Thursday, 23 February 2017

TIME Magazine: Trump experiencing headwinds

Adani Mining Pty Ltd: allegations of "black money" and environmental degradation

“The Indian government’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is currently investigating a number of Adani Group entities, including Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL), which is the ultimate holding company of Adani Mining Pty Ltd, the proponent of the Carmichael Mine, for illegally overvaluing imports of coal and capital equipment in order to siphon funds offshore, a practice that creates “black money.” A detailed report from a reliable media source also indicates that for more than a decade the DRI has also been investigating Adani Group entities for tax evasion and money laundering whilst trading in diamonds.”  

Major Reports, February 2017:

The Adani Brief
If it proceeds, the Adani Group’s Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project in the Galilee Basin in Queensland will be among the largest new coalmines in the world. The associated rail infrastructure and expansion of the coal export terminal at Port of Abbot Point adjacent to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area would facilitate the shipping of coal through the Great Barrier Reef’s waters from the Carmichael Mine.
The Adani Brief: What governments and financiers need to know about the Adani Group’s record overseas suggests that governments and private stakeholders should give serious consideration to:
* the Adani Group’s global legal compliance record which demonstrates numerous serious breaches with adverse consequences for the environment and local people; and
* the possibility that if this track record continues in Australia, then supporting the Adani Group’s Carmichael Mine and the Abbot Point Port may expose governments and private  
  stakeholders to reputational and financial risks.

Read The Adani Brief (PDF, 1.53MB)
Report/submission Type:  

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A university education and a highly paid job the road to home ownership in Australia for the masses?

The Turnbull Government’s tin ear was on full display in The Sydney Morning  Herald on 21 February 2017:

The Coalition MP tasked with tackling Australia's housing affordability problems has said a "highly paid job" is the "first step" to owning a home.

The federal Victorian MP Michael Sukkar, who is the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer and has been charged with finding solutions to the country's housing affordability woes, also pointed to his own experience in purchasing two properties by the age of 35 as an example to struggling homebuyers. 

"We're also enabling young people to get highly paid jobs which is the first step to buying a house, it's not the only answer but it's the first step," Mr Sukkar told Sky News on Monday night.

"I want to see young people like me, leave university, I was a terrible university student but I left university because the economy was so good, I got a great start and I was able to forge a career," he said.

The Liberal MP for Deakin since September 2013 and Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, 35 year-old Michael Sven Sukkar LLB, BComm (Deakin), LLM (Melb), who apparently walked straight into well-paying employment at PricewaterhouseCoopers after leaving university and eleven years later owns his own home in Blackburn and a residence in Canberra after selling a second investment property in Fitzroy.

Conveniently the Australian taxpayer is assisting Mr. Sukkar with the mortgage on the possibly negatively geared Canberra property by supplying him with $273.00 for every night he stays in his own residence while parliament is sitting – an est. $11,466 for the 2017 calendar year alone.

Even at a stretch, married to a professionally qualified wife with a business partnership in a multinational firm, Michael Sukkar’s economic progress though life is hardly typical of a couple seeking to buy their first home.

However, typically of a member of the Liberal Party he assumes almost everyone can be fortunate enough to have small business owners as parents, a good education and a well-paying job before securing a parliamentary seat with an excellent superannuation plan.

According to They Vote For You during his almost three and a half years in the Australian Parliament Michael Sukkar has voted for:

And voted against:

Credlin admits there was no carbon tax under the Gillard Government

What were they thinking?

The  Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 2017:

What were they thinking? On Monday three members of cabinet called a press conference to pressure the Senate to cut the dole. That's right, to cut the dole. At just $13,750 per year plus an $8.80 per fortnight energy allowance, it's already so low the Business Council believes it "presents a barrier to employment and risks entrenching poverty." The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the research arm of the world's richest economies, says Australia's unemployment benefit has reached the point where it may no longer be effective in "enabling someone to look for a suitable job".

Even a Coalition-dominated inquiry found a "compelling case" for boosting it.

