Morrison silent on open border benchmark



Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to reveal the benchmark for international borders to reopen, or provide comment on whether states could go it alone.

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The Morrison government is big on spending, but small on vision | Greg Jericho


As I waded through the turgid words barely replicating prose that was the treasurer’s budget speech, my immediate thought was that I have no idea what this government is. It is big spending, but with little purpose. It talks about vision, and yet it can barely even see as far as the next election.

There, of course, was spin. Marketing is the foundation of the Morrison government.

My favourite was the treasurer announcing in his speech that “over 10 million low- and middle income earners will benefit from a new and additional tax cut”.

It will be the first tax cut no one notices because all it is doing is extending for one more year the low-and middle income tax offset (LMITO).

It’s a bit like your employer saying that continuing to pay you the same amount for another year is “an additional salary”.

It would seem the government is so in love with casual labour contracts that they are now extending them to how they do tax cuts.

Of course, not everyone has to worry about whether their tax cut will continue.

Those earning over $120,000 already were granted a permanent tax cut last year, and the stage 3 tax cuts which seek to flatten the income tax system and hand those earning $200,000 a 4.5% tax cut remain in place to begin in 2024-25.

It’s one of the reasons why there are many years of deficits to come and that, to be honest, no one cares – least of all this government which has long pretended to argue such things are evil.

But it’s why this budget despite being big spending had no real purpose other than to get to the next election. It felt like a tick-the-box budget, designed more in a media monitors office than the Treasury department.

Worried about women? We got you covered (if you think childcare is a women’s issue). Worried about aged care? Finally we are doing something. And hey, that vaccine? Don’t worry, another $1.8bn will be spent and we’ll slip in the assumption underlying all the forecasts that “a population-wide vaccination program is likely to be in place by the end of 2021”.

Likely.

Go to university or are a migrant thinking you might need benefits in the next four years? Errr … sorry, we’re pretty sure you’re not voting for the government so … too bad.

Worried about climate change? Yeah. Nah. You definitely are not voting for the government.

So even with all the big spending, the government still found time to be ideological, even if its ideology is mostly one of rewarding those who support them.

It was a budget that acknowledged that governments need to spend to keep the economy going and yet looks with hope for a time when it can reduce its spending – a time the government appears to think will be when the Reserve Bank still has interests rates at emergency levels.

As ever the Reserve Bank will be expected to the do the heavy economic lifting while the government gets to boast about how it is returning to surplus.

It’s a bit like lying on the couch all Saturday marvelling at how great it is to have finished work, while your partner is vacuuming and the washing the floors.

And moreover the government wants to cut the deficit (which removes demand from the economy) as hard and quickly as occurred during the 1990s when the economy was growing much faster.

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We have gone through a once in a century experience – a truly life-changing experience – and yet I don’t really detect any change at all from this government.

It has discovered that fiscal stimulus works and that debt is not as scary as they have long been saying. And yet my main impression is that it quickly wants us all to forget that and get back to pretending that what it had been doing before worked, and that things before were all fine.

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Why is Scott Morrison emphasising lurking coronavirus dangers following the federal budget?


It was a small thing but a revealing moment during Scott Morrison’s Wednesday interview on Nine’s Today show.

Presenter Karl Stefanovic noticed Morrison seemed out of sorts, despite the government having delivered the night before a benign budget that was well received and likely to be popular.

“It is a very big budget. Josh Frydenberg had a very big smile on his face this morning. I thought you might be happier this morning, PM. Everything OK?” Stefanovic asked.

Morrison said he was “fine”. He went on: “I’ve got to tell you, Karl, the reason is this.

“I know, look, budgets are big events and that’s all fine, but I just know the fight we’re in — and the fight we’re in, and me as Prime Minister I’m in, is to be protecting Australians at this incredibly difficult time.

“I am very cognisant of how big those challenges are. It is with me every second of every day.”

There are a few points to be made here.

First, the government is using the budget to talk up the current threat of the pandemic to an extent it hadn’t been recently.

