Weekly Wrap Up

  • Victoria’s Attorney-General Jill Hennessy has resigned, citing family reasons.
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it will take action against Retail Food Group.
  • Under changes ratified by the Council on Federal Financial Relations, charities will no longer be required to obtain fundraising authorization across jurisdictions.
  • Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department Chris Moraitis PSM has been appointed as the Director-General of the Office of the Special Investigator, which will examine the findings of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry Report.
  • PM Scott Morrison released the priorities of the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC), comprised of the Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers, Treasurers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association.
  • The unemployment rate has dropped to 6.8 per cent in November from 7 per cent in October.
  • Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass released findings that the Victorian Government’s decision to place nine public housing towers into a hard lockdown violated the human rights of around 3000 tenants.

China blocks imports of Australian coal

Following several months of uncertainty, Australia’s coal export industry was thrown into turmoil on Tuesday, following reports from Chinese state media that China has blocked imports of Australian coal. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government is still treating news that China has blocked imports as media speculation, however warned that if the reports are true, it would represent a breach of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) rules and Australia’s own Free Trade Agreement with China (ChAFTA). Overnight on Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry accused Australia of “playing the victim” but did not deny the existence of the restrictions.

The alleged restrictions on coal are the latest Australian export to face economic sanctions from China, with sectors impacted this year including Australian barely; beef; wine; timber; rock lobster and cotton. On Wednesday, Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham on Thursday announced Australia would be taking action in the WTO against China’s imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley, and said Australia remains “disappointed” China has not engaged to address concerns.

Trans-Tasman travel bubble

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week flagged the possibility of opening a trans-Tasman travel bubble in the first half of 2021, pending low case numbers of COVID-19 in Australia. The decision was welcomed by the Morrison Government, who said the decision is a step towards “international normality”. PM Ardern said approval would be needed by the Morrison Government, who would need to change Australia’s biosecurity order to allow Australians to travel to New Zealand once a date is set. Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham said getting people travelling between the two countries will provide an economic lift and save thousands of jobs.


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