Weekly Wrap Up
- The Reserve Bank of Australia confirmed JobKeeper reduced total employment losses by at least 700,000 jobs.
- The eligibility of the JobMaker’s temporary full expensing measure has been expanded to include more businesses.
- The National Skills Commission published the 2020 Australian Jobs report, highlighting occupations and industries that remained resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Victorian Budget was handed down by Treasurer Tim Pallas, for more information please see our dedicated briefing.
- Attorney-General Christian Porter responded to the Victorian Government’s plan to introduce paid leave for casuals and other workers.
- The High Court of Australia granted special leave for Workpac to appeal the Rossato decision.
- Doctor Kylie Moore-Gilbert was released from Iranian prison and will be returning to Australia.
- Liza Harvey resigned as leader of the WA Liberal Party and first term MP Zak Kirkup was elected by the party room unopposed.
China Australia relationship
Australia’s relationship with China has continued along the same trajectory. This follows lengthy delays for a large number of ships to unload $1.1 billion worth of Australian coal to Chinese customers. The Chinese Foreign Ministry advised the delays were due to environmental issues. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister spoke at the UK Policy Exchange and said that Australia desires an open and transparent relationship with China that is mutually beneficial. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham also commented the Australian Government is committed to positive engagement with China.
COVID-19 restrictions eased
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the final step of restrictions before achieving COVID normal, removing the requirement to wear masks outside and allowing larger groups in public and private settings. NSW also further eased restrictions and, from 14 December, will repeal the Public Health Order that requires employers to allow employees to work from home. The Prime Minister also told public servants it was time to return to the office during his speech at the APS200 Virtual Forum. In South Australia, the Stay at Home Direction was lifted after four days of hard lockdown, however health experts are closely monitoring the Parafield cluster. Also, NSW welcomed the first visitors from Victoria after 138 days of closed borders. Additionally, following confirmation of 28 days of no community transmission from unknown sources in NSW and Victoria, the Queensland Government announced that it will re-open its borders to the eastern states from 1 December.
Vaccines and international travel
The University of Oxford, in partnership with AstraZeneca, announced its interim Phase III trial data, reporting its coronavirus vaccine is 70.4 per cent effective in a two-dose regime. The data also reported a high level of protection and confirmed the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature, unlike the Pfizer mRNA vaccine which presents logistical challenges. Australia has committed to buying 33.8 million doses of the vaccine. Sydney University researchers have also been granted $1.2 million to facilitate clinical studies on developing a needle-free version of Vaxxas’ COVID-19 vaccine for at-risk groups. Following the vaccine announcements, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce indicated that once international travel is permitted, those wishing to board a Qantas flight will be required to have had a COVID-19 vaccine. However, the requirement will not be formalised until a safe and effective vaccine is well-established. The Prime Minister also suggested that the Australian Government will likely implement a choice of either two weeks quarantine or being vaccinated to be able to enter Australia.
- The PM will attend the first European Union (EU) – Australia Leaders’ Meeting
- Federal Parliament will return on Monday 30 November for the final two sitting weeks
- The Queensland budget is set to be handed down on Tuesday 1 December.
- Elsewhere, Parliament will return in Tasmania, SA and the ACT.
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