Weekly Wrap Up
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that the 2020-21 Federal Budget will be handed down at 7:30pm on Tuesday 6 October 2020. The number of organisations and individuals that will be able to attend lock-up has been reduced to ensure compliance with health restrictions.
- Minister for Health Greg Hunt welcomed the recommencement of the Oxford vaccine clinical trial.
- The NSW Government announced restrictions on the NSW/Victorian border will be further eased to expand the current border region.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Commonwealth has extended Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment arrangements to include Western Australia following agreement with the WA Government
- Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the OECD has upgraded Australia’s economic growth outlook for 2020.
- The ABS this week released figures revealing Australia’s unemployment rate has decreased 0.7 percentage points to 6.8 per cent.
- Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Senator Scott Ryan announced measures that will be implemented for the upcoming Budget week sitting period.
- The Chinese Consul-General Sun Yantao was named in a warrant from the Australian Federal Police over a political interference investigation in NSW.
- Federal Liberal MP the Hon Dr John McVeigh announced he will resign from Federal Parliament, triggering a by-election in the electorate of Groom in Queensland.
PM Scott Morrison described today’s meeting of the National Cabinet as “productive” and said leaders were encouraged about the numbers coming out of Victoria and the slow easing of restrictions. The Prime Minister also welcomed the lifting of border restrictions between South Australia and the ACT, and Queensland and the ACT. The PM announced that the Commonwealth will lift caps on international arrivals to get Australians who are stranded overseas home. From Monday 28 September, NSW will take an additional 500 international arrivals, while Queensland and WA will work towards taking an additional 500 arrivals by 11 October. The PM also announced the Commonwealth will lead an initiative to connect all the digital contact tracing systems in each state and territory to enable them to interact with each other, following work by Dr Alan Finkel and Commodore Mark Hill comparing the Victorian and NSW tracing systems. Tracing capacity will also be improved through greater data collection on domestic flights, which will require travellers to provide their name, email address, contact number and state of residence. The next National Cabinet will not be held until 16 October due to the Federal Budget.
Restrictions ease for regional Victoria
Victoria’s coronavirus case numbers continued to decline this week. As the average 14-day cases number for regional Victoria reached the thresholds set in Victoria’s roadmap out of restrictions, Premier Daniel Andrews announced regional Victoria would move to Step Three. Victorians outside of metropolitan Melbourne may now choose a “household bubble” and visit those within the bubble in a home with a total of five visitors. Also, outdoor non-contact sport and some non-contact sport would resume, hospitality businesses would be able to serve patrons outdoors and a staged return to onsite learning would commence in the first two weeks of Term Four. Premier Andrews praised regional Victoria, and said they had done a “mighty job” in fighting the virus. Mr Andrews also warned anyone in metropolitan Melbourne who attempt to travel to regional Victoria without a valid reason would face a $5,000 fine. Elsewhere, the judicial inquiry into the Victorian hotel quarantine system heard from Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton this week, who said the public health team did not have sufficient oversight in relation to infection prevention.
Federal Government unveils plan for east coast gas market
This week, PM Scott Morrison was in Tomago near Port Stephens to announce structural changes to the east coast gas market to increase energy affordability and generate employment. The Government also committed to use the National Gas Infrastructure Plan to invest $10.9 million to identify essential critical infrastructure. The PM also announced the Government would set a target for the electricity sector to deliver 1,000 megawatts of dispatchable electricity to replace the Liddell Power Station, due to close in 2023. The Government’s plan sets an April 2021 deadline to decide whether the private sector or the Federal Government will build a new power station.
The latest Clemenger Group research into Australians’ attitudes and perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic reveals that faith in Victorian leadership has remained low following the unveiling of its re-opening roadmap. Taking the difficult decision to maintain strict lockdown conditions is inevitably unpopular in the short-term. However, when asked to consider the risks, the majority of Victorians are in opposition to re-opening too early and show strong support for the decision, if not the decision-maker. Join Quantum next Thursday 24th September at 11am as an expert panel presents an unvarnished view of Australian sentiment as we move forward – where do we go from here, and what are the implications and opportunities for leaders, brands and decision makers. You can register here.
Next week, Parliament will sit in NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.