As we look to 2021 to be a better year than 2020, perhaps one of the shocks of Covid-19 has been how quickly our freedoms and liberty have been crushed under the weight of health dictates. It’s been done for our own good—that is, to keep us all safe from a silent, unseen enemy killer.
With luck, we will emerge from the Covid crisis this year with freedoms being returned. One fear, however, is that once governments, whether of left or right persuasion, taste the seductive power of authoritarianism, they become addictively hooked. There’s nothing some bureaucrats love more than the scent of their own power first thing in the morning.
That’s why at Self-Employed Australia we were pleased to receive an invitation from the office of Prime Minister and Cabinet to make comment on a regulation review it is undertaking. The review is looking at the expectations of regulators, their reporting and so on. In other words, the Prime Minister is reviewing how regulators should be held accountable. That’s a positive thing.
In our January submission to PM&C we’ve said that instructions to regulators from Parliament should be clear and transparent. We’ve said:
Our recommendation to the PM&C review is to keep firmly in mind that the community needs clear “road signs” in all regulatory matters. There should be a simple question asked of all regulations, namely:
- Does the regulation provide clear and practical sign posts that can be understood by the community and the regulator in their day-to-day application?
That is, regulators should not be in a position where they can apply their own view of unclear laws to the extent that the regulator effectively become a law-maker ‘on the run’.
We cite the example of the Australian Taxation Office, which all too often is in a position where it effectively ‘creates’ law because unclear legislation enables them to do so. We’ve promoted our ATO reform program as a pathway to fixing the this problem. Here’s our explanatory video.
As Covid recedes (we hope), the balance between health authoritarianism and democracy should be a topic for longer term review. That is, in times of health crisis, are and should health bureaucrats be held accountable under rule-of-law principles?
It would be dangerous to forget or ignore that 800 people died due to the Victorian government’s hotel quarantine disaster. We cannot simply ‘move on’ and pretend that 800 people did not die. That’s dangerous. That’s unsafe.
That’s why today we’re launching the next phase of our campaign to push for the prosecution of the Victorian government under work safety laws.
We write to WorkSafe
Here’s our letter, sent today, to the Victorian WorkSafe Authority, the prosecuting body. We provide them evidence that hotel quarantine plans should have been in place when they were not.
Hong Kong had clear plans that could have been used.
- Here’s a copy of the Hong Kong quarantine procedures manual.
We remind WorkSafe of evidence from one officer who said
“Each outbreak was treated like a secret and nothing seemed to change…”
And a doctor who warned of bad procedures saying
“This is placing individuals at risk”
The pandemic was NOT unprecedented
In separate facts we explain why the Covid pandemic was not unprecedented and was fully expected and planned for, BUT the Victorian government forgot(?) to do a hotel quarantine plan!
And here we explain how the work safety laws apply.
Into and during 2021
This next phase of our campaign will continue through all of 2021. This is just the start. We have a research and legal team. We are preparing more evidence of why prosecution must occur. We will make this public and deliver it to WorkSafe.
Join/support our campaign. You can contribute $s here if you can.
Register your details here for information and updates.
Bad things happen if good people do nothing!
Today (18 December) we launch our social media campaign to ‘encourage’ WorkSafe Victoria to prosecute the Victorian government over the hotel quarantine disaster. Prosecution must occur.
800 deaths must not be ignored or forgotten.
No one must be above the law.
Here’s our ad. Click on the image for the YouTube video (43 secs):
Get the word out. Spread the message.
Share this ad. Share the link.
Support our social media advertising campaign. Contribute $s here to our campaign.
Just $10 will enable around another 50 people to hear/see the message.
Stay up to date with the campaign. Register your details here for information and updates.
Having lived in Melbourne all my life, I’m ‘picking up’ that this Melbourne Covid-19 deep lockdown has induced fear. Fear is in the Melbourne air.
Yes, it’s fear of the virus. But it’s also fear of continuing incompetence by the Dan Andrews government. The incompetence has led to the Stage 4 lockdown. This is not a party political comment. Labor governments in Western Australia and Queensland have so far successfully and impressively contained the spread of Covid-19.
Instead, there’s something uniquely ugly about the Dan Andrews-led government we’ve seen to date.
- It has the stench of double standards. One rule for some people. Another rule for others. “You can’t do x. BUT it’s okay if some do!!” This has resulted in confusion about what people can and cannot do. Perhaps the Stage 4 lockdown will be consistent?
- Gross administrative incompetence.
- The blame for the ‘sex in quarantine hotels’ scandal lies squarely at the government’s feet. Premier Andrews refused Australian Defence Force personnel oversight. Every other state welcomed the ADF. The virus surged out of the hotels.
- Management of Covid-19 testing, reporting and tracing is compromised. There appears to be a confused bureaucracy. Just one example from last week. A business shut down due to one staff member testing positive. Other staff were refused testing by the health department, yet the doctors wanted to test the staff. What the hell?!
- Blame everyone but yourself. ‘It’s not me’ Premier Andrews has constantly stated in press conferences reported by media. He’s blamed the federal government for aged care problems, families for whatever (?), workers for going to work, the private sector and young people amongst many others.
We feel compelled to jump into this ‘blame others’ game when the Premier directs blame towards self-employed people. Last week Premier Andrews again blamed what he called “the structural weakness in our economy … insecure work”. This included contractors (the self-employed). We reject that. The Premier’s own report on ‘insecure work’ shows it is a positive contributor to society. Here’s our summary of the report.
This is part of the Premier’s declared war on the self-employed we reported in mid-June. The Premier has an agenda to make self-employment illegal, to wreck the lives of self-employed people. This reflects the authoritarian approach under Dan Andrews. It’s ugly and induces well-founded fear in Melbourne/Victoria.
Is there now a change in attitude? Perhaps. In press conferences over the last two days, Premier Andrews has been more inclusive. He’s thanked the PM for assistance, including ADF help. We haven’t noticed as many ‘blame others’ statements. If that marks a change in attitude, we can only welcome it.
Last week (22 July) the Morrison government announced that JobKeeper and JobSeeker are being extended past the current cut-off of at the end of September. But there are changes to eligibility and the amounts being paid.
We’ve waited a week to produce this update to check some details with the ATO. Be aware that the legislation for the extension has not passed Parliament, so our summary below is the best information available at the moment.
Current JobKeeper – No changes. Everything is the same until 27 Sept 2020. See here.
Summary: JobKeeper extension (after 28 Sept 2020)
Employees and self-employed people are still both eligible as per current rules.
Payments are reduced (and will be smaller still if you worked fewer than 20 hours a week in February 2020—see note below):
$1,200 a fortnight for October, November, December 2020 (28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021). But
$750 a fortnight if you/your employees worked fewer than 20 hours a week in February 2020.
$1,000 a fortnight for January, February, March 2021 (4 Jan 2021 to 28 March 2021). But
$650 a fortnight if you/your employees worked fewer than 20 hours a week in February 2020.
Payments continue to be made in arrears.
Turnover requirements change
Projected turnover is out. Actual turnover will be used.
For small businesses your turnover must still be down 30%+, but this must be down
in both the June & September 2020 quarters for the $1,200 ($750) payment;
in the June & September & December 2020 quarters for the $1,000 ($650) payment.
If you are not currently on JobKeeper, you can still apply if your turnover then drops during the extension period.
This is assessed on your BAS return for actual declared GST turnover.
You do not include any JobKeeper receipts in your turnover because JobKeeper doesn’t have GST. (We have checked with the ATO on this.)
Generally, you compare your 2020 quarterly turnover with your 2019 same quarter turnover (eg: September quarter 2020 to September quarter 2019 and so on).
Whether you have worked 20 hours more/less each week is based on the work you did in February 2020. That is, if you worked more than 20 hours a week in each week of February 2020, you will need to prove that to the ATO.
Based on our long experience with the ATO we expect that the audit division of the ATO will conduct aggressive audits of this. We cannot find any information on what hourly work records the ATO expects of you, particularly as a self-employed person. We strongly urge that if you intend to claim the higher amount (+20 hours) that you go back to your work records first and check that you have significant proof of hours worked. This should include invoices to clients and so on.
Higher Covid-19 payments for unemployment (JobSeeker) and other social security have been extended to the end of December 2020, but the amounts drop.
On top of the $565.70 per fortnight you receive
Plus $550 per fortnight to 24 September 2020 (current) but this drops to
Plus $250 per fortnight from 25 September 2020 to the end of December 2020.
Government source documents
Check the government’s fact sheets for full information: