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On Queensland Election Day, Afternoon Storms Can Bring Giant Hail and Flash Flooding, BOM Warns

The BOM says some areas of central and southeast Queensland will be impacted later today by extremely harsh thunderstorms with giant hail, destructive winds and flash flooding.
Clouds developed this morning in the eastern Darling Downs and are forecast to move east in the early to mid-afternoon and into the evening to develop into severe thunderstorms.
In New South Wales, the storm is driven by a low-pressure system that stretches through up the east coast to Queensland, stopping short of Proserpine, north of Rockhampton.
BOM forecaster James Thompson said that along and east of the Great Dividing Range, serious thunderstorms were feasible. [Those areas] today have the strongest chance of a severe thunderstorm, so a fairly significant portion of the east coast, “said Mr. Thompson.”
The BOM also warned of the potential for flash flooding in Brisbane, which is forecast to dump more than 60 millimeters of rain into the city an hour later this afternoon.
The flooding would not be widespread, however, Mr Thompson said. It means the catchments are somewhat more equipped than they were earlier in the week with the recent rainfall, so we may see flash flooding with heavy rainfall, he said.
The storms are forecast to spread into Western Queensland, the Darling Downs east of Dalby and Chinchilla, and the Central Highlands east of Clermont.
It may also impact areas south of Gladstone, Biloela and Thangool, and parts of the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The extreme thunderstorm activity was expected to include hail and damaging winds in some areas.
“Mr Thompson said,” Big to giant hail in excess of two centimeters, damaging wind gusts in excess of 90 kilometers per hour and precipitation that can lead to flash flooding.
Today, these isolated severe thunderstorms are a potential risk and we ask individuals to keep an eye on any alerts on the official website.
The safest thing you can do to plan is to take any debris that could fly around, indoors, clear any gutters, and keep any valuables out of the way of any storms to ensure that nothing that could hurt someone else or their property is going to fly around.
Later this evening, the storms are expected to move out of South-East Queensland and a minor wind shift early next week means that next week much of the extreme thunderstorm activity will not impact the south-east region.
For most of Queensland, tomorrow’s decent weather is just the slight possibility of tomorrow’s thunderstorms along the seashore of Capricorn, said Mr. Thompson.

National State of Emergency, Aerial Firefighting Fleet, Recommended By The Bushfire Royal Commission

The Bushfire Royal Commission has recommended the implementation of a national state of emergency. An all-hazard emergency warning app and a national fleet of water bombers is set to be deployed in order to prepare for the bushfire firefighting season. The investigation was called in the aftermath of the destructive summer bushfire season 2019-20 but looked at Australia’s preparation for all natural disasters and response.
The 80 recommendations include advice on how to organize all levels of government during emergencies, public alarm systems, firefighting services, climate data, the position of the Australian Defence Force, and how charities and other organizations can respond best in the event of trauma.
David Littleproud, Minister of Emergency Management, announced that the Government would carefully and methodically consider the report and its recommendations. The commissioners were entrusted with an enormous job by the Royal Commission on National Natural Disaster Arrangements: to figure out not only how to avoid the magnitude of potential bushfire seasons, but all natural disasters.
The Royal Commission recommends that a law be established by the Federal Government to declare “a state of national emergency.”
Critically, even though states and territories do not expressly ask for assistance, but only under “clearly defined and restricted situations,” the new law should grant the government the power to take action.
Mr. Littleproud, speaking after the report was released, said it would require a simple “trigger point” for the government and would allow it to mobilize national agencies to start responding nationally.
This does not imply that he said, the Federal Government will step in to take over the operational control of the fire.
Keeping a national state of emergency, the commission states will make it clear to the public how bad the catastrophe was. The commission heard smoke from the summer blazes killed an estimated 445 individuals during the hearings and there was uncertainty about when it was safe to go out.
A nationally consistent air quality guide, which is revised in real-time, is now recommended so that everyone is on the same page about what is, and is not, a harmful level of smoke pollution.
The Commission also needs more community education and guidelines on smoke risks, as well as tailored advice for vulnerable groups. It calls for the establishment of national forecasting capabilities on smoke and other contaminants, such as dust and pollen, to “predict plume activity” in a separate recommendation and provide advice accordingly.

