Weekly Wrap Up
3 June 2022
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- The Albanese Labor Government will form a majority government, after securing the seats of Macnamara and Gilmore, bringing the party’s total to 77 in the House of Representatives.
- Labor’s Fiona Phillips retained the NSW seat of Gilmore, with former NSW Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance losing his early lead for the Liberal Party by a few hundred votes.
- The Greens claimed the seat of Brisbane from the Liberal Party’s Trevor Evans, while in Victoria, Labor retained Macnamara and the Liberal Party narrowly held onto Deakin.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Ministry was sworn in on Wednesday.
- The Liberal Party’s Peter Dutton was elected unopposed as Leader of the Opposition with Sussan Ley elected as Deputy Leader.
- Meanwhile, David Littleproud was voted to replace Barnaby Joyce as Leader of the Nationals, while Perin Davey has been elected as his Deputy.
- Professor Glyn Davis AC was appointed as the new Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, replacing former Secretary Phil Gaetjens.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a restructure to federal departments, including the creation of the new Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the new Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs will see a reduction in its responsibilities.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong announced an eight-year partnership with Samoa, aimed at addressing human development in the Pacific Island nation. The Minister also confirmed Australia will donate a new maritime patrol boat to the country.
- The Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released national accounts data for the March quarter, indicating 0.8 per cent growth of the national economy in the first three months of the year.
- The NSW parliamentary inquiry into the response to major flooding across New South Wales in 2022 commenced public hearings.
- SA Treasurer Stephen Mullighan delivered[PDF] the Malinauskas Labor Government’s first State Budget for 2022-23, revealing a forecast $233m surplus for the 2022-23 financial year. For more information, please see our briefing note.
First Albanese Ministry
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the first Albanese Ministry earlier this week, with Ministers officially sworn in on Wednesday morning. While Prime Minister Albanese had previously indicated that his preference was to introduce minimal changes, there were some shifts in portfolio responsibilities and some newcomers to Cabinet. Richard Marles retains his position as Deputy Prime Minister after being sworn into the interim cabinet[PDF] last week and will also take on the Defence portfolio. Senator Penny Wong will also remain as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jim Chalmers as Treasurer and Senator Katy Gallagher as Minister for Finance, Minister for Public Service and Minister for Women.
With 19 women on the frontbench, Mr Albanese declared that his Ministry “is far more representative than any government party room has ever been in our history”. Significantly, Clare O’Neil has joined the Cabinet as Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Cyber Security, taking on the portfolio held in Opposition by former NSW Senator Kristina Keneally prior to the election.
For further analysis on the first Albanese Ministry, please see our briefing note.
Peter Dutton has been confirmed as Opposition Leader and Sussan Ley as Deputy Leader following Monday’s Party Room meeting. In his first speech as Liberal Leader, the former Minister for Defence pledged to “be true to [Liberal] values” and support “the forgotten Australians”, promising he would bring strength of character as a potential future Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, David Littleproud was elected the new Leader of the Nationals after defeating Barnaby Joyce and Darren Chester in a leadership ballot, with Perin Davey elected as Deputy Leader. Mr Littleproud emphasised his focus on regional and rural Australia, pledging to “continue to be a very strong voice for the regions” while in Opposition. In a statement[PDF] on the appointment of the Nationals leadership, Mr Joyce congratulated the new team and disputed being “sad” about losing the leadership role.
Energy market challenges
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has expressed concern that Australia is facing a “perfect storm” of challenges in the energy market, in light of sharp increases in prices and demand for gas and electricity. Treasurer Chalmers suggested these challenges were a result of international pressure, in combination with uncertain energy policy under the previous Coalition Government. He has since stated that there is no “quick fix” to the issue and that the Labor Government is working to implement an effective energy policy in response.
Meanwhile, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen indicated that he had met with state energy ministers, and will be advised by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Australian Energy Regulator (AER) on further actions. Minister Bowen expressed that he has full confidence in the energy regulators, and that the Albanese Government “will take whatever action is necessary”.
The AEMO revealed on Wednesday that it had identified a possible shortfall of gas supplies in Victoria, SA and Tasmania on Thursday. It later activated the Gas Supply Guarantee mechanism and issued a statement highlighting that gas supplies “remain tight” and in high demand, and it is “work[ing] closely with market participants, industry and governments to manage the situation”. It emphasised that on current availability, there is sufficient energy supply to meet forecast demand in the National Electricity Market.
The Victorian, NSW and ACT Parliaments will sit next week. Budget Estimates will take place in the Tasmanian Parliament.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it is commencing proceedings against Mastercard for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive conduct in the debit card space.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released an updated ePayments code, extending the scope of the code to cover the New Payments Platform, as well as clarifying some of the existing provisions.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and ASIC published a new set of Frequently Asked Questions on the implementation of the retirement income covenant.
RESOURCES AND ENERGY
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has begun seeking feedback on its transmission pricing methodology guidelines draft amendments, which will include how to price systems strength services in the National Electricity Market.
Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass tabled a report in the state Parliament on Tuesday, outlining that the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) should have better communicated its decisions surrounding approval of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) affected soil in three sites.
INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND WATER
The NSW Government committed $602.4 million to proceed with Stage Two of the Parramatta Light Rail. This funding will enable the commencement of works, as well as a start to the planning process of the Western Sydney megaproject.
NSW Minister for Infrastructure Rob Stokes welcomed the release of Infrastructure NSW’s independent 20-year strategy, Staying Ahead: State Infrastructure Strategy 2022-2042. The strategy includes recommendations for the NSW Government’s consideration regarding an ongoing infrastructure investment program.
Also in NSW, the Government pledged $145 million to repair and upgrade critical water and sewerage infrastructure damaged during the Northern Rivers floods earlier this year.
The WA Government awarded the contract for upgrades of Brodie Hall Function Centre at Bentley Technology Park to OPRA Group Australia Pty Ltd, trading as OPRA Projects.
WA, NSW, Victoria, and SA have joined Queensland in offering free flu vaccination to all state residents until 30 June. Vaccination rates in Queensland have increased more than 14.7 per cent since the flu vaccination initiative was launched in the state last week.
The NSW State Government announced cash rebates of up to $2,000 for women in NSW undergoing IVF and accessing other assisted reproductive treatments (ART). The $80 million package is part of the NSW Government’s 2022-23 Budget.
Through the Research Excellence Awards 2022, WA Minister for Medical Research Stephen Dawson awarded $10 million in funding aimed at improving health and medical research in the state. The grants are being provided to 51 research projects within the areas of population monitoring of heart disease and stroke; dementia; lung health in young children; childhood allergies; and reducing the burden of infectious disease in Aboriginal children.
The ACT Government has appointed Aboriginal community-controlled organisation service provider Thirrili Limited to deliver a new program targeting suicide, and the impacts of suicide, on the territory’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.