Weekly Wrap Up
- Australia’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 6650.
- The National Cabinet is meeting today to discuss the latest coronavirus modelling and review current social distancing measures.
- PM Scott Morrison and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud have called for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, focusing on the initial response from China and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- The first hearing of the Senate inquiry into the Government’s response to coronavirus was held yesterday.
- Attorney-General Christian Porter has confirmed police will not have access to metadata from the proposed coronavirus contact tracing app.
- National Cabinet has agreed to ease restrictions on elective surgery from next week.
- The Ruby Princess has departed Australian waters after staff gave evidence on the first day of a Special Commission of Inquiry into the cruise ship.
Australia’s cases continue to fall
Authorities have begun to chart Australia’s path out of the coronavirus crisis, with only small numbers of new cases recorded this week. On Tuesday, PM Scott Morrison said the nation had reached a “turning point”, and announced the National Cabinet’s decision to resume elective surgeries, which had been cancelled to free up space for a potential surge in coronavirus cases. However, authorities have urged Australians to continue observing current restrictions to avoid a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus cases. The National Cabinet will meet again today to discuss the latest modelling from the Doherty Institute and the rollout of the coronavirus app.
Treasury looks to reform agenda
Reports suggest the Federal Government will seek to drive Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery through tax reform and industrial relations changes, with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann flagging an “aggressive deregulation agenda”. On Tuesday, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe called for reforms to boost business investment, while also encouraging the Government to reconsider “the way we tax income generation, consumption and land”. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Government and the Reserve Bank are “on the same page” in terms of economic reform, however insisted there are no plans to touch the GST. Mr Frydenberg and Attorney General Christian Porter also vowed to continue with the union-busting Ensuring Integrity Bill, which was put on hold due to the coronavirus.
Virgin Australia falls into voluntary administration
Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration this week after failing to secure a $1.4 billion loan from the Federal Government to mitigate the impact of coronavirus travel restrictions. However, the company’s administrator said there is “extraordinary” interest in Virgin Australia, suggesting the airline could have new owners in as little as eight weeks. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg rejected accusations that the Government had let down Virgin Australia’s 10,000 employees, while acknowledging it was “a difficult day for staff”.