Good morning, early birds. Individuals need to pay more tax, casual employees get a win, and the fallout from North Korea’s missile test continues. It’s the news you need to know, by Charlie Lewis and Max Chalmers 

TAX MATTERS

Tax dominates today’s news coverage following ATO Commissioner Chris Jordan‘s address to the National Press Club yesterday and the release of the Parliamentary Budget Office’s medium-term budget projections. Jordan conceded that the scandal around former deputy commissioner Michael Cranston and his son Adam had cost the ATO “credibility”. He also said dodgy claims around uniforms cost the ATO $1.8 billion, a figure that would would mean that would mean  “almost half of the indiv­idual taxpayer population was required to wear a uniform or protective clothing or had some special requirements for things like sunglasses and hats”. Jordan said spurious claims by individuals cost the ATO as much as tax dodges by big business.

Meanwhile the PBO report — which makes projections around government spending and taxation to 2028 — noted a move to surplus by 2020-21 and beyond would require a huge shift towards individual tax contributions to make up the government’s 65 billion tax cuts for big business.  The Australian projects further, reporting the number of Australian’s paying the top tax rate would double to nearly 1.2 million by 2028, and the PBO says individual tax rates might not bring the surplus back without “sharp” wages growth. The PBO is worried about wages growth, saying: “The significant slowdown in wages growth experienced in the past few years suggests that this projected increase is subject to downside risk.” 

WIN FOR CASUAL WORKERS

Unions have cautiously welcomed the Fair Work Commission decision to allow workers to request a transfer from casual to permanent employment status after 12 months of regular work. The commission ruled that a provision dealing with such a request should be inserted in 88 awards, including those covering retail, hospitality and other industries affected by the recent cuts to penalty rates. Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus said the decision — while falling short of the unions’ hope for the right become permanent to available after six months and for the minimum daily shift to be at least four hours — “plugged a hole” in the “epidemic” of insecure work. Predictably, the move has not been greeted with much enthusiasm by employer groups, with Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman  and Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox both saying it would hurt flexibility.

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

 

Hamburg: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will travel to Germany today to attend the G20 summit, which will commence tomorrow. Major topics will include cybersecurity, terrorism and the threat posed by North Korea.

Sydney: There will be a directions hearing for former deputy tax commissioner Michael Cranston‘s son Adam Cranston related to allegations of fraud. 

The ABS will release crime data for 2016.

THE COMMENTARIAT

 Abbott seen as a wrecker and not the Liberals’ future — Niki Savva (The Australian $): “Even conservative Coalition MPs in Queensland have been taken aback by the level of anger from branch members and constituents who have contacted them to complain about Abbott’s destructive behaviour.”

Compare the pair: a tale of two former prime ministers — Judith Ireland (Sydney Morning Herald): “Far better to take Gillard’s (and Turnbull’s stated) approach of quitting Canberra and doing something new if you lose the top job.”

Wong speech shows our national interest would remain safe under Labor — Greg Sheridan (The Australian $): “Although honouring a number of Labor legends perhaps more than they deserve, Wong’s speech exhibits a sensible and hard-headed bipartisanism.”

THE WORLD

The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting to discuss North Korea’s latest missile test. US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has now confirmed that the missile tested was an intern-continental ballistic missile, as North Korea had claimed. — ABC News

A mob has burst into the Venezuelan parliament, attacking lawmakers from the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Photos show some members left bloodied, while others were taken to hospital. The attack occurred as socialist President Nicolas Maduro vowed his supporters would take up arms if his government was overwhelmed. — BBC

At least 26 people have been killed in Mexico after a shootout in the heart of the country’s drug trafficking region. Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto has vowed to end the country’s drug violence epidemic, but the country’s murder rate has been rising in recent years. — Reuters

WHAT WE’RE READING

What can Trump do about North Korea? His options are few and risky (New York Times): “Mr. Kim’s repeated missile tests show that a more definitive demonstration that he can reach the American mainland cannot be far away … As he looks around the world, he sees cases like that of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, an authoritarian who gave up his nascent nuclear program, only to be deposed, with American help, as soon as his people turned against him. That is what Mr. Kim believes his nuclear program will prevent — an American effort to topple him.”

Children of the opioid epidemic are flooding foster homes. America is turning a blind eye (Mother Jones): “The scourge of addiction to painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl sweeping the country has produced a flood of bewildered children who, having lost their parents to drug use or overdose, are now living with foster families or relatives.”

Suburbs ‘swamped’ by Asians and Muslims? The data show a different story (The Conversation): “Using data from the 2011 Census, we analysed the distribution of Asians and Muslims at four spatial scales (neighbourhood, suburb, district, and region) within Australia’s 11 largest urban areas. We found no evidence of any “swamping” by Muslims, or of ultra-segregation into “ghettos”.”

How the left lost its mind (The Atlantic): “The most prolific of the conspiracy-mongers tend to focus on the Russia scandal, weaving a narrative so sensationalistic and complex that it could pass for a Netflix political drama. Theirs is a world where it is acceptable to allege that hundreds of American politicians, journalists, and government officials are actually secret Russian agents; that Andrew Breitbart was murdered by Vladimir Putin; that the Kremlin has “kompromat” on everyone, and oh-by-the-way a presidency-ending sex tape is going to drop any day now.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

 

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