Weekly Wrap Up
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will hand down the 2021-22 Federal Budget on Tuesday 11 May 2021. Lock-up arrangements for Budget night have been released with limited spaces available to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the remaining troops will depart Afghanistan in September 2021, in line with recent announcements by the United States and other allies.
- The Senate Environment and Communications Committee held its first public hearing for the inquiry into Australia Post with many Board members, current and ex-staff and departmental officials appearing. The Australia Post Board has appointed former Woolworths Group executive Paul Graham as CEO, following Christine Holgate’s departure.
- Education Minister Alan Tudge launched a review of initial teacher education courses to improve school standards across Australia.
- The Fair Work Commission published its internal[PDF] timeliness benchmarks for enterprise agreement approvals. Reforms relating to approval timeframes were removed from the recently-passed industrial relations legislation.
- NSW Labor announced CMFEU mining and energy district vice-president Jeff Drayton as its candidate for the forthcoming NSW Upper Hunter by-election. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party has endorsed Singleton Business Chamber President Sue Gilroy.
- Christian Democratic Party founder Reverend Hon Fred Nile announced he will resign from the NSW Legislative Council after 40 years of Parliamentary service. He recommended Lyle Shelton as his successor.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg welcomed the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) March 2021 labour force figures that reported a 0.5 per cent increase in employment. The Treasurer said Australia’s labour market is recovering 4.5 times faster than following the 1990s recession and that consumer confidence had risen to an 11-year high. During March, the unemployment rate decreased 0.2 points to 5.6 per cent, however the ABS is expecting the end of JobKeeper to impact figures for April and has amended the Labour Force Survey questionnaire to better understand the subsidy’s influence.
Recent Treasury analysis found that while the international tourism market was severely impacted by the pandemic, domestic spending increased GDP by $7.5 billion. The Treasurer was confident that budget projections would not be damaged by vaccine delays and that Australia’s suppression strategy was effective for a strong recovery.
The Prime Minister has again called National Cabinet to meet twice weekly to address vaccine supply issues. Australia secured an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and is expecting supply to arrive in the fourth quarter of this year. As such, national targets for full immunisation have been revised.
Last Friday, National Cabinet agreed to principles for reopening Australia, including continuing to minimise community transmission and progressing the vaccine rollout. Health officials were tasked with developing a strategy to open international borders and the Prime Minister indicated the first goal was to allow fully-vaccinated Australians to go overseas for ‘important purposes’. Due to its success in suppressing the virus, the Prime Minister has nominated Singapore as the next potential country for a two-way travel bubble.
The Queensland, ACT and Tasmanian Parliaments will sit next week.
Click here for information on Finance, Resources & Energy, Infrastructure, and Health updates.