RAISING AN ISSUE
The Morrison government is expected to announce a permanent boost to the $565-a-fortnight JobSeeker rate today, with news.com.au reporting the lift will come in at just under $50 a week, while Guardian Australia reports that the expenditure review committee last Friday agreed to an increase of just $50 a fortnight.
The potential rate, both options for which fall well below both the current $150 coronavirus supplement and poverty definitions of either $1100 (per the Henderson rate) or $816 (per ANU), will reportedly not include the previously-floated push to combine all additional subsidies and supplements.
The new sum will however include new mutual obligation requirements, although anyone convinced people will not look for work unless they live in poverty need only compare labour market flows from pre- and post-coronavirus supplement.
PS: Incidentally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Scott Morrison has told colleagues to prepare a “two budget strategy” for economic recovery, suggesting an early election is off the table.
ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS MISHANDLED?
Note: this story discusses sexual assault.
Former Liberal staffer Chelsey Potter has written an op-ed at InDaily accusing federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham of not meeting with her either before or after she went public with allegations of sexual assault by a colleague.
InDaily further explains that Birmingham, who was not told of the allegations while Potter worked in his office, has confirmed he declined to meet up in 2019 and only sent messages referring her to the Women’s Information Service and 1800RESPECT — “Not even a suggestion of involving the police, which would later become the catchcry of senior Liberals weeks later”.
Similarly, former NSW Liberal Party staffer Dhanya Mani, who publicly aired allegations of indecent assault against a colleague in 2019, has told 7.30 she reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office for help but did not receive any.
The comments comes after Four Corners revealed that a fourth woman has come forward to make a complaint about the former staffer who allegedly raped Brittany Higgins — specifically that the man allegedly stroked her thigh under the table at a Canberra bar — while Higgins has slammed Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ claim of not wanting to answer questions in the Senate due to concern for her former staffer’s privacy as “patently false”.
Finally, Guardian Australia notes that Scott Morrison’s office has acknowledged that a second prime ministerial adviser knew about the termination of Higgins’ alleged rapist, because the current staffer had worked under Reynolds’ previously.
PS: Additionally, Higgins’ partner David Sharaz has resigned from his job at a media analytics company in Canberra due to fears of payback while dealing with federal government clients.
JOBS FOR THE BOYS
Finally, in keeping with the Morrison government’s proud tradition of stacking public sector roles with old mates, the AFR ($) reports that former Liberal minister Bruce Billson will replace Kate Carnell as Small Business Ombudsman.
This comes in spite of Billson receiving a rare bipartisan censure by Parliament in 2018 after a report by the privileges committee criticised his failure to list his external salary of $75,000 for the Franchise Council of Australia before leaving Parliament.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I look back on the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009, when the UK and Europe’s enthusiasm for a deal failed to overcome both the reluctance of the US to make legally binding commitments, and the deep suspicion of China, India, and the emerging economies of any obligations that they believed might threaten their development.
So determined were they to avoid binding commitments that they rejected Europe’s offer to unilaterally bind itself to a 50% cut in its emissions.
So bitter were the divisions that the Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, who bravely stood out for an ambitious deal, had to be physically restrained from punching the Chinese negotiator.
“It’s a measure of how worried Scott Morrison is about the fallout from the mistreatment by his government of Brittany Higgins that in the space of five days — after his disastrous ‘I checked with Jen‘ response — the prime minister announced not one, not two, not three, but four inquiries and reviews.”
“Male commentators have once again raced to the front pages to offer astute insights on parliamentary rape: ‘Go to the police’; ‘Think of your girls’; ‘Another sex scandal’.
“It’s the epitome of male privilege: old dudes believing they have the right experience, understanding and context to weigh into an issue that has never affected them and getting it so horribly, horribly wrong.”
“The fact that Brittany Higgins was allegedly raped in the Parliament of Australia should be irrelevant: sexual assault is abhorrent no matter where it occurs.
“Many of us who work there know the mindset that guided those around her both when it happened and last week when they responded: this is a political problem; this needs to be managed.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
There is a greater sense of male entitlement in Australia’s parliament than in any workplace I have seen — Clare O’Neil (Guardian Australia): “Like many women who work in parliament, the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins has absolutely rocked me. Since last Monday, I have found myself in various states of rage and disbelief, at times choking with anger at how a system could treat an alleged rape victim with such brutal inhumanity.”
Premier Dan Andrews finally rolls the dice on Crown ($) — Damon Johnstone (The Australian): “It was the day before the 2014 Melbourne Cup, and Lloyd Williams placed his hand on Dan Andrews’s shoulder, whispering: ‘You should probably know I am on the executive of the Packer estate, and James is going to kick every goal he can for you.’ The then opposition leader had wanted to ride the wave of euphoria around the race that stops the nation and pick up a few votes along the way, so just three weeks from the state election he took a plunge on getting a warm reception from Williams, the Cup-winning legend.”
I was the Australian doctor on the WHO’s COVID-19 mission to China. Here’s what we found about the origins of the coronavirus — Dominic Dwyer (The Conversation): “As part of the mission, we met the man who, on December 8, 2019, was the first confirmed COVID-19 case; he’s since recovered. We met the husband of a doctor who died of COVID-19 and left behind a young child. We met the doctors who worked in the Wuhan hospitals treating those early COVID-19 cases, and learned what happened to them and their colleagues. We witnessed the impact of COVID-19 on many individuals and communities, affected so early in the pandemic, when we didn’t know much about the virus, how it spreads, how to treat COVID-19, or its impacts.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
National Farmers’ Federation CEO Tony Mahar, Business Council Of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott and Council Of Small Business Organisations Of Australia CEO Peter Strong will present “Regionalisation — the time is now” at the National Press Club.
State government department secretaries will appear at Victorian parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearings into the financial performance and outcomes of the 2019/20 state budget.