Sunday, May 14, 2023

Peter Dutton accuses Albanese government of fuelling inflation in budget reply speech

There is no doubt that Dutton is right. Putting more money into the economy without a matching increase in availability of goods and services must inevitably bid up prices

The federal opposition leader has used his budget reply speech to lay the blame for any future increase to interest rates at the feet of the Albanese government, arguing their second budget will fuel inflation, and make life harder for millions of Australians.

In his second budget reply speech in less than a year, the Liberal leader said the Albanese government's budget would make cost-of-living pressures worse and risk creating a generation of working poor Australians.

"Inflation is coming from Canberra and Labor's big spending budget will only fuel inflation and make life harder for millions of Australians," Mr Dutton said.

"The government has taken decisions — and avoided others — which has made inflation higher than it needs to be."

Treasury has forecast inflation – which was at 7 per cent for the March quarter — will fall to three-and-a-quarter per cent next financial year and return to the Reserve Bank's target range of two to three per cent the year after.

The budget's $1.5 billion package to give up to $500 relief on power bills for 1 million small businesses and 5 million households on government assistance, has been modelled to reduce inflation by a quarter of a per cent next financial year.

The opposition leader has criticised the temporary nature of cost-of-living relief.

"That temporary relief is targeted at Australians on welfare but at the expense of the many including Labor's working poor," Mr Dutton said.

"It's a band-aid now, but much more pain later.

"In this budget, despite the government's energy polices, your electricity bill is still going up by more than $500."

Mr Dutton has remained vague on his position on the government's $40 a fortnight increase to some income support, including Jobseeker and Youth Allowance.

The Coalition will support changes to increase support for over 55s on Jobseeker but has proposed a new policy.

"The Coalition is proposing a permanent increase to the income free threshold, meaning people will earn more before their welfare payment is increased," he said.

"There are over 840,000 Jobseeker recipients of which more than 75 per cent had no reported earnings – that is, no part-time work.

"This will incentivise more job seekers to take up opportunities and enable Australians on low incomes to be supported."

"Peter Dutton looks into the living rooms of middle Australia and doesn't see people who need childcare, people who use Medicare," Mr Jones said.

"Peter Dutton needs to get back in touch with what middle Australia really looks like."

He questioned why the opposition hadn't acted on any of their proposals while in government.

"Peter Dutton has had 12 months to think about the future of the country, he's come back into the parliament with the same old ideas," he said.

"A bloke who's been talking about the importance of balancing a budget for the last 12 months has delivered a speech which adds at least $10 billion in debt to the bottom line."

The opposition has also proposed allocated an additional $9 million for women's health and vowed to restore 20 Medicare-subsidised psychological sessions, up from the current 10.

Mr Dutton vowed a Coalition government would move to ban sports betting advertising during and an hour either side of sports matches.

The opposition leader announced support for the government's 15 per cent increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance, $3.5 billion to triple the bulk billing incentive for children under 16, pensioners and other Commonwealth concession card holders and changes to eligibility for the parenting payment.

Mr Dutton accused the government of backing a 'Big Australia' citing a projected increase to migration, which has been fuelled by the return of international students and travellers.


Federal environment minister Tanya Plibersek has indicated that will approve the coking coalmine near Moranbah

The Australian government has approved a new coalmine development for the first time since it was elected last year.

Tanya Plibersek, the federal environment minister, indicated she would give the green light to the Isaac River coalmine in Queensland’s Bowen basin. It was announced late on Thursday.

The mine, to be developed by Bowen Coking Coal, is planned for 28km east of Moranbah, next to five other coalmines, and expected to produce about 500,000 tonnes of metallurgical coal a year for five years. Metallurgical coal, also known as coking coal, is used in steelmaking.

“The Albanese government has to make decisions in accordance with the facts and the national environment law – that’s what happens on every project, and that’s what’s happened here,” a spokesperson for Plibersek said.

“Since the election we’ve doubled renewable energy approvals to a record high. The government will continue to consider each project on a case-by-case basis, under the law.”

The government said no submissions had been received about the project during the public consultation period, including from environment groups.

However climate campaigners had made public statements calling on Plibersek to reject the mine in line with scientific advice that no new fossil fuel developments should go ahead if the world is to limit global heating to 1.5C.

“Scientists, energy and climate experts have said that the climate cannot afford new coalmines, and they’ve said it so many times I’ve lost count,” said Rod Campbell, research director at The Australia Institute.

“The fact that this is a small coking coalmine is beside the point – fossil carbon needs to stay in the ground. We’ve already got more than enough coalmines approved to cook the planet, including coking coalmines that could run into next century.


Extreme bureaucratic stupidity

Another $1m will be ­offered to turn a 500-bed facility at Pinkenba into an emergency shelter for Brisbane’s homeless – but state and federal governments remain paralysed over the proposal.

Pressure is mounting on all levels of government to open the gates to the now dormant facility, initially built for Covid quarantine. It can be revealed Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner will today promise to put $1m towards delivering amenities at Pinkenba in his bid to get emergency accommodation up and running at the facility.

Brisbane’s housing crisis has exploded in the past 12 months leaving service providers at full capacity and more people sleeping in cars and on streets.

Yesterday, the commonwealth claimed the Queensland government had not directly made an approach on the matter, but the state government insists it is in talks on the proposal.

Young Brisbane mum, ­Kristen, who has been homeless for the past year, says ­staying at the site would be better than living in a park or in a car.

Mr Schrinner has made the $1m ­Pinkenba promise ahead of his upcoming budget – declaring he is “sick and tired” of hearing excuses about why the site can’t be used for emergency housing.

