Weekly Wrap Up
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered the 2020-21 Federal Budget on Tuesday evening.
- The Reserve Bank announced no changes to the major policy settings, with interest rates remaining at 0.25 per cent.
- Western Australia delivered its 2020-21 State Budget on Thursday, revealing a surplus of $1.2 billion.
- Speaker Tony Smith gave notice of his intention to issue the writ for a by-election in the Electorate of Groom (QLD), to be conducted on Saturday 28 November 2020, following the retirement Dr John McVeigh last month.
- Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge promised the Government will not block non-English speaking migrants from obtaining visas as a result of the new requirement that applicants wanting to marry Australians would need to pass an English language test.
- Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese delivered the Budget in Reply on Thursday evening, pledging an overhaul of the childcare subsidy system, significant investment in social housing and $20 billion for electricity transmission infrastructure.
PM Scott Morrison today confirmed he would recommend Minister for Finance and Leader of the Government in the Senate Mathias Cormann for the position of Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), triggering a small ministerial reshuffle. Effective 30 October, South Australian Senator Simon Birmingham will become Minister for Finance and Leader of the Government in the Senate, while Senator Michaelia Cash will serve as Deputy Leader. Senator Birmingham will retain his current Trade, Tourism and Investment portfolio. Senator Cormann flagged in July he would be leaving Parliament after the delivery of the 2020-21 Budget, which was handed down by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday. The PM said Minister Cormann is ideally suited for the OECD role given his experience as Australia’s longest-serving Finance Minister.
University reforms to pass
On the legislative agenda for the Government this week was securing passage of the Job Ready Graduates legislation through the Senate. On Tuesday morning, South Australian party Centre Alliance’s members Senator Stirling Griff and Rebekha Sharkie announced they would support the Bill after securing concessions from the Government in relation to protections for students who fail subjects in their degree, as well as more Commonwealth Supported Places for South Australian universities. The Bill proposes to restructure university fees to make nursing, health, agriculture and engineering courses cheaper, while arts and humanities degrees will increase in price. Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the legislation aims to address skill shortages and will provide more university places for Australian students. The legislation passed through the Senate on Thursday.
Foreign Minister in Japan
This week, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne travelled to Tokyo to meet with the Foreign Minister of Japan, the External Affairs Minister of India and the Secretary of State of the United States for the second Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Reports indicated that discussions predominately focused on relations with China, and it was agreed that Australia, the United States, Japan and India will deepen their co-operation on areas including cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and critical minerals. Minister Payne reiterated that the Quad countries believed in a region “governed by rules, not power”. Minister Payne will next visit Singapore to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Next week, Parliament will return in NSW, Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria.