Showing posts with label jobs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jobs. Show all posts

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

More than 60 per cent of businesses in Byron Bay are now relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat


The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 2020:

In Byron Bay, sales of a $9.30 large green G-Force smoothie reveal how the COVID-19 wave has dumped on the NSW tourist town. 


In good times, with 2.4 million visitors a year ranging from backpackers to festival goers and others looking for yoga, surf and a healthy lifestyle, Byron can support six smoothie businesses. 

One of them, Sweet Byron, would sell 19 of these large green smoothies a day.   

Then coronavirus hit, forcing the closure of domestic and international borders. Byron's foreign visitors dried up, and its English language schools nearly emptied. 

 COVID-19 caused the cancellation of weddings and events such as the Writers Festival and the Splendour in the Grass misic festival, which usually provide a boost in the slow winter months. 

Ninety per cent of shops, hotels and restaurants in the town closed. When they reopened before school holidays, the streets were empty and Sweet Byron was lucky if it sold two Gforce Smoothies. 

Those students and backpackers who had remained headed north when the Queensland border re-opened earlier this month. 

More than 60 per cent of businesses in Byron are now relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat, according to a map by data analytics company Taylor Fry released last week

This is the most in any local government area in Australia and double the number in capital cities. 

Without JobKeeper Mika Cohen, the owner of the Sweet Byron smoothie shop, said his business wouldn't survive. 

Smoothie sales bounced back during the recent school holidays after coronavirus travel restrictions lifted and the town filled with families who followed the sun north. 

Mr Cohen was back to selling 8 Gforce Smoothies a day, still less than half the number he sold pre-COVID. 

With nearly all of Byron's economy tied to tourism, hospitality and the creative arts, Byron mayor Simon Richardson said the pandemic has delivered a "triple whammy". 

"It is really dangerous times for us," he said. 

Hotel bookings looked healthy for summer, but if the town doesn't get that "fattening" he feared it could "lurch into real danger". 

Hotel owner Christian Millett said Byron had been a stable market all year long, in the past. But after coronavirus shut down weddings and festivals, Mr Millett said he would not have been been able to justify keeping his doors open outside of school holidays if he wasn't receiving JobKeeper.....

Taylor Fry's analysis found smaller firms in retail, hospitality, manufacturing and construction sectors are especially dependent on JobKeeper to retain their staff...... 

When the tourism dried up, it affected the rest of the region with "all the pork and tomatoes, macadamia and the mueslis which aren't being bought".

Cr Richardson said there was a "false sense of affluence" associated with Byron because of its multimillion-dollar beach houses and movie-star residents like Chris Hemsworth. 

"For every $10 million house at Wattegos Beach there are 10 homes that are in some of the poorest areas in NSW," he said. 

Four areas in the LGA are among the most disadvantaged 20 per cent in Australia, and two are among the most affluent..... 

Rents are also high, and Cr Richardson said he has seen more people couch surfing after losing their jobs. A shopkeeper said his landlord wanted to restore rents to pre-COVID levels after providing discounts earlier: "In this time, we can't afford the full rent for the premises ... because there are 60 to 40 per cent fewer tourists." 

Taylor Fry's principal Alan Greenfield said without JobKeeper he was nervous about the future of regional tourist towns, especially if restrictions on travel continued. "If locals can't see a future where they live, they might be inclined to move away." 

Simon Westaway, the executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council, said the impact of COVID-19 on his 10,000 members had been "diabolical". Unlike other industries, it had been hard for tourist operators to "pivot" to other business. 

Even if people could travel, the impact of continuing uncertainty over jobs and rising mortgage stress – estimated to grow to $200 billion from $60 billon now – meant visitors were not necessarily buying the most expensive "smoothie". 

"You put all these figures together, and you go wowie kazowie, who is in a mindset to have a decent holiday? Let alone if you are allowed out [by governments]. " 

Although business was down now, surf school director and founder of Let's Go Surfing Brenda Miley said Byron was an aspirational place that will bounce back. "Everyone wants to go there. It is well worn trek from Bondi to Byron, and that all came together last school holidays." 

