Weekly Wrap Up
- The Victorian Government extended the ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown for another seven days in metropolitan Melbourne, while restrictions eased in regional Victoria. The Commonwealth and State Governments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a designated quarantine facility at Avalon Airport.
- The Federal Government announced a disaster support package for Victorians affected by the extended lockdown. Payments of up to $500 will be available for eligible workers, subject to strict conditions.
- Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter ceased defamation action against the ABC following a mediation process.
- The amending regulations for reforms to the Franchising Code of Conduct were released. A number of changes come into effect from 1 July 2021, including the requirement to provide prospective franchisees with a key facts sheet.
- Education Minister Alan Tudge advised that Vice-Chancellor of RIMT University Professor Martin Bean CBE and former Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University Professor Peter Dawkins AO will lead the University-Industry Collaboration in Teaching and Learning Review.
- Jodi McKay resigned as Leader of the NSW Labor Party. Former Shadow Minister Chris Minns has been elected by caucus as her replacement.
- The NSW Productivity Council published its Rebooting the economy White Paper, identifying 60 reform opportunities which, it projects, could increase Gross State Product (GSP) by two per cent per annum by 2041.
Good news on economic outlook
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the March quarterly national account data, reporting a 1.8 per cent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a 7.4 per cent increase in terms of trade. Economic activity is now 0.8 per cent above late 2019 pre-pandemic levels. The Treasurer welcomed the new data, noting Australia has experienced its strongest period of growth since 1968. Nevertheless, the Reserve Bank of Australia remains committed to keeping the cash rate at 0.1 per cent until inflation and wages recover, as per the June decision.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison travelled to New Zealand for the first time since February 2020 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting with NZ PM Jacinda Ardern. The Prime Ministers agreed to continue to support each other through the COVID-19 recovery, particularly with vaccine development and purchase. Other issues highlighted for trans-Tasman collaboration include the environment, the Pacific, cyber security and supply chain resilience.
The leaders shared concern over reports of human rights abuse in the Xinjiang province. Both PMs called for China to respect the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities and allow UN officials access to the region. Notably, Prime Minister Adern addressed perceptions of differences in policy towards China by New Zealand and Australia.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese also took the opportunity to comment on recent Sino-Australian relations, suggesting that Prime Minister Morrison is politicising the issue and should instead focus on establishing beneficial co-operation through trade.
The NSW, Victorian and South Australian Parliaments will sit.
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