and straying from the statement of claim, and asked him to be more specific.
The hearing is expected to continue until the end of the month.
Senator Lambie has yet to tell her side of the story and is expected to give evidence at a later date.
Work-life balance charity Working Families has today released figures that show that 1 in 5—or 2.6 million —working parents in the UK feel they have been treated less fairly at work because of their childcare responsibilities since the onset of COVID-19.
The stats come from a poll, which asked working parents whether they agree with the following statement: “I have felt treated less fairly at work because of my childcare responsibilities” since the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK began. 20% of working parents answered “strongly agree” or “tend to agree”. Mothers were more likely to agree with the statement than fathers. Part-time workers were much more likely to agree with the statement than full-time workers.
This polling—launched during National Work Life Week —underpins the charity’s call for adding caring responsibilities to the list of protected characteristics in the Equality Act, providing a legal foundation on which to tackle workplace discrimination against parents and carers.
Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: “At the height of lockdown, the Prime Minister made clear that parents must be ‘defended and protected’ if they are unable to work because they cannot get the childcare they need. But there is currently no legal or regulatory mechanism to defend or protect working parents in the way the Prime Minister has suggested. In terms of childcare, we are certainly not back to ‘business as usual’—since schools reopened in September, parents have continued to struggle, managing staggered school times, gaps in wraparound care provision, and the ever-present risk of being required to self-isolate.
“With millions of parents facing unfair treatment at work just for having caring responsibilities—and waves of COVID-related redundancies around the corner—now is the time for the Government to act and make being a parent or carer a protected characteristic.”
The poll findings and policy call above are part of a new report from Working Families, launching Friday, called “Flexistability: Building Back Better for the UK’s Working Families”. The report takes the lessons learned from COVID-19 and outlines a labour market and rights framework where all parents can access and progress in quality, permanent, genuinely two-sided flexible work.
Imminent coronavirus restrictions on wedding guests are “heartbreaking”, a gutted bride who has already postponed her nuptials twice told Mirror Online.
From Monday guests will be limited to 15 in an effort to stop the deadly spread of Covid-19.
Brides and wedding planners have reacted with fury as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the number of people permitted at wedding celebrations is to be halved, in a bid to “tighten up” the current rule of six.
Mum-of-three Corrine Tricker has had to postpone her big day twice thanks to the initial guidelines – and now these new restrictions.
The 30-year-old from Clacton-on-Sea had been looking forward to tying the knot with long-term partner Curtis Forrester, 30, but has been left in tears at today’s news.
Have your wedding plans been ruined? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
She told Mirror Online the new restrictions had caused her stress “immensely”
“We cannot have a 15 person wedding due to the fact we have a large immediate family,” said Corrine.
“I’m now on the verge over losing money, just over £4,000 the last I counted. To some that’s not a lot but I’m a full time mum and only my fiancé works so every penny has gone into this.”
Full-time mum Corrine and sheet metal worker Curtis were originally set to get hitched on September 26 this year, before rescheduling for November 21.
The couple, who have two children together while Corrine has a third from a previous relationship, have been left “heartbroken twice now” as a family.
What is your view? Have your say in the comments below
With three parents each, three children, three sisters on Curtis’s side and, plus two registrars and a photographer, they could make it work if they only wanted two witnesses.
But in their county of Essex, their local registry office will only allow seven people max under the current restrictions, and “Financially and emotionally its never going to work,” said Corrine.
Kids Amie, 11, Bentley, 6 and Isla, 2, had been looking forward to the big day.
Amie and Bentley had been due to play a “very special role”.
“They were both due to read a poem at the altar, so they’ve built all this courage and excitement up for another disappointment,” added Corrine.
The heartbreak and disappointment has left Corrine feeling “horrible”, she told Mirror Online.
“I feel so bi-polar, my hopes and feelings up and down, one week I’m up and happy then this happens and I just want to curl up and wait for this all to end,” she said.
“My family have literally been hurt. Having to explain to the kids mummy and daddy can’t get married because our family is to big. Breaking our parents hearts that they cannot attend their only son and only daughter’s wedding.
“We have scrimped our money every month, anything we have had left over had gone on the wedding fund and the loan we got out to pay for it.”
Boris Johnson today added that funeral services would be exempt from the restrictions announced on Tuesday, with the maximum number of mourners remaining at 30.
Corrine said she felt the Government had handled the wedding element of the latest restrictions “very poorly and unfairly.”
She said: “I understand you can postpone a wedding and not a funeral but a funeral is longer than a 20 minute service.
“They seem to think its all party party party, when all we want is a nearest and dearest close to make a commitment.
“There’s alot of money and emotional in planning a wedding, it’s so stressful.
“You can also have 30 kids in a class, you can go to the pub or the gym but you can’t celebrate your wedding.”
She added: “I think the industry also needs to highlighted. They seem to forget alot of people run business purely for weddings and now we have livelihoods ruined.”
We had planned a wedding for 100 people – now we are ‘gutted’
Another bride, due to get married on December 12 after being engaged for five years, who had originally planned a wedding with 100 people in Norfolk, said she felt “gutted” following the announcement.
“We are then seeing people say online that it doesn’t matter, it’s not important and at least we don’t have Covid and then we feel like our feelings are not valid,” 40-year-old Laura Brown said.
“It’s a day but it’s so much more than a day, because of all the emotions that go into it.”
Meanwhile, self-employed wedding celebrant Chris Gray, from Glasgow, called the restrictions around weddings “nonsensical”, such as couples being required to wear coverings during the ceremony.
The 29-year-old added: “That’s led so many people having to cancel or rearrange weddings and in the short-term it’s been an absolute hammer blow for cash flow for me.”
Celebrations held this weekend will narrowly avoid the new restrictions, which come into effect in England on Monday.
Setting out the measures in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: “Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the rule of six.
“I’m afraid that from Monday a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, though up to 30 can still attend a funeral as now.”
Current guidance states that up to 30 attendees are permitted in Wales, while in Scotland, ceremonies and receptions are limited to 20 people, and numbers are dependent on the venue in Northern Ireland.
Restrictions are ‘nonsensical’
Meanwhile, self-employed wedding celebrant Chris Gray, from Glasgow, called the restrictions around weddings “nonsensical”, such as couples being required to wear coverings during the ceremony.
The 29-year-old added: “That’s led so many people having to cancel or rearrange weddings and in the short-term it’s been an absolute hammer blow for cash flow for me.”
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions were included in a list of exemptions to the ban on social gatherings of more than six in England, with up to 30 people, including the couple, allowed to attend.
Funeral services remain exempt from the rule of six, unless specified in areas with local lockdown restrictions.
The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) welcomed the decision not to further reduce the number of mourners, allowing families to be “supported through their grief by a small number of close friends and family”.
“Funeral directors are working closely with crematoria, places of worship and other funeral venues to ensure that these small funeral services take place in a Covid-secure way,” a spokeswoman said.
“We are seeking clarification on the implications for funeral receptions/wakes – but our priority for families will always be to make sure that they are able to be present for the burial or cremation – and any faith-led rituals that form part of the funeral service – as you only ever have one chance to say goodbye.”
Sam Tyrer, managing director of Co-op Funeralcare, warned against further restrictions on funerals after witnessing the “devastating impact” lockdown restrictions had on grieving families.
“The size of venues, such as crematoriums and places of worship, should be taken into account when deciding how many mourners can attend a funeral whilst still maintaining social distance,” she said.
“Choice is imperative when experiencing a bereavement and where this is taken away from families it can lead to a prolonged and profound impact on how they grieve.”
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A maximum of 30 people are allowed to attend a funeral in England and Wales, while no more than 20 are permitted in Scotland, and it is dependent on the venue size in Northern Ireland.
The ban on gatherings of more than six applies to wakes or receptions held in private homes or gardens in England, unless those attending are all from the same household or support bubble.
‘Stress and disappointment’
Sarah Allard, editor of Hitched, a wedding planning website based in the UK said the new rules were “bound to cause stress and disappointment for couples who have likely already postponed their wedding or begun planning a smaller celebration for up to 30 guests.”
She added: “The latest news will also come as a huge blow to so many wedding businesses who are fighting hard to look after their couples and keep their businesses afloat.
“If your wedding date is coming up, speak to your venue and suppliers asap – they are professionals and in the best possible position to advise you on your options.
“If you plan to go ahead with a smaller day, then have an honest conversation with your guests – they will appreciate how difficult it’s going to be for you to cut down your guest list.
“For those you’d still like to join you, make sure they’re aware of any health and safety measures you’d like them to adhere to on the day.
“For those that are no longer able to attend, consider ways to still ensure they can still feel involved – whether it’s live streaming elements like the vows or speeches, or seeing them separately to celebrate.”