Weekly Wrap Up

5 April 2024 

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  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese addressed the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) where he said “small businesses and families will again be front and centre” in the upcoming Federal Budget.
  • The Federal Government publicised its submission to the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) Annual Wage Review. The submission recommends the FWC “ensures the real wages of Australia’s low-paid workers do not go backwards.”
  • The Federal and NSW Governments announced a $1 billion investment into solar panel manufacturing hubs, the first of which is to be located in the Hunter Valley. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese labelled the investment as “seizing the opportunities which are there to have a future made in Australia.”
  • China removed tariffs on Australian bottled wine, the Federal Government announced. However, Trade Minister Don Farrell emphasised the need for Australian producers to diversify their trading relationships.
  • Senator for Tasmania Tammy Tyrell announced her resignation from the Jacqui Lambie Network via social media. Senator Tyrell will sit in the Senate as an Independent, joining Senator Lidia Thorpe and Senator David Van who also quit their respective parties this term.
Governor-General Appointment
Samantha Mostyn will become Australia’s 28th Governor-General following her appointment by King Charles on the advice of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Ms Mostyn is due to succeed David Hurley and will be sworn into office on 1 July this year. Announcing the appointment, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated Ms Mostyn is “an exceptional leader who represents the best of modern Australia” and whose “leadership reflects our enduring Australian values of equality, fairness, and a responsibility to build a better future for the next generation.”Ms Mostyn has a professional background in law and business, having started her career as an associate to Justice Michael Kirby in the NSW Supreme Court and then as communications adviser to former Prime Minister Paul Keating. Over her career, she has served in various executive roles in both the private and nonprofit sectors, including Optus, Transurban, Beyond Blue, and the AFL Commission. Currently, she is the Chair of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce. She was awarded an Order of Australia in 2021. Ms Mostyn said she is “deeply honoured” by her appointment and is “ready to serve with integrity, compassion, and respect.” She becomes the second woman appointed as Governor-General after Dame Quentin Bryce.


Australian Citizen Killed in Gaza
Lalawmi ‘Zomi’ Frankcom, an Australian citizen born in Melbourne, was killed in an Israeli airstrike while providing humanitarian aid in Gaza. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese labelled the incident as “completely unacceptable” and said the Australian Government will seek “an explanation and full accountability” from Israel. It is believed that Ms Frankcom was travelling in an armoured convoy while volunteering for the aid organisation World Central Kitchen (WCK) in central Gaza when it was hit by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) drones. Media reports suggest up to seven WCK volunteers, including Ms Frankcom, were killed in the strike.

Mr Albanese confirmed that he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express “Australia’s anger and concern” over the death of Ms Frankcom. Responding to the incident, IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi stated “the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers” and that “an independent body will investigate the incident thoroughly.” Ms Frankcom is remembered by Mr Albanese as “an Australian hero who all Australians can be proud of.” The Australian Government has been briefed on the IDF’s ‘independent investigation’, which will be made public in coming days.


Looking Ahead
The South Australian and ACT Parliaments will sit next week.


Federal Developments

On Tuesday, the RBA published its minutes from the March Monetary Policy Meeting of the Reserve Bank Board where it decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 4.35 per cent. The Board noted that economic growth slowed in the December quarter, with household consumption growth reported to be “very weak” and labour market conditions easing further, due to slowing growth in labour demand.

The Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) latest report states Australia fails to meet all standards set to combat criminal abuse of the financial system, despite improvements in Australia’s framework for combatting financial crime, including upgraded ratings for compliance. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus outlined how this report endorses the Government’s proposed reforms to Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regime.

In an address at the Bloomberg Australia Briefing in Sydney, Reserve Bank Assistant Governor Mr Christopher Kent outlined the Future System for Monetary Policy Implementation. Mr Kent touched on the three options for policy implementation, the rationale of the Board’s decision to choose to pursue the ample reserves system with full allotment for Open Market Operations, and defined the next steps in that approach.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) expressed its support for the Government’s climate-related financial disclosures legislation introduced to Parliament last week. The BCA’s Chief Executive Bran Black said he was pleased the Government listened and amended their legislation, following the BCA’s advocacy.

Federal Developments

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and other Federal Ministers visited Redbank in Queensland where over 100 new Boxer heavy weapon carrier vehicles will be constructed and exported Germany. The visit comes as Australian and Germany signed a defence export agreement last year. Over 600 jobs are expected to support the manufacturing facility where the Boxers will be constructed.Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts will attend the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels to mark NATO’s 75th anniversary. The meeting will be chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and other Indo-Pacific partners of Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand.

The Government released the eighth edition of the Australian Defence Export Catalogue, which showcases a variety of products and services from Australian defence industry companies around the country. The Catalogue displays the capability of over 300 Australian businesses and demonstrates Australia’s commitment to “building sovereign industrial capability by driving export opportunities,” Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said.


Federal Developments

At the National Press Club, Chair of the Net Zero Economy Agency (NZEA) Greg Combet made an address where he outlined the role of the Net Zero Economy Authority, after the Government introduced legislation to Parliament last week. Mr Combet highlighted the Federal Government’s current energy policies and emphasised the important of the Net Zero Authority in supporting the energy transition.

The March 2024 Resources and Energy Quarterly (REQ), published by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, outlined that Australia’s resources and energy export earnings are predicted to decline by 11 per cent to $417 billion in 2023–24 and $369 billion in 2024–25. The long-term outlook remains positive with stabilised prices and increased demand from India, with Minister for Resources Madeleine King MP expressing the five-year outlook showed a positive future for resources and energy exports.

The Federal Government unveiled the National Energy Performance Strategy which intends to foster a high-energy performance economy and empower consumers to manage their energy consumption. The strategy focuses on actioning five key areas, economy; households; communities, businesses and industry; energy system; and technology and innovation. The aim of the strategy to make businesses more competitive, homes more affordable, and lower emissions.

The Federal and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Governments agreed to fulfill the ACT’s water recovery obligations under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by recovering 4.9 gigalitres per year. Under the new agreement, the Federal Government will have recovered around 31 GL/y towards the total target of 49.2 GL/y across all seven catchments, building on the progress towards Bridging the Gap to the Sustainable Diversion Limits.

The Federal Government announced it will become a part of the Landsat Next satellite program, conducted by NASA and the US Geological Survey. The Government will invest $207.4 million over four years towards this initiative, which is designed to map and monitor changes on Earth’s surface, to aid mining exploration, track climate patterns, monitor environmental health, assess agricultural conditions, and manage natural disasters.


Federal Developments

The Federal Government opened the Interstate Terminal at the Moorebank Intermodal Precinct, marking Australia’s first major metropolitan interstate terminal. The terminal will operate under an open access arrangement and not be operated by a single rail entity. The Moorebank site is estimated to move 1,500 tonnes of freight annually and create over 6,800 jobs.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that the total number of dwellings approved decreased by 1.9 per cent in February, following a similar 2.5 decrease in January. The data represents a 12-year low according to media reports, and comes as state and territory governments renew their focus on planning reforms to increase the supply of housing.

State Developments

The NSW Government committed $62.5 million towards the State Voluntary Planning Agreement (SVPA) program to accelerate infrastructure in developing areas. Under the SVPA program, developer contributions will be used to deliver state and regional infrastructure across 12 local government areas ranging from the Illawarra to the Hunter regions. Project nominations close 29 May.

The Federal Government will invest $8.8 million to connect households without internet to free broadband via the National Broadband Network (nbn). Up to 30,000 families are set to benefit from the investment which is a part of the Government’s School Student Broadband Initiative. The additional investment aims to ease cost of living pressures and narrow the divide in internet connectivity.


Federal Developments

The Federal Government released the draft National Autism Strategy for public consultation. The Strategy will cover key reform areas such as access to education, healthcare, education, and employment and sit alongside the National Disability Strategy 2021-2031. The Strategy will provide the first coordinated national approach to services and support for Autistic Australians. Consultations close 31 May.

Health Minister Mark Butler announced $16.5 million in grants under the Cancer Patient Support Program. The program aims to provide greater equity across cancer types and priority populations, particularly Australians with poorer access to support such as rural and remote communities.

State Developments

The Victorian Government announced the establishment of specialist women’s health clinics. As part of the Victorian Government’s $153 million investment into women’s health, five clinics will open each year for the next four years. The first clinics to be opened will be at the Northern Hospital, Royal Women’s Hospital, Frankston Hospital, Barwon Health Geelong, and Ballarat Base Hospital. The Government has also opened the Women’s Pain Survey which will provide information to the Inquiry into Women’s Pain.

The Queensland Government will invest $250 million into the Mackay Base Hospital. The project will see an additional 128 extra beds and provide new wards for the Women’s Health and Child and Adolescent Units. The expansion is expected to conclude by the end of 2026.


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