STOP THE GAS

All of the major newspapers today are reporting that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to announce in Brisbane today that there will be new restrictions on how much gas producers in Australia can export depending on the supplies on offer in Australia. Turnbull will announce a “domestic gas security mechanism” to put a stop to the companies shipping their natural gas supplies overseas while Australia suffers from a supply shortage. 

The Australian reports Turnbull will say that Australia has become the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, but there is somehow not enough to supply energy for Australians.

What is being called a “dramatic intervention” by Fairfax comes after Turnbull’s meetings with the companies like Origin, Shell, and ExxonMobil over the past couple of months, which appear to have failed. 

SOME DEBT BETTER THAN OTHERS

Treasurer Scott Morrison will give a speech to the Australian Business Economists in Sydney today and make the case that debt is good — some debt, that is. He will make the argument that economists have been advocating for the government to make for some time, that some debt can improve productivity, according to the ABC. 

“It can be very wise for governments to borrow, especially while rates are low, to lock in longer-term financing and invest in major-growth-producing infrastructure assets, such as transport or energy,” he will reportedly say.

That is good debt. Bad debt, he says is racking up debt on welfare or Medicare spending. Given Labor’s success with the Mediscare campaign at the last election, it is interesting to see the government even contemplating calling Medicare spending bad debt.

Morrison is also expected to announce that the debt will also be split up among government agencies, meaning that people will be able to see while portfolios are racking up the most debt.

GET YOUR COATES

Controversy over allegations of bullying at the Australian Olympic Committee continue today. Yesterday, AOC president John Coates‘ media director Mike Tancred stood down while allegations of bullying are investigated, and last night there was an emergency meeting of the board, where it was decided there would be an independent review of the workplace practices of the AOC, Fairfax reports. There are also now claims that Coates once said that the AOC was not a “sheltered workshop” in relation to a young female staffer being treated for cancer.

It all comes in the backdrop of the potential for Coates to be unseated as AOC president for the first time in 27 years, as there will be a vote on May 6 on his future. There is a push to have him replaced by former Hockeyroo Danielle Roche.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

More defections to Cory Bernardi’s party, but who?

Yet another ‘exclusive’ on whether George Brandis is going to London to replace Alexander Downer

SHE REALLY SAID THAT

“There was the suggestion in Victoria that some of her Liberal Party critics said of Kelly O’Dwyer that she quote ‘holds her baby like a gypsy’,” Sky News presenter Samantha Maiden yesterday on those rich old men very upset with Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer‘s superannuation changes. For those who don’t get the reference, it means she throws her baby at you while stealing from your pocket. We are not sure those pushing to have O’Dwyer unseated have thought this public relations campaign through.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: Treasurer Scott Morrison to give a pre-budget speech and former trade minister Andrew Robb is to give a speech on the impact of the Trump administration on Australia

Brisbane: PM Malcolm Turnbull is to make his announcement on gas policy.

Melbourne: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will speak about housing affordability and the budget, and the parliamentary joint committee on corporations and financial services will hold a hearing on whistleblower protections.

COMMENTARIAT

At last, Morrison and Turnbull will be able to borrow big — Peter Martin (The Age $):”Turnbull and Morrison‘s bid to redefine the deficit will only work if they establish strong protections to ensure that only worthwhile infrastructure projects get approved. “

Let’s hope any gas export limits can power some ideas about supply — Andrew White (The Australian $): “The export controls aren’t going to do anything to stimulate new supply, which is the ultimate solution to the problem.”

The irony of the push to unseat Kelly O’Dwyer — Judith Ireland (The Age $): “Realistically, O’Dwyer is not under any immediate preselection threat in Higgins. For one thing, the Greens polled 42% in 2016 (more than Labor), so the party would be crazy to replace the sitting MP, who is known for her moderate views on issues such as same-sex marriage.”

Pragmatic Scott Morrison is a man sticking to his beliefs — David Uren (The Australian $): “Morrison’s business critics wish his social conscience were matched by a zeal to lighten regulation, which has proliferated in areas under his watch including foreign investment and tax.”

Anzac Day betrayed by RSL itself  — Andrew Bolt (Herald Sun $): “No, Adbel-Magied is a symptom rather than the virus. She seems to me a mere profiteer of the politics of grievance and tribalism. The real problem here is the RSL, which on Tuesday let Anzac Day become a platform for exactly this grievance mongering and tribal division.”

TODAY IN TRUMP

Donald Trump‘s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has outlined the president’s much-anticipated tax plan. The plan, unveiled today with very little detail, would represent a major across-the-board tax cut by reducing number of individual tax brackets to three — at 10%, 25%, and 35% — and cutting the business tax rate to just 15%.

Mnuchin said lost revenue would be covered by increased growth, though some Republicans have questioned the suggestion. Aside from concerns about blowing the country’s deficit further, there are also fears the plan would enable wealthy individuals to mask their personal income as business income, and thus pay a far lower rate.

THE WORLD

Director Jonathan Demme has died at the age of 73. Demme won an Oscar for his 1992 film The Silence of the Lambs, and he directed other award-winning films including Philadelphia, which stared Tom Hanks. — BBC

Foreign fighters who headed to Syria to take up arms with Islamic State are turning up at the Turkish border, fleeing as the group’s territory diminishes. The US estimates that of the 30,000 foreign fighters who joined IS in Syria, 25,000 have been killed. — The Guardian

A declassified French intelligence report has laid the blame for a chemical attack on town of Khan Sheikhoun on the Syrian government. The report said samples taken from the blood of a victim and the site of the attack matched the profile of the strain of sarin gas produced by the Syrian government. — Reuters 

WHAT WE’RE READING 

Meeting an organ trafficker why preys on Syrian refugees (BBC): “He used to work as a security guard in a pub but then he met a group which trades in organs. His job is to find people desperate enough to give up parts of their body for money, and the influx of refugees from Syria to Lebanon has created many opportunities. ‘I’m exploiting them,’ he says, ‘and they’re benefitting’.”

#Vanlife, the Bohemian social-media movement (New Yorker): “As I thumbed toward the top of the screen, I had the disconcerting sense of watching a life become a life-style brand.”

The tale of the dictator’s daughter and her prince (de Correspondent): “While novel to the US, the Trump family dynamic may be familiar for citizens of authoritarian kleptocracies. One has seen it in Central Asian states like Uzbekistan and in countless other countries where rulers consolidate power and strip the country’s resources for their personal benefit.”

The age of flying cars is here, Silicon Valley promises (Washington Post): “Uber, which is also developing self-driving cars, thinks it can get the cost for a trip in an Uber flying taxi down to an ambitious $1.32 per passenger mile, with the overall goal of making it “economically irrational” to drive a car on the ground … “

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Peter Fray
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