Friday, March 3, 2017

Seven worries Amber Harrison cross claim could be "scurrilous and scandalous"

Senior Business Correspondent Peter Ryan

Amber Harrison's planned counter claim against the Seven West Media could contain "scurrilous and scandalous material", the NSW Supreme Court has been told.

Counsel for Seven Sandy Dawson SC told Justice John Sackar that a court filing from Ms Harrison the night before the next hearing in two weeks time was a risk to his client.

"We have had some bitter experience," Mr Dawson told Justice Sackar.

Amber Harrison - one time mistress of Seven West chief executive Tim Worner - has been silenced with an interim injunction won by Seven which prevents her from leaking more confidential documents.

While agreeing to expedite the case to a hearing, Justice Sackar said he was reluctant to suppress the details of Ms Harrison's counter claim against Seven.

"This is not a censorship issue. I am not going to sit here as a censor," Justice Sackar told Mr Dawson.

However, Justice Sackar reminded counsel for both Seven and Ms Harrison not to breach privilege or the terms of the interim injunction in place against Ms Harrison.

Amber Harrison's cross claim will be heard on March 17 with a four day hearing set down from July 10.

Justice Sackar said he hoped Seven and Ms Harrison would use the time to explore mediation while saying he would not impose it until all efforts had been exhausted.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

CBA to repay superannuation to part timers, says "we want to do the right thing"

The Commonwealth Bank has agreed to repay employer superannuation to part time workers that was not applied to extra hours or overtime over the past eight years.

The review of super guarantee payments follows complaints from six part time CBA employees brought to the attention of the bank by the Finance Sector Union and reported by the ABC last week.

In a statement to the ABC, a CBA spokeswoman said: "we agree these hours worked should have superannuation applied and we want to do the right thing by our people".

"If we identify an employee who is owed superannuation, we will reimburse it."

The CBA will repay super to all part time workers since 2009 including those who have switched to full time positions or have since left the bank.

The bank is yet to put a number on the staff set to be repaid, though last week the FSU said it could exceed 7,000 staff.

The average payment is $180 per year on average according to the CBA although in some cases the figure could be as low as four dollars.

While the reimbursements are tiny compared to the value of Australia's biggest home lender, the FSU had threatened to take the complaints to Fair Work Australia which could further harm the CBA's battered reputation.

The CBA is currently in constant damage control amid fallout from scandals at its financial planning division and life insurance arm CommInsure.

However, the CBA maintains is was not breaking the law by only paying superannuation on ordinary hours rather than extra hours or overtime.

The statement says the bank's policy was based by a superannuation guarantee ruling issued by the Tax Office in 2009.

The superannuation backdown comes as Australia's Big Four bank chief executives prepare for their six month grilling by the House Economics Comittee in Canberra.

Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev is scheduled to face the committee on Tuesday.

Separately, a senate committee is investigating claims by Industry Super Australia and Cbus that around a third of Australian workers are being ripped off by rogue employers who are holding back some or all of their superannuation entitlements.