Weekly Wrap Up
- The latest Newspoll has the Coalition in front of Labor 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis, while PM Scott Morrison’s personal approval rating has reached 68 per cent.
- Data released by the ABS this week shows a gradual recovery in the jobs market, with payroll jobs increasing by one per cent between mid-May and mid-June.
- The number of approved dwellings fell 16.4 per cent in May, in seasonally adjusted terms, according to data released by the ABS.
- On Wednesday, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet released the NSW Treasury Report on Federation Reform, which recommended reviewing and reforming the GST, Commonwealth-State funding agreements, payroll taxes and stamp duty.
- The Reserve Bank has warned that while Australia’s economy is doing better than originally feared, government and interest rate support will be required for years.
- PM Scott Morrison this week unveiled a $1 billion road infrastructure package for NSW, including upgrades to address congestion in Sydney, as part of the JobMaker plan.
- Australia will offer safe haven visas to Hong Kong residents after Beijing’s new national security laws came into effect this week.
- The Northern Territory and Western Australia will each lose a federal seat in the House of Representatives following a redistribution by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
Eden-Monaro by-election looms
This week, PM Scott Morrison visited the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro in the lead up to this weekend’s by-election, which was triggered by the April resignation of Labor MP Mike Kelly. Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs and the PM together announced the final environmental approvals for the $5 billion Snowy Hydro 2.0 renewable energy project, which Mr Morrison said would create 4,000 direct jobs over the lifetime of the project. The PM urged voters to elect Ms Kotvojs, claiming her election would be crucial to ensure economic benefits from the hydro project go directly to communities. While reports suggest the race will be close, a government has not won a seat off an opposition in a by-election in more than 100 years.
Local lockdowns and border restrictions
Meanwhile, an increase in coronavirus cases in Victoria led Premier Daniel Andrews to this week announce that residents living in 10 postcodes linked to the recent outbreaks would go into local lockdown until at least 29 July. The “hot zones” are now subject to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions, with residents only permitted to leave their homes for four reasons: shopping for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and study or work. An inquiry into the operation of the Victorian hotel quarantine program has been established after it was revealed that breaches of hygiene protocols by contracted security staff led to a significant number of the new infections.
Following the increase in cases in Victoria, SA Premier Steven Marshall said SA will no longer open its borders with Victoria on 20 July, while Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Queensland’s borders will be opened to all jurisdictions except Victoria from 10 July. In response, PM Scott Morrison criticised the SA and Queensland premiers, accusing them of “lacking perspective”.
New defence strategy amid heightening tensions
On Wednesday, the PM and Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds released the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, announcing a $270 billion defence investment to be spent over the next 10 years, and a new 2020 Force Structure Plan. The PM said the Update signals a “key change in Australia’s defence posture”, with focus shifting to the Indo-Pacific region. The funding – which includes a $15 billion boost to cyber security – comes just weeks after the Prime Minister revealed Australia had been experiencing a significant rise in cyber-attacks from a “sophisticated state-based actor”.
National Cabinet will next meet on Friday, 10 July.