victorian business covid-19
(Image: AAP/James Ross)

A DEBTOR OPTION

The Victorian government has received a mixed response to its $3 billion business package, with both The Age and the Herald Sun ($) reporting that while the package is cautiously welcomed, there are also fears that a $1.7 billion payroll tax deferral will simply delay the pain.

The package includes more than $1.1 billion in cash grants for small and medium-sized businesses and a $251 million Licensed Venue Fund set to offer grants of up to $30,000 for the hospitality sector; a further announcement relating to sole traders is expected in the coming days.

With Melbourne’s curfew moved to 9pm from today, The Australian ($) reports that the chiefs of CSL, BHP and Wesfarmers have called for the government to lift the “wartime” policy.

PS: On the systemic front, the ABC reports that Dan Andrews has confirmed he will front the hotel quarantine inquiry, while The Saturday Paper reveals how Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton admitted in a private briefing that the state’s pathology system was bogged down by a combination of outdated technologies and a “hotchpotch of public and private providers”.

AN UPDATE ON POLICE

The ABC reports that swarms of police dressed in riot gear reportedly arrested 74 people at yesterday’s anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne, including an alleged “agitator” who remains in custody.

In other very normal news, a Wallan woman who filmed an officer yanking her out of her car at a COVID-19 checkpoint will be charged with assaulting police, while The Guardian reports that a Queensland officer is being investigated after wearing what appears to be a “thin blue line” flag patch to a Black Lives Matter rally — the flag is associated with far-right extremism.

PS: As Business Insider reports, Donald Trump has described the fatal shooting of an alleged Antifa-linked murder suspect by US Marshals as an act of “retribution”. One witness to the fatal shooting alleges officers did not try to arrest the suspect before opening fire.

GOT MONEY FOR GAS?

According to both The Australian ($) and The Conversation, Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Angus Taylor will today announce a $211 million fuel security package including new domestic diesel storage facilities, changes to create a minimum onshore stockholding, and support for local refineries.

The plan is their first of several energy announcements as part of a gas-focused economic recovery — global warming and modelling of what Australia will actually need be damned.

PS: In other political news, The Guardian reports that the Greens could back Morrison’s plan to make Facebook and Google pay for news if it includes the ABC and SBS.

SYDNEY COULD UNDO LOCKOUT LAWS

Finally, The Daily Telegraph ($) reports that the NSW government will today unveil their 24-Hour Economy Strategy, which envisions more accessible accessible late night transport, longer opening hours and fewer restrictions on live events in Sydney.

The announcement comes as the state government continues to deal with the fallout from the state Nationals’ failed attempt to split the government but keep their cabinet roles, with Police Minister David Elliott calling John Barilaro’s position untenable and Labor leader Jodi McKay set to introduce a vote of no confidence tomorrow.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Please remember the words. Very simple: forest management.

Donald Trump

As California’s bushfires echo Australia eight months back, so do the climate denialists.

CRIKEY RECAP

Barilaro a poor man’s Barnaby who just bit off more gum than he can ever chew

“At first glance NSW Deputy Premier and National Party leader John Barilaro is just a poor man’s Barnaby Joyce. 

“In reality, he’s more like Barnaby without the charm and intelligence. (Barnaby actually finished his accounting degree).

“The parallels run deep and not all are obvious.”


The game has become obvious — China is planning to do us slowly

“It is now clear that something of a perfect storm has settled atop the China-Australia relationship and there are few signs that it will be moving on anytime soon.

“The stoush between Australia and its biggest trade partner over security — and most explicitly Chinese interference in Australian politics, education and research — comes at a time when the Morrison government is desperate to reopen the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdowns.”


This week’s recipe: Scomo’s COVID Christmas pudding

“This pudding will last for six months in the fridge or frozen (the time it takes Albanese to form a cogent response to the Libs).

“Should the borders remain closed it is robust enough to withstand Australia post and rich enough to be deemed recession proof.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Chinese investment in Australia plummets 47% in a year as diplomatic tensions rise

Queensland man’s daughter condemns Scott Morrison for turning funeral into ‘a circus’

AMA backs Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young over coronavirus quarantine exemptions

Latest polling shows Labor expected to win election but not enough voters will back them ($)

Hot cars and bullet holes at Labor-linked jobs provider

Tourism Council of WA calls for backpackers to be allowed extra year to fill job shortages ($)

Victorians escaping coronavirus driving up rental prices in the Top End ($)

US election 2020: Bloomberg donates $100m for Biden in Florida

‘This case is falling apart’: the criminal trial and the big, bad tweeter

THE COMMENTARIAT

Unfeeling enforcement has pushed us to tipping pointDuncan Fine (The Age): “Today that spirit is alive in the streets of Melbourne, with Daniel Andrews and his lockdown methods being attacked not just by a motley band of ‘freedom fighters’ organising on social media but now also by both conservative MP Tim Wilson and leading human rights advocate Julian Burnside QC, who says the use of CCTV and other surveillance devices breaches Victorians’ human rights.”

A man-made threat is killing our koalas ($) — John Williams (The Australian): “The reason is simple – bushfire. In March 2015, and again in January 2018, severe fires swept through the Pilliga, burning an enormous amount of flora and fauna, including koalas. The problem is that governments simply lock up country and leave it. The Bob Carr government extended national parks right across regional areas of the state. Carr stated that he would lead the greenest government the state has seen, but management of these national parks was lacking.”

Trump relishes his role as a divider as he vows to be ‘vicious’Maeve Reston (CNN): “Taking the stage at a rally in Nevada Saturday night, President Donald Trump didn’t hold back. He said his anger about a recent Democratic ad that highlighted his alleged comments disparaging dead American soldiers had freed him to take his campaign to the next level: ‘Now I can be really vicious,’ he said to roars of approval from the crowd of Trump supporters in Minden.’

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • The Murray Darling Association’s three-day virtual national conference, “Local Leadership: A National Priority” will hear from Deputy PM Michael McCormack, Resources Minister Keith Pitt, Professor Tim Flannery and heads of the National Farmers Federation, Murray Darling Basin Authority, and ACCC.

  • The Greens will host virtual town hall meeting “Housing & COVID-19” with Adam Bandt and Mehreen Faruqi.

Peter Fray

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