Weekly Wrap Up
- The Federal Government formally established the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide and released its Terms of Reference. An interim report is due on 11 August 2022.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) kept the official cash rate on hold at 0.1 per cent for the eighth consecutive month.
- Dr Guy Debelle has been reappointed as Deputy Governor of the RBA for another five-year term, while Professor Ian Harper AO has also been reappointed as a part-time member of the RBA Board for another five-year term.
- In Tasmania, Rebecca White has been elected to once again lead the Labor Opposition following the resignation of former leader David O’Byrne.
- Former Liberal MP Julia Banks released her memoir which includes allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct in Parliament. Ms Banks has provided a copy of the book as a submission to the review of workplace culture in Parliament House.
- Henry Pike won preselection for the Queensland seat of Bowman to replace outgoing LNP member Andrew Laming.
- Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck announced he will travel to Tokyo to represent the Commonwealth at the Olympic Games, while also meeting with his Japanese counterparts in aged care.
- The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) published its annual audit work program for 2021-22 which proposes to investigate a number of Federal funding programs, including the $500 million Australian War Memorial redevelopment project, the design of the $1.3 billion Building Better Regions Fund, and the expansion of telehealth services.
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its job mobility data which shows that only 7.5 per cent of employed Australians changed jobs in the 12 months to February 2021, while 1.8 million people left or lost a job.
National Cabinet update
National Cabinet met this afternoon to discuss a range of issues related to COVID-19. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that a National Cabinet Home Quarantine pilot will be established, with South Australia volunteering to host the initial two-week trial. On the vaccination roll-out, Mr Morrison revealed close to 9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been issued to date and announced a new communications campaign will be launched this coming Sunday. While the Government awaits advice from the Doherty Institute on the required vaccination targets, Mr Morrison confirmed that an extra one million Pfizer vaccines per week are expected to be added by August. Meanwhile, public health orders will be issued across the states and territories, mandating the vaccination of aged care workers, except in Victoria where this is the responsibility of the Chief Health Officer. The Prime Minister noted that vaccinations for disability and mobility workers will not be made mandatory at this time, although remain strongly recommended.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the current lockdown across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour and regional NSW has been extended to Friday 16 July. As schools prepare to resume next week, face-to-face learning will only take place in regional NSW schools, while students in Greater Sydney will undertake online learning where possible. Premier Berejiklian has also tightened lockdown restrictions from 5pm today, including limiting outdoor public gatherings to two people (excluding members of the same household); requiring people to stay in their local government area or within 10 kilometres of their homes for outdoor recreation; and limiting shopping to one person per household per day. Additionally, funerals will be limited to 10 people from Sunday 11 July.
The lockdown extension and further restrictions comes as the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the state continues to climb. Meanwhile, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard hinted at the possibility of NSW ‘learning to live with the virus’ to avoid future lockdowns. Minister Hazzard’s comments were met with criticism, including from WA Premier Mark McGowan who warned that NSW could face an indefinite hard border with WA if the COVID-19 outbreak is not controlled. Premier Berejiklian has since confirmed the goal is to reach zero cases of community transmission before lifting restrictions.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg held roundtable discussions with top business leaders to discuss the Government’s vaccine rollout. Attendees included the Business Council of Australia, Ai Group, and CEOs of Coles, Telstra, Qantas and Virgin. The discussions included a potential workplace-based vaccination program, similar to the flu vaccine, and the possibility of using Bunnings and Officeworks as potential vaccination centres. Ai Group CEO Innes Wilox welcomed the discussion but also said that businesses would need similar indemnity provisions to medical professionals in order to protect them against any adverse effects of the vaccines.
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