Morrison, in particular, had previously been anxious to emphasise the return to as much normality as possible. Now it’s more about lurking dangers.

These provide a justification for the government’s mega spending in the budget. (“Did anyone miss out? Perhaps only the beekeepers of Australia,” quipped one cynical Liberal backbencher.)

The language also indicates Morrison wants to do what state and territory leaders have done — use the pandemic to pave the path to electoral victory.

The other point highlighted by the Today exchange is that Morrison was looking somewhat ragged.

This was accentuated by the contrast with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg who, on the face of it, would have been under the greater stress.

Frydenberg’s performances in the week of his third budget were smooth and, whatever nerves he felt, he appeared unfazed.

The week reinforced the impression he is in the box seat eventually to reach the prime ministership (assuming the Coalition lasts in government).

Pre-budget, he and wife Amie were out for the cameras on a Sunday charity run in Canberra. Post-budget, his staff rang around backbenchers to ask if they’d like a picture with the Treasurer.

In Question Time, Morrison found old problems returning to irritate him. He was pressed on the two internal inquiries into who in his office knew or did what in relation to the Brittany Higgins matter, and he had to say neither was concluded (one had been on hold before this week while the police dealt with their investigation of her rape allegation).

Whatever the results of these inquiries, Morrison needs to get them cleared away as soon as possible. They are “barnacles”.

Morrison has been travelling a lot recently and may be tired (although those around him say he’s energised by being on the road). Or he may not be used to sharing the limelight. Or the endless round of everything may be just taking its toll.

Then there’s the challenge of explaining this Labor-lite budget to the hardliners in the Liberal base and among the right-wing commentariat.

The budget has made the Opposition’s already formidable task of carving out room for itself more difficult, but it is also proving a hard swallow for those rusted on to the Coalition’s old “debt and deficit” preoccupation.

Many of these critics will be reluctant to buy the proposition the big spending must continue because the pandemic is a constant threat, given they’ve thought the threat was exaggerated in the first place.

The government could attempt to deal with these critics by saying it will “snap back” into tackling debt and deficit as quickly as possible.

But facing an election soon, it doesn’t want to do this, for obvious reasons.

In the budget, the timing of the next stage, fiscal consolidation, is imprecise.

The budget papers say: “Progress on the economic recovery will be reviewed at each Budget update. This phase of the Strategy will remain in place until the economic recovery is secure and the unemployment rate is back to pre-crisis levels or lower.”

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says timeline on vaccines and international travel is not certain


Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not saying when all Australians will be vaccinated or when international borders will open again, 24 hours after his Treasurer handed down the government’s pandemic budget.

Speaking to Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30, Mr Morrison said Tuesday’s federal budget was not dependent on the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout. 

“There is a general assumption [in the budget] of a vaccination program [which is] likely to be in place by the end of this year,” Mr Morrison said.

“That will not have a material impact on what’s in this budget, and it would be a mistake to think it did.”

The government had initially set a target of delivering a first dose to anyone in Australia that wanted it by the end of October. 

But Australia’s vaccine rollout has been hampered by supply issues and by concerns over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the under-50s.

The budget includes $1.9 billion for Australia’s vaccination strategy over five years but does not set any firm targets. 

Under questioning from Labor in Parliament earlier on Wednesday, Mr Morrison did not say when all Australians would be immunised by either.

“That [the budget assumption] is not a policy statement nor is it a policy commitment,” he said.

The budget assumes borders will remain closed until the middle of 2022, aside from certain exemptions. 

A “gradual return of temporary and permanent migrants” is expected from mid-2022, with the potential for international students to travel sooner.

The budget also left the door open for more bubble arrangements like the one Australia shares with New Zealand, but said quarantine caps would operate “with the exception of passengers from safe travel zones”.

Mr Morrison said he could not guarantee Australians would be able to return home without quarantine after 2022.

“It’s impossible for me to make those sorts of predictions in the middle of a global pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years,” he said.

“I can fully understand why people want greater certainty, but I can only provide the certainty that’s available.”

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Morrison denies election budget slush fund



Scott Morrison has denied squirrelling away billions of dollars in the federal budget ahead of the next election.

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Scott Morrison announces $370m in biosecurity funding at Beef Australia 2021 as Federal Budget looms


Keeping Australia safe from devastating pests and disease will be the focus of a $370 million federal government splurge announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison today.

The funding, to be allocated in next week’s Budget, includes $67.4m for a “national surveillance information system” for Australia’s animal sector.

There’s almost $100m for an offshore assurance program to identify freight containers for intervention, $35m for research about how pests can enter Australia and $20m for a pre-border passenger screening trial.

There’s also $30m to improve biosecurity management of international mail and a $3.9m community and business awareness campaign.

“Protecting our borders is as much about protecting our livestock, crops and environment from diseases that have the potential to devastate them and the livelihoods they support,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison, who is at Beef Australia 2021 in Rockhampton, said Australia’s biosecurity system safeguarded the $42-billion inbound tourism industry and $53b in agricultural exports.

“This investment is about putting a protective ring around Australia to safeguard industry as well as the rural and regional communities that depend on it,” he said.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions closing Australian borders last year, primary producers have faced an onslaught of pest incursions, including the fall armyworm and white spot disease in prawns.

Even with the introduction of tough biosecurity laws in 2019, meat carrying African swine fever fragments has been detected in alarming quantities at Australian mail centres and airports, while last year khapra beetle was found in white goods imported by a major retailer.

Agriculture groups have been calling for increased biosecurity funding and today’s announcement is likely to prove popular with farmers who were disappointed by the government’s decision to axe plans for a biosecurity levy that would have taxed importers.

GrainGrowers CEO Dave McKeon said the organisation welcomed the government’s investment “toward modernising Australia’s biosecurity system”.

“These investments are going to help give our biosecurity system the capability it needs to ensure that we can keep farming Australia’s grains sustainably and profitably,” he said.

Mr McKeon said impacts on the Australian grains industry from the khapra beetle alone could rise up to $15.5 billion over 20 years, according to government reports.

In 2018, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced that the government would raise $325m over three years through the levy, which proposed to charge $10 per 20-foot shipping container and $1 per tonne on bulk imports.

The 2019 Budget saw that deadline postponed, but legislation for the levy was never introduced and last year a statement from the Department of Agriculture confirmed it would not go ahead.

Speaking as part of the announcement today, Mr Littleproud said the funding demonstrated the government’s “commitment to the agriculture sector and unique environment”.

According to the government, a recent study by the University of Melbourne suggested the value of the biosecurity system was $314b over 50 years.

More than 2.5m containers and 60m mail items arrived in Australia last year.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison warns Australia will only open borders ‘when it is safe to do so’


The Prime Minister is warning Australia’s international borders will remain closed for the foreseeable future, as his Treasurer notes this week’s federal budget assumes Australia will remain locked off to the rest of the world until at least 2022.

Australia’s borders were slammed shut in March last year as the coronavirus spread across the world, with the federal government trying to take advantage of the nation’s island geography to safeguard it from the worst of the deadly virus.

In an interview with News Corp, Mr Morrison said he did not believe Australians had an “appetite” for opening borders if it meant having to deal with more coronavirus outbreaks, lockdowns and social restrictions.

“We have to be careful not to exchange that way of life for what everyone else has,” he said.

In a later post on Facebook, he warned borders would only be opened “when it is safe to do so”.

“Australians are living like in few countries around the world today.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg echoed those sentiments, confirming Treasury’s budget forecasts were based on borders opening “next year”. 

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Scott Morrison says he will proceed cautiously on opening international borders.

The admission has prompted criticism from the opposition, which argued it is the consequence of ongoing mismanagement of the coronavirus vaccination program and hotel quarantine arrangements.

“Three weeks ago, Scott Morrison said there could be international travel and home quarantine by as early as July,” Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler said.

“This morning, three weeks later, he’s saying Australia will be locked down forever — which is it?

“Australia needs a clear plan on vaccines and quarantine but all we’re getting from this Prime Minister is excuses and failure.”

The Prime Minister has previously said he would not put hard dates on vaccination milestones.

Qantas had been planning to restart international flights from October, with chief executive Alan Joyce saying his airline was in discussions with the federal government about when border restrictions would be lifted. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia would pursue more travel bubbles with countries, beyond the current arrangements with New Zealand, rather than totally open its borders.

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Scott Morrison failing to think ahead on COVID-19 crisis, Anthony Albanese says


Scott Morrison’s failure to act until there is a crisis is at the centre of an opposition attack on his leadership legacy.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese is attempting to seize on a fall in popular support for the Coalition amid the backdrop of a slow vaccine rollout and revelations about the treatment of women in parliament.

Ahead of the Coalition unveiling its pitch to voters in Tuesday’s federal budget, Mr Albanese has ramped up the fight over Australia’s COVID-19 recovery – a key election battleground.

“There is no forward thinking about where we are going to be in a year or two years,” Mr Albanese told NCA NewsWire.

“He (Scott Morrison) has a characteristic, which is he waits until there is a crisis before he responds at all, to anything.”

Mr Albanese blasted the Morrison government’s response to the black summer bushfires, as well as Australia’s quarantine system, adding the vaccine rollout had taken too long.

“It is hard to understand why he said Australia was at the front of the queue for vaccines when we quite clearly weren’t,” Mr Albanese said.

“If it’s all about marketing and spin, then you don’t have a strategic approach.”

Mr Albanese plans to prosecute the case for a Labor government by spruiking a platform of secure work, better jobs and skills, not leaving people behind, and addressing climate change.

Despite the ammunition, Mr Albanese acknowledged unseating the government would be a tough fight because incumbents had an advantage during a pandemic.

However, he said compared with state and territory leaders, Mr Morrison was “not very popular at all”.

“Our primary vote is up substantially, our two-party preferred is back up, and we are competitive,” Mr Albanese said.

Rusted-on Labor supporters have accused the party of not being critical enough of the government during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Mr Albanese said he made no apologies for putting the national interest first, adding it was not “politics as usual”.

He hoped striking a balance between all-out attack and providing a constructive critique would be looked upon favourably by voters.

Mr Albanese said the government’s pledge to boost subsidies for parents with more than one kid in childcare, as well as their adoption of the JobKeeper wage subsidy, was proof Labor was setting the agenda from opposition.

Mr Albanese will use the opposition’s budget reply speech next week to outline new initiatives and reaffirm Labor’s pitch for a national reconstruction fund.

Asked if Labor would announce policies to help struggling first-home buyers enter the market, Mr Albanese said: “We will have more to say about housing policy, both in the weeks but also the months ahead.

“We have policies ready to roll out if the election was called tomorrow; we are ready.

“We will have a clear narrative going forward about a better, stronger, more inclusive Australia.”

Labor has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but is yet to announce its midterm emissions reduction target.

If an election was called, Mr Albanese confirmed Labor would unveil its goal but said the United Nations Climate Change Conference at Glasgow in November was likely to change the debate.

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David Littleproud slams Michael Slater for criticising PM Morrison over India travel ban


Michael Slater has been lashed as a “spoiled prat” by a senior minister after the former Test cricketer hit out at the India travel ban.

Mr Slater has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of having “blood on his hands” over the government’s ban on Australians returning from India, currently fighting the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak.

In a flurry of tweets this week, the former Test batsman demanded Mr Morrison “take your private jet and come and witness dead bodies” on the subcontinent.

But Nationals frontbencher David Littleproud told Mr Slater, who escaped India to the Maldives, to “grow up” and insisted the government’s primary objective was keeping Australians safe.

“Michael Slater needs to get over himself. He is acting like a spoiled prat,” he told Today on Thursday.

RELATED: Australians to be jailed or fined if they fly in from India

“Michael Slater can sit on the beach and slam us over here in Australia. These are tough decisions, and we’re very empathetic with not only Australians there but also those thousands of Indians that are dying every day.”

Mr Slater travelled as a commentator for the Indian Premier League, which has been suspended due to the ongoing crisis, but escaped to the Maldives after India recorded more than 400,000 cases on Friday.

“If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this,” he tweeted.

Mr Littleproud conceded the Australian government had granted Mr Slater approval to travel but said he knew the risks of travelling during a pandemic.

“There’s a thing called personal responsibility, so take some personal responsibility. He actually has the resources to look after himself,” he said.

Mr Morrison moved to play down the stoush, saying he had been “focused on actually managing the pandemic” but respected Mr Slater’s right to voice his opinion.

“I understand that Michael disagrees with my decision. I respect that he’s a fellow Australian, and I look forward to be able to return safely home after having spent the time where he’s had to spend in the meantime,” he told 3AW radio on Thursday.

Mr Morrison said Australia’s cricketing community had “deep connections” with India, but the devastating outbreak on the subcontinent had forced the government to take drastic action.

“I understand that deep feeling, but as Prime Minister, I have to make decisions in Australia’s national interests,” he said.

“I have to make sure we keep Australians safe, and then we can bring Australians safely home. That’s what this is doing.”

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Into The Mystic – The Music of Van Morrison


Into The Mystic – The Music of Van Morrison

Into The Mystic - The Music of Van MorrisonInto The Mystic - The Music of Van Morrison

Bulleen’s newest music venue Sound Garden Music Club, based at The Yarra Valley Country Club, is reintroducing Live Music!

With a makeover set to shake up its image, its membership and its future. Once a strict member only Club, the Club is reinventing itself, as a live music venue, offering the North East a quality venue for music lovers to attend in Melbourne.

Back by popular demand we welcome the fabulous Joe Creighton and The Belfast Horns as they take you Into The Mystic. This 7 piece band will take you on a journey that begins in the 1960s and moves through the decades encompassing Van Morrison’s worldwide hits.

Renowned singer / guitarist Joe Creighton, born and raised in Belfast, he brings a tremendous authenticity to this show. Creighton grew up in Belfast, at the same time and on the same streets as Morrison and he would often watch Van perform live in the early days of his first band ‘Them’ at the Maritime Club. It is this unique connection that allows Creighton to bring a raw honesty to his show which results in a palpable world class act not able to be matched.

Tickets are bound to sell super fast for this show, so get in early and book your INTO THE MYSTIC tickets now! $35+bf

Bistro open from 5.30pm, Showroom Doors open from 7.30pm, Pete Miller from 7.45pm, ITM from 8.40pm

‘Joe Creighton gives one of the best readings of a Van Morrison song that I have heard’ ‘ Brian Wise, Triple R

‘Joe Creighton and his band brought our ballroom to life and it was fantastic to see hundreds of people up on the dance floor belting it out to Van’s greatest hits- if you closed your eyes you’d swear it was Van himself! Joe is a true performer and we can’t wait to have him back again to the Club’ ‘ Irish Club Brisbane


❊ When & Where ❊

Date: Friday 14th May 2021

Times: 7.30pm – 11.00pm

❊ Venue ❊

 Sound Garden Music Club  Events 2
Events
⊜ 9-15 Templestowe Road Bulleen | Map

Sound Garden Music Club9-15 Templestowe Road, Bulleen, , 3105

✆ Event: 03 9850 6311 | Venue: (03) 9850 6311

Book Online Here

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❊ Be Social ❊

❊ CoronaVirus Update ❊

As Victoria takes action to stop the spread of COVID-19, events may be cancelled, businesses and venues may close.

→ Disclaimer: Check with the operator before making plans.


❊ Web Links ❊

Into The Mystic – The Music of Van Morrison

→ www.yarravalley.net.au


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