Weekly Wrap Up
- The latest ABS data shows payroll jobs have dropped by 2.0 per cent nationally in the fortnight to 31 July. NSW has seen the largest decrease in this period at 3.7 per cent.
- Former Liberal MP Craig Kelly accepted the Federal leadership position of Clive Palmers United Australia Party for the upcoming Federal election.
- Qantas released its strategy for restarting international flights if Australia reaches an 80 per cent vaccination rate by December.
Parliament returned this week with limited members able to appear in person due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Canberra. Despite this, the Government had some success including the passage of foreign intelligence legislation which provides a range of new powers for the Director-General of Security to intercept and collect foreign intelligence on Australians believed to be acting for, or on behalf of, a foreign power.
Meanwhile, legislation aimed at electoral reform has also passed both houses which include changes to how minor parties are registered and named, new rules to prevent a new party from registering a name that is too similar to an existing party and the shortening of pre-poll windows to a maximum of 12 days instead of three weeks.
In the wake of news of a suicide bombing in Afghanistan in the vicinity of the Kabul international airport—which has recorded the deaths of at least 60 Afghans and 12 American soldiers—the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have confirmed the cessation of evacuation flights via its SmartTraveller website. The Government has condemned the attacks, while Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne confirmed Australian defence personnel are safe after evacuating yesterday based on intelligence that an attack in the capital was imminent.
COVID lockdowns continue
Despite ongoing high daily numbers of infections, the NSW Government announced its intention to lift some restrictions by mid-September. The relaxed restrictions have been broken into two categories. For those living outside the LGAs of concern and the fully vaccinated, gatherings of up to five people within their LGA or within 5km of home will be permitted. For those inside the LGAs of concern households, with all fully vaccinated adults, outdoor gatherings for recreational purposes within existing one-hour limits will be permitted. The changes are due to take effect at 12.01am on 13 September. Meanwhile, the stay-at-home orders for regional NSW have been extended to 10 September.
In Victoria, 80 new locally acquired cases were reported as the outbreak continues to spread. This brings Victoria’s active cases up to 600 with Greater Shepparton in regional Victoria significantly impacted, as almost one-third of its workforce are now in isolation.
Vaccination recommendations expand
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has updated its previous advice to government on vaccinating adolescents from 12 years of age. The updated recommendations advise all individuals from 12 years of age can receive the Pfizer vaccination in a two-dose schedule. Similarly, finalised recommendations on the Moderna vaccine for adolescents is awaiting provisional registration by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Prime Minister Scott Morrison said bookings for those in the 12 to 15 age group will open from 13 September.
Meanwhile, the Doherty Institute is expected to provide advice to National Cabinet later today urging caution in lifting public health restrictions once 70 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said National Cabinet will also discuss the preparedness of Australia’s public hospitals and the public health system in consideration of the implementation of the national plan.
Federal Parliament will continue to sit next week before taking a six-week break until October.
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