Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Frydenberg prepares historic budget

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will tonight announce a record deficit of $210 billion, as he unveils a federal budget loaded with fast-tracked tax cuts and infrastructure spending. After Labor and the Greens warned against plans to accelerate Stage 3 tax cuts worth $11,640 a year for people on annual incomes of $200,000, Frydenberg is expected to focus only on bringing forward Stage 2 and backdating the cuts to July. That will includes increases to the top threshold for the 19 per cent rate from $37,000 to $45,000 and the 37 per cent bracket from $90,000 to $120,000. It was due to come into force in 2022. The plans will also include wage subsidies for young people, and loss-back provisions that allow businesses to claim back a rebate on tax they have previously paid. The budget will be released just hours after the Reserve Bank monthly board meeting, with a cut in interest rates widely expected.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will today commit to establishing an Australian Centre for Disease Control if Labor wins the next federal election, claiming such a body would have seen the country better prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. The Australian Medical Association earlier this year recommended the establishment of such a body to provide independent advice to governments about the management of pandemics, and ensure a national stockpile of essential equipment was in place for the any future crisis. Labor’s CDC body would not have statutory independence but it would be similar to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, an advisory body that sits within the Department of Health.

The lawyer for the man who gave evidence against George Pell has denied her client ever received money, amid reports by Italian media La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera that Pell rival Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu sent €700,000 ($A1.14 million) in Vatican funds to people in Australia to help secure the sex assault conviction against the cardinal. The money was allegedly sent as Pell was investigating the Vatican’s finances, although there is no detail on who received the funding and in what way it was connected to the case. Becciu has denied the allegations.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called for a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in the south Caucasus. Turkey urged the alliance to call for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the region, which belongs to Azerbaijan under international law but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians. Ethnic Armenian officials in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh said 21 more servicemen had been killed in fighting with Azerbaijan, bringing its total military death toll to 223 since war broke out eight days ago. Azerbaijan does not disclose its military losses but says it has lost 25 civilians. Two civilians have been killed on Armenian territory.

Jacqui Lambie fires up
The future of Australia’s universities hangs in the balance, with radical reforms to funding and student fees due to be voted this week. The government has been negotiating furiously behind closed doors to pass its legislation through the Senate.

“More than 10,000 wealthy foreign investors have won special concessions to come to Australia during the Covid-19 pandemic, leapfrogging other visa-holders and potentially pushing stranded Australians further back in the ‘queue’. The Home Affairs Department recently added business investor visa-holders to the categories of people who qualify for automatic exemptions from the inbound travel ban on non-Australians.”

POLITICS

“Ryan, who died last week aged 77, was an exceptional politician in her own right. If things had played out a bit differently, she might well have preceded Julia Gillard to become our first female prime minister. She was a senator, and also something of a maverick.”

“I see that, in the wake of this pandemic, many like-minded people across this country are joining us in asking: Why was the government keeping people in poverty? Why can it afford to funnel billions into weapons or tax cuts for the already rich? Why have we not used the enormous stolen wealth in this country to look after our Elders and ensure no one needs to worry about putting food on the table? Why are we killing the environment for the profit of a greedy few?”

“Who are the Proud Boys Trump told to ‘stand back and stand by’? If you’re wondering, you’re not alone—the whole world (wide web) was, too, propelling the group toward newfound notoriety. A far-right, self-described ‘western chauvinistic’ group, Proud Boys are listed as a white supremacist hate group by the FBI.”

“Two very different groups of men are at war on the internet today: the far-right cadre known as the Proud Boys—and the thousands of gay Twitter users who flooded that platform with pro-LGBT images, marking those posts with #proudboys.  The hashtag trended in North America throughout Sunday with gay Twitter users sharing images of themselves, their spouses and other gay people. Several celebrities added their voices to the mix, including Star Trek’s George Takei.”

“Laffer’s theory became an article of faith among certain economists, politicians and, of course, business leaders and wealthy individuals. It goes by various names: supply-side economics; trickle-down economics; Reaganomics; or, in the famous phrase of president George Bush snr, voodoo economics.”

“Base/Legs: Something strong to support the weight of the book-filled containers that is also stable, so it won’t get tipped over by users or the weather. I had an old tubular metal patio chair frame in my basement that was perfect. Other options could be a wood chair frame or legs, or a table base or legs. You could also make your own base or legs out of scrap wood or metal.”

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