The federal government is considering a raft of cost-cutting measures for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, including the denial of support to people suffering acquired brain injuries and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. A draft of proposed legislative changes to the NDIS, leaked to The Sydney Morning Herald, would make it easier to cut off support to claimants if they are in prison, living in external territories such as Christmas Island, or do not subject themselves to new independent assessments. The overhaul would transfer more authority to the federal minister and reduce the power of state and territory governments that contribute almost half the funding. The plan also floated removal of the “reasonable and necessary” test for the provision of support and services that allowed for participants to claim for trained sex therapists, although a spokesman for NDIS Minister Stuart Robert ruled out the removal of the term. Disability advocates warn the proposed changes would remove avenues of appeal for participants denied funding.
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has lodged a complaint with the Prime Minister's Office, accusing its staff of spreading rumours to the media about her partner. Higgins, who alleges she was raped by a former colleague in a ministerial office two years ago, said she was told by journalists at News.com.au, the Daily Telegraph and Channel 10 that backgrounding was occurring. Higgins made the complaint after Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the ABC that nothing had been raised with his office regarding the allegation of backgrounding. Morrison later in the day ordered an inquiry into the matter. He also forced Liberal backbencher Andrew Laming to deliver a public apology for the MP’s online harassment of two women in his Queensland electorate. Morrison last night was grilled by A Current Affair's Tracy Grimshaw, telling her “I’m doing everything I can, as best as a bloke can frankly”.
American white supremacist group The Base is recruiting neo-Nazis in Australia, and has appointed a local leader who planned to launch a propaganda campaign in front of Parliament House. Audio recordings and internal files leaked to The Age reveal interviews in which local applicants are vetted for membership, including at least three men who expressed support for the New Zealand mosque massacres. Australians who have attempted to join include former federal One Nation candidate Dean Smith and members of local neo-Nazi group The Lads Society. The Base is one of the groups that domestic counter-terrorism agency ASIO has considered advising the government to proscribe.
A salvage company has said that the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal like a “beached whale” may take weeks to free, as officials halt all ships entering the channel. The 400-metre long Ever Given is blocking transit in both directions through one of the world’s busiest trade routes, through which roughly 30 per cent of the world’s shipping container volume transits through. The ship got stuck sideways in the canal amid strong winds and a dust storm. Dredges are working to clear sand and mud from around the ship while tugboats, in conjunction with Ever Given’s winches, work to shift it. Rescue teams from the Netherlands and Japan will work with local authorities to design a more effective plan to refloat the vessel, said owners Evergreen Marine Corp. A total of 206 large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain have backed up at either end of the canal.