Weekly Wrap Up
26 February 2021
- The Federal Government will increase JobSeeker payments by $50 a fortnight starting on 1 April. However, the Mutual Obligation Scheme will require those on the benefit to search for a minimum of 20 jobs a month from 1 July.
- The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will provide its final report to the Government today.
- The first round of funding applications for the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative opened to businesses and projects under the Space Roadmap.
- The Victorian Government established a Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne’s suitability to hold a casino licence, following the outcome of the NSW Bergin report. Raymond Finkelstein QC will serve as Commissioner.
- The International Olympic Committee has entered into exclusive negotiations with Queensland for the bid to host the 2032 games.
- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published its 2021 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities. Key areas of focus include pricing and selling practices of essential services; the commercial construction sector; home loan pricing; travel and aviation sectors; agriculture; and franchises.
This week in Federal Parliament
The Member for Hughes Craig Kelly defected from the Liberal Party and moved to the crossbench, further narrowing the Coalition’s majority. Kelly indicated he will guarantee supply and confidence in the Government and will support legislation that implements commitments from the 2019 election campaign, but will vote on conscience for new policies. In an interview, Kelly said he would like to see a mandated pay rise before any potential freeze in the legislated increase to the superannuation guarantee and will continue promoting alternative COVID-19 treatments on Facebook.
The Morrison Government made last minute amendments to the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, providing greater clarification about its operation and extending the time for tech companies to establish deals with media outlets. Subsequently, Facebook announced it had reached an agreement with the Government in support of the framework negotiated with Seven West Media, Nine and News Corp to restore content for Australian users.
Western Australian Election Update
WA Liberal Leader Zak Kirkup pre-emptively conceded defeat for the 13 March State election, following a recent Newspoll which suggested a 12.5 per cent swing to the Labor Party. Premier Mark McGowan’s approval rating rose further over the last 12 months to 88 per cent, due to his response to the coronavirus pandemic. While Kirkup’s seat of Dawesville is sitting at a margin of 0.9 per cent, he has expressed confidence in his chances of retaining the seat.
Self-regulation in Tech
Facilitated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), not-for-profit advocacy group DIGI launched a new voluntary code of practice for digital platforms to reduce the risk of online misinformation causing harm to Australians. The Code has since been adopted by Twitter, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Redbubble, and TikTok. ACMA will report to the Government about the Code’s development, adequacy of its measures and impacts of misinformation in Australia by June 2021.
Vaccine Rollout Continues
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout program began in the states and territories, with thousands of front-line health and support workers receiving their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
There was public concern when two elderly patients were administered four times the recommended dosage at an aged care facility in Brisbane. With the Federal Government responsible for vaccinating aged care residents, QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk requested the Prime Minister convene a National Cabinet as soon as possible to examine the training and communication processes in place for those employed under the National program. An investigation into the event was completed and the administering doctor and CEO of contractor, HealthCare Australia, have both stood down.
The Queensland, South Australian and Tasmanian parliaments will sit. NSW and the ACT will hold budget estimates.
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