2022-06-23 00:44:00 By : Ms. Jenny Funfun

Qantas cancelled one in every 13 domestic flights in May

Dutton claims opposition has mandate to black emissions target legislation

NSW Labor commits to toll relief in budget reply

NSW government eyes dramatic increase for illegal strike fines

Trial of Brittany Higgins’ accused set for October

George Christensen feeds the global elite he rails against

ACTU secretary Sally McManus says unions are incapable of delivering across-the-board wage rises that keep pace with headline inflation and labels concerns voiced about the risk of a 1970s-style wage-price spiral a “total Boomer fantasy”.

It follows Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke accepting workers might need to take a real wage cut to prevent entrenched high inflation.

McManus told ABC RN Breakfast current inflation had nothing to do with wages.

“We’re not achieving 3.5 per cent, let alone 5 per cent, let alone 7 per cent. And so to think somehow that the system is going to deliver across-the-board pay increases of 5 or 7 per cent is Boomer fantasy land,” she said.

“Not realising that whole system would be incapable of delivering that. We do not have centralised bargaining in this country. It would not be possible for that to happen.”

McManus believed Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Low was saying “that in the future, if you’re going to have pay rises that are way more than what inflation is and way more than productivity, that’s going to lead to inflation”.

“But I’m warning about that rather than saying there’s a problem at the moment,” the union secretary said of the governor’s address.

She did not think Burke had changed his tune on wage rises, after Labor made it a central part of its election campaign.

“What he [Burke] said, you know, yesterday ... it’s not inconsistent. He’s saying you shouldn’t have pay increases that are just locked in, you know, regardless of what the outside circumstances are.”

McManus also criticised the RBA for having “very little idea how things work” in the wage-setting system.

“That board doesn’t have anyone there who participates in negotiations for wages or the wage setting system from the workers side.

“And that’s a pretty big problem if you’re, you know, making assumptions or trying to understand trying to analyse how things work.”

The RBA board includes Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy, University of Tasmania chancellor Alison Watkins, Fortescue Metals Group deputy chairman Mark Barnaba, CSL non-executive director Carolyn Hewson and Melbourne Business School dean and director Ian Harper.

One in every 13 Qantas flights was cancelled in May as it battled with ongoing reliability issues, raising questions about the sharp COVID-19 cost cuts and the airline’s reasons for scrapping services.

Domestic on-time performance statistics for May – published by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) – show Qantas cancelled 7.6 per cent of scheduled flights that month, up from 5.1 per cent in April as travellers returned to the air as pandemic rules eased.

An airline spokesman said these results were only “marginally worse” than Virgin Australia, which cancelled 5.1 per cent of flights in May, and pointed to comments made by chief executive Alan Joyce earlier this week.

BITRE said the May data was “significantly lower than the long-term average performance” on tracked routes. Michael Quelch

“We are adjusting our schedule and bringing extra resources,” Joyce said at an international airline conference in Qatar. “We are at the moment fixing the operational issues to get our on time performance back to where it was before COVID-19. And we think in the weeks ahead, we will have done that.”

“That is the same issue I think the entire industry is facing and there is that restarting of a business that has been in hibernation for a couple of years. And I don’t think it should be a surprise that it is a bit rusty.”

But one industry analyst said, while they will still give Qantas the benefit of the doubt for now, the cancellation rate for Qantas was dangerously high and, if continued over the next few months, would start raising eyebrows.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has claimed the Coalition has a mandate to oppose Labor enshrining in legislation its 43 per cent emissions reduction target.

He says the former Morrison government invested in renewables and helped cut emissions, in a reference to its updated 2030 reduction projection of between 30 and 35 per cent that the Coalition refused to make a formal target.

“But we don’t support legislating (a 43 per cent cut on 2005 levels by 2030). We went to the election on that basis. Millions of people voted for us on that basis,” Dutton told 2GB.

“And that’s the policy that we should stick to ... that’s been the decision of the party right and that’s the decision that we’ve taken.”

Dutton dismissed the threat of moderate Liberals crossing the floor to back Labor’s legislation, saying the Coalition’s “broad church” had room for a range of views.

“That’s that’s the dynamic of the party and I don’t seek to stifle that. I’m not running some autocracy where people have to sign up to my view or to every element of the party’s view.”

But Dutton said the Liberal position would remain the one adopted by the party room and taken to the election it lost resoundingly.

He also took another swipe at Labor’s border policies amid a visit by Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles to Sri Lanka. The visit comes against the backdrop of that country’s ongoing economic crisis and has canvassed issues including around asylum seeker boats.

“The circumstances in Sri Lanka are really no different today than what they were six months ago. This is not something that’s happened since Labor was elected, that all of a sudden economic circumstances turned sour in Sri Lanka,” Dutton said.

“The one thing that’s changed in this equation is that Labor has been elected and that’s why people now are prepared to pay the money and are prepared to hop on boats, tragically.”

Dutton also weighed into Greens senator Lidia Thorpe saying the flag does not represent her or her people because of colonialism. He didn’t think her position helped the cause of reconciliation.

“It’s more about self-promotion and more about seeing their own name in the paper than the cause that they said they’re passionate about.”

NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns has committed to keeping the Sydney Harbour Bridge and tunnel under public ownership to fund toll relief, in a budget reply speech spelling out Labor’s pitch for a 2023 state election.

The NSW Labor leader has also issued a direct challenge to the Perrottet government, unveiling an ambitious childcare package which it says will deliver new preschools and universal pre-kinder to four-year-olds, four years ahead of the Liberal plan.

“This will create an oasis of learning where there’s early learning deserts,” Minns said as he announced a Labor plan to build 100 government-owned preschools next door to primary schools.

He said the move would fast-track the Perrottet government’s commitment to offer universal childcare for four-year-olds from 2030 to 2026.

A state election is scheduled for March 2023. The Perrottet government is chasing a fourth Liberal term at a time when a newly remodelled NSW Labor frontbench is regarded as a credible threat.

Minns said the most recent NSW budget “leaves a cloud” around the future of tolls on the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, with a toll concession due to expire on August.

“While the Premier would hand the Harbour Bridge or Harbour Tunnel over to private operators, Labor will retain this in public ownership and put all that money into toll relief,” Minns said.

“This is the first step to toll relief for NSW motorists under Labor, and we’ll have more to say as we get closer to the next election.”

Minns also used the speech to unveil a plan to tighten the rules around public asset sales, underpinned by the plan to keep the harbour bridge and tunnel in public hands to fund future toll relief initiatives.

The NSW government will seek to dramatically increase fines for illegal public sector strikes to as much as $55,000 a day, more than five times the current penalties.

Industrial Relations Minister Damien Tudehope said the fines, a maximum of $55,000 for the first day and up to $27,500 for each day after that, would apply when unions breach an order of the Industrial Relations Commission to not strike.

For a subsequent offence after the initial penalty, the Supreme Court can hand down an $110,000 maximum penalty, followed by an additional $55,000 for each day the breach continues.

The new fines bring the penalties in line with those available to the courts in Queensland. It comes as NSW public school teachers are set to take their third mass strike next week over staff shortages and the state’s legislated wage cap of 3 per cent.

Tudehope said the increased fines were designed to send “a clear and unambiguous message that deliberate contraventions that cause damage to the community will not be tolerated”.

“Illegal strike action has had incredibly damaging consequences for students, families and workers across the state,” he said.

He said there “is a well-established system of conciliation and arbitration and yet some unions continue to flagrantly disregard orders of the IRC at the cost of everyday people”.

Current fines are set at a maximum of $10,000 for the first day of contravention and $5000 for every day after. Where the union has previously been penalised, there is a maximum fine of $20,000 for the first day and $10,000 for every day after.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the fines “are in line with every other jurisdiction” and were “fair and reasonable”.

The trial of Bruce Lehrmann, the man accused of raping former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins at Parliament House, has been scheduled to start on Tuesday, October 4.

ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum has delayed the trial after she decided this week recent publicity had effectively “obliterated” the prospect of a fair hearing.

It had been due to start next week.

The delay was sought after a speech by television personality Lisa Wilkinson at the Logie Awards on Sunday night endorsed Ms Higgins’ credibility, and sparked a fresh round of commentary in the media about the proceedings.

Lehrmann is facing a charge of sexual intercourse without consent for the alleged assault in the office of the former defence industry minister Linda Reynolds in the early hours of March 23, 2019.

He denies the allegation and has pleaded not guilty.

Former parliamentarian George Christensen has gone from ranting about inane things while on the taxpayer payroll to ranting about insane things for private-paying punters.

The beauty of it all is how he collects his funds nowadays.

George Christensen, hidden genius. Alex Ellinghausen

The former LNP member of parliament represented Dawson in north Queensland until he defected to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation just before the last election. He describes himself as a Christian and a theologist, so he knows what Judas Iscariot was all about.

His political defection was not without controversy, given he could earn a $105,000 “resettlement allowance” in losing an unwinnable third spot in One Nation’s Queensland Senate ticket. It’s not like those plane tickets to Manila were going to pay for themselves, hey?

Christensen argued One Nation’s policies were behind his switch and he disputed the notion that financial gain was a motivation, as he said he would have already been entitled to the allowance regardless.

Anyway, he now earns a crust communicating on platforms such as his newsletter Nation First and his Conservative One podcast. It’s the stuff of a Melburnian-latte sipper’s nightmares.

One post is about the “mainstream media” hiding aspects of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS). “What was common in all cases was that the cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest and all of the victims had received COVID-19 ‘vaccinations’,” Christensen wrote.

Scary stuff. But then, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration told us it has “not identified any individual cases of [SADS] likely to be caused by COVID-19 vaccines”. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also told us it “has detected no unusual or unexpected patterns of SADS following immunisation that would indicate COVID-19 vaccines are causing or contributing to this condition”.

Moderna’s omicron-targeting vaccine triggered the production of antibodies against the strain’s newest variants, though the immune response was less robust than seen with the original version that emerged late last year.

Everyone given Moderna’s lead omicron immunisation generated neutralising antibodies against BA.4 and BA.5 in the latest trial involving about 800 people, the company said in a statement. However, the amount of antibodies induced against the newer strains was lower than the shot produced against the original version of omicron.

As the coronavirus continues to mutate, medical experts are trying to decide when and how to modify vaccines to fight emerging and future variants. Moderna’s lead candidate to replace its existing COVID-19 inoculation combines parts of its original shot with elements that specifically target omicron. The results were encouraging, company officials said.

“The antibody levels are still extremely high” and should be enough to provide good protection against newer variants, Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said in an interview. “It is really reassuring.”

Still, some analysts were dubious how long protection from the booster would last. The vaccine generated “nowhere near as much” of a response against the new variants compared to the first omicron, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Sam Fazeli wrote in a note on Wednesday (Thursday AEST). “Durability is likely to be low.”

Moderna shares fell as much as 2.6 per cent at the New York open.

The results would be submitted urgently to regulators, chief executive Stephane Bancel said in the statement. The company was preparing to supply the next-generation bivalent booster shot starting in August, he said.

Earlier this month, Moderna reported data from the same trial showing the bivalent vaccine generated a superior immune response against the original omicron strain. In the new data, the company evaluated how it stacked up against the BA.4 and BA.5 variants that account for a rising share of US cases.

In the new analysis, antibody levels against the newer variants were evaluated in the roughly half of participants who were given a booster shot of the new vaccine. It increased their antibodies against the newer variants by 5.4-fold compared to levels before getting it.

Neutralising antibodies against BA.4 and BA.5 “were approximately 3-fold lower” than those against the original omicron strain, the company said.

Rival vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech are expected to have data soon from the omicron-specific booster shots they are developing together.

On June 28, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration will meet to discuss whether future COVID-19 immunisations should be modified to account for changing variants, and if so, which strains should be included for the fall when cases may rise with cooler weather.

BA.4 and BA.5 accounted for about 35 per cent of US cases in mid-June, up from about 9 per cent of cases at the end of May, according to US government estimates.

National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson says Australia’s highly concentrated supply chain is helping drive up produce prices.

A cold blast as well as flooding across Queensland and NSW had worsened supply problems, Simson told ABC News, but it was exacerbated by a “very, very concentrated” supply chain.

She said 70 per cent of Australia’s groceries came through two major chains and 90 per cent came through four major chains.

“Big is not bad – we definitely need the size of these chains to deliver produce to many of the people in our cities and all around Australia.

“But it’s also not very agile when there are impacts on particular parts of the chain, like a shortage in a particular area.”

Independent retailers and the local markets, Simson said, were able to react more easily when shortages or adverse weather hit supply chains.

“Australia is, you know, a little bit unusual. When we compare ourselves to somebody like the UK, for example, with nine major supermarket chains, with over 500 stores each without getting down into the independents.”

Simson added farmers were feeling the squeeze of rising power bills and this was feeding into higher supermarket prices.

“For milk, for example ... We need refrigeration to refrigerate the milk, we need electricity for the milkers, we need the fuel, and we need the transport as well. So, there’s a lot of energy that goes into producing a litre of milk, a kilo of beef, even.

“But energy prices is just one of the things at the moment that is squeezing farmers along with fuel, along with imports.

“Following COVID, the supply chains have been completely disrupted. Again, we are dependent on a lot of overseas markets for some of those things.”

Coalition frontbencher Karen Andrews has warned a push for wages keeping pace with inflation risks an “incredible spiral” from small businesses forced to pass on the cost to consumers.

She says it’s unsurprising the ACTU would agitate for higher wages, but there needs to be a balanced approach.

“If we force up wages and conditions, then businesses are going to have to look at what they have to what they can do or what they have to do to make sure that there’s ongoing employment,” the home affairs spokeswoman told Sky News.

“Now, many businesses will pass those costs sunder onto consumers and of course as that happens, cost of living increases. So it is an incredible spiral.

“Yes, we need to have appropriate standards for wages and conditions. But we also need to make sure that there are employment opportunities for people and you can’t do one without the other.”

As the National Electricity Market returns to normal operations, Andrews warned the problems “haven’t gone away by any stretch”.

“We’re still facing significant issues with our energy reliability, and of course, the pricing,” she said, arguing again this was a reason to extend the life of ageing coal-fired power stations.

“It’s time to make sure that businesses are actively engaged in the nuclear debate to see what their interest levels are in the modular reactors that they might be able to run for our big, high consumers,” Andrews said.

The Daily Habit of Successful People