Showing posts with label Morrison Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Morrison Government. Show all posts

Friday, 29 May 2020

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Will Scotty From Marketing's pet National COVID-19 Coordination Commission recommend lifting the Coal Seam Gas Moratorium in place across the NSW Northern Rivers region?


"Nev Power: The Prime Minister 'rang me ... and said your country needs you.' "  [Financial Review, 3 April 2020]


On 20 March 2020 Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison created the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) to “ coordinate advice to the Australian Government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic” and “advise the Prime Minister on all non-health aspects of the pandemic response”.

This is a list of NCCC commission members and key staff for the period 23 March to 22 September 2020 with remuneration for their services where known:

Chairman
Neville Power, Deputy Chairman of Strike Energy Ltd an oil and gas exploration company – remuneration by PM&C contract $294,079.50. Power has announced he is temporarily stepping aside from his position at Strike Energy to avoid perceptions of conflict of interest. However, he appears to be retaining 12,612,885 fully paid Strike Energy shares (worth in the vicinity of $2.4 milllion) & options on 6 million more held by his own Myube discretionary investment trust.

Deputy Chairman
David Thodey, Chairman CSIRO – paid expenses only

Commissioners
Greg Combet, consultant, Chairman of IFM Investors and Industry Super Australia - remuneration by PM&C contract $118,800
Jane Halton, board member ANZ, Clayton Utz, Crown Resorts, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, US Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation and
chairman of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, COTA, Crown Sydney and Vault Systems - remuneration by PM&C contract $118,800
Paul Little, property developer, Chairman and Founder of the Little Group, Chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Skalata Ventures - remuneration by PM&C contract $108,000 for 2 days per week
Catherine Tanna, Managing Director of EnergyAustralia, board member Reserve Bank of Australia and Business Council of Australia – remuneration by PM&C contract $54,000 for 1 day per week

Key Staff
Peter Harris, public policy adviser, CEO of NCCC – remuneration N/K
Executive Assistant to Chairman NCCC – remuneration by PM&C contract $73,000 paid into the same Myube discretionary investment trust as the remuneration received by NCCC Chairman.

Advisors
Andrew N. Liveris, special advisor to NCCC, board member IBM, Worley Parsons, Saudi Aramco, on advisory board of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and NEOM, controversial former Chairman & CEO of Dow Chemical and Trump supporter– remuneration N/K

For the more than $885,479 in taxpayer dollars spent on this commission over a six month period, Australia gets a website of sorts pmc.gov.au/nccc along with a Twitter account NCCCgovau and, what is shaping up to be a lack of transparency and accountability concerning advice this commission gives behind closed doors to government.

According to The Guardian on 21 May 2020:

A leaked draft report by a manufacturing taskforce advising the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) recommends the Morrison government make sweeping changes to “create the market” for gas and build fossil fuel infrastructure that would operate for decades.

Its vision includes Canberra underwriting an increased national gas supply, government agencies partnering with companies to accelerate development of new fields such as the Northern Territory’s vast Beetaloo Basin, and states introducing subsidy schemes for gas-fired power plants.

It says the federal government should help develop gas pipelines between eastern states and the north, and potentially a $6bn trans-Australian pipeline between the east and west, by either taking an equity position, minority share or underwriting investments.

The taskforce, headed by….Saudi Aramco board member Andrew Liveris, positions lower-cost gas as the answer to building a transformed manufacturing sector that it says could support at least 85,000 direct jobs, and hundreds of thousands more indirectly.

But it does not consider alternatives to gas, or what happens if greenhouse gas emissions are cut as promised under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Gas is usually described as having half the emissions of coal when burned, though recent studies have suggested it could be more.

The Liveris report does not mention climate change, Australia’s emissions reduction targets or the financial risk, flagged by institutions in Australia and overseas, of investing in fossil fuel as emissions are cut.

While several assessments have found renewable energy backed by storage is now the cheapest option for new electricity generation, the report says gas is “key to driving down electricity cost and improving investment in globally competitive advanced industry”.

Its focus is consistent with the NCCC chairman, Nev Power, a former Fortescue Metals chief and current board member at gas company Strike Energy, who has said in interviews that cheap gas would be critical to Australia’s future. Gas has been strongly backed by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and the energy and emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, who has argued for a gas-fired recovery from the pandemic.

According to Friends of the Earth Australia the leaked document also suggests lifting the coal seam gas moratorium in New South Wales, which is an issue I’m sure the Northern Rivers region will be keeping a close eye on.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Morrison Government's political backers have spoken and plans for biosecurity levy are abandoned



ABC News, 20 May 2020:

After more than a year of lobbying by cement, minerals and freight industry groups, the Federal Government has abandoned a promise that would raise hundreds of millions of dollars to protect Australian farmers from pests and diseases.

In 2018, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced the Government would raise $325 million over three years through a biosecurity levy.

The Budget outlined a proposed $10.02 biosecurity charge per 20-foot container, and a $1 per tonne levy on bulk imports coming via the sea to be imposed from July 1, 2019, with the funds raised used to detect and screen for exotic pests and diseases.

The 2019 Budget saw that deadline postponed until September 2019, but legislation for the levy was never introduced.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture Water and Environment said the levy could not be implemented without significant impacts on industry and proposed levy payers.

"A levy will not be progressed and this decision will not impact on the overall biosecurity budget," it said.

The statement thanked the industry working group that consulted on the levy, and said the decision had been made "in consideration of the impact of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 on the economy"….

The Cement Industry Federation was part of a consortium of industry groups including the Minerals Council of Australia, Australasian Railway Association, Australian Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturing Australia, the Australian Logistics Council, and Gas Energy Australia that rejected the proposed levy....


The levy on freight was first proposed by a review of Australia's biosecurity services in 2017, which found widespread agreement that biosecurity was underfunded in Australia.

The decision not to introduce the levy comes as Australian farmers face uncertain trading conditions following years of drought and recent pest incursions, which could cost industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

This year alone, Australian farmers have found new worrying detections of the fall armyworm and banana-destroying Panama disease, while Queensland prawn farmers expected to lose millions to an outbreak of white spot disease.

Meanwhile, the pork industry still fears it could experience an outbreak of the pig-killing African Swine Fever.

The disease spread through Asia, wiped out a quarter of the world's pig population and was recently detected in Papua New Guinea.

If it were to reach Australia, the pork industry estimates it could cost the Australian economy $2 billion.

National Farmers' Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said the decision to axe the levy was a "blow to Australia's farmers".

"The uncertainty this levy proposal has created — particularly given the current circumstances — is a poor look for government," Mr Mahar said.

The Department of Agriculture Water and Environment did not make a spokesperson available, but said Australia's biosecurity systems underpinned $60 billion in agricultural production, $49 billion in agricultural exports and $42 billion in inbound tourism.

Mr Littleproud's office has been contacted for comment.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Australian casual employees regularly working full-time hours win paid leave, carer & compassionate leave in Federal Court ruling - Morrison Government threatens to change law to strip new rights away



"All members of the Court have also found that Mr Rossato was not a casual FTM under the 2012 EA, noting that the circumstances of his employment could not be distinguished in a material way from those of Skene. All members of the Court have found that WorkPac is not entitled to restitution of the casual loading which it claimed was included in the hourly rate it had paid to Mr Rossato. The members of the Court have found that there was no relevant mistake, and no failure of consideration such as would support restitutionary relief. All members of the Court have found that WorkPac is not entitled to bring into account the payments of remuneration that it had made to Mr Rossato on the basis that he was a casual employee. That is because the purposes of the payments of remuneration did not have a close correlation to the entitlements that Mr Rossato seeks. All members of the Court have found that WorkPac’s reliance on reg 2.03A of the Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) was misplaced. By subregulation (d), the regulation can apply only when the person makes a claim to be paid an amount in lieu of one or more of the relevant NES entitlements. That is not this case as Mr Rossato seeks payment of the NES entitlements, not payments in lieu." [Workpac v Rossato, May 2020]


Yahoo! Finance, 21 May 2020:

Casual employees working full-time hours will be entitled to paid leave, setting back employers around $8 billion in back-pay claims, after a landmark ruling by the Federal Court on Wednesday.

The decision means regular, ongoing casuals will be able to access paid annual leave, paid personal/carer’s leave and paid compassionate leave, and employers cannot claim that 25 per cent pay loadings offset those entitlements.

The ruling in Workpac v Rossato has effectively pulled the pin on the ‘permanent casual’ work model, and means any regular work that is permanent in nature is not genuinely casual, and therefore attracts the same entitlements as permanent staff.

This is a fantastic decision that puts an end to the ‘permanent casual’ rort that has become a scourge in the coal mining industry and across the workforce,” the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union national president Tony Maher said.

It’s a decision that passes the pub test on what it means to be a casual and is consistent with community expectations that casual work is irregular and intermittent.”

Maher called on employers to “stop the nonsense”, and start treating casual employees on permanent hours as if they were permanent.

When a job is full-time, regular and on-going, it is permanent and deserves the security and entitlements that come with permanent work,” Maher said.

Our union has worked hard to clarify the law with this decision and we will now be fighting to restore rights and lost pay for casual labour hire workers across the coal mining industry who have been illegally ripped off.”…….

Industrial relations minister Christian Porter said the decision would have “immediate practical implications for the bottom line of many Australians businesses at a time when so many have taken a huge hit from the Covid-19 pandemic”.

In fact, employers estimate between 1.6 and 2.2 million casuals will be affected, with a back-pay bill of around $8 billion looming.

Porter also flagged a potential appeal….

"Given the potential for this decision to further weaken the economy at a time when so many Australians have lost their jobs, it may also be necessary to consider legislative options."


Thursday, 21 May 2020

Morrison Government expects to be forced to refund est. $555.6 million unlawfully taken from at least 449,500 Centrelink clients






In July 2016 the federal Coaltion Government began to issue income compliance notices based on automated data matching.

At the time the then Minister for Social Social Services Scott Morrison expected to clawback an est. $1.7 billion dollars over five years from individuals who were, or had been in the past, receiving a Centrelink pension, benefit or allowance.


By 2019 at least 570,000 of those over 600,000 income compliance notices were considered to be unlawful. As were Australian Taxation Office garnishee notices associated with these alleged debts.


Refunding these wrongfully raised debts would see at least $555.6 million returned to Centrelink clients.


Becoming a member of a class action does not expose a ‘robodebt’ recipient to any additional legal liability with regard to the alleged debt.

However, the Morrison Government is possibly hoping many victims will not realise this and sign the Centrelink Opt Out Notice – Federal Court of Australia – ‘Robodebt’(Social Security Debt Collection) Class Action (VID1252/2019) notices it is currently sending out.

Gordon Legal has outlined possible court dates:

On 6 March 2020 the Honourable Mr Justice Murphy of the Federal Court ordered that the parties hold a mediation prior to 19 June 2020. This is an opportunity for the matter to be resolved with the consent of both parties.

Justice Murphy also ordered that, if the matter does not settle at mediation, a trial will begin in the Federal Court on 20 July 2020 (or if that date is not available, on 21 September 2020).

Services Australia (formerly the Dept. of Social Services-Centrelink) despite its denials continues to raise alleged debts and send out notices.


The Guardian, 18 May 2020:

Hundreds of thousands of Australians affected by the government’s robodebt scheme will receive notices from Centrelink about an upcoming class action under orders from the federal court.

Guardian Australia last month revealed secret government advice showing the commonwealth hopes to settle the case and has privately admitted more than 400,000 welfare debts were unlawfully issued under the scandal-ridden “income compliance program”.

But the parties are yet to reach a settlement, setting up a potential trial as early as July where law firm Gordon Legal will seek interest and compensation as well as the repayment of debts unlawfully claimed by the government.

Under court orders issued in March, the government has been told to identify all potential class action members and send out notices via MyGov or by post about the upcoming court challenge by 25 May.

More than 12,000 people have registered with the firm, but under Australian law people identified as members of the “class” are considered part of the action unless they “opt-out”, which would allow them to pursue their own individual claim.

Labor’s government services spokesman, Bill Shorten, said the government should “settle this case immediately, restore public confidence in Centrelink by allowing the court to be the independent umpire, and pay the victims back their money as well as interest”.

This would allow the hundreds of Centrelink workers working on limiting the government’s robodebt exposure to be moved back to the frontlines of helping their fellow Australians with their social security needs in this time of national challenge,” he told Guardian Australia.

Since July 2015, more than 600,000 debt notices had been sent out under the scheme, which the government conceded was unlawful in federal court in November, while thousands more received letters demanding they prove they were not overpaid by Centrelink.

Some debt recipients had their tax returns seized over the debts, while others were also forced to pay a 10% “recovery fee” on top of the alleged debt.

Gordon Legal believes the case would represent one of the largest class actions in Australian history.

Late last week, the government declined to answer several written questions about the robodebt scheme, successfully applying for public interest immunity in the Senate.

Services Australia declined to answer how many debts had been issued using the unlawful “income averaging” method or whether it would repay victims, including debts recovered from deceased estates.

This question relates to a court case that is currently before the federal court of Australia,” the agency said. “Services Australia will abide by any decision of the court.”

