Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

CORONAVIRUS WRECKS THE ECONOMY, WHATEVER THAT IS

Coronavirus fears and plunges in oil have seen global stocks plummet overnight, with CNN reporting the NYSE temporarily suspended trading after a 7% drop and comparable falls across China, the UK, and most other markets.

According to The Guardian, Australia is all but certainly headed for our first recession since 1991, after a dive of 7.33%, or $140 billion yesterday, that was in part due to bloodletting on oil prices and increased production by Saudi Arabia.

TALKING POINT: While yes, most of that certainly sounds grim, the last bit does mean local petrol prices could soon drop to $1 a litre. Silver linings and all that!

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

  • The Coalition is considering fast-tracked, one-off cash payments for pensioners, Newstart recipients and small businesses as part of its stimulus package, to be finalised today (The Australian $).
  • The government is poised to break its self-imposed $600 billion debt ceiling in response to the financial crises (The Sydney Morning Herald).
  • The Sickness Payment will, apparently, still be scrapped as part of social service payment consolidations from March 20 (The Guardian).
  • Private labs have been called in to help with national testing as the healthdirect hotline becomes swamped by calls (The Australian $), and even doctors complaining of not being able to be tested (The Age).
  • Western Australia will today begin rolling out dedicated clinics for suspected coronavirus cases, with other states soon to follow (The Conversation).
  • A prison riot in Italy over quarantine measures, including visitation limits, has killed six people (ABC).

NZ FAR-RIGHT EXTREMIST PLANNED TERROR CELL

According to chat logs supplied by anti-fascist research group the White Rose Society, New Zealand outlet Newsroom reports an anonymous member of white supremacist group ‘Action Zealandia’ has discussed purchasing firearms from the black market and creating terror cells across the country.

TALKING POINT: The far-right member, “Matt”, speaks of being directly inspired by the Christchurch shooter, and used the encrypted platform Telegram, which has long been identified by ASIO as the terrorist’s “app of choice”.

BECAUSE IT’S BEEN TWO DAYS, HERE’S ANOTHER RORT

According to The Guardian, and as exposed in a February New Matilda investigation, former Indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion spent the final weeks of his term approving millions of dollars worth of grants from an Indigenous disadvantage fund for groups such as Twiggy Forrest’s Fortescue Metals, retail giant Wesfarmers, NRL clubs, and Catholic and Anglican welfare organisations.

TALKING POINT: In one of the most curious examples of priorities, Fortescue received a $3.82 million grant for “strategic activities that focus on getting Indigenous Australians into work, fostering Indigenous business and assisting Indigenous people to generate economic and social benefits from effective use of their land, particularly in remote areas”.

POLICE TO INVESTIGATE POLICE MINISTER, AGAIN

NSW Police has launched an investigation into Police Minister David Elliott, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, after photographs emerged of him allegedly shooting two prohibited weapons — a fully-automatic submachine gun and a semi-automatic pistol — at a shooting range in 2018 without a relevant licence.

FUN FACT: After that road rage incident, the strip search advice, and the mid-bushfire vacation, this makes for what, four controversies for Elliot in as many months? Check out Crikey‘s guide for some of the pre-November 2019 ones.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

The page you’re looking for could not be found.

Shop Liberal’s “Back in Black” website

Sure, it’s petty, and the surplus never mattered anyway, but it is still awfully funny to watch those mugs disappear.

CRIKEY RECAP

Broken news: shareholders asked to kill off wire service within days

“The rapid-fire closure of Australian Associated Press (AAP) will be locked in by major shareholders News Corp and Nine when they get together at an extraordinary general meeting on Wednesday this week to change the company’s constitution and ban the delivery of its key services.”


Inside story: who — or what — killed Australian Associated Press?

“AAP’s fate, it emerged, had been decided at a board meeting in January. Momentum had been building after Nine Entertainment’s merger with Fairfax in late 2018. Nine always said it would get rid of its regional titles because it saw them as uncommercial. It did that in July last year.

“Inq understands this led Nine to question why it would continue to hold on to AAP, given it was no longer a dominant user of the service.”


Katie Hopkins is too toxic for everywhere except Australian TV

Katie Hopkins, a former columnist and media commentator best known for her Islamophobic outbursts and far-right politics has been deplatformed all over the world.

“But that hasn’t stopped her getting a gig on Australian breakfast television.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Huawei gives up on Australia in short term but wants probe of 5G competitors

In a single, shared casket, Hannah Clarke and her precious babies are laid to rest

Facebook sued by Australian information watchdog over Cambridge Analytica-linked data breach

‘Paedophilia permeates the Hollywood industry’: Corey Feldman’s explosive documentary ($)

Gaslighting on emissions: IEEFA says burning LNG “worse than coal” for climate

Stranded, but western towns rejoice as ‘old friend comes home’

Afghan president-elect and rival both delay swearing-in ceremonies as both claim election victory

In a first, Twitter flags video retweeted by Trump as ‘manipulated media’

A legal climate change: Heathrow expansion on hold over UK’s Paris promise

Sexual harassment in the playground called out on Q+A during episode focussed on education

So you think you have coronavirus: what Australians should do if they are unwell

THE COMMENTARIAT

Government will have to weigh surplus against recession ($) — Craig Emerson (Australian Financial Review): “During the global financial crisis of 2008, the Rudd government feared a run on the banks. The recent run on loo paper, which seems far more innocuous, could actually signal a looming economic crisis of similar magnitude.”

Emergence of neo-Nazis must be countered through educationSharyn Mittelman (The Age): “When ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess warned that neo-Nazis have emerged as one of Australia’s most challenging security threats, many Australians would have experienced a collective chill.”

Labor must work out why it keeps losing elections ($) — Troy Bramston (The Australian): “Labor, as I have written for more than a decade, faces a crisis that goes to its structure and membership, its constituency, and its philosophy and policies. It has lost voters to parties on its left and right flanks.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney

  • Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese will speak at the AFR‘s two-day summit, “Investing for Growth”.

Melbourne

  • Former Greens leader Bob Brown will discuss the climate and bushfire crises on Sally Warhaft’s Fifth Estate podcast at the Wheeler Centre.

  • The Victorian Artists Society will host a 150th anniversary celebration.

Hobart

  • Australia’s Antarctic icebreaker RSV Aurora Australis will depart to sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island for its final voyage.

Townsville, Queensland

  • The joint select committee will hold public inquiries into Australia’s family law system.