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NT Government shaves $120 million off McArthur River Mine environmental security bond. The NT Government has quietly reduced the environmental rehabilitation bond for a major Top End mine by more than $100 million after controversially approving a significant expansion of the site.

NT Government shaves $120 million off McArthur River Mine environmental security bond

Key points: The McArthur River Mine's environmental security bond was reduced by $120 millionThe Environment Centre NT says taxpayers could become liable for environmental damageA proposal to double the size of the zinc and lead mine was approved on Thursday Glencore's McArthur River Mine, a lead and zinc mine near Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria, now has a security bond of about $400 million instead of $520 million. Mining and Industry Minister Nicole Manison announced approval for a doubling of the size of the project's mine pit and waste rock dump earlier this week. Why closed borders mean you may finally get a bigger pay rise. Have a think about this.

Why closed borders mean you may finally get a bigger pay rise

The size of Australia's "labour force" is roughly 13.8 million people. That's the pool of workers in the economy. Now, imagine it can't grow quickly. It can only grow slowly as babies are born, and with very low levels of immigration. In such a scenario, if there's a shortage of skills in the economy, workers with those skills will become more valuable. If employers want to hire them, those workers will have more "bargaining power" and can demand higher wages. And if the economy starts growing strongly and unemployment rates decline across a range of industries, the bargaining power of lots of workers will increase.

Senate inquiry into car dealerships prompts overhaul of franchising rules. A Senate inquiry has found there is an inherent power imbalance between car dealers and manufacturers in Australia.

Senate inquiry into car dealerships prompts overhaul of franchising rules

Key points: The federal government plans to increase fines for breaches of the franchising code to $10 millionA Senate committee has been critical of the government's reforms in the sectorCar dealers fear they will miss out on the new legal protections For the owners of Astoria Motors, that finding is nothing new. Why the Reserve Bank and the federal government don't see eye to eye on Australia's coronavirus recovery. These are unusual times.

Why the Reserve Bank and the federal government don't see eye to eye on Australia's coronavirus recovery

Despite an economy still in recovery from one of the worst recessions on record with elevated levels of Australians out of work, real estate is booming across the land, and all in the total absence of any immigration. There's just as much confusion in the finance world. Stock markets that for months have been pricing in blue skies and sunny weather forevermore suddenly have been jolted by the concerns of money markets that inflation, which has been dormant for the best part of a decade, could again strangle the economy. The conflicts are playing out at a leadership level too.

As the federal government is adamant that stimulus needs to be wound back, to allow the private sector to take over in the recovery, the Reserve Bank (RBA) is doubling down, arguing that it will be years before Australia can wean itself off the emergency interest rates that have sunk to zero. Fears of a debt disaster as property market runs hot and changes to safe lending laws loom. Jacob had big dreams before the global financial crisis.

Fears of a debt disaster as property market runs hot and changes to safe lending laws loom

He wanted to develop his then property in the Tweed Valley into a tourist lodge. But in November 2009, he had a serious accident on the farm tractor and could not work. He asked his lender at the time — who he had taken a high-risk low-doc loan from — to let him defer mortgage repayments until he could resume work. But the lender would not give him leeway and started charging higher interest and default fees. If you've been feeling poorer over the last decade, this graph explains why. Have a look at the graph below.

If you've been feeling poorer over the last decade, this graph explains why

It shows what happened to real household disposable income in Australia between 1992 and 2020. You'll see three distinct periods. The dotted lines mark the average growth rate in everyone's disposable income in each period. As you can see, between 2013 and 2020 there was virtually no increase in average household disposable income. Did you feel like your take-home pay was stagnating years before the current recession? Were JobKeeper payments supposed to flow to shareholders? It can be hard following a news story.

Were JobKeeper payments supposed to flow to shareholders?

If a story unfolds slowly over months, in increments, it's like watching a sand dune shifting around. Economics professor Ross Garnaut says Australia voluntarily keeps hundreds of thousands unemployed. This could take a while to sink in.

Economics professor Ross Garnaut says Australia voluntarily keeps hundreds of thousands unemployed

With weeks to go before the JobSeeker rate is cut, one of Australia's most respected economists has suggested there are potentially hundreds of thousands of Australians on unemployment benefits who shouldn't be there. Professor Ross Garnaut, a Professorial Research Fellow in Economics at the University of Melbourne, has condemned Australia's economic policymakers for the situation. But his criticism refers to how they've been running the economy for years, not just for the last 12 months. Your superannuation is about to increase, but here's the catch. There's something odd about those television and internet advertisements telling us we are getting more super.

Your superannuation is about to increase, but here's the catch

The money seems to come from nowhere. "Pretty soon," explains the woman getting onto an escalator, "the amount of super paid on top of our wages will go up". Fair enough, but the increases in compulsory super contributions will come out of the same bucket as wages — so-called on-costs which employers use to pay wage cheques, workers compensation, payroll tax, employees pay-as-you-go tax, and employees super contributions, which is also known as the "super guarantee". The ad is a bit like those promising buyers of mobile phones the "free gift" of an accessory. White spot virus killing wild Australian prawns and crabs, with some experts saying 'it is here to stay'

The exotic white spot virus that devastated South-East Queensland prawn farms is now killing wild prawns and small crabs in the Logan river and has become widespread in Moreton Bay.

White spot virus killing wild Australian prawns and crabs, with some experts saying 'it is here to stay'

Key points: Surveys confirm white spot virus is killing wild prawns and small crabsWhite spot disease does not harm humansThe disease has spread since an initial outbreak on Logan prawn farms in 2016 The Federal Government is reviewing its import requirements for prawns, and a leading aquatic disease expert warns that a dangerous double standard favouring importers over Australian fishers and aquaculture farmers is leaving the country wide open to the introduction of more dangerous viruses. In a survey finalised for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation late last year, Dr Ben Diggles discovered dead banana prawns and small crabs in waterways surrounding the Logan river — and live virus in small crustacean species in the marine food chain in Deception Bay, well away from the original incursion.

Gundjeihmi and ERA enter negotiations to extend Ranger Uranium Mine rehabilitation. An Aboriginal group in Kakadu National Park says the rehabilitation plan for a decommissioned uranium mine is "woefully inadequate", calling for a 26-year extension to the process. Mining at the Ranger Uranium Mine wound up yesterday after more than 40 yearsTraditional owners in Kakadu are now calling for an extension of the project's rehabilitation phaseThe company that runs the mine has signalled its support for the move Production at the Ranger Uranium Mine, on the outskirts of the national park, drew to a close yesterday after more than 40 years of operation. Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents Mirarr traditional owners, has used the closure to demand owner Energy Resources Australia (ERA) rehabilitate the site beyond its current lease expiry in 2026. Within that timeframe, the company is required to restore the site to its previous pristine state.

SA Government approves drilling on sacred Lake Torrens, despite opposition from Aboriginal groups. The South Australian Government has granted a minerals exploration company permission to "damage, disturb or interfere" with a sacred Aboriginal site in the state's outback. Key points: Lake Torrens is a sacred site to the Kokatha, Barngarla, Adnyamathanha and Kuyani peopleThe South Australian Government has approved mineral exploration on the lake, with environmental guidelinesThe exploration proponent plans to use "mats" to protect the lake's surface during the operations Lake Torrens does not have any native title protections but it is an important site to several Aboriginal nations. Kelaray, a subsidiary of Argonaut Resources, made an application to the State Government under Section 23 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act to conduct drilling on the Lake.

That section allows the South Australian Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Premier Steven Marshall, the ability to allow the damage and destruction of Aboriginal sites. Culture disrespected. Contractors refusing to sign up for TasWater projects, citing contract risk concerns. TasWater is set to change how it manages its small dam, sewer and pipeline projects, after local contractors raised concerns about "unethical" contracts exposing them to unreasonable risk, and projects "burdened by bureaucracy". Key points: TasWater set up a Capital Delivery Office (CDO) with large companies to manage its dam, sewer and pipeline worksTasmanian contractors are worried the CDO's new contracts expose them to serious riskTasWater will now move some low-risk projects away from the CDO Some Tasmanian civil contractors have been refusing to tender for some projects with TasWater, after the water utility set up a joint venture with large national companies.

TasWater formed the partnership with CPB Contractors and UGL Limited (both subsidiaries of CIMIC Group), with support from WSP Australia Pty Ltd, because it wanted more expertise and resources for what it describes as a complex and ambitious program of capital works. Competition watchdog says new rules are needed to ensure fair trading for 'vulnerable' farmers - ABC News. Australia needs new fair-trading laws, according to a report released today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Key points: The ACCC will investigate allegations of unfair contracts in chicken meat and horticulture sector It has recommended new unfair trading laws to apply economy wide The competition watchdog says fresh food markets have characteristics of power imbalances The competition watchdog is also expected to investigate claims of unfair trading in the chicken meat and horticulture sectors.

