Labor engaged in NZ conspiracy: Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull has accused Bill Shorten and federal Labor of conspiring with the New Zealand Labour Party to undermine the government.


The prime minister told a coalition joint partyroom meeting in Canberra on Tuesday it wasn’t surprising given Mr Shorten’s record of “sneakiness, dishonesty and disloyalty”.

‘We have learned this morning the Australian Labor Party has been conspiring with the NZ Labour Party to undermine the position of the deputy prime minister and the government of Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.

NZ Labour MP Chris Hipkins last week used a parliamentary question to quiz the NZ internal affairs minister on whether a child born in Australia to a Kiwi father would automatically have NZ citizenship.

Mr Hipkins confirmed he had asked the question after speaking with an ALP MP and was unaware of any issues around Barnaby Joyce.

The NZ internal affairs minister Peter Dunne on Tuesday rejected suggestions Mr Hipkins’ question had instigated inquiries, which led to NZ authorities notifying Mr Joyce he was an NZ citizen by descent.

Rather, the inquiries were triggered by Australian journalists.

Mr Turnbull told the meeting Mr Shorten had “shown disloyalty all his life”.

Mr Joyce said he found himself in a “ridiculous situation”, made worse by Labor’s “treachery”.

NZ Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said any suggestion of a conspiracy was “false”.

She said she had no knowledge of Mr Hipkins’ question – which she described as “not appropriate” – and knew “absolutely nothing” about the Barnaby Joyce case until it broke in the media on Monday.

“I greatly value New Zealand’s relationship with the Australian government. I will not let false claims stand in the way of that relationship.”

China vows to protect its trade interests

China will take action to defend its interests if the United States damages trade ties after President Donald Trump authorised an inquiry into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property.


Trump’s move, the first direct trade measure by his administration against China, comes at a time of heightened tension over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, though it is unlikely to prompt near-term change in commercial ties.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will have a year to look into whether to launch a formal investigation of China’s policies on intellectual property, which the White House and US industry groups say are harming US businesses and jobs.

The US should respect objective facts, act prudently, abide by its World Trade Organization pledges, and not destroy principles of multilateralism, an unidentified spokesman of China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Tuesday.

“If the US side ignores the facts, and disrespects multilateral trade principles in taking actions that harms both sides trade interests, China will absolutely not sit by and watch, will inevitably adopt all appropriate measures, and resolutely safeguard China’s lawful rights.”

The ministry said the US should “treasure” the cooperation and favourable state of China-US trade relations, and warned that any US action to damage ties would “harm both sides trade relations and companies”.

China was continuously strengthening its administrative and judicial protections for intellectual property, the ministry added.

China’s policy of forcing foreign companies to turn over technology to Chinese joint venture partners and failure to crack down on intellectual property theft have been longstanding problems for several US administrations.

Trump administration officials have estimated that theft of intellectual property by China could be worth as much as $US600 billion ($A764 billion).

Experts on China trade policy say the long lead time could allow Beijing to discuss some of the issues raised by Washington without being seen to cave to pressure under the threat of reprisals.

China repeatedly rebuffed attempts by previous US administrations to take action on its IP practices, and has insisted it rigorously protects intellectual property.

State news agency Xinhua said the US investigation is a unilateralist “baring of fangs” that will hurt both sides.

Domino’s uncovers $1.1b in underpayments

Domino’s Pizza says it has recovered $1.


1 billion in unpaid wages and superannuation from its probe into staff complaints and an audit of stores across Australia.

The pizza chain says it has so far recovered $770,000 in unpaid wages and superannuation from its completed audit of 15 stores, and ongoing audit of another 41 stores.

It has also recovered $249,000 in wages and super after investigating 55 individual complaints, while another 19 complaints are still being looked into.

Three Domino’s franchisees, who operated a total of six stores, are no longer part of the business.

Domino’s said it is withholding a total of $487,000 for wage back-payments at those six stores.

Chief executive Don Meij, who opted to forgo a cash bonus of over $500,000 because of the underpayments scandal, said the audit was taking longer than originally expected, and will take another five months.

He said the Fairwork Ombudsman, which is also investigating Domino’s franchisees over allegations of staff underpayments, has issued notices to the company and some franchisees.

“There has been a small number of franchisees who have been cleared,” Mr Meij said.

“We don’t have the full report from the Fairwork Ombudsman and are still working with them on their review.”

Allegations of staff underpayments were first raised in February, and have weighed on the company’s share price as analysts raised concerns about the profitability of franchisees.

Mr Meij attempted to address those concerns on Tuesday as he presented the company’s 25 per cent annual profit growth in the 2016/17 year.

“In a high inflationary wage environment, profitability for franchisees have increased by over 25 per cent in the past two years,” he said.

Domino’s will increase staff wages in the first half of the current financial year while it continues to negotiate a new enterprise bargaining agreement with the retail workers union.

Mr Meij chose to forgo his short-term cash bonus in the 2016/17 financial year because of the “negative effect” of the publicity of underpayments by franchisees.

But his total remuneration of $4.66 million was still nearly 17 per cent higher than the previous year’s, due to an increase in share-based payments.

Worst flu season, vaccinate now: experts

Australia is experiencing its worst ever flu season with the total number of cases so far exceeding 70,000.


Experts are calling on everyone who hasn’t already had a flu shot to get it done to help prevent further cases.

“It looks like we will again get the greatest number of notified cases in Australia we’ve ever seen,” said Professor Paul Van Buynder from Gold Coast Health and the Immunisation Coalition.

“I’m confident that this is not just the biggest recorded year in our data but it’s also the largest flu outbreak that we’ve seen for quite some time,” he said.

Figures revealed on Tuesday showed last week alone there were more than 4000 notifications of influenza just in Queensland.

Already there have been 19, 216 notifications across the sunshine state. The most notifications Queensland has ever had in one season is about 22,000.

NSW is also experiencing one of its worst flu seasons on record with 21,412 confirmed cases – more than double the same period last year.

The high rates of flu among children has been blamed for the record-breaking figures.

“These are the super-spreaders in the schools, to their grandparents and to others … and they’re keeping the flu spreading within the community itself,” said Prof Van Buynder.

Professor Bill Rawlinson, a Senior Medical Virologist at NSW Health Pathology, says its not too late to get vaccinated .

He has also stressed the importance of hand-washing to prevent the spread.

“A lot of the transmission of influenza comes from touching services where the viruses have settled after someone’s coughed or sneezed,” he said.

There is also a renewed push for the flu vaccine to be added to the national immunisation program for children.

It’s estimated that fewer than 10 per cent of children are vaccinated and Prof Van Buynder says that means nine-out-of-10 children are vulnerable to a very serious illness.

“These children clearly not just spread the virus within the community but they do suffer significant consequences themselves particularly under the age of five,” he said.

“I am disappointed that an argument that it would be difficult to deliver the program is preventing us from protecting children. Parents believe that it’s not important because it’s not funded, but this is very important and it should be funded.”

Third CEO quits Trump council over protest

The chief executives of Intel Corp , Merck & Co Inc and Under Armour Inc have now resigned from US President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, following Trump’s initially tepid response to weekend violence at a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.


“I resigned from the council to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues…,” Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Kenneth Fraizer, the chief executive of drugmaker Merck and an African-American, said he left the advisory council because of the president’s reaction after the violence between white supremacists and counter protesters. Frazier cited the need to “take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

The AFL-CIO, a federation of labour unions that represent 12.5 million workers, said it was considering pulling its representative on the committee.

After the white nationalist rally turned deadly on Saturday, Trump initially said that many sides were to blame. On Monday, in a statement, Trump denounced neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan as criminals and thugs, bowing to mounting political pressure as critics assailed him for not singling out white supremacists.

The CEO of Under Armour, Kevin Plank, announced his resignation from the council in a Twitter posting. “We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing,” said Plank. “However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”

Plank was criticised last winter by some of Under Armour’s biggest stars over his support of Trump, comments that basketball star Stephen Curry echoed.

The demonstration in Charlottesville by hundreds of white nationalists took a deadly turn on Saturday when a car ploughed into a group of counter protesters and killed one person.

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental views by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said in a statement announcing his resignation.

“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said.

Trump responded shortly later in a tweet, saying, “Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”