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.

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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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