Friday, October 02, 2020

Pandemic fix for aged care

The aged care royal commissioners have called on the federal government to immediately fund additional staff in aged care facilities, finding there was “insufficient action” to prepare for the pandemic. In a special report, the commissioners made six recommendations, calling for a comprehensive plan for the sector, delivery of urgent funding, creation of a national aged care advisory body, improvement of family access to aged care residents, as well as independent investigation of all outbreaks of Covid-19. The report drew a mixed reaction, with one royal commission witness and specialist practitioner in geriatric medicine, Joseph Ibrahim, saying it “let the Government off the hook” for describing the response more than interrogating it. Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said the Government accepted all recommendations and announced $29.8 million in new funding for serious incident responses and $10.8 million to enhance the skills of aged care nurses.

The federal government will today push a range of tax cut proposals ahead of next week’s federal budget. The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Morrison government is considering a loss carry-back provision that enables businesses of all sizes to claim back tax paid pre-pandemic to offset losses incurred during the current recession. Other plans include fringe benefit tax exemptions for businesses retraining or reskilling workers who face redundancy and for small and medium businesses who supply items such as laptops and phones to workers. Firms from the middle of next year would also be able to settle excise duty on eligible goods. The measures will cost $112 million over the next three years. The Australian Financial Review meanwhile reports that plans to cut the research and development tax incentive will be reversed.

Rio Tinto wrote to the Morrison government last year urging it to transfer environmental approval powers to the Western Australian government before a major review of national environment laws was complete, reports Guardian Australia. The effort came 10 months before the Coalition announced it would change the laws to set up “one-stop shops” at state level for approvals, starting with WA. The letter was written by Rio’s then-iron ore chief Chris Salisbury, who stepped down after the company blew up a 46,000-year-old Indigenous heritage site in Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara. It comes as an inquiry hears that in the days leading up to the detonation, Rio laid more than 100 additional explosives in the gorge, despite the fact that traditional owners had made contact and raised concerns.

The Maritime Union of Australia has halted its industrial action until the Fair Work Commission hearing on October 26 and 27, after two days of conciliation with Patrick Terminals. The union’s industrial actions, which consisted mostly of bans on overtime and acting in higher duties, were framed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as being responsible for delays of up to 20 days in unloading ships at Sydney’s Port Botany. MUA Sydney assistant branch secretary Paul Garrett said the offer of Patrick Terminals would have resulted in “mass casualisation” through employment of 50 casuals in roles that were formerly full time.

“The most important budget since World War II”
As the Treasurer prepares the upcoming federal budget he’s facing pressure to spend big and keep the economy afloat. But can a government historically preoccupied with cutting spending invest more in economic stimulus? Today, Paul Bongiorno on the challenge facing Josh Frydenberg, and the country.

“Perfectly described as a ‘collaborative fiction’, QAnon also resembles a modern revival of the anti-Semitic hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fabricated document that ostensibly detailed Jewish plots for world domination. It was later cited by Hitler and promoted by Henry Ford. But here’s the thing: QAnon might be easier to refute if there weren’t so many examples of the powerful concealing sex crimes.”

“I bought John Kehoe a coffee in 2016, when we were both in Washington, DC. Too late now for a refund, and there was, as far as I can remember, no hint of any latent Oedipal drive behind his small talk, nothing to indicate that on April 9 of this year, I would open The Australian Financial Review and find him making the case for his father as a human sacrifice.”

“How did James Dean die? What are the horn-like structures on a giraffe’s head? And who won this year’s men’s and women’s US Open tennis singles titles? Theatre maker Anne-Louise Sarks and political commentator Sean Kelly join host John Leary to get the answers to these questions and more.”

“The Home Office has said ‘all options are on the table’ for the migration system, in response to reports officials were asked to consider proposals to hold refugees in offshore detention centres, including remote islands in the south Atlantic ... the Cabinet Office would lead an inquiry into the leak of documents that revealed officials were asked to consider ‘possible options for negotiating an offshore asylum processing facility similar to the Australian model in Papua New Guinea and Nauru’.”

“Ministers are considering converting disused ferries moored off the coast to process people seeking asylum in the UK … Downing Street said it was looking at what other countries do ‘to inform a plan for the UK.’ Labour called the proposal to process people on ferries ‘unconscionable’.”

“While most of the 950 young people who left nursing homes over the past two years simply ‘aged out’ of the category, The Saturday Paper understands that some died awaiting support from the government that would allow them to live independently. According to one source within the NDIA, however, the disability scheme still remains the best chance the country has to move large numbers of young people back into the community.”

“From the deck of a wooden fishing boat adorned with saffron, orange, and green, I squint at the point where heat waves merge with the tidal channel and blur the horizon like a greasy handprint on glass. Through the glare, four strange, dark shapes break the water’s surface — two heads, two humps.”

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