Flat White

How good are today’s talking points?

15 October 2020

10:09 AM

15 October 2020

10:09 AM

The Prime Minister’s Office was so pleased with today’s talking points that they sent them out to the media — as well as parliamentarians — first thing this morning.

It’s not as big a blunder as it might seem. Indeed, one might even see it as yet a further indictment of Daniel Andrews, his Ministers and senior bureaucrats and police.

After all, if mere federal backbenchers are supposed to remember all of this guff on a daily basis, the Chairman, his politburo and senior apparatchiks should surely recall the fundamental details of the hotel quarantine program.

Read on — and enjoy.

UNOFFICIAL

THURSDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2020

OUR FOCUS

  1. Fight the virus.
  2. Deliver the economic lifeline Australians need to get through the course of this virus.
  3. Reopen our economy and our society with a clear road ahead.
  4. Build confidence and momentum in our economy.
  5. Reset to help grow our economy for the years ahead – this is a 5 year plan that will shape the next 30 years.
  6. Guarantee Australia’s national security.

That means getting Australians out from under the doona – delivering jobs, guaranteeing the essential services Australians rely on, getting children back in school, keeping Australians safe and taking care of our country.

GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES TODAY

  • Prime Minister:
    • 30am eastern – Triple M Townsville
    • 05am eastern – 4CA Cairns
    • 15pm eastern – Press conference
  • Deputy Prime Minister:
    • 10am – ABC Rockhampton
    • 45am – Press conference with AM Landry
  • Minister Sukkar – 7.30am – Sky News
  • Minister Dutton – 10.15am – 2GB
  • Ministers Littleproud and Gee – 11am – Press conference

FOCUS OF MORNING MEDIA

  • Widespread coverage of Daryl Maguire’s testimony to ICAC yesterday, including the SMH (p1) reporting a former staff member who told a corruption inquiry she was instructed to delete material from his electorate and parliamentary offices is now working for Michael McCormack
  • Several outlets report Greg Hunt has urged Daniel Andrews to adopt the model followed by NSW and ease coronavirus restrictions to protect residents’ mental health
  • The Herald Sun says troops were offered to support hotel quarantine in every state in an email sent by a senior federal official just hours after the scheme was agreed by the national cabinet. The email, obtained by the Herald Sun, is the latest piece of evidence contradicting Daniel Andrews’ repeated claim that he did not believe Defence Force support was on offer for Victoria
  • The SMH says the Coalition and Labor have started pre-election campaigning over $130 billion worth of personal income tax cuts as signs grow last week’s budget has been warmly embraced by consumers
  • The SMH says despite more than 11,000 home builders and renovators applying for the federal government’s HomeBuilder grant scheme just 780 have got their hands on the cash
  • Breakfast TV: Fears NSW is on the verge of another COVID spike; WA’s chief medical office has said several states around the country have already met health requirements for travel bubbes to be put in place; Previews of today’s unemployment figures; Daryl Maguire facing a second day of ICAC questioning; Residents in Shepparton has lined up for hours to have a COVID test; Premier Andrews’ electorate office has been vandalised overnight
  • Morning radio: Daryl Maguire to face ICAC again today; NSW to delay the easing of restrictions due to a rise in community transmissions; ADF assisting with Shepparton cluster

KEY ISSUES TODAY


Our Budget sees Government as a catalyst for the recovery, not the solution. Our political opponents always see Government has the solution. They will always seek to spend more, they will always seek to tax more.

FEDERAL BUDGET 

  • Our Economic Recovery Plan for Australia will create jobs, rebuild our economy and secure Australia’s future.
  • The Australian economy is now fighting back. More than half of those who lost their job are back at work.
  • While there remains a monumental task ahead, there is much hope.  Because Australia is up to the task. This week, we embark as a nation on the next phase of our journey.
  • A journey to rebuild our economy and secure Australia’s future.
  • Our plan will grow the economy. Our plan will create jobs. Our plan will continue to guarantee the essential services Australians rely on.
  • Without increasing taxes and putting unnecessary burdens on the Australian people.
  • We owe it to the next generation to ensure a strong economy so that their lives are filled with the same opportunities and possibilities we have enjoyed.
  • We will do this by:
    • Supporting nearly half a million young Australians with a new JobMaker hiring credit
    • Investing a record amount in skills and training to make sure Australians have the skills they need to get a job.
    • Supporting our manufacturing industry to build our sovereign capability and help create jobs
    • Incentivising business to invest in their business, creating more economic activity and more jobs.
    • Providing tax relief for more than 11 million hard working Australians, to put more money in their pockets to spend in small businesses across the country and help create jobs.
    • Investing more in infrastructure now to create more jobs.
  • Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has provided $257 billion in direct economic support to cushion the blow and strengthen the recovery.
  • The 2020-21 Budget commits a further $98 billion including, $25 billion in direct COVID-19 response measures and $74 billion in new measures to create jobs.
  • Under our plan, the economy is forecast to grow by 4¼ per cent next calendar year and unemployment is expected to fall to 6½ per cent by the June quarter 2022.
  • The Government’s economic support since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and will continue to support households and businesses through the recovery.
  • Without the Government’s economic support, the unemployment rate would have risen, and remained, above 12 per cent throughout 2020-21 and 2021-22.

IF ASKED – The Budget doesn’t do enough for women

  • Every measure in the Budget is a measure not just for Australian women, but for all Australians
  • Already, 57 per cent of women who lost their jobs during the crisis have returned to the workforce.
  • Our $240 million Women’s Economic Security Statement is also supporting initiatives to close the pay gap, offer greater flexibility for families and back future leaders

IF ASKED – Support for older workers

  • The Restart programme is the Government’s wage subsidy that encourages businesses to employ mature age job seekers, who have been on income support for six months or more.
  • Employers can receive up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) if they hire a job seeker aged 50 years or older for 12 months.
  • The Restart Wage Subsidy has helped over 50,000 Australians get a job in recent years.
  • In addition to Restart, there are several other wage subsidies available for job seekers over 35 years of age, if eligible, including subsidies for:
    • long-term unemployed people who complete 12 months in employment services: up to $6,500;
    • Indigenous people who complete six months in employment services: may get immediate access to wage subsidies of up to $10,000;
    • parents who have completed six months in employment services: up to $6,500; and
    • mature aged apprentices, there is an incentive payment of $4,000 to an eligible employer of an adult Australian Apprentice once the apprentice has successfully completed 12 months of training.

IF ASKED – JobSeeker support

  • The fact is almost all JobSeeker recipients — more than 90 per cent — have been receiving another benefit, including rent assistance, family tax benefit or the energy supplement
  • No one is saying it’s easy to get by without a job which is why the Morrison Government is absolutely focused on helping unemployed Australians be work ready and creating jobs so working age Australians have the opportunity to gain financial independence.
  • As the Treasurer has said, “Both the Prime Minister and I have been very clear that we’re leaning in to ensure continued support for people on JobSeeker”

BUDGET DEBT AND DEFICIT

  • Labor wrote the rulebook for what NOT to do – we are not repeating their mistakes.
  • The budget shows that 90% of additional spending is happening this year and next year.
  • What happened during the GFC is it was not targeted, proportional or temporary – they baked in spending for a decade.
  • The then Labor Government was still putting money into school halls 5 years after the GFC and many have now closed.

TAX RELIEF

  • On Friday we legislated to put more money in people’s pockets by bringing forward Stage 2 of our tax plan as well as a one off $1080 offset for low and middle income earners:
    • First, the low income tax offset will provide up to $255 in tax relief as it increases from $445 to $700.
    • Second, the top threshold of the 19 per cent bracket will increase from $37,000 to $45,000. This will provide up to $1,080 in tax relief.
    • Third, the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent bracket will increase from $90,000 to $120,000. This prevents average income earners from facing higher marginal tax rates in the future and provides tax relief of up to $1,350.
  • The tax relief is worth an additional $17.8 billion, including $12.5 billion over the next 12 months.
  • Treasury estimates that reducing the personal income tax burden on hard-working Australians will boost GDP by around $3.5 billion in 2020‑21 and $9 billion in 2021-22 and will create an additional 50,000 jobs by the end of 2021-22.

IF ASKED – When will tax relief hit bank accounts?

  • The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will update its schedules next week, with software payroll companies to update over the coming weeks, to get more money into the pockets of hard-working Australians as quickly as possible

LABOR SPLIT ON TAX RELIEF

  • These tax cuts mean that if you’re earning $50,000 dollars a year, then you will be paying 30 cents on every extra dollar you earn, not 32.5 cents.
  • These tax cuts are designed to ensure that 94 per cent of Australians won’t pay more than 30 cents in the dollar in tax.
  • This is just a reheat of Bill Shorten’s higher taxing agenda from the last election.
  • As the PM said, “…what you can always know from Labor, when you hear that they want to spend more, always know that they want to tax you more. That’s how it works with Labor.”

CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

FAST FACTS

Our focus is on saving lives and saving livelihoods

Detailed information and Q&A on the government’s coronavirus actions and initiatives are available in the document distributed via CoalitionFYI each morning – latest available by clicking here

COVID-19:

·         National Cabinet will meet next on October 16.

·         A 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line is available 1800 020 080.

·         Other resources include www.australia.gov.au, the Australian Government’s Coronavirus app and aus.gov.au/whatsapp.

ROAD OUT: National Cabinet has established a framework to gradually remove baseline restrictions to enable Australians to live in a COVID-19 safe economy. Individual states and territories will determine the timeframe for graduating between steps and individual restrictions to remove.

COVIDSafe APP: The COVIDSafe app is working and being used by state health officials as part of contact tracing. It is an important public health initiative that will help keep you, your family, and your community safe from further spread of coronavirus through early notification by health officials of possible exposure.

ECONOMY: Our government sees business at the centre of the economy, not the government. On the other side of the virus, we will need economic policy measures that are pro growth, encourage business to employ people, enable business to invest. Treasury data shows every extra week the current restrictions remain in place, is a $4 billion hit to the economy.

SCHOOLS: National Cabinet agrees with the medical expert advice (from AHPPC) that schools can be open and they agreed schools would progressively re-open to face-to-face learning, at the choosing of each state and territory, relevant to their health advice and particular local situation.

AGED CARE: We continue to work with states and territories to protect our most vulnerable senior Australians in aged care. We have provided more than $1.5 billion funding to assist Senior Australians in aged care during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This includes boosting quality and safety monitoring, support for retaining the care workforce, providing an additional surge workforce, assistance to the sector with additional costs and providing unlimited resources to Covid-19 impacted facilities, funding to support older Australians stay at home and funding for a Victorian Aged Care response centre..

JOBKEEPER: Payments are rolling out for the $100 billion JobKeeper program. It includes $1,500 per fortnight wage subsidy for 3.5 million Australians. Payments will be facilitated through the ATO for businesses that register. There will be a review in June as planned.

JOBSEEKER: The Government has temporarily expanded eligibility to income support payments and established a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight on top of fortnightly payments.

MENTAL HEALTH: The Australian Government is continuing to take action to help Australians whose mental health and wellbeing is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing an additional $48.1 million to support the Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan presented to the National Cabinet last week. The package supports the three immediate priorities of the Plan: Data and modelling, Outreach, Connectivity.

AVIATION: Qantas and Virgin Australia Groups will operate a minimum domestic network servicing metropolitan and regional routes after a $165 million investment from the Federal Government. Our objective is to ensure there are two commercially viable airlines and we will be engaging with Virgin’s administrator.

UNEMPLOYMENT: It remains the case that in the absence of the JobKeeper program, Treasury expects the unemployment rate would have been around 5 percentage points higher. Treasury continues to expect the unemployment rate to reach around 10 per cent, although as indicated by the Labour Force survey, the measured level of the unemployment is highly uncertain given the impact of social distancing restrictions on the participation rate.

COMMERCIAL RENT RELIEF: States and territories are implementing a mandatory Code of Conduct to impose a set of good faith leasing principles that will apply to commercial tenancies (including retail, office and industrial) between owners/operators/other landlords and tenants. Details of the code are below.

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES: National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus. Residential tenancies will be dealt with by each state and territory.

CHILD CARE: As Australians return to work, businesses re-open and children return to classroom learning, the Government will resume the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) to support families to access affordable child care.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT: Temporary changes to the foreign investment review framework require approval for all foreign investments, regardless of value.

TEMPORARY VISA HOLDERS: Those who are unable to support themselves over the next six months, either through work, savings or access to superannuation are strongly encouraged to return home.

SUPERANNUATION: The Government is allowing individuals in financial stress, as a result of the coronavirus, to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

DEFENCE: The ADF has been providing support including contact tracing, planning assistance, and assisting police with mandatory quarantine arrangements for international air arrivals.

HIGHER EDUCATION: The cost to study online course for six months across universities and private providers will be slashed, opening up training for new jobs in nurses, teaching, health and IT.

The latest National Cabinet statement can be accessed here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-08may20

BUDGET REPLY – AGED CARE

  • Labor is missing in action when it comes to supporting the age care sector and the needs of senior and vulnerable Australians.
  • It went to the last election with $387 billion in new tax proposals and not a single additional dollar for home care, aged care quality or workforce and nothing for mainstream residential care.
  • Last night’s Budget Response offered little more than rhetoric – no commitment to fund home care, no support for staff and nothing for quality and safety.
  • The Morrison Government has provided record funding into aged care, including tripling the number of home care packages since we came to Government from 60,308 packages in 2013 to 185,597 during this financial year.
  • The 2020–21 Budget includes:
    • The delivery of 23,000 additional home care packages at a cost of $1.6 billion in addition to the 6,105 packages announced in July at a cost of $325.7 million;
    • More than $746 million in aged care COVID-19 response measures as part of the $1.6 billion in COVID-19 specific support in aged care; and
    • The Investment of $408.5 million for aged care reform initiatives to improve the quality of care, further respond to the urgent issues raised by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and lay the foundations for future reform.
  • Labor’s only strength is its ability to deliver spin while the Morrison Government continues to make the quality care of senior Australians a priority.

AGED CARE RESPONSE CENTRE PREPAREDNESS

  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre is a joint operation of the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments.
  • It continues to work with the Australian Department of Health, DHHS and the Public Health Unit, as well as the Aged Care Quality and Safety Committee and independent Older Persons Advocacy Network to support Victorian residential aged care facilities in improving infection prevention and control approaches and understanding personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements.
  • All metropolitan and regional Victorian RACFs are aligned with a local health services Hub network with the intention that the Hub will be able to provide an immediate, coordinated and intensive response to an outbreak of COVID-19 within the facility.
  • Each Hub network has a nominated lead who coordinates the response from the services within their geographic area in consultation with the Response Centre and members of the DHHS Public Health Unit. Initially the Hubs were focused on the coordination of the response within individual RACFs but this has moved to a preventative and supportive role as the number of active outbreaks has fallen.
  • In addition to the Response Centre and roll out of the hub network to streamline and coordinate aged care resources across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, the Australian Government has welcomed all six recommendations of the Royal Commission Special COVID report and will report to Parliament on the implementation of these recommendations – including working with Victoria and other jurisdictions by 1 December 2020.
  • The Commonwealth has over-arching funding agreements in place with states to manage COVID-19 – and Victoria is responsible for the PHU’s and their individual funding arrangements.

VICTORIAN RESTRICTIONS 

  • Easing restrictions in Victoria in a COVIDsafe way is vitally important so that more Victorians can get back to work and resume their normal lives.
  • We note that at similar case levels NSW was fundamentally open while remaining Covidsafe due to a world class contact tracing facility.
  • As many epidemiologists have encouraged, we would support Victoria in reviewing the trigger of five and zero cases with regards to the third and last steps.
  • As it stands this lockdown is already longer than that faced by residents in many cities around the world. We remain deeply concerned about the mental health impacts of a prolonged lock down on Melbourne residents.
  • The Morrison Government has already delivered more than $27 billion in economic support to Victorians during this crisis and we have extended JobKeeper for another six months which is estimated to see an additional $16.8 billion be paid to Victorians in the December and March quarters.
  • The Government will continue to support Victorians during these challenging times.

AGED CARE SPOT CHECKS

  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has been continuously engaged with regulatory activity across the sector throughout the pandemic.
  • Its program includes targeted visits based on assessed risk, building on universal surveys, existing regulatory intelligence, and visits.
  • Adjustments to the Commission’s regulatory program were made to minimise infection risks and focus additional effort on areas of risk to ensure providers were doing everything possible to keep aged care consumers safe.
  • From 1 March to 2 October 2020, the Commission has issued 22 Notice To Agree.
  • Nationally, there has been 899 infection control spot checks as part of the Infection Control Monitoring Program for the same period outside the normal regulatory monitoring visits.
  • It complements over 12,000 non-site contacts the Commission has made since the beginning of March 2020, which include telephone assessments and the two cycles of self-assessment preparedness surveys completed and submitted by every residential aged care service and home service provider nationally.
  • The Commission will receive more than $358 million over the forward estimates from the Australian Government to undertake its critical regulatory work, and has received additional funding this year during COVID-19, including $9 million as recently as August.
  • Labor has failed to show it has any plan to reinforce the critical work of the independent regulator.
  • Furthermore, the Commission was not fully independent, and unannounced re-accreditation visits didn’t even exist under previous Labor governments

OTHER KEY TOPICS

MINISTER SUKKAR ALLEGATIONS

  • As the Minister has said, “I deny any association with the misuse of parliamentary resources, and note I have recently been cleared by the Department of Finance’s independent review.”

HOUSING – HOMEBUILDER

  • State and territory Revenue offices have received around 11,400 HomeBuilder applications.
  • Formal applications for HomeBuilder grants have been forecast to accelerate when construction milestones are reached making grants eligible to be paid.
    • The $25,000 payments are not typically made until after foundations are laid for new builds, which requires council approval and can be a lengthy process
  • Given the construction industry’s long project lead times this level of applications was not expected until November.
  • HomeBuilder is delivering on its objective of stimulating demand in the residential construction sector.
  • HIA New Home Sales data in the three months to August 2020 show new home sales have risen 61.3 per cent compared to the previous quarter.
  • Further, August 2020 ABS Building Approvals data shows private sector house approvals are at their highest level since February 2019 with over 9,000 approvals recorded.

CHILD CARE

  • In 2020-21, the Government will pay approximately $9 billion in Child Care Subsidy (CCS) payments. Due to the means-tested nature of the subsidy, families who have lost income or work during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to use care will receive a higher level of subsidy.
  • The Government has provided an additional $900 million during the COVID-19 pandemic to support families and to keep child care providers open and viable.
  • And it worked, with 99 per cent of the 13,400 child care services nationally operational and supporting families with access to child care.
  • The relaxation of the activity test for Australian families whose activity level has been impacted by COVID-19 has been extended to 4 April 2021. This will support eligible families whose employment has been impacted as a result of COVID-19. Families are able to access up to 100 hours per fortnight of subsidised care during this period.
  • The CCS is designed to provide the most support to the families that earn the least. Families on low incomes are entitled to a subsidy up to 85 per cent of fees, up to the hourly rate cap.
  • 90% of families using approved child care were entitled to a CCS rate of between 50 and 85% (March quarter 2020).
  • Under the CCS, out-of-pocket costs were less than $5 per hour per child for the parents of 71.4 per cent of children in centre based day care in the March quarter 2020. Out-of-pocket costs were less than $2 per hour per child for the parents of nearly 24.0 per cent of children in centre based day care.
  • Our child care package supported families during an all-time high women’s workforce participation – 61.5% in January 2020 (up from 58.7% in September 2013).
  • A recent Parent Survey suggests the CCS has increased female activity levels. The proportion of female parents reporting more than 48 hours of activity per fortnight rose from 56% prior to the introduction of the Package to 63% in November 2019 – a 7 percentage point (pp) increase.
  • To make child care free on an ongoing basis would be a fundamental shift in the way early education and care is supported in Australia and would cost taxpayers around an additional $6 billion per annum.
  • The Productivity Commission’s Childcare and Early Childhood Learning Inquiry Report 2015 concluded that making child care expenses tax deductible would be inequitable, providing greater benefits to high income families compared to those on middle and lower incomes. The report also indicated tax deductibility would be less effective in increasing workforce participation compared to other approaches.

IF ASKED – Labor’s approach

  • Labor are baking in additional expenditure into the Budget with no plan to pay for it – an increase of $6 billion for childcare over four years.
  • Under Labor, child care fees increased by 53% and their new proposal would see higher income earners get 5 x as much extra support as lower income earners
  • In contrast, our Child Care Subsidy is working.

COMMONWEALTH INTEGRITY COMMISSION

  • The Government remains committed to establishing the Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) and will progress to the next steps with the release of draft legislation as soon as possible after the more immediate priorities concerning the management of the COVID recovery have been dealt with.
  • That commitment has been demonstrated in last week’s budget in which we provided for stage 1 of the new Integrity Commission being the expansion of the jurisdiction of ACLEI to cover four new agencies: the Australian Taxation Office, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The budget allocated $9.9 million and an additional 38 ASL to ACLEI to fund the expanded jurisdiction.
  • The draft legislation to establish the CIC was ready for release before the global economic and health crisis caused by the coronavirus.
  • The draft legislation is the result of more than 12 months of detailed planning to ensure the new body has both the resources and power that it needs to investigate allegations of criminal corruption across the public sector.
  • It will also be properly funded with $106.7m of new money allocated to it – compared to the $58.7m that Labor budgeted for.
  • The CIC will have greater investigatory powers than a Royal Commission.
  • However, it is also important that these powers are employed judiciously so that we avoid some of the worst mistakes of state-based integrity commissions, which have resulted in multiple instances of unjust and irreparable harm to the reputations of innocent people due to a lack of appropriate checks and balances in their processes and operation.
  • The model backed by Labor does nothing to address these concerns and would unfairly expose innocent people to significant reputational harm.

IF ASKED – Senator Rennick’s comments on Sky 

  • Senator Rennick has since clarified his comments by saying: “To clarify, I don’t support integrity commission models that repeat the many notable failures of the NSW ICAC. The Government policy aims to address many of these problems and I will look closely at the legislation once it is released”.

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