Renewables advocates and mining sector lobbyists are jostling for federal government support to shape the direction of the recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown. Australian Renewable Energy Agency chairman Martijn Wilder has called for a long-term green stimulus package in line with the European Green Deal, in which 17 European Union nations have agreed to shape their recovery around policies designed to achieve net-zero emissions. Meanwhile, former Howard government minister Helen Coonan, the chair of Crown Resorts and the Minerals Council of Australia, is pushing for a national recovery plan ($) involving big business tax cuts and accelerated mining project approvals, according to The Australian. Australian Tax Office figures indicate resource giants earned $53.8 billion in revenue in the 2017-18 year without paying any tax. The debate comes as meteorologists warn that this year is on course to be the hottest since measurements began, reports Guardian Australia.
The Five Eyes intelligence agencies are investigating ($) two Chinese scientists who studied live bats in Australia, reports The Daily Telegraph. The move is part of an investigation into whether COVID-19 originated from a wet market, as is widely suspected, or whether the naturally occurring virus was accidently released from a laboratory in Wuhan. The CSIRO, which partly funded the Australian research in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said “the suggestion bat research is dangerous without context … is misleading and irresponsible”. The news comes as Foreign Minister Marise Payne responded on Monday to the Chinese ambassador's warnings of a consumer boycott of Australian products over the Morrison government push for a review into the handling of COVID-19. Senator Payne rejected “any suggestion that economic coercion is an appropriate response to a call for such an assessment”.
Thinktank Per Capita has released a new report today estimating that the COVID-19 shutdown could cost taxpayers more than $200 million in payments to privately run employment service agencies. The thinktank has called for reform of the Jobactive system, which sees privately run employment agencies and not-for-profits receive fees for jobseekers. The number is based on a projection of an extra 700,000 unemployed people being assigned to providers during the pandemic, but is likely to be much higher, reports Guardian Australia, with authors Simone Casey and Abigail Lewis noting that providers also receive up to $1550 for each person they place into work.
More than 100 zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums are encouraged to apply for a $95 million federal government support package to help them cover the costs of food, veterinary bills and power and water during the COVID-19 shutdown. According to the ABC, a single lion can eat about $250 worth of red meat a week, while a large chimpanzee enclosure like the one at Sydney's Taronga Zoo can cost more than half a million dollars a year to maintain. Meanwhile the Berejiklian government is considering a $500 million property investment package in New South Wales, buying unsold apartments and fast-tracking construction, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.