Weekly Wrap Up

17 December 2021

Highlights  

  • The Federal Government will establish an Online Safety Youth Advisory Council to further assist with ongoing reforms to regulate social media and online safety.
  • The Morrison Government released Australia’s first Data Strategy, which seeks to establish Australia as a modern data-driven society by 2030. Consultation on the Strategy is open until 30 June 2022.
  • The ABS published its Labour Force data for November showing the unemployment rate fell by 0.6 per cent to 4.6 per cent, while seasonally adjusted employment increased by 2.9 per cent.
  • Mr David Irvine AO has been reappointed as the Chair of the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for an additional two-year period.
  • Ms Gina Cass‑Gottlieb has been nominated as the new Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairperson. Subject to the States and Territories supporting the appointment, Ms Cass-Gottlieb will commence the role on 21 March 2022.
  • US President Joe Biden has nominated Ms Caroline Kennedy as the next US Ambassador to Australia. The nomination is subject to approval by the US Senate.

FINANCE
Federal Developments

The Federal Government announced an expansion of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) into payments, opening and closing bank accounts, and applying for home loans.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) published its seventh annual tax transparency report outlining the tax paid by 2,730 corporate entities for the 2019-20 financial year. The report shows a combined $57.2 billion paid, making up approximately 65 per cent of corporate income tax.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released a joint annual statement on the collaboration between the two regulators.

State Developments

The NSW Government published[PDF] its 2021-22 Half-Yearly Review, outlining that the underlying budget deficit more than doubled from $8.6 billion to $19.5 billion due to the Delta outbreak and resulting lockdowns. Despite this, the NSW budget is projected to return to surplus by the 2024-25 financial year.

The Victorian Government also released its 2021-22 Mid-Year Budget Update, showing a $7.9 billion increase in this year’s forecast deficit to $19.5 billion dollars, up from $11.6 billion.

The South Australian Government also released its 2021-22 Mid-Year Budget Review, showing the estimated deficit for 2021-22 is higher, at $1.6 billion rather than $1.4 billion, than predicted when the budget was handed down.


RESOURCES AND ENERGY

Federal Developments

Australia and the Republic of Korea have formalised a mutually-funded Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan to facilitate the development of clean energy and critical minerals technology to reduce emissions.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Clean Energy Council (CEO) published the Connections for Reform Roadmap which outlines methods to improve accessibility to, and developments of, renewable energy, energy storage and hybrid projects connecting to the National Electricity Market.

The Energy Security Board cemented plans to undertake further design work on the final package of capacity mechanism reforms. Consultation on the scope of works and project initiation papers is open until 10 February.

The Federal Government released plans to develop and implement a hydrogen Guarantee of Origin (GO) scheme following a trial phase with industry stakeholders to increase Australia’s competitive advantage in the hydrogen industry.

State Developments

The NSW and Federal Governments announced a joint $13.5 million grant round to expand recycling infrastructure as part of the Federal Recycling Modernisation Fund.

Victorian Minister for Resources Jaala Pulford unveiled the Strategic Extractive Resources Roadmap which centres around improving the mapping and planning provisions to identify and protect Victorian resources in quarries, mines and other places rich in natural resources and minerals.

The Queensland Government welcomed the announcement by Aurizon and Anglo American to undertake a feasibility study into using hydrogen-powered trains for bulk freight operations.


INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER

Federal Developments

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce announced Round 6 of the Building Better Regions Fund is now open. Applications close on 10 February 2022.

The Federal and Victorian Governments committed $12 million in joint funding to investigate business case options for rapid transport between Caulfield and Rowville in Melbourne.

State Developments

The ACT Government announced a new procurement process for government contracts conducted by open tender, which will require companies to undergo an Ethical Treatment of Workers assessment. The new process will come into effect from 1 February 2022.

The NSW Government declared the proposed Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre at Kemps Creek as Critical State Significant Infrastructure (CSSI). If approved, the development will pump water into the Wianamatta–South Creek and be operational by mid-2025.

NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes announced reforms to the State’s planning proposals and rezoning processes. Newly elected councils will now be required to adhere to maximum timeframes for planning assessments and determinations.


HEALTH

Federal Developments

Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed an additional $308.6 million in funding to improve the primary care health system, including the provision of permanent telehealth services and better mental health services.

Minister Hunt also launched the National Preventative Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve health outcomes based on seven key areas. A similar 10-year framework focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes was also released.

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck announced $34 million in funding to establish the Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research at Flinders University to support the future of aged care in Australia.

State Developments

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath announced the signing of an agreement between the Cairns Hospital and Health Service and James Cook University for the purchase of land for the new Cairns University Hospital.

SA Premier Steven Marshall and Health Minister Stephen Wade confirmed the new 20-bed palliative care unit will open at Modbury Hospital next week, as part of the hospital’s $146 million redevelopment.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook opened the upgraded emergency department at Royal Perth Hospital, following the State Government’s $1.5 million investment in the redevelopment.


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