Weekly Wrap Up
27 May 2022
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- Anthony Albanese has been sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister.
- While vote counting is still underway, Labor has won 75 seats in the House of Representatives and based on current estimates, is expected to secure the remaining seat needed to form a majority Government.
- Following Scott Morrison’s resignation as leader of the Liberal Party, former Minister for Defence Peter Dutton is expected to be elected unopposed as the new Liberal leader after confirming he will run for the position in a party room ballot on Monday.
- Meanwhile, former Environment Minister Sussan Ley has indicated she will run for the deputy leadership position, while Darren Chester will challenge Barnaby Joyce for the National Party leadership.
- Prime Minister Albanese has indicated his new ministry will be sworn in on Wednesday, 1 June.
- Meanwhile, an interim ministry consisting of Richard Marles, Penny Wong, Jim Chalmers, and Katy Gallagher was sworn in[PDF] alongside the new Prime Minister on Monday.
- In a radio interview this morning, the Prime Minister confirmed that he will write to the Fair Work Commission to indicate that his Government will make a submission to the Annual Wage Review. Mr Albanese suggested that the submission will not specify a numerical increase to the minimum wage, but rather a “strong view” that “people who are on the minimum wage simply can’t afford a real wage cut”.
- Treasurer Jim Chalmers confirmed the Albanese Labor Government plans to deliver a Federal Budget in October. The Treasurer foreshadowed that the high levels of debt mean a budget improvement is not expected.
- Tasmanian Deputy Premier and Treasurer Michael Ferguson delivered[PDF] the 2022-23 State Budget yesterday.
- NT’s new Chief Minister Natasha Fyles announced her Cabinet earlier this week. Eva Lawler has taken on former Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s position of Treasurer.
- The Victorian Liberal Party voted to expel Upper House MP Bernie Finn from the Party, following a series of comments Mr Finn made on social media.
- The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) announced an increase to the Default Market Offer (DMO) for electricity, with the cap on prices in NSW, SA and South-east QLD set to increase between 7.2 per cent and 14.1 per cent from July.
Labor expected to secure a majority in the House
At Saturday’s Election, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) defeated the incumbent Liberal-National Coalition and has now secured 75 seats in the House. It is expected to pick up the final seat needed for a majority, based on current estimates. The Coalition has won 57 seats and there are 15 members of the crossbench, consisting of 10 Independents and three Greens, as well as Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie and Bob Katter from Katter’s Australian Party. Six high-profile Climate 200-backed ‘teal’ independents succeeded in unseating Liberal MPs in previously safe Liberal seats in NSW, Victoria and WA, while independent candidate Dai Le won the formerly safe Labor seat of Fowler in Western Sydney.
Four seats remain in doubt as postal and absentee votes continue to arrive, with the count currently too close for a winner to be called. In Victoria, the ALP’s Josh Burns leads in his seat of Macnamara and is expected to be returned; however, a three-way contest with the Greens’ Steph Hodgins-May and the Liberals’ Colleen Harkin has made it difficult to determine who will finish second and consequently gain preferences flows on a two-party preferred count. In Queensland, the Greens’ Stephen Bates looks likely to unseat the Liberal Party’s Trevor Evans in his seat of Brisbane, but a three-way contest with the ALP’s Madonna Jarrett could also see the seat fall to the ALP. Liberal MP and former Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar maintains a narrow lead in his Victorian seat of Deakin. The count in NSW’s Gilmore is also very tight, with former NSW State Minister Andrew Constance ahead of the ALP’s Fiona Martin by a few hundred votes.
Likewise, counting continues in the Senate where half the Senators were up for re-election; Labor has secured 12 seats and looks likely to win another three, compared to the Liberal-National Coalition’s 13 seats, with another one likely. Current estimates indicate that the Greens will win a seat in all six states, bringing the party’s numbers from 9 to 12, and the Jacqui Lambie Network is set to pick up another seat in Tasmania. An upset looks likely in the ACT, with Independent David Pocock leading over Liberal Senator Zed Seselja for the second and final Senate spot.
