Thank you and goodnight
And with that we are going to put the blog to bed – thank you for spending the day with us.
Before we go, let’s go through the big headlines:
Nurses and midwives across NSW walked off the job for 24 hours today, while maintaining life-preserving care. The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is calling for staffing guarantees, with one nurse for every four patients, to ensure the system is not overstretched and patients receive the best care.
Chris Dawson has been threatened in prison and is seeking special protection after being found guilty of his wife Lynette’s murder 40 years ago, his lawyer says.
The Albanese government announced 180,000 more fee-free Tafe positions and a suite of “immediate” reforms to improve bargaining for workplace pay deals on the first day of the jobs summit.
Cosmetic surgery practitioners will be policed by a dedicated enforcement unit for the first time in Australia as part of an industry-wide crackdown by the national regulator.
The Australian Medical Association demanded the release of health advice on reducing Covid isolation times to five days, saying the public should see the expert guidance on the change. The Victorian government vowed to maintain its public transport mask mandate, despite the requirement due to be dropped on domestic flights from next week. Meanwhile, a study found nearly 2,000 Australian children have lost a parent to Covid-19 during the pandemic.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull compared student demonstrators to “fascist bullies” after a Sydney University speaking event was effectively shut down amid jeers and protests over the policies of the former Coalition government.
The NSW government will seek to terminate the enterprise agreement of thousands of rail workers and scrap a deal to modify a multi-billion dollar fleet of trains unless the union agrees to end all industrial action by 5pm Friday.
We will see you again tomorrow. Until then, stay safe!
The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has released a statement in regards to human rights concerns in Xinjiang:
The Australian Government is deeply concerned about the findings of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on Xinjiang.
The report is informed by extensive research, including the first-hand testimonies of Uyghur and other minority peoples in Xinjiang.
It concludes that serious human rights violations have been committed in Xinjiang.
It states that allegations of torture or ill-treatment are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence and that some of the violations may constitute crimes against humanity.
Australia has consistently condemned human rights violations against the Uyghurs and other ethnic and Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and across China.
The Australian Government has emphasised the importance of transparency and accountability, in calling on China to grant meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for United Nations experts, and other independent observers.
Australia expects all countries to adhere to their international human rights obligations and we join with others in the international community in calling on the Chinese Government to address the concerns raised in this report.
Our thoughts are also with the Australian Uyghur community. We acknowledge the strength and determination they have shown in speaking out, in support of their loved ones.
An inquest on Thursday heard nurses had expressed alarm about staffing at the hospital shortly before seven-year-old Aishwarya died of sepsis.
On 9 March 2021, two emergency department nurses wrote to union leader Mark Olson outlining the strain they were under.
Fancy yourself a bit of a sleuth?
The Australian Signals Directorate has a little challenge for you …
The prime minister pledged a referendum within this parliamentary term, a move the Victorian Greens senator Lidia Thorpe labelled a “complete waste” of money, saying advances towards a treaty were more important.
It’s all very cordial in Canberra right now:
Malcolm Turnbull speaking event at University of Sydney forced online after protest
Protesters at the University of Sydney event denounced Turnbull, an alumni of the institution, as “ruling class scum” on Thursday afternoon, with the live event cancelled and moved to an online presentation.
“It is at odds with every value Sydney University holds,” Turnbull told Guardian Australia.
NSW supreme court case for protesters fined in 2020 for breaching public health orders
While thousands gathered at NSW football matches and horse racing events others outdoors in a group of 30 were fined for politically protesting and threatened with jail under public health orders.
A NSW supreme court test case has taken on two of 40 people fined in breach of those specific public health orders that prevented public gatherings of more than 20 people, bar some exceptions.
Chad Stratton was fined in Sydney’s Domain during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 28 2020.
Ruby Pandolfi was arrested on October 10 2020 during a protest against One Nation MP Mark Latham’s proposal “widely referred to as the Trans Erasure Bill,” the court was told on Thursday.
The public health orders were amended in December to allow for peaceful, socially distanced protests of up to 500 people.
“Unfortunately too late for my clients,” Shane Prince SC, said in his opening address.
Prince said the list of exceptions in these particular health orders “tell you a lot about what the government priorities were in exercising these powers”.
NSW police investigating ‘inappropriate’ group chat at Sydney school
Police confirmed “specialist detectives” from the child abuse and crimes squad were reviewing material from the group who attend Knox Grammar school in Sydney’s north.
MEP laments lack of European support for Australia against China’s economic coercion
German Member of European Parliament, Reinhard Bütikofer, speaking on the latest national security podcast from the Australian National University, said he regretted that there was not a vocal enough reaction from Europe “when China tried to coerce Australia economically”.
Bütikofer, a progressive, was recently sanctioned by the Chinese Communist party for his outspoken comments against them.
On the podcast, he told ANU National Security College chair, Rory Medcalf, that he was in Australia to talk about how China and Russia are working together to overturn the global rules-based order.
Two in three Germans used to have a positive view of China, he said. Now the opposite is true.
He blames the human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the crackdown in Hong Kong, as well as economic coercion. He said:
I have regretted that, when China tried to coerce Australia economically, there was not enough of a vocal reaction from Europe.
I guess if the same happened anew today, it might be different, because in the meantime, we have ourselves experienced similar coercive policies … and I have, I can say, admired some elements of Australia’s policy, for instance, [the push] to create more transparency.
NSW watchdog receives report on The Star’s suitability to hold a casino license
NSW’s Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority says it’s received the report of silk Adam Bell, who held an inquiry for the regulator into the suitability of Sydney’s The Star to hold a casino license.
The inquiry heard serious allegations related to high-rollers and resulted in the resignation of Star’s boss, Matt Bekier.
“The Bell review report will be made publicly available after an initial consideration of its findings,” ILGA said on Thursday afternoon.
“Due to the serious matters uncovered during the review and the potential for ongoing compliance failures, the authority has appointed an independent expert, Wexted Advisors, to act on its behalf to observe and monitor The Star’s operations and internal procedures.”
Complicating matters slightly, ILGA is set to lose responsibility for regulating NSW casinos in just four days. A new body, the NSW Independent Casino Commission, will take over oversight of Star and its even more troubled cross-town rival, Crown Resorts, on 5 September.
“With the wholesale transformation of the casino laws, the NICC will be in a position to closely regulate the day to day operations of The Star and Crown Sydney casinos,” ILGA said.
Muslim advocacy groups furious at watchdog clearing Asio of impropriety
Australian Muslim advocacy groups are furious at a decision by the intelligence watchdog clearing Asio of impropriety after it pre-emptively described a Muslim man with mental health issues as a radicalised terrorist.
In November, the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (Aman) lodged a formal complaint to the inspector general of intelligence and security (IGIS) over Asio’s response to the case of Raghe Abdi, who murdered a couple in their Brisbane home in 2020.
Abdi was later shot dead by police.
An inquest, yet to be held, will explore the circumstances of Abdi’s death, his severe mental illness, and any motive for his actions.
Last year, Asio director general Mike Burgess declared Abdi to be “a radicalised ISIL supporter”.
The comments prompted Aman to complain that “there has never been any judicial finding or acceptance of the allegation that Raghe Abdi was a radicalised ISIL supporter, nor has the Queensland Police alleged or stated this”.
Their complaint said:
Mr. Burgess has used the Mr. Abdi matter to substantiate an argument that ‘religiously-motivated’ terrorism remains a deadly and active threat to Australia. Cumulatively, the impacts of this coverage contribute to exceptionally high levels of anti-Muslim sentiment and the strength of right-wing nationalist movements.
Two weeks ago, the intelligence watchdog responded to say it could find no issues of impropriety.
In this case, I can confirm that the Acting Inspector-General has carefully considered the matters you raised that are within the Inspector-General’s jurisdiction; and after examining a range of materials relating to your complaint, the Acting Inspector-General did not find errors of legality or propriety in relation to the actions of either the Director-General of Security or ASIO.
