Anthony Albanese will tonight deliver his formal response to the federal budget, backing the Morrison government’s proposed tax cuts while calling for more investment in public housing and free childcare. The opposition leader on Wednesday described the budget as a missed opportunity to stimulate the economy through social housing investment, announcing a $500 million plan to begin clearing a maintenance backlog of 100,000 public and social dwellings, with state governments to match the funding. Albanese is also set to promise free childcare for low income earners and cheaper care for other families, similar to Labor proposals taken to the 2019 election. Albanese will make the case that the budget left behind women disproportionately impacted by the recession. He will also push an alternative jobs and training strategy and prioritising local products and research. Labor is also pushing back against a plan to restrict wage subsidies to workers under the age of 35, warning it could shut older job seekers out of the workforce.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge has revealed new details of English language requirements announced in the federal budget for people applying for partner visas. The new rules would require foreign partners to undertake 500 hours of English classes before they are allowed to stay in Australia permanently. “This will apply to prospective partner visa applications, from about the middle of next year,” Tudge said, adding that language classes would be free. The number of partner visas is being temporarily boosted this financial year to 72,300 places, up from fewer than 47,000 the previous year. Labor’s citizenship spokesperson Andrew Giles said he didn’t see “how the standard of anyone’s English language proficiency is relevant to their capacity to form a loving relationship with an Australian”.
High-profile Australians linked to QAnon will remain untouched by Facebook’s crackdown on the conspiracy theory because the ban does not extend to individual posts, according to the social media giant. Guardian Australia reports that the plan to remove “any Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon” would still significantly slow the spread of the conspiracy, even without affecting individual accounts. A number of Australian groups boasting tens of thousands of members have already been deleted. Kazz Ross, a University of Tasmania expert in conspiracy theories, said it would be effective in curtailing support among people with a casual interest, but warned the ban would probably drive hardcore believers to other platforms, such as Telegram, which were harder to monitor, and may further cement conspiratorial beliefs.
Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children with mental health conditions are shackled in about 60 countries across the world, according to a new Human Rights Watch report. People with disabilities are routinely locked in confined spaces against their will, and left to eat, sleep and use the toilet in the same small space, according to the 56-page report released on Wednesday. “People can spend years chained to a tree, locked in a cage or sheep shed because families struggle to cope and governments fail to provide adequate mental health services,” said report author Kriti Sharma. Human Rights Watch published the report ahead of World Mental Health Day on October 10 as part of the #BreakTheChains campaign.