Friday, July 07, 2017

Casual staff win right to ask for "permanent" work

"Unforeseen" results likely to flow from this decision.  The unions are right in saying that permanent jobs are more secure but that is the problem.  Unfair dismissal laws make "permanent" employees very hard to fire even in such gross circumstances as the employee stealing from the business  Small business people simply could not afford that battle.  All they can do is hire on a casual basis only.

So small employers will work around the new rules -- fire casuals after 11 months or simply cut back -- do without the employees concerned.

And all that aside, if making an employee "permanent"  is likely to increase significantly the costs of a small business, a "work to rule" or some other strategy will often be adopted to avoid that cost

The net result of the new rules will undoubtedly be an increase in unemployment.  Leftist "achievements" are always destructive

Casual workers have won the right to demand a permanent full-time or part-time job after 12 months under a landmark Fair Work Commission ruling.

But employers will still have the right to refuse the request if the change would substantially alter the worker's hours to accommodate them as a permanent staff member.

Unions had called for the right to be available after just six months and for the minimum number of daily hours worked to increase to four, but these requests were rejected.

In its decision on Wednesday, the Fair Work Commission said it was necessary for modern awards to contain a provision allowing casual employees to ask for conversion to permanent full-time or part-time work after 12 months.

The decision will apply to 88 modern awards that do not contain such a provision.

The move was largely welcomed by the union movement but blasted by employer groups.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said an "epidemic of insecure work" in Australia was "wrecking" the lives of families, individuals and communities.

"The decision of the Fair Work Commission today plugs one small hole in this epidemic," she said.

Kylie Grey, an early childhood educator in Melbourne and witness in the union case, who has a young family, was happy to find a permanent part-time job last year after a period of working as a casual in a different job.

"If you don't have a secure income and a secure job then you are unlikely to be budgeting and spending for the things that are great for the economy," she said.

Professor John Buchanan from the University of Sydney business school said the commission's decision would provide a common standard entitling casual workers to apply for conversion.

"It doesn't raise the standard, it just spreads the standard to a larger number of workers and that standard is pretty weak," Professor Buchanan said.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union said the commission's decision was "a kick in the guts for ordinary workers trying to make ends meet in an uncertain employment market".

"Employers are using the current system to exploit vulnerable casual workers and keep them working under insecure employment arrangements," AMWU national president Andrew Dettmer said.

The Australian Retailers Association said the decision would impose extra costs and reduce flexibility for employers.

"We fear this verdict will significantly impact retailers as casuals' flexible hours are essential to the industry," ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

"Retail employees are an important asset for retailers and the overall industry, therefore the ARA will be seeking more flexible part-time arrangements through the Award Review process".

Sydney retailer Michael Newton-Brown said most of the staff in his six shoe boutiques were casual which "suits them and it suits me". He said the commission's decision was "a further nail in the coffin of small retailers" whose workforce needs fluctuated.

The Australian Industry Group welcomed the commission's rejection of union calls for an absolute right for casuals to be converted to permanent employment after six months of regular work and for a standard four-hour minimum engagement period for casuals and part-timers.

"If the unions' claims had been accepted, the jobs of thousands of casual employees were at risk," AIG chief executive Innes Willox said.

"The level of casual employment in Australia has been around 20 per cent for 19 years, with no sign of the level increasing. Union arguments about the 'casualisation' of the Australian workforce, are a myth."

Professor Buchanan said the AIG was technically correct, but had failed to acknowledge the context of higher levels of unemployment and underemployment over that period which had made jobs more insecure.


Family of murdered Victorian woman Karen Chetcuti to sue

Repeatedly paroling a serial violent recidivist is clearly negligent

The family of Karen Chetcuti, horrifically tortured and murdered near Wangaratta by a man on parole, will sue the state of Victoria.

Michael Cardamone pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court last week to murdering Ms Chetcuti (nee Verbunt), his neighbour in the tiny town of Whorouly in the state's north-east in January last year.

Cardamone, who raped a 15-year-old girl in 2005, had been on parole for less than six months when he killed the 49-year-old.

"He was free to roam around," Ms Chetcuti's former husband Tony Chetcuti said. "This has happened too many times. It's not just Cardamone. Look what happened with Jill Meagher."

Lawyer John Suta alleged the state was negligent and fell below the reasonable standard of care in monitoring Cardamone, who was paroled to live with his elderly mother at the rural property in 2015. His father, a school bus driver who had run a catering business with his wife, died in 2014.

Their property shared a boundary with Ms Chetcuti's.

