Weekly Wrap Up
- PM Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the Government’s Digital Business Plan as part of the JobMaker program. Under the Plan, almost $800 million will be invested in initiatives to support the adoption of new digital technologies in businesses.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Government will deliver Australia’s first Ministerial Statement on Rural and Regional Budget Outcomes to the Federal Parliament during Budget week.
- Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety released a special report on the COVID-19 pandemic in aged care. The report makes six recommendations and identifies four areas for immediate action including funding, allied health and mental health services, an aged care plan and the establishment of a national aged care advisory body and infection control procedures.
- Minister for Health Greg Hunt said that Australia is currently looking to allow New Zealanders into Australia as soon as possible without necessarily requiring that New Zealand allows Australians back immediately.
- Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the QLD/NSW border will reopen on 1 November.
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar announced businesses with an aggregated annual turnover between $10 million and $50 million will have access to up to ten small business tax concessions.
$1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy
Ahead of next week’s Federal Budget, on Thursday, PM Scott Morrison made a pre-Budget address to the National Press Club to unveil a Modern Manufacturing Strategy which will form a key pillar of the Government’s JobMaker program and 2020 Budget. The Government has identified six priority manufacturing areas, including food and beverage; recycling and clean energy; resource technology; medical products (including medicines); defence; and space. Within the strategy are three funding elements including a $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative; a $107 million Supply Chain Resilience Initiative; and a $52.8 million Manufacturing Modernisation Fund. The PM said bolstering the manufacturing sector would promote Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and allow businesses to grow on a global scale.
Victorian Health Minister resigns and restrictions ease
On Sunday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a lifting of the controversial curfew imposed on Melbourne and announced the Victorian Government expects to move to Step Two of the Roadmap to ease restrictions a week earlier than previously planned, pending low coronavirus case numbers. The Premier said his goal is for a “COVID normal Christmas”. Amid the easing of restrictions, Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos resigned from her portfolio and Victorian Parliament in the wake of the Premier’s testimony to the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry in which he said she was accountable for the bungled hotel quarantine program. Ms Mikakos released a statement online which said she was disappointed her integrity was undermined. Premier Daniel Andrews later announced Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley as the new Minister for Health amid a small reshuffle of the Victorian Ministry, and thanked Ms Mikakos for her services to the Government.
PM and Attorney-General step in port dispute
This week saw industrial action at Patrick Corporation Ports in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Freemantle amid pay negotiations with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). On Monday, Attorney-General Christian Porter intervened to support Patrick’s application to the Fair Work Commission to stop the industrial action, labelling the union’s behaviour during COVID-19 as “unforgiveable”. As Minister for Health Greg Hunt suggested the continued supply of essential medicines to Australians was at risk PM Scott Morrison demanded a resolution to the dispute and described the action as “extortion”. Following two days of conciliation, the MUA decided to suspend its actions until the Fair Work Commission can hear Patrick’s bid to permanently terminate the action at the end of October.
Understanding COVID-19: AustraliaNOW research
The latest Clemenger Group research into Australians’ attitudes and perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic reveals that confidence in the State and Federal Governments has fallen among Western Australian residents, as the state debates the key issues of border closures and how to manage the ship anchored off WA containing COVID-19 patients. Confidence in the Victorian Government has weakened marginally following the hotel quarantine inquiry, after briefly increasing last week.
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Next week, Federal Parliament will return for Budget Week. Parliament will also return in Western Australia.