The Aman is now calling for Asio and government ministers to wait for trials or coronial inquests before declaring an incident to be a “terrorist incident”. Such an approach, it said, would uphold the conventions of procedural fairness. In a statement, it said:
Every terrorism incident counted or declared involving a Muslim person has a very significant impact on the Muslim community as we face collective blame and retribution in the form of hate speech and hate incidents.
The tally also shapes public discourse and public perceptions of threat levels and sources. The implication of the IGIS response is that Australia has no baseline requirements before ASIO can count something as a terrorism incident.
First home-buyer loans dropping markedly
NSW government announces plan to open blue carbon market
NSW is taking a deep dive into the potential of aquatic measures to help cut carbon emissions in its latest strategy to tackle the climate crisis.
Blue carbon ecosystems, which include seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh, can store four times more carbon than land-based forests in the same area.
State environment minister, James Griffin, has announced a new five-year strategy to open up a blue carbon market in the state.
He says marine ecosystems can capture and store carbon while also improving foreshore protection, water quality, biodiversity and fisheries.
The strategy will help unlock investment in blue carbon projects through carbon credits and other mechanisms that will ultimately benefit the state’s economy and environment, and build resilience to the climate crisis.
“The simplest way to understand blue carbon is to liken it to underwater forests – just as trees store carbon, marine and coastal plants and ecosystems do too, except even more efficiently,” Griffin said on Thursday.
“We have more than 2000kms of NSW coastline and surrounding areas that could support the storage of additional blue carbon, which would significantly contribute to our goal of reducing carbon emissions,” he said.
Reports Queensland government to ‘transition away’ from managing Covid with public health directions
Carbon capture and storage ‘simply won’t work’, says thinktank
Pumping carbon under the sea from gas rigs or storing it underground “simply won’t work” as a climate solution, an independent energy researcher warns.
In a report released on Thursday, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis examined 13 of the world’s flagship carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) projects.
More than half of them underperformed, two failed and one was mothballed, report author Bruce Robertson said.
“CCS technology has been going for 50 years and many projects have failed and continued to fail, with only a handful working,” he said.
The Gorgon project off the coast of WA - Australia’s only operating CCS system and one of the world’s largest - underperformed by about 50% over its first five-year period, according to the case study.
Chevron Australia’s Gorgon liquefied natural gas operations takes carbon from offshore gas reservoirs and injects it into sandstone beneath Barrow Island, off WA.
Falling short of state government-mandated performance targets, Chevron Australia buys carbon credits to offset emissions and comply with its WA licence to operate.
Union boss lambasts Peter Dutton for missing jobs summit
The national secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining Maritime and Energy Union, Christy Cain, has given the Liberal leader Peter Dutton a sledge for skipping the jobs summit, and probably armed him with his best material for arguing it is a union talk-fest.
It is our time, the employers and the government to come together. Regardless of what I think of the Liberal government ... there’s a saying ‘if you’re not at the table, you’re part of the menu’. Well, Mr Dutton you’re not here – and you’ve had plenty to say about me and my union, but you couldn’t even come and evaluate how we should go forward.
Earlier, Cain reminded Anthony Albanese that he had committed to support construction of an independent fleet to secure Australia’s fuel supplies and to close “loopholes in the regulatory framework to rebuild Australian shipping with Australian crews on board, on Australian conditions of employment”.
Cain said it was an “absolute disgrace” that the crew of the MV Portland had been replaced by “third world exploited labour for $2 an hour”.
We demand that [the government] provide immediate funding and better workforce planning to overcome drastic seafarers shortage. We’re an island nation, thousands of vessels visit our ports each day.
Most wouldn’t realise – that there is no Australians on them vessels, trading around this coast. If I were to say to you very clearly as an example, the nursing industry, if you were to drop 100 Chinese, exploited Chinese nurses in the middle of Melbourne, and pay them $2 an hour. There would be an uproar. There is uproar among seafarers.
Cain said he backed ACTU secretary Sally McManus “totally” in the push for higher wages. He cited inflation on its way to 8%, fuel up “astronomically” and stagnant wage growth.
Our time is now to put that right ... Join a union! Be proud to be in a union.
NT judge says antiracism becoming ‘a religion or a cult’
Hello everyone, a big thanks to Natasha for taking us through the morning.
It’s been a big day and there is more to come – let’s get into it. First up I have this story from Lorena Allam:
A Northern Territory supreme court judge has said antiracism is a “religion or a cult” and the fear of being called a racist is preventing people from “speaking honestly” about violence against Aboriginal women.
Thanks for your attention today, I’m now handing the blog over to the wonderful Cait Kelly!
University of Sydney students protest Malcolm Turnbull’s speaking on campus
Students at the University of Sydney have protested former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull speaking at an event run by the university law society.
Honi Soit, the University of Sydney’s student publication, is reporting that the event has been moved online after student protests.
Protesters accused the former coalition government of being a damaging force in higher education according to Honi Soit.
Police cleared attendees out of the venue where the event was due to take place and barricaded the entrance, Honi Soit reported.
Winter was wetter and warmer than average, data shows
The end of August means the end of winter, and a chance to look back at the weather that was.
Rainfall wise, we had another above-average month for rain (or snow), the Bureau of Meteorology said.
NSW was one of the standout regions, with the state reporting an average of almost 57mm of rain. Since 2000, only 2003 and 2016 posted more for August.
Winter was also marginally wetter than average, at a national level at least.
The winter average rainfall of 66mm has only been topped once in the past decade, with 2016’s winter particularly damp with 113mm.
All those clouds associated with the rain kept a lid on daily temperatures in August, while nights were relatively mild.
That left mean temperatures (averaging out the days and nights) slightly above average.
For winter as a whole it was another warmer than average season for Australia.
In fact it’s increasingly unlikely that we’ll get below-average winters or any other season as the background temperatures warm with the climate crisis.
If you’re wanting to look a little further back, here’s the wrap on 2021 from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Nearly a third of people coming out of Covid isolation could be infectious after cut in isolation time, medical experts say
The Australian Medical Association says doctors nationwide “are scratching their heads” over national cabinet’s decision to cut Covid isolation to just five days, and has called on state premiers and the federal government to justify the change by releasing the health advice received yesterday.
The top doctors’ group raised concerns that some 30% of infected patients may still be infectious on days six and seven of their sickness, and worried the two-day cut to isolation may lead to higher case numbers.
In a press conference at parliament house, AMA president Prof Steve Robson asked the government to release the health advice they’d relied on to make the decision. He said:
The AMA, like a lot of medical groups and doctors around the country, were puzzled by the decision yesterday, the political decision to reduce isolation.
We’re puzzled they won’t release the health advice underpinning that ... we’re calling for that to be released, so the politicians can justify to the public why they’re making this decision.
Advice provided to national cabinet is not generally released to the public. Guardian Australia has asked the prime minister’s office and the federal health department for access to the advice.
In a press conference in Sydney on Wednesday, prime minister Anthony Albanese said the national cabinet meeting had received advice from acting chief medical officer, Prof Michael Kidd.
Robson said the decision would have “enormous potential ramifications”. He said:
It really is a political decision that’s at odds with a lot of doctors’ thinking around the country.
WA records one Covid death and 217 people in hospital
There were 1,211 new cases in the last reporting period, and five people are in intensive care.
CSIRO tells jobs summit of key opportunities and challenges for the future
CSIRO has just wrapped up a presentation about its report on “future megatrends” at the jobs and skills summit.
The once-in-a-decade report identifies seven global megatrends, which include greater digital opportunities, adapting to climate changes and escalating health imperatives.
Enterprise agreements cover 11% of private sector, jobs summit hears
Greens spokesperson for employment, Senator Barbara Pocock, says the fact enterprise agreements cover just 11% of the private sector shows the system is “broken”.
