Volume 73 – number 16 – political news

Published 5 June 2020

Below is a summary version of edition no. 16 for 2020. To access the full version you need to subscribe.

This Week in Politics

Photo of Australia's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, “This was an economist’s version of Armageddon”. (Photo by Rob Keating)

 Times were a lot different when the following famous quote was said. “This is the recession we had to have”. Paul Keating immortalised that line 25 years ago on November 29, 1990. Now again Australia faces recession. One that we could not avoid, not once the economy was shutdown in order to take on the COVID-19 health crisis.

The health crisis has not been as bad as many had predicted. The early forecasts said that up to 150,000 Australians could die from coronavirus. 

Politicians were forced to take drastic action, actions that we will never know if they were necessary.

Now the result of those actions clearly has defined the economy. It has been hammered and it will take some time to recover.

Grass Man

“Can everyone get off the grass, please?” yelled a tracky-dacked man as he asked politely for the media pack and pollies to move off of his lawn.

“Come on, guys, I’ve just re-seeded that.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison replied with: “Sure, let’s just move back from there.” That was the scene at Googong, just near Queanbeyan. 

The Prime Minister was joined by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Housing Minister, Michael Sukkar, Fiona Kotvojs, the Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro and Senator Jim Molan in what was an opportunity to campaign for the July 4 Eden-Monaro by-election.

Major reforms to Australia’s foreign investment framework

This morning the Treasurer announced the most significant reforms to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 since its introduction.

Key elements of the reform package include:

A new national security test for foreign investors who will be required to seek approval to start or acquire a direct interest in a ‘sensitive national security business’ – regardless of the value of the investment.

Northern Australian Cattle Farmers Make Legal History 

On Tuesday, exactly nine years after a ban was slapped on live cattle exports, Justice Stephen Rares of the Federal Court delivered his judgement in the case of Brett Cattle Company versus the Commonwealth. In his judgement the judge concluded that the actions of the then Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, constituted “misfeasance” or wrongful exercise of the law. Nine years ago Mr Ludwig shut down the live cattle trade after public outcry generated by an ABC Four Corners program which showed the mistreatment of cattle in some Indonesian abattoirs. The live cattle export industry was shut down by an export control order implemented on June 2. The minister had seen the television footage when he made his decision but he made no attempt to consult with the industry or to take account of the damage his order would cause. 

Black Lives Matter – but don’t march

Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy has said we have been very, very wary about not doing things too quickly when talking about planned protests. (Photo by Rob Keating)

During a press conference this afternoon Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy have asked protesters to stay at home. 

Minister Hunt said, “We have to be safe, which cannot put at risk the lives of our police, the lives of our friends, the lives of our family and the lives of our most vulnerable Australians, our elderly and Indigenous Australians, for whom we have fought to protect.

And so our message, as people consider mass gatherings this weekend for understandable reasons of protest, is please stay safe.

Do not go. Do not attend. There is a better way. Express that concern online through donations, or with a vigil, as we did magnificently through Anzac Day. 

We have learnt that we can do things differently. We never trade our compassion. We never trade our democratic rights.”

$29 million to tackle Nation’s biggest killers

The Government has announced that it is investing more than $29 million in vital research initiatives to tackle the nation’s two biggest killers – heart disease and stroke.

This funding is the first round of disbursements from the Government’s 10 year, $220 million investment to boost research into heart disease and stroke through the Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Cardiovascular Health Mission.

Each year, one in five Australians are affected by heart disease and stroke, one Australian dies of cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes, and one Australian experiences a heart attack or stroke every five minutes.

Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Republic of India and Australia

Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a virtual summit with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister has twice had to postpone planned visits to India this year. 

During the summit Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Morrison announced a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) between Australia and India.

The CSP takes the bilateral relationship to a new level of cooperation, based on mutual understanding, trust, common interests and the shared values of democracy and the rule of law.

From the Archives

The following content is from Inside Canberra Volume 58, No 449 published on June 3rd, 2005

Media damage Indon relations and Corby’s hopes

Sections of the Australian media are responsible for bringing Australia/Indonesia relations to the lowest points since East Timor independence. The proposed prisoner exchange agreement has to be approved by the Indonesia Parliament, and this is now in jeopardy. Schapelle Corby’s prospects for freedom have been irreparably damaged. Her appeals to higher Indonesian courts may now be risky, and her sentence could be increased – even to the point of death by firing squad. Alexander Downer has spoken of a possible approach by the Australian Government to the Indonesian President for a pardon, should Corby’s appeal fail. This now is also in doubt. Even if the powder delivered to the Indonesia Embassy has turned out to be harmless, the damage has been done. The national hysteria over the Corby case has been whipped up by the commercial media for profits, and without regard to its impact on those seeking to assist Corby.

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