GOVERNMENT SPLASHES CASH ON AN ECONOMIC TRAMPOLINE
The retelling of COVID-19’s impact on our economy was as gasp-inducing as PM Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and plenty of others said it would be. Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, Australia is carrying a “heavy burden but a necessary one to responsibly deal with the greatest challenge of our time,” Frydenberg said. But record spending will provide the bounce required to reach better days, the government reckons…
• The deficit will exceed $213 billion this financial year. And when it comes to debt, that’s expected to peak at $966 billion in 2024 – up by about $500 billion. They are huge numbers that are far away from last year’s promise of a surplus and the government’s ambition to pay off the nation’s debt within 10 years.
• But the recovery has started, Frydenberg says… And the government has made some big assumptions about what things look like going forward. Namely: that any COVID outbreaks would be localised, and there are fingers crossed for a vaccine being available late next year. All domestic borders would reopen by the end of the year – except for Western Oz. And it’s assumed that the economy will surge by almost 5% this financial year after our recent tumble into negative territory and recession.
• And so a lot of the government’s focus is on the business sector to create jobs and rev up the economy with some big-ticket items. For 11.5 million workers, the government is bringing forward $17.8 billion in personal tax cuts that were scheduled for 2022 – so plug it into the calculator why don’t ya… And for pensioners, there are cash payments worth $500 coming.
WHAT DID PEOPLE SAY?
Labor’s Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers says for almost a trillion dollars of debt, the Morrison Government “still doesn’t do enough to create jobs, fails to build for the future and leaves too many Australians behind.” That said, Labor will support legislation this week to get those income tax cuts up and running ASAP. Meanwhile, Cassandra Goldie from the Council of Social Service was disappointed there’s no permanent boost to unemployment benefits. “It leaves more than two million people receiving higher income support uncertain about their future beyond the end of the year when rates will go to their pre-COVID levels, which for JobSeeker is $40 a day.” But the Business Council was happy with measures targeting employers. “By shifting from emergency support to targeted spending, the budget will help employers get back to business and get on with urgently creating the new jobs needed for the recovery,” boss Jennifer Westacott said. And assume the brace position for a lot more commentary today…
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TRUMP’S BARE-FACED RETURN TO THE WHITE HOUSE
Literally and figuratively… Telling his fellow Americans to “get out there” and “don’t let it dominate you”, US President Donald Trump yesterday returned to the White House after 3 nights in hospital following confirmation he’d contracted COVID-19. In defiance of the official health advice, and to the horror of his critics, Trump removed his mask to pose for pictures and recorded a video saying; “Now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know.” And overnight, Twitter flagged and Facebook removed another post for misinformation concerns after he claimed COVID-19 is less deadly than the seasonal flu. Democratic candidate Joe Biden said he’d hoped Trump would “communicate the right lesson to the American people. Masks matter.” Meanwhile, White House doctor Sean Conley urged some caution yesterday saying Trump “may not be entirely out of the woods yet.”
PACKER ON THE SPOT
Until yesterday, billionaire and Crown Resorts investor James Packer had not publicly named his mental health condition. He said in March 2018 that he needed to step back from the frontline of his business interests citing issues. And yesterday, before a NSW inquiry into Crown’s casino licence, he confirmed he is being treated for bipolar disorder. The medication he is taking makes it difficult to remember details from his time as Crown’s chairman and director, he says. But he agrees that threats he made to a potential investor were “shameful” and “disgraceful”. Packer will dial it in again from his yacht this morning as the inquiry continues its probe into whether he and others should be allowed to hold a casino licence for its massive new development in Sydney’s Barangaroo following money laundering allegations.
AN INTERNATIONAL SCANDAL
Hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people across 60 nations in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America are being chained up, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). Evidence gathered from more than 800 interviews found countries like China, Mexico and Indonesia are home to cases of people being chained to trees, locked in cages or imprisoned in sheds – a situation that in some instances can go on for years. HRW says people are often fearful their family member would escape and harm themselves or others with little medical support on offer or community awareness of mental health issues. But it also happens in state-run, private and religious institutions. Researcher Kriti Sharma said it was “horrifying” that so many are “living in chains, isolated, abused, and alone. ” Reports say responses from the governments named were still being sought.
DJOKOVIC TEMPTS FATE
Of all the tennis shots in all the towns in all the world, Novak Djokovic finds another official’s head… Yesterday, the world #1 struck a line judge at the French Open – this time returning serve. Last month, Djokovic lost his chance to claim an 18th Grand Slam title when he was disqualified from the US Open when he accidentally whacked a line umpire when he hit a ball in frustration. “It was very awkward deja vu,” he said after recording the win. He’s through to the quarter-finals with other top seeds Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. For the women, Poland’s Iga Swiatek is favoured to win.
PUPPY DOG EYES UNTARGETED
“Dog owners might love their pet’s endearing puppy dog eyes and cute furry features, but it turns out the doggy brain is just as excited by the back of our heads as the front.” And for anyone who has a strong connection with a canine, that might be the saddest sentence you’ve read…
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From 10.00am (AEDT) – Crown Resorts investor James Packer to continue giving evidence to the NSW independent inquiry into whether the casino operator meets the conditions to hold a licence
12.30pm (AEDT) – Treasurer Josh Frydenberg addresses the National Press Club, post-Federal Budget
Birthdays for Anglican Archbishop of South Africa and human rights activist Desmond Tutu (1931), author Thomas Keneally (1935), Russian president Vladimir Putin (1952), cellist Yo-Yo Ma (1955), Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke (1968) and comedian/musician Tim Minchin (1975)
• the establishment of KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), the world’s oldest airline (1919)
• News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch and executive Roger Ailes launch Fox News (1996)
• the beginning of the US invasion of Afghanistan (2001)
• the launch of Spotify (2008)
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