The Perishable Agricultural Goods Inquiry found markets for fresh foods including meat, dairy, seafood, horticulture and eggs have "characteristics likely to lead to bargaining power imbalances". Releasing the report on the final sitting day of the parliament for 2020, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the inquiry had found "examples of one-sided contract practices, commercial retribution, inefficient allocation of risk and a lack of price transparency". Mine regulators refer bullying, fraud allegations to Northern Territory anti-corruption watchdog - ABC News. Allegations of bullying and pressure to shortcut processes have erupted in the department which regulates mining in the Northern Territory, and gone all the way to the NT's Independent Commission Against Corruption. Key points: Mining officers allege they have been pressured to facilitate mining at any costA Public Employment Commissioner's investigation substantiated claims of fraudThe department head denies bullying and fraud is a problem in the Mining Division Staff in the department have alleged they have been pressured to water down environmental assessments for projects including Glencore's McArthur River Mine and that they are being pushed to facilitate mining at all costs.

The new Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, which now covers mining, has rejected the allegations and denied the rigour of approval processes has been affected. The Employment Commissioner Vicki Telfer produced a report on the allegations in November last year, which has been seen by the ABC. Australian dollar approaching a dangerous level, economists warn - ABC News. Whether you think the coronavirus recession has ended or not, it's hard to deny an economic recovery is underway. The closely watched National Australia Business survey points to this: "Overall both confidence and conditions are now above average, and stronger than the period right before the pandemic," NAB senior economist Gareth Spence wrote. Australian Grape and Wine calls for a fast pivot to other markets as China export evaporates - ABC News.

Unions lobby governments, Industrial Relations Minister to halve insecure work by 2030 - ABC News. Unions are urging the federal and state governments to set a target to halve the number of Australians in insecure work by the end of the decade. Mining company Bravus, formerly Adani, fined for 'misinterpreting' environmental approval conditions - ABC News. Mining company Adani, now known as Bravus, has paid a $26,000 fine for "misinterpreting" environmental approval conditions at its Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland.

The Federal Environment Department issued the company two infringement notices in October for failing to implement its species management plan. Bank account shutdown hurting communities sending $10 billion a year to family overseas - ABC News. The multicultural miracle of Australia is also a $10 billion money machine, as residents support relatives abroad with payments called 'remittances'. Key points: Australians send $10 billion annually in remittances, helping family around the worldHuge fines for breaching money-laundering laws has seen banks close the accounts of legitimate businessesCustomers now have to deal in cash and are increasingly pushed to unregistered, underground operators That's the amount sent overseas annually, helping to float families around the world. Less than 10 per cent of mining companies in Australia mention Aboriginal engagement, study finds - ABC News.

Less than 10 per cent of companies mining in Australia have publicly stated their positions regarding engagement with Aboriginal communities, land rights, and the preservation of culturally significant sites, research shows. How gambling authorities missed Crown's criminal ties - ABC News. What the superannuation wars mean for you - ABC News. The decision, it seems, is in. NT Government shaves $120 million off McArthur River Mine environmental security bond - ABC News. Peters prevented food distributor from engaging with other ice cream makers, ACCC alleges - ABC News. One of Australia's largest ice cream suppliers has been accused of depriving consumers of choice and cheaper prices by hindering competition within the market. The ACCC alleges Peters rejected PFD's request to distribute competing ice creams to storesPFD was the only company capable of distributing single-serve ice creams on a commercially viable basisThe ACCC alleges the agreement was exclusive dealing and hindered competition The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accused the Australasian Food Group, which trades as Peters Ice Cream, of engaging in anti-competitive dealings that stopped other companies from selling ice cream at convenience stores and petrol stations.

Why Australia isn't aiming for 'full employment' anymore - ABC News. Growers plead for fresh ideas after $150,000 worth of unpicked food ploughed back into paddocks - ABC News. How lessons from the past 40 years could show us the way out of the coronavirus recession - ABC News. Modern Monetary Theory: How MMT is challenging the economic establishment - ABC News. Mining industry hid issues with dust monitoring in Port Hedland from regulator - ABC News. If you've never followed the Federal Budget before, now might be a good time to start - ABC News. Dark kitchens (or cloud kitchens) on track for a bright future in a post-coronavirus world - ABC News. Queensland Government investigates whether new trains use parts made by slave labour from Chinese Uyghur camps - ABC News. WA councils back Premier's push to wind back interstate FIFO work - ABC News. As Australia's 'fiscal cliff' becomes a 'fiscal slope', talk of a 'snap back' has all but disappeared - ABC News.

RBA governor Philip Lowe says the Australian economy has 'turned the corner', but Government has more to do - ABC News. RBA governor Philip Lowe speaks this week, but does he have any good news to deliver? - ABC News. Modern Monetary Theory: How MMT is challenging the economic establishment - ABC News. Unemployment figures from the ABS are hard to interpret because of how they are defined - ABC News. Hutt River Province celebrates its 50th anniversary as Western Australia's micronation.

Clampdown on foreign investments to prevent international raids on Australian assets amid coronavirus pandemic. The steely women who launched a historic fight over the equal right to work — and won. Bob Brown Foundation forest protesters no longer face big fines after regulator withdraws ban. SA Government loses seven-month fight to keep combustible cladding documents secret. Why not everyone who has their land compulsorily purchased gets compensation. Northern Territory building developers call for better standards amid high-rise concerns.

Insurance premiums rising after long summer of bushfires, storms and floods. NSW Government proposes ratings scorecard for builders to prevent construction disasters. Tobacco giants lobby PM and key MPs with pro-vaping message - Science News - ABC News. Reckon you're not involved in modern slavery? Think again - Hack - triple j. Centrelink robodebt raised against dead disability pensioner. Power prices would be lower under emissions trading scheme, outgoing public service head Martin Parkinson says. Australia's solar industry is booming, but so is the amount of valuable waste going to landfill. Combustible cladding removal will uncover 'litany' of problems, expert warns. Grape company's gripe with NT Government over water allocation - ABC Rural - ABC News. Google search data used by pharma giant to bombard users with ads for addictive opioids. 'Critical' breaches of Vietnam live export trade see more than 1,500 Australian cattle left unaccounted for - ABC Rural - ABC News.

Cladding risks raised by Melbourne fire brigade before Neo200 blaze, but council deemed risk 'low' 'Obnoxious' drone noise to get national review as hobby pilots, Google face crackdown - Politics. Canberra's noise laws to face 'protest jam' as musicians band together to 'save' nightlife. Fears Canberra will become a 'silent city' if residential developments go ahead.

Amazon announces 'Shazam for clothes' and drone deliveries in 30 minutes at AI conference. Illegal waste allegedly dumped on proposed Darwin water park site, NT EPA claims. Employers pocketing $6 billion of workers' super each year, say industry funds. Land clearing laws to be bolstered if Labor wins government, so what do Queensland graziers think? - ABC Rural - ABC News. Fremantle shop owner Antonio Iraci wins 64-year legal fight to build a bike shed on his footpath. Music festival organisers say new regulations are 'an invasion of civil liberties' and 'a political move'

Property owner accused of putting lives at risk by denying Telstra access to landlocked tower. Google's drone delivery trial could be under threat from group of angry Australian residents. Coal ash has become one of Australia's biggest waste problems — and a solution is being ignored. Builder suspended by Victorian authority over substandard Melbourne developments. This retiree is happy to see the end of cash refunds on franking credits. Senators grill bureaucrats over $422m Paladin Holdings security contracts on Manus Island. Labor and the Greens are standing in the way of cheaper super.

Former Australian of the Year Mick Dodson expected to be first NT treaty commissioner. Carnegie Clean Energy's Albany wave farm win 'the only outcome' under tender process, MP says. Byron Bay Bluesfest director threatens to move festival from NSW after new government guidelines. Northern Territory ICAC's new general manager could face conflicts of interest, lawyer says. Thousands of Power and Water customers given deadline to deal with backflow risk.

Pill testing kits available over the counter at some pharmacies in NSW and the NT. The ACT Government used behavioural experiment to urge Canberrans to pay their bills. Darwin Turf Club provided $3.5m government guarantee to build drinking, gambling venue. Bank shareholders earning billions from our retirement savings. China's research in artificial intelligence 'far outranks' Huawei threat, expert says. Niall Blair singled out by Murray Darling Royal Commission over Menindee fish kill comments. Fired-up fishers demand answers over faulty tracking devices ahead of Gulf barramundi season - ABC Rural - ABC News. Cattle genome patent to be permitted following Federal Court ruling, after some amendments - ABC Rural - ABC News. Taxpayers foot $355k bill for Tasmanian Liberals legal fight over anti-protest laws. Rock lobster fishers fear for their futures amid sweeping changes to WA industry. EPA under fire over handling of biosecurity concerns about Ocean Monarch rig.

Lime scooters halts Gold Coast rollout after a day as council confiscates them. Flying rideshare taxis are feasible and could be in Australia within five years, says CASA. Got a bunch of gift cards this Christmas? You'd best cash them quickly. These young people aren't making apps or selling start-ups, they're innovating to help the world. ACCC recommends immediate overhaul of insurance in northern Australia as costs soar. Imam who illegally cleared Hawkesbury land scolded by Sydney judge. The developer, the whistleblower and the minister. New register tracks Chinese foreign investment in Australia and shows where the money ends up - Politics. Negative gearing, capital gains changes suited to the times, tax expert argues. PM's new backpacker changes an immediate relief 'but not a long-term solution' - ABC Rural - ABC News.