Weekly Wrap Up
- The Trans-Tasman bubble commenced on Monday, allowing quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand.
- The Morrison Government recommended that the Governor-General establish a Royal Commission into Defence and Veterans Suicide. Terms of Reference will be released following a period of consultation.
- Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ben Morton announced the Federal Government’s 2021-22 Deregulation Budget measures, totalling $120 million of investment to support a private sector-led economic recovery.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reported that the 2020 December quarter figures showed that the Australian GDP had recovered to almost pre-pandemic levels.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended US President Joe Biden’s Climate Summit this week, along with 40 other world leaders.
- Honourable Mary Wooldridge was appointed as Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).
- LNP Member for Dawson George Christensen confirmed he will not recontest his seat at the next Federal Election.
- NSW MP John Sidoti appeared before the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) as part of Operation Wiley.
PM’s address to the Business Council of Australia
The Prime Minister spoke at the Business Council of Australia’s annual dinner, providing insight into the priorities of the 2021-22 Federal Budget, which is set to outline Stage Two of the National Economic Recovery Plan. Significantly, the PM ruled out increasing taxes to achieve the Government’s Budget commitments and said the Plan will focus on creating competitive policy settings to support business and industry.
The Prime Minister also addressed Australia’s emissions reduction policy ahead of his attendance at President Biden’s Climate Summit. With pressure increasing due to commitments made by international counterparts, the PM again reiterated Australia’s focus on ‘technology not taxes’ to achieve a net zero economy. Notably, he said it would be preferable to achieve the target by 2050 and that his confidence was increasing due to the Government’s substantial investment in clean technologies.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne announced the first decisions made under Australia’s Foreign Arrangements Scheme. After consideration, the Federal Government chose to cancel four of Victoria’s foreign deals, dating back to 1999. Of note, two arrangements under Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative with China were negated. The Chinese Embassy responded to Minister Payne’s decision, expressing strong ‘displeasure’ and suggesting that the Australian Government is not interested in improving Sino-Australian relations.
Also, under the new Scheme, Minister Payne announced the approval of the proposed Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Human Resources Development in Energy and Mineral Resources Sector with the Republic of Indonesia.
National Cabinet returned to twice-weekly meetings to address challenges with the vaccine rollout. Key changes to the program include limiting the Pfizer vaccine to a smaller cohort of frontline workers and vulnerable people, and Phase 2a will be brought forward to 3 May, with the AstraZeneca vaccine available for eligible people aged 50-69 years.
Additionally, National Cabinet agreed to increase restrictions on returning travellers from high risk countries. Arrivals are required to produce a negative PCR test prior to landing in Australia and outbound exemptions are limited to strict essential travel only. Additional measures have also been implemented for travel to and from India due to the country’s high level of transmission.
The Victorian and Tasmanian Parliaments will sit next week.
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