Monday, December 07, 2020

Legislation to redefine casuals

The Morrison government will today unveil legislation that will see casual workers able to apply for permanent roles after a year in the job, but remove the right for misclassified employees to claim billions of dollars in backpay. Employers will be required to offer part-time or full-time roles to people after 12 months if they have worked a regular pattern of hours for the previous six months, and could continue without a significant adjustment to hours. Employers will retain a right to refuse if they have “reasonable grounds” to do so. Unions warn the bill will only entrench casual work. The bill will also seek to cover employers exposed to up to $39 billion in claims, following a court ruling currently under appeal over misclassified casual workers. The government will this week detail further elements of legislation for award simplification, workplace pay negotiation, deals for new worksites, and compliance. A separate bill will encourage disaffected union branches to demerge.

Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has uncovered systemic failings in how the state’s police force handles family violence allegations against its members. The confidential review in September identified issues with a case involving a serving senior constable charged with 70 criminal offences after repeatedly bashing his partner, reports The Age. The problems included police telling the perpetrator, the first serving policeman in five years to be convicted of a criminal offence, of the victim’s “secret plan” to flee the relationship.

New South Wales Police have accepted responsibility for allowing two international arrivals to connect on to a flight from Sydney to Melbourne without entering hotel quarantine. Two German nationals, a 54-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy, landed in Sydney on Saturday, and flew on to Melbourne. Police say they mistakenly believed the pair had a travel exemption. The two are now in quarantine in Victoria along with 181 people, including other passengers of the Melbourne-Sydney flight. The Germans produced a negative test result for Covid-19 with further testing scheduled for Monday.

Victoria has further eased Covid-19 restrictions after 37 consecutive virus-free days, with indoor gatherings now allowed 30 people and outdoor gathering limits rising to 100. Numerical density limits will be replaced with square-metre caps, allowing restaurant and pub capacity to rise, while dance floors will reopen. Masks will be mandatory only in busy indoor places like supermarkets, public transport and in taxis. Masks will still need to be carried at all times and they will be recommended for use when social distancing is difficult.

A bushfire that has burnt more than half of K’gari (Fraser Island) has prompted evacuation orders for the township of Happy Valley. Residents were told by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services to leave with the bushfire warning raised to emergency level. An air tanker from New South Wales will today drop gel lines of retardant between the head of the fire and the settlement. More than 80,000 hectares of land have burnt so far.

Laura Tingle on where Australia went wrong
New Zealand’s rapid response to Covid-19 and the political success of Jacinda Ardern has seen the world start to pay more attention to our neighbour’s political culture. Today, Laura Tingle on what Australia can learn from New Zealand.

“Stuart Robert was not happy about the sex. It was May and the minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme was concerned that the government had lost its appeal, in the Federal Court of Australia, on the question of whether the disability program should fund sex workers for therapy ... The court’s decision was a vindication of a fundamental human desire for touch and sexual contact. Politically and personally, Robert, an evangelical Christian, was uneasy with it.”

“Upon mature reflection, it is increasingly looking as though Scott Morrison’s angry reaction to a ‘truly repugnant’ social media attack from a Chinese government official has only deepened the crisis in the relationship between the two nations … In lashing out, Morrison broke one of the cardinal rules of social media. As one political strategist says, he always advises politicians ‘not to feed the trolls’. It is best not to bite because you only magnify their message and give them the attention they were looking for in the first place.’”

“The evidence clearly shows the governments that focused on the economic cost of the pandemic got it utterly wrong and those that plumped for a health-first approach were right. ‘Those countries that manage the pandemic better actually perform better economically,’ Duckett says. In Australia, Duckett says, we are now very close to what he advocated from the start: elimination.”

“Teenager Olivia Fox felt ‘incredible’ and was ‘overwhelmed with pride’ as she sang the national anthem in the Eora language at a Wallabies game. Ms Fox, a proud Wiradjuri woman and student at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, led the rendition of Advance Australia Fair at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night, singing it in the First Nations language and in English ... But others said that changing the language didn’t change their problems with the song, with the anthem a source of contention due to its failure to recognise the culture and history of First Nations people.”

“Rugby Australia told Guardian Australia the lyrics are not a direct translation of the English words, but substitute meanings reflecting the Eora’s deep connection to the land. The governing body said it was granted permission from the Metropolitan Local Land Council and consulted its First Nations committee before going ahead.”

“Under the government of Jeff Kennett, Victoria embraced the theory of new public management (NPM), overhauling the way public institutions were run and giving preference to managers who were generalists over subject matter experts. Contracting out to private companies became standard procedure, driven by a belief the private sector was more efficient and cost-effective.”

“A practitioner of the inward-looking form of Islam known as Sufism, Noah Nazir pursues self-improvement as a means of connecting with God. This is especially true at the ping pong table at his local Sufi centre in Sheffield, where Nazir is ever in search of new and creative ways to up his game ... Despite his age and a recent stroke, he’s one of the centre’s best players – even though, he stresses, he views his only competition as from within, commenting: ‘I’m just measuring myself with myself.’.”

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