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Aged pension changes hit hard

Finance experts warn most aged pensioners will be impacted by changes being introduced on January 1.Finance experts have warned most aged pensioners will be impacted by changes being introduced on January 1.
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The Federal Government will introduce two changes to the aged pension means test which calculates income and assets excluding the family home.

From the New Year, the lower threshold assets test would increase by $3 per fortnight for every $1000 over the threshold, according to Cape Financial Planning expert Cindell Baker.

“This has the effect of reducing the cut-off limit where an age pension is no longer payable,” she said.

Ms Baker said some people received part payments or none at all, and people with higher levels of assets could see a reduction or cancellation of the aged pension as a result of the changes to the taper rate.

“It is not all bad news some older Australian will actually be better off under the new rules,” she said.

“According to Centrelink 90 per cent of pensioners would not be affected or would receive an increase in their pension.”

She suggested strategies to help reduce assessable assets for pension purposes which included improving or purchasing a more expensive home or booking a holiday before January 1.

Other strategies included contributing to superannuation in the name of a spouse under the age pension age or gifting to someone within allowable limits.

The Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen saidthey had written to around 700,000 pensioners who hold a significant value of assets to advise how they may be affected by the changes.

Mr Jongen said if a pensioner’s payment rate reduces or stops as a result of the changes, they would receive another letter from the department in December with further information.

ADepartment of Social Services spokesperson said each year, a growing number of people retired, and many received the age pension for far longer than in the past.

“As a result, there will be a much smaller proportion of people paying taxes for a larger proportion of people receiving the pension,” they said.

“The age pension is there to help those who can’t fully support themselves, it’s not intended to support those with higher levels of wealth to maintain their capital base.

“These changes will make the pension system fairer andbetter targeted.”

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Aldi looks set to expand its empire with store planned for Fremantle

Aldi looks set to open in Fremantle. Photo: Josh Robenstone Big-screen TVs proved a hit when Aldi opened in Perth this year. Photo: Brendan Foster
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Supermarket giant Aldi looks set to have conquered the final frontier in WA, with plans to open a store in Fremantle.

WAtoday understands Aldi is eyeing off at site on Hampton Road in South Fremantle, which fashion store Supre currently calls home, and is expected to open mid-2017.

Aldi’s previous attempts to move into the port city were thwarted by Fremantle council after the supermarket behemoth tried to open a store in Hilton in June last year.

The city knocked back Aldi’s bid to build a supermarket on the old Hilton Fresh site in South Street because it was not considered “sensible urban design”.

At the time, council wasn’t keen on Aldi’s designs because the proposed 1020-square metre supermarket effectively turned its back onto South Street.

“We generally expect buildings to address the main street frontage so as to provide activation, permeability, visual interest, and passive surveillance,” acting mayor Josh Wilson said at the time.

“The opportunity for a lively and welcoming main street environment is lost when buildings turn their ‘backside’ to the front, creating a dull traffic-dominated corridor environment.

“All relevant aspects of the design will be considered by the PSC [Planning Services Committee] in reaching its decision.”

Several shop owners were also against the design because their businesses would have to be bulldozed to make way for the $4.2 million supermarket.

Aldi has been a smash hit since moving to WA, with hundreds of shoppers lining up the freezing cold to be the first into the stores when they opened in Kwinana and Belmont in June.

The German discounter will open 20 stores in WA before the end of 2016, with shops planned for a number of sites across the metropolitan area.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt welcomed Aldi’s entry to the port city.

“I know there will a lot of Fremantle people who will be excited by the prospect of an Aldi coming in town,” he said.

“The South Fremantle shopping centre is a potentially a good location for it too and it will be a good addition to the retail mix there.” Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Public servants the weak link in $1.5 billion welfare reform job

The Department of Human Services’ John Murphy. Photo: Louise KennerleyBosses at the giant Department of Human Services have more faith in technology than in their 36,000 public servants in delivering welfare payment reform, a conference in Canberra has been told.
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DHS deputy secretary John Murphy said technology, an area where his department has struggled, was likely to be “the easiest part of the journey”€ of spending $1.5 billion in taxpayers’€™ money replacing the Centrelink payment system.

The former NAB banker has told a tech conference the biggest challenge of the change program would be engaging and winning over the department’™s 35,000 employees, according to news site Government News.

The department has been riven by industrial strife since 2014 with workers now having rejected three times a new workplace agreement they fear would strip them of conditions and entitlements.

The atmosphere in the department has become so volatile that at one point the human resources boss claims he was subjected to a death threat from an infuriated public servant and there was no end in sight to the dispute.

Human Services has also struggled in the technology realm, enduring a barrage of criticism for its management of the troubled myGov web portal.

The department has also kept under wraps big problems with its internal Customer First platform.

Insiders were dismayed when SAP, the tech giant that sold DHS the technology underpinning the Customer First platform, was chosen as “preferred vendor” to supply the core software for the new $1 billion project which it will also co-design and build.

Two other “usual suspects” in government tech procurement, Capgemini and Accenture, are vying to secure to secure the systems integration contract for stage one of the WPIT project.

But despite DHS’s patchy record, Mr Murphy told the GovInnovate summit in Canberra this week technology was the least of the department’s worries.

“€œGiven enough time and money the technology is the area that we would be the most confident about,” he said.

He told the conference the DHS was likely to bring in more private sector specialists, and a change management outfit, to help with the department’s transformative change.

He said Department of Human Services staff would have to get used to new ways of working.

“We want them to spend more time talking to welfare recipients about their needs rather than answering questions: ‘I lodged my claim three weeks ago. When will it be processed’?” Mr Murphy told his audience.

“A lot of calls are very routine.

“I want to focus the efforts of those people on helping people who are the most in need.”

The department envisaged a system where data gathered on its customers would allow it to build a profile on a client, vastly reducing the traditional reliance on forms that must be filled-in, checked and process, a costly and time-consuming process.

“We are very much looking to adopt the philosophy we’ll play back information to welfare recipients and ask them to confirm it, rather than many, many forms, questions and definitions of incomes,” Mr Murphy said.

“It is incredibly difficult for citizens to understand what they’re entitled to and what information to tell the department.

“We want to make it easier for people to understand what they’re entitled to and tell them straight away that they’re not eligible.”

Clarification: An earlier version of this article inferred the department of Human Services was managing the $1.5 billion project to replace the Centrelink and Medicare payment systems. Human Services is managing the replacement of the Centrelink system while the Health Department has carriage of the Medicare replacement.

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RSL payments scandal: Local branches turn against NSW leadership

RSL national president Rod White has been stood down. Photo: Jeff de Pasquale James Brown has described the RSL as being in crisis. Photo: Brendan Esposito
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The leadership of the RSL in NSW is facing the threat of removal, with a number of sub-branches in the state working to sack the entire state council over its handling of the consultancy payments scandal that has engulfed a number of councillors.

Castle Hill, one of the state’s largest and most influential RSL sub-branches, and more than 20 sub-branches in Newcastle are calling for a special meeting where the state council could be voted out and replaced by either an administrator or an interim leadership made up of three district presidents from around the state.

Fairfax Media has learnt that talk has already turned to a potential new state president, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s son-in-law James Brown, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the names in the frame.

Former Liberal state MP Charlie Lynn, a Vietnam veteran, is also being pushed as a replacement for acting president John Haines if the board is swept aside by the grassroots branches.

Mr Brown, who is married to Mr Turnbull’s daughter Daisy, contested for the presidency in September but came second to Mr Haines in a five-candidate ballot.

Last week, the RSL asked national president Rod White to stand down because of his alleged acceptance of fees during his time as state president, while treasurer Bill Hardman stood aside and councillor Don Rowe quit.

Councillors Bob Crosthwaite and Bill Humphreys have refused to step aside but are barred from all committee duties while investigations into the alleged misuse of funds continues.

