SHORTEN FINALLY STEPS UP

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has outlined a vision to reform workplace laws, reduce the cost of health premiums and set up a federal anti-corruption commission under a future Labor government.

In a speech to the National Press Club yesterday, Shorten conceded that 2017 was a “particularly bad year for Parliament” and that he would aim to restore faith in politics with the federal-style ICAC and a focus on low-income-earner issues such as minimum wage, an enterprise bargaining system on “life support”, penalty rates, and the gender pay gap.

The Age reports some initial backlash to Shorten’s characterisation of workplace laws from business leaders, notably Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox hitting out at the portrayal of enterprise agreements as largely “being unilaterally terminated by employers”. Federal health minister Greg Hunt also slammed Shorten’s failure to clarify Labor’s position on the $6.4 billion private health insurance rebate.

While he did not specify new sources of funding or outline any intention to change the rebate, Shorten did hint at closing tax loopholes with a pointed reference to productivity growing at a disproportionate rate (20:6) to real wages.

“If we don’t push big companies to pay a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, if we don’t demand a better deal and greater security for working Australians, then it just won’t happen,” he said.

ESPIONAGE LAWS COULD JAIL JOURNALISTS, WHISTLEBLOWERS 

New treason laws proposed by the Coalition government have been described as an attempt to “criminalise journalism” by media companies, academics, legal experts, and the union.

Introduced to parliament last year immediately after passing marriage equality, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has portrayed the proposed espionage laws as a means of protecting Australia from foreign influence and ensuring transparency.

However The Australian reports that a variety of representatives, including News Corp, criticised the foreign interference legislation at a public hearing for being too broad, conferring far-reaching and unclear new powers, and not involving adequate consultation. 

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has previously organised 15 media companies to speak out against the changes, and MEAA chief executive Paul Murphy yesterday said the legislation on face-value meant journalists could be charged simply for receiving sensitive documents.

Additionally, The New York Times has outlined the laws’ potential impact on other industries, from the criminalising of whistleblowers resulting in fewer disclosures of misconduct; to a conflation of national security and economic relations; and the curtailing of activist groups.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Melbourne Grand Prix supremo, businessman, Liberal Party member Ron Walker dies

Jobs boom driven by NDIS injection of taxpayer billions

CBA accused of rigging interest rates

Ferry McFerryface fail leaves Minister Andrew Constance red-faced

Keneally to take Dastyari’s spot but Shorten frontbench full

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Public hearings include: inquiry into conduct of the 2016 federal election; inquiry into Section 44 of the Constitution; review of foreign influence transparency scheme bill; and review of national security espionage and foreign interference bill.

Melbourne: Trade Workers Union will launch a campaign to protect the rights of delivery workers and march from Trades Hall to Victoria’s State Library.

Melbourne: Federal health minister Greg Hunt will launch a report into how precision medicine can transform Australian health care and later in the day, Australia’s new five-year asthma strategy and action plan. 

Sydney: Australian Transport Safety Bureau will release its preliminary report into the Sydney Seaplane crash and hold a presser.

Western Australia: 2018 school year begins.

USA: US President Donald Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address to Congress, scheduled for 1pm AEDT.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Razer: you can’t fix a problem like sexual harassment within existing structuresHelen Razer: “For all their honourable intentions and punishing labour, journalists of this #MeToo movement may not be rewarding their sisters. The context into which these stories are offered is one of diminished public trust in media. The subjects of these stories are overwhelmingly media workers. There can be no doubt that those writers and journalists who give their all to #MeToo do so nobly. There can be some doubt that this work will attain the “structural change” Tracey Spicer says she is seeking.”

Holidays over, the government gets back to the hard work of leaking — Bernard Keane: “Actually it’s less an algorithm than a hall of mirrors. It’s true that we haven’t reached the stage of the last days of the Abbott government, when entire cabinet discussions would appear verbatim in the press as if cut-and-pasted from the note-taker’s laptop. But we were debating who was leaking against whom at the end of 2017 and we’ve kicked off 2018 the same way.”

‘A campaign the likes of which has never been seen’: 7 questions with Nick XenophonCrikey:6. We know you say you aren’t aiming to become SA premier, but surely it must be just a tiny little bit tempting (no cliches here please)?: SA-BEST is a start-up political party. We don’t have the resources and advantages of incumbency enjoyed by Labor and the Liberals. I have to win the seat of Hartley which is a huge challenge. I expect that the election campaign will be one of the dirtiest and most vile South Australia has ever seen as Labor and Liberal try every grubby trick they can think of in an effort to keep me and my team out of the SA Parliament.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

Surprise: News Corp Is Once Again Waging War Against A Young Person Of Colour — Ben McLeay (Pedestrian.TV): “I am deeply saddened to announce that it is time to set the ‘days since News Corp breathlessly waged a smear campaign against a person of colour who said an innocuous sentence they didn’t like’ counter back to zero. Milking the outrage of credulous racist boomers for every single click that it’s worth, News Corp’s nest of ideologue columnists and journalists has been prodded several times and pointed in the direction of activist Tarneen Onus-Williams.”

Koala national parks needed before it is too lateDawn Walker (The Age): “The koala population in NSW is listed as vulnerable, with nearly every population on the east coast in decline. Children growing up today may only ever see koalas in a zoo, while future generations may only see them in books. This is despite public support to protect our koalas, with a recent ReachTEL poll on the North Coast reporting overwhelming support (68-72%) for the creation of national parks to protect koalas.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW