Monday, July 27, 2020

Thousands underpaid workers compensation

An investigation into workers’ compensation schemes has uncovered tens of thousands of underpayments in New South Wales and “immoral and unethical” conduct in Victoria. A joint investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and ABC TV's Four Corners found as many as 52,000 injured workers in NSW have been underpaid up to $80 million in compensation for loss of wages, with the scheme referred to the NSW anti-corruption authority. Whistleblowers also detail a lack of transparency in awarding contracts by the NSW workers’ compensation scheme manager icare. In Victoria, external insurance agents were given incentives to terminate coverage for injured workers. The problems across both schemes have resulted in delays and denials of medical treatment for workers.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced the state had recorded 10 Covid-19  deaths in the space of 24 hours, on the deadliest day of the pandemic so far. Victoria also identified another 459 new cases of the virus in the state. The youngest of the deaths was a man in his 40s, with seven of the fatalities linked to aged care facilities. There are 228 Victorians in hospital, 42 of whom are in intensive care. Victoria conducted 42,573 tests yesterday, breaking its record for the most tests conducted in a single day. NSW recorded 14 new cases, with health authorities revealing a staff member at a second Thai Rock restaurant in Sydney tested positive for the virus. NSW Health urged anyone who attended the Thai Rock restaurant at Potts Point for two hours or more between July 15 and July 25 to get tested and self-isolate.  

Black Lives Matter rally organisers have offered to call off Tuesday’s unauthorised Sydney protest if the New South Wales premier asks SafeWork NSW and the director of public prosecutions to investigate the death of the Aboriginal prisoner David Dungay Jr, reports Guardian Australia. On Sunday the Supreme Court of NSW declared Tuesday’s rally a prohibited public assembly. The court acknowledged that there had been no confirmed case from a rally on June 6, but determined that the risk had since increased due to elevated community transmission in recent weeks. Protest organisers are appealing the court decision. 

A group of nine children and a driver were rescued from a bus trapped in floodwaters in Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. The State Emergency Service used an inflatable boat to rescue the group. SES unit controller Ian Robinson said the organisation had six calls for flood support at 4pm, which increased to 73 by 5.30pm. The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for locations that could include Newcastle, Gosford, Sydney, Wollongong, Nowra and Batemans Bay. The low pressure system, which is deepening off the NSW north coast, is projected to move south in the coming days.


“For a figure of such prominence and influence, tasked to ‘anticipate and mitigate the economic and social impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic’, the public knows precious little about him. Power, and most of his fellow commissioners, have extensive business interests, which has created concern about potential conflicts of interest. More fundamentally though, there are questions about the purpose and value of the commission itself.”


“So, let’s get this straight. Yes, I was in prison for two years. I have also done a total of two years in home detention and will be tethered to the criminal ‘justice’ system for several more. I have made mistakes, some of them truly despicable. I am an Aboriginal woman, a single mother and now a convicted criminal – the trifecta of your Aboriginal ‘problem’, hey?”


“The summit was seen as a crucial test for the bloc following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Negotiations had stumbled as proposals for large-scale grants were resisted by the four ‘frugal’ states of the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark, which tend to blame poorer southern states such as Italy and Greece for failing to reform their economies or reduce spending.”


“The interesting thing about the allegations in Afghanistan ... is they all involve special forces. The Australian SAS itself is an elite force made up of highly trained, highly disciplined professional soldiers. There are all sorts of reasons why this discipline might break down during war, causing soldiers to commit unthinkable crimes against non-combatants. For one, there is a suggestion our special forces have been ‘contaminated’ by contact with the ‘kill cultures’ of other special forces, such as the so-called American ‘Kill Team’ platoon.”


“An interpreter who assisted US-led forces in Afghanistan before fleeing Taliban reprisals faces indefinite detention in Australia’s immigration system unless the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, grants him a visa. Father of five Peter – whose real name cannot be disclosed for fear of endangering his family – is in an onshore immigration detention centre and has been separated from his family for seven years.”


“Scott Morrison says his government will deliver on its commitment of getting ‘back in black’, confirming a budget surplus of - $184.5 billion for the 2020/21 financial year. Wearing a ‘Back in Black’ cap and t-shirt, Mr Morrison told journalists that he was a man of his word.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.