But as well as the problems being showcased at the summit, ideas about future solutions are also on the table, with CSIRO presenting a report on “future megatrends” including how the world can look “leaner, cleaner and greener”.
Treasurer says jobs summit must get broader industrial relations settings right amid NSW strikes
Earlier, the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, appeared on the Today Show and was asked about the strikes on the day of the jobs summit. Chalmers said:
What we want to avoid is a situation where employers and unions see themselves as having different interests here in the national economy.
Pressed on the NSW strikes and whether he had a problem with the train drivers’ actions, Chalmers responded:
That’s a state government matter … my job and the government’s job, Anthony Albanese’s job, is to try to get the broader industrial relations settings right so people can get that wages growth in a way [that means] everybody can win from it.
Wallabies back consistency and remain unchanged for South Africa Test
The Wallabies coach, Dave Rennie, has produced something new in his side’s quest for consistency by naming an unchanged starting line-up for the second clash with South Africa in Sydney on Saturday night, AAP reports.
It is the first time in his 26-match reign he has not made a change to the starting 15, having made at least four in every Test so far this year, many forced by injury.
It means Rennie is backing in the same personnel to tidy up some significant flaws from the 25-17 Rugby Championship win against the Springboks in Adelaide last weekend, including deficient set-piece work that saw them win just seven of their 13 lineouts.
Wet and windy conditions coming for northern NSW coast
Shark nets go back in water at NSW beaches
Shark nets are back in the water in NSW, a day after a surfer was mauled north of Sydney – but conservationists say they are wildlife-killing machines that don’t protect humans, AAP reports.
Every year, on 1 September, about 50 shark nets are reinstalled at beaches up and down the NSW coast and stay there until the end of April.
Queensland has 27 nets along its coastline, but they stay in the water year round.
Both state governments say the nets are an important part of their shark control efforts but conservationists and academics say they are nothing more than a feelgood gesture for a fearful public, and take a horrific toll on marine life.
Earlier this year, the NSW government revealed that three target shark species accounted for just 13.5% of everything trapped in the state’s nets last season.
Threatened species accounted for 22% of the 376 animals caught, and included critically endangered grey nurse sharks, vulnerable green turtles, endangered leatherback turtles, and endangered loggerhead turtles.
Queensland has seen 10 whale entanglement incidents so far this migration season.
NSW agriculture minister, Dugald Saunders, has said his government will be “ramping up” all shark mitigation strategies to keep people safe this summer and has called the meshing program “great” and successful.
Queensland fisheries minister, Mark Furner, has consistently said “human life comes first” and no changes will be made unless he’s convinced it’s safe.
Humane Society marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck says both governments are ignoring evidence that show shark nets, and baited drum lines used in both states, don’t protect swimmers. He says there have been almost 40 shark bites at “so-called protected” NSW beaches and about double that at protected sites in Queensland.
University of Sydney political scientist Dr Christopher Pepin-Neff, who has worked on the shark nets issue for 16 years, has said it’s a fact that nets don’t work and they are a deception perpetuated by politicians.
Protests were held on Thursday at Manly beach in Sydney, in Byron Bay and on the Gold Coast as the NSW shark nets went back into the water.
They were planned before a teenager was bitten on the hand at North Avoca Beach, on the NSW Central Coast, about 7am on Wednesday. He is recovering.
Baited drum lines had been set in the area at around about the same time.
Chlebeck says the drum lines didn’t help the teenager and nets wouldn’t have either, had they been in the water.
Leading scientists recognised in Eureka prizes
The Eureka Prizes were awarded in a ceremony last night recognising 15 individuals and teams across the categories of research & innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science.
The prize for scientific research went to Prof Justin Yerbury from the University of Wollongong, who leads a research program that has challenged prevailing ideas about the pathology of motor neuron disease, a degenerative disease with no known cure.
The prize’s website says:
His discoveries about its underlying molecular principles, made since he was diagnosed with MND in 2016, are driving new research into the causes of cell dysfunction.
ASX plunges 2.02% and hits five-week low
The local share market has dropped sharply to a five-week low, with cyclicals the worst-performing area as fears of a long US recession grow, AAP reports.
At noon today the benchmark ASX/S&P200 index was down 140.9 points, or 2.02%, to 6845.9, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 139.6 points, or 1.93%, to 7086.3.
The ASX was on pace to exceed Monday’s 1.95% drop, tracking to be the market’s worst single-day performance since mid-June.
State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETF equity strategist Julia Lee told AAP in an email:
First day of spring started off on a negative note after the US stockmarket recorded its fourth consecutive day of losses.
Weaker China factory numbers out on Wednesday saw commodities trade lower overnight.
'Immediate action' on Fair Work Act changes: Tony Burke
The workplace relations minister, Tony Burke, has outlined a number of changes to the Fair Work Act that the government will take “immediate action” on, with consultation to begin next week.
Burke said these included:
Stronger access for flexible working arrangements and unpaid parental leave.
Stronger protections against adverse action, harassment, discrimination.
Ensuring all workers can negotiate in good faith including women, small business, care and community services sectors, and First Nations people.
Ensuring workers and business have flexible options for reaching agreement, including removing “unnecessary limitations” on single and multi-employer agreements, while ensuring that employers which negotiate single-employer agreements are able to do so without “those changes interfering in it”.
Making the “better off overall” test for agreement approval simple, flexible and fair.
Giving the Fair Work Commission power to proactively help workers, particularly new entrants and small-to-medium businesses.
Ensure the process for agreement termination is fit for purpose and fair.
Sunset zombie agreements; that is, stop employers underpaying people with old agreements struck under WorkChoices.
Dylan Alcott says changes to improve work participation rate of disabled Australians long overdue
At the jobs summit, Dylan Alcott, self-introduced as a “washed-up tennis player” to the gathering, has made an impassioned contribution.
Allcott, 31, said the participation rate in the Australian economy of those with a physical or non-physical disability hadn’t changed over 28 years.
“That really isn’t fair”, because people with disabilities had the right of “going to work just like anybody else”, he said.
“At the time of a pandemic or a natural disaster or a recession, whose job goes first? The disability jobs, and that’s not fair.
“And it’s not just about getting us in the front door,” Alcott said. “It’s about creating a safe workplace once we’re there.”
Skills gaps had widened, too, and that was despite employers often receiving support payments aimed at hiring those with disabilities.
“The time for changing this isn’t now – it’s yesterday,” he said.
Wage increases in line with inflation discussed at jobs summit
Now to the jobs summit, with panellists talking about safety and other workplace issues.
Before we dip into those matters, though, some comments from Paul Zahra, CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, got us thinking.
He said “any increase in wages [at the] underlying inflation rate will need to be offset by productivity gains”, he said.
Jo-anne Schofield, national president of the United Workers Union, who followed Zahra, said wage increases should keep up with consumer price inflation.
Now there is a bit of difference in those measures, at least lately. Underlying inflation in the June quarter as tallied by the trimmed mean was running at an annual rate of 4.9%, while the CPI is at 6.1%.
On the safety front, Schofield said her union’s workers “aspire to little more than a secure and safe job”.
Notably, a “lack of respect” came up as the second most significant issue among the union’s 28,000 members.
Issues included “a lack of voice or consultation at work, about changes, through to bullying, harassment, racism, sexism, [and] homophobia” Schofield said. Women, particularly nurses, also felt they were “undervalued” or being paid poorly.
Adding nearly 3,000 extra Victoria police officers did not improve community safety, auditor general finds
A $2bn investment to boost Victoria’s police workforce by nearly 3,000 officers has not improved community safety, according to a review by the state’s auditor general.
The auditor general’s report said it was unable to determine how the police force arrived at the business case of requiring 2,729 extra police officers in 2016.
“Victoria police told us that this number originated from a government decision,” the report said.
The auditor general concluded Victoria police did not have a proper internal process to forecast additional staffing numbers.
ACT records one Covid death and 92 people in hospital
There were 1,162 new cases in the last reporting period, and two people are in intensive care.
Housing loans take a tumble
Outside in the wider world, the ABS has released some interesting data on lending.
The value of new loan commitments for housing fell 8.5% to $28.4bn in July 2022 (seasonally adjusted), accelerating from the 4.4% drop in June
The value of new owner-occupier loan commitments fell 7.0% in July 2022, while new investor loan commitments fell 11.2%.
Katherine Keenan, ABS head of finance and wealth, said:
Although lending has fallen from historically high levels recently, the value of loan commitments remained significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Owner-occupier loans in July 2022 were 40% higher than February 2020, while investor loans were 78% higher.
Loans to first home buyers totalled $4.06bn for the month, down 9.5% from June, and were off 32.6% from a year earlier.
As we reported earlier today, house prices are tumbling, and these loan numbers suggest further falls are ahead.
Mask requirements on public transport to stay in place in Victoria
The Victorian government says it has no plans to remove its mask requirement on public transport, despite the fact the mandate will be dropped on domestic flights from next week.
National cabinet agreed on Wednesday that face masks on domestic flights would be voluntary from next week.
But Victoria’s health minister, Mary-Anne Thomas, said it would not change the state’s requirement that people wear masks on public transport:
Masks are a simple and effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. We’ve still got Covid in our community.
Push for raising the age in Victoria ahead of November election
The Law Institute of Victoria has called for the state government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 ahead of the state election in November.
The LIV has released its pre-election wishlist, which includes 51 policy recommendations to reform Victoria’s justice system.
The peak body has also called for the state government to reform the state’s bail laws and mandatory sentencing – laws that disproportionately impact women and Indigenous Victorians. Guardian Australia has reported that the Victorian government is spending $1m each day to keep unsentenced prisoners in jail.
LIV president, Tania Wolff, said parties should prioritise long-term reform as opposed to short-term policies.
The LIV Call to Parties sets out a clear agenda for improving the laws in this state. It would not be possible without the valuable input from LIV members. I thank all of those who contributed to this document and look forward to real action being taken on these issues by the next government.
Government pledges additional $20m to Timor-Leste’s budget support
The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has announced $20m for Timor-Leste, while Timor-Leste wants a gas pipeline.
Wong has discussed the controversial Greater Sunrise project with her Timor-Leste counterpart, Adaljiza Magno.
Resources in the Timor Sea are estimated to be worth $71bn. Timor-Leste’s prime minister, José Ramos-Horta, has said his country could turn to China for support if Australia doesn’t support the bid to have the pipeline lead to Timor-Leste, rather than Darwin.
It’s a commercial decision by the partners (including Australia’s Woodside Energy), although there are regulatory changes the government could make to help a deal along.
Asked about Greater Sunrise, Wong said Timor-Leste’s economic resilience was important, and that Greater Sunrise was part of an economic diversification, but “not the only part”. She said:
We need to see how a way through can be found … that will be best done respectfully and directly, not through the media.
Wong, who impressively began the press conference speaking Portuguese, said $20m support would be given this financial year, on top of $100m in existing funding as well as support for labour mobility:
Australia will be providing an additional $20m from our Covid response package to Timor-Leste – funds to be provided as budget support, to co-fund finance programs managed and delivered by the government of Timor-Leste.
Asked about the looming presence of China in the region, she said smaller nations needed to work together, and that there needed to be a “regional order that reflects rules and norms”. She said:
We don’t want a situation where power and size is the only way in which disputes in this world become resolved.
On the trip she has also met with the president, Ramos-Horta, the prime minister, Taur Matan Ruak, and the finance minister, Rui Augusto Gomes.
ABC to air special Australian Story episode following Dawson verdict
The ABC will air a special episode of Australian Story at 8pm on Monday following the guilty verdict for Chris Dawson.
“Lyn Dawson – Vanished” will feature Lynette’s sister and brother behind the scenes as they prepare for the outcome of the murder trial and digest the guilty verdict, which was handed down in the New South Wales supreme court on Tuesday.
The episode will update a 2003 Australian Story about the disappearance of Lyn and the family’s desire to have her husband prosecuted.
There is another TV project in the works after Hedley Thomas, the Australian newspaper’s national chief correspondent and creator of the Teacher’s Pet, signed a deal with Jason Blum’s American production company Blumhouse for a TV series based on his hit podcast, which has been downloaded 60m times.
Education union welcomes Tafe announcement out of jobs summit
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Australian Education Union has welcomed Anthony Albanese’s summit-starter announcement of the 180,000 Tafe places.
The union notes these places add to the 465,000 fee-free TAFE places announced prior to the May federal election. AEU’s federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said:
Australia is facing skills shortages across states and territories, and across industries. There is an urgent need for skilled workers to secure our economy now and into the long term.
In making this announcement at the start of his opening address, the prime minister has acknowledged the critical role Tafe plays in Australia’s vocational education and training system, and placed it at the heart of the national jobs and skills agenda.
[With the $1.1bn funding,] Tafe can continue to provide high quality vocational education to help Australia rebuild following the pandemic, address skills shortages in the labour market and help ensure our future economic security.
Meanwhile, we’re still trying to clarify how that funding will be split between the federal, state and territory governments.
Employers call for ‘sensible reform, not radical change’ on bargaining
The Australian Industry Group chief executive, Innes Willox, is leading the employer rearguard action against unions’ call for multi-employer bargaining.
Willox said the Fair Work Act was designed around bargaining at the enterprise level. He said:
That has been the bedrock for a very long time, which Paul Keating spoke about. We should not lose sight of that.
Willox said that industry has consistently said bargaining is “overly complicated and technical”, particularly in the way the “better off overall” test is applied. He said that “sensible reform, not radical change” can help achieve higher productivity and real wage rises.
On the ACTU call for multi-employer bargaining, Willox said AiG is not convinced of the need for “risky” reform. The ACTU had provided “little detail” to its proposal, leaving employers “deeply concerned”.
Willox warned that the proposal could cause “crippling industrial action” which “nobody wants”.
Guardian Australia understands that business groups including AiGroup, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and ACTU have agreed on principles to reform the better off overall test, and that workplace relations minister Tony Burke will commit to do so later in this session.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Andrew McKellar said this is “fundamental reform” that “has to be on the table”. He said Burke and his team have “worked to close the gap” to achieve near complete unanimity on the ways to reform the test.
Opinions on multi-employer bargaining divided at jobs summit
Tim Reed from the BCA reiterated that it thinks bargaining should still occur “primarily at the enterprise level”, explaining why it didn’t sign up to the ACTU call for multi-employer bargaining.
IR expert Prof Anthony Forsyth has argued that limiting bargaining to a single entity “completely ignores how business has evolved”, with labour hire, franchising, outsourcing and other business models which “enable lead firms to exert significant economic power on wages down the chain, but avoid ever having to negotiate with them”.
Forsyth said that multi-employer agreements would help enable pay rises in childcare and aged care, which are female-dominated. He suggested that given the government is the primary funder in those sectors, it should also be around the bargaining table.
AMA demands release of health advice following decision to reduce Covid-19 isolation period
The Australian Medical Association is demanding the release of health advice on reducing Covid isolation times to five days, saying the public should see the expert guidance on the change.
The AMA’s president, Prof Steve Robson, warned that “many people re-entering the community after five days’ isolation will potentially still be infectious and pass the virus on”.
Yesterday, national cabinet received advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (made up of federal and state chief health officers) that isolation could be reduced from seven days to five for people who are asymptomatic after that time. The seven-day period will be enforced for people who are symptomatic, or who work in health or aged care.
Robson said he worried up to 30% of people may still be infectious on day six or seven and beyond. He called for a “clear plan” for the vulnerable after this change, and said rules should tighten again if case numbers spike. He said:
Throughout this pandemic, the AMA has continuously said governments must base their decision-making on the health and medical advice, and we need to see that advice and whether it supports today’s decision. If it doesn’t, the politicians need to explain themselves.
