Daily News Roundup

November 7, 2019

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7.

Cheap government loans with interest-free periods will be offered to drought-affected farmers and regional businesses as part of a $500 million federal government drought stimulus package. 

Anticipating the announcement today, ABC’s political editor Andrew Probyn said in an “exclusive” article that regional councils and roads will also receive funding in a bid to boost rural jobs.

Probyn said the ABC understandood  $2 million loans under the Regional Investment Corporation’s (RIC) would be offered to farmers under a reconfigured 10-year payback schedule.

The first two years would be at no interest and no repayment, followed by three years interest-only and then another five years to pay loans back.

The loans would be available to farmers to feed, water, freight and stock their businesses, or anything that might keep their operations going.

Businesses that support or supply farmers in drought-stricken areas would be eligible for $500,000 loans under the same interest and repayment arrangements.

Drought Minister David Littleproud, speaking on Sky News, said federal funding would not be contingent on state governments matching it.

But he said the states could do more to help communities confronted by drought, including subsiding local government rates, and payroll tax.

While the Government expects the loans could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, most of the cost of this measure would be “off-budget”, wrote Probyn.

The RIC was established last year to administer low-interest government loans.

It approved 211 drought loans worth more than $200 million in its first 14 months.

This financial year, it has already approved 70 drought loan applications worth more than $60 million.

It is understood the assistance will extend the Drought Communities Program to offer an additional six drought-affected councils $1 million.

The Government will also provide an additional $1 million to the 122 councils that have already received funding under the program.

It will be the second time Mr Morrison has extended the program in less than two months.

There will also be $50 million discretionary spending for councils that do not meet the funding criteria of the Drought Communities Program.

The criteria is based on Bureau of Meteorology data and requires that 17 percent of all employment in the local government area is directly linked to agriculture.

The Government’s stimulus package will also see more than 120 local councils in drought-affected regions share in more than $130 million, which will be offered as a supplementary payment under the Roads to Recovery program.

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The Queensland State Government plans to further tackle pollution by banning single use plastic straws, cutlery and plates next year.

Environment Minister Leanne Enoch said the scope of the strategy was an “Australian first” and would follow extensive consultation with the community

It follows Queensland banning single-use plastic shopping bags last year..

The plan will also look at ways for plastic to be recovered, reused and recycled

The Government would also consider extending the ban “down the track” to include coffee cups, plastic cups and heavyweight shopping bags.

“[It] takes a holistic approach to the complex nature and impacts of plastic throughout its supply chain and identifies actions that can be taken,” she said.

But it may not be the first to put a ban in place — South Australia’s Government has already committed to banning single-use plastics next year.

National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said business welcomed the move which she said consumers have been calling for “for some time”.

“Certainly our retailers independently have been looking at things like this,” she said.

“I’m certainly aware of a number of them that have started to reduce plastic lids, not use straws, not use cutlery, things like that.

“But obviously from an industry-wide perspective, consultation is going to be the key, because you can’t just simply pull those products, as we know, from stores because it causes a lot of consumer angst.”

The Government said its plan would also look at finding new ways for plastic to be recovered, reused and recycled.

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French actress Catherine Deneuve, 76, has been admitted to hospital in Paris after suffering a stroke, according to reports.

Deneuve, 76, had suffered a “very limited and therefore reversible” stroke, the AFP agency quoted a statement as saying.

The actress had been on set on Tuesday for her latest film, with director Emmannuelle Bercot, French newspaper Le Parisien reported.

Deneuve has been a major figure of French cinema since she shot to prominence as the young co-star in the colourful 1964 musical romance “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”

Nicknamed the “Ice Maiden” because of her exquisite, fragile beauty and detached manner, she became her country’s leading screen actress and a top international star in the 1960s.

A source told Variety that Deneuve’s associates were reporting that her condition was not alarming. Italian news agency ANSA quoted a source saying the actress was suffering from “fatigue.”

Le Parisien, which is among France’s oldest dailies, did not specify which hospital Deneuve was taken to.