THE Queensland Government campaign to attract more people into the teaching profession is an opportunity to fill the depleting ranks of industrial design teachers, according to the Queensland Resources Council.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said QRC has worked over the last 12 months with the government and a range of stakeholders to discuss the lack of industrial design – formerly known as 'manual arts' – teachers in Queensland schools.

Mr Macfarlane said the QRC on behalf of the State’s resources industry was working tirelessly with students and teachers to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in 75 secondary schools through the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA).

“QMEA is a joint initiative between industry and the Government to encourage Queensland students to embrace STEM and the future opportunities open to them in study and in work,” he said.

“The QRC absolutely welcomes efforts to attract more teachers, and we particularly want to see a strong focus on getting more manual arts teachers at the front of classrooms.

“Manual arts – or industrial design as it’s now known – gives students important hand skills that are critical to a range of industries, including resource sector jobs whether it is coal, minerals or gas.”

Mr Macfarlane said the QRC would continue to work with industry to build the capacity of Industrial Design Teachers by upskilling tradespeople who might have lost jobs during the COVID-19 health crisis.

In June this year, the QRC proposed to the government that it offer 20 scholarships at $40,000 per annum for four years to assist with the upskilling of tradespeople.

www.qrc.org.au

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TODAY'S announcement of a 1.3 percent drop in Queensland’s unemployment levels from 8.8 to 7.5 percent has been welcomed by the Queensland Resources Council.

Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said mining and gas sector jobs continued to be advertised across the state, from Coolangatta to Cape York and Mount Isa.

According to Seek, there are currently 830 jobs in resources on offer, with more than 70 percent paying over $100,000 per annum.

Mr Macfarlane said it was no surprise the greatest decreases in unemployment figures were in the resource-rich states and territory of Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

He said the Queensland resources industry was very proud to have been able to keep 372,000 people employed and earning throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“A Resources Industry Recovery Agenda jointly prepared by the QRC and AMEC has identified the next steps for our industry in terms of post-COVID future growth, investment and employment opportunities,” Mr Macfarlane said. 

“The plan takes the form of a partnership with the State Government and is based on the introduction of more streamlined regulatory approval processes and stable government policies, including a commitment to maintain royalty rates at current levels for the next 10 years, and no new taxes, fees or charges.” 

Mr Macfarlane said Queenslanders can count on the resources sector to help the state recover from COVID. 

“Resources can offer jobs, economic strength, export dollars and royalties that can be reinvested into services and infrastructure, but we need a much closer working relationship with the State Government to make this a reality,” he said. 

“The LNP and Katter Australia Party have already responded positively to our industry development plan, and the QRC will continue to have constructive talks with the State Government.” 

www.qrc.org.au

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THE CFMEU's role as a guardian of the Award safety net for construction workers has been backed by the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in a decision which reaffirmed workers' rights to be paid their full redundancy entitlements, a union spokespereson said.

"All businesses are legally required to be able to cover their workers' entitlements and liabilities,"  CFMEU national construction secretary,Dave Noonan said.

“This decision by the Full Bench of the FWC overturned an earlier decision which would have seen a Queensland construction denied his redundancy when his employer let him go.

“The employer opposed the union from bringing the appeal but the FWC recognised the CFMEU has a legitimate role in protecting the minimum safety net for all construction workers," Mr Noonan said.

"The Commission also agreed with the CFMEU's argument that the original decision was wrong under the law and should be quashed.

“The CFMEU has demonstrated its important role in safeguarding people's hard-won industrial rights," he said.

“It is significant that the ABCC and Fair Work Ombudsman were asleep at the wheel when it came to correcting the original legal error, which if allowed to stand could have significantly weakened the safety net for construction workers.

“It is also worth noting that this worker was not a member of a redundancy fund. Redundancy funds are encouraged by the union to assist in fulfilling redundancy entitlements for construction workers," Mr Noonan said.

"The CFMEU's role as a guardian of workers' rights has been explicitly recognised in this decision by the FWC. It is a role that is at the core of who we are and what we do and one from which we will not back down."

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TENANTS Queensland (TQ) is very disappointed with the Queensland Government’s decision today to retain the end date for the moratorium on residential evictions whilst at the same time deciding to extend it for commercial tenancies.

The decision comes despite most other states extending eviction protection for renters.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, demand for the state’s tenant advisory services has increased drastically, particularly from tenants fearing eviction after losing their jobs or having their income reduced as a result of COVID-19.

With the end of the moratorium now set to remain as September 29, TQ CEO Penny Carr said many tenants will be very concerned about eviction in the lead-up to Christmas.

“We are aware of a range of household types – single parents, two parent families, empty nesters and singles – all of whom have been waiting anxiously for an announcement of an extension on the moratorium. Now they’ll be contemplating an anxious and grim lead up to Christmas as they await eviction action being taken against them,” Ms Carr said.