Mr Suta said he will file a statement of claim in the Supreme Court in a matter of weeks on behalf of Mr Chetcuti and their two teenage children.

"As a consequence of the negligence or breach of duty, my client has suffered injuries, loss and damage," he said.

The Department of Justice would not comment, with the criminal case yet to be finalised. Cardamone faces a plea hearing on August 21.

Questions were raised about the case because Cardamone was on parole and had breached parole twice.

It is understood Cardamone failed a drugs test in May 2013. His parole was cancelled and he was in custody for almost a year before he re-applied for release. Parole was approved and he was back in the community in March 2014.

Almost a year later, the 50-year-old again breached parole when he was charged in February 2015 with producing child pornography over an image found on his mobile phone of a six-year-old girl's bottom.

Cardamone spent more than four months in custody, but his parole was again approved in July 2015 after the charges were dismissed in the Magistrates Court.

He murdered Ms Chetcuti, who worked at the Wangaratta City Council, on January 14, 2016. Her tortured body - burnt when she was possibly still alive and injected with battery acid after she died - was discovered on January 18, the day of her daughter's 14th birthday.

Mr Chetcuti said her murder had turned their world upside down.  "It has devastated us. Today is Jack's birthday (the couple's eldest), he's spending it without his mother," he said on Thursday.

The couple moved to Whorouly from Epping, in Melbourne, more than 20 years ago to run the local pub. They sold the pub in 1995 and had separated almost a decade later.

Cardamone was 38 when he raped a 15-year-old girl in a caravan on his parents' Whorouly property in 2005. The girl had been working on the then tobacco farm and lived in the caravan with her boyfriend.

In a report tendered to the County Court, two psychiatrists said Cardamone viewed women as sexual objects and not human beings.

"You developed an unnatural attitude towards women, largely because you never had a relationship with one, with the result that you viewed them as sex objects, not human beings," one wrote.

Another concluded the likelihood of further sexual offending would probably be reduced if he stopped using illicit drugs. He was sentenced to a minimum of six years in jail upon appeal and a maximum of nine.

The expected civil suit is the latest legal action against the state by families whose loved ones were killed by offenders on parole or supervision orders. The families of five murder victims - Sarah Cafferkey, Raechel Betts, Joanne Wicking, Evan Rudd and Douglas Phillips - along with two sexual assault survivors, launched coordinated civil action last year.

The parents of Elsa Corp - a 26-year-old hairdresser killed by a parolee in a Melbourne hotel in 2010 - lodged separate action last year.

Jill Meagher was raped and murdered in Brunswick in 2012 by Adrian Ernest Bayley, who was on parole for sex assaults.


Court orders government to release funding for Malek Fahd Islamic School

A Federal Court judge has ordered the government to no longer withhold funding to one of Australia's largest Islamic schools following a disagreement over the use of the money.

The Malek Fahd Islamic School in NSW was in April notified its funding would be delayed after the government cited concerns over its governance, restructuring, and transparency.

The school has more than 2300 students and 250 teachers across several campuses and there were fears it would have to close if the money wasn't restored.

Federal Court Judge John Griffiths on Thursday said the case had "considerable urgency" about it, with term three due to begin on July 18.

He ordered the month-by-month funding be restored and back-paid to April, also acknowledging the school's "troubled history" in recent years.

Board chairman Dr John Bennett called the decision "a great relief" after a difficult time for the community.

"It's been very anxious, very stressful for parents, for students and staff," he said.

About 150 students are in years 11 and 12, only one term away from sitting for exams.

Part of the funding disagreement centred on whether the school was operating on a for-profit basis.

It was argued that public funds were at risk of being passed to the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils because of a current contractual obligation to pay non-commercial rent to AFIC.

Judge Griffiths rejected the submission and agreed with the school's explanation that it was "asset rich but cash poor".

Dr Bennett said many of the problems cited related to a previous board which was replaced in March last year.

Since then, it has been adjusting its governance and financial operations. AFIC no longer has representation on the board.

The school was "very, very close" to addressing the government's concerns, Dr Bennett said. "We're committed to continuing with the work. "We want to be able to focus on the education of the students."

The matter is listed for a case management hearing on August 1.


Playing the single mum card is an insult to single mums

HERE’S a way to test your capacity for self-delusion. If your child is too ill to go to school today, do you take her on a business trip at the taxpayer’s expense? A moral bind surely, even if it is within the so-called company rules.

But if you’re a warrior for Single Motherhood, that excuses everything. You can attend, with a sick child in tow, an overnight jaunt to see a few whales and shuck oysters because you are simply doing your job.

