Plans for a national $7.6 billion roads and rail package, which was to be released in the lead up to the federal election, have been leaked to the Herald Sun ($). The plans, signed off by deposed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, were to be strategically drip fed by the Liberals to help save marginal seats across the country. About $1.6 billion is to be announced for the Queensland seats held by George Christensen, Luke Howarth, Michelle Landry and Peter Dutton; $3 billion will go to a north-south rail link in Western Sydney; and $1.5 billion to a high-speed rail network linking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Newcastle.
The coalition is again under scrutiny over its controversial $443 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. In an exclusive for The Australian ($), the LNP went against the recommendation of the Finance Department, which suggested reducing the grant to a $200 million contribution over six years. The move was intended to make the government “look like heroes” without negatively affecting the budget. Delivering the half a billion-dollar grant in this way would mean that future projected surplus would not be impacted.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has denied Katter’s Australian Party an additional five staff, calling out the party for not denouncing Senator Fraser Anning’s “final solution” speech to parliament. Ms Palaszczuk, whose own grandparents fled the Nazis in the World War II, told the Labor state conference on Sunday that she and her party would tear up the deal with Katter’s Australia Party “because it (KAP) tolerates the intolerable and defends the indefensible”. Deputy premier Jackie Trad echoed her comments, saying “KAP members in the Queensland parliament had an opportunity to denounce Fraser Anning’s comments, they didn’t, in fact, they compounded them".
The Queensland premier also announced her intentions to ask a parliamentary committee to conduct an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia, as well as end-of-life care, aged care and palliative care, following the lead of other states. “I have watched my own family suffer, this is an issue we must discuss, this is an issue we must confront,” she said. This inquiry would take place after the committee has completed the abortion reforms for the state ($), which introduced safe zones and for terminations to be allowed to be conducted up to 22 weeks without medical approval.
A 64-year-old man has been arrested in Sydney for the alleged possession of firearms including ammunition, swords, knives and crossbows, as well protective gear and “terrorism response” books. The Australian Border Force found the man after being tipped off about firearm parts being imported into Australia. "We can only interpret the evidence from the scene, and [he was] obviously a deeply disturbed individual who was highly trained with military grade weaponry and reading material … coupled with ballistic protection," NSW Police's acting commander of the state crime command, Stuart Smith, said. "The threat was real, it was significant, and it was imminent."
The rise in mortgage rates by Westpac and Suncorp last week is making some experts nervous. While Capital Economica’s Paul Dales says Australia is a still a long way from recession, the likelihood of one is increasing. He told the ABC that the combination of a fall in house prices, tightening in credit conditions and a rise in mortgage rates could mean that Australia will face a recession or financial crisis with five years.