 She thinks it will be booked out next summer if government restrictions on travel aren't in place. "People who were planning to go skiing in Colorado or France are so happy to go to Byron and surf for a week or two," she said.

Percentage of NSW Northern Rivers Businesses relying on JobKeeper Payments by Local Government Area - as of 22 July 2020 

  • Byron 60.39%
  • Tweed 47.79%
  • Ballina 39.56%
  • Clarence Valley 34.52%
  • Lismore 35.05%
  • Richmond Valley 27.45%
  • Kyogle 21.3%

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Australia 2020: and now for some economic bad news


On 23 July 2020 Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg delivered a national economic and fiscal update.

He dutifully posted an upbeat media release and published the official update documents.


Here is a preliminary takeaway from this update*:

  • total federal government payments have increased by $58.0 billion in 2019-20 and increased by $187.5 billion over the two years to 2020-21. The net impact of policy decisions since the 2019-20 MYEFO has increased payments by $58.0 billion in 2019-20 and $113.7 billion in 2020-21.
  • declines in taxation receipts were $31.7 billion in 2019-20 and are expected to be $63.9 billion in 2020-21;
  • the underlying cash balance is expected to decrease to an $85.8 billion deficit in 2019-20 and an $184.5 billion deficit in 2020-21. This is a a deterioration of $281.4 billion over these two years since the 2019-20 MYEFO;
  • as a percentage of GDP the underlying cash balance is expected to be -9.7 per cent in 2020-21;
  • debt levels have increased significantly. Gross debt was $546 billion (28.1 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2019 and $684.3 billion (34.4 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2020 and is expected to be $851.9 billion (45.0 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2021. With net debt at 30 June 2019 standing at 373.5 billion (19.2 per cent of GDP), expected to be $488.2 billion (24.6 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2020 and increase to $677.1 billion (35.7 per cent of GDP) at 30 June 2021;
  • on a calendar-year basis real GDP fell by 3.75 per cent;
  • real GDP is forecast to have fallen sharply in the June quarter 2020 by 7 per cent;
  • nominal GDP is expected to be -4.75 per cent in 2020-21;
  • nationally 709,000 jobs were lost in the June quarter 2020;
  • the unemployment rate in June 2020 was 7.4 per cent and is expected to peak at around 9.25 per cent in the December quarter 2020 and is forecast to be at 8.75 per cent in 2020-21;
  • Treasury has predicted that immigration will fall to 31,000 individuals in 2020-21 which is likely to affect the national budget bottom line; and
  • the Morrison Government's go-to remedy for the poor economic outlook is to (i) consider reducing the federal government's taxation income even further by est. $143 billion in personal income tax receipts over 10 years commencing in 2021-22, (ii) reduce welfare spending by further limiting eligibility and reducing payment levels for JobSeeker and JobKeeper recipients from 25 September 2020 with the Coronavirus Supplement due to be removed completely by 31 December 2020, (iii) incease the level of casual and insecure work via industrial relations 'reform', and (iv) encourage women to have more babies to compensate for the current moribund population growth rate.
NOTE

* The Economic and Fiscal Update June 2020 is affected by the economic impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and to a lesser extent by the the impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires. 

Componding the situation is the high level of federal government borrowings which regularly occurred after 18 September 2013.

On 30 September 2013 the gross national debt stood at est. $220.67 billion and net national debt was $174.55 billion. At that time net national debt was in the vicinity of 13% of GDP. 

By 2 April 2019 the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government had raised the gross national debt to $534.42 billion. That's more than double the national debt left by the previous Labor federal government. 

On 2 April 2019 Frydenberg was predicting that gross national debt would rise to $627.26 billion by end of June 2019 with net national debt coming in at $373.47 billion and net debt predicted to come in at 19.2% of GDP by end of June. 

By 30 June 2019 the federal government paid est. $18.15 billion in interest on this debt in the 2018-19 financial year. 

The bottom line is that before either the bushfires or the pandemic even began the Morrison Government gross national debt stood at $546 billion or 28.1 per cent of Australia's GDP and net debt stood at 373.5 billion or 19.2 per cent of GDP by 30 June 2019.

Therefore emergency national funding for bushfires and pandemic only accounts for est. 23.5 per cent of the current national debt.

As at 30 May the Morrison Government's total liabilities in 2020 ran to $1,324.95 billion against assets of $700.74 billion according to Australian Government General Government Sector Monthly Financial Statements May 2020.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Unemployment in Australia is at a 22 year high, however NSW is faring a little better


Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force June 2020, 16 July 2020:


NATIONAL SEASONALLY ADJUSTED ESTIMATES 
  • Employment increased 210,800 to 12,328,500 people. 
  • Full-time employment decreased 38,100 to 8,489,100 people and part-time employment increased 249,000 to 3,839,400 people. 
  • Unemployment increased 69,300 to 992,300 people. 
  • Unemployment rate increased 0.4 pts to 7.4%. 
  • Underemployment rate decreased 1.4 pts to 11.7%. 
  • Underutilisation rate decreased 1.0 pts to 19.1%. 
  • Participation rate increased by 1.3 pts to 64.0%. 
  • Monthly hours worked in all jobs increased 64.3 million hours to 1,664.7 million hours.
NATIONAL YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
  • Employment for 15-24 year olds increased by 101,500 people (6.3%). 
  • Unemployment rate for this group increased 0.4 pts to 16.4%.
  • Participation Rate for 15-24 year olds increased 3.9 pts to 63.5%. 
  • Around 30% of the people moving into employment in June were aged 15 to 24 years.
New South Wales in June 2020 :
  • Number of Employed Persons rose by est. 81,000 to total 3,949,500 individuals. This still leaves a gap of est.124,200 persons who lost the job they held in January 2020 and have not yet found other employment (original data);
  • Full-time Employment rose by est. 8,200 positions (original data);
  • Part-time Employment rose by est. 72,800 positions (original data);
  • the Employment to Population Ratio was Persons 59.5, Males 64.4, Females 54.8 (original data);
  • the Unemployment Rate was Persons 6.7%, Males 6.7%, Females 6.8% (original data);
  • Underemployed Persons totalled est. 473,900 individuals (original data); and
  • the Workforce Participation Rate was Persons 63.8% - up 1.6 percentage points, Males 69.0% - up 2 percentage points, Females 58.7% - up 1.6 percentage points (original data).

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Murdoch has managed to deprive NSW Northern Rivers region of most of its local print newspapers & now Morrison is attacking our most reliable news source, the ABC


The Age, 25 June 2020: 

ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose has lashed out at Communications Minister Paul Fletcher over the Morrison government's handling of its multimillion-dollar budget cuts and accused him of lying about the national broadcaster's efforts to collaborate with SBS. 

In a fresh war of words between the taxpayer-funded broadcaster and the Coalition government, Ms Buttrose has accused Mr Fletcher of twice failing to provide the ABC board and management with the critical data that informed an independent report proposing the closure of two broadcast channels and the sharing of back-office and support services with fellow public broadcaster SBS. 

Ms Buttrose has also said the government misrepresented the ABC's efforts to work closer with SBS. In a strongly-worded letter to Mr Fletcher, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Buttrose said the ABC's board had asked her to "convey its concerns" about Mr Fletcher's lack of response to correspondence between the pair in September last year. 

"We raised a number of issues but were particularly interested in seeing 'the information - data, models and assumptions - which formed the basis for the savings estimates provided in the report'," Ms Buttrose wrote. "I appreciate you have a busy schedule but we would appreciate an answer to our queries." 

Ms Buttrose said several media reports, which ABC management believes were informed by Mr Fletcher, had suggested the ABC "had neglected to 'collaborate more closely with SBS'". 

"This is incorrect," Ms Buttrose wrote. "David Anderson has had several conversations with SBS about sharing costs". 

A Peter Tonagh-led review of the public broadcasters was handed to the Morrison government in March last year, but its details were kept confidential as the ABC developed plans to cut costs. Some recommendations - such as an increased focus on digital growth, improving the ABC's iview platform and reducing investment in products that are not central to the ABC charter - were effectively adopted in the plan announced yesterday, but an ABC spokesman said that if all had been implemented there would have been more cuts. 

