Good morning, early birds. China has launched a trade investigation into four Australian abattoirs, risking $200 million a month in the process, and the Coalition’s JobKeeper scheme is facing pressure from all sides. It’s the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.
WHEAT, MEAT AND PERHAPS DAIRY AT RISK
The dairy industry has called for a snap meeting with the federal government, after China launched a trade investigation into four Australian abattoirs — a move that risks $200 million a month and thousands of jobs — just one day after a similar play within the wheat industry, according to The Age.
While politicians in both countries continue to trade barbs over the push for a coronavirus inquiry, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Zhao Lijian, claims the restrictions are not retaliatory but due to violations of quarantine and custom standards. On Friday, China introduced new alloy steel tariffs to the EU and USA, although Australia is the only nation to see two trade threats since the pandemic started.
IT’S CUTE WHEN WE DO IT: Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has refused to acknowledge that “Australia’s treatment of Chinese steelmakers, who face import duties as high as 144%, may have triggered retaliation from Beijing,” The AFR ($) reports.
JOBKEEPER? JOBSEEKER? BOTH? NEITHER?
The Coalition’s JobKeeper scheme is facing pressure in the Senate, where Labor and the Greens are set to push disallowance motions to prevent the exclusion of universities and foreign-owned companies, both The Age and The Guardian report. Conversely, NSW Liberal MP Jason Falinski has called for the scheme to end as soon as schools reopen, according to news.com.au.
Elsewhere, Greens leader Adam Bandt announced the party will push to maintain the new JobSeeker rate of $1,100 a fortnight after the September deadline, and has pitched a $2.3 billion economic stimulus package aimed at the arts sector.
ONE THING THE UK GOT RIGHT: While the UK government continues to push a confusing “back to work” message, it has still extended its wage subsidy scheme for four months to the end of October, AAP reports.
Both the New South Wales and South Australian governments introduced legislation covering multiple facets of both current and future lockdown periods — such as extending public health orders, changing annual leave and long service leave laws, and reducing “red tape” for infrastructure.
The South Australian government is seeking tenders for the first $6 million of a new $20 million Homelessness Prevention Fund, and announced that shops will be permitted to continue extended trading hours in order to help maintain social distancing as restrictions begin to ease. Additionally, SA will become the first state to begin to fully restore elective surgery, to resume from midnight tonight.
The Victorian government has announced a plan to slowly ease remote learning for young children (and potentially older cohorts) before the end of term two. It has also launched an online support network — called ‘Virtual Country Cuppas‘ — to help rural women stay connected during the pandemic.
The Northern Territory government has launched the 2020 Darwin Street Art Festival, to expand as stage two restrictions ease from noon on Friday, May 15, and named the 10 family and domestic violence organisations that will receive close to $3 million in new funding.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced the first allocation of grants from the Lotterywest $159 million COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Protesters from the Whistleblowers, Activists and Communities Alliance were removed from the roof of Melbourne’s Mantra Hotel yesterday, after protesting the nine-month detention of refugees transferred under former medivac legislation, AAP reports.
Shortly after, Mantra detainee and musician Mostafa Azimitabar announced that a Tamil refugee attempted suicide in the hotel yesterday afternoon. The man, who was reportedly detained on Manus Island for six years before being moved last year, is now reportedly recovering in hospital.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Thanks. Just seen it. I’ll sack the intern.
The Media Watch host responds to criticisms of the show’s weird congratulations to Alan “Cronulla Riots” Jones’ retirement announcement. Here’s hoping the hurried backtracking saved, if not much face, at least an intern’s job.
“While debate over future immigration levels continues to simmer, yesterday the Master Builders Association (MBA) provided a small glimpse of what the economic future might look like with lower levels of new arrivals and less demand for housing.”
“‘You have always done the right thing by your country,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison cooed in the direction of retiring shock jock and furious turtle/human hybrid Alan Jones this morning. But which of Jones’ many contributions to public life in Australia could Morrison be referring to?”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Coronavirus: There can be no backdown in face of Beijing trade baloney ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “Beijing’s decision apparently to destroy our barley exports to China, and to cut our beef exports there, constitutes naked economic coercion and intimidation. There is no doubt they are linked to Canberra’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins and spread of COVID-19.”
COVID tracing app needs a makeover, not new laws to keep privacy safe — Priya Dev (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The government has introduced legislation into Parliament designed to allay privacy fears around COVIDSafe. But the solution to privacy concerns lies not in laws but in a major makeover to keep personal data private. Such a makeover would also fix the major flaw that has marred the app from the start.”
Jones’ retirement doesn’t mean we can relax — Nat Cromb (IndigenousX): “When I heard the news of Alan Jones’ resignation and departure from the radio waves this morning, I searched the depths of my being to try and locate any semblance of sadness. I came up empty, unsurprisingly, when you consider the nature of the man, his ideologies and his unapologetic infliction of damage upon people he loves to punch down on.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The COVID-19 Senate inquiry will hear from chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, the Department of Health, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission, and the National Indigenous Australians Agency.
The parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security will hold a hearing into the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (International Production Orders) Bill 2020.
Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark will speak in conversation with Allan Behm, the director of the international and security affairs program at the Australia Institute, as part of an “Economics of a Pandemic” series.
Greenpeace will launch a new report, Dirty Power: Burnt Country, analysing both the 100 million tonnes of new coal extraction approved during the Black Saturday bushfires as well as News Corp’s arson, climate denialism and controlled burning disinformation campaigns.