Frydenberg entices overseas investors

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has unveiled a $550m package over four years to attract overseas business and “talent” to Australia, ahead of today’s federal budget.

The package includes:

  • An Australian Tax Office “concierge” service to fast-track tax advice to foreign investors (The Australian Financial Review); 
  • Removal of tax obligations and regulations on employee share schemes popular with start-ups;
  • Simplification of individual tax residency rules, with someone deemed an Australian tax resident if physically present for at least 183 days in a year;
  • Overturning of rules that require foreign financial service providers to hold an Australian financial services licence.

One considerable obstacle to attracting overseas talent is that Australia’s borders are closed to foreigners, with the budget assuming this will remain the case until 2022 at least (ABC).

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese dismissed the measures revealed so far as a “show bag budget” of empty announceables.

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India ban court challenge thrown out

The Federal Court has thrown out part of a challenge to the India travel ban.

Justice Tom Thawley dismissed claims by a Melbourne man stuck in India that use of the Biosecurity Act contravened the common law right to return home (The Conversation). 

Lawyers for the man are considering whether to pursue two other constitutional issues, but the ban will be repealed on Friday in any case.

India recorded 366,161 new infections and 3754 deaths on Monday (Reuters). 

There are fears India’s devastating wave of cases has spilled over into the neighbouring country of Nepal (Human Rights Watch). 

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China hits gas on trade war

At least two Chinese importers have been ordered to stop buying liquefied natural gas from Australia.

The firms received verbal orders from Chinese officials to avoid purchasing from Australia for delivery over the next year (Bloomberg). 

The largest state-owned companies, which represent 90% of imports, have yet to receive any such order.

Australia last year shipped $13bn worth of LNG to China, but Chinese end-users have been reluctant to sign long-term supply contracts since tensions escalated.

It follows China last week suspending key economic talks with Australia (The Conversation). 

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Payne addresses Afghanistan war crimes

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has completed a short trip to Kabul, where she discussed alleged war crimes committed by Australian troops with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani.

Also on the agenda was a meeting with US general Austin Miller to discuss the impending withdrawal of troops (ABC). 

Payne expressed condolences regarding a bomb attack that targeted schoolgirls in Kabul on Saturday.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the blast, which hit the Hazara ethnic minority targeted in the past by Islamic State. 

The death toll has risen to 85 (CNN). 

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Deadly air raids on the Gaza Strip

At least 20 Palestinians including children have been killed in Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry, after Hamas launched rockets at Israel.

The Hamas rockets were fired after more than 300 Palestinians were wounded in confrontations with Israeli police outside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque on Monday (Al Jazeera). 

Palestinians and Israeli police have been clashing for days in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem, sparked by a now-delayed court decision on the possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes there by Jewish settlers (CNN). 

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This is not just about me; it is about Australia taking back ‘Ugg’.

Shoe entrepreneur Eddie Oygur is going all the way to the US Supreme Court to challenge an American trademark on the word “ugg”, which he argues deserves the same protection as French champagne and Greek feta (New York Times). Who says Australia doesn’t have culture?

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Postscript: Mushroom & Friends Zine Is A Love Letter To The Weird And Wonderful World Of Fungi

Mushrooms & Friends is a photography zine series documenting mushrooms as fantastical still lifes ... mushrooms featured include Cordyceps militaris, a medicinal species that uncannily resembles the cheese-flavoured snack, Cheetos ... In the wild, the fungi feeds on moth larvae; whereas in the lab, it subsists on a healthy, conservative diet of brown rice (This is Mold).

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