New PM and Foreign Affairs Minister attend Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo
Following his swearing in as Prime Minister, on Monday Mr Albanese travelled to Tokyo along with Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong to attend the second in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit. Prime Minister Albanese joined United States President Joe Biden, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to discuss how the countries can collaborate to ensure “a free and open” Indo-Pacific.
The leaders committed to invest $50 Billion USD in infrastructure cooperation over the next five years and also announced a partnership on satellite-based maritime security. The Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), is intended to monitor illegal fishing and other maritime activities and respond to humanitarian and natural disasters. Although the Quad has not explicitly named China as the target of this initiative, the leaders’ statement has condemned “the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities”. Notably, the US has recently made accusations against China regarding these activities.
Upon the conclusion of the Quad Leaders’ Summit, Minister Wong then travelled to Fiji in an effort to strengthen Pacific engagement. In a nod to China’s recent security pact with the Solomon Islands, Minister Wong emphasised the importance of sovereignty, security and prosperity in the Pacific Islands.
SA Treasurer Stephen Mullighan will hand down the 2022-23 State Budget on Thursday. The Tasmanian and ACT Parliaments will also sit next week.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) held a payments system board meeting, where it discussed future payment reforms as well as crypto instability and the review of banknote distribution arrangements.
The RBA also released a Research Discussion Paper examining the yield and market function effects of the RBA’s bond purchasing program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South Australian Government announced a $100 million Economic Recovery Fund, which will run several rounds of grants aimed at supporting job creation over the next four years.
RESOURCES AND ENERGY
The Victorian Government has opened consultation on its Victorian Offshore Wind Policy Directions Paper to help develop Australia’s first offshore wind strategy. The paper includes plans to procure projects expected to generate a minimum of two gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2032.
In WA, Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia produced Australia’s first battery-grade lithium hydroxide at its plant in Kwinana. The lithium hydroxide will be exported overseas and used to produce high energy density batteries for energy storage systems and electric car batteries.
In Queensland, state-owned CS Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with renewable energy producer EDF Renewables to develop the Banana Range Wind Farm in Central Queensland.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
The NSW Government committed $260 million to build a shared-use research facility, nearby to the new Western Sydney International Airport. The proposed Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility (AMRF) is planned to be operational by 2026.
The ACT Government has awarded Lendlease Building the contract for the Canberra Institute of Technology’s (CIT) new Woden campus. This development will include a 6-star Greenstar building, as well as a youth housing foyer, pedestrian boulevard and local shared zone.
As part of the $5.3 billion Big Housing Build, the Victorian Government has partnered with Women’s Housing Limited to develop over 80 new homes across five sites in Portland, Warrnambool and Hamilton.
The NT Government has released designs of the proposed overpass at the Tiger Brennan Drive and Berrimah Road.
Tasmanian Premier and Minister for Health Jeremy Rockliff announced an investment of $150 million over the next four years to upgrade digital health infrastructure within the state, as part of the 2022-23 Tasmanian Budget. The commitment will include a new statewide fully integrated care platform that enables hospitals, GPs, community health, allied health, and other specialist providers to more easily communicate and share information.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Health Yvette D’Ath have declared that all Queenslanders will be eligible for a free flu vaccination as the state faces a severe Influenza A outbreak. It comes as flu cases in the state have increased from 1,848 to 4,282 in the past week.
The South Australian Government ended the state’s Major Emergency Declaration, following the passage of legislation that shifts COVID-19 management to the Public Health Act. The Cabinet is now responsible for COVID directions, instead of the State Coordinator.
WA Minister for Medical Research Stephen Dawson awarded $2.25 million in funding from the State Government’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund to Linear Clinical Research. The funding will see the establishment of an early phase clinical trials centre in Joondalup.