‘EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE’
According to Sky News UK, the UK Home Office’s permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft has repeatedly denied leaked reports that the government is considering detaining and processing people seeking asylum on Ascension Island, which sits 4000 miles off from the country, or on ferries moored off the coast.
Rycroft would only say that “everything is on the table” when it comes to “improving” the UK’s asylum system, although the proposals have been slammed by UK Labour as “inhumane” and lacking “compassion” — the latter being a descriptor his Australian equivalent, Peter Dutton, has previously literally declared as the point.
Which brings us to the potential source of these wild ideas of “detention as deterrence”: Financial Times reported earlier this week that the proposals, allegedly considered but dropped by Home Secretary Priti Patel, were “further evidence of the influence of Tony Abbott’s ideas on the Johnson government” after being appointed as a trade adviser and meeting with Patel.
PS: On the Australian end of things, activist group Refugee Action Collective is hosting a virtual protest today calling for the release of ex-Manus/Nauru detainees as well as an end to fines against protesters and “incitement” charges against Chris Breen, a member facing court after organising a car convoy rally calling for the refugees’ release.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
The aged care royal commission has released a special COVID-19 report calling for a national aged care advisory body and plan, along with immediate financial support for new staff, allied health and infection control expertise, and personal protective equipment.
The Sydney Morning Herald explains that, despite protests by Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck, commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs did not consider early AHPPC guidelines to constitute a dedicated aged care plan and found that federal measures implemented per the AHPPC’s advice “were in some respects insufficient to ensure preparedness of the aged care sector”. Complaints ranged from unclear leadership hierarchies, to lack of PPE and training, to substantial mental health impacts following lockdowns.
Colbeck has accepted all six recommendations, pledged an initial $40.6 million in immediate funding, and agreed to the commission’s first recommendation for a government response by December 1.
PS: In an update to Victoria’s other major systematic failure, The Age reports that the Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed that two of the nine workers who tested positive at the government’s “hot” hotel system for self-isolating patients attended work while infectious and asymptomatic.
BUDGET WATCH: EVEN MORE TAX CUTS
In the latest pre-budget drop, The Australian ($) reports that Josh Frydenberg will today announce tax breaks for an additional 20,000 businesses and immediately exempt eligible companies from fringe benefits tax to support employer-provided retraining programs.
News of the measure, which will allow companies with turnovers of between $10-$50 million to access up to 10 small business tax concessions, comes as Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Ben Morton delivers a National Press Club speech outlining budget support for Scott Morrison’s “Deregulation Taskforce” aimed at helping to streamline government services.
According to the AFR ($), the government is also set to back down on plans to scrap the research and development tax incentive in an acknowledgement it would be crucial to bolster advanced manufacturing — which, for example, covers renewable technologies — throughout Australia’s recovery period.
Finally, The Guardian reports that Penny Wong has slammed the government’s August 31 move to allow “privileged” foreign citizens on business investment visas to skip travel exemption requirements and enter Australia, arguing they are taking hotel quarantine spots from the 28,000 Australians stranded overseas.
MOMENT OF TRUTH: CAN ONE UNWHISTLE A RACIST DOG WHISTLE?
As The New Daily reports, Donald Trump has attempted to walk back his apparent approval of white supremacist group — and wow it still feels stupid to say their name — the Proud Boys, telling reporters that, “I don’t know who Proud Boys are. But whoever they are they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work”.
His comments come after the group rallied around Trump’s call to “stand back and stand by”, while The Nation reports that the FBI — which lists Proud Boys as an extremist organisation — has since put out a quiet, internal warning against a spike in right-wing terror.
Elsewhere, The Intercept reports that Trump’s campaign immediately acted on attempts to raise doubt on the validity of the election by calling on Philadelphia to immediately allow them to appoint “poll watchers” at early-voting centres.
Finally, in one of his “broken clock, twice a day” moments, Trump has accused Biden of “throwing Bernie, AOC PLUS 3, and the rest, to the wolves”; as Forbes unpacks, the former vice-president both rejected comparisons to members of the progressive wing of the Democrats as well their policies such as universal healthcare, the Green New Deal.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
The Tories are lurching from one inhumane and impractical idea to another. The idea of sending people to Ascension Island, creating waves in the English Channel to wash boats back and buying ferries and oil rigs to process asylum claims shows the government has lost control and all sense of compassion.
UK shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds
In a reminder that the UK is at least 20 years behind Australia on this, a Labour MP (note the u!) categorically rejects offshore detention as a means of deterring asylum seekers.
“Horrifying footage of the Christchurch mosque murders committed in March 2019 still remains online, despite the efforts of national governments to eliminate the sharing of vision of the tragedy.
“Crikey has learned that 18 months on from the events that saw 51 people lose their lives, and the recent jailing of the perpetrator for life, public channels on the messaging service Telegram still provide access to the footage, which was initially livestreamed on Facebook during the terrorist incident.”
“I too have been accused of ‘losing control’ of a program. No matter how many ground rules you lay down before going to air, once the red light goes on it can be a free-for-all. And it’s not just the guests doing the arguing and interrupting.
“Ideally the moderator should remain impartial. But when the crazy is dialled up too far, it’s difficult not to lose your patience, as Wallace did, and weigh into the debate.”
“For decades, the South Australian company has enjoyed a dream run of approvals for projects that, much like Narrabri, were waved through despite overwhelming opposition from communities, farmers, scientists and environmental groups.
“Santos doesn’t win its battles on its own — it has the backing of Australia’s most powerful political forces, allowing it to kickstart billions of dollars worth of projects even when demand for gas falls.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Don’t believe the hype — Nick Feik (The Monthly): “A plan for manufacturing is a great idea, for sure. It’s so great, in fact, that this is the fifth time in 15 months that [Scott Morrison] or Industry Minister Karen Andrews has announced one. In May and June this year, and on two occasions last year (May 2019 and Sept 2019), the Morrison government announced almost identical strategies. Last year’s announcement, for example, promised to create “1.25 million new jobs over the next five years” by co-funding investments in new technologies. You’d be right to wonder what happened to that strategy. And the others. The short answer is: very little.”
Indigenous people in Eden calling for just recompense 20 years after Olympics — BJ Cruse (IndigenousX): “In the late 1990s the New South Wales government encouraged and supported the federal government’s exploitations of Aboriginal people through the taking by force of Aboriginal freehold lands. These lands were taken from the Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) through compulsory acquisition in order to accommodate Defence operations in Eden on the far south coast of New South Wales and to make way for the Sydney Olympic Village in Homebush.”
Poker machine curfew would cut gambling harm, help rebound from COVID-19 ($) — Tim Costello (The Australian): “All Australians want businesses to quickly bounce back from COVID-19, and one way to help would be to introduce gambling reforms that will divert money usually lost on poker machines back into more productive sectors of our economy. Poker machines operate in pubs and clubs in all states and territories, except Western Australia where they are sensibly restricted to casinos. They operate up to 18 hours a day in most places, but a staggering 20 hours a day in Victoria.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Electoral Commission Queensland will hold a webinar for the October state election outlining timetables, methods of voting, and COVID-19 safety precautions.
Behrouz Boochani and his translator for No Friend But the Mountains, Iranian-Australian philosopher Omid Tofighian, will present guest virtual lecture “Writing Through Fences: A History from Below” for the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies at Copenhagen University.