Weekly Wrap Up

  • International credit ratings agency S&P Global this week downgraded Victoria and NSW’s AAA credit ratings.
  • WA Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup announced a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle in the lead up to WA state election in March 2021.
  • China’s Commerce Ministry on Thursday announced it will impose temporary anti subsidy tariffs on Australia-imported wines of 6.3 per cent to 6.4 per cent from Friday. This follows China’s previous announcement of antidumping duties of 107.1 per cent to 212.1 per cent on Australian wine in November.
  • The Senate Inquiry into Rio Tinto’s destruction of Juukan Gorge this week tabled its interim report which recommended a moratorium on the WA Government issuing new approvals for projects that damage Indigenous heritage in the state.
  • Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced Australia has secured a further 20 million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine for onshore manufacturing following the abandonment of the University of Queensland vaccine candidate.
  • PM Scott Morrison gave the 2020 Valedictory Statement in Parliament.

Final parliamentary sitting week of 2020

Federal Parliament returned this week for its final sitting week of 2020, with the Coalition introducing legislation including the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill; the news media bargaining code; and reforms to responsible lending and Hayne Royal Commission recommendations. The Government also secured the passage of significant Bills on foreign relations, waste and recycling and foreign investment.

The Government this week also introduced its much-anticipated industrial relations reforms. The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill contains a number of proposed changes to industrial relations in Australia arising from a series of roundtables convened by Attorney-General Christian Porter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Porter also introduced a second Bill which would permit a constituent part of a union which has previously amalgamated to de-amalgamate following a ballot of union members. Reports have speculated this is likely to lead to the breakup of the CFMMEU.

National Cabinet meets in-person

At today’s National Cabinet all state and territory leaders, with the exception WA Premier Mark McGowan, came together for their first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic. The National Cabinet today discussed the roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccination in Australia and the need to tighten quarantine arrangements for air-crew and diplomats, labelled by the PM as vulnerabilities in Australia’s quarantine system. The National Cabinet also made a number of “congestion busting” agreements in relation to the devolvement of environmental approval processes to states and territories and lifting the threshold for infrastructure support from the Commonwealth from $100 million to $250 million. PM Scott Morrison wrapped up the meeting by thanking his colleagues for their cooperation through the year and their success in managing COVID-19 in their own jurisdictions.

Australia set to ditch Kyoto Credits

Australia is set to ditch its controversial plan to use Kyoto ‘carry-over’ Credits to meet its 2030 emissions reduction targets after projections unveiled by Federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor on Thursday revealed Australia is almost on track to meet the target. The Department of Energy Emissions Projections 2020 report said under a scenario aligned with the Coalition’s Technology Investment Roadmap, Australia is projected to beat its 2030 target by 145 million tonnes, without relying on “past overachievement”. Reports have suggested PM Scott Morrison will make the Kyoto announcement this evening in an address to an online Pacific Islands Forum.

More COVID-19 restrictions eased

As international arrivals resumed in Victoria this week, the state reached a milestone of 42 days without recording a COVID-19 case. On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews announced further easing of restrictions for a COVIDSafe Summer which included increasing density limits for restaurants, cafes and pubs and removing the requirement to wear a mask in some indoor settings. Masks are still required on public transport or in places where it is difficult to socially distance including retail venues and supermarkets. Elsewhere, both NSW and South Australia also announced an easing of restrictions, while WA Premier Mark McGowan confirmed the relaxation of the WA border with NSW and Victoria. Travellers from SA to WA are still required to undertake 14 days of quarantine until SA has recorded 28 consecutive days of zero community transmission.

Looking ahead

Federal Parliament has adjourned for the year.

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