NOT PLAYING ‘FARE
The Morrison government will bring a “take it or leave it” approach in Parliament today when it seeks to replace the current $150 fortnightly coronavirus supplement with a permanent $50 bump to the fortnightly JobSeeker rate, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, with a senior Liberal source labelling the new rate the “bare minimum” to win Coalition party room support and supposedly satisfy public demand for action.
The new, roughly $600-a-fortnight JobSeeker rate has been condemned as inadequate by Labor, Greens, business, union and welfare leaders.
Additionally, Guardian Australia reports that the Council of Small Business Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and the Australian Council of Social Service have all slammed the government’s proposed hotline to dob in unemployed people who refuse jobs, with ACTU president Michele O’Neil pointing out the new power imbalance could lead to women accepting jobs they feel unsafe in.
The Australian ($), which is much more generous in its coverage of the “largest year-on-year increase to the dole since 1986” [due to it not rising in real terms at all since 1997], also reports that more than half a million workers came off JobKeeper in January compared with December, outstripping Treasury’s forecasts by more than 200,000.
PS: For a masterclass in repeating your talking points no matter how many times you’re asked a completely separate question, do check out Anne Ruston avoid telling 7.30’s Leigh Sales why the weekly JobSeeker rate comes in at around a day’s travel allowance.
Facebook will reverse its ban on Australian news content in coming days after securing changes to the Morrison government’s mandatory news media bargaining code, with the ABC explaining that amendments now consider final offer arbitration — which would allow an independent mediator to pick a proposed deal from either a platform or publisher where a dispute arises, a clause both Google and Facebook strongly oppose — as “a last resort where commercial deals cannot be reached by requiring mediation, in good faith, to occur prior to arbitration for no longer than two months”.
As Crikey’s Bernard Keane notes, amendments also allow the digital giants to differentiate in their treatment of news publishers and the code only applies to content made available “intentionally”; while it is not yet clear what counts as intentional, Facebook’s vice president for global news partnerships Campbell Brown emphasised in a statement the company will retain the ability to decide if (and, presumably, how) news appears on Facebook so that they “won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation”.
PS: Yesterday, Seven West Media announced it had signed a letter of intent to provide news content to Facebook, and is due to release more details after the deal is executed sometime across the next 60 days.
NAZI ATTACK IN PERTH
According to news.com.au, West Australian police are hunting a man with a swastika painted on his head after he allegedly attacked a 40-year-old Indigenous woman with a makeshift flamethrower in the southeast Perth suburb of Gosnells on Saturday night.
The man reportedly yelled racial abuse at the woman and her teenage daughter near Corfield Shopping Centre before attempting to burn her with a can of deodorant and a lighter. The woman sustained minor injuries.
MALAYSIA DEPORTS MYANMAR MIGRANTS
According to AP, Malaysia’s immigration authorities have deported 1086 Myanmar migrants, despite a court order to halt their repatriation amid Myanmar’s ongoing military coup was issued following an appeal by Amnesty International and Asylum Access Malaysia.
The news comes after Vice-Chief of the Australian Defence Force David Johnston personally urged Myanmar’s Vice-Senior General Soe Win to restore democracy and free detained Australian academic Sean Turnell, the ABC reports.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
You often hear, though, employers saying, ‘Joe applied for a job. He was qualified for the job’, or she, ‘and they said no’.
When there’s roughly 1.4 million jobseekers and just 160,000 jobs on Seek, many are saying the employment minister’s justification for launching a dole-bludger hotline is “unsubstantiated hearsay meant to disguise yet another mean-spirited, costly attempt to shame the unemployed”.
“Facing a preselection loss in his seat of Hughes, and becoming ever more embarrassing even by the standards of the Morrison government, climate denialist and COVID misinformation spreader Craig Kelly has moved to the crossbench and thus relieved Scott Morrison of a continuing political problem.”
“In his decade as a Liberal MP, the member for Hughes has dialled up the crazy and emerged as parliament’s leading proponent of conspiracy theories on climate change and COVID-19.
“And through all of it he’s had the backing of the party, survived two successive preselection challenges, been supported by two prime ministers, and watched as the good people of the Sutherland Shire returned him with comfortable majorities.”
With the prime minister busy getting jabbed, fighting Facebook and sending congratulatory videos to sports commentators, Madonna King has stepped in to write the speech he needs to give to the young women of Australia.
“I was wrong. Let me say that again to Brittany Higgins and anyone else who has listened to me make public statements about this sordid stain on my government’s history. I. Was. Wrong.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Royal commission proves we need a new Aged Care Act — Sarah Russell (The Sydney Morning Herald): “On February 26, the commissioners will release their final report. The counsel assisting’s 124 recommendations provide a glimmer of hope that the final report will outline a plan to fix aged care. But will the government act on the recommendations. During an interview on ABC 7.30 on February 2, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said the government will respond to the commissioners’ recommendation ‘in the budget’, seemingly signalling that the answer to all the problems is to throw more money at it.”
Craig Kelly’s Trumpist outbreak puts conservatives on existential alert ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “The resignation of Craig Kelly from the Liberal Party is the first structural outbreak of Trumpism in our politics. To be sure, mavericks have resigned from political parties before, but Kelly has gone down a particularly Trumpist road in a particularly Trumpist fashion. This is a much bigger threat to centre-right politics in Australia than it may first appear.”
Morrison’s meagre JobSeeker rise is a political fix that only tightens the screws on the unemployed — Rick Morton (The Guardian): “The strategy behind the federal government’s increase to the JobSeeker payment is crystal clear: Scott Morrison will say he is the first leader in almost 30 years to increase the rate of welfare for unemployed people. Never mind that it is only by less than $3.60 per day. Damned if it keeps people in poverty; too bad that it won’t even recover lost ground since the payment was decoupled from (flat) wages growth in 1997.
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds will present “Protecting and Securing Australia’s interests in a challenging world” at the National Press Club.
Parliamentary inquiries will be held into the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and, separately, the skilled migration program.
American economist Stephanie Kelton will discuss “The Deficit Myth and a Green New Deal” via Zoom for the Sustainable Prosperity Conference.
CEO of Mental Health Australia Leanne Beagley will discuss public sector mental health challenges following a traumatic year with The Mandarin’s Chris Woods.
Exclusive event — for Mandarin Premium subscribers only.
Professor Ross Garnaut will discuss his latest book, Reset: Restoring Australia After The Pandemic Recession, in conversation with the Australia Institute’s chief economist Dr Richard Denniss.