Monday, April 20, 2020

Tech giants forced to share revenue

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will today announce a mandatory code of conduct that requires Facebook and Google share online advertising revenue with Australian media companies struggling with the COVID-19 downturn. In response to a report of the digital platforms inquiry last year, Frydenberg has ordered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to abandon development of a voluntary code and prepare mandatory rules for release in July. “It’s only fair that those that generate content get paid for it,” he said. The code will also include stronger enforcement powers and the ability to impose “binding dispute resolution” on the industry. Although online advertising spend more than doubled to $9.5 billion over the five years to 2019, a survey found 78 per cent of companies had cut advertising budgets during the COVID-19 crisis, putting enormous pressure on media companies.

A new report from the Grattan Institute warns that between 14 and 26 per cent of Australian workers could be out of work due to the COVID-19 shutdown. The working paper forecasts that half of all workers in the hospitality industry could lose their livelihoods, and even industries such as construction and manufacturing could see a 20 per cent drop in job numbers. Lower-income workers, younger Australians, and women are expected to be disproportionately affected. The analysis comes as The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 35 of the nation's pre-eminent economists warn the Morrison government not to wind back social distancing laws too early as doing so would deliver an even bigger economic and medical hit.

A bipartisan push has begun for a global inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. In comments backed by Labor, Foreign Minister Marise Payne told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday that China ought to allow transparency into the process and that the World Health Organisation should not run the investigation. In a statement Payne also joined the US and Britain in condemning the arrest of prominent Hong Kong democracy activists.

The United States and Russia are blocking efforts to win United Nations security council backing for a global ceasefire to help countries grapple with COVID-19. The French president Emmanuel Macron has proposed a draft security council resolution that attempts to overcome the objections by effectively making it impossible to enforce. The resolution comes as tensions rise between Iran and the United States after clashes between ships in the Gulf. The global COVID-19 pandemic has now killed more than 164,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.


“Stephen Duckett, a former secretary of the federal Health Department and director of Grattan’s health program, called elimination the ‘least-bad endgame’ to the medical emergency ... Such a strategy would require the maintenance of rigorous social distancing for at least two or three more months, as well as comprehensive testing and contact tracing to ensure all cases were caught. ”


“The ‘Great Lockdown’ – as the International Monetary Fund dubbed the coronavirus crisis this week – is plunging Australia and the world economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Just as that cataclysmic economic event seared itself into the psyches of those who lived through it, this episode is sure to do the same, with forecasts it is going to get much worse before it gets any better.”


“Polls show Biden has a strong lead over Trump, though the margin is slim in battleground states such as Wisconsin and Florida. At 77, Biden would be the oldest first-term president in US history (he would be 78 when he took office). Trump’s approval ratings have dropped since the coronavirus outbreak, with about 45 per cent of voters now approving of his performance and 51 per cent disapproving.”


“Senior cabinet ministers have confirmed they ‘received and deleted’ a pirated copy of Malcolm Turnbull's new memoir, which the publisher says originated from Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office. Publishing company Hardie Grant confirmed on Sunday night it would escalate the matter by referring the breach to the Australian Federal Police, after earlier firing off a cease and desist notice to a top aide within Mr Morrison's office.”


“An email calling for Turnbull to be expelled from the party and slapped with a lifetime ban was sent to NSW Liberal state executive members on Sunday afternoon. If the motion is successful, Strewth understands this would be the first time anyone has been chastised with a lifetime Liberal membership ban, let alone Australian’s 29th prime minister.”


“I represented the single kilometre around my house where I can walk, run, ride my bike. Beyond this limit is the unknown. It is forbidden. I feel like I am in the Middle Ages, and I have to fight against a pioneer mindset that wants to explore what is beyond.”

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