THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has commenced an inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press.

The inquiry was referred by the Attorney-General, Christian Porter MP, on July 4, 2019, for the PJCIS to inquire into the Terms of Reference.

The Committee has been requested to report back to both Houses of Parliament by 17 October 2019.

Chair, Mr Hastie, said," The government has referred this inquiry based on concerns raised in relation to recent search warrants executed on members of the press, and the issue of balancing national security with the freedom of the press.

"This inquiry will allow the Committee to hear from the media, government agencies and other interested stakeholders as to the direct impact of these powers on civil society and their importance to both national security and the public interest. We will consider these issues closely and carefully."

The Committee has invited written submissions to this inquiry, to be received by Friday, July 26, 2019.

Further information on the inquiry can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

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POWER INDUSTRY unions have reached an in principle agreement with Essential Energy in the Fair Work Commission today that will see the company pause planned job cuts until further information is provided to workers and additional consultation takes place.

The agreement means no jobs will be lost before mid-August, with unions given an opportunity to propose alternative cost saving measures and initiatives that could avert the need for redundancies.

Essential Energy committed to distributing information to all employees by July 19 that includes: the justification for role reductions; the specific impacts of cuts on remaining team members; and details of the tasks or functions that will cease to be performed.

Essential Energy also committed to giving genuine consideration to alternative savings measures before any redundancy decisions are made.

Electrical Trades Union secretary Justin Page welcomed the outcome, saying it was vital that workers be given the opportunity to identify alternatives to yet more regional job cuts.

“This is a tough time for Essential Energy workers, their families and colleagues,” Mr Page said.

“After four years of deep staffing cuts at Essential Energy — which has not only devastated those workers directly impacted, but has had profound impacts on service delivery and regional communities — today’s reprieve is extremely welcome, but is just the start.

“It is important that Essential Energy have agreed to provide detailed information to workers about the reasons for specific cuts and their impacts on the remaining work groups, but better still is their commitment to seriously consider alternative options for cutting costs that would allow these jobs to be saved.”

Mr Page also welcomed the support of a range of regional MPs, including Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who have committed to fighting forced job cuts at Essential Energy, saying the union looked forward to working with them to find longer-term solutions.

“The ETU will work in a genuine and meaningful way with all parties and stakeholders to fight to protect these jobs,” he said.

“Essential Energy is still 100 percent publicly owned, so the NSW Government has the ability to take actions to stop this devastating loss of regional jobs.

“It is great to see so many regional MPs agree with us that these cuts are unsustainable, that they are going to have huge impacts on regional NSW, and that we need to work together to stop them.

“The ETU is in the process of developing a range of proposals that we believe are viable alternatives to slashing jobs and services in the bush.”

Essential Energy employees or their family members who required crisis support were urged to contact Lifeline (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au) or beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au).

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THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) today welcomed Mines Minister Anthony Lynham’s decision to award three companies the Authority to Prospect (ATP) for gas on more than 1,510 square kilometres of land in the Surat Basin.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the onshore investment by the Santos/Shell joint venture and Bridgeport Energy demonstrated Queensland’s ability to get on with the job of supplying gas.

“We back our resources industry in Queensland, and that means industry and government working together to increase the supply of gas for both domestic and LNG customers while supporting local jobs,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The contrast between resources-friendly Queensland and the Southern States has deepened, with yet more investment in the local gas industry while other states remain locked up.

“How much longer will NSW and Victoria rely on Queensland to make the investments that keep their industries supplied with gas and keep their economies ticking?

“The Queensland gas industry is a great success story. It has created thousands of jobs and billions of dollars worth of investment in regional Queensland. It is also powering domestic industry." Mr Macfarlane said.

“Reliable and affordable gas is a must-have for Australian industries, including refining and manufacturing.

“To keep the gas success story going strong it is essential the Queensland has open and transparent regulation and that there are no sudden changes without full consultation with industry.

“The resources industry is still committed to working with the Queensland Government on its review of royalty taxes for gas.

“However, we believe it is in the best interests of all Queenslanders to delay the introduction of the proposed 25 percent royalty increase until January 1 2020, and to exclude domestic gas from the increase.”

www.qrc.org.au

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“THE NUMBER of building approvals for new homes across Australia increased during May, adding to evidence that Australia’s housing market is in the early stages of a recovery,” Shane Garrett, Master Builders Australia chief economist said. 

“ABS data published today show that growth was driven by a 2.1 percent rise in the volume of approvals for new apartments/units during May, the portion of the market worst hit by the downturn which began in 2017. Detached house approvals dipped slightly (-0.2%) during May.

“House price figures released earlier this week also support the view that we are at a turning point in the housing market. The latest rate cut from the RBA will help further in this regard. The quick passage of the tax cuts currently before Parliament would represent a big step forward,” Mr Garrett said. 

“In contrast to the residential side of the market, commercial building approvals dropped 6.7% during May,” he said. 

“The disappointing figures for commercial building again underline the importance of delivering government-led projects more quickly in order to support the many small building firms who are dependent on such work. A speedier roll out would do much to enhance confidence."

During May 2019, Victoria saw the largest increase in new dwelling approvals (+14.4%), followed by the ACT (+7.2%). 

The volume of approvals in New South Wales was unchanged during the month. The largest reduction in new homes approved affected Queensland (-6.3%), followed by the Northern Territory (-6.1%) and Western Australia (-4.7%). South Australia (-2.9%) and Tasmania (-1.2%) saw by more measured reductions. 

Compared with a year ago, the value of commercial building approvals in the three months to May 2019 grew strongest in New South Wales (+23.7%), followed by Queensland (+14.8%) and Victoria (+1.9%). The largest reductions occurred in Tasmania (-47.3%) and the Northern Territory (-34.4%). Commercial building approvals have also fallen back in South Australia (-10.0%), the ACT (-5.6%) and Western Australia (-4.2%).

www.masterbuilders.com.au

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THE Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and the Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors (GWCoMs) have signed an agreement to ensure a greater commitment to jobs and investments into the region’s economy.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would bring three mayors under one partnership with the resources sector to ensure the Mackay region would receive its fair share of the sector’s economic benefits.

“This MoU with the mayors of Mackay, Isaac and the Whitsundays regional councils recognises that the Mackay region will continue to be one of the most important contributors to the resources sector. We want to maximise our partnerships with regional Queensland to ensure they benefit from the wealth they generate through primary industries such as mining," Mr Macfarlane said.

“Our sector contributes $9.3 billion to the region and supports more than 56,000 full time jobs both directly in resources and in associated industries. This partnership will encourage more investment and a shared commitment to support regional economies,” he said.

“The QRC works openly and constructively with the Cr Anne Baker (Isaac Regional Council Mayor, and Chair of GWCoM’s), Cr Andrew Willcox (Mayor of Whitsunday Regional Council), and Cr Greg Williamson (Mayor of Mackay Regional Council) and this MoU will further enhance and progress these working relationships.

“Over the last 12 months the sector has spent $3.4 billion with 1,810 local businesses and 261 community organisations who are represented by these three mayors. Our sector has a resolute commitment to working with local communities and delivering the benefits from resources to all Queenslanders.”

The GWCoM’s and the QRC agree to the following principles over the next four years:

  • promote the sustainable development of the Greater Whitsunday region’s mineral and energy reserves for growth in jobs, exports and investment;
  • Educate the wider population on the different types of coal and their associated use and the economic value the coal sector generates at local, state and national level. Support the industry’s sustainable growth through planning infrastructure and social needs recognising the impact on local regional communities ie maximising benefits
  • encourage community and industry to develop in such a manner that each supports the sustainable growth of the other through planning, infrastructure and social needs;
  • support local communities within the Greater Whitsunday region;
  • collaborate to ensure that royalties earnt from the Greater Whitsunday region are reinvested within the region in support of both the industry and the local communities;
  • work together as needed for a successful outcome for any individual items that may be in dispute between individual members and groups within the region

Queensland’s resources sector invested $62.9 billion into the State’s economy in 2017-18 while supporting the full time jobs of 316,267 men and women. All of the industry’s economic contributions were achieved while operating within a strict environmental management framework and using only 0.1 per cent of Queensland’s land mass.

www.qrc.org.au

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PO Box 2144
MANSFIELD QLD 4122