Former ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

“INSIDIOUS” THREAT

Former ASIO director Duncan Lewis has issued a stark warning about Chinese interference in Australia, urging the Chinese-Australian community to help security agencies in the same way local Muslim communities help identify terrorist threats.

Lewis said the Chinese government is seeking to “take over” Australia’s political system through foreign influence operations, with any person in office a potential target, making specific reference to former Labor senator Sam Dastyari. The interview — his first since retiring after five years as head of ASIO — was conducted for Peter Hartcher’s forthcoming Quarterly Essay, Red Flag: Waking up to China’s challenge.

A HELPING HAND…

Immigration Minister David Coleman will today unveil new measures to help refugees adjust ($), including appointing a special migrant services co-ordinator in the Department of Home Affairs. 

The new integration strategy, which will focus on “financial independence, English language skills and personal connections”, comes in response to an independent review by former public servant Peter Shergold, who managed the special intake of 12,000 refugees from Syria. As part of the plan, the government now wants half of all new refugees to be settled in regional Australia by 2022, increasing its target of 40% this financial year, which it is on track to exceed.

THE LEADS ARE WEAK

A new OECD report has labelled the Australian economy “weak”, calling for more government spending, Nine reports.

The think tank’s six-monthly review of the global economy raises serious concerns about Australia’s level of household debt, now at a record high, which could “exacerbate” any economic shock that might hit. The OECD downgraded its expectations for Australia, forecasting GDP to grow by 2.3% over the next two years, well short of the government’s expectations, with private consumption to grow only slightly faster than inflation. The report backs lower interest rates, and calls for more government spending — more, presumably, than the fast-tracked $3.8 billion of infrastructure projects that economists warn won’t do much.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Well you’re right it would buy a lot of slabs of VB, wouldn’t it? But over four years, in terms of economic stimulus, not a great deal.

Phil Coorey

The AFR editor tells RN Breakfast why $3.8 billion of infrastructure spending won’t do much to stimulate the economy.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Fund manager vows to invest $25b in infrastructure over next decade

‘Prudence and mutual obligation’ to underpin Labor budget policy: Albanese

Push for inquiry into East Timor gas project

Arsonists may have lit Strathallan fires, 60,000 without power across Victoria

Tough water rules slapped on Sydney as dam levels plummet

ABC ‘asked Christian Porter to take control of media rule’ ($)

Free-trade pacts spark union row with Labor ($)

Westpac chiefs feel investor wrath over alleged child exploitation links ($)

China angered over US Congress legislation backing Hong Kong democracy

‘Very concerning’ police presence in Central Australia following police shooting

Mardi Gras to vote on parade ban for Scott Morrison

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Westpac’s outrages point to a deep cultural malaise in Australian capitalism

“Whether it’s systemic law-breaking by the major banks, the epidemic of wage theft and exploitation of migrants by businesses large and small across the country, the building standards scandal in NSW, the gaming of energy regulation by oligopolistic power companies or the funding of climate denialism, there’s an indifference to basic morality and behavioural standards baked into Australian business, coupled with a confidence that regulators could be ignored, litigated away or settled with, with relative impunity.”


The left needs to take a stand on China

“But even if it were a question of the Uyghur mass detention alone, no one on the left can pass by this any longer without a collective deep investigation. If it is as said, then we are the equivalent of the UK, offshore from Dachau. It’s worth remembering that a lot of anti-Nazi criticism in the 1930s was muted because it was seen to be coddling British imperialism. And it’s sadly predictable that Paul Keating — who reveres Churchill as the politician of the century — fails the Churchill test when actual concentration camps are presented to him.”


Shame File: the biggest bank blunders since the royal commission

“The royal commission into the big four banks, which wrapped up in February, was supposed to be a very expensive wake-up call for the sector. But given Westpac’s alleged 23 million breaches of anti-terrorism and counter-money laundering laws, it seems not a lot has been learned. Below, Crikey takes a look at some of the banking sectors’ stuff-ups since the end of the royal commission.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

Why not a big stick for Westpac and the banks? They’re acting like Marvel villainsRichard Denniss (The Guardian): “If the government thinks that unions are filled with criminals that need to be deregistered, then the banking sector must be super villains, as powerful as any featured in a big-budget Marvel movie. So what’s going on? How can it be that the best-paid executives in Australia, working at some of the most profitable banks in the world, can’t afford, or can’t be bothered, to meet their regulatory obligations?”

A Westpac customer for 36 years, I might put my money in socks Jenna Price (The Age/Sydney Morning Herald): “Believe me, after the royal commission, I was relieved if not smug. Of the big four banks, Westpac came off pretty well. It didn’t rip off dead people. Now I discover it knew it was funding child exploitation. Let me make what it did perfectly clear. Westpac failed to obey anti-money laundering and counter-terror finance laws. According to AUSTRAC, the financial intelligence agency, that failure allowed payments to a person in the Philippines, later arrested for child sex trafficking and livestreaming child sexual abuse, as Adele Ferguson wrote. Skin-crawling stuff. Livestreaming child sexual abuse. And it has known that for at least six years. It did nothing. No demonstrated remorse could ever make up for that utter ethical failure. I cannot even imagine being the person or people who did nothing to prevent that particular funding stream for child sex trafficking.”

About-time ruling validifies online journalists’ disparaged ‘lifestyle choice’ ($) – Alice Workman (The Australian): “In 2019 it seems absurd to differentiate between print and digital journalism. Can you even be just a print journalist anymore? The Fair Work Commission’s ruling should be celebrated but recognised for what it is – long overdue. It’s more than ironic that wage theft is rarely mentioned above a whisper in an industry that delights in using the unlawful deeds of MasterChef judges as clickbait. Young people like the rest of us should earn enough money to live. No matter how tight budgets get, content (or is it clicks?) is always king. So we may as well pay the people making it properly.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Broadbeach, Queensland

  • Gold Coast children will raise money for Drought Angels by taking part in a world record attempt for the most people making sand angels simultaneously.

Sydney

  • NSW Police will join the community in support of the inaugural ‘Step Out Speak Out’ coastal walk.

  • Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull will speak at Startcon, Australia’s largest startup conference.

  • Former NSW Labor minister and convicted pedophile Milton Orkopoulos is up for parole, with victims and the government offered the opportunity to contest his conditional release.

Melbourne

  • New hospital facility HealthScreen Australia will open its doors.

Perth

  • State and federal energy ministers will meet, with Angus Taylor pushing for stronger energy reliability standards to protect against power outages.

Brisbane

  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese will share his vision for the party in the second of a series of speeches.

Adelaide

  • At a CEDA event, Australian Space Agency chief executive Megan Clark will discuss jobs in the growing space industry sector, as well the as defence, innovation and machine learning sectors.

  • The winners of the South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards for 2019 will be announced.

Darwin

  • AMA president Dr Tony Bartone will launch the AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2019.