But the three ministers wanted to deny the energy supplement to new entrants on the spurious ground that this would merely remove "carbon tax compensation for a carbon tax that no longer exists". It wouldn't. The Newstart cost of living increase was cut 0.7 per cent when the energy supplement came in to avoid double counting. If the energy supplement went but the cut remained, new entrants to Newstart would be worse off than if the whole thing had never happened.

And they wanted to withhold Newstart from newly-unemployed Australians aged 22 to 25, paying them instead the lower $11,375 Youth Allowance. The under 25s would have to wait longer too – five weeks instead of the present one.

Rather than spend time arguing the merits of cutting a benefit already so low it can barely be lived on, Treasurer Scott Morrison, Social Services Minister Christian Porter and Education Minister Simon Birmingham delivered instead what amounted to a threat: if the Senate didn't cut the unemployment benefit, they might not fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

But not at first. In a burlesque twist, they opened the press conference spruiking the case for an unfunded massive company tax cut.

* Images found at Google Images

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Of the 2,145 species studied forty-seven per cent of land-based animals and over twenty-three per cent of threatened birds may have already been negatively impacted by climate change

NATURE.COM, Nature Climate Change,  Letter, abstract, 13 February 2017:

Species’ traits influenced their response to recent climate change

Although it is widely accepted that future climatic change—if unabated—is likely to have major impacts on biodiversity12, few studies have attempted to quantify the number of species whose populations have already been impacted by climate change34. Using a systematic review of published literature, we identified mammals and birds for which there is evidence that they have already been impacted by climate change. We modelled the relationships between observed responses and intrinsic (for example, body mass) and spatial traits (for example, temperature seasonality within the geographic range). Using this model, we estimated that 47% of terrestrial non-volant threatened mammals (out of 873 species) and 23.4% of threatened birds (out of 1,272 species) may have already been negatively impacted by climate change in at least part of their distribution. Our results suggest that populations of large numbers of threatened species are likely to be already affected by climate change, and that conservation managers, planners and policy makers must take this into account in efforts to safeguard the future of biodiversity.


Climate Home, 21 February 2017:

Seaweeds, invertebrates, fish and giant, ethereal kelp jungles are among a group of more than one hundred species that are being driven towards extinction by warming waters around Tasmania, an Australian senate inquiry has heard.

Neville Barrett, a research fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart, where the hearing was held, told the Environment and Communications References Committee that the waters around Tasmania were a global hotspot for warming.

“I mentioned that there were 100 or more species in general of kelps and endemic fishes and things that will probably disappear over the coming century, certainly by the turn of the next century under the current bottom end of predictions of climate change,” he told Climate Home after his appearance.

“There’s a whole lot of species on the southern end of Australia that are as far south as they can currently go and some of them are already pushed to their upper thermal limit, as far as summer temperatures will go.”

Beyond Tasmania, there is no major landmass until Antarctica, meaning many species have “nowhere else to go”, said Barrett.

One such species is the giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, the last stands of which Climate Home reported had been lost from Tasmania’s east coast in 2016.

Looking for work in 2017? Some advice on your rights from the experts

By and large businesses in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales are fair to their employees.

However, there is no denying that there is an element amongst employers which attempts to take advantage of people desperate to find paid work and, under award rates, no payslips, wages not paid on time, deductions from wages for a little as dropping one small bottle of soft drink, unfair dismissal, are not unknown.

So it pays to know your rights upfront and this may help…….

Fair Work Ombudsman, media release, February 2017:
Fair Work Ombudsman out to smash myths relating to young workers
13 February 2017
The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking to educate employees and business on the myths that are contributing to a concerning number of young workers being underpaid around Australia.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says too many people mistakenly believe that a range of workplace practices relating to young workers are OK when they are in fact unlawful.
“It’s time to address the myths that have achieved widespread levels of acceptance and are resulting in employers short-changing young workers around the country,” Ms James said. 
“Young workers make up about 16 per cent of the Australian workforce but account for a disproportionately high 25 per cent of requests for assistance to the agency. Last year 44% of the litigations we filed in court involved young workers.” 
“It is critical to raise awareness among employees and employers that they may be involved in serious contraventions of workplace laws by unwittingly continuing with practices that they believe are acceptable. 
“Young workers can be vulnerable in the workplace as they are often not fully aware of their rights or reluctant to complain if they think something is wrong. 
“We also come across too many employers who are short-changing young workers and when we contact them they say, ‘I just assumed what I was doing was OK’,” Ms James said. 
Ten common young worker myths the Fair Work Ombudsman encounters are:
MYTH 1: Paying low, flat rates of pay for all hours worked is OK if the worker agrees. 
FACT: Minimum lawful pay rates are mandatory. In many jobs, penalty rates must be paid for evening, weekend, public holiday and overtime work.