“Today I’m committing $1m towards upgrading the Pinkenba quarantine facility so it can be used as emergency accommodation,” the Lord Mayor said. “That’s a million more reasons for the state government to finally get behind this proposal. I know this facility wasn’t purpose-built for crisis housing. But it’s a whole lot better than living in a car or a tent. And that’s occurring right across Brisbane right now while this 500-bed facility sits idle.”

Mr Schrinner said he wanted the $1m to go towards laundry facilities at Pinkenba, as well as Brisbane City Council transport and library services.

The site is owned by the commonwealth government, which has previously indicated it would be used by the defence force and be reserved for “resilience uses” – such as during natural disasters.

As he was quizzed about Pinkenba on Friday, federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers said there had not been an approach from the state government about the Pinkenba site.

He said the federal government was “always prepared to work” with jurisdictions to “find common ground and to work together to achieve our objectives”.

“I’m not aware yet of an approach from the state government but if and when that comes, obviously we will do what we can to work together,” Mr Chalmers said.

A Queensland government spokeswoman said it would support the use of the site for a “specific cohort of people” if there was a practical, cost-effective way to do so with the support of non-government service providers. The state government previously confirmed it had been in talks since March with community and housing groups, the commonwealth and Brisbane City Council about the possible use of Pinkenba.

“We’re facilitating conversations between community and housing groups, governments, and Brisbane City Council,” the spokeswoman said on Friday.

“Community service providers who have toured the ­facility have continually expressed concerns that it is not suitable for people requiring intensive support or with complex needs and is not suitable for families.”

Brisbane mother Kristen has been couch surfing for the past year with her three young children aged between one and nine years old.

She said she had been looking for rentals but had been struggling. She has gone from sleeping in one bed with three children, different people’s couches and sleeping in her car with all the kids.

“There’s so many people that are homeless, with children and no children, that need stable accommodation. It’s better than living in a park under stairs or living in your car,” she said of Pinkenba. “It would be very comforting to have a secure roof over your head and I guess the safety of the gates that are there too.”

Kristen said the potential Pinkenba option could be better than when she slept in the car with her kids, as her young daughter was traumatised from the experience.

“She was scared because we were in a car and that’s not really safe because one break to the window and we are compromised,” she said.

Kristen said while she was no longer in the car, it was difficult not having a stable roof over the family’s head.

Salvation Army public relations secretary Simon Gregory said any property that was sitting vacant during a housing crisis should be explored.

“Any initiative that is going to increase immediate access to housing should be welcomed and implemented as soon as possible,” Mr Gregory said. “If a solution is possible, we’d want it to happen as quickly as possible, while ensuring that people are safe and services are provided.”


Shadow of Doubt jury never heard girl’s memories were ‘recovered’

Lawyers who defended a couple accused of sadistic abuse by their daughter believed she was suffering “false memories” but abandoned their plans to raise that issue only weeks before the trial.

The couple’s lawyers decided not to call evidence from a psychiatrist, a forensic doctor and a friend of the daughter who all raised questions about the accuracy of her claim that she had been raped and tortured from the age of five to adulthood.

The parents were later convicted of 86 charges and are currently serving long jail terms. The Australian’s Shadow Of Doubt podcast is investigating their claims of innocence.

The couple say they spent more than $900,000 preparing for their trial in the NSW District Court, before running out of money.

Legal Aid NSW refused to fund their existing legal team and a new one was appointed a month before the scheduled trial start.

Two days before an important pre-trial hearing, the father’s barrister told the court he had “barely touched the surface” of the case.

The mother’s barrister had not read any of the medical files a week before proceedings began and told the judge that “some of this brief, almost as I speak, is still being made up”.

The father’s barrister initially assessed that it was a “false memory” case.

A forensic psychiatrist, Dr John Roberts, and a forensic doctor who had examined the young woman, Dr Maria Nittis, had provided reports supporting that argument.

A friend of the daughter had signed an affidavit saying they discussed her repressed memories.

But the lawyers never called those witnesses, and shortly before the trial they advised prosecutors that they would not raise the repressed memory issue.

Dr Roberts described the decision not to call him as “somewhat inexplicable”.

He said he had never understood how the violent assaults that the couple’s daughter reported could have occurred without any of her three siblings noticing.

Dr Nittis, who examined the couple’s daughter for the prosecution but agreed to write a report for the defence, said she believed the jury would have benefited from hearing her evidence.

The reports of Dr Nittis and Dr Roberts were commissioned by the Johnsons’ original solicitor, Andrew Bale, along with the affidavit of their daughter’s friend. Mr Bale expressed surprise that the evidence wasn’t used in the trial.

“I couldn’t imagine running this trial without putting those things into evidence,” he said. “I couldn’t see how you had realistic prospects of success without doing that.”

The Australian sought comment from the couple’s trial solicitor, but he did not respond.

The barristers for the parents said they had no interest in discussing the case.

The mother’s barrister said it was one of the most distressing matters he had ever handled, and he didn’t like to think about it.

Speaking from prison, the parents said they were bewildered by their lawyers’ decisions and had limited time to consult with counsel before the trial started.

“I never even knew what recovered memory was, or repressed memory,” the mother said. “ … If they’d asked me to rely on that, I would’ve absolutely said ‘Yes’. All I kept saying was ‘We have to run the mental health angle’. I didn’t know what it was called … I just knew we had to go down that road.”

The mother is currently serving a 16-year sentence and is not eligible for parole until 2027. Her husband is serving a 48-year sentence, the longest for child abuse in Australian history. He is not eligible for parole until he is 95.




No comments: