Brookfield’s make-up artists are hard at work. They’ve taken “coal” out of the title, hired every broker in town to flog the thing and, in the most telling move, are rushing to get the deal done before the end of the year. Michael West reports on the ASX float of Dalrymple Infrastructure, which looks set to siphon off Aussie cash to an offshore haven, with yield-hungry retirees paying the price.Coal Deal in Distress: desperate Dalrymple’s dodgy debt dump – Michael West
Locking out visitors has made it difficult for staff to meet the daily care needs of residents. What an indictment on aged care providers. They receive billions a year in funding, yet rely on the unpaid work of family/friends and volunteers. Surely it is time for complete accountability for their government funding, writes Dr Sarah Russell.No strings attached: aged care providers have the Coalition wrapped around their little fingers – Michael West
“Australians know there is no money tree,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg at the apogee of the coronavirus in May. But there is. The Reserve Bank is creating money out of thin air. It’s called QE. Michael West reports on the latest fruits to fall from Josh’s fertile money tree, particularly free cash from a hitherto hidden measure in the Budget.Zombie Cash-Splash: Treasurer ramps up orgy of corporate hand-outs – Michael West
Charities pay top dollar for dinner with Gladys Berejiklian despite regulator’s no-no to political donations by Michael West | Oct 15, 2020 | Business The Liberal Party is harvesting tens of thousands of dollars in donations from registered children’s charities and charities for the disabled. Michael West reports.Home – Michael West
In Part 1 of her three-part investigation, Michelle Fahy investigates the corporate influence on government policy and how weapons makers cultivate relationships with politicians and top officials in the public service.‘Culture of Cosiness’: colossal conflicts of interest in Defence spending blitz – Michael West
And let’s put the $1.5 billion in perspective. Just last month $1.9 billion was announced for a 10-year plan to invest in technologies to lower emissions, while far more is to be given away in futile tax cuts to the already-well off.Manufacturing Announceables: malaise needs more than a bag of goodies – Michael West
WHAT does all this mean for Australia? Defence gives an average price of less than $126 million for Australia’s 72 F-35s when fully operational by 2023. It is the ongoing costs of maintenance and support that are the killer. The Australian Strategy Policy Institute estimates the sustainment costs to be triple those of the F-18 fighters it replaces. Bloomberg reported this month that the confidential estimates of the Pentagon’s Cost Analysis Unit now put the F-35’s life cycle operating and sustainment costs at $US1.723 trillion in 2020 dollars – easily the most expensive weapons program in history. It says that $1.266 trillion of the $US1.723 trillion is for operations and support and the rest for the initial acquisition cost. On this basis, the life cycle cost in current dollars for Australia’s F 35s will be approximately $(A)475 million per plane. The sustainment costs are so high it’s likely the US will keep cutting the total number of planes it buys from its proposed 2400, thus adding to unit costs.King of Lemons: Australia swindled by Lockheed Martin and its Joint Strike Fighter – Michael West
There are those who do back-flips, and triple backward somersaults with a twist. Then there is Communications Minister Paul Fletcher. The saga of the National Broadband Network continues as the Government this week announced a large-scale upgrade to fibre, heralding it as “an idea whose time has finally come”. It’s cost $14.5 billion more than budget, is under-performing and now the Government wants to spend another $3.5 billion to upgrade it, while competition looms. Australia is ranked 50 in internet speed worldwide. We’re well below almost every country in Europe and North America and many including ‘developing’ countries in South-East Asia. And we are failing badly when compared with our cousins across the ditch. Kiwis enjoy twice the average download speed of what Australians enjoy.Backflips and somersaults – the NBN black comedy takes a new twist
Luxury cars are inextricably linked with the weapons industry. When James Bond saves the world in his faithful Aston Martin he is glamourising the very industry he is ostensibly trying to defeat. Tasha May reports.A masterful PR campaign: the links between Hollywood, luxury cars and the arms industry – Michael West
An unprecedented leak of thousands of files from the US government’s most confidential financial intelligence database has shone a spotlight on the world’s $2 trillion-a-year dirty money habit. As Nathan Lynch reveals, this story goes much deeper than the glib “bad bankers” narrative being trotted out by the world’s media.Dirty money leaks shine a spotlight on kleptocrats devouring our economy – Michael West
Scott Morrison has perfected the art of media manipulation by briefing a select club of Canberra correspondents at once, rather than leaking to individual media outlets. Callum Foote and Michael West report on the marketing genius of the Prime Minister and the increasingly meek mainstream media.Feeding the Chooks: Scott Morrison’s marketing triumph over mainstream media – Michael West
While the UK’s Met Office is out there educating the public, BoM is remarkably coy about any public discussion of climate change. Questions have also been asked whether its senior leadership is too close to the gas industry. Sandi Keane investigates.
Since the days of the Howard government, effective action on climate change has been held hostage by the big polluters’ stranglehold on policy.
Last week’s leaked report from the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission Manufacturing Taskforce comes as no surprise from a commission stacked with executives from the gas and mining lobbies. Its recommendations are a bonanza for the fossil fuel industry and a chilling harbinger of the nightmare to come if, courtesy of the taxpayer, Big Gas is unleashed across our prime farmland.
Peter Leahy’s wife is a director of a company awarded $38 million in contracts from federal departments, mostly Defence and Foreign Affairs and Trade. The company had earned $2.2 million in revenue from federal government contracts before Leahy resigned as Chief. Michelle Fahy investigates.
Coalition pork-barrelling during the 2013 and 2016 election campaigns involved “zombie” grants that had not a hope in Hades of getting off the ground. Yet those grant applications are still on the books just waiting to be revived. How many grants from the 2019 election await a similar fate? Jommy Tee investigates.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, trust in government had reached its lowest level on record, according to a major study conducted by The Australian National University. Just 25% of Australians said they had confidence in their political leaders and institutions. The study of the 2019 federal election also found Australians’ satisfaction with democracy was at its lowest since the constitutional crisis of the 1970s. A huge 56% believe democracy is not working – that government is run for a “few big interests”. Just 12% believe the government is run for “all the people”.
The Murdochs and Packers have got their fingers in the taxpayer honeypot again, this time winning nearly $6 million without a tender from the Department of Health. Michael West reports on Mable and the latest in corporate welfare.
Cutting government services to pay off government debt post the current pandemic is not a necessity but rather a political and ideological choice. History has shown that if we focus on full employment and the real economy, the budget will take care of itself. Economist Warwick Smith reports.
Economic growth has halved, debt has rocketed, but the share market is up and bond yields have collapsed. Female representation in Cabinet is down to one quarter, yet women on top boards have edged up to nearly 35%. This is the MW30, a quarterly snapshot of Australia.
Chinese drivers are earning well above average income while Aussie Uber drivers can’t make minimum wage. Marcus Reubenstein reports.
The Federal Government’s protection of “a few big interests” was on show last week when it voted against accountability proposals from the Royal Commission into Aged Care. Public health researcher, Dr Sarah Russell, reports.
The Foreign Investment Review Board has already waved through the Healthscope acquisition and is presently deliberating on the Aveo deal. Yet the question must be asked; as Brookfield pays so little tax in Australia, what is the national interest in allowing this tax haven operator to buy billions of dollars buying key infrastructure when it merely siphons the profits offshore?
Clive Palmer is suing YouTube sensation Jordan Shanks for defamation. Instead of capitulating however, Shanks doubled down and tore strips off Palmer in the funniest response to a legal threat yet. If you have been legally threatened in similar ways – we want to hear about it – click here to let us know – the Streisand effect may work in your favour.
It is extraordinary that the profit from Barnaby Joyce’s record payment for Australian water rights, an $80 million payment of taxpayers’ money, found its way to a company in the Cayman Islands which had been set up by Angus Taylor, a company at which Taylor had been a director for six years. Report by Michael West.