Weekly Wrap Up
- The latest Newspoll has the Coalition in front of Labor 51-49. PM Scott Morrison leads Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese as preferred PM 58-29.
- PM Scott Morrison congratulated President-Elect Joe Biden in a phone call on Thursday.
- Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt noted this NAIDOC Week is an invitation for all Australians to reflect and understand Australia’s shared history.
- The PM this week appointed Dr Cathy Foley AO as Australia’s next Chief Scientist, ahead of Dr Alan Finkel’s tenure ending in December 2020.
- Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a further easing of restrictions removing the ‘ring of steel’ border between Melbourne and Regional Victoria and scrapping the 25km rule.
- Former Senator Natasha Stott Despoja was this week elected to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the first Australian to serve on the Committee in almost 30 years.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne this week condemned Beijing’s disqualification of elected Legislative Council lawmakers in Hong Kong.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Jobseeker supplement will be extended until 31 March next year, at a reduced rate of $150 per fortnight.
- NSW MP Ed Husic has replaced Shadow Minister for Resources, Joel Fitzgibbon, who this week resigned from Labor’s frontbench following a dispute with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese over Labor’s policies on climate change.
- PM Scott Morrison will visit Japan to meet the new Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Mr Suga Yoshihide and will travel to Papua New Guinea next week. The PM will quarantine upon his arrival to Australia.
Following a meeting of the National Cabinet today, PM Scott Morrison said all states and territories, with the exception of WA, have agreed to the framework for national reopening prior to Christmas. The PM noted Dr Alan Finkel’s National Contact Tracing Review was submitted to National Cabinet today, and advised a copy of the Review is being forwarded to President-Elect Joe Biden. The PM and Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly also advised National Cabinet has endorsed the Commonwealth’s National Vaccination Policy, which will focus on the dissemination of vaccines across Australia when they have achieved the necessary approvals. Elsewhere, international arrival caps are expected to be increased given further capacity in Victoria, and the PM will hold talks with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in Melbourne next week. The PM noted Australia is not in a position to take international students back at this time. Finally, the PM advised the Commonwealth’s response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements was given to Premiers and Chief Ministers today. This will be released to the public later today.
As Parliament returned this week, on the agenda for the Government was securing passage of the JobMaker Hiring Credit. The $4 billion program, which was a key feature of the 2020/21 Federal Budget, will give businesses up to $200 per week for each eligible employee. Despite attempts by Labor and the crossbench to add safeguards to the bill to prevent existing workers from losing hours to make way for new hires, One Nation voted with the Government and the Bill passed the Senate on Wednesday. The Coalition this week also introduced a package of legislation addressing 20 recommendations and an additional commitment from the Hayne Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
PM appoints war crimes investigator
PM Scott Morrison on Thursday announced a new investigative body to prosecute allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan ahead of next Thursday’s public release of an Inspector General report into the conduct of special forces in conflict. The PM said there were a significant number of “disturbing” incidents to investigate, and said if allegations of serious and potentially criminal misconduct are substantiated, they will be prosecuted in court. The PM warned the report would reveal “difficult and hard news” for Australians. An oversight panel has also been established to report directly to Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds on the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations. The office of the investigator will be set up within the Department of Home Affairs.
Codes of Conduct
Attorney-General Christian Porter and Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge came under scrutiny this week after a report by ABC’s Four Corners revealed relationship between Mr Tudge and a former staffer. Mr Tudge issued a statement following the program which said he regretted the hurt his actions caused his family and his former staffer. The program also aired allegations of misogyny against Mr Porter, to which he has denied and threatened legal action. The PM said his ministers should be in “no doubt” about the need to comply with the ministerial code of conduct, which prohibits relations between ministers and their staff. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has reportedly implemented a similar policy for Labor since the revelations were aired.
Federal Parliament will return on 30 November. Elsewhere, Parliament will return in SA, NSW and Tasmania next week, while the lower house will return in WA.