Thursday, September 07, 2023

Single parents discriminated against in rental market

It IS discrimination but why?  It's mainly because single parents are usually stretched financially.  So it is rational to question whether they would be reliable rent-payers. So it is rational for a  landlord to pass over them and rent to people who would have less difficulty in paying rent. But not all single mothers are  the same so those in well-paid employment would normally deserve a chance

A whistleblowing real estate agent and a landlord say that single parents are “heavily discriminated against” and “stigmatised” in the rental market, with one single mother who works full-time telling of how she lives in her car because no real estate will lease a property to her.

Vicki Eriksson, now a rental property manager with Five Rivers Sales and Rentals in Cairns, has broken ranks with other firms to say discrimination against solo parents is a “massive issue” in the real estate industry.

“In my experience, it was tough to get a rental when I was a single parent … and it’s because there is a stigma attached to it (being a single parent).”

Ms Ericksson said she got involved in real estate management off the back of her difficult experiences as a single parent trying to find a rental and works hard in her role to give single parents rental properties.

“Being a single parent means you are discriminated against and stigmatised in the rental market, just for being a single parent” she said of other real estate agents.

She said the “stigma comes from the fact there is only one income,” and the result is “people becoming homeless and often trying to make ends meet through stealing and violence”.

Indeed one single mother Stephanie Williams, said she works full-time, but is living in her car because of constant rental knock-backs that she believes is because she is a single parent.

“My boss even helped with a letter stating he would pay three months of rent to try help myself get stability for myself and kids. But here I am living in my car” she said.

“When you have kids and you’re on your own it’s tough, but you have to just keep powering on.”

Single parents Patricia Breuil and Jane Mcdonald say they have been forced to share rooms with their teenage daughters after applying for 40 properties between them in the last six months.

Single father Scott Jones says he has applied for around “50 properties” over the past two years.

“It’s beyond a joke” he said.

He is now living in a 14-foot caravan with his three children.

The single parents who contacted the Post know the rental market is already tight with record low vacancy rates and around 1300 homeless people in Cairns, but believe real estate agents are rejecting them simply because they are single parents.

However, another real estate agent property manager who is also a single mother said that while she often leases out to single parents and wanted to remain anonymous – the issue is usually that single parents come to her with poor references.

However, landlord Sarah Wild disagreed.

As a new property owner in the area she told a couple of real estate agents she wanted to rent out to single parents.

“They immediately warned me against this,” she said. “I asked the real estate why and ‘she said you don’t know what their life is like and they come with ‘complications’.”

Ms Eriksson said she believes the stigma against single parents is unfair and unfounded.  “Single parents are my best tenants,” she said.

“I advise any single parent to contact a property manager directly. Don’t just keep making applications online. Share your story, tell them who you are, it puts them in a different focus – you become a real person to a property manager that way.”


A very political airline

Seasoned air travellers are familiar with the sight of a swarm of masked and gloved cleaners waiting to rush on board as soon as they have disembarked to rapidly get rid of all the litter and mess left behind by one horde and have the place looking shiny new for the next.

It will take more than a crack team of airline cleaners, however, to get rid of the acrid stench of a scorched reputation left behind by departing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. What was once Australia’s pride and joy, the Flying Kangaroo, is on the nose.

So here’s a few handy cleaning tips for the new hands behind the joystick:

Start by scrapping the asinine Welcome to Country announcements that blight every take-off and landing. Not only are they meaningless – passengers landing at Brisbane, for instance, are landing on reclaimed land – but they are tiresomely offensive. The majority of Qantas passengers are Australian citizens who pay their taxes and own or rent property under Australian sovereign law. In the case of fancy airport terminals and runways, these belong to the taxpayer or to the shareholders of corporations and nobody else. Australian taxpayers do not need to be welcomed onto land they already own, and facilities they pay handsomely for, whenever they touch down or take off.

And they certainly do not need to be repeatedly bludgeoned in some quasi-spiritual fashion by lauding abstract persons who may or may not exist.

Landing at Heathrow, are passengers welcomed to the lands of the Catuvellauni and Trinovante tribes of ancient Britain? Landing at Rome-Fiumicino, do hostesses pay their respects to Praetors past, present and emerging? The idea is risible.

The politicisation of Qantas by Alan Joyce et al. must be immediately reversed if the brand is to be restored to its former glory. By definition, politics are polarising – our democratic system is designed to not only tolerate but actually thrive on robust adversarial debate. For every man or woman or whatever in-between who rejoices in Alan Joyce’s virtue-signalling politics, there is another paying customer who is appalled by having politics they disagree with rammed down their throat. Qantas is not the only company jumping on political bandwagons – this disease has taken hold throughout the boardrooms of the West – but it is one of the most visible. During the same-sex marriage debate, Qantas under Mr Joyce took a prominent stance. During Covid, the airline disgracefully and shamefully imposed vaccine mandates on its employees that saw many pilots and others who had dedicated their lives to the airline tossed aside like soggy leftover airline sandwiches.

Yet at the same time as preaching its superior morality from the pulpit – sorry, the cockpit – this unctuous airline stands accused of diddling its customers, allegedly selling seats on flights that had already been cancelled. Whether this occurred due to laziness, greed, incompetence or accident is immaterial. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is seeking to hit Qantas with $250 million in fines. A slew of other allegations of poor behaviour is also now surfacing.

There will be many, many Australians who will look back on events that occurred where perhaps they missed a funeral, or an important family occasion, or a crucial business meeting, or who were simply inconvenienced, and who will view these allegations with seething anger. And they will not forget.

Then we get to the current support for the Yes campaign for an indigenous Voice to parliament, where Qantas’s advocacy coincides with a major rival airline, Qatar, being denied access to our aviation market and – also a sheer coincidence, obviously – the Prime Minister’s young son being gifted membership of the elitist Qantas Chairman’s lounge.

As Qantas enjoys record profits and Mr Joyce bails out with a glittering multimillion-dollar parachute, Mr Albanese’s popularity plummets. Labor’s free-falling PM will surely rue the day he risked hopping on board the flying roo.


New ‘power of one’ gift for unions in IR reforms, business warns

Contentious new rights for union delegates to intervene in workplaces where they have as few as one or two members risked inserting “a union presence into every workplace in Australia”, employers have warned.

In the latest flashpoint ­between employers and unions over Labor’s industrial relations shake-up, business groups have vowed to campaign to block the proposal and labelled it a “union recruitment tool”.

After examining the legislation put before parliament this week, University of Adelaide law professor Andrew Stewart said unions would only need to have one or two members in a workplace for their delegates “to have rights in relation to everybody who is a potential member”.

Professor Stewart – one of the nation’s top workplace law experts – said the rights for delegates were not “just about servicing your actual members, it’s about servicing potential members”.

“It means you might have a workplace where there are one or two union members but they now formally have the right to advocate on behalf of everyone in the workplace who is eligible to be a union member and the employer will have to give them reasonable facilities to do that,” Professor Stewart said on Wednesday.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said employers were deeply alarmed by the union delegate provisions.

“This is just a union recruiting tool which has massive implications around how businesses manage their relations with their workforce,” Mr Willox said.

“This affects anyone who is ­eligible to be a union member so this will impact on non-unionised workplaces. It’s not minor, it’s major and we’ll be fighting it tooth and nail.

“This is a threshold issue for employers because it goes to their ability to manage and ability to protect their workforce from union influence.

“Employers are quite frankly aghast at this … it’s all about ­increasing union rights, union power, union influence and union membership in workplaces.”

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew McKellar said the rights for union delegates exemplified how the bill was “extending the ability for unions to reach into employment arrangements and relationships much more so than they do now”.

The Closing Loopholes bill says a delegate is entitled to represent the interests of union members and “any other persons eligible to be such members”, and have reasonable communication with them.

