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“My father is the statesman, he is the political genius, he is all that."
It could be back to the future in next Monday’s presidential election in the Philippines… Front-runner Ferdinand Marcos Jr has heaped praise on his father/namesake, who was driven out in 1986 after a brutal 2 decades under his rule. Marcos Sr and his wife Imelda were also accused of stealing billions from state coffers. Marcos Jr says his priority will be "prices and jobs."
1. The “emergency’’ monetary policy settings required by the pandemic are ending with the RBA lifting the official cash rate by 0.25% to 0.35. Abandoning his past practice of not commenting on the interest rate pathway, Governor Phillip Lowe says 2.5% is on the cards.
2. PM Scott Morrison took a glass-half-full view – that the rate lift is a sign of the “underlying strength of the economy”. He says he has "sympathy" for Australians facing higher mortgage costs, but the country should trust the Coalition to manage the economy.
3. Meanwhile, Labor is sticking with its key message. “This is another aspect of Scott Morrison’s triple whammy in his cost-of-living crisis, falling real wages, rising interest rates and inflation spiralling out of control,” said Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers.
4. The Coalition is promising pensioners the rate rise will not affect their payments. Morrison says if he is re-elected, the deeming rate will remain where it currently is for the next 2 years.
5. US President Joe Biden has reacted to the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion on Roe v Wade. “I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” Biden said this morning.
Going deeper: The rate rise landed like in thud in the election campaign
It was a pretty dominant theme, but the Reserve Bank’s 0.25% interest rate rise has just poured petrol on an already testy economic debate. Labor Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers has called it a full-blown "cost of living crisis" on the Coalition’s watch. Meanwhile, PM Scott Morrison lauded the "shield" his government put in place to protect Australia from the worst effects of the pandemic.
● RBA Governor Philip Lowe held a rare press conference to explain the board’s thinking. It is the first rate rise during a campaign since 2007, so there was a bit of pressure for an explanation… He says the decision is “testimony” to the political culture in Australia that the Bank’s independence is respected.
● Lowe says Australians knew interest rates would go up, and the average mortgage holder is about 2 years ahead in their repayments. Note: he says the increase comes sooner than he thought last week’s 5.1% inflation figure was a "surprise".
● Lowe’s nominated 2.5% as a “more normal” interest rate – but he won’t be drawn on a timeframe for when we’ll get there.
What it means: It’s hard to argue that a mid-campaign rate rise is good for an incumbent government, but there is a little something for everyone in the Bank’s statement. The Coalition will take some comfort in Lowe’s pointing to rising wages and the economy’s overall strength. Meanwhile, Labor will likely use the 2.5% figure to calculate how much mortgage holders will be paying over the coming months.
What’s next: As Lowe confirmed… There will be more rate rises this year, meaning there’s no free ride for an incoming Government.
Victoria is handing out the sweeteners in an election-year budget
If you love an election, reflect on how #blessed Victorians are as they double up with a state poll in November. And yesterday’s opening of the books had the usual hallmarks of an election-year budget with $22 billion of new spending, including $12 billion being pumped into under pressure hospitals.
● Remember, Victoria was our most locked-down state during the pandemic and its hospitals really struggled – and are still feeling the pressure.
● The budget includes $1.5 billion to pay for a pandemic catch-up with an extra 40,000 surgeries + $124 million for more paramedics and $333 million for Triple-0 staff.
● The Andrews Government will also give all households $250 on 1 July to help with rising costs. To get the cash, just register with an energy comparison website – Andrews reckons most people will also save $330 on their power bill.
What it means: Credit agencies are still marking the state down for its big debt levels.
What’s next: The budget has parked $2.3 billion, which will be used by the government to make campaign promises, so Victorians will hear more about that in October/November.
The leaked report suggests abortion rights are under threat in the US
There are few court decisions as influential, controversial and often quoted as Roe v Wade. The 1973 US Supreme Court ruling guaranteed a woman’s right to have an abortion in America. But now, a leaked copy of a *draft* ruling shows the highest court in the US may be about to overturn nearly 50 years of reproductive rights.
● US media outlet Politico was given a copy of the draft written back in February, showing 5 out of 9 judges are supporting overturning Roe v Wade. Note: Donald Trump appointed 3 of those 5 judges to the court.
● The Supreme Court has been hearing a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. Mississippi’s position is at odds with Roe v Wade, which stopped the states from banning the procedure before around 23 weeks.
What does it mean: The draft isn’t the final word… and the court *could* allow the Mississippi law and not completely overturn Roe v Wade. At least 20 US states (PW) – mainly in the south and mid-west – have been planning to restrict abortions if the court moves.
What’s next: The Supreme Court is expected to make its decision known in June or July.
The failure of governments to enact policies to address society’s problems has created unrealistic expectations of the private sector, says former Treasury head/NAB chairman Ken Henry. He says it’s "plain silly" to expect community and shareholder interests can align.
Climate200 founder Simon Holmes a Court has been accused of bullying (PW). Victor Kline, an independent candidate in North Sydney, says the millionaire pressured him to drop out of the race to give ‘teal’ candidate Kylea Tink a clearer run.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet doesn’t think Scott Morrison should have called ICAC a “kangaroo court.” Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner Stephen Rushton has described critics who use the term as “buffoons.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has apologised for taking her partner to an official meeting about the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games. The Premier was criticised for including surgeon Reza Adib in a meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach on Sunday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin could soon officially declare war on Ukraine, upping its status from a ‘special operation’. US and Western officials say it would enable the full mobilisation of Russia’s reserve forces.
Former NZ Deputy PM Winston Peters has been denied access to the Kiwi Parliament. Peters says the Speaker has banned him for 2 years after visiting anti-lockdown protestors in Wellington back in February.
Remember the off-the-rails parish committee Zoom meeting at the start of the pandemic? That’s got nothing on a suburban Perth council meeting meltdown…
12.30pm – Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers debate economic policy at the National Press Club – Canberra
ABS Data Releases – Lending Indicators, March; Retail Trade, March
*All times in AEST unless noted
And today’s quote for the subject line comes from American singer/actor/activist/presenter Henry Rollins.