NDIS CASH COW MILKED
Gold Coast businessman John Margerison told potential investors that the NDIS would be a cash cow, Guardian Australia reports, with profits of at least 19% promised from his disability support company, DJ Health. When no-one got the chequebook out, he broke it up and sold the for-profit company to the non-profit by lending the charity arm the money, as the paper tells it. It means “he stands to pocket up to $40 million over 10 years” from the charity, Ben Smee reports, adding: “NDIS generally assumes a 2% profit margin and this year two out of every three businesses in the sector will post a loss.” Dismal. Margerison has since left the country. To Australians we can be proud of now and Queensland’s Townsville is Australia’s new army capital, the ABC reports, while Adelaide will become the home of strike capabilities. Defence Minister Richard Marles will announce today that all the army’s heavy armour and half its helicopters will be in Townsville by 2025 and roughly 800 army personnel will leave Adelaide for either Townsville, Brisbane or Darwin.
Why? “To prepare the nation’s military for a possible conflict in nearby Indo-Pacific islands,” the SMH ($) reports. Yikes. A new army brigade will be set up in the City of Churches to work on long-range strike and missile defence. But it’ll probably be much harder to persuade new recruits to go to Darwin rather than Adelaide, the paper notes, not great news for the 18,500-new-soldiers-by-2040 target. Not least because it’s bloody hot up there — 35 degrees this week as news.com.au reports — and only going to get hotter as we smash heat records, Sky News adds. Meanwhile, New Zealand is torn over whether it should join AUKUS, the NZ Herald ($) says. The New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act bans nuclear-propelled ships, but the second half of the $368 billion friendship bracelet is sharing in fields such as quantum computing or AI, and that’s interesting, the paper’s Paddy Hantler writes.
A BUNDLE OF ENERGY
Tune in next week (and again next month) on our low emission transition, says Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, fuelling expectation that Australia is about to introduce a version of US President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act — it boosts clean energy, reduces healthcare costs, and increases tax revenues. Albanese confirmed to Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy that new policy commitments were on the way in the space, so we can become “a renewable energy superpower”. Murphy notes $5.6 million was earmarked in the budget for the ambiguous-sounding “implications for Australia of intensifying global competition” for greener energy, a mere mouse next to Biden’s $520 billion allocation.
From policy on the way to policy here today and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus will announce the biggest privacy reforms in decades — it could see small biz (a turnover of less than $3 million) compelled to keep personal information secure or notify customers of data breaches, The Australian ($) says. A children’s online privacy code bans organisations from targeting and direct marketing to kids (like those ads that follow you around the internet when you search for a toaster), while people will be allowed to sue for compo for invasions of privacy, like if they’re filmed in a private space (media will be exempt). Speaking of media… did a Nine Network reporter impersonate a cop to a worker at a servo to get CCTV footage? That’s the question as the case unfolds in the Top End, the NT News ($) reports. Georgina Sarah Dickerson says she didn’t, but the worker, Sameer Devkota, swears she did — there’s footage of them talking, but no audio. He is wearing an airpod in one ear, however, and she arrived in a Nine Network car. The case continues.
ARE WE FRIENDS, GOV?
The federal government will talk to the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority about us barring 28 more flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, Guardian Australia reports, though the Transport Department is yet to set a date. The Qatari regulator added that no other carrier in its region, including the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, faces such strict conditions when it comes to fair competition in Australia. We weren’t even given a reason. Meanwhile Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson said her airline’s plea to block extra Qatar flights should not be made public because of “democracy”. Que? The SMH ($) described it as a “withering parliamentary hearing” yesterday, where we also learnt the government took Qantas’ advice to stop the competition watchdog’s quarterly airline monitoring reports, The Australian ($) says. Qantas is an “aggressive” player in Canberra, Sydney Airport said. Spirit of Australia indeed.
Speaking of Canberra… the latest revelation from Nine newspapers is that Michael Pezzullo used encrypted messages to Liberal powerbroker Scott Briggs to “covertly shape” Scott Morrison’s 2018 plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by moving our embassy from Tel Aviv. Both the Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital city, and the two have long been locked in conflict. Morrison didn’t even tell the Department of Foreign Affairs before he did it. Briggs’ responses to Pezzullo’s messages include “Okay” and “Understood”, really underlining the relationship there… The paper says Pelluzzo has indicated to those around him that he’ll never return to government. Meanwhile, at least six former PwC partners were involved in leaking confidential information from Treasury, the Tax Office and the Board of Taxation to colleagues and clients, legal reports found via AFR ($).
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
In 1971, when Eric Ulis was a big-eyed five-year-old kid sitting patiently in his seat waiting for the plane to take off, a neat man in sunglasses sat down and ordered a bourbon. The flight attendant handing him his drink received a note in exchange, and she unfurled it as people rustled with luggage around her. I have a bomb, the note informed her. As she looked at the man in horror, he gingerly opened his carry-on to reveal a tangle of wires interspersed with bright red sticks. I would like four parachutes, he told her calmly, and $200,000 in cash — as quickly as possible, please. The flight took off as normal, landing in its destination of Seattle where he received the parachutes and money in full. Fly to Mexico City please, he asked the shell-shocked pilot, who started up the plane again.