In the September correspondence between the pair, Ms Buttrose said the board said several proposals in the review "lack enough detail to allow an evaluation of whether the suggested savings can be realised". 

"In some cases, the savings estimates are presented in aggregate for the two national broadcasters and it is unclear what proportion of them has been attributed to the ABC, rather than SBS," she said. 

In particular, the review estimates that the national broadcasters could together save "a minimum of $45 million" by reducing multichannel services and "between $80 million and $115 million per annum" through focusing expenditure on what it characterises as "core" activities and a greater focus on digital delivery. 

"However, it provides no information as to how these figures were derived or the proportions attributed to the ABC," she said. Sources said Ms Buttrose had also raised the issue with Mr Fletcher at a face-to-face meeting between the pair at ABC's Ultimo headquarters on Tuesday. 

Mr Fletcher and Prime Minister Scott Morrison staunchly defended the level of funding provided to the ABC, insisting the government has not cut its budget, and backed the national broadcaster's efforts to be more focused on regional and suburban Australia. "There are no cuts ... the ABC's funding is increasing every year," Mr Morrison said on Thursday. "The ABC would be the only media company or organisation in Australia today whose revenue, their funding, is increasing. It would be the only one in the country. We are seeing regional mastheads by commercial newspapers abolished." 

The ABC announced a range of cuts on Wednesday, including 250 job losses and the end of the 7.45am radio news bulletin, in a bid to save $40 million until 2022. Managing director David Anderson also announced plans to cut poor-performing content, reduce episodes of Australian Story and Foreign Correspondent and lease space at the ABC's Sydney headquarters in Ultimo. The measures triggered a wave of criticism about the funding squeeze imposed on the broadcaster by the Coalition in recent federal budgets.

ABC News, 27 June 2020: 

The ABC put forward two separate proposals offering to open more regional Australian studios, expand its coverage of remote communities and hire more journalists in rural areas in return for the federal government dumping its decision to freeze annual funding indexation. 

Correspondence between ABC managing director David Anderson and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, show the national broadcaster was prepared to invest tens of millions of dollars more outside capital city centres if the Morrison government was prepared to reverse its budget cuts. 

In a proposal made after the Black Summer bushfires in January, ABC management told Mr Fletcher the national broadcaster would be able to find $10 million a year to employ more regional journalists if indexation was restored

Mr Anderson's letter, sent to Mr Fletcher on January 24, said he was writing to ask the government to consider a reversal of the indexation pause, which is expected to cost the broadcaster up to $84 million over three years, to safeguard the future sustainability of the ABC. 

"If indexation was restored, combined with savings and efficiencies that the ABC has identified in recent months, the Corporation would be in a position to commit an additional investment of up to $10 million per annum to employ more journalists in regional Australia and generate more content from regions for the local and national stories," Mr Anderson wrote. 

Several government sources have confirmed Mr Fletcher did not reply to the letter, nor did he discuss the proposal with the ABC or his National Party colleagues, who have constantly raised concerns over the future of regional media outlets, following a spate of natural disasters including last summer's fires.... [my yellow highting]

The Saturday Paper, 27 June 2020: 

Two days before the ABC confirmed that up to 250 jobs will be cut across the organisation, the federal government finalised a $200,000 offer for consultants to prepare a report on news and media business models looking specifically at the impact of public broadcasters “on commercial operators”. 

An approach to market for the report was closed on Monday, with the federal Communications Department under minister Paul Fletcher requesting the successful bidder evaluate failed, successful and emerging news media operating models from around the world. 

As it happens, a key requirement of the research, due before the end of August, is also a hobby horse of the ABC’s commercial rivals. 

The tender asks consultants to examine “the role of publicly-funded (non-commercial) media organisations in the production and dissemination of news and media content in the comparable jurisdictions, and the impacts and interactions of publicly-funded entities with commercial operators”. 

This is the argument News Corp makes against the ABC: that it is cutting into the audiences of commercial enterprises such as Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, websites and pay television business. 

