New concerns surround the government’s increased use of legislative powers to bypass the parliament and create laws that cannot be amended or overturned. The federal government has embedded special powers in new Covid-19 laws to make unilateral changes to non-pandemic-related legislation, using what are known as ‘Henry VIII clauses’ – named for the unchecked power they involve.
Economists are confident that the coronavirus and bushfire crises mean the Morrison government’s optimistic forecast of a budget surplus will not come to pass. Former Reserve Bank of Australia board member Bob Gregory told The Sydney Morning Herald that the promised surplus, a key part of the Coalition’s election campaign, relied on a string of good luck, “so if the coronavirus did not get them this year, something else would in the near future, namely lack of wage inflation”. Finance Department figures show the budget is $1.1 billion behind expectations and the Reserve Bank predicted the bushfires would hit economic growth by 0.2 percentage points through the December and March quarters, while Deloitte Access Economics estimated the coronavirus would cut about $1.8 billion from budget revenue this financial year. Australia is set to extend a travel ban that will block 100,000 international students from attending university in Australia this year. The news comes as it was revealed that four more Australians are among the 65 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.
Resources lobby: Australian Conservation Foundation freedom of information requests into former resources minister Matt Canavan’s interactions with coal lobbyists are being ignored because there is a new minister in the role. According to Guardian Australia, foundation campaigner Christian Slattery was told the request was now void because Canavan, who had repeatedly delayed releasing the relevant documents, no longer held the office and the documents had not been kept by his successor Keith Pitt. Meanwhile, bushfire survivors will today create a "trail of destruction" of burnt debris from Parliament House to the Canberra offices of a mining lobby group in protest at links between government and the fossil fuel sector.
Calombaris administration: The majority of former MasterChef star George Calombaris' restaurant empire went into voluntary administration on Monday afternoon. About 400 jobs will be lost with Made Establishment going under, with venues including Jimmy Grants souvlaki stores ceasing trade. Calombaris’ Toorak mansion has also been put on the market. Employees will be paid all entitlements owed, the administrators said.
Oscars: South Korean comedy/thriller Parasite made history at the 92nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, becoming the first non-English-language film to win the best picture Oscar. The film also won three other categories, including best director for Bong Joon Ho. It was also a good night for 1917, which nabbed three Oscars for visual effects, cinematography and sound mixing.