Weekly Wrap Up
29 September 2023
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- The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was presented to the Governor-General on Thursday and publicly released today. Abolishing segregated education by 2051, establishing a Disability Rights Act, and establishing a Federal minister for disability inclusion were part of the 222 recommendations made in the Report. The Government will consider its response to each recommendation in the Report.
- Secretary of the Home Affairs Department Michael Pezullo was referred to the Public Service Commissioner over a series of leaked text messages, where he allegedly made partisan interventions under the Coalition governments.
- The Consumer Price Index rose 5.2 per cent in the 12 months to August 2023, up from 4.9 per cent in July.
- Public hearings continued for the Senate aviation inquiry, with recent hearings featuring representatives from Qatar Airways and Qantas.
- COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
- Greens senator Janet Rice announced she will retire in the first half of 2024.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews resigns from Parliament
On Tuesday 26 September, Premier Daniel Andrews announced his resignation as Premier of Victoria and State Member for Mulgrave. Daniel Andrews leaves as the longest-serving Labor Premier of Victoria, having held the role for nine years. Prime Minster Anthony Albanese congratulated Andrews on his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, his ambitious infrastructure agenda, and his deep commitment to the people of Victoria. Opposition Leader John Pesutto said Mr Andrews was leaving the role because “things are falling apart in Victoria”, citing the state’s record debt levels at almost $200 billion.
The following day, a Labor caucus meeting elected Jacinta Allan as the 49th Premier for Victoria. Ms Allan is only the second female to have been elevated to the role. She is from the socialist left faction and formerly served as Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, and Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop, prior to Premier Andrews’ resignation. Ben Carroll, former Minister for Industry, Employment; and Public Transport, representing the Labor right faction, was appointed Deputy Premier.
There will now be a small reshuffle focused on replacing the ministerial vacancy caused by the resignation of the former Premier.
Employment White Paper
Treasurer Jim Chalmers released the Employment White Paper – Working Future, which outlines 31 economic reforms the Government will undertake to maximise participation in the economy while growing productivity. The White Paper is a result of last year’s Jobs and Skills summit, and considers the more than 400 submissions to Treasury’s consultation process.
Privacy Act Review
The Government published its long-awaited response to the Privacy Act Review. The Government agreed or agreed in-principle to the majority of the Review’s 116 recommendations, particularly in relation to personal data protection and strengthening the enforcement powers of the Office of the Information Commissioner. The Privacy Act Review Report was initially released in February 2023, and outlined the need for Australia to overhaul its privacy laws to keep pace with evolving digital developments. The report was informed by over two years of consultation.
Draft legislation amending the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) will be released next year for further consultation.
The VIC Parliament will sit next week.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus released an exposure draft of the Personal Property Securities Amendment (Framework Reform Bill) 2023, which is now open for public consultation. The draft legislation incorporates 345 recommendations from the 2015 Whittaker Review and would seek to make it simpler for businesses and consumers to use personal property to obtain credit. Submissions close 17 November.
Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, and Treasury Dr Andrew Leigh announced public consultation on draft legislation that would amend secrecy provisions on investigations currently applied to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Submissions close 16 October.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, ABS, and Reserve Bank of Australia released a consultation paper on proposed amendments to the Economic and Financial Statistics reporting standards and guidelines. Submissions close 6 November.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE
Through the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre, the Government is launching easy-to-follow advice and cyber security guides in more than 20 languages, to assist in improving cyber security in the Indo-Pacific region. The translated guide will give practical advice to secure devices, identity threats, and increase cyber security awareness.
The Government is extending punitive tariffs on goods imported from Russia and Belarus for a further two years until October 2025. The Government called on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory and for Belarus to stop supporting the war.
The Government will provide an additional $31.25 million to support critical upgrades to Nuku’alofa Port in the Kingdom of Tonga. This project will be financed by the Asian Development Bank and will be co-funded by the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and Australia.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong announced the appointments of Professor Sango Mahaty, Ms Audra Morrice and Ms Hayley Winchcombe to the Australia-ASEAN Council. University of Tasmania Professor Nicholas Farrelly will continue to serve on the board for another term.
ENVIRONMENT, RESOURCES AND ENERGY
The Federal and South Australian Governments will jointly invest $100 million to develop the Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub, forecast to host hydrogen projects worth up to $13 billion and export 1.8 million tonnes of hydrogen annually by 2030. The hub will be South Australia’s first large-scale export terminal for hydrogen.
Minister for Resources Madeleine King and France’s Minister for the Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher signed an agreement for Australia and France to cooperate on a joint study into critical minerals supply chains. The study will identify the countries’ need for batteries and rare earth magnets and will evaluate how to build resilience into supply chains. It is due by the end of 2023.
TThe Western Australian Government opened public consultation on draft regulations to ban e-waste, including electronics and appliances, from landfills by 2024. Businesses with more than 200 employees or more than 5 tonnes of regulated e-waste will be responsible for their own e-waste management practices. Consultation closes 22 November.
The Northern Territory Government released its consultation summary[PDF] from its March 2023 discussion paper. The paper proposed bans for various single-use plastic items, including plastic bags, straws, utensils, bowls, and food containers. The Government indicated further consultation will occur before legislation is introduced, with a focus on national harmonisation in any future ban.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
The Government amended the Safer Freight Vehicles package, adding safety measures to the national road vehicle standards. Features to improve the safety of trucks included devices to reduce blind spots, electronic stability control, advanced emergency braking, and an increase to the width of trucks.
The Government released the updated Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games 2023, which will require computer games that contain in-game purchases to receive a minimum classification of M. Additionally, games that include simulated gambling will be given a mandatory R18+ rating. The changes will come into effect in September 2024.
NSW Premier Chris Minns warned local councils that the Government will intervene if the state does not reach the construction target of 78,000 new homes per year over the next five years. In an address to a NSW Property Council lunch, he encouraged innovative building designs to meet housing demand.
The NSW Government supported the Byron shire councils’ proposal to limit short-term rentals to 60 days, down from the current cap of 180 days. The decision delivered on a recommendation from a review of short-term rentals by the NSW Independent Planning Commission early this year.
Western Australia Transport Minister Rita Saffioti allocated $19.34 million to the Black Spot Program. The funding will be invested in safety developments for 73 projects across the state.
HEALTH, SOCIAL SERVICES AND EDUCATION
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released the National Dementia Data Improvement Plan 2023–2033 and updated Dementia in Australia report. The Plan includes a roadmap for policy development to improve outcomes for dementia sufferers and their families, and the updated report provides the latest statistics on dementia including mortality, hospitalisations and prescriptions administered.
Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff delivered a Ministerial Statement upon the tabling of the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s responses to child sexual abuse in institutional settings and committed to implementing all 191 recommendations.
NSW Minister for Health and Regional Health Ryan Park announced the second phase of the government’s statewide pharmacy prescribing trial, which enables women to access resupplies of oral contraceptives from their pharmacist without having to visit their GP.
In Queensland, Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman confirmed a statewide pilot will allow specially trained pharmacists to administer more types of vaccines and prescribe medication including the contraceptive pill, asthma medication, nausea and vomiting medication, and mild skin condition treatments among others.