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Senate asks Abbott government to save Port Kembla steel industry

The Senate today has passed a Greens motion calling on the Federal government to intervene in the fate of BlueScope to save the steel industry in Port Kembla and 10 000 jobs.

Greens spokesperson for NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon said: "The Senate's request for the federal government to act is about protecting existing jobs in the Illawarra while building a platform for the next generation of economic growth in the region.

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Greens throw full weight behind steel-making jobs

The Greens NSW conference meeting this weekend in Gloucester unanimously endorsed the campaign to save the blast furnace at Port Kembla using state and federal government purchasing polices, according to Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.

The party also called for the NSW state government to take up part ownership of the steel mill in return for financial support delivered through requiring at least 50 percent of all steel in publicly-funded infrastructure projects to come from Australian blast furnaces.

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Op ed: Labor's handshake on data retention is bad news for unions

Lee's opinion piece on the the passage of the metadata laws was published today.

Mandatory data retention will not only bring about indiscriminate surveillance of all Australians — it will also enable the Liberal/ National government to supercharge its anti-union attacks.

All this is achieved with the backing of Labor.

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Estimates: Education and Employment Legislation Committee (Department of Education and Training)

Senator RHIANNON: You said earlier, Ms Paul, I think it was on 25 November, that it was determined that the planned advertising campaign complied with guidelines. Principle 4 of the department's guidelines for expenditure on advertising state that they should be 'instigated on the basis of a demonstrated need…' Other than the government's desperation to pass its legislation, what was the demonstrated need for the advertising campaign?

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Estimates: Education and Employment Legislation Committee (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency)

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you, Professor Saunders. I noted you said that the staff numbers are currently 56, down 10. What were the staff numbers when TEQSA started?

Prof. Saunders : We had a staff level of about 100—not when we started, but we built up to staff level of about 100.

Senator RHIANNON: In what year, please?

Prof. Saunders : We started in 2012, so it would have been sometime during 2012 that those numbers built up.

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Estimates: Education and Employment Legislation Committee (Department of Education and Training)

Senator RHIANNON: This morning when we were trying to explore some of the advertising issues, I asked some questions that I would like to return to. Principle 4 of the department's guidelines for expenditure on advertising states, 'Any campaign must be instigated on the basis of a demonstrated need.' It is a quote you would obviously know well. Other than the government's desperation to pass its legislation, what was the demonstrated need for this advertising campaign?

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Greens will block any moves on minimum wage, penalty rates

Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt says the business and government push on minimum wages and penalty rates is likely to fail in the Senate after the next election.

Responding to reports of a renewed IR push by business leader, Mr Bandt, the Greens spokesperson on industrial relations, said the Greens would block any moves to cut minimum wages or penalty rates before or after the next election.

"The minimum wage should be increased not cut," Mr Bandt said.

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Minimum wage and penalty rates under threat– Greens

Greens Leader Christine Milne says the minimum wage and penalty rates are under threat in Australia.

"It is absolutely clear that regardless of the findings of the Productivity Commission, the Coalition is intent on making life harder for Australian workers," Senator Milne said.

"This is a recipe for growing inequality and is deliberate. It is in the DNA of the Coalition and their backers like Gina Rinehart to reduce the minimum wage and increase the gap between rich and poor.

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