Good morning, this is Imogen Dewey bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Friday 2 October.
The Morrison government is announcing new tax breaks and deregulation designed to get the economy moving in a Covid world. The government will use next week’s budget to remove the 47% fringe benefits tax impost on the retraining businesses give redundant or redeployed workers, and extend some tax concessions for businesses with a turnover of between $10m and $50m. The new tax concessions will be outlined by the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, on Friday and the government will also telegraph the next steps in its deregulation agenda ahead of the economic statement next Tuesday.
Rio Tinto wrote to the Morrison government last year urging it to act quickly to transfer environmental approval powers to the Western Australia government, before a major review of national environment laws was complete. The letter, obtained by Guardian Australia under freedom of information laws, was written by Rio’s then iron ore chief, Chris Salisbury, one of the executives who stepped down after the company blew up a 46,000-year-old Indigenous heritage site in Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara, and refers to iron ore operations in that same region.
Millions of Australians who lost work during the pandemic and found themselves dependent on jobseeker payments are bracing for pain after “degrading” cuts to the program. Formerly known as Newstart, it included a top-up to unemployment payments, but since 25 September that top-up has been cut by more than half – from $550 a fortnight to $250. For many who have seen their livelihoods and opportunities vanish in the nation’s first recession in three decades, the reduction is disastrous.
Twitter users rarely see or retweet anti-vaccination content generated by bots, a study of millions of tweets found, suggesting the role of bots in spreading vaccine misinformation is limited. The study was led by the University of Sydney’s associate professor Adam Dunn, who said despite growing concern about the influence of bots in spreading misinformation, they appeared to be ineffective when it came to influencing discourse around vaccines. Dunn said while many previous studies into bots examined the number of bots, and who was behind them, it was much more important to measure their impact.
Nationals frontbencher Mark Coulton has declared the controversial Narrabri gas project a winner for his community, despite continuing opposition from landholders, environmentalists and Indigenous traditional owners.
Labor’s Penny Wong has slammed the government for allowing potentially hundreds of foreign citizens paying for business investment visas to enter Australia, arguing they are taking hotel quarantine places away from 28,000 Australians stranded overseas.
John Alexander did not know why James Packer left the Crown Resorts board, a New South Wales inquiry into the company has heard. The billionaire’s one-time right-hand man also said he was unaware of China’s crackdown on soliciting gamblers before Crown staff were arrested.
Freezing public sector wages would cost the Queensland economy $9bn over three years, according to a new economic analysis that warns of the “deeply damaging” results from any austerity measures targeting government workers.
The NSW government has been accused of ignoring pleas for funding from the state’s anti-corruption body, which warned a year ago that a $4m shortfall threatened to have an “immediate and serious” effect on its ability to fight corruption.
Julian Assange’s partner has accused the US of tearing their family apart, and described the bid to extradite him from the UK as “a frontal assault on journalism”, as four weeks of court hearings about his fate were adjourned.
Donald Trump has signalled he would not agree to rules changes for the remaining debates, after the Commission on Presidential Debates said “additional structure” was needed for the events.
Coronavirus cases have doubled in the majority of English cities and towns that are subject to long-term local lockdowns, Guardian analysis has found, amid growing concern that restrictions are confusing and done “on the cheap”.
Authorities in Belgium and another three countries have dismantled a criminal drug trafficking network that allegedly relied on corrupt police officers to ship hundreds of millions of euros’ worth of cocaine into western Europe.
When we woke on the first day of 2020, we knew this year was going to be different, but not quite like this. “It’s been commonly remarked that the pandemic has starkly exposed the existing inequities in our societies,” writes Alison Croggan. “It seems that every problem that has rumbled beneath our feet for the past 60 years has hit crisis point, all at once … Where do I begin?”
Misbehaving private schoolboys, the entire council for the Order of Australia and a travel agent who said Tracy Grimshaw should be “given a firm uppercut” are among the latest winners of the infamous Ernie awards, handed out for sexist conduct. This year’s list has been singled out for their ability to sally forth, even in such unprecedented times, with unusually misogynistic and sexist remarks.
Whether it’s a gentle pinch of the tip, or a full-handed feel of the base, touching an avocado before you buy it is a commonplace grocery store habit. But Suzie Delroy, a second-generation farmer based just outside of Pemberton in southern Western Australia, says this homespun test is in fact a leading cause of bruising. Enter: the spectroscopic machine, which uses infrared technology to scan up to 700 avocados per minute and to check for quality. And, maybe one day, to get us to stop squeezing.
Much of Australia has a climate that allows people to enjoy the outdoors most days of the year, but tough Covid-19 restrictions have limited the use of public space. In this episode of Full Story, Josephine Tovey looks at what’s changing in cities and considers how governments can make public spaces safely accessible for everyone
The last time Australia’s women lost a one day international was during the Women’s Ashes in 2017. Since, they have gone unbeaten through tours to play India and Pakistan, knocked over New Zealand at home, travelled to sweep England and the West Indies, and finished up with Sri Lanka in Australia last season. That took them to 18 in a row, setting a new record in the women’s game. Now with three games against New Zealand from this Saturday, they have a shot at levelling the record for all ODIs.
For Matt White, chief sports director of Australian cycling team Mitchelton-Scott, the Giro d’Italia is more than just a bike race. The Italian Grand Tour – second only to the Tour de France in terms of popularity, and arguably more gruelling – has been part of his life for more than two decades. After coming agonisingly close to overall success in 2016 and 2018, Mitchelton-Scott heads to Italy this weekend hoping it proves third time lucky.
The search continues for a Tasmanian man who went missing on a kayak trip, reports The Mercury. The West Australian says support for premier Mark McGowan is at such an unheard-of high it could set Labor up for a generation. Pubs and clubs in NSW have told the Daily Telegraph planned facial recognition technology could send them broke. And Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have topped the AFR’s politics-heavy power list for 2020.
The Law Council of Australia and Association of Mining and Exploration Companies is due to give evidence at a Senate inquiry into the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters.
The NSW Casino Inquiry hearings into the suitability of Crown Resorts to operate a casino in the state continue.
And if you’ve read this far …
Those wrestling with the great culinary-philosophical dilemmas of our time can give thanks to the Irish supreme court, which ruled this week that Subway bread is not bread. The US chain tried to argue the bread in its giant sandwiches counted as a staple food and was consequently exempt from VAT. Mr Justice O’Donnell, citing (very) high sugar content, disagreed.
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