MYTH 2: Lengthy unpaid work trials are OK.
FACT: Unpaid trials are only OK for as long as needed to demonstrate the skills required for the job. Depending on the nature of the work, this could range from an hour to one shift.

MYTH 3: Employees don’t need to be paid for time spent opening and closing a store or for time spent attending meetings or training outside their paid work hours.
FACT: If a meeting or training is compulsory, then it is work. Employees must be paid for all hours they dedicate to work and this includes time spent opening or closing a store. For example, if an employee is required to be at work at 7.45am to prepare for an 8am store opening, they need to be paid from 7.45am.

MYTH 4: Employers can make deductions from an employee’s wages to cover losses arising from cash register discrepancies, breakages and customers who don’t pay.
FACT: Unauthorised deductions from an employee’s pay are unlawful. Deductions can be made only in very limited circumstances. 

MYTH 5: Employees are obliged to buy store produce such as clothing or food.
FACT: Employers cannot require staff to purchase store produce. This includes any items for which the worker may receive a staff discount. For example, an employer cannot require workers to purchase the particular clothing stocked in a retail outlet. 

MYTH 6: Unpaid internships are OK for all inexperienced young workers looking to get a foot in the door.
FACT: Internships can only be lawfully unpaid when they are a requirement of a course at an authorised educational or training institution.

MYTH 7: Employers can pay young workers as ‘trainees’ or ‘apprentices’ without lodging any formal paperwork.
FACT: Employers must negotiate and lodge a registered training contract for an employee in order to lawfully be able to pay trainee or apprentice rates. An employer cannot pay an employee trainee rates just because they are young or new to the job. 

MYTH 8: Paying employees with goods such as food or drink is OK.
FACT: Payment-in-kind is unlawful. Employees must be paid wages for all work performed.

MYTH 9: If a worker has an Australian Business Number (ABN) they are an independent contractor and minimum pay rates don’t apply.
FACT: Having an ABN does not automatically make a worker an independent contractor. Fair Work inspectors apply tests of fact and law to determine whether a worker’s correct classification is as an independent contractor or an employee. Whether an employer has labelled a worker as a contractor and required them to obtain an ABN may not be relevant.

MYTH 10: Pay slips aren’t mandatory – employers only need to give employees pay slips if they ask for them.
FACT: Employers must give all employees a pay slip within one working day of pay-day. Employers can give employees paper or electronic pay slips, such as a link sent via email. 

Ms James says that in 2017 her Agency will have a particular focus on proactively checking that employers of young workers are doing the right thing. 
“Young workers can be vulnerable, so we place high importance on checking and treat cases of their rights being contravened more seriously, which means we are more likely to pursue enforcement action,” Ms James said. 
Between July 2011 and June 2016, the Fair Work Ombudsman received more than 27,000 requests for assistance from young workers and recovered over $18 million for young workers who had been short-changed.
Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50 and information on the website is translated into 27 different languages.
Resources available on the website include the Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT), which provides advice about pay, shift, leave and redundancy entitlements and an employer’s guide to employing young workers.
Online resources available for young workers include a guide for young workers, the ‘starting a new job’ online learning course and a range of helpful tips.
Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO , the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au  or find us on Facebook .
Sign up to receive the Fair Work Ombudsman’s media releases direct to your email inbox at


If you are not covered by an agreement, your minimum wages and conditions are likely to be set by a modern award

The modern award will deal with:

minimum wage rates
annual leave, and annual leave loading
other types of leave
hours of work
penalty rates, overtime and casual rates
consultation, and
many other minimum conditions.