Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Government doing its best to INCREASE the cost of living

It's what governments do

Labor’s IR changes will cost employers up to $9bn in extra wages over the next decade, according to new government ­estimates, as business vows to ­oppose what it claims are extreme and interventionist workplace ­reforms

Detailed Department of Employment and Workplace Relations costings – tabled along with the Closing Loopholes bill on Monday – said the labour-hire changes could cost employers up to $510m annually assuming just 66,446 labour-hire employees would be covered by new Fair Work Commission orders.

The department also estimated the cost of minimum pay ­standards for digital platform workers would be $4bn over the next decade.

It said the businesses would likely be able to pass on the extra costs “through higher prices for consumers or third-party businesses”.

The new figures will spark ­another front in employers’ war with Workplace Relations ­Minister Tony Burke over his second tranche of IR reforms, as he brought the proposals to parliament on Monday after months of consultation.

The Australian understands Mr Burke is a “long way off” securing crossbench support. While high-level ministerial meetings with key crossbenchers have been held, no extensive briefings were offered before the legislation was released.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable claimed the $5bn labour-hire estimate “barely scratches the surface” of the true impact of the “same job, same pay” laws. “As the legislation now makes abundantly clear, the economic impact fails to take into account the hundreds of thousands if not millions of service contractors and workers in related entity businesses that will be captured by this legislation,” Ms Constable said.

Introducing the changes into parliament, detailed in a 284-page bill and 521-page explanatory memorandum, Mr Burke also set out proposals for the commission to set minimum standards for truck drivers. Mr Burke said the changes to labour hire, wage theft, casuals and gig-work rules in the bill had been subject to extensive consultations and were designed to close loopholes that undercut pay and conditions of workers. “Most workers will be unaffected by what happens this year, but for those who are affected, this will be life-changing,” Mr Burke said

Business leaders said they were particularly concerned about impacts on owner-driver truckies, apprentices and trainees attached to group training organisations and registered training organisations, adverse impacts on supply chains and employers being forced to litigate their way out of “same job, same pay” rules.

The multimillion-dollar cross-sector industry push against Labor’s IR changes will ramp up and is expected to exceed the resources industry’s campaign against the mining tax. Armed with the government’s legislation, industry groups will also prepare their own modelling.


Coal still needed in NSW

The NSW government will seek a deal with Origin Energy to prolong the lifespan of the state’s largest coal generator beyond 2025 after the state government said it has accepted the recommendations of an independent report that Eraring coal power station would need to stay open to safeguard electricity supplies.

Origin Energy’s Eraring coal power station was set to retire in 2025, but an independent report said such a closure at that time would expose the state to possible blackouts and further price increases.

NSW premier Chris Minns said affordability and guaranteeing electricity supply was paramount.

“One of the biggest challenges facing NSW is ensuring we can keep the lights on while managing the biggest change in energy mix and consumption in the shortest period of time in our nation’s history,” Mr Minns said.

Australia has endured two years of consecutive price rises of more than 20 per cent, a key driver in an affordability crisis.

Should a deal be struck, NSW will be the second state to move to guarantee a coal power station remains in the system as Australia’s energy transition falters.

To strike a deal, however, NSW will likely have to underwrite Eraring – leaving NSW taxpayers on the hook for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. Origin has said Eraring requires an annual spend of about $200m-$250m plus the cost of buying coal to run, though it earns money from selling electricity.

Eraring is, however, on course to be losing money as soon as next year when the emergency coal price cap finishes.

The federal government in conjunction with state counterparts introduced a $120 a tonne cap on the price of coal, a scheme designed to put downward pressure on household and business bills.

The scheme will end in 2024 and Origin’s supply costs will spike, likely plunging the facility back to a loss-making operation.

NSW taxpayers would likely have to cover the losses until the state has developed sufficient sources of renewable energy to compensate for the retirement of Eraring in Lake Macquarie.


Shandee Blackburn’s victory: Killer and rapists nabbed in Queensland DNA lab turnaround

The slaying of a pregnant woman, whose body was stuffed by her killer into the boot of a car, is one of several serious crimes in Queensland resolved as a direct result of huge reforms to the state’s DNA testing lab.

The scientist in charge of the lab, Linzi Wilson-Wilde, has revealed to The Weekend Australian how fundamental changes to the way crime scene evidence is being tested is already resulting in resounding successes for police and the criminal justice system.

“We’ve done a full retraining of scientists. We’ve implemented a new DNA interpretation guideline. We’ve made changes to processes,” Professor Wilson-Wilde said. “When we are going back to cases, we are identifying suspects, we’re identifying offenders, we are getting results that we didn’t get before.”

Professor Wilson-Wilde and Queensland Health have highlighted the killing of Kardell Lomas in 2019, as well as separate, serious sexual assaults, as early ­examples of breakthroughs achieved since the start of a massive lab overhaul.

Stunning and systemic failures in the lab were identified by The Australian’s Shandee’s Story investigative podcast series, working with independent forensic biologist Kirsty Wright, and were re­inforced by retired judge Walter Sofronoff’s public inquiry last year.

Lomas, 31, was seven months pregnant when she was killed by her partner, Traven Fisher, with evidence suggesting he placed her in a choke hold. Her body was found in the boot of her Holden Commodore, in the backyard of the home they shared at Ipswich.

A Queensland Health spokeswoman on Friday said previous testing in the case had indicated that samples contained DNA profiles from up to three people. However a 2023 review using new interpretation guidelines reduced the number of individuals assessed as contributing to the DNA.

The new interpretation guidelines were based on recommen­dations of the Sofronoff inquiry and additional changes implemented at the lab.

A total of 10 DNA samples previously interpreted as coming from three people were reassessed as coming from two people, and a further two DNA profiles originally assessed as coming from two people were reassessed as coming from one person.

The previous guidelines contributed to over-estimating the number of contributors to a DNA profile. In March, Fisher was jailed for 14 years for manslaughter.

“The new results strengthened the evidence against the suspect, who pled guilty after he was advised of the results of the retesting,” the spokeswoman said.

In another case involving a 2019 sexual assault, previous test results had found no links to the suspect’s DNA. As part of a 2023 review, samples were sent to New Zealand for specialised DNA Y-STR testing, targeting the male Y-chromosome, and this obtained a link to the suspect. The case is before the courts.

The Sofronoff inquiry was told Y-STR analysis was available in almost every lab in Australia but not Queensland. It is particularly useful in sexual assaults because it ­enables detection of tiny amounts of male DNA in mixed profiles that might be masked by female DNA.

In a third case cited by Queensland Health, a 2020 sexual assault, there were initially good results from some samples while DNA from other samples was considered insufficient to generate a profile.

In a 2023 review, further processing of DNA previously considered insufficient obtained a mixed DNA profile with indications of two contributors, with a likelihood ratio of greater than 100 billion favouring contribution from the suspect’s DNA.

That case is before the courts.

Professor Wilson-Wilde said: “We’re improving our results across the whole gamut of cases, from volume to serious. So murders, sexual assaults, you name it.

“Samples and results where they got no result before, we are now getting results.”

The news of breakthroughs was welcomed by Dr Wright, who since the inquiry’s conclusion in December has been continuing her independent investigations into the lab and the horrific killing of Shandee Blackburn, 23, as she walked home from work in Mackay in 2013.

“This just consolidates Shandee’s legacy. It’s a victory for all victims of crime and their families,” Dr Wright said. “It shows the importance of telling the truth, by the whistleblowers that came forward, and the long-lasting and historical value of the Sofronoff inquiry. But I think there’s more improvements that can be made.”

There were “more issues that may not have been uncovered”, Dr Wright added, speaking ahead of an upcoming new episode of the Shandee’s Legacy podcast.

“I encourage all the experts involved in the judicial system, the scientists, the police and the lawyers, to view any errors or problems they may encounter, that wasn’t uncovered at the inquiry, as an opportunity to go back and correct these injustices.

“There needs to be transparency around that as well.”

In a wide-ranging interview this week, Professor Wilson-Wilde said evidence was also being strengthened in cases that were before the courts.

“Where there was a small amount of evidence, we’re re-­examining all of the items and then we’re bolstering that evidence for the court,” she said.

A former director of the Nat­ional Institute of Forensic Science, Professor Wilson-Wilde is tasked with rebuilding and restoring confidence in the state DNA lab as chief executive of the new Forensic Science Queensland.

The lab is reviewing about 30,000 historic cases that were mishandled and has a separate backlog of about 10,000 cases that built up during the upheavals of the Blackburn investigation and subsequent Sofronoff inquiry.

It has turned to interstate and international labs for assistance with testing to bring the caseload back under control.


Deakin University: Pressure to change name due to racist views held by Alfred Deakin

An Australian university is under pressure to change its name because the former prime minister it is named after held racist views.

Deakin University in Melbourne is named after Alfred Deakin, who served as Australia's second Prime Minister in 1903, and the nation's first Attorney-General.

He helped pass the Aboriginal Protection Amendment Act of 1886, which led to the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families, known as the Stolen Generations.

Deakin also helped create the White Australia Policy in 1901, which restricted the number of non-white migrants coming to Australia.

In 1901, Deakin controversially predicted: 'In another century, the probability is that Australia will be a white continent with not a black or even dark skin among its inhabitants.

'The Aboriginal race has died out in the south and is dying fast in the north and west even where most gently treated.

'Other races are to be excluded by legislation if they are tinted to any degree. The yellow, the brown, and the copper-coloured are to be forbidden to land anywhere.'

Deakin was prime minister of Australia for three terms - from 1903-1904, 1905-1908 and 1909-1910. He died in 1919.

Sixteen academics from Deakin University created a seminar titled 'We need to talk about Alfred Deakin and his ideal of a White Australia', in 2020, and questioned why the university was named after someone with such racist views.

However the university's Vice-Chancellor Professor Iian Martin said a potential name change was not on the cards.

'This is not something that we are looking at and is absolutely not something that those Indigenous leaders...are asking to do,' Professor Martin told The Age.

While acknowledging the views of Mr Deakin would not be acceptable today, Prof Martin said changing the name would not help people understand previous injustices.

'If we simply expunge things from the record, what hope is there learning from the mistakes of the past,' he said.

Indigenous leaders, university staff and relatives of Mr Deakin have all been consulted by the university, Prof Martin said.

He stressed Indigenous leaders did not want the name to be changed.

According to their website, Deakin University 'is committed to Reconciliation and Treaty, advancing the educational aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples'.

'All our endeavours aim to reflect Australia's full history and seek to build an inclusive future'.

Deakin University has been a leader in Indigenous education for 40 years, the vice-chancellor added.

Mr Deakin served three terms as prime minister and was instrumental in Australia becoming a Federation.

He also helped establish the High Court and the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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