The Victorian government has taken a swipe at exclusive men’s only clubs, announcing plans to strip them of land tax concessions traditionally afforded to charities and social associations.Victoria’s treasurer, Tim Pallas, is preparing to deliver the state’s 2021 budget next Thursday, and staring down an eye-watering bill from the devastating Covid-19 second wave. In order to raise revenue Pallas has announced new land tax measures, expect to bring in an extra $2.7bn over the next four years.One of these new announcements is the removal of concessions to single-gender men’s and women’s social clubs like the Melbourne Club, Australian Club and Athenaeum Club.These exclusive organisations, made up of invite-only members from the upper echelons of Melbourne society, are generally in prime CBD locations, but up until now have not had to pay regular land taxes as they enjoyed the same exemption as other non-for-profit social clubs.“The days of giving elitist organisations like the Melbourne Club the luxury of a land tax concession are over,” Pallas said on Saturday.In his statement announcing the rule changes, Pallas said “for too long, private gender-exclusive clubs have benefited … while discriminating against half the population.”A spokesperson from Pallas’s office confirmed to Guardian Australia the measure would also apply to exclusive women’s only clubs like the Alexandra or Lyceum clubs, but would only target private member organisations, so bodies such as the Country Women’s Association would be spared.Single-gender societies, particularly the men’s only clubs, have fallen out of favour in recent years. In March a group comprised of key supporters of the Melbourne Football Club was criticised after the ABC reported they were organising a season launch event at the Australian Club. This venue has exclusively male membership, although women are now allowed into the building as guests.The then chief executive of Respect Victoria, Tracey Gaudry, slammed the decision, telling ABC it “sends a message to women and gender diverse players and fans that they are not unconditionally welcome”.Membership to these societies was also a contentious issue in last year’s Victoria Bar Association elections, with several newly elected council members declining to answer questions surrounding membership to men-only clubs in a candidate questionnaire.However, the Victorian governments move is largely symbolic with the new tax measure forecast to raise just $1m over the next four years, with the bulk of the $2.7bn in revenue to come from other rule charges targeting the top tier of landowners in the state.Among these is a “windfall gains tax” on property developers who often make huge profits overnight when ex-industrial land is rezoned to allow for it to be turned into residential estates.The new measure will raise $40m a year, with the money to be invested in public transport, schools and other community needs.Pallas said this would make Victoria’s tax system “fairer and more progressive” and was consistent with reforms being brought in by the US president, Joe Biden, to “mobilise new revenue from those in the best position to contribute”.Taxes on large land holdings will also increase to raise more than $380m a year. From 1 January 2021 the land tax rate will rise by 0.25 percentage points for taxable landholdings worth more than $1.8m and by 0.30 percentage points for those exceeding $3m.Stamp duty on properties worth more than $2m will also increase, raising an extra $137m a year on average.Asked by reporters if the government was unfairly taxing the rich, Pallas said those with the capacity to provide were being required to make a “modest contribution” for a more cohesive community.“I’ve never been one to increase a tax simply for the thrill of it,” he said.While the property industry was hit hard in the early phase of the pandemic – for which it received ample government support – there had since been a “massive bounce back” of wealth accumulation at the top end of the market, he explained.The Melbourne Club and Alexandra Clubs declined to comment on the rule changes.
On whether people should travel from Monday, Johnson has urged people to think twice and wants people to recognise there is “extra risk and disruption to progress caused by this new variant”.
He added it is important that people in the areas seeing spikes recognise there is an “extra risk, extra disruption, a threat of disruption to progress caused by this new variant”.
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In response to a question about how likely it is that the final unlocking of restrictions in England will happen on June 21, Johnson admits he cannot say “for certain”.
Numbers of infections remain “low” across the country, he added, and the situation is different from last year because of vaccines.
People will have to “wait and see” whether the new variant is more transmissible and wait for more evidence that vaccines have cut risks of hospitalisations and deaths.
