Increased rollout after jab target miss

Original article by Adeshola Ore
The Australian – Page: 5 : 1-Mar-21

The federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has fallen well behind schedule; just 30,000 people nationwide received the Pfizer vaccine in the first week of the rollout, compared with the government’s target of 60,000 by the end of February. However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the arrival of the first 300,000 overseas-made doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will allow the inoculation of priority groups to be ramped up. Meanwhile, Victoria has recorded no new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, although residents in 10 suburbs in Melbourne’s east have been put on alert after virus fragments were detected in wastewater.

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AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, PFIZER INCORPORATED, ASTRAZENECA PLC

Split over aged-care reforms

Original article by Simon Benson, Geoff Chambers, Stephen Lunn
The Australian – Page: 1 & 4 : 1-Mar-21

The federal government will release the final report of the aged-care royal commission on 1 March. The two commissioners, Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs, are believed to be in agreement on more than 100 recommendations. However, they are said to be in conflict on a number of issues and will make some separate recommendations. Amongst other things, they are believed to have disagreed with regard to the future oversight and funding of the aged-care sector.

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AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO AGED CARE QUALITY AND SAFETY

ABC ignored ‘don’t broadcast’ plea from family of alleged rape victim

Original article by Sharri Markson
The Australian – Page: 1 & 4 : 1-Mar-21

The federal government is under further scrutiny following allegations that a current cabinet minister raped a woman in 1988. Labor leader Anthony Albanese says Prime Minister Scott Morrison should consider removing the minister concerned until the matter is resolved. Meanwhile, a friend of the alleged victim – who took her own life in mid-2020 – has criticised the ABC for reporting the story, arguing that her family had been through enough. The allegation against the unnamed minister follows revelations that a former government staffer was raped by a colleague in March 2019.

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AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION

Crossbench on front foot over IR

Original article by Ewin Hannan
The Australian – Page: 1 & 8 : 17-Feb-21

The federal government will not proceed with legislation to allow coronavirus-hit employers to temporarily bypass the Fair Work Act’s ‘better off overall test’. The ACTU and Senate crossbenchers have welcomed the decision, but contend that further changes to the industrial relations omnibus bill are needed. Shadow industrial relations minister Tony Burke says the government had only backed down because it would not get the proposed reform through the Senate. Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott says the remaining changes in the omnibus bill will ‘reinvigorate’ the enterprise bargaining system.

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AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, BUSINESS COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA

Fair Work president resists Porter IR plan

Original article by Ewin Hannan
The Australian – Page: 1 & 5 : 8-Feb-21

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter has rejected criticism of the federal government’s proposal for the Fair Work Commission to approve enterprise agreements within 21 days. FWC president Iain Ross has argued that this requirement is unnecessary and could result in unintended consequences, such as giving approval to workplace agreements that are subsequently found to contain technical or substantive defects. Justice Ross also warns that more applications for enterprise agreements may be withdrawn or rejected under the proposed reforms. The Senate will begin an inquiry into the omnibus industrial relations bill on 8 February.

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AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF EDUCATION, SKILLS AND EMPLOYMENT, AUSTRALIA. FAIR WORK COMMISSION

Vaccination certificates needed for travel, work and play

Original article by Josh Butler
The New Daily – Page: Online : 8-Feb-21

The federal government has revealed plans to issue digital COVID-19 vaccination certificates via the MyGov website and the Medicare app, while a hardcopy certificate of vaccination will be available from Services Australia. Government Services Minister Stuart Robert has indicated that proof of vaccination is likely to be required to travel overseas, while international visitors will also need proof that they have been vaccinated in order to enter Australia. He adds that the states and territories may also require proof of vaccination in some circumstances, such as to access some workplaces.

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AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, SERVICES AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

Frydenberg joins protest against media blocking

Original article by Miranda Ward
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 2 : 15-Jan-21

Google’s revelation that it has ‘experimented’ with changes to its search and news algorithm has attracted scrutiny from the federal government. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says digital platforms should be paying for news content rather than removing stories from Australian news publishers from its search results. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says this issue demonstrates the power imbalance between Google and traditional news publishers.

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GOOGLE INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS

Age divide in queue for Covid vaccine

Original article by Sue Dunlevy
Herald Sun – Page: 13 : 16-Dec-20

The federal government will compile the list of people who will be given priority in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine when it releases expert advice on the roll-out strategy in late January. However, frontline health workers and aged-care staff will be the first to receive a vaccine. The government will also prioritise people based on age, with the nation’s population to be divided into 12 age brackets. People aged 70+ will receive a vaccine first, followed by those in the 65-70 age group. The rest of the population will be divided into five-year increment age groups. The UK has adopted a similar strategy for its COVID-19 vaccination program.

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China coal ban an FTA breach

Original article by Geoff Chambers
The Australian – Page: 1 & 4 : 16-Dec-20

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the federal government has received no "official information" from China about restrictions on coal imports from Australia. He says that any such move would be in breach of both the free-trade agreement between the two nations and World Trade Organization rules. China’s state-owned media has reported that Australian thermal coal will be blacklisted in favour of coal from countries such as Indonesia, Russia and Mongolia. Morrison contends that a ban on higher-quality Australian coal would increase China’s carbon emissions. He has also emphasised that Japan and India are bigger markets for Australian thermal and coking coal respectively than China.

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AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET

Fletcher rules out sacking Buttrose over ABC investigation

Original article by Ronald Mizen
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 4 : 14-Dec-20

The ABC continues to attract scrutiny in the wake of a controversial ‘Four Corners’ report on the personal lives of two federal government ministers. However, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has refuted suggestions that the government could sack ABC chair Ita Buttrose, stating that he has confidence in the way she is handling a "challenging and very important job". Fletcher has also defended his decision to send a letter to the ABC board in late November querying the decision to broadcast the news story in question.

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AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS