CASTING A WIDER NET
According to The Guardian, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher will today announce that NBN Co will borrow $3.5 billion from private debt markets to fund national broadband upgrades including “taking fibre deeper into neighbourhoods serviced by fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology”.
The National Press Club announcement forms something of an about-face for the Coalition, which abandoned Labor’s fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) model in favour of a technology mix including some existing copper networks — see: Turnbull vs Rudd 2019 — but Fletcher will defend the move as the party “committing to more fibre when it makes economic sense to do so”.
Simultaneously, The Age reports that NBN Co is set to pay millions in bonuses to senior management, including its chief executive on $2.6 million-a-year Stephen Rue, despite plans to cut hundreds of staff and the Morrison government’s public sector pay crackdown.
PS: In other belated federal news, The Australian ($) reports that the Morrison government is considering bringing forward $700 million in university research funding — for 2020-21, and deducted from a planned $2.1 billion package in 2024-25 — after deliberately excluding the sector from JobKeeper (save for private and, apparently, American universities).
FLAW AND ORDER
According to The Australian ($) the Victorian Greens, and Reason Party leader Fiona Patten have signalled they will push for amendments to the Andrews government’s latest police bill, which, on top of multiple new measures, empowers authorised officers to detain potential spreaders without court oversight.
The news comes after a group of 18 legal figures slammed the move in an open letter to Dan Andrews.
On a separate legal front, The Age reports that lawyers defending the Andrews government against its curfew challenge are considering withholding key documents related to the September 14 extension ahead of a 2pm deadline today.
PS: Speaking of arbitrary detention, The Guardian reports that the Morrison government continues to detain a Sri Lankan refugee after 11 years, despite a ruling that he’s owed protection.
Elsewhere, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Chinese government is pushing 500,000 Tibetans into labour camps, while the mother of Julian Assange’s children, Stella Morris, is seeking Australian citizenship for their sons and has called on Scott Morrison to promise they can return safely if the WikiLeaks founder escapes US extradition.
TROJAN HORSE MET WITH SCEPTICISM
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Angus Taylor’s plan to use the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency to fund carbon capture and storage faces opposition from Labor and the Greens, meaning he would need the support of One Nation and at least one more of the three other crossbenchers.
The potential senate veto comes as Malcolm Turnbull dismisses elements of the “gas-led recovery” as “crazy” because it assumes a cheaper gas price even when costs for renewables and battery storage continue to fall. Turnbull, it should be said, tried the exact same carbon capture and storage trick in 2017, which just kind of fell away with the NEG.
Elsewhere, The Guardian reports that Labor’s draft policy platform commits to the “responsible” and “environmentally sustainable” development of gas, but at least reads the room and acknowledges renewable energy as “central to our economic future”.
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THE MITTS ARE OFF
Finally, the ABC reports that former presidential candidate and Republican senator Mitt Romney has promised to support Donald Trump’s bid to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the two months before the federal election, and potentially lock in a 6-3 Republican held Supreme Court.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I think it is very widely accepted that the [JobSeeker] level prior to all of the COVID-19 supplements was too low, and I think that needs to be enhanced.
The prime minister that oversaw a $40-a-day welfare payment — not to mention robodebt, the cashless welfare card and attempts to drug test welfare recipients — wishes that somebody, anybody could have raised the rate before COVID-19.
“In 2018 the Department of Infrastructure paid 10 times the appropriate amount for a triangle of land near the proposed Western Sydney Airport, providing a windfall to a significant Coalition donor.
“The government department then behaved unethically when the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) investigated the matter.
“It’s not clear from the ANAO’s remarkable report on the scandal why exactly this happened. What is somewhat clearer is the how of the process.”
“One Sunday afternoon earlier this month, an elderly woman was left outside Nambour Hospital on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. She has no name and, it appears, no family or friends.
“This woman stood out. She was distressed, agitated, and abandoned by a man who disappeared down Hospital Road.
“Now, 16 days later, she’s been moved to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and it appears we don’t know much more. It seems like the man was doing his civic duty by dropping this woman off at the hospital door. It is believed they are not related.”
“The government’s new emissions road map is built on a lot of assumptions. Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor have woven a narrative about gas and ’emerging technologies’ that allows them to avoid talking about renewables.
“But underlying this narrative are a whole lot of claims experts say come dangerously close to misinformation.
“‘[Morrison] is using language very carefully in ways that if you pull it apart it is technically correct but creates a misleading impression,’ the Grattan Institute’s Tony Wood says.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
High Court likely to ‘free’ COVID’s political prisoners ($) — Mirko Bagaric (The Australian): “The freedom of assembly is not absolute, but neither should any important freedom be absolutely abrogated. That is why the High Court is likely to rule the arrest of the Victorian freedom protesters in recent weeks was constitutionally illegal — meaning that Australia has witnessed the detention of its first political prisoners. These are defined as people who are ‘deprived of their liberty solely because of their non-violent freedom of peaceful assembly and association’.”
Why do bankers behave so badly? They make too much money to ask questions — Mark Crosby (The Conversation): “I believe the reason the banking industry is particularly prone to scandals is because of the amount of cash sloshing through the system, and the fact that in recent years there have been fewer regulations and less policing than is needed. Deregulation has been the general trend in finance since the mid-1980s, first in the United States and Britain, and then in countries such as Australia.”
Racism ended my netball career before it even began — Celeste Carnegie (IndigenousX): “The racism I experienced came in many forms, and always in waves. Sometimes in the form of microaggressions, other times in the form of gaslighting my experiences, and more than a few times in direct language and actions. I experienced ostracising by my fellow teammates and racist remarks disguised as attempted failed jokes. Most of the time these remarks were heard by coaches and managers in the vicinity and still, no consequences.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Jobs Minister Martin Pakula and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville are expected to give evidence at the hotel quarantine inquiry.
Political editor of Guardian Australia Katharine Murphy will discuss her new Quarterly Essay, “The End of Certainty: Scott Morrison and Pandemic Politics” in a webinar with The Australia Institute.
Chair of the Productivity Commission Michael Brennan will present “The COVID recovery: A view from the supply side” at an Australian Business Economists webinar.