The PM is asked how soon he would implement restrictions if cases of “variants of concern” put pressure on hospitals. Johnson responds he would implement measures if it appeared the NHS was becoming overwhelmed.
Prof. Whitty is asked when the under 30s can except to receive the vaccine. He replies he hopes everybody has their first vaccine by end of July, saying “that is the aim”.
The PM said he is “very sorry” for the those living in Bolton and Blackburn where there is a surge of the Indian variant and he will not impose further restrictions on them.
Johnson added advanced surveillance and data gathering means if there is a danger of the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure we would see the signs early on and could react in good time.
Indian variant ‘could make it more difficult to move to step four’ of lockdown-easing in June, Johnson says
To clarify, Johnson said the roadmap out of lockdown remains in place but the Indian variant “could make it more difficult to move to step four in June”.
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Johnson also said the NHS will also prioritise first doses for anyone eligible who has not yet come forward.
He urged people “to exercise the greatest caution because the choices we each make in the coming days will have a material effect” on England’s progress.
“We won’t be preventing businesses from reopening on Monday but we will be asking you do to your bit.
This includes getting the vaccine when eligible, getting free lateral flow tests and isolating when asked.
On the number of Covid-19 admissions in Greater Manchester NHS trusts, Prof. Whitty said hospital admissions are low but this is “early days”.
Now onto the seven-day case rates by age in Bolton, Prof Whitty said the Indian variant has been found in the region with cases going up significantly over the past few weeks, especially in the over 60s.
Onto the slide for the weekly number of sequenced cases of the Indian variant in England, Professor Whitty said this is on a steady upward curve. He added there is confidence the Indian variant is more transmissible than the UK strain.
The second slide shows the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 which is also decreasing.
Representative Chip Roy of Texas, a strident conservative, will run against Representative Elise Stefanik of New York for the No. 3 House Republican leadership position, a move of protest reflecting unhappiness among hard-right lawmakers with the congresswoman party leaders anointed to replace Representative Liz Cheney.
Mr. Roy’s decision, reported earlier by Politico and confirmed by two officials familiar with the plans, comes as the Texas Republican, a former chief of staff to Senator Ted Cruz, also of Texas, had vented frustration about what he cast as Ms. Stefanik’s insufficient conservative credentials and party leaders’ rush to install her shortly after deposing Ms. Cheney for her unwillingness to stay quiet about former President Donald J. Trump’s election lies.
With Mr. Trump and House Republicans’ top two leaders backing Ms. Stefanik’s bid, it is unlikely that Mr. Roy’s candidacy could derail her ascension to the No. 3 post. But it is a sign of the internal discord in the conference prompted by the decision among party leaders to depose Ms. Cheney for her repeated efforts to call out Mr. Trump’s repeated myth of a stolen election.
Kenya’s High Court ruled a drive by President Uhuru Kenyatta to change the constitution was illegal, stopping a move critics say was designed to check his deputy, whom he has fallen out with publicly.
Parliament already passed the proposed amendments – popularly known as the Building Bridges Initiative – which mark the biggest change to the East African nation’s government structure since a new constitution was adopted in 2010.
However, issuing a ruling on several challenges lodged by various parties, a five-judge bench of the court said on Thursday that Kenyatta used a constitutional provision reserved for citizens to initiate the changes, making the process illegal.
“The constitutional amendment bill is an initiative of the president and the law is clear that the president does not have the constitutional mandate to initiate any constitutional changes through popular initiative,” the court said in its ruling.
As a result “civil proceedings can be instituted against the president for violating the constitution, by initiating its amendment,” the judges added.
“The president cannot be both player and umpire in the same match,” said Jairus Ngaah, one of the judges.
The government, which wants to hold a referendum after Kenyatta signs the bill into law, said it will appeal the ruling.
Kenyatta says the bill promotes the sharing of power among competing ethnic groups to reduce cyclical election violence and is not targeting anyone.
It will create 70 new constituencies, return the role of cabinet ministers to elected members of parliament, and create several powerful new posts: a prime minister, two deputies and an official leader of the parliamentary opposition.
Allies of Deputy President William Ruto, right, have loudly opposed the constitutional changes bill [File: Reuters]
Kenyatta initiated the changes with the backing of former prime minister Raila Odinga, after the two made peace in January 2018 following a divisive presidential election the previous year in which the president beat Odinga.
The rapprochement isolated Kenyatta’s deputy, William Ruto, who wants to succeed his boss when he steps down next year after serving the two constitutionally allowed five-year terms.
The constitutional amendments are partly designed to tame the political ambitions of the Kalenjin ethnic group’s Ruto, by making it possible to cobble together an alliance against him, said John Githongo, a prominent anti-graft campaigner.
“It is very clear that some of these alignments are to sideline him,” he said.
Ruto’s allies have loudly opposed the constitutional changes bill in parliament and outside.
“I don’t think we have a constitutional problem in Kenya… The biggest problem in Kenya is an economic problem,” Ndindi Nyoro, a pro-Ruto parliamentarian, said on the local Citizen TV.
The next presidential election will be held in 2022 and Kenyatta, having served two terms, is not eligible to stand again.
Ruto said the constitutional reform will create a system allowing Kenyatta and Odinga, respectively Kikuyu and Luo, the two main ethnic groups in the country, to share power.
A few more bits and pieces from the budget: the government has scrapped a “demeaning” crackdown that forced thousands of welfare recipients – most of whom were single mothers – to get a witness to verify their relationship status.
Victoria records no new local cases of Covid-19
No new local cases of Covid-19 in Victoria recorded, and almost 22,000 tests: good news, given the bloke caught the virus in South Australia hotel quarantine and was kicking about (including on crowded trains) while infected.
Reported yesterday: No new local cases and 1 new case acquired overseas (currently in HQ).- 7,955 vaccine doses were administered- 21,984 test results were receivedMore later: https://t.co/2vKbgKHFvv#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData pic.twitter.com/x4DnRLhhw4
May 12, 2021
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Michael Sukkar is then asked about the “inept” vaccine rollout to date, and gets a little testy.
Look at Australia, on any metric, whether you look at the health metric, whether you look at the economic metrics. We are top of the leaderboard in virtually any way you measure our response to Covid-19. I don’t think Australians look at that anything other than a sense of pride – pride in themselves, first and foremost, for rising to the occasion throughout Covid-19. I don’t think anybody could use the word “inept”, when describing Australia’s response to Covid-19.
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Sukkar goes on:
It is diversifying, it’s another step along the road of keeping Australians [safe] and ensuring that in the end we are able to offer all Australians the opportunity to be vaccinated.
He is asked whether all Australians will receive a second dose by the end of the year.
I would just echo the prime minister’s remarks. In the end, yes, there are assumptions that are made as part of the budget. That’s how we put budgets together … We want to get all Australians vaccinated as soon as possible and offer that opportunity to Australians as soon as possible. There are so many ways in which the rollout is impacted, global factors amongst other, very well-known to you and viewers, we are working tirelessly to try to deliver that as soon as possible.
Assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP
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The assistant treasurer and housing minister Michael Sukkar is speaking to the ABC.
He says of the Moderna announcement: “It’s another step in the plank of making sure all Australians are vaccinated.”
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NSW plans to bring back international students this year
The New South Wales government is going to have a crack at bringing international students back this year.
AAP reports that under the plan before the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, overseas students would be quarantined in Sydney using purpose-built housing.
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg said in releasing the budget this week that Australia’s borders would stay shut for the foreseeable future.But Morrison said the commonwealth was aware of the ambitious proposal.
“They’re still a long way from landing this, I should stress,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.“But it’s something that we’re encouraging of but it’s got to be done safely and we’ve got to be able to do it in a way that doesn’t risk the great success we’ve had.”NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet hopes international students will be back in lecture halls and tutoring sessions by the second semester.“This is about finding a way to bring students back but not at the expense of the weekly cap of Australian citizens arriving back in NSW,” he told the Australian.“If we don’t address this issue then I believe we’ll have an industry on its knees and one that will look elsewhere.”The international student market is worth $14bn a year to the NSW economy.
The University of Sydney. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock
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Australian superstar Sam Kerr. Photograph: Julian Finney/UEFA/Getty Images
We should also all take a moment this morning to appreciate how great Sam Kerr is (even though she plays for Chelsea).
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Last night there was also this story published relating to the death of a young girl in a Perth hospital emergency department. A staff member has resigned after the girl and her family waited two hours for help before she died of sepsis.
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But the main story this morning is the Covid-19 vaccine agreement signed with Moderna. Here is a little more detail from the US company’s statement released late last night Australian time:
The statement says the agreement “includes 10 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine against the ancestral strain (mRNA-1273) to be delivered in 2021 and 15 million doses of Moderna’s updated variant booster vaccine candidate to be delivered in 2022.
“Purchase under this agreement is subject to regulatory approval of mRNA-1273 and booster vaccine candidates by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia. The Company expects to submit an application to the TGA shortly. As Moderna has continued to scale its commercial network, the Company announced earlier this year that it also plans to open a commercial subsidiary in Australia in 2021.”
The chief executive officer of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, said:
We appreciate the partnership and support from the government of Australia with this first supply agreement for doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and our variant booster candidates.
As we seek to protect people around the world with our COVID-19 vaccine and potentially our variant booster candidates, we look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities.
The statement adds that Moderna already has agreements with Canada, Israel, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Singapore, Qatar, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and the World Health Organization.
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Here’s another significant story that emerged late yesterday in relation to Brittany Higgins:
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Good morning and welcome to today’s coverage, with the big news that the federal government has signed a deal with US pharmaceutical company Moderna for 25m doses of its mRNA vaccine. The federal government has been criticised over the slow pace of its rollout and the over-reliance on the AstraZeneca vaccine and there are hopes that the Moderna announcement will help get the program back on track. It’s also budget-reply day. Labor leader Anthony Albanese will deliver his speech to parliament at 7.30pm but has already outlined some of the key areas he will focus on.
Albanese will unveil a new policy to help 2,000 young entrepreneurs cover some of the costs of participation in accredited “accelerator” programs in universities and private-sector incubators.
His reply to the budget is also expected to include new commitments on renewable energy and initiatives for women.
Let’s get started.
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Amid such tragedy the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future – which is why I’ve always said when the time is right there should be a full and independent inquiry.
So, I can confirm today that the government will establish an independent public inquiry on a statutory basis, with full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 – including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath.
In establishing the inquiry, we will work closely with the devolved administrations …
We will consult the devolved administrations before finalising the scope and detailed arrangements so that this inquiry can consider all key aspects of the UK response.
This process will place the state’s actions under the microscope and we should be mindful of the scale of that undertaking and the resources required to do it properly …
Should [new variants] prove highly transmissible and elude the protection of our vaccines, they would have the potential to cause even greater suffering than we endured in January. There is in any case a high likelihood of a surge this winter when the weather assists the transmission of all respiratory diseases and when the pressure on our NHS is most acute.
So I expect that the right moment for the inquiry to begin is at the end of this period in the spring of next year, spring 2022.
This inquiry must be able to look at the events of the last year in the cold light of day and identify the key issues that will make a difference for the future.
Free to scrutinise every document to hear from all the key players and analyse and learn from the breadth of our response.
That’s the right way, I think, to get the answers that the people of this country deserve and to ensure that our United Kingdom is better prepared for any future pandemic.
Coalition budget delivers $30bn in tax breaks and money for fossil fuel projects but no measures to help struggling universities or clean energy projects. Follow all the latest news and reaction to the 2021 federal budget as it happens The complete 2021 Australian budget: choose what matters to you‘Team Australia’ is bouncing back, Josh Frydenberg declaresExplore all of our 2021 Australia federal budget coverage 11.08pm BST We covered this off last night -but just in case you missed it, the budget is also setting aside about $500m to expand Australia’s detention centres – including Christmas Island. That’s because covid has made it really hard for the government to deport people like it usually does, so we have even more people in detention than usual. Christmas Island, currently home to a young family that just wants to go home to central Queensland, is being “hardened” to be able to handle riots.So yup. That’s something we are doing (along with making migrants wait at least four years before they are able to access government payments in one of the only saving measures to be found in the budget. Oh and in case you were wondering, no, the government is not going after companies which profited from JobKeeper. That would be crazy!) 11.03pm BST The tourism sector is another industry which is not too happy with the budget – while airlines get a continuing leg up with subsidised flights, not everyone in the sector benefits – and the news in the budget (or the assumption as its called) that the international border will remain closed for at least another year has left many tourism operators tearing their hair out.Here was Josh Frydenberg’s response to that while speaking to the ABC:Well, there was a very substantial package of announcements that we have made to support the aviation, the tourism sector, as well as the arts and the entertainment sector. And last night, with international education providers. Continue reading…
Happy budget day my darlings!
It’s Christmas for nerds, and luckily I’m a big nerd as well, and I’m very excited to jump into it with you.
Matilda Boseley here, minding the politics blog while Amy Reminkis prepares to be locked away in the budget room today.
Amy and the rest of the politics team will bring you all the ins and outs of the budget as soon as they are released (around 7pm), but until then I’ll bring you all the updates here.
Now to the big announcements this morning:
First up, the federal government is expected to pour billions of dollars into aged care and mental health after years of sector leaders begging for a funding boost.
Mental health advocates have long implored the federal government to dramatically increase funding.
But maybe don’t get too excited – experts have warned the packages are unlikely to make up for years of funding shortfalls.
Now it looks like mental health funding will be pitched as a productivity measure by the government – because you know, happy and healthy people work better as cogs in the capitalist machine.
But there is a very different motivation behind the aged care boost, rumoured to be almost $18bn over four years.
Health minister Greg Hunt has said the budget would draw a fundamental line in the sand after a damning royal commission report was released earlier in the year, calling for radical changes across the troubled system.
The big next budget headline in the papers this morning is for young jobseekers – with the government sending a clear message that “if you can’t earn, learn”.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to announce a $1bn extension of the jobtrainer program, which offers free or low-fee courses to young and unemployed people.
But there is a catch, according to the Sydney Morning Herald: the budget could also dictate that some younger Australians must take advantage of these training programs or potentially lose income supports such as Youth Allowance.
(This comes as the government prepares to dump a hiring credit for people under 35 which supported just 1,100 of the 450,000 jobs it was supposed to.)
According to a report in the Australian, this is all expected to culminate in a post-Covid jobs boom that could reduce the predicted budget deficits by $53bn this year.
They are reporting that the soon-to-be-announced budget deficit for 2020-21 will be $161bn, compared with the $213.7bn forecast in the 6 October budget.
OK, with that, why don’t we jump into this massive day of news.
If there is something you reckon I’ve missed or think should be in the blog but isn’t, shoot me a message on Twitter @MatildaBoseley or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jane Lubchenco. AP PhotoWASHINGTON: Eager to the turn the page on the Trump years, the Biden White House is launching an effort to unearth past problems with the politicization of science within government and to tighten scientific integrity rules for the future. A new 46-person federal scientific integrity task force with members from more than two dozen government agencies will meet for the first time on Friday. Its mission is to look back through 2009 for areas where partisanship interfered with what were supposed to be decisions based on evidence and research and to come up with ways to keep politics out of government science in the future. The effort was spurred by concerns that the Trump administration had politicized science in ways that put lives at risk, eroded public trust and worsened climate change. “We want people to be able to trust what the federal government is telling you, whether it’s a weather forecast or information about vaccine safety or whatever,” said Jane Lubchenco, the deputy director for climate and environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. People need to know “it’s not by fiat, somebody’s sort of knee-jerk opinion about something,” added Alondra Nelson, the science office’s deputy director for science and society. Nelson and Lubchenco spoke to The Associated Press ahead of a Monday announcement about the task force’s first meeting and part of its composition. It stems from a Jan. 27 presidential memo requiring “evidence-based policy-making.” Scientists and others have accused the Trump administration of setting aside scientific evidence and injecting politics into issues including the coronavirus, climate change and even whether Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama in 2019. Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard University historian who has written about attacks on science in the book “Merchants of Doubt,” said politicization of science undermines the nation’s ability to address serious problems that affect Americans’ health, their well-being and the economy. “There’s little doubt that the American death toll from covid-19 was far higher than it needed to be and that the administration’s early unwillingness to take the issue seriously to listen to and act on the advice of experts and to communicate clearly contributed substantively to that death toll,” Oreskes said in an email. Lubchenco, who led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Obama administration, pointed to an incident during the Trump years that became known as “Sharpiegate” as a clear example of “political interference with scientific information that was potentially extraordinarily dangerous.” During Sharpiegate, the NOAA reprimanded some meteorologists for tweeting that Alabama was not threatened by the hurricane, contradicting President Donald Trump, who said Alabama was in danger. The matter became known as Sharpiegate after someone in the White House used a black Sharpie – a favorite pen of Trump’s – to alter the official National Hurricane Center warning map to indicate Alabama could be in the path of the storm. A 2020 inspector general report found the administration had violated scientific integrity rules. The Sharpiegate case revealed flaws in the scientific integrity system set up in 2009 by President Barack Obama, Lubchenco said. There were no consequences when the agency violated the rules, Lubchenco said. Nor were there consequences for NOAA’s parent Cabinet agency, the Commerce Department. That’s why President Joe Biden’s administration is calling for scientific integrity rules throughout government and not just in science-oriented agencies, she said. Lubchenco said a reluctance to fight climate change in the last four years has delayed progress in cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases. “That will inevitably result in the problem being worse than it needed to be,” she said. “What we have seen in the last administration is that the suppression of science, the reassignment of scientists, the distortion of scientific information around climate change was not only destructive but counterproductive and really problematic,” Lubchenco said. Kelvin Droegemeier, who served as Trump’s science adviser, in an email repeated what he told Congress in his confirmation hearing: “Integrity in science is everything,” and science should be allowed to be done “in an honest way, full of integrity without being incumbered by political influence.” Droegemeier said the White House science office, where Nelson and Lubchenco now work and where he used to be, is more about policy and does not have the authority to investigate or enforce rules. Last week, Republican legislators accused the Biden White House of playing politics with science when it removed climate scientist Betsy Wetherhead, who had been praised by atmospheric scientists, from heading the national climate assessment. Lubchenco said it was normal for a new administration to bring in new people. Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley said the Biden administration is trying hard but isn’t approaching the task of restoring science quite right. “It’s impossible to keep politics out of science,” Brinkley said. “But you can do your best to mitigate it.” He said that only looking as far back as the Obama and Trump administrations will doom the task force’s efforts not to be politicized itself and looked at in a partisan way. What’s really needed, Brinkley said, is to “get to the root of things” and look back as far as 1945. Both Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, and John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, elevated science efforts and tried to keep out the politics. But Brinkley said that with the onset of the environmental movement, the distraction of the Vietnam War and corporations seeing science as leading to too much regulation during the Reagan era, a unified public admiration for science fell apart. Harvard’s Oreskes said her research indicated Ronald Reagan was “the first president in the modern era to exhibit disregard and at times even contempt for scientific evidence.” The new task force will focus more on the future than the past, Nelson said. “Every agency is being asked to really demonstrate that they are making decisions that are informed by the best available research evidence,” Nelson said. One of the four task force co-chairs is Francesca Grifo, scientific integrity officer for the Environmental Protection Agency since 2013. She clashed with the Trump EPA, which would not allow her to testify at a 2019 congressional hearing about scientific integrity. The others are Anne Ricciuti, deputy director for science at the Education Department’s Institute of Education Sciences; Craig Robinson, director of the Office of Science Quality and Integrity at the U.S. Geological Survey; and Jerry Sheehan, deputy director of the National Library of Medicine. 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Good morning. When party leaders are in trouble, they often decide that the solution is a reshuffle. And, in the long run, having different personnel in place can make a difference. But in the short term reshuffles often look as though they are causing more trouble than they are worth and that is certainly the case after Sir Keir Starmer’s night of the long wait.
