Australian News

The mis-named 'Fair Work' Commission has delivered its decision to cut Sunday penalty rates, slashing the take-home pay of around 700,000 workers in retail, hospitality and fast food.

Workers gathered outside the offices of the Fair Work Commission in Melbourne in the lead up to the announcement.

Following the decision, Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary, Luke Hilakari told the crowd, "This is disgusting. These are young people, these are older workers, who rely on this money to make sure they can put food on the table and they can pay their bills."

Firefighters save flying foxes

Temperatures above 40°C on February 10 and 11 were perilous for Canberra’s flying fox colony in Commonwealth Park.

Extreme heat can cause them to become distressed and sometimes die, as happened in Singleton, where temperatures over 45°C killed hundreds of grey-headed flying foxes.

Knowing the risk to the animals, volunteers from ACT wildlife, the National Capital Authority, Jerrabomberra Rural Fire Service Brigade and ACT Fire and Rescue combined to spray water on the animals.

I teach at Victoria University, in the heart of Footscray. Footscray is an extremely vibrant and bustling suburb with an incredible population diversity, which is also reflected in VU’s student and staff population. This diversity is a real asset to our university and I feel privileged to be able to teach in such a unique environment.

The federal government announced changes to Centrelink’s controversial automated debt recovery system on February 14.

The changes include no longer demanding immediate payment from people who dispute a debt; allowing people to use bank statements, instead of hard-to-obtain payslips, to prove their income; making it easier to contact Centrelink; and allowing people to by-pass the MyGov portal to review their debt.

But unions, community groups, Labor, the Greens and GetUp! have all warned the changes do not address fundamental flaws with the system.

First Nations activist Lex Wotton has announced he will contest the state seat of Townsville as an independent in the yet-to-be-announced Queensland election.

Wotton was jailed for two years for his role in the Palm Island riots of 2004.

More recently the Federal Court found that police breached the Racial Discrimination Act after the death of Cameron Doomadgee, but the Queensland Government has appealed the ruling.

It was this appeal that spurred him into action.

The Save Our Councils Coalition (SOCC) has announced a "Put the Liberals Last" campaign in the coming state byelections in NSW, with SOCC spokesperson Phil Jenkyn saying: "They [the Liberals] will be massacred in the North Shore byelection."

The group was responding on February 14 to the decision by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to push ahead with the forced amalgamations of 20 urban councils and continue to pursue the mergers of the five Sydney councils that are currently taking legal action against the plan.

In Melton, an outer-western suburb of Melbourne, Shane Gillard, a man with links to the far-right group Soldiers of Odin, used Facebook to blame “Sudanese thugs” for a carjacking on February 9.

However, as police reports of the incident surfaced, the truth emerged: no Sudanese immigrants were involved, but two men had a violent altercation in a carpark before the offender, “of Caucasian appearance”, stole the other's car.

Legislation was passed in Queensland parliament on February 14 that will mean operators who refuse to remove “offensive” slogans from vehicles within 14 days will have their vehicles deregistered.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the legislation was targeted at the van rental company Wicked Campers, whose vehicles often displayed “sexist, demeaning slogans”.

The Advertising Standards Board will be responsible for determining if a slogan is inappropriate.

Car operators will then be contacted and told to remove the offensive material within 14 days or be deregistered.

About 200 people marched from Hyde Park to the NSW State Parliament on February 13 to demand an end to the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families and for Aboriginal control of Aboriginal child welfare. They chanted, "What does Sorry mean? You don't do it again!"

The march, organised by the Sydney branch of Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR), was held on the ninth anniversary of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations.

“Stop WestConnex! No WestConnex!” rang out across Macquarie Street from a snap action of up to 100 people outside NSW Parliament on February 14. A number of anti-WestConnex groups gathered at short notice after the Australian National Audit Office released its damning report into WestConnex.

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