josh-frydenberg-and-scott-morrison budget
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

ALMS FOR THE RICH?

In what we can only hope to be the final pre-budget media drop, The Australian ($) reports that the Morrison government has revamped its accelerated tax package to deliver about $2000 to average income earners and has developed a “back-to-work” wage subsidy scheme for businesses employing Australians under 35 who have been forced onto welfare payments.

Ahead of Josh Frydenberg’s official address tonight at 7.30pm (AEDT), The Age also notes that the government will not attempt to bring forward stage three tax cuts for the richest Australians from its 2024 start-date, as part of a bid to ensure the package gets through the Senate.

PS: According to The Guardian, a new Essential poll found that 51% the sample of 1066 respondents think the budget will benefit people who are already well off, while only 30% think it will be good for people on low incomes and just 25% think the budget will help them.

A CDC OF ONE’S OWN

According to The Conversation, Anthony Albanese has announced that a Labor government would set up an Australian Centre for Disease Control to both strengthen its pandemic responses — through training drills, managing the national stockpile, etc — as well as boost efforts to deal with chronic illnesses. The Labor leader noted that Australia is the only OECD country not to have such a centre.

As The Age reports, the news comes after Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton warned that Melbourne risks failing to reach a fortnightly average of fewer than five cases a day in time for its October 19 target, while also defending the state’s 5km movement limit amid expert concerns there is no evidence either way as to its effectiveness.

Victoria recorded nine new cases yesterday, although the government later announced one in Shepparton had been confirmed as a false positive; the figure brings the state’s rolling 14-day rate to 11.9, and while that appears to make for a not entirely promising trajectory towards the target, Sutton has confirmed the nature of cases will also be considered ahead of the next restriction stage.

PS: In less depressing state updates, the Western Australian government yesterday launched the biggest regional flights deal in the state’s history, with 50,000 affordable airfares between Perth and Broome, Kununurra and Exmouth now on sale due to a tourism deal between the government, Virgin Australia and Qantas. This comes a day after the government announced a $600 one-off WA household electricity credit for electricity bills to be received from next month.

MOMENT OF TRUTH: WHITE HOUSE CLUSTER GROWS

According to CNN, the White House cluster of COVID-19 cases has grown to include press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The news comes after Trump, pumped full of roughly every COVID-19 drug there is, took a joyride around Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a move The Washington Post reports was condemned by both Secret Service agents and doctors as putting agents in the hermetically-sealed SUV at risk. While Trump wore a mask, studies demonstrate that while they reduce risk they are not foolproof, and while advisers allege the trip was safe they have also noted the president was bored, buoyed by crowds outside, and wanted to show strength following leaks over his condition; additionally, The Hill reports that stock futures rose following his journey.

Elsewhere, The New York Times reports that White House physician Sean Conley has again rewritten Donald Trump’s COVID-19 record, noting that, while the medical team had painted a rosier picture of his health on Saturday, his blood oxygen level has dropped twice in two days and he has required medical intervention and been put on steroids. Conley now insists the president’s situation has improved enough that he could be released from the hospital as early as Monday (local time).

While Trump remains hospital-bound a month out from election day, Politico reports that Joe Biden is traversing battleground states like Michigan and Florida. The president does have a play here however; according to The Intercept, more than 100,000 absentee ballot requests have been invalidated in several Iowa counties, after judges sided with challenges brought by Trump’s reelection campaign.

EXXON TURNS UP THE HEAT

Finally, a quick global warming update: Bloomberg has revealed that Exxon Mobil Corp “has been planning to increase annual carbon-dioxide emissions by as much as the output of the entire nation of Greece”, after internal investment assessments leaked demonstrating that one of the largest corporate fossil fuel emitters expects yearly emissions will rise 17% by 2025.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential “drive-by” just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.

Dr James P. Phillips

An attending physician at Walter Reed has a couple of concerns over Donald Trump’s COVID-positive joyride around the facility. Sure, the president risked the lives of Secret Service agents driving a hermetically-sealed SUV, but to be fair he was bored and the line did go up.

CRIKEY RECAP

Fight goes on for veterans facing a mind field of pain, suicide, government inaction

In this series of special reports, Crikey reveals that:

  • The government has stopped funding world-leading research into veteran’s mental health conducted at the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies (CTSS) in Adelaide
  • The government shut down independent research on new and more effective ways to treat soldiers and veterans suffering post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the Centenary of Anzac Centre in Melbourne
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has rebranded the mental health crisis of veterans, and now focuses on “wellness” rather than “illness”.

It’s not what you spend, it’s how and where you spend it

“How much stimulus is enough for an economy in deep recession?

“The government has already pumped more than 4% of GDP into the economy in deficit spending in the six months to June. Its July fiscal update forecast nearly 10% of GDP in deficit spending for this financial year already, with a deficit of around $185 billion.

“From the torrent of budget leaks, and the occasional actual budget scoop, the deficit to be unveiled tomorrow is likely to be comfortably above $200 billion, or well over 10% of a shrunken GDP.”


The numbers game: how Morrison is playing journalism off a break

“All politicians know that numbers create news. It’s simple maths: the bigger the number, the greater the news. And Scott Morrison knows this better than most. He knows how to use numbers as signs of action for the media — and he knows journalists can’t resist them. Just look back over the past week…

“First, there was the manufacturing package. The headline ‘$1.5 billion’ stood in for policy substance and it was fed out through the government’s preferred MO: briefings to the gallery to shape the morning news and the PM providing ‘the event’ in front of the camera. No details. Plans to come.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Andrews seeks Chinese tech precinct for Melbourne as part of ‘gateway’ push

Former Health Services Union boss Kathy Jackson pleads guilty to misappropriating union funds

Weight of the nation on Frydenberg’s shoulders ($)

George Pell’s lawyer calls for investigation into claim bribes paid to influence sexual assault case

Beijing changes tactics on Australia, looks to ‘reset’ diplomacy

YouGov poll: One Nation’s support drops sharply in regional Queensland ($)

Queensland’s $200m deal with Virgin ready to be signed off

One Nation, Greens form unlikely alliance to support gambling card

Jacinda Ardern lifts coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland

Texas voter suppression tactics recall the Jim Crow era

Europe struggles to contain surge of coronavirus cases

NATO calls for ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh as 21 Armenians killed

THE COMMENTARIAT

We need it, so this will be a big-government budget ($) — Troy Bramston (The Australian): “It will be a budget previously unimaginable for a Liberal treasurer. It will be a Keynesian-style, big-spending interventionist budget that turns much of modern Liberal orthodoxy on its head. But the Treasurer insists it is a budget born of necessity in response to extraordinary circumstances. Ideology has surrendered to pragmatism. “The economic shock that Australia has faced during COVID-19 has been like no other,” Frydenberg said in an interview for this column.”

Red is the colour of trust in good governmentBen Oquist (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The Treasurer famously declared that ideology was dead when it came to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and insisted the government was only focused on what works. Unfortunately, for aged care residents, the idea that removing ‘red tape’ is the best way to help people or the economy is an ideology that has not withered.”

Senate Dems have a big Supreme Court opportunity today. Will they use it?David Sirota (Jacobin): “The first rule of Democratic Fight Club should be: Don’t ever do what Mitch McConnell wants you to do. On Monday, we will see if Senate Democrats understand that rule yet. They will have a rare opportunity to use their power to try to complicate McConnell’s plan to confirm Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Before being sworn in as a Greens senator for Victoria, Lidia Thorpe will join with the Traditional Owners of the lands that Parliament sits on, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, for a special ceremony.

  • At Parliament House, students will protest over uni funding cuts and fee increases.

Brisbane

  • The Queensland government will dissolve before the October 31 state election.

Australia

  • Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson will head a University of Melbourne panel of health experts to discuss online how COVID-19 has exacerbated issues affecting older Australians and how to better meet their needs.