Andrews quits Liberal frontbench

Shadow Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews has become the latest Liberal MP to quit the frontbench, forcing an even more dramatic cabinet reshuffle than expected.

What we know:

  • Andrews, who held several ministries under the former Coalition government, announced that she will not contest the next federal election and will move to the backbench in the interim (SBS).
     
  • While Andrews initially claimed her resignation was not related to the Voice referendum and that she would “continue to support the party position”, she later said that she will not actively campaign for a “No” vote (SMH).
     
  • Dutton elevated the party's two Indigenous senators, with Nationals and Walpiri woman Jacinta Nampijinpa Price replacing Andrews as shadow minister for Indigenous Australians, while Liberal Kerrynne Liddle will sit in the outer ministry (The Guardian).
     
  • James Paterson was appointed shadow minister for Home Affairs, adding to his existing portfolios of Cybersecurity and Countering Foreign Interference, while Michaelia Cash gained the attorney-general portfolio in addition to Employment and Workplace Relations. 
     
  • The latest resignation has sunk the Liberal Party even deeper into its “opposition quagmire” on The Indigenous Voice to Parliament (The Monthly).
     
  • Some in the party are angered over Price's promotion as it increases the Nationals frontbench from six to seven, proportionally more than the junior Coalition partner is entitled to, while taking a shadow cabinet spot off NSW.
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NSW Covid fines on hold

NSW Police has quietly withdrawn some Covid infringements and courts have put on hold all remaining Covid breaches following a damning ruling over their legality.

What we know:

  • The legitimacy of tens of thousands of fines issued during Covid restrictions were put into doubt earlier this month by a NSW Supreme Court ruling which found infringements that failed to properly spell out an alleged offence were invalid (The Guardian).
     
  • The NSW Local Court said it was reviewing the cases that may be impacted by the Supreme Court's April 6 decision, which led Revenue NSW to withdraw 33,121 fines (9News).
     
  • The Redfern Legal Centre is urging the NSW government to withdraw the more than 29,000 Covid-19 fines which have yet to be withdrawn.
     
  • Solicitor Samantha Lee said the fines did not meet the legal requirements of a valid penalty notice.
     
  • “This case is not about Covid-19 or about public health orders,” she said. “It is about ensuring the rule of law is adhered to even in a time of crisis."
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Labor rejects own JobSeeker advice

The Albanese government will not substantially lift JobSeeker payments despite calls for an increase from its own poverty experts.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth released the report of the interim economic inclusion committee on Tuesday, which found that “on all indicators” the dire level of JobSeeker is “seriously inadequate” (The Guardian).

The report described JobSeeker as “a barrier to entering the workforce as job seekers don’t have enough to meet the essentials of life”. 

The committee, chaired by former Families minister Jenny Macklin, recommended lifting JobSeeker to 90 per cent of the aged pension (The Australian).

The base rate of JobSeeker is $693.10 a fortnight for a single childless person, or $49.50 a day, while the pension is worth $971.50 a fortnight or $69.40 a day.

“People on these payments face the highest levels of financial stress in Australia,” the report said, quoting submissions from JobSeeker recipients, including one who reported feeling suicidal.

Senator David Pocock, who pushed for the creation of the committee, has urged the government to “think again and prioritise those in our communities in most need of support”.

Lifeline 13 11 14 

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RBA warns of more rate rises

The Reserve Bank has put federal and state governments on notice that population growth and public sector pay rises may lead to further interest rate hikes.

Minutes from the RBA's most recent meeting show that home owners narrowly avoided an 11th consecutive rise in their mortgage repayments (SBS).

The bank discussed, for the first time, the impact population growth could have on inflation, which reached a 31-year high of 7.8% in December (SMH).

While wages still lag inflation, the minutes show the move by state governments – including recently elected Labor in NSW – to start increasing public sector salaries could add to inflationary pressures.

However, Deloitte Access Economics warned of a “consumer recession” caused by the cash-flow impact of rate rises (Deloitte).

Business collapses reached a three-and-a-half year high last month, jumping back above pre-pandemic trends for the first time (AFR).

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Deep sea reef found off Galápagos

Scientists have discovered a pristine deep-sea coral reef teeming with life in a previously unexplored part of the Galápagos marine reserve.

Diving to a depth of 600m in a submersible, the previously unmapped seamount held a breathtaking array of marine life, raising hopes that reefs can still thrive at a time when coral is in crisis due to climate change (The Guardian).

Scientists previously thought the only Galápagos reef to survive the destruction of an El Nino event in 1982 and 1983 was Wellington reef, along the coast of Darwin Island (Reuters).

The latest discovery shows that other coral has persisted despite rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification.

The reef has more than 50% living coral, which is several thousand years old. 

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The song was a fissure crack, revealing rot all the way down to the foundations: the shadowy nature of sexual misconduct in the workplace, and its normalisation in the entertainment industry.

Ten years on from "Blurred Lines", the cursed megahit that predicted everything bad about the past decade in pop culture and  power structures upon which it perched. (Pitchfork)

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An earthworm: when you are a child, these are an enormous part of your world

Helen Sullivan on earthworms and where they all go when we grow up. (The Guardian)

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