Vic govt backs down on juvie jail site

The Victorian government has caved to public anger and will move its new $288 million juvenile jail further away from homes and closer to a tip.


The 224-bed facility will be moved from Werribee South to Cherry Creek, about two kilometres from the nearest homes.

The new site will be on land acquired from Melbourne Water and Youth Affairs Minister Jenny Mikakos says the jail will be built within the existing timeline and budget.

“We’ve listened to this community,” Ms Mikakos told reporters on Wednesday.

“I would say this is a sign of a healthy democratic process.”

Locals rallied against the prison when it was announced in February and the Wyndham council said it wasn’t consulted until after it was already made public.

The fierce opposition saw the Andrews Labor government, in particular Treasurer and local member Tim Pallas, cop a slump in the polls.

A Galaxy/Herald Sun poll published in late February showed Mr Pallas’ primary vote fell to 29 per cent, half of what he got in the 2014 election.

Mr Pallas said he was “very” relieved a new site had been found.

“Quite frankly I don’t like to see my community feel the angst that clearly they demonstrated over the site’s selection,” he said.

Werribee South was named the preferred location because it was on a register of government surplus land and met criteria.

Wyndham City Mayor Henry Barlow says the new site ticks all the boxes because it was further away from residential areas and tourism areas and not visible from the freeway.

But opposition leader Matthew Guy said it was “a panicked decision from a government lurching from crisis to crisis in our youth detention centres”.

“This facility should be next to an existing adult prison, it should be part of a jail precinct.”

Consumers give Vic housing effort a tick

Australians appear to like what they are hearing on tackling housing affordability, or at least what the Victorian government is doing.


New figures show consumer confidence is fairly evenly balanced between pessimists and optimists after rising by a tiny 0.1 per cent in March.

However, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute sentiment survey did show a sharp seven per cent jump when respondents were asked whether now is “time to buy a dwelling’.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the recovery was mainly attributed to a sharp turnaround in Victoria, where the state government has announced a range of new measures including abolishing stamp duty for first home buyers.

The federal government has also made housing affordability the centrepiece of its upcoming May budget.

Wednesday’s survey suggests tackling the issue can’t come soon enough.

This “time to buying a dwelling” sub-index still stands 4.9 per cent down on a year earlier and comes after a 13 per cent fall in the previous year.

At the same time there was a growing proportion of consumers preferring to use their savings to “pay down debt” rather than favouring real estate, which as an option fell to its lowest level in at least 40 years.

The overall modest rise in confidence in March came after a sharp rebound in economic growth, but the survey timing also takes into account a decision by the Fair Work Commission to align Sunday penalties with Saturday rates at a time when wage growth is at its slowest in over 20 years.

The commission has yet to finalise how the reduction should be implemented for retail and hospitality workers.

The Australian Retailers Association has suggested a two-stage approach, allowing employers the benefit of the reduction and job opportunities in a “reasonable manner”.

The retailers’ lobby group proposes the Sunday penalty rates for permanent and casual employees be reduced to 175 per cent from 200 per cent from July, and then to 150 per cent rates for permanent employees from July next year.

Asked by a reporter if retailers are feeling the bite of the penalty rate decision, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten responded, “probably”.

“The fact of the matter is just simply cutting people’s pay is a bad idea,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“Families are already finding it hard to make ends meet.”

Thursday’s monthly job figures will also be a test for confidence.

Economists expect the number of people in employment to have risen by just under 20,000 in March, but not by enough to erode the unemployment rate which is expected to remain at 5.7 per cent.

Trump earned $153m and paid $36.5m in tax

President Donald Trump earned $US153 million and paid $US36.


5 million in income taxes in 2005, paying a roughly 25 per cent effective tax rate thanks to a tax he has since sought to eliminate.

Pages from Trump’s federal tax return show the then-real estate mogul also reported a business loss of $US103 million that year, although the documents don’t provide detail.

The return was obtained by journalist David Cay Johnston, who runs a website called DCReport长沙楼凤,, and reported live on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

Johnston, who has long reported on tax issues, said he received the documents in the mail, unsolicited.

The forms show that Trump paid an effective tax rate of 24.5 per cent, a figure well above the roughly 10 per cent the average American taxpayer forks out each year, but below the 27.4 per cent that taxpayers earning $US1 million dollars a year average.

Trump’s hefty business loss appears to be a continued benefit from his use of a tax loophole in the 1990s, which allowed him to deduct previous losses in future years.

In 1995, Trump reported a loss of more than $US900 million, largely as a result of financial turmoil at his casinos.

The White House pushed back even before the release of the documents by MSNBC, saying that publishing the information was illegal.

“You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” the White House said in a statement.

The unauthorised release or publishing of federal tax returns is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail.

But Rachel Maddow argued that MSNBC was exercising its First Amendment right to publish information in the public interest.

Trump has long insisted the American public wasn’t interested in his returns and said little could be learned from them.

But Trump’s full returns would contain key details about things like his charitable giving, his income sources, the type of deductions he claimed, how much he earned from his assets and what strategies Trump used to reduce his tax bill.

The issue was a major point of attack from his election rival Hillary Clinton, who suggested Trump had something to hide.

Tax records obtained by The New York Times last year showed the losses were so large they could have allowed Trump to avoid paying taxes for up to 18 years.

But Trump’s 2005 filing shows another tax prevented him from realising the full benefit of those deductions.

The bulk of Trump’s tax bill that year was due to the Alternative Minimum Tax, a tax aimed at preventing high-income earners from paying minimal taxes.

Were it not for the AMT, Trump would have avoided all but a few million dollars of his 2005 tax bill.

Trump’s campaign website called for the end of the AMT, which is expected to bring in more than $US350 billion in revenues from 2016 to 2025.

No mining tax regrets for WA Nationals

The WA Nationals are sticking with the mining tax policy that cost leader Brendon Grylls his Pilbara seat, saying the proposal was bold and risky but a worthwhile plan to fix the state’s finances.


The 43-year-old took a big gamble when he pushed the plan to increase the 25 cent per tonne iron ore lease rental fee set for BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto in the 1960s to $5/t, saying it would raise $7.2 billion over four years.

Deputy leader Mia Davies, who has retained her Central Wheatbelt seat and is expected to replace Mr Grylls as leader, said the Nationals knew there was a risk he’d lose his seat but still believed the policy had merit.

“We would not have done a single thing differently,” Ms Davies told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“We are bold in our policy decisions no matter the consequences. It was the right policy for the election.”

Mr Grylls also says he has no regrets as he wasn’t “just applying for a job” and was trying to be a policy maker.

“The people that won the election didn’t put a solution forward to the state’s finances – the people that did got their heads chopped off,” he told the broadcaster.

“I’m happier to have tried to put forward the plan and lose than sit quietly in the corner and win.”

He estimates the Chamber of Minerals and Energy spent $5 million on its campaign against the policy, which warned the 20-fold hike would wreck the WA economy and kill jobs.

The unrelenting blitz would have been foreseen given the Minerals Council of Australia’s campaigns against the Rudd and Gillard government’s mining tax, but incurring the wrath of the sector was a risk worth taking in a bid to fix WA’s ailing finances, Ms Davies said.

“It is still a significant issue that you can see big business buying outcomes and controlling elections at a federal and state level,” she said.

Ms Davies said the Nationals were also trying to shore up the continuation of Mr Grylls’ popular Royalties for Regions program, which has seen billions of dollars spent on infrastructure in previously neglected country areas.

Mr Grylls was furious last week when the Liberals said they would use $800 million from the fund to finance regional services currently paid for from the consolidated account like water and buses, if re-elected.

He was further angered the next day when Labor’s financial management plan showed $631 million from the program as a source of capital funding to June 30, 2020, implying the money might be plundered to help pay for projects like Metronet.

“We were absolutely positive that without a new revenue source for the state and without the correction of the GST, the Royalties for Regions fund … would be eyed off by the major political parties as a good way to fund some of their election commitments,” Ms Davies said.