Tag: Scott Morrison

Australia’s defence boost to counter rising Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific region

0-2
Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the media. Photo: Facebook Live

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 1 July 2020: The reason behind Australia’s decision to strengthen its defense spending, with $ 270 billion including acquiring $ 800 m worth AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles from the United States, Dr. Pradeep Taneja, Deputy Head of Social & Political Sciences, Melbourne University says is to counter, “The shifting balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region because of the rising power of China and it asserting it. And being the second biggest military power in the world.”

Another factor, Pradeep feels, “is Australia asserting independence by being self-reliant in defense matters, while maintaining its strategic alliance with the United States.”

In the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, announced today, the Morrison Government signals a key change in Australia’s defense posture, as it prioritizes the Indo-Pacific region.
 
The update provides a new plan to tackle Australia’s defense challenges while increasing investment and personnel across the entire Australian Defence Force.

The announcement comes amidst the recent tensions between Australia and China, its largest trading partner. Australia’s COVID-19 international inquiry support, China increasing tariffs on imports of Australian Barley and the recent hacking alert by Canberra seems to have tightened up relations between the two countries. Plus, Beijing’s troubles with the Trump administration and Australia being a US ally, does not cut ice with China.

In his media update, PM Scott Morrison when talking about “country’s interests in a changing global environment”, did not mention China, but it was obvious to which country he was referring to.

Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds said, “Defence thinking, strategy, and planning have shifted gears to respond to our constantly changing and deteriorating strategic and defense environment.”

PM announces National COVID-19 Coordination Commission to advice on economic challenges ahead

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 25 March 2020: Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced at a nationally televised media conference in the morning the creation of a new National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) that will coordinate advice to the Australian Government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Commission will give the Government the most comprehensive advice to meet the challenges ahead to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus and help build a bridge to recovery.

“This is about working cooperatively across private-to-private and public-to-private networks to unlock resources, break bottlenecks and fix problems so Australian families, businesses and communities are supported through the challenging months ahead, ” the PM said.

Mr. Neville Power who has been appointed the Chairman and an Executive Board of Commissioners will advise the Prime Minister on all non-health aspects of the pandemic response. The Board will work in tandem with the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Brendan Murphy, who continues to lead the Commonwealth’s health response.

The National COVID-19 Commission Executive Board includes leaders across the private and not-for-profit sectors: Mr. Greg Combet AM, Ms. Jane Halton AO, Mr. Paul Little AO, Ms. Catherine Tanna and Mr. David Thodey AO (Deputy Chair).

They will be joined by the Secretaries of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr. Philip Gaetjens and Home Affairs, Mr. Mike Pezzullo.

The National Cabinet, comprising State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers, continues to lead the national response at a government level. The Australian Government’s National Security Committee of Cabinet’s COVID-19 Taskforce and the Expenditure Review Committee of Cabinet continue to make decisions that determine the Commonwealth’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

A media release from the PM office says, “The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission is about mobilizing a whole-of-society and whole-of-economy effort so we come through this unprecedented health crisis. The Commission will assist the Government to ensure all resources are marshaled to this vital task in a coordinated and effective manner.

At all times, our actions are guided by the best possible medical advice, while putting the economic and social wellbeing of all Australians front and center of our response.

The NCCC will be based in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The existing National Coordination Mechanism-based in the Department of Home Affairs, which coordinates the cross-jurisdictional response to non-health aspects of the pandemic, will report to the Commission, as will the Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit based in the Treasury Department.”

$17.6 b economic stimulus to counter coronavirus challenges

pm-stimulus_1

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 12 March 2020: The Morrison Government today announced a $17.6 billion economic plan to keep Australians in jobs, keep businesses in business and support households and the Australian economy as the world deals with the significant challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus.

The package has four parts:

- Supporting business investment;
- Providing cash flow assistance to help the small and medium-sized business to stay in business and keep their employees in
jobs;
- Targeted support for the most severely affected sectors, regions, and communities and
- Household stimulus payments that will benefit the wider economy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as part of the plan up to 6.5 million individuals and 3.5 million businesses would be directly supported by the package.

“Just as we have acted decisively to protect the health of the Australian people, based on the best evidence and medical advice, our support package responds to the economic challenges presented by this pandemic in a timely, proportionate and targeted way,” the Prime Minister said.

“Our plan will back Australian households with a stimulus payment to boost growth, bolster domestic confidence and consumption, reduce cash flow pressures for businesses and support new investments to lift productivity.

“Australia is not immune to the global coronavirus challenge but we have already taken steps to prepare for this looming international economic crisis.

“We’ve balanced the budget and managed our economy so we can now use this to protect the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of Australians.

“Our targeted stimulus package will focus on keeping Australians in jobs and keeping businesses in business so we can bounce back strongly.

“The economy needs temporary help right now to bounce back better so the livelihoods of all Australians are protected.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Australia is approaching the economic challenge from the Coronavirus from a position of strength with IMF and the OECD both forecasting Australia to grow faster than comparable countries including the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, and France.

“Our plan keeps businesses operating, supports jobs and provides a stimulus to households,” the Treasurer said.

“The Government has worked hard over the last six and a half years to return the budget to balance so we have the flexibility to respond to the serious economic challenges posed by the Coronavirus.”

“Given Australia’s strong economic and fiscal position, the international credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s indicated that temporary stimulus would be “unlikely to strain Australia’s creditworthiness.

“In our response, we have been very careful not to repeat the mistakes of previous stimulus programs and not undermine the structural integrity of the budget.

“Today’s announcement will provide the support businesses need to stay in business and keep Australians in a job.

“By acting decisively this package will put Australia in the strongest possible position to deal with the economic challenges we face and to make sure our economy bounces back even stronger.”

Delivering support for business investment

$700 million to increase the instant asset write off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. For example, assets that may be able to be immediately written off are a concrete tank for a builder, a tractor for a farming business, and a truck for a delivery business.
$3.2 billion to back business investment by providing a time-limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct an additional 50 percent of the asset cost in the year of purchase.
These measures start today and will support over 3.5 million businesses (over 99 percent of businesses) employing more than 9.7 million employees or 3 in every 4 workers. The measures are designed to support business sticking with an investment they had planned and encouraging them to bring investment forward to support economic growth over the short term.

Cash flow assistance for businesses

$6.7 billion to Boost Cash Flow for Employers by up to $25,000 with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible small and medium-sized businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff, between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020. The payment will be tax-free. This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people. Businesses will receive payments of 50 percent of their Business Activity Statements or Instalment Activity Statement from 28 April with refunds to then be paid within 14 days.
$1.3 billion to support small businesses to support the jobs of around 120,000 apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 percent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice.

Stimulus payments to households to support growth

$4.8 billion to provide a one-off $750 stimulus payment to pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession cardholders. Around half of those that will benefit are pensioners. The payment will be tax-free and will not count as income for Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments. There will be one payment per eligible recipient. If a person qualifies for the one-off payment in multiple ways, they will only receive one payment.
Payments will be from 31 March 2020 on a progressive basis, with over 90 percent of payments expected to be made by mid-April.

Assistance for severely-affected regions

$1 billion to support those sectors, regions, and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture, and education. This will include the waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Commonwealth National Parks. It will also include additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains. Targeted measures will also be developed to further promote domestic tourism. Further plans and measures to support recovery will be designed and delivered in partnership with the affected industries and communities.
The Government is also offering administrative relief for certain tax obligations, including deferring tax payments up to four months. This is similar to relief provided following the bushfires for taxpayers affected by the coronavirus, on a case-by-case basis. The ATO will set up a temporary shopfront in Cairns within the next few weeks with dedicated staff specializing in assisting small businesses. In addition, the ATO will consider ways to enhance its presence in other significantly affected regions to make it easier for people to apply for relief, including considering further temporary shop fronts and face-to-face options.

Source: Media Release, PM of Australia.

Scott Morrison sets up Taskforce in ‘response against foreign interference’

pm-office-pics-3-web-final_1_0
Photo: PM website

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 2 December: The Federal Government has decided to set up an $87.8 million new taskforce aimed to counter foreign interference and deter anyone attempting to undermine the country’s national interests. The announcement comes after Australian media reports of rising Chinese interference in Australia, though the media release today from the PM’s Press Office in Canberra, does not mention China or any other country.

A report in Guardian Australia says,” The Chinese government has dismissed allegations of espionage in Australia – including plans to install a pro-Beijing plant in parliament – as “nothing but lies”, insisting “China doesn’t interfere in other countries’ internal affairs”.

Dr. Pradeep Taneja, a specialist in Asian Politics in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne says, “Judging by media reports, Australian intelligence agencies believe that foreign interference activity in Australia is at an unprecedented level. In political terms, this has already translated into more funding and new powers for intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

While I have no reason not to believe the claims of intelligence agencies, the evidence presented so far is less than overwhelming. As taxpayers, we have the right to see evidence in the form of prosecutions and convictions under these laws. Perhaps the new Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce will gather that evidence and present it before the Australian public.”

“The Taskforce will work into the National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator that we established last year in the Department of Home Affairs and expand the resources the Coordinator has at their fingertips. It will be led by a senior ASIO officer and bring together a new team of Australian Federal Police investigators and representatives from AUSTRAC, the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation. The Office of National Intelligence will also support the Taskforce.

The new dedicated capability of the Taskforce will also increase the collaboration and streamline the decision-making between agencies, and strengthen Australia’s analysis of the sophisticated disinformation activities happening across the world, particularly against democratic processes and elections,” says the media release.

Scott Morrison to visit India in January 2020

imageedit_76_9306091535
Photo: theinterpretor, Lowy Institute

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 4 October: Australia’s Prime Minister Mr. Scott Morrison will visit India in January 2010. The PM disclosed this in his speech at the Lowy lecture, “In our interest ‘at the Sydney Town Hall on 3 October 2019. He will deliver the inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue during his India visit.

“The visit will be accompanied by a business delegation that I have invited Ashok Jacob, Chair of the Australia-India Council Board, to lead. This will bring Government and business together to pursue our India Economic Strategy that has captured the attention of our Indian partners and must now be realized.
 
My visit will be another step in cementing India in the top tier of Australia’s partnerships,” he said.

The Australian Prime Minister touched many subjects in his address including national security, social cohesion, economy, international engagement, trade, ASEAN, alliance with the US and China among others.

Full text of the address: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/speech-lowy-lecture-our-interest