In other words, tick, another problem solved in the tyranny of life known as Single Motherhood. That is, of course, if you’re blindly entitled like the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young.

The Senator has this week been condemned nationwide for using a reported $3874.24 of taxpayers’ money to go whale watching with her daughter Kora last September in the Great Australian Bight.

Hanson-Young says she didn’t have an option and therefore had to take her unwell 11-year-old along on the trip to discuss BP’s plans to drill for oil in the marine reserve.

There was no alternative childcare available, it was not her fault so be quiet, haters. No regrets either at a decision that has subsequently been lambasted as a poor one.

But her world is not the world inhabited by the typical single mother raising a child bereft of a financial or care-contributing parent in the home.

In that alternate universe, there is usually a plan B such as a carer’s day or the decision to work from home while a sick child is cosy and recovering in bed.

Single parents, masters of the juggle even more so than the rest of us who work, often subtly move mountains behind the scenes to keep things ticking along. No fanfare or pats on the back required.

Senator, the gender card no longer comes up trumps and it’s time for any woman who plays it to stop. Being a single mum does not equal special treatment.

Her fellow South Australian MP Cory Bernardi immediately seized upon her trip as “being out of touch” with voters and something that simply didn’t “pass the common sense or credibility test”.

Hanson-Young decided to fight fire with fire, telling Sky News: “Well the truth is... that I didn’t have a choice at the time.

“And you always weight up these things in terms of balance between the commitments of your job as a senator or indeed the demands on myself as a parent and a mum. “So of course I don’t regret it.

“What I regret is the idea that there’s some grumpy old white men who have been deciding what is best for my family in the last 24 hours and I tell you what — I’m not going to be lectured to by some grumpy old men about how to be a mother or indeed what is best for my family.”

“There can’t be a family-friendly parliament and no provision for family travel. You can’t have it both ways,” Hanson-Young sniffed.

She also told one radio interviewer: “I think parents across the state can’t just take the day off work because their kid’s sick. Lots of parents know that.”

Then there’s the sanctimonious tweet she posted: “Shock horror! Woman can be mum & politician at same time.”

Thus the Single Motherhood card was comprehensively played.
Facebook images of Senator Sarah Hanson-Young during the now infamous whale watching trip. (Pic: Facebook)

The senator at least conceded she is in a privileged position and does have help and that, yes, every parent struggles to get the balance right between work and family.

But there’s been no remorse, just an echo chamber repeating an excuse which insults all working parents: “As you know I am a single mum and I take my job really seriously”.

“I kept up my job as a mum and I kept up my job as a senator,” she also said, to shove her point down our throats.

Let’s not forget she also wheeled out the plight of single mothers in January when One Nation’s candidate David Archibald said taxpayers should not support those who are “too lazy” to attract and hold a mate.

She tweeted: “As a single mum myself, I am disgusted at One Nation’s attack on single mothers. Bunch of nasty fools.”

When she was ejected from the Senate in 2009 with her then two-year-old daughter screaming and crying, Hanson-Young said it was a “massive learning experience”.

“People will criticise the decisions you make as a mum in the public eye. You can’t stop that but what you can do is manage your own response,” she told an interviewer.

“I’ve learned to be very comfortable with my decisions on things, whether that’s policy, or the decisions I make about Kora’s life.” Lesson learned? About what exactly?

Part of the Greens’ charter is to “break down inequalities of wealth and power which inhibit participatory democracy”. It also references the need to “encourage and facilitate more flexible work arrangements.” So that’s on target then.

But appointing yourself as an ambassador for single mums does not mean using your situation as an excuse.

After watching the Sky interview, one infuriated sole parent I know rang to tell me this: “It makes me mad that she should have the gall to try to drag me into her corner by nature of the fact that we are both single mums.

“I would also like to add my disgust that the senator managed to spend that money in two days — equivalent to my rent, phone bill and utilities for a month.

“There isn’t money left over for luxuries like whale watching cruises but that’s life. My kids have never even been close to an oyster.

“While I’m no killjoy, there’s something discomforting about the fact that an elected official — man woman, single married or partnered, can boldly make the decision to spend my taxes in this way and then trot out the old chestnut ‘I’m a single mother with no support’ to try to weasel her way out of the scandal.”

Yes. The Senator should pay back the cost of that trip and, possibly by the time you read this, she has come to her senses and got out her chequebook Bronwyn Bishop-style.

But this is a moot point compared her pathetic attempts to drum up sympathy by attacking our Achilles heel as working parents.


Wind turbine syndrome: infrasound and fury

When Janet Hetherington went to a Melbourne hospital for a minor procedure late last year she had an odd experience. She was unable to sleep in the bed she was given and forced to move to escape a disturbing sensation that made it impossible for her to settle.

She reported her incident to hospital authorities, who later called in acoustic experts who confirmed a concentration of low-frequency noise in the precise area that she had been settled.

The noise has not affected everyone who has used that bed and, rather than do anything about the source, hospital staff have been told to be on the lookout for anyone who may experience a similar reaction.

Hetherington’s hospital experience is especially interesting as she has lived at Macarthur in southwest Victoria, home to one of the country’s biggest wind farms.

Disturbance from low-frequency noise from industrial airconditioning fans and compres­sors is pretty normal stuff in big buildings, and Victorian and Queensland health departments documents recognise that low-frequency noise sensitivity and sensitisation can be a problem for some people.

Hetherington’s hospital experience is another chapter in an ongoing saga for Macarthur wind farm owner AGL and the wind industry globally, which many say has been forced to jump at shadows on the issue for the past two decades.

Hetherington now has left the Macarthur area and says her sleep and health are greatly improved.

As the number of wind farms increases around the world, the number of complaints also is rising, as are the cases for noise nuisance being settled by wind power developers — the latest being last month in the Irish High Court, where a German wind power operator admitted liability but settled before the issue of punitive dam­ages was determined by the court.

What has been dismissed by some leading commentators as an imaginary ailment is of increasing concern in medical circles internationally and acoustic specialists are investigating whether there is a physical explanation for what is going on.

The French Academy of Medicine has published a position paper on the issue that found the noise from wind turbines represents an “existential suffering” and real threat to the quality of life of nearby residents that must be taken seriously. After an investigation of the scientific literature, the academy did not reach a conclusion on the cause of widespread complaints about a so-called wind turbine syndrome. But it said even if wind turbines did “not seem to directly induce organic pathogens, it affects through its noise and especially visual nuisance the quality of life of a part of the residents” and thus their “state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing which today defines the concept of health”.

The academy recommended new wind turbines be built only “in areas where there was consensus among the population concerned as to their visual impact”, and a system of ongoing noise checks with a reduction in allowable noise limits to a weighted 30 decibels (30dBA) for outside dwellings and 25 decibels inside. It also repeated an earlier call for an epidemiological study on health nuisance from wind turbines.

Wind turbine syndrome symptoms cover a wide spectrum of disorders including sleep loss, fatigue, nausea, headaches, tinnitus, disturbances of balance, dizziness, stress, depression, irritability, anxiety, perturbed steroid hormone secretion, hypertension and socio-behavioural changes.

“At the medical level, wind turbine syndrome produces a complex and subjective entity in the clinical expression of which several factors are involved,” the French academy report says.

Analysis of the medical and scientific literature did not show that wind turbines had a significant impact on health.

“In other words, no disease or infirmity seems to be imputable to their functioning,” the academy says. “The problem, however, is that the definition of health has evolved and that, according to World Health Organisation, it now represents a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The question of whether wind turbines are physically capable of producing the adverse reactions claimed is unresolved. However, it is now scientifically demonstrated by Swedish researchers that amplitude-modulated low-frequency wind turbine noise can directly cause sleep disturbance, even in young fit people taking part in its research study.

Much attention has been put on the possible role of low frequency or infrasound below the threshold of hearing. Australian researchers at the University of Sydney-affiliated Wool­cock Institute of Medical Research are working with acoustics experts to test surrounding inaudible, or infrasound, noise attributed to wind turbines. However, the study is using synthesised “infrasound” and not that actually generated by wind turbines.

A sample of 40 people who are prone to being disturbed by noise will face three weekends in a purpose-built laboratory being exposed to silence, traffic noise and synthesised wind turbine infrasound. The researchers will monitor their health throughout the experiment, especially as they sleep. Results will be available in about 2020, but there is intense debate about whether wind turbine sound can be adequately replicated in the laboratory for such experiments.

The Swedish study, Physiological Effects of Wind Turbine Noise on Sleep, reported in September last year to the International Congress on Acoustics, highlights the importance of the pulses of noises made by rotating wind turbine blades that lead to a variation in the sound level. This variation in the sound level is described as amplitude modulation and can vary from inaudible to clearly audible.

“The presence of beats and strong amplitude modulation contributed to sleep disturbance, reflected by more electrophysi­olog­ical awakenings, increased light sleep and wakefulness, and reduced REM and deep sleep,” the study says.

