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JOBKEEPER PACKAGE PASSES

Last night, both houses of federal parliament passed the $130 billion JobSeeker package, although, as the ABC reports, amendments from Labor, the Greens and Centre Alliance — designed to cover casuals with fewer than 12 months employment, including gig workers, arts and entertainment workers, carers and people on the Disability Support Pension, international students and overseas workers —  were rejected. New ABC funding and PPE masks for Indigenous communities were also rejected.

However, members of those parties have highlighted that the package empowers government ministers to amend the program and will continue to push for expanded eligibility. For more on eligibility, tax rates, start dates and more, check out the ABC’s explainer.

SENATE OVERSIGHT, OOH YEAH: As SBS reports, the Senate has also established a Labor-led select committee inquiry to examine government responses throughout the crisis. Which is likely all we can hope for, now that parliament won’t sit until August.

BERNIE DROPS OUT

Democratic socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has suspended his presidential campaign, the ABC reports.

Sanders, who campaigned on universal healthcare, a ‘Green New Deal’, minimum wage increases and other progressive policies, briefly led the Democratic primary before the party coalesced around Joe Biden in late February — after which most major candidates dropped out to endorse the former vice-president — who has since dominated some truly wild, pandemic-era state primaries.

Both Biden and President Donald Trump have since responded over Twitter, with the former acknowledging that he will ‘need to earn’ votes from Sanders’ supporters and the latter, characteristically, blaming it all on Elizabeth Warren.

SA, NT LAUNCH BUSINESS PACKAGES

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has announced one-off $10,000 cash payments for businesses — with turnovers of more than $75,000 and payrolls of less than $1.5 million — as part of a $650 million Jobs Rescue Package.

The Northern Territory government yesterday announced several new packages:

  • A $180 million coronavirus business package designed to abolish six months of payroll tax for small and medium-sized businesses and defer it for larger businesses;
  • Cut business utility bills for businesses by 50% and extend that relief to commercial landlords that negotiate in good faith (ABC);
  • A $10.8 million classroom stimulus program to support the construction industry throughout the pandemic, and
  • A remote community schools package that, as NT News ($) reports, offers teachers a $500 school holiday incentive to stay in remote communities during the term one break rather than risk not being able to return under strict border controls.

WHAT OF THE TENANTS?

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the NSW government will include land tax deferral or even waivers for landlords under the state’s residential relief package on the condition they pass savings on to tenants.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has said that, since Tuesday’s national cabinet meeting, states have been working on ideas for rent relief. The NT, for example, is working on legislation to create both longer periods of mandatory negotiation between tenants and landlords and fairer terms for new leases amid demonstrated financial hardship.

EASTER STAYCATION: Ahead of the big Easter weekend, you know what else households can do? Stay. Home. I don’t care if that’s a stretch, read a book!

LATE NIGHT RAID OF THE RUBY PRINCESS

According to The Australian ($), NSW detectives have executed a night-time raid on the most hated boat in Australia, the Ruby Princess cruise ship, to question staff and search for key documents as part of a continuing criminal investigation.

The news comes after a 62-year-old woman became the 15th passenger to die from COVID-19, as well as revelations from the Sydney Morning Herald that, despite the ship having then had 140 passengers in isolation, an Australian Border Force officer told a port authority of NSW employee to allow the ship to dock.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I miss people… No disrespect to any of you.

Jacinda Ardern

More than a fortnight into lockdown, the New Zealand prime minister cracks, just slightly, after getting stuck with the exact worst companions for a crisis: journos.

CRIKEY RECAP

Australia’s media is dying before our eyes

“The history of media industry deals in Australia is, almost uniformly, disastrous. The debacles of the 1980s. CVC’s acquisition of Nine. Kerry Stokes’ creation of Seven West Media. The spectacular failure of Packer, Murdoch, Rinehart, Gordon et al at Ten. Not that that has ever stopped an endless series of commentators and business journalists cheering them on.”


Australian union numbers swell amid pandemic shutdown

“Unions around the country are seeing a rise in membership numbers and increasing levels of interest as Australians grapple with the biggest economic upheaval in a generation. While definite numbers aren’t yet established, most unions Crikey spoke to say they had seen evidence of increasing membership in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic shutdown.  “


‘I don’t think that’s justice’: In his own words, the father of Pell complainant reflects on High Court ruling

“The County Court conducted a five-week trial and he was found guilty. The Victorian appeals court dismissed his appeal there, and he’s gone to the High Court and they’ve overturned the decision. I don’t think that’s justice. I think what they’ve done is they’ve done the legal fraternity an injustice in this country.

“What victim out there is going to be comfortable, or confident, to report a crime that was done against them when this is going to happen?”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

First flight in months from coronavirus-hit Wuhan lands in Sydney carrying masks, gowns and ventilators

The Biloela Tamil family say Christmas Island detention staff are ignoring coronavirus protection measures

Stimulus payments arrest spending slump, real-time data shows

Senior NSW minister Don Harwin busted at his holiday house

Australia’s small medical practices on brink of collapse amid coronavirus

Police hotline swamped with COVID-19 calls as Victorians dob in neighbours

Coronavirus data due within weeks to reveal Australia’s path out of health crisis

Coronavirus: ‘Guinea pig state’ will be first to ease restrictions

Education Minister Selena Uibo confirms NT students are expected to attend school in Term 2

SA MP Sam Duluk to face assault charge

WHO responds to Trump criticism, warns of ‘many more body bags’

THE COMMENTARIAT

Coronavirus: No country is safe until we all areNgozi Okonjo-Iweala (The Australian): “So far, the greatest impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt in wealthy countries, China, South Korea and Italy, rather than the poorest parts of the world. But we must not fool ourselves into thinking it won’t come, and when it does it will be utterly devastating.”

Pandemic policing needs to be done with the public’s trust, not confusionDarren Palmer (The Conversation): “The law on what we can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak is changing on an almost hourly basis. Some of what is written now might be overtaken by the shifts in the pandemic powers of control.”

Pantomime in a mini-parliament – and the jobkeeper package sails throughMalcolm Farr (The Guardian): “Australia had its second one-day, one-issue sitting of federal parliament for the year on Wednesday, and the sense of a poorly structured pantomime was obvious. The mini-parliament was sitting because process demanded it, not because members were keen to muscle up on debate, accountability and policy scrutiny.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

Peter Fray

This crisis will cut hard and deep but one day it will be over.

What will be left? What do you want to be left?

I know what I want to see: I want to see a thriving, independent and robust Australian-owned news media. I want to see governments, authorities and those with power held to account. I want to see the media held to account too.

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Peter Fray
Editor-In-Chief of Crikey

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