Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down – May 2020

Well done Twitter, for finally having the guts to call out disgraced US president, Donald Trump, for at least one of the many lies he spreads on a daily basis. The decision to associate a fact check link to one of his tweets on so called mail ballot fraud was long overdue.

Although this president seems impervious to the truth, and regularly uses the social media platform to spew forth his verbal vile, that small step by Twitter to effectively call him out, is most welcome. Lets hope its not the end as we head towards the most important election in modern US history.

Congraulations to the union movement and everyone involved in helping to stop the Morrison government’s ill conceived ‘Ensuring Intregtrity’ Bill. The Orwellian named legislation threatened to break up our unions, strip away our democratic rights and make it harder to win secure jobs and fair pay.

The announcement that the union bashing bill had been withdrawn now alloes our unions to focus on the real issues faced by working people – which is to improve job security, fight for fair pay and safer workplaces.

Recently we learned that more than 100,000 Australians, with the some of the lowest super balances, could have had their accounts completely drained under the Government’s early access to super scheme.

Under this scheme, around $14 billion has been released from retirement savings, to help people pay their bills while waiting for JobKeeper payments to reach their bank accounts.

In effect this will have a devastating effect on the long-term savings of these workers who will now retire on much less. It is such a shame that JobKeeper was rolled out so slowly by the Morrison Government. If it hadnet there wouldnt be a need for workers to access their super, therefore keeping their nest egg safe for when they retire.

It took the threat of legal action from a combined 470,000 Australians for the Morrison Government to finally realise its so-called ‘Robodebt’ scheme was unfair, inaccurate and illegal.

In effect, the Coalition government has been dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing by the thousands of Australians they ripped off. Their sneaky late Friday afternoon announcement was all part of keeping their Ministers from having their day in court. However, at $721 million this case is already the biggest class action settlement in Australian legal history – and it is not even close to being settled yet. In short, the government needs to apologise to the victims.

Our universities need support

In my role as the Shadow Assistant Minister for Education and Training, I have been meeting with the Vice Chancellors of many universities to hear from them about how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted on their universities. It was especially troubling to hear about the severe impacts on staff, students and communities.

It has been devastating.

Our universities are in crisis and unless the Federal Government starts including them in relief measures there will be no ‘snap back’ for this sector. Not for many years and maybe not ever. I fear the effects could be long-lasting.

Recently we learnt that three regional Queensland campuses will be closed in Noosa, Yeppoon and Biloela. Hundreds of jobs will be lost, not to mention the educational And research opportunities that will disappear.

If the LNP Members in those areas (Ken O’Dowd, Llew O’Brien and Michelle Landry) really cared about regional Queenslanders, they would be demanding Minister Tehan step up and save these Central Queensland University campuses.

Not helping our educational institutions through this COVID-19 crisis is short-sighted and a big mistake. Researchers in those universities are undertaking valuable work right now to fight COVID-19, and we will need a skilled workforce to build our economy once this crisis is over.

Minister Tehan needs to stop ignoring Queensland!