THE National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples has endorsed the landmark decision of the High Court to compensate Ngaliwurru and Nungali peoples for the extinguishment of their non-exclusive ­native title rights and for associated cultural loss. 

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there is an inextricable link between culture, well-being, nature and land and/or waterways.  The forced breaking of these bonds has often had tragic consequences leading to inter-generational trauma and hardship. 

“While no amount of money can adequately compensate for cultural loss and its consequences, the High Court’s recognition of the implications caused by incursions and infringements on the fundamentals of our cultures are of some comfort.” National Congress co-chair Jackie Huggins said.

“Further, the justices’ willingness to uphold a decision to make some sort of recompense should assist in the long path to reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians,” Dr Huggins said.

National Congress co-chair Rod Little said, “Historically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a strong track record of generosity in sharing our lands and waterways. 

“We have endured forced removals from our lands, and a very slow and often reluctant return thereof, and even then, only to those who can show a continuing relationship with specific locations.  Native title legislation contains a great many exclusions for claims, and our rights have been successively weakened since the initial legislation following the Mabo decision. This ruling goes some way to restoring our rights and healing past injustices.” he said.

Mr Little said National Congress stood ready to assist CoAG in the negotiation of principles to avoid unnecessarily protracted and expensive litigation on a case-by-case basis. "It may be beneficial for these discussions also to involve the business sector so that we can work together as a nation"

"Native title land and water rights may be put as a discrete matter in themselves but they do have a connection to current discussions of constitutional recognition, and the agreement making aspects of the Statement of the Heart, issued at Uluru in 2017.

"There is a growing groundswell of support to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians in health, education, prosperity. Cultural well-being is inextricably linked to the achievement of these goals. We look forward and hope for further actions that promote reconciliation."

www.nationalcongress.com.au

ABOUT NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AUSTRALIA’S FIRST PEOPLES
 
National Congress is the peak organisation representing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. National Congress was established following extensive consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and leaders and has represented our peoples at the federal level since 2010. It represents close to 10,000 individual members from across Australia as well as over 180 peak and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

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THE LATEST Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)  data shows that the rate of strikes and illegal stoppages in the construction industry has doubled, accounting for almost half of the entire Australian total, according to Master Builders Australia.

“Today’s data is clear and independent evidence that the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) must be retained to tackle the worsening behaviour from building union bullies,” Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said. 

“It’s the community that pays the price,” she said. 

“Just when people are feeling like the cost of everything is going up constructions unions are forcing them to pay up to 30 percent more for their schools, hospitals and roads,” Ms Wawn said. 

“The construction unions’ culture of bullying is getting worse which is exactly why we need the ABCC,” she said. 

The construction industry had the highest number of working days lost due to industrial disputation over the December quarter 2018 (13,200) – accounting for 43 percent of all days lost to disputes – and almost double the amount in the previous quarter (6,900). 

While this is lower than the average days lost when the ABCC was abolished (around 20,000), it remains far higher than the average when the ABCC first existed (6,700). 

“Days lost to strikes in construction have doubled, and we now represent almost half of the national total across all sectors,” Ms Wawn said. 

“There is no hiding from the fact that strikes and disputes in construction are getting worse, with building unions showing no sign of wanting to change culture and play by the rules just like everyone else.

“This shows that while the ABCC is making a positive impact, it still has much work to do tackle the culture of building union bullies who appear to believe they are above the law,” Ms Wawn said. 

“The ABCC must be retained until building unions learn to obey the law like everyone else."

 www.masterbuilders.com.au

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THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has today expressed its shock and dismay at a change to Western Australia’s regulations that will significantly affect tobacco retailing across the state from next week.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA said the ARA was advised late on Wednesday night of the changes, which will require price boards in retailers to be reduced from one square metre to an A4 sheet size. The changes also require as new graphic images to be placed next to price boards.

“Our members will always comply with new regulations; however, they require reasonable time frames to make changes. These changes have been poorly managed, and have been implemented without proper consultation and notification,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Retailers across the state are waking up to the news this morning that they have just a few days to implement the changes and are scratching their heads as to why they weren’t consulted or advised of the changes through proper process.”

The ARA has written to Roger Cook MLA, the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, urgently requesting clarification to ensure retailers are not slapped with non-compliant notices, and unnecessary fines from Monday – especially given the uncertainty of what the fines are at this point in time.