In an opinion piece for Fairfax Media last week, Mr Brown described the RSL as being “in crisis”, referring to allegations that state council members appointed to the RSL-owned LifeCare nursing home group shared in $2 million or more “consultancy payments” since 2007, despite LifeCare being a registered charity.

“Restoring the RSL must begin by acknowledging the culture among the organisation’s leaders that has allowed these problems to fester,” he wrote.

“New voices are needed at the very top. It is odd that despite having three very capable women running the RSL’s district councils, none have yet been incorporated into the state leadership. Nor are younger veterans adequately represented.”

Mr Turnbull has mentioned Mr Brown in a number of speeches to veterans, including one at the launch of a veterans’ employment scheme on Thursday.

Mr Brown, who first went to Iraq as a troop commander with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in 2003, did not return calls on Thursday.

David Edmond, president of the RSL Newcastle District Council, which incorporates 24 sub-branches, said anger at the state council was running high.

“A lot of people didn’t know what was going on and it’s not good enough,” he said. “State council has been getting away with blue murder.

“The sub-branches have been made to send all this money to Sydney over the years and we didn’t know what happened to it. Nobody was upfront and now we learn of these allegations.”

To force a special congress and a vote on the fate of the state council, 75 of the state’s 360 sub-branches need to demand one. Mr Edmond said his district would.

Castle Hill sub-branch, whose members include NSW Veterans Affairs Minister David Elliott, has already passed a motion calling for the state council to be removed an administrator appointed.

Castle Hill president Don Tait said he was working to bring on a special congress.

“I’m going to do everything I can to sort this bloody thing out,” he said. “If you think I’m annoyed, you’d be right.”

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St Paul’s College boycotting Elizabeth Broderick review into college culture

Former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick is leading a cultural review. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen St Paul’s College at Sydney University. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
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In a move destined to raise questions about its commitment to changing student behaviour, Australia’s oldest university college is refusing to participate in a university-wide cultural review led by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick.

The all-male St Paul’s College, where students still sit down to dinner every night in full academic dress, is the only residential college at the University of Sydney that is not co-operating with the university’s review of culture and behaviour at the residential colleges, triggered in May by student and Fairfax Media reports of sexual misbehaviour and “slut-shaming” across two of its oldest institutions.

St Paul’s Warden Dr Ivan Head said the college has instead “exercised its liberty as a self-governing body” to run its own confidential review of college life.

In May, reports revealed students at Wesley and St Andrew’s colleges were publicly shamed for their alleged sexual activities.

It followed widespread publicity in the US and Australia around the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment – much of it unreported – on campuses.

In 2009, students at St Paul’s set up a “pro-rape” Facebook page and in 2012 a female St John’s student was rushed to hospital after being forced by seniors to down a toxic cocktail of shampoo, sour milk, dog food, Tabasco sauce and alcohol.

Announcing the review in May, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence said: “These stories have been a thorn in our flesh. I do not want to see any more of them. The Chancellor and I have invited the heads of college councils to meet with Ms Broderick to see how we can address concerns that have been legitimately raised. I am sure they will co-operate.”

The colleges are independent from the university and cannot be compelled to comply with the Broderick review. The refusal by St Paul’s to participate is likely to set the college administration at loggerheads with the university.

The university administration was reportedly considering the “nuclear option” of disaffiliating with colleges or stripping them of their land if they did not take action to improve the situation.

Dr Head said: “The College Council notes that cultural review and cultural excellence are good ideas.

“Council has exercised its liberty as a self-governing body to pursue the same outcomes in its own way.

“College has thus engaged its own independent professional in the field of the quantitative and qualitative review of communities and workplaces and is completing a thorough review of core dimensions of College life from the student perspective.”

Dr Head said it was a “stretch” to speak of disaffiliation. He said the review by St Paul’s would not be made public.

A student committee was on Wednesday briefed on the progress of the Broderick review, which has so far involved seven focus groups with college students, meetings and briefings with the heads and chairs of a number of colleges.

The university said in a statement that Women’s College, Sancta Sophia College, Wesley College and St Andrew’s College were involved and St John’s College would commence working with Ms Broderick and her team in early 2017.

“The feedback to date indicates that the students have found the focus groups engaging and informative. They have appreciated the opportunity to share their views on cultural renewal and enrichment as well as describing the great strengths of college life,” a spokeswoman said.

Ms Broderick, who spent eight years as Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner before becoming the United Nations Special Adviser for Gender Equality, declined to comment on the progress of the cultural review while it was ongoing.

The university spokeswoman said: “Ms Broderick and her team advise they have been impressed by the colleges’ openness and enthusiasm for the project and are confident about the long-term benefits of the process.”

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Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium timeline on track despite asbestos finds

Redevelopment on track: Action from a Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory match at Pirtek Stadium last season. Photo: Cameron SpencerThe NSW government is confident asbestos contamination at Pirtek Stadium will not delay the start of construction on the new $300 million Western Sydney Stadium at Parramatta.
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Planning approval for the 30,000-seat stadium is expected to come through by the end of next month and with the government close to choosing which of the final three construction companies will be awarded the project, demolition is expected to start early next year.

The site of the proposed state-of-the-art rectangular stadium is peppered with asbestos contamination as a result of its history as a dumping ground for construction manufacturer James Hardie, with the Environment Impact Statement warning it could pose an “unacceptable risk to future site users/workers if not appropriately managed”.

It will fall to the successful bidder – down to shortlisters Brookfield Multiplex, John Holland or Lendlease – to draw up a detailed asbestos management plan in accordance with environment and planning laws.

Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres said on Thursday he was confident the safe removal of the contaminated material, understood to be about three tonnes worth of soil on filled-in sites, would not affect the project’s timeline.

“At this stage we’re not envisioning any delays, we knew there would be contamination in the site, we’d planned for that. You’re never quite sure of what all the contamination is going to be, but we built that into our timelines,” Ayres said.

“We will undertake demolition of the new stadium early in the new year and that’s consistent with what we’d planned previously. We’re very close to finalising the contracts, when that’s completed we’ll be out in the public domain telling everyone who’s building the new stadium.”

The project’s EIS, published in July, identified a long list of contaminated areas within the redevelopment zone and also singled out the Parramatta Swimming Centre for further testing, once it shuts its doors to the public ahead of the rebuild.

“Asbestos impacts in soil, in the form of friable fibre bundles, weathered cement fragments and non‐friable (bonded) ACM, have been identified in fill material within the study area during the previous and current investigations. The asbestos in soil impacts have the potential to represent an unacceptable risk to future site users/workers if not appropriately managed,” the EIS reported.

“Sampling locations with identified concentrations of asbestos … are generally associated with elevated areas of the study area, including the north and south spectator areas of the existing stadium; the raised former practice field to the south of the stadium; a landscaped mound at the northern extent of the study area; and a filled existing carparking area at the west of the study area.

“However, it is noted that asbestos in soil has also been identified at several isolated sampling locations within the carpark in the northern portion of the study area and also one location to the south‐east of the stadium.”

The minister said the contamination was foreshadowed from the beginning and would not impact construction or budget timelines, nor plans by the Western Sydney Wanderers and Parramatta Eels to give chairs from the current stadium to members as souvenirs.

“No hazardous material has been identified in the existing stadium structure,” a spokesperson said.

“Mitigation strategies will be implemented to manage a small amount of asbestos which was disposed underground before the original stadium was built. The successful contractor will be required to maintain strict environmental controls to remove the asbestos as detailed in the EIS.

“There is no impact to project delivery timelines and no impact to the recycling of assets from within the stadium from the work.”

The EIS reports that investigators could not access the swimming centre at the time of the site investigation.

“Based upon the conceptual site contamination model as presented in this assessment, it is considered likely that contamination issues within this site portion will be consistent with those identified for the balance of the project site, primarily being asbestos impacts,” the report states.

The new stadium is due to open in 2019.

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Australian Test batsman Adam Voges cops sickening blow to the head

Adam Voges has been ruled out of the rest of Western Australia’s Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania with concussion after being hit in the head by a bouncer.
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Voges retired 16 not out after he was hit on the helmet by Tasmanian quick Cameron Stevenson on day one of the clash at the WACA.

He was struck on the helmet when he tried to turn away and avoid a Stevenson bouncer shortly before lunch on day one.

He dropped to his arms and knees, before being carried off the field by two trainers after receiving some medical treatment.

“Voges has been diagnosed with concussion. He is ok, naturally a bit groggy. Being monitored by medicos. Ruled out of rest of game,” the WACA said on social media.

Taking to the crease in front of interim national chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns, Voges, 37, had been fighting to save his Test career after a modest tour of Sri Lanka and four failures against South Africa.

The Australian team for the third Test against the Proteas will be selected on Sunday night. Already under immense pressure to save his spot, being ruled out of the rest of the Shield clash will make it difficult for selectors to justify handing Voges what would be his 21st Test.

His average has dropped from 95 at the end of the tour of New Zealand in February to 61 after his duck and two in a dismal Hobart Test against the Proteas.

It’s the second serious concussion Voges has suffered this year. He also took a serious knock to the head during the English county season.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, he revealed he was left feeling as if he had a “hangover” for more than a week after a freak head injury while captaining Middlesex in May.

The Australian middle-order batsman was hit on the back of the head after a throw by substitute fieldsman Ollie Rayner at third man missed wicketkeeper John Simpson and sconned Voges at slip during a clash against Hampshire. Voges was hospitalised briefly but said he did not recover for 10 days. JUST IN: Adam Voges has been hit on the helmet by a bouncer at the WACA. He has been taken off the field by medicos. #9Newspic.twitter南京夜网/diNxyAK0Af— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) November 17, 2016This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net. Continue reading

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Peter Handscomb enters Test frame with Sheffield Shield century for Victoria

Victoria’s Peter Handscomb has put himself in the box seat for a baggy green in Adelaide as a Queensland bolter stood tall amid a rolling series of Test auditions across the country.
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With suggestions of a broom being put through the Test side ahead of the pink-ball clash with South Africa, rarely has there been a more pivotal round of modern Sheffield Shield cricket, with as many as six of the Hobart XI on the chopping block.

Selectors fanned out to stations at the SCG (Mark Waugh), the Gabba (Greg Chappell) and Perth (Trevor Hohns with an opening spot, middle-order bats, a spinner, wicketkeeper and a fast bowler all on the potential wish list ahead of what could be a dramatic rebuild.

Victoria batted first against the Blues at the SCG and Handscomb, a former keeper now focusing on his batting, was one of the key contenders. The 25-year-old has long been regarded as a future Test player, but the consistent failures of the current crop have potentially fast-tracked his ride to the top.

The classy right-hander didn’t disappoint, cashing in on a batting-friendly wicket to score the most timely of centuries, although he rode his luck on occasions as he was dropped twice by Trent Copeland on 14 and 77.

Handscomb finished the day on 110 not out (193 balls) after notching his ninth first-class century with a statement innings that should make him a straight middle-order swap for Adam Voges, who was concussed in the shield match against Tasmania at the WACA.

“I have been lucky enough to make a hundred in front of [Mark Waugh] before so hopefully he’s watched a little bit now,” Handscomb said. “It’s a nice day to come out and make a few runs.

“I’m trying not to think about it [the Test] to be perfectly honest. My job in these next four days is to win the game for Victoria and if anything else comes out of that then happy days.”

The Vics threw up another potential debutant as opener Travis Dean rekindled the kind of form that saw him score a century in both innings of his shield debut in October 2015.

The 24-year-old has mixed his form since then but couldn’t have produced at a better time, playing a patient knock that saw him end the day unbeaten on 134 (274 balls), as incumbent Joe Burns fell for just four in Brisbane with another edge down the leg side.

But while one Queensland opener failed to produce against South Australia, another rose to the occasion. Matt Renshaw, just 20, scored his third century in 12 first-class matches to enter the conversation in his first game back from a knee injury.

Renshaw, a hulking figure who presents like the second coming of Matt Hayden, took some 78 balls to get to double figures before taking the long handle to Redbacks spinner Adam Zampa, belting him for four sixes on the way to 108 (202).

It would be a gamble to thrust him into the Test arena but Renshaw has serious admirers in Australian cricket, who regard him as a rare talent with the ability and temperament to bat for long stretches.

And like Handscomb and NSW batsman Kurtis Patterson, another strong middle-order contender, Renshaw has form for Australia A, making 25 and 94 against South Africa A earlier this year in a tour game in Brisbane.

If youth is a concern, selectors need only to look to England’s current rising star Haseeb Hameed, who is just 19 and at the top of the order with captain Alistair Cook.

“It was good to have my first game back,” Renshaw said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it [potential selection], I was just trying to score some runs. But every time you go out, you want to score runs.”

Other shield performances served up a mixed bag for selectors. Usman Khawaja produced a fluent 106 (137 balls) in Brisbane to ensure his spot wasn’t up for discussion, while Chadd Sayers failed to break through with the new ball and only toiled away for the Redbacks.

Incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon failed to claim a scalp for NSW, returning 0-88 off 27 overs as the Victorians ended day one on 2-292. Steve O’Keefe fared slightly better with 1-65, while Ashton Agar didn’t play in Perth due to a calf injury.

At the WACA, opener Cameron Bancroft was dismissed for two, a doubly disappointing innings given two of his rivals soared into three figures. Pace hopeful Jackson Bird struck early to remove danger man Michael Klinger.

The Test squad will be named on Sunday, with selectors still to run the rule over candidates like South Australia’s Travis Head and Victorian spinner Jon Holland in coming days.

with Chris Barrett

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1.1 million workers want more hours

Photo: Jesse Marlow A record 1.1 million workers want more hours but can’t get them.
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Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal a record 8.7 per cent of people with a job are now officially classified as “underemployed”.

When the bureau first started measuring so-called “underemployment” in 1978, the rate was as low as 2.6 per cent. But since then, a changing industrial landscape, the loss of hundreds of thousands manufacturing jobs and a structural shift towards services, has left growing numbers clinging to employment by the barest of margins.

The trend has been particularly pronounced for men, with a record 7.2 per cent classified as underemployed in August this year, up from 5.3 per cent four years earlier in August 2012.

Underemployment for women has also been increasing, although less steeply, rising to 10.5 per cent from 9.5 per cent over the past four years.

The figures, released on Thursday, showed the unemployment rate was steady at 5.6 per cent in October, with 41,500 new full-time jobs offset by the loss of 31,700 part-time roles. But economists warned the headline figures could mask underlying weakness in the jobs market.

Sue Richardson, from the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University, said the problems of underemployment and “non-employment” were increasingly acute among men with low levels of education.

“It is blue collar men in particular who have been suffering,” professor Richardson said. “A lot of it has been structural change in the economy – employment in the manufacturing sector where these men often found decent work has been declining for decades.”

Professor Richardson said employment opportunities for workers with low levels of education had tended to be in the service sector, in areas such as childcare, healthcare, retail, cleaning. “For a bunch of reasons men (with low levels of education) don’t want to do this sort of work,” she said.

Unemployment and underemployment are particularly acute problems in parts of the country reliant on tradition blue collar manufacturing jobs. In parts of Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, which is bracing for the looming closure of the Hazelwood Power Station, unemployment is already as high as 19.5 per cent.

The figures follows a warning from federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten last weekend that “some of the seeds of the disquiet” that helped deliver Donald Trump his shock victory in the United States are growing in Australia, with falling living standards, rising inequality and deteriorating job security.

Other figures release by the bureau this week showed wages crept up by just 1.9 per cent over the year to September, a record low and about half the rate four years earlier.

Shadow Employment Minister Brendan O’Connor said about 90,000 full-time jobs had been lost over the year to October, with about 1.8 million Australians now looking for a job or more work and not being able to find it.

JPMorgan’s Tom Kennedy said the numbers confirmed the view that the unemployment rate was overstating the strength of the labour market.

“Alternative measures of spare capacity, such as the composition of employment, the employment to population ratio and hours worked, [are] all still soft,” Mr Kennedy said.

Annette Beacher from TD Securities agreed saying that was how the Reserve Bank of Australia was likely to view the numbers too.

“The bank is focused on underemployment via a lack of hours worked. Employment growth in recent years has been skewed towards services (health care, the public service and the leisure sector) while heavy industry jobs (mining, manufacturing) are still being lost.”

With Jens Meyer, Mathew Dunckley

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Victoria Police says only rehabilitating young criminals will make state safer

Police at the Parkville youth detention centre on Monday. Photo: Justin McManus There were riots at the Parkville youth detention centre. Photo: Justin McManus
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Amid widespread calls for tougher treatment of violent teenage criminals, Victoria’s deputy police commissioner has warned that only rehabilitating them will make the state safer.

After riots on the weekend and Monday caused widespread damage at the Parkville youth justice centre, the government confirmed on Thursday it would send about 40 young offenders from Parkville and Malmsbury to Barwon Correction Facility within “the next few days”.

The children will be kept in a secure unit within the prison, separate from mainstream prisoners. The prison will operate as a youth remand centre and youth justice custodial centre.

Children’s Minister Jenny Mikakos​ said this would send “a very strong message” to the young people.

“We are sending them to Victoria’s maximum security prison at Barwon prison [and] it is going to be a very strong message to them that the behaviour they engaged in is completely disgraceful,” she said.

However, three separate sources told Fairfax that the move to Barwon was expedient rather than punitive. Sources said the jail was chosen because it had space, and keeping the children there in the short term would allow authorities to conduct repair and fortification works at Parkville.

Earlier, the government had been thwarted by the Youth Parole Board in its attempts to have seven young offenders, identified as “ringleaders”, sent into the adult prison population.

The government would not comment on the Youth Parole Board’s decision on Thursday.

In recent days, Premier Daniel Andrews and his team have talked tough on sending those responsible for the riot to adult jail.

But Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp issued a note of caution late on Thursday, saying “it is important we retain perspective”.

“Amidst all this, we need to keep a real eye on the future,” he said.

“Whilst no-nonsense policing and tougher sentencing might provide a greater sense of short-term justice for the community, it does not address the broader, underpinning issues which are driving this increase in offending.

“It is critical we understand that better, so that we can break the cycle of lifetime offending and imprisonment. Every criminal that is rehabilitated is one less person committing robberies, assaults and burglaries on innocent people. This is how we will make our community safe into the future.”

Mr Crisp’s sentiments were echoed by Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan, who visited Parkville on Tuesday, the day after the most recent incident.

She said she understood why the government was sending 40 young people to Barwon prison, so long as it was a temporary measure.

“On balance, I don’t like it [young people being sent to adult prison], but I accept that it’s necessary as a temporary and emergency measure.”

However, she stressed that those involved in the recent unrest were a small group of young people, and said the government’s goal should be rehabilitation.

Ian Lanyon, director of secure services at the Department of Health and Human Services, said a process was under way to identify which young offenders would be sent to Barwon.

“Ringleaders have been identified,” he said. “They may well be [sent to Barwon].”

Shadow corrections minister Edward O’Donohue​ said the crisis should have never got to this point.

“This is a panicked decision from a government that has no idea how to fix the law-and-order crisis confronting Victoria,” he said.

The Community and Public Sector Union, which represents youth justice workers, welcomed the government’s decision. State secretary Karen Batt said the union had concerns for some time about staff safety at Parkville.

“It is a strong response, it is a smart response. It will break the cycle of violence in youth justice,” Ms Batt said.

The government is currently looking at a series of law changes to tackle violent youth offending.

Federal Parliament’s migration committee announced on Thursday it would hold an inquiry into young migrants and youth gang activity.

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