Having outperformed the world in containing coronavirus, Australia’s lack of action on climate change will precipitate a much greater crisis.If the Morrison government were really answerable to the Australian people rather than vested interests, it already would have agreed to a more ambitious climate response. That’s what the overwhelming majority of people have long wanted.
Unions are opposing the Coalition’s proposals for casual work, the creation of a new “part-time flexi” role, and a high bar set for wage theft penalties. The Australian Council of Trade Unions’ concerns include the proposed “part-time flexi” role allowing part-time workers in accommodation, food and retail to take on up to 16 hours a week of extra shifts without being paid extra for overtime. ACTU secretary Sally McManus said Labor and the crossbench should prevent the passage of the reforms through the Senate unless changes were made, including granting the industrial tribunal powers to force businesses to make some casuals permanent. McManus said she welcomed any laws that would address wage theft, but that the bar the Morrison government proposed was too high. “It is unlikely any employer will ever be caught and it will wipe out stronger and better laws in Queensland, Victoria and the ACT,” she said. The Coalition proposal would see companies face penalties of up to $5.55 million and individuals up to $1.11 million and/or four years imprisonment, provided a “national system employer dishonestly engages in a deliberate systematic pattern of underpaying one or more of their employees”.
Labor is set to back the Morrison government plan to pass laws this week to allow the mining union to split from the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining And Energy Union. Labor’s shadow cabinet met on Monday night and discussed the issue ahead of caucus today. The legislation is aimed at construction heavyweight John Setka and his allies, who have prompted division in the union internally, as well as ructions within Labor. The legislation, to be introduced on Wednesday, would allow demergers to take place, after a five-year period, provided members of the union division were entitled to vote.
All state border restrictions across Australia are close to being lifted, after Queensland and Western Australia on Monday further eased rules on visitors from interstate. WA will reopen borders to NSW and Victoria from today, the first time in nearly nine months that travellers from both states can go west without quarantine or an exemption. The decision came after no locally acquired cases were detected after a Sydney quarantine hotel cleaner caught the virus. From Friday, travellers from South Australia no longer require exemptions to enter WA, although they still need to quarantine for 14 days. Queensland announced it would reopen borders to SA from 12 December, provided there was no more community transmission this week.
Economists have dismissed concerns over New South Wales and Victoria having their credit ratings downgraded for the first time in decades, arguing that record low interest rates make the decision largely irrelevant. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Victoria two notches from a AAA rating to AA over debt concerns following the state’s prolonged lockdown. NSW dropped one notch from AAA to AA+ over stimulus spending concerns. ANZ Bank rates strategist Heyden Dimes said the states should be able to handle downgrades because “those low interest rates are here to stay”, noting that the Reserve Bank of Australia is ready to buy bonds.