The high court has granted special leave to appeal in a landmark case on casual employment.
In the Workpac v Rosatto decision the federal court found employees described as casuals could be owed further entitlements if they performed regular, permanent work.
The decision on Thursday to hear an appeal of the case will give comfort to employers, who have warned it could result in billions of dollars of backpay claims by casuals.
The federal government intervened on the employer’s side, meaning the case will likely reverberate in the political sphere, with Labor taking the Coalition to task for furthering insecure work.
Australia’s resources minister, Keith Pitt, has acknowledged Australian coal is experiencing “longer port processing times” after reports of dozens of ships waiting off ports in China, some of them for several months.
In response to a request for comment, Pitt said in a written response to Guardian Australia:
We are aware of longer port processing times for Australian coal, particularly at this time of year. We continue to engage with industry about the impact that unofficial restrictions are having on resources exporters.”
Overnight, a transcript of the latest Chinese foreign ministry press conference appeared online. Bloomberg asked for information about the ships carrying Australian coal and why they are not able to offload the coal.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, answered only in general terms:
In recent years, China customs has found many cases where the imported coal didn’t meet our environmental protection standards while conducting risk monitoring and analysis over the safety and quality of imported coal.
In accordance with relevant laws and regulations, customs officials have strengthened quality, safety and environmental inspections of imported coal to better protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and ensure environmental safety.”
For more on this issue, see our story from yesterday:
The Liberal MP and former Australian ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, has praised the “remarkable” courage and strength shown by Kylie Moore-Gilbert over the “gross injustice” of her imprisonment in Iran.
Sharma told Guardian Australia he was “tremendously relieved by news of Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s release, after what can only be described as a nightmare ordeal for her and her family”.
He said the government had maintained throughout the process that the accusations against her were without foundation and baseless.
He expressed gratitude to Scott Morrison, Marise Payne and “the many government officials who worked on this case, quietly, tirelessly and resolutely over many months”.
“The courage and strength shown by Kylie and her family was remarkable in the circumstances. Kylie’s many friends, colleagues and supporters who campaigned actively for her release also deserve recognition, for drawing public and global attention to her plight and highlighting the gross injustice of her case to the Iranian authorities and others.”
The NSW Greens and Labor say documents recovered forensically from databases show the NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian was directly involved in approving $140m in grants to councils in the nine months before the state election.
The grants went overwhelmingly to Coalition-held seats and the documents show only Coalition MPs were consulted.
The premier has previously denied involvement in approving the grants.
The documents, which included memos from her senior staff, show a slate of grants was put to her for approval and the recovered document included a place for her to sign.
Berejiklian’s signature is not on this recovered version but it will raise further questions about whether she did in fact sign off on the grants.
The matter has already been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials have revealed there are still 36,875 Australians stranded overseas registered still trying to return home, including 8,070 classed as vulnerable.
That means the number seeking to come home has increased from 26,000 in mid-September, and the number of vulnerable people has doubled.
Dfat officials said since Scott Morrison had promised to bring as many as possible home by Christmas, some 35,000 Australians have returned home including 14,000 who were registered.
Even despite surge capacity in the NT, Tasmania and ACT, and Melbourne hotel quarantine resuming, Greens senator Janet Rice did some quick maths that only about 10,000 will be able to come in time for Christmas, leaving 25,000 still stranded. Officials don’t dispute the figures.
Labor’s Kristina Keneally went on the attack, noting that chief executives and significant investors have been able to come to Australia, while Tony Abbott has travelled overseas twice.
Border Force assistant commissioner, Kylie Rendina, said that 89% of people coming to Australia are citizens, permanent residents or automatically qualify, and only 11% are “discretionary exemptions”.
Keneally suggests this shows there is no process to reserve spots for Australians. Rendina says government chartered flights have a high degree of control, but for commercial flights it is up to the airlines who to sell tickets to – “it’s a commercial decision”.
Dfat’s Tony Sheehan said Services Australia is helping to call all the registered Australians, because many are not ready to fly at short notice.
Earlier, witnesses including Dave Wright and Carly said these calls were interpreted as pressure to drop down or drop off the list, because they were asked whether they are intending to return permanently or just for Christmas.