MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
Yesterday, we saw at least half a dozen more hints of what economic changes Australia could be facing as we look to a post-pandemic recovery:
- Scott Morrison has flagged micro-reforms, from university fees to cutting council “red-tape” to the ‘Shifting The Dial‘ report and an enduring travel ban, with the potential to exempt New Zealand to create at least some kind of tourism industry, for the foreseeable future.
- At The Guardian, Environment Minister Sussan Ley flagged that a plan to cut “green tape” could be implemented even before a review of the current system.
- According to The Australian ($), a “furious” Morrison vented at the big four banks yesterday morning over alleged failures to provide pledged bridging support for businesses before JobKeeper kicks in next month.
- Over at The Financial Review ($), cross-benchers Centre Alliance, One Nation and Jacqui Lambie have all expressed a willingness to negotiate in good faith on tax and industrial relations reforms.
POOR BACK TO $40 A DAY? Morrison denied that the JobSeeker increase would be extended beyond the next six months, although, as The Canberra Times explained way back in January, that would seem to be the best way to maintain spending.
A MEDIA SCRUM FOR COVID FUNDS
Mere hours after breaking news that Kerry Stokes received a quarantine exemption after arriving in Perth from Aspen by private jet, WAToday reports that the billionaires’ media empire Seven West Media has applied for JobKeeker in the face of both the sector-wide death of advertising market and the company’s $541 million debt load.
Weeks after both Australian Community Media and News Corp were forced to suspend community newspapers, Communication Minister Paul Fletcher — who announced a $54 million package last week focused on spectrum tax, quotas, and regional news — has also published a defensive piece in The Guardian explaining how JobKeeper and JobSeeker can support arts workers. As the ABC explains, freelancers and short-term arts employees are excluded from the former.
HAS NZ TOPPED US AGAIN? Over the pond, the New Zealand government has announced their $50 million support package, which includes fee cuts, targeted relief, and, interestingly, $1.3 million to purchase central government news media subscriptions.
VICTORIA PASSES EMERGENCY OMNIBUS, REBUFFS OVERSIGHT CALLS
The Victorian parliament has passed the wide-ranging “COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020″, while The Age reports voting down a motion from the Greens to set up a cross-party committee to examine the response in favour of a Labor-controlled parliamentary public accounts and estimates committee.
On top of previously-announced highlights ($500 million in rent relief) and lowlights (forced quarantine for new prisoners potentially creating solitary confinement), advocacy body Pandemic Housing Action Melbourne yesterday alleged that the law prevents tenants from breaking periodic leases unless they can demonstrate “severe hardship”.
STATE WRAP: HOUSING, CONSTRUCTION, SCHOOLS, CHARITIES, AND LOCAL GOV
In yet another bloody packed day for government stimulus and relief funding:
- Western Australian announced a $154.5 million relief package directed at tenants, landlords and construction industry, to include:
- $30 million for grants of up to $2,000 for residential tenants who have lost their job and face financial hardship due to COVID-19;
- $100 million in land tax relief grants available for commercial landlords who reduce rent for small business tenants impacted by COVID-19; and
- $24.5 million support package to assist the building and construction industry to maintain a skilled workforce and support apprentices and trainees.
- South Australia launched a $32 million school maintenance initiative.
- Queensland announced that, under its existing $1.2 billion health package, $4.5 million in charity funding will go towards Legacy and Lifeline.
- Finally, the Northern Territory has apparently become the first government to launch a Local Government relief package, a $13.1 million plan to support job creation, create waivers and deferrals of rates for businesses in hardship, and repurpose unspent grants.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
There are more important things than living.
The Texas lieutenant governor joins an increasingly large field of politicians openly valuing a nebulous idea of the economy over human life. See also: the Los Vegas mayor offering her citizens up as a “control group”.
“Earlier this week, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher got up and struck a blow for foreign multinational News Corp in its ongoing war with the tech giants that have used innovation and the internet to wreck the Murdochs’ media business model.”
“You’ve got to hand it to Angus Taylor. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, he’s managed to land a deal.
“The energy minister wants the government to take advantage of the collapse in oil prices by spending $94 million buying stockpiles of crude oil in the United States.”
“As the Morrison government continues to battle with states over whether schools should open, and if so whether Australians should let their children attend, a disparity has arisen which threatens Catholic and independent schools and their students.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Look at the US and the UK and be glad we’re not like them — Waleed Aly (The Age): “The contrast with America is more obvious, so let’s start there. When anti-lockdown protests erupted this week demanding governments re-open the economy, supported by President Trump even though it contradicted his administration’s own health advice, it became clear just how irredeemably fractured American society has become. To see a protester yelling at a nurse who is on the front line of the pandemic, telling them to ‘go back to China’, probably tells you enough.”
Coronavirus: We need G20 swat team in fight against flashdemics ($) — Joe Hockey and Jack Chow (The Australian): “We need a globally co-ordinated and funded response-ready team, a medical SWAT unit endowed with technical gear and doctors and nurses who can administer care until local authorities are strong enough to take over. One lesson of battling Ebola in West Africa was it showcased the need for early aggressive intervention. ”
The corrupt tax provision in the CARES Act: Rep. Doggett & Sen. Whitehouse — Lloyd Doggett and Sheldon Whitehouse (USAToday): “According to early analysis from Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation on the costlier provision (worth nearly $170 billion), the beneficiaries are few: 43,000 million-dollar-plus income earners will reap over 80% of the windfall — coming in at an eye-popping average of $1.6 million each in 2020 alone. That’s 1,300 times what regular Americans are getting with their $1,200 checks going out under the CARES Act.”
WHAT’S ON TODAY
National Cabinet will meet to discuss the mixed state and territory approaches to Term 2.