“It is beyond my comprehension how significant changes of this nature can be passed without any consultation. I don’t see what the purpose of reducing price boards are, and how this can be justified in the realms of good public policy,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr Zimmerman’s letter to WA's Deputy Premier and Minister for Health can be found here: ARA Minister Roger Cook WA Tobacco Regulation Letter

About the Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $320 billion-dollar sector, which employs more than 1.3 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,800 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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EARLIER this week, the Seafarers International Union (SIU) of Canada president James Given concluded a successful trip to Australia, where he brought a message of solidarity and support for Australian seafarers, according to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA)

During his visit, president Given participated in demonstrations against government inaction to protect domestic maritime jobs, an MUA spokesperson said.

SIU president Given’s visit came on the heels of Canadian seafarers "demonstrating in solidarity with their Australian brothers and sisters".

In February, over 100 SIU of Canada members rallied outside of the Australian embassies in Ottawa and Toronto, calling on the Australian Government to strengthen important cabotage laws which are crucial to protecting jobs.

“The SIU of Canada along with international resources through the International Transport Workers’ Federation are unwavering in their support for Australian Seafarers,” said Mr Given, who is also chair of the International Transportation Workers’ Federation (ITF) cabotage taskforce.

“We are mobilizing across the globe to combat this negligence,” Mr Given said.

During his trip to Australia, Mr Given addressed members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), which has been  working tirelessly in Australia to prevent further layoffs and strengthen domestic labour protections. SIU president Given solidified the international maritime union community’s commitment to Save Australian Shipping.

“The leadership of the MUA has initiated a strong local campaign but the Global Union movement must now flex our muscle to assist," Mr Given said.

The SIU of Canada is calling for a world day of action to support Australian seafarers.

“The time has come for a coordinated action across the globe in order to highlight the blatant disregard for Australian seafarers,” Mr Given said. Further, the ITF will remain active in Australia and continue its efforts to strengthen Australian cabotage law. At home, the SIU of Canada is committed to continuing its efforts with Canada Steamship Lines to get Australian seafarers up to the gangway.

“When we support our brothers and sisters, our industry becomes stronger. It is our duty as maritime leaders to protect our workers and protect our industry,” Mr Given said. “The whole of the global union federation is watching Australia right now, and we will not back down.”

 

About the SIU of Canada

The Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIU) is affiliated with the Seafarers’ International Union of North America serving unlicensed sailors since 1938. The most important sailors’ union in Canada, the SIU represents the majority of unlicensed sailors working aboard vessels on the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, on the East and West Coasts.

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THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics will hold its final public hearing in Canberra on Tuesday March 26, 2019 for its inquiry into the implications of removing refundable franking credits.

The chair of the committee, Tim Wilson MP, said, "The committee continues to gather evidence about how the removal of refundable franking credits would affect investors, particularly senior Australians whose financial security could be compromised."

Appearing at the hearing, the Self-managed Independent Superannuation Fund Association has called the ALP’s proposal regressive and inequitable, stating that it "goes against the progressive nature of the income tax system". 

Associate Professor Geoff Warren, who will also appear at the hearing, has said the proposal may cause adverse effects by "singling out a particular group within the context of a broader policy agenda".

The Australia Institute and Industry Super Australia will also give evidence at the hearing. The Australia Institute argues the proposal will mainly affect wealthy Australians and "could save the government around $35 billion per annum by the end of the forward estimates".

Similarly, Industry Super Australia argued "the vast majority of retirees will be unaffected by the proposal and the wealthy are the beneficiaries of most of the refunds of franking credit for non-pensioners".

Mr Wilson said, "The hearing will also provide an opportunity for Australians impacted by a change to refundable franking credits to address the committee directly with a three minute statement, and we welcome their contributions and participation."


Public hearing details:

Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 1pm–4.40pm
Venue: Main Committee Room, Parliament House, Canberra

Program

1.00pm The Australia Institute
1.30pm Associate Professor Geoff Warren, Australian National University
2.00pm Self-managed Independent Superannuation Fund Association
2.30pm Break
2.40pm Industry Super Australia
3.10pm 3 minute public statements
4.40pm Finish

The hearing will be webcast live.

A number of submissions have been received and are available on the committee’s webpage at: www.aph.gov.au/economics. Further submissions are currently being processed and will be published over the coming weeks. Submissions can still be made online or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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