“The impact on sleep by these acoustic characteristics is currently the focus of interest in ongoing studies.”

Four of the world’s leading acoustic experts working on a joint paper have suggested two simple experiments that may resolve many of the issues.

The research can be traced back to work conducted by Steven Cooper in 2015, commissioned by wind developer Pacific Hydro, into noise emitted from its Cape Bridgewater wind farm in Victoria.

The latest paper includes contributions from the industry doyen of wind farm noise, Geoff Leventhall, and Paul Schomer, chairman of the American National Standards Committee dealing with noise. The researchers agree that “infrasound from wind turbines can almost be ruled out as a potential mechanism for stimulating motion sickness symptoms”. But they recommend “two relatively simple and relatively inexpensive studies be conducted to be sure no infrasound pathways to the brain exist other than through the cochlea”. The tests involve asking residents to identify when wind tur­bines are being turned on and off.

Residents’ responses also would be measured in relation to changes in the amount of electric power being generated by operating wind turbines.

The wind industry has been reluctant to co-operate with these sorts of investigations in the past.

However, Australia’s meticulous records of power generation for the National Electricity Market may provide a solution.

The proposed tests stem from findings of Cooper’s Cape Bridgewater research in which affected residents were asked to keep diaries of their experience, which later were compared to wind farm operation. Cooper found the study participants responses correlated better to the electric power being generated rather than to the acoustic signal. It suggests that people may be affected more by the speed of the wind turbine operations when depowering the turbine and to large changes in the electric power being generated.

“The fact that the subjects’ responses correlated with electric power, which is something the subjects could have no way of knowing, lends strong support to Cooper’s findings,” Schomer says.

Schomer says the suggested new tests are important for two reasons. First, the subjects are incapable of having detailed knowledge of the electric power being generated. Second, if true, it is something that is potentially correctable by the wind industry through changes to blade design and operation.

Acoustician George Hessler says for a very small change in sound level generated by the wind turbine, there can be a very large change in the electric power generated.

Other research suggests a source of low-frequency audible sound is produced each time a blade passes the support tower.

The wind turbine blades flex so that the blade tip comes closer to the support tower as the electrical power being generated increases. The reverse occurs as the power being generated decreases.

“The facts in this analysis indicate that this should be studied further, since this may be an important factor in the community response — both annoyance and other physiological effects,” Schomer says.

“The fact that this sound source can be controlled by the operator, to some degree, gives some promise to our ability to mitigate or eliminate this problem.”

The collective conclusion of researchers has been that none of the opinions and recommendations answers the posed question — does low-frequency noise from wind turbines disturb people’s sleep or make people sick?

“It is abundantly obvious that intense adverse response occurs at certain sites,” they say.

“Realistically it is not even possible to answer the posed question to all parties’ satisfaction without practical research.”

But they argue the wind farm industry must accept that there are enough worldwide sites that emit excessive wind turbine noise resulting in severe adverse community reactions to adopt and adhere to policies setting out a reasonable sound level limit.

Likewise, wind farm opponents must accept reasonable sound limits or buffer distance to the nearest turbine.

Leventhall says stress from wind turbines, if it arises, is normally low level but, in a very small number of people, it may become intense and overpowering so that opposition to wind turbines is the dominating emotion in their lives.

He says research has shown reaction to noise, especially low-level noise, is largely conditioned by attitudes to the noise and its source.

“Persistent repetition that infrasound from wind turbines will cause illness develops stressful concerns in residents, but repetition is neither evidence nor proof,” Leventhall says.

He cites concerns on inaudible infrasound from current designs of wind turbines began 10 to 15 years ago, linked to objections to the growth of wind farms, and has accelerated during the past five to 10 years.

“It is inevitable that, in the absence of good supporting evidence, these speculative claims will become discredited over the next five to 10 years,” Leventhall says.

Australian researcher Cooper is focusing his continuing research on infrasound and amplitude modulation, highlighted also by the Swedish research.

In a paper presented to a congress on Noise as a Public Health problem in Zurich two weeks ago and at the Acoustical Society of America conference in Boston last week, Cooper says his research finds “modulation of low-frequency noise at an infrasound rate that occurs at or near the threshold of hearing may lead to a trigger response in individuals”.

In other words a mechanical cause for some people’s complaints may have been identified that is more complex than simply very low frequency noise.

If Cooper’s research is correct, the industry may have some new clues on how to fix a problem that has raised intense passions and caused a good deal of concern around the world.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

PB said...

Permanent employment, difficult to sack...I'm sure the Unions like the money that brings them as well.