Australia and India Sign Defence Arrangements

As part of the Australia-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier today, two landmark Defence Arrangements between Australia and India have been established.

The Australia-India Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement and the Defence Science and Technology Implementing Arrangement provide a framework to deepen defence cooperation between the two countries.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said India is a significant security partner for Australia.

“We have a strong shared interest in working together to support a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Minister Reynolds said.

The Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement will enhance military interoperability, enabling increasingly complex military engagement, and greater combined responsiveness to regional humanitarian disasters.

This arrangement paves the way for greater cross-service military activity, building on the success of our most complex exercise to date, AUSINDEX 2019, which focused on anti-submarine warfare.

The Science and Technology Implementing Arrangement will facilitate improved collaboration between our defence science and technology research organisations, both of whom have made important contributions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We now have a solid framework for Indian and Australian defence organisations to enhance our research collaboration and develop defence capabilities that help maintain our technological edge in this era of rapid change and increasing threats,” Minister Reynolds said.

“These arrangements reflect India and Australia’s strong commitment to practical global cooperation. We look forward to being able to recommence engagement in person as soon as circumstances permit.”

Australia and India Sign Critical Minerals Agreement

Australia has taken a significant step towards establishing itself as a reliable supplier of the critical minerals needed to grow India’s manufacturing sector and its defence and space capabilities.

Australia and India today announced a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on critical minerals.

The announcement was a key outcome of the virtual meeting between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to elevate the relationship between the two nations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said India was a key potential market for Australia’s critical minerals.

“My department has worked closely with the Ministry of Mines to develop the MoU, which focuses on avenues to increase trade, investment and R&D in critical minerals between our two countries,” Minister Pitt said.

“The MoU identifies specific areas where Australia and India will work together to meet the raw material demands of the future economy, particularly the increased global demand for critical minerals.

“India presents growing opportunities for Australia’s critical minerals, especially as the nation looks to build its manufacturing sector, defence and space capabilities.”

Australia has the potential to be one of the top suppliers of cobalt and zircon to India, being in the top 3 for global production of these minerals. Australia also has reserves to supply many other critical minerals to India, including antimony, lithium, rare earth elements and tantalum.

“Indian Government policies such as the Make in India program, and its goal of moving to full electric mobility by 2030, are expected to increase Indian demand for critical minerals.”

‘Homebuilder’ Program To Drive Economic Activity Across The Residential Construction Sector

The Morrison Government is supporting jobs in the residential construction sector with the introduction of the new HomeBuilder program.

From today until 31 December 2020, HomeBuilder will provide all eligible owner-occupiers (not just first home buyers) with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. Construction must be contracted to commence within three months of the contract date.

HomeBuilder applicants will be subject to eligibility criteria, including income caps of $125,000 for singles and $200,000 for couples based on their latest assessable income. A national dwelling price cap of $750,000 will apply for new home builds, and a renovation price range of $150,000 up to $750,000 will apply to renovating an existing home with a current value of no more than $1.5 million.

The program is expected to provide around 27,000 grants at a total cost of around $680 million.

This increase in residential construction will help to fill the gap in construction activity expected in the second half of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In doing so, HomeBuilder will help to support the 140,000 direct jobs and another 1,000,000 related jobs in the residential construction sector including businesses and sole-trader builders, contractors, property developers, construction materials manufacturers, engineers, designers and architects.

HomeBuilder complements existing state and territory First Home Owner Grant programs, stamp duty concessions and other grant schemes, as well as the Commonwealth’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and First Home Super Saver Scheme.

This year, the Government delivered the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to help eligible first home buyers to purchase their first home with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent, allowing them to get into the market sooner. HomeBuilder will create even more opportunities for first home buyers to enter the property market, as well as support other eligible Australians to build a new home or renovate an existing home.

The HomeBuilder program will be implemented via a National Partnership Agreement, signed by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.

More information on HomeBuilder, including eligibility, can be found on the Treasury Coronavirus Economic Response website.

‘Homebuilder’ Program To Drive Economic Activity Across The Residential Construction Sector

The Morrison Government is supporting jobs in the residential construction sector with the introduction of the new HomeBuilder program.

From today until 31 December 2020, HomeBuilder will provide all eligible owner-occupiers (not just first home buyers) with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. Construction must be contracted to commence within three months of the contract date.

HomeBuilder applicants will be subject to eligibility criteria, including income caps of $125,000 for singles and $200,000 for couples based on their latest assessable income. A national dwelling price cap of $750,000 will apply for new home builds, and a renovation price range of $150,000 up to $750,000 will apply to renovating an existing home with a current value of no more than $1.5 million.

The program is expected to provide around 27,000 grants at a total cost of around $680 million.

This increase in residential construction will help to fill the gap in construction activity expected in the second half of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In doing so, HomeBuilder will help to support the 140,000 direct jobs and another 1,000,000 related jobs in the residential construction sector including businesses and sole-trader builders, contractors, property developers, construction materials manufacturers, engineers, designers and architects.

HomeBuilder complements existing state and territory First Home Owner Grant programs, stamp duty concessions and other grant schemes, as well as the Commonwealth’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and First Home Super Saver Scheme.

This year, the Government delivered the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to help eligible first home buyers to purchase their first home with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent, allowing them to get into the market sooner. HomeBuilder will create even more opportunities for first home buyers to enter the property market, as well as support other eligible Australians to build a new home or renovate an existing home.

The HomeBuilder program will be implemented via a National Partnership Agreement, signed by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.

More information on HomeBuilder, including eligibility, can be found on the Treasury Coronavirus Economic Response website.

Govt’s spotlight on arts and entertainment welcome

The foreshadowing of a package for the arts and entertainment industry by the PM is welcome, but the devil will be in the detail, the Greens say.

Greens Spokesperson for the Arts Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the arts and entertainment industry has been pleading for Government intervention for months.

“The Prime Minister likes his sport, I hope today’s reports are a sign he’s starting to recognise the arts and entertainment sector is important too. But the devil will be in the detail,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“The arts and entertainment industry was effectively shut down overnight as the first of the social distancing restrictions came in back in March. Finally, some three months later, the PM has now checked his blind spot and started talking about the need for specific industry assistance.

“Backing Australian artists and the entertainment industry is backing Australian jobs and Australian-made products. It’s a no-brainer for the community, jobs and the economy.

“There is a real opportunity here to simulate the economy, put people back into work and create new jobs, not just in arts and entertainment but our hospitality and tourism industries too.

“The Greens have been pushing for a $2.3 billion package to get our artists, musicians, writers, creators, and crews back producing content for our screens, theatres, live music venues, festivals and galleries. Supporting the big players in the industry won’t be enough, there must be help across the board, in our cities and our regions.

“If the government doesn’t come up with the goods, the Greens will move in Parliament next week, to fix the problem.

“Artists, entertainers and creatives have been out in the cold far too long. It’s time the Government gave back to an industry that gives so much to us – our economy, culture and social fabric.”

Attack on media in America to be examined by Senate Press Freedom Inquiry

Chair of the Senate Inquiry into Press Freedoms, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, has vowed to look at the treatment of the press covering the protests in America after a shocking attack by police in Washington DC on a 7 News Australia crew.

“Police and riot squads punching and assaulting journalists who are doing their jobs is simply unacceptable. We have seen footage not just of Australian press being treated this way but local media who have been arrested, shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed and bashed by police across America,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“It’s wrong when it’s happening in Hong Kong and it’s wrong when it’s happening in America.

“Here in Australia we are not immune with police raids on journalists and state and federal governments cracking down on the democratic right to protest, perpetuating a dangerous culture of government shutting down dissent.

“A free press is essential for democracy. This shocking violence towards the media in the USA is an attack on press freedom everywhere.

“A free and open democracy depends on its citizens having access to information and independent reporting of events, activists and behaviour of Government and authorities.”

“As Chair of the Inquiry, I’ll be asking the Committee to look at what has occurred in the US towards the press and what Australia’s response has been.”

LABOR CALLS FOR CAP TO BE LIFTED ON FIRST HOME LOAN DEPOSIT SCHEME

Labor today called on the Federal Government to lift the cap on the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for first home buyers who build new homes.

This will help save the jobs of tradies and help more Australians purchase their first home.

Work in the housing construction industry is about to fall off a cliff and estimates by the Master Builders Association indicate 450,000 tradies jobs could be at risk if the government doesn’t act.

Labor has been calling on the government for 5 weeks for a National Housing Stimulus program to save thousands of jobs.

History shows that stimulating housing has been central to the national recovery from economic shock.

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme currently assists 10,000 first home buyers each financial year to purchase a home with a deposit of as little as five per cent without the need to purchase mortgage insurance.

According to the Minister for Housing, in the first six months of operation the scheme is likely to be fully subscribed and most of the assistance will be provided to first home buyers to purchase existing homes.

We need to provide more support for the construction of new housing to help keep tradies working and off the dole queue.

Labor is therefore calling for the cap to be lifted on the Scheme  for first home buyers who build new homes (subject to the existing income and price caps).

The existing cap of 10,000 would remain in place for first homeowners purchasing existing homes.

