MONEY FOR ATHLETES AND NDIS IN BUDGET

A new fund to be announced in the budget will give athletes $15 million to boost their chances at next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the Courier-Mail reports. The cash will be shared between sporting organisations, and is reportedly intended to make sure Australia doesn’t come second to England again, as it did in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The Australian reports that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be fully funded beyond 2019 in the budget today. The government will be finding $6 billion in annual savings to do so. This could be done, according to the Oz, by adding a 1% Medicare surcharge to the highest income earners, regardless of whether they have private health insurance.

Welfare recipients will be hit with a demerit point-style system to dock their payments if they repeatedly miss appointments, according to The Daily Telegraph today. Once recipients earn four points, they will start losing payments, and if they reach seven points, payments will be cut off entirely for eight weeks.

Meanwhile, The Australian Financial Review says ratings agency Moodys — which is behind Australia’s triple A credit rating — is wary of the budget, which is expected to use “so-called integrity measures” to pay for extra spending.

FAIRFAX COOLS ON BUYOUT OFFER

Private equity firm TPG has reportedly promised to invest in journalism if Fairfax Media accepts its offer to buy The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, as well as Domain and some other arms of the company. The Australian reports that the Fairfax board is unlikely to accept the offer, but probably won’t make that decision final until it receives a report from investment bank Macquarie. The Oz says the board would prefer an offer to buy the whole company, rather than just having the best bits cherry-picked. The AFR’s Aaron Patrick writes that TPG representative Joel Thickins believes “the papers would be better served under private ownership because the pressure from the scrutiny of six-monthly profit results would be lifted”.

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Treasurer Scott Morrison will hand down the federal budget.

Canberra: Lucy Gichuhi will be sworn in as senator for South Australia, replacing Family First’s Bob Day, who was disqualified.

Sydney: A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack will appear in court on child pornography charges.

Brisbane: Clive Palmer will appear in the Federal Court to help find his “globetrotting” nephew, Queensland Nickel director Clive Mensink.

COMMENTARIAT

Budget 2017: scalpel to ease the pain on negative gearing — Dennis Shanahan (The Australian $): “Whether directly or indirectly, tonight’s budget is going to challenge Labor’s remarkable achievement in convincing the public that something has to be done about negative gearing — once an impossible political task.”

Fairfax cuts: the tension between capitalism and the news has reached breaking point — Jeff Sparrow (Guardian Australia $): “We take it for granted that the government will secure other aspects of democracy’s infrastructure, from polling booths to the salaries of elected officials. Why shouldn’t it support the journalism that’s vanishing elsewhere?” 

THE WORLD

The Indonesian government will disband Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, amid fears the country’s pluralist tradition is under threat. In explaining the decision, chief security minister Wiranto said the group was in conflict with the constitution as well as Indonesia’s official state ideology, known as Pancasila. The move comes after Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was placed on trial over blasphemy allegations and then defeated at the polls by a Muslim rival. — Reuters

Two cybersecurity firms have said there is evidence the hacking of Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign was conducted by groups with links to Russian military intelligence. Documents taken from the En Marche! campaign were released as France entered a campaigning blackout. Their impact was limited by the intervention of the French electoral authority and the fact Macron’s campaign insisted some of the documents were fake. — The Guardian

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been met by angry protestors after travelling to visit families impacted by an explosion at a mine in the country’s north. A moderate who helped broker the Iran nuclear deal, Rouhani is running for reelection but facing difficulties thanks to the country’s weak economic situation, caused largely by the massive drop in oil prices. — Reuters

Activists in New Zealand have floated 50 inflatable poo emojis down the Waikato River to protest changes to water standards. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING NOW

The government wants Julian Assange in jail. That could hurt the rest of us. (Washington Post): “Prosecuting Assange under the Espionage Act for publishing leaked information — which Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls ‘a priority’ — is dangerous. It could turn out to be a major move toward what President Trump has long been threatening to do: punish the independent media in America.”

Wars are not won by military genius or decisive battles (Aeon): “Modern wars are won by grinding, not by genius. Strategic depth and resolve is always more important than any commander. Celebration of genius generals encourages the delusion that modern wars will be short and won quickly, when they are most often long wars of attrition.”

South Sudanese, seeking to fit in, stand out in Australian basketball (New York Times): “Coach Mayor, as Mr. Chagai is known, is partial to dark pants and bright dashiki shirts, and quicker to smile off the court than on. Violence and basketball shaped his life.”

What now for Macron? Jihadi threat and economic woes mean no honeymoon (The Guardian): “Every new French leader wants to contrast the style of the president who went before. If the Socialist Francois Hollande – who was once Macron’s mentor – was a plodding ‘ordinary bloke’ who described himself as ‘President Normal’ and turned his own door handles at the Elysee instead of waiting for a butler, Macron wants to bring back what he styles as a lofty poise and distance.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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