Tax Cuts Under Scrutiny

A few weeks ago, the Aussie government released their budget for 2018 (we did a deep dive), where they set out an ambitious tax plan over ten years. They gave detailed figures for the first stage of the plan, but were scant on details for later stages. The Greens commissioned the Parliamentary Budget Office to do the maths, and they found that the plan will cost $24 billion a year by the end of the decade. That makes it the largest tax cut in Australia’s history. Labor has said they’ll support stage one of the plan, but are silent on the other stages. The Greens are using the numbers to pressure Labor into standing against Turnbull’s plan. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

“It is beyond belief that the Labor Party is even considering supporting the second stage of Turnbull’s personal income tax cuts that will turbocharge economic inequality in Australia and lead to the loss of $80 billion in revenue for our schools, hospitals and essential services,” said Greens leader Richard Di Natale.

Barnaby In Trouble

Barnaby Joyce gave a highly publicised paid interview last weekend. You’ll never guess, but the interview, where he revealed little that wasn’t already known, has only revived the story in national press, and has seen the government’s numbers take a further tumble. The interview did reveal that Barnaby knew of his new partner’s circumstance when he undertook re-election at the end of 2017 as a result of the citizenship crisis, and he knew the scandal would likely cost him his job as leader. Barnaby’s currently on four weeks leave, but his colleagues and others are suggesting he should consider not returning at all. 

A Degree In Western Civilisation

The Australian National University have pulled out of six months of negations with the ‘Ramsay Centre For Western Civilisation’, a large-scale and lucrative body that wanted to fund a new course at ANU in ‘Western Civilisation.’ The Centre has a high-profile board of directors including former Australian Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard. (They are two of the eight directors, all white men bar one woman.) In April, Abbott criticised contemporary university education, saying “every element of the curriculum … pervaded by Asian, Indigenous and sustainability perspectives”.  Further:

 “Almost entirely absent from the contemporary educational mindset was any sense that cultures might not all be equal and that truth might not be entirely relative.”

This comment, as you can imagine, generated some bad press, and the ANU has ended up walking away from the negotiating table, leaving behind billions of dollars.

Big Trouble for NSW Parliament

Another week, another constitutional crisis, this time in the New South Wales Parliament. Early in the week, their upper house voted to censure and possibly expel the leader of the state government over their refusal to release three crucial reports. With no other option, they did. The three documents shed light on three contentious decisions by the NSW government, including reports on care for at risk children, stadium upgrades and moving the Powerhouse Museum from the city of Sydney out to Parramatta. 

Canada And Pot

As I’m writing this, it’s expected that Canada will legalise recreational marijuana use. It’ll be the first G20 country to do so, having already legalised medical cannabis way back in 2001. International leaders are watching to see how the process unfolds. Canadian law-makers have been challenged by the plethora of technical considerations, including how to regulate marketing weed, and how to price it so as to draw people away from the black market but not encourage new users. 

India Dumping Plastic

In one of the most ambitious announcements of its kind, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has announced plans to ban plastic bags by 2022. India joins Kenya, Sri Lanka and China in radical policies designed to reduce waste. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced banning use by 2042, which has been criticised as far too slow – the UK does, however, have a tax on plastic bags. 

Queensland and WA’s plastic bag ban kicks in on July 1. They will join the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania. Victoria is set to phase out their use throughout 2018. NSW is silent on the issue. 

Breast Cancer Break-through

An American woman with advanced breast cancer has been cleared of the disease. Harnessing new immunotherapy, doctors extract immune cells from the patient, fiddle with their genes to help combat the cancer, and re-insert them back into the body. Clinical trials are ongoing with diverse results, but overall the technique is being hailed as a critical breakthrough.

Ebola 2018

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is at an important pivot point in managing the most recent outbreak of Ebola. We did a deep dive earlier in the week. The Trump administration walked back their plans this week to take money away from Ebola-focussed foreign aid. 

Miss America ain’t about the looks

Miss America won’t have a swimsuit component this year, organisers announced on Tuesday. Seven of the nine board of directors are now women, and the board unanimously voted for the move earlier this year. The chairwoman, Gretchen Carlson, has said: “We are not going to judge you on your outwards appearance. We are moving [the pageant] forward and evolving it in this cultural revolution.” 

Kate Spade’s Death

Celebrated fashion designer Kate Spade passed away this week. Known for her line of handbags, the designer passed way from a life-time battle with depression and mental health issues. Social media users posted pictures of her bags in memory. 

“If you’re as honest and fair as you can be, not only in business but in life, things will work out. I hope that people remember me not just as a good businesswoman but as a great friend — and a heck of a lot of fun.” –Kate Spade 

We are taking a rare break next week, but will return shortly.

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Photo at the top courtesy of Guardian Media Services.

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