Do Not Use The JobKeeper Coronavirus Subsidy To Fund Executive Compensation or Pretend To Be Loss-Making To Demand Stimulus, Warns ATO

The Australian Taxation Office ( ATO) has cautioned, businesses, that receive COVID-19 support payments such as the JobKeeper wage subsidy while either paying executive compensation or increasing dividends risk harm to their reputations.
The rules for stimulus measures did not specifically mandate businesses to avoid paying executive compensation or to raise dividends to shareholders, but there was a rapid outcry for those businesses to misuse the spirit of the measures, said Jeremy Hirschhorn, ATO’s second commissioner.
At the Australian Financial Review CFO Live conference on Thursday, he told finance chiefs that they wanted to “respect the tax law, but also respect the spirit of the law.”
In the community’s view, the quid pro quo is that large companies, especially but not limited to those who have accessed these programmes, will pay their share and strengthen their tax approach, said Mr Hirschhorn.
The alarm comes after a number of ASX-listed firms have been discovered to have earned JobKeeper wage subsidies and general fears that, amid promises not to pay bonuses during the pandemic, executives would walk away with cash handouts.
Despite her work and future hanging under a cloud, Australia’s highest-paid civil servant, Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate, remains eligible for a $277,000 cash reward.
In March, Ms Holgate, who is battling to retain her position at Australia Post after it was reported that she spent almost $20,000 on luxury watches for executives who secured a financial services contract with a major bank, said that executives would “forsake the right to a bonus payment.”
However, it is likely that the bonus would not be given to Ms. Holgate due to a deferred retention payment from the last financial year, which will equate to about 19% of her fixed salary of approximately $ 1.5 million.
On individual chief executives, Mr. Hirschhorn did not comment. But he said his opinion that when providing government funding during the pandemic, corporations do not pay incentives is consistent with messages from company and investor groups.
Chief Jennifer Westacott of the Business Council of Australia and Ownership Matters shareholder advocacy group is among those warnings about incentives being paid under these circumstances.
The group will have little sympathy for corporations seen as wasting public funds and abusing tax loopholes, Mr Hirschhorn said.
In your annual report, I urge you to consider the optics of making a statement stating that the pandemic has not greatly affected your company’s activities while receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus at the same time, Mr Hirschhorn said.
If aggressive tax activity spills into the public domain, especially in times of budget deficit, the line” we obey the tax laws in every country in which we work “would play even less well, he added.

Your Safety and Well Being is Primary For CBD Movers – COVID-19 Update

Important Announcement –

  • We are operating and taking bookings for all kinds of moves

  • We are still operating as a contactless moving service

  • We are following COVID Safe Plan

With the restrictions easing and DHHS allowing movers to take full bookings for all types of moves – local and interstate we at CBD Movers won’t let our guard down. The safety and well being of our customers comes primary for us. We were considered essential service providers during the lockdown and the restrictions that followed thereafter. We are operating as a permitted business in the Road Transport (passenger and freight) category with all the safety and hygiene protocols in place.
We have been operating on the contact less moving model where physical interaction with our customers was avoided at all costs. We are happy to inform that not even a single case of the virus was reported within our organization.
Stringent measures are in place as outlined by the DHHS at all our locations all across Australia. Close monitoring of our movers, sanitization of our trucks and equipment has become a habit at CBD Movers. Wearing a mask and social distancing has become a habit for our movers.
Our COVID Safe Plan will be in place till the virus is gone or we have a vaccine to protect us from the virus. We will keep scanning our movers for any signs of sickness. We will ensure to sanitize our trucks and moving equipment. We will ensure that all moves are completed on time without ant physical contact with our customers.
Our Customers have extended us full cooperation by following all the advice we had to offer them before making a move. We are sure this testing time will soon come to an end and we will be able to spring back to our normal life.

Drakes Supermarkets in the Class Action Filed at the Federal Court Facing Underpayment Charges

The culture of “insecure” jobs in Australia is fueling wage theft allegations against retailers, Australia Institute’s think tank reports, as a class action against another large supermarket chain is launched.
The action this time is being taken against independent retailer Drakes Supermarkets, which operates more than 50 stores across South Australia and Queensland, a few underpayment charges have been leveled which have triggered the action. The class action brought in the Federal Court by Adero Law alleges that Drake’s staff were not compensated for allowances and entitlements due by doing overtime and penalty work.
The statement of claim claimed that employees suffered illegal deductions from their weekly wages allegedly in respect of the cost of their work uniform products.
It claimed that the Adelaide-based chain allowed employees to “work extra shifts on days when they were not rostered to work to cover the absence of other employees (including on weekends).”
Adero Law has pending claims against Romeo’s and SA convenience store chain OTR independent retail company and has launched previous litigation against Coles and Woolworth’s retail giants.
Coles admitted underpaying employees via its grocery and liquor stores earlier this year and set aside $20 million to pay back employees, while Woolworths will start paying back up to $ 300 million in December.
Other big organizations that recently discovered they have low-paid employees, which started paying hundreds of employees late last year are jewelers Michael Hill and the company behind Gloria Jeans and Donut King.
“Economist Alison Pennington, from the Australia Institute ‘s Centre for Future Work ‘s progressive think tank, said in recent times the retail industry had experienced a” systematic wage theft regime.
Staff who feel more anxious and more desperate for their wages are less likely to question their employers’ standards of working for free. For jobs in these industries, it’s a race to the bottom, but it’s also a race to the bottom for long-term economic growth and prosperity. No-one wins.
Another problem, Ms. Pennington said, was that the kinds of penalties levied were sometimes not robust enough to prevent wage theft.
If they do eventually pocket a windfall of several millions of dollars in unpaid salaries, the relative risk to an employer of coping with a class action might be worth taking, she said.

