TURNBULL WARNS ON INTEREST RATES

Australians should be prepared for interest rates to rise, Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday, warning people not to rely on constant growth in housing prices. “I know it’s [housing] been a pretty good one-way bet for a long time, but it’s going to be important for people to be prudent,” he said at the Economic and Social Outlook Conference at the University of Melbourne, an event sponsored by The Australian. The PM defended his free trade agenda and promised to put further company tax cuts on the Senate agenda by the end of the year. He also pointed to jobs growth as a sign the government’s agenda was helping the Australian economy.

“But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that the answer to that is throwing up trade barriers and, you know, trying to pretend that all of this technological change is not occurring.”

SHORTEN: INEQUALITY IS TOO HIGH

It’s not just Turnbull using the conference to put his agenda on the table, Labor leader Bill Shorten will use a speech today to set out his mission to reduce inequality if he were to win government. In comments dropped to the major newspapers, Shorten is expected to say: “Inequality kills hope. Inequality feeds the sense that the deck is stacked against ordinary people, that the fix is in and the deal is done … it fosters a sense of powerlessness that drives people away from the political mainstream.”

Fairfax’s James Massola compares the rhetoric to that of Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn, while The Australian’s David Crowe and John Ferguson write the speech will “widen the polit­ical gulf on economic policy”. Shorten is set to signal that Labor will consider tax policies in the “too-hard basket” that haven’t been considered before because of the political difficulty involved.

REMEMBER THAT NAME: JORDAN STEELE-JOHN

The 22-year-old disability advocate who was third on the Greens’ WA Senate ticket says he is keen to start life as a senator, after taking a week to reflect on his options after the shock resignation of Greens co-deputy leader Scott Ludlam. Jordan Steele-John, a politics student, told Fairfax‘s Adam Gartrell: “I have firmly resolved that I want to do this job. I’m capable and ready to do this job.”

It had been reported in Junkee this week that Steele-John would be under pressure from the party not to take up the role, creating a casual vacancy that could be taken up by someone else, but he says this has not been the case. “I’ve only experienced the total and complete support of the entire party to come to whatever decision I felt was right for me and for the party.”

After the Greens lost two senators to section 44 of the constitution, with both Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigning due to dual citizenships, Waters’ replacement might also be ineligible for election. Andrew Bartlett was employed by a university at the time of last year’s election, which could be considered an “office of profit under the Crown”. 

The Greens also announced Melbourne MP Adam Bandt and WA Senator Rachel Siewert as new co-deputy leaders “on an interim basis” yesterday.

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Melbourne: Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop will address the Economic and Social Outlook Conference at the University of Melbourne. As reported above, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will also speak at the conference.

Melbourne: The advisory panel for the Victorian government’s plan to introduce laws to allow terminally ill people to end their lives will release its final report. The Age reports lethal drugs will be required to be kept in a “locked box”.

Sydney: Tonight is the opening event for the NSW Liberals convention, which will be the stage for a stoush between those loyal to former PM Tony Abbott and current PM Malcolm Turnbull.

HE REALLY SAID THAT

“People don’t realise, [French President Emmanuel Macron] loves holding my hand — that’s good!””

That’s just one of the nuggets from President Donald Trump’s wide-ranging interview with The New York Times. The big headline from the chat was Trump’s comment that he would never have picked Attorney-General Jeff Sessions if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia collusion investigation.

The president also took aim at Robert Mueller, the former FBI director now heading the Justice Department investigation, who he said had a conflict of interest. Trump said that if Mueller looked into his family’s finances it would be a “violation” of his mandate.

THE COMMENTARIAT

A better path out of poverty trap — Alan Tudge (The Australian $): “While absolute poverty is rare, impoverishment still exists. Unlike the past, it’s not complete lack of income that is always the problem, rather a general dysfunction that limits a child’s potential.”

The NSW Liberal Party meeting in which we all have a stake — Sean Nicholls (Sydney Morning Herald): “[Democratisation] also involves the relinquishing of power by those who currently wield it – in this case the members of the left and centre-right factions who control the all-powerful state executive – and an examination of why that power was granted in the first place.”

More leaves likely to fall from the Greens’ tree — David Crowe (The Australian $): “Di Natale leads a team of nine senators and one member of the lower house, Adam Bandt. The party’s members are warning of a trend that would topple three or more of its senators at the next election.”

THE WORLD

Syrian rebel fighters say their future hinges on the support of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, with sources indicating the US would no longer arm groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner. While those groups claim the change in policy will open the door for both the Assad regime and Islamist groups, there have been concerns that many FSA groups were in fact already loyal to Islamists. — Reuters

Former American footballer and celebrity O.J. Simpson will be released on parole in October. Simpson was serving a 33-year maximum sentence in a Nevada prison after he and some associates robbed a pair of sports memorabilia dealers. Simpson, who was famously found not guilty of murdering his wife Nicole Brown, has spent the past nine years in jail. — ESPN

Former Republican nominee for president John McCain has been diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer. Representatives for the 80-year-old said he would seek medical advice on whether he would be able to return to the Senate, where he has served since 1986. — New York Times

A Saudi prince has been arrested after a video that purportedly showed him beating a number of people went viral on Twitter. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING

The seven circles of Donald Trump’s Russia inferno (Lawfare): “There is no more evidence today than there was before to support the very worst possibilities: the theory that the Russians have kompromat on Trump or that he is a true Manchurian candidate. There is, however, substantially more information to support the theory that Russian intelligence endeavored to, and in fact managed to, infiltrate the Trump campaign and that Trump knew or should have known it was happening.”

British politics has become dangerously bad-tempered (The Economist): “Britain is suffering from a malign combination of economic disruption and stagnation. Smart machines are eliminating some jobs, reorganizing others and spreading anxiety. Average pay has declined by some 7% since the financial crisis of 2008. People might be willing to accept disruption if it were accompanied by improvements in living standards, or perhaps to tolerate stagnant living standards if they were accompanied by stability. But the combination of the two is uniquely dangerous, unleashing a wave of populism that is gaining momentum.”

How class in China became politically incorrect (LA Review Of Books): “Research by the University of Sydney’s David Goodman has found that around 84% of today’s elite are direct descendants of the elite from pre-1949.”

Is Turkey headed for another coup? (The National Interest): “The reality within Turkey is reminiscent of the state of affairs in Turkey in 1980, just before the military coup that year. The nation is divided right down the middle and there is no possibility of dialogue given President Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian actions.”

How to spot if your dog is depressed, and what you can do about it (The Telegraph): “New research has shown that far from the picture of satisfaction and contentment, itching and scratching is a tell-tale sign of depression in dogs.”

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Peter Fray

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