Ulis watched on in awe as the man, still wearing his sunnies, strapped the cash to his stomach, shrugged on a parachute and ripped open the rear door, leaping into the inky night never to be seen again. Dubbed D.B. Cooper, a misprint of what his documents claimed his name was (Dan), the man was the perpetrator of the only unsolved plane hijack in US history. It was as smooth and graceful as James Bond, Ulis recalls — even the staff were amazed he was so polite, all things considered. The FBI was like, we have no idea, and closed the case in 2016. But Ulis, now in his 50s, remains transfixed by the mystery, leading search parties and even running an annual CooperCon. Now he’s suing the FBI to get hold of Cooper’s clip-on necktie, which was tossed aside and could have DNA on the metal clip. It’s a compelling idea, former FBI agent Larry Carr told CNN — I don’t think we tested that part of the tie. “I want to know what the final chapter is, just like everybody else,” Carr added.
Hoping you act with a similar poise today.
I was at a rally three days ago … and an Indigenous woman as part of the No group got up and said the Voice was going to take over government, that it was a communist plot, that we were all communists and that people should go home and check the deeds for their property because the Voice would come for their homes.
The Kalkadoon and Arrernte filmmaker called it a “disgraceful set of lies”, and said the Yes campaign and the government were probably not prepared for the onslaught of misinformation in the Voice to Parliament referendum. “It’s just an advisory committee. Seriously, it’s so modest, it’s so modest.”
“Critics — and there are plenty, including Crikey — might argue his dominance was exaggerated by a spectacularly inept Liberal Party divided by an ongoing war between moderate traditional Liberals and Christian extremists whose social views would have been out of touch with Melbourne in 1923, let alone now.
“But Andrews helped make them unelectable with a ruthless political style, a centralised command-and-control management via his office, and an attitude to the media taken straight from Jeff Kennett, who famously heaved sand at journalists.”
“Instead, with Andrews in the leadership slot, Labor’s Victorian factions maintained a stability pact that allowed them to turn the guns outwards for a few years. Strategy, polling and policymaking got more professional. The last vestiges of the old ‘social movement’, which Labor had hung around the Bracks-Brumby government, went. This was now an efficient machine, turned back to the suburbs, sweeping to victory.
“Coming in amid the mild global stagnation of the 2010s, it was tasked with building on the Bracks-Brumby refashioning of Victoria as a place that either taught shonky degrees to Indian students or sold coffee to the teachers of them, while rendering Melbourne as a boutique liveable city, all converted warehouses and queer puppet festivals.”
“For one thing, it’s notable that over the past several months, none of the Reserve Bank’s spooky warnings about a wage-price spiral have come to pass, even as the country continues to contend with stubbornly high inflation. Indeed, wage growth has been decidedly modest and non-existent in real terms, which is all the more striking given unemployment has been sitting at 50-year lows of between 3.4% and 3.7% for the past 15 months.
“On the logic of what passes for orthodox monetary thinking, this confluence of factors should have conversely given way to excessive wage growth and spiralling inflation, but it hasn’t. Zooming out, there are at least two considerations that explain this puzzle.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
How to compliment a woman without giving her the creeps — Kerri Sackville (The Age) ($): “So here is a guide for men who wish to give compliments to women without being cancelled or called a creep: if the woman is a stranger, and you are walking past her in the street, do not give her a compliment. You may have only the best intentions, but you don’t know how she will interpret your approach. If you genuinely want to brighten her day, smile and step aside so that she knows you are not a threat. If there’s one thing we women enjoy more than a compliment, it’s feeling safe when we walk the streets. If the woman is an acquaintance, but she is in her workplace, or if there is any sort of power imbalance between you, do not compliment her on her appearance. If you are her boss, if she is your boss, if she is your doctor or your bank manager or your child’s teacher or a barista trying to get through the workday without needing to ward off unwelcome attention from men, please refrain.
“If you really do want to brighten her day, be polite and respectful and let her do her job. If the woman is a friend or family member, and there is no power imbalance, it’s fine to give her a compliment. Praise her hat, applaud her brooch, tell her you love her beautiful scarf. But — and this is a big but — do not compliment her body, ever, unless she is your romantic partner. ‘I love your bag!’ is acceptable. ‘Great boots!’ is delightful. But ‘Wow, nice bum!’ is never okay, regardless of how nice the bum actually is. What if you bump into a woman you haven’t seen for a while, and she has undergone a full body transformation? If you are very close, and you are sure she would welcome your feedback, you may tell her that she is looking well.”
RBA review runs risk of undermining monetary policy — Peter Costello (The Australian) ($): “There is no doubt that when the Reserve Bank of Australia engaged in unconventional monetary policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic it made a hash of things. These measures were the forward guidance (no increase in the cash rate until 2024) and the bond-buying program. It had never used these types of measures before and it was going into uncharted territory. But its guidance was woefully wrong. We are still in 2023 and there have been 12 rate rises. The bond-buying program designed to get a yield of 0.1% out to April 2024 failed. And all those 2024 bonds bought by the Reserve Bank are showing substantial losses — in fact, losses sufficient to wipe out the bank’s equity.
“But this failure was not a result of the current operative arrangements. This failure was not the fault of the statute or the agreement between the governor and the treasurer (statement on the conduct of monetary policy), and not the fault of the composition of the board (two internal members and seven external members). This was a failure of judgment and execution. The governor and the board got it wrong. In defence of the board, it was largely copying other central banks, particularly the US Federal Reserve. In July last year, the government announced a review of Australia’s monetary policy arrangements. Once the review was established, it was an inquiry in search of a recommendation.”
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Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)