Weekly Wrap Up
24 June 2022
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- NSW Treasurer Matt Kean delivered his first State Budget on Tuesday. For more information on the 2022-23 NSW Budget, please see our detailed briefing note here.
- QLD Treasurer Cameron Dick handed down his third State Budget. For more information on the 2022-23 QLD Budget, please see our dedicated analysis here.
- The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has started to lift the suspension of trading in all regions of the National Electricity Market (NEM).
- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) announced they will launch an investigation into energy prices.
- The Albanese Government released the proposed 2022 Parliamentary Sitting Calendar. The 47th Parliament will commence on 26 July and Labor’s new budget will be handed down on 25 October.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the appointment of new secretaries across Federal departments.
- At National Cabinet’s first meeting since the Election, Prime Minister Albanese confirmed the Federal Government will commit $760 million to extend COVID-related funding until the end of 2022.
- NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet directed the secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet to conduct a review into former Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s appointment as US trade commissioner.
- Liquor & Gaming NSW granted Crown Resorts a conditional gaming license to operate its Sydney casino.
Four Victorian Cabinet Ministers resign
Earlier today, four Victorian Ministers announced their resignations from Cabinet and confirmed that they would not contest the State Election in November. The Ministers include Deputy Premier, Minister for Education and Minister for Mental Health James Merlino; Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services and Minister for Equality Martin Foley; Minister for Police and Minister for Water Lisa Neville; and Minister for Industry Support and Recovery, Minister for Trade, Minister for Business Precincts, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events and Minister for Racing Martin Pakula.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews subsequently announced the appointment of a series of coordinating ministers to fill the roles of the resigning Cabinet Ministers. He also confirmed that the new leadership team will recommend that Jacinta Allan be named Deputy Premier, however this recommendation will need to be confirmed by the Labor caucus.
The Victorian Labor parliamentary caucus will meet tomorrow to vote for a new Deputy Leader and replacements for the vacated ministerial positions. Portfolio allocations are expected to be announced on Sunday or early next week. The resigning Ministers will move to the backbench and there will be no by-elections caused by these retirements. Candidates for the vacated seats are likely to be announced in the next few weeks.
Senate results finalised
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) finalised Senate results for all states and territories on Monday. In the 76-person Senate, Labor has secured 26 positions and the Greens have secured 12. With a majority in the Senate being 39, the combined vote between Labor, the Greens and ACT Senator David Pocock, who many expect will support the Government on most of its agenda, puts Labor in a strong position to pass legislation. Meanwhile, the Coalition lost five of its spots and will have 32 Senators. One Nation has retained its two Senators, while the Jacqui Lambie Network has two, the United Australia Party has one, and Independent David Pocock has gained a spot.
In NSW, the Labor Party lost its third Senate position to the Greens’ David Shoebridge, who successfully moved from his longstanding position in the NSW Legislative Council to contest a spot in Federal Parliament. The Greens’ win follows the resignation of former Labor Senator Kristina Keneally to unsuccessfully contest the electorate of Fowler in the House of Representatives.
In Victoria, the United Australia Party secured a spot in the Senate with the election of Ralph Babet. Babet’s election saw former Liberal Senator Greg Mirabella lose his Senate spot. Senator Mirabella was appointed in December 2021 to fill the casual vacancy caused by retiring Senate President Scott Ryan. Lead Labor candidate Linda White was elected in place of retiring Senator Kim Carr.
In WA, Labor secured three Senate positions including new Senator Fatima Payman, meaning that sitting Liberal Senator Ben Small lost his position.
Continued spotlight on international affairs
International cooperation remains a priority for the Albanese Government, with Ministerial overseas visits ongoing since the Albanese Government’s win at the Election last month. This week, Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil travelled to Sri Lanka for her first overseas Ministerial visit, where she met with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Professor Gamini Lakshman Peiris to discuss cooperation on matters including countering people smuggling.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles met with his Indian counterpart Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh in New Delhi to discuss strengthening defence collaboration between Australia and India.
Elsewhere, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin defended China’s ongoing trade tariffs on Australian imports, stating that the tariffs are “legitimate, lawful and beyond reproach” and were imposed to protect “the legitimate rights and interests of relevant industries in China”, as well as the safety of consumers. This follows Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s comments last week calling on China to remove its sanctions on Australian products in order for relations to improve between the two countries.
No Parliaments are sitting next week.
The Research Bank of Australia’s (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe discussed inflation and its broader implications for the economy in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce. Lowe noted that domestic factors are increasingly driving inflation, however inflation in Australia remains below that of other advanced economies.
The RBA released its Review of the Yield Target, outlining its evaluation of some of the monetary policy measures undertaken during the pandemic.
The RBA also released the minutes of its Monetary Policy meeting held on 7 June, outlining the reasons behind the decision to raise the cash rate by 50 basis points.
The Federal Government announced that crypto currencies will continue to be excluded from foreign currency tax arrangements. This decision will be backdated to 1 July 2021 to avoid ambiguity following the decision of the El Salvadorian Government to allow Bitcoin as legal tender.
The Council of Financial Regulators held its quarterly meeting on 20 June, where it discussed de-banking and developments in the crypto markets. It also held its annual meeting with regulators, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
RESOURCES AND ENERGY
The WA Government announced a new prospectus to promote investment opportunities in the state’s critical minerals and battery industries. The prospectus has been shared with key international partners in Germany and details how the state will be establishing itself as a key choice for battery and critical mineral investment.
Also in WA, Minister for Environment and Minister for Climate Action Reece Whitby declared the State Government will be reducing its emissions by 80 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
The Federal and NSW governments appointed Ferrovial Gamuda Joint Venture to design and construct the $2.2 billion Coffs Harbour Bypass.
The Federal and NT governments awarded NT business Exact Contracting a $73 million contract for the construction of the first stage of works, and planning of the second stage of works, to seal 150 kilometres of the Tanami Road in Central Australia. The road will be sealed from chainage 271.81 kilometres to 421 kilometres.
The NSW Government launched a new landuse webpage, providing a central resource to assist developers planning projects that may interact with roads, rail and waterways.
The WA Government named Alkimos as the preferred location for a proposed $1.4 billion desalination plant, which will have the capacity to deliver 100 billion litres of drinking water each year.
The Federal Government launched a six-week campaign to encourage Australians to get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and influenza this winter. Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler noted that the Government has also purchased over 1.3 million doses of antivirals for those most at risk of severe illness.
The Victorian Government has committed $200 million in funding to expand the Mental Health in Primary Schools program to include every government and low-fee non-government primary school in Victoria.
Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley opened a new round of the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) grants program. 122 health services and agencies are eligible for funding under the program and submissions close on 22 July.
Tasmanian Minister for Women Jo Palmer announced that free sanitary items will be made available at all public hospitals across the state from 1 July 2022.