Tasmania tops CommSec State of the States report again as population growth powers island’s performance


Tasmania’s economy continues to outperform rest of the nation, but economists warn the island state isn’t without challenges on the horizon.

It’s the second time in a row that Tasmania’s economy has topped CommSec’s quarterly State of the States report, which compares states and territories’ performances against their decade averages.

The report looks at eight performance indicators to gauge how each state’s economy is performing — population growth, retail spending, economic growth, unemployment, equipment investment, construction work, housing finance and dwelling starts — using data captured from the June quarter onwards.

Prior to July this year, the state was last awarded the top spot in its own right back in October 2009. It then entered a recession.

This quarter, along with the top spot, Tasmania also led the way on five of the eight indicators: population growth, equipment investment, housing finance, dwelling starts and retail trade.

Tasmania has now recorded 75 days without a new case of coronavirus, and CommSec chief economist Craig James said the state’s handling of the pandemic had contributed to its broader economic success.

“Certainly, that has been a contribution to the overall economic performance, but when we think about economic performance, we’re looking at something that evolves over a longer period of time,” he said.

“The fact that Tasmanian population growth has been picking up over the last couple of years, that’s created demand for homes, so home building has picked up, and we’ve seen a degree of improvement in terms of retail spending as well.”

He said population growth has an “element of power” that helps drive the state’s economy.

“If there’s more people coming to Tasmania, that creates demand for jobs, creates demand for homes for home building, all those related industries,” Mr James said.

Tasmania’s tourism industry may continue to struggle.(Tourism Tasmania/City of Hobart)

Despite Tasmania maintaining its top-tier economic performance, it doesn’t necessarily mean the state now has a clear path out of recession.

“History does tell us that even though Tasmania might have been doing better than other states and territories heading into the present recession, that’s unfortunately no guarantee that we’ll come out of it better, earlier or faster than other states and territories do,” independent economist Saul Eslake said.

“If you look back over the last three recessions … on two of those three occasions, Tasmania went into it with a lower unemployment rate and in some other ways, faster economic growth than the rest of Australia,” he said.

“But on each of those three occasions, we took longer to come out of it and it took longer than the rest of Australia to regain the jobs that had been lost during the recession.

Long-term challenges

Tasmania’s narrow economy is what will present some of the biggest challenges for the island as it looks ahead.

Although the state will reopen its borders to low-risk jurisdictions today, tourism will likely remain one of the key industries that will require ongoing support, with about 17 per cent of Tasmania’s workforce employed in the sector.

“We know that one of the industries that has sustained long-term damage to its prospects from the pandemic and its aftermath has been tourism,” Mr Eslake said.

“That alone is probably one reason why, no matter how well we were doing before the pandemic and the recession hit us, it will be more of a struggle to get out of it than it will have been for other states and territories,” Mr Eslake said.

It is for that reason Mr Eslake said it will be important that the State Government announces ongoing support for Tasmanian households and businesses in its upcoming Budget.

“Tourism will continue to struggle to get back to where it was, if indeed, it ever does.”

Mr Eslake said the state should now consider broadening its horizons beyond its tourism drawcard

Those other areas, he said, could include agriculture and food, minerals processing, and “perhaps some areas of manufacturing in which we have a comparative advantage”.

It’s an idea supported by Mr James.

“Now you need to be focusing on broadening the base in terms of export industries, and also creating enough internal demand making sure that Tasmanians focus on Tasmanian products, rather than going elsewhere to either the mainland or even to the rest of the world,” Mr James said.

Mr James said unemployment would also remain one of the bigger long-term challenges for Tasmania, with the indicator a noted area of weakness for the state in the CommSec report.

“That’s always been the sticking point for Tasmania; the unemployment rate has been a little bit higher than compared with the rest of the nation,” he said.

“Hopefully, what we will see is that, given the degree of normalcy that exists in Tasmania, that more people return to their place of employment, they re-engage with the workforce, and there won’t be an issue.

“But I think what we are seeing, unlike other parts of the country like Victoria, Tasmanian workers are re-engaging with their workforces, and what we’re seeing is a degree of improvement for those people who had positions before COVID.”

