STUDENTS TO PAY MORE, PAY FASTER UNDER NEW PLAN

Students would face a 7.5% increase in the cost of their degrees and they would be required to start paying back debts when their annual income hits $42,000 under the higher education funding plan announced by Education Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday. The plan, which also involves a funding cut to universities themselves in the form of a 2.5% “efficiency dividend”, is set to save the government $2.8 billion over the next four years.

Birmingham defended the plan for people to pay back debts sooner, saying $42,000 was above the minimum wage.

Labor’s education spokesperson Tanya Plibersek has voiced concern about the policy: “I am still very worried about this most recent package,” she said.

So will this plan go the same way as the cuts announced in 2014, which never passed the Senate? Birmingham says the discussion with the crossbench has already started:

“I have commenced already some discussions with the crossbench, and we’ll keep that going and we’ll work through a process that I hope can be resolved swiftly, this year,” he said on the ABC.

WALKING DEAD: ZOMBIE MEASURES SCRAPPED

Still on the budget (you’ll read that a lot over the next week), and the Australian Financial Review reports that Treasurer Scott Morrison has turned zombie killer, with $13 billion in budget savings measures contained in the 2014 budget and never passed to be removed from the government’s bottom line. The move will shore up Australia’s AAA credit rating, the Treasurer says: “It is important the budget is a credible document, a practical document, it’s a document that can be put forward with confidence to the Australian Parliament for support.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: The Reserve Bank of Australia’s board of governors will meet and release its decision on the official cash rate. It’s expected to keep the interest rate steady. This explainer in Fairfax today by Myriam Robin explains just how many factors the RBA considers when making its decision.

Melbourne: The Victorian government will hand down its budget today, with Treasurer Tim Pallas promising surpluses as far as the eye can see. The Victorian government hasn’t solved its war of words with its federal counterpart though, after announcing a regional rail plan on the weekend that would require significant federal investment as well.

Darwin: The new Northern Territory Labor government will also release its budget for the 2017-18 financial year.

London: It is Princess Charlotte‘s second birthday. The royal family has released a photo of the princess to mark the occasion.

Melbourne: ANZ will release its half yearly financial results.

Los Angeles: Australian ambassador to the US Joe Hockey and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo will sit on a discussion panel at Milken institute event.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Scott Morrison has killed off the debt bogeyman – let’s hope it doesn’t rise again — John Quiggin (Guardian Australia): “The treasurer’s statement marks an end to the idea, pushed relentlessly for the past 20 years or more, that debt of any kind is an indication of fiscal mismanagement.”

This is hardly the time to be timid in our region — Penny Wong (The Australian $): “Our reluctance to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was timorous and self-defeating. We need to display much greater confidence in harnessing the opportunities of [China’s Belt and Road Initiative].”

Malcolm Turnbull’s Australia-US alliance history lesson for Donald Trump — John Kehoe (Australian Financial Review $): “Trump may be a loud-mouthed headline grabber, but business people and colleagues who meet with him believe he listens seriously and asks lots of questions.”‘

Regional towns need education and infrastructure funds, not this thin slice of political pork — Joel Fitzgibbon (Sydney Morning Herald): “The Abbott and Turnbull governments have cut more jobs in the regions in our regional Centrelink, tax and other government offices than they have created.”

THE WORLD

The Palestinian Islamist/nationalist group Hamas has unveiled a new charter that accepts the possibility of a border along the 1967 Green Line, shifts the group’s focus from opposing “Jews” to fighting “the Zionist entity”, and continues to assert the group’s right to “armed struggle”. The announcement was timed to align with US President Donald Trump‘s renewed efforts to strike a lasting peace deal between Israel and Palestinians and has been dismissed by Israel as a “smokescreen”. In a press conference, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said the group “will not give up any parcel of Palestinian land and strives to liberate all of the Palestinian lands”. Hamas has been in control of the Gaza Strip since 2007. — Haaretz

US President Donald Trump says he is open to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un under the “right circumstances”. But White House press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists that current conditions did not make it appropriate. “I don’t see this happening anytime soon,” he said. — Reuters

May Day protests have turned violent in France while also revealing the rift in left-wing politics brought to the surface by the candidacy of Emmanuel Macron. With union supporters divided over whether to back Macron over Marine Le Pen or to abstain from voting, signs at the annual rally included one proclaiming “not homeland nor boss”. — The Guardian

WHAT WE’RE READING

Mike Bloomberg explains his novel approach to fighting climate change (Vanity Fair): “Government can no more save the coal industry than it could have saved the telegraph industry or the horse-and-buggy industry a century ago. Pretending otherwise only hurts those in coal communities—trapping them in a dying industry instead of helping them acquire new skills and gain access to new career opportunities.”

The Fighter: Sally McManus is the new face of Australia’s union movement (The Monthly): “The daughter of a railway worker and a clerical staffer in a Parramatta pharmaceuticals factory, McManus is fiercely proud of her westie identity. The snobbery and discrimination she encountered in more well-heeled parts of town helped shape her understanding of the world as a place where money and power are life’s great determinants.”

The upside to the presidential Twitter feed (New York Times): “The establishment press has been vicious about Donald Trump. He’s portrayed, day after day, as a narcissist, personally obnoxious, with a policy agenda to match. He deserves most of this criticism. But does he deserve all of it? Does he never do anything right? Say anything wise?”

The love and terror of Nick Cave (GQ): “Nick Cave sits in a Sydney hotel room, his chair facing the floor-to-ceiling windows, the city bathed in summer sun beyond and below. ‘Look,’ he continues, patiently choosing his words, ‘not to just keep going on about this, but the whole grief thing, there’s nothing good about it whatsoever. People will tell you other things, but it’s like a fucking disease. A contagion that not only affects you but everybody around you’.”

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Peter Fray
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