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Friday 22 May 2020

Hon. Larry Anthony
Director

Wolf diplomacy became the new buzz word for this week. It also reminded me of the law of physics that everything has an equal and opposite reaction.

It was pleasing that there was a unanimous resolution at the United Nations to support an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 led by Australia, but the response from our largest trading partner has been profound.

Barley, beef and now the talk is iron ore - what’s next on the list from the Middle Kingdom?

Combined with the controversial commentary around Victoria’s decision to join the Belt and Road two years ago and the overall ratcheting of rhetoric from the foreign office and media in Beijing, the future looks quite uncertain.

Never has there been a more important time to choose one’s words carefully, to hold one’s nerve and to carefully manage the dynamic nature of our crucial relationship with our largest trading partner.

On the domestic front, the Government’s announcement of the Energy Roadmap by Minister Angus Taylor was a huge step forward for innovative technology and pleasingly lower emissions. At the SAS Group, we see great opportunities for the private sector to directly engage with the Government and be a partner in this exciting future. At a personal level, I’m also hoping it might end the climate wars between the Government and the opposition that have bedevilled the nation over the last decade.

But like the law of physics, the equal and opposite reaction still remains fluid between the States on border policy. The Commonwealth and the conservative states have called for an opening up of the borders, however QLD and WA remain defiant. For those in the tourism and hospitality industry, the hardship is unmeasurable. Here’s hoping that equanimity can be found soon between the Blues and the Maroons.

However, commercially the real wolf that howled this week was not China, Angus Taylor’s energy blueprint or the battle over COVID-19 border crossing, but the decision by the Federal Court to change workplace laws. The court ruling found that long-term casuals were entitled to paid leave. In other words, casual workers employed on a regular, permanent basis were entitled to both sick and annual leave.  The real fear now for businesses large and small is that employers could be up for $8 billion in backpay claims for casual employees.

So the strategists in the Federal Cabinet will now be juggling both wolf diplomacy, border brawls, and unprecedented changes to workplace arrangements. Let’s hope the bright news of the Energy Roadmap can provide some positive momentum for common sense to prevail.

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