But a ministerial submission to cabinet, leaked to the Guardian, revealed the government hopes to settle the case and that Services Australia expects to “administer 449,500 refunds determined under the programme”, worth $555.6m.

The robodebt class action notices come as the government pushes ahead with plans for an inquiry into class actions in Australia.

Porter last week claimed a “lack of regulation governing the booming litigation funding industry is leading to poor justice outcomes”.

But Labor has argued the inquiry is a response to Gordon Legal’s class action against the robodebt scheme.

If the parties do not reach a settlement, a trial is expected between July and September.

The government’s legal advice shows it expects to lose the class action under Gordon Legal’s claim of “unjust enrichment”, although it believes the compensation claim is less likely to be successful.

This is likely to result in the commonwealth being ordered to repay debts within a timeframe set by the Court, and to pay interest and legal costs,” the advice said.

Court documents show the number of potential victims expanded in March after the government withdrew an earlier claim that people receiving Carer Payment were not subjected to the scheme.

The government has conceded in court that debts that relied on income averaging were invalidly raised, but claims it should not have to pay compensation because it does not hold a common law duty of care to welfare recipients…...

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton makes a grab for even more surveillance powers



Crikey, 15 May 2020:

The government’s proposed scheme to enable foreign intelligence services to spy on Australians will enable Australia’s intelligence agencies to circumvent measures designed to protect journalists from unfettered pursuit of their sources.

Labor’s Mark Dreyfus yesterday exposed the loophole, with Home Affairs officials left unable and unwilling to explain why their minister Peter Dutton was proposing a runaround on existing procedures designed to protect journalists’ sources.

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020 will to pave the way for agreements between Australia and the United States, and other “like-minded countries”, for the direct accessing of surveillance information, including real-time wiretapping, by intelligence agencies from both counterpart countries. In Australia, such requests would be signed off by members of the Security Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), which is heavily stacked with former Coalition MPs and staffers.

In hearings before the intelligence and security committee yesterday, shadow attorney-general Dreyfus asked Dutton’s bureaucrats why existing protections around accessing the metadata of journalists were not part of the proposed process.

When the Abbott government introduced mass surveillance laws in 2015, the mainstream media belatedly realised that journalists’ phone and IT records would be easily accessed by intelligence and law enforcement agencies under “data retention” laws. In response, a “Journalist Information Warrant” (JIW) process was hastily put together that would require agencies to apply for a special warrant, with more stringent thresholds and procedural safeguards, like a Public Interest Advocate, if agencies wanted to obtain data relating to a journalist’s sources.

No such safeguard exists under the International Production Orders (IPO) process, meaning that if a journalist’s data was held by a US company — such as Google, Apple, Facebook or Microsoft — it could be obtained by ASIO or the Australian Federal Police (AFP) from those companies through an IPO without a Journalist Information Warrant, unlike information held by a local company such as Telstra.

Are you able to tell us why an Australian journalists whose telecoms data is held by a US carrier should have fewer protections than an Australian journalist whose telecoms data is held in Australia?” Dreyfus asked Home Affairs bureaucrats…..

Dreyfus pressed further. The Journalist Information Warrant process was not replicated in this bill, was it, he asked.

It is not replicated,” Warnes had to admit, before insisting an AAT authorisation was enough protection.

Dreyfus went further. “The Journalist Information Warrant process has a public interests monitor provided. There is no such public interest monitor provided in the authorisation process that is provided under this bill is there?”

That’s correct,” the bureaucrat admitted.

So it’s not the same level of protection for journalists whose data is held by a US carrier. It’s a lesser level of protection isn’t it?” said Dreyfus.

Different considerations at play, yes,” Warnes , humiliated, had to admit.

Dreyfus also pointed out that the Journalist Information Warrant process had additional criteria that had to be considered in granting warrants. They weren’t in the IPO scheme, were they?

That’s correct,” Warnes said.

So why should an Australian journalist whose telecoms data is held by a US carrier have fewer protections than an Australian journalist whose telecoms data is held in Australia?”

I don’t have anything further to add,” Warnes said.

Dreyfus told him to come back to the committee with a better explanation for why the loophole was being pursued by the government…..

Monday, 18 May 2020

Unemployment in Australia in March to May 2020


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labor Force, Australia, April 2020, there were 832,500 unemployed persons at the end of April based on original data, which resulted in an unemployment rate of 6.3%.

That was a rise of 63,800 unemployed persons since the end of March 2020.

A number which could have been much higher if it were not that those registered to receive JobKeeper subsidised wage payments are considered employed - even those with no active job to go to.

On 14 May 2020 the Prime Minister announced a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.2% and the Treasurer stated that 594,000 people had lost their jobs since COVID-19 public health restrictions began to affect businesses.

However, both Morrison and Frydenberg fail to point out that those 594,000 newly unemployed are in addition to the est. 238,500 already unemployed persons‬

Even with JobKeeper payments now keeping unemployment figures down by an est. 3.3 to 5.5 million people Treasury expects that the unemployment rate will rise to around 10% by end of June 2020.

According to a Senate estimates hearing on 30 April 2020, an est. 400,000 more people are expected to lose their jobs by September, at which time the unemployment rate is predicted to be around 13%.

September is of course the month indicated by Morrison as the period in which he intends to start rolling back enhanced unemployment benefits - a month in which the Dept. of Social Services expects 1.7 million people to be receiving the Jobseeker payment.

According to the Morrison Government it expects to have returned 850,000 people to employment by the time all the public health restrictions have been lifted.

If in around four months time as many as 7.2 million Australians are expected to be either unemployed or in uncertain employment because their jobs depend on government subsidied wages, one wonders why the Morrison Government is boasting of so low a figure - less than 12% of that 7.2 million. 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Thanks a lot Scott Morrison & all those Lib-Nat goons who piled on China once he opened his mouth. The NSW Northern Rivers really appreciates the loss of trade


In mid-April 2020 Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne decided that the middle of a global pandemic and, with a domestic economy in freefall, was a good time to antagonise our biggest trading partner.

It didn't take long for National Party backbenchers to join these three Liberal Party ministers and mainstream media reported the situation thus.......   

"But given clear evidence that China is deeply unhappy with Australia’s aggressive calls for an inquiry, in a way that it sees as Australia teaming up with the Trump administration to point the blame at China, the foreign exchange markets are making up their own minds on the prospects of Australia being on the brink of a serious deterioration of ties with our largest trading partner." [The Australian, 13 May 2020] 

"Mr Morrison said Australia could not rule out that the virus escaped­ from a Wuhan lab, but “the most likely (origin) has been in a wildlife wet market”."  [The Australian, 6 May 2020]

"..it was immediately clear that the purpose of the Australian "initiative" was not to conduct a review of benefit to the whole world, but to engage in political warfare with the Chinese state, using failures of organisation and leadership as a stick with which to beat the state. This was underlined by the way in which the first Australian public mention of the need for such an inquiry, along with some words about "accountability and transparency'', came from Peter Dutton, otherwise in a witness protection program avoiding any transparency or accountability for Commonwealth failures to screen several thousand passengers and crew from cruise ships. Marise Payne took the idea further, if with every appearance of playing to a pre-prepared script several days later, before Morrison took extra steps to make the proposals unacceptable to the Chinese by advocating the equivalent of weapons inspectors battering down doors to catch those with secrets to hide."  

"Scott Morrison insists it would be "absolutely nonsense" to suggest the coronavirus started anywhere other than China. The prime minister is pushing ahead with calls for a global inquiry into the origins of the deadly disease despite diplomatic blowback from the Chinese government. "I don't think anybody is in any fantasy land about where it started - it started in China," he told 2GB radio on Friday. "What the world over needs to know - and there's a lot of support for this - is how did it start and what are the lessons to be learned."  [AAP Bulletin Wire, 1 May 2020]

"The Morrison Government is leading the international call for an independent review of the COVID-19 crisis to determine the origin of the virus and if more could have been done to slow its spread."
  [The Mercury, 20 April 2020]


Morrison, Dutton, Payne & Co got the column inches and media attention they craved, but it is rural and regional areas like the NSW Northern Rivers which are bearing the brunt of their total lack of a genuinely diplomatic approach to China on the issue.....

The Daily Examiner, 15 May 2020:

Casino’s Northern Cooperative Meat Company is one of the four Australian abattoirs that China imposed an import ban on this week. 


The black-listing of the three Queensland and one NSW red meat abattoirs is believed to be a “trade war tactic” from Beijing as trade tensions between Australia and Chine rise. There are fears the bans from China come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent investigation into the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. 

Northern Cooperative Meat Company chief executive Simon Stahl revealed the ban on imports relates directly to labelling and product description non-compliances. 

Mr Stahl was uncertain of the short or long term financial impacts to the business, but revealed NCMC production imports ranged from 15 to 25 per cent. 

“It’s too early to tell you about the financial impacts, I couldn’t put a figure on it at this point in time, could be a week, could be a month,” he said. “I’m always optimistic we can satisfy the authorities..... 

Food Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel said it was unknown yet whether the bans were because of a breach of protocol or an act of political retribution. 

“The technical reasons have not been made available,” Mr McConnel said. “We’re not sure whether there has been a breach of protocol or if it’s pure political retaliation. 

“We’re awaiting details on how to alleviate tensions. “It’s not catastrophic, but it is a real issue that needs to be sorted out.” 

Mr McConnel said the banning of the Northern Co-operative Meat Company at Casino was a major concern for smaller beef producers, who use that meatworks to sell to China.

“The government need to get sorted how real are the technical aspects of this and how much is political tension around the relationship with China,” he said....


Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Morrison Government's new virus contact tracing app


On the evening of Sunday 26 April 2020 the Morrison Coalition Government released its COVID-19 contact tracing app "COVIDSafe" for download and installation on mobile phones by the Australia public.

The stated intention for the release of this app is to widely surveil the Australian population with the aim of tracing persons who have been in contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

This release did not come after the promised full disclosure of the app source code. Indeed this source code if or when it is finally released will be a redacted version.

It did not come backed by a full legislative framework which had been scrutinised by the Australian Parliament. 

It came with a ministerial determination which had been published at one minute before midnight on Saturday 25 April 2020 and a one page website containing two download links, a link to "Privacy policy" and another to "Help topics".

It also came after the unannounced release of the promised Privacy Impact Assessment sometime on 25 April 2020.

Despite being assured that no federal agency can access data collected by COVIDSafe, one federal agency the Digital Transformation Agency has official permission to access data in certain situations.

To effectively use the app on a mobile phone Bluetooth has to be activated and some phones will be required to run the app in the foreground, others may find it can be run in the background. Recharging may have to happen more often and some existing phone functions may not always perform well.

Every mobile phone user with this app "will receive daily notifications to ensure the COVIDSafe app is running".

Once installed the app can be automatically updated (including with additional app functions) without notification to the user, unless automatic updates have been blocked on Google Play or Apple App Store.

It is up to each citizen and permanent resident to make their own decision concerning the downloading of this app as use of the app is voluntary.

UPDATE

Despite the Morrison Government insisting that "the COVIDSafe app does not collect your location", according to Google Play this app has GPS and network based functions so a mobile phone's precise location can be identified.





Sunday, 19 April 2020

What Morrison Government's recent changes to industrial relations law may mean for workers


On Thurday 16 April 2020 Australian Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Liberal MP for Pearce Christian Porter announced changes to the Fair Work Regulations in relation to the negotiation of workplace agreements. 

According to Fair Work Australia the new regulations are "in place initially for 6 months" and are allegedly meant to assist businesses to remain solvent during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, workers are likely to be severely disadvantaged because any changes to working conditions or rates of pay made under these new rules are permanent and can only be altered during the next formal application to vary the enterprise agreement - which can be up to four years away.


Monday, 30 March 2020

Parliamentary oversight of the the Australian Government ceased on 23 March 2020


At 19:07pm on the 23 March 2020 the House of Representatives divided for a vote changing the House sittings schedule for 2020.

The vote was 48 Ayes to 37 Noes. [Hansard, 23 March 2020, p.85]

This change left Australia with no sitting federal parliament from day's end on 23 March until 11 August 2020.

The vote to end parliamentary oversight of government went thus:




The Greens and Labor lost this vote.

Scott Morrison and his hard right allies, including the Institute of Public Affairs, cannot fail to be pleased with this extension of unfettered political power.

The reason the opposition believes that we shouldn't make that decision today is that, as everyone is acknowledging, we don't know where we will be in May or June, and the presumption should be that the parliament will sit. The presumption should be that we will meet if it is possible for us to sit, because, during this period, during a time of crisis, is when the Australian public needs us to sit. I will be more than surprised if we can go from now until August and find that the legislation we put through the parliament today is all the nation needs for Australia to handle this pandemic, all the nation needs to deal with the crisis of unemployment and recession that we'll be facing. That means we will need to sit, so we shouldn't pretend that we won't. It also means during this period the government will be compelled in the interests of the nation to make some decisions of great magnitude. That will happen. We know that will happen; that's part of the story behind the supply bills that have just passed. To have decisions of that magnitude being made without the parliament convening and without there being a question time and an opportunity for people representing the different corners of Australia to hold the government to account is an unwise course for us to take.” [Tony Burke, MP for Watson & Manager of Opposition Business, in House of Representatives Hansard, 23 March 2020]