Weekly Wrap Up
- The Palaszczuk Labor Government was re-elected at Saturday’s Queensland State Election. See GRACosway’s election wrap up here.
- Attorney-General Christian Porter released draft legislation for consultation on the establishment of a Commonwealth Integrity Commission.
- Christine Holgate resigned from her role as CEO of Australia Post.
- ACT Labor and the ACT Greens on Monday signed a Parliamentary and Governing Agreement. Subsequently, Chief Minister Andrew Barr unveiled the new ACT Cabinet.
- As vote counting for the US Presidential Election continues, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said it is important every vote is counted, while PM Scott Morrison said he held faith in the US Democratic System.
- A 65-year old Melbourne man has become the first person to be charged under Australia’s foreign interference laws which were passed in 2018.
- Clive Palmer has lost his High Court challenge to the WA COVID-19 border closure.
This week, PM Scott Morrison was in Sydney to announce Australia has secured an additional two COVID-19 vaccines for the population. Should the vaccines be proven safe and effective, Novavax will supply 40 million doses and the Pfizer/BioNTech will provide 10 million doses, both expected to be available in Australia from early to mid-2021. The agreement means Australia has now secured access to 134 million doses across four separate COVID-19 vaccine candidates. The PM said a vaccine would mean Australia can return to “some form of normal” next year.
Elsewhere, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced NSW would reopen its border to Victoria from 12.01am on Monday 23 November as Victoria recorded consecutive days of zero cases. Ms Berejiklian said the reopening date would enable people to make plans, book holidays and reunite with family members in the lead up to Christmas. WA Premier Mark McGowan also announced that from Saturday 14 November, interstate travellers from the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania will be allowed to enter WA without undergoing compulsory 14-day quarantine.
Interest rates drop to record low
The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday confirmed interest rates would be cut to the record low of 0.1 per cent, with Governor Dr Philip Lowe stating Australia was not out of recession. The RBA also lowered its three-year bond rate target to 0.1 per cent, and said it will buy $100 billion worth of Australian government bonds over the coming six months to lift inflation and encourage lending and investment. Dr Lowe said the measures would address high unemployment rates, which are expected to peak at 8 per cent before dropping to 6 per cent by the end of 2022. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg welcomed the cut, and said it would benefit households and small business.
China trade dispute
The Federal Government has this week called on China to confirm whether Australian exports will face additional hurdles after wine exporters received advice from Chinese importers that products would not clear through customs. Reports this week from the South China Morning Post also indicated the Chinese Ministry of Commerce met with importers to flag restrictions on shipments of Australian goods including wine, lobster, sugar, coal, timber, wool, barley and copper. While the Ministry of Commerce has denied the allegations, Federal Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham urged China to provide more certainty to both Australian and Chinese businesses.
Federal Parliament will return on 9 November. Elsewhere, Parliament will return in Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, NT and SA next week.