Visa workers exploited and underpaid in Queensland and more 9am Zedlines

Queensland labour-hire company Maroochy Sunshine is facing charges over allegedly exploiting more than 20 Vanuatuan workers.

Produce workers allegedly exploited, incorrectly paid

Queensland labour-hire company Maroochy Sunshine is facing legal action for allegedly exploiting 22 Vanuatuan workers hired under the 416 Visa program.

Maroochy Sunshine is being accused of paying workers less than legally required and not paying 13 people at all.

Fair Work Australia said the company was obliged to provide the workers with at least 30 hours and $500 per week.

A directions hearing is scheduled for January 18 in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane.


Queensland braces for medical intern boost

Queensland hospitals are seeing their highest ever intake of medical interns this year, with the majority starting work on the Sunshine Coast.

740 medical graduates will start work as interns in Queensland hospitals this week, a five percent increase from 2015.

The largest increase is on the Sunshine Coast, where 54 interns, up from 42 last year, will start in preparation for the Sunshine Coast University hospital opening later this year.


WA bushfires continue to burn

Bushfires continue to burn through Western Australia with homes and lives under threat in the state's south-west.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has issued a "watch and act" alert for the towns of Cookernup of the Harvey Shire,  and Waroona, where strong winds threaten to break the containment lines.

More than 70, 000 hectares have been burnt around Waroona and Harvey areas since the bushfires started last week.


Diabetics deterred under pathology cuts

Medical professionals fear diabetic patients could be deterred from taking necessary tests if federal cuts to pathology and imaging services proceed.

President of Pathology Australia Dr Nick Musgrave says 1.7 million Australians with diabetes could be forced to pay four-hundred dollars up front for a year of standard blood and urine tests.

Mr Musgrave says the cost could discourage diabetics from taking the tests, leading to a higher risk of complications.

Health Minister Sussan Ley flagged plans to cut and limit bulk billing incentive payments for pathology and diagnostic imaging services last month, saving the government $650 million over four years.


Common murre deaths a sign of climate change

Biologists say the tens of thousands of dead birds washing up on the shores of Alaska’s Prince William Sound could be attributed to climate change.

According to United States federal wildlife officials the birds, all of a species known as the common murre, appear to have starved to death.

Scientists are speculating the birds usual food supply of herring and other small fish may have been limited due to El Nino weather patterns.

A previous study in 2008 found mortality rates for the murre tend to increase in years when ocean temperatures are warmer than usual.