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Australia to receive first Labor Budget in a decade

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Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised to build a better future

In a matter of hours, the Australian Government will hand down a “responsible, family-friendly budget, that will help Australians with the cost of living,” according to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Australia is facing nearly $1 trillion in debt and soaring inflation. But the Albanese Government insists they have made improvements “line by line”.

The Prime Minister says there will be “cheaper child care, cheaper medicines, extending paid parental leave and getting wages moving again.”

Dr Leonora Risse is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at RMIT University, who said these issues should be central to the budget.

“Paid parental leave and childcare affordability should be treated as core economic issues that affect the country’s overall productivity and prosperity, rather than just thinking about these policies as “women’s issues.” 

“We have to make bold moves to make it societally and professionally acceptable for men to put their hand up and take a larger share of parental caregiving,” she said.

The budget—the first for a Labor Government since 2013—is expected have more ‘cuts’ than ‘spend’. But analysts believe it provides an opportunity to address the nation’s post-pandemic future.

“Women also lost their jobs or lost hours of work together with any opportunities for career development,” said Emeritus Professor Sara Charlesworth at RMIT University.

“While many employers were supportive, different employers and managers varied considerably in the support they provided to women who were juggling day to day care responsibilities with the additional burdens of COVID.”  

PROFESSOR SARA CHARLESWORTH, RMIT UNIVERSITY

“The impact of the additional burdens taken on by many women during COVID will cast a long shadow on their mental health and the rising number of women seeking help post lockdown is hardly surprising,” Professor Charlesworth explained.

Mr Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers will get a second bite of the apple in less than a year, when another budget is handed down in May 2023.

Dr Debajyoti Chakrabarty is a Lecturer in Finance and Economics at Charles Darwin University. He said a strong job market and resources sector will boost this year’s budget.

“However, there are also reports of expenditure blowouts in infrastructure, aged care and health.”

“The government has to be careful in its spending strategy and use it towards the targeted cost of living relief to vulnerable households and improving productivity,” Dr Chakrabarty said.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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U.S. fighters shoot down Chinese spy balloon – now what?

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U.S. military fighter aircraft shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon as it floated off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, drawing to a close a dramatic saga that shone a spotlight on worsening Sino-U.S. relations.

“We successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Joe Biden said.

Biden said he had issued an order on Wednesday to take down the balloon, but the Pentagon had recommended waiting until it could be done over open water to safeguard civilians from debris crashing down to Earth from thousands of feet (meters) above commercial air traffic.

China has mounted “the largest intelligence operation in the history of the human race” against the US and Australia, a former top US intelligence official has warned, as the US military shot down a Chinese spy balloon as it neared the Atlantic coast above the Carolinas.

Multiple fighter and refueling aircraft were involved in the mission, but only one — an F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia — took the shot at 2:39 p.m. (1939 GMT), using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, a senior U.S. military official said.

The balloon was shot down about six nautical miles off the U.S. coast, over relatively shallow water, potentially aiding efforts to recover key elements of the Chinese surveillance equipment among the debris in the coming days, officials said.

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Russia throws more troops at Ukraine front line

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says the situation on the front lines in the east of the country is getting tougher and Russia was throwing more and more troops into battle.

Russian forces are slowly gaining ground in the Donbas region, encircling the city of Bakhmut north of Donetsk and battling to take control of a nearby road which is a major supply route for Ukrainian forces. They are also trying to capture Vuhledar, southwest of Donetsk.

“I’ve often had to say the situation at the front is tough, and is getting tougher, and it’s that time again. … The invader is putting more and more of his forces into breaking down our defences,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.

“It is very difficult now in Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Lyman and other directions,” he continued.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on Telegram that Russian efforts to break the defences in Bakhmut and Lyman had failed.

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Balloon diplomacy blows China off course

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China claims an “airship” that is flying over the United States is for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes and voiced regret that it strayed into U.S. airspace.

U.S. officials said on Thursday that a Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the United States for a couple of days, in what would be a brazen act just days ahead of a planned trip to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a statement late on Friday, China’s foreign ministry also said that it would continue to maintain communications with the United States to properly handle the unexpected situation.

“The airship is from China and is civilian in nature, used for meteorological and other scientific research. Due to the influence of westerly winds and its limited control capability, the airship deviated from its intended course,” it said.

“China regrets that the airship strayed into the United States by mistake due to force majeure. China will continue to maintain communication with the U.S. side to properly handle this accident,” it said.

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