Governments should also continue public health messaging on the importance of community vigilance around Covid testing and isolation requirements, community spread and vaccine uptake.
It’s a busy day in Parliament House with the jobs summit, but the AMA will hold a press conference later on to talk more about this.
Tafe places are positive, but support for trainers needed too: Ai group
Innes Willox, chief executive of the Ai Group, popped out of the jobs summit bubble for a few minutes during the morning break, to say “there was complete agreement around gender equality”.
Willox is looking for agreement on “the big issues and an approach of how to tackle them” as a measure of the summit’s success.
He described the announcement by PM Anthony Albanese for 180,000 new TAFE positions from 2023 as “a real positive” . Willox said:
It’s great there’s that commitment.
The big issue for that sector, and for training more generally, is getting the trainers and getting the equipment they need to train with.
So the places are one step, and then there’s the next step of actually fulfilling the needs of those extra students.
Willox said “you’ve got to find the extra 180,000 students who want to do TAFE courses”, which feeds into career counselling and other issues.
That points to some issues raised in this pre-summit piece we published a few days ago:
One takeaway is that places like Switzerland steer about 75% of high school graduates to vocational education and training – about double Australia’s share. That ship might take a bit of effort to turn, Down Under.
New national fire danger rating system
A new national fire danger rating system is being rolled out today with four different categories each with a different call to action.
Brett Loughlin, the executive director of operations with South Australia’s Country Fire Service told ABC News this morning that the change is an important one which comes after an extensive body of research was carried out by the CFS.
He said the research showed people were confused by the previous ratings which had six categories.
They were confused between the difference between severe, extreme and catastrophic. I mean, they are all terms to describe bad and you’re describing severity of bad.
The message was getting lost in translation for people. The feedback was overwhelmingly they wanted a simpler system with less ratings that was more relevant and easier for them to understand, especially in high stress situations.
Multi-employer bargaining should be opt-in: Alexi Boyd
The Council of Small Business Organisations’ chief executive, Alexi Boyd, has called for reforms to make it easier for small businesses to hire their first worker, such as a “framework or template” for common issues like working from home.
Cosboa has supported the ACTU’s proposal for multi-employer bargaining, angering some other employer groups.
Boyd clarified that it is “not in support of any measures that force, mandate, remove autonomy for small business” and is therefore “not interested in sector-wide compulsory” pay deals.
Boyd also said Cosboa does not propose “unionisation” of small business. “Everything on the table is opt-in.”
Tim Reed, from the Business Council, said it “wants to see real wages growth” that is sustainable over time – and thanked the ACTU for talks about how to achieve it.
Simple, fair, accessible bargaining will lift wages: Sally McManus
The Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally McManus, has told the summit “the Australian union movement wants to see successful business, but we also want living standards to rise”.
McManus said workers are “experiencing the largest real wage cut in history, after a decade of stagnation” while many businesses are posting “very healthy profits”.
That’s not a future Australians would choose for themselves or the next generation. They see the unfairness, we can do so much better ... It should be a shared objective to turn it around.
I want to be clear about the union movement’s ambitions: we want to see sustainable pay increases so that working people’s pay keeps up with the cost of living and productivity increases. We also want the work of people like care workers properly respected and valued.
For this to happen, we have to modernise the collective bargaining system. We need a system that is simple, fair, accessible, does the job of getting wages moving.
McManus said the summit should:
Aim to remove as many hurdles to bargaining as possible, leaving only the rules that are necessary to ensure fairness
Remove rules restricting how and what employers and employees talk about.
Remove employers’ ability to threaten to cancel, or take extreme forms of action like locking employees out for weeks
McManus concludes by reiterating the ACTU’s call for multi-employer bargaining.
Falling unemployment has not lifted wages: Shae McCrystal
Industrial relations expert Prof Shae McCrystal is telling the jobs and skills summit that the coverage of workplace pay deals is falling, with just 11% of workers covered in the private sector.
In female-dominated industries like aged care and childcare, pay deals are “critically endangered”, contributing to a “stubborn” gender pay gap of 14.1%, which is higher in industries with more women. Small businesses are “virtually agreement-free”, she said.
As a result, wages have stagnated. The nexus between falling unemployment and wage growth “has broken”.
McCrystal argues there is no effective right to strike in the Fair Work Act, and no “meaningful alternative” without arbitration.
Victorian government early childhood education reform to add 24,000 jobs into economy, report reveals
The Victorian government’s $9bn overhaul of early childhood education is estimated to inject more than 24,000 jobs into the state’s economy by boosting women’s participation in the workforce.
An independent analysis by Deloitte has revealed the reform will add 24,800 full-time positions to the state’s workforce and add between $1.9bn and $2.8bn to the state’s economy in 2032-33. The analysis has been released as business leaders, unions and political leaders gather in Canberra for the commonwealth’s job summit.
Victoria’s early childhood minister, Ingrid Stitt, said the analysis highlighted the “economic power” that comes from unlocking barriers in the childcare system.
We know that when families are sitting around making decisions about whether to return to work after maternity leave, that there are big decisions around affordability and accessibility.
In June, the Andrews government introduced a major overhaul that includes introducing a new year of play-based learning for children before they go to school. The reform also made kindergarten free for all three and four years olds from 2023, saving families up to $2,500 a child per year.
The Victorian government will also establish 50 childcare centres in the areas with the greatest unmet demand for childcare places, increasing overall supply of places by 3-5%.
Multi-employer bargaining in discussion at jobs summit
Zoe Daniel on childcare, ‘roster justice’
The independent MP for Goldstein, Zoe Daniel, will tell the jobs and skills summit that government must “enable women to work” rather than pay “lip service to equality”.
Daniel is proposing:
Bringing forward the government’s childcare measures.
“Roster justice” – to ensure that casuals and part-time workers know their hours with “reasonable notice” of four weeks.
Strengthening the capacity to request flexible work.
Improve unpaid parental leave, and make it “more flexible and shareable”.
Funding apprenticeships in feminised industries.
Greater gender pay gap reporting.
Daniel told reporters outside the Great Hall she agrees with the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Michele O’Neil, that Labor’s childcare subsidy changes should be brought forward to 1 January.
We always talk about the cost of childcare subsidies, but we really need to shift the conversation to the benefits ... There’s infinite data around the broader economic benefit of empowering women to work. And we’re in an environment of workforce shortages.
Dawson getting 'constant threats' in jail
Chris Dawson has been threatened in prison and is seeking special protection two days after being found guilty of his wife Lyn’s murder 40 years ago, his lawyer says, according to AAP.
The 74-year-old former rugby league player faced the NSW supreme court in his prison greens on Thursday after a judge found he had killed his wife and disposed of her body in January 1982 because of an infatuation with the family babysitter.
Dawson had been taken to Silverwater prison after Tuesday’s verdict and had suffered “constant threats” to his life while there, his lawyer Greg Walsh told justice Ian Harrison.
Lynette Dawson’s body has never been found despite despite extensive searches of the Bayview property the couple once shared on Sydney’s northern beaches.
The judge found the then schoolteacher murdered his wife because he held a deep animosity towards her as an obstacle to his relationship with JC, a former student, who he was obsessed with.
Dawson’s lies to police and family members were relied on in the judgment to show guilt that he had indeed killed his loving, committed wife.
On Tuesday, Walsh said an appeal would be filed.
He also told reporters the former Newtown Jets rugby league player was suffering physical health problems and cognitive issues, including a diagnosis of dementia.
Meanwhile, the homicide squad commander, Danny Doherty, said the police investigation was not over, despite the welcome conviction. He said in a statement today:
Our efforts and inquiries to find Lyn’s remains are ongoing, and we once again urge anyone with information which may assist us to get in touch.
After a journey of more than 40 years, we hope to give Lyn’s family the chance to say goodbye.
A sentence hearing will be held on 11 November.
Retention is key, federal nurses union says amid NSW strikes
Achieving safe workloads for nurses is more important than higher wages when it comes to stopping health workers from cutting back hours or leaving the sector altogether, the nurses union has said, as the jobs and skills summit begins in Canberra.
Annie Butler, the national secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, said governments needed to pay more attention to keeping registered nurses in the profession rather than training new recruits or scouring overseas markets for them.
Members of the New South Wales Nursing and Midwifery Association are taking action today to push for mandated nurse-to-patient ratios. Butler said before the two-day summit:
There is little point recruiting more and more and more nurses if you don’t fix the conditions in which those people are going to work
Retention is key.
Covid-19 hospitalisations trending down
Our data journalist Josh Nicholas says that with fewer than 3,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across Australia, numbers are trending down.
You can check out the full Covid-19 data tracker here:
Childcare subsidies ‘sound investments with tangible economic benefits’: KPMG
More experts are adding to the workplace discussion at the jobs summit, including Alison Kitchen, the national chair of KPMG.
Kitchen said women’s greater share of unpaid work contributed to their entrenched disadvantage. She said:
Policies to reform childcare subsidies in the childcare sector are sound investments with tangible economic benefits. They’re not welfare.
For every dollar invested in those policies, the nation’s GDP is boosted by almost $2.
(Not sure how that sits with reports that the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has ceased receiving requests for new spending even if the economic benefits stack up. Let’s see.)
Kitchen concludes by urging that the new Women’s Economic Taskforce “thinks deeply” about the value of unpaid work “so that we can work towards a society where that work is more equally shared, and women are no longer punished economically for doing more than their share of caring in our community”.
(KPMG will “be happy to work” with the taskforce, she adds, without hinting at whether the help will be pro bono.)
Traffic flowing in Suez Canal after ship run aground earlier
Reuters reported earlier that a ship had ran aground in Egypt’s Suez Canal late on Wednesday and tug boats were working to release it, according to two navigational sources.
The sources said at the time the vessel was blocking navigation in the canal, but the latest data shows that traffic is starting to flow through the Suez canal again.
Michaelia Cash critical of union proposals
The shadow employment minister, Michaelia Cash, is speaking at a Kingston Reid employment conference on the jobs and skills summit sidelines.
Cash argued that the summit is a “PR exercise [for the Albanese government] to pretend they are listening to the employers” which she predicts will become “merely a rubber stamp for the union movement’s demands”.
In particular, Cash said that industry-wide bargaining “would be devastating for the Australian economy, leading to widespread strike action”. Cash noted although the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia had given in-principle support, it had also acknowledged the devil would be in the detail.
We will await that detail but my warning stands – small businesses may suddenly find they have invited something into their workplaces that they don’t want to deal with – like staff being pressured to go on strike. It is very clear to me that the ACTU is going to stand over this government and make demands at the jobs summit and beyond.
Cash also took aim at union-run inductions of migrant workers:
We also saw the ACTU’s outrageous demand that migrant workers are given an automatic trade union induction upon arrival in Australia. That induction would – in the words of the ACTU – “give them the opportunity to join the union”. This is massive overreach by the ACTU and the Albanese government should have immediately ruled out considering any such proposal – but of course they didn’t.
The ACTU effectively wants to gain control at our borders to indoctrinate migrant workers before they start a new working life in Australia. This has some of the sinister overtones of the regimes that many of those migrant workers are choosing to leave.
Kyrgios wins second round US open clash
Australian Nick Kyrgios is through to the third round after a win over Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi at the US Open.
He dropped the third set but came back to win in four, 6-4 in the final set.
You can read more from Guardian’s correspondent at Flushing Meadows:
Kyrgios asks the umpire to remind US Open crown not to smoke marijuana before dropping third set
In what is quite possibly a first for a grand slam tennis tournament, the chair umpire officiating Nick Kyrgios’ second-round US Open match against Benjamin Bonzi has felt compelled to ask the crowd to refrain from smoking after the Australian player complained of a whiff of marijuana inside the stadium.
Midway through the second set at Louis Armstrong Stadium, Kyrgios asked the umpire if he wanted to remind people not to smoke. The official appeared to think Kyrgios was complaining about the smell of food, but the 23rd seed said:
It was fucking marijuana.
Obviously I’m not going to be complaining about food stuff. Obviously not. Obviously when athletes are running side-to-side and they have asthma already it’s probably not ideal.
Kyrgios was a set up and 4-3 ahead in the second at the time of the incident. He went on to take a two-set lead but dropped the third to his French opponent. Play continues.
You can also follow Serena William’s match live here:
Boost in women’s participation in the workforce too slow: ACTU
Michele O’Neil, the president of the ACTU, has used her session on the workforce participation panel to note how women continue to lag that of men.
Here’s the latest ABS data from July on that spread, and how it’s changed over the past decade. (The good news is that’s narrowed, but still got a long way to go.)
Progress has been “glacially slow”, O’Neil says, adding that women are more likely to “work fewer hours, are more likely to be casual or part time, have unpredictable hours and rosters, are more likely to work multiple jobs, less likely to have paid leave, more likely to be discriminated against harassed and assaulted at work” than men.
For First Nations women, those living with a disability from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, or those who are LGBTQI+, the problems are likely to be worse again.
“Australians have the second-worst paid parental leave scheme in the developed world,” O’Neil said, with childcare costs also among the highest anywhere.
Multi-employer and sector collective bargaining will go some way to improving the ledger, O’Neil says. So far, that’s not a call most business groups appear to be rallying to (with the Cosboa, a small business group, an exception).
UK submarines open to Australian sailors for training
The defence minister, Richard Marles, has confirmed Australian sailors will get to train on British nuclear submarines as the federal government continues efforts to acquire our own nuclear-powered subs under the Aukus pact.
Marles is in Europe meeting his ministerial counterparts and overnight announced, with the British defence secretary, Ben Wallace, that Royal Australian Navy submariners would be allowed to train on the new HMS Anson, an Astute-Class submarine. The defence department said in a statement:
Having Royal Australian Navy submariners train alongside Royal Navy crews, is an important step, taken with our partners in the United Kingdom to further strengthen our defence ties.
Australia is embarking on the next generation of submarines and in doing so, ensuring we have Royal Australian Navy personnel training with our partners under the Aukus partnership.
Marles said Australia was “eager to learn from our counterparts”. He said:
Today‘s announcement of Australian submariners training aboard HMS Anson says everything about our future plans of building the Aukus partnership.
The technology, capability and lethality on show is truly impressive and Australia looks forward to progressing our talks.
Under the Aukus deal, Australia will get access to nuclear technology from the United States and United Kingdom. However, decisions are still to be made on whether Australia will acquire submarine types built by the UK or US. Marles’ visit was to a British shipyard where the UK subs are being made.
He told Radio National yesterday:
We’ve made it really clear that not only do we need to make the choice as to exactly which platform we run with, but we need to be finding options which are sooner rather than later.
The former government left us with … a situation of not having a prospective boat in the water until the 2040s. This is a long way into the future and we are trying to examine, with both the United Kingdom and the United States, about whether there is any way in which we can get that date brought forward, and to the extent that there is any capability gap that arises as a result of whenever that date is, ways in which we can fill that capability.
Women in focus at jobs and skills summit
This year’s jobs summit has certainly come a long way in terms of women’s representation from the all-male business and unions delegates of the 1983 summit. Within the first hour we’ve already heard from the female finance minister, as well as other leading economists like Danielle Wood.
However, the issue of women’s participation in the workforce more broadly remains pressing, with Michele O’Neil, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, saying that “keeping bargaining to the single enterprise … will lock women out of pay rises for generations”.
Women’s economic equality is a ‘core economic imperative’, Gallagher says
The second main session of the jobs and skills summit has begun, extending a theme that was a major theme of the first one: women’s workforce participation.
Katy Gallagher, the minister for finance, women and the public Service, notes the importance of the public sector in setting the standards for women’s role in the economy more generally. The minister said:
The summit represents a huge opportunity to agree that women’s economic equality is a core economic imperative that is crucial to our economic resilience and prosperity.
The country can’t simply leave women’s talent on the shelf.
If women’s participation in the workforce matched men’s, the economy would be more than 8% larger by 2050, and more than $350bn in activity generated over the period.
The gender pay gap also remains at 14.1%, a key focus of the subsequent panel that is now under way.
Who’s got the prime spots in the jobs summit seating plan?
It’s been described as “Canberra Coachella” and the seating arrangements likened to a wedding plan, and from our vantage point above the jobs summit in the rafters of Parliament House’s Great Hall, it’s been interesting to see who got the prime spots.
All the national cabinet members, the premiers and chief ministers, are seated right up front – in the spiral arrangement of seating, they’re at the centre, right opposite the major federal ministers like the treasurer, Jim Chalmers, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, the finance minister, Katy Gallagher, and the workplace minister, Tony Burke.
Behind the premiers are a few union leaders, with the Nurses Federation’s secretary, Annie Butler, sitting next to Australian of the Year and disability advocate Dylan Alcott. Right behind them, in turn, is the Greens leader, Adam Bandt, seated just a chair apart from Australia’s richest man, Fortescue Metals’s chief executive, Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest – we imagine they might have some interesting conversations over the next few days.
A bit further back is Toll’s head, Christine Holgate (formerly of Australia Post), next to the tourism forum’s chief executive, Margy Osmond. Right in the middle, AI Group’s head, Innes Willox, and the ACTU’s leaders Sally McManus and Michelle O’Neil are a few seats apart but within shouting distance.
A couple rows back, new independent politicians David Pocock and Allegra Spender are seated together, a few chairs up from Qantas’ boss, Alan Joyce. He’s a bit further up the back than you might expect the airline chief to be, but at least he’s closer than Visy Recycling’s head, Anthony Pratt – Australia’s second-richest man seated in the back row.
The nationals leader, David Littleproud – the Coalition’s sole representative to accept an invitation – is up the back next to Alison Barnes, from the tertiary education union.
Victoria records 18 Covid deaths and 332 people in hospital
There were 2,645 new cases in the last reporting period, and 15 people are in intensive care.
NSW records 23 Covid deaths and 1,756 people in hospital
There were 4,701 new cases in the last reporting period, and 36 people are in intensive care.
If women’s participation were iron ore, we’d dig it up: Wood
Wood is noting that huge economic benefit that could be unleashed from increasing women’s participation.
Women are often excluded from full-time work, and from the most prestigious high-paid roles, because these so-called ‘greedy jobs’ are incompatible with the load of unpaid care still disproportionately shouldered by women. I can’t help but reflect that if untapped women’s workforce participation was a massive ore deposit, we would have governments lining up to give tax concessions to get it out of the ground.
Wood welcomed the Albanese government’s policies to make early learning and care more affordable and move towards universal low-cost care, while state governments have also made kindergarten free for three and four year olds.
Wood argued that policy can shape culture – and governments need to do more.
Australia invests less in paid parental leave than most other OECD nations. Yet there is growing evidence from other countries with more generous and gender-equal leave schemes that these can be an important catalyst for change. In Australia it is business that is leading the charge. But for society-shaping changes, the government paid parental leave scheme will also need to evolve.
Ship runs aground in Egypt’s Suez Canal, reports say
Reuters is reporting that a ship ran aground in Egypt’s Suez Canal late on Wednesday and tug boats were working to release it according to two navigational sources.
The sources said the vessel was blocking navigation in the canal.
There was no immediate official confirmation from the Suez Canal Authority.
The latest data shows the ship is facing the right way.
We must stop Australia’s educational decline: Danielle Wood
Danielle Wood is addressing the summit on the need to invest more in education.
A flourishing modern economy requires investing in people. Indeed, Bill Gates has argued that the best leading indicator of a country’s outlook in 20 years’ time is the performance of its education system.
Unfortunately, that particular leading indicator doesn’t look too crash hot for Australia. Data from the OECD shows that performance of Australian school students in reading and maths – both compared to other countries and to our own performance over time – is going backwards. The average Year 9 student is more than one year behind in maths compared to where the student of the same age was at the turn of this century. For reading it is around 9 months.
Just as worrying is the learning gap between students … If we are going to thrive as a nation and boost our prosperity, we simply must turn this around.
Wood said Australia needs to boost the vocational education and training system - and she welcomed Albanese’s announcement of an extra 180,000 fee-free Tafe places as “a very positive step in that direction”.
She also recommended:
Improving links between industry, Vet (vocational education and training), and higher education institutions to build feedback loops on the skills that are needed as jobs evolve.
Acknowledgement that education is a lifelong endeavour – for example, through recognition of micro-credentials and better support for on-the-job training.
Attracting the best and brightest to Australia by improving the composition and functioning of our migration program.
Share of productivity growth passing through to workers has fallen: Grattan Institute
The Grattan Institute’s chief executive, Danielle Wood, is addressing the summit on the goals of full employment and productivity growth.
Productivity and wages growth go hand in hand. And while productivity remains the secret sauce of higher incomes, it is worth noting that recent research finds some reduction in the share of productivity gains passed through to workers over the past 15 years.
The other thing we know about productivity growth is we have less of it than we used to. No matter how you cut it, the rate of productivity growth has slowed over the past decade. Over the past 60 years, our labour productivity improved at an average rate of 1.7% a year. Over the decade to 2020, it was 1.1% a year.
This is not just an Australian phenomenon. The slowdown has been seen around the developed world, although our relative performance has also slid down the international rankings. Everyone is running slower, but Australia is also falling back in the field.
Wood explained productivity had slowed because of a number of factors, including:
The expansion of the services sectors, which are generally lower productivity.
A declining contribution from technological advancements.
Smaller gains from education as richer countries start to reach saturation point on school completions and the proportion of people going to post-school education.
A reduction in economic dynamism and, related to that, greater market concentration and power.
Regulator cracks down on cosmetic surgery
Cosmetic surgery practitioners will be policed by a dedicated enforcement unit for the first time in Australia as part of an industry-wide crackdown by the national regulator, AAP reports.
The $1bn industry will undergo significant reform after an independent review highlighted cases of misconduct.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the Medical Board of Australia have agreed to implement the recommended changes to strengthen industry regulations and improve patient safety.
The inquiry, led by the former Queensland health ombudsman Andrew Brown, revealed unsafe practices, misleading advertising and substandard marketing across the cosmetic surgery industry.
Universal minimum standards for education, training and qualifications in cosmetic surgery have been nonexistent in Australia. Any medical practitioner can perform invasive cosmetic surgery without having undertaken appropriate training or having amassed sufficient supervised experience to reach an acceptable level of competency.
In this environment, consumers are largely left on their own when it comes to selecting a practitioner to perform cosmetic surgery, having to sift through a plethora of advertising and marketing material and try to make sense of numerous qualifications, in an attempt to identify a qualified and competent practitioner.
‘We’ve got a big chance here’: Chalmers
The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, appears to be channelling JFK by asking jobs and skills summit participants “for your ideas on what you can do, not just what others here should do”.
We are not looking for unanimity on the perfect position of a comma in a communique. At the conclusion of the summit tomorrow, we want to release an outcomes document that covers the priorities we think are ready for immediate action this year, and others that will be subject to further work – as part of the white paper process, subsequent budgets or through cooperation with states and territories.
So this summit is just one step – a major step, yes, but one step. Our expectations are tempered and realistic. We are not naive about how contentious some of the issues we will discuss have been, and will be.
But we have been so heartened, energised and encouraged by the willingness you’ve already shown to give a little. We’ve already made substantial progress.
We’ve got a big chance here. This is a time of great challenge and great opportunity.
Treasurer says jobs summit draws a line with Australians to no longer be ‘held back’
The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has begun his address to the jobs summit:
Together we draw a line under a wasted decade of unnecessary conflict and needless division which has held us back.
This summit, this prime minister and this government, and I think this country, is all about one thing: bringing people together to confront the big challenges in our economy and our society.
These are largely agreed, and already understood: stagnant wages. High and rising inflation. Flatlining living standards. Skills and labour shortages. Migration settings and bargaining rules which don’t seem to work for anyone as well as they could.
An economy not productive or competitive enough, not growing strongly enough or broadly enough. Too many [who are] locked out and held back from the benefits of a national unemployment rate with a three in front of it.
Don’t rehash old conflicts: Albanese
Albanese has asked participants of the jobs and skills summit not to “rehash old conflicts” and “dig deeper trenches on the same old battlefields”. He accepted that the summit can’t “fix every issue” and that not “everyone will be happy”.
Albanese said he is “standing here today” because Australians “want politics to operate differently”.
Albanese spoke about Australians represented at the summit, including nurses, farmers, small business owners, people stacking shelves, cleaning offices, or moving freight around the country.
“These are the heroes of the pandemic,” he said. Businesses, unions and Australians rose to the challenges of the pandemic and can once again.
Let’s make every effort to turn agreement into action for the benefit of all Australians.
Every Australian ‘holds a stake’ in outcome of jobs and skills summit, PM says
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, finishes his opening address at the jobs and skills summit on a note of wanting to promote unity. He says:
Australians have conflict fatigue.
He says he wants Australians, from people with a disability to veterans, to feel fully empowered to participate in society.
Every Australian holds a stake in the outcome of our discussion.
The work of building a stronger economy should include everyone, should lift everyone up.
180,000 more fee-free Tafe places: Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese is addressing the two-day jobs and skills summit.
Albanese announced that the commonwealth, states and territories have agreed at national cabinet to create 180,000 fee-free Tafe places for 2023, at a cost of $1.1bn.
Albanese described it as a “billion-dollar training blitz, delivered by public Tafe”. Costs will be shared between the federal and state governments.
Littleproud to push for agriculture visa to be reinstated at jobs summit
Before the Nationals leader, David Littleproud, defended the appointment of Lincoln Folo as the party’s new federal director, he spoke about what he hoped for regarding his attendance at the jobs and skills summit.
Littleproud said the challenges regional Australia faced were “more unique and acute” than those faced by the cities, and the solutions should also be. He said the National party “want to be in the tent” with constructive ideas at the jobs summit.
The Nationals leader says he wants the government to “admit they were wrong” and reinstate the agriculture visa to help the agricultural workforce. Labor announced pre-election their intent to change the visa by bringing it under the Pacific Australia Labor Mobility scheme.
Littleproud defends National Party federal director appointment
The leader of the Nationals David Littleproud has appeared on ABC Breakfast and was asked about the appointment of Lincoln Folo as the federal director of National Party in what has been described as a missed opportunity for greater gender representation in the party’s leadership.
Littleproud defended the appointment saying it was decided on merit.
Any decision should be based on merit.
The host of ABC RN, Patricia Karvelas pressed Littleproud, citing Guardian Australia’s story this morning that four male candidates were interviewed for the role but the three female candidates did not advance to the interview stage.
However, Littleproud said he had no concerns how this has played out, and that two of the three decision makers on the selection panel were women.
He defended the mechanics and the criteria by which the party selected the candidate.
Government open to proposal to boost paid parental leave
Gallagher is asked about whether she is open to the proposal put forward in the joint statement by the BCA and the ACTU to increase commonwealth-funded paid parental leave to 26 weeks. She responds:
Absolutely we will look at them ... some of these big changes, while absolutely full of merit, are going to be a challenge in the context of the budget.
ABC RN’s host, Patricia Karvelas, asked Gallagher if there was a way the government could fund the increase to paid parental leave through reexamining the stage three tax cuts.
Gallagher said Labor didn’t have any plans to change the tax cuts, but had tried to do so when the tax cuts were initially being debated in parliament.
Bargaining system has a responsibility to help the care economy, Gallagher says
On ABC Radio, the minister for finance and women, Katy Gallagher, says there is a responsibility for the bargaining system to help the highly feminised care economy. She said:
I think there’s definitely an issue in the care economy where it’s a highly feminised industry, plagued by low wages, where the bargaining system has not worked for them.
We absolutely have the responsibility to look at ways to strengthen the bargaining system to make it applicable and relevant to those industries.
Minister for finance lauds agreement between trade unions and business council
Senator Katy Gallagher, the minister for finance and women, is speaking to ABC Radio ahead of the jobs and skills summit starting today.
Asked about the significance of the agreement made between the business council and council of trade unions, Gallagher said:
I think it’s a fantastic agreement. The purpose behind the jobs summit has been to find areas of agreement across government, industry and unions.
The summit is also starting a process that will be followed by an industrial relations white paper, which Gallagher said she hopes will see a “series of outcomes”.
NSW nurses on strike for 24 hours today
Nurses and midwives across NSW are walking off the job for 24 hours, while maintaining life-preserving care.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is calling for staffing guarantees, with one nurse for every four patients, to ensure the system is not overstretched and patients receive the best care.
The strike is the third this year, which the union’s general secretary, Shaye Candish, said is a sign the government is not listening to overworked health workers in an increasingly stretched sector reeling from the pandemic.
ABC Breakfast also asked the state premier, Dominic Perrottet, if his government’s approach with the transport union risks inflaming negotiations across the public sector with nurses on strike in NSW as well today. Perrottet said:
We’ve negotiated with all the unions in relation to their issues. We’ve made it clear in respect of wages policy here in our state, which is one of the most generous anywhere in the country.
- with AAP
Union members to vote on NSW government offer to end train strikes
The tension between the NSW government and transport union is escalating with the premier, Dominic Perrottet, yesterday issuing an ultimatum calling for an end to the industrial action.
Perrottet appeared on ABC News Breakfast asking if there’s been any changes overnight:
We will be putting an offer to the union and they will … take that to their members for a vote. I’ve made it very clear that if there’s any further industrial action on our network, whether Sydney trains or on the Metro, that we will apply to the Fair Work Commission for termination of the current agreement.
We’ll obviously protect and maintain the wages and conditions of the workers during that period of time. But we have negotiated now for a substantial period. With the rail union, in relation to these matters, over 58 meetings, 6,000 days of people’s time have gone into this. At every step of the way the union has created another issue and another issue and continued to inconvenience the people of our city. It’s got to stop.
And so, I’ve made it very clear yesterday they need to put the vote to their members and if they don’t, or if they continue this action, we will seek termination of the current agreement in the Fair Work Commission.
The big day is finally here for the government’s jobs and skills summit where over 140 representatives – from business to welfare groups and all levels of government – will meet in the hope of finding solutions to the problems facing the Australian economy.
One of the big topics on the agenda is the BOOT (the better off overall test). The minister for employment Tony Burke told ABC AM that the Boot requirement for enterprise bargains should be kept but ‘simplified’.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA) have reached an agreement ahead of the summit on a number of issues, including reforming migration numbers and the enterprise bargaining system.
In the joint statement of agreed principles and policy suggestions released this morning, the ACTU and BCA also called for paid parental leave to be boosted to 26 weeks from 18.
The treasurer, Jim Chalmers, told ABC News Breakfast as the room of the summit was being set up behind him:
I feel cautiously optimistic about the next couple of days.
Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Association is calling for the release of health advice underpinning the National Cabinet decision to reduce the Covid-19 isolation period from seven to five days.
In sporting news, Australian Nick Kyrgios is playing his second round US Open match against France’s Benjamin Bonzi, with Kyrgios clinching the first set in a tiebreak.
It’s a busy day, so let’s kick off!