Weekly Wrap Up
- The latest Newspoll has revealed a small bounce for the Morrison Government following last week’s Federal Budget, with the Coalition leading the Opposition on a two-party preferred basis 52-48. PM Scott Morrison retained his high approval ratings, while dissatisfaction in Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has slightly increased to 43 per cent.
- The September national unemployment rate rose to 6.9 per cent from 6.8 per cent in August.
- Westpac’s measure of consumer sentiment jumped by 11.9 per cent in October on the back of the Federal Budget.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne rebuked China for deciding to prosecute Australian citizen and academic Dr Yang Hengjun (Dr Yang Jun).
- Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston announced a feedback study on the National Redress Scheme is now open.
- The Australian Federal Police will not lay charges against ABC journalist Dan Oakes for revealing allegations of potential war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
- The Senate Select Committee on the Aboriginal flag rejected calls for the Government to take over the copyright of the Aboriginal flag in its final report, stating it would establish “a dangerous precedent”.
- National Cabinet, which was scheduled for this afternoon, has been postponed due to technical problems with the Prime Minister’s RAAF plane.
With PM Scott Morrison campaigning in Queensland this week, focus has turned to matters of integrity as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian appeared before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) probe into the corrupt dealings of former MP for Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire. During her testimony, Ms Berejiklian revealed she had been in a close personal relationship with Mr Maguire since 2015, however maintained she did not stray from her responsibilities as then-Treasurer and eventually Premier of New South Wales. A motion of no confidence in the Premier was defeated in each chamber of the NSW Parliament. However, key cross bench members of the upper house, including Leader of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Robert Borsak, have said they will not support government legislation if Ms Berejiklian does not step aside as leader whilst awaiting ICAC’s findings.
Elsewhere, Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington denied allegations she was referred to the Electoral Commission of Queensland by her own Liberal National Party over fears that fundraising for her campaign may have broken Queensland laws against the political influence of property developers.
Federal Government puts pressure on Victorian Premier
In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews faced his own motion of no confidence in Parliament this week, however it was comfortably defeated by Labor’s majority in the Lower House. This followed a tumultuous start to the week for the Premier, after the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet Chris Eccles announced his resignation on Monday morning after his phone records were requested by the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry. Mr Andrews this week acknowledged that Victoria’s stubborn case numbers could be “as good as it is going to get”, and said the Government may be more lenient on case numbers, flagging the loosening of some social restrictions this Sunday. Senior Federal Ministers including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Health Greg Hunt this week urged Mr Andrews to “give the people of Victoria their freedom back this weekend”.
Labor outlines priorities
The week following Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s Budget-in-Reply speech, Mr Albanese flagged Labor may oppose the Morrison Government’s $130 billion tax cut for high-income earners, set to come into effect in 2024. Labor had previously declined to say whether Labor would attempt to overturn the tax cuts, however Mr Albanese this week said it would be “hard to argue” for high-end tax cuts in the current circumstances. Elsewhere, Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers addressed the National Press Club on Wednesday, and criticised the Federal Budget as a “missed opportunity” with little to show for high levels of debt. Mr Chalmers declared a Labor Government’s fiscal strategy would be anchored around a more ambitious approach to employment, compared to the Government’s current target of pushing unemployment below 6 per cent by 2024.
Understanding COVID-19: AustraliaNOW research
The latest Clemenger Group research into Australians’ attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic reveals that, with the daily average number of cases hovering above the set requirement for re-opening, Victorians are feeling increasingly pessimistic about the pace of their ‘return to COVID-normal’. Hopes rest on a re-opening to intrastate and interstate travel by Christmas. Beyond Victoria, the majority of Australians are supportive of the management of border restrictions. However, economic concerns – front of mind since the beginning of the pandemic – have been further emphasised in the week following the Federal Budget. 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].
Federal Parliament will sit next week, with Senate Estimates to run over the next fortnight. Elsewhere, Parliament will return in NSW, NT and WA.