Weekly Wrap Up
10 December 2021
- Latest Newspoll data shows Labor remains ahead of the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis 53-47.
- The RBA has again maintained interest rates at 0.1 per cent, noting that while inflation has accelerated, it is still within acceptable levels.
- The Senate Environment and Communications References Committee published its final report on the state of media diversity in Australia. Non-government members of the Committee have recommended the Government establish a judicial inquiry with Royal Commission powers to further investigate the concentration of media ownership in Australia.
- The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released its detailed report into listed entities that received JobKeeper funding. This report captures information current as 30 November and will be updated each month.
Labor’s Ambitious Climate Policy
Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen released Labor’s climate policy Powering Australia Plan[PDF] which aims to reduce emissions by 43 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and provide cheaper renewable energy to Australian homes and businesses. The Plan includes investing up to $3 billion from Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund towards green metals such as steel and aluminium, clean energy component manufacturing, hydrogen electrolysers and fuel switching, agricultural methane reduction and waste reduction, and restoring the role of the Climate Change Authority. Following the release of the plan Mr Bowen addressed the National Press Club where he said Labor’s target of a 43 per cent reduction in emissions to 2030 was “ambitious and achievable” and a successfully elected Labor Government would take it to the United Nations climate change conference.
Further Tensions with China
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Australia would join the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as a response to China’s reported human rights abuses against the Uyghur minorities in the Xinjiang province. Mr Morrison said it should come as “no surprise” to China that Australia would not be sending any official representatives, while Australian athletes would still be in attendance. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin has accused the Australian Government of using the Olympics as a “political stunt for selfish gains” saying China firmly opposes the approach and has lodged “stern representations” concerning it. The announcement followed the passage of the Autonomous Sanctions Amendment (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Bill 2021 last week, with further implications for Sino-Australian relations.
The Prime Minister alongside Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the Government has accepted recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to allow children aged between 5 and 11 years to receive the Pfizer vaccination. In line with ATAGI’s advice, children within this age range will receive a reduced dosage of one-third given to those aged 12 and over. Vaccination for children in this age group is expected to be available by 10 January 2022. Minister Hunt also said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is currently evaluating the application for the Moderna vaccine to be administered to children aged between 6 and 11 years.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the Government will undertake significant reforms to Australia’s payments system with a focus on new payments and crypto technologies.
Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe addressed the annual AusPayNet Summit where he discussed a number of issues including the decline of cash, digital wallets, cross-border payments, and future research into a retail Central Bank Digital Currency.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it would not oppose the $23.6 billion takeover of Sydney Airport by a consortium of investment funds.
The Australian Securities & Investment Commission’s (ASIC) Commissioner Sean Hughes addressed the 31st Annual Credit Law Conference outlining ASIC’s priorities for 2022.
RESOURCES AND ENERGY
The Federal Government announced the 2021 Offshore Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release with bidding now open on five prospective locations offshore the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
The Federal Government launched its ReMade in Australia campaign to encourage better recycling habits under the National Waste Policy Action Plan.
SA Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs released the Turning the Tide 2021 discussion paper which seeks community feedback on whether further single-use plastic products such as cups, plates and bowls should be banned in the state.
Submissions are now open for Queenslanders to have their say on which single-use plastics should be banned next in the state. Submissions close on 28 January 2022.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce announced an independent review into the safety regulations of domestic commercial vessels in Australia. The Review will be led by former Australian Taxation Commissioner Mr Michael Carmody AO.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation appointed Martinus Rail as the preferred contractor to deliver the 570km section of Inland Rail linking Narromine in New South Wales to Gowrie in Queensland.
A consortium of CPB Contractors, Aurecon and GHD was awarded the $560 million contract to deliver the Main South Road and Victor Harbor Road Duplication projects in South Australia.
The Victorian and Federal Governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on developing the long-term growth of an Advanced Aerial Mobility industry in Australia.
The Tasmanian Government released concept designs for QuayLink, the $240 million redevelopment of the Port of Davenport.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a further $540 million towards the Federal Government’s COVID-19 response. The funding will be split across a number of areas, including aged care, indigenous health and the national incident centre.
Minister Hunt also announced an additional $7.8 million in funding to expand the National Perinatal Mental Health Helpline, via Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia.
The Federal Government released the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy, aimed at delivering a long-term framework to improve early childhood outcomes for First Nations people across Australia.
Victorian Minister for Mental Health James Merlino announced an $8.8 million investment in support for mental health carers, via the Mental Health Carer Support Fund.
SA Health Minister Stephen Wade launched the South Australian Intellectual Disability Health Service (SAIDHS) as part of the State Government’s commitment to better support those with intellectual disabilities.
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