Weekly Wrap Up

26 March 2021


  • The Prime Minister sought advice from the Solicitor-General regarding Christian Porter’s position as Attorney-General and will reportedly announce a Cabinet reshuffle early next week.
  • The Morrison Government’s industrial relations reform bill passed Parliament with significant amendments.
  • Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles spoke at the National Press Club confirming that Labor will not increase taxes or spending if elected.
  • Amidst an ongoing debate in Federal Parliament about gender equality and workplace misconduct, the Prime Minister told journalists he was open to introducing quotas for women in Parliament.
  • The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance were activated to assist those affected by extreme weather and floods. The NSW and Queensland Governments have also implemented emergency support measures.
  • The NSW Berejiklian-Barilaro Government was forced into a technical minority after Nationals MP Michael Johnsen temporarily moved to the crossbench following allegations of assault.
  • The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) published its final report for Operation Dasha.

Sino-Australian relations

The Australian and New Zealand Ministers for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Nanaia Mahuta reaffirmed their nation’s concerns of reported human rights abuses of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, China. The Ministers supported sanctioned measures taken by Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. Later during an interview, Minster Payne explained Australia does not have the same governance structure in applying such measures, however the Government had recently received a report from the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade into the application of Magnitsky sanctions.

In response, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying questioned Australia’s transparency and accountability of those involved in the Stolen Generation and more recently, investigations into war crimes in Afghanistan.

COVID ‘almost’ normal

The NSW and Victorian Governments announced further easing of restrictions as the number of days with zero recorded COVID-19 cases grows. Masks are no longer required in retail settings in Victoria and the number of people permitted in venues has increased, while masks are no longer mandatory on public transport in NSW and dancing restrictions have lifted. Significantly, Victoria will begin accepting international arrivals into its hotel quarantine system from 8 April.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration approved onshore manufacturing of the AstraZeneca vaccine by CSL. To assist with the rollout, Secretary of the Department of Health Professor Brendan Murphy told Senate Estimates that a number of mass vaccination centres will be established across Australia.

JobKeeper is set to end on Sunday for all industries, except aviation, and Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy told Senate Estimates that 150,000 jobs were at risk. Subsequently, the Federal Government announced an additional $135 million support package for the arts and entertainment sector.

Across the Tasman, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said[PDF] she would announce the start date of the two-way travel bubble on 6 April.

Looking ahead

The South Australian and ACT Parliaments will sit next week.

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