“Many renters have been on tenterhooks; fearful they would not be able to keep a roof over their heads through Christmas. For some that will now be the reality” Ms Carr said.

Tenants can call for free tenancy advice on 1300 744 263

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About TQ
Tenants Queensland (TQ) is a specialist community legal centre that provides a free advice and referral service for residential tenants in Queensland through its flagship QSTARS program. TQ aims to protect and improve the rights of residential tenants in Queensland, particularly those who are economically or socially disadvantaged. For more information visit www.tenantsqld.gov.au.

QUEENSLAND Council of Social Service (QCOSS), Q Shelter and Tenants Queensland, three of the five members of the Queensland government’s COVID-19 Housing Security Subcommittee, have criticised the decision not to extend the residential tenancy eviction moratorium.

In a joint statement from QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh, QShelter CEO Fiona Caniglia and Tenants Queensland CEO Penny Carr said, “We are deeply disappointed in the decision by the Queensland government to not extend the moratorium.

“This decision flies in the face of the advice provided to government from the majority of the Minister’s Housing Security Subcommittee – our three organisations all recommended that the moratorium be extended to 31 December 2020.

“This will only serve to make the housing arrangements of Queensland families much more insecure.

“The Queensland Government has decided to go it alone in not extending the moratorium – Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria have all committed to extending their moratoriums to March 2021, and Tasmania has extended theirs to December 2020.”

 

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THE Queensland Resources Council has repeated its call for the State Government to approve the Stage 3 expansion of New Hope’s New Acland mine on the Darling Downs "and deliver much needed COVID-19 recovery jobs for Queensland".

QRC said it shared the frustration of the Toowoomba and Darling Downs communities and recognised the anger expressed by the CFMMEU and its members with these delays.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said due to the lack of approvals, New Hope had been forced into making redundancies while waiting to extend the mine at Oakey on the Darling Downs.

“This is a shovel-ready project that has been dragged through the court system in Queensland for more than a decade,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Now the activists have taken the project to the High Court, which could delay the start by years more.

"Queensland needs jobs now and I can tell you these workers and their families and this community needs these jobs," he said.

“The State Government is not powerless here. It could step in at any time to approve the mining lease and associated water licence.

“With Queensland’s unemployment rate forecast to blow out to 9%, there couldn’t be a worse time to stop new jobs in Queensland, yet activists are being given the green light to delay and stop any Queensland jobs being created at their political whim."

www.qrc.org.au

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THE parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of Indigenous heritage sites at Juukan Gorge will continue tomorrow with a public hearing featuring BHP.

Northern Australia Committee Chair Warren Entsch said while the Juukan Gorge caves were destroyed by Rio Tinto, the protection of Indigenous heritage sites is important for mining companies operating across Australia.

"The Committee is aware of reports that BHP has put on hold plans to destroy sites sacred to the Banjima people in the Pilbara," Mr Entsch said.

"Tomorrow’s hearing will give us an opportunity to explore how BHP is approaching the issue in the aftermath of Juukan Gorge."

In addition to BHP, the hearing will bring together significant organisations with differing views, with the Kimberley Land Council and Western Australia’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy scheduled to provide evidence.

"The destruction at Juukan Gorge has highlighted the fact that, despite the best of intentions, Indigenous heritage areas lack adequate protection," Mr Entsch said.

"We must ensure that state and federal law provide effective protection to Indigenous culture and heritage sites."

The Kimberley Land Council is critical of the right to negotiate provisions of the Native Title Act, arguing that "the operation of the right to negotiate provision effects a form of legislative force or coercion on native title parties" and that "any inquiry into the adequacy of heritage protection laws should take into account the interaction between these laws and the NTA, in particular the future act provisions".

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia argued that an "increase in Federal oversight on Aboriginal Cultural heritage will only serve to damage the agency of Traditional Owners to make decisions on the management of their country". It recommends that State legislation retains primacy on regulation of cultural heritage, without introduction of duplication at a Federal level.

Programs are available on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday, 17 September 2020
Time: 1pm to 4pm AEST
Location: By video/teleconference

The hearings will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

Further details of the inquiry, including terms of reference, can be found on the Committee’s website.

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THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will hold an inquiry into the suspension of the extradition treaty and the mutual legal assistance treaty between Australia and Hong Kong.

Australia is proposing to take action to suspend the Agreement for the Surrender of Accused and Convicted Persons between the Government of Australia and the Government of Hong Kong (the extradition treaty), whilst the Agreement between the Government of Hong Kong and the Government of Australia Concerning Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (the mutual legal assistance treaty) will be suspended by mutual consent.

In announcing the inquiry, Chair of the Committee, Dave Sharma MP said, “Clearly the political situation in Hong Kong has deteriorated markedly in recent months, with Hong Kong’s autonomous status under threat.

"The imposition by China of its National Security Law on Hong Kong has altered the legal landscape in Hong Kong and raised serious concerns about the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary and the rule of law. In such circumstances, it is only prudent to take steps to protect the integrity of our extradition and mutual legal assistance frameworks.”

Deputy Chair of the Committee, Peter Khalil MP said: “Following passage of the national security laws which eroded Hong Kong’s independent legal status, there were calls for the urgent review of Australia’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

"The Opposition welcomed the Government’s subsequent decision to suspend this treaty on substantive grounds. This inquiry is necessary given the need to ensure the functioning and integrity of Australia’s international law enforcement cooperation and our extradition frameworks.”

The Committee has agreed to the Attorney-General’s request to consider these matters as soon as possible, so they can be reported to Parliament in early October.

The Committee is aware that these issues have been of interest to many in the community in recent months, and public comment is encouraged. The Committee is seeking written submissions by no later than Tuesday, September 22.

The Committee will also hold a roundtable discussion (by teleconference) on Thursday, September 24. Interested participants should contact the secretariat by Monday, September 21.

Further information is available from the Committee website.

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NSW construction workers and subcontractors are being ripped off at record rates as greedy builders and developers use the pandemic as an excuse to withhold payments for work already done, the CFMEU NSW has warned.

"NSW subcontractors and workers are owed millions in late payments from dodgy developers while the government and the industry refuses to act," said Darren Greenfield, CFMEU NSW construction secretary.

"In recent weeks I have spoken to subcontractors whose businesses are being devastated and the jobs of workers put at risk because they are owed massive amounts by big name builders and developers who simply refuse to pay on time.

"It is a chronic issue in the industry that has been growing worse for years and which is now a significant risk to the viability of many smaller operators who do the bulk of the work and employ most of the workers," he said.

"Payment disputes in the NSW construction industry have almost doubled in the June quarter, with figures reported today showing claims for adjudication jumped from $114 million to $225 million over that time.

"Both state and federal governments are sitting on recommendations from multiple reports to fix the problem by enacting security of payment laws that would stop builders and developers using money owed to subcontractors and workers to boost their own cashflows.

"Payments are being withheld for months and even years and subcontractors who employ the workers who do the work face going to the wall while being forced to underwrite the profits of some of the biggest builders and developers in the industry," Mr Greenfield said.

"The State Government has been sitting on recommendations to fix the problem since 2012. They need to start protecting small business operators and the workers who build this state and stop listening to the NSW Master Builders and their donor mates in the property industry who oppose these changes.

"The Federal Government needs to enact the recommendations of the 2017 Murray Review into security of payments, particularly around implementing statutory trusts, to protect workers and smaller industry operators from big property developer bullies.

“Nationally, the MBA (Master Builders Australia) are blocking the implementation of statutory trusts and urgently needed reforms to security of payment laws as they are supporting the interests of big property developers and builders over the subbies and workers who do the vast majority of the work in the industry.”

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THE Queensland Resources Council has welcomed the State Government commitment of $500,000 for a business case for the redevelopment of the Moranbah Hospital.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the State Government should now provide a timeframe on the progression from business case to hospital redevelopment.

“Moranbah is a major centre for the Queensland resources sector and I commend the Isaac Regional Council and CFMMEU for their joint advocacy for the hospital redevelopment with the QRC,” Mr Macfarlane said.

"I would also particularly like to acknowledge the strong advocacy of the late Tim Mulherin who was determined to see this redevelopment take place," he said.

“It is an issue the QRC has also raised directly with the Queensland Government. We welcome the initial commitment for a business case and look forward to the release of a comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of the hospital.”

www.qrc.org.au

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THE Queensland Resources Council has welcomed today’s announcement by the Morrison Government of a multi-pronged plan to develop more Queensland gas for market as part of a COVID-19 recovery.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the QRC’s Resources Industry Recovery Agenda, published in June, identified more gas pipeline infrastructure as a key response to the COVID-19 recovery.

“As the peak representative for coal, mineral and gas producers, explorers and developers, QRC has put forward an ambitious plan for a resources-supported recovery, and specifically for pipeline investment," Mr Macfarlane said.

“Gas pipelines can help to redress the tyranny of distance by connecting gas fields to domestic customers.

“A new trunk line to aggregate gas collection will help increase the supply of gas across a whole province and lower the cost of delivering gas to customers.”

In response to the QRC economic recovery plan, the Queensland Government announced a $5 million commitment – to be matched by the Australian Government – for a feasibility study into a gas pipeline to open up the Bowen Basin.

“Queensland desperately needs the 372,000 jobs supported by the resources sector more than ever,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Our plan is to not only keep those jobs but to create new ones, so it’s fitting this commitment on gas – including funding to unlock the North Bowen and Galilee basins – comes under the government’s JobMaker program. 

“The QRC also welcomes the funding boost for CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance.”

www.qrc.org.au

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