Friday, July 24, 2020

Frydenberg spruiks low-tax recovery

One day after warning of historic government deficits, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will today push a recovery plan featuring the fast-tracking of deregulation, tax cuts, and industrial relations reform. In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra, Frydenberg will explain how the government plans to use the October 6 budget to initiate a five-year blueprint for a business-led recovery, reports The Australian. Frydenberg will consider bringing forward tax cuts due to start in 2022 and 2024 at a cost to government coffers of $143 billion over a decade, with higher-income earners to reap the largest benefits. On Thursday he described industrial relations reform as the “first cab off the rank” for his policy agenda. Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said the government was using the crisis to “leave workers permanently worse off”. Greens leader Adam Bandt criticised the “trickle-down orthodoxy” of tax cuts and pushed government spending to boost employment instead. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today discuss a plan to rework environmental protection laws at today’s national cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders. The meeting comes as the Morrison government moves ahead of a review into environmental regulation, to introduce legislation to federal parliament next month allowing bilateral agreements with states and territories to devolve approval powers. Guardian Australia reports that some of the states are concerned the plan will further weaken environmental protection laws. National cabinet will also discuss new Treasury forecasts regarding the impact of the pandemic on the economy, plans for containing localised Covid-19 outbreaks and status updates on Closing The Gap targets.

Victoria recorded 403 new Covid-19 cases and five deaths on Thursday. There are 201 patients in Victorian hospitals with the virus, 40 of whom are in intensive care, with hospitalisations expected to continue to grow. The deaths include a man aged in his 50s, and another aged in his 70s, with three more linked to aged-care facilities, including a woman in her 70s, a man aged in his 80s and another man in his 90s. “My thoughts and my sympathies are with those families and this demonstrates the growing toll this terrible virus is taking on our community," Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Thursday confirmed the state recorded 19 new cases.

Refugee advocate Elise Ganley has been charged with trespass after attempting to visit an asylum seeker receiving medical treatment in a Brisbane hospital. Ganley, who says she is friends with Iranian man Farhad Rahmati, was told she needed Australian Border Force approval and was asked to leave, reports SBS. She refused to move on and was subsequently arrested. Rahmati was transferred from Manus Island to Brisbane last July under the now-repealed medical evacuation laws and had been held in detention in Kangaroo Point until June. Rahmati had fallen ill while in the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation detention centre.


“For a couple, each earning a full-time equivalent of $60,000, a mother taking on a fourth day of work would be doing so for just $2 an hour once you factor in the cost of childcare, tax and the meagre clawback of tax benefits. By the fifth day, she would be working for free. Grattan’s modelling found the government would have to spend more than $20 billion a year – triple what it does on the current Child Care Subsidy – to make childcare free. However, there exists a cheaper solution.”


“Many people, many other journalists don’t understand that for Aboriginal journalists our jobs don’t finish when we leave the office for the day ... We must uphold our reputations as community members and those of our families, while attempting to communicate our ongoing trauma and pain to the rest of Australia. We carry this, and then, in the newsroom, we are subject to subtle and sometimes overt racism. We are told to remain impartial, to be unbiased; essentially, to be white. When we are watching our own people die at the hands of the system though, that is impossible.”


“Phil realised then that a new performance from this ‘magician’ could be the perfect way to settle his stomach about their last run-in. Statistically speaking, there was no way in that theatre of hundreds of seats that Phil would be selected for audience participation a second time.”


“The aged care system in Victoria is on the verge of collapse – a situation that will be worsened by the federal government’s impending announcement that the state’s part-time and casual aged care workers will be banned from working across multiple facilities to help contain the spread of Covid-19 through the sector. The president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Julian Rait, said he had received numerous messages from health workers in aged care warning that with so many aged care workers furloughed ... there would soon not be enough staff to care for residents.”


“During the proceedings of the royal commission, it’s been characterised as a sector receiving significant underinvestment and delivering substandard care. It has failed to keep up with community expectations and the changing needs of our older population. Our new research, published today, suggests most Australians believe more public money should be devoted to providing higher-quality aged care – and many would even be willing to pay higher taxes to this end.”


“To improve my mask-shaming game, I consulted a source who knows how to talk to unreasonable people who might accidentally kill someone: Gary Noesner, former chief of the FBI crisis negotiation unit … The first thing you notice when talking to Noesner is his soothing tone. His sentences sound like ocean waves, the pitch gently rising with curious questions and falling in calm reassurances. It’s a stark contrast to the harsh assertive voice I want to use at people who don’t understand the word ‘asymptomatic’.”

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