PM TO ADANI: YOU’LL GET YOUR MINE

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has redoubled his commitment to the controversial Carmichael coal mine after meeting with Adani boss Gautam Adani on Monday night in India. Adani is said to be concerned about a pending legal dispute related to native title claims around the proposed mine, but Turnbull assured the billionaire native title issues “need to be fixed and will be fixed”. Not everyone is as keen on the the $16.5 billion central Queensland project, with federal Labor leader Bill Shorten saying yesterday the federal government should not commit $900 million for a loan for Adani to build a rail line from the mine to Abbot Point. “It needs to stack up environmentally, it needs to stack up commercially. I haven’t seen the case made for the taxpayer to underwrite a billion-dollar loan … to build a rail line,” Shorten said. This puts him at odds with many in his own party, with unions and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urging support for the mine and rail link. 

AUSTRALIA WITHIN REACH OF KOREAN STRIKE?

North Korea could have nuclear weapons capable of reaching Australia within two years, according to acting US ambassador James Carouso. Carouso told The Australian that North Korea’s planned sixth round of nuclear tests were genuine, and not merely an attention-grabbing stunt.

US President Donald Trump recently moved an aircraft carrier strike group towards the reclusive state, and today he tweeted that China would get a better trade deal with the US if it helped “solve the North Korean problem”.  In response, North Korean state media said signs of aggression from the US would be met with a nuclear strike. China has moved 150,000 troops to the North Korean border.

DOCTOR, DOCTOR, GIVE ME THE NEWS

Health Minister Greg Hunt is close to having his first big win in his new(ish) portfolio, according to the Fairfax papers. Hunt is close to a new agreement with Medicines Australia to bring down the cost of some drugs covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in exchange for security and stability around pricing. Hunt is also close to finalising a deal over generic drugs with the powerful Pharmaceutical Guild and has been negotiating with doctors’ groups about unfreezing the Medicare rebate. The results of all of these negotiations should be forthcoming in the May 9 budget. 

HE REALLY SAID THAT

“The problem here is that people — I get it’s unpopular to say this — but owning your own home is not an Australian right. It’s a dream and everybody wants to do it.” — Senator Derryn Hinch told the ABC yesterday that younger Australians should not feel entitled to home ownership. Maybe they should stop chasing that dream, with a new report from Deloitte saying Australian house prices are “dangerously dumb” and more overvalued than at any time since the 1980s. Deloitte has also warned that a crisis in China could wipe $140 billion off Australia’s economy and cause house prices to fall by 9%. Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson will present the findings at a National Press Club address today.

Proposed changes to address housing affordability are running into political roadblocks, with many in the Coalition reportedly not on board with Scott Morrison‘s plan to allow young people to access their superannuation in order to buy property. 

WHAT’S ON TODAY

India: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will travel from New Delhi to Mumbai on the last day of his four-day trip to India.

Canberra: The Senate hearing into the corrupting benefits legislation will begin today. Still fuzzy on the details of that bill? We’ve got you covered.

The Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into Australia’s general insurance industry is also happening today, with the committee expected to focus on insurers’ response to recent flooding in Queensland and New South Wales.

And Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson will address the National Press Club about Australia’s overheated property market and the potential Chinese threat to our economy. 

Melbourne: Lawyer George Defteros will appear in court as part of his lawsuit against Google over unflattering search results for his name. 

Sydney: A court hearing for Raban Alou, who is charged with  aiding and abetting in the murder of NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng at Parramatta in 2015.

The Westpac Consumer Confidence Index will also be released in Sydney, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release lending figures for February and overseas arrivals and departures numbers for March. 

And the New South Wales Supreme Court will rule on whether Amber Harrison‘s dispute with Channel Seven will be heard in the Federal Court. Seven, meanwhile, has hired PR heavy hitter Katie McGrath to try to clean up some of the damage done by CEO Tim Worner‘s now very public affair with Harrison.

Brisbane: The Climate Council will launch its global report Climate Change: A Deadly Threat to Coral Reefs. The news is not good for the Great Barrier Reef, which has been further damaged by the recent Cyclone Debbie.

THE COMMENTARIAT

The local school is in decline and stratification is to blame — Ross Gittins (Sydney Morning Herald): “Less than a third of schools now have an enrolment that resembles the people in their local area.”

Voters aren’t buying the Coalition’s business-as-usual approach — and anger is radioactive — Peter Lewis (Guardian Australia): “When faced with these myriad community concerns, the government’s response is to point to a corporate tax cut, which it asserts will stimulate the economy by giving employers the impetus to hire more workers. But a separate question in this week’s Essential Report shows the public flatly rejects this premise.”

Tony Abbott is wrong: reducing immigration won’t solve the housing crisis — Evan Mulholland (Sydney Morning Herald): “Unlocking more supply is the only credible long-term way to put downward pressure on rents. And the way to achieve this is cutting red tape and reducing regulation on housing development.”

HOW NOT TO CLARIFY A HOLOCAUST GAFFE 

“There was not, in the, he brought them in to the Holocaust centres, I understand that, what I’m saying, in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns dropped them down to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought to, so the use of it, and I appreciate the clarification, that was not the intent.” — White House press secretary Sean Spicer tries to clarify a comment he made earlier comparing Adolf Hitler favourably to Bashar al-Assad. “We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer had said.

THE WORLD

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the US of plotting further missile attacks on Syria, while also alleging that “they are planning to again plant some substance and accuse the Syrian authorities of using (chemical weapons).” Putin’s comments came as the US accused Russia of covering up an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government, with the White House arguing the country is spreading “false narratives” and “shielding” the regime of Bashar al-Assad. — New York Times / Reuters

The Islamic State group now controls less than 7% of Iraqi territory, down from a peak of 40% in 2014, according to the Iraqi military. Iraqi forces have been battling to retake the city of Mosul since late 2016, with the US providing air support. Offensive operations continue to push into the western side of the city, the last major Iraqi town held by the terrorist group. — Al Jazeera

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has offered an apology and promised an internal investigation after video of a bloody man being hauled off a US flight went viral. United initially said the flight was “overbooked” but backed off that justification and offered a full apology after the company’s share price dropped, the White House weighed in, and outrage at the video went global. — Washington Post

WHAT WE’RE READING

The corporation does not always have to win (Deadspin): “No one should expect a huge corporation like United Airlines to have a better or more humane answer than ‘Actually beat the fuck out of our customer and throw him off our plane’ to the question of what can be done when the airline overbooks a flight, botches its own boarding procedures, and winds up in a situation like this.”
 
Trump’s White House is a family business. That’s not a bad thing (Politico): “Sure, family businesses have role conflicts, succession struggles, and sibling rivalries — and the world’s most admired democracy and economy is hardly a mom-and-pop operation. At the same time, we’ve welcomed multiple Bushes, Roosevelts, and Adamses in the White House without acting out the pathologies of All in the Family.”

‘Impeach him!’: New Zealand Prime Minister under fire for putting tinned spaghetti on his pizza (The Telegraph): “An Italian social media user was so upset by the pizza that he claimed it made him cry.”

Tiny, family-run newspaper wins Pulitzer Prize for taking on big business (Poynter): “I lost some friends, but some people don’t understand us, why we would badger county supervisors so that their sugar daddy went away. I said, “Because it wasn’t right.” We felt the public deserved to know who’s paying our bills.”

A full list of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners

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Peter Fray

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