DANCE WITH DEBT
According to The Age, independent modelling by RMIT has suggested Victoria’s debt could balloon to $60 billion next year, while a state parliamentary report yesterday revealed that the collapse in visitor numbers to Victoria — examined ahead of stage four restrictions — is set to cost the economy more than $23 billion this year.
The news comes after the Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe projected unemployment could hit 10% by late 2020 and that, with interest rates retained at 0.25%, Australia is likely to require sustained fiscal stimulus “given the outlook for the economy and the labour market”.
SEND IN THE GOWNS
In the latest on how that all, arguably, got started, The Age reports that emails from private security companies demonstrate confusion over which agency is running hotel quarantine: the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, who engaged them, or Victoria’s health agency, the Department of Health and Human Services.
On a similar note, the Herald Sun ($) reports that management of aged care provider Mecwacare last week told employees they couldn’t contract COVID-19 while at work if they were wearing PPE correctly, and that they could only self-isolate if they had a medical certificate.
Finally, The Australian ($) reports that Victoria’s inquiry into the hotel quarantine scandal may be delayed because of the declared state of disaster.
THERE’S ALWAYS MONEY FOR HUMAN SUFFERING
According to The Australian ($), the Morrison government is preparing to reopen the Christmas Island detention centre, with detainees in Yongah Hill, Western Australia, expected to be flown in as part of a COVID-19 contingency system set to cost many millions of dollars instead of just, y’know, letting people go.
The news comes after Christmas Island was reopened at a cost of $27 million ahead of the 2019 election — where Biloela family Priya, Nades and their two children have been detained in staff accommodation since August — as well as sustained campaigns from medical, legal and human rights bodies to evacuate detention centres in light of their vulnerability to COVID-19 outbreaks.
According to The Australian ($), “Scott Morrison and national security chiefs have briefed state and territory leaders on the threat level of Chinese interference”, ahead of his address to a US strategic forum “warning of the militarisation of the Indo-Pacific, cyber attacks, and an ‘assault’ on liberal democracies”.
In a slightly less intense take on the leaked address, the ABC reports that Morrison calls on the United States and China to respect international law and resolve their disputes peacefully in the keynote address to the Aspen Security Forum.
PS: According to The New Daily, a classified UN report says North Korea is advancing nuclear technology. Terrific.
MASSIVE BLAST IN BEIRUT
The ABC, reports that “a massive explosion has shaken Lebanon’s capital Beirut, killing more than 25 people, injuring thousands of others and causing widespread damage” — including, apparently, damaging buildings at least 10km from the blast.
Lebanon’s internal security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, has reportedly said that the blast occurred in an area housing highly explosive materials, although it is not immediately clear what caused the explosion.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I will take the member’s question on notice. I will provide her with a written answer in accordance with the standing orders … As I said I will be providing the member with a written response to this question, in accordance with the standing orders of this house … I will provide a written response to the supplementary question also … I thank the member. I’ll be providing him with a written response to his question by tomorrow…
Apparently, Victoria’s health minister is going to provide some written responses to stage four question time today ($).
“The logic of the construction lockdown isn’t clear. The sector hasn’t been a vector for infection in the way animal slaughtering (which will have less restrictions) and hospitality has been. Building workers don’t just go to construction sites, of course — they travel there, they buy goods and services along the way and while at work — and Daniel Andrews is correct that the line has to be drawn somewhere, and there will always be arguments at the margins. But the sector is paying the price for failings elsewhere in the economy.”
“To be insufficiently radical now would be destructive by inaction. For example, discussion of the hit that small businesses are going to take is being done as if they were in the path of a hurricane, to be knocked over by natural force.
“Businesses can be saved by stronger measures on their dead costs. So take the commercial rent deal further, and abolish commercial rents for small businesses, especially retail, for the next two months.”
“At the beginning of July the Morrison government announced a bonanza in defence dollars: over the next decade $575 billion will go to defence, including $270 billion on military hardware. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper commended Australia for upping its military firepower — $70 billion more than was anticipated in 2016. It was a ‘bold new strategy’, he said, one that put Australia ‘at the forefront as a really, extremely capable partner to the United States’.
“Australia’s former ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey has spotted an opportunity and last month added two new senior hires from the Australian military and US security to join his consultancy, Bondi Partners.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Andrews under siege as coronavirus spreads like a bushfire ($) — Graham Richardson (The Australian): “Daniel Andrews is besieged. He is surrounded. He is cut off on all sides by a disease which spreads faster than a bushfire. While regional Victoria remains fairly clear of any serious threat from COVID-19, the city of Melbourne is under sustained attack. Whole suburbs are under lockdown, but it will only take a few mugs — who think they can prove how smart they are by escaping — to make the predicament so much worse.”
Legal changes needed to support public interest journalism — Editorial (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The disruption to the mainstream media industry over the past decade has been immense, with heritage media companies increasingly challenged by the expansion of new online sources of information. In itself, this is not a bad thing for diversity of voices and consumer choice. The move to digital has opened up more decentralised lines of communication and given everyone, from local groups to politicians, a chance to directly speak to their audiences.”
Now would be a good time to admit Australia’s childcare system is not fit for purpose — Lisa Bryant (The Guardian): “First we had the Jobs for Families Child Care Package, because the childcare funding system was so complicated it needed to be simplified. Then when the pandemic hit, because families were still paying such a huge whack of their incomes for childcare despite the government pumping $8bn a year into subsidies for families, and were un-enrolling their children in droves, we had the Early Childcare Relief Package.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Singer Jenny Morris will present “Australia — a music nation and the path to become a music industry powerhouse” at the National Press Club.
Julia Gillard will discuss “The Pandemic, Mental Health And Beyond” in conversation with Ben Oquist, executive director of The Australia Institute, and host and deputy director Ebony Bennett in the latest Economics of a Pandemic webinar.
Infrastructure Australia will release an updated 2020 Infrastructure Priority List.
Scott Morrison will (virtually) address the US 2020 Aspen Security Summit at 7.30am AEST.