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5 Sneaky Christmas Stories You Were Probably Too Busy To Notice

It's the most wonderful time of the year to take out the trash.

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It's that most wonderful time of the year when governments take out its trash.

While everyone is enjoying the festive season, governments often like to quietly get some bad news out of the way, knowing that no one is listening to them at this time of year.

Here are some important stories you may have missed lately.

1. Approved a massive expansion of the Abbot point coal terminal.

Greenpeace / PR IMAGE

Environment minister Greg Hunt approved a massive expansion, as well as the dredging and the dumping of spoil for the Abbot Point coal terminal near the Great Barrier Reef On Tuesday. The expansion will make it one of the world's largest coal terminals.

Along with the approval came 29 conditions from the minister's office, which insists that no coral reefs will be affected, but green groups aren't so sure.

"Abbot Point is on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area," a World Wildlife Fund spokesman said. "We know there are turtle nesting beaches, there are dugongs, there are snub fin dolphins, there are thousands of endangered birds."

"This is a very high conservation area and it's not an appropriate site for dredging or a coal port development."

The decision is likely to face a court challenge before going ahead.

2. Released a report which recommends slashing penalty rates.

The government released a final Productivity Commission report into workplace relations. It recommended, among other things, slashing Sunday penalty rates for some low-paid workers to bring them into line with Saturday rates.

The government really doesn't want to talk about penalty rates, which is why workplace relations minister Michaelia Cash kept making it clear that the government would not slash penalty rates and would leave any decision up to the Fair Work Commission.

Cash has pledged to discuss the issues with unions and business groups, meaning it will become a key battleground at the next election.

3. Peter Dutton's weird visa saga.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Yesterday it was revealed that a terminally ill Pakistani man had been denied a final chance to see his family after the immigration department denied them visas to visit Australia.

As the man's story went viral online, immigration minister Peter Dutton held a press conference defending the decision to deny the visas, saying there was no proof the man's family would ever return home. He said he wouldn't overturn the decision, but would ask his department to look into it.

A few minutes later, Dutton overturned the decision. It was all a bit weird.

4. Putting the ABC behind a paywall?

Paul Wright / PR IMAGE

So this one isn't the government, but it's still important.

On Monday the ABC announced the appointment of Google executive Michelle Guthrie as its new managing director. A short time later, Guthrie gave an interview (to the ABC), where she didn't rule out charging readers for ABC content online, or introducing advertising to the national broadcaster.

"It is important on an overall basis in budget-constrained times to really look at all options around monetisation but it is early to be able to make pronouncements," she said.

Nationals senator Fiona Nash quickly hit out at the idea, saying it would cut rural Australians off from an important news service, calling it "dreadful and appalling".

5. Spending $80 million on copper wire.

On Monday, NBN Co quietly announced that it would pay Telstra $80 million to fix its aging copper wires, which it will need to get, y'know, the internet, into homes.

It might not sound like much, but it is a bit weird when you consider that NBN already paid Telstra $11 billion to buy that copper in the first place. The same copper Telstra will now be paid to fix.

Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Rob Stott at

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