Weekly Wrap Up
- Federal Parliament resumed this week, with the Government progressing its financial services legislative agenda.
- Australia’s unemployment rate reached 7.1 per cent in May, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimating 227,700 jobs were lost last month.
- South Australia has opened its borders to WA, the NT, and Tasmania; the NT will reopen its borders to all states on July 17.
- Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham announced the start of formal negotiations for a new free trade agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom. The Government has also established a Ministerial Advisory Committee to inform the Government’s ongoing FTA agenda.
- The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months ahead, sits at minus 4.79 per cent, relative to Australia’s trend rate of 2.8 per cent.
- The Victorian Government has passed laws criminalising wage theft, which includes substantial fines and jail time for offending employers.
This week in Federal Parliament
MPs and Senators were once again in Canberra this week as parliament sat for the last time until August. On the agenda for the Government this week was passing the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill, which would impose mandatory minimum sentences for serious child sex offences and repeat offenders. Whilst Labor initially raised objections to mandatory sentencing, the laws gained support of the Caucus and passed the Parliament.
Morrison and Albanese outline coronavirus recovery
PM Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese spoke at the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the Nation conference on Monday, outlining their competing visions for Australia’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis. The PM said infrastructure will be a key focus for the Government, following his earlier announcement that 15 major projects would receive accelerated approvals. Mr Morrison also revealed the Government would seek review Australia’s environment laws and streamline regulatory ‘green-tape’, as part of its wider de-regulation agenda. There is an ongoing review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act underway, with an interim report due later this month. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese revealed Labor will push for Australia to embrace the role of bigger government to lead the nation’s economic recovery.
Branch-stacking revelations in Victoria
The Victorian Government has this week been rocked by allegations that Minister for Local Government, Adem Somyurek, was involved in “industrial scale” branch stacking. The media report – aired on Channel Nine – also depicted Mr Somyurek using offensive language to describe a colleague, prompting Premier Daniel Andrews to announce he had sacked Mr Somyurek from his cabinet, and written to the Labor National Executive to expel him from the party. Assistant Treasurer Robin Scott and Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz also resigned from their positions in the wake of the scandal. Labor’s national executive has seized control of the Victorian branch, including candidate preselection. Former Premier Steve Bracks and former federal MP Jenny Macklin have been appointed as administrators.
Potential seat changes
Psephologist Antony Green has speculated on the implications of the Australian Demographic Statistics data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning, projecting that the Australian Electoral Commissioner is likely to recommend the House of Representatives reduce from 151 to 150 members. This would see Victoria gain one seat, while the WA and NT would each lose a seat, meaning the Territory would have only a single seat. The Commissioner is due to make a formal determination on 3 July 2020.
National Cabinet will next meet on Friday, 26 June. Federal Parliament will return on Tuesday, 4 August.
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