The Guardian 2024-03-28 01:08:42


The prime minister Anthony Albanese is in Muswellbrook in the New South Wales Hunter region, where he is announcing a $1bn package for solar panel manufacturing.

Josh Butler covered some of the key points earlier in the blog here.

Speaking to the media, Albanese says:

I sat in the parliament for day after day, month after month, year after year when Josh Frydenberg spoke about Liddell [power station] and keeping it open, when the decision was made to shut Liddell on their watch, when there was no new coal-fired power stations created and around the country, closure occurred, without planning for a transition …

What we know is Australia is positioned better than any country in the world. We have the best solar resources in the world up above us, and they are free … Australia has been world leading at innovation [but] we have not been good at commercialising those opportunities. We’ve created innovation and then seen all the value being added offshore, and today we have around 90% of the world’s solar panels produced in just one country … China, and exported around the world. We missed the opportunities. We’re not going to miss the opportunities of this generation, and that is what our support is about.

Albanese government not ‘engaging deeply and honestly’ over NDIS overhaul, Queensland premier says

Bill Shorten hits back at criticism from state leaders including Steven Miles, as federal government unveils bill kicking off response to landmark NDIS review

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The Albanese government has been accused of not engaging “deeply and honestly” with states and territories over plans to overhaul the NDIS after a landmark report recommended sweeping changes to restore confidence in the scheme and curb growing costs.

The annual budget for the scheme, which provides crucial supports for more than 600,000 Australians with a disability, is expected to rise to more than $50bn in 2025-26.

The NDIS review, handed down in December and tasked with solving the fast-rising dollar figure among other things, recommended more disability services be provided outside the scheme to relieve the government’s budgetary pressures by lowering the compounding number of new entrants.

Those services, referred to as foundational supports, would be picked up by the states and territories, with many to be set up within existing settings, such as play groups, early childhood education, and schools.

Anthony Albanese landed an initial deal in December to split the cost of those foundational supports in return for granting the states and territories a further three years of GST funding.

But speaking after the NDIS minister, Bill Shorten, introduced a new NDIS bill on Wednesday, the Queensland premier, Steven Miles, said there had been “some flawed communication” between the commonwealth and state and territory governments over whether the jurisdictions would “shoulder any further burden”.

“There has certainly been a sense from our officials and our ministers that the Australian government isn’t engaging as deeply and as honestly with us. And, of course, that causes suspicion. Our suspicion is that they are trying to push costs down back on to the states,” he said.

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The New South Wales deputy premier, Prue Car, also told the ABC on Wednesday the states and territories “really need better consultation from the commonwealth government” on the proposed changes. State premiers and chief ministers had written to the federal government urging it to delay the bill until further discussions.

The bill introduced by Shorten will tweak key definitions that will overhaul how participants receive planned budgets among other changes.

Shorten hit back at suggestions the federal government is keeping the leaders – all but one of which are from Labor – in the dark.

“The alternative would have been to hang on to this bill until budget, and all of a sudden, we’d have had just a couple of weeks to deal with it before winter … We couldn’t win, either we rushed it now or we’re accused of rushing it later,” he told the ABC.

“We’re not asking the states to do any more for their citizens with disabilities than they’re already statutorily required to do. But I accept that different states have wound back some of their disability services apparatus. So we’ve got to work with them.”

The federal government has also invested $11.6m over two years to fund work to create and implement the foundational supports strategy, developed under the social services minister, Amanda Rishworth.

It’s understood the strategy will be considered by national cabinet in the second half of 2024, ahead of a phased approach to implementation.

The Greens senator Jordon Steele-John backed delays to passing the bill until an inquiry can be held into its implications for those accessing the scheme.

He added he would work with the disability community, which was frustrated about the political bickering over funding for the scheme and disability services outside the NDIS.

“We will not get good results for disabled people if a bunch of non-disabled ministers, federal or state, get together in a room and decide for us what is best for us,” Steele-John said.

“We need to have the principle of ‘nothing about us, without us’ genuinely at the heart of this.”

– Additional reporting by Andrew Messenger, Benita Kolovos and Amy Remeikis

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Youth justice on the line as LNP and Labor weigh up community fears about safety

Some Labor MPs are eyeing LNP’s tough policy on detention in bid to sway anxious voters in October election

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Looking down the barrel of the camera, the LNP leader, David Crisafulli, addresses Queenslanders directly in the party’s latest TV ad.

Appearing concerned and candid in his home town of Townsville, Crisafulli delivers a simple message: Elect me, and I’ll keep you safe.

The ad has gotten under the skin of some Labor MPs as the party desperately strategises about how to get youth crime out of the headlines. The latest battle ground is the Liberal National party’s attempt to remove the principle of detention as a last resort from the Youth Justice Act.

Guardian Australia understands that several Labor MPs fighting for their political survival in the October state election have proposed adopting the LNP policy.

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But the Labor MP Jonty Bush, who sits on the youth justice reform select committee, said the evidence to support removing detention as a last resort “doesn’t stack up”.

“The evidence we have heard on the public record is very clear that early intervention, prevention and where necessary detention is the only approach that works to drive down youth crime,” she said.

Guardian Australia understands the government has faced internal pressure to adopt the measure – which is a breach of the UN’s convention on the rights of the child.

Another Labor source was sceptical about whether adopting the policy would provide any political cover or get the issue out of the tabloid media.

“The same logic was used last time, when we were told that we needed to make breach of bail an offence [for children], because it neutralises the LNP’s attack line,” they said.

“What do people expect will happen? We get a thumbs up from the LNP and permission to focus on other issues. Mandatory sentencing will be next.”

A month ago the premier, Steven Miles, faced a barrage of questions about youth crime at the Queensland media club.

Vyleen White, 70, had been fatally stabbed a week earlier outside a shopping centre and a 16-year-old had been charged with her murder. The community was deep in grief and there were cries for more to be done.

Miles empathised with White’s family but rejected that removing detention as a last resort was the solution. He called the LNP policy “incredibly dangerous” and said it would make the situation “worse”.

“All of the evidence suggests that if you detain offenders for low-level offences, you expose them to hardened criminals, you expose them to gangs, you make it much more likely they will reoffend,” he said.

Miles’ comments aligned with what experts have been saying. Genevieve Sinclair, the chief executive officer at Youth Empowered Towards Independence, told the youth justice committee in February that ending detention as a last resort would be “very expensive” and would not work.

“What we have is … children for very protracted periods in watch houses,” she said. “When we have looked at the strategies that have been put in place over the past two or three years, we see double the amount of young people in detention compared to 12 months ago.

“We have the toughest youth justice laws of any state.”

A few weeks later Labor suffered double-digit swings against it in byelections in the safe seats of Ipswich West and Inala.

Darren Zanow, the LNP candidate who secured Ipswich West, had campaigned on a platform of cracking down on youth crime.

Pressure was building and this week Miles softened his stance. He told reporters he would consider the measure if the youth justice committee recommended it.

The committee held a private two-hour meeting on Wednesday before the interim report, which is due to be released next month.

Guardian Australia understands the report will address sentencing principles of the Youth Justice Act, including detention as a last resort.

Both parties are aware that any fear and anxiety in the community may sway votes at the October election.

The LNP has indicated it won’t let up on the issue, publishing several press releases on youth crime this week alone.

Labor has also announced a major crime crackdown in which police will target high-risk offenders.

The premier remains tight-lipped on whether the government will ditch detention as a last resort but said community safety was paramount.

“Every Queenslander deserves to feel safe in their community,” he said. “We will continue to back our police and support them with … tough laws to keep people safe.”

Additional reporting by Andrew Messenger

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NSW may be forced to pay $150m a year to extend life of coal-fired plant, energy expert predicts

‘If ever there was a perfect case-study of the negative impacts on taxpayers of privatisation of strategic public assets, Eraring is it,’ Tim Buckley says

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New South Wales may end up paying $150m a year to subsidise the extension of Australia’s biggest coal-fired power plant, money better spent accelerating the take-up of rooftop solar with storage, the energy analyst Tim Buckley has said.

It comes as the federal Labor government will on Thursday announce $1bn for solar panel manufacturing in Australia, with the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, travelling to the Hunter region to spruik the government’s new Net Zero Economy Authority.

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Origin Energy and the NSW Minns Labor government are still negotiating whether to keep open all or part of the 2.88 gigawatt Eraring plant. In 2022 Origin said it would close the facility – which supplies as much as a quarter of NSW’s electricity – by August 2025.

Buckley said Origin had failed to negotiate a coal contract longer than eight years after it took over Eraring – at a cost to taxpayers of $75m – in 2013. Governments intervened to cap soaring black coal prices in late 2022, providing $468m in subsidies for Eraring since, according to Buckley, who heads the advisory group Climate Energy Finance.

Based on present levels of forward electricity prices and spot thermal coal export prices, NSW electricity users would have to stump up subsidies of $120m to $150m each year, were the operation of Eraring’s four units to be extended, he said.

“Why are we, the consumers, wearing the cost of failing to make coal-supply contracts that would have shielded Origin from coal price increases? It’s a case of ‘heads we win, tails you lose,’” Buckley said.

NSW’s power prices have typically been higher than its coal-burning neighbours, Victoria and Queensland. Renewable energy groups have also been calling for an acceleration of the rollout of solar and windfarms if the state is to meet its 2030 emissions goals and avoid blackouts as ageing coal plants shut.

A deal between the NSW government and Origin over Eraring’s future is widely expected soon. Documents released last year indicated Origin had discussed transferring Eraring’s operating risks to the previous Perrottet Coalition government, a template that may be enacted this time around, Buckley said.

Origin disputed Buckley’s estimates, including the original cost of Eraring, the size of subsidies received and the costs of extending the plant. Including the 2010 purchase of the Eraring Gentrade business for about $950m, the full cost was closer to $1bn rather than a government handout.

“We welcome an informed, factual, and robust conversation about the closure of Eraring,” a spokesperson said. “Unfortunately, we do not believe this report makes a meaningful contribution to that conversation as it is formulated on information and assumptions that are incorrect.

“Origin remains in active negotiations with the NSW government about Eraring’s future and both parties look forward to bringing the process to a conclusion as soon as possible,” she said.

The government highlighted an energy security report released last December by the market operator that identified a potential “a reliability gap” in 2025-26 should Eraring close next year and new projects not proceed as expected.

A spokesperson said discussions with Origin on plans for Eraring were ongoing.

Buckley said the market was pricing in at least a partial closure of Eraring with forward power prices in 2026 running at an 18% premium to Queensland and 74% to Victoria’s.

“[Any deal with the NSW government would likely see Origin pass both coal cost volatility and wholesale electricity price risk on to NSW consumers,” Buckley said.

Instead, the government would be better off investing in speeding up the deployment of low cost, zero-emissions solutions such as the rollout of residential and commercial rooftop solar backed up by batteries.

Given expected new interstate grid transmission links and gas peaking plants, NSW would have enough capacity to make up for Eraring’s closure, he said.

Buckley cited disclosed documents showing Origin secured an average pre-tax cashflow of $382m over the three years from 1 July 2019. “Eraring’s performance is not disclosed since, but Origin reported in [the first half of the present business year] that it doubled its underlying earnings overall,” he said.

“If ever there was a perfect case-study of the negative impacts on taxpayers of privatisation of strategic public assets, Eraring is it,” Buckley said.

Origin, though, argued that were Eraring very profitable now it would not have set a closure date.

Separately, solar firms have welcomed the Albanese government plan to support a $1bn solar panel manufacturing program in Australia. The prime minister on Friday visited the Hunter Valley, including the site of AGL Energy’s now shut Liddell coal-fired power station.

AGL said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with tech firm SunDrive to “explore the development” of a solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant at the Liddell site.

A feasibility study will identify what is needed to set up a solar plant plant while AGL will consider purchasing SunDrive panels for its customers. AGL said about 600,000 of its residential and business customers already had solar panels.

“Our vision for the Hunter Energy Hub is to create a low-carbon integrated energy hub – designed with circular economy principles – that brings together industries that can make a positive contribution to the energy transition, including renewable energy generation, grid-scale batteries, green advanced manufacturing, and associated industries,” AGL chief executive said in a statement.

Another Australian solar firm, 5B, also welcomed the solar fund.

“This clear action plan from the government will make innovative, locally manufactured solar technologies more scalable, for Australian manufacturers to meet the energy transition demand,” 5B’s CEO, David Griffin, said in a separate statement.

“Strategic policies like this have catalysed solar manufacturers in overseas markets, so we know how significant a boost it provides for home-grown companies like 5B.”

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TikTok bans account of Australian influencer who promoted nicotine pouches in viral videos

Bodybuilder Stefan Kohut’s account shut after Guardian Australia report, but others continue to showcase the controversial products

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TikTok has banned the account of an influencer who promoted flavoured nicotine pouches in viral videos, but other accounts showcasing the controversial products remain on the platform.

Guardian Australia revealed in early February that nicotine pouches were being promoted by the Australian bodybuilder Stefan Kohut.

TikTok said Kohut’s account had been banned from the platform as it was in violation of its community guidelines.

“Content that depicts or promotes the sale or trade of tobacco, including novel nicotine products, is prohibited by our strict Community Guidelines,” a spokesperson said. “In addition, the advertisement of vaping products is also forbidden on TikTok.”

The spokesperson said the platform actively removed content in breach of the guidelines, with more than 741,000 videos removed in Australia during the most recent quarter, about 95% of which were taken down before they were reported.

Kohut, who has started a new account with a double “t” on the end of his handle, vowed to “build back the community” in a video posted on 12 February. He has not posted any videos promoting pouches on the new account.

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Nicotine pouches are sachets of nicotine which are tucked under the lip and resemble snus, a smokeless oral tobacco product popular in Scandinavia.

Oral tobacco has been banned in Australia since 1991 but nicotine pouches are promoted as tobacco-free, containing only nicotine extracted from tobacco, or synthetic nicotine. They require a prescription to be legally supplied in Australia.

A week after the Guardian revealed the promotion of nicotine pouches on TikTok, Australia’s drug regulator updated its guidance on the product, warning: “As there are no nicotine pouches on the [Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods], it is unlawful to advertise nicotine pouches, including when advertising these products for the purposes of smoking or vaping cessation. This includes online advertising.

“In addition, a nicotine pouch cannot be publicly advertised because the supply of a nicotine pouch for a purpose other than smoking cessation requires a prescription. The advertisement of prescription medicines is prohibited.”

Guardian Australia has since identified more individual TikTok accounts that portray the banned products in a positive light, which is legal as long as they are not offered for sale.

One fitness influencer this month posted a video of himself taking “the heaviest snus you can get in Melbourne”, a post that has been seen by 70,800 people.

Another fitness influencer, who had posted 39 videos since April 2023 about his use of nicotine pouches as a vaping cessation device, including naming a website which sent him products, took his videos down after Guardian Australia’s inquiries.

The influencer told the Guardian: “We are in a changing regulatory landscape, and with each change in regulations, I have changed my approach to how I discuss these topics … Since the regulations were updated in February 2024, I have not once mentioned where I have purchased my nicotine pouches from.

“I have had numerous Australian based businesses reach out to me, asking for a collaboration, sponsorship, or offer money in exchange for promotional content.”

Several Australian businesses selling the product continue to have links to their websites on their TikTok pages.

TikTok banned the account of one vendor, Aus Nicopods, after Guardian Australia inquired about it.

Prof Becky Freeman, a tobacco control expert at the University of Sydney, said stronger laws were needed to ban harmful advertising, particularly when targeted at young people, because “allowing these platforms to self-police has failed”.

“And then, governments need to actually enforce these laws,” Freeman said. “For tobacco, vaping and other recreational nicotine products, the law is crystal clear in Australia – these products cannot be promoted on social platforms, it is illegal.”

Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, who leads the Behavioral Data Science lab at the University of Technology Sydney, said controls were looser for organic content from user accounts including influencers, as opposed to more traditional “ad-based content”. As a result, he said, the regulation of influencers where any relationship with a brand is unclear becomes the “one million dollar question”.

Dr James Kite, a senior lecturer within the University of Sydney’s school of public health and Charles Perkins Centre, said young people were often exposed to content they did not necessarily recognise as advertising, including influencers’ posts.

As a result, he said, it was very common for young people to be exposed to products on social media that were harmful to their health “whether that’s nicotine pouches or gambling or alcohol”.

“[The platforms’] policies around regulation are always going to lag what we want them to be, because it’s not in their interests to close down or crack down on advertising.”

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Analysis

How can Donald Trump’s loss-making Truth Social be worth $9bn?

Alex Hern UK technology editor

The rightwing social network’s flotation, supported by fans of the ex-president, makes it look like part of the ‘meme stock’ phenomenon

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Donald Trump’s social network went public on Tuesday and quickly achieved a valuation of almost $8bn (£6.3bn), a gain of more than 15% on its initial public offering (IPO) value. Shares rose again in volatile trading on Wednesday, rising 14% and valuing it at $9.6bn. That enormous success has raised questions, and not all of them are easy to answer.

How can it possibly be worth $9bn?

The glib answer is “because the most recent price someone bought a share of the company at is $66.46”. The valuation of a publicly traded company such as Truth Social – officially, the Trump Media & Technology Group Corp, with the stock ticker DJT, referencing its founder’s initials – is just a product of multiplying the value of an individual share with the number outstanding.

Typically, that value, known as the market capitalisation, is kept in check by reference to the “fundamentals” of the company: how much money it makes or loses, and how fast it is growing or shrinking. But sometimes … it isn’t.

In the case of Truth Social, its revenue during the first nine months of last year was just $3.3m from advertising, and it recorded a loss of $49m.

Why don’t investors care about the fundamentals?

Historically, the big reason why stock valuations become detached from reality is speculative bubbles. Even if you don’t think a company is particularly valuable, it may still be worth buying their stock at a high price if you think you can sell it on at an even higher price.

But Truth Social seems to be part of a more recent phenomenon: the “meme stock”.

What is a meme stock?

The term was coined to describe a small group of publicly traded stocks that have attracted a big proportion of private “retail” investors. Those investors typically use zero-commission trading apps such as Robinhood to take a much more active role in the markets than has been typical for individuals until recently, and coordinate on social media, particularly sites such as Reddit, to share stock tips.

Infamously, the valuation of the American video game retailer GameStop rose by more than 1,800%, after a critical mass of investors coordinated on the WallStreetBets subreddit to take a stake. The investors’ theory was that an engineered “short squeeze” could force those who had “shorted” GameStop – that is, bet on its share price falling – to buy the shares back at inflated valuations. Three years on, GameStop remains almost 10 times more valuable than it was just before it achieved meme stock status – and just a quarter off its peak.

Is Truth Social a true meme stock?

Investors in Donald Trump’s social network definitely have a lot in common with those in the GameStop bubble. Coordinating online to boost a share’s value with lots of little investments from individuals, rather than big corporate investors, is a similar story to GameStop and other meme stocks such as the cinema chain AMC or the rental company Hertz.

But unlike those shareholders, there is little sense that the Truth Social investors are driven by, or even care about, turning a profit on their stake. Instead, buying in is seen as a chance to invest in Trump – or even just to show your support for the man. In that way, Truth Social has less in common with other meme stocks and more with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies – a market the former president has also dabbled in.

Can Trump sell out early?

With legal bills in the millions – including one reduced this week from $454m to a still hefty $175m – the big question for many is whether the Truth Social float will allow Trump to turn his newfound paper wealth into hard cash. Officially, the answer is a simple “no”: the IPO agreement requires insiders to hold their stake for six months after the company goes public.

But that can be overruled by a vote from the company’s board of directors, which includes such independent votes as Donald Trump Jr, and Linda McMahon and Robert Lighthizer, two former officials in Trump’s administration. Even if they choose not to authorise a sale, they may offer a halfway house, rewriting the agreement so that Trump Sr can use his shares as collateral for a loan.

Will Truth Social ever make money?

A few years ago, it was possible to foresee a rosy future for Truth Social. The increasing polarisation of American society meant the conditions were ripe for a rightwing social network, in contrast to the Silicon Valley ideology that dominated online. Truth Social, with its backing from Trump, felt like the most likely to succeed in that space, against the 4chan-inflected tone of its precursor Gab and the Trump-allied site Parler.

Then Elon Musk bought Twitter. Under the billionaire’s ownership, the site, rebranded as X, has become the home of the online right on its own, shedding a fifth of its users in the process. There’s plenty of criticisms one can lay at the feet of Musk, but being censorious of rightwing viewpoints isn’t one: one of his first acts upon taking control was to rescind Trump’s ban from the platform – all for nothing, since the former president continued to post on Truth Social instead.

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Australia’s economy has become a young people-screwing machine. So how do we unscrew ourselves?

Intifar Chowdhury

Millennials and younger generations are on the brink of outnumbering older cohorts as the largest voting bloc. Living in a democracy affords us the power to change the system

No one woke up one fine morning with the grand ambition to mess with an entire generation just for kicks. Yet here millennials are, unequivocally, unmistakably, screwed.

This is evident when I compare my 29-year-old self to my mother who had it all: debt-free, married, two kids and a stable home sweet home. Meanwhile, I’ve stacked up four uni degrees, struggle to pay off debt, live paycheck to paycheck, and burn the midnight oil 16 hours a day, seven days a week just to prove … well, something. Hats off to mother dear, but seriously, does this seem fair?

And you’ll hear the same tune from most of my millennial crew.

We’ve taken twice as much student loan as our parents, are three times less likely to own a home today than adults were in 1991, have poorer mental health than any previous generation, and many of us won’t ever fully retire.

The stereotype that we are smashed-avo-obsessed, lazy, flighty, oversensitive, fiscally inept and entitled is too far-fetched. Let me take a sledgehammer to that myth: despite being hit hardest by recent inflationary crisis, we millennials are also the ones more likely to take financial steps to cut corners on nonessential items and put off those big-ticket purchases.

Stereotypes suck – and often apply only to the tiniest, richest, whitest sliver of young people. All the nuances of our generational screwery is lost when glazing over someone’s race, class, sexuality, childhood experience and family background.

We have read about intergenerational theft, especially between boomers and millennials. But what’s rarely spoken about is that the poorest of us are further away from the wealthiest of us, accentuating the gaping income and wealth disparities across generations.

It’s no news that the economic and social outcomes for women, Indigenous Australians, individuals with disabilities or caregiving responsibilities, LGBTQI+ individuals and those from lower socioeconomic, rural or migrant family backgrounds are consistently poorer compared with their counterparts.

But in a generation where the average millennial is left longing for a fair go, it seems cruel that inequalities of the most disadvantaged among us not only persist but also mingle and multiply.

This intersectional screwery runs deep in all the realms where we’re getting the short end of the stick – housing, education and employment.

Take the housing market, for instance, and the government policies that favour asset accumulation over housing affordability. The Australian dream of homeownership has become a distant mirage as soaring property prices outpace income growth. A low-skilled boomer worker had a better shot at owning a home than a millennial in the same occupation. Sure, some lucky ones get a leg up from the bank of mum and dad, but not everyone has that privilege. And those inheritances mostly land in the laps of the already wealthy, widening the gap even further.

For the more disadvantaged millennials, even thinking about home ownership is an audacious dream. Affordable housing, which is a fundamental human right, is out of reach for many. Indigenous Australians, for example, are severely overrepresented among the homeless, with women comprising a majority of new cases.

And before you point to the silver lining that millennials have achieved greater female workforce participation than any other generation, I’d like to remind you how the gender pay gap still shamefully persists.

Then there’s education: once seen as the golden ticket to success, it now saddles us with unprecedented debt. Boomers could work minimum wage and pay off their debts – something that will take us at least twice as long.

In a representative cohort study, I found that millennials who were female were in relatively poor health and wealth when growing up and those from a lower socioeconomic background were more likely to be in a job that did not match their educational qualification.

Insecure work piles on the misery, sliding more of us into poverty. Part-time employment, casual contracts, the gig economy – we’re stuck in a cycle of precarious employment. Migrant youth, standing at the forefront of gig economy, experience a set of compounding vulnerabilities related to insecure work, residency status and job-related health hazards. Similarly, LGBTQ+ and caregiving youth continue to face added identity-based discrimination in these shaky workplaces.

Taken together, the economy that has become a young people-screwing machine, widening not only the intergenerational gap but also the intragenerational gap.

So, how to unscrew yourself?

While I’m wary of pointing fingers, let me acknowledge that there is a laundry list of overdue federal policy changes that would at least begin to fortify our future and reknit a more inclusive and equitable safety net. Even amid the awfulness of our political moment, the best way to fight structural disadvantage, I say, is to change the structure itself.

And, rebellious as it may sound, living in a democracy affords us (all of us) some power.

Millennials and younger generations are on the brink of outnumbering older cohorts as the largest voting bloc. My research shows we are not becoming more conservative as we age and are more inclined to vote based on policy issues than along party lines. We’ve already made significant waves in the recent 2022 federal election.

So, before succumbing to despair (if you’re a millennial) or rolling your eyes (if you’re a boomer), consider this: we’re on the right track. Yes, some help (and perhaps some empathy) from the government would be nice, but we can always change that if it doesn’t suit.

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Australia’s economy has become a young people-screwing machine. So how do we unscrew ourselves?

Intifar Chowdhury

Millennials and younger generations are on the brink of outnumbering older cohorts as the largest voting bloc. Living in a democracy affords us the power to change the system

No one woke up one fine morning with the grand ambition to mess with an entire generation just for kicks. Yet here millennials are, unequivocally, unmistakably, screwed.

This is evident when I compare my 29-year-old self to my mother who had it all: debt-free, married, two kids and a stable home sweet home. Meanwhile, I’ve stacked up four uni degrees, struggle to pay off debt, live paycheck to paycheck, and burn the midnight oil 16 hours a day, seven days a week just to prove … well, something. Hats off to mother dear, but seriously, does this seem fair?

And you’ll hear the same tune from most of my millennial crew.

We’ve taken twice as much student loan as our parents, are three times less likely to own a home today than adults were in 1991, have poorer mental health than any previous generation, and many of us won’t ever fully retire.

The stereotype that we are smashed-avo-obsessed, lazy, flighty, oversensitive, fiscally inept and entitled is too far-fetched. Let me take a sledgehammer to that myth: despite being hit hardest by recent inflationary crisis, we millennials are also the ones more likely to take financial steps to cut corners on nonessential items and put off those big-ticket purchases.

Stereotypes suck – and often apply only to the tiniest, richest, whitest sliver of young people. All the nuances of our generational screwery is lost when glazing over someone’s race, class, sexuality, childhood experience and family background.

We have read about intergenerational theft, especially between boomers and millennials. But what’s rarely spoken about is that the poorest of us are further away from the wealthiest of us, accentuating the gaping income and wealth disparities across generations.

It’s no news that the economic and social outcomes for women, Indigenous Australians, individuals with disabilities or caregiving responsibilities, LGBTQI+ individuals and those from lower socioeconomic, rural or migrant family backgrounds are consistently poorer compared with their counterparts.

But in a generation where the average millennial is left longing for a fair go, it seems cruel that inequalities of the most disadvantaged among us not only persist but also mingle and multiply.

This intersectional screwery runs deep in all the realms where we’re getting the short end of the stick – housing, education and employment.

Take the housing market, for instance, and the government policies that favour asset accumulation over housing affordability. The Australian dream of homeownership has become a distant mirage as soaring property prices outpace income growth. A low-skilled boomer worker had a better shot at owning a home than a millennial in the same occupation. Sure, some lucky ones get a leg up from the bank of mum and dad, but not everyone has that privilege. And those inheritances mostly land in the laps of the already wealthy, widening the gap even further.

For the more disadvantaged millennials, even thinking about home ownership is an audacious dream. Affordable housing, which is a fundamental human right, is out of reach for many. Indigenous Australians, for example, are severely overrepresented among the homeless, with women comprising a majority of new cases.

And before you point to the silver lining that millennials have achieved greater female workforce participation than any other generation, I’d like to remind you how the gender pay gap still shamefully persists.

Then there’s education: once seen as the golden ticket to success, it now saddles us with unprecedented debt. Boomers could work minimum wage and pay off their debts – something that will take us at least twice as long.

In a representative cohort study, I found that millennials who were female were in relatively poor health and wealth when growing up and those from a lower socioeconomic background were more likely to be in a job that did not match their educational qualification.

Insecure work piles on the misery, sliding more of us into poverty. Part-time employment, casual contracts, the gig economy – we’re stuck in a cycle of precarious employment. Migrant youth, standing at the forefront of gig economy, experience a set of compounding vulnerabilities related to insecure work, residency status and job-related health hazards. Similarly, LGBTQ+ and caregiving youth continue to face added identity-based discrimination in these shaky workplaces.

Taken together, the economy that has become a young people-screwing machine, widening not only the intergenerational gap but also the intragenerational gap.

So, how to unscrew yourself?

While I’m wary of pointing fingers, let me acknowledge that there is a laundry list of overdue federal policy changes that would at least begin to fortify our future and reknit a more inclusive and equitable safety net. Even amid the awfulness of our political moment, the best way to fight structural disadvantage, I say, is to change the structure itself.

And, rebellious as it may sound, living in a democracy affords us (all of us) some power.

Millennials and younger generations are on the brink of outnumbering older cohorts as the largest voting bloc. My research shows we are not becoming more conservative as we age and are more inclined to vote based on policy issues than along party lines. We’ve already made significant waves in the recent 2022 federal election.

So, before succumbing to despair (if you’re a millennial) or rolling your eyes (if you’re a boomer), consider this: we’re on the right track. Yes, some help (and perhaps some empathy) from the government would be nice, but we can always change that if it doesn’t suit.

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A-League TV blackout possible after broadcast partner collapses

  • Global Advance unlikely to be able to produce weekend’s games
  • APL ‘disappointed’ but finalising alternative agreement

The A-Leagues are hoping to recuperate close to $1m from broadcast production partner Global Advance, which has gone into administration and sent the competition scrambling to find a last-minute replacement.

Global Advance’s collapse has forced the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) to find an 11th-hour alternative ahead of this weekend’s fixtures – starting with Thursday’s A-League Women meeting between the Central Coast Mariners and Western United.

The APL was locked in talks late into Wednesday night and early Thursday as it attempted to find a production company to plug the gap.

Global Advance was founded in 2020. Its first major partner was the A-Leagues following the competitions’ split from long-term broadcaster Fox Sports.

The company has produced broadcasts for every match on Network Ten and its streaming partner Paramount.

The APL pays Global Advance close to $12m a year, a large portion of which is due at the start of each season with the outstanding balance distributed throughout the year.

It is understood that after experiencing financial difficulties earlier this month, Global Advance asked for an advance from the APL to meet production costs for April and May.

On Tuesday this week, Global Advance told the APL it was unlikely to be in a position to produce matches this weekend.

“We are disappointed in the manner in which this has come to our attention, and the risk this has placed on our fan, player, club, broadcast and commercial commitments,” the APL said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“We have been let down, and will be working with the administrators to recoup moneys owing to APL.

“Through a lot of hard work by a new production company, Ten-Paramount, and our team, we are close to finalising an agreement and are confident all matches will be broadcast, starting tomorrow.

“There are many challenges that such a short timeframe presents, but we are working through this urgently with all of our stakeholders, and we thank the production company for their cooperation, flexibility and expertise at such short notice.”

In a statement, Said Jahani of Global Advance’s administrators Grant Thornton said: “We have immediately commenced a dialogue with the Australian Professional Leagues at the most senior levels to determine whether television coverage for all A-League men’s and women’s games this weekend can continue to be provided.

“At this stage, it remains uncertain as to whether this will be possible.”

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Labor’s deportation bill could be used to blacklist entire countries’ citizens from obtaining visas to Australia

Greens attack legislation, now the subject of a Senate inquiry, as a ‘Trump-style travel ban’

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Entire countries could be blacklisted by Australia under proposed visa changes that have been described by migrant groups as “appalling” and by the Greens as a “Trump-style travel ban”.

The legislation – that will now be subject to a six-week Senate inquiry – could affect applicants from Russia, Iran, Iraq and South Sudan, as well as other countries unnamed by the government, that refuse to accept the forcible return of their nationals.

Refugees living in Australia and migrant community groups say the law could cut them off from their families and friends permanently.

“It’s appalling,” Betia Shakiba, an Iranian refugee and lawyer, said, “and a slap in the face.

“This bill is a pure definition of discrimination. Australia prides itself on being a multicultural society and on being non-discriminatory, but this bill says the opposite.”

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At a hastily organised Senate committee hearing on Tuesday night, the secretary of the home affairs department, Stephanie Foster, was asked about further countries that could have travel bans imposed. She told the committee: “I don’t have the list with me,” before amending her self-described “very loose wording” to say: “I do not have a list.”

The government wanted the migration amendment (removal and other measures) bill to be passed on wednesday – after less than 36 hours of consideration by the parliament – but the Senate, instead, voted to send it off to a six-week Senate inquiry.

The legislation seeks to criminalise non-citizens in Australia refusing to cooperate with a forced return process (but excludes refugees being compelled to return to a country where they faced persecution).

The law would impose a mandatory jail sentence of one to five years and a possible fine in excess of $90,000 for non-citizens who refuse to cooperate with their forced removal from Australia, such as failing to attend an interview or providing certain documents.

But legal and migration experts say the details of the bill are far broader and give the government sweeping powers, including the ability to impose travel bans on all citizens from certain countries.

The bill creates an executive power for the government to designate any country as a “removal concern country” if it refused to accept its own nationals being returned from Australia, imposing an outright ban on any visa applications from any citizen of that country.

Migrant communities in Australia fear they could be cut off from friends and family.

“If this bill passes, this is going to permanently strip people of the right to reunite with their families,” Shakiba said. “This is not a fair bill.”

In the case of Australian-Iranians: “We are being discriminated against because of the regime running out of my former country.

“We have to be distinguished from our regime, we have to be seen as contributing members of the Australian society that we are already a part of.”

The Greens spokesperson for immigration, Senator David Shoebridge, told the Senate hearing there was an obligation on the government to reveal which countries were “on the list” of potential proscribed countries, otherwise there were “millions of Australians who have family in other countries … thinking ‘is my family on the list?’”

He said later the legislation “effectively introduces a Trump-style travel ban”.

“This has not been the focus of a lot of media, but has been the focus for many in Australia with loved ones overseas. If the government ever uses these proposed powers it will separate families and undermine the multicultural Australia we are all proud of.”

Foster told Tuesday’s Senate hearing the legislation contained ministerial discretion to “lift the bar” for particular individuals, or entire classes of people, from proscribed countries to allow them to apply for a visa.

And Foster said the simple fact of the government having the power might act as a suasion on other countries, without ever having to use it.

“We very much see it as a diplomatic tool that will give us leverage in working with countries to try to make sure we have effective options to return people … not necessarily to have to put it into place,” she said.

She pointed out that the UK government has had a similar power for two years, but has not used it.

The bill’s explanatory memorandum said designating a “removal concern country” would “slow down that entry pipeline into Australia and reduce growth in the cohort of potentially intractable removals over time”. But the Senate hearing heard it could have the unintended consequence of driving people – unable to lawfully travel with a visa – to enter Australia by irregular means, such as by undeclared journey on a small boat.

There are also concerns the power could provoke retaliation from some of the countries targeted.

The US Congressional Research Service has previously considered “recalcitrant” countries and the use of visa sanctions, finding that some nations “may retaliate in ways detrimental to bilateral trade, tourism, law enforcement, or other forms of cooperation”.

The Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the university of New South Wales said it was concerned by the proposal to blacklist entire countries.

“From a human-centred perspective, punishing people who may wish to work, study in or visit Australia for the actions of their government is punitive – particularly when the relevant countries are non-democratic autocracies.”

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Molly the magpie: Queensland premier backs return of Instagram-hit bird to couple after being seized

Steven Miles urges authorities to enable magpie to be reunited with ‘devastated’ Gold Coast carers and its ‘best friend’, their Staffy dog Peggy

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Queensland’s premier has thrown his support behind a campaign to return an Instagram-famous magpie to its former carers and its dog best friend, after it was seized by the environment department.

Gold Coast couple Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen adopted Molly the magpie in 2020 after it fell from the nest.

The bird went viral after it struck up a friendship with their Staffordshire bull terrier Peggy, and the Gold Coast couple created an Instagram page to celebrate what Wells called a “real-life Winnie the Pooh and Piglet story”. A backlog of years of Instagram videos show the pair playing together, sleeping together and spending time together.

They now have more than 719,000 followers on their page, Peggy and Molly, and even published a book in November.

But fame proved no protection from the authorities.

The couple described themselves as “grieving” and “devastated” to lose the magpie, which they surrendered to authorities on 1 March.

“We are devastated to give you this news and of course these beautiful girls [dogs Peggy and Ruby]; they’ve lost their best friend,” Wells said.

In an Instagram message posted on Tuesday, Wells and Mortensen said the department turned initially up on their doorstep in June.

“We did everything in our power to work with the department, including training and also me obtaining my wildlife permit, which, after a period of time, I had to retract my application, as it was a bit of a conflict to our page,” Mortensen said.

They called for an investigation into the handling of the situation by the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation and asked followers to email their support to the state government.

Nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on the department to reunite Peggy and Molly.

On Wednesday, Steven Miles said he backed the campaign and encouraged officers at the department to work with the couple to return the animal.

“I gotta say, I’ve got some sympathy for people supporting Molly the magpie,” the premier said.

“I know our environment department, I used to be their minister. I know they take their responsibilities under the law very seriously. But I think in these circumstances, there’s room for some flexibility. I just urge them to work with Molly’s carers to get the necessary wildlife carer training so that she can get back home.”

The premier and the environment minister, Leanne Linard, do not have the power to order the animal returned. It is a decision of the department.

It is understood that the department says the wild animal was kept without a permit or licence, which is unlawful under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

A department spokesperson said it sharedthe community’s desire to ensure Molly is cared for in the most appropriate way going forward”.

In comments to other media, the department said it was seeking to find the bird a home at a “suitable facility”.

It did not answer questions as to whether it intended to return the bird to Wells and Mortensen.

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Molly the magpie: Queensland premier backs return of Instagram-hit bird to couple after being seized

Steven Miles urges authorities to enable magpie to be reunited with ‘devastated’ Gold Coast carers and its ‘best friend’, their Staffy dog Peggy

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

Queensland’s premier has thrown his support behind a campaign to return an Instagram-famous magpie to its former carers and its dog best friend, after it was seized by the environment department.

Gold Coast couple Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen adopted Molly the magpie in 2020 after it fell from the nest.

The bird went viral after it struck up a friendship with their Staffordshire bull terrier Peggy, and the Gold Coast couple created an Instagram page to celebrate what Wells called a “real-life Winnie the Pooh and Piglet story”. A backlog of years of Instagram videos show the pair playing together, sleeping together and spending time together.

They now have more than 719,000 followers on their page, Peggy and Molly, and even published a book in November.

But fame proved no protection from the authorities.

The couple described themselves as “grieving” and “devastated” to lose the magpie, which they surrendered to authorities on 1 March.

“We are devastated to give you this news and of course these beautiful girls [dogs Peggy and Ruby]; they’ve lost their best friend,” Wells said.

In an Instagram message posted on Tuesday, Wells and Mortensen said the department turned initially up on their doorstep in June.

“We did everything in our power to work with the department, including training and also me obtaining my wildlife permit, which, after a period of time, I had to retract my application, as it was a bit of a conflict to our page,” Mortensen said.

They called for an investigation into the handling of the situation by the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation and asked followers to email their support to the state government.

Nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on the department to reunite Peggy and Molly.

On Wednesday, Steven Miles said he backed the campaign and encouraged officers at the department to work with the couple to return the animal.

“I gotta say, I’ve got some sympathy for people supporting Molly the magpie,” the premier said.

“I know our environment department, I used to be their minister. I know they take their responsibilities under the law very seriously. But I think in these circumstances, there’s room for some flexibility. I just urge them to work with Molly’s carers to get the necessary wildlife carer training so that she can get back home.”

The premier and the environment minister, Leanne Linard, do not have the power to order the animal returned. It is a decision of the department.

It is understood that the department says the wild animal was kept without a permit or licence, which is unlawful under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

A department spokesperson said it sharedthe community’s desire to ensure Molly is cared for in the most appropriate way going forward”.

In comments to other media, the department said it was seeking to find the bird a home at a “suitable facility”.

It did not answer questions as to whether it intended to return the bird to Wells and Mortensen.

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Hormone medication could increase risk of brain tumours, French study finds

Patients taking certain progestogens as a contraceptive or for gynaecological conditions may be more likely to develop growths, researchers say

Millions of women around the world who use certain hormone drugs for contraception and to manage conditions such as endometriosis may have a raised risk of rare, usually benign, brain tumours, researchers say.

Scientists found that prolonged use of certain progestogen medications was linked to a greater risk of meningioma, which are tumours (usually noncancerous) that form in tissues around the brain.

But while the risk of meningioma was higher in women who took the medications for more than a year, one leading expert said the finding should not worry past or present users because the elevated risk remained “extremely small”.

Progestogens are similar to the natural hormone progesterone. They are used in contraceptives, for gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, and in hormone replacement therapies used during the menopause.

A handful of high dose progestogens are already known to raise the risk of meningioma, but in the latest study published in the BMJ, researchers at France’s National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety investigated eight more commonly used forms of the hormone.

Most meningiomas are not usually cancerous and grow slowly, but because they can put pressure on the brain they often need surgical removal. The tumours are rarely life-threatening, but the surgery involved carries risks, not least to brain structures near the tumours, which can sometimes be damaged.

Using data from the French national healthcare system, the researchers identified 18,061 women, with an average age of 58, who had surgery between 2009 and 2018 to remove intracranial meningiomas. By comparing each case with five healthy, matched controls, the researchers found that prolonged use – meaning more than 12 months – of three progestogens was associated with a greater risk of meningioma that needed surgery.

Two oral pills, medrogestone and promegestone, were linked to a 4.1 and 2.7-fold greater risk of meningioma respectively; and medroxyprogesterone acetate, a contraceptive injection sold as Depo-Provera, was linked to a 5.6-fold higher risk. Because the study is observational, it cannot prove that the hormones cause the tumours. No excess risk was found for progesterone, dydrogesterone, or widely used hormonal intrauterine systems.

In a statement, Pfizer, the manufacturer of Depo-Porvera, said: “We are aware of this potential risk associated with long-term use of progestogens and, in collaboration with regulatory agencies, are in the process of updating product labels and patient information leaflets with appropriate wording.”

Writing in the journal, the researchers call for more studies into the safety of the hormones, particularly injectable medroxyprogesterone acetate. The injections are rarely used in the UK and the rest of Europe, but 74 million women globally receive them, meaning “the number of attributable meningiomas may be potentially high”, they write.

Prof Paul Pharoah, a cancer epidemiologist who spent 20 years at the University of Cambridge studying hormone-related cancers before setting up a lab at the Cedars-Sinai hospital in California, said there were many different types of progestogens and no association with meningioma was found for those commonly used in the UK.

“Women taking the commonly used birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy are not at increased risk of meningioma,” said Pharoah, who was not involved in the French study. “It is important that women do not stop using their birth control pills without consulting their doctor.”

Based on UK cancer data registries, about four in every thousand 30-year-old women would be expected to develop a meningioma by the age of 80. If using medroxyprogesterone acetate for more than a year increases the risk about fivefold, as the BMJ study suggests, that figure would rise to 20 in every thousand.

“The risk of meningioma is extremely small,” Pharoah said. “If I were currently using Depo-Provera because of the advantages of a long-acting injectable contraceptive I would continue to do so. In short, current or previous users of Depo-Provera do not need to worry about their very small risk of meningioma.”

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Ex-Trump lawyer should be disbarred for his role in 2020 election, says judge

Judge recommends John Eastman, facing 11 disciplinary charges, lose his California law license over efforts to keep Trump in power

A judge has recommended that conservative attorney John Eastman lose his California law license over his efforts to keep Donald Trump in power after the 2020 election.

Eastman, a former law school dean, faces 11 disciplinary charges in the state bar court stemming from his development of a legal strategy to have then vice president Mike Pence interfere with the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

State bar court of California judge Yvette Roland’s recommendation, issued Wednesday, now goes to the California supreme court for a final ruling on whether he should be disbarred. Eastman can appeal the top court’s decision.

Eastman’s attorney, Randall A Miller, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the judge’s decision.

The California state bar is a regulatory agency and the only court system in the US that is dedicated to attorney discipline.

Eastman separately faces criminal charges in Georgia in the case accusing the former president and 18 allies of conspiring to overturn the Republican’s loss in the state. Eastman, who has pleaded not guilty, has argued he was merely doing his job as Trump’s attorney when he challenged the results of the 2020 election. He has denounced the case as targeting attorneys “for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients”.

He’s also one of the unnamed co-conspirators in the separate 2020 election interference case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, but Eastman is not charged in the federal case.

The state bar of California alleges that Eastman violated the state’s business and professions code by making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of “moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption”. In doing so, the agency says he “violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land – an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy”.

Eastman was a close adviser to Trump in the run-up to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. He wrote a memo laying out a plan for Pence to reject legitimate electoral votes for Biden while presiding over the joint session of Congress on January 6 in order to keep Trump in the White House.

Prosecutors seeking to strip Eastman of his law license depicted him as a Trump enabler who fabricated a baseless theory and made false claims of fraud in hopes of overturning the results of the election.

Eastman’s attorney countered that his client never intended to steal the election but was considering ways to delay electoral vote counting so states could investigate allegations of voting improprieties. Trump’s claims of fraud were roundly rejected by courts, including by judges Trump appointed.

Eastman has been a member of the California bar since 1997, according to its website. He was a law clerk for US supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and a founding director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a law firm affiliated with the Claremont Institute. He ran for California attorney general in 2010, finishing second in the Republican primary.

Eastman was dean of Chapman University law school in southern California from 2007 to 2010 and was a professor at the school when he retired in 2021 after more than 160 faculty members signed a letter calling for the university to take action against him.

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Fears grow Meta will block news on Facebook and Instagram as Australian government faces pressure to act

Publishers and politicians are siding against Meta and urging Labor to force the company to pay for news

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Meta will either reduce the amount of news people see or block it entirely on Facebook and Instagram, experts and publishers warn, as the government faces pressure to require Meta to show news content and pay for it.

Meta informed publishers nearly a month ago that it would not enter new multimillion-dollar deals for content when contracts expire this year. Since then the Albanese government has kicked off a process to potentially designate the tech company under the news media bargaining code.

Publishers received letters from the communications minister, Michelle Rowland, and assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, two weeks ago asking for information on whether Meta should be designated under NMBC, which would require Meta to negotiate with news publishers for payment for content shared on its platform or face fines worth 10% of its Australian revenue.

Axel Bruns, a professor of communication and media studies at Queensland University of Technology’s Digital Media Research Centre, studied the impact of the six-day 2021 news ban in Australia, and told Guardian Australia it was likely Meta would stick with a ban, as it had in Canada since August.

“The absence of news from their services that this produces would give them a pretty good argument to challenge any NMBC requirements to share ad revenue with Australian news publishers in court,” he said.

Instagram last week introduced a change that opts users out of having political content recommended to them unless they opt into it. Meta has said it plans to make the change for Facebook too. Bruns said if Meta were not designated under the news media bargaining code, it would probably just continue to reduce the amount of news seen on the platforms.

“In fact doing so gives them a good argument against designation too: the less news content plays any significant role [or] has any significant visibility on their platforms, the less there is an argument for sharing ad revenue with news publishers via the NMBC mechanism,” he said.

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Smaller news publishers, many of whom did not make a deal with Meta when the NMBC was brought in back in 2021, agreed it was likely Meta would remove news. Tim Duggan, the chair of the Digital Publishers Alliance, a group of more than 100 smaller publishers such as Private Media, Broadsheet, Man of Many and others, said in an opinion piece this month that it was likely Meta would do what it did in Canada and block news.

He said this disproportionately affected the smaller publishers that were more reliant on social media for traffic and revenue compared with larger news outlets, forcing staff cuts or closures.

The alliance is reportedly calling for a “must carry” law that would require Meta to take news on its platforms. The publishers have an ally in News Corp, with the company’s Australian head, Michael Miller, telling Mi3 last week that designating Meta under the code carried risks, and including a “must carry” obligation should be considered.

Labor, Liberal and Greens politicians have also sided against Meta since the announcement. Rowland told ABC radio on Wednesday that Meta has “such large revenues and market power and wealth that exceeds the GDP of some nations” and should be complying with the NMBC.

“This is a pattern of behaviour by Meta and we are very well aware of some of the other issues that involve Meta at the moment in terms of their lack of responsibility, lack of transparency and accountability, which is only capable of being exercised when you do have that market power,” she said.

Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah, the Labor MP for the Victorian electorate of Higgins, told parliament on Tuesday Meta “should have been strangled at birth” due “to the litany of social harms, from extremism, scams and the weakening of democracies we can add the deteriorating mental health of our children”.

The Liberal MP David Coleman told Sky News on Monday that Meta’s conduct had been “appalling” and “disgraceful” and called on the government to get the company to pay.

“Well, they have got to get it done. I mean, we got it done, that’s the bottom line. All that matters is the outcome.”

Rowland said the government was following the process to designate under the code for a “very strong reason”.

“This is a highly litigious organisation with deep pockets. We need to follow this very closely, but of course the government is well aware and is examining a range of issues involving Meta and their lack of good corporate citizenship when it comes to online harms.”

The Greens MP Elizabeth Watson-Brown said last week Meta should not be allowed to “bully users, journalists and democratically elected governments by deciding which laws of the land they will choose to comply with” and Meta should be designated.

A Meta spokesperson declined to comment. This month the company defended its decision, stating it should not be the role of global tech companies to solve the issues facing news media, and people were not coming to Facebook for news content.

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King lauds friendship ‘in time of need’ in first comments since princess’s diagnosis

Pre-recorded message for Maundy service in Worcester Cathedral will be played as Camilla stands in for monarch

King Charles will highlight the importance of friendship “in a time of need” on Thursday in his first public comments since the Princess of Wales announced that she was receiving treatment for cancer.

In his second Easter message as king, Charles will say how Christ set an “example of how we should serve and care for each other”, and how as a nation “we need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need”.

The pre-recorded comments will be broadcast in his absence at a Royal Maundy service in Worcester Cathedral on Thursday.

The 75-year-old will also reiterate his coronation pledge “not to be served but to serve”.

He has recorded a Bible reading and, in his brief personal message, will describe the Maundy money recipients as “wonderful examples of such kindness” in “giving so much of their lives to the service of others in their communities”.

Charles was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and stepped back from public duties while receiving outpatient treatment. He is scheduled to make his most significant public appearance since his diagnosis on Sunday, where he will attend church with Queen Camilla.

The Royal Maundy service is an annual event where the monarch, who is the head of the Church of England, presents specially minted coins to people recognised for their community service. Camilla will be deputising for Charles at the ceremony on Thursday.

The ceremony commemorates Jesus’s Last Supper, when he washed the feet of his disciples as an act of humility the day before Good Friday.

Sovereigns no longer wash the feet of the needy, as they did in medieval times, but 75 women and 75 men – signifying the king’s age – will be presented with two purses, one red and one white, filled with Maundy money.

There will be a reduced number of members of the royal family present in order to avoid the health risks associated with large crowds.

Last Friday the Princess of Wales announced she was receiving treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer. She called the discovery of the disease a “huge shock”.

Catherine had faced mounting online conspiracy theories about her whereabouts and her condition after retreating from public view to recuperate after major abdominal surgery in January.

She later said she was “enormously touched” by the public support after her announcement.

Last month the king said he had been reduced to tears by the messages and cards of support he received from well-wishers.

The pressure group Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, signalled it would have a small contingent of activists protesting at the service in Worcester on Thursday.

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