Weekly Wrap Up
1 July 2022
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- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris today.
- The Prime Minister has defended the decision to reduce the allocation of crossbench staff from four parliamentary advisers to one, describing it as an issue of “fairness and equality”.
- Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke confirmed the Government will introduce legislation to enforce a set of minimum pay and standards across the gig economy workforce. The Minister indicated legislation will be introduced by the end of this year.
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the results of the 2021 Census, showing Australia is becoming more culturally diverse.
- The Australian Energy Market Operator published the 2022 Integrated System Plan, which outlines a 30-year roadmap of investments for the National Electricity Market.
- Former NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro resigned from his position as NSW Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the US following media and parliamentary scrutiny.
- The Queensland Government accepted all 14 recommendations made in Professor Peter Coaldrake’s review into culture and accountability within the Queensland public sector.
- Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler announced an independent review into Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine and treatment procurement.
- The Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review has come into effect today, with workers on minimum wage to receive a 5.2 per cent pay increase and those on minimum wage awards to receive a 4.6 per cent increase.
PM attends NATO Leaders’ Summit
Prime Minister Albanese travelled to Europe for the NATO Leaders’ Summit in Madrid and met with Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón. Noting this was the first bilateral visit to Spain by an Australian Prime Minister, the two leaders committed to collaborate on matters including territorial integrity, the renewable energy transition and energy security. Mr Albanese and President Sánchez reaffirmed their support for Ukraine and jointly condemned Russian aggression. In a press conference on the sidelines of the summit, Mr Albanese noted that while Australia is not a member of NATO, the Government regards the alliance as “absolutely critical”, stating “the more countries that are involved, the stronger the message is of solidarity and unity against any aggression against any member countries”.
Mr Albanese then travelled to Paris ahead of his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron – the first since the Labor Government’s election. Mr Albanese emphasised that his “private discussions” with President Macron will remain private. Mr Albanese indicated his desire for a “constructive relationship” with the French President and his country, alluding to the fractured relationship between Australia and France after the Coalition Government cancelled the French submarine deal last year.
Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong visited Vietnam and Malaysia to discuss maters including climate change cooperation and economic recovery. Together with Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek, Minister Wong has also announced that Australia will contribute $80 million over four years to the Global Environment Facility to provide developing countries with support to address climate change.
New Victorian Ministry sworn in
Following the resignation of multiple senior ministers from Cabinet last Friday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews unveiled his new ministry, which was subsequently sworn in on Monday. With the addition of five new ministers, the total number of women in Cabinet has increased to 14 – the highest of any Australian jurisdiction.
- Lizzie Blandthorn: Minister for Planning
- Colin Brooks: Minister for Child Protection and Family Services; and Disability, Ageing and Carers
- Steve Dimopoulos: Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events; and Creative Industries
- Sonya Kilkenny: Minister for Corrections; Youth Justice; Victim Support; and Fishing and Boating
- Harriet Shing: Minister for Water; Regional Development; and Equality.
As anticipated, Jacinta Allan was formally endorsed as deputy leader of Victorian Labor and was subsequently sworn in as Deputy Premier, replacing James Merlino.
Energy minister addresses National Press Club
On Wednesday, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen spoke at the National Press Club, highlighting the Labor Government’s intention to legislate its increased emissions reduction target. Minister Bowen outlined the Government’s plans to introduce its climate change bill in the first sitting week of Parliament – scheduled to begin 26 July – to legislate the target to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. This would restore the role of the Climate Change Authority and impose a requirement on Minister Bowen to annually report on the nation’s progress against the targets. The Minister also indicated the Government will insert these national emissions reduction targets into the objectives and functions of multiple government agencies, such as ARENA, CEFC, NAIF and Infrastructure Australia. Throughout his address, the Minister emphasised that collaboration with business throughout the energy transition is a key element of the Government’s plan for a move to net zero emissions.
The South Australian Parliament will sit next week.
Rating agency Moody’s has affirmed Australia’s AAA credit rating. Australia is one of only nine countries to hold a AAA rating from all three rating agencies.
The ABS published retail trade statistics for the month of May, indicating a 0.9 per cent increase. With the exception of QLD and ACT, all jurisdictions reported an increase.
The Reserve Bank of Australia released draft conference papers from its 2022 annual conference where it discussed the causes, challenges and consequences of the global low-interest rate environment.
New statistics from the Insurance Council of Australia revealed that the 2022 flood events were the third costliest extreme weather event in Australia’s history, with $4.8 billion in insured damages.
RESOURCES AND ENERGY
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency allocated up to $45 million in funding to the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics to support a Solar Photovoltaic Technology (PV) research hub to 2030.
The Queensland Government released the Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, detailing a range of minerals funding initiatives outlined in the Queensland 2022-23 State Budget.
WA Minister for Energy Bill Johnston announced the state will be rolling out $37 million worth of standalone power systems (SPS) from 2023. The deployment of the 180 SPS will be Australia’s largest single rollout and is set to replace roughly 762 km of overhead powerlines.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
The Board of Infrastructure Australia appointed Adam Copp as Acting Chief Executive Officer from 1 August 2022, following the resignation of Romilly Madew.
Following public transport worker strikes across NSW this week, in negotiations with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, the State Government has offered $264 million to fix a fleet of trains, including the New Inter-City Fleet.
In Victoria, Safe Transport Victoria comes into effect today, with Tammy O’Connor to lead the new authority as Chief Executive. As a single transport regulator for the state, Safe Transport Victoria brings together the functions of Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria and Transport Safety Victoria.
The WA Government approved a $400 million redevelopment of a former school in East Perth. The redevelopment will see the construction of 742 new apartments, including 242 build-to-sell apartments and 500 build-to-rent apartments.
The QLD Government committed to implementing up to 17 recommendations made in an independent review of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s governance framework.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration granted a provisional determination to Pfizer Australia to extend the use of its COVID-19 vaccine from children above five years of age to those aged six months and older.
From today in NSW and the ACT, tests for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency and Spinal Muscular Atrophy will be permanently added to the NSW Newborn Screening Program.
The Victorian, NSW and SA Governments have extended the state influenza programs, originally scheduled to finish on 30 June. The Victorian program will continue to 10 July, while the NSW program will continue to 17 July, and SA’s will finish at the end of July.