“The report will be used as an input to inform policy advice and decision-making in relation to the news and media sectors. The end-users of the report include Commonwealth officials, relevant Ministers, and their staff,” the tender documents say. 

“The report is not intended for public release.”......

BACKGROUND

ABC News, 26 June 2029: 

The ABC has not only helped shape Australia, we are the national voice that unites us. 

It’s about democracy. Without the ABC we would have a balkanised and parochial bunch of broadcasters that are in danger of being compromised by profit and more intent on dividing than unifying. 

Imagine what it would be like during the bushfire season if we had to rely only on state-based or even regionally based media outlets. When we are in the middle of bushfires, don’t we want to know that they are being covered by a knowledgeable and experienced network of journalists with all the supporting infrastructure of a large national network? 

The ABC, funded by all of us, regardless of our creed – race, age, political beliefs – is us. It’s the way we build cross-cultural understanding, the way we help each other in times of need. It’s who we are collectively. Why would anyone want to diminish that and make us less than who we are? 

This has been a devastating week for the ABC. With unemployment at an all-time high to have to inform up to 250 people they no longer had a job has been an incredibly difficult task. 

Cuts to services caused by the ongoing reduction in our budget forced this action upon us and although we knew what had to be done, our hearts were with our employees. 

Let me clarify the cuts because there seems to be some confusion in Government circles about them. The 2018 Budget papers clearly state that the Government’s savings measures reduce funding to the ABC by $14.623 million in 2019-20, $27.842 million in 2020-21, and $41.284 million in 2021-22. This reduction totals $83.75 million on our operational base. 

It is true that over the three years the ABC budget does still increase but by a reduced amount, due to indexation on the fixed cost of transmission and distribution services. Previously, it was rising by a further $83.75 million over the same three years for indexation on our operational base. This is the funding that has been cut and considered a saving by the government. 

These funding cuts are unsustainable if we are to provide the media services that Australians expect of us. Indexation must be renewed. 

The strength of the ABC and its relationship with the nation comes from the very people who work for us. They are passionate about public broadcasting and are prepared to work for less than they would be paid by commercial media to deliver it. The creativity in the programs they produce, the dogged and independent journalism they pursue and the connection with communities everywhere they provide through conversations is at the very heart of what the ABC delivers to our audiences. 

The ABC has a statutory requirement to operate as efficiently as possible. We have a strong track record in identifying savings and reinvesting them in services. This is how we created ABC News 24, ABC iview and a range of packages to boost services in rural and regional Australia. 

There is no other authority better placed to manage the ABC than the ABC itself. We know our business and we are determined to honour our commitment to independence. All Australians expect this of us just as they expect the Government to provide the appropriate funds to allow us to do so. 

The ABC is essential in generating and preserving Australia’s democratic culture. An independent, well-funded national broadcaster allows Australians, wherever they live, to connect. It is how we share our identity, how we tell our stories, how we listen to each other, how we ask for help and how we give it. 

 Ita Buttrose AC OBE 
 ABC Chair

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Morrison & his hard right mates won't back down on slashing Australia Post mail services


Here is what Australia Post states it has been doing to keep letters and parcels moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.......

Eight extra freighter flights and 600 more casual staff employed to help speed up delivery, along with new and repurposed facilities.

With many retail businesses closing shopfronts in rural and regional areas due to the economic downturn leaving only their online store available to customers, Australia Post and its more than 2,000 post offices in these areas have become increasingly vital links in the supply chain.

So how did the Morrison Government respond to the increase in mail traffic?

It introduced new Australia Post regulations via Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2020 and on the back of this decided to cut mail deliveries to every second day, stretch mail delivery times to between five and seven days, as well as abandoning priority mail.

What this means it that unless each postie can deliver two days worth of letters, small parcels and unsolicited mail during one working day, there will be a backlog of undelivered mail quietly mounting up at local mail distribution points - which would eventually blowout the time between posting and delivery to a matter of weeks.

The possibility also exists that by June next year mail delivery will be reduced even further, potentially causing delivery chaos.

