Australia news LIVE updates: Nation reacts to federal budget as Victoria, NSW rush to keep COVID outbreaks contained

Summary

  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled a big-spending budget on Tuesday including $74.6 billion in new spending and tax breaks over five years in a bid to rebuild the economy.
  • The budget pours money into social services ranging from aged care to mental health in an attempt to clear the ground for a federal election within a year.
  • Among the key measures is $1.1 billion for women’s safety measures, including $261.4 million over two years in a new deal with the states to boost frontline family, domestic and sexual violence services.
  • The Morrison government also announced a $17.7 billion five-year package in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission report on abuse and neglect in the system, but did not embrace all of its recommendations.
  • A Victorian man in his 30s became the state’s first local coronavirus case in 73 days on Tuesday. The source of his infection is not yet clear but a South Australian medi-hotel is considered likely.
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‘Pandemic budget’ racks up historic debt: Nationals Senator

Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan is out of the blocks early on Nine’s Today program on Wednesday and isn’t entirely complimentary about Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s plan to rebuild the nation’s economy with $74.6 billion in spending promises.

If you are looking for a handy primer of those promises, political correspondent James Massola has prepared a five-minute rundown.

Hey big spender: Matt Canavan takes aim at the high level of debt.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

“It is still a pandemic budget,” Senator Canavan says. “It is a response to what has been a once-in-a-century global pandemic and so you can understand that. But … we do have to be mindful of how much debt we are have racked up as a country. It is about $40,000 per Australian now and we are not in the same position we were 15 years ago to withstand future shocks.”

As Massola reports, net debt is now expected to peak at $980.6 billion in 2024-25, or 40.9 per cent of GDP. That’s a revision down of debt reaching 44 per cent of GDP projected in last year’s budget. But it’s still a big number.

Prudent spending, or shameless politics? Budget reactions at a glance

What to make of the Morrison government’s second pandemic budget? Some of the early reactions are in.

Shadow Treasurer and Labor MP Jim Chalmers has panned the $74.6 billion big-spending package as a “shameless political fix, rather than the genuine reform needed to make Australia’s economy stronger, broader and more sustainable”.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers criticising the federal budget.Credit:Getty Images

But Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, says the budget “strikes a prudent balance between growth and fiscal discipline by making sensible investments in the levers of growth”.

You can read more from Canberra reporter Nick Bonyhady here.

Our virtual budget breakdown

You can join us at midday today for a virtual breakdown of the Morrison government’s second pandemic budget with our economics experts Ross Gittins, Jessica Irvine and Shane Wright, in conversation with National Editor Tory Maguire.

You can join the conversation by leaving a question for the panel here.

Global news: Russia orders gun review, Palestinian rockets target Tel Aviv

In global news, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a gun control review in the wake of a shooting at a school south-western Russian city of Kazan. At least seven students and two school employees are dead. The alleged gunman, a 19-year-old man, has been arrested.

FSB and special rapid response unit officers with a service dog at School Number 175, where a gunman opened fire. Credit:Yegor Aleyev/TASS via Getty Images

Hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs Gaza, escalated dramatically on Tuesday with the violence extending to the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, which came under fire from a barrage of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes since the militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007. Recent rounds of fighting have usually ended after a few days, often helped by mediation by Qatar, Egypt and others.

The confrontation between Israel and Hamas, sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem, escalated on Tuesday as Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza while militants barraged Israel with hundreds of rockets. The exchange killed a number of militants and civilians in Gaza and at least two Israelis.

Welcome to our live coverage of the day’s events

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of national news on Wednesday, 12 May.

I’m Michaela Whitbourn and I’ll be keeping you informed of the morning’s need-to-know news and analysis, in a day set to be dominated by reaction to the Morrison government’s second pandemic budget.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg during the Budget speech on Tuesday night.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Here’s what you need to know now:

  • Last night, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled a big-spending budget including $74.6 billion in new spending and tax breaks over five years in a bid to rebuild the economy. He warned the COVID-19 pandemic was not over but said Australia’s “economic engine is roaring back to life”. We’ll examine key policies throughout the day.
  • The budget assumes international borders will remain closed until the middle of next year, after the government achieves a “population-wide” vaccine rollout by the end of this year.
  • A Victorian man in his 30s became the state’s first local coronavirus case in 73 days on Tuesday. Investigations are still under way into the source of the man’s infection but the case raises fresh questions about the adequacy of hotel quarantine. The man had recently spent 14 days in a South Australian medi-hotel.
  • The Victorian case comes after a Sydney couple in their 50s became the first known locally acquired cases of the Indian B.1.617 variant of the virus in NSW. The man’s infection has been linked to a returned traveller from the US in hotel quarantine, but the “missing link” between him and that traveller has not been found. Restrictions remain in place in Greater Sydney to avoid a “super-spreading event”.
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