TURNBULL LEAPS TO DEFENCE

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will today announce a $3.8 billion fund aimed at bringing Australia into the world’s top 10 defence exporters.

The Australian ($) reports that the Coalition’s global defence strategy, set to be announced during a growing military build-up in the Asia-Pacific region and following Turnbull’s tour of Japan earlier this month, will make loans available to defence companies looking to grow Australian employment, innovation and arms exports.

The fund will be administered by Australia’s export credit agency EFIC, which will be reimbursed for any losses and facilitate loans to Australian exporters that cannot find finance elsewhere. According to Trade Minister Steve Ciobo the fund “will provide confidence to our defence industry to identify and pursue new export opportunities, knowing that when a deal stacks up and export finance is needed, it’ll be there”.

The move comes as Australia shores up its relationships with Asian countries countering the strategic rise of China. On January 18, Turnbull, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, announced that Japan would buy four more Australian Bushmaster armoured troop carriers, on top of four already purchased.

The announcement also follows comments made Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce yesterday indicating that China and Russia pose a greater threat to America than Islamic terrorism, and comments by Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne last year supporting an expansion of Australian arms exports.

POWER DOWN

Scorching heat overnight has left tens of thousands of Victorian homes without power and the state’s energy distribution network grappling with temperatures of up to 45 degrees.

The Age reports that, as of 9.30pm last night, suppliers CitiPower, Powercor and the United Energy listed roughly 41,190 homes as without power across pockets of Melbourne, western Victoria and the Mornington Peninsula. Additionally, blackouts affected about 7500 homes powered by AusNet customers across Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs as well as eastern Victoria.

Temperatures in Melbourne peaked around 38.1 degrees just after 5pm, from which they barely budged, and figures across the state reached well into the mid-40s.

CitiPower, Powercor and the United Energy spokesperson Emma Tyner said that extreme heat meant increased electricity use, leading to power outages and fuse faults, with the largest along the Bellarine Peninsula. Crews worked through the night to restore power to 7984 affected homes. 

ROGER NABBED IT

Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer has beaten Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic in five sets to win both his sixth Australian Open and 20th major title.

Federer joins Danish superstar Caroline Wozniacki as Australian Open 2018 champions. Wozniacki beat top-seeded Simona Halep on Saturday night to claim her first Grand Slam single’s title.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Corporation tax breaks kept secret to avoid ‘harsh criticism’: FOI documents

Pacific nations drowning in Chinese debt ($)

Sydney commuters brace for huge queues and train cancellations

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Federal Treasury officials and housing advocates to give evidence as part of a public hearing into a housing and homelessness agreement.

Adelaide: Peace Boat, a Japanese based global NGO, will arrive in Adelaide for the first time in a speaking tour featuring nuclear survivors from Japan and Australia.

South Australia and urban Northern Territory: School year starts for 2018.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF THURSDAY

How Australia Day echoes the 1948 exodus of Palestine — Randa Abdel-Fattah: “It is little wonder that our government is so quick to emphasise Australia’s shared values with Israel. We do indeed share a settler colonial identity. For this reason, I want my children to appreciate that Palestine is inside Indigenous Australia, and Indigenous Australia is inside Palestine. What we are both fighting for is nothing less than the right to self-determination, justice, freedom and equality.”

Talking sense on the TPP: Coalition business ally breaks ranks againBernard Keane: “ACCI’s director of trade Bryan Clark warned the proliferation of trade agreements was creating a regulatory “noodle bowl” and bilateral free-trade agreements (more accurately, preferential trade agreements, they’re unrelated to free trade) with other TPP signatories should be dumped when the new TPP came into effect. He also wants a Productivity Commission to properly assess the deal.”

The Crikey pocket guide to Australia’s fringe-dwelling far-right groups — Charlie Lewis and Chris Woods:United Patriots Front (2015 — present): The UPF are the hard-right group du jour thanks in part to Channel Seven’s recent portrayal of their current leader, Blair Cottrell, as a concerned citizen leading a neighborhood watch group in response to African gang crime. He is in fact a serial offender. He’s been convicted of arson, stalking, making threats to kill and breaching intervention orders and has served time.”

THE COMMENTARIART

‘We are all Davos men now’: Free trade triumphs despite Trump’s trade tantrumsJessica Irvine (SMH): “Stuffed with sausages, sunburnt and, let’s be honest, a little bit smashed from a day of drinking too much in the sun, Australians were flopped on their couches relaxing when President Trump took the podium at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the snowy Swiss resort town of Davos.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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