In a statement, Premier Peter Gutwein said the report is evidence that the Government’s economic support package of more than $1 billion has helped sustain the Tasmanian economy.

“The Government is doing everything it can to support confidence, drive investment and create jobs, and this report is proof that we’re delivering on our plan and doing exactly that.”



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Climate change driving food insecurity in First Nations while government stands by, report says


The federal government is not doing enough to support First Nations communities contending with food insecurity problems made worse by climate change — and is aggravating the situation by failing to adequately reduce greenhouse gas emissions — says a new report by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

The warming climate is depleting traditional food sources in First Nations communities in Canada and making it difficult for Indigenous people to live off the land — forcing many to supplement their diets with expensive or unhealthy food imported from other parts of Canada and worsening pre-existing economic and health issues — says the report.

The report calls on the government to increase financial and technical support to First Nations to help them address the effects of climate change and to strengthen national climate policies with more ambitious targets for reducing emissions.

“The Canadian government has promised to deliver on climate action and also to protect Indigenous peoples’ rights,” said Katharina Rall, senior environment researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“So far, the response has been disappointing.”

The 122-page report — entitled My Fear is Losing Everything — is based on interviews with 120 First Nations community members, chiefs and council members in Yukon, northwestern British Columbia and northern Ontario, as well as medical providers, environment and health experts and other Indigenous leaders.

Food insecurity higher in Indigenous communities

Indigenous people living in Canada experience food insecurity — defined as a lack of regular access to safe, nutritious food — at higher rates than non-Indigenous people. 

A 2018 national survey by the First Nations Information Governance Centre found that over half of Indigenous households experience food insecurity. Research from the University of Toronto estimates that just one in eight Canadian households overall suffers from food insecurity.

Human Rights Watch says wildlife habitat changes caused by melting ice and permafrost, more intense wildfires, warming water temperatures and increased precipitation are all reducing the amount of food available to Indigenous people in remote areas.

The report tells the story of Helen Koostachin, 56, and her husband Joseph, 58, who live in the remote community of Peawanuck in northern Ontario. The Koostachins told Human Rights Watch that the caribou, snow geese and fish they used to hunt and harvest were once plentiful.

The Canadian government has promised to deliver on climate action and also to protect Indigenous peoples’ rights. So far, the response has been disappointing.– Katharina Rall, researcher at Human Rights Watch

But since their grown children took over the responsibility of providing food for the family, fewer caribou and geese are migrating to the area. The Koostachins said that when they do, it is harder and more dangerous for the younger members of the family to hunt them because of unstable winter ice and permafrost, and unpredictably low water levels on waterways.

Unable to harvest enough food from the land to ensure an adequate diet, the Koostachins must purchase expensive imported food from grocery store.

Even with government subsidies to reduce the cost of food, healthy food items such as fresh fruit and vegetables remain inaccessible to many Indigenous people in remote communities, the report says.

“The Koostachins’ way of life, and livelihood, have become increasingly difficult to maintain, and the realization of their rights to food, health, and culture are at risk,” the report says.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the minister of northern affairs acknowledged the negative impact that climate change has on the Indigenous way of life.

“Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) have been making direct investments in a variety of culturally appropriate, community-based programs and services that support food security and climate change resilience and adaptation in Indigenous communities for almost two decades,” said Allison St-Jean.

“We will continue to work with Indigenous communities and all Canadians to fight climate change and ensure a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.”

St-Jean touted a range of programs meant to help Indigenous and Inuit communities address the health impacts of climate change, including the Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program.

The Nutrition North program provides subsidized food shipments to 116 isolated communities across the three territories and the northern regions of six provinces, St-Jean said.

Rall said that while there are government programs that provide support, it’s a patchwork with many gaps.

“Often the funding for the programs [is] short term [or] the funding isn’t enough to cover all First Nations to give them access,” said Rall.

“So it’s a matter of really stepping up the support for First Nations to then be able to lead solutions on adaptation in their communities.”

Canada must strengthen emissions targets: HRW researcher

In the meantime, Rall said, Canada will continue to fuel global climate change unless it adopts more ambitious emissions targets and a more concrete plan to achieve them.

Canada ranks ninth in the world in terms of CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, and a government report in 2018 found the country is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with Northern Canada heating up at almost three times the global average.

Under the Paris Agreement, the federal government has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Liberals pledged during the last federal election to achieve net-zero emissions future by 2050.

The Human Rights Watch report criticized the federal government for falling behind on its 2030 target and for its lack of a clear plan to achieve the net-zero goal.



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Voters in Florida, other states report ominous ‘vote for Trump’ emails


Law enforcement and election officials are investigating threatening emails sent to voters in multiple Florida counties pressuring them to vote for President Donald Trump and claiming to be from a far-right group with a history of violent confrontations.

The emails, which appeared to be sent from “info@officialproudboys.com,” said the group had obtained contact information about the voter and threatened to “come after” the person if they don’t vote for Trump 

The Proud Boys, a group that catapulted to national attention in September when Trump dodged a chance to condemn them, denied responsibility and condemned the emails. 

“No, it wasn’t us. The people (who sent the emails) used a spoofing email that pretended to be us,” Enrique Tarrio, international chairman of the Proud Boys, told USA TODAY. “Whoever did this should be in prison for a long time.”



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Witnesses report Nigerian soldiers shooting protesters at anti-police brutality rallies – National


Soldiers opened fire on Nigerians protesting against police brutality in the Lekki district of the commercial capital Lagos on Tuesday, and at least two people were shot, four witnesses told Reuters.

Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated nationwide every day for nearly two weeks against a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), that rights groups had for years accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders. The unit was disbanded on Oct. 11 but the protests have persisted with demonstrators calling for a raft of law enforcement reforms.

Read more:
Anti-police protesters storm prison in Nigeria, freeing some 200 inmates

“They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer after the soldiers opened fire. “I saw the bullet hit one or two persons,” he said.

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The condition of those two people was not immediately known. Amnesty International has said at least 15 people had been killed since the protests began.

In a Twitter post, the Nigerian Army said no soldiers were at the scene of the shooting on Tuesday night in Lekki, an upmarket district where the toll gate has been the site of daily protests in Lagos, Africa’s biggest city.

Lagos State Goveror Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted pictures of him visiting people in hospital who were victims of what he referred to as the “unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki.”

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He said 25 people were being treated for mild to moderate injuries, two were receiving intensive care and three had been discharged.

“As the Governor of our state, I recognize the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG (federal government) to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilize all security operations to protect the lives of our residents,” said Sanwo-Olu, adding that he would give a state broadcast on Wednesday morning.

The Lagos state government earlier said it would open an investigation into the shooting, which witnesses said began at about 7 p.m. (1800 GMT).

A Nigerian army spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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Inyene Akpan, 26, a photographer, said more than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire. He said he saw two people being shot.

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Akinbosola Ogunsanya, a third witness, said he saw around 10 people being shot. Ogunsanya, who said lights went out shortly before the soldiers arrived, also said he saw soldiers remove bodies.

Another witness, Chika Dibia, said soldiers hemmed in people as they shot at them.

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Armed group in Nigeria claims it has killed 4 kidnapped humanitarian workers: aid agency

Video verified by Reuters showed men walking slowly in formation toward demonstrators, followed by trucks with flashing lights, and the sound of gunfire popping. Another video showed the toll gate itself, with a protester waving a Nigerian flag, as people ran amid the sounds of gunfire.

A Reuters witness heard sirens and gunfire.

Defence meeting

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday held scheduled talks with the defense minister and the chief of defense staff around 6:15 p.m. (1715 GMT) to discuss national security, two presidency officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for the president did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Nigerian army was due to begin a two-month national exercise on Tuesday. When the move was announced on Saturday, it denied the move was part of a security response to the demonstrations. Days earlier, the military said it was prepared to help maintain law and order.

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The weeks-long protests were sparked by a video that began circulating in early October purportedly showing SARS officers shooting a man in southern Delta state. Police denied the shooting.

Authorities on Tuesday imposed a round-the-clock curfew on Lagos as the state governor said protests had turned violent.

It is one of five of Nigeria’s 36 states to have announced such measures in the last two days. The national police chief also ordered the immediate deployment of anti-riot forces nationwide following increased attacks on police facilities, a police spokesman said.

(Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram and Libby George in Lagos, and Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh in Abuja, Nneka Chile in Lagos and Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; Editing by Grant McCool and Raju Gopalakrishnan)








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Bledisloe Cup rugby 2020: Wallabies draw with All Blacks 16-16, reaction, report, how it happened, finish, video, news


It was historically great. And it could have been even greater.

One of the most remarkable Bledisloe Cup encounters in history finished 16-16 after 87 minutes, with the Wallabies and All Blacks both wasting chances after the siren to win it.

Still, Dave Rennie’s new-look side even getting this close to beating New Zealand across the ditch for the first time in 19 years was remarkable.

Watch every match of the 2020 Bledisloe Cup & Rugby Championship Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Marika ignites the Wallabies!

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Poll Body Seeks Detailed Report On Kamal Nath’s “Item” Remark


Kamal Nath referred to woman minister as an “item”, sparking a controversy. (File)

New Delhi:

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought a detailed report from Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) over the Congress leader Kamal Nath’s “item remark” at an election rally made against BJP leader Imarti Devi.

This comes after the National Commission for Women (NCW) has written to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) over the “derogatory remarks” made by former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on a woman minister.

In the run-up to Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly by polls, former Chief Minister Kamal Nath referred to Imarti as an “item”, sparking a controversy.

“Suresh Raje ji hamare ummeedvar hai…yeh uske jaise nah hai…kya hai uska naam … main kya uska naam lun? …apko toh mujhe pehle savdhan karna chahiye tha … yeh kya item hai… (Our candidate is not like her… what’s her name? You know her better and should have warned me earlier… What an item!), Kamal Nath said in Hindi while the crowd called out Imarti Devi’s name.

The former CM was addressing a campaign rally in Dabra for Congress candidate Suresh Raje. Imarti Devi is also contesting on the BJP ticket from Dabra.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan lashed out at Kamal Nath’s feudal mentality and said that Imarti Devi was a poor farmer’s daughter, who had risen up on her own.

The BJP has also lodged a complaint with Election Commission against the former chief minister for his comments. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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should you report a neighbour for a COVID-19 breach?


It may have happened to you. One evening, while sitting down to watch TV or eat dinner, a chorus of voices drifts over the back fence.

At any other time, you might not be bothered. As long as they keep the noise down and go to bed at a reasonable hour, no worries. But we are living through a pandemic, you think, and parties are strictly forbidden by the government.

So you call the police and report a breach of the COVID-19 restrictions. The cops arrive half an hour later and hand out thousands of dollars in fines to all in attendance. The next day they are on the news as the latest example of the state’s “covidiots”.

Fair enough, they deserved it. Or did they?

“If someone’s having a loud party next door, pre-pandemic [I] could not care less. Do what you want,” says Olivia Doolan, 26, from Fitzroy North.

“But why should some people flout the rules in front of others when everyone is trying to do the right thing? I think if the option is there to do it and there is a hotline to call, then why not?”

To tell or not to tell – it’s a question that divides suburbs, streets, even households. With Melbourne’s path out of lockdown threatened by a single outbreak, neighbours are turning each other in for breaches that might risk their own freedom.

“What gives me the shits is I’m not allowed to do it, we’re doing the right thing and they get away with it,” says Mark, 65, from Safety Beach on the Mornington Peninsula.

“If they did the right thing, we’d be getting through this.”

Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

Olivia and Mark (who, recognising the stigma of dobbing on a neighbour, asked that we not publish his last name) are among thousands of Victorians who have rung the police in recent months to report someone for breaking the COVID-19 rules.

“Three times I’ve rung their hotline, they say they will pass it on, nothing happens,” says Mark, who called out his neighbour for drinking in the backyard with friends.

“You get the police commissioner on TV saying ‘you’ve got to dob these people in and we’ll look into it’. I don’t know what planet he’s on.”

To some, dobbing is one of the last taboos. Even the word itself is pejorative. Children sing “dibber dobbers wear nappies” in the playground to anyone who would dare tell the teacher. In the criminal world, silence is cliche: snitches get stitches.

Australia’s anti-dobbing sentiment is said to have come from its convict past. In The Dinkum Dictionary, Sue Butler wrote about the word’s origins: “However unappealing the activities of others might be, you stuck by your class and never turned ‘one of us’ over to ‘one of them’.”

What gives me the shits is I’m not allowed to do it, we’re doing the right thing and they get away with it.

Mark, 65, from Safety Beach

Irish immigration to Australia may have played a part. Journalist Patrick Radden Keefe describes the attitude to informers who collaborated with the British in his recent book about The Troubles, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.

“With blasts in central shopping areas, you might suppose that the army would have no trouble finding frightened or disaffected civilians who were willing to help them by furnishing information,” he wrote.

“But soldiers complained that in West Belfast, a ‘wall of silence’ protected the IRA. Informers were known as ‘touts’, and for centuries they had been reviled in Irish culture as the basest species of traitor.”

Credit:Chris Hopkins

Whether Australians still bristle with an anti-authority streak is up for debate. The general acceptance of one of the longest lockdowns in the world suggests a preference for compliance over dissent. There’s an observation that routinely circulates on social media whenever civil liberties are lost that Australia is a nation of ultra cops, rather than larrikins.

Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a social scientist at the University of Melbourne, notes that the two sides of politics have experienced a role reversal on policing during the pandemic.

“This is one time where the balance has shifted, the leftists and progressives are generally supporting the police,” she says.

“The conservatives, who are normally tough on law and order, are the ones talking about how harsh restrictions are.”

‘Largely, the numbers are being driven by families.’

Premier Daniel Andrews

Authorities are hoping people will put aside any discomfort at turning someone in. Throughout the lockdown (and despite the failures of hotel quarantine), Premier Daniel Andrews has repeated the message that Victoria’s success in defeating the virus depends on people “doing the right thing”.

“The experts tell us that, largely, the numbers are being driven by families – families having big get-togethers and not following the advice around distancing and hygiene,” he said on June 20, at the beginning of the disastrous second wave.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton has encouraged people to phone in to the police assistance line with tip-offs.

“We will be attending to those gatherings, we will be investigating each of them and, if people are breaching, we will be giving [fines for] those infringements,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell last month.

So far, Victorians have shown a willingness to be the police’s eyes and ears. During a typical month, Victoria Police’s non-emergency hotline receives about 60,000 calls for all kinds of crime.

In September, 33,680 calls were made to the police assistance line just to report COVID breaches. A further 12,535 reports were submitted online. More than 100,000 calls were made in total in April, when Melbourne first went into lockdown.

Premier Daniel Andrews has regularly asked people to "do the right thing".

Premier Daniel Andrews has regularly asked people to “do the right thing”.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

The penalties are steep for anyone who breaks the rules. To complement a $1652 fine, police have introduced a $4957 penalty for unlawful gatherings. So far, more than 19,000 fines have been issued, but only 845 paid.

The crimes being prosecuted would make for bizarre reading in normal times: children’s birthday parties, video games with friends, dinner parties —moments of pleasure outlawed by the state for public health reasons.

‘It’s a government that is acting with delegated power to try and protect us.’

Anna Funder

When The Age asked readers recently what they thought of reporting a neighbour to the police, the range of responses varied from approval to “it depends” to comparisons with the all-watching eye of a totalitarian state.

In her book, Stasiland, Anna Funder lays out in terrifying detail the surveillance that oppressed the East German people until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

With its enormous network of informers (an estimated one for every 6½ people, including part-time collaborators), the secret police known as the Stasi gathered information from everywhere it could, including friends and neighbours, to use against its citizens.

Anna Funder beside the Berlin Wall in 1988, the year before it came down.

Anna Funder beside the Berlin Wall in 1988, the year before it came down.

Funder tells The Age that East Germany was a society that ran on betrayal, pitting the government against the people.

“The way the government kept control was invading everyone’s privacy and frightening everyone into dobbing on their neighbours,” she says.

It was, she points out, completely different to what is going on in Victoria.

“We see the government struggling quite valiantly in the interest of the people and if you don’t like the way they are doing it they can be voted out,” she says.

“It’s a government that is acting with delegated power to try and protect us. We should all be playing our part. I see us all on the one side and the pandemic on the other.”

Like the myth of the rebellious Australian, Funder says the Germans sometimes believe their national character is uniquely vulnerable to perfecting systems and obedience.

“They are stories that we tell ourselves based on certain kinds of truths,” she says. “Neither are absolutely true.”

While the anonymous tip-off is more popular than ever, others are choosing to make their accusations in public. Social media is a speedier justice system, where verdicts on people gathering at beaches, parks or markets are handed down instantly.

But the decision to hit “post” can backfire, as one Melbourne man found out last month when he uploaded a photo of two young boys operating a lemonade stand in Clifton Hill to Twitter.

Credit:Twitter

Tagging Yarra City Council, the man said: “Group of lads selling sweets and drinks for cash in Ramsden Reserve during stage four lockdown is pretty silly in my humble opinion. Maybe worth sending someone down there? They didn’t listen to me. Along the Yarra Trail walking track.”

If there is a threshold for grassing, then kids making pocket money would be well down the list for most people. After generating significant backlash from other users, the post was deleted and the account locked.

Neighbourhood Watch Victoria CEO Bambi Gordon acknowledges it can be fraught accusing someone of doing the wrong thing, especially when emotions are running high.

“If somebody parks in the wrong spot, even though it may be illegal, are you really going to do something about it if it doesn’t affect you?” she asks.

“It’s a real tension between wanting to do the right thing and not wanting to get your neighbour in trouble.”

There is also the impact on community harmony if everyone feels like they are whispering about one another.

Culturally diverse communities are among those which have expressed their concern about policing under COVID-19.

Muslim Australians are fearful of a rise in anti-Islamic sentiment following news reports of a cluster originating at an Eid celebration in June. South Sudanese leaders are also worried about being blamed on the back of media commentary. The Afghan community has said it was “singled out” over an outbreak in Casey.

The hard lockdown of nine public housing towers in inner Melbourne in July drew criticism for the disproportionate impact felt by a community largely made up of recent migrants.

“We have seen a really racialised narrative around the pandemic,” says Tim Lo Surdo, the national director at Democracy in Colour, a racial and economic justice organisation led by people of colour.

“When you have authorities telling people to dob in their neighbours, then of course they’re going to be doing that through a racialised lens.”

Police officers patrol the Shrine of Remembrance during an anti-lockdown rally on September 12.

Police officers patrol the Shrine of Remembrance during an anti-lockdown rally on September 12.Credit:Getty Images

Anthony Kelly, executive officer of the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, recalls the hysteria of the so-called “African gangs” crime wave in 2018.

“Community members experienced so many cases of ordinary citizens calling the police on young people of African background for very spurious reasons – walking through a shopping centre, for instance,” he says.

More broadly, he says criminologists warn against people policing each other and the potential rise of vigilante groups.

“It’s a dynamic we’ve been worried about since the start of the pandemic, the normalisation of policing,” he says.

Rosewarne says the length and severity of the lockdown may be changing people’s opinions.

“There’s definitely an anti-dobbing culture in Australia, that’s not going to go away even though we’re in pandemic,” she says.

“But, particularly in Victoria, we’re sick of it. This is one of those times where a few bad apples are actually impacting what we want to happen.”

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Rental Report Reveals Tenants’ Covid Struggle – 16 News


Australian Greens Housing spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has said that AHURI’s Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts report, released today, has shone a light on the struggles of renters during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Renters are doing it very tough. The findings of this report confirm many of the fears we’ve had for renters throughout this crisis. Many are earning less, living precariously, and being refused rent reductions.

“The government needs a plan to manage the immense rental stress people are experiencing, and which will worsen as the government continues to withdraw income support.

“There were no measures in last week’s budget to address housing affordability or ensure that people will not have to go hungry to keep a roof over their heads.

“The government must reverse their cruel cuts to income support and invest in social housing to ensure accessible, affordable and sustainable homes for everyone who needs one.

“I call on the National Cabinet to ensure eviction bans are in place so this public health and economic crisis doesn’t leave more and more people in a homelessness crisis,” she said.



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Private White House briefings led investors to short market and stock up on toilet paper, report says


Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters after a TV interview outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, DC on October 9, 2020.


mandel ngan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Private briefings from two senior White House aides to a conservative institution at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak led investors to short the stock market and even load up on toilet paper, according to a published report.

According to the New York Times

That led William Callanan, a Hoover board member, to write a memo to David Tepper, the founder of hedge fund Appaloosa Management, and a Tepper aide, the report said. Callanan allegedly wrote that he found it striking that they both mentioned their concerns, unprovoked. The email was then circulated to other Appaloosa employees, who discussed the memo with other investors. The report said the memo helped convince investors to short the stock market.

Philipson, publicly, told a business conference the White House was taking a “wait-and-see” approach on the economic impact, which he limited to the fallout on the U.S. from Chinese lockdowns. Philipson also pointed out the deaths from flu each year don’t make a material impact on the economy.

“We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow said on CNBC.

Callanan told the New York Times the confidential memo the newspaper received was different from what he sent to Tepper, though he didn’t say in what way, and that it was based on extensive research and publicly available information. The report said Callanan also briefed another well-known investor. Callanan, now a consultant, previously had stints at Soros Fund Management, Duquesne Capital and Fortress Investment Group.

Tepper, also the owner of the Carolina Panthers NFL team, initially denied receiving the memo before later telling the New York Times that Appaloosa already had placed its bet on the market to fall before receiving it.

Tepper did raise concerns publicly about coronavirus at the beginning of February.

Philipson said he doesn’t remember the specifics of his talk to Hoover, though he acknowledged making comments to that effect. Kudlow said he didn’t think his comments to Hoover were any different than he had made on CNBC, and pointed out the case tally at the time was less than 20.

The New York Times report didn’t identify who stocked up on toilet paper.

The S&P 500
SPX,
-0.66%

topped out on Feb. 19, and had only fallen 1.5% by the time the Hoover briefings began. The S&P 500 was down by 13% from its peak by the end of the week.

The benchmark index is up 8% this year.



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Trump’s new visa rules credit negative for Indian IT industry, says ICRA report


Amendments to the H1-B visa rules introduced in its largest market US will shave-off Indian information technology companies’ profit margins by up to 5.80 per cent and impact the mid-tier players the most, a report said on Wednesday.

The rules framed by the Trump administration towards the end of its tenure on October 6 are “credit negative” for the sector and will impact companies over a three-year period, it added.

The over $180 billion Indian IT industry counts on the US as its largest market and sends engineers from India to work at onshore client locations, resulting in the dependency on the H1-B visas.

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“The margin impact on full implementation…will be in the range of 2.60-5.80 per cent, depending upon the level of onshore H-1B visas,” rating agency ICRA said, adding generally companies have 20-30 per cent employees onshore with 40-50 per cent employed using the H-1B visas.

The changes

Changes effected include revising definition of occupations and positions qualifying for H-1B visas, increasing minimum wage level and reducing tenure for onsite third-party employee H-1B visa categories from three years to one year, it said.

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“As per our assessment of the various provisions, without considering the increase in realisations or other mitigating factors, the gross impact of all the provisions will be in the range of 2.85-6.50 per cent,” said its Vice-President Gaurav Jain.

Less impact on larger cos

Larger companies will be better placed to bear the impact because of the cushion as they have higher operating margins and stronger balance sheet sizes, but a few mid-size companies may face deterioration in their credit profiles, he added.

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Changes in wage rules alone will result in a 20-30 per cent increase in entry level wages, it said, adding that the widely preferred general engineering degree may not suffice after the amendments to the rules.

“With such high entry level wages, the pace of offshoring is expected to increase. Indian companies will try and pass on the increased cost of service delivery, which are already facing pricing pressure for traditional/legacy services.

“This will result in increased offshoring as a win-win situation for the clients as well as IT services companies,” Jain said.



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