Weekly Wrap Up

17 November 

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  • The Federal Government released its response to the Robodebt Royal Commission and agreed or agreed in-principle to all 56 recommendations.
  • Minister for Infrastructure Catherine King released the Infrastructure Policy Statement and the Independent Strategic Review of the ‘Infrastructure Investment Program’.
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics published the Wage Price Index for the September quarter, showing that wages rose by 1.3 per cent this last quarter and 4 per cent annually.
  • Federal Member for Monash Russell Broadbent resigned from the Liberal Party after losing preselection for the seat of Monash, but will remain in Parliament as an independent until the next federal election.
  • Optus CEO Kelly-Bayer Rosmarin fronted a Senate Inquiry following last week’s nation-wide outage of Optus services.

Prime Minister’s trips to Pacific Islands Forum and APEC Summit

Following his recent visit to China, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese travelled to the Cook Islands for the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders’ Meeting, joining discussions on regional security, climate change, and developing people-to-people ties. Mr Albanese said, “Australia sees the Pacific as family and none of us can achieve the future we want alone”. Bilateral meetings with the leaders of Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Cook Islands saw Mr Albanese reaffirm Australia’s commitment to assisting Pacific nations facing climate-related challenges and reiterated Australia’s support for the Treaty of Rarotonga which formalises the South-Pacific as a nuclear-free zone.

Additionally, Prime Minister Albanese and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu Kausea Natano announced the elevation of the Australia-Tuvalu relationship to a comprehensive partnership, the Falepili Union. As part of the Falepi Union, both leaders signed a new bilateral Treaty, which involves Australia providing permanent residency for up to 280 Tuvaluans per year and providing assistance to Tuvalu on climate-related challenges. Under the arrangement, both countries also committed to mutually agree on any future security and defence partnerships Tuvalu may be offered with any other state or entity.

Following the PIF, Mr Albanese returned to Canberra for Remembrance Day at the start of the Parliamentary sitting week, before heading to San Francisco for the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Summit. So far, the Prime Minister has met with the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, to announced a partnership to explore the use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in Australia’s public service. Mr Albanese also held a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss economic relations and the climate transition.

Federal Parliament

Both chambers of Parliament sat this week following a Senate-only sitting last week. Following the High Court’s ruling that the indefinite detention of immigrants was unlawful, both houses of Parliament expeditiously passed the Migration Amendment (Bridging Visa Conditions) Bill 2023. Under the legislative change, the 84 individuals released from immigration detention last week will be required to follow strict visa conditions, such as wearing ankle bracelets and abiding by curfews. After a week of debate, the Senate also passed the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill, which allows for carbon capture, utilisation, and storage in the seabed. Importantly, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2023 Measures No.1) Bill 2023, which makes changes to the oversight of the Tax Practitioners Board and the Financial Adviser Register, also passed Parliament. Amendments made in response to the PwC tax leaks will enable regulators to penalise companies who breach corporate privacy rules up to $780 million.

Looking Ahead

The NSW Parliament will sit next week.


Federal Developments

Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones opened consultation on draft legislation which implements half of the recommendations of the Quality of Advice Review. This forms the first tranche of the Government’s Delivering Better Financial Outcomes reform package and proposes to improve the availability and affordability of financial advice for Australian consumers. Consultation on the draft legislation will close on 6 December.

Assistant Minister Jones also made an address to the Customer Owned Banking Association to outline challenges relating to the industry, with a focus on scam operations. In his speech, Mr Jones discussed government and industry response to the rise of scams and indicated that the Government will shortly begin consultation on new obligations for the industry.

The Federal Government introduced the Superannuation (Objective) Bill 2023, which proposes to define the objective of superannuation to ensure it reflects the needs of retired Australians and solidify the purposes of super. The Bill defines the objective as to preserve savings to deliver income for a dignified retirement, alongside government support, in an equitable and sustainable way, and would ensure any proposed changes to superannuation would be subject to this measure.

State Developments

NSW Premier Chris Minns announced the Government will reform the state’s home insurance premium scheme by removing the Emergency Services Levy to make the scheme more sustainable and affordable for households. The proposed changes would replace the model with a state-wide contribution to fund emergency services, reducing the cost of insurance premiums to encourage more insured households in the face of greater natural disaster threats.


Federal Developments

Defence Minister Richard Marles launched the Australian Signals Directorate’s ‘Annual Cyber Threat Report’ for 2022-23. The report highlights that Australian governments, critical infrastructure, businesses, and households continue to be the target of malicious state and non-state cyber actors.

The Federal Government signed the Security Agreement on the Protection of Classified Information with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR). The agreement will facilitate the exchange of classified information between Australia and OCCAR to support Defence equipment programs.

Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy travelled to the Republic of Korea for the Republic of Korea-United Nations Command Member States Defence Ministerial Meeting. Attendees discussed security and stability on the Korean peninsula and commemorated the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice Agreement.


Federal Developments

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones introduced legislation, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Accountability and Fairness) Bill 2023, to implement a cap on the use of deductions under the petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT). This is the step in the Government’s response to the PRRT gas transfer pricing review.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen announced a public consultation by the Federal Government to discuss measures to address carbon leakage. The consultation is open until 12 December.

Resources Minister Madeleine King announced that Australia has joined an international working group to monitor and verify greenhouse gas emissions across global gas supply chains. The Federal Government’s collaboration with other nations aims to enhance the reliability and comparability of emissions data.

State Developments

The NSW Government released draft guidelines to expedite the planning approval and construction of wind, solar, and transmission infrastructure. The guidelines are open for public feedback until 15 December.


Federal Developments

The Government will delay and review its proposed legislation targeting misinformation and disinformation online. The draft legislation was released for consultation early this year which received criticism due to claims it would suppress freedom of speech. The revised bill is set to be introduced to Parliament in 2024.

Bunnings and Ikea announced they will begin the process of phasing out the sale of engineered stone products linked to silicosis. The ACT Government also supports a total ban on the use of the material. This follows a recommendation by Safe Work Australia to prohibit the use of engineered stone to protect workers’ health and safety.

Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland announced a partnership between the Federal Government and Telstra to collaborate on an initiative to increase the awareness of national support services such as 1800RESPECT and Lifeline.

State Developments

NSW Minister for Roads John Graham revealed drivers will pay a total $123 billion in tolls by 2060, $64 billion of which will be spent on WestConnex. This delivers on an election commitment to deliver more transparency in the tolling system.

NSW Premier Chris Minns and Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dibb invested $25 million into upgrading NSW’s flood rescue fleet. In response to the recommendations from the 2022 Flood Inquiry, the investment will go toward providing enhanced and new vehicles, vessels, and other assets.


Federal Developments

The Federal Government announced the establishment of the National Occupation Respiratory Disease Registry, following the passing of the National Occupation Respiratory Disease Registry Bill 2023. The National Registry aims to help eliminate preventable occupational respiratory diseases through early detection, intervention, and prevention.

The Federal Government is investing $135 million in infrastructure grants for aged care providers operating in rural and remote Australia. The grants are the first of two opportunities to open in 2023-24 under the ‘Aged Care Capital Assistance’ program.

The Department of Health and Aged Care opened consultation on the National Sport Plan. The Plan details the Federal Government’s approach to leveraging the “green and gold decade” (2022-2032) with upcoming major events to be held in Australia. Consultations close 10 December.

State Developments

The Queensland Government announced $20 million to increase community-based perinatal and infant mental health support and treatment. The funding will support Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia and Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness, as well as funding 20 specialist mental health clinicians.


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