ASYLUM SEEKERS AND MIGRANTS LOSE OUT
Refugees, people seeking asylum, and migrants are set to lose out on a number of fronts from Tuesday night’s budget, with the ABC reporting that the humanitarian program’s annual ceiling has been cut from 18,750 places to 13,750 — an Abbott-era rate — in an attempt to save almost $1 billion over the next four financial years.
Additionally, the Refugee Council notes that financial support for refugees and asylum seekers under the Status Resolution Support Service program has been progressively slashed over the past four budgets from $139.8 million in 2017-18 to just $19.6 million in 2020-21.
The Guardian also notes that $55.6 million will be spent over the next year to reactivate a Christmas Island facility in order to hold up to 250 “unlawful non-citizens” — which, wow — who come from both migrant and refugee backgrounds, have served prison sentences, and are unable to be deported due to COVID-19 restrictions.
And, on top of all this, a new language test requirement will bar Australians from sponsoring and marrying foreign partners who do not speak English, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
PS: For more on budget losers, see how the Morrison government plans to cut more than $41 million from homelessness services and social housing (SBS); has largely excluded older women from wage subsidies which are instead focussed on under-35-year-olds and male-dominated industries (The Age); and created a tax package The Australia Institute finds benefits the top 20% of income earners to the tune of 41% in 2020-21 and then — after lower-income earners get their one-off
$2160$1080 refund — a whopping 88% in 2021-22.
Curiously, funding for offshore detention is set to jump from $961.7 million to $1.19 billion in 2020-21, before crashing to $307.5 million in 2021-22, $302.2 million in 2022-23 and $296.1 million in 2023-24.
While there is as yet no official explanation for the funding dip, one purely theoretical explanation for slashing annual offshore spending from around $1 billion for five years now to $300 million is that, sometime from between now and mid-2022, the government expects to relocate the final 350 detainees on Nauru and PNG and then keep the facilities themselves operating on standby.
It could also — and again this is spit-balling — have something to do with Jacqui Lambie’s decision to vote to repeal medivac in December 2019, after being informed of plans that she claimed she could not discuss publicly “due to national security concerns“.
THE ALBANESE WAY OUT
In his very own leaked budget address, Anthony Albanese is today set to outline an alternative recovery strategy that envisions $500 million for social housing (The Conversation), free childcare for low-income earners (news.com.au), and more support for aged care, infrastructure, defence industry and manufacturing, welfare support, renewables, research and science (The Australian $). Despite criticism from the Greens, the Labor leader has also advised the tax office that the party will support the Coalition’s tax package.
Meanwhile The Guardian reports that Scott Morrison has pledged to deliver spending promises in the face of concerns the budget relies on accelerated growth and a vaccine becoming available by 2021. In a front-page splash at The Australian ($), the prime minister has also received promises of sorts from employers such as billionaire manufacturer Anthony Pratt and Jayco caravans owner Gerry Ryan to pursue business incentives and wage subsidies.
MOMENT OF TRUTH: TRUMP WALKS BACK PLEDGE TO BLOCK SUPPORT UNTIL ELECTION
According to The New York Times, Donald Trump has walked back a promise to block any future stimulus bills — which have already been left in limbo since the Democrat-controlled House passed a $3 trillion package in May and another $2.2 trillion bill on October 1 — until after the election, announcing on Twitter he would sign a stand-alone bill for $1200 stimulus checks.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin enter negotiations, including relief for airline workers, CNN reports that the White House is making preparations for Trump’s eventual return to the Oval Office, including placing a so-called “isolation cart” filled with yellow medical gowns, respirator masks and plastic goggles for visitors next to assistants outside his door. The news comes after senior adviser Stephen Miller tested positive.
Coincidentally, a reassigned director at the National Institutes of Health Rick Bright — who filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that his early COVID-19 warnings were ignored and that his caution over hydroxychloroquine led to his removal — has announced his resignation from the government, alleging that the Trump administration “ignores scientific expertise, overrules public health guidance and disrespects career scientists.”
Finally, keep an eye out today for the Pence v Harris debate, it is sure to be excruciating!
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[interviewing Miranda Devine]: …um when you talk about older people, you think they’re being… sorry I just want to clarify… that they’re being selfish?
Fox News host Dana Perino
As if there was ever any doubt, America’s most deluded, sycophantic and dangerous media outlet ain’t got shit on us.
“If one of the key questions about the 2020 budget was whether the government was prepared to spend enough to support the economy, it was answered resolutely in the affirmative in Table 1 of Statement 1 of Budget Paper No. 1 which showed deficits totalling $480 billion stretching off to 2024.
“The Grattan Institute had suggested the government needed to spend another $70 billion to $90 billion in 2021 and 2022 on top of its $180 billion in deficit spending already committed this year. Josh Frydenberg went way beyond that with another $112 billion deficit next year and deficits to the end of the forward estimates and then beyond into the forecasting haze of the late 2020s.”
“The budget assumes Australia will continue to keep a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic over the next year. That means localised outbreaks, like the one we saw flare up in Victoria, will be ‘largely contained’.
“It means outside Victoria restrictions will continue to ease, and borders around the country, except for Western Australia, will reopen by the end of the year.”
“Australians are being given a rare glimpse into the world of James Packer and it’s even more bizarre than we imagined.
“Israeli billionaires, secret deals with mysterious financiers and threats of Mossad-trained enforcers — and that’s before you get to allegations surrounding Chinese crime gangs and money laundering.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Heroic assumptions in budget omit one major threat: a global debt crunch — John Hewson (The Sydney Morning Herald): “You simply can’t buy business and consumer confidence, no matter how much you spend. To be fair, quite uncharacteristically for a Coalition government, it has certainly had a go, with both costly tax cuts and business incentives, but as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg conceded, ‘there is a monumental task ahead’ to climb out of the black hole created by the response to COVID-19.”
The three budget downers for business ($) — Karen Maley (AFR): “Let’s hope that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has succeeded in dazzling Australian business owners with the prospect of writing off the full cost of any new equipment they purchase, or availing themselves of the opportunity to claw back some of their past tax payments. Because there’s a serious risk that if they look past the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of incentives being thrust at them, they could well become disheartened by what’s contained in the fine print of the latest budget.”
Drinking in the Sun: Media before Murdoch — Joel Deane (Meanjin): “can’t recall exactly when journalism betrayed me, but I’ll never forget how it seduced me. I was 17 years old — wearing my dad’s sports jacket, school shoes, a red paisley tie and a blue striped shirt that still have creases from the box — and standing in the Flinders Street foyer of the Herald & Weekly Times building. I wasn’t alone.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The National Press Club will host an agriculture debate with minister Minister David Littleproud and shadow minister Joel Fitzgibbon.
Bruce Pascoe will speak in conversation with Kerry O’Brien for Griffith University webinar event “Living with the land, learning from the past”.