Echo NetDaily, excerpt, 16 June 2020:

The Morrison Government voted eight times over two days to slash Australia Post deliveries. Yesterday Labor Leader Anthony Albanese moved to disallow the Prime Minister’s regulations which cut the frequency of postie delivery rounds, extend mail delivery times for millions of Australians and put the jobs of up to one in four posties and many others at risk.... 

The changes will affect everyone who relies on Australia Post Justine Elliot said these changes will affect everyone who relies on Australia Post. It will particularly affect the elderly in our region, who will be most disadvantaged by these cuts to mail delivery services. 

‘Many seniors are not on the internet and they instead rely on the mail for their letters, cards and bills and now, due to Government cuts, they’ll be waiting longer for important correspondence. The fact is the mail is often a lifeline for our seniors. 

‘People in our regional and rural communities still rely on the postal service more than many other types of services. Australia Post service standards are fundamental and for the benefit of all Australians. 

‘Under the Morrison Government’s plan, mail delivery across the North Coast will blow out from three business days to seven full days. These changes will slash the frequency of postie delivery rounds and put the jobs of up to one in four posties at risk. 

‘At a time of economic downturns across regional Australia, this Government is now slashing jobs and services......

One MP was particularly unimpressed.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Job losses in the NSW Northern Rivers region due to COVID-19 pandemic


In the December quarter of 2019 the NSW Northern Rivers region had a labour force population of est. 144,083 people across seven local government areas.

The unemployment rate varied in council areas from 3% (Ballina) up to 6.4% (Clarence Valley). 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics by April 2020 job vacancies had fallen by 50% in NSW and the state unemployment rate was 6%. Of those with employment 14% were classed as underemployed.

Job Losses In Northern Rivers Region Due To COVID-19 from 14 March 2020 to 2 May 2020 according to Australian Development Strategies

Page electorate - est. 4,581 jobs

Richmond electorate - est. 5,217 jobs

These figures indicate that an est. 16% of jobs no longer existed in the Northern Rivers region after COVID-19 public health measures were imposed.

It is not known how many businesses are receiving the JobKeeper wage subsidy of $1,500 per fortnight for workers they have retained to date.

Notes

Australian Electoral Commission states:

  • Page covers an area from Sapphire Beach in the south to Nimbin in the north on the coastal side, and from Nymboida in the south to the Queensland border on the inland side. The main towns include Casino, Dunoon, Evans Head, Grafton, Iluka, Kyogle, Lismore, Nimbin, Sapphire Beach and Wooli.  
  • Richmond covers an area from the New South Wales/Queensland border in the north to Ballina and Pimlico in the south. The main towns include Ballina, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, Burringbar, Byron Bay, Hastings Point, Kingscliff, Lennox Head, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah, Suffolk Park, and Tweed Heads. 

Monday, 1 June 2020

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government preparing another assault on workers' rights and conditions - this time using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse


Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison is considering dumping the BOOT test - the better off overall test - that governs the nation's enterprise bargaining system for establishing wages and conditions.

It is clear that he is laying the groundwork for this in the wording used in a press conference on 29 May 2020 when speaking of jobs and industrial relations reform.

Introduced in the 1994 enterprise bargaining is the process of negotiation generally between the employer, employees and their bargaining representatives with the goal of making an enterprise agreement

The Fair Work Act 2009 established clear rules and obligations about how this process is to occur, including rules about bargaining, the content of enterprise agreements, and how an agreement is made and approved.

Since the inception of enterprising bargaining est.161,728 enterprise agreements were created. However, only est. 10,877 remained by September 2019, as agreement numbers fell off markedly after a Fair Work Commission decision that every individual worker had to be better off in an enterprise bargaining agreement than under the relevant industry award.

Employers found it harder to reduce wages and conditions after that ruling and lost some of their enthusiasm - preferring instead to increasingly casualise their staff and/or transform them into rolling fixed contract workers.

Now in the middle of a global pandemic business groups are reportedly calling for removal of more conditions from awards and workplace pay deals as key priorities.

