BY CASSIE DePEDRO
Qantas job cuts
Qantas is still silent on cutting up to 5,000 jobs in an effort to restructure their finances. If the figure is correct it will be significantly more devastating than the previous reported figures of 1,000 job cuts that had been issued in a profit warning by the airline in December.
An announcement to be made on Thursday by Qantas will confirm whether or not the speculation on the job loss figures is correct and confirm rumour of a $360 million loss over the past half year. “We have said that we will be making some tough decisions in order to achieve $2 billion in cost savings over the next three years, which is a consequence of an unprecedented set of market conditions now facing Qantas.” Andrew McGinnes, spokesman for Qantas, told the ABC.
The job cuts come about as the airline seeks Government assistance, with the cuts being a way to demonstrate real reform and the ability to make tough decisions to maintain the company. Government assistance will likely come in the form of a debt guarantee but may possibly be the lifting of the foreign ownership restrictions that Qantas has been struggling with.
Health and education spending growth “slowed”: PM
Promises made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to avoid cuts to overall health and education budgets may fall through in the near future, reported SBS news. After addressing the Australian-Canada Economic Leadership Forum in Melbourne last night, Mr Abbott suggested that spending growth towards health and education needs to be slowed in order to balance the budget.
During the address the Prime Minister said: “We will keep our pre-election commitments to maintain health spending and school spending, but we must reduce the rate of spending growth in the longer term if debt is to be paid off and good schools and hospitals are to be sustainable.” He reiterated the Government’s plans to cut the carbon and mining taxes and further commit to infrastructure spending.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne moved quickly to confirm the PM’s statements, saying that no cuts to education spending have been flagged. “He said that the current growth in education and health expenditure was unsustainable and that is true,” Mr Pyne said. “Labor has been spending massively beyond our means for the last six years. He didn’t flag that there’d be any cuts to health and education.”
Director Harold Ramis dies
Actor and director Harold Ramis died today at the age of 69. Director of the iconic films Caddy Shack and Groundhog Day and star of the movie Ghostbusters, died from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves the swelling of the blood vessels.
Mr Ramis’ death stirred an outpouring of messages on the social media site Twitter. “No, no, not Harold Ramis. Worked for him years ago. He was the real deal. Growing up, his work changed my life. He will be missed,” wrote director Jon Favreau, his tweet one amongst many from stars such as Billy Crystal, Seth McFarlane and many more.
Harold Ramis leaves behind his wife, Erica, sons Julian and Daniel, daughter Violet and two grandchildren.
Violence in Venezuela
Anti-government protests continue in Venezuela’s capital city Caracas, with demonstrators raising barricades and setting fire to garbage in the streets. The violence has led to 13 deaths despite opposition leader Henrique Capriles calling for the public to rein in protests and make an effort to remain peaceful.
The Venezuelan government reported that 529 people have been charged over the unrest, with most given warnings but 45 held in custody. Authorities have further reported 150 injured.
Protesters demand that President Nicolas Maduro step down only one year into his term. The demonstrations began in February to protest food shortages, police repression and the economic crisis. Mr Capriles and other opposition figureheads are calling for imprisoned student protestors, along with protest leader Leonardo Lopez to be released.
On Sunday the President called for a national dialogue of all regional and opposition governors to discuss the protests, but no further action has been taken.