Tranche of files set to be released about John Barilaro’s US trade job

Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

More documents relating to the appointment of former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro to a highly paid trade role in the US are expected to be released by the state government tomorrow.

The opposition treasury spokesperson Daniel Mookhey said he expected the tranche of files to be released before 5pm on Monday. Speaking in Sydney on Sunday, Mookhey said:

These documents contain information that the people of NSW will want to see. They will raise serious questions around the selection process, as well as the role of [investment] minister Stuart Ayres here.

Mookhey was glad the premier, Dominic Perrottet, was back from his Asian trade trip but said he had returned to “a government that is disintegrating under the weight of scandal after scandal”.

The NSW shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey.
The NSW shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Last week documents revealed the deputy NSW Liberal party leader, Ayres, asked Investment NSW chief executive, Amy Brown, to add a name to the shortlist of candidates for a lucrative job that ultimately went to Barilaro.

While Investment NSW confirmed the candidate mentioned in the email “was not John Barilaro”, the email calls into question Ayres’ insistence that the appointments were made by the public service at arm’s length from the government.

Moohkey said Ayres had “serious questions to answer”.

Ayres has continued to deny he influenced the process. Barilaro has since withdrawn from the role but always maintained he followed the proper process before his appointment.

To catch up on what has happened so far, you can read the Guardian’s report on the emails that show how Ayres helped produce a shortlist of candidates:

Key events

Claims Carlton’s Adam Saad racially abused during Adelaide game

The AFL is investigating claims Carlton defender Adam Saad was racially abused by a fan during the Blues’ shock loss at the Adelaide Oval.

A Carlton cheer squad group has claimed Saad was called a “terrorist” by a member in the crowd during the Blues’ clash with the Adelaide Crows on Saturday night.

The AFL confirmed in a statement that it is looking into the alleged incident:

The AFL is currently investigating alleged comments made by a spectator at AO [Adelaide Oval] last night. Football is a place of inclusion and belonging and there is no place for racist behaviour in our game.

Carlton is working with the AFL’s integrity unit to determined what happened.

The club is fully aware of the seriousness of the alleged comments, and has been providing the appropriate level of support to its people as the matter is investigated.

The club makes clear that vilification of any kind is disgraceful, unacceptable and has no place in society, let alone our game. Further comment will be provided once the investigation is completed in full.

The Crows said they were also looking into claims made on social media.

The Adelaide Football Club is investigating reports of an alleged racially motivated comment made by a spectator during Saturday night’s game against Carlton.

We do not tolerate and strongly condemn any form of discriminatory behaviour and it has no place in football or society. Adelaide Oval should be an inclusive and family friendly environment.

Nobody in our game or in the community deserves to be discriminated and vilified against due to their faith or race and there is simply no excuse for it.

In 2018 when Saad was playing for Essendon, the backman tossed the coin with Richmond premiership hero Bachar Houli as a sign of solidarity for the Muslim community.

The gesture was prompted by an inflammatory anti-immigration speech from former senator Fraser Anning.

– from AAP

Cait Kelly

Cait Kelly

Pacific Islands farmworker allegedly set alight by another worker

A Pacific Islands farmworker who left his fruit picking job to work for a labour hire company ended up in hospital, without access to Medicare, after he was allegedly set alight by another worker.

Sione Lavalu spent 74 days in the Royal Brisbane hospital with stage three burns earlier this year. When he was first admitted, almost half his body was affected, and doctors told his family he had a 20% chance of surviving.

Lavalu spent four years flying in and out of Australia to pick fruit on farms until early 2020, when Covid hit and he could not get home to Tonga.

When Lavalu left his job at the farm he lost access to Medicare – despite the fact he had worked in Australia for six years by then. Four weeks after a seasonal worker disengages from the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (Palm) scheme, they lose their access to health insurance.

There are about 22,830 people from the Pacific Islands in Australia under the Palm program. It allows Australian businesses to hire workers on a special visa designed to fill labour shortages in regional Australia.

Read the full story by Cait Kelly:

After 865 days, Samoa reopens to tourists

Samoa will reopen to international tourists again on Monday 865 days after closing borders due to Covid-19.

Flights heading to Apia’s international airports are expected to run close to capacity for weeks to come.

New Zealand is the biggest tourist market for Samoa, but there’s not a single seat available on one of Air New Zealand’s four weekly flights until August 23, with a one-way ticket starting at the princely sum of $NZ1,083 ($A960).

Most of these flights are not expected to be bringing tourists but to be packed with Samoans who have been trapped overseas returning home to visit their family.

The Pacific nation has around 200,000 residents, but a huge diaspora overseas.

Estimates suggest there are as many Samoans living in both the US and New Zealand as Samoa itself, with another 100,000 in Australia.

The first flight to land at Faleolo International Airport will be a New Zealand Defence Force Boeing, carrying prime minister Jacinda Ardern and an entourage of politicians, staff, community leaders and media.

The New Zealand delegation is making a two-day trip on the invitation of prime minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, celebrating 60 years of Samoan independence.

Prior to the pandemic, tourism increased to contribute roughly a quarter of Samoa’s GDP.

– with AAP

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

NSW town hit by floods buys walkie talkies to communicate

Residents of the Macdonald valley, 90 minutes’ drive north of Sydney, say they feel like the forgotten valley after recent floods left the area in disarray, forcing them to buy walkie-talkies to commun
icate.

“All those guys had the best intentions in the world,” Steve Kavanagh says of Defence Force and state government assistance in the immediate aftermath of floods at the end of June.

“They came in for six days,” he says, but the help was gone before the town was even close to back on its feet.

Now rubbish piles up in the streets, a Telstra phone box sits overturned, roofs lie destroyed on the ground and tonnes of sand from the river has moved onshore, blocking access.

“It’s like a very mini version of Lismore,” he says of the clean-up efforts.

Read Josh Taylor’s full story here:

Tranche of files set to be released about John Barilaro’s US trade job

Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

More documents relating to the appointment of former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro to a highly paid trade role in the US are expected to be released by the state government tomorrow.

The opposition treasury spokesperson Daniel Mookhey said he expected the tranche of files to be released before 5pm on Monday. Speaking in Sydney on Sunday, Mookhey said:

These documents contain information that the people of NSW will want to see. They will raise serious questions around the selection process, as well as the role of [investment] minister Stuart Ayres here.

Mookhey was glad the premier, Dominic Perrottet, was back from his Asian trade trip but said he had returned to “a government that is disintegrating under the weight of scandal after scandal”.

The NSW shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey.
The NSW shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Last week documents revealed the deputy NSW Liberal party leader, Ayres, asked Investment NSW chief executive, Amy Brown, to add a name to the shortlist of candidates for a lucrative job that ultimately went to Barilaro.

While Investment NSW confirmed the candidate mentioned in the email “was not John Barilaro”, the email calls into question Ayres’ insistence that the appointments were made by the public service at arm’s length from the government.

Moohkey said Ayres had “serious questions to answer”.

Ayres has continued to deny he influenced the process. Barilaro has since withdrawn from the role but always maintained he followed the proper process before his appointment.

To catch up on what has happened so far, you can read the Guardian’s report on the emails that show how Ayres helped produce a shortlist of candidates:

‘Archie Roach was
proof that music could change lives’: Tony Burke

The arts minister Tony Burke has released the following statement on the death of Archie Roach:

What a loss.

Archie Roach was proof that music could change lives and move hearts.

Music changed his life and his music changed Australia.

He was an elder, a storyteller, a songman and one of the most humble people I’ve met in my life.

Before he found music so many of the ingredients of his life had been harsh, even brutal.

He took all of that and used music to create beauty, truth telling and hope.

Burke said he first saw Roach play at ACTU Congress and the final time he saw him was at the Woodford Folk Festival. Burke credited Roach with collaborating with the next generation of artists.

Thank you Archie Roach.

Your strength, strengthened us all.

I extend my deepest sympathies to Archie’s family, particularly his sons Amos and Eban.

Natasha May

Natasha May

It is a case that captured the attention of Australia and the world, with all the hallmarks of a great mystery novel. A body on the beach. Slumped against the sea wall, the man is well dressed but no one can identify him.

A scrap of paper in a foreign tongue is found inside his pocket – the words “tamám shud”, meaning “it is finished” in Persian. The paper is traced to a copy of an ancient poem, the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, in a book containing a secret code and the phone number of a young nurse living close by where the dead man was found on 1 December 1948.

For 73 years, the unknown man has been referred to by the beach where he was found, Somerton, just south of Adelaide, allowing the tantalising threads of the “Somerton man” mystery to spin out, resulting in elaborate theories. Some believed Somerton man was a Russian spy, or a spurned lover who fathered the child of the young nurse.

This week Prof Derek Abbott of the University of Adelaide claimed to have identified Somerton man as Carl “Charles” Webb, a 43-year old engineer from Melbourne who wrote poetry and “seems to be a bit of a loner”.

For more on the latest developments in the mystery of the Somerton man, read the full story by Guardian Australia rural network reporter Natasha May.

ACT budget to focus on health and housing

The upcoming ACT budget will look to tackle social infrastructure with pre-budget announcements focusing on housing and health.

The territory’s Labor-Greens government has announced $37.5m for mental health services such as perinatal mental health screening, enhancing perinatal, infant and child mental health and expanding the childhood early intervention team.

A record amount of land is also due to be made available by the government over the next five years to help tackle housing affordability in the capital.

The government is planning for an increase of 30,000 dwellings in the time frame as the ACT’s population is predicted to eclipse 500,000 by the end of the decade.

Funding for the renewal of public housing stock and the construction of more properties marked as rentals has been slated as well.

There is also more than $13 million in additional support for alcohol and drug services, spanning rehabilitation, family and carer support and specialised treatments.

It comes as the ACT opened Australia’s first static drug testing site under a pilot program.

The 2022-23 budget will be handed down on Tuesday.

– from AAP

National Covid summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 41 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 556
  • In hospital: 163 (with 1 person in ICU)

NSW

  • Deaths: 5
  • Cases: 10,993
  • In hospital: 2,265 (with 66 people in ICU)

Northern Territory

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 236
  • In hospital: 56 (with 0 people in ICU)

Queensland

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 4,655
  • In hospital: 762 (with 28 people in ICU)

South Australia

  • Deaths: 9
  • Cases: 2,364
  • In hospital: 346 (with 11 people in ICU)

Tasmania

  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases: 649
  • In hospital: 150 (with six people in ICU)

Victoria

  • Deaths: 21
  • Cases: 7,115
  • In hospital: 768 (with 43 people in ICU)

Western Australia

  • Deaths: 6
  • Cases: 3,252
  • In hospital: 415 (with 14 people in ICU)

SA records nine Covid deaths

Nine people with Covid-19 have died in South Australia overnight, with the state recording 2,364 new cases on Sunday morning, 346 people in hospital, and 11 in ICU.

WA government lifts public worker pay rise offer

Western Australian teachers, nurses, police officers, cleaners and public servants have been offered a 6% wage rise over the next two years as a buffer to rising inflation, AAP reports.

The Western Australia government has increased its pay offer for 150,000 workers to three per cent annually for the next two years, along with an additional $2,500 cost of living payment.

Premier Mark McGowan said in a social media post on Sunday the move was in response to peaking inflation and would cost the budget an extra $634m over the next four years.

Given the current economic climate we’ve listened and reviewed our wages policy.

This is a reasonable and generous policy, but also responsible in these volatile economic times.

The changes will immediately flow through to industries that have already accepted the government’s previous 2.75% pay increase offer, including teachers and public hospital doctors.

Some workers’ wages will be boosted more than the three per cent annual rate, with a patient care assistant who earns just over $55,000 a year set to effectively get a 7.5% wage rise over the first year.

WA premier Mark McGowan says the pay offer is ‘reasonable and generous’.
WA premier Mark McGowan says the pay offer is ‘reasonable and generous’. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

Perth’s consumer price index jumped 1.7% in the June quarter, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, pushing its annual inflation rate well above the national average to 7.4%.

Health workers and other WA public servants were lobbying for a pay rise above 2.75%, with some holding stop-work meetings outside Perth hospitals in recent weeks.

Hundreds of new staff to help stretched NSW teachers

Hundreds of school administration, leadership and support staff will be hired in New South Wales to help under-pressure teachers, AAP reports.

More than 200 new administrative positions will be trialled from term four to assist public school teachers with tasks including data entry, paperwork, and co-ordinating events and excursions.

Thousands of teachers walked off the job in late June over wages and conditions, with the NSW Teachers Federation describing the state government’s three per cent pay increase offer as an insult.

The NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell said the new roles will reduce the administrative burden on teachers and open doors to people wanting to re-enter the workforce or upskill.

Our teachers are skilled professionals and their time is precious. However, they are stretched across too many non-teaching and low-value activities.

Running a modern-day school is complex. We need to look at the work staff do in schools and think differently about how it gets done.

NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell.
NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

She said recruitment had started for 780 assistant principal positions.

The strike on June 30, just a day before two weeks of holidays, was the third in six months.

Chalmers wants to see ‘strong and sustainable’ wage growth

Sky News has run an interview with the treasurer Jim Chalmers from late last week, where Chalmers was asked about Labor’s position on wage growth amid the high inflation the nation is experiencing.

Chalmers:

I think all of our team understands that we do want strong wages growth, but we want it to be sustainable. You know, I don’t hear anybody in our team calling for exorbitant wages growth. What people really want to see is something that’s strong and sustainable at the same time and enduring.

And there is a high level of understanding not just in our side of the parliament, but I think in the Australian community that one of the problems we’ve had with our economy for the best part of a decade now is those stagnant wages. We’ve got real wages going backwards quite considerably at the moment, unfortunately. And so our job is to see that inflation moderate, do our bit on the supply side in particular, but also to get those real wages growing again.

I think it’s in the interests of all Australians that as we rebuild this economy after this difficult period that sustainable wages growth is part of the story. And that means productivity is part of the story. It means investing in the future of our economy, strong and secure well-paid jobs is a big part of our agenda. Because what we want to see is these wage increases to continue to endure, and to be responsible and sustainable at the same time.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says stagnant wages have been a problem for years.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers says stagnant wages have been a problem for years. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP