Bill Shorten temporary protection visas asylum seekers
(Image: AAP/Alex Murray)

SHORTEN SUITE

Bill Shorten will today issue a budget reply speech promising higher tax cuts for low income Australians and funding injections into Medicare, superannuation and childcare.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review ($), Shorten will expand on the Coalition’s tax cuts for the 2.9 million Australians on an income of $40,000, while also promising a larger surplus. After enjoying the Coalition’s Newstart backflip and calling for clarity over the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament, Labor will also budget $400 million for womens’ superannuation and universal preschool.

Other budget responses include (deep breath): Greens leader Richard Di Natale slamming both the Coalition and Labor’s climate change policies ($); economists labelling wage and surplus forecasts optimistic while confirming Australia’s AAA rating ($); state government feedback from WA, NSW, ACT, SAVictoria, Queensland, Tasmania ($) and NT ($); and further criticisms from innovation advocates ($), NDIS recipients ($), and mental and physical health providers.

FRASER CENSURED

The Senate has almost unanimously condemned Senator Fraser Anning for his Islamophobic comments following the Christchurch terror attacks, while also passing rushed legislation aimed at preventing other attacks from being live-streamed on social media.

The Guardian reports that One Nation abstained from the Senate’s censure, while Senator Cory Bernardi only supported the substantive part of the motion. Senator Pat Dodson issued a particularly devastating response linking the racial prejudice behind the attack to Australia’s history of massacres. The news comes as Anning launches his own political party ahead of the May election ($).

Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that the House of Representatives is set to pass the Sharing of Abhorrent ­Violent Material Bill today, although media bodies including News Corp have called for exemptions citing fears the legislation could “criminalise journalism”.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I know what Borat would think of the Labor Party’s policy on emissions reductions: ‘Verrrrry niiiiice, verrrrry niiiiice!’

Scott Morrison

The Prime Minister of Australia responds to a question from Kerryn Phelps on the budget’s lack of climate measures by quoting the 2006 mockumentary Borat.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Is the government doing enough to tackle the Indigenous suicide crisis?

“Youth suicide was labelled a ‘national priority’, $461 million was earmarked for young people’s mental health, and the government also promised to open 30 new Headspace centres and extend funding for psychosis treatment. Meanwhile just $5 million will be devoted to Indigenous suicide prevention programs, despite Aboriginal communities being in the midst of what medical bodies and advocates refer to as a ‘crisis’.”


The Liberals’ road to surplus was built on hard work – but whose?

“After 12 years of budget deficits, Australia will return to surplus next year. It will be a small one — just $7 billion — and the surpluses projected in subsequent years are actually lower than the government forecast just four months ago. Against that, the final deficit, this financial year, will be smaller than forecast — $4 billion, a rounding error away from balanced budget.”


Fear and loathing in WA: the perils of a One Nation-Liberal preference deal

“In a recent statement to the ABC’s AM, former premier of WA Colin Barnett said that a preference deal between the Morrison government and One Nation would be ‘incredibly foolish.’ Barnett speaks from experience. The infamous preference deal made between One Nation and his long-reigning Liberal government is remembered as a monumental blunder.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Nick Goiran delivers ‘huge’ Parliament filibuster on surrogacy laws lasting 12 hours and running

Australia’s foreign policy victim to ‘political parochialism and distraction’

Renewables put grid under stress ($)

ABC inquiry finds board knew of trouble between Milne and Guthrie, but did nothing

Violent criminals and sex perverts are among the latest offenders the AAT has saved from deportation ($)

Hopes emerge for a ‘great era of bipartisanship’ on clean energy policy

Economic Regulation Authority accuses Synergy of gouging wholesale customers up to $100 million by overcharging

How Rupert Murdoch’s empire of influence remade the world

Former student of Robert Doyle wants action over alleged sexual harassment

Najib Razak, former Malaysian PM, pleads not guilty as 1MBD trial begins

THE COMMENTARIAT

Feeble defence is still our nation’s shame ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “Once again we have embarked on a federal budget and an election campaign without the single most important issue — the defence of Australia — playing the slightest role. Speaking technically, that’s completely nuts.”

Just joshing, Australia, here’s my real budgetJessica Irvine (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Deloitte Access Economics estimates increasing the benefit by $75 a week will cost the budget $3.3 billion a year in direct terms. But that will be offset by about $2 billion in extra revenue from increased spending. That’s the trick, you see. Target your handouts at truly disadvantaged people and they’re more likely to spend it and boost the economy!”

We paid $180m for Scott Morrison to have a press conference on Christmas IslandScott Ludlam (The Guardian): “The government has torched more than $180m dollars ramping up security and services at the site, in anticipation of a deluge of people who only ever existed as a talking point to hurl at Labor and the crossbench.”

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PRACTICE BY GUY RUNDLE

Practice distils Guy Rundle’s best writing on politics, culture, class and more. In it, he roves the campaign trails of Obama and Trump, Rudd and Abbott; rides the Greyhound around a desolate America; bails up Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson; and excavates the deeper meanings of everything from Nirvana to Anzac Day.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will launch the Regional Australia Institute’s report “The Future of Regional Jobs” at national summit Regions Rising 2019, which will include speeches from Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie, Cities Minister Alan Tudge, shadow Regional Services Minister Stephen Jones and more.

  • The Institute of Governance and Policy Analysis will host “NATSEM – IGPA Federal Budget Luncheon 2019” at Parliament House, to include a panel event with Coalition senator Matt Canavan, Labor MP Andrew Leigh, The Conversation’s Michelle Grattan and Peter Martin, and former Finance Secretary Jane Halton facilitating.

  • The ANU Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics will launch annual briefing “Australia’s Environment in 2018”.

Melbourne

  • Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union and Victorian Trades Hall Council will rally outside Josh Frydenberg’s office to “celebrate” the 25th anniversary of Newstart last being raised in real terms.

  • Former treasurer Peter Costello will discuss the 2019/20 budget in-conversation at the Centre for Independent Studies.

  • Co-director of the Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration Sarah Maddison will launch her new book The Colonial Fantasy: Why white Australia can’t solve black problems, in conversation with former Greens MP Lidia Thorpe at the University of Melbourne.

  • Former premier John Brumby will launch the Australia China Business Council’s new report “The Benefits of Chinese Investment in Victoria”.

Sydney

  • ACTU President Michele O’Neil will launch the ACTU’s election campaign.

Brisbane

  • Australia’s newest warship HMAS Brisbane III will arrive in its namesake city for the first time and be open to the public.

Perth

  • WA Attorney General John Quigley will launch the two-day WA Tenancy Conference 2019.