Weekly Wrap Up
- PM Scott Morrison has issued a warning to social media app TikTok over a distressing video that went viral during the week, and said the Government will continue to hold social media platforms to account.
- Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham announced the establishment of a whole-of-government Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce.
- Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced a reshuffle of the NT Ministry.
- The Australian Greens confirmed Lidia Thorpe’s nomination for the Senate casual vacancy created by Richard Di Natale’s resignation.
- The ABS released payroll data for August, revealing payroll jobs fell by 2 per cent in Victoria while for the rest of Australia, payroll jobs rose 0.1 per cent.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne announced Australia has joined Western allies to condemn the Novichok poisoning of Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Nalvany.
- Queensland Ministers Kate Jones, Anthony Lynham and Coralee O’Rourke announced they would not contest the upcoming Queensland State Election.
- The latest Clemenger Group research into Australians’ attitudes and perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic reveals sustained and mostly successful efforts to contain the virus around the nation (other than in Victoria) have seen hope maintained. However, this positive sentiment is restrained by a wariness about the potential for outbreaks similar to Victoria’s and concerns about the economy, amid news that Australia is now officially in recession. To receive future editions of AustraliaNOW, or to find out more, please get in contact with Richard Frost from Quantum Market Research at [email protected].
On Sunday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews released his Government’s much-anticipated map out of restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. The Four-Step plans outlined by the Premier include an extension of Melbourne’s current Stage 4 lockdown, as well as setting out low case numbers to be reached before the Government would consider the easing of restrictions in both Melbourne and regional Victoria. Mr Andrews said the Government based the roadmap on modelling it commissioned, which showed a 60 per cent likelihood of a third wave lockdown before the end of the year if restrictions were eased too early. Prominent industry groups and businesses have criticised the roadmap, claiming it would only serve to prolong economic and social damage in the state.
PM Scott Morrison criticised the extended roadmap, and suggested it could be accelerated if the Victorian Government increased its contact tracing capacity. The PM also suggested Victoria would not receive any further financial assistance from the Commonwealth until Premier Andrews announces an assistance plan for businesses impacted by restrictions. Meanwhile, Minister for Health Greg Hunt said that if Victoria had a more effective tracing system from the outset, the outbreak would not have grown worse than clusters which have been contained in other states.
Berejiklian issues ultimatum
On Thursday, the NSW National Party announced it would withdraw support for government legislation over its objections to environmental protections relating to koala habitats. Deputy Premier John Barilaro said all of the Nationals, except MP Leslie Williams, would not attend the Coalition joint party room or leadership meetings, and would not support government legislation except where it affects the regions or the Nationals deem it important. By Thursday afternoon, Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued an ultimatum to the Deputy Premier and the NSW National Party to either confirm it would remain in the Coalition or move to the crossbench in truth and forgo positions in the ministry by 9am today. Ms Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro later issued a statement confirming the Coalition agreement remains in place. The Cabinet will remain intact, with the issue of environmental policy on koalas to be considered at a forthcoming Cabinet meeting.
Australian journos leave China
Australia’s last remaining correspondents to China arrived home this week following a diplomatic dispute which saw Bill Birtles from the ABC and Mike Smith from the AFR receive five days under protection in Australian diplomatic missions. Mr Birtles and Mr Smith both received late-night visits from Chinese state security officers, and were then barred from leaving China until they agreed to give hour-long interviews relating to detained Chinese state television anchor and Australian citizen Cheng Lei. Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne confirmed the Government provided consular assistance to Mr Birtles and Mr Smith, and issued a reminder for the Government’s current travel advice to China, which warns Australian citizens would be at risk of arbitrary detention amid escalating tensions between the two countries.
After the journalists left China, Chinese state media revealed six Chinese citizens believed to have engaged in foreign interference in Australia have either been denied re-entry into the country or have left after being questioned by intelligence agencies, and accused Australia of “hypocrisy” in upholding freedom of the press.
Next week, Parliament will sit in New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia.