Scott Morrison praises ‘innovative’ idea to trade tax credit for any future penalty rate cuts

Treasurer Scott Morrison laments the “pitched battle” over industrial relations reform that has pitted business against unions is “boring, it’s not helpful”. Photo: Alex EllinghausenLiberal MPs push for penalty rate cutsLower penalty rates inevitable: Malcolm TurnbullBill Shorten links penalty rates with affording private schools
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Treasurer Scott Morrison has praised as “innovative” a proposal that could see workers rewarded with tax credits in exchange for a reduction in penalty rates, a day after the Prime Minister signalled changes to weekend rates would take place over time to reflect the seven-day economy.

Momentum is building in the Liberal Party for the adoption of industrial relations reforms, including potentially the reduction in weekend penalty rates, as part of a broader package of measures that is also expected to include tax reforms.

Six Liberal MPs on Tuesday publicly backed the need for changes to weekend penalty rates in sectors such as hospitality, retail and tourism, to drive business growth and stimulate employment, though with compensation for low income earners that, for example, could see general hourly rates of pay raised.

In an interview on ABC’s Radio National on Wednesday, Mr Morrison appeared to put aside his previous concerns about cuts to penalty rates, and lamented the “pitched battle” over industrial relations reform that has pitted business against unions for “far too long” as “boring, it’s not helpful”.

“What we need to have is a mature discussion about these issues where we look at how the system works. What we want is more people, particularly young people, being employed. We need flexibility in the system which means people with disabilities, people who have been long-term unemployed can get a go in the labour market,” he said.

“I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to consider anything that would achieve those sorts of goals.

“If the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wants to go back to yesterday’s politics, and drag us in to a pro or negative penalty rates debate, I don’t think that helps the economy, I don’t think that helps the debate.”

On Tuesday, Malcolm Turnbull left open the prospect of lower income workers receiving a tax credit as compensation if reductions in weekend penalty rates – as suggested in the Productivity Commission’s draft review of the industrial relations system – took place.

The Prime Minister said there were a “lot of changes that can be made to the tax system which would improve the efficiency of the system” and promised decisions on tax changes before the next budget that would be taken to the next election.

Asked about such a proposal, Mr Morrison said “I think these are all very innovative ideas, in the UK [Secretary of State for Work and Pensions] Iain Duncan Smith has done some excellent work in looking at those sorts of systems”.

“What you want is a tax system and a payment system that locks together and a labour market system that links in with that to ensure you are better off working than being on welfare and that when you are working, you are not going to be taxed out of existence and you are able to get on and make a way for yourself.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten brushed aside Mr Morrison’s call for a “mature” debate about workplace reform.

“The Labor Party’s got 110 years of being mature about the wages of workers and trying to improve it. I’ve spent my adult working life improving people’s conditions. The Liberal Party, when they talk about wages, it’s code for cutting penalty rates, cutting conditions, reducing the circumstances of working people when they go to work. The Liberal Party has no plan to lift wages,” he said.

The Treasurer also flagged an announcement later on Wednesday with the Tax Commissioner about the government’s plans to crack down on multi-national tax avoidance, following the introduction of laws in September.

“We already have 30 companies that the Tax Office has been working with and we have people embedded there working through various arrangements they have to ensure that these companies are paying their fair share of tax,” he said.

“We have been able to identify additional companies as a result of the legislation we introduced into Parliament recently.”

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Pacific Highway ranked as NSW’s worst road in NRMA survey – again

The Pacific Highway has gained the title of NSW”s worst road for the fifth year running. Photo: Marina Neil Motorists rated Parramatta Road as the third worst road in the NSW. Photo: Anthony Johnson
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The Pacific Highway has gained the ignominy of being voted the worst road in NSW for the fifth consecutive year.

An annual survey of almost 8000 motorists by the NRMA has also rated Pennant Hills Road and Parramatta Road as the second- and third-most loathed roads in ‘s most populous state.

Roads in greater Sydney comprised five of the top 10 places in the motoring group’s survey, although the M5 West at Padstow no longer infuriates as many motorists as it has in the past.

This year the M5 West rated ninth on the list of the 10 worst roads, compared with third in 2014. The improvement was attributed to a widening of the motorway, which has helped ease congestion.

NRMA president Kyle Loades said it was no surprise that the Pacific Highway remains the No.1 most frustrating road for motorists because bottlenecks occurred where it intersects with Pennant Hills Road in northern Sydney, at Hexham near Newcastle and at Coffs Harbour.

“The good news is that in four years’ time, [the Pacific Highway] will be fully duplicated and a lot of those stresses and strains will be alleviated,” he said on Wednesday. “But until then we have … to keep it on track for a 2020 completion. Motorists just have to accept there is a bit of a pain [in the meantime].”

Mr Loades said the better rating for the M5 showed that practical improvements to roads could have an immediate impact for motorists without costing billions of dollars.

While big transport projects such as WestConnex, NorthConnex and the North-West Rail Link would change Sydney for the better, Mr Loades said the community did not need to await their completion to improve conditions for motorists.

“Parramatta Road is a relic of the colonial era, but as we have recently seen, traffic information systems, signage and clearways make a difference. That holds for the Pacific Highway,” he said.

“The current routes will bear the brunt of traffic into the next decade and we can make some practical improvements that will have an immediately positive effect.”

Motorists in Sydney’s west were the most frustrated with the state of their roads. Concord took the NRMA’s title of the suburb with the worst roads in NSW, followed by Holgate, Beecroft, Pennant Hills and Castle Hill.

“It is all to do with congestion and, once again, bring on the WestConnex, the NorthConnex and the North-West Rail Link because they are going to make an enormous dent into alleviating that congestion,” he said.

Mr Loades said there had been a 90 per cent drop in crashes resulting in injury on the Princes Highway north of Jervis Bay since the roadway was upgraded.

The peak motoring group also pointed out that commuting on Sydney’s M4 motorway takes on average 10 minutes longer than in 2007, which it said highlighted the case for completing the city’s road and public transport network.

In May, an audit by Infrastructure revealed Sydney motorists drive on seven of the eight worst road corridors in the country. It named Pennant Hills Road between Parramatta and Hornsby as the road with the worst economic toll in the country.

The second-most expensive corridor in , which Infrastructure  measured by delays to motorists per lane, was King Georges Road from the Princes Highway in southern Sydney to the M4 in the west. 10 worst roads in NSW in 2015

1. Pacific Highway

2. Pennant Hills Road

3. Parramatta Road

4. Princes Highway

5. M4 Western Motorway

6. Wattle Tree Road (Holgate)

7. Great Western Highway

8. Barton Highway

9. M5 Motorway

10. Narellan Road

Tony Blair reveals management advice from Alex Ferguson in new documentary

Raconteur: Tony Blair reveals the details of private conversations with Alex Ferguson in a new documentary. Photo: BBCFormer British Prime Minister Tony Blair has revealed the management advice bestowed upon him by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson – and it is brutal.
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Speaking on a BBC documentary to be aired on the channel in full on October 11, Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success, Blair tells BBC political editor Nick Robinson: “We would talk about man management, and I would say, ‘look, such and such, an individual – he might be really brilliant, but he’s really really tough, I don’t know quite what to do about it.”

And the former Red Devils’ manager’s response? Simple: “Get rid of him.”

Blair pushed Fergie for more, pointing out the difference between a cabinet and a football squad: “But how would you be if you got rid of a player but still found them in the dressing room every day.”

The advice this time was apparently less straightforward. “That would definitely be a problem,” the man who brought 13 Premier League titles to Old Trafford says.

Speaking later in the documentary, Ferguson gives his take on the exchange, explaining: “You have to have control, you’re the Prime Minister.”

“If they’re affecting the control of you, or disrupting the the dressing room, you have to make a decision

“It doesn’t matter if he’s your best player, if he’s difficult, get him out of the room.”

Ferguson was renowned for being tough on his players, his angry dressing-room ‘hairdryer’ treatment becoming the stuff of legend.

“I remember sometimes when we do something bad or we lost some games he kicked the chairs and he kicked the boots, he kicked everything, the waters, the drinks,” former United winger Cristiano Ronaldo reveals in the same film.

“And he’s so red and, ‘F*** you, you should pass the ball, you…’ it was unbelievable but it was good – because we learn.”

Retired defender Rio Ferdinand also speaks about the perils of taking the fearless leader on at his own game: “We played Benfica away and I think we got beat,” he said.

“We didn’t play well and he was shouting at me and I thought I was one of the best players on the day.

“So I was going back at him. And the problem is, which I failed to learn quickly, is that the more you shout at him, the louder he gets, and the more aggressive he gets, and the closer he gets to you.”

Ferguson retired from football in 2013. He is currently teaching a course at Harvard University entitled “The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports.”

The word on the street is that his students never turn up late.

No safe harbour: Trans-atlantic data pact struck down by EU’s highest court

Austria’s Max Schrems listens the the ruling in Luxembourg on Tuesday as Europe’s highest court backs him in his claim a trans-Atlantic data protection agreement doesn’t adequately protect consumers. Photo: Geert Vanden WijngaertA trans-Atlantic pact that potentially allows US spies to get their hands on European citizens’ private data was declared illegal by the EU’s highest court, in a ruling that threatens to plunge internet companies into a legal limbo. Judges at the European Union’s top court struck down the so-called safe-harbour accord after a 28-year old Austrian law student complained about how US security services can gain unfettered access to Facebook customer information sent to the US. The 15-year-old agreement compromises the privacy of EU citizens and their right to challenge the use of their information, the EU Court of Justice said in a ruling in Luxembourg on Tuesday. “This judgment is a bombshell,” said Monika Kuschewsky, special counsel at lawfirm Covington & Burling in Brussels. “The EU’s highest court has pulled the rug under the feet of thousands of companies that have been relying on Safe Harbour. All these companies are now forced to find an alternative mechanism for their data transfers to the US. And, this, basically overnight.” The EU’s top court has been weighing the validity of the data-sharing accord following revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about US government surveillance activities and mass data collection. An Irish judge last year called on the EU’s tribunal to decide whether the deal still protects privacy and whether national regulators have the power to suspend illegal data flows from the EU to the US. ‘Fundamental right’
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US legislation “permitting the public authorities to have access on a generalised basis to the content of electronic communications must be regarded as compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life,” the EU court said in a binding ruling. The pact “is accordingly invalid.”

Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, triggered the case with a complaint he filed against Facebook with the privacy watchdog in Ireland, where the US social network company has its European base. He alleged that Facebook’s Irish unit illegally handed over data to US spies. Schrems had previously filed 22 complaints against the California-based company. “This judgment draws a clear line,” Schrems said in an emailed statement. “It clarifies that mass surveillance violates our fundamental rights. Reasonable legal redress must be possible.” The law student celebrated his win on Twitter: *YAY* #CJEU on #SafeHarbor: SH invalid. DPC had to investigate. #EUdataP— Max Schrems (@maxschrems) October 6, 2015Facebook, like other tech giants Google and Yahoo!, have been reeling from the effects of the Snowden revelations in 2013. The companies have been trying to assure their users or customers that their products are secure and that they don’t willingly turn over data to the government. In a series of tweets, Snowden welcomed the judgement.  Congratulations, @MaxSchrems. You’ve changed the world for the better. http://t上海龙凤论坛/HmGpRq5Dgtpic.twitter上海龙凤论坛m/rTLYHhvmoY— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 6, 2015This is the second time in as many years the world has relied upon #CJEU to defend digital rights. Thank you Europe. #DataRetentionDirective— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 6, 2015’Bad news’

“This is extremely bad news for EU-US trade,” said Richard Cumbley, Global Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications at Linklaters. “Thousands of US businesses rely on the Safe Harbour as a means of moving information to the US from Europe. Without Safe Harbour, they will be scrambling to put replacement measures in place.” The European Commission and the US mission to the EU in Brussels declined to immediately comment. The case concerns all US companies that are certified under Safe Harbour — there are more than 4000 such companies. The case is: C-362/14, Maximilian Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner. Bloomberg

Jeff McCloy loses High Court appeal

FORMER Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy has lost his High Court challenge to political donations laws and will pay costs estimated at about $2 million.
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The full bench of the court has delivered a crushing blow to all aspects of Mr McCloy’s challenge to laws which restrict developers from making political donations, and the amount which can be donated.

In a statement issued a short time ago, Mr McCloy said he ‘‘respects the decision of the High Court’’.

‘‘I undertook this court case as I felt it was important to question the current law. I believe that anyone, regardless of his or her position, should be entitled to participate in the democratic process.

‘‘The High Court has ruled otherwise and I respect the decision.’’

Mr McCloy launched the challenge in July last year, a month ahead of his appearance before the ICAC’s Operation Spicer. During that hearing, Mr McCloy admitted to making illegal donations to Liberal candidates Tim Owen, Andrew Cornwell and Garry Edwards as well as Mr Owen’s campaign manager.

On Wednesday, the High Court unanimously ruled that the cap on donation amounts was permissible ‘‘and in fact enhance the system of representative government’’.

On the question of banning developers from making donations, only one member of the seven-member bench ruled in favour of Mr McCloy’s challenge.

On the question of costs, all but one ruled that Mr McCloy and his companies pick up the bill. Mr McCloy’s own costs are estimated to be close to $1 million, while those incurred by the State of NSW are estimated to be about the same. Other states and parties which intervened in the matter will pay their own costs.

In their judgments, Chief Justice French and Justices Kiefel, Bell and Keane said laws which excluded property developers from making political donations were valid because they did not restrict a property developer’s capacity to communicate ‘‘on government and political matters contrary to constitution’’.

‘‘The effect on the freedom (to donate) is indirect,’’ they ruled.

On the questions of capping donation amounts they said: ‘‘By reducing the funds available to election campaigns there may be some restriction on communication by political parties and candidates to the public. On the other hand, the public interest in removing the risk and perception of corruption is evident.’’

Justice Gageler agreed, but relied on differing legal grounds. Justices Gordon and Nettle also agreed, but on the question of the developer ban, Justice Nettle ruled in favour of McCloy’s challenge.

UPDATE: Foley welcomes outcome

The High Court’s decision has been welcomed by state Opposition leader Luke Foley and former Labor Premier Nathan Rees who introduced the political donations laws which were challenged by Mr McCloy.

‘‘Public confidence in our political system is not negotiable,’’ Mr Rees said.

‘‘Today’s decision is a necessary step for transparency and accountability in NSW.’’

Mr Foley said the laws should be extended now that they have proven to be valid.

‘‘The caps on donations and spending we’ve seen at a state level should be immediately extended to local government elections,’’ he said.

‘‘It defies logic that Mike Baird and I can run for office and be subject to strict caps, while at the same time you can run for a ward of a suburban council without any limits on what you can raise and spend.

‘‘The NSW Parliament should act now before the year is out.

‘‘As I’ve said before, any plan for local government reform needs to address these fundamental matters of integrity and transparency.’’

Read the full summary here.