When the reshuffle was finally announced last night, much later than had been expected, Starmer had achieved one important aim: replacing Anneliese Dodds – who made such little impact as shadow chancellor that last week Dominic Cummings said he was not even aware who she was when he was working in Downing Street – with Rachel Reeves. It has been reported that Starmer wanted Reeves as shadow chancellor when he first became Labour leader, but had to give the job to Dodds instead because he was told Reeves would be unacceptable to the party’s left.
But otherwise the reshuffle’s achievements seem limited. After it was briefed that Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, was going to be sacked from her roles as party chair and national campaign coordinator, she has negotiated what appears like a promotion – she now rejoices in the title of “deputy leader, shadow first secretary of state, shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow secretary of state for the future of work – but with trust between her team and Starmer’s clearly damaged. Other changes have been limited. And the shadow cabinet has swollen to 34 members. Given that 32 of them are MPs, 16% of all Labour MPs are now members of the shadow cabinet.
Here is our overnight story by Jessica Elgot and Heather Stewart.
Here is Heather’s analysis.
This morning Starmer is facing a backlash from the left. On the Today programme Diane Abbott, who was shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, said the reshuffle suggested Starmer’s team did not know how the party worked. She told the programme:
It does seem as if, certainly the people around him (Sir Keir Starmer), don’t understand how the party works. They tried to sack Angela Rayner in order to make her carry the can for the poor results at the weekend.
They didn’t seem to realise that because she’s an elected deputy leader, you can fiddle around with her title, but you can’t sack her, she remains a senior person in the shadow cabinet.
When asked if it was the view of Rayner that Starmer wanted to sack her, Abbott said:
Yes, that’s what all the briefing was about. It was a foolish thing to even think about and he has had to walk it back – you can’t sack an elected deputy leader.
On Twitter Matt Zarb-Cousin, who worked as a press officer for Jeremy Corbyn, said the appointment of Reeves as shadow chancellor was a mistake.
Our almost immediate response to losing Hartlepool is to make a Blairite remainer who wanted to stop Brexit the Shadow Chancellor. Wish us luck in Batley we’re gonna need it
May 9, 2021
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor under Corbyn, said the same about the sacking of Nick Brown as chief whip.
John McDonnell MP
Sacking Nick Brown, one of the most experienced and tactically astute chief whips the party has ever had, is inept in the extreme. This looks like Mandelson’s revenge.
May 9, 2021
And Andrew Fisher, Corbyn’s head of policy when he was leader, criticised the dismissal of both Brown and Dodds.
Nick Brown served diligently under Blair, Brown and Corbyn. If anyone symbolised unity in the PLP …
May 9, 2021
Said it a month ago …”It has been reported that Dodds is “struggling to communicate the party’s direction”, which is fair enough since there is no discernible direction. The fault for that lies with the Leader, whose job it is to set it.”https://t.co/LpyL43zcPT
May 9, 2021
I will post more on the reaction to the reshuffle as the day goes on.
Parliament is still in recess, and so there is not a lot in the diary. Here is the agenda.
12.30pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its lobby briefing.
5pm: Boris Johnson is due to hold a press conference where he will confirm the next stage of coronavirus easing will go ahead next Monday.
Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid recently. Today I expect to be focusing mostly on non-Covid politics – Labour, the reaction to the elections, Scotland – but I will be covering the coronavirus press conference at No 10 this afternoon. For other coronavirus coverage, do read our global live blog.
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