Thursday, December 16, 2021

Unemployment drops as COVID lockdowns end, employers snap up staff

This would be a good result for Australia even in normal times. Britain has had very good results too -- at 4.2%. The current US jobless rate was 4.2% in November.

Official ABS data shows the unemployment rate dived from 5.2 in October to 4.6 per cent in November, after lockdowns had ended in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT.

The drop came despite a massive increase in the percentage of people in work or looking for it, with a whopping 366,100 extra people estimated to have been in work last month.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said the participation rate of 66.1 per cent marked a big difference between the post-COVID recovery in Australia and the US.

"The near-record participation rate contrasts with that in the US where it is running well below pre-COVID levels," he noted.

"This suggests that the Great Resignation is less of an issue in Australia, although labour shortages are still an issue here."

Other labour market indicators were also positive, with underemployment dropping from 9.5 to 7.5 per cent and hours worked up 4.5 per cent.

Dr Oliver said all the indications were that the current jobs recovery would continue, with "businesses having to scramble for workers in some industries and not wanting to let them go".

"Strong levels for job postings and hiring intentions point to a continuing tightening in the labour market," he added.

The numbers were almost totally driven by the rapid rebound in employment in New South Wales and Victoria as key sectors such as hospitality, tourism, recreation and personal services were allowed to trade again with minimal restrictions.

"The easing of restrictions in both New South Wales and Victoria had a large influence on the national figures, with employment in the two states increasing by 180,000 people and 141,000 people between October and November," said the bureau's head of labour statistics, Bjorn Jarvis.


Australian government ditches South African travel ban after Omicron fears

The Australian government has eased the ban on arrivals from eight Southern African nations, as restrictions in NSW and Queensland begin to ease going into the holiday period.

Today Australia also reopened to vaccinated travellers from Japan and Republic of Korea and opening to international skilled and student cohorts, humanitarian, working holiday makers and provisional family visa holders.

The government imposed restrictions on travel from hotspot nations upon detection of the Omicron variant in the region last month.

In a statement, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly today stated the existing border rules were no longer proportionate or effective due to the global spread of the new variant.

“At this stage there are no direct flights from Southern Africa to Australia and only Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members, parents and eligible visa holders are able to enter Australia,” he said.

Countries where the travel ban has been ditched include South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi and Eswatini.

“In line with other countries including the United Kingdom, the border measures under the Biosecurity Act 2015 restricting travellers who have been in the 8 Southern African countries from entering Australia has now ceased,” Prof Kelly confirmed.


Bigoted alternative medicine group

image from

Ubuntu is best known as a computer operating system so that is a weird name for an alternative medicine site. I guess ubuntu is an alternative to Windows. It's originally an African word meaning mercy

A Byron Bay woman is taking legal action after she was allegedly sacked for getting the COVID jab.

Lainie Chait was working as a client care consultant for the Newcastle-based Church of Ubuntu (COU).

The group promotes and sells alternative health remedies including hemp products.

Ms Chait said she lost her job in October, when it became known she was vaccinated.

"For the past 25 years I've been going 'I don't want, I don't need the Western approach', but in this particular scenario I did," she said.

Ms Chait said she supported freedom of choice in healthcare and was shocked to learn she was being dismissed for making a personal decision to be vaccinated.

"It seems extremely hypocritical and I think there are a lot of people in the wellness industry that are hypocrites," she said. "Because really, you're in the industry to help people, not judge them.

"A lot of the customers that come to them are vaccinated, so why are you still serving customers that are vaccinated and not employing people that are vaccinated? "That part I don't get, and that's the hypocrisy that pisses me off the most."

The ABC has seen a letter sent to Ms Chait when she was dismissed.

It laid out the reasons behind the decision, describing Ms Chait as a highly valued subcontractor with the Ubuntu Wellness Clinic Newcastle, who was also recognised as a full member of the Church of Ubuntu.

It cited frustration with the NSW Government's "enforced medical apartheid" and "a highly disproportionate response to the Sars Cov 2 virus".

"As a consequence of this ... the Church Of Ubuntu has taken a position that no committee members or full members can be accepted if they consciously chose to, and then complete injections, with any of the current or future planned injections purported to protect from the COVID-19/Sars Cov 2 virus.

"It is the position of the COU that to receive the COVID-19/Sars Cov 2 injection consciously and deliberately with intent is in contradiction with our Constitution and contrary to our position on what is required of us by our Lord God and Creator.

"As a consequence Lainie can no longer be a full member of the COU. She can however in keeping with the Ubuntu Philosophy still remain as an associate member if she chooses.

Mark Swivel, from Barefoot Law, said the decision went completely against the current trend of vaccine mandates. He said the case might hinge on whether his client was classified as an employee or a contractor.

"The upshot of it is that we're in the Fair Work Commission," Mr Swivel said. "The dispute about whether someone is an employee or a contractor is a really common one that the Fair Work Commission deals with, so that's a perfectly normal part of it.

"Then the question of whether the dismissal was fair, well I think it's a fairly open and shut case.

"We were supposed to have a conciliation recently but the organisation did not appear, so we're now looking for a new date.


Westpac’s chairman says the bank won’t pull the plug on fossil fuel projects anytime soon

At the bank’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, Westpac chairman John McFarlane ruled out pulling the plug on fossil fuels projects, which he said will continue to be around for “some time”, despite saying it would become easier to cut them off.

“But given this is Australia, it’s not the right answer. This country does need us to finance various sectors, including electricity generation,” he said.

“We know gas will be with us for some time for base load [power]. We’re not going to be able to deal with renewables immediately.”

In a set of prepared remarks, McFarlane defended the bank’s performance on climate change, reminding shareholders that the bank has “the greatest exposure to greenfield renewables and the least to fossil fuel extraction” of the four major banks.

But that didn’t stop shareholders peppering the chairman with demands for a wind-down on fossil fuels lending, which they said flies in the face of the bank’s commitment to support net-zero emissions by 2050.

As it stands, Westpac has committed to winding down all fossil fuel financing by 2030, but has yet to outline a plan for getting there. Until then, McFarlane said, the bank is trying to straddle a “middle ground”.

“In all honesty, we are doing a reasonable job, and we are doing a better job than some of our competitors,” he said.

McFarlane said formal criteria for reducing fossil fuel funding, which could include a new set of targets, will not come until at least 2023.

“Further research is underway to develop Paris-aligned sector financing strategies and portfolio targets for six of our most climate-exposed sectors representing most of our emissions,” he said.

“Our analysis will consider the latest developments from the International Energy Agency and the IPCC.”

Analysts over at the environmental banking lobby group Market Forces, however, said the bank is having it both ways.

The group, which was responsible for one of two resolutions calling for better disclosure of fossil fuel lending, said Westpac has failed to square up its policies and practices, with its commitments to the Paris Agreement, and net-zero emissions by 2050.

Early last year, Westpac opened its chequebook to Whitehaven Coal, which secured $110 million from the bank. Come November, went back to the sector, this time to the major oil and gas company, Santos, which was able to secure $US25 million in funding.

Shareholders questioned McFarlane on the issue, which has been made worse by the fact that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and ANZ have each wound down funding for new coal and gas projects like Whitehaven.

But that doesn’t mean they’re beyond reproach on the issue. Both ANZ and NAB are expected to face similar questions when their annual general meetings take place on Friday.




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