THE CARNAGE COMES INTO FOCUS
The government has started the process of prepping the nation for the next round of economic carnage wrought by the coronavirus. The Nine papers report that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is “poised to unveil Australia’s largest budget deficit since the end of World War II”, with a deficit of more than $200 billion for the current financial year expected to be confirmed in the coming budget update on Thursday.
Westpac chief economist Bill Evans told Nine’s economics correspondent Shane Wright that the deficit would continue to grow, but that government support has to continue: “Bear in mind that on our forecasts the unemployment rate in mid-2022 will still be around 7%, signalling clearly the case for further fiscal stimulus with monetary policy largely sidelined.”
Speaking of which, we’re getting more dribs and drabs of vague information about what the JobKeeper wage subsidy and the JobSeeker unemployment payment will look like after their initial expiry date at the end of September.
Though a Treasury review found a “strong” case to extend JobKeeper — finding the scheme has put a “brake” on job losses — the government are apparently cutting the amounts of both payments from the first week of October.
According to the Nine papers, the government is being “tight-lipped about the new JobKeeper rate”, but “it is tipped to be more than $1100 per fortnight for full-time workers”. Indeed, Frydenberg’s piece in the Australian Financial Review declines to set a figure. The new system will be two-tiered, with part-timers receiving a lesser rate.
Meanwhile JobSeeker is reportedly going to be more than $700 a fortnight “when the temporary coronavirus supplement [is] taken into account”.
While this keeps it above the previous Newstart rate, this will likely do little to assuage advocates for the unemployed, who have been calling for the higher JobSeeker rate to be made permanent.
The steady numbers of new cases in Victoria continued on Monday, with 275 coronavirus cases recorded and the death toll rising to 39, following the death of a woman in her 80s.
The number of people needing to be hospitalised increased by 17 to 147, and 31 are in intensive care. A dozen schools are closing for “deep cleaning and further investigation following a positive case”, and big retailers in the state are planning to bar customers without a mask from entry.
Across the border, two Sydney shopping centres have been shut down for cleaning after visits from people with confirmed COVID-19 cases. And while the Crossroads Hotel cluster rose on Monday to 48 cases, there was some good news — with four cases in the Sutherland Shire revealed to be false positives.
Meanwhile, Tasmania has recorded its first COVID-19 case in two months and the South Australian government is putting forward a new bill upping the maximum penalty for illegally crossing the SA border to two years in jail. This is after three people on Monday were fined a combined $10,200 and were driven back to Victoria under police guard.
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Meanwhile, the COVID-19 hotel quarantine inquiry has heard, in its opening statements yesterday, that the errors in the running of the hotel could have led to “every case” of COVID-19 in Victoria’s second wave.
Public witness examinations are scheduled to start on August 6 and the inquiry is due to report by September 25.
Senior counsel assisting the inquiry, Tony Neal, said witnesses would include medical experts, “relevant decision makers and government officials”, the hotel operators, private service providers, hotel employees, and those who had been under quarantine.
It’s not clear whether Premier Dan Andrews or any government ministers will be called to give evidence.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Maybe had this been the approach by the Andrews Labor government and Victoria Police in the lead up to the BLM protest in Melbourne on 6 June, Victora [sic] wouldn’t currently be in the horrendous position we find ourselves…
Responding to tough talk from New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller about an upcoming Black Lives Matter protest, Victorian Liberal Tim Smith continues to whip at the puddle of glue where a dead horse used to be.
“Unlike their counterparts in England and the US, neither the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services nor the NSW Ministry of Health publishes performance data about their contact tracing efforts. Both have refused to provide figures to Crikey.”
“Of more than 120 Coalition MPs and senators elected or serving in the 44th Parliament, 57 have since left politics — either by losing their seat, losing preselection or retiring (WA MP Don Randall passed away in 2015). Of those, 26 were able to secure a new job at the expense of taxpayers.”
“Almost day by day, new regional start-ups that print the news on actual paper are popping up to fill the news deserts being left in Australia’s towns and regions by the collapse of the once-dominant chains. But the biggest of Australia’s chains — News Corp — is not surrendering easily.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Strangest and most grotesquely untrue statement of Donald Trump’s life — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “Donald Trump chose, 100 days before the election, to make surely the strangest and most grotesquely untrue statement of his life, when the US President told Fox TV’s Chris Wallace that the US has the lowest COVID-19 mortality rate in the world. There have been a little over 600,000 COVID-19 deaths worldwide and nearly a quarter of them were Americans. How can that possibly be the world’s lowest COVID-19 death rate?”
The world is heading for a population crisis but not the one it was expecting — Peter Hartcher (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reckons that humanity will reach a peak number of 9.7 billion around 2064. Like Wittgenstein, it expects that to fall to under 9 billion by the end of the century. One of its researchers describes this as a ‘pretty big thing’. Professor Chris Murray told the BBC: ‘Most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline.’”
Seven questions Scott Morrison must answer on this crisis — Kevin Rudd (Australian Financial Review): “The uncomfortable truth is that we are still in the economic equivalent of ‘the phoney war’ between September 1939 and June 1940, when the full impact of that particular global crisis had yet to be felt. Our real problem is not now but the fourth quarter of this year, and next year, by when temporary measures will have washed through, while globally the real economy will still be wrecked. But there’s no sign yet of a long-term Australian economic strategy, centred on infrastructure, to rebuild business confidence to start investing and re-employing people.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
The inquiry into temporary migration will be hearing from the Fair Work Ombudsman and Attorney-General’s Department.
BHP will release its operational review for the year ended June 30.
Bond hearing for John Setka, on a good behaviour bond last year after admitting he harassed his wife via text.
Appeal hearing for Trivago against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over misleading hotel pricing in TV and online ads.