Monday, September 09, 2019

Lambie backs cashless welfare

The government has secured key crossbench support for a national cashless welfare card program, with independent senator Jacqui Lambie endorsing the idea. “I've always been a big supporter of the cashless welfare card,” she said. Two One Nation senators and conservative independent Cory Bernardi are set to join her in voting for the proposal, which quarantines 80 per cent of unemployment benefits and other welfare so it is not spent on alcohol, drugs or gambling. Labor and the Centre Alliance are yet to formalise their position. The Greens oppose the plan, as do a number of community advocates. Australian Council of Social Service director of policy, Jacqueline Phillips, said of the proposal: “It costs thousands per person to administer and many people feel humiliated when they have to pay with the card, especially in small towns.” The Morrison government will this week also attempt to pass legislation to trial drug testing for welfare recipients. 

Speaking of vulnerable people: More than 110 bushfires are burning across Queensland and New South Wales. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ predictive services inspector, Andrew Sturgess, described the conditions as unprecedented for early spring. “This is an omen, if you will, a warning of the fire season that we are likely to see in south-eastern parts of the state where most of the population is,” he said. Acting Queensland premier Jackie Trad said that such conditions were the new normal thanks to climate change. The most serious conditions were around the Gold Coast, where homes had been destroyed along with the heritage-listed Binna Burra Lodge. Extreme drought conditions are forcing rural fire services ($) to find ways to extinguish blazes without water.

On the subject of ceasing fire: United States President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had cancelled plans to host Taliban leaders at Camp David for peace talks, because the group had claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including a US soldier. Officials suggest the plan was actually cancelled as the Taliban had not agreed to US terms for a peace treaty.  Trump attracted criticism from both sides of politics for the aborted summit, with Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeting: “Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn’t renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country. NEVER.”

In sport: The Australian men’s cricket team has retained the Ashes after defeating England by 185 runs on day five of the fourth test at Old Trafford. The home team had held out for most the day for an unlikely draw, before being bowled out in the final hour. Fast bowler Pat Cummins was the best of the Australian attack, finishing with figures of 4-43, including the key wicket of Ben Stokes. Steve Smith, whose double century in the first innings was key to the victory, said: “It feels amazing to know the urn is coming home.”

The revolving door
Inside the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, a place that is dysfunctional, inflexible and underfunded.


“Out west, the Wangan and Jagalingou camped on their land are holding fast. The circle of red dirt they have laid down is beautiful, as is the eel-like path of the dancers who cross it. And so, this is the state of play for Queensland, Adani, the Galilee Basin coal seam, the Wangan and Jagalingou people and the wider movement fighting for action on climate change, many turning to civil disobedience in the face of political apathy. It is also, say some, an opportunity to restore a democracy that has been steadily eroded because of the influence that lobbyists and mining magnates exert over politicians.”


“Women’s surge into the workplace has been profound over the last century. But it hasn’t been matched by movement in the other direction: while the entrances have been opened to women, the exits are still significantly blocked to men. And if women have benefited from the sentiment that ‘girls can do anything,’ then don’t we similarly owe it to the fathers, mothers and children of the future to ensure that ‘boys can do anything’ means everything from home to work?”


“‘Five minutes into our interview Lebo M breaks into song, a famous line, one I first heard 25 years ago, sitting in a crowded cinema with my parents. The sun rose over an animated African savannah, and the animals, all from different links of the food chain, slowly made their way to Pride Rock. The South African composer, performer and producer, born Lebohang Morake, tells me how he came up with the familiar, powerful Zulu line that opens The Lion King.”


“George Calombaris says he can ‘pretty much guarantee’ a return to TV for the ousted MasterChef judges. He also revealed he’s gone back to basics at work and is gearing up for a series of industry talks as part of his sanction from the Fair Work Commission for underpaying staff. Calombaris confidently predicted he, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston would be back on screen and were not a finished force.”


“Seven West Media's newly-appointed chief executive James Warburton is looking to sign former Masterchef judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan - but not George Calombaris - for a new cooking show in 2020 after rival Network Ten pulled the plug on the trio in July. Mr Warburton is keen to sign Mr Preston and Mr Mehigan as part of a plan to reinvigorate the network but there was not an appetite for controversial judge Mr Calombaris, sources close to Seven said.”


“The paper clip is something of a fetish object in design circles. Its spare, machined aesthetic and its inexpensive ubiquity landed it a spot in MoMA’s 2004 show Humble Masterpieces. This was a pedestal too high for design critic Michael Bierut, who responded with an essay called ‘To Hell with the Simple Paper Clip.’”


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