SORRY BUSINESS

Health funding and a compensation for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse are set to dominate today’s COAG meeting of federal, state and territory governments.

The Turnbull government goes into the meeting offering what it says is a $30 billion boost to health funding over five years, calling on the states to take on 55% of the funding burden. But state governments are unhappy with the offer, according to The Australian Financial Review, and want to see the levels of funding promised under the Gillard government restored.

With the disagreement over health funding likely to drag on after today’s meeting, Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to deliver an apology to victims of institutional child sexual abuse will put pressure on premiers to sign up to the proposed national redress scheme. Advocates for survivors have called on churches and other institutions to join the Prime Minister’s apology, and say state and territory leaders should not leave today’s meeting until a deal on the redress scheme is reached.

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As a fresh national apology appears on the horizon, another fades further into memory. With the 10-year anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations looming next week, The Australian reports ($) that Turnbull’s government is on track to deliver a disastrous Closing the Gap report on Monday, with just one of the seven targets expected to be deemed on track.

CRITICAL DIAGNOSIS FOR TGA LABELS

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is facing criticism for allowing a wide range of claims about the benefits of vitamin and herbal medicines to be printed on their packaging.

Fairfax reports today that critics say as many as 86% of the 1019 “indications” are not supported by scientific evidence. Among the dubious terms are boasts that a product “softens hardness” and “tonifies kidney essence”.

The changes will need to be legislated, but experts including Allan Asher, formerly of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, are raising the alarm.

“The TGA held industry consultations and just lost the plot; it gave them a licence to deceive,” Asher told Fairfax.

INSIDE JOB

A manager at an ANZ bank stole $300,000 before a junior staffer notified the bank of suspicious transactions, a court has heard.

The Herald Sun reports ($) the 44-year-old was sacked in 2016. Yesterday, a judge slammed her for spending the money on “jet skis and investment properties”.

Tracey Cook has now repaid the funds but looks set to face jail time when she is sentenced next week.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Barnaby Joyce’s affair and baby: Minister mate Matt Canavan invented job for Vikki Campion ($)

Identities of group behind alleged child sex abuse at performing arts school revealed

ABC apologises to Kevin Rudd over report about pink batts scheme

Amended spy laws still ’too harsh’ on public servants ($)

5500 sharks lurk in the waters off eastern Australia, new study shows

ICC to investigate allegations Rodrigo Duterte committed crimes against humanity

WHAT’S ON TODAY

PyeongChang, South Korea: The Winter Olympics begin.

Auckland: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop starts a two-day visit for regular talks with New Zealand counterparts.

Sydney: Former prime minister Kevin Rudd to speak at a NSW Parliament breakfast commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations.

Sydney: The Reserve Bank of Australia releases its latest statement on monetary policy. 

Canberra: State and territory leaders gather for a COAG meeting.

Melbourne: The Melbourne Zoo celebrates the eighth birthday of tigers Hutan and Indrah with a cake made of blood and cat’s milk.

Melbourne: Special mention for George Pell’s historical sex offences case.

Sydney: The ABC holds its first annual public meeting. It can be streamed and watched online.

THE COMMENTARIAT

The Barnaby Joyce case exposes our murky principles about public interest — Gay Alcorn (The Guardian): “At the time, I was in the camp that found it all distasteful, questioning whether Joyce’s private life was the public’s business. I was wrong, and there remains questions that should be pursued.”

It is no wonder the world has gone cold on so-called clean coal — Simon Holmes A Court (The Australian $): “More than 30 coal power plants with carbon capture have been cancelled or put on hold globally. Only two so-called large-scale plants were ever completed, Boundary Dam in Canada and Petra Nova in Texas, and both are small demonstrations. Combined, they capture as much carbon dioxide a year as Hazelwood in Victoria used to emit in just two months.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

The agreement that will make or break the ALP — Guy Rundle: “The absolute worst prospect for Labor is that the CU-IL group will manage to gain a few more small-fry participants, without persuading the SDA or NUW across — which would leave the two pacts in a stalemate. The perverse product of this would be that Left and Right groupings with quite different ideas of what society should look like, would be locked together, internally horse-trading policies, while in competition with a mirror Left-Right pact doing the same.”

With trust plummeting, what’s in store for Australian society? — Bernard Keane: “Low trust levels are also, according to a 2015 US paper, strongly associated with willingness to believe conspiracy theories among both progressives and conservatives, although among the former, high levels of information tend to reduce belief in conspiracies.”

Tips and rumours — Crikey: “A tipster tells us that in return for Ayres spruiking the project, Jones (who’s on the board of the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust which is behind the push for the new stadium) has promised to throw his support behind Ayres to replace Gladys Berejiklian as premier.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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