Good morning, and welcome to the start of a big week.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Treasurer Joe Hockey is at the business end of the process of putting together his first Budget, which he’ll deliver on May 13th. The National Commission of Audit – the razor gang headed by Tony Shepherd – delivers its final report today and Cabinet will discuss it in Perth tomorrow. Coalition MPs have been told to use the next six weeks to remind voters of the dire state of the nation’s finances, laying the groundwork for explaining what will be some painful cuts when they are announced in May.
- The reason the Cabinet is in Perth is the PM wants federal ministers on the ground ahead of the re-run of the WA Senate election this weekend, following the debacle over missing votes in the federal election. Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party has a huge advertising campaign underway to try and secure a seat which would likely give him the balance of power in the Upper House.
- It’s a big week for economic data: we get Chinese manufacturing PMI along with PMIs from around the world tomorrow. The RBA meets tomorrow too and while no change to interest rates is expected there will be huge interest in the language around the currency. We also get building approvals and retail sales this week, all building up to the US jobs report on Friday night, Australian eastern time. More calendar events here.
- The IPCC releases its latest report on climate change today. It’s never a cheery news story so brace yourself for a wave of grim predictions; the SMH quotes one expert predicting human extinction without a reduction in carbon emissions.
- The new book from Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball and The Big Short, comes out this week. Titled Flash Boys, it’s about the finance world’s new tactics of using advanced computer coding and algorithms to beat people. There’s a quote from The Wire on the first page: “A man got to have a code”.
- Facebook is putting a halt to the rollout of a picture-rich redesign which some users have started seeing in recent weeks. The reason is the realisation that the vast majority of its users have crappy old desktop screens and the design, praised by many experts, works terribly on those older devices. This is seen as confirmation that Facebook is the new Yahoo, with its install base now so vast it has to stick to minimalist designs just so people can use the service. More details here.
- Monday morning thought-starter: big, innovative companies the world over are falling over themselves to hire anthropologists.
- Telstra is looking to start a pilot program for the rollout of street cabinet “nodes” for the NBN which, if successful, could pave the way for around $6 billion in contracts, according to the AFR.
- Winless Australia now has no chance of getting to the next round of the cricket World T20, being skittled by India for just 86 runs after they were set 159 to win. It’s a humiliating contrast with the recent success of Australia’s Test team against England and South Africa.
- The search effort for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 resumes today with 10 aircraft and 10 ships involved. The focus is now on four orange objects that have been spotted in the new search area further north of the zone being combed last week; black box detection equipment that’s been flown in from the US needs a tightly defined search area to have a chance of success.
Bonus item: Chris Pash’s long-read feature on the transformation of Western Australia by the mining boom, published over the weekend, is a great long-term view of the effects of rapid wealth generation on a region and its people.
Have a cracking day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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