Weekly Wrap Up
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit New Zealand this weekend for the ANZ Leaders’ Meeting with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
- The Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee published its final report on the Australia Post inquiry. The Committee made 25 recommendations, including that the Board, Shareholder Ministers and the Prime Minister apologise to former CEO Christine Holgate for the circumstances of her departure.
- Trade Minister Dan Tehan travelled to the UK to address the Australian British Chamber of Commerce.
- Energy Minister Angus Taylor spoke at the G7 Climate and Environment Ministerial, reiterating Australia’s preference to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
- To align with the withdrawal of troops, the Australian Embassy in Afghanistan will close as an interim measure to revert to the model of visiting accreditation for diplomatic representation.
- Minister for Women Marise Payne announced $39.8 million will be provided for projects under the Women’s Leadership and Development Program, as part of the Women@Work scheme.
- The Federal Government amended the pathway for New Zealand Skilled Independent visa holders to become Australian permanent residents, starting 1 July 2021.
- All signatories of the new Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation published their inaugural transparency reports, outlining efforts made under the Code to reduce the risk of online information causing harm.
- Nationals candidate David Layzell claimed victory at NSW Upper Hunter by-election, winning by a margin of 2.7 per cent.
Victoria back in lockdown
Victoria entered into a seven-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in response to increasing spread of COVID-19 in the community. Residents are permitted to leave the home for five reasons, including to be vaccinated. All Victorians over the age of 40 are now eligible to receive their first dose. The recent outbreak has been traced back to a hotel quarantine guest from Adelaide who contacted the virus during isolation. The Victorian Government has again stressed the need for purpose-built quarantine facilities.
In response to the lockdown, the Federal Government declared Victoria a COVID-19 hotspot to allow for appropriate support measures, including the release of an additional 130,000 vaccines. Nationally, 900 additional general practitioners have been approved to administer AstraZeneca doses and community pharmacies in rural and regional areas have also been activated. In the long term, the Federal Government announced plans to develop onshore mRNA manufacturing capability to strengthen protections against future pandemics.
Spotlight on workplace safety
Deputy Secretary of Governance in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Stephanie Foster PSM provided her final report into the procedures and processes relating to serious incidents in the parliamentary workplace. Requested by the Prime Minister earlier in 2021, the report considered how to better support and empower victims of workplace incidents in a timely and effective manner. The Foster Report recommended that a face-to-face education program be established to help managers and staff to understand their workplace obligations, and the development of an independent and confidential complaints mechanism for serious incidents. The report will now be considered by Cabinet.
Earlier this week, Workplace Health and Safety Ministers considered the response to the Boland review of model work, health and safety (WHS) laws. All recommendations were considered at the meeting and Safe Work Australia will progress those agreed too by the Ministers, including to introduce gross negligence (or equivalent) as a fault element in the Category 1 offence in the model WHS laws.
The Federal House of Representatives will sit next week and the Senate will hold Budget Estimates. The Western Australian and ACT Parliaments will also sit.
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