Frydenberg FOFA banking royal commission
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE SURPLUS?

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has rejected calls for the government to provide further economic stimulus, telling The Australian that doing so would put the surplus at risk ($).

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe last week urged the government to do more to boost the economy, arguing that Australia must not rely on monetary policy alone as the RBA cut interest rates to a record low of 1%. Frydenberg says that fiscal stimulus would be a misreading of the governor’s calls for ­action, arguing Lowe was actually advocating for structural reforms to drive down unemployment. The government is instead pushing for IR reform, arguing this is the best way to boost growth.  

THE SCHISM

Conservatives are split over the issue of religious freedom legislation, with the Institute of Public Affairs joining Attorney-General Christian Porter in arguing that a religious freedom act “may make us less free” ($), The Australian reports.

IPA executive director Josh Roskam is calling for a more narrow religious discrimination bill, claiming religious freedom is an inalienable right and not a “gift from the government”. “People of faith should not be subjugated to the courts,” he said. As The Guardian reported yesterday, Porter holds the same view, rejecting calls from conservative MPs to establish a freedom act and promising that his religious discrimination bill will provide “powerful avenue” for those who feel they have been unfairly treated.

MENTAL HEALTH OVERHAUL

The Andrews government will today release its submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, exploring a “stepped care” scheme that would make it easier for people to move between levels of treatment. Admitting that the current system is overburdened and “letting people down”, the government will recommend a complete redesign, with more community-based and preventative treatment options. 

The submission notes that Victorian services are severely overstretched, in what The Age calls “an unusually frank assessment of the present system’s failings”. The commission has heard multiple stories of a system in crisis, with some witnesses saying it needs a complete overhaul.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[Someone] wrote to me saying how good it was to hand out how-to-vote cards because then [they] could talk to people about the Bible … That overt religious intonation is counterproductive in politics.

Cory Bernardi

The former Australian Conservatives leader tells The Guardian that he tried (and failed, apparently) to make clear his wasn’t a “religious” party.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

ATO working overtime as 650,000 people rush to get $1080 tax offset

‘Definitely don’t do what I did’: Woman pleads guilty to egging PM

‘Not appropriate’: Labor calls for explanation after AFP obtains ABC journalist’s private Qantas travel records

Australia’s anti-encryption laws being used to bypass journalist protections, expert says

Family to stay in Australia after son with cystic fibrosis initially deemed a ‘burden’

Kids Help Line in crisis after thousands of calls go unanswered

Labor signals it’s ready to dump negative policy ($)

Reconsider nuclear weapon stance, urges Hugh White on Q&A ($)

Payment increase ‘imminent’ for more than 600,000 retirees

Iran accuses Britain of a ‘threatening’ act as tensions rise

Government announces inquiries into mine deaths after sixth fatality

Melbourne girl, 13, dies from flu as national death toll nears 300

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Tax cuts coverage ignored substance, focused on trivia

“We examined the coverage of the tax cuts package before and after the election in the Nine newspapers, the ABC and The Australian, culminating in headlines about the government’s “triumph” in securing Senate passage of the cuts first announced in the April budget. Out of 227 print and online pieces dealing with the tax cuts, just 25 provided any kind of fiscal and equity analysis of the package, which will fundamentally alter the progressive nature of Australia’s income tax system when Stage 3 of the package commences in 2024. That included six articles purporting to demonstrate that the benefits of the package would primarily go to middle-income earners rather than high-income earners, or that it would not affect the progressivity of the income tax system.”


Don’t know, don’t care: Australia’s stagnated stillbirth rate

“There’s not supposed to be any difference in the quality of care between public and private hospitals — but those who can afford the copayments wouldn’t expect to be kicked to the curb less than a day after bringing life into the world.  The inequality of care doesn’t just differ between public and private hospitals, but between regions. DIY birthing kits have been handed out to mums-to-be in rural Queensland, while maternity services in rural and remote areas are left unmaintained, with baby mortality rates in rural areas without birthing clinics four times higher than those with clinics.”


Why do politicians spill their guts for books like Plots and Prayers?

“For nearly a century, books by gallery reporters like Savva have been how the political narrative, once in flux, becomes set all but immutably in concrete. Day-to-day reporting, long-form features, talk shows and interviews all move the journalistic narrative from point to point while we’re trying to keep up. But the narrative remains fluid, open to constant revision as new characters or plot twists emerge. But once frozen in the solidity — the certainty — of a book or documentary? That’s it. Set. Certain as gospel. Politicians — often more versed in Australia’s political traditions than journalists — understand this well. That’s why they’re eager to set the narrative by talking to putative authors and, more recently, doco makers.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

Pensioners are yet again bearing the brunt of interest cuts ($) – Ian Henschke (The Daily Telegraph): “When Treasurer Josh Frydenberg demands the banks pass on the full interest-rate cut, he should be embarrassed by his Government’s failure to take the same equitable approach in-house. Cut after cut to the interest you earn, but not to the interest you’re ‘deemed’ to have earned when it comes to assessment for the Aged Pension. Not just this time — but for the last four interest rate cuts.”

We must think very carefully before committing to war in the GulfHossein Esmaeili (The Age/SMH): “Australia has no legal obligations under the ANZUS Treaty, or any other international agreement, to join the US in another possibly long, chaotic and devastating regional conflict. Indeed, under the Charter of the United Nations, to which both Australia and the US are parties, the use of force is prohibited unless authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations. Australia’s Prime Minister must think very carefully before committing Australia to a war that has virtually no international support, no international legal justification, and no rational justification. Pompeo’s global coalition consists, so far, of the Trump administration. Not even Iran’s regional foe, Saudi Arabia, is on board. Support has not been received from any European or Asian country nor from any other of the 193 United Nations members.”

The attempts to pressure charities into political silence don’t happen in isolation – Brad Chilcott (The Guardian): “In our democracy, an environmental group can quietly plant trees but cannot say: ‘If you want to save this forest you will need to vote for The Forest Saving Party’ – even if the published policy platforms and public statements of the various political parties demonstrate this as an objective truth. Charities cannot donate to political parties, cannot support a candidate, cannot support a political party, cannot hand out how to vote cards. They may campaign for people to ‘vote to end homelessness’ but not say which party’s policies they believe will lead to that outcome. There are no such restrictions on corporations, industry groups, the Pharmacy Guild, the Minerals Council of Australia or the gambling industry who are able to influence public policy, voter intentions and donate to parties and candidates freely.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

National

  • NAIDOC Week runs from July 7 to July 14, celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. A full list of events can be found here.

Darwin

  • Aboriginal Justice Unit Director Leanne Liddle, responsible for the development of the NT’s first Aboriginal Justice Agreement, will give a talk at the National Archives, addressing the vast challenges faced by Aboriginal Territorians in their interactions with the justice system.

Melbourne

  • Volunteering Victoria will host a disability inclusion  forum, helping volunteer-involving organisations  in the Western metropolitan region become more disability-inclusive.

  • Australia Institute chief economist Richard Denniss and Transport Accident Commission CFO Tomy Dudley will discuss whether Australia is investing enough in the health and wellbeing of future generations.

Adelaide

  • Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will appear at a Parliament House rally over issues associated with water use in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Sydney

  • The Girls Academy will host an Indigenous careers expo as part of NAIDOC Week.

Brisbane

  • Brisbane City Council will host a free Indigenous art walking tour, exploring the artworks and artists in the Indigenous Art Program: Shared Connections.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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