Weekly Wrap Up
- An Australian man currently stranded in India has filed an application in the Federal Court to challenge the validity of the Federal Government’s India travel ban. Repatriation flights from India will recommence from 15 May.
- The Federal Government established the National Recovery and Resilience Agency which will manage a new $600 million program for disaster preparation and mitigation.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison provided a $10 billion government guarantee for a reinsurance pool to cover cyclone and related flood damage in Northern Australia. The pool will reduce premiums for local residents and small businesses from 1 July 2022.
- Minister for Northern Australia Keith Pitt announced an additional investment of $190 million to support new jobs and digital connectivity in Northern Australia, under the “Our North, Our Future: 2021-2026 investment plan”.
- Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price committed $155 million to upgrade facilities at HMAS Cairns and to support the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels.
- Tasmanian Labor Party leader Rebecca White conceded defeat in the 2021 State Election. The Liberal Party must win two of the remaining three seats to achieve a majority government.
- Despite the NSW Government endorsing Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones, Hon Matthew Mason-Cox was elected as President of the NSW Legislative Council. He has since defected from the Liberal Party.
- NSW reported two cases of community transmission of COVID-19. In response, a number of restrictions have been implemented including mask-wearing in indoor public places.
The Morrison Government made a number of pre-Budget commitments this week, signifying the key priorities of its fiscal plan. The Prime Minister announced $1.2 billion in funding to support Australia’s Digital Economy Strategy. The investment will target unlocking emerging technologies, including the rollout of the Consumer Data Right in banking, energy, and telecommunications. The strategy also includes a Digital Games Tax Offset of 30 per cent to increase Australia’s share in the global game development industry. Significantly, $500 million will go towards improving the Federal Government’s digital services platforms including myGov and My Health Record.
Women’s financial security will be a focus of the 2021-22 Budget, as foreshadowed by a $1.7 billion child-care package to boost female workforce participation. The Government also allocated $371 million for biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of exotic pests and diseases in Australian agriculture and regional communities. Notably, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia’s swift economic recovery in 2020-21 is expected to achieve a $4.5 billion reduction in forecasted JobSeeker payments.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese outlined Labor’s vision for the 2021-22 Budget in a speech at the McKell Institute, calling on the Government to address issues in aged care and dementia management. Mr Albanese said that infrastructure, education and training, and sovereign capability would drive his economic agenda, if elected.
Australia’s relationship with China continued to deteriorate this week after the National Security Committee requested that the Department of Defence review Chinese-owned Landbridge’s 99-year lease agreement for the Darwin Port.
In response to a number of recent changes, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) decided to indefinitely suspend all activities under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue framework. The NDRC claimed Australia had implemented ‘Cold War style’ measures that have disrupted normal exchanges and cooperation. Trade Minister Dan Tehan responded saying he was disappointed by the NDRC’s decision and that Australia remains open to engaging at the Ministerial level.
The Federal, NSW, Queensland, South Australian, ACT and Northern Territory Parliaments will sit next week.
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