Weekly Wrap Up

16 September 2022

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  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics released its labour force data for August, showing the national unemployment rate increased for the first time since October last year, rising 0.1 to 3.5 per cent.
  • Minister for Home Affairs Claire O’Neil indicated Australia’s significant investor visa scheme will be reviewed ahead of the updated 2022-23 Federal Budget in October.
  • The review of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) published an Issues Paper, indicating that the review will be focusing on the RBA’s monetary policy objectives, performance, governance and culture.
  • Meanwhile, RBA Governor Philip Lowe appeared before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics this morning.
  • In NSW, an independent inquiry found that Star Entertainment is not suitable to hold a casino license in the state.
  • Also in NSW, the legal review into NSW MP Stuart Ayres, former Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, cleared him of breaching the Ministerial Code of Conduct in relation to the appointment of former Deputy Premier John Barilaro to a US trade commissioner role.
  • Submissions opened for the independent inquiry into former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s undisclosed appointments to multiple ministries.
  • Former MP Clive Palmer deregistered his United Australia Party (UAP) with the Australian Electoral Commission, leaving UAP representative Senator Ralph Babet without a registered party.

Death of Queen Elizabeth II

The impact of the death of Queen Elizabeth II has continued to be felt across Australia with a number of developments over the past week. On Sunday, Governor-General David Hurley proclaimed the accession of King Charles III and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese declared Thursday 22 September as a one-off public holiday, coinciding with a memorial service for the Queen. A condolences session will be held in Federal Parliament the next day, with the following week confirmed[PDF] as the replacement for the parliamentary sitting period that was scheduled to occur this week. Meanwhile, the state and territory parliaments that were due to sit this week also suspended the week’s sitting period.

The Queen’s death has also intensified the long-running debate on Australia becoming a republic, with Mr Albanese denying that a referendum on a republic will be brought forward now that King Charles III has been proclaimed as Australia’s sovereign. The Prime Minister has indicated that his current priority is holding a referendum to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and stated it is “not feasible” to have that debate alongside discussions over a republic. Mr Albanese has also defended the appointment of Matt Thistlethwaite as Assistant Minister for the Republic, pointing to the fact that the Republic is not Assistant Minister Thistlethwaite’s only portfolio, and stating the Labor Party has had a longstanding position on moving towards a republic without having “a timetable” on the matter.

On Monday, the Prime Minister and Governor-General will attend Her Majesty’s funeral in London, along with a number of Australian of the Year recipients and community representatives. While in England, Mr Albanese is due to meet with new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, as well as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

COVID-19 update

While the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesussays, stated that he believes “the end is in sight” for the COVID-19 pandemic but warned infection control measures should not yet be eased, National Cabinet in Australia agreed to indefinitely extend the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment. Prime Minister Albanese has also indicated that the future of COVID-19 isolation requirements will be discussed when National Cabinet next meets on 30 September. Meanwhile, the Australian Government accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s recommendation to make the Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccine available as a third and fourth dose for adults. As the first bivalent COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia, this vaccine targets both the original COVID-19 strain and the Omicron BA.1 variant.

Looking ahead

In WA, a by-election is taking place tomorrow for Nationals MP Vince Catania’s seat of North West Central. On Friday, Federal Parliament will hold a condolences session for Queen Elizabeth II. Parliament is scheduled to sit next week in NSW, Victoria, WA and the ACT, and on Tuesday in SA.


Federal Developments

The RBA published its quarterly Bulletin, which discusses a range of topics relating to the economy and the financial system including payments, bond trends, and dynamics between wages and prices.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones opened consultation on draft Financial Accountability Regime Minister rules, which relate to the establishment of the regime and accountability rules. Meanwhile, Treasury opened consultation on exposure draft regulations to support the proposed Compensation Scheme of Last Resort. Submissions for both consultations close 7 October 2022.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority released an information paper that discusses the Authority’s ongoing program to modernise Australia’s prudential architecture.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission noted that 13 entities have amended their marketing materials following surveillance activity by the Commission.


Federal Developments

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency conditionally approved $47.5 million in funding towards ENGIE Renewables Australia’s renewable hydrogen and ammonia project near Karratha in WA. The project will see the development of a 10MW electrolyser capable of producing up to 640 tonnes of renewable hydrogen each year.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen appointed three new members to the Climate Change Authority. Joining the independent body will be biologist and member of the Climate Council Professor Lesley Hughes, legal researcher Dr Virginia Marshall, and former chair of climate advocacy group 1 Million Women Sam Mostyn AO.

State Developments

The NSW Government granted[PDF] planning approval to the EnergyConnect electric interconnector between NSW, South Australia and Victoria, as well as approving planning for new transmission lines to connect Snowy 2.0 to the grid. Meanwhile, the Waratah Super Battery was declared as Critical State Significant Infrastructure.

The ACT Government opened consultation on the proposed phase-out of a new list of single-use plastic items from 1 July 2023, with further bans proposed on items including single-use takeaway containers and heavyweight plastic bags. Submissions to the consultation are due to close on 8 December 2022.


Federal Developments

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King confirmed the Government will reinstate the Fuel Tax Credit at 18.8 cents per litre across Australia from 29 September 2022, alongside imposing an increase to the heavy vehicle road user charge of 0.8 cents per litre. The Minister also noted that the National Transport Commission will be consulting over the next two months on heavy vehicle charge setting for 2023-24 onwards.

State Developments

The NSW Government entered[PDF] into an agreement with property developer Mirvac for a $2 billion redevelopment of the Harbourside Shopping Centre. The site will be redeveloped into a retail and entertainment precinct including residential apartments and commercial offices.

The QLD Government has directed the Housing Supply Expert Panel that was originally established in 2018 to provide advice to Councils about how to increase housing supply in light of population growth. The Government is also looking at expanding the panel’s remit to cover all of Queensland.

The NT Government announced it will soon begin consultation with key stakeholders as it refines plans for the Tennant Creek to Darwin infrastructure corridor. The proposed corridor will provide pipelines for future services including gas, water, communications and other utilities.


Federal Developments

Plaintiff law firm Shine Lawyers announced that a $300 million settlement has been reached with Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon, in two class actions relating to injury suffered from the company’s pelvic mesh implants. The settlement is subject to approval by the Federal Court.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration published an independent report examining intentional paracetamol overdose and will now consult on the report’s recommendations, which include potential amendments to the Poisons Standard. The report was led by professors from universities, the Poisons Information Centre, the Centre for Mental Health Research, and the Black Dog Institute.

State Developments

The ACT Government released the draft ACT Drug Strategy Action Plan 2022-2026 for comment, outlining its plan to reduce alcohol and other drug-related harm across the Territory. Consultation closes on 24 October 2022.

The Way Back Support Service, a program designed by Beyond Blue to provide specialised support to suicide survivors, launched in Tasmania. The service is being supported by investments from both the State and Federal governments.


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