Early Release of Super JobKeeper Payments Clawed Back By ATO Opens Up the Possibility of Financial Exploitation

Out of $69 billion in Job Seeker payments from companies it considers ineligible, the Tax Office has clawed back about $120 million but has not found systematic fraud linked to government stimulus initiatives.
Jeremy Hirschhorn, the second ATO commissioner, told Senate budget estimates that the recovered payments came from applications of either “deliberate” or “reckless” errors.
The proof by Mr Hirschhorn followed the commitment of Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan to investigate the early release of the superannuation scheme by the ATO administration to ensure that it is not abused by domestic violence and financial exploitation perpetrators.
When it came to JobKeeper, Mr Hirschhorn said that employers had made truthful errors much of the time.
He said the ATO also did not seek funds to be returned in such situations but prevented workers from being able to sue in the future. He took note of a concern as to how many employees had either made deliberate or unintentional mistakes.
The ATO said earlier this year that since the program started in March, more than 6,500 applications for JobKeeper have been denied, either due to ineligibility or fraud and thousands more Australians may see their payments docked.
However, Mr. Hirschhorn assured the hearing that there was no systematic high-level systemic fraud in the government’s aid packages. He said there were more ‘opportunistic’ instances found by the ATO of individuals misusing these schemes.
The JobKeeper wage grant is given to employers to pass on to qualifying workers. The Morrison Government paid a flat $1,500 per quarter to anyone qualified for JobKeeper from late March until September 28.
The outcome was then reduced to $1,200 per quarter per full-time worker and $750 per part-time worker. Next year, the salary allowance will be cut again. Businesses can demand $1000 per quince per hour per full-time employee and $650 per part-time employee between January 4 and March 28.
Consumer advocates have also raised outrage at the early access program of the Morrison Government that allows citizens to borrow up to $20,000 from their own super in two different transaction amounts of $10,000 each.
According to data published on 18 October by APRA, over 4.5 million people were cut out of their savings by a total of 34,4 billion dollars.
But customers, including Chief Executive Officer Fiona Guthrie, Financial Counseling Australia cautioned that their partners could pressure women to take their money out of their retirement.
It became clear that no alerts had been issued to individuals accessing their super about the danger posed by financial harassment in response to questions from Labor Senator Jenny McAllister.
It would be difficult to decide whether it was occurring because individuals used their own MyGov accounts to apply, Mr Hirschhorn said. Mr Jordan said it was difficult to monitor cases of financial exploitation because of the “sheer number” of individuals using their super early access.
But questioned on the matter by Senator McAllister, Mr. Jordan said that after saying it would be “shocking” and “intolerable,” he would investigate it.
But the Federal Government’s handling of the super scheme was defended by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, saying you have to consider some trade-offs when speed is required.

ASIC was Never a Tough Corporate Cop on the Beat, But the Saga of Expenses Could Weaken it

One head has already rolled away with the resignation of Deputy Chairman Daniel Creenan of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and the future of Chairman James Shipton is unclear as he stands aside awaiting an investigation into his claims and compensation for expenses. If you think we’re going to end up with new leadership that’s tougher on the big end of the region, think again, maybe.
James Shipton began his tenure as head of the ASIC in February 2018 after being named by the former Turnbull government, with Justice Kenneth Hayne’s Royal Commission on Corruption in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Sector underway.
Justice Hayne released a study after months of leaks from congressional hearings, criticizing the toxic sales culture in the financial sector and excoriating regulators to deal with it.
For its penchant for cutting deals with corporate miscreants rather than punishing them, ASIC came in for particular criticism.
Former investment banker Greg Medcraft, Mr. Shipton’s predecessor was infamous for preferring backroom deals and settlements over legal action, despite admitting that Australia was something of a white-collar crime paradise, but he is only one in a long line, representing a long-standing culture.
ASIC was blamed by the judiciary as far back as 15 years ago for going soft on high-profile, white-collar wrongdoing.
The impression of a captive cop, too similar to those intended for police, was strengthened by cosy cocktail functions with business leaders.
A former Harvard law professor and regulator of Hong Kong firms, Mr. Shipton is hardly a radical or a firebrand. But with the zeitgeist, he passed. ASIC followed a formal ‘why not litigate’ stance? Which made court action the first choice for dealing with firms which violated the law, rather than the last resort.
It created a better-resourced compliance office, started talking hard, and behaving a little harder than it used to be.
But the zeitgeist was shifted by the recession. The economic malaise triggered by the health restrictions of COVID-19 and the possibility of widespread company defaults has provided a reason for business lobby groups to furiously advocate for the relaxing of laws.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his team have considered them receptive.
The Federal Government has sought to soften responsible lending laws amid the body of evidence on dodgy lending by the Royal Commission. It suspended rules against insolvent trading as the downturn began and stopped creditors from pursuing firms that failed to fulfill their obligations.
Now it requires new legislation that allows businesses that are broken or in trouble that enter “bankruptcy protection” and hold creditors at bay, similar to those in the United States. The law would also prohibit corporate liquidators from performing a comprehensive and thorough review to decide if the corporation was operating insolvent, and limit their scope to explore the money trail to decide when funds had been spirited away in a distressed sector.
The regulations are actually only applicable to small and medium-sized companies, but big business groups want them to be expanded.
In general, conservative governments are more inclined towards soft-touch business regulation, and while after the Hayne Royal Commission, the pragmatic and adaptable Prime Minister and Treasurer expressed sufficient indignation, it is not shocking to see the pendulum swing back the other direction.
So, if Mr. Shipton and his team are deposed, do not expect to see a hard-nosed, tough-on-white-collar crime boss take over.
Australian governments have always favoured a corporate cop more in the mold of a friendly and unarmed British bobby than a Dirty Harry, and the strong corporate lobby that controls politics.

COVID-19 Testing Ramps Up, Victoria Records 7 New Cases

In deciding what kind of reopening announcement can be made tomorrow in the wake of COVID-19, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says the next 24 hours of test results from outbreaks around the north of Melbourne will be crucial.
Since yesterday, Victoria has registered seven new cases of coronavirus and no additional deaths, and the 14-day rolling case average is now five in metropolitan Melbourne and 0.2 in regional Victoria. The two-week number of cases with an undisclosed cause, or “mystery cases” in Melbourne, stays at 10.
In the Preston area in the north of Melbourne, four cases were identified, including a student at East Preston Islamic College. An individual who has tested positive in the past, one of the new cases, is still under investigation because it may be either reinfection or someone shedding old virus remnants.
In metropolitan Melbourne, all seven cases were registered. After a grade five student who attended classes on Monday and Tuesday tested positive for COVID-19, East Preston Islamic College closed temporarily last week.
In the past week, hundreds of close contacts in the northern suburbs of Melbourne were requested to self-isolate, and more than 6,500 coronavirus tests were performed.
Mr. Andrews said that tomorrow there will still be an update on the next step of lifting restrictions, but cautioned people against “banking” on a “whole series of comprehensive opening announcements.”
We do hope to get to that point, but we need to see the results of those studies, with so many thousands of studies that are still being processed, he said. We will almost certainly get more cases out of these separate outbreaks, tomorrow and Monday, and during the week, the main point will be,’ are they connected?’
If there are no connections, if they are not linked in any way, then that points to the fact that there might be more viruses than we would be comfortable within that northern part of the city.
It also speaks directly to the fact that opening up will see case numbers erupt if that is the case. We have … been in this position before in certain ways, and we have to do whatever we can to stop that.
The Premier claimed that “data and facts and research” will direct the next steps. We are all hopeful that we will be able to tell things that are good, he said.
But it is a note of caution that we need to be directed by that, with so much knowledge yet to come to us. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he was “very sure” that the active cases related to the outbreak would be monitored by the authorities.
But as the Premier spoke, it is those instances that may be unrelated, that may be caused by very significant research, that will require special consideration, and that will obviously be reflected in how we think about constraints as well, he said.
Mr. Andrews said he had met this morning over Zoom with a variety of community and faith leaders from Melbourne’s inner-northern suburbs.
Families and staff at East Preston Islamic College and Croxton School are advised by health authorities to get screened immediately, even though they do not have any symptoms.
Testing sites have been set up around Melbourne’s northern suburbs, and from today, a drive-through testing center will be at the Islamic College of East Preston. There have now been 98 active cases in the state, Mr. Andrews said, the first time that number has been below 100 since June 19.

Victorian Opposition Requests The Commissioner For Legal Assistance To Prosecute Counsel On Hotel Quarantine Investigation Records

The Victorian Opposition ordered the Commissioner of Legal Services to investigate the MinterEllison law firm and the in-house legal staff of the Victorian health department through communications that were not given to the hotel quarantine inquiry.
The problem relates to what Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton knew about the hotel quarantine programme’s use of private surveillance.
It was announced earlier this week that Professor Sutton advised his attorneys not to supply the inquiry with a series of emails pertaining to his interpretation of the decision to use private protection in hotels.
This week, Shadow Attorney-General Edward O’Donohue wrote to Legal Services Commissioner Fiona McLeay, alleging that MinterEllison and the legal staff of the Department of Health and Human Services ( DHHS) may have violated their responsibilities under the principles of legal professional conduct.
This is a critical problem that needs to be discussed,’ he told ABC.
In this case, the hotel quarantine investigation, prosecutors have a responsibility not only to their client but also to the judge. This is just part of getting to the truth and getting to the facts.
This concerns with the processing of records, the non-disclosure of key issues treat the hotel quarantine investigation with disrespect, and Daniel Andrews has to ensure that all appropriate information is provided so that the evidence can be accessible to Victorians.
My fear is that there might be other records that have not been produced as well, and both such civil officials and ministers are responsible for ensuring that any important piece of evidence has been produced.
In an exceptional sitting on Tuesday afternoon, Tony Neal QC, a lawyer assisting the hotel quarantine investigation, disclosed that the investigation was finding further DHHS documents, which best suggested that Professor Sutton was aware of the use of private surveillance.
The investigation heard in August that 90% of the cases of active coronavirus in Victoria at that time could be attributed to a family of four staying at the Swanston hotel in Melbourne’s Rydges, and cases from that hotel and another hotel included in the scheme, the Stamford Plaza, accounted for around 99% of the cases.
DHHS said it was completely cooperating with the investigation in a statement released earlier this week and had provided additional details as needed.
It said there will be an immediate response to all new requests for information. Professor Sutton was not present at today’s daily press conference arranged by Premier Daniel Andrews.
Mr. Andrews said Professor Sutton was preparing to prepare a further relaxation of constraints for the expected announcement on Sunday.
Professor Sutton said earlier this week in a statement that he had completely cooperated with the investigation and took his commitments to it seriously. By November 6, the inquiry is expected to return to the Victorian Governor.

SA Premier Asks Jacinda Ardern, NZ Prime Minister, To Ease Travel Restrictions

The Premier of South Australia is demanding mutual quarantine waivers for SA travellers moving to New Zealand, saying that such a change will help both jurisdictions “significantly.”
Steven Marshall wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Arden of New Zealand demanding that South Australians be allowed to fly immediately to New Zealand without quarantine on arrival.
It comes after SA abruptly relaxed the necessary quarantine conditions for travellers from New Zealand yesterday, enabling direct flights to resume as part of a travel bubble in Trans-Tasman. Despite the absence of incoming transport barriers, it would also be important to separate those attempting to transport from SA to New Zealand. Mr Marshall said he wished that travellers in both jurisdictions could remove quarantine conditions.
We face no challenge whatsoever to New Zealand, so I put it in writing to PM Jacinda Ardern, telling her to reciprocate, he said. If authorized, SA could become Australia’s only jurisdiction to be removed from existing constraints on the trans-Tasman bubble.
In NSW, there are still instances of community transmission, there are not in SA, so I have put out the case for SA having distinct agreements with other areas of the world, said Mr Marshall.
We hope she looks at the letter, considers the facts, and moves to an agreement where the 14-day quarantine does not have to be done by citizens. We are very excited to see direct flights between New Zealand and South Australia stand up ASAP.
After giving his “warmest congratulations” on the recent election victory of Ms Ardern, Mr Marshall wrote that he had been told by Air New Zealand that the airline could reinstate its Auckland to Adelaide route “within a matter of weeks” if quarantine conditions were to be raised.
Mr Marshall wrote in the letter to Ms Ardern, I would welcome and fully endorse agreements between our jurisdictions that would further free up travel between us while removing high-risk persons.
I would be very grateful for your consideration of the prospect of reciprocally removing New Zealand’s quarantine conditions for travellers returning to or visiting New Zealand from South Australia who has been in South Australia for the previous 14 days.
I have complete faith that such a lifting of quarantine conditions will not pose a danger to the continued progress of New Zealand in holding COVID-19 at bay.
Mr Marshall said that the SA health authorities were “happy to collaborate with the Ministry of Health of New Zealand” should such an application be granted. The office of Ms Ardern has been contacted for comment.

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