The Morrison government will today push legislation granting new powers to Australian Border Force, one day after proposing controversial draft laws bolstering the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the ABF legislation, which has sat in the Senate for almost 18 months without being debated, was needed to seize drugs and mobile phones belonging to people in immigration detention. He argued under current laws ABF officers had to rely on local or federal police. Sniffer dogs would be allowed to search detention facilities, and phones could be seized if detainees were accessing child pornography or material deemed to be extremist. Labor Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally said the Coalition had not explained the sudden need for the extra powers. The move comes as legal experts question draft laws that would allow ASIO to interrogate 14-year-old suspects, and place tracking devices on cars or in bags with only internal approval. Greens deputy leader Nick McKim accused the federal government of using the pandemic as cover to pass the laws.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will today release its April jobs report, with analysts predicting a record number of unemployed. Payroll data collated by the ABS suggests more than 900,000 people lost their job in six weeks, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. The numbers will not come close to fully reflecting the impact of the Covid-19, as they won’t include Australians who have kept jobs through JobKeeper payments. Meanwhile, researchers have mapped which suburbs are most vulnerable to concentrations of job losses, finding that workers in already-disadvantaged suburbs are at particular risk.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has hit out at the “corrupt and chaotic” Queensland Labor government over its bid to purchase Virgin Australia. “Premier (Annastacia) Palaszczuk has almost bankrupted Queensland, and now in the middle of a crisis they want to buy an airline,” tweeted Dutton. Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick in response told Dutton to “stick to cruise ships”.
Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Jayson Westbury has resigned ($), after attracting criticism for his comment that A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw “needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face” over a segment on the TV show about travel refunds. In a statement on Wednesday he said his comments should not have been taken literally but were unacceptable. Westbury attracted criticism from domestic violence groups and from Grimshaw herself. He told A Current Affair he had sent a letter of apology to the Nine presenter, who had yet to receive it.
Buzzfeed is closing its dedicated Australian and United Kingdom news outlets “both for economic and strategic reasons”, a spokesperson said. The company has furloughed its 10 UK news staff and four in Australia, as part of a plan to give up on local news and politics to focus on news that “hits big” in the United States. It comes as Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Wired, lays off about 100 US employees and temporarily furloughed a similar number as the media sector faces a downturn in advertising revenue.