With the Australian Industry Group calling for reform in three key industrial relations areas by: 
  • changing enterprise bargaining laws in the current Fair Work Act; 
  • simplifying awards by removing conditions dealt with in legislation such as annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, redundancy pay, notice of termination, consultation, dispute resolution, flexibility agreements and requests for flexible work arrangements; 
  • removing barriers to "flexibility" in awards which would potentially allow lowering of labour costs;
  • retaining current civil penalties for underpayment of a worker's wage rather than creating a criminal offence for serious underpayments/deliberate theft;
  • abandoning the better off overall test for enterprise agreements;
  • further restriction potential union intervention in the enterprise bargaining process;
  • further restricting protected industrial action by workers; and 
  • extinguishing the new right of casuals working full-time hours to paid annual leave and public holiday entitlements (See Workpac v Rossato & Workpac v Skene).
Using job losses due to COVID-19 pandemic public health orders as an excuse, it is apparent that Morrison intends yet another sustained assault on penalty rates, wages and conditions.

Morrison is willing to progress this assault as far as introducing a bill or bills in the Australian Parliament drafted without the co-operation of unions or even some industry sectors if necessary.

Despite protestations otherwise, it is clear that the Liberal and National political parties are opening up another front in their seemingly endless, ideologically-driven, class war.

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."


Tuesday, 19 May 2020

How will up to 7.2 million Australians respond to Scott Morrison's willingness to abandon them in the worst global recession since the Great Depression


"Fiscal measures will need to be scaled up if the stoppages to economic activity are persistent, or the pickup in activity as restrictions are lifted is too weak."  [IMF WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: THE GREAT LOCKDOWN, April 2020] 

Brisbane Times, 15 May 2020:

Something has changed in the Liberal Party since John Howard was prime minister. Key business lobbies now have such a grip they can frogmarch the government towards political suicide.

It is only weeks since a million Australians lost their jobs by government decree to protect us all from a health crisis. Most are yet to receive their first benefits, but the government has said the guiding principles on the way out will be self-reliance and personal responsibility.


The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have moved in recent weeks to flag that the JobSeeker and JobKeeper programs are a short-term aberration and will be returning to their traditional small-government, competitive-individualism philosophy.


‘‘Open markets will be central ... not government,’’ declared the Treasurer on Tuesday. ‘‘The values and principles that have guided us in the past ... encouraging personal responsibility, maximising personal choice, rewarding effort and risk-taking’’ will be central.


It is hard to imagine a more tone-deaf piece of communication to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who are now gripped by sleepless nights about where their next job is going to come from and whether they will lose their houses.


Social movement research has found that you only need 2.5 per cent of people to be in a political movement for it to be large enough to drive major political and social reform. That is enough for everyone to have friends and family involved and to feel personally connected to the issue.


Almost every Australian will have someone they love who has lost a job in the past six weeks. Telling people they are on their own has to be pretty much at the top of the "what not to do list" in the political leadership manual. Yet Scott Morrison is not an idiot or an ideologue, so why is he doing it?


Even if the government was privately planning this approach, you wouldn’t expect the Prime Minister to say it publicly. The announcements suggest he is having to quell his own political storm and there is a pile-on going on behind the scenes. It is the wrong message for most Australians, but it is the right message for those who dictate his grip on power.


Some of it will be the same Coalition ideologues cum powerbrokers who are worried the pandemic response is a symbolic loss. These tribal warriors are not going to let the fact the country is in the grip of an unfolding catastrophe distract them from the red team-blue team contest.


However, they are not the only force in play. Leaders of our largest businesses are embracing the maxim "Don’t waste a good crisis". They are circling the carcass of the not-yet-cold COVID economy, and seeking to take the opportunity to drive through some long-sought-after tax cuts and industrial relations reform.....


One has to wonder how Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg came to believe that the 1. 7 million people expected to be unemployed by September 2020 will fare well going into the worst recession since the Great Depression where the unemployment rate is predicted to be 13 per cent for starters. 

Or why he believes the up to 5.5 million workers, hanging onto insecure jobs which are only guaranteed for as long as businesses are receiving government wage subsidies for their workers, will all keep those jobs when the subsidy ends on 27 September 2020.

This is the changed reality that the Liberal & National parties must face:

The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 May 2020







If Scott Morrison continues down this track, what will Christmas look like?