Albo uneasy about India penalties

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has called for the Morrison government to justify “extraordinary” penalties for Australians who return from Covid-ravaged India.

Albanese said: “Australia has obligations to our citizens … not just to abandon them overseas, but then to threaten them is quite extraordinary action.”

The 9000 Australians trying to return from India face five years’ jail or a fine of up to $66,000, measures the federal Labor leader noted were not introduced during comparable outbreaks in the US and EU. 

Foreign Minister Marise Payne argued the ban was “absolutely not” racist, as 57 per cent of recent hotel quarantine cases arrived from India (The Age​).

India registered 392,488 new cases on Sunday, with a record 3689 deaths overwhelming the country’s crematoriums (Reuters).

Albanese joins a chorus of critics:

  • Legal experts warn the penalties may be unconstitutional (Guardian Australia); 
  • Business leaders fear expats will refuse to live overseas due to the “dangerous precedent” (Australian Financial Review);  
  • The Council of Indian Australians said it was a “kick in the guts” (SBS).
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Victoria to halve emissions

The Victorian government plans to cut the state’s carbon emissions by 45 to 50 per cent by 2030 and 28 to 33 per cent by 2025 (Renew Economy).

The plan includes $20 million to reduce agricultural emissions, $15.3 million for carbon farming, and $3000 payments for buyers of zero-emissions vehicles.

Is it enough?

  • Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze warns it falls short of the 75 per cent cut by 2030 the state should set to stay within 1.5C of warming;
  • He says it is at least more ambitious than the “pathetic” federal target of 26-28 per cent emissions cuts by 2030;
  • ClimateWorks Australia is urging states to complement targets with a detailed roadmap (The Saturday Paper).
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Mixed verdict on childcare

The Morrison government has revealed that it will invest $1.7 billion into childcare, ahead of the May 11 budget.

The plan lifts the maximum childcare subsidy from 85 per cent to 95 per cent for the second and subsequent children in care, and abolishes the $10,560 annual subsidy cap for high-income earners.

The expert take:

  • Industry advocates welcomed the proposal but are unhappy changes don’t kick in until July 2022 (news.com.au).
  • Victoria University analysis finds it fails to make childcare affordable for families on low-to-middle incomes (The Conversation).
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Tassie Liberals in fight for majority

The Tasmanian Liberal government has been returned for a record third term, but two crucial seats remain in play (ABC). 

With 81 per cent of the vote counted, the Liberals need to secure one of two seats in the southern electorate of Clark, where a pair of independents are performing strongly.

Premier Peter Gutwein enjoys a strong personal approval rating linked to his handling of the pandemic, but the Liberals nonetheless suffered a swing of −1.2 per cent against them as of Sunday night, in a “status quo” election result (The Conversation). 

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ABC to file defamation defence

The ABC and journalist Louise Milligan are due to file their defence in the Christian Porter defamation case today — in what makes for an interesting way for Australia to mark World Press Freedom Day.

Porter is suing over an article on rape allegations made against him, which he denies.

A bit of background: read Richard Ackland’s analysis in March on how the case highlights Australia’s lack of a public interest defence for journalism (The Saturday Paper).

Porter isn’t the only politician turning to the courts: refugee activist Shane Bazzi has crowdfunded more than $72,000 to fight the defamation action brought by Defence Minister Peter Dutton over Bazzi tweeting that he was a “rape apologist”.

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Dining hall would sneak us in and give us ice cream because ‘the gymnasts are being starved’.

As the Australian Human Rights Commission releases a report on abuse allegations in gymnastics, a former Australian Institute of Sport athlete wants her coaches to get their just desserts. (ABC)

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The Postscript: India Changes Name To ‘Aspen’ To Enable Australian Citizens To Fly Home

Some Australian-Indians are not taking any chances, choosing to also change their own names to help smooth the process at Australian airports. ‘Kerry Stokes’, formally Ishaan Patel, told immigration officials he is looking forward to returning to his job as a ‘French au pair’ in Brisbane … Rahul Chakrabarti, who now goes by the name ‘Novak Djokovic’, said he also had no issues passing through immigration. (The Shovel)

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.