Saturday 8th of August 2020

swimming with crocodiles in a swamp after escaping a massive bushfire crisis...


Scott Morrison’s opening statement to Parliament’s coronavirus crisis sitting was as dramatic as it was heartfelt.

“Meeting this challenge is bigger than any Australian,” he said on Monday.

“It’s obviously bigger than politics. It is bigger than any of us who are in this chamber, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition … bigger than all of us.”

Few could quibble with Mr Morrison’s depiction of this “once-in a-100-year event” as an economic crisis “the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression”.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese certainly didn’t.

He provided a cast-iron guarantee of an expeditious passage through the Parliament of the health and stimulus measures “sight unseen” and even though in his view “they are not perfect”.

Truth is, such is the anxiety gripping the nation no sane opposition could or would dare stand in the way.

There was sympathy for the Prime Minister’s predicament.

One Liberal said he was “caught in a coronavirus swamp with alligators up to his neck”.

But as Labor’s main parliamentary tactician Tony Burke said in the debate, constructive criticism isn’t designed to add to the fear and panic in the community but rather help a democratic parliament do its job.

At the end of the day Mr Morrison and his Treasurer Josh Frydenberg chose not to accept any of Labor’s amendments, even though they were aimed at broadening the cover of the safety net measures and applying them immediately.

In question time Mr Morrison explained his reluctance in terms of saving some of his fire for when he may need it more.

It’s also an insight on how hard it has been for the PM to pivot from “fiscal rectitude” and the holy grail of a “back-in-the-black budget”.

But Australians should be grateful that unlike the non-Labor parties at the time of the Great Depression, this conservative PM is prepared to embrace debt to save the nation.

Mr Morrison also has no choice but to shut down vast sectors of the economy as he, the premiers and chief ministers – like the boy with his finger in the dyke – tries to stop the flood of the coronavirus swamping the population.

So far it’s a losing battle with the number of people infected doubling every three days and, at that rate, heading above one million victims by Anzac Day.

The argument is over how much debt and how quickly to go deeper into it.

For the hundreds queuing outside Centrelink offices and the 95,000 who crashed the government’s MyGov website on Monday rushing for the just-announced unemployment relief, this hand-wringing is no comfort.

Western Sydney MP Jason Clare gave a stark example of what’s happening.

The Labor MP said 500 people were stood down by Bankstown Sports Club and another 120 made redundant as the forced closure of pubs and clubs bit.

Clare said “that doesn’t count the 300 cleaners and restaurant staff and security workers and contractors there”.


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closed for business, including parliament...

The Federal Government now says a cyber attack was not to blame for the MyGov website falling over this morning as thousands of Australians tried to access Centrelink payments amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Key points:
  • The MyGov website crashed amid unprecedented demand for welfare payments
  • The Government had claimed the system suffered a distributed denial of service attack
  • There were long queues outside Centrelink offices as large parts of the economy shut down to contain coronavirus


Government Services Minister Stuart Robert told Parliament there was no evidence of an attack, mere hours after he claimed a distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber hack had occurred.

The website crashed, and there were long lines outside Centrelink offices around the country, after the Federal Government announced it was closing down large parts of the economy in a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Robert had claimed MyGov buckled under pressure under the twin impacts of the increased demand and the DDoS attack.

"More than 55,000 Australians [were] trying to access [the site] at the same time, as well as the issue we had with the denial of service attack," he said this morning.

He later pulled back on that claim in Parliament, and said the flood of people trying to access the site had triggered alarms which are activated when there is an DDoS attack.

In a DDoS attack, hackers flood a website with users so that the site becomes overloaded. It's the type of attack that was used to bring down the Census website in 2016.

Demand for MyGov services has risen dramatically, with many Australians who have been stood down due to extra coronavirus restrictions seeking access to unemployment benefits.

From midday on Monday thousands of businesses, including pubs, gyms and restaurants, have been told to close their doors.

The Government's $66 billion second-stage stimulus package includes a doubling of dole payments, as it seeks to cushion the economy from the devastating impact of the pandemic.


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It was surreal to see parliament on TV, where the representatives were at an empty seat distance from each others... The number of MP has been reduced in accordance with the "social distancing rule" and the fairness of pairing... Meanwhile the kids still sit next to each others in overcrowded classes... but for how long? 

give them cakes instead...

The long queues outside Centrelink offices around the country today are proof that people are losing their jobs now, as Australia locks down to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. And the wage subsidies offered under the “Boosting Cash Flow for Employers” policy announced by the government yesterday – which will not flow to small and medium enterprises until the end of April – may be too little, too late to stop further job losses. This single initiative accounts for $32 billion of the $66 billion in new stimulus measures unveiled yesterday, and came in for the sharpest criticism from the Opposition during today’s bare-bones parliamentary sitting, which was otherwise conducted in a spirit of constructive non-partisanship. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government is relying on the “unwritten contract” between businesses and their employees who are stood down, that they will be rehired once the pandemic crisis is over. Given the extent of taxpayer assistance being provided to businesses, that is not much of an assurance.

The government will get its package through the parliament, given the Opposition has reiterated it will support the necessary legislation – offering constructive amendments where possible – and that it will pass the supply bills necessary to ensure the government can continue to function until the next federal budget is handed down in October. It is highly unlikely the Senate would block the stimulus spending either, as key Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie signalled in an op-ed [$]. Interestingly, Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick tweeted that the Opposition should be invited to join the prime minister’s historic national cabinet, highlighting the “very fluid #COVID19Aus situation and a need for national unity”. (The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan took the opposite view [$].) In the house today, Anthony Albanese spoke dismissively of the national cabinet as a jumped-up COAG.

The national cabinet certainly put in a Z-grade performance over the weekend, with confusion reigning as NSW and Victoria broke ranks and effectively declared in the hours before last night’s meeting that they would be closing schools no matter what position the prime minister took. The ACT followed suit, and this morning parents were left wondering whether to send their kids to school or not. Frankly, it’s still not clear what is going to happen in schools, and the PM’s defensiveness on the issue is not helping.

However, the main focus of debate in parliament today was the second stimulus package (the PM is already signalling will be followed soon enough by a third). Labor zoomed in on the business cash-flow measures, comparing them harshly with the wage subsidies being offered by the conservative UK government, which will cover up to 80 per cent of salaries temporarily to keep people in their jobs. In Question Time, Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said that, for the median income employee in Australia, two payments of between $10,000 and $50,000 per business will amount to just 20 per cent of their salary, and the payments will only flow at the end of April and at the end of July, after businesses have completed their March and June quarter BAS statements.

The prime minister said that the aim was to help employers “keep as many employees as they can, but with the pledge, and our support to them, that [when] we pass this virus those businesses that have had to stand people down, we’ll stand them back up again on the other side. That they give them that assurance, that they give them that encouragement, as they have to stand staff down – that they commit to do all they can on the other side to stand them back up again. This is the unwritten contract that is being undertaken between employers and employees as we speak.”

There are two prongs to the stimulus spending, in other words: give money to help business with its cash flow, and boost welfare to those who have been made unemployed.

The government claims that by linking the payments to business to staff wage tax withholdings, businesses will be incentivised to hold on to more of their workers. Labor is not convinced. In any case Labor’s criticism is that business needs the cashflow boost right now, not at the end of April, if it is to avoid mass layoffs. As shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said this morning, if the policy mantra during the GFC was to “go early, go hard, go households”, this time it should be “go big, go fast, go jobs and incomes”. For the people lining up at Centrelink, it is already too late.


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It would be a good idea to have a Centrelink cashier giving cash to anyone fronting up at Centrelink with the minimum of fuss:


— Name?

— Jo Blow...

— 500 bucks?

— Make it 650... I have three kids...

— Here, see you next week... Tick... Sign here...

— Thanks mate... You're beaut...

— And here is a free mask and some sanitizer...

— Bonzer!...

— Magic day if it wasn't for this ratchidvirus...

— You can say that again. G'day....

— Bye... Next!