Friday, March 15, 2019

Go on strike today

School students across the country will strike today to protest government inaction on climate change. Speaking on Thursday, New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was “appalled” at state Labor leader Michael Daley’s comments in support of the strike, saying “I absolutely support them expressing themselves but not during school”. Daley said on Wednesday that he supported the students’ “right to protest especially when it comes to climate change and our fragile environment”. Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten split the difference, saying on Thursday that while “kids are allowed to have an opinion … in an ideal world, they would protest after school hours and on weekends”. Details about your local strike can be found here.

In London, the British parliament has voted to postpone Brexit until at least June 30, forcing prime minister Theresa May to seek an extension from European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker. The House of Commons overwhelmingly voted to postpone invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which outlines how an EU member state must withdraw from the bloc. MPs also voted down a motion giving the Commons the power to attempt crafting its own Brexit plan, while the first substantive motion to hold a second Brexit referendum was easily defeated after the opposition Labour Party largely abstained from the vote.

Former New South Wales deputy police commissioner Nick Kaldas has declined an offer to run as the Liberal candidate in the marginal Sydney seat of Reid, further imperilling the government’s hopes of holding the seat at the federal election. Speaking to Nine newspapers on Thursday, Kaldas said that prime minister Scott Morrison had repeatedly asked him to run in the seat, and that his law enforcement credentials would help the Coalition in the event of home affairs minister Peter Dutton losing his seat in Queensland. Current member Craig Laundy, a moderate who supported former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in August’s leadership spill, is widely expected to retire at the next election, but has reportedly delayed announcing his resignation while the Liberals looked for a replacement.

And Australia would have the highest minimum wage in the world if federal Labor adopted a policy pursued by the union movement. Earlier this week, opposition leader Bill Shorten said Labor may require the Fair Work Commission to set the minimum wage at a level that ensured nobody working full-time would endure poverty. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has demanded the minimum wage be set at 60 per cent of the median full-time wage, translating to a pay rise of $133 a week. A weekly minimum wage of $852 would see Australia surpass France and Luxembourg to deliver the highest minimum wage in the world.



“Stillbirths remain extremely common in Australia. In December, a landmark report was tabled in federal parliament that found six babies are stillborn every day. Despite advances in medical research and technology, the rate of stillbirths has not declined in Australia in more than 20 years.”


“In spite of regular reports of their impending demise, the Nats have hung on – indeed, in 2016 they were credited with saving the Coalition’s bacon. Thus it may well be that the latest reports of its demise have been exaggerated. But in the absence of any compelling leadership – the giants Earle Page, Arthur Fadden and Black Jack McEwen, as well as the trio of headkickers Doug Anthony, Ian Sinclair and Peter Nixon – the situation is not good.”


“Pond’s writing has rarely had this kind of urgency or fervour. Nick Allbrook’s writing across Tasmania, more often than not, spans centuries and generations and governments; history, in the hands of Pond, is mutable and non-linear. Even the record’s title refers not to the present-day Tasmania, but to the idea that in 150 years Tasmania will be the only habitable area in Australia.”


“Restaurant and cafe owners have called for a minimum wage freeze, declaring that the Fair Work Commission should ­impose a real wage cut on low-paid workers by not granting any increase this year. Restaurant and Catering Australia, which represents 45,000 businesses nationally, said a freeze was justified given the financial pressures on ­employers resulting from ­increased competition and the impact of above-inflation minimum wage increases granted by the commission in recent years.”


“The parliamentary inquiry into the $170 billion franchising sector has called for a total overhaul of Australia’s franchising system in a damning report released on Thursday ... ‘The extent of poor corporate governance in some areas of franchising is comparable to that in the financial services sector’, it said. ‘There are deeply rooted cultural problems that will not be resolved by a franchisor replacing a few senior executives.’”


“It comes as no surprise that when Jacob was buried alive last year, his bond with Scout lived on – every day, the amazingly loyal dog curls up protectively at the site where his owner is interred, refusing to leave Jacob’s side as he listens to his old master scream and claw at the lid of his casket underneath the ground.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.