Weekly Wrap Up
- The Northern Territory will head to the polls this weekend for the NT General Election. The Gunner Labor Government goes into the election with 16 of 25 seats in Parliament.
- Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham announced on Sunday that up to 300 students would start arriving in Adelaide as part of a pilot program to restart the international education sector.
- Following the release of the report from the Inquiry into the Ruby Princess, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued an apology to anyone who experienced additional hurt, stress or trauma due to mistakes made by NSW Health.
- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the NZ General Election will be deferred by four weeks to 17 October 2020.
- Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said it is unlikely Qantas will resume international flying before June 2021 with the possible exception of flights to New Zealand.
- PM Scott Morrison is planning to travel to Japan for a face-to-face meeting with PM Shinzo Abe before the US presidential election.
- Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a new Victorian Disability Response Centre as a $15 million joint venture with the Federal Government to reduce the mobility of the disability residential care workforce.
- Leader of the House Christian Porter announced new rules have been agreed to that will enable Federal Members of Parliament to contribute remotely to proceedings via video during the next sitting fortnight. Members will be able to contribute to debates and ask questions in Question Time.
This week, PM Scott Morrison visited AstraZeneca in Sydney to announce the Australian Government has signed a letter of intent with the UK-based drug company for Australia to receive a coronavirus vaccine if the University of Oxford trials prove successful. The deal could lead to Australia receiving at least 25 million doses of the vaccine, which will come at no cost to Australians and will be manufactured in Australia. The Government also released its vaccine strategy to be led by Health Secretary Brendan Murphy, including a deal with Becton Dickinson to secure 100 million needles and syringes. However, the PM warned that there is still no guarantee that the Oxford vaccine will be successful, and said the Government is still in discussions with other parties across the world. The PM moved to assure Australians a successful vaccination would not be mandatory, but warned the Government would take measures to “encourage” people.
National Cabinet meets to discuss domestic borders
Border closures have again been in the spotlight this week as the PM personally asked state premiers to find urgent solutions for regional communities who are unable to access health, work and schools. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reaffirmed Queensland’s borders will remain closed “as long as necessary”, while Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced Tasmania will keep their borders closed until at least the start of December. The issue was discussed at National Cabinet today, where the PM acknowledged individual states had been working together to come to practical solutions for border communities. The PM said he would continue to assist in talks with Premiers and issued a reminder that borders are no substitute for testing, tracing and outbreak containment. The National Cabinet also agreed there will be an agricultural workforce code for cross-border travel established in two weeks.
Elsewhere, National Cabinet received an update on the work being done to prepare the aged care sector in jurisdictions outside of Victoria, while the PM announced an additional Federal Government investment of $171 million into the aged care sector. National Cabinet also received an update on the economy from RBA Governor Philip Lowe and Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy, who urged state leaders to increase their level of spending by approximately 2 per cent of GDP, or $40 billion over the next two years to boost economic recovery.
China launches investigation into Australian wine
Amid growing diplomatic tension, China’s foreign ministry this week announced it had launched an anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine imports, alleging wine originating in Australia was sold into the Chinese market at artificially low prices. Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham rejected the allegations, and said the decision was “disappointing and perplexing”, while PM Scott Morrison said there was no evidence to back up Beijing’s claims. Minister Birmingham also warned there may be a second investigation launched into whether Australian wine exports were benefitting from government subsidies. Australian wine exports to China were valued at $1.25 billion last year, over a third of the entire wine export market. The recent investigation follows tariffs imposed on Australian barley in response to Australia’s own anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel, aluminium and chemical imports.
Next week, Federal Parliament and the NSW Legislative Council will return.