The government will announce massive changes to private health insurance today. They’re trying to encourage young people to pick up health insurance to take pressure off Medicare. There’ll be discounts of up to 10% for under thirties. Any insured patient entering a hospital with a mental health issue will be able to immediately upgrade their cover. The government has also faced tough negotiation with medical device suppliers, and will mandate price cuts for procedures such as replacement hips and pacemakers. Commentary and debate over the changes will dominate the news over the coming months (or at least, that’s what the government would like).
Tony Abbott was in trouble again this week. While in London, he visited a climate change skeptic think tank and said that policies to combat climate change were like “primitive people … killing goats to appease the volcano gods”. He said the settled science of climate change was absolute crap, and that climate change, overall, was probably doing good. He suggested that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was actually helping to green the planet and produce more crops. (The author of the study he’s citing has specifically said this doesn’t mean climate change is a positive for the planet. According to him, the negative effects of rising sea waters, tropical storms and the killing of ocean life far out-weigh any benefits.)
Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister and one of Abbot’s colleagues, has called him out on the comments and says he needs to explain himself. When he was PM, after all, he had a different position. In fact, he signed Australia up to the Paris climate agreement, saying Australia needed to lower its carbon emissions. All of this is happening while the Turnbull government is still yet to set a clean energy target, despite recommendations from the nation’s scientific advisors. In fact, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg made comments to an energy summit this week that indicated the government is unlikely to set a clean energy target at all. We’ll take a deep dive into the Liberal National Party’s internal troubles, and particularly the mischief making Tony Abbott, on Tuesday. In the meantime, check out our deep dives on climate change and Aussie energy policy.
Popular independent senator Nick Xenophon is leaving federal politics to run in the upcoming South Australian election. The party is particularly popular in its home state. Now that Xenophon has announced he’ll be running for the State Parliament, it is likely that neither the Labor or Liberal Party will win enough seats to have a ruling government. Instead, Nick Xenophon will hold the balance of power. He will be replaced by another party member in the Federal Senate, where the Xenophon team hold three seats and have already influenced the federal government significantly, most recently on the media reform package.
We did a deep dive into the crisis in Spain on this week. Catalonia is demanding independence from Spain. The President of Catalonia has said he’ll suspend any action in the coming weeks to work on a dialogue with the Spanish government. But the government has hit back hard, giving the Catalonian government a week to back away from independence, or else the Spain would assert control over the region. Catalonia would likely see this as an invasion.
Hundreds of refugees are refusing to leave the Manus Island Detention Centre, which is scheduled to close at the end of this month. Despite the Australian government spending millions of dollars to build new housing in the nearby town of Lorengau, many refugees have said they’re simply not safe in town, saying the government will persecute them. Many are applying to transfer to the US. The government has offered to move these refugees to Nauru, Australia’s other off shore detention centre. Once again, Australia is drawing wide spread criticism for its policies. Check out our deep dive here.
Immensely powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein is now facing dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. His poor behaviour is one of Hollywood’s worst kept secrets, but in the last week his actions have drawn public outcries from Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Meryl Streep. He faces criminal investigation.
Donald Trump has challenged his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to an IQ test. It was leaked that Tillerson called Trump a ‘fucking moron’ in private meetings. Trump continues to criticise Puerto Rico, who have said Trump has spectacularly failed to provide support to the country in the wake of a disastrous hurricane. He’s also issued an executive order to weaken health insurance plans that are under the Affordable Care Act put in by Obama. If Trump had his way, he’d get rid of the Act completely, but his recent attempts to do this in Congress failed.
The NSW Government passed a historic bill this week. The Aboriginal Languages Bill will appoint an independent panel of Aboriginal Language experts to establish a new language centre to preserve indigenous languages. About 1,800 people speak an indigenous language in NSW. (Find out more about indigenous affairs in Australia here.)
The Socceroos kept their World Cup dreams alive this week by defeating Syria.
We’ll be back with a deep dive into the LNP on Tuesday. Photo at the top of Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott by Lukas Coch.
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