You could be up for a $2500 salary increase a year for the next few years — if you’re a full-time worker, that is, as ABC reports. It’s one of the many leaked predictions in the mid-year budget update, which will be released today. The “upbeat” report predicts 1 million jobs will be created in the next four years (that’s 150,000 more than previously forecast) and our unemployment rate will drop to 4.5% by next June, according to The Conversation’s Michelle Grattan (it was 5.2% in October, so it’s a decent reduction, and it should get as low as 4.25% by 2023, a low not seen since 2008). We’ll also get a glimpse at the Coalition’s war chest today — that’s money set aside for things not yet announced — among them, a probable tax cut for lower- and middle-income earners.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said it’d be better if the budget wasn’t “riddled with rorts”, a reference to the $1.9 billion Coalition seats received in the last three years, compared to $530 million going to Labor seats. The SMH’s David Crowe has slammed it as “bribery” and “corruption”, pointing out that a fifth of all the money given to Labor’s seats was in two marginal seats — Corangamite and Lyons — which happened to be the two key battlegrounds in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s 2019 election campaign. Morrison laughed off questions about the disparity between neighbouring electorates yesterday, as The New Daily reports, saying the funded ones must have “a very good local member”. Labor MP for Lilley Anika Wells countered, well I submitted 30 proposals to the treasurer, and none were funded — what does that make me?
Speaking of — it looks like One Nation’s national executive treasurer Alex Jones may have been charged with fraud, The New Daily reports. Queensland Police confirmed a “financial administrator for a political party” was charged with four counts of fraud involving “election funding” following their raid of a Holt Street office — that’s the Brisbane street One Nation’s office is on — though worth mentioning that the cops have not confirmed it was Jones or One Nation. Check out the release here and decide for yourself. It continues that it’s over fraudulent documents for a 2020 election funding application amounting to $24,000.
Australia’s vaccine hesitancy has dropped from 11.5% to 9.6% in the past two weeks, according to Melbourne Institute’s Vaccine Hesitancy Tracker. But Queenslanders remain the country’s most reluctant to get the jab, The Brisbane Times reports, with a 14.2% hesitancy (82.56% are inoculated at the moment). University of Melbourne’s Anthony Scott said it could be down to the sunshine state’s low case numbers, but it’s a good decrease from their hesitancy rate in May, which was a staggering 43% (amid AstraZeneca hysteria).
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So how does Australia compare with the rest of the world? Check out The New York Times’ vaccine tracker — we’ve vaccinated nearly 90% of our eligible population, but the tracker shows our entire population’s rate — which is 76%. Meanwhile, Brazil has double-vaccinated 66%, Canada 78%, Poland 55%, and India 38%.
Unfortunately, however, we’re seeing cases skyrocket — NSW reported 1360 cases yesterday, which is 556 more cases than the day before, The New Daily reports. It came as life got a little less restricted in NSW yesterday — QR codes were scrapped in all settings except high-risk ones, and any number of people can visit homes or hospitality venues now. Meanwhile, Victoria’s CHO Brett Sutton has said people should expect cases to double every two days, The Australian ($) reports, as the state backtracked on axing masks in retail settings as 1405 new cases were confirmed. At least our case numbers are not as bad as the UK, which recorded a staggering 78,000 new cases yesterday — a record high — as ABC reports.
PRIVACY ON THE LINE
The personal details of SA Premier Steven Marshall, along with 80,000 South Australian public servants have been stolen in a cyber attack — which gathered people’s tax file numbers and banking details, Guardian Australia reports. Treasurer Rob Lucas confirmed the victims were everyone from “members of parliament, right through to the premier”. The target was Frontier Software — that’s the state government’s payroll software — and is linked to the ransomware attack by Russian hackers five weeks ago.
It comes as Telstra just copped a $2.5 million fine for not making nearly 50,000 Australian phone numbers private, which stops those numbers from being listed in public phone directories, The Age reports. The ACMA said the telco titan’s fine was actually the largest ever for this kind of breach, and it’s the second time — Telstra dobbed themselves in back in 2019 for a similar thing.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Pews and pews of people sat solemnly at the Santissimo Salvatore Basilica, a church in Italy, listening to a sermon to mark the feast day of St. Nicholas. Children on a school trip were trying not to squirm among the adults as Bishop Antonio Staglianò boomed on. Suddenly, the pint-sized worshippers in the church — none older than nine — snapped to attention. “Santa Claus,” the bishop had declared, “is an imaginary character”.
It was a long few minutes, Jason Horowitz writes for The New York Times. “The red colour of his coat was chosen by Coca-Cola for advertising purposes,” the bishop continued, really nailing home the heartbreak in the tiny hearts of the Italian kids. One of the more brazen little girls piped up that, actually, her parents had assured her Santa was real. The bishop replied that the child should tell her parents “you tell lies”. Oh, lord. The bishop denied this — he claims he was nicer than that. He continued that, c’mon, these little kids knew, he didn’t spoil squat. “If we knew,” he said, referring to his generation, “imagine these kids with their smartphones”.
A diocese spokesman tried to smooth it over afterwards, saying he was sorry for the bishop’s dismal words. But the revelation didn’t stop the kids swarming around Santa Claus after the sermon, their teacher said, as he clopped up to the church on horseback and handed out pencils and candy. “Once they were outside the church the speech wore off because they were smitten with St. Nicholas,” she said. “They were happy”.
Wishing you a little cheer against the odds today, too.
It may well be spreading across NSW as we stand here talking about it … the reproductive rate is concerning. What [health experts] are telling us is that by the end of January, we could be looking at 25,000 cases of the virus every single day, so that takes us to about 175,000 a week.
NSW’s health minister said it appears the spread of Omicron is not deterred by widespread vaccination, after a 680-strong party a nightclub in Newcastle led to 200 new cases of COVID-19. Indeed health officials say the Newcastle outbreak could be one of the highest transmission events in the world.
“Scott Morrison is Australia’s biggest taxing prime minister since John Howard. He imposes a taxation burden on Australians that is much higher than when Labor was in government, and he is hellbent on ensuring that the dip in tax revenue caused by the recession is reversed and taxes soar back to the heights he previously ‘achieved’ …
“Too many journalists see fiscal policy through a prism crafted by John Howard and Peter Costello — that the Liberals are the party of small government and low taxes. Howard and Costello ran a party of big government and punitively high taxes. But Scott Morrison goes one worse — his government is one of taxing Australian workers and businesses and channelling the proceeds to its friends.”
“Nearly 100 Tory backbenchers have rebelled against Boris Johnson reimposing pandemic restrictions and a vaccine mandate for health workers, with some speculating his leadership would be under threat next year. The parallels with Morrison, who ended the year unwilling to even introduce his own bills for fear his backbenchers would revolt over vaccine mandates, are uncanny.
“Like Morrison, the British PM’s problems are a direct result of his incessant lying. His lies about the Christmas party — possibly parties — held at No. 10 by his staff last year while the UK was in lockdown and tens of millions of Britons were unable to be with family — appear to have crystallised electoral concerns.”
“Since November, $4100 has been spent promoting 15 ads about Flash to Australian Facebook users. The most common advertisement has been promoting Sky News, with four advertisements promoting its opinion hosts Peta Credlin, Paul Murray and the channel …
“Curiously, the page’s first advertisement which was run alone was a post about the jailing of QAnon Shaman, an infamous figure from the January 6 US Capitol riots. Perhaps appropriately, this conspiracy theorist has actually shared Sky News Australia content from his social media accounts.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Borders are open and students are coming back, ready to study (The Australian) ($)
Putin and Xi show united front amid rising tensions With US (The New York Times)
Elon Musk hits back against Elizabeth Warren in Twitter spat over tax policy (The Wall Street Journal)
What makes students succeed in life? — Pru Goward (The AFR): “The outcomes are much as we would expect; the arts don’t pay unless you’re a genius, STEM-based degrees and apprenticeships do. The subjects chosen in Year 10, for those who persist to Year 12, have enormous impact on future training opportunities and earnings in the mid-20s.
“Increasingly, professions like nursing will require advanced understanding of biology, chemistry and pharmacology and STEM will be essential for entry. Indeed, as the use of data by governments becomes more sophisticated, any professional, including family therapists and caseworkers, will require a strong understanding of risk assessment tools and data analysis more generally. The report has established that trade apprenticeships because they are shorter, begin earlier and usually lead to direct full-time employment, are more likely to pay off for a 24-year-old than a university degree.”
Don’t be slak this Christmas, buy Blak! — Aiesha Saunders (IndigenousX): “That being said, it can be tricky to find First Nations products online that financially benefit First Nations peoples. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as ‘Business Blak Face’, where non-Indigenous businesses sell products and use wording that seems as though they are either First Nations owned or are in partnership with First Nations peoples.
“Trading Blak is a useful online resource for mob, consumers, allies, and First Nations business owners to come together, uplift, support and buy Blak. There are a lot of incredible First Nations businesses online and across the country, here is just a glimpse of the wonderful work First Nations peoples are doing in the small business space. Buy Blak and Happy Shopping!”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)
A new exhibition is opening today at the National Museum of Australia, called Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes, with 170 new objects from the British Museum’s collection.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Writer Melissa Ashley talks to author Félix Calvino about his new book, Young Love & Other Stories. You can also catch this online.
Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)
Minister for Community Services and Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk will be at Shelter WA’s end-of-year celebration and opening of their new exhibition, called Street to Street, at Old Customs House.