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Aunty suffers for its art

By Stephen Lacey

The ABC is continuing to negotiate with staff over planned cuts to Radio National's programming, says the managing director of the national broadcaster, Mark Scott. Last month the ABC announced it would cut 11 staff and seven programs from Radio National, saving $1 million a year.

It seems the arts are in the firing line, with 28 jobs being cut in the past 18 months, comprising 16 arts positions in TV and 12 at Radio National. Scott has responded to union concerns that the ABC is failing to honour its charter to promote the arts, saying staffing levels next year will be much the same as in previous years.

Coal cuts

Another week, another story about job losses in the mining industry. This time, the Japanese-controlled Ensham mine near Emerald in Queensland will axe 250 jobs and 2 million tonnes of coal production.

This follows 150 cuts the mine made in August, and there is a warning of more to come if coal prices continue to slide. "The prospect of a rebound in coal prices in the near term appears remote," says the chief executive of Ensham Resources, Peter Westerhuis.

Mind the gap

Figures suggest the gap between Australia's haves and have-nots is widening. According to data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia surveys and sourced by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Social Research, from 2009-10 to 2010-11 there was a 2.2 per cent rise in income inequality.

Day the music died

It was a sad week for the Australian music industry with the closure of the nation's largest independent music retailer, Allans Billy Hyde, and the loss of 513 jobs. The stores are expected to close their doors as early as next month.

Australian Music Group Holdings (trading as Allans Billy Hyde) was placed in receivership in August by Ferrier Hodgson. At the time, 80 employees were made redundant but the stores continued to trade while receivers tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer.

Pacific plan

Kangaroo Island will be visited by government representatives this month to establish how many workers may need to be enlisted from Pacific Island nations.

The island is one of four Australian trial sites to take part in a pilot program using workers from Pacific nations to fill labour shortages in tourism. It's an expansion of the Pacific Island guest worker scheme that involves workers from countries such as Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands working in Australian horticulture.

Published: 20 October 2012

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