This will encourage the construction of more new homes, keep more tradies in work, and increase the nations’ housing stock.

The Master Builders Association, Housing Industry Association and the Urban Development Institute of Australia have all warned the Federal Government that the housing construction industry is about to go off a cliff and have called for an expansion of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.

Almost one million people work in the housing construction industry.

Before COVID-19 hit between 171,000 to 160,000 homes were expected to be built this year.  Now it is predicted to be as low as 100,000.

To help fill this gap Labor has already called on the Government to:

  1. work with state governments, the private sector and superannuation funds to invest in more social and affordable housing and the repair and maintenance existing social housing; and
  2. build more affordable rental housing for the true heroes of the COVID-19 crisis – nurses, cleaners, aged care workers, supermarket workers, bus drivers, and other front-line workers – closer to where they work.

Lifting the cap of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for first home buyers who build new homes is another important measure which should form part of a National Housing Stimulus Plan.

The government needs to stop delaying and help save the jobs of thousands of Aussie tradies.

Update Economic And Fiscal Outlook

The Morrison Government’s economic response to the Coronavirus crisis is providing $259 billion or 13.3 per cent of GDP in support for workers, households and business.

The position of strength from which we entered the crisis together with this unprecedented support has seen the Australian economy perform better than almost every developed economy in the world.

In April, the Government indicated that it would provide an update on the economic and fiscal outlook in June.

Since then, Australia’s continued success in flattening the curve means we have been able to begin reopening our economy more quickly than initially expected.

Treasury has also since commenced its review of the JobKeeper program, which is not expected to be concluded until the end of June.

As a result, the Government has taken the decision to defer the economic and fiscal update to 23 July 2020, so that it can incorporate the outcomes of the JobKeeper review.

Delivering the update in July will also enable the economic and fiscal outlook to take account of progress made under the three step plan outlined by National Cabinet in early May which had the objective of seeing a sustainable COVID safe Australia in July 2020.

The Government will continue to provide updates on the fiscal position through the release of the Australian Government General Government Sector Monthly Financial Statements.

ABS data demands more for women from Government

Today’s ABS Household data survey provides further confirmation that the impacts of COVID crisis are falling disproportionately to women. The Greens are calling on the National Cabinet to ensure that addressing these disparities is at the forefront of any recovery plans.

The ABS results reveal that women are almost three times as likely as men to have looked after their children full-time on their own during the crisis.

The ABS results also confirm reliance on unpaid care work, with one in eight adults taking on additional caring responsibilities for a vulnerable person outside their household because of Covid-19.

Greens Senate Leader and Spokesperson on Women, Senator Larissa Waters, said:

“The health and economic crisis highlights the unequal burden of unpaid care work that has long been carried by women. As we plan our recovery, we must look at better ways to acknowledge the value of care work and give families more options to fairly distribute caring responsibilities.

“Universal free childcare and more flexible workplace arrangements are an essential part of that.”

“The government must invest in recovery in ways that address gender inequality”

Read the ABS’ Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey here:
https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4940.0

Govt-stacked inquiry set for self-congratulations not action on Domestic Violence

The Greens have criticised the Morrison Government’s plans for a stacked inquiry into domestic and family violence, saying more funding is needed for frontline services, not another inquiry which is designed to endorse the government’s inadequate response to the national crisis.

Greens Senate Leader and Spokesperson on Women, Senator Larissa Waters, said:

“Setting up another inquiry is pretty insulting when this Government continues to ignore the findings of previous domestic violence inquiries, and two weeks ago colluded with Labor to shut down a Senate DV inquiry months early with no hearings or recommendations.

“Countless inquiries into DV have been held and the Morrison government keeps ignoring the recommendations.

“With 23 women killed by violence in Australia so far this year, it’s time the government took action and properly funded frontline services so no survivor is turned away.”

“Sending this urgent issue to another inquiry, to a Committee which is government-dominated and excludes the Senate, shows the Government is desperate to sing its own praises because nobody else is.

“The Government has allocated just $150 million from the $1.1 billion package to addressing domestic and family violence – that is pittance when violence is at epidemic levels.

“This Government should not expect praise for promising miniscule funding increases that do not meet increased service demand and withholding the billions needed for effectively tackling domestic and family violence.

“The proposed terms of reference also ignore the difficulties many women experience in accessing the justice system. The Government must examine the legal impediments to safety, including the inadequacy of funding to the legal assistance sector which is making the situation worse for women suffering violence.

“Despite concerns regarding this latest inquiry, the Greens welcomed news that the Women’s Safety Council will continue under the National Cabinet, and called on the government to prioritise coordination and resources to respond to the national crisis of violence against women. “