Delegates must be given reasonable access to the workplace and workplace facilities as well as reasonable access to paid training during work hours unless the employer is a small business.

Australian Resources and ­Energy Employer Association chief executive Steve Knott said the changes would “make certain employees, who are first and foremost members of the workforce, de facto union organisers paid for by the business”.

“This would apply to all businesses, including those with no union presence and no enterprise agreements,” Mr Knott said.

“The motivation is clearly not to increase productivity, but to ­insert a union presence into every workplace in Australia. The end game is to drive increased union membership which in turn lifts political donations to the ALP.”

Introducing the bill into ­parliament on Monday, Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke linked the rights for delegates as a way to discover the ­underpayment of workers.

“A common feature of many high-profile wage underpayment cases is that, when they are discovered, we find the problem has been going on for years and years,” Mr Burke said.

“People are too afraid to speak up, and there are no processes in place to help them do so. We need to make sure that, if someone is not being treated fairly at work, it‘s discovered early. That’s why this bill ­contains important new protections and rights for workplace delegates, including paid access to relevant training – with small businesses exempt from this ­requirement.”

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said ensuring worker representatives were educated and supported to do their job was “essential to harmonious ­workplaces”.

“If the people who volunteer to represent other workers understand their rights and obligations, issues can be resolved quickly in the workplace and we won’t see issues like wage theft going on for years unresolved,” Ms McManus said.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable said: “Extending union delegate powers will be a further hit to the nation’s flagging productivity, taking valuable time and resources out of businesses when they need all hands on deck.

“Why should workers, the majority of whom are not union members, have to cover for the special treatment and time off for select union delegates?

“Given the scope of the ­powers, including the fact ­delegates will be able to demand such powers even if they are the only unionised member of staff, clearly the unions are having a laugh at the expense of hardworking business owners.”

Professor Stewart said he ­expected the changes to be ­contentious.

“We have all the sound and fury about casual changes which I think are overblown,” he said.

“I think there are some issues with the labour hire provisions. The drafting is potentially ­problematic but I expect that to be addressed.

“But I think at some point the debate is going to move on to the union delegate provisions. That’s something that is genuinely new. It’s just not something we have ever seen, to my ­knowledge, formally enshrined in law.”

Mr Knott said there was an “alarming lack of detail” about the proposal.

“Nobody knows what ‘reasonable time’ might mean to attend training or exercise industrial functions,” Mr Knott said. “There is also a big question mark on how many union delegates might be allowed at any one workplace.”


Hotel giant declares war on plastics in green push

A lot of this makes sense.  The little plastic bottles of various things that often come with a hotel room will not be much missed.  People would mostly have their own versions of such things

When Accor Pacific boss Sarah Derry hosted a lunch for her top executives in Brisbane this week there was nary a single use plastic item in sight.

The nosh up at the Pullman & Mercure King George Square was to celebrate the hotel and three other Accor properties - Sofitel Brisbane Central, ibis Styles Brisbane Elizabeth

Street and Novotel Brisbane South Bank - receiving coveted sustainable tourism certification from Ecotourism Australia.

The former Townsville girl earlier this year declared war on plastic in a new sustainability push for the group, which included a drastic reduction in plastic use across its properties in Australia including the Softel, Novotel, Ibis and Mercure brands.

Derry  says that includes getting rid of the little plastic bottles of shampoo and body lotion offered in hotel rooms, plastic water bottles and numerous other single use plastic items. “We have removed some 43 single use plastic items such as individual toiletries from guest facing areas in over 80 per cent of our hotels,” says Derry.

She says the Ecotourism Australia certification is a rigorous process that evaluates a hotel’s environmental performance, community engagement, and contribution to conservation.

Derry says “sustainability is redefining our business model” with the company enrolling a further 150 hotels in the Pacific into the certification program.

Attending the lunch at the Pullman’s Goldfinch restaurant was Ecotourism Australia chief Elissa Keenan, who says Accor Pacific is leading the industry across Australia and New Zealand with its commitment to sustainability.




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