Thursday, June 25, 2020

IMF warning on wage support

The International Monetary Fund has warned governments that a sudden end to wage subsidies would jeopardise the recovery, as updated forecasts indicated the world will be left with more debt than at the end of World War II. The IMF projects a deeper global recession than it did in April, estimating the world economy will shrink by 4.9 per cent this year. Australia’s economy is expected to shrink by 4.5 per cent in 2020 and grow by 4 per cent in 2021, a forecast that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg welcomed as “the second-best among all advanced economies”.  Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says the assessment highlights the dangers of government plans for a “snapback” after JobKeeper and JobSeeker support expires in September. The recovery will also depend on how well Covid-19 is suppressed, with Victoria calling in the Australian Defence Force to help manage increasing infections. The IMF also recommended that economic supports are withdrawn, they should be replaced with broader spending on climate change action and social safety nets. Meanwhile, a new study finds 11,000 jobs in renewable energy are expected to be lost in two years under current government policies. 

A Senate committee has been told that a bill allowing Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to ban mobile phones in onshore immigration detention centres would damage refugees’ mental health and may be unconstitutional, reports Guardian Australia. The acting immigration minister, Alan Tudge, argued in parliament in May that the bill was needed to stop the spread of drugs and contraband items in detention centres. The UN refugee agency said in a submission that phones were a “lifeline” for refugees in detention, as important as basic needs such as water, food and energy. The Australian Medical Association said detainees were a “high-risk” group for suicide and removing phones would make it difficult to maintain contact with people who supported their mental health. Lifeline 13 11 14

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has been accused of war crimes by a special international prosecutor in The Hague. The prosecutor said Thaci and nine others “are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders”, torture and enforced disappearances during Kosovo's independence war against Serbia in 1998-1999. The BBC reports that a pre-trial judge now has six months to decide if the court will issue charges. Thaci denies the allegations.

In sport, Australia and New Zealand are set to find out if their bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s football World Cup has been successful. Colombia is the other candidate. It comes as the US Open tennis wheelchair competition in New York has been restored after widespread criticism of its original cancelation due to Covid-19 disruption. Australian wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott had called the move “disgusting discrimination”.


“Expanding almond plantations across the southern Murray–Darling Basin are increasing the risk that water entitlements cannot be met, even in years of good rain, according to a study conducted for the federal government. Documents released under freedom of information laws warn that along with climate change, a shift to permanent plantings is contributing to the risk of shortfalls ... In order to meet water needs, the study suggests options that include dredging or bypassing the Murray–Darling’s biggest bottleneck, the Barmah Choke.”


“These evasive announcements of cyberattacks are becoming something of a charade. Soon after Morrison’s press conference, unnamed officials confirmed to the media that the culprit was believed to be China, as everybody had assumed. There are potentially valid reasons for refusing to publicly blame China. Doing so would inflame existing tensions ... One problem with such announcements is that they rely heavily on public trust – maybe too heavily, given the misuse of that trust in the lead-up to the Iraq war.”


“‘Fear does a lot for you,’ Arthur told me. ‘You don’t hang around with big blokes chasing you. I can’t explain it; I had ability. I did train hard though. Being smaller, I worked at my fitness. Size was a problem for me, always: I was stiff-arming their knees and not their head. I am not a violent person by any means – I just played a violent game.’”


“Grants and loans totalling $250 million will be available to artists and entertainers to help the creative sector survive the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing requirements have wreaked havoc on the arts and entertainment scene, forcing performance venues to shut their doors ... The much-anticipated package includes $75 million of grants to help productions and tours return.”


“With the exception of the Australian War Memorial, which will receive a controversial $500 million expansion, Australia’s national cultural organisations have been hit exceptionally hard by a succession of conservative governments. The gallery’s operations budget must comply with the Australian Public Service’s efficiency dividend. This year, operating revenue is reduced by $1.5 million. To counteract this reduction, the gallery will cut 10% of its total staff, beginning with voluntary redundancies.”


My Little Pony fans have had a Nazi problem for a long time. That sounds just as strange no matter how many times you say it. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a cartoon television show about friendship, compassion, and a group of magical horses with names such as Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy ... It’s marketed to children. Nevertheless, it has an extremely dedicated adult fandom, which is mostly made up of men, or ‘bronies’ as they’ve been referred to for nearly a decade. Most of these men are white. Some of these men are vocal white supremacists.”

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