Thursday, October 08, 2020

Albanese calls for social housing

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.

After the virus: Lidia Thorpe wants to change the system
Lidia Thorpe entered the Senate this week, becoming the first Aboriginal Senator representing Victoria. Today, she talks to Ruby Jones about rebuilding after the pandemic, and what we can learn from the communities that she represents.

“The fines had become so overwhelming, Graeme says, it wouldn’t have mattered if the next payment notice asked for his arm. He had no chance of paying it all back ... Graeme, a disability pensioner since a serious back injury in the late 1990s, was caring for his granddaughter, who has a disability, and his son, who has struggled with drug addiction. So he took out a loan, which he eventually defaulted on, unable to meet the high repayments.”

“Frydenberg’s decision to structure his second budget around social health and vulnerable communities was as welcome as it was unexpected. ‘Young people are Australia’s future,’ was his remarkable opening line, and he spent much of the next half-hour making the case that their future must be at the core of any policy calculations.”

“The origins of escabeche cross many borders, with it found in Latin American cuisine and also in African dishes. This version is less an escabeche and more a warm vinaigrette. I use it as a form of fresh preservation, mostly with seafood. It takes the product to its prime and prepares it to be eaten, ideally at room temperature, at any time of the day.”

“The Australia Institute’s analysis found that in 2020-21, 41% of the government’s tax plan will go to the top 20% of income earners, who earn about $102,000. The bottom 20% of taxpayers receive only 4%. In 2021-22, 88% of the government’s tax plan will go to the top 20% of income earners. The bottom 20% get nothing, the thinktank found.”

“Beachgoers may soon have to fork out a fee to enter part of Bondi Beach after a plan was put forward to turn a section of the sand into an exclusive beach club. Amalfi Beach Club has submitted a proposal to ... serve customers food and alcohol right on the sand as they cannot ‘sojourn to Europe’ this summer. The proposal states the business would target people with a ‘high net worth’ and a taste for luxury.”

“To truly appreciate just how lubricated the wheels of government are for gaming, it is a project not yet completed that provides the best example. James Packer’s ‘integrated resort’ at the centre of Sydney’s Barangaroo development has been described as ‘a phallic symbol of greed and kitsch with a vengeance’ and an ‘opalescent dildo’ ... But Barangaroo is not really going to be built in Sydney at all. It is going to be built in a different place, with different laws.”

“By holding your phone up to the blue signs with a red border, which originally say ‘Trump Pence – Keep America Great!’ the text below Trump instantly transforms into one of a range of hidden statements written by the students, highlighting one of the president’s abhorrent doings.”

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